Brisbane Local Food

Growing local


This is a continuous spring diary and I added to it as the season progressed.

Check photos for dates as I have done progressive photos for many plants.

We're a month in to Spring and it's been beautiful so far. Plenty of rain now and then to fill the tank - not much sign of the El Nino. We did get one hot day just after I planted heaps of seed and I am waiting anxiously to see if they survived and will make a show. Beginning to suspect I will have to replant all the carrots and some other things. (NOTE: I ended up buying bought carrot seedlings for the first time ever. They're growing well though I probably should have thinned them more.)

Plenty going on in the garden. I've already had to mow twice and will probably do so again today. Bummer. The down side to the warm season. But it does give me clippings for the beds.

The Elderflower are growing well (Elaine warns to keep them contained as they sucker - mine grow freely) and producing lots of heads for making Elderflower Champagne.

Two heads in the bowl with juice of a lemon, splash of vinegar and about a cup of sugar. Covered and left for a day or two before sieving into some plastic bottles and put away in a dark cupboard.

The batch turned out quite thick. I'm diluting it with filtered rain water to drink. Nice and fizzy.

The bed in the front yard was becoming overgrown with these beautiful but basically useless (even the bees don't visit) salvia. A big mess of them have been removed to allow for something more productive - the roots went to Rozie for growing and the tops were cut back as green manure. The bed is covered in composted horse poo and planted.....

...with Bolivian Cuc (c/- Dave via Elaine) and some silverbeet "Ruby". I don't have much luck growing silverbeet from seed. One of Elaine's walking onions shoved in there as well with the hope that it will thrive and proliferate.

Below - same bed one month later.

Also in the front yard the Red Tamarillo fruit is starting to colour up.

NOTE: 31.10.15 Many have gone pale red and been eaten. Nice.

Both Pomegranates (seedling and Wonderful) have copious beautiful tangerine blooms. Fingers crossed for some fruit.

Five or so weeks later fruit is forming on the seedling Pom.....

....and on the Wonderful.

27.09.15 The Jaboticaba is covered in buds! Lots of fruit coming from this reliable plant.

Six weeks later I have sweet fruit for the eating.

Final crop along with a Bitter Melon for the GV. This lot were especially sweet.

Ripening fruit from the two pawpaw has been going to work for the clients to have with morning tea. There is only so much ripe pawpaw one person can eat but the elderly members can't seem to get enough of it.

The Tropical Nectarine has flowered and is covered in little fruit. I trimmed it a little shorter this year so the fruit fly excluding net would reach the ground.

NOTE: 31.10.15 Not as much fruit as last season - others have said the same -  but it's coming along nicely.

16.11.15 Lot's of the fruit is dropping and rotting for no known reason. Weather? The few I've eaten lack sweetness. Still no FF under the net though.

Final crop of the Tropical Nectarines. Many fell and rotted and the remaining crop was disappointing this year in quantity and flavour.

Some of the Jaboticaba and Nectarines have gone to make "Shrub" - an easy to make cordial from fresh fruits. RECIPE

My beloved little Moringa is still doing it's imitation of a dead stick but I am confident it will come good.

I tried many times to establish Pigeon Pea without success. This one came up by itself and has flowered and produced pods without me noticing.

Pepino are flowering in abundance. Hopefully this will mean more fruit before the fruit fly come.

NOTE: 31.10.15 FF have ruined every fruit - all has to be binned.

The Dwf Wurtz avo has bloomed once again but does not seem to attract the pollinators. I've seen one bee on it and a couple of flies.

NOTE: 31.10.15 No sign of any fruit forming. We have had discussion about multi graft plants. That's what I need!

In the back yard the Dwf Macadamia is blooming really well and attracting bees. Very pretty.

One of my honey bees fertising the flowers.

19.10.15 Little nuts are forming. All silvery with potential.

08.11.15 Fruit development three weeks later. Astounding growth.

22.11.15 two weeks later again.

Quite a few nuts are falling to the ground. Hope I end up with some left.

NOTE: Now 29/11 and I noticed about a week back that every nut has fallen off. We had some very hot days but I was giving the plant water a couple of times a week.

20.09.11 The three raised beds have all been chopped back leaving just a few perennial plants and replanted. This is before...

...and after. Broccoli has been left to go to seed as it was such a goody. The other two brassicas didn't produce anything. I suspect they may turn out to be a couple of Portuguese Walking Stick Collards (they are - must have planted some seed there).

All beds have been dosed with MycoAppply mychorrizae. The corn seedlings are very strong whether due to this or loving the composted horse poo they are planted in. Probably both.

31.10.15 Corn is silking up. Was able to shake down some pollen this morning despite some rain the last few days.

One month later, the final crop. Lots of mid sized cobs but they seem well filled.

19.09.15 Still cropping the Roma toms. Not much good for a sandwich but I've been turning them into soup with some onion, garlic and nopales. Bit of chicken stock and seasoning and it's very nice put through the blender.

NOTE: 31.10.15 Romas finished some weeks ago. While not thrilled with the sandwich potential from these fruit they were useful and tasty enough for me to squeeze some seed back into the beds. If they do ok, great. If not, no huge loss.

19.09.15 Some of the roma toms and broccoli - the most delicious I have every grown it just kept on coming.

31.10.15 This wonderful Broccoli is still in the process of setting seed. Very slow to bolt.

The white choko is making a strong comeback. I have another growing on the back fence. Lacking a green one at the moment - bought a giant fruit from the fruit shop yesterday and planted it on a side fence.

06.09.15 I've managed to grow a few spuds this year. More growing around the edge of the compost pile yet to be cropped.

This plethora of yummy came from gardening mate Rob's yard. Mulberries, native raspberries and Davidson Plums which I have become very fond of as a refreshing fruit drink in water. No sugar added.

12.09.15 Pepino have been providing plenty of fruit.

31.10.15 Now all ruined by FF. Not an untouched fruit to be had. All binned.

One of two Mashua Tropaeolum tuberosum plants courtesy of Jan's research and buying abilities. A relative of the nasturtium it's a climber with edible tubers. All the way from sunny Tasmania so we're all hoping they like it here in Qld.

16.11.15 Neither of these plants are liking the heat. They don't look well. Hopefully they will survive summer.

29.11.15 Both plants have died back completely as has Elaine's.

31.10.15 This plant has actually put on a substantial amount of growth. Didn't realise until I compared these two photos. It's also putting out shoots from the base. Apparently these plants can go quite rampant in their growing habits :/

29.11.15 Plants have both died back completely.

12.09.15 Thought I would show you what my kitchen scrap bin looks like after a couple of weeks of saving bits and pieces. I do use a sprinkle or two of Bokashi in it but to be honest I did this for years with just a bucket and had no smell or problems.

I take this outside and scrape a shallow depression near some fruit tree and cover it with grass clippings. The worms take care of recycling the lot in a matter of weeks.

Warrigal Greens are making a comeback in the spot I thought they had died out in. I am very fond of these useful native greens (high in Oxalic Acid).

Another wild edible, Samphire, has proven to be a bit of a disappointment. I would like to try these growing in the wild. I bet the flavour would be better. Pictures I have found on the net show a PLANT with more segmented leaves than these. I'm wondering if I have two different plants in there?

23.09.15 Lebanese Cuc seed coming up. Always a thrill when seedlings show through the soil from seed planted.

22.11.15 Getting some good crop of cucs.

Planted or still growing early this season:

Potatoes; Bitter Melon, Okra x Robs big jobs and Burgundy; Hairy Melon; Corn x swt and bicolour; Peanuts; Watermelon "Stars & Moon"; Capsicum x "Sweet", "Mini" and "Cubanale" along with seed from store bought minis; Kale; Canadian Wild Lettuce/A Choi; toms x various minis; Portuguese Walking Stick Collard Greens; Chillis - various; Mashua; Bolivian Cuc; Lebanese Cuc; herbs of all sorts; Swt Potato x 3 sorts; Silverbeet x "Rhubarb" and "Ruby"; Carrot x "Amarillo", "Rainbow Mix" and "Berlicum"; Eggplant x "Black Beauty", "Bringal White" and "Listadia di Gandia"; Snake Bean unknown; Huazontle Spinach. 


Labour Day holiday - no pay but it's a glorious day to be having off. Temp is superb, birds are singing everywhere, seeds are coming up in my new season garden. The only carrot seed that have sprouted are the Rainbow Mix. None of the others have shown so I will need to replant....or not.

The corn is growing fabulously. Okra of all types is peeking above ground as are the cucs. Eggplant haven't shown.

Every time I buy some mini capsicum I take the seed out and plant it and there are dozens of these plants coming up all over the place. Love them. Watermelon have sprouted but the Hairy/Winter Melon hasn't shown.

I have squeezed in some of Pat Pierce's Red Noodle Snake Bean seeds alongside the other snake beans. Probably not the best for seed saving but I want to see how they grow.

Rob, Elaine and I have been doing some crop swapping. My pawpaw, Robs mulberries in exchange for Elaine's gorgeous rainbow chard.

And thanks to J - I now have my favourite dwarf narnie back again :)

31.10.15 Growing well and putting out new leaves.

06.10.15 Since going back to work full time I've had trouble finding the appropriate time to go into the bee hive, check it all out and do some harvesting. Has to be a weekend day when it's not raining, not too hot, the bees are mostly away foraging, I don't have something else on. Easy to procrastinate.

Checked the hive yesterday and it looked like they might be preparing to swarm which gave me a jolt.

They were making a bee trellis outside the front of the hive. So I bit the bullet, put on the gear and went in. I removed three combs mostly full of honey. My extractor is very slow going (bucket system) and the tap just drizzles so it takes forever to fill a jar. Very few bee deaths though which is always a bonus. I use the smoker and brush as needed these days to avoid deaths.

Due to the slow nature of the buckets I only have a few jars at the moment and one has been swapped for some mulberries and manure.

To my surprise the Dwf Pink Shatoot mulberry had ripened a good handful of fruit in literally one day (I had checked it yesterday and found two). Very sweet.

31.10.15 Still cropping some of these each day. Youngest daughter has developed a taste for them also and goes for the bush when visiting.


We've had a few storms in areas around Strathpine but nothing more than some gentle rain here which has benefited the seedlings no end. Everything is doing well with the usual losses to Fruit Fly and a few cut worm problems with seedlings. Nothing serious, though I now have only one Burgundy Okra plant left but it should have grown to a size which is beyond the attentions of the CW.

I've been visiting the Caboolture Mkt a lot more recently for the lovely locally grown fruit and veg and can't help picking up some seedlings at the same time.

The (self sown from buried fruit) Bitter Melon plant is producing it's first fruit. Hardy and useful.

My honey bees are all over a huge amount of flowers on the old yellow Tamarillo. This plant is now getting on for five years old where normally they live for perhaps two. It just keeps getting bigger. Go figure.

28.10.15 Dwf Ducasse banana bunch ripening. Left the bunch on the porch the first night and some rodent came took a bite or two. Apart from those given away to friends, all going through the dehydrator.

16.11.15 The second bunch was all given away at the GV a couple of days back.

Pineapple forming - beautiful little purple flowers blooming.


I let my snails go free last night and this morning.

Left the lid up last night for them to leave but many were still hanging around in the box this morning. I have spread them around the yard and will provide basins of water as they are really very delicate and must have water to survive.

They don't like being shut up as the weather warms up, even when the box is under full shade. There were just getting too many of them in one smallish space and it felt cruel keeping them there. Over the time I have been observing and feeding them in their box home I have come to love these gentle little creatures.

Hopefully some will thrive free ranging. The ones I currently find in the "wild" are eating fallen leaves and stuff on the compost pile. Very rarely do I find one in my vege bed. My hope is that they provide another layer to the animal life in my garden, eating and digesting fallen vegetation and providing poop in return.


The snails have set up home around the garden in various protected spots with lots of rotting plant material on the ground. Seems to be their favourite nibble though I do leave out offerings of Collard Greens etc and a container of water on the dry side of the yard.


I spent a back breaking hour yesterday removing the Pepino (due to Fruit Fly ruining all the fruit) from the nature strip outside the front fence and replanting with parsley and hardy flowering plants (the garden faces the western sun). That's a bit of Aibika in the middle right that took from cutting shoved in and neglected and there's a bit of Cassava and some Rosemary as well. Pepino fruit hanging off the fence and orange flowers are Pomegranates.

29.11.15 We've had some horrendously hot days and some of these flowering seedlings have died off, but many have survived with water a couple of times a week.

16.11.15 Michael H gave me some fruit some time back to grow these sweet little tom treats. I just keep replanting and they just keep coming up. Thank you Michael :)


Close to the end of spring and we've started having a few of those toasty hot days that the plants dislike so much and send people scurrying for the beach or air conditioned shopping centres.

My eldest daughter has just announced that she has accepted a Librarian job in Alice Springs. I checked the weather for AS and I think she will be grateful she will be working in an air conditioned building. At least I suppose it's AC'd. Hot, dry place. Little greenery around apart from the gum trees.

Came home yesterday and the (unwanted, I just threw some branches on the ground and they rooted) Cassava had fallen from the sky into the vege bed and everything around it.

It's been growing under the Custard Apple tree for some years and I've paid it no attention. While I was busy ignoring it it was busy reaching for the sky and eventually became too top heavy. Good survival plant to have around but not a lot of use to me at present.

All cut back and going to be binned this time.

I had really given up on the Lychee tree after many years of tiny crops and I mean tiny, like one or two fruit, but looked up at it yesterday and was stunned to see it covered in developing fruit. It's been a funny old spring for flowering plants. They have gone berserk around Brisbane making it look like a giant colourful garden. Must have suited the flowers on the Lychee too.

Yummm can't wait :D

22.11.15 The Elderflower has grown to a good size (that's the clothesline on the left) and is producing lots of flower heads for making drink. As warned by Elaine it is trying to sucker. I keep cutting these back.

22.11.15 Snake bean plants are growing well from saved seed. No idea of type. Some of Pat's Red Snake Beans in there as well.

First of the Okra crop.

Orange flowering Leonotis leonurus. So far the insects are ignoring it but it is pretty.

One colour of the salvia growing around the place.

Pineapple Sage surrounding the native bee hives. Much loved by the bees.

A beautiful visitor munching away on the sweet potato leaves. It's hide out given away by the giant poo.

Figs are liking the weather at the moment. Only a bit of insect activity on the leaves.


Spent a few productive hours this morning removing the Pepino from the front garden, chopping the male pawpaw in two (hopefully it will bunch up again and provide some western shade to the front of the house) and mulching everything with barrow loads of grass clippings which have been sitting for weeks.

Room for another plant!!

Graveyard where all the big stuff goes like the pawpaw and the banana plants. Let's call it Hugelkulture, it's a catchy name for a pile-o logs.

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Comment by Lissa on September 29, 2015 at 5:38

Rob - Elderflower cuttings are yours for the taking! If you come around when I am not home there is a plant near the front gate (right beside the Jaboticaba). Feel free to bring your secateurs and take as many cuttings as you want! The plant enjoys a haircut and responds well to it. I am loving this plant. Makes such a nice drink which your kids will enjoy.

Roger - I also have a Pomegranate Wonderful and the other is one I grew from seed. The latter produced a couple of small fruit last season. I haven't taken cuttings. You are welcome to try if you want.

The pawpaw doing well here is just pot luck. You know how some plants do well in one yard and not in another! A lot of my PP plants came up all by themselves - bat droppings? Some I have planted. The fruit aren't as sweet and flavourful as I would like but they are still quite good eating. Personally, I prefer them green. The ripe ones are too plentiful and get given away.

I love my Jaboticaba :) Best plant ever. Hardy, attractive and productive. It has everything going for it.

Dave - will check out your video now. I have been eating my Samphire and I am not dead, so it's edible. Just not all that exciting as a veg.

Comment by Rob Collings on September 28, 2015 at 22:16

Your garden is a continuous inspiring sea of food Lissa.
When/if you have excess, I would love to try growing elder flower.

Comment by Dave Riley on September 28, 2015 at 22:12

Just on the oxalic acid content of Warrigal Greens....While i;'ve touched on this topic befiore, (I prefer them to most other 'spinaches' ) things may not be as they seem:

“Studies have shown that soluble oxalate levels in T. tetragonioides can range from 1.5 per cent in leaves of older plants to 12 per cent in leaves of young plants

“However, these levels are comparable to those reported in some varieties of spinach including those grown commercially. Yet people consume spinach on a daily basis.

Comment by Dave Riley on September 28, 2015 at 22:02

I have 2 samphire plants (bought) that have been slow to grow and am growing more from seed so I'll let you know what gives.There are a few samphires including Australian natives...but the one to eat is the European I gather --although the Southern Australian species here is keenly sold as an expensive salad item..

I agree: your's don't seem to be segmented like my original plants. But hey -- test option -- taste is good. So as my mum says: suck it and see. 

My plants are very tasy but nkot, as yet, bushy.

By the by: assuming its OK this time of year I'm real keen on my Portuguese Cabbage coming on --Couve Tronchuda . 

I've also planted heaps of Pigeon peas. Those sown direct both here and the school garden are coming on now --as well as earlier seedings in pots.. And while I have more in pots waiting to sprout, i reckon I prefer the PPs to the other green mulch options. Green Harvest sell their PPs with inoculant which is much easier to use and plant than their fodder mixes. 

If you were after a green manure crop: PPs. Less hassle. Edible.

So I recommend them -- but I've planted out PPs from grocery stocks, FairDinkum seeds(supposedly heritage) and Green Harvest  -- so what comes up will be interesting.

They're even planted on my nature strip!

I also ate 'em for lunch... Here's a recipe for the fresh peas.

I luvs my PPs.

Comment by Roger Clark on September 28, 2015 at 7:13

Lissa, a wonderful array of fruit and veges. I am particularly jealous of your Pawpaw tree. The fruit are huge, and plentiful. It's also interesting how fruiting times differ according to location. Your Japoticaba tree is well in advance of mine. My flowers have not yet begun to show signs of life. Also my Pomegranates are just coming back into leaf, no sign of flowers. What variety is yours? I have two varieties, one is unknown and the other a Wonderful. Do you take cuttings of your trees? I have several cuttings coming into leaf from the Wonderful, this year. They are dead easy to strike.

Comment by Lissa on September 28, 2015 at 5:27

Thanks for commenting everyone.

Darren - I probably won't net the corn. It grows a bit tall and it's too easy to pick any caterpillars off by hand. With pollination - I try to find the day when it happens naturally and give it a hand by shaking the pollen down. Sometimes it rains or it's windy or I just plain miss the day because I'm working. But on those occasions nature seems to take care of business without my interference and I still get a good crop of cobs. Winter growing was the only time the cobs were a disappointment. I don't grow it in the cold months anymore.

Phil - I work to live lol. Can't wait for the weekends when I can putter in the garden to my hearts content (depending on appts etc). I go out everyone morning and evening more than a few times.

Elizabeth - if you ever see anything in my garden you would like to try with seed or cuttings just ask won't you. For me it's all about us sharing.

Comment by DARREN JAMES on September 27, 2015 at 20:05

I was interested in your corn Lissa  in your above ground bed,first time for me this year I am growing it .Will you be throwing the net on later and hand pollinate or just leave it off.I am growing some Balinese variety from eden seeds and also some sweet corn but will leave a month in between sowing the other variety.The rest of your garden looks great also as usual the garden gods have been good to you.

Comment by Joseph on September 27, 2015 at 19:16

Nice blog, Lissa. Good to see you're growing as many varieties as ever. 

Comment by Joseph on September 27, 2015 at 19:15

Elaine, I have those snake bean seeds. They are called black snake bean. I haven't had a bean fly infestation since I stopped growing those. Growing plenty of unmolested bush beans at the moment. Lissa will be coming by probably next weekend. I can pass some snake bean seeds along.

Comment by Phil on September 27, 2015 at 18:03

Wow! Do you really work full time away from your garden Lissa? Some bountiful cropping going on there. Lots of variety too. I'll be interested in reading your future updates.

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