Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Now that the rain has come -- and gone -- I guess I can have more confidence in what's a'happening in da soil.

Today's tasks are clear: plant out the seedlings I've grown from seeds and mulch the potato plants that have come up.

I dug up some purple yams (Dioscorea alata) this week and they were very disappointing. I'm working my way through the Jerusalem Artichokes harvest...but again! my sweet potatoes are desultory. Thus far anyway.

But then these last couple of very dry months have been brutal...

To cheer my green thumb up I should start to harvest from my pigeon pea bushes. I have quite a few -- like over fifteen -- and they have all set many pods. The seed source is mixed so there is a size variation. 

In sync the black beans (aka turtle beans)  I planted have finally decided to rise up. Given their import (from Mexico) price, that's a very good thing to happen (now that Edgell has dropped the canned product). 

Hanging on hither and yon, ready to add to many a dish are my fav greens: katuk and Okinawan spinach. And now everywhere: spring onions. I grow more spring onions than any other plant as I rely on them for all my cooking needs.

Chokoes ready to harvest -- preferably when small -- and my prickly pear paddles -- nopales -- share the menu several times each week, usually in a choko and nopales combo salsa.

ABOVE:The great and noble quest:green pigeon peas

ready for harvest. At left: Loofa fruit and flower

Zing! Love it muchly.

Soon I'll be able to dig up the Yacon and here's something I did not know:

The leaves of the yacón contain quantities of protocatechuicchlorogeniccaffeic, and ferulic acids, which gives tisanes (teas) made from the leaves prebiotic and antioxidant properties(LINK)

My one big outback anxiety is the turmeric, 'cause I've become a turmeric junkee with an addictive preference for the fresh root which I lacto ferment into an everyday paste. Any excuse I'll seed a dish with turmeric. 

Indeed, my fermenting habits are thriving. I'm now lacto fermenting many different vegetables as I experiment with produce options. (See image for samples of my microbial activism) I try to eat fermented foods at every meal. Yogurt. Pastes. Vegetables, Sourdough bread. And the tastes to be harnessed are a revelation. Every ferment is unique because each one has a different microbial demographic. The prospect of growing to feed  my burgeoning ferment addiction is exciting.

At the moment, aside from the pigeon pea flowers, and the delicate yellows on my Loofa vine, the self sown nasturtiums are busting out all over in preparation to bloom, and I expect the dogbane will soon follow. 

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Comment by Lissa on June 13, 2016 at 5:12

My last harvest of SP was dismal. The worst ever. This time around all three pots are growing very well with more healthy leaves and I expect a much better crop. Just used Searles potting mix this time.

Comment by DARREN JAMES on June 12, 2016 at 19:49

Hi Dave my I harvested one of my sweet potatoe pots recently and the harvest was yes very bad considering other seasons,admittedly though I did grow them mainly for those beautiful leaves.

Comment by Dave Riley on June 10, 2016 at 17:21

Chances of germination from store boughts? Plant many and see. I do it all the time with coriander seeds.Only last year did India develop a hybridised PP for the first time--so you are likely to get  to grow a plant.

Even the sowing seeds I purchased from seed suppliers, like Fairdinkum, weren't very fertile.

But wait a few weeks, etc, and I can send you some of PP seedy dried peas as selected from my crop. Fresh.

This time of year I'd grow them in wee pots before planting out. 

More recent commentary on PPs here.

Comment by Sophie on June 10, 2016 at 7:28
That's awesome Dave, dinner at yours sounds like a diverse feast! I try germinating pigeon peas recently from seed savers but no luck - might be old seed. What are the chances the$4/kg from Indian grocers germinate?
Comment by Dave Riley on June 9, 2016 at 23:08

However you can get whole dried PPs  for around $4/ take that option on board -- even for seed to sow.

Green and fresh -- not so easily purchased. Maybe not at all.

I'm growing mine among the veg. So far no root problems.Narrow profile underground led by a tap root. As Phil says, throw light shade. Bee magnet. Simple to grow. Lovely flowers. Many farmers around the world grow them as annuals. They're short lived anyway. All branches and most stems produce bundles of pods. Very productive. You can even chop 'em as mulch to good effect.

Podding a cup full of green PPs would take some time. Dried pods much easier. The advantage from what folk have said here, is that you have them on hand to add to dishes.

Would make a good hedge or very light wind break. As I say, I pin some branches to the ground and can still harvest peas. How each cultivar  grows  is a complication. I think there are over 200 varieties in India alone and smaller breeds were developed in the Caribbean. If you grow them long term they will coalesce through cross pollination.

I'm planning to plant even more about the a nitrogen fixers and the like.Chop them back as needed.  

Would you please tell me why I have this name?
I am befuddled, but who must I blame?
You'll find me on continents and islands;
Growing in heated fields, and backyard lands;

Sustenance farming is good and is wise;
Plenty benefits look us in the eyes;
Now that jobs are scarce and are in the tank;
Go plant pigeon peas, he said point-blank.

From dried pods with six-grained pigeon peas,
In July, these seeds Pat sowed between weeds
In a hole, in the ground so I could grow,
And for three months my growth was really slow.

Grounded on ridge, at the back of her house
Far away from grazing sheep, goats and cows;
I took my place among her other trees;
My six-month green dress blows in torrid breeze.

Five fingers keep dropping stars at my feet;
Ackees split their reddish balls so discreet;
My boughs droop from pods packed like a sardine;
The light of which, you can see in between.

On sea of green, my yellow flowers sway
In clusters, seeping boughs with fragrant spray.
On Christmas Eve, Pat picked my ripened peas
With gentle hands, while ignoring the bees.

On kitchen table my green pods did rest;
She shelled each pod, with apron on her dress,
In preparation for the Christmas dish
Of green peas and rice, with turkey and fish.

Read more: Paterika Hengreaves

Comment by Phil on June 9, 2016 at 21:08

They are tall thin trees Dianne and don't block the sun much so they don't take much room in my opinion. You can also use them as living trellis for climbers. How many do you need? That depends on many things but I suggest planting a couple to start off and seeing how you go. They are fast growing so removing them or planting more are options.

Comment by Dianne Caswell on June 9, 2016 at 21:01

Though I have seeds, I have never grown Pigeon Peas. I have been led to believe a lot of room for them, is this true? If I did grow them how many plants would I need to make use of them for eating fresh and make Dahl?

Comment by Phil on June 9, 2016 at 20:49

King parrots can also be a problem re pigeon pea thieves. I also had one of my trees blown over in the recent high winds. Very resilient trees though.

Comment by Dave Riley on June 5, 2016 at 13:23

I have growth but not much in way of tubers with my sweeties...I have three types growing too. 

I have cabbage in the garden growing with kimchi and sauerkraut in mind...I'm also growing collards   and may ferment them because we don't like the taste. I also have Portuguese kale in...but tahts' primarily geared with Portuguese cuisine in mind.

Ethiopian Collard Ferment

In Ethiopian cuisine there’s a stewed collard dish known as gomen (nigella seeds: black cumin). There are variations on the herbs that flavor it, so we played with the quantities and came up with this recipe.

It’s a spicy ferment, and in Ethiopia it might be served with buttermilk curds or yogurt and a flat bread to temper the heat. At our table, it’s a strongly flavored side dish to serve with a lentil or lamb stew.

2 bunches (about 11⁄2 pounds) collard greens

1–11⁄2 teaspoons unrefined sea salt

5 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeños or other hot chiles,

minced 1 large onion, chopped

2–3 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger

1⁄2–3⁄4 teaspoon ground cardamom 

[SOURCE:Fermented Vegetables - Creative Recipes for Fermenting 64 Vegetables & Herbs  -- message me if you want the recipe]

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on June 5, 2016 at 13:01

Sweet Potatoes like a growing medium not too high in fertiliser. Figuring out the happy medium is quite a challenge. Which Searl's mix do you use, Lissa? Mine are in smallish square wicking pots and give us 1 or 2 semi-decent-sized tubers. Probably OK given the small size of the pots. I make up my own mix with very mixed results. If I could buy a bag which would work every time, I'd be happy with that.

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