bean (16)

I thought I had at least 2 cups of bean flour.  So, I bravely started the next experiment.  For some reason, I went onto Turkish bread.  I love the stuff and I was too lazy to do mashed potato first.  After getting the yeast ready, I discovered I in fact was down to 1 last cup of bean flour.  So, 1 bean flour to 4 wheat/bakers' flour.  The good news is that it worked - I thought very well.  

9779368056?profile=original

9779368271?profile=original

I learned that 1 cup untreated (no mashed potato) results in quite a crumbly bread (very nice though).  So, I will try the same bread with 2 cups (1.5 bean flour and 0.5 mashed potato) to 3 wheat.  I will continue until I am using as little wheat flour as will work in the bread.  The aim is to make things pretty much entirely from my own flour. I did the easiest first successfully (pancake)  and have progressed to pretty much a normal bread which is the most difficult.  I'm now getting quite cocky about bean tortillas with no wheat at all.  

Read more…

breakfast on the hill -

9779215301?profile=original9779216652?profile=original9779216865?profile=original9779217661?profile=original9779218657?profile=original9779219453?profile=originaljust a few shots of this mornings harvest ready for breakfast and the views while eating breaky ..everything is growing well including the new shade house ! so excited last night after a hectic weekend couldnt sleep so started a new quilt too ! so now its off to work I go and see what the MOTH finishes off while I am out - 

9779219296?profile=original

Read more…

2016 AUTUMN - MARCH TO MAY

This is a continuous seasonal diary which I will add to as the season progresses.

9779182266?profile=original

The weather is improving already though still a few hot days. Enough showers now and then to keep my 5000lt tank ticking over for garden use.

It's a jungle out there.

The garden - fruit trees, ground covers, flowering plants have gone berserk with growth. I need to have a major trim back. Easter is coming and the delicious thought of four days in which I can slop around in my gardening clothes and thongs, tossing composted manure around and replenishing beds with the spoiled lucerne bought from Tim (Brisbane Rural Produce) is intoxicating. People keep asking "what are you doing this Easter" and I happily reply "poo tossing". 

Some things, like the A Choy/Canadian Wild Lettuce on the left and middle of the pic are being left to go to seed. The Nopales has reached a size where it will go over in a storm again and I will have to trim it back to the original pad.

Sweet Leaf have grown into sizable woody stemmed bushes and are taking up too much space in the vege beds. Not a lot of usable "veg" from these to justify the space they take up. Cut them right back to a stump the other day. If they grow back well and good - I will attempt to keep them more trimmed than I have to achieve edible tips. They grow well from cuttings stuffed into the ground.

The blasted, so called thornless (hah) Youngberry has re-shot with a vengeance and is growing all over the ground. A trap for unwary feet. I think I will have to use drastic measures to get rid of it permanently ie poison.

The white choko which has been sitting so politely on the wire frame around the water tank for the last two years doing very little in the way of growth, has suddenly taken off. I have tried many times to train it over the tank but it insists on growing outwards.

The plant is covered in tiny potential fruit embryo on the female flowers (pic below) but the triffid like growth threatens to wrap me in it's arms when I walk that way. I will watch it more closely while home over the Easter break to see if anything (my bees would be good) is fertilising the flowers.

It's been ages since I had some choko to eat and quite a few people are asking for some to grow on for themselves. Hard to get hold of, these white ones.

I have to keep cutting back an entrance for the native bee hives on the left.

9779182478?profile=original

Little embryo white chokos on the female flowers.

9779182691?profile=original

The Brown Turkey figs have done especially well for me this season. I've been picking one to three every day. Unheard of before. They get eaten for morning tea at work.

9779183900?profile=original

Picked the last of the corn the other day. Third crop I get in during the warm months. Once again, disappointing result with cobs. The ones I get are good eating but not what they should be in size and quantity. Some plants on the last rotation didn't cob up at all.

The giant Okra are second generation from seed given to me by Rob C. This lot are bigger and thicker than any Okra I've ever seen but still just as good cooked.

Sweet Potato in the basket (white/purple) are from my tidy up of the rampant plant. Yet to harvest the grow bags but hope to get that done today (25.03.16).

9779184484?profile=original

Sweet Potato is supposed to grow sedately in tubs with frames in my yard but it has managed to escape and get a hold here and there (as SP does!).

Gees, if the world came to a crashing halt this is the plant to grow - edible leaves and tubers and it's abundant and hardy. Anyway, the rampant growth was beginning to bug me and threatening to engulf my old blind dog when she went walking by herself, so it had to come out. There were a few hidden gems of tubers in the ground but on the whole they were just too difficult to dig out of the hard packed ground without a pick axe.

Before and after some pulling.

Yes, that's a red pawpaw in the raised bed. Self sown. Manna from heaven.

9779186058?profile=original

9779186462?profile=original

I am just loving this pretty chilli plant grown from Mark B's seeds. I don't use them all that often but love the look of them growing. Chilli plants are almost the perfect plant - perennial, respond well to a cut back, hardy, decorative and edible.
9779187290?profile=originalThe Carombola is gearing itself up to a winter crop with lots of growth and flowers. Meanwhile, it never really stops cropping. These fruit drop from the heavens daily and end up in the weed tea bucket to drown the Fruit Fly larvae.

9779187890?profile=original

Have I mentioned how much the bees and I love Salvias? Another perfect plant in my book. 

I cut all the Salvia plants back about a month or so back and they respond with new growth and flowers. 

Lavender salvia with red salvia behind.

9779188492?profile=original

Purple Salvia with Blue Banded Bee.

9779189285?profile=original

Pale blue salvia.

9779190258?profile=original

Pink salvia with blue (edible) Clitorea ternatea vine.

9779191455?profile=original

Pawpaws - for whatever reason they just like this yard. Below are some brag photos of different plants around the yard. I prefer to eat the fruit green as a veg. The ripe ones get taken to work at the Respite Centre for the clients to eat. Cook appreciates the fresh fruit.

Plant donated at a GV from unknown member.

9779192088?profile=originalPretty sure this plant was also donated by the same member. Aren't they plump, velvety and full of promise.

9779192290?profile=original

Plant from Masters (?). Yep, it has reached the roof line. Will need a ladder to harvest these. The male bought at the same time had his top chopped off - should have done the same to the female but she was a bit shorter at the time.

9779193670?profile=originalLess prolific volunteer plant. A bit too shaded these days but still produces some good fruit.

9779194085?profile=original

And there's another two plants out the back grown from seed from the best volunteer plant I ever had but which finally succumbed to old age and storms. But, I reckon you're getting a bit sick of looking at pawpaw plants by now ;)

On to something completely different. Greens. So important to our diet and with so many options to grow and eat.

Remember the quest for a true Tree Collard?

True Tree Collards are best grown from cutting but they were impossible to find in Australia. I finally sourced seed on eBay ($5 + free delivery from Portugal) for Portuguese Walking Stick Collards...and they proved enthusiastic growers and good eating. The plants suffered through our summer - being attacked by everything that loves greens. Some died completely, some survived. If I removed all the affected leaves they died so I eventually accepted that I should just stand back and observe. Occasionally I would spray pests off with a hose. An ongoing experiment, I want to see how hardy and long lived they are.

Eventually Daleys advertised "Tree Collards" Brassica oleracea var.acephala for sale. Plants were very expensive at around $27 each delivered, but I bought one. How could I not.

Interesting fact - our (currently absent) new member Dragonman claims credit for bringing these into Australia on behalf of Daleys.

Below is the leaf of the Daleys plant on the right and my Walking Stick Collard on the left. There is some difference despite almost identical growth habits. The Daleys plant has a pale stem and the WS a darker stem.

9779194674?profile=original

More mature darker stemmed Portuguese Walking Stick Collared in the foreground and the Daleys Tree Collard with a pale stem in the background. Hopefully both should grow from cutting and both eventually produce seed. The PWSC is putting up shoots much to my delight.

9779195471?profile=original

While we're on the subject of good greens I have developed a great fondness for Tahitian Spinach aka Celery Stemmed Taro. Great plant. Negligible Oxalic Acid and can be eaten raw (I watched someone do it at a workshop at Yandina).

It is not Cocoyam despite the common name in the link. It is also not Taro (see descriptions for all three in the link to Cocoyam).

Cocoyam is similar but different and eaten for the tuber not the leaves. Cocoyam leaves are high in Oxalic Acid and should not be eaten raw. I can vouch for that, having done it. Like digesting needles as it goes down the throat and esophagus. Didn't stop until it reached the stomach.

From an old posting by Scarlett

Taro = Colocasia esculenta; 

Cocoyam = Xanthosoma saggitifolium - Apparently the cocoyams with brown or purple stems are not suitable for eating - choose only those with green or pink stems.

Tahitian spinach = Xanthosoma brasiliense.

Wish I had a wet spot to get the Tahitian Spinach growing a bit more abundantly. 

9779195670?profile=original

Stem to leaf join on the Tahitian Spinach.

9779196461?profile=original

Stem to leaf join on the Cocoyam and Taro.

9779196669?profile=original

Can't do a blog without a nod to the incredible, prolific, sweet and wonderfully edible Jaboticaba (in the basket below). Small leafed. Bought from Daleys about six years back. Pretty bush that produces repeated crops during the warm season. Waiting to see if it will flower up once more for me but it seems to be having a rest. 

I give it a bag of composted horse poo and toss fresh grass clippings under it now and then and a water once a week. Don't know if it really needs any of this but, like wearing lucky undies, I can't bring myself to stop "just in case".

Gardening friend Fran in Tassie has been sent some seed and will attempt to grow them down there. She's one determined girl and will hopefully succeed.

Roger turns them into jam. I eat them chilled and make Shrub drink out of them. Added some Vermouth to the mix last night. Yum.

Dragon fruit cropped well once again. DM tells me I have the common self pollinating one. Yay for that. The others sound like a lot of mucking around for a slightly tastier fruit.

Also in the pic is my one and only pumpkin, a Persimmon and some Tamarillo fruit. The latter tree is old and the fruit smaller and not as nice flavoured as from a young tree. Either that or I am losing my taste for them.

9779183666?profile=original

I have been given a Red Dacca. It's grown well but I noticed this morning that the newest leaf is pale. May not mean anything but worth watching. Planted into a bag of composted horse poo which gives the plant a real boost in the beginning. NOTE: The leaf has turned green.

9779197669?profile=originalWe're always on the look out for plants that bees, both native and honey, love. I love Rocket (used to hate it, also used to hate Coriander) and this Wild Rocket has proven a hit with the bees and myself with it's prolific growth and abundant flowers. Here's one of my girls visiting.

9779197694?profile=original

25.03.16 I emptied out the Sweet Potato tower grow bags this morning. Talk about a lousy crop. The whole sad tale in is the SP Tower BLOG at the end under "2016". I've no longer got the purple/purple variety growing either. 

28.03.16

What a delightful Easter break this has been.

A nice bit of drizzly weather has made working outside very comfortable. I'm thrilled with what I have achieved in three days - beds have been replenished with cut back plant material, grass cuttings, lucerne and topped with a layer of composted horse poo; unwanted plants have been removed; the Cassava under the Custard Apple has once again been chopped back and this time I've poisoned the stumps.

I still need to move the giant pile of grass clippings out the front (thanks Brad the Mower Man) into the back yard and rob the hive but these are two things that can wait.

Now to choose some seed and get it planted. The fun part :) and my reward. Change of seasons is really the only time I do actual work in the garden apart from a bit of daily maintenance. 

I strongly recommend you DO NOT PLANT CASSAVA - not unless you plan on keeping a close eye on it and dig up everything each time to start with fresh cuttings. I did not actually plant this patch. I tossed some old cuttings to mulch under the custard apple and the blasted things took root. I cut it all back 3mths ago and to my astonishment found supposedly dead bits of leftover wood still hanging out of the CA tree but putting out green shoots!!

I hate resorting to poison but apart from some big strong person hacking them out of the ground with a pick axe this is the only remedy. The long stems are all being chopped and binned.

9779198680?profile=original

Beds replenished and ready for winter crop. I seem to be acquiring a bit more permanent stuff in each bed each year. Less room for veggie growing. Might have to remedy that.

9779198877?profile=original

I have a small patch of Jerusalem Artichoke - come up again from tubers I left in the ground last year. Good. I like plants that are hardy and resilient like this. All through summer I grew other things over the dormant tubers.

9779200074?profile=original

9779200688?profile=original

Seed saving is a full time job...and I just don't have the knack. This is the mess I have to wade through to find some seed for this new season. The dear little four tray holder on the right was what I naively started out with. Then came the big shoe box and it has since branched out into other containers. 

9779201664?profile=original

31.03.16 Trying again with garlic. Small purple from Joseph and the large corms from two bulbs bought from Caboolture Markets and locally grown. Planted out this morning.

Yet to decide where the potato bits are going - probably back into the compost pile like last year. NOTE: The compost pile is exactly where all the spuds ended up.

9779201894?profile=original

30.04.16

Four weeks later and Joseph's garlic is growing well. The big bulbs are still sitting there but not putting out shoots yet.

9779203056?profile=original

31.03.16 My little garden helper Freya - almost completely blind, often incontinent around the house and in bed with me and at the end peeing blood, but still a happy little beast enjoying her food and a game - has had her last day today. Always a hard decision to make. We will miss you little girl. 

9779203655?profile=original

03.04.16

Looking back on previous blogs for this season I always seem to plant a lot of things which either just don't come up or don't perform as expected. But...I feel I'm learning each season.

This time around I've planted some Purple Pod Peas (saved seed from crop grown from Pat Pierce's seed), Yellow Pod Peas (lord knows where they came from - anyone remember giving them to me?), Broccoli (seed saved from last seasons bought seedlings - sweet and long cropping, slow to bolt - only a dozen plants came up from this seed and I had to buy seedlings from the same supplier), lots of Rocket (from my own saved seed), various lettuce (a lot didn't come up, had to buy seedlings and more seed), garlic (see photo above - small purple ex Joseph and giant bulbs from local market), potato (at the moment just eyes from bought spuds and some seed potato from Rob C), Kentucky Wonder Bean (bought seed),  Cherokee Wax Bush Bean (did not come up), Oregon Giant Snow Pea (bought seed). I have a little space left to grow some cauliflower. Will most likely pick up some seedlings at the market this morning.

Still growing snake beans, Jack Beans, rocket, Portuguese walking stick collard greens (had some steamed with butter S&P last night and they were good!). The mini caps are still growing but need a haircut to refresh them - fruit often damaged by FF. Lots of chillis including Phil's black one now fruiting.

04.04.16

Bought yesterday from the Caboolture Mkts as seedlings - Collards (seem to be some short growing form, hairy leaf), sprouting cauli (seems to be the cauli version of broccolini), cauli (regular white variety), carrots (orange and purple - no variety given - continuing my experiment with growing these from bought seedlings - tried splitting them up but too difficult to seperate them - perhaps a good soak in water might have done the trick - too late, planted now).

I have some Listada di Gandia eggplant coming up from saved seed. Definitely my favourite.

10.04.16

Speaking of eggplant - these beautiful little purple jobs are producing an abundance of fruit and they are delicious and sweet. I have no memory of where the plant has come from but guessing a seedling from Caboolture Mkts.

9779196875?profile=original

Cropped this Stars and Moon water melon the other day and it is a beauty. Juicy and sweet. I feel so chuffed having successfully grown it! Had a few fruit from three or four seedlings bought from the market so altogether a good year for melon for me. 

9779205261?profile=original9779205858?profile=originalThe Jack Bean Canavalia ensiformis introduced to me by Vinay (three seed planted, two lived) is a very strong and healthy grower. Now starting to produce pretty lavender flowers and bean pods.

Tried some steamed last night - flavourless. Better chopped up into a flavoursome dish where they keep their colour and meatiness. One person suggested they might be stringy but this is absolutely not the case.

9779206075?profile=original

16.04.16

What a beautiful morning. The last two nights have been so deliciously cool I have worn a jumper to bed...but then I only sleep with one bamboo blanket over the top. No rain for some weeks and I'm suspecting that despite the morning watering of seedlings and seeds planted for Autumn/Winter crops the days may have been too hot and dry as few have come up.

Bloody roaches have decimated the Listada di Gandia eggplant seedlings that came up. I don't have any more saved seed for these. Will have to buy some.

The white choko is finally starting to produce fruit. Around the corner in the shade, not in full sun as I expected.

9779206868?profile=original

And I have purple/purple sweet potato back courtesy of Anne (Gibson). Thank you for going to all the trouble of posting these to me Anne, much appreciated.

This lot planted out purely in Searles potting mix.

9779208290?profile=original

17.04.16

I've had very little success with seed so far. There have been a few hot days which could have caused havoc despite the daily morning watering. Lettuce, Broccoli, Beans and Peas are the main culprits. The broccoli is saved seed from last years delightful crop grown from market bought seedlings, so not a lot of surprise there.

I soaked the bean and pea seed for a day before planting on this occasion - something I don't normally bother with. Replanted without soaking.

The Snowpea Oregon Giant I think did not come up last year either (The Lost Seed). I've replanted but this will be their last hoorah.

The Purple Pod peas saved from plants grown from Pat Pierce's seed last cool season have also not come up and there is no sign of the pea when I dig around. Lots of worm activity. I have also replanted these with the last of my saved seed.

A few seedlings from the saved broccoli seed have come up. Replanted today. I really want these to grow.

Kentucky Wonder beans (Willowbrook Cottage) have not come up and no sign of the bean when I dig around. Replanted today. Last hoorah.

If they don't come up in the next couple of weeks I will overplant with sugar snap peas and bought broccoli seedlings.

Have also planted some Cardoon seed saved from a couple of years back. Wouldn't mind trying these again and would like some fresh seed to save.

30.04.16

Labour Day Long Weekend. Delicious temperature and drizzling. Apart from talking to the neighbour over the fence and phoning the vet I am having a human being free day. 

I'm defrosting the freezer (still in PJ's) in between nipping outside to broadcast and plant various seed. Some of it a bit old so while I run the risk of drowning in vegetation I suspect a lot won't come up. Things like Fennel, Dill, Lunga Della Riviera Leek, Yellow Eckendorf Mangel Beetroot, Meadowsweet, Chinese Celery, Giant of Italy Parsley, Purple Climbing Beans, Berlicum 2 Carrot, Land Cress, Lettuce (Auzzie Yellow, Royal Oak Leaf, Lollo Rosso, Salad Bowl Red), Sugar Snap Sugar Ann, Listada de Gandia Eggplant, Champion Purple Swede, Phacelia, Viroflay Spinach, Catnip, Chive, Mangel Wurzel, Fengyuan Purple Eggplant (from Joseph).

I've still got a container full of packets that I have no room to plant out.

Nearly everything is looking healthy and responsive to the cooler weather and bit of rain.

Rob gave me a seedling a few weeks back for a mini Pepino type Solanaceae and it's doing really well. Developing some flowers so it will be interesting to see and eat the fruit. Must ask him for the correct name.

9779208693?profile=original

Caulis from bought seedlings growing well.

9779209673?profile=original

Some of the broccoli seedlings. Saved seed only produced a dozen plants so resorted to bought again. Naked patches are were the roach babies, tiny teeny little destruction machines, have munched some to death. Roach baits are a little helpful.

9779210453?profile=original

A few happy sunflower faces from broadcast bird seed.

9779210498?profile=original

Mini caps grow well from seed in store bought fruit.

9779210291?profile=original

Some of the remaining gnarly year old Walking Stick Collard greens are putting up beautiful little shoots.

9779211268?profile=original

I've had maybe 5 fruit from the White Choko vine. A bit disappointing so far but it may yet come into it's stride. I've allowed a couple to get to a size where they may shoot for me and be planted in other locations around the yard. Very sweet eating roasted.

9779212059?profile=original

Seeds are coming up everywhere. When I top dress the pots with composted horse poo it's makes a great place to grow more toms - these are Romas - and lettuce.

9779212465?profile=original

Eggplant are loving this weather - producing at the moment is the small sweet purple, these Black Beauties and a Listada Di Gandia.

9779213252?profile=original

01.05.16

It's a beautiful drizzly Sunday morning. Sitting here eating Eggs Benedict with local avo and smoked salmon, listening to the gentle pat of the drops falling. Lovely. I ventured out this morning and spread around a packet of All Seasons carrot seed. No room for anything more!

One of the interesting plants I picked up from the Caboolture Mkts a few weeks back is this "Collard Green". Obviously not the same as my Walking Stick Collards or the Tree Collard from Daleys. Good eating steamed though. Slightly hairy leaves.

9779177488?profile=original

15.05.16

What a beautiful relaxed weekend. Just went out to pick some greens to go with my roast pork dinner (with home grown roast eggplant and white choko) - spoiled for choice with two varieties of Collards, Beets, Asian greens - and the Kookaburras were calling enmass from a power pole nearby. Bliss. Hugo and I love it.

I have a mystery plant thriving in the veg garden and it looks like an Angled Loofah. Absolutely no idea how it got there. Must have been a seed substitute but it's growing hale and healthy on the bean/pea frame so hope it provides some veg to eat. NOTE: Ate some - yuck. Removed the plant as it would have taken up space I could use for growing edibles.

9779214068?profile=original

28.05.16

Autumn is almost over, not that it's been much of an autumn. Mornings are a bit cool but days are still warm. No rain for many weeks and un-watered parts of the garden are wilting badly. Reduced to using town water on the veg beds due to the low level in the rain water tank.

Cabbage White caterpillars are still rampantly doing damage but I have so many different greens growing that there's still plenty for me. I pick the caterpillars off by hand or squash them.

Lettuce and other greens are loving the weather. Broccoli and cauli are growing strongly and should produce well. Peas and beans are not. I have replanted both up to four times with very poor results so far. Will wait for some cooler weather to try again.

Below: One lush little corner is pretty indicative of how the general veg are growing - garlic, collards, Asian greens, carrots loving the current weather.

9779214081?profile=original

Attempting to grow the Walking Stick Collards from cutting and so far they are looking really good. Time to remove the two year old parent plants I think - very decimated by caterpillars.

9779215496?profile=original

The Jeruselum Artichoke and Water Chestnut are both dying back. Time to harvest and replant.

9779215100?profile=original

I visited the home of friends Ian and Christa a few weeks back. Their garden is stupendous - chocka full of interesting plants. But the highlight was meeting their two new babies, a little brother and sister pair of foxies. Cutest little beasts you ever did meet tumbling and playing all over the house and yard.

9779216267?profile=original

Read more…

2015/16 SUMMER - DECEMBER TO FEBRUARY

This is a continuous summer diary which I will add to as the season progresses.

9779160087?profile=original22.12.15

Hot and basically dry with some overcast days but enough showers to keep the rain water tank ticking over for watering.

Some plants are enjoying this weather, some aren't. The cucumbers (Lebanese) and snake beans do not like it oddly enough. After cropping a few good cucumber fruit, perhaps 10, the plants have succumbed and have been cut back. Perhaps they will regrow. More likely I will replenish the bed and start again with some new seedlings from the markets.

Land Cress growing in the middle of the bed. Surprisingly heat tolerant.

9779161059?profile=original04.01.16 Replanted 29.12.15 with these Mini White cuc found in the giant box of seed and due to expire this year.

9779160271?profile=original

13.02.16 Five weeks later I have some good growth with flowers. Also some pest activity with aphid and fungus. Not a good year for me with cuc.

9779162052?profile=original22.12.15 Some of the snake bean crop. The red come from Pat Pierce's seed. The speckled comes from lord knows where. A throwback perhaps.

9779162662?profile=originalAnd the green, planted from saved seed. I've seen a mouse getting around in my beds. It's tucking into the beans during the night and eating the seed out of the pod.

9779163072?profile=originalThis is the other side of the snake bean frame. Not so happy in the current conditions.

NOTE 29.12.15: This side of the frame cut back and replanted with Joseph's snake bean seed.

9779163686?profile=originalLet's get the painful stuff out of the way first :/

The bumper crop of Lychee fruit I thought I was going to be eating are dying off. Probably not enough water.

9779164274?profile=originalOn the other hand the reliable old custard apple is producing lots of little fruit.

9779164300?profile=originalDense plantings are doing best in this weather, providing shade for their own roots. Self sown Florence Fennel is going to seed among some Kale and Canadian Wild Lettuce (A Choy). The Fennel flowers are attracting lots of different insects.

The Nopales and ginger are growing in separate pots. Poor old Nopales has become root bound in it's pot and needs to be started again which is tricky as the base pad (the oldest one) has produced some impressive spines.

9779165068?profile=originalThe Burgundy Okra are growing quite slowly but producing a few useful fruit.

9779165488?profile=original22.12.15 Rob's green Okra are hitting their stride though. They are getting more sun than the red.

04.01.16 They are getting woody and unusable more quickly than usual. Hit hard by leaf eating insects.

9779166294?profile=original22.12.15 The Brown Turkey figs are thriving with potential here for some good eating. The fig beetle is trying to mate and lay it's eggs. With a flick of my fingers I practice coitus interruptis daily with these wee nuisances in the hope of slowing them down.

9779167074?profile=original29.12.15 To my surprise one of the figs was ripe. Delicious.

9779167852?profile=original22.12.15 The Bitter Melon plant, though now many months old, is still producing these useful fruit for me. I've replanted seed and will remove the old plant when it shows signs of slowing down.

9779167701?profile=original04.01.16 One of the BM fruit ripened and about to burst.

9779168880?profile=originalThe yellow fleshed pawpaws have all ripened bar a few small ones and been eaten at work by our respite members.

The oblong fruit from this self sown plant is still reaching it's potential. Hoping for some red fleshed fruit.

NOTE: Turned out to be a sweet red pawpaw!

9779169670?profile=original9779170289?profile=original22.12.15 Corn and zucchini are loving the conditions....

04.01.16 The corn (second crop) is starting to flower even though some are still very short - 25cm. These seedlings were a bit tall and possibly root bound in their little pots when I bought them. Should have chosen the smaller ones.

NOTE: While I did get quite a few reasonable edible cobs from this stunted planting I've taken extra care with the third planting done yesterday 31.01.16 - minerals sprinkled around (granite and basalt) and MycoApply sprinkled under each seedling on planting. These seedlings have come from a different supplier also.

9779171463?profile=original20.02.16 Third and last corn crop of the season - planted out as described above. Doing much better than the previous crop. Seedlings growing in a bit of shade from the Bitter Melon on the right not showing as much height.

9779171290?profile=originalAnts are loving the zucc flowers. Zucchini get both male and female flower like pumpkin (thank you Elaine) so assistance with pollination is unlikely unless the ants like long walks.

NOTE: The yellow zucchini seem more keen to produce fruit. All the green - planted in the raised beds - were duds and either died or were removed by me.

9779172468?profile=original04.01.16 Little zucc fruit. One of my favourite snacks.

9779172864?profile=original22.12.15 Carrots are doing well enough. Seed growing this season wasn't very successful. Carrot seems to like to be grown from fresh seed and some of mine was a couple of years old. Then again, may have just been the bout of hot days straight after I planted them. Some seed came up then I resorted to bought carrot seedlings for the first time ever and they are growing really well. Should have thinned them out a bit more.

NOTE: Have been cropping some carrots but they haven't done well this year. Stunted. But tasty.

9779173288?profile=originalThis self sown pumpkin vine is going places. After climbing the Elderflower it's taking control of the clothes line...which is ok for the time being as I usually use the porch line. I ate some of the excess male flowers last night in a "Thai" dish. I love Thai food but cook it abysmally.

31.01.16 Finally have a fruit forming! I was out one morning and saw a female flower closing up so I pollinated it.

9779173901?profile=original9779174280?profile=original20.02.16 - 11days later it's starting to colour up. Hopefully will mature before the plant has to be cut back.

27.02.16 The job has had to be postponed so the pumpkin, nicknamed Fred, is safe to finish growing.

9779174682?profile=original22.02.15 This Sweet Capsicum also went into the dish. I've been growing mini caps using the seed from store bought fruit and they are proving quite productive and hardy.

NOTE: Fruit Fly just love these little fruit. Blasted things.

9779175298?profile=original 04.01.16 Mini caps grown from seed of previously eaten fruit. Every time I open one I bring the seed out and plant them.

9779175084?profile=original22.12.15 The Walking Stick Collards are hanging in there. Not heat lovers but they are surviving, apart from a couple of plants I removed. You can see from the holes in the remaining leaves (I removed a lot of leaves affected by some very dedicated and hard to shift aphid) that they are popular food among the local insects. Still some for me in there.

9779176455?profile=original29.12.15

Woke this morning to the glorious sight of dozens of dragon fruit flowers at dawn. What a beautiful thing they are.

Keeping a record of the growth of the fruit from day to day. Deadly dull stuff at the moment but hopefully will be more interesting when you can scroll through the pics at speed and see the growth.

Front porch near the flowering Lillypilly....

9779176861?profile=original...and more out the back - many hanging over the neighbours side of the fence.

9779177652?profile=original31.01.16

End result of this lot of DF flowers. I've been taking the fruit to work for morning tea as it ripens. Very interesting to see the reactions of our elderly clients who have mostly never seen or heard of this fruit before. They have nearly all been willing to try a spoonful, likening the flavour to Kiwifruit, and two have asked for cuttings.

NOTE: For maximum sweetness Pat Pierce (Rockhampton) recommends cropping five days after colouring up. Tarter if you pick immediately as I have been doing.

9779178261?profile=original28.12.16

The Pomegranates on the seedling grown tree have been ripening fast. Picked some yesterday, careful with the thorns. Nice and sweet and juicy but not as much pulp laden seeds (or sarcotesta) as the store bought fruit. Fun fact: Native to Iran and India technically they are a berry.

The Wonderful fruit is still very green and much larger than the seed sown plant fruit.

27.02.16 The Wonderful fruit never did turn red but the insides are top notch pomegranate.

9779178466?profile=original24.12.15 The original patch of Williamette raspberries have made a comeback thank goodness, after my failed attempt to move plants onto a nearby frame. Hardly game to touch them again. Grasshoppers are making a meal of the leaves but not affecting some decent fruit growth.

NOTE: Most of the fruit has withered in the current conditions and no doubt due to the grasshopper damage done to the leaves. Never mind, the patch survives for another day.

9779179252?profile=original28.12.15 I have one yellow zucchini plant out the front. This incredible plant gives me a sweet fruit a day which is usually munched on raw. This one doubled it's size in one day and ended up in dinner. Black Jack Zucchini planted out the back a few weeks back are developing flowers and fruit.

NOTE: The latter black zucc came to very little - producing few fruit and dying or being removed. Could be the location didn't allow enough air flow. Could just be that the yellow is a better plant to grow.

9779179697?profile=original24.12.15 The self sown brillantaisia guianensis out the front has bloomed and it's really quite eye catching. A relative of the salvias per Christa. It can stay so long as it doesn't try to take over the world and can prove it's worth as bee attracting.

9779180471?profile=original04.01.16 Michael H's little Thai Ginger plant has filled the pot in no time at all. Must start using it.

NOTE: Almost impossible to get anything out of this pot! Michael tells me he hasn't harvested any of his yet. Phil calls it a Lesser Galangal - as opposed to a Greater Galangal which is tall.

9779180682?profile=original04.01.16 My first ever Turmeric plant. Finally managed to get one growing. Pot is possibly too small but it seems happy enough at the moment, no doubt tooted through the bottom of the pot into the soil.

9779181699?profile=original04.01.16 Lagerstroemia or Crepe Myrtle. One of my favourite flowering plants. I had many different colours in a previous house but only this one here. The native bees will be all over it once they realise it is blooming.

If you have one, dead head the spent flowers as they start to form seed heads and it will re-bloom.

9779182854?profile=originalAlso blooming purple Cats Whiskers Orthosiphon aristatus. Member of the mint family and easy to propagate from cutting.

9779183287?profile=original04.01.16 Maranta, thanks to Janet's original gift, has now established itself well. Edible tubers - usually harvested when the plant starts to die back winter/spring. I might try harvesting throughout the year now that I am more familiar with it's growth habits.

9779183500?profile=original04.01.16 Dwf banana growing very well :) Thank you thank you.

9779185080?profile=original02.01.16 Callistemon flower - my little camera doesn't do it justice. Pale pink and beautiful.

9779185884?profile=original07.01.16

Having an enforced week off due to shingles on my face. Pain free initially due to an early start on the anti virals but required to stay away from work so....thinking of it more as an unpaid holiday that I didn't realise I was going to have. (31.01.16 - apart from the scar on my chin from a bacterial infection in one rash I have no visible sign left of the shingles rash but the whole right side of my face is always itchy, especially at night, and sometimes quite numb. 26.02.16 The itchy was ruining my nights sleep - now using a Homoeopathic remedy to give some relief).

Went into the hive this morning and harvested four combs. The last one was so heavy it fell off into the hive - always a tricky situation. Honey on everything - the knife, my clothes, my gloves. Five bees managed to get inside the suit with me somehow - removed the suit three times without being stung. I really must get a full suit when I can afford one.

Anyway, here's the harvest so far minus one jar given to a friend who dropped around some Davidson Plums and beautiful big cucumber for me. Thanks Rob :) There's still more in the buckets but it takes time to dribble down to the bottom.

9779186671?profile=original09.01.16

Soursop fruit. Relation of the custard apple but the fruit is zingy sweet/tart and a bit fibrous. Either a bat or a rat has decided this one is ripe enough to eat.

9779187458?profile=original31.01.16

Garlic (on the left) bought from the Caboolture Mkts this morning as "locally grown". Looks suspiciously like the Chinese one on the right but still has some roots attached - something not permitted with the imported stuff. So I/we have decided it may be locally or at least Australian grown after all.

9779188281?profile=original30.01.16

Went along to one of Tim Auld's top bar beekeeping workshops at Stockleigh today and it was really very good, thank you Tim. Lots of background information about beekeeping in general over the years and bees themselves with lots of practical hints on bee keeping.

The afternoon was spent robbing one of Tim's top bar hive, learning to make candles and fix our comb guides with wax and string. Very good value for $85pp.

9779189255?profile=original11.02.16 Bartered with Rob some of my honey for one of his home grown Aquaponics Jade Perch. 30cm long when harvested at about 1.5yrs old. Plump, meaty and with a good layer of fat. It was delicious stuffed with a lime and Davidson's Plus fruit from Rob and cooked in a steamer pan with a mix of home grown and store bought veg.

9779190054?profile=original01.02.16 Interesting new veg thanks to Vinay from work. Canavalia ensiformis or Jack Bean.

Not a lot of flavour on their own per se, they keep their colour and firmness chopped into a dish. They grow in summer, hardly any pest problems. Pretty useful in my book.

9779190667?profile=originalSix seed provided, three planted in my bed and the others given away to Elaine, Christa and Dianne.

9779190693?profile=original11.02.16 One week after planting I have three seedlings, this being the best looking. One is slightly chewed but hanging in there.

9779191083?profile=original13.02.16 I grow five or six different chillis - mainly because they're pretty, perennial and easy to grow.

I use perhaps two a month in cooking and give a lot of them away. Some of the Indian ladies at work ask for them regularly. One eats them outright with her meal of curry and rice.

Note the insect home on the leaf curled up in the middle of the pic. A Leaf Cutter bee has already had at it and now someone else has curled it up for a cozy spot to live.

9779192466?profile=original13.02.16 The trial crop of my treasured Walking Stick Collards have proven appealing to all sorts of pests and I am trying to let them sort it out for themselves as much as possible. When I remove all the leaves the stalk dies. I need natural predators to develop for what ails them (caterpillars, grasshoppers and aphid - no fungi problems).

I have high hopes that they will come into their own again in the cooler weather, providing me with a supply of tasty greens. The trial crop planted last cool season (maybe 9 or 10mths old now) is to see how long the plants will live and what sort of pest problems they will have. I have more seed to plant out if this lot prove to be spent.

9779192700?profile=original20.02.16 Collard Greens - Now this is very interesting (at least to me with my CG experiment). Out checking the garden this morning after some fabulous rain last night and found this little Collard Green growing away to the side of the bigger ones. (It's in the bottom of the pic against the garden edging).

Tried gently digging down to see it's source and it seems to come as a shoot from the bigger live plant on the left - the very left one is dead and now removed.

If they shoot by themselves this is very good news! These can be also be propagated by cutting apparently. I tried one but the weather was too hot - more of a cool weather project.

27.02.16 Found another shoot! Excellent.

9779193086?profile=originalThe pests are making a meal of all the CG plants BUT while standing there (I admit it, I was picking off Cabbage White caterpillars) I found a tiny fast moving leech-like predator on the moist leaf obviously enjoying a meal of aphid and a little parasitic wasp hunting for caterpillars. I just need to leave nature to it and she will create predators for my pests - like the ones below eating aphid.

9779194097?profile=original13.02.16 Patience needed! The Dwf Pink Shatoot mulberry is working itself up to another bumper crop of sweet, sweet fruit. So glad I didn't succeed in pulling this plant out by the roots during our earlier touchy relationship. The plant just needed some time to come into it's own. With the help of a few threats.

27.02.16 Still waiting for the green fruit to ripen. Much slower than the Black.

9779194862?profile=original07.02.16 Loving the Jaboticaba. Blog HERE. This is the best fruit tree in my book. These fruit are so sweet - delicious eaten chilled. The only "pest" I see on the fruit is a bit of Woolly Aphid which is easily wiped off.

The tree now repeat crops immediately after the last flush of fruit.

Okra has been hopeless this season. The fruit in the pic below were all woody and inedible. Composted. Rob isn't having this problem - he brought me some good fruit from his garden.

Still waiting, waiting for the pineapple to ripen. Gotta be patient with pineapple from start to finish.Two years to grow a fruit.

NOTE: The pineapple ripened to a super sweet little fruit. Well worth the wait.

9779181062?profile=original13.02.16 Both SNB hives are going great guns. Happy little darlings they are.

9779195487?profile=original13.02.16 A drama is unfolding in the garden. Gecko's have ruined two of my air con units. You can see one behind all the foliage. The electrician is coming in two weeks to replace the units so by then I will have to have all this planting cut back. The fig (White Adriatic) will mostly likely have to go, great pity. The Elderfower won't mind being cut back. But the pumpkin vine needs a bit of time to ripen this fast growing fruit. My only one!

All the Dragon fruit and the dead stump it is growing on will also have to come out. Can't expect the guys to work around a cactus.

9779196257?profile=original13.02.16 One last bowl of Elderflower cordial from flowers on the bush I have had to cut back. Leftovers of the last batch in the bottle.

9779196086?profile=original20.02.16 Nice surprise this morning to find these two gorgeous little eggplant fruit.

9779196875?profile=originalAlong with this Black Beauty (seed grown) forming.

9779197454?profile=original20.02.16 Weird shaped little watermelon on the Moon and Stars plant/s. I've had four fruit this season - best I've ever done. Nice eating too. Note the Tramp Snails out after the rain last night. I don't find they do much damage - they seem to focus mainly on decomposing plant material so in fact help.

9779198491?profile=original20.02.16 Next lot of DF ripening. Hanging off picking until Monday or Tuesday (5 days from colouring up) to increase sweetness per Pat Pierce suggestion, thanks Pat.

NOTE: Yeah, I would say the fruit were a little sweeter and a little less tart. I like them both ways.

9779199292?profile=original20.02.16 I get a lot of Blue Banded Bees in my garden. Love them. After the rain last night there seem to be a lot conducting their buzz pollination work around the garden including this female (four bands - the boys have five) repeatedly working her magic on an eggplant flower. Note the ants on the back of the flower. Would love to know their purpose in the grand scheme of things.

9779199099?profile=originalWell here we are once more at the end of another hot season. I wouldn't say it's been a dreadful hot summer, just normal with some hot periods. I've had some good rain off and on - enough to keep the tank replenished for watering.

Not a good season for cucumber or beans but that usually means I'll have a bumper crop next season.

Below some of the DF, eggplant and chilli along with a Salvia flower.

9779200483?profile=originalAnd a Bottle Gourd from Vinay. Very like Hairy or Winter Melon, but much smaller, in that it's a mild flavoured marrow type veg that takes on the flavour of a dish it's added to. Cook at work has taken the other half to use in the kitchen.

9779201069?profile=originalI did buy some red fleshed DF from the market the other weekend. I can't tell much difference between the flavour of this and the white but some of my more discerning gardening mates reckon it's superior in that it's sweeter and juicier. I honestly find them much the same apart from the colour. Cook at work used one to make a very pretty topping for some cheesecake.

9779202464?profile=originalIt has been a summer full of colour. Around the western suburbs of Brisbane where I work there has been trees constantly in bloom from the time the Jacarandas start - so beautiful.

Below a native Blue Ginger, Dichorisandra thyrsiflora. The Blue Banded's love this flower when it comes out. Growing in the shade of the Carombola...which is dropping fruit from the heavens at the moment. Barely any of it edible due to going splat and Fruit Fly.

9779202278?profile=originalWell another summer season has come to an end. We're all looking forward to Autumn and Winter, especially in the garden for what we can grow (broccoli, cauli, beans, peas, potatoes - goody goody).

Read more…

2015 WINTER – JUNE TO AUGUST

2015 WINTER – JUNE TO AUGUST

Wordpress blog HERE.


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.

05.07.15

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
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.

10.07.15

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.

9779180881?profile=original9779181467?profile=original20.07.15

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.

9779182096?profile=original9779182881?profile=originalBroccoli is starting to crop and it's the best I've ever eaten. No caterpillar damage either.

9779183664?profile=originalI 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.

9779184668?profile=originalThe 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.

9779185064?profile=original21.07.15

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:

9779185863?profile=originalAnd here's the Canadian Wild Lettuce coming into it's own now in July:

9779186465?profile=original

Read more…

2015 SPRING - SEPTEMBER TO NOVEMBER

This is a continuous spring diary and I added to it as the season progressed.

Check photos for dates as I have done progressive photos for many plants.

We're a month in to Spring and it's been beautiful so far. Plenty of rain now and then to fill the tank - not much sign of the El Nino. We did get one hot day just after I planted heaps of seed and I am waiting anxiously to see if they survived and will make a show. Beginning to suspect I will have to replant all the carrots and some other things. (NOTE: I ended up buying bought carrot seedlings for the first time ever. They're growing well though I probably should have thinned them more.)

Plenty going on in the garden. I've already had to mow twice and will probably do so again today. Bummer. The down side to the warm season. But it does give me clippings for the beds.

The Elderflower are growing well (Elaine warns to keep them contained as they sucker - mine grow freely) and producing lots of heads for making Elderflower Champagne.

9779139070?profile=originalTwo heads in the bowl with juice of a lemon, splash of vinegar and about a cup of sugar. Covered and left for a day or two before sieving into some plastic bottles and put away in a dark cupboard.

9779140281?profile=originalThe batch turned out quite thick. I'm diluting it with filtered rain water to drink. Nice and fizzy.

9779141070?profile=originalThe bed in the front yard was becoming overgrown with these beautiful but basically useless (even the bees don't visit) salvia. A big mess of them have been removed to allow for something more productive - the roots went to Rozie for growing and the tops were cut back as green manure. The bed is covered in composted horse poo and planted.....

9779141268?profile=original...with Bolivian Cuc (c/- Dave via Elaine) and some silverbeet "Ruby". I don't have much luck growing silverbeet from seed. One of Elaine's walking onions shoved in there as well with the hope that it will thrive and proliferate.

9779142252?profile=originalBelow - same bed one month later.

9779142860?profile=originalAlso in the front yard the Red Tamarillo fruit is starting to colour up.

NOTE: 31.10.15 Many have gone pale red and been eaten. Nice.

9779143276?profile=originalBoth Pomegranates (seedling and Wonderful) have copious beautiful tangerine blooms. Fingers crossed for some fruit.

9779143887?profile=originalFive or so weeks later fruit is forming on the seedling Pom.....

9779144089?profile=original....and on the Wonderful.

9779145469?profile=original27.09.15 The Jaboticaba is covered in buds! Lots of fruit coming from this reliable plant.

9779146085?profile=originalSix weeks later I have sweet fruit for the eating.

9779147254?profile=originalFinal crop along with a Bitter Melon for the GV. This lot were especially sweet.

9779147668?profile=originalRipening fruit from the two pawpaw has been going to work for the clients to have with morning tea. There is only so much ripe pawpaw one person can eat but the elderly members can't seem to get enough of it.

9779148283?profile=originalThe Tropical Nectarine has flowered and is covered in little fruit. I trimmed it a little shorter this year so the fruit fly excluding net would reach the ground.

NOTE: 31.10.15 Not as much fruit as last season - others have said the same -  but it's coming along nicely.

16.11.15 Lot's of the fruit is dropping and rotting for no known reason. Weather? The few I've eaten lack sweetness. Still no FF under the net though.

9779148681?profile=original9779149269?profile=originalFinal crop of the Tropical Nectarines. Many fell and rotted and the remaining crop was disappointing this year in quantity and flavour.

9779150087?profile=originalSome of the Jaboticaba and Nectarines have gone to make "Shrub" - an easy to make cordial from fresh fruits. RECIPE

9779150861?profile=originalMy beloved little Moringa is still doing it's imitation of a dead stick but I am confident it will come good.

9779151272?profile=originalI tried many times to establish Pigeon Pea without success. This one came up by itself and has flowered and produced pods without me noticing.

9779151666?profile=originalPepino are flowering in abundance. Hopefully this will mean more fruit before the fruit fly come.

NOTE: 31.10.15 FF have ruined every fruit - all has to be binned.

9779152472?profile=originalThe Dwf Wurtz avo has bloomed once again but does not seem to attract the pollinators. I've seen one bee on it and a couple of flies.

NOTE: 31.10.15 No sign of any fruit forming. We have had discussion about multi graft plants. That's what I need!

9779153466?profile=originalIn the back yard the Dwf Macadamia is blooming really well and attracting bees. Very pretty.

9779154457?profile=originalOne of my honey bees fertising the flowers.

9779154686?profile=original19.10.15 Little nuts are forming. All silvery with potential.

9779155081?profile=original08.11.15 Fruit development three weeks later. Astounding growth.

9779155893?profile=original22.11.15 two weeks later again.

9779157084?profile=originalQuite a few nuts are falling to the ground. Hope I end up with some left.

NOTE: Now 29/11 and I noticed about a week back that every nut has fallen off. We had some very hot days but I was giving the plant water a couple of times a week.

9779157283?profile=original20.09.11 The three raised beds have all been chopped back leaving just a few perennial plants and replanted. This is before...

9779158256?profile=original...and after. Broccoli has been left to go to seed as it was such a goody. The other two brassicas didn't produce anything. I suspect they may turn out to be a couple of Portuguese Walking Stick Collards (they are - must have planted some seed there).

9779158875?profile=originalAll beds have been dosed with MycoAppply mychorrizae. The corn seedlings are very strong whether due to this or loving the composted horse poo they are planted in. Probably both.

9779159853?profile=original31.10.15 Corn is silking up. Was able to shake down some pollen this morning despite some rain the last few days.

9779159870?profile=originalOne month later, the final crop. Lots of mid sized cobs but they seem well filled.

9779160654?profile=original19.09.15 Still cropping the Roma toms. Not much good for a sandwich but I've been turning them into soup with some onion, garlic and nopales. Bit of chicken stock and seasoning and it's very nice put through the blender.

NOTE: 31.10.15 Romas finished some weeks ago. While not thrilled with the sandwich potential from these fruit they were useful and tasty enough for me to squeeze some seed back into the beds. If they do ok, great. If not, no huge loss.

9779161268?profile=original19.09.15 Some of the roma toms and broccoli - the most delicious I have every grown it just kept on coming.

31.10.15 This wonderful Broccoli is still in the process of setting seed. Very slow to bolt.

9779161875?profile=originalThe white choko is making a strong comeback. I have another growing on the back fence. Lacking a green one at the moment - bought a giant fruit from the fruit shop yesterday and planted it on a side fence.

9779162069?profile=original06.09.15 I've managed to grow a few spuds this year. More growing around the edge of the compost pile yet to be cropped.

9779162297?profile=originalThis plethora of yummy came from gardening mate Rob's yard. Mulberries, native raspberries and Davidson Plums which I have become very fond of as a refreshing fruit drink in water. No sugar added.

9779163288?profile=original12.09.15 Pepino have been providing plenty of fruit.

31.10.15 Now all ruined by FF. Not an untouched fruit to be had. All binned.

9779163495?profile=originalOne of two Mashua Tropaeolum tuberosum plants courtesy of Jan's research and buying abilities. A relative of the nasturtium it's a climber with edible tubers. All the way from sunny Tasmania so we're all hoping they like it here in Qld.

16.11.15 Neither of these plants are liking the heat. They don't look well. Hopefully they will survive summer.

29.11.15 Both plants have died back completely as has Elaine's.

9779164091?profile=original31.10.15 This plant has actually put on a substantial amount of growth. Didn't realise until I compared these two photos. It's also putting out shoots from the base. Apparently these plants can go quite rampant in their growing habits :/

29.11.15 Plants have both died back completely.

9779164657?profile=original12.09.15 Thought I would show you what my kitchen scrap bin looks like after a couple of weeks of saving bits and pieces. I do use a sprinkle or two of Bokashi in it but to be honest I did this for years with just a bucket and had no smell or problems.

I take this outside and scrape a shallow depression near some fruit tree and cover it with grass clippings. The worms take care of recycling the lot in a matter of weeks.

9779165655?profile=originalWarrigal Greens are making a comeback in the spot I thought they had died out in. I am very fond of these useful native greens (high in Oxalic Acid).

9779165273?profile=originalAnother wild edible, Samphire, has proven to be a bit of a disappointment. I would like to try these growing in the wild. I bet the flavour would be better. Pictures I have found on the net show a PLANT with more segmented leaves than these. I'm wondering if I have two different plants in there?

9779165286?profile=original23.09.15 Lebanese Cuc seed coming up. Always a thrill when seedlings show through the soil from seed planted.

9779166654?profile=original22.11.15 Getting some good crop of cucs.

9779167086?profile=originalPlanted or still growing early this season:

Potatoes; Bitter Melon, Okra x Robs big jobs and Burgundy; Hairy Melon; Corn x swt and bicolour; Peanuts; Watermelon "Stars & Moon"; Capsicum x "Sweet", "Mini" and "Cubanale" along with seed from store bought minis; Kale; Canadian Wild Lettuce/A Choi; toms x various minis; Portuguese Walking Stick Collard Greens; Chillis - various; Mashua; Bolivian Cuc; Lebanese Cuc; herbs of all sorts; Swt Potato x 3 sorts; Silverbeet x "Rhubarb" and "Ruby"; Carrot x "Amarillo", "Rainbow Mix" and "Berlicum"; Eggplant x "Black Beauty", "Bringal White" and "Listadia di Gandia"; Snake Bean unknown; Huazontle Spinach. 

05.10.15

Labour Day holiday - no pay but it's a glorious day to be having off. Temp is superb, birds are singing everywhere, seeds are coming up in my new season garden. The only carrot seed that have sprouted are the Rainbow Mix. None of the others have shown so I will need to replant....or not.

The corn is growing fabulously. Okra of all types is peeking above ground as are the cucs. Eggplant haven't shown.

Every time I buy some mini capsicum I take the seed out and plant it and there are dozens of these plants coming up all over the place. Love them. Watermelon have sprouted but the Hairy/Winter Melon hasn't shown.

I have squeezed in some of Pat Pierce's Red Noodle Snake Bean seeds alongside the other snake beans. Probably not the best for seed saving but I want to see how they grow.

Rob, Elaine and I have been doing some crop swapping. My pawpaw, Robs mulberries in exchange for Elaine's gorgeous rainbow chard.

9779167660?profile=originalAnd thanks to J - I now have my favourite dwarf narnie back again :)

31.10.15 Growing well and putting out new leaves.

9779168101?profile=original06.10.15 Since going back to work full time I've had trouble finding the appropriate time to go into the bee hive, check it all out and do some harvesting. Has to be a weekend day when it's not raining, not too hot, the bees are mostly away foraging, I don't have something else on. Easy to procrastinate.

Checked the hive yesterday and it looked like they might be preparing to swarm which gave me a jolt.

They were making a bee trellis outside the front of the hive. So I bit the bullet, put on the gear and went in. I removed three combs mostly full of honey. My extractor is very slow going (bucket system) and the tap just drizzles so it takes forever to fill a jar. Very few bee deaths though which is always a bonus. I use the smoker and brush as needed these days to avoid deaths.

Due to the slow nature of the buckets I only have a few jars at the moment and one has been swapped for some mulberries and manure.

9779168480?profile=originalTo my surprise the Dwf Pink Shatoot mulberry had ripened a good handful of fruit in literally one day (I had checked it yesterday and found two). Very sweet.

31.10.15 Still cropping some of these each day. Youngest daughter has developed a taste for them also and goes for the bush when visiting.

9779169459?profile=original31.10.15

We've had a few storms in areas around Strathpine but nothing more than some gentle rain here which has benefited the seedlings no end. Everything is doing well with the usual losses to Fruit Fly and a few cut worm problems with seedlings. Nothing serious, though I now have only one Burgundy Okra plant left but it should have grown to a size which is beyond the attentions of the CW.

I've been visiting the Caboolture Mkt a lot more recently for the lovely locally grown fruit and veg and can't help picking up some seedlings at the same time.

The (self sown from buried fruit) Bitter Melon plant is producing it's first fruit. Hardy and useful.

9779169694?profile=originalMy honey bees are all over a huge amount of flowers on the old yellow Tamarillo. This plant is now getting on for five years old where normally they live for perhaps two. It just keeps getting bigger. Go figure.

9779170653?profile=original28.10.15 Dwf Ducasse banana bunch ripening. Left the bunch on the porch the first night and some rodent came took a bite or two. Apart from those given away to friends, all going through the dehydrator.

16.11.15 The second bunch was all given away at the GV a couple of days back.

9779171867?profile=originalPineapple forming - beautiful little purple flowers blooming.

9779172076?profile=original01.11.15

I let my snails go free last night and this morning.

Left the lid up last night for them to leave but many were still hanging around in the box this morning. I have spread them around the yard and will provide basins of water as they are really very delicate and must have water to survive.

They don't like being shut up as the weather warms up, even when the box is under full shade. There were just getting too many of them in one smallish space and it felt cruel keeping them there. Over the time I have been observing and feeding them in their box home I have come to love these gentle little creatures.

Hopefully some will thrive free ranging. The ones I currently find in the "wild" are eating fallen leaves and stuff on the compost pile. Very rarely do I find one in my vege bed. My hope is that they provide another layer to the animal life in my garden, eating and digesting fallen vegetation and providing poop in return.

09.11.15

The snails have set up home around the garden in various protected spots with lots of rotting plant material on the ground. Seems to be their favourite nibble though I do leave out offerings of Collard Greens etc and a container of water on the dry side of the yard.

16.11.15

I spent a back breaking hour yesterday removing the Pepino (due to Fruit Fly ruining all the fruit) from the nature strip outside the front fence and replanting with parsley and hardy flowering plants (the garden faces the western sun). That's a bit of Aibika in the middle right that took from cutting shoved in and neglected and there's a bit of Cassava and some Rosemary as well. Pepino fruit hanging off the fence and orange flowers are Pomegranates.

29.11.15 We've had some horrendously hot days and some of these flowering seedlings have died off, but many have survived with water a couple of times a week.

9779172472?profile=original16.11.15 Michael H gave me some fruit some time back to grow these sweet little tom treats. I just keep replanting and they just keep coming up. Thank you Michael :)

9779172685?profile=original21.11.15

Close to the end of spring and we've started having a few of those toasty hot days that the plants dislike so much and send people scurrying for the beach or air conditioned shopping centres.

My eldest daughter has just announced that she has accepted a Librarian job in Alice Springs. I checked the weather for AS and I think she will be grateful she will be working in an air conditioned building. At least I suppose it's AC'd. Hot, dry place. Little greenery around apart from the gum trees.

Came home yesterday and the (unwanted, I just threw some branches on the ground and they rooted) Cassava had fallen from the sky into the vege bed and everything around it.

It's been growing under the Custard Apple tree for some years and I've paid it no attention. While I was busy ignoring it it was busy reaching for the sky and eventually became too top heavy. Good survival plant to have around but not a lot of use to me at present.

All cut back and going to be binned this time.

9779172887?profile=originalI had really given up on the Lychee tree after many years of tiny crops and I mean tiny, like one or two fruit, but looked up at it yesterday and was stunned to see it covered in developing fruit. It's been a funny old spring for flowering plants. They have gone berserk around Brisbane making it look like a giant colourful garden. Must have suited the flowers on the Lychee too.

Yummm can't wait :D

9779174079?profile=original22.11.15 The Elderflower has grown to a good size (that's the clothesline on the left) and is producing lots of flower heads for making drink. As warned by Elaine it is trying to sucker. I keep cutting these back.

9779174480?profile=original22.11.15 Snake bean plants are growing well from saved seed. No idea of type. Some of Pat's Red Snake Beans in there as well.

9779174497?profile=originalFirst of the Okra crop.

9779175867?profile=originalOrange flowering Leonotis leonurus. So far the insects are ignoring it but it is pretty.

9779176464?profile=originalOne colour of the salvia growing around the place.

9779177074?profile=originalPineapple Sage surrounding the native bee hives. Much loved by the bees.

9779177485?profile=originalA beautiful visitor munching away on the sweet potato leaves. It's hide out given away by the giant poo.

9779178253?profile=originalFigs are liking the weather at the moment. Only a bit of insect activity on the leaves.

9779178689?profile=original29.11.15

Spent a few productive hours this morning removing the Pepino from the front garden, chopping the male pawpaw in two (hopefully it will bunch up again and provide some western shade to the front of the house) and mulching everything with barrow loads of grass clippings which have been sitting for weeks.

Room for another plant!!

9779179469?profile=originalGraveyard where all the big stuff goes like the pawpaw and the banana plants. Let's call it Hugelkulture, it's a catchy name for a pile-o logs.

9779179099?profile=original

Read more…

It's been a long time..... late spring update ~

It's been a long time since my last blog... I haven't been active in the garden at all this year ~ But garden being a living thing, as long as you give them water and attention once in a while, they'll grow by themselves I think....

Just look at the Ruby chard, and kang kong... they pretty much died down over winter, but as soon as the weather start warming up, and I start watering regularly again, they sprang up with life! Same with the carrots that were captured in this photo, and not to mention the parsley and lucerne... they were growing even over winter when I didn't even water the garden due to my morning sickness ^^

9779164476?profile=original

Other plants which bounced back up as soon as they received a bit of clean up and water were the strawberries, and the garlic chives, which are hiding behind these strawberry pots ~ 

9779164692?profile=original Although the strawberries they produced were rather tasteless... but I think they're getting a bit better... Anyone still getting strawberries?

Other plants that are popping up after hibernation are chocolate mint, ginger, cassava, taro, mother of herbs, and I think I saw a bit of oregano....  I think the galango didn't even die down... 

After cleaning up all the self sown Chinese mustards which bolted to seeds, probably due to lack of water, I've planted some snake beans (see the story of my snake bean seeds here), and some tongue of fire beans.  The tongue of fire bean seeds actually expired in Feb this year, I was just hoping they'll germinate... but none did, then I planted blue lake, which also expired (there was a time I couldn't resist buying seeds, but don't get around to plant them ^^, so I refrain from buying seeds now)... none of those germinated either, so I ended up sowing the purple king beans I saved last year ~ Now these were planted quite a few weeks later than the snake beans, probably around mid to mid-late October but were growing faster than the snake beans, and have now started to flower ... 

9779165676?profile=original

Purple king on the left, and snake beans on the right ~ I have surplus purple king bean seeds to share if anyone would like some ~

Other then beans, I've also sown cucumber in a pot, and tomatoes in seedling pots which are ready to transplant ~ They are about 7 weeks old, varies between 20 to 30 cm tall ~ The varieties are Thai Pink Egg, Grosse Lisse, Tommy Toe, and Yellow Pear ~ I should have spare seedlings of the latter three to share at the Christmas get together if anyone's interested ~

Read more…

2012/2013 SUMMER December

9779129677?profile=originalTime to start a new diary for the hot months. Really must read back through last summers blog - which is the whole point of having the diary!

Should have taken this pic just a moment before as now the sun is up and shining in the lense. Never mind - it's just to give an impression of what is happening with the garden at the beginning of the new season.

Now also wished I HAD cut the grass yesterday instead of hiding out in my air-conditioned house lol.

Things that are happening in the garden:

Below the Carambola is flowering profusely. Pretty little pink flowers. I just hope this means a crop of fruit after a couple of lean years.

9779129859?profile=originalBelow - The Soursop (tropical relative of Custard Apple) is also blooming profusely. Again, hoping for some fruit after a couple of lean years. Interesting how the flower grow out of the bark.

There is quite a bit of aphid activity on some of the flowers, not all. I squash them with my fingers when I see them.

9779130496?profile=original9779131254?profile=originalBelow - The Custard Apple, also covered in flowers. Fingers crossed for a good crop. All have loved the recent rains.

9779131676?profile=originalBelow - The Ceylon Hill Gooseberry also blooms at this time of the year. Yet to have any fruit from this bush, but the amount of flowers gives me hope this season. This also grow easily from cutting so have a couple of small bushes dotted around the yard.

I have just fertilised this plant with some 5 in 1 and it has benefited from the recent rains.

9779131698?profile=originalBelow - The compost pile (stuff just gets thrown there as I cut back, so basically a "cold" compost pile in todays terms) with all sorts of goodies self sowing including the Mekong Red Amaranth, Rocket galore (to the right), Mustard (on the left of the Amaranth), marigolds, toms, Egyptian Spinach.

9779131086?profile=originalBelow - The Kangkong has a new home and shadier location. I have put more seed in the pot, to keep the one seedling I did manage to raise, company.

9779132281?profile=originalBelow - Still lots of flowers in the garden. The Seduction is such a hardy rose, always giving plentiful flowers despite it's crappy spot in the garden.

9779132486?profile=originalBelow - Josephs Winter Melon seed have taken off. In the back of my head is his warnings of the space they eventually take up...but hey, we'll cope. So long as I get some fruit I can put up with another triffid plant.

9779133066?profile=originalBelow - Some fun and games with the little self watering seed tray.

Took the top off as it was too hot underneath - I just hope it hasn't damaged this lot of seed. Some Jicama have come up all by themselves around the fenceline but I like these so much I have more seed planted here.

Some French Purple Artichoke and Cherokee Wax Bush Bean from Succeed Heirloom Seed. And of course some Baby Bok Choy from Joseph. I have broadcast these around the yard in hopeful spots as well as I had so many seed needing to be used up.

9779132871?profile=originalBelow - Two whole fruit developing on the Persimmon :(

During the recent visit to Heinz's persimmon farm he mentioned they grow fruit on second year wood. He was so busy with the group I didn't get the chance to ask more about this so I must check out what this actually means as I have such woeful success with this little tree....which admittedly is stuck between two bigger trees and a bit shaded.

NOTE: 22.12.12 Found one of these fruit lying on the ground this morning :( with chew marks out of it.

9779133456?profile=originalBelow - Already saving seed from James' beans. Hunted through the plants yesterday and found a huge number of pods gone to seed. Hopefully with these removed the plants will produce more young fruit for me to eat.

9779133279?profile=originalBelow - Shady spot between the beds :) The dogs like to join me here so we can contemplate the world and pretend we're in our own jungle.

9779133292?profile=originalBelow - Some of the cucumbers coming on. Stupidly forgot to label which these were - I have a few different types growing. Pretty sure they are Spacemaster.

9779134084?profile=originalBelow - Because I throw all the compost in the beds, all sorts of things come up.

Had to remove all the cherry tom plants as they take over the world and they're a bit acid for me (have a new non-acid version now growing), but left some of the Mekong Red Amanranth and Eqyptian Spinach to grow amongst the carrots and beans.

9779134290?profile=originalBelow - The Listada di Gandia are cropping again despite all the Flea Beetle damage. I squash / flick these little sods off daily but they still get a lot of munching time in.

Will cut the two remaining plants back a bit once this crop is ready to come off. Plan on making an eggplant dip with most of them for next weekends Christmas get together.

9779134684?profile=originalBelow - Have two new hobbies thanks to Andrew C :)

Liqueur making - bottle of vodka, plums, sugar and spices. Quite delish but horrendously espensive to make with store bought vodka. Owning a Still will have to wait until I am more financial. Space to keep it could also be a problem in my little house.

NOTE: 22.12.12 Yum, all gone! Missing it already but still have the fruit to eat.
9779135481?profile=original...and cheese making with the help of the basic Mad Millie kit. Watched a demo yesterday at the Brewers Choice at Kedron and was inspired. Only hope I can turn that feeling into real cheese lol.

9779136880?profile=original9779137660?profile=original06.12.12

CHEESE MAKING - check out this common sense website Little Green Cheese.

Early starts with work with MAT so I'm home in time today to try making my first cheese, Feta.

Manage to overheat the milk while I'm reading the instruction book so I had wait for it to cool back to 37C before I could start the process. Wasn't too difficult just a bit messy due to my lack of expertise.

I used about 3lt of Woolworths milk costing $3 and 1lt of Eden Hope milk I had needing to be used up due to my recurrent lactose intolerance and going back to lactose free milk.

Below is the mix processing (don't know the techinical terms) into curds and whey and sitting in it's 37C water bath along with the shiny thermometer. The glass bowl is just to hold it all down so it doesn't tip over.

9779137886?profile=originalBelow - The curds have been cut and stirred gently every 5mins for half an hour, then herbs added (parsley and chives). I'm just using the water bath to steralise the utensils.

9779138664?profile=originalBelow - Curds and whey poured into moulds.

9779139470?profile=originalBelow - Ended up with over 2lt of whey. I have learned at last weekends workshop that it is possible to make....things (?) with this also, but I have no idea what or how to go about it. Will drink it chilled. The dogs appreciated a bowl full as well.

9779139894?profile=originalBelow - The remaining bananas from the bunch have all ripened at once, of course! I dried some a couple of days back and have been eating this sweet treat for dessert - all gone.

9779141259?profile=originalBelow- The end result about 8.5hrs later - delicious and sweet.

I now shut the noisy dehydrator in the laundry, close the door and turn on the TV so that it's just a background hum. The poor neighbours get to listen to it through the open laundry door for hours on end.

9779141880?profile=originalBelow - Almost all the fruit from the Listada di Gandia. Cut them off a little early due to the incredibly hot day we had yesterday and so as to not stress my plants.

I have two new self sown plants come up in the raised beds and a bought one in the front yard.

These are destined to be roasted and turned into dip for the get together on Sunday.

9779143057?profile=original14.12.12

Wonderful weather today, cool breeze and a little overcast. Just lovely.

I've got the day off so bit the bullet with the James' beans (below) and have cut them down as I want to try...Joe's Beans!

I've left the cut plant insitu and thrown some rock mineral and Organic Xtra around. Will top off with some 5 in 1 and a bit of garden soil to plant the seeds in.

9779143478?profile=originalBelow - The Ceylon Hill Gooseberry flowers are sooo beautiful. Almost like apple or cherry  blossom (neither of which I have seen in reality so just guessing). Fruit would just complete the pleasure.

9779144286?profile=originalThe Jackfruit seedling has taken off with new growth with the hot weather. Would love to think I could eventually get some fruit from this in a pot, but not likely.

9779144858?profile=originalBelow - The reliable old Pawpaw is producing again.

9779145661?profile=original9779146255?profile=originalBelow - Some used potting mix and a few Bok Choi seed thrown around. Rocket is self sown. Looks like cucumber coming up which is a bit of a puzzle lol.

9779145888?profile=originalBelow - Wampi time again. This little bunch of fruit is at eye level so I may even get some for myself this year if the bats stay up high.

9779147078?profile=originalBelow - The patch around the compost pile is proving most prolific with self sown Mekong Red Amaranth, rocket and mustard.

9779148086?profile=originalBelow - I won't get any fruit, but at least it's not sulking after it's recent cut back to remove all the rust infected leaves and excess height.

9779148891?profile=original17.12.12

Have just done some research on the Aibika Abelmoschus manihot - so rather than waste it, will post it here.

These are the two I currently have growing. Both good eating greens.

9779148697?profile=originalI'm also growing a red variety of hibiscus but have no idea what it's name is. Very nice to eat with a unique tangy, lemony flavour.

NOTE: Response below from Colleen Keena at hibiscus.org:

Your red plant is Hibiscus acetosella. 'Tangy' is a good description for the taste of the leaves (I usually say 'tart'). The young leaves look good in salads. Mature plants have a bloom that is almost maroon. I've put  links for you. It would be good to have some of the named forms that are available overseas but I've only ever seen the species available in Australia. Your image looks like the species to me. I find they usually only live a year or so but seedlings always seem to come up around the parent, even in pots in the shadehouse.
 

9779149283?profile=originalAlso realised I have grapes!! growing. These are on a plant grown from cutting and given to me by a client shortly before he passed away many years ago. I have made the odd effort to kill it off as it's never been productive. Just goes to show...

I have abolutely no idea when I'm supposed to pick them or what colour they are meant to be when ripe. Oh well. Just hope I get something before the bats do.

9779149895?profile=original18.12.12

Very muggy morning - big storms are forecast for later in the day. A sweaty perusal of the garden has found some interesting things going on though.

Below - Beautiful flower of the self sown pumpkin, all are male at the moment. NOTE: 22.12.12 Found a nice female flower this morning and have fertilised.

9779150494?profile=originalBelow - Similar flower (male also) on the Winter Melon. My little native bees seem to like them which gives me hope for pollination and fruit.

NOTE: 22.12.12 First female flower found this morning and hopefully fertilised. Joseph tells me it doesn't always work :(

9779150892?profile=originalBelow - Damage in the corn bed. Looks like something landed in the middle and rolled around! Could have been Hugo - more likely to be the strong wind we had the other day.

9779151299?profile=originalBelow - The tops are still producing flowers, with pollen, and silk so I have hope of good cobs.

9779151671?profile=originalBelow - The Cardoon flowers are going through their cycle. Looks like another plant might also be bolting.

9779152658?profile=originalBelow - Newly planted Asparagus plants from my own seed. The little sweet potato is a plant bought at some fair I attended. Thought they had all died off, but a bit of rain and there are multiple new plants coming up. From memory, these are a non-travelling form of sweet potato. Gotu Kola grows wild in this part of the garden.

9779152497?profile=originalBelow - Spacemaster cuc developing. Quite fascinating really with all the little spikes that have to be wiped off when picking the developed fruit.

9779153094?profile=originalBelow - Prof Mary Sheehan cuc from seed given to me by the Caboolture Seed Savers.

9779153489?profile=originalBelow - Bought a box of gorgeous cherries for $4 from the Lawnton Country Mkts yesterday. Spent about two juicy hours last night pitting them all by hand and have hopefully made a mess of good cherry jam this morning using Jamsetta and a bag of sugar.

9779154084?profile=originalBelow - The end result. As usual I have made a horrendous mess in the kitchen lol.

9779154699?profile=original22.12.12

Nice overcast day and a bit cooler than it has been. Hoping for a good storm with plenty of rain as there is only 2000lt left in the tank.

This is proving to be a good productive summer in the garden. Due to......what?? Rains? Me being home more to water in the AM? Buying more Granite and Basalt and throwing them around? Using the Life Force Total Cover (didn't use this all over though)?

The cucumbers are going wild - Spacemaster in the middle bed, Prof Mary Sheehan and Muncher in Bed 3.

Golden Bantam corn looks like producing some good cobs despite something (the wind?) knocking them all shew-whiff. I picked one this morning just for the hell of it and while not fully ripe, it's looking good.

The corn has quite a few large, black/brown very hairy caterpillars gnawing away on flowers and silk. I've tried to identify these on the net without success but they could be these. I threw them all onto a patch of barren mulched ground but when I went back to find one for identification purposes they had all disappeared. Quick little buggers. At least they can't get back on my corn.

NOTE: 23.12.12 Found some more this morning on the corn and brought them in for identification. More than likely these:

Spilosoma canescens larva

... Spilosoma canescens or Light Erimine Moth. I never see them around so think they may come by at night. I never see any adolescent caterpillars - just the big jobs.

Spilosoma canescens

Also have small green caterpillar on the cucumber chewing the leaves but not the fruit.

Ericeia subsignata

....belongs to the Ericeia subsignata moth.

Ericeia subsignata

Now to feed them all to Chookie next door ;)

The self sown pumpkin is already producing female flowers without taking over the world. Fertilised one this morning.

The Winter Melon has just produced it's first female flower :) complete with the cutest little fluffy white fruit about 3cm long. Hopefully it's now fertilised.

Carrots are doing fine despite being inundated with cucumber and pumpkin plant.

Poor eggplant have all been badly affected by the Flea Beetle - every single plant, old and new, no matter where they are in the garden. I've cut off developing fruit and cut back some plants due to the damage. This is despite squashing every one I can find each day.

I've been eating salads made from the abundance of Rocket, Amaranth (red and green), Okra and Egyptian Spinach the last few days.

Below - Here's some of todays crop. The little cuc was growing up between the wires and choking itself. Snake beans are cropping heaps for me despite there only being a few plants in there mixed up with all the other growth.

9779154893?profile=originalMade cheese again today - Feta, because I enjoyed the first lot so much and know it will get used.

Knowing what was to come was a big help and I felt more organised this time. Simplified a couple of things....like the water bath. Used a thick wad of towel over the top to keep the temperature at an even 37C and it worked well.

9779155656?profile=originalDrained the curds and whey in a large colander over a big saucepan. A lot let messy than using the tiny little draining tray provided in the kit.

I've added some parsley and mustard green to the cheese itself. Once it has sat for the required time in it's saline/vinegar solution I will store in a mix of some Rice Bran oil which is currently marinating home grown garlic, chopped rocket, parsley and mustard greens, to be topped with good Olive oil.

9779155879?profile=original26.12.12

Boxing Day and it's beautiful :) Cool and drizzling.

9779156488?profile=originalBelow - Main cucumber bed is going great guns. Prof. Mary Sheehan on the near side and Muncher on the far side. Red Okra and Winter Melon also in the bed.

9779156676?profile=originalBelow - Dear little Winter Melon fruit developing.

9779022657?profile=originalBelow - Here's the same fruit three days later! Joseph did warn me.
9779023059?profile=originalBelow - The Soursop is still covered in flowers....

9779157900?profile=original....some developing little fruit.

9779159056?profile=original9779159461?profile=originalBelow - Very happy with finally suceeding with Water chestnut after many failed attempts. Lettuce seedlings growing in the pot love the constant moistness.

9779159663?profile=originalBelow - The $1 Tamarillo tree was severely stressed and dying for some reason, probably heat, so I've cut it back.

9779160086?profile=originalBelow - This one Dragonfruit has grown well. High hopes for fruit eventually.

9779160869?profile=original29.12.12

Almost the end of the year.

I try to spend some time each morning just sitting on the rock perch near my native bee hive, just absorbing the life around me and listening to the buzz of the Blue Banded Bees working on the salvia that they love so much. They nest in the cracks between the bricks in the carport and if I'm lucky I catch them coming and going. Wish I could see inside!

Very hot and steamy out there this morning after a bit of rain yesterday.

I like to watch the little carbonaria bees come and go in a cloud of activity, many with tiny yellow or white pollen sacs on their hind legs, others with cadaghi seeds stuck there giving them grief. Each morning I have to flick the cadaghi seed from the tube entrances where the bees have managed to remove them and left them sticking.

There is so much life going on out there against a background of cicada song. The rustle of the skinks hiding from me as I walk by, ultra thin spider webs stick to my face, the pretty little irridescent black rattle ants visiting the salvia flowers, minute ants walking fast in line along the cement edging (I have to make sure I don't put my feet in the middle of it all and disrupt them) and big ants in seemingly random roaming looking for food. Birds calling - doves, peewee, crows, willie wagtail, Indian minor and more I don't recognise. A few pest insects that I spend a few minutes hunting down and squashing or throwing over the fence to Chookie next door.

Sweet :)

Cropped the Golden Bantam corn before heading off to work the other day and it wasn't a bad haul for about a 1.5m square planting. I didn't find these plants cropped any more than other varieties I have tried - they had secondary cobs on some stalks but they weren't what I would call big.

I've only eaten the one cob so far (the one peeled in the bucket) and to honest it was a bit tough and tasteless. Will have to give another one a go tonight.

9779160269?profile=original30.12.12

Almost the end!

Shucked the corn and it was a bit of a disappointment. The cobs silked up at different rates and the flowers came staggered and it shows in the cobs. Some should have been picked earlier and some are still not mature. A bit of caterpillar damage as well.

9779161890?profile=originalI have another packet of seed for Golden Bantam from another seed company. I think I'll replant.

Below - My salad corner at the compost pile. Green Amaranth on the left, Red on the right, mustard greens and Rocket below.

9779162487?profile=originalBelow - A nice way to finish up the year. The Custard Apple is covered in fruit.

9779163087?profile=original

Read more…

2012/2013 SUMMER FEBRUARY

9779053098?profile=original

01.02.13

Time to cut up non-producing plants to  replenish the beds and do some propagation after all the rain. The temperature is much more comfortable though steamy, perfect for plant propagation.

I've planted up a heap of my first lot of Cardoon seed, some strawberry runners (for Joseph), red salvia removed from places I didn't want them growing (I cut back the Pineapple Sage the other day and chopped it up for mulch, but this is also a good one to grow from cutting), Cranberry Hibiscus and Cleome from cutting, Pepino and Betel leaf from cutting - the latter produce little rootlets almost begging to be reproduced.

I have lots of wildlife visitors to the garden - lizards, insects, birds. I try to find the name of each one so I can learn their role in the garden but some of the insects are very hard to identify.

Have identified this one as a Red-spotted Mirid Bug (Trilaccus nigroruber). One of those great, almost invisible, little predators we like to encourage to the garden. This insect is a predator of larvae of other small insects. I've watched it sticking it's proboscus into crevices and holes on the eggplant it seems to favour.

Brisbane Insects

9779075852?profile=originalThis morning while taking cuttings, with the dog standing right under the bush, a little Silvereye flew straight between us and sat on the bush completely unafraid and sang it's little song. It's mate and it were working the garden for caterpillars. The mud wasps have been gathering these lately also.

I'm appreciating that nature sets up it's own balance between predators and prey if you let it.

Silvereye - photo from Bird Life Australia

Have finally this morning seen the solitary native Leafcutter bee. I see evidence of it's work on my rose bush with neat little circles cut out of the leaves but not the bee itself. It is very fast moving but obliged by stopping right in front of me to groom itself for a whole 10secs so I could get a good look at it.

Here's some video from the Aussie Bee site.

Photo courtesy of Brisbane Insects.

They carry their pollen under their abdomen rather than in pollen sacs on the legs. Neat little white V on the face.

9779076466?profile=originalFrom the Qld Museum site here's the nest! Will have to keep my eyes open for this around the yard:

The cigar-like nest of a leaf-cutter bee removed from in fold in a curtain. This nest is composed of several individual cells staked end on end.

The cigar-like nest of a leaf-cutter bee removed from a fold in a curtain.
This nest is composed of several individual cells staked end on end.

02.02.13

Spent the morning working on tidying up the front yard. One of the mower guys and Heath have given me piles-o-grass so it was a good opportunity to start the no dig gardens in the front with all the Bribie newspapers courtesy of my Mum. 

Heath will also take out the palms and pony tail plants for me next time he brings his chainsaw. I think he enjoys having something to cut down myself!

I've also cut back all the dead growth on the white Mandevilla - something that has been bugging me for ages.

9779077667?profile=original9779078270?profile=original03.02.13

I've had to throw out kgs upon kgs of fruit from the Carombola due to fruit fly sting plus bruising when they hit the ground.

The bruising can be avoided but the fruit fly is a big problem, so I've hung a Wild May trap this morning. First time I've tried this product. It could take a very long time to eradicate or reduce the problem.

The tree is flowering again so it will be interesting to see if I have better results with the next lot of fruit.

9779078681?profile=originalThis is exactly what I saw in my garden yesterday - a mating couple of dragonflies. The female with a very red abdomen. There was a second insect with red abdomen, so assume it was another female, keeping them company nearby. Libellulidae - they were very long, about 7cm.

Pic courtesy of Brisbane Insects:

9779079277?profile=original04.02.13

I've just spread around in the bare patches under the few corn plants that survived the recent heat, the rest of Joseph's chinese veg seed - Pak Choy (Chinese White Cabbage) and Gai Choy (Chinese Mustard, Bamboo Leaf).

07.02.13

Enjoyed the antics of my resident Willy Wagtail this morning. Looks like it might be a juvenile. It sits on my clothes line preening itself after a bath then heads for the roof line where it picks off flying bugs mid air.

Photo courtesy of Birds in Backyards.

9779079479?profile=originalI've planted a bit of seed into grow pots. The Cardoon planted a few days ago from my own saved seed is coming up already! And I was worried it might not be viable.

Planted: Red Nasturtium "Imp. Empress", Artichoke "Imprerial Star" (long shot for sub-tropical), Orach "Ruby Red" (4 seed only, not really it's time), Black Eggplant (from store bought fruit), Wampi (what the hey - someone will grow seedlings) and cuttings from various things, mainly to give away. Also need to plant the Edible Chrysanthemum seed today.

Bed 3 is ready to go with pea and bean seed. Trying to hold out to March as I expect a bit more heat between then and now. Very little worm activity in any of the beds which is puzzling. Something to do with all the rain?

The Dragon fruit bloomed last night - it did rain a little so I hope they pollinated ok. Gave them a dust myself with a slightly wet finger as well.

9779079677?profile=original9779080084?profile=original17.02.13

The weather has remained showery and relatively cool, perfect weather for seed sowing, so I've crumbled and sown seed before my original March aim.

Bed 3 - Beans: Flageolet flagrano (bush bean ex Craig); Purple Pod climber (my saved seed); James' climber (my saved seed).

Peas: Sugar Snap (my saved seed) and Purple Pod (donated seed source unknown) - both climbers. There's also a Cardoon (my saved seed) in there along with some silverbeet which has struggled along through the heat, plus various sweet potato growing under the A frame and putting the unused interior to purpose.

Bed 2 - Cauliflower "Sixty Days" (Green Harvest) apparently well suited to warmer areas and can be frozen; Broccoli - Early Purple Sprouting (Baker Creek Heirloom), Green Sprouting Calabrese (The Lost Seed), Waltham (my own saved), Rapini (Baker Creek Heirloom);  Kohlrabi (Florence);  Purple King beans on frame(donated seed dated 2011 source unknown) and one Cardoon (my saved seed).

There's also some silverbeet struggling along after the heat, a Listada di Gandia eggplant (Bunnings seedling), Sweet Leaf (James' cutting) and some shallots (rooted stubs from store bought).

I've tossed some coriander, dill and fennell amongst everything with the aim of detering pests.

Bed 1 - Joe's beans (climber from Elaine or Jane); existing corn Golden Bantam - half of these didn't come up in the heat and are only 80cm or so tall and going to silk, under these are chinese veg (seed from Joseph); the Cardoon plants have mostly died off but two are making an effort at comeback after being cut back; some Mekong Red Amaranth (self sown) and an eggplant self sown.

Around the general yard I've planted Sunflower (saved seed); Edible Chrysanthemum (Suceed Heirlooms), Fennel (source unknown); Dill (ex Anne Gibson); Phacelia "Syn. Californian Bluebell" (Green Harvest) which has fragrant lavender-blue flowers and fern like foliage, attracts hoverflies that control aphids and is good bee forage amongst other things; winter lettuce (saved seed - slow to bolt variety unknown); coriander (Eudlo seed savers).

Many of the herbs have been planted down the length of the bottom of the bed at ground level or just thrown around the general beds. I'm interested to see how many come up.

I'm thrilled that so many plants are now naturalising themselves in the garden. These include Amaranth both red and green, rocket, mustard greens, Egyptian Spinach, nasturtium, lettuce. Many of these are coming up yet again after all the recent rain. Even Jicama have come up again by themselves.

Asparagus have improved with the rain but are still only producing the odd stem that I can take. Extremely good though! They nearly all get eaten while I'm pottering and don't make it to the kitchen.

Nasturtium have sat quietly as little plants all summer long. I expect they will take off shortly as the weather becomes cooler - there's also still plenty of seed lying around all over. Can't wait to plant out the new red seedlings.

The Ceylon Hill Gooseberry has some kind of bright yellow mould on every fruit. This morning I checked again and it has changed from bright yellow to a dark colour. The fruit doesn't seem to be affected. The asparagus is growing thickly around this plant and I expect the combination of lots of rain and less airflow has contributed.

18.02.13

Beautiful cool moist day. The garden is loving it! Bean seeds planted three days ago are coming up already. These are purple pod beans.

9779081676?profile=originalBelow: Self sown patches of goody are coming up everywhere.

9779081876?profile=original9779083091?profile=originalBelow: Dragonfruit on the fence has 7 fruit on it. Two unfortunately are over the neighbours side.

9779083860?profile=originalBelow: I've put some cuttings on the hose post and up the dead Grevillea.

9779083479?profile=original9779084855?profile=originalBelow: The Red Okra is still going great guns. Such a pretty plant, flower and fruit.

9779085272?profile=originalBelow: The Lebanses Cress from Ana is doing very well. There's enough that I can start taking some for my sandwiches.

9779086254?profile=originalBelow: The Kangkong that I struggled to get growing is now doing very well.

9779086685?profile=originalBelow: The Custard Apple dropped a few fruit but the bulk are doing well. You can see where the Leaf Cutter bee has been busy at work taking bit of leaf for her nest.

9779087673?profile=original9779087484?profile=originalBelow: The Dwf Macadamia has put on lots of new growth. Something has been eating some of it.

9779088491?profile=originalBelow: Rattle ants have moved into the insect hotel in the Soursop along with some tiny ants and a mud dauber wasp. Rattle Ants seal off the entrances with silk from their larvae.

9779089459?profile=originalBelow: The Betel Leaf is just loving the moist weather. Even the one under the Lychee has finally taken off.

9779090282?profile=originalBelow: Self sown eggplant - I have to assume it's Listada di Gandia. The fruit is more elongated that the original, same as the fruit from the Bunnings seedling.

9779090689?profile=originalBelow: Fruit on the Rosea bought at the Caboolture Mkts. More rounded.

9779091663?profile=originalBelow: Looking up the side - Soursop on right, Carambola in the middle, bamboo at the top end.

9779092262?profile=originalBelow: The swt potato tower is growing well. I have maybe three or four different types around the garden now. They grow so much more easily than regular potatoes.

9779054693?profile=originalBelow: Mystery melon self sown and growing so much better than anything I have planted myself.

9779093493?profile=originalBelow: Water Chestnuts doing great at last. Have only just finished eating the remaining ones I was given from last season. They keep so well in the fridge.

9779094457?profile=originalBelow: Last of the Golden Bantam corn that survived the hot spell. Won't EVER bother growing these again - they silk up at different times and the cobs are tough and tasteless.

9779094678?profile=originalBelow: Threw all of the remaining chinese veg seed from Joseph under the corn and most of it has come up in this moist weather. Nice :)

9779095266?profile=originalBelow: Give it a couple of days with me not paying much attention and the Winter Melon is taking over the washing trolley. Can't touch it now as it's developing a fruit. This plant grew from potting mix I threw out when seed didn't germinate.

9779038684?profile=originalBelow: Bed 3 newly planted with pea and bean and one cardoon from saved seed. Still growing Okra, swt potato, silverbeet. Climbers are down the length of the frame, bush bean is under the Okra.

9779095883?profile=originalBelow: Bed 2 newly planted with cauli, four different kinds of broccoli, one cardoon and beans along the climbing frame. I've thrown some herb seed in there for the hell of it, dill or fennel and coriander.  Still growing silverbeet bottom end, Sweet Leaf, eggplant and chives at the top end.

9779096092?profile=originalBelow: Bed 1 mostly to be redone - Joe's beans coming up at the top end. Still growing corn, chinese veg, eggplant, amaranth, basil.

9779097089?profile=original25.02.13

Only a few days of summer left, thank goodness. The last two days have been hot and steamy (the artichoke seedlings did not! appreciate it and some have died) but this morning is dripping rain again.

Went along to Bob Luttrell's open garden yesterday and was able to attend most of his talk about his experiences with native bees over the years and demonstrations of various hive designs. He's working on lightweight cement structures at the moment. And metal covers with tile roof that fits over the main body of the hive - he feels this keeps out the predators who won't fly up from underneath.

Bob showed us various vertical splitting techniques with different hive designs. Hopefully I will end up with one of these to try when we eventually split my hive.

Below: Last look around the garden before autumn. Time to read last autumns blog! which of course, is the whole point of having them.

9779097277?profile=originalBelow: The Cardoon is sending up new shoots. Lucky I don't pull things out anymore - I just cut and leave the stumps in the ground.

9779097894?profile=originalBelow: To provide support for the peas and beans, I've put up some netting that I bought some time back. Not an easy task to fight with this stuff on my own, but I eventually won!

9779098064?profile=originalBelow: The self sown Winter Melon which has now claimed my washing trolley as it's own, is producing more fruit which is quite wonderful. I have only one left in the pantry and would really like more to eat.

9779099462?profile=originalBelow: More Dragonfruit is ripening. Currently selling for about $5 each around here, though Joseph has found them on the southside for about $1.50 each.

9779099677?profile=originalBelow: The cutting I put on the hose post seems to be putting out a flower bud....even though the piece isn't rooted. Will be interesting to see if this develops further.

9779100090?profile=originalBelow: Looks like I might have Myrtle rust on the Ceylon Hill Gooseberry. Not a good shot, but note the marks on the fruit and leaves. These were initially yellow circles.

9779101065?profile=originalBelow: The Cranberry Hibiscus is such a pretty edible to have in the garden. Seedlings are coming up around the cold compost pile though I don't remember seeing any seed pods.

This one responds well to pruning to keep it neat and promote the fresh young leaves which are the best eating.

9779101097?profile=originalBelow: The self sown mystery melon must be getting near the time for harvesting. Looks like a Honeydew to me. Don't remember eating any HD this summer, rockmelon yes, so lord knows where the seed came from to end up in the kitchen veg scraps dumped in this spot. Perhaps it's regressed to one of the parent plants?? Whatever. It's a little gift.

9779101285?profile=originalBelow: Didn't want to waste any of my one beautiful pumpkin so pricked it full of holes and roasted it......

9779102256?profile=originalBelow: The end result to put in the freezer for later use. The flesh was still quite chunky but could be squashed down once it was in the bags. Nice and flat for storage. One lot used for Pumpkin Cake which I've been enjoying nightly with some icecream, really quite yum.

9779102478?profile=originalBelow: FRONT YARD - Finally started real work on the front yard thanks to Health using his chainsaw to cut off the Ponytail plant and two fountain palms for me. That big mound down near the air-con unit is where one of the palms is still quite big and viable. Aiming to kill it off with the substantial heat from the grass cuttings. It will eventually rot down.

Steve the mower guy is bringing me lots of lovely grass cuttings. I just love looking at this pile and thinking about what I can plant when it's all rotted down. Doesn't take long. There's newspaper and ground cover under this lot.

9779102901?profile=originalBelow: The Jaboticaba is doing very well. Really looking forward to getting a first crop. The raspberries struggled this year but there's still plenty of healthy stock. I will be propogating them all along this bed. Will try to keep them some better form, but for all that, they crop just fine left to their own devices.

The choko (green) has made a comeback as always, when it rains. The white one couldn't take the heat. Many people are asking me for fruit to grow so it seems everyone has lost their plants.

9779103291?profile=originalBelow: The Dwarf Wurtz is doing well. After dire warnings from many NOT to prune it I found a video on YouTube from a professional who just gets stuck in, so I've trimmed off some of the growth and branches that were annoying me. There's still more...I'm working myself up to it!

Pomegranates in the background are growing well - seed sown on the left, Wonderful in the middle.

9779104058?profile=originalBelow: The "four sisters" - Tamarillos grown from seed at the same time, have had very different journeys. The one in the foreground, in what I considered to be the worst spot not getting much natural rain, has done the best - managing to keep both it's fruit and leaves. The one on the right was bowled over in a storm, cut off and has kept it leaves (there were not fruit). The two in the right background kept their fruit and dropped all their leaves during the recent bout of heat that went on for a few weeks.

I've cut them right back in the hope that they recover.

Canistel in between plants (right) is still plugging along. New growth, but it's a very slow grower. Tempted to get rid of it but it's healthy, so can stay for a bit longer.

The rocket is now self sowing in this bed. Pepino struggles out here - probably too hot and dry for it. The strawberries are settling in nicely - original plants from a couple at Redlands a few years back.

9779104296?profile=originalBelow: Heath has been giving me grass over the fence. Finally convinced him not to dump it! but he still looks puzzled that I would want it lol. He's tossing the backyard stuff over into my banana patch.

9779105266?profile=originalLESSONS LEARNED THIS SUMMER:

  • Do NOT grow Golden Bantam corn again. Plants don't grow at the same rate, therefore don't pollinate at the same time. The end cob is tough and bland. I tried seed from three different sites and they were all as dismal.
  • Take precautions for fruit fly BEFORE the tree fruits! (Carombola). NOTE - my fruit fly trap has caught nothing in a week and yet all the fruit is stung. Perhaps it's not fruit fly sting? The Americans have problems with stink beetles (?) but no sign of any excess of beetle either. NOTE 17.02.13 fruit fly maggots are hatching in bagged fruit.

Read more…

Edamame

9779076687?profile=original

Joseph shared some Edamame seed with me some months back. After the bit of rain yesterday I've moved the compost pile into the middle bed and planted the seed up one end in the bottom-of-the-pile, worm casting rich soil.

Very curious about these - I've never eaten them but the blurb on the net makes them sound delicious. Can be eaten raw like a peanut or boiled in the pod to be eaten as a snack with a bit of salt...

9779077658?profile=original

....used as a bright green ingredient in salads....

9779077489?profile=original...or blended with peas etc to make a spread.

9779078093?profile=original

You Tube video

From Organic Gardening:

Edamame (pronounced "eh-dah-MAH-meh") are vegetable soybeans — that is, you pick them when they're green, pop them out of the pods and serve them as a side dish or eat them like peanuts, a crunchy snack you munch with a beer. Edamame are an excellent source of high-quality protein — the beans have all of the amino acids, including the 8 not produced in our bodies. Also high in dietary fiber, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A and folate. And then there are isoflavones — the powerful plant compounds that have been linked to everything from decreased heart disease to alleviating the symptoms of menopause.

Growing Guide

  • Variety: If you live in an area with short or cool summers, choose a variety that matures in less than 90 days. In the Deep South, choose a variety with a later maturation date or consider planting edamame for a spring/fall crop.
  • Soil preference: Edamame tolerate a wide range of soils, but delay planting until soil temperatures reach at least 60°F. Extend your harvest with succession plantings made at weekly intervals.
  • Inoculation: To increase the plants' nitrogen fixation, treat soybeans at planting with Rhizobium japonicum inoculant, available through seed catalogs which sell edamame.
  • Spacing: Edamame are well-suited to dense plantings. Plant in wide rows and space 4-inch apart in all directions.
  • Watering: Keep soil consistently moist and avoid soil crusting until emergence, then water only when soil is dry.
  • Fertilizing: Edamame perform well with moderate soil fertility. Compost or a balanced organic fertilizer are good choices.
  • Cultivation: Control weeds around seedlings with light cultivation until leaves shade out competition.

Pest Watch
Edamame are largely pest-resistant, but if you have problems with Bean Beetles or Stinkbugs they can be controlled with floating row covers or predatory insects (parasitic wasps, nematodes, ladybugs, and lacewings).

Harvesting
Edamame have a narrow harvest window of 3-7 days. Pick when beans have filled in the pod and before the pod begins to yellow. Chill the beans for several hours and then blanch the pods in boiling water just until the color deepens. The beans can then be refrigerated or frozen for later use.

Will post some pics of my plants as they grow, but here's one of the few pics I've been able to find of the plant growing and fruiting.

9779078680?profile=originalAnd just have to share this wierd recipe. Is it sweet or savoury:

9779079485?profile=originalIngredients

7 ounces dry roasted edamame
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 pound 6 ounces sugar
12 ounces water

Directions

Place the edamame, soy sauce, cayenne pepper and salt into a small mixing bowl and stir to combine.

Line a half sheet pan with a silicone baking mat.

Place a 3-quart saucier inside a large cast iron skillet. Add the sugar and water to the saucier, and cook over high heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until it comes to a boil. Stop stirring, cover, and cook for 3 minutes. Uncover, reduce heat to medium, and cook until the sugar is a light amber color, approximately 25 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the edamame mixture. Working quickly, pour the mixture onto the prepared half sheet pan and spread thin with an oiled spatula. You will have to work quickly when pouring out and spreading the mixture in the pan. Cool completely, approximately 30 minutes, and then break into pieces. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
Found these at the Lawnton Fruit Mkts today. They look exactly the same as the seed I've been given so couldn't resist buying them to try growing. Ate two raw - not good. Dry and chewy. Will soak some to see if they're edible.
9779080252?profile=original
Read more…

JICAMA/YAM BEAN

9779073296?profile=original

 

I have a heap of seedlings needing to be planted (thanks to Addy for supplying the seed some time ago).

I'll have to have a look into this plant again as I'm really not sure where to plant them. How big does the plant grow? Is it heavy? Is it annual or perennial?

Previous discussion and pictures.

Wiki: The jícama vine can reach a height of 4-5 metres given suitable support. Its root can attain lengths of up to 2 m and weigh up to 20kgs.

 Food Reference

The skin is typically peeled before eating it raw. Raw jicama taste is described as crisp, sweet and nutty, similar to a pear or an apple, or a cross between an apple and a potato. It is also slow to discolor when exposed to the open air. Because of this, raw jicama is often used as on raw vegetable platters. As a snack it is served sprinkled with lime juice a little chili powder.  When jicama is used in cooking it tends to take on the flavors of the ingredients that it is being combined with. Therefore, jicama is a nice complement to various stir-fry dishes because it blends well with many vegetables and seasonings.

Most commonly eaten raw, jicama maintains much of its crispness when cooked and can be used as an alternative to water chestnuts. Jicama may also be cooked on its own as a vegetable, sauteed with with other vegetables, used in stir-fries or added to stews.

NOTE: Do not eat other parts of the jicama plant as they may be poisonous.  Mature seeds have a fairly high content of rotenone, a chemical used as an insecticide and pesticide.

eHow

For the best root production, remove flowers when you first see them appear. Doing this causes the root to expand in diameter.

After blooming, jicama does produce flat, pea-like pods. These are not edible and contain toxins that can make you sick, so be sure to keep them pinched off to prevent curious children from eating them.

Allow the vine-like stems to grow as a billowy groundcover or upon a short trellis or plant stakes. When the stems' length approaches 36 inches, expect pea-like flowers to appear. Enjoy them, but as soon as they fade, pinch them off to prevent seed pods from forming. Removing the pods refocuses energy into producing larger root tubers.

Harvest the root tubers from the soil no sooner than 4 months of plant growth, when they will be small but edible-sized. Dig up the tubers with a shovel, slicing into the ground no closer than 12 inches at first to avoid damaging a tuber. Make more digs under the plant as more tubers are revealed. If climate allows, waiting to harvest after 8 to 9 months of growth ensures larger roots. Always harvest the tubers when threats of a killing first fall frost are expected.

August 2012
Here's my first crop - not as good as I expected but still nice to have:
9779074060?profile=originalBelow are the original ones bought from the Caboolture Markets last year - nice even sizes and shapes - very good eating raw:
9779074458?profile=original
Below are the ones I bought from the Yandina Markets last weekend (August 2012) also very good eating. The skin is tough but peels off easily:
9779075460?profile=original25.09.12
I kept the large home grown Yicama in the fridge since picking (pulling?) last month. It became a little wrinkled but was still really good eating. I've used it in casseroles and stews where it keeps it's firmness but is al dente.  Lovely roasted - definately my favourite. Nutty and crunchy.
I still have a portion left to use so expect there to be no waste from the crop. Definately a goodie to have growing in the garden.
12.07.13
A few plants grew and are still green but I checked last night at the base of one and found this beauty. Did a small amount of damage with the trowel. There was another further down that I couldn't remove.
I have a couple of other plants still growing - one with about four seed pod.
9779076262?profile=original
9779076856?profile=original
Read more…

2012 AUTUMN March to May

9779018870?profile=originalLots of rain around still, though it stopped long enough for me to mow yesterday. Trimmed the untidy leaves from the Listada di Gandia and noticed an interloper hiding amongst them - a Tamarillo! Lord knows how the seed got there. Stuff turns up in the funniest places. Bed 3 on the left is all self sown toms and amaranth, so rampant and healthy I have to leave them be.

Good weather to be planting seed, which I've done with Bed 1 below.

9779019097?profile=originalPlanted from front to rear - carrots: "Red Kuroda", "Amarillo" and "Muscade"; Strawberry Spinach (Garden Berry - Chenopodium capitatum); Cardoon "Rouge D'Alger"; Florence Fennel; Silverbeet "Ruby"; Corn "Jubilee Bicolour".

Horrible job cutting back the lemon grass - I've ended up with lots of papercuts! Should have worn gloves. After having trouble establishing lemon grass initially I now have two good clumps thanks to the rain. Have started using it a little more in cooking now I know I have plenty.

I have a mystery creeper growing up the frame in this bed. No real idea what it is, but the caterpillars love eating it. Pepper?? NOTE : we've all decided that this is Madiera Vine and a real pest - a year later I'm still pulling out suckers.

9779019868?profile=original9779020455?profile=originalNot aerial spud as there is no lobe at the top end.  Could be that climbing "spinach" that I had a couple of years back but have since lost - Ceylon Spinach. NOTE: This is a Madiera Vine and a real nuisance.

Plenty of flowers in the garden - mostly red salvia but plenty of other things also like the Rudbeckia, Ginger, Loofah and beautiful vibrant blue salvia flowers below. I have quite a few blue banded bees which love visiting many of these. Even saw two have a short "battle" this morning - they must be a bit territorial.

9779021254?profile=original9779021267?profile=original9779022659?profile=original9779023490?profile=original15.03.12

I haven't mentioned the raspberries (Williamette) which have been doing very well again this year. For some reason they crop at the end of summer and beginning of autumn....but I'm not complaining! They just love the front yard with the south western aspect and there are many canes fruiting compared to just a few last year.

Due to the heavy vegetation after the rains, I have to really hunt for some of the fruit.

Below is some of the fruit for today - the rest was eaten :) Fruit ripens daily - if you miss cropping for two days you can miss some good fruit.

9779024085?profile=originalAlso eaten this afternoon a very delicious Pepino, only the second in a long while. The plants have thoroughly enjoyed all the rain and have spread, to my great delight. The one in the front yard is ill and dying but the backyard ones are doing fine and are covered in flowers and some small fruit. Yum.

21.03.12

The rain is continuing off and on and the garden is very appreciative. Things are growing that I thought were long dead and gone and have lost the name for! Things are growing where I didn't think any seed had ever come any where near that spot! Amazing. Wish I could witness the private life of my garden.

Seed potatoes and garlic blubs have arrived from Green Harvest in amazing time yesterday (Tuesday) from an order placed at the weekend. Today I've called in to Bunnings and bought 4 bags of Garden Soil (Brunnings) instead of potting mix and a bag of 5 in 1. All this plus Organic Xtra, Potash, molasses fertiliser, Dolomite and Epsom Salts have been split between the four grow bags that I have.

Below is the garlic - Monaro Purple and Elephant Garlic. The EG has gone into one of the grow bags but I'm yet to find a spot for the MP.

NOTE: These were pretty much dud growers. The EG struggled along for a bit and eventually gave me a bit of crop from the plants that didn't die. Can't remember getting anything back from the Monaro Purple. Don't bother again.

9779025255?profile=originalBelow seed potatoes - playing it safe this time after lacklustre results from more exotic spuds - Sebago, Desiree and Nicola. All planted into grow bags.

NOTE: Not worth the outlay, none of them did well. I'm just planting sprouted spuds from the fruit shop now.

9779018079?profile=originalBelow - still getting great crops from the Listada di Gandia! Wonderful plants.  The fruit grows so quickly and is really nice to eat - usually roasted for me but sometimes fried.

NOTE: 04.03.13 I think these plants have finally reached the end. After being decimated by Flea Beetle all summer long there is only one live plant left and it's no longer producing good fruit. I have two self seeded replacements and a seedling bought from Bunnings as this is such a good eggplant to have in the garden.

9779025698?profile=originalBelow 22.03.12 Desiree, Nicola and Sebago seed potato bags.

NOTE: 06.04.12 A couple of shoots are appearing above the surface. 04.03.13 These were never a success and I won't go out of my way to buy seed potato again.

9779026682?profile=originalBelow 22.03.12 Beds 1 and 2, compost pile and Elephant Garlic grow bag.

NOTE: 06.04.12 Still no sign of shoots. 04.03.13 The garlic never did well. The EG did end up giving me some return but not worth the bother. The bulbs were very frangrant and nice to use.

9779027654?profile=original9779028080?profile=originalBelow 22.03.12 Pawpaw beside house now multi-headed and doing just fine!

9779029472?profile=originalBelow 22.03.12 rampant growth behind the beds due to all the rain.

9779030090?profile=original9779030493?profile=originalBelow 22.03.12 Grevillea has bloomed heaps lately, Dwarf Banana, Variegated Penda.

9779031468?profile=originalBelow 22.03.12 Asparagus bed with Ceylon Hill Cherry buried beneath. Keep forgetting to watch for edible spears! After two years of just watching and waiting it's hard to remember that I can now eat them.

NOTE: 04.03.13 it's only recently that I have had some good spears to eat and still not many of them.

9779031886?profile=originalBelow 22.03.12 Bed 1 seed making a show.

NOTE: This corn seed proved to be a dud (Jubilee Bicolour), not forming pollen. It was bought on sale in a discount store! Just goes to show, only buy quality seed from quality outlets.

04.03.13 I have not had luck with any corn for a while. I've tried Golden Bantam seed three times from different sources and it's not worthwhile - plants silk at different times, pollination is uneven, cobs are tough and tasteless. Back to F1 seedlings for me! so I end up with some useful crop.

9779032653?profile=originalBelow 22.03.12 corn and silverbeet coming up.

9779033270?profile=originalBelow 22.03.12 Rampant growth in Bed 3 - all self sown.

9779033855?profile=original30.03.12

The choko vines have gone wild with all the wet. The come-again green one has been heavy with fruit and I keep finding more! Lucikly the folk at work think they are quite a delicacy and they disappear from the lunch table within minutes :)

The beautiful pearly white version is now bearing fruit also. I couldn't help myself the other day and picked a small fruit for roasting.....not a lot of flavour difference between this and the green but very pleasant all the same. The vine tips remain my favourite part of the choko plant!

NOTE: One year later this while choko vine is dead and gone. Other people are telling me the same story (we're all looking for new fruit to plant). There was a hot dry period around Dec/Jan and despite twice weekly watering and mulching, the plant died. It did try to reshoot but eventually succumbed.

9779034268?profile=originalThe snake beans continue to bear almost daily for me - I have lots of seed saved for next year of these wonderful plants. Slow to produce, but then they just keep on giving delicious fruit - my little snack straight from the vine when I come home from work.

Ate some home grown asparagus the other night. I keep forgetting to check the asparagus patch as I had to leave them alone for the first two years. Now I'm finding the spears when they are a little long...found two the other day which was heaps for me - some was fibrous but the rest was wonderful.

Really need to re-do another bed so I can get some brocolli and cauli seeds planted but the two other beds just keep on keeping-on! I've planted some of the bought garlic (Green Harvest) in Bed 2 which will make re-doing it difficult, but there was nowhere else to put them...the snake beans are still producing in there anyway. Will have to make a decision soon which bed gets "sacrificed".

The weather is cooling nicely. The nights are quite lovely and fresh already. The native bees are still very active - especially compared to the first hive that died off - really must have been something wrong with that one!

Off to Yandina Community Gardens tomorrow for a workshop :) Just love going there, well worth the drive. Will visit the markets next door first of course! Will think about visiting that wonderful cafe around the corner for some great home made GF lunch... if I have any money left from the markets. Bought all those beautiful salvias last time I was there and they have really brightened up the yard and are so easy to grow from cutting.

Dad is in the middle of his cancer treatment - looks like I'll be bringing him home to Bribie this weekend also.

02.04.12

PITPIT - Just about had enough of the Pitpit experiment. The plants are preparing to bloom again - my cue to crop the edible bit.

I cut off quite a few of the blooming stems and have found the only tender edible bit is the node to node section just below the flowering bit. This edible bit is about 1" long. Nice, but hardly worth the huge clump of plant to produce a tiny amount of edible plant once a year.

I have pulled up plant from the front yard and will no doubt do the same with much growing in the backyard. Despite this I am propogating some for others to grow. In the back of my mind is the thought that I am doing something wrong! so I want others to be trying and suceeding where I have failed.

Really need to get stuck into the front beds with the mattock. There are so many useless plants there including lavender planted years ago which has not once bloomed. It is doomed! The fountain palms need to go also - sick of their uselessness. Not particularly decorative and certainly not productive.

9779034291?profile=original9779034900?profile=original06.04.12

Easter - four days to putter in the garden :) bliss. The girls are camping out at Warwick and I'll probably have Andrew over for a couple of days.

Michael is coming tomorrow to trim back all the trees in the backyard (as many as he can do in a day anyway).

Composting - have just watched a couple of really good, straight forward videos suggested by Evan and made by Paul Taylor from trustnature.com.au (see videos on BLF for full info).

In essence piles should consist of layers starting with:

4 parts carbon (eg straw, leaves),

3 parts green material (eg hay, grass),

2 parts nitrogen rich (eg lucerne, manure).

The layers can be interspersed with sprinkles of rock dust for minerals (eg granite/deco = potassium, basalt = calcium and iron).

Use an activator to get the microbe going such as molasses, fish emulsion, manure in water and sprinkle over the pile.

Sprinkle the layers with water as they are added - stop when the water starts to run off.

Top the pile off with some manure and other soft material and cover with tarp etc.

These piles are supposed to be turned after a few weeks but this is quite beyond me these days. I prefer to do it all in the elevated beds and let the worms do the turning for me!

Below 06.04.12 Beautiful autumn morning, cool after a light shower.

9779035871?profile=originalBelow Plant stand no. 2 (first rusted out and fell over after about 1.5 years - will use the shelving next time with some bricks to create my own). Autumn is the best time to start taking cuttings - have all sorts of stuff going on here. Not enough space to do all the propogating I would like to....but then I have to find a home for it all anyway.

9779036099?profile=originalBelow - "Seduction" my last rose bush :( but still doing well in it's strange pozie. Cuttings have been taken for Julie and Faye at work.

9779036882?profile=originalBelow - Must have spilled some marigold seed on the ground between the beds and they've all germinated in the wet.

NOTE: 04.03.13 All of the seed saved from these grew into non-flowering plants. Most odd. Had to pull them out in the end.

9779036289?profile=originalBelow - Geranium "Big Red" originally bought from Bunnings. Great plant to have around for almost continuous colour.

NOTE: 04.03.13 almost drowned in the near constant rain recently. Had to remove all the plant material, fix the soil and start again with cuttings.

9779037856?profile=original08.04.12

Have been meaning to mention that I'm using some element from the garden virtually for every meal, including my breakfast juice drink. At the moment I'm adding choko to the morning juice which isn't as gross as it sounds as it has very little flavour. When I'm home I have Rocket on my lunchtime sandwich...love the stuff.

Tonight I'm having a veal casserole with added chilli, Okra, Arrowroot, Egyptian Spinach, Brazilian Spinach, Ceylon Spinach and Amaranth leaves. I'm using a lot of eggplant in various dishes - roast, casserole, stews. and stirfrys. The Sweet Potato leaves are always delicious in any dish, they are the nicest green.

Beans galore steamed, stewed etc (and raw daily). I should be using the Arrowroot more - I tend to forget about it.

Carrots were a disappointment through summer but I did get enough to add to the chicken stew last night.

Green Pawpaw is great in stews and casseroles - can hardly tell it apart from potato or other root veg such as Sweet Turnip which it reminds me of greatly. Don't pick them too early though or they seem to  lack that great flavour - try picking them just before they start to turn yellow.

Choko keeps it's shape while cooking and absorbs the flavours of the food it is cooked with - getting more fond of it. The vine tips are just wonderful in anything or eaten raw (as are the flowers).

Below is Bed 1 coming along nicely -back to front - corn "Jubilee Bicolour" (DUD! flowers did not form pollen); Florence Fennel (left), Silverbeet "Ruby" (right), Cardoon, Strawberry Spinach, Carrots - Red Kuroda, Amarillo, Muscade, Rocket and a few cauli seedlings bought from the Yandina markets last weekend.

9779038069?profile=originalBelow - Cardoon. The flower heads are edible along with the stalks. Ate a stalk the other day and it was very bitter.

NOTE: 04.03.13 Used these a lot in stews and casseroles as a celery substitute and they were excellent. The plants flowered and then died off. Luckily I did not remove the roots as they are reshooting. Saved seed is about 50% viable.

9779039091?profile=originalBelow - Strawberry Spinach - edible leaves and "fruit". NOTE: This plant never amounted to anything, possibly because it was overwhelmed by the Cardoon. I never did get to eat any of it.

9779039664?profile=originalBelow - The corn, Florence Fennel and Silverbeet.

9779039896?profile=originalBelow - Getting ready to re do Bed 2. Leaving the Rocket, garlic (just peeking through from bought corms) and the longest Snake Bean. Everything else has been cut up and left to break down.

9779040669?profile=original21.04.12

Below Bed 2 newly planted with broccoli (my own saved seed so they might be crossed with other stuff like purple cauli) and cauli seed. Also planted sugar snap peas but the next night the b. rat dug them up and ate them.

In the pic is my latest bought rat trap ($20 from Cab. Mkts) which of course hasn't caught one rat as yet. Gretel caught, killed and ate three mid sized rats in the aviary the other night. I found a large dead male in the garden this morning....not sure if the neighbours are poisoning again, but I'm glad I found it before my dogs did.

NOTE: 04.03.13 Same time the next year, not a rat to be seen. Very strange, but I like it. Nothing is eating my sown pea and bean seed this autumn.

9779040898?profile=original9779041654?profile=originalBelow self sown bits-and-bobs like sunflower and beans.

9779041680?profile=original9779042296?profile=originalBelow Egyptian Spinach going to seed. Note the caterpillar pretending to be a seed pod :)

9779043074?profile=originalBelow Silverbeet "Ruby" very pretty, grew quickly and eating almost nightly. Not a lot of flavour.

9779043871?profile=originalBelow Bed 1 corn "Jubilee Bicolour" coming along well.

9779044654?profile=originalBelow Bed 3 is smothered with self sown toms. The red Okra from Elaine is also doing very well in this bed.

9779044699?profile=originalBelow finally have Chinese Gooseberry thriving! Can tick this off my bucket list now.

9779045673?profile=originalBelow the carrots are growing very quickly at this time of the year. The material under the initial thin layer of soil is breaking down quickly and is full of worms.

9779046466?profile=originalBelow: Jackfruit seedlings coming up (Cleome on the right). Have fantasies about guerilla planting these but I know I don't have the guts to do it lol. Will have to find loving homes for all of these.

9779047257?profile=originalBelow: 04.03.13 Here's the one Jackfruit seedling I didn't give away, one year later. Tremendous growth.

9779047301?profile=originalBelow: Planter made up for Clare - mild chilli, rosemary and parsley.

9779048276?profile=original25.04.12 Anzac Day - sending love to all our diggers.

FRONT YARD

For some reason I don't get around to taking pics of the front yard often, but it's starting to become productive so time to give it some acknowledgement!

Below front verge. Lavender (one died) and Midyim. White Choko growing on the fence. No smack on the wrist from council as yet. Maybe if I take over the area under the Tibouchina and some of the driveway ;)

9779048501?profile=originalBelow 17.03.12 Tibouchinas in full bloom - someone came along and tore branches from them over the pathway. I took it as a broad hint from a disgruntled bike rider and trimmed them back even though they were blooming.

9779049088?profile=originalBelow 23.04.12 some of the last of the raspberries "Williamette". They take over a bit when they're growing and fruiting but get cut back when finished. Most enjoyable to come home each day and eat a small handful of their fruit.

NOTE: 04.03.13 No fruit this season. We had some very dry hot weather and while they survived they didn't like it. With the rain this last couple of weeks they have come back heatlhy and happy. I'm reclaiming the length of this bed from a useless ground cover and hope to expland the raspberries.

9779049900?profile=originalBelow 23.04.12 White Choko are cropping well. Smaller fruit than the green and took a bit to get the plant established -it flourished when it rained for a week. Folk at work can't get enough of the green ones but leave these sitting on the table untouched - people are so suspicious of anything different. I'm using them in my morning juice and adding to stir frys etc.

NOTE: This plant eventually succumbed to the bout of dry and heat that we had in January 2013 and is now dead a gone. Looking for a replacement.

9779050686?profile=originalBelow 23.04.12 Tromboncino or Climbing Zucchini- could not find the packet that the original seed came in. Nice to eat - crunchy. Have been picking them this size (not a lot of crop) but will try to leave this one to see what it does. Would like some seed if possible. Rather pumpkin-like in it's growth habit - now climbing the fence and the bamboo. Male and female flowers.

9779051456?profile=original9779052852?profile=originalBelow 23.04.12 Tamarillo grown from seed - could have sworn I used seed from red fruit! but these seem to be ripening up yellow. Yum.

9779053282?profile=originalBelow 23.04.12 Tamarillo in the middle, cassava to left and right, Dwf Wurtz avo in the foreground. Also pineapple, Jaboticaba, white choko. Lavender has never bloomed and is doomed. I see Pepino growing in it's place ;)

9779053101?profile=originalBelow 24.04.12 Dinner makings for Thai chicken dish - I'm getting braver and adapting to using the sub-tropical goodies which will grow here. L-R Swt potato leaves, snake beans, white choko, Betel leaves, Amaranth leaves, angled Loofah (from Addy's garden), eggplant Listada di Gandia, Red Okra + onion and chicken in a store bought Thai soup base.

9779054472?profile=originalBelow 23.04.12 Black Jaboticaba is growing well. Hoping to have some fruit from this before too long.

The Yellow one on the other side of the yard has hardly put on any growth at all, but still looks very healthy.

NOTE: 04.03.13 The Yellow Jaboticaba died some months back. Just keeled over and died. It never did start to put on new growth to any degree. Expensive lesson. Others tell me theirs are also reluctant to grow.

9779055252?profile=originalBelow 23.04.12 Pomegrante on left grown from seed has grown quickly and is the same size as the store bought "Wonderful" on the right - less pointy bits too. White choko on the fence. Pineapple struggled during the dry but are looking much happier since all the rain.

9779056056?profile=originalBelow 23.04.12 Self sown pawpaw - one of many that come up around the yard to my continued delight.

9779056264?profile=original07.05.12

Below - the b. rat is even eating the marigold seeds. The new trap is a total failure as it doesn't "trigger" when anything touches the bait tray. Will have to set up the water trap again, but the rats seem to be avoiding that one now. They have been stealing my Sugar Snap Peas every time I replant them.

NOTE: 04.03.13 no sign of any rats at all this autumn. Very strange.

9779057253?profile=original07.05.12 Below Nopales, edible cactus from Addy.

9779022464?profile=original9779057868?profile=originalBelow: 03.03.13 The Nopales 10mths later!

9779023096?profile=original07.05.12 Below the Cardoon is growing quickly.

9779058095?profile=originalBelow: 03.03.13 The Cardoon plants died off after flowering. I thought that was the end of them and cut them out. Lucky I didn't pull them up by the roots as they sent up new shoots again - below:

9779059298?profile=original07.05.12 Below Strawberry Spinach in the middle (American seed). Never did amount to much.

9779060482?profile=original07.05.12 Below fruit developing on the Pepino - one of about 5 on this oldest clump. I've been putting cuttings in any open spots around the garden in the hope of getting more fruit.

9779060697?profile=original07.05.12 Have removed a clump of Sambung and Lemon grass to put in the various eggplant seed I had been given, but which was sitting unused. Just dumped the lot in in the hope that some will still be viable. Varieties - red, orange, mini, and early purple.

NOTE: 04.03.13 Only one plant survived and is now providing small purplish fruit. Either the Mini or the Early Purple I guess.

9779061689?profile=original07.05.12 Below Bed - bottom end left due to the garlic planted; top end broccoli, cauli and cabbage + sugar snap peas if the b. rats will leave some of them alone to germinate.

9779062470?profile=original07.05.12 Below - Michael has cut back the grevillia - 5.5hrs work on his own and a nice pile of mulch for me.

NOTE: 04.03.13 This plant died about a month back during the hot dry period. Now using it to grow Dragonfruit on.

9779062491?profile=original07.05.12 Moringa - little stick of a thing still struggling on after I had to cut off it's too-leggy top. Saw one on a gardening show the other night and it was b. HUGE with a trunk about 6' diameter. Think this one will have to go!

NOTE: 04.03.13 This plant died and disappeared all by itself. Must have caught my negative vibes. Pity, because I like the leaves in cooking.

9779063496?profile=original07.05.12 Below Bed 1 American carrot seed going great guns.

9779065053?profile=original07.05.12 Below - fig has made a comeback after being decimated by the beetles and is trying to create more fruit.

NOTE: 04.03.13 It eventually recovered fully and produced about a dozen good fruit at the end of summer.

9779065463?profile=original07.05.12 Below - dwarf bananas developing.

9779066454?profile=original9779067055?profile=original9779067696?profile=original19.05.12

Beautiful days but no rain for some weeks to speak of. The tank seems to have about quarter volume left.

Finally having success growing Chinese Gooseberries! The plants around the tank have spread out in all directions and have plenty of little lantern fruit on them; ripening up one by one which is no good for jam for great for nibbling.

Cardoon is growing well - some little prickles but nothing really spikey. Have used some of the stems in cooking. Nothing too exciting - a bit like a bitter silverbeet/celery cross.

I have a rotten sore throat and aches today so making a large pot of chicken soup. Most of the veg from my own garden :)

Below: L-R Cardoon stems, arrowroot, swt. potato leaves, choko, carrots, swt fennel, amaranth, chilli, rosemary, eggplant.

9779067880?profile=originalBelow - some of the white choko crop. Kookaburra Organics want about 30 for the Nambour Show! Fairly unlikely to happen lol.

9779021656?profile=originalTrimmed back the green choko vine this afternoon, in spite of feeling like s..t, and this is what I found underneath:

9779069463?profile=original20.05.12

Below - useless corn - did not produce any pollen. Seed bought on sale at a discount store. There's a lesson there!

9779070057?profile=originalBelow - useless corn removed and bush bean seed planted.

9779070301?profile=original26.05.12

Cold, cold morning and I have a chest cold to go with it, so gardening in my Uggs and jumper this morning. Nathan has just given me a bottle of the most delicious home made Rosella Jam I have ever eaten :) All his own work from his own rosellas!

Re-doing Bed 3 this morning as it's completely overgrown with useless small tom bushes and other junk. Have chopped them all up into the bed and topped with some great horse poo bought along the Narangba Rd the other week - good stuff with no filler. All topped with a layer of lucerne. Will add some other goody this afternoon ie Organic Xtra etc.

Made a lot of phone calls trying to find where I can buy the big bags of Brunnings Organic Garden Soil as Bunnings no longer stock these. Brunnings outlet is just up the road at Brendale too which is frustrating as they don't sell direct to the public.

Best I can come up with is Richgro 25lt bags from Bunnings for about $6.50 each (up to $10.50 at other outlets). Brackenridge Landscape Supplies sell the bigger version for about $14 each. Masters Hardware is supposed to stock the Brunnings - the one at North Lakes isn't open yet and the one at Morayfield doesn't stock the big bags.

Below: The bucket of tiny toms which may or may not ripen. Don't particularly care.

NOTE: Turned these toms into jam and it was good!

9779071101?profile=originalBelow: Bed 3 in the process of being replenished.

9779071477?profile=original9779071853?profile=originalBelow: Some of the Tamarillo crop have ripened up nicely. Bit of a treat in the afternoon.

9779072280?profile=originalBelow: Finally! The Cape Gooseberry plant and one of it's fruit. Very nice and sweet too.

9779072693?profile=originalBelow: Yakon flowers. I planted quite a few tubers but they haven't all grown.

9779073486?profile=originalBelow: The bags of spuds are open to full sun again now the tom plants have been cut back.

9779074261?profile=original

Read more…

2012 WINTER June to August

9779037257?profile=originalHere we go again! with the main growing period for veg in Brisbane. I used to dislike winter but now I really look forward to it and the opportunity to try some new seed and plants each time.

I'm trying to get some Kangkong growing in the wet pot in the pic above, not really the right season but what the hey giving it a go anyway. I've bought some seed for the warmer months if the cuttings don't take. Trying again with the water chestnut after three failures. I have them growing in a clay pot sitting on a brick in a large tub of water this time. Not submerged.

Still using a mix of seed grown and seedlings from the market. Whatever gives me results. It's all about having something good to eat out of it all, organically grown, so I don't really care where the plant initially comes from. Seed is best but I find a lot of the heirloom items difficult to grow. I'm focusing on finding out what works well in MY area and that I actually find useful as a food.

Below 17.06.12 - establising as many Pepino plants around the place as I can as I really like the yummy little fruit. Absolutely no waste (you eat the whole thing) and nothing much seems to affect them. Not many fruit for the size of the plants at the moment, but this (my oldest established) is now growing well and producing lots of flowers so I have hope for more than the odd fruit.

9779037290?profile=originalBelow 17.06.12 - finally have some Cape Gooseberry established. They are such spreaders but as I'm not mowing at the moment it's not a problem. Lovely to have a few fruit to eat each day - a real blast from my past. People who make jam must have a heap of plants!

9779038498?profile=originalBelow 17.06.12 - so many different carrot varities to try! These are L-R Kuroda x2, Amarillo and Muscade.

9779039258?profile=originalBelow 17.06.12 - ever dependable bush beans grow so well at this time of the year.

9779039666?profile=originalBelow 17.06.12 - the Listada di Gandia have slowed right down with developing fruit. I noticed the Blue Banded bees are my main helper fertilising these flowers and they are now dormant. My little native bees are still active, but they don't seem to go near these flowers.

9779039289?profile=originalBelow 17.06.12 - brocolli grown from seed saved from last years wonderful crop. Small heading variety. Waiting to find out if this grows something useful or has cross pollinated with something else.

9779041076?profile=originalBelow 17.06.12 - my native bees still come out once the day warms up, which unfortunately means I only see them at the weekend and not during the work week.

9779042063?profile=originalBelow 17.06.12 - compost pile, giant garlic in grow tub and Cardoon in bed (tall). Cardoon is something I will continue to grow (so long as it seeds for me!) as it's incredibly hardy with firm stems useful for stews and casseroles. Quite bitter to bite on but you don't notice it in the dish. Reminiscent of a cross between the stems of silverbeet and celery but certainly quicker growing than the latter.

9779042693?profile=original30.06.12 We've had a few days of cold winter rain and gray days. The corn seems to have slowed right down but all the brassicas, carrots etc are just loving it!

9779043295?profile=original30.06.12 Below Bed 3: Some of the cauli (white, green and purple from bought seedlings), red lettuce and Kolrabi. Some caterpillar damage but I'm only finding a few actual caterpillars...by torchlight in the evening mainly.

9779043867?profile=original30.06.12 Supposed to be bush beans! but these are wanting to climb. Seed grown from saved seed so maybe they are regressing. So long as I get beans I don't really care.

9779044464?profile=original30.06.12 Below Bed 2: Brocolli from saved seed seem to be coming along ok. Waiting for the proof!

9779045253?profile=original30.06.12 Below: General bed near the aviary - parsley, two types of sorrel, pepino and salvia.

9779046453?profile=original30.06.12 Below: Self sown Tamarillo at the end of Bed 2 is growing very strongly. Direct sown is the best! Others transplanted from seedling trays aren't nearly so big during the same period. It does have the benefit of accessing the goodness of the raised bed though.

9779046858?profile=original30.06.12 Below: Not the best shot, but this is one of the Jackfruit seedlings that I'm having a go at growing in a large pot. Cleome growing around it.

9779046886?profile=original30.06.12 Below: Banana bunch growing well. The bell was broken off (birds?) early on but it doesn't seem to have affected their growth.

9779047683?profile=original30.06.12 Front porch - nice and tropical.

9779048467?profile=original30.06.12 Below: Aviary - from the left Odette (bred by Andrew about 14yrs ago but still going strong), Bob (unable to fly and gay - he was in love with Rupert before he died), and Primrose (about 10yrs old). William is out of view, he's about 10yrs also.

9779049071?profile=original30.06.12 Below: Cape Gooseberries - finally, success! I get a few to eat each day with careful hunting through the rambling stems. Deeeelicious!!

9779050256?profile=original30.06.12 Below: Nopales (edible cactus paddles) has what I thought were flower seedlings growing around it but now they look like eggplant to me. How the.....?? I know I didn't intentionally plant these here.

9779050301?profile=original30.06.12 Below: The grevillea is sending out new shoots after it's severe cut back. Will have to make sure I never let it get that big again.

9779051274?profile=original30.06.12 Below: Despite the cold weather the Loofah is still flowering and producing small fruit (right of pic).

9779051894?profile=original30.06.12 Below: Bed 2 Broad beans from Nathans seeds. First time I've ever grown these so looking forward to eating some.

9779052496?profile=original30.06.12 Below: Same bed, snow peas climbing the trellis. Replanted these seeds three times, but the rat kept eating them. Hopefully will get enough to eat from about 4 that took.

9779052861?profile=original30.06.12 Below: Bed 1 carrots. Some of them are getting quite big and certainly give me enough for my own use. Sweet and delicious.

9779053263?profile=original30.06.12 Below: Bed 1 Cardoon (relative of artichoke/thistle). Very useful for stem veg in stews and casseroles - like a cross between celery and silverbeet. Too bitter to eat raw. Very strong grower but one plant would have been heaps for my own use.....and I have about five! Very easy to grow from seed.

The "prickles" are worth being careful about but are really no problem.

Now waiting for the flowers which are edible similar to artichoke heads.

9779053088?profile=original30.06.12 Below: Very disappointing Yakon crop this year. First one pulled. I put a lot of planting material back into the general beds last year, quite a lot of it the pink stuff, but not a lot came up.

9779053491?profile=originalWashed and scrubbed tubers - all are cracked. Tasty though.

9779047478?profile=original12.07.12

Home with gastro for the last two days and it's gray, wet and miserable winter weather to be stuck inside with a sore tummy. No real desire to go outside. Soggy, soggy, soggy.

9779054487?profile=originalBut on the upside.....

9779055096?profile=original...a teensy bit of home grown veg for dinner (including a few Nicola spuds - got less back from the bag than I put in in the first place!).

The broccolli is a bit of a worry as these plants were grown from seed from last years delightful plants. Such a tiny head. NOTE: Buy some seedlings or use heirloom seed next year - do not use my saved seed! Same with the beans.

Pics below taken from under the cover of the wet blanket on the clothes line during the almost constant gentle rain.

9779055700?profile=original9779056267?profile=originalI have to keep removing nasturtium leaves so the bees don't get buried in flowering plants.

9779056658?profile=original22.07.12

Rain has stopped and it's a beautiful breezy day outside, almost spring like. The ground is very wet - there's lots of weeds and still heaps of caterpillars about - slim green, hairy and stripped. The air is nippy inside the house.

The native bees are busy as! but not on any flowers in my own garden that I can see. Saw a honey bee this morning with well packed pollen sacs on it's legs and very excited about the salvia flowers. Noone is touching the Cleome which was sold to me as a bee attracting flower.

The beans are a total loss - grown from saved seed. The sugar snap peas are finally showing signs of flowering but I admit I have been eating the tips in my deperation for some pea flavour. Even the silverbeet is growing slowly. The brocolli grown from last years seed are big healthy plants with the tiniest, but delicious, heads. Waste of time.

Big lesson for next year - buy fresh seedlings or buy genuine heirloom seed.

18.08.12

Almost the end of winter and the weather is warming up nicely. Days as warm as 27C but still coolish inside the house. Andrew is living with me for a couple of weeks at least after orthopaedic surgery on his damaged left foot. He can't wait bear on his left leg and spends all day on the couch.

Not a terribly successful season in the vege bed. Beans very disappointing including the pile-o-useless grown from saved bush bean seed. I've since pulled all this out and left it to break down in the bed.

9779057281?profile=originalAnother disappointment this season is the Yakon. Hardly any crop and it's cracked. Still tastes the same - most has been used in juicing.

9779057863?profile=originalI have had some nice little bits of brocolli - enough for me daily at least. Seem to remember more from a smaller amount of plant last year.

9779058059?profile=originalSome nice little purple cauli. The "Lime cauli" turned out to be brocolli and the white ones are still growing small heads.

9779058859?profile=originalPretty flowers on the Abika. Yet to see one actually open!

9779059459?profile=original9779060101?profile=originalColours of the nasturtiums :) Lovely.

9779061099?profile=original9779061686?profile=original9779062667?profile=original9779062872?profile=original9779063660?profile=original9779063694?profile=originalTrying to stop the banana falling over before the fruit ripen!

9779065276?profile=originalBed 2 - garlic, deer tongue lettuce, broad bean, silverbeet, brocolli, sugar snap peas, yellow squash - Tamarillo growing tall at the far end alongside the Listada di Gandia.

9779065291?profile=original

Read more…

2011 SPRING September to November

9779028460?profile=original11/09/11

Spring is here and the natives are blooming, bringing parrots and other birds as an addition to the other pleasures of the garden.

Nasty westerly winds yesterday, truly awful - I'm sure I'm windburned! But this morning it seems to be gone thank goodness.

My native bees seemed awfully quiet, even when the sun was on the box - I haven't been home much to check if they are out and about - so I snipped the packing tape and checked inside the box. Sure enough there are heaps of little people mulling around inside thinking of coming outside but not actually doing it. Perhaps they realised the westerly was blowing even though they are protected in the backyard by the bulk of the house.

Yesterday I bought a 4 stroke mower (regular unleaded) and electric whipper snipper as there is so little grass left in my yard...surely! I can fit mowing into my tight schedule lol. Good exercise. The guys at the shop told me they would "fill the tank" for me at the shop, but it ran out in about 15mins, so only half the backyard mowed until I can get down the servo to fill my can. The whipper snippers terrify me. Will try to get up the courage to use the thing today as it is a necessary evil. Must remember to put the dogs in the house first so I don't do them any damage with the thing!

Heard rodents in the ceiling early this morning. Will have to rebait. The mice are out in force stealing the cockatiels seed - as fast as I block up holes with expanding foam the little monsters find another way in. Have bought a third can and will try again. Gretel just loves going in there hunting around bedtime and has killed quite a few...which she likes to bring inside to her igloo as trophies :( The other dogs hunt around the outside and indicate that there has been activity, but so far haven't caught any that I know of.

No real bug problem in the garden as yet, just a few green caterpillars every now and then on the broccoli and cauli but they don't do much damage.

Still lots happening in the vege garden at the moment. Waiting on the Romanesco broccoli to crop - no sign of veg there yet. Sugar Snap peas are still giving me veg each day. Mini Cauli and broccoli are going to seed - will have to do something about capturing these for future use. Wondering if my little bees will have cross pollinated these??

Carrots are still growing - the multi coloured ones are mainly white (boring but creamy to eat) with just a few purple amongst them. No orange ones from this eBay purchased seed - don't buy there again, stick to Diggers etc. Another variety is still growing to useful size.

Beans are finished and working on giving me some seed for next year. Not sure if I have taken some of the seed too early, so I've left some to do their thing on the vines.

Below: Corn (ex Jane St) is putting out pretty pink silk and pollen. Some of these grew to a good size, some is still short and stumpy looking. Mixed bag by the looks. Note: This turned out to be an unproductive crop and not very tasty.

9779028690?profile=originalBelow: Marigolds ex Donna are blooming so I should be able to perpetuate these from seed. Corn in the regular beds not doing nearly as well as the elevated beds. NZ Flax in the background along with Dragon Fruit climbing the fence. I've planted some snake bean seed to grow up this trellis.

9779029301?profile=originalBelow: There are a couple of healthy self sown tom plants still to crop. Odd, as last year they cropped all through winter.

 

9779030457?profile=originalBelow: Silverbeet has been wonderful. No bugs....yet! Toms still to crop. Rocket going to seed in the background.

9779031065?profile=originalBelow: Sugar Snap Peas still doing their thing, these have been wonderful croppers and so delicious. A veg that everyone eats. Not sure when I should be taking the pods for seed. Have left a few to get big and fat and starting to look a bit dry before pulling them and opening to allow the seed to dry out. Should check my book for instructions of course, but that would be too easy!

9779031272?profile=originalBelow: New grape ex Daleys, Chamboucin (check spelling). The other two have been in for years and are complete duds. Time to be ruthless and remove them.

9779031694?profile=originalBelow - 23/09/11 Bed 3 still looking productive with corn (ex jane St), toms (?), romanesco broccoli and mini cauli all producing.

9779033472?profile=originalBelow - 23/09/11 bees of all sorts are just loving the nasturtium.

9779034069?profile=originalBelow - Bed 2 after the beans and peas have been removed. Will give the celery half a chance now it's not smothered by the prolific sugar snap peas - missing them already :(

9779034468?profile=originalBelow - 22/0911 Coloured carrots and a parsnip. The yellow carrot and parsnip cooked and mashed together made the most beautiful golden mash.

9779035076?profile=originalBelow - 23/09/11 Poor little bisexual pawpaw isn't looking too good.

9779035855?profile=originalBelow - 23/09/11 Broccoli flowers and seeds plus still producing some crop.

9779036074?profile=originalBelow 12/10/11 - about to redo the elevated beds, which means pulling up the last of crop growing in them at the moment. This is the last of the multi coloured carrots and parsnips. Quite a lot more than I thought was in there.

9779036495?profile=originalBelow 12/10/11 - the three mature pawpaws have all been aflicted by some bubbly yellow leaves. DPI don't seem to know what it is either. The plants appear to be recovering by themselves with some new leaf growth.

9779037493?profile=originalBelow 12/100/11 Bed 3 - the corn (seed ex Jane St) was a huge disappointment, barely any return. The Romanescu broccoli and mini cauli in this bed were also both a waste of time with limited return of crop for the time waiting and the size of the plants. The bed has been filled with the contents of the compost pile, mostly leaves from the Carambola which are quite dry. They need some grass clippings mixed with them.

Have added some rock minerals, Organic Xtra and dolomite. Waiting on the organic cow manure to be delivered.

9779038491?profile=originalBelow 16/10/11 Re filling the beds - layers starting with rough organic matter, finer organic matter (grass in this bed), thin layers of minerals (granite, basalt, dolomite), Organic Xtra, organic cow poo (Searles) and topped off with a thin layer of organic garden soil (Brunnings) for putting the seedlings into.

9779039255?profile=originalBelow 16/10/11 The dogs swear there are mice in the bed, hidden in the layers of compost. Good exercise for them plus a lot of fun and they turned over some of the organic matter for me in the process.

9779039871?profile=originalBelow 15/10/11 Turning out to be a season of storms. We've had a few early morning thunder storms and this hail storm yesterday arvo. Sudden start and over in two minutes. No damage.

9779041059?profile=original Below 28/10/11 replenishing Bed 1 -  corn, toms x 3 tiny varieties, capsicum x 3 varieties, silverbeet, rocket, lettuce, rockmelon.

9779042052?profile=originalBelow 28/10/11 replenishing Bed 3 - cucumbers x 3 varieties, lettuce x 3, mini mild chilli, chinese veg, radish "Sparkler". Frame came from Bunnings for about $15.

9779042473?profile=originalBelow 27/10/11 Listad de Gandia problems with the fruit splitting. NOTE: Have come to the conclusion that this is most likely due to a lack of water! Stopped watering these for quite some time as I thought they were well enough established and deep rooted enough to find their own water.

9779043098?profile=originalBelow 27/10/11 Inside the eggplant - pure white with no seeds. Yucky.

9779044652?profile=originalBelow 10/11/11 First flowers on the Lebanese cucs.

9779045092?profile=originalBelow 10/11/11 Backyard beds. Bush (right centre) is the Listada di Gandia eggplant, getting quite big and now being given more water to see if this will stop the newly developing fruit splitting.

9779045888?profile=originalBelow 10/11/11 Lettuce seedlings under the corn for shade.

9779046080?profile=originalBelow 10/11/11 Bed 1 doing well - corn, lettuce, mini toms, capsicum, broccoli self seeded, silverbeet, rockmelon, rocket.

9779047059?profile=originalBelow 10/11/11 Bed 2 Still chugging along with winter crop of celery and carrots. Beans are self sown and cropping! Have also planted Jennifers black seeded beans on the left side of the trellis.

9779047476?profile=originalBelow 10/11/11 Beautiful little ginger (?) plant come up where I didn't expect it. Christopher's Daylilies (?) were all I thought were planted there.

9779048297?profile=original12/11/11 No rain for ages now and my rainwater tank level is down to the tap, so saving for drinking alone. Having to use town water for daily watering of the seedlings which are all doing well.

One of the Black eggplants has copious amounts of fruit on it - over 24 - but half are round and brown and half are tear shaped and black the way they are supposed to be. Scarlett thinks it has some form of baterial rot and recommends I remove the brown fruit. I'll give them a bit more time and see what happens.

9779049457?profile=originalI've bought a Sunbeam dehydrator for $100 from Harvey Normans at Carseldine. Noisey little beast.

9779050253?profile=originalSome of the veg that I tried to dry. The mushrooms worked well but the toms came out still moist after 10hours of noisey drying.

9779050682?profile=original

27.11.11 We've had reasonably good rain the last few days, on and off. The tank is half full again. Sure wish I had two of these or a bigger one. Makes me want to move and start over! The brown grass turned green almost overnight. The seedlings have all said thank you and made a growth spurt in spite of me watering them each morning to keep them alive.

Below 27.11.11 I've moved the beehive out of the full sun and into what should be shade most of the day, as the temperatures are getting very hot.

9779051459?profile=originalBelow 27.11.11 Pollen day for the corn! Perfect weather to shake down the pollen onto the silk. "Sweet corn" on the left (short) and "Gold & Pearl" on the right (tall) both F1. Should be a good crop.

9779051474?profile=originalBelow 27.11.11 General view of the backyard from the shade of the Lychee. My goodness it's hot this morning with the sweat running off me after working for an hour or so.

9779052453?profile=original27.11.11 Tamarillo near the tank producing fruit. This one is taller than the original one out the back - grown from seed perhaps. The seedlings I have growing out the front yard are also doing very well. Eventually I will have a bumper crop of fruit :D

9779052870?profile=originalBelow 27.11.11 The loofah is growing again and producing little fruit. Liked Vanessa's idea of surrounding the tank with chicken wire for support for climbing plants.

9779053284?profile=originalBelow 27.11.11 Aerial Potato Dioscorea bulbifera - from bulblets given to me at the last garden visit. Apparently these can grow quite rampant so will have to watch them. Growing up the paperbark.

9779054259?profile=originalBelow 27.11.11 Yakon is making a comeback all around the garden. Wonderful plant to own.

9779055067?profile=originalBelow 27.11.11 Dancing Ladies. Lovely.

9779055482?profile=originalBelow 27.11.11 Cucumbers - Lebanese and Chinese Snake - growing rampant over the frame.

9779056885?profile=originalBelow 27.11.11 Spent some time this morning encouraging the runners to climb the string and rods.

9779057665?profile=originalBelow 27.11.11 Pumpkin still thriving in spite of my efforts to pull it out and put it on top of the compost pile.

9779057893?profile=originalBelow 27.11.11 Ants in one of the pumpkin flowers - lets hope the pollinate for me!

9779058500?profile=originalBelow 27.11.11 Dwarf Ducasse doing just fine in spite of the long period of dry. I did give it water about twice a week.

9779059099?profile=original

Read more…

Ridiculous tubers

Must be time for a progress report. I've actually been out of action (but all over the computer you may have noticed) as I had my tonsils out, which was very unpleasant (much better now). So the garden has suffered several weeks of neglect. Today I finally had a go at it.

This is the perennial basil bush, the rosemary and a blue plumbago (which attracts those little clouds of powder blue/ grey butterflies) - all sporting their Autumn haircuts.

This is a Blue Lake climbing bean, which is coming good since I gave it some support. The pile of green is another giant bean that was growing on the fence - also Blue Lake I think - the neighbours took exception to it, so I chopped it down. Pity :) It had just flowered. I don't put things in that spot (it's too near their kitchen window, I think it might block their morning light) - it's just that this one self seeded.

I had left the garbage bin lid I usually harvest into lying on the ground under the pumpkin leaves - and found a blue tongue lizard living under it :)

The banana passionfruit over the chook pen is producing well - and the chooks seem to be actually eating the seeds! Hooray, they're not completely stupid :) Note we had to protect the base of the passionfruit vine with some chook wire so they didn't scratch the roots out too much. The passionfruit has scrambled up over the mulberry tree canopy which also covers the chook pen - they seem to coexist quite happily. I'll probably cut the passionfruit back soon and then the mulberry can fruit unimpeded. A nice sort of chook house guild (the chooks eat the mulberry fruits and especially the small insects they attract as well).

They're producing eggs again, although they are still moulting a few little feathers. Their big wing feathers are back in - I will have to clip them again. Note our girls share a nest, even though there is room for them to have one each. They are odd. They also spurn the roost and sleep sitting on the bedding hay...They have mites again. I cleaned out the straw, dusted with Pestene (rotenone) and chopped some lemon grass in. I will probably catch them and give them a spray with Frontline each (very nasty MSDS on that - but I get a bit desperate). I think if they used their roost they would get less mites. I cannot convince them though. I've tried all different sizes of dowel - they're just not interested. They like sleeping in the pawpaw tree, the mulberry tree, or in their bedding straw.

Here is the inside of the banana pawpaw circle. It is absolutely groaning with garden waste at the moment. It's amazing how quickly it will all boil away though. Now that Council is charging for green waste wheelie bins it's sort of like a big pile of money to have this - and it produces bananas and pawpaws! I do think that there are cane toads living in it though.

The pawpaws and bananas are all doing well - we're getting about one large ripe pawpaw per week (perfect!), there are 4 large bunches of bananas growing, and one of the bananas is lowering a very promising big fat bell right at the moment.

This is our lemon tree, also sporting a hair cut to keep it low and wide. Our lemons are ripening up. The tree loves the dirty chook straw as mulch. I also have a compost bin sitting next to it (which is fairly slow and neglected) and I gave it a big shot of dynamic lifter before Summer. It's displaying a good healthy colour I think (deep dark green is what you want).

This is the pot bound lime tree. Something has eaten all of the foliage off the oregano at its base! Could be the chooks, they have been out everyday, but I don't think so. I think it might be a caterpillar or something - I need to have a closer look. Something has also eaten all of the mint leaves. Not happy! See the lime tree has a bad yellowish colour? It really isn't happy, despite lots of dynamic lifter as well. At least it's putting on new growth and even producing some limes this year since I put a spade through its roots a few time (aka root pruning), but it needs more help before it can be considered rescued.

Here is the vegie garden - the marigolds are all broken in now. I'm about to remove the stems and spread Rachael's horse manure, then lever everything open with a crowbar (not digging, not turning - just stab, lean and make earthquakes everywhere to get air in and break any compaction, and to create clods without upsetting the microbial layering).

The pecan tree is doing well. This spot is probably slightly too shady for it - it will need to get its canopy up into the sun before it's really happy I think. Still you can see it has nice happy foliage. I never water or feed it all (literally never).

My main job today was to clear away the pumpkin vines (enough is enough! although they were still making new ones!!). I also dug up the jerusalem artichoke which has died back. We have rather a lot of starchy vegetables as a result!! The sweet potato driveway has gone absolutely beserk. We could feed our entire street for a week on baked sweet potato (seriously). I can smell baking vegetables as I write this :) You know, I'm still not sick of it - it's absolutely delicious :) It really is a living larder - they just keep getting bigger and making more, and they're always there when we need one (or ten...). They're $3 a kilo at the local shop, so I figure our driveway is worth a small fortune :)

Now this is just silly. These are just from today's efforts. We've already been eating and giving away pumpkin for weeks as it is!!

Here are the giant piles of pumpkin vines that I cleared (sorry, I had the camera on the wrong focal setting). Note the lovely clear space where the vines were - ready for anything!

More view of the good cultivating job the pumpkins did (the ground was mulched and weed free when we started, and we pulled out some maturing grass clumps once, but the dense leaf canopy kept the ground clear the rest of the time).

Another fuzzy one (oops!) showing the ground preparation job done by the pumpkins (note the grass down the bottom is our one piece of lawn near the back door - very shaggy cos we couldn't mow it with pumpkin vines all over it! The pumpkins won't clear lawn for you, but they will keep ground clear if it was to start with).

So once I removed all the pumpkins and mad rampant sweet potato vines from all over the place I found potato plants growing! Obviously I left some in last year (oops! drat!! some of them were really big too!).

Like these big potato mamas, that I found in the hole I made when excavating for jerusalem artichokes. Note that there are potatoes, sweet potatoes and jersulem artichoke all slugging it out for space in the same place! It's like a demented tuber war (and it was covered by a producing pumpkin vine!). Every time I put my hand in I came out with mad amounts of edible things. It's sort of surreal...

These dead stalks are another jerusalem artichoke plant that I haven't excavated yet. I will have to deal with the first lot first. I think probably soup, and I will freeze it.

My turmeric plants have gone tragic in preparation for retreating underground for the winter.

To my surprise the water chestnut hasn't died back yet! I have bandicooted some out and there are obviously hundreds in there, but they were only medium sized and some didn't have strong black skin yet, so I'm leaving them go still. I've only given them 3 buckets of water since they've been out of the pond, but they don't seem to mind at all! Hopefully they're all getting fat in there. They were lovely and sweet. I did take photos of the ones we got out but I've misplaced them...

One of the best things about gardening days is that the kids come out and play happily in the garden - much more so than if we're not out there too. My little 5 year old makes mad cooking and fairy installations, which I find in many odd places. I love this world of nature and imagination that they find in our yard. They sing and play dress ups and imagination games and are completely aborbed for hours - it's wonderful.

Read more…

Tommy Toe terrific

Ate my first tommy toe tomato today. I can see why they win the blind taste tests at Diggers Seeds. Appear to be somewhat variable in size - the one I ate was larger and single, but this is such a pretty photo..

We ate our first broad beans the other day. Medium sized the beans still have a thin sweet skin. Added to chicken soup, was delicious.

Our lemon and lime trees need feeding (ours aren't fruiting, they're too little). Have some dynamic lifter and rooster booster I'll chuck around a bit. I don't use the juice from our worm farm - just let it run into the banana pawpaw circle, or sometimes add to compost heaps. I find it too variable and it can be too high in potassium and/or have pH problems. It was just never that great (have been experimenting since about 1992 - am over it). Although it is wonderful for orchids and other high potassium requirement things - like bananas and pawpaws.The bananas are finally ripening up and they're really yummy - although they have vestigial seeds inside (little black grainy bits) which is undesirable to the modern seedless palate.Oooh, but creamy and sweet.

Finally we have decent strawberry action too. Weird. My strawberries are always late. After the rain they decided to flower properly. Also I've done some chicken (and 3 y.o.) barricading, so the strawberries might actually mature.

All the rocket/ arugula has gone to seed now. Have been deheading the weedy thin leaved plants and have chosen one lovely cultivated-variety type specimen to produce seeds. Have stooked it up out of the way with a stake and some string.

Our celery powering on. Ate the first brussel sprouts. I think they are just miniature.People have commented about our cute stumpy carrots - they're a dwarf early maturing variety. Yes, they do look weird :)Booty the chinese silkie is demented with broody hormones. PinkRosie continues to eschew the Taj-Ma-Chook for the mulberry tree. Sigh. The kids are spending as much time as possible in the cubby stuffing themselves with mulberries. The chooks are doing a good job of cleaning up the fallen ones. Hooray for mulberry trees! Come back silkworms!
Read more…