fennel (2)

2012/2013 SUMMER FEBRUARY

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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