Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

It's always a surprise to stock take.
(But I forgot to list the Pigeon Peas and pumpkin! Also in season I'm hoping to grow Jicama/Yam Bean -- another legume,)
The more I work at what I want to eat, the more functional is the kitchen garden.
I got a good supply of (French) shallots so I planted some out and I managed to grab some well priced Glen Large garlic.
And they've taken! As we speak they grow.
To what menu will the garden take you today?
There is nothing half so much culinary fun than foraging for greens in the garden. Every day I forage for my lunch time soup ingredients.
It is my communing-with-nature ritual.
Some plants I have given up on -- such as potatoes and Sweet Potatoes. I don't eat them much and they can be iffy outback.
I'm very pleased to be focusing on peppers and members of the onion family -- at least the expensive ones.
And I gotta have my radishes.
The root veg aren't an easy DIY as, aside from some radishes --like watermelon and daikon -- growth leaves a lot to be desired.
I can only hope.
The peanut and black bean I grow primarily for Nitrogen take up. If I get an edible harvest, all the better.
Because my beds are a real congested mix of plants I suspect that's one reason why I seldom have issues with insect attack.
In that too I suspect the Vetiver and Scurvy Weed also helps.

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Comment by Dave Riley on June 30, 2020 at 23:11

They say a watched pot never boils...but have you looked long and hard at sewn seed? This time of year they suit themselves in their own good time when deciding to sprout.

I've thrown care to the winds and sewn many seeds with the aim of growing on some and distributing the rest locally.

Compared to past efforts I'm doing quite well as a seed raiser -- albeit an impatient one. I'm moving into self-sufficiency mode in way of my regular comestibles.

Except for carrots. Those I'm still watching over. But the leaf celery, spring onions, tomatillo, bok choi, turnip, green beans, etc are  coming on nicely.

My enthusiasm has been fed by Jerry Coleby-Williams who is back blogging:

Always worth it, is Jerry.

Supply lines are recovering, I notice, but seedlings are in short supply still. So I've bitten the seed bullet and thrown in my lot with the promise of the seed.

This begs the question that I suspect that my outback is a microclimate on the warmer side of the weather. Given that it is partly shaded such an ecology is an interesting phenomenon. I hope to start taking its soil temperature. However, I suspect each spot receives more sunshine per day than I presumed. My shift to scurvy weed cover may be  a factor in the warmth maybe because of its Hunter Green coloration and the fact that the associated mulch layer enables the soil underneath to keep to an even temperature.

Texts tell you mulch will cool the soil because it shades it -- but it can also insulate the soil.

Comment by Dave Riley on June 19, 2020 at 0:41

I'm bit by bit inhabiting my beds with seedling brought on from seeds. I'm full on planting.

But still have some space left.

I called on stock from  a supplier -- Bondie Seeds-- that I had used rarely before. Bondie offers an eclectic range of seeds.Within my order I also got...

  • LETTUCE Australian Yellow Leaf
  • PEPPERS: Fushimi and another Asian type

I must have been lucky as so much of what I purchased a few days back is now sold out. Since my seed order arrived today I know what tomorrow brings.

This 'Winter' weather isn't as cool as you'd expect. With the shortest day this week -- Solstice : June 20, this year -- like tomorrow --  the chill has not been brutal. This time of year there's really only 1 degree Celsius in the changes to average high and average low so I reckon it's all a bit benign.

Of course we are on the coast here -- but I am surprised about what I can grow, despite the part shade that falls on my kitchen garden.

So I ponder what seeds I can get away with planting...and what tricks I can deploy to confuse them about the supposed weather.

I'm harvesting peppers and growing Egyptian Spinach from seed. My corn has  decent ears and my bottle gourd is keenly flowering.

I think my thick mulch layer -- both dried and living -- is keeping the soil warmer than the norm, or, at least maintaining a steady soil temperature.

I suspect the garden has a mind of its own....

Comment by Dave Riley on June 17, 2020 at 9:06

There are many herbs you can grow of course. The trick is to grow the ones you will use. And, as you suggest Andrew, actually use them.

Every week I use Thyme and Oregano.The thyme is the herb much celebrated in Trinidad and oregano is the Mexican essential. Similarly, there is always an excuse for chives.

I've just made up another batch of culantro and coriander based green sauce which I freeze in a range of containers for ongoing use. If you are of the parsley persuasion you gotta make up batches of chimichurri.

Contrary to what herb newbies may assume, herbing in cooking is just that. It isn't necessarily boutique. In Greece the herb used in a dish vary from island to island. So rather than fret over recipe bullying, it is OK to use the herb you prefer or  the one you have rather than have not.

I'm not against pairing but the world really is YOUR OYSTER.

Growing a lot of very different herbs may seem tantalising, but using them is the essential ingredient.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on June 17, 2020 at 0:06

I think herbs should be the plants that every new food gardener focuses on.  You guys are right - a few fresh herbs take homemade meals to the next level... and they aren't hard to grow.  That's the kind of success that is very encouraging. 

Comment by Doug Hanning on June 15, 2020 at 17:34

I could not agree more about the herbs. Everyone who comes and visits and asks what to grow, I encourage them to grow chives,parsley,oregano, thyme basil and corriander. Lemongrass and rosemary are set and forget.

 I seem to be planting basil and corriander more than anything else I grow. There is not a meal we make without a few fresh herbs and they make a soso dish into something with a great scent and taste.

Comment by Dave Riley on June 14, 2020 at 21:06

There are lessons here that I have learnt.

  1. Secure your herb needs by planting enough of the herbs you use. Maintaining a day to day herb supply  in itself is a major gardening challenge. So if you want to grow veg start with the culinary herbs.
  2. There are many 'greens' options so work it so that you grow a range you can always have leaves to choose from. This presumes that you follow a menu that actually eats the greens.
  3. I grow all my 'onion' needs so I've learnt to really explore the Amaryllidaceae family. It is quite a delicious hobby.
  4. Celebrate the humble radish. There is quite a menu on offer if you start to embrace daikon per the cuisine of Japan and Korea. Similarly, chives and scallions (which we call 'spring onions') are appreciated much more in these countries.
  5. If you want to eat healthy +++ starches, Yacon and Jerusalem artichokes are maintenance free and very productive. Spuds are cheap enough to buy and hard to grow year in year out successfully  in Brisbane.
  6. Growing the triumvirate -- choko, bottle gourd and trombonchino -- will keep you in versatile squashes for most of the year. I do like Snake Gourd but its growth is limited to the Summer months. Pumpkins can take up a lot of room and usually lead to a glut -- too much of a good thing. That's why I prefer the smaller sized pumpkins like Hokkaido. Taste great too.

While I have a spear pump tapping the aquifer below to irrigate my garden, I have learnt that a good soaking once per week is enough. You know, a few hours of drenching spray. The salt is the problem you see. The rest of the time I hand water VERY frequently from town sources or my tank. Aside from attending to the water needs of each plant I get to relate to every one of them. My squirts may often be light, but I'm fostering micro-climates among the jungle greenery. 

Comment by Christa on June 14, 2020 at 13:15

Wow Dave, do you have room for all that.  I would only have about a tenth of that amount in veggies and herbs.  Good on ya!   A produce market at you back door.  

Comment by Doug Hanning on June 14, 2020 at 8:36

I love that diagram. Seems that I am growing pretty much the same.

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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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