Brisbane Local Food

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22.06.15 backyard

22.06.15 backyard – peak growing period for veg is winter in Brisbane. Time for the brassicas of all kinds, lettuces, toms, carrots, beans, peas, potatoes and a few “exotica” just for the fun of it – Bitter Melon, Mangels, Strawberry Spinach, Arrowhead, Collard Greens.


Mid winter and it’s nippy and overcast – we’ve had some gentle rain on and off and the ground is nicely moist. I am rugged up in fleecy trakkies, sheep skin uggs, skivvie, fleecy jumper and hooded padded coat – I look like a good Bogan should.  I have to sit on my hands to warm them but the front door is open as usual. I have inherited my English born Grandmas love of fresh air around me. The dogs cope (!hah so spoiled) by snuggling under blankets on the couch. They woke me around 3am this morning but of course they have gone back to bed while I am sitting here typing. Never mind, it’s Sunday and I can have a siesta after visiting a friends garden this morning with our gardening group Brisbane Local Food.

The cane toads have only just stopped their warm weather activities and the snails in the farm are still active every night unlike last winter where the newly purchased adults did very little. I have 100’s of new babies :) and I’m finding free ranging, wild born snails around the yard almost nightly to add to the snail farm. They are such gentle little creatures – they ignore the beds full of delicious brassicas and lettuces and go for the compost pile. I am so fond of them it will be hard to bring myself to boil them for food when the time comes.

Being nocturnal I can only watch them in action at night by torchlight when they come down to feed – you can actually hear the big ones munching. They love to travel in pairs – no doubt this helps in the wild to have a mate close to hand when it comes to breeding. Little ones often ride on the backs of the big ones – so funny to watch, like little pilots on the backs of big ships.

05.07.15 piggy back snails

05.07.15 Piggy back snails – they all do it. You can see some of the 100’s of new babies secured to the sides of the farm.

I love planting radishes as they create a crop so quickly within about 6wks.  I’ve ended up with a few different varieties this year to try out but you can’t beat the classic Champion. These were made into soup.

31.05.15 radish crop for radish soup

31.05.15 radish crop for radish soup
31.05.15 creamy radish soup

31.05.15 creamy radish soup

Simple recipe HERE.

The Soursop has been slowly ripening a crop. Also known as Graviola they are a fad at the moment for weight loss and cancer cure. I’ve had a few people contacting me wanting a bag of leaves for making tea. Blasted fruit just sits looking the same for months and then suddenly drops to the ground goes splat. This is one I managed to get before that happened. Related to Custard Apple they are quite nice, not sour but not sweet, a bit fibrous. They go well with icecream.

14.06.15 Soursop icecream

14.06.15 Soursop icecream – soften, mix, refreeze.
11.06.15 Soursop fruit

11.06.15 Soursop fruit (sitting on the edge of the snail farm).

A friend (Rob) gave me some Davidson’s Plum fruit to try. He’s very keen on them and grows a few different varieties. Not actually a plum it’s a native fruit – quite tart like a lemon. Very good for making drinks and jam etc  – another friend turned his into liqueur. Mine was turned into cordial and it was absolutely delicious with just a quarter cup of sugar added to each jug I managed to make three jugs out of one fruit.

davidson plumdavidson plum 2

29.05.15 Davidson Plum drink

29.05.15 Davidson Plum drink – isn’t it the most glorious colour. Lemony flavour with just a bit of sugar added to each jug.

That same friend also gave me a Monstera Deliciosa fruit and a plant cutting. My Gran always had these growing and we loved them as kids. They ripen a bit per day – the edible bit becomes accessible when the scales come off easily. Eaten unripe they are full of prickly bits (potassium oxalate). Well worth the effort as the fruit is delicious as the name indicates.

22.05.15 Monstera eaten

22.05.15 Monstera deliciosa fruit ripening in a glass.

From one plant bought at the local markets I have had quite a good crop of Jerusalem Artichoke. Nothing to do with either Jerusalem or artichokes they are related to sunflowers and are grown for their edible tubers. They contain the carb inulin – good for diabetics but make sure you eat your tubers fresh or they cause a great deal of abdominal discomfit. Roast, stew – use as you please.

05.06.15 Jeruselum Artichoke crop

05.06.15 Jeruselum Artichoke crop

The pollinators and I like flowers around the garden. I grow a lot of Salvias as all the pollinators seem to find them valuable and they come in a variety of colours and forms.

Below are Clitorea ternatea, a double variety from an Asian friend. The flowers are used to colour food. A gentle little creeper, the flower colour is just so vibrant.

14.06.15 Clitora ternatea double

14.06.15 Clitora ternatea double

This winter I’ve made sure I have lots of Pepino growing where ever there is a space. This gentle creeper produces a lovely little fruit that tastes very much like a juicy rockmelon but is so much easier and prolific to grow. They will fruit all year long but come into their own in winter when the dreaded Fruit Fly are dormant. Plants appreciate a bit of water and composted manure and grow very easily from cutting. They like a bit of support or will happily ramble like these below.

22.06.15 Pepino

22.06.15 Pepino

Fruit of the Pepino. They can grow as big as a hand but I find the small ones have more flavour. Eat the entire fruit! No waste.

The white choko has taken off after sitting and sulking for over a year. Not as hardy a plant as the green version I like the fruit a little better than the green. Could be all in my head of course as I haven’t done an actual comparison! All parts of the choko plant are edible so it’s a great plant to have in the garden. Eat the fruit young and sweet – raw or cooked any which way. Quite a treat. Do not! leave them to get this big for eating. Yech bland. This lot are to share around for growing.

27.06.15 white choko

27.06.15 white choko for growing.
27.06.15 white choko reached the eaves

27.06.15 Here’s the white choko vine reaching for the roof. I’m hoping it gets up there and covers it. I would love to live in one of those houses with a dirt roof where I can grow my food.

Pawpaw proliferate here. They like this yard for some reason. I eat most of them green as salad or roasted or stewed as a veg.

22.06.15 pawpaw front yard

22.06.15 pawpaw front yard

I like to encourage predators and insects into the garden and made these insect hotels some time back. Insects will only use each tube once and then move on but you can see where some mud dauber wasps and leaf cutter bees have created nests for their eggs. Even the straws were used and have hatched – see the little holes. Top right hole has a dead insect that didn’t quite make it out :(

21.06.15 nesting in the insect hotel - dead insect top right.

21.06.15 nesting in the insect hotel – dead insect top right.

The beds are lush with winter growth. Peas have started cropping, silverbeet, collard greens, rocket, beans are growing, lettuce, toms are developing fruit, mustard greens volunteer all over. All I have to do this time of the year is a little tidying here and there. It’s so enriching on so many levels.

05.07.15 lush with winter growth

05.07.15 lush with winter growth

Volunteer lettuce from some plant I originally grew years back come up in the lawn. How good is that!

05.07.15 lettuce in the lawn

05.07.15 lettuce in the lawn

Ok, now my hands are really cold and my feet are wet in their Uggs from all the dew on the grass. I feel quite alive :D Time for ham and egg brekkie with a hot chocolate. Love winter.


Nippy nippy morning but a foray into the garden at dawn (my favourite time) produced some goodies. The Samphire or Salicornia seed is sprouting and there were some nice Carambola fruit to be plucked from the tree before they fell and were ruined.


Hasn't rained for weeks but I haven't had to water either (just the pot plants) as the plants root systems now reach down deeply enough to keep themselves hydrated. Nothing much to do apart from cut what I want and do a bit of tidy up now and then.

The yard is quite messy with patches of long grass but there are so many self seeding edible plants out there at this time of the year it will just have to stay messy. The lettuce come up everywhere - in pots, in the lawn. There's Pepino, Red Mustard, Chick Weed and nasturtium growing abundantly. I don't want to mow it down.

Broccoli is starting to crop and it's the best I've ever eaten. No caterpillar damage either.

I was hunting around over the weekend for somewhere to plant the finally! chitting potatoes (keep them in the pantry with your onions NOT outside in a warm bright spot) and realised the only spot left was the compost pile. Under the surface it is rich and loose. Fingers crossed but I think they should do well there.

The Caboolture Markets are always full of surprises when it comes to home grown produce from our local area. These are Canistel fruit (Pouteria campechiana). My own tree is still yet to produce so it was good to try these out. Not blown away, but not bad. Sweetish and nutty flavour.


There has been a quest to find non-bolting versions of lettuce to grow here in our hot wet summer. Two very useful plants have come my way - 

A Choy (Lactuca sativa) c/- Janet and her Mum. Here's some info gardening friend Jeff has provided - HERE and HERE.

Canadian Wild Lettuce (Lactuca canadensis) c/- Yandina Community Garden.

A hunt on the net turns up various versions and photos of these plants, which do look very similar to each other growing in my garden.

Here's the A Choy (on 4th March) which grew, produced seed and died before winter:

And here's the Canadian Wild Lettuce coming into it's own now in July:

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Comment by Lissa on July 12, 2015 at 19:02

I have written it on the calendar to bring on the day Susan. A reminder might be a good idea also as it's so far off.

Comment by Susan on July 12, 2015 at 18:02

Hey Lissa, I would love some cuttings.  Would it be possible to bring some to the garden visit at my place?  I looked at that info, my strategy at the moment is removing infected plants and planting something else.

Comment by Lissa on July 10, 2015 at 18:05

Just say the word Susan and cuttings are yours :)

When they get thrip just cut it all back and perhaps plant cuttings again in a new area. Pepino is very forgiving.

Adults and pupae overwinter in garden soil. In spring, newly emerge...

Comment by Susan on July 10, 2015 at 17:59

Garden looks absolutely amazing Lissa.  I tried to grow pepino's but I had a really bad thrip problem in them so they never thrived.  I might try again :)

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on July 5, 2015 at 21:39

I have to admit, I'm more of a winter person as well. It's definitely our growing season in Brisbane. 

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on July 5, 2015 at 21:17

Wonderful post, Lissa.

Isn't it weird how some of us can grow this well and some that well? Microclimate? One of the many joys of gardening is seeing what does well where.

Comment by Jane on July 5, 2015 at 18:22

Great post Lissa, you always have such a prolific garden.

Comment by Lissa on July 5, 2015 at 9:07

I agree with you entirely Roger. I can't stand the full heat of summer any more. Can't function during that hot part of the day. Got to have the seasons to appreciate the good and bad of each.

Comment by Roger Clark on July 5, 2015 at 8:37

I agree Lissa, I love the cooler weather. It makes me wonder often if I shouldn't be living in Tasmania, but then when it gets windy, cold, and rainy, I don't know whether I could stand it like that for at least 6 months of the year. I find it hard to get "out and about" in that kind of weather. Each season has it's merits, Long warm summer days are great for about two hours, in early morning and then late arvo, but the bit in between is horrible, especially lately, or is it that I getting older and less able to take the heat?  I guess that this time of year is much better for growing veges, and we are able to get out in the garden, and feel the life giving sun on our backs, as opposed to in summer when it seems intent on killing us all off. Wouldn't it be boring if we didn't get the seasons to give us something to moan about? There is nowhere on earth where we would be perfectly happy with the weather all the time. Brisbane weather has it's faults but most other places have more, so we should enjoy the space and freedom we have to be able to get out there and garden. At least in winter the mowing can wait, the veges don't urgently need watering, so I can lay in for a little longer and not feel too guilty. 

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