Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

This year I deployed a cunning plan. I planted potatoes when I had them to plant.

I snaffled planting stock from all the new varieties that hit the supermarket shelves  and planted them out willy nilly throughout most months.

And I've been harvesting my way through them ever since.

I prefer to store these spuds in the ground so I mark each plant with a rod as it dies back so i can locate the tubers later. (In mounds this is easy storage as the water drains away in the sand).

Needless to say my harvest is tasty although the amount of potatoes from each plant has not been great.Nor are the spuds large.

My best performer has been the  Kipflers. Go figure. Double the amount from other varieties.

I have some sprouting stock on hand so I'm going to plant out some more spuds in the shadier regions of my patch.A Summer experiment.It may not be the optimum time of year to grow spuds but I see where 'tis possible so long as you keep humidity in mind. On sand -- I think I have a chance.

Since my sweet potatoes have not thrived -- like never -- i gotta get my carbs from somewhere else.

I just planted out a batch of purple yams-- Dioscorea alata -- which i grow , not so much because I love them to eat -- but i love the way they grow -- with their upright climbing, almost delicate,  stem.

I have  a lot of Jerusalem Artichokes about but I can't recall where I planted them.And out there  somewhere are more yacón and jicama .

And that's it: it has been a sorry year for root veg.  Best not talk about my carrots and radishes, beetroots...But then i got some amazing turnips.

Better luck next year, Dave.

Plant of the Year for 2016:

Not so straightforward this time around. Looking at the contenders, I have to say that finally the spring onion and I have merged. These faithfuls have kept me supplied with an allium hit all year -- month in/month out. That means I grow a lot of scallions. You bet. They are my staple. I haven't chopped up a 'normal' onion seemingly for ever.

Mind you,while I'd Iike to become a spring onion aficionado, the many varieties don't perform as well as the bunching types I buy as seedlings from the Caboolture markets.

So many of my spring onions now are thick stemmed  but they sure do cook up well. In the past i harvested them much smaller, but because I've reached optimum management numbers I've mastered the logic of perennial supply. There is always -- always! -- room to plant spring onions.

This year too was the time of the pigeon pea -- of which I have many 'bushes'. First time with PPs so I'm learning. There are PPs and then there are PPs. If you want to consume them green I reckon you gotta go for the large pod variety. So I'm culling my bushes. It isn't worth it growing your own dry peas --as they are so cheap to buy in Indian grocers. I'm set to plant out some PP hedges -- lovely flower, mottled shade for underneath, rooting downwards rather than at surface, great for supporting tomato bushes and climbing beans.

The green peas go with a lot of dishes and the trick is to always harvest the pods when you can feel well formed peas inside. Easy to grow.

The irony is that this year I'm becoming almost veg self sufficient --except for essentials I have to buy in-- like carrots!(and garlic). If you eat with the seasons  you get to eat a menu harvest. My big challenge is to consolidate a regular sweet pepper supply. I can do it with chilies but the bigger boys are being resistive. Then there is Turmeric: resistive also.. . The big surprise were the cabbages -- I'm still harvesting them. The thrill was that by growing Leaf (aka: Chinese) Celery I'm supplied in that department (I use it like a herb) without fretting over watering.

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Roger said he had pretty good success growing kifler in the bags. I'd be keen to join you too Dianne

Spuds are the one thing that I am too lazy to grow, and up until recently they were just so cheap to buy.  Given recent prices, they may go on my list of "must dos."

 The farmer gets even less for the spuds  about 40 c kilo

"North Queensland are making hay while the sun shines. Their Sebago's have hit $1500 a tonne. Nearly four times their normal price."

Thats enough to make you cringe,I am paying  in coles 3 to $4.00 for a small bag.No wonder farmers markets are so popular these days at least the growers get a bit more for themselves there.

Snag with conventional spuds is the crud they are sprayed with to stop them sprouting and/or going green. Woolies sell organic spuds and a few other organic veggies and not being sprayed are often green. Sometimes I can see why folks keep to the conventional route despite toxins.

Green potatoes is from not covering the potato when its developing  and lots of potatoes are not sprayed to stop sprouting  but there  could be fungal and insect spray.

Shock of having to pay $7 for a small bag of Carisma potatoes has changed my mind about growing potatoes.  Have now purchased a grow bag - what soil mix is best for potatoes?

I know there will be many ideas about this but when grown before I used - Searle's Herb & Vegetable Mix 2/3rds, Homemade Compost 1/3 and 2 good Scoops of Coffee Grounds to 1 x 30kg Bag Mix this is also what I use for all my Vegies I am growing in Grow Bags. My Rhubarb, Aubergines and Cabbage have thrives in this. 

Time of year may not be conducive but why not give it a whirl anyway?

On Pigeon Peas:

I've got quite a few bushes (liker 10+). and they are still producing pods. I let the early flush get away from me but soon learnt how to identify the greens ready for picking.

I'm currently growing more PPs on for planting around the garden border. Absolutely win:win offerings from PPs.Rooted straight down. Nitrogen fixing. Mottled shade throwing. Grows in a few months. Bee magnet. Delightful flowers. Resilient. Undemanding.Grows darn well in my patch.

One drawback with the green peas -- the pod is hard to shell(compared to garden peas) but i find that if you leave them a day or so after harvest, the pod dries out a bit and more easily pops open.  The peas inside are fine. When you peel it. This is also why I  prefer the larger pea as there is more return for your effort.

Caribbean Pot:I hated going with our mom and dad to pick peas (harvest pigeon peas) in our garden as it was always in the afternoon when my friends would be playing football (soccer) plus the heat between the trees (from the day’s sun) was stifling. You had to sort through fully developed peas and avoid the younger ones which were not ready for harvesting. You couldn’t just grab the whole bunch off the trees and make fast work of the harvest. The good part about this job was that if I helped to pick peas I didn’t have to participate in shelling… something I hated even more (I would eat tons while shelling so I always got into trouble with our mom) and the residue on your fingers was not appealing. Peas season (as we called the 2 month period where pigeon peas were in abundance) was a fun time for me as it always meant getting a good dose of two of my favorite dishes.. pelau and curry pigeon peas, so when I got access to fresh pigeon peas I knew right way that I had to share this recipe with you all.

I am about to plant a few in my stupid "building site garden." I think it will make a difference. 

Summer Potatoes?

'For real?',thinks I.

Gonna give it a go. Why not? No skin off my nose...and I've become so partial to the awesome delights of freshly harvested new potatoes

Green Harvest: Recommended planting time: Potatoes can be grown in many months of the year, depending on whether the garden receives frost, as potatoes are frost-tender. Potatoes need 60-90 days frost-free to be successfully harvested; potatoes harvested early as ‘new’ potatoes do not store well. In northern NSW and QLD one of the best planting times is March-April, as the soil is warm, growth is rapid and there are generally less pests. For frosty areas, potatoes can be planted in early spring, shortly before the last expected frost. Planting can continue into summer although the risk of pest and disease damage increases as the weather becomes hotter, particularly in humid areas.(DR: note that I'm on free draining sand)

And again(great commentary)

While root growth occurs when soil temperatures are between 50 to 95˚F (10 to 35˚C), best, most active root development is at soil temperatures of between 59 and 68˚F (15 and 20˚C). .. Leaf (haulm) growth occurs at temperatures of between 44.6 to 86˚F (7 to 30˚C) , but optimal growth is at around 68 to 77˚F (20 to 25˚C). Optimum temperatures for stolon growth are similar.Agronomic Principles of Growing Potatoes

:As an aside, the traditional cottage garden approach (that inspires me) to spuds was to have your garden of annuals polycultured but also have a separate potato field -- no doubt because of their core starch culinary importance and the fact you'd need to dig it over.

If, like me, you visit this painting every time you attend the NGV in Melbourne you dream about your own potato field:

Potato field) 1948. John PERCEVAL


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