Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

An update of an old blog... or random update: stardate 2*s042015

Wow - this is year three of April updates:  April 2015.

1. I've accepted the flow of the seasons much better now.  Kale went in today along with tropical garlic varieties and a heap of gooseberries that came up in the compost. Gooseberries are wonderful in winter.  Snow peas put in the little dogs' yard where there is more sun.  As expected, the Ceylon Spinach has started to boom (just in time for winter). 

2. Having some Tom troubles.  Probably have a virus in a lot of my beds now.  Have 4 or 5 bushes which are starting to take off again. Checking previous years' blogs, they do much better here in winter. 

3. First two Perch harvested and enjoyed.  Great taste.  They are mostly around 30 cm now.  This experiment has been a big success. 

4.  Chickens:  all three have done wonderfully over the last year or more.  However, Ruby will be put down soon.  She is the one who has reproductive issues and she's started to lose weight.  I gave her the best life I could and now I need to "man-up" and make sure she doesn't suffer.  Had to be my favourite, didn't it?!

5. Haven't made bread in a long time but am still making cheese.  The focus now has moved to a few different blues (since my fridges are infested with blue mould).  The Swiss Blue (Brisbane Nutty Blue) is especially good and I am moving towards codifying the recipe and documenting it. 

6.  Can produce greens for salads, pesto and slaw at the drop of a hat most of the year around now.  That is one of my big goals met.   

April 2014:

1. The big girl's yard on the south side of the house has slowed down, even in my aquaponic grow bed. On the other hand, the little dog's yard on the north side of the house is picking up really well.  I have snow peas in both sides and can REALLY see the difference. Same is true of the grapes.

2. Toms on the north side are going great, as are the border flowers.

3. Jade perch are about 6-7 inches long now.

4. The plant "in bulk" lesson still applies but I have only partly applied it.

5. The new sourdough is wonderful - I am back on it.  

6. Jarlsberg is still damn hard to make.

7. The sweet leaf betel has established really nicely now and I will soon be using it in droves.

8. Ceylon spinach is a colder weather plant and has now sprung back. (Phew, I thought I'd lost it.)

9. Rozie still has everything covered in paw paw, passion fruit and pumpkin.  Some things are not worth fighting about.

10. I'm happy to see that my plans from last year for the aquaponics and chooks actually came to pass!  I feel good about that.

11. My handyman skills still leave a LOT to be desired. 

Andy's Log: Stardate 02.04.13 (or what I learned in March)

Useful things I learned this month:

1. Don't plant big tomatoes in summer - use cherries so they don't get all stung.

2. To pretty up the permie style gardens or vege patches, use pretty flowers around the front border.  Looks good, and find ones you can eat or use!

3. Don't buy cheap garden arches - they fall apart. 

4. Silver perch are too timid - use jade perch.

5. Plant things that you use - I've just put in four more sweet basil for my pesto making. Oh, and sweet potato leaves and cylon spinach go good in pesto.

6. To get a useful crop, plant in bulk.

7. Shallots go great at my place and I use them for lots of things. 

8. When you plant stuff, label it so you remember what the hell is coming up in a month or two's time.  

9. Top and tail has a limited sucess rate. The sweet potato was done that way and I am using the leaves.  Dunno if I'll actually get a sweet potato but the leaves are good.  The onions died.  I have one orange carrot plant and one purple one sprouting. 

10. Lemon basil spreads like crazy but I need to work out what it tastes good in (and it is not pesto!)

11. Don't make a ton of liquors that you will never drink, no matter how much fun it might be. 

12. Jarlsberg is damn hard to make!  I have a natural advantage with Fetta for some reason.  Normal cheddars are no good because my Rozzie doesn't love them.  And, stay away from Lipase (it is too bitter)!

13. It is really hard to get a half deaf, half blind, crippled old dog off the garage roof (so don't throw him out on the front verandah when you are half asleep).

14. My handyman skills leave a LOT to be desired.  

15. I've gone off sour dough and will return to normal bread to save room in the fridge.


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Comment by Lissa on April 26, 2015 at 19:51

After the initial struggle to get Betel established I now have far too much. It spreads, if slowly. I will start pulling some out over time.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on April 26, 2015 at 18:56

Thanks Ladies.  

I am going to cut the sweet leaf back for sure Lissa.  I can have a crack at striking a few.  I also have Betel coming out my yin yang if you want some of that.

Comment by Dianne Caswell on April 26, 2015 at 16:32

Great update on the garden. Pleased to see you aren't going to go hungry in winter and I am sure your Toms will come to the party soon. I have always found that they grow better in the cooler months, not that it bothers me as I can always think on ways to use them. So sad to hear of Ruby, you have some happy memories of her life with you.

Comment by Lissa on April 26, 2015 at 5:24

I like your idea of adding to the same months blog each year. Makes it much easier to compare previous seasons.

Very sorry to hear about Ruby.

I see my last comment below about Sweetleaf - do you take cuttings this time of year? I've become quite fond of nibbling on it when wandering around the backyard.

Comment by Lissa on April 26, 2014 at 6:38

Yeah, vaguely remember at least offering you a plant.

You have to keep removing the tips on the Sweetleaf (I've found) or you end up with lots of tough mature leaves.

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on April 25, 2014 at 20:05

Sweet mother of God.  I got one from James and one from you Lissa.  I guess I might have both - although the leaves are pretty small. 

Comment by Lissa on April 25, 2014 at 5:30

Entertaining blog Andy as usual :)

Sweet Leaf is one plant (James and Dave love this one - you eat the tender sweet tips).

Betel Leaf is another (possible you got cuttings from me for this one - good for wrapping meat parcels in for the BBQ, stir fries etc).

Kangkong is yet another (tender creeping plant that likes to grow in water).

Comment by Andrew Cumberland on April 24, 2014 at 19:53

Cheers again ladies.  Elaine - Betel Sweet Leaf is one plant.  I've heard it called something like Kankong Manis as well.  (I know Manis means sweet in Thai.)

Comment by Susan on April 24, 2014 at 18:47

Very amusing Andy - but I do concur... Pictures would just complete the image

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on April 24, 2014 at 11:44

Thanks for the update, Andy - always good to know what's happening.

If we are talking about the same plant, what I know as Ceylon Spinach is a hot-weather plant. Usually it comes into flower followed by black shiny fleshy seeds then dies down. Since the Figs cannot work out what is happening with the weather, perhaps the Ceylon Spinach is in as much of a quandary. On a side note: several Figs of my acquaintance are both going into dormancy (old leaves dying) and coming into bud. Figure that one out.

Erm, are Sweet Leaf and Betel two different plants? I don't grow either so am not familiar enough to figure it out by myself. 

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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.)

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