Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

We would never eat this amount of veges if we didnt grow them, we can pick this every night and not put a dint in them. Thanks Dave for the tasty Nopales, they are a hit here cant wait for my little ones to grow up.

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Comment by Dave Riley on October 3, 2020 at 4:58

My wife my have a specimen of  Portulacaria afra among her succulents -- not that she knows any by botanical name.

But thanks for the tip, I'll hunt it down

Comment by Doug Hanning on October 2, 2020 at 21:23
Yeah Dave I am strarting to admire these hardy edibles.
Have you got Portulacaria afra its meant to have Omegas in it which is rare for plants. Just see normal jade plants but not this on also known as elephant bush.
Comment by Dave Riley on October 1, 2020 at 23:12

I became interested in succulents as food and aside from  cactus fruits the other interesting plant is Samphire. Great in salads or as a final addition to a dish.

It has a reputation partnered with fish.

I grow the rock samphire but I also want to grow/eat its local namesake, Tecticornia -- which grows on our shorelines. I find local pigface very hard to swallow (nauseating in fact) although the southern species has a tolerable taste.

And I'm as yet to be impressed with foraged Tecticornia I've eaten...it pops up in salt pans and in open spaces amid the mangrove and Melaleuca swamps. And I spent a lot of time in the swamps.

I've written on succulent edibles before so I won't go on about it again.

But of all the succulent stems I've put in my mouth, I much prefer the nopales. None of the salt tang.

So versatile. You just have to adapt your menu and cooking approaches to make use of it as it offers such a consistently generous harvest.

Further on growing nopales, what I really meant earlier  is if you are not interested in display, bonsai  the cactus. Be brutal. The new paddles will pop up like mushrooms and like green beans, the more you harvest them, the more you'll be offered.

Now I throw any cuttings on the ground and while they are sure to sprout, I find walking on them suppresses that capacity. I used to soak the discarded paddles and stems in water, but they rot and put off an awful  stench. it's easy enough to use the offcuts as mulch for the Prickly Pears you want to grow. 

Comment by Dave Riley on October 1, 2020 at 14:31

Yes, I find a day isn't complete without consuming a few nopalitos. Usually that's in soup -- but pan fried or grilled is excellent too. I've never steamed them...so there's another experience to look forward to.

I find it hard to explain why they are so neglected as a vegetable, especially in Queensland, as we have been so cactused in the past.

Later on, like next year sometime,  I was planning to do a stall at the Caboolture Makts selling Vetiver slips, Oyster mushrooms...and nopales! I tried to get a local taco truck guy interested in my Nopales but even though  he offers a nopal salsa on the menu he gets his paddles in cans from Mexico.

The classic dish is the every day Nopalitos con Huevos -- scrambled eggs and nopalitos. I don't pre-cook the cactus paddles because I  harvest them when small -- but when the skin hardens, it's a good idea, albeit standard practice, to boil them first.

In Mexico, they sell much larger cactus paddles from stalls than what I tend to harvest.

 Nopalitos con Huevos is delicious and I will find excuses to make it up almost weekly for taco filling. Quick, cheap and easy.

While I have my cactus plants growing to my height as a garden ornamental, farming them is much better if you keep them small and trimmed. That way they are going to be easier to manage and more productive.

This image -- above -- of a cactus farm (supposedly of spineless cactus) indicates the DIY. I've also found they will grow in part shade OK....well, they'll grow anywhere! I also grow Dragon Fruit up and over my Prickly (spineless) Pear.

They will also survive in a pot happily.They will take off if simply left on the ground.

Aside from being edible, the plant is useful for erosion control, if laid out in hedgerows. While used for forage and fodder, the plant has limited protein content  so it warrants supplementation. Unfortunately it colonised  Queensland under cover of being animal feed. 

And we all kn ow where that story went...

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on September 29, 2020 at 20:15

Wow.  I was happy to hear your impression of the nopales. 

Comment by Doug Hanning on September 29, 2020 at 17:48

Lol Dianne I wish that Rachel was cooking dinner every night unfortunately I have to cook every second night. All the kale,chard,collards,beans, cauli and nopales were steamed. I roasted the jap turnips, carrots and radish. The tomatoes went on a sausage, tomato and olive flat pastry thing, recipe was from Annabelle someone (kiwi lady chef). I usually pick a whole steamer full of greens every night through the week as its so quick and easy.

Christa I do have a basket, need a bigger one.

Dave those nopales are awesome steamed, it really brings out the lemon flavour and the outside stays crunchy, think we have found another vege to eat daily once my baby plants grow. Rachel likes the samphire as well, so that will be finding a spot to grow.

Comment by Christa on September 29, 2020 at 16:21

I can see a nice healthy stir-fry in that lot. Great work, you will have to get yourself a basket and yell out Veggo or Fruito, as you come in. Nice tomatoes and greens, makes me peckish.

Comment by Dianne Caswell on September 29, 2020 at 7:19

Lovely lot of vegies there. Do you fill Rachel in on what vegies you are going to pick so as she has time to plan a meal or is it 'Guess What's for Dinner Tonight?' What did this Bunch turn into?

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GrowVetiver

Vetiver grass helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion.  It can protect against pests and weeds. Vetiver is also used as animal feed. (Wiki.)

GrowVetiver is a plant nursery run by Dave & Keir Riley that harvests and grows Vetiver grass for local community applications and use. It is based in Beachmere, just north of Brisbane, Australia.


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