Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

From suburban backyard to vege garden

Our dream is to be self sufficient with our own veges.
We started a couple of years ago by clearing all the golden palms from the side, and building 2 brick raised beds to enclose a paved patio. In went my favourite herbs - chillies, galangal, mint, Vietnamese mint, pandan. Then an L shaped vege bed next to the fence - bought topsoil to fill it - duhhh, dense and turned to mud when wet! - and struggled to grow Chinese cabbage, bokchoy. Cucumber on a trellis didn't do too badly, and amaranth (bayam) grew ok, chives thrived. Eggplant grew well, but slowly dug in composted material and mushroom compost.
When the big mango tree behind it died last year, we chopped most of it off, and dug out all the shade-loving plants which grew under it, and built a really raised bed, filled it this time with "garden soil" - again not the best, got too dry and had to have heaps of worm castings to help it along (we have a 3-tiered worm farm), grew tomatoes, eggplant, basil, snow peas, radishes (no good), carrots (disaster) and beetroot (nothing to show but leaves), put in nasturtiums, marigold and coriander as companion plants.

A third bed, behind this one, raised but not so high is the permanent home of 3 asparagus plants. OK we knew now to get "enriched garden soil" this time! What a difference! the asparagus plants are thriving, we actually harvested a big fat spear this year, just to taste it - yumm. As companions, I put in parsley, tomatoes and chillies, all did well, chillies particularly, tomatoes (Tom Thumb) are finished and parsley went to seed.

Then 2 more beds, beside the asparagus beds for potatoe - tried the mulch method, disappointing, a small harvest, lots of lovely leaves!

Then our neighbour was throwing out a lovely hardwood stair stringer, too good for the dump, so we pulled out a banana patch, and built a long bed, in front of the brick raised bed, filling it with lots of compost, mulch, and enriched garden soil. This has turned out to be the best bed of all, gets sun in winter and I crammed in silverbeet, choysum, celery, baby caulis, broccolini, tatsoi. purple beans, sugar snap peas - a real Chinese garden!

In the summer months, after the radishes, beetroot etc got dug out,I grew snake beans in the raised bed, the eggplant continued to fruit, but unfortunately dried out in the heatwave in December while we were away on Hols.I found that the basil had selfseeded to cover the bed almost completely!
I dug over the L-shaped bed, fertilised it and in no time, found that the amaranth had self seeded and covered the bed like a carpet.I dug some of it into the ground as green manure put in silver beet, radishes - both doing well, and celery - no sign of life!
The "Chinese Garden" is now filled with tomatoes, basil and coriander, and hopefully, the snowpeas will germinate.
Kale and mustard greens in the brick raised bed are doing really well, will be picking some baby leaves for salad next week.
No photos of my new plantings yet!

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Comment by Scarlett on June 16, 2009 at 17:20
no, it should be OK straight away
sugar cane mulch is good and affordable
yes, they can go in the compost bin, including the flowers. even if the compost doesn't get properly hot gazanias aren't keen on mouldy damp conditions either so you're unlikely to get weed seed problems from them
Comment by Addy on April 7, 2009 at 11:18
Tatsoi is like bokchoy, but much smaller, greener and more compact. I use it in salads and in stirfrys. The enriched garden soil I get from the Bracken Ridge landscape supplies is supposed to have manure etc in it - just bought a bag for $7.30 to top up the raised bed. Also bought a bag of composted garden soil from Bunnings and mixed it in. I get good mushroom compost from the Lawnton market for $2.50 a bag, from the mushroom man, it's really wet and smelly with cow manure, so when I dig it in, I can't plant anything in it for a couple of weeks. I don't use any sprays at all on my veggies.You can buy readymade worm farms in garden centres, ours is a plastic 4 tiered habitat, food goes into top and worms live and feed in the 2 top layers, the third is solid casting catchment, and the bottom is a liquid catchment with a tap. In the 2nd pic above, you can just see a corner of it under the clothesline. Feeding time is a yukky business, best left to the man of the house!!!
Comment by Scarlett on April 6, 2009 at 10:44
also mushroom compost is good
Comment by Scarlett on April 6, 2009 at 10:43
centenary landscapes in darra have some good products in bulk - their 'eco'/ 'humus' mixes. I think they also had composted cow manure.
Comment by Florence on April 6, 2009 at 10:01
Very nice ~ are those tatsoi? The leaves are so glossy and perfect; do you spray them with anything? I’ve got to get my raised beds built >__<

A book I was reading mentioned soil you can buy are usually not good quality, especially in Sydney and Brisbane, and you’re better off buying course sand and mix it with organic materials like compost and manure. So I think that’s what I am going to do ~

What’s the "enriched garden soil"? Anyone know where I can get bulk manure?
Comment by Donna on April 6, 2009 at 8:11
Everything looks so amazing, looks like you will certainly be self sufficient soon - if you aren't already! And still have enough to share with neighbours/ friends.
You are so right about good quality dirt making the difference, that is my biggest mistake so far but I'm getting there slowly.
Did you buy a ready made worm farm or build your own? I have heard they are easy to make, but have never actually seen one up close to understand how it works.
Comment by Scarlett on April 5, 2009 at 22:10
oh wow, that was such an enjoyable journey - thankyou! :)
it's just beautiful, an inspiration
and so neat - it makes me feel quite chaotic :)

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