2010 (4)

Donna's Garden - November 2010

Well it has been a long journey but at long last MY BANANA'S ARE FRUITING!!! Ali beat me to the punch as her flower appeared about a week before mine.. but I have two (in your face Ali lol) and one with a short leaf so soon to be three! I am also almost expecting up to another four as there are plants very similar in size - seven in total at (approx) 35kg ea flower - 245kg of bananas!


Here is a blog about my banana plantations if you're interested/ missed it. I first planted these four in June 2008, nearly 2 1/2 years to produce fruit - not sure if that's a record or not but it felt like it with well meaning onlookers advising that it takes 9 months for banana's to fruit.


Check out some of the angles, they will need supported for sure as the bananas grow bigger! The two at the back are fruiting already despite having full size suckers, the one at the front on the left has a flag leaf on one despite having full size sucker, and the one at the front on the right doesn't have a full size sucker but the 'correct' teenager yet it doesn't have even a short leaf yet!


When the flower first appeared I thought it looked a bit rude - now it is a lot nicer! Not all the petals have opened yet but already I counted 70 bananas on just one of the flowers, bring on January! The plants are looking very dodgy, we will have to rig up some sort of support as the bunch grows or we might end up with the whole plant falling over.


The Infrastructure Manager has been very busy creating two more gardens down the other side of the back yard - didn't give him much choice when six more banana pups turned up. They are two of each Lady Finger, dwarf Lady Finger and dwarf Blue Java - hopefully we get one of each to survive... although at the moment looks like we'll get 100%!


To create the beds, Ash concreted the edge then I used the yellow pages to create a barrier on the grass, covered with a generous sprinkling of blood & bone, some cut up banana fronds and comfrey leaves then covered with lucerne - here's hoping the grass dies!


The tamarillos are struggling on gamely (think they get too much sun) and there is a lot of fruit and flowers, hopefully I will be able to get either seeds or cuttings going this year and I will plant some more in the new banana bed. I have both a red and an orange variety, if anyone has a different one I'd love a cutting or seeds. [Edit, my blog 'My Fruit Tree Obsession' says I have a yellow and a red... but the fruit looked orange last year?]



One of my guava is fruiting not sure which one - china pear or thai white (think it is the thai white based on my blog 14/06/10 but time will tell). These have both done really well, and that part of the garden is looking decidedly forest like with 2 x citrus, avocado and these two competing for space! I will have to give them a good haircut this year to keep them in their place.




The passion fruit have all gone crazy, Ashley has fruit already (grafted purple ones from the green shed) but mine (red and yellow panama) are finally starting to flower - lets hope this year I get some fruit! I carefully didn't fertilise them but gave a good shot of potassium and boron for good measure after last years disaster.





Most of my veggie beds are empty, slack with the succession *again*. I got out last weekend and planted a huge amount of seeds, but looks like a lot didn't come up... will have to replant corn and beans at least. The red okra came up and a few others likely cucumber, pumpkin, melons (didn't label very well either *again* - you'd think I learn my lesson but nooo lol.)





My sweet potato is out of control, it loves the rain and produces heaps of vines, but needs encouragement to put forth roots and therefore create tubers. Every so often I go and bury them by chucking a shovel load of dirt onto the vines.


Didn't realise that I planted the new stuff amongst the stuff I missed last year woops. This might get a bit crowded with tumeric, ginger, comfrey and a plant that tastes like asparagus - Scarlett can you please remind me the name?


Yesterday I got out and dug all the marigolds into the big bed (a bit early but I got sick of waiting) and finally put the irrigation system into that bed - just have to connect it to the rest - and covered all with a layer of lucerne. In general I am trying not to dig but I seem to get nematodes all the time and this is the best way to combat them, if it doesn't work I will have to do a molasses drench but that does kill all the good bugs too. I'll chuck a couple of shovels of fresh compost in there next weekend.


There are two beds out the back to clean up, they have some tomatoes that severely outgrew the tubes that I was trialling, the green zebra has grown up and then over the side and now the fruit are all hanging down the side! I am waiting for the broccoli and radish seeds to ripen and the tomatoes to finish (or another tomato elsewhere to start) before cleaning them up and putting the irrigation in.



Well during writing this blog I have searched through and found information in four of my previous blogs, it is a great relief to know that I don't have to reply on my sketchy memory!

If you want to see full size photos, they are in my November 2010 album.


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March Gardening

Well, it's been a while since my last blog post. This rain we've been having has been fantastic for most of the plants with only a few plants suffering from too much rain.

The beans have really taken off and we've been harvesting a couple of handfuls or more a week. The luffa is now taking over and growing through the beans and across the ground. I also planted some cucumbers next to the beans and there is one baby one starting to grow.

The zucchinis have been suffering from the wet weather - they have mildew and the fruit are rotting early - not sure if it's calcium deficiency or fruit fly or just the wet weather. I've been picking them early so we can eat them. I've got out there once with the milk and water mix to combat the mildew but with this much rain it's hard to find a dry enough spell for it to dry on the leaves. The plants are doing much better in this spot and are almost the size of Donna's - oh the wonders of cow poo : )

This is the luffa flowering - thanks for the seeds Donna! Hopefully it will bear some fruit soon.

Despite being mowed back to a couple of leaves, the pumpkin has revelled in the rain and is spreading its tentacles again - there appears to be some fruit but I'm not sure if it's setting. Once the rain is over I think I'll plant a new vine from some seeds I saved. The chooks don't seem to eat it - guess it's a bit spiky for them.

Here's Gonzo and Hetty is in the background. The have quite a large area to free-range in - we've fenced off the backyard from the passionfruit vine back (so from a few metres from the back of the house). They have plenty of scratching space so they haven't turned the back yard into a mess just yet. Hetty has jumped the fence once but didn't complain about going back.

The water chestnuts are flowering (you have to look really closely to see the flowers). I'm guessing after that they'll start to die back for harvest. They seem to have spread well through the tub so I'm hoping to get a few corms. The kang kong ? is next to it - waiting for the rain to stop before I put it in the other half of the tub. Thanks Cass!!

Goldilocks the bantam wants to be big chook and won't lay in her hutch, only in the big chooks' cage. If she needs to lay in the morning she races out of her cage and runs around in circles until I let the big chooks out of their cage then races in to the nesting box. So cute! She has only just started laying again after an early moult, pause for a clucky period, then finishing the moult.

A honeydew from seeds saved from a market bought melon. It has lots of fruit and is enjoying the rain. I think the fruit is just about ripe.

Corn! Viv definitel love his corn. I find it a little hard to grow - they don't seem to pollinate all that well and have had problems with possums in the past. This one is pretty much ready to pick though.

This is my jungle patch up the back - it has the corn, honeydew, self-sown tomatoes (big ones this time!), peanuts, sorghum and giant sunflowers. I sowed one row and got two! Must have self-sown from last time. No complaints. These are massive - I estimate 8 feet tall.

One of the newest additions to the family - a blueberry I bought at the markets. They were only $12 (instead of $25-30 at a certain hardware store). My neighbours had given me their azalea which I subsequently managed to kill, so I used the potting mix for the blueberry. It's growing quite quickly in it's new pot.

We've mapped out some spots for fruit tress in the front yard - we have enough space for six along the front and then maybe some more up the side of the house. We're just waiting on cooler weather (which we are getting now), some more bricks for the surrounds so I can raise up the soil (stupid clay) and some moolah to buy the fruit trees with.

It doesn't look like it in this photo, but the hedge is growing quite well with the wet weather. One plant is up to my waist - woohoo! Was thinking about getting a tea (for drinking) shrub to finish off the rest of the hedge as I hear they make good hedge plants.

Some volunteers from when I was seed saving on the back steps - pak choi and sunflowers. They are both rather small as they only get a flick with some water and rain and there's stones so the root systems are tiny. The chooks LOVE pak choi so I rip one out to give them every now and then.

Well that's all from me for now. Hoping to do some autumn planting soon.

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Donna's Garden - 08/05/10

My life has been very hectic and unfortunately my garden has been neglected a fair bit over the past few months. I am keen to get it back up to speed. A month ago I planted a whole heap of seeds but none came up which I am putting down to the soil temperature. I have yesterday planted a whole heap of seeds in a new baby green house so hopefully will have something to plant out soon. Mind you I am going to have to get some sort of mesh as my naughty chooks insist on scratching up all the seeds/ seedlings as soon as they are planted. I am hopeful that as soon as the beds are a bit more established they will leave them alone and I can get rid of the mesh... fat chance I know but that's how I sold it to the infrastructure manager ;)


The ginger and tumeric did come up, but were sadly neglected so are half the size of Christopher's but still better than none! I will try again next year for sure, unfortunately the galangal and horseradish didn't seem to make it.



I tried chopping the asparagus bed to put it to bed over winter about a month ago, but they would have none of that and promptly put up more shoots - I will have to try again next month, when it is a bit colder.


Rosella was a good producer and I had enough to make jam and cordial - separating the calyx wasn't as hard as I thought it would be last year when I was reading about it, I had it down to a fine art within about five minutes and am now a dab hand at it. Cordial is still the easiest way though as you wash the flowers, then bung them into a pot whole and cover with water. Boil until the colour has leached out then drain and add sugar, boil again and voila! I am going to try pruning them as perennials so will keep you posted.



Yakon is still alive, and growing pretty well all things considered. Not sure when to pull it up but will probably give it a few more months (along with the ginger/ tumeric) and hope that the plants tell me by dieing off.


Passionfruit has been a trial this year, think I fertilised too much. Have finally started to get some fruit setting from one of the plants but the other is just full of lush green growth with no flower set. When I chop them (soon - they're on the list) I will apply trace elements but very little nitrogen I think.


Chooks are going strong, still no eggs but the oldest might yet produce over winter - her wattles and comb are looking redder by the day, fingers crossed.


There is heaps to do around the garden, but I am gradually getting there - still heaps more pruning to go. I am so slack about moving it that I am calling it mulch/ compost and dumping it on the closest empty spot. Hey it worked with the huge pile of pumpkin vines last year!


The seeds chucked in the herb garden a few weeks ago have germinated so should have some variety soon - was down to the star survivor garlic chives and basil whic goes to seed but I just spread more from the bush when I think about it - the flowers are great bee attractors too.


Sweet potato is working as a ground cover, have just planted more under the tamarillos. Soil quality is very poor out the front, the asparagus crowns planted there are tiny compared to the ones planted out the back. Think I will move them to another spot and try to bulk up the soil with green manure. I need practice at broadcasting, check out my first attempt in the nematode bed - huge clumps of both marigold and mustard with bare patches between :)



Anyway, that's all I have time for. Anything I missed but added a photo, feel free to ask about. There is also a mystery plant or two in the photos if you get a chance to browse through them. I am starting to get too cocky and thinking 'I can recognise plants, don't have time for a label' - well not so! There will be more requests for help when the new batch of seedlings come up as it was a matter of plant now without labels ... or wait another week!


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Donna's Garden - 14/06/10

The mustard and marigolds in the nematode bed have grown heaps in the past month and look to be ready to use as green manure - is it best to chop and drop, or should it be dug in?


After a lull in planting anything, finally am starting to see some results from my direct in bed plantings out the back. I made holes in the mulch, but the naughty chooks keep getting in and scratching around and covering the poor little seedlings so every few days I am forced to go and gently uncover them again :) I didn't label anything - at the time it was plant or write labels so I figured I could figure it out as they grew. There should be a huge selection though as I know there parsnip, turnip, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, kohl rabi, carrot etc - next months blog should hopefully help me identify what came up.


The specialist seedling tray didn't work very well for some reason - I will be buying some better quality seedling raising mix, this was just a coir block - ironically I prepared two long pots at the same time and thickly sowed lettuce and mizuna which are going great guns.


The frangipani bed also has some seedlings coming up, again I can't remember what but think there was some mustard and lupins as well as a few others.


The fruit trees are doing pretty well despite a few minor problems, with the exception of the poor fig tree whose leaves have about ten different problems - hopefully as they are decidous they will fall soon and next year will be a lot better if I pump it with seaweed and bugs. The best growers so far are probably the paw paw, pepino (although suffered dreadfully last summer from being stung by moth/ fruit fly - will cover this year with mosquito netting I think), avocado, almond, guavas and bananas. I took the labels off the guavas (china pear & thai white) so I will label the photos with the type so I don't forget. The poor thai white guava had a twist tie label which cut into the wood a fair bit, hopefully it doesn't let any fungal infection in and heals properly.


The herb bed is going really well, and a lot of new seedlings are starting to grow bigger although hubby is still not allowed to harvest them yet - coriander, dill, fennel, italian parsley. Will have to try again to get some of the mexican coriander started as I don't think they came up or the normal chives.


I have planted a whole heap of chicken seedlings in the clothesline bed and they are starting to grow, think there is millet, sorghum, wheat and a few others. The idea is that I will successive plant and always have some green and some seeding to give them as a treat.


The cubby house bed had some late planted snake beans which I cut off and left to decompose, and as it was looking very empty and dry I tried to transplant a few of the mustard/ marigolds from the bed next to it for a bit of green manure. I really need to pick up a whole heap of lucerne bales and add more to all the beds, top off the piles of compost laying around to help decomposition and put at least one bale in the chicken run for them to sit on - hopefully next weekend!


The front new garden is doing well, and finally the banana pup has produced a new leaf (IM had given up and wanted to rip it out and try again). I pruned/ decimated the two passionfruit next to this bed and dumped them on the top as a mulch and will cover it will lucerne when I get more. Amazing that they are still green as that would be at least three weeks ago now... think that is what finally helped the banana pup as it now gets a bit more sunlight.


The big bed has self seeded cherry tomato growing almost to the top rail, almost ripe millet for the chooks/ seed, garlic, eggplant (didn't get around to potting one up) some sort of peas (had problems getting them to come up - this is the third time, and now have no idea what kind ended up growing). There was another tomato that I think is likely to be self seeded principe borguese which is for drying, it was sprawling everywhere and we picked it up and put a trellis around it so hopefully that works to contain it a bit better - I am slack at staking and tying so hopefully this option will be a winner, in summer I could also throw over mosquito netting for fruit fly if it works.


In hindsite all my beds should have been green manured the first growing season and would be a lot more productive by now - but at the time wasn't willing to 'waste' the beds by growing non productive stuff - duh! Think this is the most important thing to do when you have poor soil and not much money. In addition to building up the soil, I was amazed by how much more moisture the plants create and act as their own living groundcover - the nematode bed is lush and green, moist black soil while the one next to it is dry and degraded as it was almost fallow with little mulch for a couple of months - yet they both got the same amount of water (rainfall only).

Anyone in a fire ant area interested in growing pepino let me know as ours is doing well - they are related to the tomato and very easy to strike cuttings from as they have those little root nodule things on the branches and you just have to dump a handful of soil on them where they touch the ground - in fact the initial plant had about five branches that had done it by themselves which I have relocated to the old blueberry bed along the driveway - planted heaps thinking that I would lose a few but of course all took and are now growing really well despite the neglect they get there with no water and poor soil.


I have now been a member of Brisbane Local Food for two years, and ithas been an amazing journey, thanks everyone for your support, help and friendship during this time and I look forward to many more years as a part of the BLF family!

Note there is a separate blog for my chickens as they have just started to lay and I figure deserved their own this time :)
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