cardoon (7)

2016 AUTUMN - MARCH TO MAY

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

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

It's a jungle out there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Little embryo white chokos on the female flowers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Before and after some pulling.

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

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

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

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

Lavender salvia with red salvia behind.

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Purple Salvia with Blue Banded Bee.

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Pale blue salvia.

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Pink salvia with blue (edible) Clitorea ternatea vine.

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

Plant donated at a GV from unknown member.

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

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

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

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

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

Remember the quest for a true Tree Collard?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From an old posting by Scarlett

Taro = Colocasia esculenta; 

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

Tahitian spinach = Xanthosoma brasiliense.

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

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Stem to leaf join on the Tahitian Spinach.

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Stem to leaf join on the Cocoyam and Taro.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

28.03.16

What a delightful Easter break this has been.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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30.04.16

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

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

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03.04.16

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

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

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

04.04.16

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

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

10.04.16

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

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

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

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

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16.04.16

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

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

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

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

This lot planted out purely in Searles potting mix.

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17.04.16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

30.04.16

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

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

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

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

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

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Caulis from bought seedlings growing well.

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

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A few happy sunflower faces from broadcast bird seed.

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Mini caps grow well from seed in store bought fruit.

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

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

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

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

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01.05.16

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

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

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15.05.16

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

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

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28.05.16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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…

2012/2013 SUMMER FEBRUARY

9779053098?profile=original

01.02.13

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

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

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

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

Brisbane Insects

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

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

Silvereye - photo from Bird Life Australia

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

Here's some video from the Aussie Bee site.

Photo courtesy of Brisbane Insects.

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

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

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

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

02.02.13

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

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

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

9779077667?profile=original9779078270?profile=original03.02.13

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

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

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

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

Pic courtesy of Brisbane Insects:

9779079277?profile=original04.02.13

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

07.02.13

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

Photo courtesy of Birds in Backyards.

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

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

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

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

9779079677?profile=original9779080084?profile=original17.02.13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18.02.13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9779097089?profile=original25.02.13

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9779105266?profile=originalLESSONS LEARNED THIS SUMMER:

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

Read more…

2012 AUTUMN March to May

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

21.03.12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9779033855?profile=original30.03.12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

02.04.12

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

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

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

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

9779034291?profile=original9779034900?profile=original06.04.12

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

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

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

In essence piles should consist of layers starting with:

4 parts carbon (eg straw, leaves),

3 parts green material (eg hay, grass),

2 parts nitrogen rich (eg lucerne, manure).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9779037856?profile=original08.04.12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9779040669?profile=original21.04.12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FRONT YARD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9779056264?profile=original07.05.12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9779069463?profile=original20.05.12

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

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

9779070301?profile=original26.05.12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9779074261?profile=original

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2012 WINTER June to August

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9779047478?profile=original12.07.12

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

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

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

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

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

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

9779056658?profile=original22.07.12

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

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

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

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

18.08.12

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9779065291?profile=original

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CARDOON

9779027497?profile=original9779027677?profile=originalI bought the seed earlier this year from an American outlet, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and have been pleasantly surprised. A bit like a cross between celery and silverbeet stems with some added innocuous little spines that wipe off easily.

Both the stems and flowers are edible, though it will be some time before I get to eat a flower and I'll probably leave the first one in the hope of more seed for the future.

I've looked at a few You Tube preparation videos and people seem intent on removing all fibre from the stems with a peeler. This may be necessary if my plants become old and tough, but I like fibre in my food and I don't find it necessary to prepare them this way at the moment.

I've mainly been using the stems in stews and casseroles but here are some more recipes I've just found online that sound really good complete with some good advice about preparation:

Cardoons are cousins of artichokes and thistles. They are cultivated for their edible stalks, much like celery, but they aren't eaten raw. Traditionally grown and served in European Mediterranean areas, cardoons have been revered as delicacies there for over 300 years.

Cardoon is a vegetable like artichoke in that it oxidises and discolors. Chefs will usually toss it into acidulated water (water with lemon juice) to keep it from discoloring.

When thinking of cardoon, keep the flavor of artichokes in your mind when planning the dish.

9779028656?profile=original

Cardoon Gratin

Let's address our elephant in the room immediately: the Cardoon! I will be the first to admit that I have not shown much love to this vegetable. The last time I tried it, which was years ago, I quite unsuccessfully put it into a tabbouleh, hoping its artichoke-like flavor might fit nicely into the salad. I'm sure I didn't cook the cardoon properly, so my attempt yielded a stringy, tough cardoon that was completely unappetizing. This year, it was my mission to give it the respect its elder status has earned, so I found two dishes for you that are worth making. Up front, a classic French preparation that is rich and delicious, a creamy gratin. This recipe was mined from an old issue of Saveur, and is apparently a famous dish from Tours, prime cardoon country. Make sure you do not short the cardoon its cooking time. That's the key to making it palatable. Also keep in mind that it acts like a sponge, so be sure the liquid you use to cook it in tastes really good.

3 cups cream
1 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1.25kg cardoon
1 cup gruyere, grated

Put the cream, stock, and bay leaf in a large saucepan and season with salt and pepper.

Trim your cardoons, then slice them into pieces around 2 inches long, immediately dropping them into the cream bath to prevent discoloring.
Heat the cardoons until the cream comes to a boil, then simmer over medium-low heat for about an hour. Remove the cardoon pieces with a slotted spoon, putting them into a gratin/casserole dish and continue to boil the cream until reduced to 3/4 c.
Pour the cream over the cardoons, top with the gruyere, and bake at 350 until the top has colored a little bit, about 30 minutes. Serve warm.


Sauteed Cardoon with Thyme and Pine Nuts

Almost all the cardoon recipes I found used a lot of cream and cheese or deep fried the stalk. I wanted to find a method that anyone could eat, not just those of us who never watch what we eat. I discovered a recipe on the Hunter Angler Gardener Cook blog. This is indeed worth making. Remember that cardoon discolors like artichoke hearts do, so make sure it goes immediately into its cooking water after trimming.

Sauteed Cardoon1 lemon
1/2 lb cardoon, trimmed
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 T olive oil
2 T sherry
2 T honey
1/4 c pine nuts, toasted
1 T thyme (fresh)

Bring a pot of salted water to boil and squeeze in the juice of 1 lemon. Cut the cardoon into large pieces and simmer for 45 minutes. Remove and cut into 1/2 inch pieces.
Heat the olive oil in a skillet and add the onion. Saute until softened and beginning to color, then toss in the cardoon for about 2 minutes. Add the sherry and reduce it until it is nearly evaporated, then add the honey, stirring to heat through. Add the pine nuts and cook for another minute or so until the sauce is thick. Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper, finishing with the thyme. Delicious!

Cardoon Potato Gratin:

8-10 stalks Cardoon
2-3 medium potatoes
8 oz grated parmesan cheese
1 pint half and half or cream
S & P to taste

Blanch the cardoon stalks in water that has a splash of vinegar or lemon juice until medium tender. You can peel them if you like. We don't. Cut the cardoon stalks in 1/4 inch crescents, across the grain, like you would celery. Peel the potatoes. Cut the potatoes into batons, about like a french fry. Toss the cut, blanched cardoon stalks with the potatoes directly in a gratin dish. Reserve a handful of the cheese for the top and toss the rest of the cheese with the cardoon/potato mixture. Add the pint of half and half (or cream if using.) Season with salt and pepper.
Bake in a 425 oven 40 minutes or so: until golden brown and the potatoes are all the way through.

Soup of Pureed Cardoons
adapted from Uncommon Fruits and Vegetables by Elizabeth Schneider
Elizabeth said about this recipe: This puree looks and tastes like artichoke hearts: but less work and money.
4 servings

2 pounds cardoons

4 cups broth: beef or other broth
4 cups water
4 small shallots, sliced (or onion, leek, etc. if you don't have shallots on hand)
few sprigs parsley
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, roughtly crushed (I'd use my mortar and pestle for this, you can also try a ziploc bag with a rolling pin)
6 tablespoons write rice, medium or short grain
Salt, White pepper, and lemon juice to taste
2 Tablespoons cold butter
2 Tablespoons thinly sliced toasted almonds

1. Cut off the base and leaves from the cardoon stalks; rinse well, and cut crosswise into 1-2 inch slices. Cover with cold water; bring to a boil, then drain.
2. Add the stock, water, shallots, parsley, coriander, and rice to the cardoon. Simmer, partly covered, until tender - about 45 minutes.
3. Puree mixture very thoroughly in a food processor or hefty blender in batches. Strain through a sieve.
4. Return to pot. Season with salt, white pepper, and lemon juice to tast. Reheat gently. Off heat, stir in the butter. Ladle into heated bowls and sprinkle with almonds.

Below - roasted Cardoon stalks. Fibrous threads have been removed prior to brushing with olive oil and roasting for about 30mins. Described as "a bit chewy but with a lovely artichoke flavour".

2010_03_05-roasted.cardoon.jpg

30.09.12

9779029259?profile=originalThe Cardoon have been a very useful veg throughout winter and have been a big hit with anyone I have given stems to. As you can see above the plants are still going strong....I'm now wondering for how much longer. I read someones elses post on the net that they cut them back and they came again.

Wondering how long before I get flowers also. I've emailed Baker Creek Heirloom Seed to thank them for all the items I bought that did well (Rapini Broccolli, carrots of various types, Strawberry Spinach - almost lost under the front of the Cardoon in the pic above and so far not ulilised) and asking for more info about it's growing habits.

The stems can flop over onto neighbouring plants but are easy cut back (watch out for the small thorns along the edges - these are easily wiped off with the secateurs).

I try not to waste too many but quite a few have ended up back in the bed as worm food. They're just so darned prolific! Nothing seems to set them back. They do wilt a tiny bit in the current dry heat, but a bit of a drink fixes that quickly. I've found a few caterpillars sitting on the leaves but no real sign of damage, I think they ended up there in error or found the leaf not to their liking (rather bitter).

No diseases seem to bother it either.

Definately a keeper for future years. Fingers crossed that I get viable seed from this lot. I still have some left from the original batch and have also given seed to Elaine and Nathan, just in case.

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