beans (11)

Seed Saving

I have heard we are going to get rain in February :-)  so I decided to throw in a few bean seeds I saved from the last crop in the garden.

I can't find the discussion I was in when I mentioned I had a broccoli plant I had seeded from a previous crop and it was ready to be collected again ...it has an appearance in the clip.

I have over the past couple of years been saving the seed from my crops. I have bought most of my seed from Eden seeds as an open pollinated variety so I know they will produce a viable seed to collect.

Apart from a mishap where I had the plants hanging up to finish drying all in order, and a big wind came through and blew them into a big pile and was not sure what was what. 

I had to rescue each plant then clean them and label them so I could identify them, then plant a few from each collection to see what they actually were. 

This turned out to be a good thing in a way, as now whenever I collect a new batch of seed I pot up a six pack so as to see if the seed will germinate and all is good with the collection. 

I have since pulled the plant and gleaned the seed I did not get that many seeds from it but if the person who asked about it reads this I am sure I can send you some if you still wanted to try it out and see if you have any success with it at your place.

 

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2016 WINTER - JUNE TO AUGUST

04.06.16

No rain for two months and the entire garden is drooping. Last night we finally had some good rain and I thoroughly enjoyed the sound of it on the roof and plants through the open front door while I slept. 

Very nice indeed :) This should pick up the garden.

The weather has remained too warm through Autumn - all the cabbage white caterpillars are still doing damage to my growing crop of broccoli and cauli and cane toads are still mooching around the yard at night.

I have decided the latter are probably helping me out by eating some of those crop demolishing roaches which now permeate all of my veg beds and the compost pile. The roaches do their thing as well - breaking down plant material, but when they get stuck into my newly planted seedlings and fell them like little trees I am not happy!

6am and still dark out. I will try to get some photos when it gets light.

The sight of rain dancing into the bird bath after months of dry got me very excited.

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I have replanted beans and peas from seed and seedling three or four times but the conditions just didn't suit them. Finally have some purple bean action going on.

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For the first time ever I seem to be having some strawberry success and it's due to the little wicking pot I made them from a cheap rubbish bin from Bunnings. I did have to buy a soldering iron to poke the hole through the plastic. As per Elaine's long running experiments with wicking beds this is filled with nothing but soil and works just fine.

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I am thrilled and fascinated by this self sown red pawpaw. Most likely grew from the composted horse poo I have been using. The fruit are red, sweet and delicious - waiting on this lot to start ripening - they do seem to take longer than the yellow.

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Bit blurry and still dark outside, I was sneaking up on this little honey eater with a large umbrella in one hand and the flashing camera in the other. First time I've seen birds making use of the purple salvia which I had given up as just decorative. I've also seen the Blue Banded Bees visiting the flowers so I have a good reason to keep it growing now.

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27.06.16

I usually take my photos just before the sun rises, but these mornings that's not until I'm about ready to leave for work about 6.30am. So a serious lack of photos at the moment.

Finally some chill in the air the last few days and it's been drizzling off and on as well - the rain water tank is full. Hopefully this will slow the destruction of the caterpillars still out there working on my precious cauli and broccoli plants.

Lots of gorgeous fresh lettuce to eat in a variety of leaf shape and colour. Greens galore - asian, collard, spinach. Some chew marks on these but still plenty for me.

03.07.16

Finally got some photos this weekend. It's cold. Sitting here rugged up in many layers of clothing and uggs. Hands are freezing and have to go for periodic warming up between my now chilled thighs.

Some of the lettuce of many varieties dotted all around the beds wherever there was a gap. They prefer full sun. They just keep on giving. Some seedling grown, some seed grown.

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Cauli action at last! Can't wait.

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When you buy seedlings from others you sometimes get surprises. Not sure what this is yet...but it's edible!

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Rob gave me a tiny seedling for a Mini Pepino Solanum caripense recently. The plant has grown substantially and I notice yesterday was affected by some kind of virus causing the leaves to curl. Was cutting back the affected parts of the plant and found these little fruit, about marble size. Not ripe - I bit into one. NOTE: I eventually cut this plant right back but if it's anything like it's Pepino relative it will bounce back.

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I planted a couple of Lovage seedlings - don't think I've grown this useful herb before. Like an intensely flavoured celery. Grows easily unlike celery. Useful in salads, soups and casseroles.

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This season I tried three different Asian green seedlings. The really short one (Bok Choy?) grew quickly and died off quickly - good for stir fries. The mid sized one is still growing but I'm not finding a lot of use for it. But this tall one continues to grow well after many weeks and has proven to be very useful as a repeat cropper and steamed green. You can see it's very popular with the caterpillars also, but plenty for me. 

Kohlrabi on the left. Garlic growing under all this - hope it survives.

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I do like Sorrel...in a salad or on a sandwich. A good, slightly bitter, herb. The plain green one (French?) does well for me but this red veined variety is a little pickier about how and when it grows well.

50 THINGS TO DO WITH FRESH SORREL

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03.07.16

Bit of a surprise - I checked the Jaboticaba today and lo and behold it is producing it's next lot of flowers already. Not sure if it is confused by the weather or if this is normal. Check the JABOTICABA BLOG HERE for cropping times of this tree so far.

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09.07.16

I'm having some success with store bought chitted potatoes growing for me this season. Those little pale coloured jobs, not sure of the variety but probably Sebago.

I've planted them out some weeks back in the broken down compost pile and this morning mounded them with composted horse poo and topped with lucerne. The latter is apparently to prevent any greening of my spuds. 

According to the blurb I have read I'm thinking these are indeterminate or repeat cropping, due to the height they have reached in growth. Determinates stay low....apparently. New to all this in relation to spuds. Have only known the term in relation to toms before. (Thanks here to Cres for bringing the subject up.)

See this VIDEO which explains the difference between the determinate and indeterminate types in detail.

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31.07.16

Last day of July and despite some really warm days in the late 20's this is a nippy one. One month of "winter" to go. I'm taking two weeks off mid August and hope to get some much needed tidying up done around the yard...along with some relaxing.

What's happening - well, the pawpaws have cropped well all through winter but the fruit of this particular tree out the front (all the good croppers face west btw) is now out of reach. Great pity. But I just have no way of personally reaching them.

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Meanwhile, these two trees are still well within reach with my little three step ladder. All excellent sweet fruit.

9779206069?profile=original9779206872?profile=originalOne of two giant sprouting chokos (gone to good home in Dayboro with Lynn) on the right (the second now planted) compared to one I didn't eat that is also sprouting. Found during a tidy up.

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Broccoli is a bit disappointing this season though still plenty for me alone. NOTE: Since come good!! Lots of brocolli.

9779207867?profile=originalSmall but quality caulis growing well enough now the caterpillars have stopped.

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The Jaboticaba is both fruiting and flowering at the same time! Such a prolific plant. My favourite.

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A few hardy honey bees venture out on this cold morning but the others hang around the entrance waiting for more sunlight to warm things up.

Lifted the lid for an inspection of the hive yesterday and there was a young rat sitting there looking back at me with soft little eyes. Ohhhh. Got the old dog and showed him the rat, but the rat being young and agile and the dog being old and stiff, the rat got away.

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The SNB's have also been very active once the days warm up. They seem to enjoy being snuggled into the white choko and purple salvia plants.

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There's plenty of flowers going on - Salvia, this Seduction Rose, nasturtium etc.

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Volunteer lettuce are everywhere along with the nasturtium and a pumpkin.

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Earlier photo of some of the carrots from seedlings bought from the Caboolture Mkt. Bought as "purple or orange" they're obviously of a stumpy variety.

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Rocket is another plant I adore eating. Seed sprinkled around the tops of pots proves rewarding.

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The sweet potato are growing well this time around using just Searles potting mix and moving the grow bags to new location to thwart the potato weevil. This is the purple/purple from cuttings provided again by Anne Gibson, thank you Anne, after my first lot went west by accident.

Note the leaf shape - sharply tri-pointed, and purple colour of the stems.

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And a purple/white nicked out of one of the other bags. Perfect. Leaves for this plant are heart shaped.

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07.08.16

Yay, I have two weeks holiday. Love my work but it's so nice to have a break from the long days and all the driving. Not feeling the best. I have an incipient sore throat and back pain in my upper and lower back from a couple of different episodes. Massage today. Move the pile of mulch tomorrow....if I can. 

Went to the market yesterday and despite the fact that my beds are still chocka with winter plants cropping I went ahead and bought dozens of new seedlings. 

Bought: mixed lettuces (the original ones are still viable but going to seed - the volunteers are coming up all over the backyard), broccoli and cauli (trying for some last minute crop before the heat sets in), leeks (the young lady thought I said I wanted leeks and I didn't dissuade her), that tall asian green (forgot to remember the name again), silverbeet (what can I say, ever the optimist when it comes to silverbeet and it's rellies). 

I pulled out some spent cauli and old greens that weren't looking so hot and found room for all the new seedlings somehow. Probably too much shade from the existing brassica leaves but, I can hope.

While sorting out space for the new seedlings I found some crop hidden around the place. Another Kohlrabi was roasted with dinner along with some broccoli and cauli with some home grown carrots.

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Very excited to have some success with spuds this season. Was watering this morning and found one of the spud plants dying so decided to see what was at the end of the vine (on the left in the pic). Very nice surprise.

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29.08.16

Well, here we are the end of another cool weather growing season in Brisbane and it's been a very productive one in my garden. Lots of quality veg for the kitchen and some success with potato growing. Fruiting trees are kicking into action with the promise of good things to eat in the not too distant future.

It may also be my last cool weather season here with my garden as the house will no doubt go on the market before too long as my old dog is on his last legs (has cost me a small fortune at the vets but he still enjoys life despite his breathing difficulties at night) so I'm glad it has been a bumper one.

I didn't think the broccoli would amount to anything this season, which has been unseasonably warm, but it all came good in the end.

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My front verge is coming into it's own. Very hard to establish plants in this west facing garden in summer. I've planted some dwarf callistemons, daisies, lavender, pineapple sage, rosemary, parsley, nasturtiums and marigolds. Looking pretty.

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I finally have some new (white and green) choko vines establised after the Madagascar Bean vine smothered the last one about a year back. Choko is another plant difficult to establish in the heat.

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I've tried growing edible chrysanthemums (or Shungiku) from seed many times without success, but found these seedlings at the Caboolture Markets last weekend. Everyone tells me how nice they are to eat in salads and Japanese cooking. An annual that self seeds apparently.

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Many of us around Brisbane struggle to grow large types of Capsicum. I have been buying the mini Caps from the shops and planting out the fresh seed immediately into the beds with some success. As I cut them up I replant the seed again. Fresh is best. Leaving them to sit on a plate for a day or two doesn't provide the same results of new seedlings.

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Volunteer lettuce has come up everywhere this year, including in the Ginger pot.

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The Dwarf Pink Shatoot Mulberry took some time to come into it's own but promises a bumper crop this season.

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Lettuce of many type going to seed for next winter.

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And the usual  winter profusion of flowers including Nasturtium, Salvia and Amaranths.

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Have to include this pic of my daughter Clare in her Library at Alice Springs with the delightful Costa who was visiting. 

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People should be more nice to madagascar beans

Hi everyone,over many garden visits I have met many people growing madagascar beans and although having admitted to growing them lots have dismissed their edibility.I would like to change that for the non believers I HOPE.This weekend My stepson Josh came up from melbourne and although not a chef he bloody well should be .The plant gods have been good and I had a major size jar full of dried ones and many waiting to come for him and his creation.Here is my recipe and I will  call it JOSHES MADAGASCAR BEANS.

                                                    INGREDIENTS

                   150 grams of        Dried madagascar beans lovingly grown in your garden

                    1 TSP of bicarb soda  ,

                    Butter ,  salt, pepper  

                    sorrel, lovingly grown in your garden

                    flat leaf parsley same as above

                                                  COOKING METHOD 

            Firstly soak 150 g of dried beans overnight in twice the amount of water with a teaspoon of bicarb soda.During this time water will be be reduced and beans will dramatically increase in size but do not add more water or they will be too mushy,says Josh lol.

           Then  put in a saucepan covering beans with water,then bring to boil and reduce to simmer for half an hour or till soft. and drain.

           Then heat frypan on med heat with 2 tablespoons of butter and add beans and fry until coloured then go out quickly  and pick 2 handfuls of sorrel ,I grow the french long leaf type ,and 2 handfuls of flat leaf parsley but hurry dont burn the beans lol.Alternatively do the harvesting earlier,cook these herbs  through GENTLY until wilted  and season with salt and pepper to your liking.

                                                  SERVES

      With the volume indicated  I could have eaten this as a main meal,but after my hand being slapped by my wife lol It would be a great side dish for 2 or 3 people or as a little prestarter mingling with your friends  and enjoyng your favourite ale or wine.

                                                      FINAL COMMENTS        

Jokes aside, for anyone that hasnt grown these they are indeed a seriously productive plant ,just put up with them for 12 mths as they will produce in low quatities and into the 2nd season they are simply amazing,.Plant only a seed or two every year and you will never be out of beans ,oh and the young green immature beans  are tasty cooked in garlic as well but not recommended to eat the pods.

           

                    

                     

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2016

Out the front:  the building patch is still doing bugger all, in fact, it's mostly ornamental now.  The Mulberry seems to be thriving (although not right now due to winter).  The blood orange is dead.  The sugar cane is a real standout which I didn't expect.  The cumquats are being wasted because I have no room to freeze them since I shut down the second fridge.  The roses are doing well.  Native bees are flourishing. 

North side of the yard:

We did well with passionfruit again but it's finished now.  The Paw Paw has been removed (I have two beside the garage that are doing well).  I am now the proud owner of three banana trees.

Silverbeet and spinach are going really well and I have been in cherry tomatoes for months now.  The bell chilies have finished up but the Hallapinios have started replacing them.  I have a another year's supply of dried tumeric, chilie and undried ginger which is great.  Rosemary is doing fine.

New crop this year has been the Madagasca bean.  I am coming into crop 2 this year and am really enjoying them. Note to self: cut the damn thing back after this crop!

South side of the yard:

There is no sun on this side of the yard in winter!

Garlic does nothing.  The tuber bed (Yackon and Sweet Potato) are about to be harvested. I see evidence of tubers so I'm hoping for a good crop.  The Gooseberry is back with a vengence and producing well - about to make ginger and gooseberry jam again.  

Cabbages don't get enough sun to form.  The caulis are leggy too.  Snow peas are starting to flower so I hope they'll work.  Green beans are starting to produce.  

Chickens, quails, worms and fish are doing well.  I am egg self sufficient.   The quails are providing heaps of fertilizer.  We did okay from the fruit trees - 8 manderins, a few lemons and about 8 lemonades.  I think the fig needs to be moved to a sunnier part of the yard.  

Little Beny has an amazing ability to harvest lawn grubs.  The chooks love it!

2015

I'll update from the last few years. 

Out the front:  the building patch is slowly coming to life.  The blood orange remains (but is doing nothing - it needs to be moved) and the little mulberry seems to have sprung back to life.  I might even get some fruit from it.   The cumquats are still used for cumquatcello but the cumquat lemonade experiment should come to fruition in another month.  I have lots of cumquats frozen.  The new roses are great - I didn't expect the two flowers (on about 6 bushes) that I got, given the brief age of the bushes.

North side of the yard:

Snow peas did not perform at all this year.  LOTS of passionfruit on the vines.  Lots of Paw Paws on the trees. The sweet leaf was cut back this year. I know it will recover soon. (Thank goodness for my old blogs!)  I also found another use for the Cranberry Hibiscus. 

The Lots'a'lemons has produced about 6 lemons this year"  large and juicy and on such a tiny tree.  Bloody Percy the bush turkey dug up my Celon spinach - the bugger.  The larger banana tree is going well.  The Rosemary has died back - will wait and see.  I have lots of chilies. 

South side of the yard:

This side of the yard has really expanded. I am proud to be growing Glen Large, Elephant and some random shop bought garlic. Time will tell if they produce. The Yackon harvest would have been great next year, but stupid Percy has slaughtered bulbs.   Percy demolished my tuber bed.  I've wired over it now.  Percy also demolished my aquaponics beds. I've built a green house to keep him out.  

Tomatoes are finally growing well all over this side of the yard.  I've had no fruit yet, but should get heaps soon.  The dirt lettuce are doing well, as is the Kale and spinach.  I have lots of new Gooseberry bushes as well.  

Worms are doing quite well as are the fish.  Both provide a lot of fertilizer for the yard.  I've also expanded my compost with a 250 L bin on this side of the yard for the chicken poo.  

2014

Wow.  I can't believe the changes in my garden, especially in the big girls' yard.  This year's notes: 

I've learned that I have three real zones (I left the old picture of the whole site below to give you context, if you are interested).

Out the Front: The building patch is slowly getting more fertile with composting. It will take time.  It currently has the same lime as last year (the only "in place" survivor), a mulberry and a blood orange, with some ornamentals. 

Cumquats are mostly used for cumquatchello these days. 

North side of the yard

Snow peas are doing well now on this side.  Great passionfuit crop for the last few months.  Paw paws booming.  Cherry toms are producing nicely still.  The sweet leaf died off but I'm hoping it will come back soon. The little lotsa lemons from out of the building site is finally taking off in a pot up this side!

Oddly, the Celon spinach is suffering greatly. I may lose it.  

South side of the yard

Aquaponics are in and doing well, as are the chickens which have started to lay an egg or two a day.  

Lettuce does well in warm, not cold. I suspect the basil is the same. Perpetual spinach is an all year crop. Strawberries are starting to produce well at this time of year.  

The snow peas are doing very badly on this side!  Turnips are doing badly as well - the harvest was meagre. It's also my second year of failure with cauliflowers.  (Neither side appears to work.)  However, it is possible that I am confused because the wicking bed has too much soil from Bu... that big name hardware... that isn't really fertile. I'll need to build it up to ensure that isn't the problem. 

2013

It looks like I updated this entry several times, as the yard progressed. 

Rozie's Seat Goes Solar!:

First, Rozie's seat went vertical now, it's gone solar! Actually, there are a few things going solar these days. 

Winter Crop:

I appear to be coming to the end of my winter crop with the advent of Spring.  I got a great crop of snow peas:

The beans did much better than expected and tasted great!:

I ended up with 3 pumpkins which tasted really good:

The cumquats have produced more fruit than I can cope with.  I've already done one run of marmalaide. The picture shows them with the passionfruit that I mix in the marmalaide.  If anyone wants to come pick some cumquats to take home, just let me know!  Free of charge!

Oh, it was Abbey time - so a medieval style beard came and went.  Here's a little shot to tickle your fancy.

So - I guess it's time for Spring planting.... and possibly more crazy antics.    

Rozie's Seat Goes Vertical and The Turn of the Seasons... read from the top now...

Elaine and Lissa gave me some bean seeds which I planted at the back of Rozie's planter seat.  I needed something for the beans to attach to on the rock wall.  I think it is a great improvement!

We have a lemon one end and an orange the other. 

The seasons continue to turn here as well.  The new bed in the little dog's yard is going well.  Plenty of rainbox silver beet and snow peas coming along.  I plan to make a silverbeet, leek and fetta pie!

Lots of chillis happening now, both bell and thai. I already have four bottles of chilli jam so I don't know how much more of it I want to make. 

Still getting tomatoes and the shallots are going well.  Strawberries are hiding under the passionfruit vine. The Ceylone Spinach has died right back but I have a second sweet potato vine coming along.

And that's the regular garden update for the moment.  

Rozie's New Planter Seat.. 

I'll update from the top of the blog from now on so you don't need to read the whole darn thing. 

We have one rule at my house - it is:  Rozie Rules.  So when My Rozie asked for two planters with a bench seat between, that is what she had to get.  I'm actually quite proud and can't wait to post a pic of this baby planted with the fruit trees. Next project will be the aquaponics setup.

Yard context

Here is an aerial shot of my house and land.  It's pretty small but I have discrete 5 garden areas. 

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This is my front garden.  We lovingly call it the "Building site."  It is a shocker.  

There was a huge tree (about 4 foot wide) that the previous owner removed - called the "stump" on the pic - leaving the soil pretty infertile.  The neighbour's yard also drains all its rainwater through here.  Even better, the builders threw all their rubbish out here and then buried it.  

We are adding fertilser and compost at a rate of knots.  

The next garden is my Alfresco Dining Area - the Cumquat patch. 

This one was pretty much in place when I moved in.  These are the fruit trees that I will cut back in a few months (when they have finished fruiting).

The next area is the Big girls' yard.

This is the biggest area with the most potential. I don't intend to touch it for a while because I have my two big girls (Huskies) out there.  The girls are getting quite old - the brown and white is Tahlia, she is 15. Dumbest dog I have ever owned.  There is a black and white called Kian, she is 16.  While I love them to death, they are garden killers and any small animals become Husky food. 

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2012 SPRING September to November

9779032491?profile=originalSpring again :)

The weather has warmed within two weeks as usual, which is a delight, but we haven't had rain for many weeks. The tank is almost empty - I've basically stopped using it. On the plus side the bees are very active in the garden, both native and honey galore.

They both love the nasturtium flowers which are blooming in a wonderful variety of colours. I'll miss them when they're gone.

9779033467?profile=original9779034066?profile=original9779034454?profile=original9779035062?profile=originalStill cropping plenty of brocolli - both the regular sort and Rapini. Honey bee and native bee are loving all the little flowers (below) on the rocket, mustard and brocollis.

9779035085?profile=originalThe caulis are finishing up - some of the last below. Not as good value as the brocolli which repeat crops, but still nice to have. The white ones came out quite small, the lime green a little larger and the purple a little larger again.

9779035685?profile=originalThe carrots have been good producers again. Many aren't classically shaped, sometimes cracked, but always usable and tender. Below is some makings for dinner - Cardoon, Kohlrabi, Rapini, Nasturtium and carrot.

9779036457?profile=originalI grew one punnet of Kohlrabi - should find room for more in future as they are really nice. Sweet and crunchy. Some have been slow to bulk up but it has meant they were staggered for use over a period. Not sure if the one in the background will ever bulk up.

9779036269?profile=originalCorn is starting to silk up after growing slowly all winter. Might end up with some crop this time! The last two efforts were a total waste of time (faulty seed that created plants that didn't make pollen was the last lot).

I've used the space between the plants to grow other things like Rapini Brocolli and toms.

9779037479?profile=originalThis salvia has grown around the 2m mark. Very beautiful. Oddly though the bees don't seem to frequent it like they do the smaller salvia.

9779037880?profile=originalOne of the lime green caulis - very pretty.

9779038080?profile=originalSelf sown Rocket between the pavers under the clothesline. The tip is around the 2m mark and the bees just love the flowers. I've been taking leaves for sandwiches almost daily.

I kept treading on this when it first came up, never expected it to live let alone become such a hardy giant. I really admire this plant lol.

9779038683?profile=originalStill cropping the brocollis daily, both the regular below and the Rapini. Such a value plant!

9779040090?profile=originalRapini below.

9779040466?profile=originalBed 2 below still cropping well. Sugar Snap peas, brocolli, silverbeet, yellow squash (Ikeep forgetting they are there!) and toms (yet to produce). Deer Tongue lettuce up the other end out of view along with the Broad Beans.

9779040692?profile=originalThree self sown lettuces (different ones from last year).

No idea what variety but they are really good eating and very hardy. Nothing seems to bother them - not the bugs or heat. They just sit there calmly waiting for me to come steal a couple of leaves each day for sandwiches.

9779042084?profile=original9779042483?profile=original9779043877?profile=originalLush growth from store bought spuds that shot. Such a contrast to the struggling and ratty looking bought jobs.

9779018883?profile=originalKangkong seed in the front pot - some are starting to shoot. Can't wait for these - yum.

Water chestnut in the pot behind actually has some shoots. Might even succeed this time!

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Just have to record the tale of the chopped off Tamarillo. Here it is below growing alongside it's normal sized siblings.

Many weeks back, during a bout of rain and wind, one of the Cassavas toppled over taking the Tamarillo beside it down as well.

They both lay there on the ground for days before I had the opportunity to take the saw to them. I struggled to pull the Tamarillo roots out of the ground, thinking it's life was definately over, but had to give it up as too difficult - thought it would be easier once it died all by itself.

Lo and behold! It's come back better than ever.

Maybe all Tamarillos need to be chopped off midway during winter to encourage low growing fruit?!

Yet to see if it tries to reach it's old height, but this could definately be a good thing.

9779044889?profile=original9779045485?profile=originalVery, very dry weather. No real rain for months now and the bureau tells us there is a windy hot spell coming at the end of the week. Plants are all struggling in the garden again... deja vu to the long dry. Tiny bit of rain last night, just enough to dampen leaves but not the ground.

My tank is virtually empty and I'm back to using town water with a hose that is too short to reach all the garden! Frustrations.

My contract with Wesley has ended also so having a holiday while job hunting. More frustrations as my net drops out for weeks at a time which impacts on all parts of my life. Telstra tech coming this Friday to hopefully solve the puzzle and fix the problem once and for all. Would be a great end to my holiday to have it fixed! Training work starting with MAT at Northlakes in a few weeks but fingers are crossed for a job with Prescare here at Strathpine.

Andrew has been living with me for the last five weeks since his op on 13th August on his left ankle. He couldn't weight bear for many weeks and is only now just getting mobile. I'm having his unit professionally cleaned this weekend while he's out of it. (04.10.12 weeks later the cleaning job still hasn't been completed).

Meanwhile back in the garden, have redone half of bed one using trimmings from the garden, two bags of manure, sprinkles of minerals and topped off with garden soil from those prissy little 24lt bags they have now at Bunnings (all free though thanks to my rewards vouchers from surveys) - other half is still taken up with carrots and Cardoon. Both still thriving and producing useful crop.

Cardoon is something I never want to be without again. Incredible plant - so hardy and the stems are just wonderful in casseroles and stews. Waiting on some flowers now so I have seed for next year though I still have some left from the original purchase from Bakers Seeds in America. Could even be one of those plants that will grow well in our hot summer. Nothing seems to set it back. NOTE: Email response from BS tells me Cardoon is perennial and has the potential to become a weed if let loose on the environment. It should flower in it's second year.

In the redone end of the bed one (below) I've planted James' climbing beans alongside one of the cheap Bunnings frames and silverbeet seed.

The eggplant is self sown and I'm letting it grow for the moment.

9779046657?profile=originalI've pulled out the Sugar Snap peas, which did eventually give some delicious crop, though nothing like the success of last year. These were from saved seed. Start again??

The silverbeet (from bought seedlings) is just starting to provide some leaves - excellent though, had some steamed with a Lamb Shank roast last night and it was good :)

The yellow squash are providing a few small fruit though nothing to rave about.

The brocolli is still going and providing! Love this plant that keeps on giving. Bees are enjoying the flowers also.

The caulis provided one small head per plant and then had to be pulled. Some still remain.

Corn is starting to silk up - quite short plants this lot, from bought seedlings. Toms are starting to grow some green fruit after waiting on them all winter. I hope I get some to eat before the caterpillars do their thing!

My Lychee is too tall (Joseph has been finding videos for me to look at) and it's a bit late to be cutting it back. The top needs to be cut right out - full of rust anyway. Time to move out of this house and leave my mistakes behind lol.

The Persimmon is making a brave effort to send out new growth and maybe create some fruit for me. It's stuck between two tall plants and doesn't get as much sun as it needs.

9779046880?profile=originalThe waste-of-space Dwarf Pink Shartoot mulberry is making an effort also to prove it deserves to be in the garden. Only reason it's still there is due to my laziness in removing it.

The fruit also looks promising but never comes to nowt.

Elaine has given me some cuttings for what she calls a dwarf black variety of some sort. They're doing well in their pot and just waiting on some rain to soften the ground so I can plant them out.9779047674?profile=original9779048653?profile=original

Some of the Dragon fruit plants are doing well, this one in particular. No idea which one it is but hopeful of some fruit this season. A lot of the stems are growing over the neighbours side of the fence, of course :/ I cut back some I could reach and planted them on my side but it likes the morning sun side of the fence.

9779049069?profile=originalFinally cropped most of the Cassava at Joseph's Mums encouragment. Now all I have to do is use it! Just need to sit down, peel it and grate it. Then bake it with sugar to make a slice of sorts. Or steam it.

Looks so unappealing, but I have eaten it prepared this way before and it was truly delicious.

NOTE: This and the rest of the crop ended up in the compost as by the time I cut into them they were going mouldy and veined.  Ate a little bit roasted and it was ok.

9779049299?profile=originalCallistemon is blooming much to the delight of the honey bees and nectar feeding birds. Don't see many of the native bees on these flowers though which is always a surprise.

9779050299?profile=original9779051053?profile=originalThe Nopales (edible cactus ex Addy) are doing well with lots of new paddle growth.

The way it creates new paddles is very pretty to observe, with the little tufts forming first. Love the glossy look of it. Very hardy also, the pot became quite waterlogged during the last heavy rains but it didn't blink an eye, so to speak. Also coping with the current dry. Another good hardy plant to have around for food value.

Should be able to pick and eat one before too long. Another new experience!

See the Nopales blog for videos and information.

9779051680?profile=original9779022874?profile=originalTried some of the Nopales fried up with bacon and egg for breakfast this morning. Not bad, but not what I expected as was told it was "sweet and refreshing". Tasted a little vinegary but not unpleasantly so.

Below - preparation and cooking. Ended up with one tiny spine in my thumb for a few hours despite the paddle being almost spine free and scraped.

9779052268?profile=original

9779053061?profile=originalThe Dwarf Ducasse is doing well. Hopeful for a bunch of narnies before too long.

9779053654?profile=originalBroad Bean pod - one of. First time I've grown these and really unimpressed. The pods are watery and tasteless. Will leave some for the big seed but not a lot of point growing them if I don't like them.

NOTE: Ate some chopped up in dinners - both large and small pods. Plants were chopped up when I redid the bed.

9779054087?profile=original01.10.12

The only rain we've had is some piffly drizzle during the night. Just enough to put a little water in the bottom of the tank. I'm starting to put in more seeds and seedlings around the place so must go out daily to water using town supply.

The lovely spring weather is tempered for me by the fact that things are pretty grim (once again) on the employment front.

Andrew is still with me post op, maybe for another week. Erin and Clare had a girls day out with Amanda yesterday (Sunday) and we had bub for most of the day. He's actually quite interested in what's going on in the garden. More interested in plants than dinosaurs!

Below - I'm trying to outwit the rats with a new propogating tray bought from Masters. Using regular potting mix with weed tea in the water holding tray.

NOTE: Daily checks of the seeds shows good results though the Winter Melon seeds are very slow to make a show.

9779054273?profile=originalPropogation tray is $15 so not exactly cheap, but beats losing all my seeds to the b. rats. Have managed to exclude the rats from the aviary with a brick blocking the one persistant last hole they keep making (foam and sticks didn't work) and have thrown poison around the ceiling, again.

Below - I'm actually doing well with some Super Sioux tomato plants grown from seed (can't remember where I got the seed!). Bit of a shock to have tom success.

They're supposed to be good in hot dry situations. These get almost daily watering now the weather is heating up.

9779055263?profile=originalBelow - the Cardoon is still going strong! Wilts a little in the heat, but a small drink soon fixes that. Very hardy stuff. I've emailed Baker Creek Seeds asking about it's lifespan and heat coping capabilities as I can't find anything much on the net. One guy said he cut his back and it came again.

NOTE: Response from BCS tells me the Cardoon are perennial and have weed potential. Flowers come the second year.

Carrots in this bed were from Baker Creek seed also and have given me lots of return. They are all good to eat. Time I redid the bed though.....

9779029259?profile=originalBelow - after seeing Elaine's giant and delicious Pepino grown in the tub I've been motivated to try a little harder with this wonderful little fruit.

I've created a nice rich area (thanks to Masters $5 25lt bags of manures and mushroom compost) in the front yard and planted three Pepino plants along with another Listada di Gandia bought from Bunnings.

I've put some seed for Butternut Pumpkin in as well. I hope I don't regret doing that - don't want it taking over the front yard. Hugo runs all over this bit of garden near the fence, hence the little bit of protection for the left plant which is where he does his speed turns.

9779056469?profile=originalBelow - up close of the Pepino flower. You can see it's the same family as potatoes etc.

9779056869?profile=originalOne of the new member actually posted me some mulberries as a thank you for seed sent, plus Andrew and I collected a bit more from the mulberry tree near Bribie. The end result was a really quite yummy Kefir and Mulberry cake to share with visitors. The sweet mulberries were a perfect foil for the tart, almost lemony, flavour of the Kefir.

9779058280?profile=original I have piles of Cassava and realise I'm just not going to do anything with it. Roasted a few small pieces and it was ok, but I have oodles of the stuff and can't see myself sitting down to scrub and grate it all. Will try to give it away.

NOTE: Noone wanted it, surprise surprise. The lot ended up in the compost as it started to go mouldy and veined.

04.10.12

Still very little rain, but enough some nights to achieve about 1/4 tank of water . Enough to use on the seedlings each morning.

Bed 1 James' Bean seedlings are coming along well. Nearly all came up (two seeded planted per hole). I've also transplanted some of the Deer Tongue Lettuce from Bed 2 before I replenished it and smothered anything still growing - didn't want to lose the opportunity for seed from this prolific and useful little lettuce grown from last years seed.

Elaine has given me some tiny Purslane seedlings - these have also been planted in Bed 1 in the hope that they will grow and flourish (yellow label at the front end of the bed below).

Also planted are Silverbeet seeds - quite a few have come up already. Tiny and fragile until they get a hold and very easily killed off with neglect in their early stage. Daily watering is a must.

One self sown eggplant has been left more out of curiosity than anything. The Cardoon is in the background - now told this is a perennial, so it may be here for some time. Will see how it copes with our summer.

9779059068?profile=originalBelow - Kuroda carrots are still producing good crop from Bed 1. Some are a funny shape, but they all taste good. The Amarillo (yellow) and Muscade (orange) are also still producing.

HINT: once carrots seeds are established water them sparingly - this makes the roots (carrot) grow down looking for water.

9779059674?profile=originalThe lush growth around the tank of Salvia, Nastutiums and Cape Gooseberry was becoming tatty. All cut back and piled ready to go into replenishing Bed 3 (see next pic).

9779060099?profile=originalGarden trimmings ready to be cut up and go into Bed 3 (behind) once the corn and Kohlrabi have been cropped.

9779061063?profile=originalBelow - Bed 2 replenished with everything from the compost pile (garden trimmings, rotted grass clippings, fallen leaves etc), some manure (sheep?)and lucerne mix from the Caboolture Mkts ($5 big bag), good sprinkling of Granite (Deco) for potassium and Basalt for calcium and iron, some Organic Xtra, a bag each of chook and cow manure from Masters ($5 a 25lt bag) and topped off with Masters Veg and Tom growing mix (basically compost $5 for 25lt bag) to provide somethig to plant the seeds in.

Reseeded mostly with carrots (Red Kuroda, All Year Round and Harlequin), some Sex Without Strings bush beans and a patch of Hollow Crown Parsnip.

The acid free tom plant has been left from the previous planting (quite nice small round fruit - indeterminate type).

HINT: Allow the indeterminate tomatoes space to ramble along the ground so they can root and provide extra nutrient to the plant for a better crop of fruit. Preferable to encouraging upright growth which limits nutrient uptake.

String Beans (extra long variety from last years saved seed) and a few seed for Spacemaster cucumbers have been planted against the trellis.

Daily watering is necessary to keep the medium moist for the seeds to germinate and take hold.

9779061283?profile=originalBelow - the corn is once again a disappointment, partly due to lack of rain. No pollen fell as far as I could tell - although these were grown from seedlings this time instead of seed like the last batch, which also didn't create pollen.

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The crop from this corn wasn't good (below).  I've looked back over the last two winters for quality - last winter wasn't good, 2010 I did not report on the outcome so suspect it was also bad.

NOTE: winter corn planting experiment most likely shows that it's not really worthwhile for the time and space taken.

9779063055?profile=original06.10.12

Still no rain. One fifth a tank of rainwater left which I use on the seedlings daily.

I've put up one of theVege Nets from Green Harvest and am very pleased with it's ease of erection.

Due to the climbers planted along the trellis I can't clip the net down on that side. From other pics I've seen this probably isn't much of a problem though I'm wondering if full and complete exclusion is needed to keep the bugs out.

I can water directly through the net which was something of a concern. Thought I might have to lift each time.

9779062888?profile=originalThe clips I bought to go with the net are great. Very practical. Should have bought more while I was about it though.

9779063883?profile=originalThe banana bunch on the leaning tree are starting to fatten up. Thanks toJoseph and Allan for making the cross frame to keep the plant erect until fruit ripens :)

9779065489?profile=originalThe covered seed raising tray is a great success. The seedlings stay constantly moist and many have popped up. No sign of the Winter Melon seedlings though. They could just be slow to germinate. Fingers crossed as I really want these!

9779066483?profile=originalBelow - all dry. Waiting on some rain to be able to plant something around the tank. The Cape Gooseberry has left lots of seed so they should come up on their own next year.

9779066896?profile=original19.10.12

The Nasturtium all reacted to the heat the same way last week and have been pulled and used as green compost in the elevated beds, or mulch in the ground beds.

The Kangkong seed in the wet pot were being coaxed along - a few had sprouted but kept floating to the surface and had to be poked back down, but were looking hopeful. Especially one little plant which was growing well.

Went back to work this week so have had less time in the garden and this morning when I checked the pot (still wet but without visable surface water) and there is nothing left to show for any of the seedlings. Very disappointing. Will have to look out for seedlings to buy as all my seed went into this wet pot.

The Winter Melon seed have finally produced TWO seedling. My goodness these are reluctant, which is surprising as melon seed usually sprout easily.

9779022260?profile=originalHave redone the top end of Bed 1 (Cardoon still controlling the middle of the bed) and around 14.10.12 planted Golden Bantam seed from Lost Seed.

9779068266?profile=originalBed 2 - the cucumber and Snake Beans are coming up. Carrots are sparse coming up - could be due to the dreadful hot days that immediatly followed my sowing the seed. I tried to keep them moist, but one day they got a bit dry.

9779068872?profile=originalA great patch of cherry toms and Red Amaranth have come up - lord knows how the seeds ended up in a patch of soil straight out of a bag layed down over layers of manure over compost!

Will transfer the Amaranth, which is very nice eating and came from bought seed originally, but the acid cherry toms take over the world and will have to go.

Weed from the hay/lucerne/manure bought from Cab. Mkts is also coming through. Wondering if I should  stick to the well composted 5 in 1 from Bunnings (bought with my gift vouchers so nil cost to me).

9779069272?profile=originalHave a few different types of eggplant planted this year - orange, white, some more stripey bi-colours and hopefully some self sown black ones coming up in Bed 1.

Below is a white - could have blossom end rot. My first fruit, so not familiar with the way they normally look.

9779069698?profile=originalBed 3 below waiting to be refreshed. Cucumber and the Winter Melon seedlings to go in here. Roma toms and Black Krim (one out of two remaining alive) from Joseph are still growing in the bed.

Will probably leave them where they are and just build up around them. Does them no harm - they just send out more roots from the buried bits of stem.

9779070272?profile=originalSeedlings for this garden.

9779071456?profile=originalBed 1 below - James Beans are doing well, climbing their frame just the way they're supposed to! (yay, something went to plan).

The little lettuce seedlings have fallen victim to caterpillars since I went back to work Monday. While I have been watering twice daily to keep everything moist in the current heat, it just goes to show how a daily close-up visual check is important to keep track of what is happening with your plants.

Some of the transplanted Deer Tongue are now doing very well - would hate to lose all seed for these lovely little lettuces. Nothing much bothers them either.

The self sown eggplant is loving the new manure / minerals and daily water - really hoping this is a black.

The Cardoon turns out to be a good chop and drop plant. Edible and useful as green manure.

9779071501?profile=originalHave found quite a few clumps of these tiny golden cocoons with attendant caterpillars (usually these green Cabbage White Butterfly ones).

Some research turned up information on the Apanteles glomeratus (thank you Joseph) which is a natural predator of caterpillars. Now that we know exactly what they are I finally found some video (watch to the end) and photos online.

They hatched really quickly and just took off. No wing drying time like butterflies! The size of a small black ant with clear wings and long active antennae.

9778939461?profile=originalhttp://www.insectes-net.fr/pieride/images/pier116gf.jpg

26.10.12

Days are either hot, up to 32C, or chilly but still no rain. Luckily :I I'm still not working apart from some part time stuff so I can water seedlings once or twice a day to keep them alive.

Trying to grow silverbeet from seed is proving very frustrating - seed I have don't seem to be very viable (Mr Fotherfills Fordhook Giant with a sow by date of Aug 2014) as not many come up and if they do, the bugs eat the tiny plants off almost before my eyes. I have planted seed many time and have virtually nothing to show for it. Tried half toilet roll holders as protection but something still gets to them. Could even just be the heat on some occassions.

Have put some seed into the seed growing tray with the lid in the hope of growing something to height away from the bed.

Have bought some more clips to hold the Vege Nets down due to some strong winds we had the other day. Didn't blow right off by any means but did come loose here and there. The nets don't seem to do much to reduce the impact of the heat on the beds. The bed on the right is completely sealed off so curious to see how well seedlings go in here.

Those squarish brown beetles have been hatching in dozens out of the beds and become stuck in there. They just sit and don't do any harm.

9779072671?profile=originalBelow - Jame's Beans are going great guns and have reached the top of the frame and beyond. Have started flowering already. You can see one of the toilet roll holders "protecting" a silverbeet seedling at the very bottom.

9779072874?profile=originalBelow - Golden Bantam seeds from The Lost Seed - very good rate of germination. Have had to pick some of those hairy brown caterpillars off one or two plants.

How the heck they get into the bed in full blown adult size I would love to know. No sign of any tiny ones.

9779074862?profile=originalBelow - the Super Sioux seed have grown into a nice semi-determinate plant with quite a few good fruit on it. It's heat tolerant so definately one to grow in the future. Elaine has been given seed.

9779075471?profile=original29.10.12

Cool and relatively moist out this morning.

After a potter and cutting back some of the lanky Salvias past their prime (they make good chop and drop) I've brought in a Nopales pad, a tom and a couple of small white eggplants so have decided to have a bit of a bacon and egg fry up for breakfast.

No doubt about it, the Nopales have a bit of a tang on the tongue. Not unpleasant mixed with the other more subtle flavours.

9779076100?profile=original03.11.12

Below - Golden  Bantam coming along well. Finally had a couple of storms, the last gave about 2.5cm of rain and increased the tank by about 1.5 thousand litres.

9779076900?profile=originalBelow - Jame's Beans are such a wonderful bean - doing very well. Lettuce were transplanted here so they could seed. Eggplant is self sown.

9779077277?profile=originalGrowing a few different types of eggplant this year. This is Rosea - bought seedlings.

9779078256?profile=originalBelow - Brazilian Orange grown from seed, yet to fruit but growing strongly.

9779077897?profile=originalBelow - Flea Beetle damage to leaves of Listada di Gandia. Always reliable cropper - still coming back from winter with a few small fruit on it.

9779079287?profile=originalBelow - one of the little Flea Beetles. Cucumber Beetle are also starting to chew on them, plus one baby grasshopper. Everyone seems to like eating Eggplant.

9779079668?profile=originalBelow - Unknown variety bought as seedling from Caboolture Mkt (looks a lot like the Rosea). First time I've seen possible Flea Beetle damage on the fruit as well. NOTE: cooked this and it was bitter!

9779079689?profile=originalHave found a pic online of the Brazilian Orange that I have growing but not fruiting:

Here's a really good Australian site Know Your Eggplant.

Some of the varieties available worldwide.

Below - Salvia and Cleome cut back after a bit of rain. Makes good mulch along with the dying nasturtium plants.

Evan's Vetiver is growing well. Was reading the other day about the delightfully perfumed roots - hopefully will have enough growing one day that I can experience this myself.

9779080677?profile=originalBelow - Around the tank tidied and now regrowing strongly after the application of some cow manure (Masters) and a bit of rain.

Mekong Red Amaranth transplanted from one of the beds where they self sowed. They transplant so easily. Bunnings Zinnea - couldn't resist :)

9779081459?profile=originalBelow - Lots of lovely cucumber seedlings doing well under the Vege Nets.

9779081501?profile=originalBelow - The Ceylon Hill Gooseberry bush is growing well. Ocassionally flowers a bit but no sign of fruit setting as yet. Asparagus are making a brave effort to send up shoots but I suspect some plants have died in this dry spot.

9779083263?profile=originalBelow - Carbonaria bee hive doing very well. Happily bringing back little white, red or yellow pollen sacs on their legs. Would love to know where they are going! Interesting to sit and watch all the coming and goings with bees removing pupae cases on a regular basis.

9779083485?profile=original9779084676?profile=original09.11.12

Days are at least a little overcast with a bit of rain here and there.

Compare the pic taken only 6days ago of the Golden Bantam corn! Such a strong grower.

9779085069?profile=originalBelow - The Cardoon has started flowering. Big surprise to find these this morning. Tempted to eat one like an Artichoke but I really want some seed.

9779085676?profile=original9779085898?profile=originalBelow - Bananas getting close to ripening.

9779086885?profile=original....and another bunch on it's way.

9779087860?profile=originalBelow - Current backyard view. Things under the Vege Net are growing very well. Silverbeet in the netted beds are growing much quicker and without pest problems than the ones on the unnetted bed.

9779088273?profile=original9779088675?profile=original18.11.12

Getting close to the end of Spring and finally some good rain. Wonderful thunder storms yesterday (mid day) and last night, rain all night (more storms for all I know but I slept through it all) and more storms this morning with good rain. The tank is overflowing and I wish I had room for more of them.

The birds are singing everywhere with pleasure. So nice to sit outside and listen to the dripping sounds while sipping tea.

I couldn't help grabbing an umbrella and wandering around checking on and snipping plants. I was conscious all the time of the thunder overhead and the possible stupidity of what I was doing (lightening strike) but couldn't help myself. I just love being in the garden in the rain.

Everything is thriving at the moment. I've bought some Nutri-Tech Total Cover and must try to get some of this around the garden today now that it's rained. Off to one of their field trips next Friday (persimmon farm near Yandina).

Pity I can't capture the raindrops and sounds of thunder!

9779088698?profile=originalManaged to mow and whipper snip last Monday so all looking tidy.

9779089869?profile=originalDancing Lady time again :) Edible Hibiscus (red) in the middle - has lovely tangy flavoured leaves.

9779089901?profile=original9779091083?profile=originalBelow - Jame's Beans are the wonderful croppers - astounding when you think the seed were only planted at the beginning of October, about 6 weeks ago. I get a handful for dinner each night and they are GOOD!

9779091465?profile=originalBelow - crop on the self sown Tamarillo.

9779092494?profile=original9779092692?profile=originalBelow - Golden Bantam growing really well. Seed planted around 14.10.12 - four weeks ago!

9779093653?profile=originalBelow - Custard Apple responding to recent rain with new growth after throwing all it's leaves during the dry. I'm using underneath this tree to put any big garden rubbish. My messy version of the Insect Hotel.

9779094275?profile=originalBelow - Loving the Vege Net. Protects plants from bugs, heavy rain, sun. Haven't had any hail yet to test it on. May need more clips to hold the mesh down for heavier weather.

9779095052?profile=originalBelow - Both Abicas are making a healthy comeback after being cut back. Pepino and fig in the background.

9779095475?profile=originalBelow - Dwarf Black Mulberry courtesy of Elaine's cuttings. I couldn't seperate the different cuttings roots, so planted the whole thing. It had one little sweet fruit on in in the pot :)

9779095488?profile=originalBelow - Bed 3 growing well - Cardoon still very happy despite the increasing heat, surrounded by the Golden Bantam corn and Jame's Beans.

9779096462?profile=original20.11.12 Below - the giant garlic has been a bit of a let down. At least a couple of the plants died off over their slow growing period. I ended up roasting one of these bulbs with some chicken drummies and they were almost perfumy in their flavour. Didn't taste garlicky which was what I was really looking for.

9779096654?profile=originalBelow - Lychee has been properly cut back with Andrew's help. Lots of rust in the top leaves has been removed.

9779097068?profile=originalAll the cuttings have ended up under the custard apple.

9779097494?profile=originalBelow - green visitor on the roof guttering :)

9779097291?profile=original25.11.12

Spring is almost over.  We've had lots of overcast weather since last weekends storms but no rain. Not too hot most days.

I really like the Vege Nets - they seem to have allowed plants to get a hold without getting burnt or attacked by too many insects, but the plants under them are now bulging at the seams and it's time to remove it. I have kept it sheltering Silverbeet at the end of both beds for the moment.

9779098287?profile=originalBelow - Direct sown Silverbeet plants in Bed 2 are doing much better than.....

9779099474?profile=original...seedling (my own) sown plants in Bed 3. Despite this, direct sown in Bed 1 did not work over and over again. But that bed was not protected by the Vege Net.

9779099691?profile=originalBelow - One of the brocolli stumps has reshot. I don't expect much from it but am curious.

9779100475?profile=originalBelow - James' beans are cropping wonderfully. Handfuls daily and hopefully some seed to share at the Christmas get together.

9779101284?profile=originalBelow - The Golden Bantam is growing healthy and strong and has reached the top of the frame.

9779101485?profile=originalBelow - The Red Okra have grown well under the Vege Net. Removed netting this morning, so will see how they fare in full sun from now on.

9779102495?profile=originalBelow - Mystery plant is growing great guns. I will wait to see what it is before considering removing it.

9779104475?profile=originalBelow - The Cardoon flowers are colouring up. Next pic is one of them cooked beside two rather large store bought Artichokes (3 for $2 at Lawnton Country Mkts yesterday). None of them gave me much to eat - bit at the base of each leaf to peel off with my teeth was nice. Can't figure out why I like them so much lol.

9779105070?profile=original9779105300?profile=originalBelow - Cucumbers and carrots Bed 2.

9779106268?profile=originalBelow - Some of the carrots - patchy germination, most likely due to the very hot days that followed sowing is all I can guess.

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Below - Meanwhile, in the general beds some Jicama has shot again by itself (must have missed a bulb when cropping)...

9779107468?profile=original...the Monstera Deliciosa (from seed) is growing ok in a really crappy spot...

9779108262?profile=original...I think these wierd tubers are the Aerial Potatos. They are climbing the Melaleuca and fence...

9779108487?profile=original...a passionfruit has self sown and is also climbing the Melaleuca - the tough looking vine to the left of the trunk is what I think is the Aerial Potato....

9779109087?profile=original...the fig has three little fruit on it after a year of beetle damage and other catastrophes. Disappointing but hopefully more will develop...

9779110276?profile=original9779110699?profile=original...the Dwarf Ducasse has three pups which I will not be removing. In the past when I've done this my bananas just send out more pups anyway! so what is the point (apart from giving them away)....

9779112054?profile=original...Pepino are flowering profusely - the Blue Banded Bees just love these.....

9779112271?profile=original...the Grumichama is growing slowly but steadily in the Brom bed.....

9779112689?profile=original...my one remaining rose, Seduction, is reliably flowering.....

9779113495?profile=original...new Rosemary plant and the resurrected Caperberry bush (below the nasturtium) are doing ok in the rather dry spot beside the tank...

9779114474?profile=original26.11.12

Andrew Cumberland has given us information for making our own Liqueur.

This is the Spiced Plum on the 24.11.12, the day it was made and then today 26.11.12. This batch is pretty expensive due to buying the vodka ($30 for 700ml). If I can learn to make my own spirit using a kit it will bring the price right down.

9779114694?profile=original9779115487?profile=originalHave seen this pretty medium sized ant around the place lately, called a Strobe Ant, thanks to Brisbane Insects for identification.

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Also returned after winter are the Blue Banded Bees (again thanks to Brisbane Insects for pic as I cannot catch one in flight with my little camera). They just love Salvia, Eggplant and Pepino flowers. The buzzing sound is quite loud so you know when they are around.

Something of interest from the BI site: Blue-banded Bee Males have five blue bands while females have only four. The males have the abdomen tip segment in blue while the female has this segment reduced.

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28.11.12

Very hot and humid day. The air is so still - reeks of thunder storm for this arvo.

I've just put down a heap of Yellow Tamarillo seed - will be interesting to see if they grow Yellow fruit in the long run. Bit hard to follow though as I tend to give most of them away lol.

Have French Lavender cuttings on the go along with some salvias and trying the Non Acid Toms from cuttings. So far 4 out of 6 cuttings are surviving well.

I've put the one and only surviving Kangkong seedling into the moist pot and moved the pot to a place of afternoon shade. I do think I need to pot the way of the Water Chestnut, with one pot inside another containing the water. Too hot to do this today.

9779115859?profile=originalOne of the Cardoon flowers has opened and the colour is glorious. Will watch it's progress with interest and hope for seed.

9779116278?profile=original9779117262?profile=original

Read more…

2013 AUTUMN MARCH TO MAY

9779037088?profile=originalAutumn is here and apart from a few steamy days last week the weather has been cool and very wet. Constant rain. Some plants like it, some don't. As usual the raised beds couldn't care less.

Below: The Dwf Ducasse banana from Blue Sky Nursery is loving the wet. I have hopes that it will start producing some fruit for me before long.

9779037676?profile=originalBelow: Here's the same plant one year ago 10.02.12.

9779037867?profile=original

Below: Very exciting - found a Leaf Cutter bee nest this morning in one of the insect hotels. This one is more exposed than the others which are hidden under trees, I didn't think anything would like it well enough to move in.

I've seen two LC bees collecting pollen in their odd fasion on their abdomen on the Winter Melon flowers mainly, near the clothes line. Haven't seen them elsewhere, but I do see evidence of their leaf collection on the rose and custard apple.

9779038084?profile=originalBelow: 18.02.13 The baby Winter Melon hanging off the washing basket.

18.02.13 Winter Melon claiming the wash basket.

Below: 03.03.13 11 days later. This is the Winter Melon plant the Leaf Cutter bees seem to favour. I don't have to fertilise, they're doing the job for me. My washing trolley is under this lot.

Below: Progress of that little fruit 11 days later.

9779040857?profile=originalBelow: Babaco from Evan is surviving and putting out new leaves. As we all know...this doesn't necessarily mean success with this touchy plant, bit it's good news.

9779041467?profile=originalBelow: My dear old (2 or 3yrs?) self sown pawpaw is rewarding me with lots of fruit yet again. All the leaves cut from this plant go back underneath to mulch. I also give it Organic Xtra and Epsom Salts - the last tip was given to me by my Grandma decades ago.

The chilli growing under it is a decorative one and has little flavour.

9779041879?profile=originalBelow: Bed 3 - bottom left up are purple peas, purple beans (donated seed both and names long lost), James bean (another donated seed that has been renamed after the donator), and Sugar Snap Peas. Swt Potato in the middle. An experiment to use up wasted space productively.

9779042660?profile=originalBelow: The Betel Leaf has gone berserk in the rain. I would never die of scurvy - I have too many greens!

9779043670?profile=original...it's sending out shoots in all directions.

9779043698?profile=originalBelow: Pepino in flower. I just don't get as much fruit as I'd like.

9779044501?profile=originalBelow: The Nopales is going great guns. I've eaten a couple of paddles in the last few days and it's really growing on me. I've yet to find a prickle, but still treat it gingerly as I know there must be a few there. NOTE: The older paddles eventually develop some prickles.

9779023096?profile=originalBelow: Bed 2 - Purple King bean on left. Broccoli seedlings - Rapini (have had to resow these twice as not coming up), Waltham, Purple Sprouting and Green Sprouting. At the very end are 60day Cauliflower which has also been resown twice due to seed not coming up. Touchy.

Also in this bed are Kolrabi (seed from Florence), various silverbeets, and Sweet Leaf (from James) and a Listada di Gandia seedling from Bunnings.

9779045671?profile=originalBelow: Bed 1 with the Cardoon making a comeback.

The self sown goodies around the cold compost pile are just loving the rain - rocket, amaranth, mustard greens. Asparagus on the right has given me a few very tender spears this year...all eaten on the spot while I garden :)

The Golden Bantam corn plants on the compost pile were a wash out, same as the other two plantings. The dogs and I polished off the small cobs.

9779046083?profile=original05.03.13

Peggy came down the mountain on Sunday, despite all the rain and roadworks, and spent about 5 hours with me in the garden and working online to find products. 

Here's two interesting plants recommended by Peggy - would like to get hold of the Rau Om but the Kwai Muk is a bit big for my already full garden:

Rau Om or Rice Paddy Herb

Kwai Muk

Peggy writes a very interesting blog on Folia and has done this lovely write up about our day together. I feel quite priveleged :)

The rain has stopped falling constantly but it's still showering off and on. I've whipped out this morning and planted out some seedlings of Mangle Wurzle, Artichoke, silverbeet, Rutibaga and Giant Tree Tomato (seed from Norma) - the last frightens me lol. Have put a couple of seedlings in one end of Bed 1 in the hope that I can "control" them. I'm out of grow frames - will have to do something about that before they get too big.

Bar a few seedlings the Rapini seed are still not coming up, nor the 60 day cauli - both three times planted now.

08.03.13

The Variegated Penda (native) is in full bloom for a short period and the local honey eaters and insects are making the most of it. Not many of my Carbonaria bees on it though.

9779047084?profile=originalBelow: Rainbow Lorikeet and other honey eaters visiting.

9779047495?profile=originalBelow: Nectar heavy flowers.

9779048675?profile=originalBelow: Preston Prolific fig on special at Masters for $7 - for the front garden eventually.

9779049481?profile=originalBelow: Super Sioux toms coming up from saved seed.

9779049687?profile=originalBelow: Self sown lettuce unknown variety.

NOTE: Caterpillars etc ate these. I replanted a couple of times with seed I had.

9779050698?profile=originalBelow: Sown seed - Brown Mignonette lettuce. NOTE: Eaten by pests.

9779051865?profile=originalBelow: Early Purple eggplant grown from donated seed.

9779052483?profile=originalBelow: Cleome flowers. Attractive flowers and easy to grow from cutting but pretty much ignored by the bees.

9779053054?profile=originalBelow: Freya checking out the honeydew. NOTE: Not bad, not good. Most ended up in the juicer.

9779053478?profile=originalBelow: Orb Weaver visitor. These have a short time in the garden before the birds eat them and the cycle starts all over.

9779053701?profile=originalBelow: Winter Melon on the laundry trolley just keeps getting bigger. No other female flowers have pollinated successfully. Pretty much what happened with the first three vines. Perhaps it has a way of keeping crop to a sustainable level for the vine.

NOTE: Various plants have cropped up around the yard and are still growing into late Autumn, though no fruit as at the present 07.05.13.

9779054654?profile=originalBelow: Same fruit 15days later. I've had to prop it up on a garden pot as it's getting so heavy.

9779054282?profile=originalBelow: Four days later and almost ready to harvest as indicated by the spreading white protective barrier.

9779055267?profile=originalBelow: 20.03.13 and harvested. Ready to share at the GV. Weighs about 5 or 6kg I would guess.

9779055483?profile=original13.03.13

Classic autumn weather. Slightly overcast with some showers but the temp is a delight. I am having some problems with hairy black caterpillars, very fast moving, eating seedlings and anything else they can get at including fallen leaves. No sign of rats at all! Neighbours may have taken measures after last years problems.

Below: Youngberry fruit. I get the occasional one but there's a little wren that likes them better than me :)

9779056095?profile=originalBelow 13.03.13: Bed 3 Beans, peas coming along well. Red Okra in the foreground still fruiting prolifically.

NOTE: By 07.05.13 the Okra have almost been killed off by green caterpillars despite my best efforts to remove them daily, but are still producing a handful of fruit each week.

9779057086?profile=originalBelow: Chilli growing from Carolyns seed.

9779057891?profile=originalBelow: Sweet Potato tower is providing me with lots of nice shoots of young greens for cooking.

9779058693?profile=originalBelow: A different Dragonfruit developing flowers. The stem is more angular and the flower buds quite different from the red with white centre fruit.

I'd love to know the function of the little ants attracted to these flowers. It's not like they're open and offering pollen. Jude (Lai) thinks they are after aphid sugar but there's no obvious sign of aphid.

I think the flowers are rewarding the ants with some kind of secrection for protecting them myself. Some of the bean plants do the same.

9779059660?profile=originalBelow: Custard apple fruit starting to plump up. Ready to pick when the skin is smooth.

9779059883?profile=originalBelow 13.03.13: The tree is getting quite droopy with all the developing fruit.

NOTE: 07.05.13 Tree is not looking happy despite a big drink of water after a week of no rain. Hope it doesn't drop it's crop.

9779060492?profile=originalI've redone part of Bed 1 this morning for carrot and parsnip seed. Planted are Parsnip "Guernsey" from Green Harvest, Carrot "Muscade" (orange), "Atomic Red" and "Amarillo" (yellow) all from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in America.

19.03.13

Still waiting on any of the carrots seedlings to poke their little heads up. Getting a bit worried that the two or three days of hot we've had might have done some damage despite watering once or twice a day.

The hairy black caterpillars are still doing damage. I go out at least twice a day and pick them off. They like to hide under the seed raising trays on the ground during the day. Nearly all lettuce seedlings have been demolished.

Below: The lates dragonfruit fruit. Nice big ones :) and very good eating.

9779061481?profile=originalBelow: Breakfast yesterday, all home grown - Carombola, pawpaw (very sweet but not all edible) and dragonfruit. Jude Lai has given Joseph and myself some cuttings for the all red DF plus more yellow. Lou from the Gemvale DF farm has given me some Pink DF cuttings in exchange for yellow.

9779062668?profile=original30.03.13

The carrots have poked their little heads up over the last week. Ones in the shade ot other plants came up first - curious.

Everything is growing well in the raised beds, should have plenty of beans, broccoli with hopes of excess to freeze for later, plus cauli and peas. Also Mangle Wurzel, Kohlrabi, Ruttabaga, silverbeet.

9779062867?profile=originalBelow: Eggplant are all cropping well. The Bunnings version of Listada di Gandia is a different shape but just as good eating

9779063299?profile=originalBelow: All the fruit developing on the oldest pawpaw plant. This plant has been incredibly prolific over it's approximately four years of life. I've eaten quite a few of the small fruit and they are sweet and delicious.

9779064254?profile=original9779064863?profile=original9779064680?profile=original9779065681?profile=originalBelow: The tank before espalier. Brennan is coming next week to set up a frame around the tank. Still trying to decide what to plant! Would love to do a multi planting with two different tropical stone fruit but there is the question of radiated heat from the tank for one thing, plus the cost.

9779066500?profile=originalBelow: Having a go at growing Soursop from cuttings after cutting the plant back to give the bananas more light. NOTE: 21.04.13 These have all died. Joseph will come over in spring and we'll try marcotting.

9779067277?profile=originalBelow: Chopped the top off the Jackfruit/Jakfruit so having a go at growing that also.

NOTE: 21.04.13 Dead, dead, dead. Will try again.

9779068280?profile=originalBelow: I've been putting seed in all over the place - finally got one! Coriander to grow. Not sure yet what the plant beside it is. NOTE: Weed!

9779068678?profile=originalBelow: Joe's Beans growing well - supposed to be more bean fly resistant. Had one early bean so far.

NOTE: These proved to be a real winner. Lots of fruit from relatively little plant and was also more bean fly resistent. Have saved seed for next year.

9779069466?profile=originalBelow: Purple King bean flowers - gorgeous and a very strong grower. No beans yet.

NOTE: Another winner. Heavy cropper despite some bean fly problem. Lots for the freezer. They cook green which is a pity.

9779069887?profile=originalBelow: The latest bunch of bananas ended up in the dehydrator along with some home grown pawpaw and dragonfruit. Despite keeping the machine going over two days during daylight hours they all came out still quite moist, but very edible!

9779070489?profile=original9779071293?profile=originalBelow: Goody, self sown Cape Gooseberry....I think!

9779071900?profile=originalBelow: The Cardoon is making a brave effort at a comeback. Caterpillars and ladybeetles are making a brave effort at eating it all!

NOTE: as of 07.05.13 these plants are not doing well. Nor are the fresh ones planted from seed. The reason is hard to guess at.

9779072487?profile=originalBelow: One of three Winter Melon fruit. I have the giant one in the pantry still. The first one has gone into Brennans produce box for making the raspberry trellis.

9779072861?profile=originalBelow FRONT YARD -

New raspberry trellis thanks to Brennan :) It's a thing of beauty with the idea taken from the Raspberry Pruning video

There's also a How to Grow Raspberries video.

9779072896?profile=originalBelow: Can't move the canes until they finish fruiting. It will be so good to tidy them up and get them upright so I don't keep mowing over the fruit. Ate the first one yesterday :)

NOTE: By 07.05.13 cropping a small handful daily.

9779074272?profile=originalBelow: Strawberry runners (orignals from the couple at Redland) are spreading all by themselves without any interference from me. I guess I will have to pay them a bit more attention once they fill up the spot.

Looks like the Tamarillos that suffered in the heat are dead, dead, dead. Canistel is still putting on a little growth.

9779074863?profile=originalBelow: Hugo and the Dwf Wurtz avocado. I've trimmed it a little but tempted to do more.

9779075853?profile=originalBelow: The front yard self sown pawpaw - hope it's as prolific as the backyard one!

9779076455?profile=originalBelow: Both Pomegranates are doing well, but I really should trim them a bit but they're very prickly. The foreground one is grown from seed, the background one is a Wonderful.

9779076674?profile=originalBelow: Reclaiming the front beds using grass clippings thanks to Steve the mower guy :)

9779077288?profile=originalAPRIL

Still regular showers and the weather is perfect. I've taken to walking in Warner Lakes in the morning. Beautiful spot full of native plantings and wildlife.

Below 05.04.13 Dehydrating some of Elaines Dwf Ducasse banana crop along with some Carombola.

NOTE: These were absolutely delicious dehydrated - really wonderful flavour. The Carombola was tasteless. Makes wonderful jam I discovered some weeks later - very flavoursome.

9779078067?profile=originalBelow: I managed to miss the flowering of the Yellow Dragonfruit but found them in the morning. Large and white just the same as the red variety. There a four of these. Something to look forward to as I've never eaten the Yellow before. Lou from Gemvale has given me a couple of Pink cuttings in return for Yellow ones from me.

NOTE: Joseph tells me these fruit take 6mths to ripen. Good grief! Hope I remember to keep checking them.

9779079052?profile=originalBelow: The fig is fruiting up again. It has some kind of leaf curl problem but this doesn't seem to be affecting it in any way I can see.

9779079862?profile=originalBelow: Hopefully I'll get some tomatoes this winter! This is Super Sioux from saved seed and Deer Tongue lettuce to it's right, also from saved seed.

9779080685?profile=originalBelow: Giant Tree Tomato from Norma's seed :)

9779081290?profile=originalBelow: Soursop cropping directly out of it's trunk. Fascinating stuff. There's heaps of flowers and small fruit this season so I have growing hopes of actually getting something to eat after a couple of lean years with this tree.

9779082065?profile=originalBelow: Purple King beans - flowers, fruit and purple tinged leaves. This is a very attractive bean to grow - yet to eat any fruit.

NOTE: The leaves were tinged purple where the bean fly had stung them! Plants still cropped well.

9779082667?profile=originalBelow: The Purple King plant growing up everything it can reach. Also broccoli, cauli, kohlrabi and manglewurzle in Bed 2.

9779082478?profile=originalBelow: Bed 1 Joe's Beans starting to crop. I've eaten a few. Good flavour and size pods and supposed to be more bean fly resistant than other varieties. Thank you to Jane for the seed :)

NOTE: Did prove to be more resistent.

9779083866?profile=originalBelow: The Joe's plant Bed 1. Medium grower - not as rampant as the Purple King or the Jame's beans.

NOTE: Jame's beans were badly affected by bean fly and did not crop as well as the other two varities.

9779084083?profile=originalBelow: Bed 3 beans gone crazy with some poor peas trying to compete. In this bed - Purple Pod Pea, Sugar Snap Pea, Flageolet beans (bush), Purple Pod bean (no purple flower or leaves so it's not Purple King), James beans, Rutabaga, potatoes - swt & regular, silverbeet, beetroot, okra.

9779084862?profile=originalBelow: Flageolet bush bean - seed from Craig :) Surprise! Didn't realise these were hidden away. Dinner tonight.

NOTE: Like all bush bean these pretty much finished cropping over a couple of weeks, unlike the climbers which kept going much longer.

9779086077?profile=originalBelow: Rutabaga - root crop veg. Will have to check if the leaves are also edible. These are very fast growing. Also known as Swede - pretty sure these are the delicious yellowish tubers I'm buying from the fruit shop.

9779086474?profile=originalBelow: Bed 2 Manglewurzle - edible leaves and tubers. A little slower growing from seed.

NOTE: These two plants pretty much died off after this. Too shaded? Too dry? Too wet? I did give some leaves away (never got to eat any myself!) perhaps I should have left them be.

9779087093?profile=originalBelow: Yet another Winter Melon coming up in a random spot. Beats me how they got there as I usually turf my unsuccessful seed mix in the one spot and this isn't it. Never mind, I love a mystery.

9779087482?profile=originalBelow: Another giant Winter Melon fruit near the bee hive. Will have lots to share :)

NOTE: This one ended up being swapped for a dozen eggs at the fruit shop.

9779088287?profile=originalBelow: Sweet Potato tower is providing lots of easily accessable leaves and will eventually provide tubers.

NOTE: This is growing much better than the "along the ground" plants. Bigger, healthier and more usable leaves.

9779054900?profile=originalBelow: I've taken to tucking in store bought sprouting spuds where ever I have an empty spot.

9779089301?profile=originalBelow: Chilli plant from Carolyns seed :) developing little fruit.

9779089695?profile=originalBelow: 29.04.13 Fruit on the same plant. Long and very mild. Almost no heat.

9779090457?profile=originalBelow: Custard apple taking their time plumping up. Something to look forward to. Might try to freeze some meat this year so I have a longer supply.

9779090866?profile=original07.04.13

Thinking of taking the latest humungously heavy Winter Melon fruit down to my local fruiterers. Those guys stock a lot of interesting stuff and they might be interested in doing a swap for a bag of spuds or something.

NOTE: Swapped for a dozen free range :) Have not been back to see if it sold well or not. When I did go back they had small WM in stock. Didn't have the guts to ask how mine sold.

9779091295?profile=originalBelow: First fruit picked from the Purple King vines. Very energetic grower, healthy plant with beautiful flowers, leaves and fruit. A "must" for future plantings.

NOTE: Has been attacked a bit by the bean fly but not excessively a problem.

9779092466?profile=originalBelow: Poor little Butternut plant out the front that should be dead has given up one fruit.

NOTE: Good eating when I did cut it.

9779093085?profile=originalBelow: Have just found these Jame's beans hidden away.

NOTE: These plants are badly attacked by Bean Fly.9779093873?profile=original12.04.13

Below: Bean crop from this morning. Left to right James' beans, Purple King and Joe's beans.

The James' beans are rampant taking up a lot of space (twice that of the Joe's beans), have quite a bit of bean fly damage and it's difficult to find the relatively small crop of smaller more rounded beans.

Purple King are just wonderful - not much trouble with bean fly damage, nice sized plants and very easy to find the copious crop.

Joe's beans are a real winner. The plant is a nice compact size and it crops heavily with large well shaped flattish beans. Also not much bean fly damage. I've given away the last of the Joe's seed I had (to Brennan) so MUST save more from this wonderful bean for next season.

Not much between the flavour of all three, Joe's perhaps a little sweeter - another plus.

Some info re Bean Fly:

Bean Fly

These pests are tiny, glossy, black flies that appear in warm, humid weather to attack French bean plants that don't have enough potassium. The best way to avoid these pests is to practice crop rotation, have plenty of compost in the bed where you grow French and climbing beans, and to hill-up soil around the stems of bean plants. 

Look out for yellow spots and fine lines on bean leaves. They are a sign that the flies have laid eggs in the leaves. Remove and destroy damaged leaves to stop larvae tunnelling to the base of the stem, and give your bean plants a drink or two of organic-allowed seaweed tea.

9779094477?profile=originalBelow: The raspberries are starting to crop - have to drive around them on the front driveway :/ Can't wait until I have them growing tidy up the new frame next season.

9779095656?profile=originalBelow: Some of todays and yesterdays crop. All the eggplant are doing well apart from the Rosea. The Okra is still cropping but there has been a new long green caterpillar move onto these plants and it's doing quite a bit of damage to the young fruit and leaves. Plants are well past their use by date anyway.

Choko is fruiting - nice solid green fruit. It's covered in tiny sweet fruit at the moment.

9779097462?profile=originalCarrots are growing well. Potatoes are coming up. Cardoon is struggling in it's second year with a lot of pest destruction. Rutabaga (swede) are growing very quickly and well - a definate for each year. Some Kohlrabi have come up from Florence's seed (had to sow twice), some beetroot seedlings are trying to find a place in an already busy bed. The Mangelwurzel is doing quite well - it and the silverbeet have a small problem with a circular dark fungal (?) problem on some of their leaves.

I have removed any diseased leaves and stems this morning from all plants and binned them in a plastic bag. Don't want a giant problem with bean fly next year.

Carombola are cropping well - some fruit fly damage but still plenty of edible bits. I'm picking the ones I can reach when they turn pale before they fall and bruise. Any infected bits of fruit are being binned, not composted. The plant is flowering again! It's become quite bushy and will need a good trim once all this fruiting is over.

Below: I now have a beautiful espalier frame around my tank, thanks to Brennan. So well made - I couldn't have done this on my own. I've planted some Sugar Snap Peas for the moment and will put the plant in a little later. There's also a Loofah come up from dropped seed.

9779097290?profile=original27.04.13

I've pulled out most of the climbing and bush bean plants (all bar the wonderful Joe's beans which will go soon too) as they are past their best and have a lot of Bean Fly infestation. The resultant mass of greenery has been black-bagged and left in the sun to kill these off so I can reuse the material.

Below: Bean plant in the tub and the climbing frame bare. I've removed this eyesore frame and plan to make a better one with taller star posts and wire, following Brennan's design on the espalier frame. Still early in the growing season so I hope to plant some peas after the bed has been replenished.

NOTE: Planted Rapini broccoli donated seed instead.

9779098071?profile=originalI've blanched and frozen about a kg+ of beans for later use.

NOTE: May have overblanched as they're coming out soggy if I steam. Fine in stews or casseroles though.

9779099276?profile=original9779100269?profile=originalMade Carombola jam yesterday and it tastes damn good.

I really am a shocker at making jam, so not sure if I can call it jam or candied fruit but it's really yummy and rich flavoured and I will use it on toast like jam. Might cut the pieces smaller next time and it would benefit from some spice.

Nearly all the fruit is Fruit Fly infested despite my best efforts, so this is made from all the good offcuts. I made sure there was NO fruit fly bits in there :/

9779101077?profile=originalBelow: Found three of these wonderful caterpillars in the bean/sweet potato bed. Hopefully they were eating swt potato as the beans were going. Turns out they were Hawk Moth progeny - thought at first they could only be butterflys.

9779100690?profile=originalThe green choko are giving lots of good fruit at the moment for sharing, juicing, roasting and frying. The little ones are so sweet. I need to move the vine away from the post box! Poor posto :/ I hope he's a gardener and understands my addiction to growing stuff everywhere.

Still trying to get my hands on a replacement white choko. (NOTE: 10.05.13 three are being posted to me by Warren from Daleys fruit forum - yay).

The raspberries are giving a few fruit each day. Eggplant are still cropping well though I expect that will stop with the cold weather. The self sown plants are giving lots of fruit :)

The broccolis and caulis are all growing well - lots of caterpillars trying to eat the plants as quickly as I find and destroy them.

Carrots are coming along well but slowly as usual.

The Cardoon is not doing well the second time around and is dying off. I've planted some seed elsewhere to start afresh but they are not growing well either. Still have plenty of seed to try next year if this year fails.

The Mangelwurzle did well initially but may now be too shaded - one plant has died (since recovering). I've replanted some more seed.

Ruttabaga (swede) is growing well. The first lot of seed grew quickly, the second lot more slowly - possibly due to the shade from the bean plants which are now gone, so hoping they start to put on some growth as I really like these, very sweet and yummy.

Kohlrabi are doing ok. They are slow growers.

28.04.13

I've collected a plant from the SGAP sale of the native hibiscus "Citrus Mist" recommended by Colleen (Keena from Hibiscus Org).  From the Uni stall at the sale. Nice big healthy plant for $15. Bargain.

Problem is it's covered in spines which I wasn't aware of before :( so I can't plant it where I wanted to around the rain water tank. I was expecting something soft and inoffensive but this would take off skin each time I go to get water.

Never mind, I'll have a good think about where I can put it. Maybe the front yard... but I will have to clear some of the piles of mulch out there first and I wanted them to sit until spring at least.

NOTE: Planted in the right hand corner of the front yard. Out of the way of walkers.

Winter is it's flowering time so I would really like to get it in soon. The whole point of the plant is the edible flowers which make cordial and jam.

9779101686?profile=original07.05.13
Still lots of caterpillars (NOTE: smooth green ones are Cabbage Butterfly) on the leafy plants, but the good news is the little predator wasp Apanteles glomeratus that I had here in spring (see Spring 2013 blog for more info) are back and hopefully killing off a few for me.
Below are there yellow silken larval cases on broccoli. Having some problems with aphid on the broccoli this season also (see notes further on).
9779101881?profile=originalBelow: The Sweet Leaf plant has developed the most unusual flowers, almost primitive.
9779102671?profile=originalBelow: Lots of colour around the garden from marigold, various salvia, amaranth, cleome, nasturtium. The BBBees are out doing their thing again - they just love the Pineapple Sage (salvia) flowers. Would love to know where the males roost at night.
9779102701?profile=original9779103899?profile=originalBelow: So many eggplant fruit that I didn't want going to waste - these have been soaked in brine and then grilled both sides with extra salt and olive oil, then stored in olive oil. They've come out delicately sweet. Good for frying or just eating :)
9779104461?profile=originalBelow: Preparing same. Ran out of olive oil for the second batch and had to use rice bran oil.
9779104853?profile=originalBelow: Attempting to learn more about the edible weeds locally. No idea what this one is picked up on my walk this morning (Warner Lakes). NOTE: Elaine has identified it as FIREWEED and it's definately non-edible. My weed book is coming in the mail soon that should help with identification.
9779105689?profile=original10.05.13
Winter is definately on the door step, the mornings are getting quite nippy but the days are still lovely and warm. The garden is happy on the whole - still picking caterpillars off the leafy greens.
Joseph has given me insight into the aphid on the leafy greens (from unknown organic author):
Another common pest, one that is almost ubiquitous, is the aphid. These little suckers probably cause more damage than any other insect. The first thing to consider is their nutritional needs. Aphids cannot digest complete protein; they require free amino acids (the building blocks of protein). Excessive amounts of water-soluble nitrogenous fertiliser creates the condition of high levels of free amino acids in plant sap, effectively a dinner invitation to aphids. Conversely, feeding protein to plants reduces the level of free amino acids and minimises the attractiveness of plants to aphids.
Was doing my usual morning potter around yesterday morning (not working or so I thought) and realised the custard apples had finally reached the point of picking. Some had been chewed by Fruit Bats so I've picked nearly all of them. Have left a couple up high for the bats not so much out of altruism but because I had trouble reaching them! Gave myself a heckofa bruise on the back of my leg when I walked backwards into a stick. It's a jungle under this tree! and was no picnic doing the cropping.
Now I have to eat them, share them with family this Mothers Day weekend, and freeze some meat - the time consuming side of growing your own. The plant is probably 11yrs old and I've long since lost the label. Nice meat but lots of seeds to work your mouth around.
NOTE: Once picked these ripen quickly. Many of the smaller ones went hard and black and were inedible.
9779105492?profile=original11.05.13
Off to have a look at Jerry Coleby-Williams Open Garden today. I'll take along a couple of the Joes beans with the funny twisty shape and ridges to see if he can advise what might be causing it.
NOTE: One of his offsiders thought it might be a virus but could not be sure. He was happy to take the seed I brought along though!
Below: The Amaranth bought on the day. Very pretty and edible to boot.
9779107268?profile=originalBelow: Found some old Money Maker seeds in my big box of seed and threw them in without much hope of success, but here they are coming up :)
9779107486?profile=originalBelow: Sweet potato flowers, really quite pretty. These are on the tower plant.
9779108073?profile=originalBelow: The tower 25.05.13...
9779108867?profile=originalBelow: Bed 1 - all the Joe's beans have been removed and Imperator carrot and Snowball cauli planted courtesy of seed from RayRay. The self sown eggplant (Listada di Gandia) and Basil have both proven prolific.
9779110054?profile=originalBelow: Backyard going into winter. Beans are finished, peas are just taking off, broccoli and cauli growing well despite the caterpillars but still waiting on any crop. Self sown tom (middle bed at end) Acid Free Cherry (?).
9779110463?profile=originalBelow: Bees doing their thing surrounded by Cleome, bush basil, nasturtium and salvia.

9779111085?profile=originalBelow: Joseph's red papaya showing signs of deficiency...Boron perhaps? or perhaps Broad Mite infestation though there is no sign of life or eggs. Rob mentions that his own plants had something similar in the past and eventually recovered under their own steam, so will leave them be and hope whatever it is doesn't infect my other pawpaw plants.

These plants have been given every goody under the sun - Organix Xtra, Dr Grow it All, minerals, compost. Have bought some Boron (Borax) from Coles and dosed them with that as well (1 teas diluted in litre of water).

NOTE: Could be Broad Mite. Tossing up whether to remove the affected tops of the plants and hope they survive with the remaining small, apparently unaffected, leaves.

9779111286?profile=original13.05.13

Visited the Caboolture Mkts on the way to Mums for Mothers Day yesterday and picked up amongst other plants (at the cheapo tube stand) an Astragalus membranaceusa perennial member of the flowering legume family, and my favourite immune booster herb which I take in tablet form.

It has no known side effects and can be taken long term safely. Also has a mild anti-coagulant effect so caution if on blood thinners.

Also known as milk vetch, huang qi, huang ch', ogi, hwanggi, bei qi, radix astragali, goat's horn, green dragon, locoweed.

Reading up on this plant this morning it takes 4 to 7yrs to mature for the root to be used :( bummer. You can chew on the root like chewing gum, buy it in dried form, add to stews and smoothies as a powder.

Found claims for it's cancer fighting, flu fighting and anti-aging properties. I've been using the tablets for some years and I know it boosts my immune system as I have a lot less trouble with my health (I use Immune Boost from Golden Glow but see it cropping up in other brands at the chemist now).

Video link - what you need to know before you buy Astragalus.astragalus-bsp.jpg

14.05.13

Due to my largish crop, I spent a few hours last evening seperating custard apple flesh from seed so as not to waste any :/ Not something I will willingly put my hand up to do on a regular basis, but I might come at it once a year when the tree crops. Fruit was also shared with family at the weekend.

The pic below is when I was about half way through. Luckily they put one of my favourite movies on TV which distracted me...thank goodness!

The meat has been frozen in containers. Some mixed through Goats Yoghurt I had in the fridge. It doesn't go brown (oxidation) unlike other cut fruit - I thought I might have to sprinkle with lemon juice but it stayed nice and white all by itself.

9779112656?profile=originalBelow: Tried my hand at making jerky today. Thinly sliced beef marinated in oyster, swt chilli and tamari sauces as per Andy's instructions. The end result is very tasty but a bit expensive. $8 worth of thin sliced beef from Coles made just one layer in the dehydrator.

NOTE: This was extemely delicous and very more-ish. I will have to find some less expensive meat to make it a viable to make this regularly.

9779113080?profile=originalAlso made some jam today (becoming a habit this jam making!) using bits of Carambola, some dehydrated pawpaw and a beautiful persimmon from the Caboolture Mkt. Still don't know what I'm doing - I just put it all in a saucepan with some sugar and let it boil down til it's thick - but it tastes good.

Below: Joseph gave me purple pod peas for growing and after waiting for this slow growing plant to do it's thing, I finally have some beautiful purple flowers and pods.

Capucijner Peas

(Pisum sativum var.)

Capucijner (cap-ou-SIGH-nah), an heirloom pea originally grown by the Dutch Capuchin monks during the 17th century. Bicoloured flowers are lilac-pink & wine-red, fading to blue as they age; pods are inky purple, fading to leathery brown as they mature. It's great visual appeal & hardiness has ensured its survival over the centuries.

Ate one of these young pea pods yesterday (17.05.13) and it was a bit on the chewy side unlike sugar snap peas. Perhaps meant for pea production only. 26.05.13 Ate some peas - delicious!

9779113483?profile=original9779114087?profile=original18.05.13

It's become freakin chilly in the morning and warrants long pants to work during the day. The cold is still not deterring the caterpillars! The smooth green variety (Cabbage White Butterfly) are still proliferating on my broccoli and cauli and there's even some of the hairy black jobs still around doing their thing.

My feet are cold :( I really should put on my Ugg boots. Done...along with an extra layer of vest. My hands are still freezing.

Below The choko are going crazy all over the Jaboticaba, fence and gate. I'm eating the sweet little jobs daily but still manage to miss some fruit and they subsequently grow huge and are only good for chutney making or growing. I have six or seven in pots out the back to give away and really must find a home for the excess fruit.

Some damage this year from sucker type bugs but it doesn't affect the flavour.

9779115259?profile=original

27.05.13 Autumn is almost over and the cold is well and truly here already. Not much to do in the garden each day except a bit of tidy up here and there.

I did plant out the many coloured Amaranth and some of the late Cardoon that have come up, into Bed 3. I would like some Cardoon to take me through winter. The fig is still producing fruit but ever so slowly. The Carombola is flowering again for one last flush of fruit I hope.

The Lychee is putting on new growth. Fingers crossed that I end up with some fruit next season.

Cropped the Water chestnut yesterday. Took about 15mins sloshing around in a tub of water to remove the corms and ended up with an icecream bucket full.

9779115497?profile=originalBelow: This is how the plant looked when it is ready for cropping...

9779115864?profile=originalWHAT I HAVE LEARNED THIS AUTUMN:

If I plant my broccoli etc early, yes I do get plants growing quick early growth but the pests are also still around and attack the growing plants unmercifully. USE MY NETS!! to cover the growing plants and protect them.

Read more…

2011/2012 SUMMER December to February

9779024688?profile=originalSecond day of summer and what a glorious morning! Rain at last and the temperature has dropped. Last night was heaven and without the aircon.

Tackled Bed 2 yesterday very early before the heat got too bad - pulled out the remaining carrots (all very long and thin, slightly chewed at the top - snail?rat? but usable), and used the celery as green matter (never did grow big and thick but used quite a bit in casseroles). The toms can stay - they don't mind being buried under a bit of compost.

Now for the fun part of finding something to grow in it. Checking my seed I don't have much suitable for this time of the year - just some rocket and radish, so will probably buy some seedlings.

Bed 3 (left) with Lebanese and Chinese Snake cucs is going great guns. I spend a few minutes each morning encouraging the tendrils to climb the frame. Lots of fruit developing and I get one every couple of days for eating (Lebanese only so far).

Bed 1 is becoming productive already - the corn should be all pollinated, the cherry toms are starting to produce and the Fordhook Giant silverbeet is a delicious delight almost nightly for dinner. Have to pick off the caterpillars most mornings as they want to share it with me! The rockmelon in this bed is growing very well and producing lots of little yellow flowers. My experiences growing melons from seed has not been hugely successful, so hoping these bought seedlings give me a better result.

Below - the Ceylon Hill Goosberry bush is flowering :) Fruit would be wonderful. Such a pretty little bush and grows easily from cutting (I have a few more dotted around the garden this way).

9779025458?profile=originalBelow - The Listada di Gandia has a couple of dozen fruit on it again. It seems to have recovered just fine from the dry period where all the fruit was splitting.

9779025872?profile=originalBelow - rockmelon flowers from bought seedlings.

9779026099?profile=originalBelow - the rockmelon spilling out of the bed.

9779027071?profile=originalBelow - Yellow Pear cherry toms. NOTE: These were not a great success - perhaps due to disease?

9779027656?profile=originalBelow - little capsicum developing - bought seedlings. No label. NOTE: Crunchy and bland. Quite good in salads.

9779028083?profile=originalBelow - Fordhook Giant silverbeet. Don't know what it is about silverbeet but I can eat it until the cows come home with gusto :) This grows so fast I have plenty for dinner each night but must pick off the caterpillars daily to stop too much distruction.

9779029860?profile=originalBelow - Little oddity - tiny cobs sometimes form at the top of the corn flowers.

9779030080?profile=originalBelow - re-doing Bed 2 - carrots have all been pulled up (about 1.5kg of long thin carrots, slightly chewed at the top by rat?snail? but quite usable).

Layers of green material (celery has had it's day), lucerne, minerals (dolomite, granite, basalt), Organic Xtra, molasses pelletised organic fertilser ex Brian Stepenson. All topped off with a thin layer of garden soil for planting seedlings/seeds in.

9779030690?profile=originalBelow - Bed 2 an empty pallette :D The fun part!

Two little bean plants from Jennifer happily doing their thing on the left and I did leave the Amish Paste tom plant as it's still producing some fruit.

9779031273?profile=original04.12.11 I'm using seed alone for this bed - mainly because I was too lazy to go to the markets and buy seedling.

Planted today in this bed: corn "Kelvedon Glory", spring onion "Toga", dwarf bean "Snap Bean". kohl rabi "Olivia" (Nathan gave me one of his recently and it was delicious roasted - never eaten these before), beetroot "Detroit 2" and "Burpees Golden", silverbeet "Fordhook Giant", lettuce mixed, parsnip "Hollow Crown", carrot "Purple Haze" and "All Year Round", salad rocket, climbing snake beans from Florence - brown and black seed (names unknown), climbing bean "Purple King",

13/12/11

A bit of rain has filled the tank and encouraged the seeds to do their thing. Corn has been cropped and it wasn't a bad haul. The "Sweetcorn" produced smaller plants and cobs, and "Gold'n'Pearls" a larger plant with larger cobs.

Below - All the dogs were keen to enjoy some of the crop with me - Hugo is "guarding" the haul, patiently waiting for me to share a cob with each of them.

9779031693?profile=original9779033053?profile=original

Below - Gretel has managed to nab someones elses cob as well as her own. Note the "paw of possession" and guarded body language. Don't you dare try to take this off me!

9779033100?profile=original

Hugo is such a gentleman about his food, unlike the girls who are utter pigs.

9779034273?profile=originalFreya enjoying a cob.

9779034863?profile=originalBelow Loofah fruit with ants which are always in attendance on the loofah vine.

9779035268?profile=original15/12/11Below - the cucumbers are growing so well on the framework from Bunnings, with string supports.

9779036100?profile=originalBelow - Oh the excitement! I have hidden rockmelon. NOTE: Came out one morning and this melon was just a pile of mush.

9779037074?profile=originalBelow - Kelvedon Glory seed from Bunnings doing well after two weeks. NOTE: This grew exceptionally well and strongly. Yet to develop cobs. Later...due to all the heavy rain during pollination the end crop wasn't as good as it should have been, but very tasty rich cobs all the same.

9779037680?profile=original02/01/12 Below - same corn just over two weeks later.

9779037699?profile=original02/01/12 Below - my quick attempt at making a rat drowning trap. They are living in my rockmelon bed!

9779038652?profile=original02/01/12 Below - two of four melons developing. Hope I get to some of it before the rat does.

9779038692?profile=originalBees dead - About two weeks ago I noticed less activity with the native bees.

A week ago I bit the bullet and opened the hive which was full of maggots and small running flies, with only a handful of bees left. They appear to be Phorid flies and have completely decimated the hive.

Tim (Heard) thinks the hive may not have "re-queened" leaving it vulnerable. Hopefully it is covered by Tony (Goodrich) 12mth warrantly and will be replaced.

NOTE: Tim gave me contact info for Tony and he replaced the hive with a wonderful thriving one :)

9779029078?profile=original02/01/12 Below - have been getting good crop from the Lebanese cucs. This is a Chinese Snake cuc. The plant is more susceptable to mildew than the Lebanese (see following pic).

9779040493?profile=original02/01/12 Below - Lebanese on the left and Chinese Snake cuc on the right which is much more affected by mildew. I've sprayed with a milk mix twice now but it doesn't seem to have made much difference, if any.

9779041480?profile=original02/01/12 Wampi - the fruit bat is visiting already. None for me!

9779042275?profile=original9779043061?profile=original9779043460?profile=original02/01/12 Some of the various flowers in the garden at the moment. Salvia are doing particularly well.

Below - Purple Salvia

9779043673?profile=originalBelow - Red Salvia - the Blue Banded Bee just loves these along with the eggplant flowers.

9779044479?profile=originalBelow - Variegated Pink Salvia

9779044892?profile=originalBelow - Blue Salvia

9779045669?profile=originalBelow - One of the few Cosmos plants (from seed) to survive the early heat.

9779046277?profile=originalBelow - small sunflower - seedlings bought from the market.

9779047057?profile=originalBelow - Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia) - bees love it.

9779047880?profile=originalBelow - Tansy

9779047696?profile=originalBelow - Amaranth "Mekong Red" self sows all over the place.

9779048486?profile=originalBelow - even the Comfrey is putting out pretty little flowers.

9779048884?profile=originalBelow - Coreopsis

9779049488?profile=originalBelow - Yet another hand pollinated pumpkin flower which will probably come to nothing like the others. NOTE: This has grown the biggest bettest pumpkin! :) but the only one that the huge vine produced. Eventually pulled the whole lot up and put it into one of the beds as green material.

9779049294?profile=originalBelow - Pink Shatoot flowers. Plant is still only 1.5m tall. So far no fruit. NOTE: Seems very prone to scale - watch for ant activity. 07.04.12 This plant is a total dud as far as fruit production is concerned. Will probably be removing it. Really need just a good black mulberry plant.

9779050078?profile=originalBelow - I have very little success with toms, even these Yellow Pear cherry toms aren't doing any good.

9779050484?profile=originalBelow - my first ever Beetroot - "Burpees Gold" and "Detroit 2". In spite of seed being well spread around they are all coming up in a couple of dense areas. Possibly due to the rain washing the seed around I would guess. NOTE: These were pretty much decimated by caterpillars and didn't like the heat. End product was a few very small beetroot that ended up in a stew.

9779051660?profile=originalBelow - The three mature pawpaw trees have all come good again after looking so ill during winter. Below is the oldest one still doing it's thing.

9779052070?profile=originalBelow - Red bi-sexual Pawpaw also fully recovered from winter and flowering. Yet to get any fruit from this young tree. NOTE: Daleys forum and BLF have pretty much decided this is purely a male plant. If it pollinates my yellow females they will produce yellow fruit but the seed has the potential to grow both. This plant dropped all it's leaves during the weeks of heavy rain. Useless AND touchy! 07.04.12 This plant eventually fell over and has gone into the compost pile.

9779052653?profile=original18/01/12 Below - First melon of four removed a little early due to vermin chewing and fruit fly showing interest. It was a little chewy and lacking in flavour but quite edible.

9779052874?profile=original19/01/12 Below - Second melon fell off by itself in spite of me checking the stem each day. Vermin-chew again and I found a fruit fly laying in one of the wounds. Mostly ruined, but the bit I ate was delicious.

9779054070?profile=original21/01/12 Below - fourth melon (didn't photograph the third - much the same as this) good texture but lacking in sweetness. Good in the juicer.

9779054657?profile=original21/01/12 Below - Small crop from the self sown broccoli!

Need to try growing more of this next summer. Hoping it will continue to re-crop as the winter parent plants did. Some issues with caterpillars but picked them off daily. NOTE: Got very little crop from these plants. The last tiny heads were on the chewy side. This one was quite nice though. No good for summer growing.

9779054864?profile=original9779055089?profile=original11.02.12

We've had a great deal of rain the past few weeks. Some plants thrived with this, some didn't. The red Pawpaw is almost dead - no real loss as it's male only. Caterpillars are rampant and have completely ruined the young silverbeet and decimated the Broccoli which is still slowly producing a tiny crop - nothing like the winter crop.

9779055487?profile=originalTamarillos are coming into their own, loving the rain. The one growing near the watertank turns out to be a yellow (bought from Cab. Mkts. for $1!) are they are definately just that bit yummier than the red. Ready to eat straight off the tree. NOTE: Check out Elisabeths recipes for cooking these for dessert after blanching and removing the skins. 07.04.12 Turns out I don't like them cooked :( much nicer as they come raw.

9779056290?profile=original9779058267?profile=originalThe Aerial Yam and Yakon definately loved the rain and have all put on growth spurts. NOTE: 07.04.12 These vines have almost reached the top of the melaleuca - watching and waiting for some aerial tubers so I can give them a go.

9779058862?profile=original9779059098?profile=originalThe Bush beans are now providing enough for me each day. The Snake Beans have been slow to produce anything - the bean pods look so much like stalk I often don't see them until they're well grown. NOTE: All the bush beans cropped at once - blanched and frozen. The snake beans are producing a few fruit - some are over 60cms long! All very tasty.

9779059874?profile=original9779060652?profile=original9779061267?profile=originalListada di Gandia producing yet again. I have fertilised this as it just keeps on giving crop - still a few split though - thought this was due to the dry, but happened during the rain as well. NOTE: Don't let them get too big on the bush. Best around 6"/15cm long.

16/18 spotted lady bugs are rampant - I've given up squashing them and now just flick them off which seems to serve the same purpose and makes me feel better not killing them.

9779062078?profile=originalThe bananas, including the Dwarf Ducasse below, just loved the rain and have put on some growth.

9779037867?profile=originalThe Dwarf Pink Shatoot mulberry showing fruit again. Yet to get anything to eat from this! NOTE: 07.04.12 Dud, dud, dud. Will eventually remove this plant as it is quite useless.

9779063264?profile=originalThe cucumber patch has spent itself and the vines have been removed to the compost pile.

Carrot seed sprinkled over the bed just before the rain came but mustard green, grass and amaranth coming up rampantly amongst them.

9779064454?profile=originalBed 2 is a sad mess - the rain has washed away all the corn pollen just as the silks appeared NOTE: Crop wasn't as bad as I expected - not fully pollinated cobs but enough and tasty (see pic below); carrots a very sorry result with the heat; caterpillars decimating the beetroot, rocket and completely ruining the young silverbeet to the point of skeletising it despite picking them off daily.

I did get some tiny potatoes - enough for one dinner.

The Snake Beans have shown good growth but little inclination to produce much fruit. They surprise me though - the fruit look so much like stem they have sometimes gone beyond cropping before I see them there. Have collected some pretty speckled pods with jet black seed to grow next time.

9779064668?profile=original9779065495?profile=original9779066478?profile=originalBetel Leaf and Taro loved the rain and have put on some growth.

9779066892?profile=originalSome of the Dragon Fruits have reached the top of the fence and are spreading out. Fingers crossed that they produce some flower, but no sign as yet.

9779068056?profile=originalStupid rampant pumpkin vine still trying to take over the back yard and refusing to allow me to fertilise any more flowers. Did produce one giant pumpkin though. Surprising how quickly it grew from fertilisation.

The Lychee behind it has rust again and needs to have this all cut off.

The bat ate what little Wampi crop I had again. Too high to reach. Will have to get Michael out to trim them back when I finally have some income again!

9779068671?profile=originalSurprise! Reasonably useable crop from the plants which had their pollen washed out by the torrential rain. Some caterpillar damage, but not much. Some of the plants did not produce even one cob. Too closely planted? I hadn't expected so many of the seeds to germinate and had put two per hole.

9779069268?profile=originalOdd fat black-filled kernels at the top of one of the cobs. NOTE: 16.12.12 Eventually found out this is Smut, a  form of fungus.

9779069863?profile=original9779070271?profile=originalI've bought some interesting seed from America, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed.

Melacoton Cassabanana (Sicana odorifera),

Huckleberry (Solanum melanocerasum),

Purple Sprouting Broccoli (Brassica oleracea),

Rapini (Brassica rapa),

Carrot Amarillo (Daucus carota) - yellow

Cardoon Rouge D'alger (Cynara cardunculus),

Carrot Muscade (Daucus carota),

Huckleberry (Solanum melanocerasum),

Tomatillo purple (Physalis ixocarpa),

Strawberry Spinach/Garden Berry (Chenopodium capitatum),

Rutabaga laurentian (Brassica napus)

23.02.12
Found  a huge amount of beetle damage to the fig this morning. Just the day before it was happy and pristine and developing quite a few small fruit. Most of these seem to be ruined as well.

Killed them all with flyspray. NOTE: 07.04.12 These beetles did reoccur - I killed the next lot the same way. Having a lot of trouble with what I think are Cucumber Beetle eating all the leaves on my Chinese Gooseberry. Killed these also.

9779070891?profile=originalAfter a search on the net have found what I think is the beetle on the Qld Museum website:

Celtis Leaf Beetle
Menippus cynicus

Biology

Adults and larvae feed on the young foliage of introduced Chinese Elm trees (Celtis sinensis), a pest tree species in Brisbane. The larvae are black and caterpillar-like. This species is native to central coastal Queensland where it feeds on the native tree, Celtis paniculata.

Recently the beetle has expanded its range further south and is now common in Brisbane.

Identification

Length about 10 mm. The oval-shaped, convex body is dull brown with a black underside.

9779072266?profile=originalSnake beans are starting to produce after taking their time to grow some length. Some are so long that one bean is enough for dinner! NOTE: 07.04.12 I never did record the names of the climbing beans planted this season in the blog. Naughty naughty! Labels near the plants fade out or get hidden by vegetation - not a reliable way to remember. Luckily the long beans have a longer, pale coloured seed to differentiate from the other black seeded one.

9779072478?profile=originalNotes for this season:

  • Always record names of seed or seedlings planted in the blog. Labels are not enough as they fade out or get lost in the vegetation.
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Spring gardening

It's a lovely time of year in the garden and it's been nice and cool so far, although the temperatures have been starting to climb for the past couple of days. I've finally finished exams so I'm looking forward to tending a lot more to my vegie patch and hopefully putting in a new bed for next year.

We went to the Roma St botanic gardens in October and found this great topiary giraffe - it's so cute. : )

After that huge amount of rain we had I waited a week or so and then decided to harvest the garlic. We got bulbs from all the cloves that I planted. I think I may have left them in a little too long - almost all the leaves had died back. Hopefully they'll still taste good.

And Lissa - Here are my blueberries so far. I picked the third one this morning - it was hiding under a leaf. There are more on their way and new flowers and buds on the bush so hopefully I'll get more over summer.

The lone strawberry plant that made it from seed has got heaps of small strawberries on it, waiting to plump up and ripen over summer. Yummy!!! I think strawberries would be my favourite fruit.

We've had a lot of visitors to the garden lately - or maybe I've just been home "studying" so I've noticed them more. We have two kingfishers that hunt in our yard each day. I'm not sure if one's a baby or just the male/female of a pair.

The kookaburras are still around, and I frequently walk out the back door to find one sitting on the washing line looking for lizards and worms. Mummy magpie that terrorised cyclists on our street while nesting has also been raiding the yard for her baby that sits near her and squawks.

The fruit trees are growing slowly but surely. The washington navel has one orange growing on it about the size of a giant marble and has dropped all the rest. The valencia seems to have dropped all of its fruit buds and the mandarin still has most of its fruit buds. It's their first year in so I'm not expecting a huge crop from any of them.

The avocado tree still needs a home in the ground and we keep changing our minds as to where to put it. We need to get some sand for drainage before we plant it too. The passionfruit is fruiting again (sorry Donna!), and is really responding to all the rain and my efforts at remembering to water it.

The corn is doing well and is nearly a foot high. I planted cucumber in between the rows, although it is fast outgrowing the corn, even though I planted it later.

The dwarf butter beans are flowering - purple flowers which are quite pretty. The bean fly doesn't seem to be so bad this year, although time will tell when I'm wanting to harvest. Do dwarf beans need anything to climb on or a support? They are just flopping on the ground at the moment and seem to be quite happy for now.

The tomatoes all have very nice large fruit which are being attacked by slugs and flies. The plants themselves have succumbed to septoria leaf spot, and no matter how much I try not to water leaves and pick off the affected leaves I can't get rid of it. There's no natural or organic fix for it that I've found. On the other hand, we are inundated with kilos of cherry tomatoes. I have to go out with a little bucket to pick them each day just to keep up with them. They're also affected by the leaf spot but don't seem to mind too much.

The water chestnuts are growing well and are starting to spread through my makeshift clamshell pond. The QLD arrowroot it growing very fast and will soon be screening our water tank. Thanks again Elaine. The young peanuts survived the onslaught of slugs and snails during the rain and are now starting to take off.

Well that's all from me for now. Hopefully I'll be able to blog about more additions to the patch soon.

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Getting into the rhythm of things

It looks like I might finally be getting the hang of this gardening thing. I've been consciously trying to plant something every week and keeping a planting diary and it's paying off. Soon I will have a continuous carrot supply to go with the beans which are still producing slowly which is great! They taste soooo much better than the ones from the shops. I've just harvested another two pumpkins off the vine and it looks as if there are more on the way, provided they don't get trimmed any more by the lawn mower. The expanding variety of vegies is wonderful. I think the full water tank is certainly helping things as I get out there to water almost every day now.The sunflower and nasturtium seeds from Seed Savers have come up and are growing nicely - they will add some lovely edible colour to the garden! I finally got round to planting the flat leaf parsley a few weeks ago and it's taken nicely - thanks Florence! A random honeydew melon vine has popped up in the garden too - very happy about that! It has its first fruit which is growing nicely.My first sowing of peas is going well. I just put a second planting in and put up the chicken wire for them to grow on this morning. This means that I have been growing for just over a year now - I remember peas being my first successful winter crop. I couldn't believe how much flavour they had compared to the shop peas. I also can't believe how much I've learnt and how much more I'm growing now.The tomatoes are still growing well up the back, they've stopped fruiting for the moment but have shot out lots of new "branches" and are flowering, so I'm sure they'll start back up again soon.Well, that's all from me for now. Hopefully I'll have more success stories when this new planting comes up. Fingers crossed!
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New Fence New Options

I rather liked our old fence. It was really rustic looking and had timbers that reminded me of my grans place in Eltham Victoria- ancient as ever, a bit of intrigue and rough around the edges, yet still celebrating the life of a tree.

The birds would come and sit on the fence and look at me working the garden, waiting for a caterpillar to be turned up or a free feed from the fresh soil.

Sadly, the fence fell down and had to be replaced before the neighbours built a new granny flat out the back.

We resisted a 6 foot isolation wall and went for a fence we can still see over to exchange life commentaries if we choose. Rather than being a barrier between us it is an opportunity for more growing space.

We went for timber and now that we have a strong fence again, it's opened a world of possibilities. A new passionfruit Panama Gold of course- and our neighbour is looking forward to sharing a passionfruit harvest. The planting area has been laced with comfrey leaves to provide calcium and potash as well as nitrogen. I dug in composted old manure and compost from the bin. I expect to be sharing passionfruit within the year.

Our first crop of wing beans, grown up the fence , gave us a small harvest when the weather was warm. I love those little beauties and will be sowing more seed in late November. This time a scraping will help the seed to germinate before sowing.

Not only has the fence provided a new vertical growing space, we’ve utilised the old fence palings around the garden. The hardwood palings, have made planks for protecting the earth from compaction as I plant, and have created a bridge over the swale albeit a springy one that reminds me of the play equipment when i was at kinder a LONG time ago.

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