23.11.13 John Wrench GV

Not one of our usual visits to a members garden, but a special one off to visit John's home in Chermside West.

81yr old John is a botonist, poet and environmental protection educator. John provided an in-depth tour around his edible garden, cooked morning tea and then took the group to the edge of nearby Downfall Creek to gather Guinea Grass in an area that is being rehabilitated, to show how he turns it into useful compost with his motor mower.

In John's front yard.

John has a great deal of trouble with bush turkeys and possums. He's explaining to Marilena, Lou and Muriel how bush turkeys have limited flight capabilities and don't like entering smaller enclosed spaces. Hence the fencing on his garden.

John is a keen collector of items he can use for recycling including bricks, styrofoam boxes, cages, old screen doors. This is his propagation area for native plants.

One of the native trees was in full bloom (see pic above) and very popular with the bees.

Every inch of the backyard, apart from pathways, is devoted to growing veg.....

...and lots of herbs in pots.

Some of the recyled pathways.

John recommends planting the root ends of store bought chives and shallots. They can be very productive once they grow again.

John has to cage off many of his plants to keep out the possums and turkeys.

Climbing beans...

...Pigeon Pea, Cajunus cajun also called lentil and dahl, should be picked when the pods are dry and rattly then the pea soaked for cooking.

A sweet corn that avoided the attentions of the possum.

Tetragonula Carbonaria (native stingless) bee hive.

Madagascar bean on climbing frame. The possums remove the seed and leave the empty pod.

Another tub of composting material. Beautiful stuff. "Good enough to put on a sandwich", according to John. He layers up kitchen scraps with grass cuttings and gives the top a little turn over every few days.

John is very handy in the kitchen. He's making a lemon myrtle scone loaf made with wholemeal and plain S R flour with the addition of powdered, dried lemon myrtle leaf, wattleseed flour and macadamia oil emulsified in the water by the addition of yoghurt and some flour.  The mix also has salt and a little sugar.

Ground Wattle Seed - John buys this and other items in bulk from a supplier in SA and is prepared to on-sell smaller amounts. Ring him on 3256 3310.

And the finished scone loaf. Delicious according to the girls.

Everyone enjoys a cuppa made with native plant ingredients - the leaves used in the tea were Backhousia citriodora and Syzygium anisatum which John grew and dried.  The pungent berries were the dried and powdered fruit of Tasmannia lanceolata.

Off to dig some Guinea Grass in the rehabilitation area.

Part of Downfall Creek.

John and Marilena get stuck into removing some of the Guinea Grass, Panicum maximum v. maximum, a non native.

Fungi was found on a log...

...and John just happened to have a jellewers glass in his pocket for studying the pores on the plant close up.

Nearby us was the Raven Street entrance to the reserve.

John is 81yrs old and can still belt the heck out of the dirt in the Guinea Grass roots....

...before tying up the bundle and using his shovel as a handle to haul it back to the house (I did pull it half way). John is a bit frustrated by the council not reducing the amount of Guinea Grass. He commented that, "If this is what an octagenarian and a group of women could do in a short time, imagine what the council could do if they put some work into it".

Spreading the grass in the driveway....

...and topping with dried leaves, garden weeds and grass clippings ready for....

...John to use his 50yr old mower to mow the whole lot into smaller bits ready to go into....

...tubs for transporting to the compost drums with a little added water.

Many thanks for an interesting morning John. Your time with the group was much appreciated. Hope you enjoy the honey.

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