flowers (13)

ALICE SPRINGS DESERT PARK

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This is the most incredible park - like a combination of Australia Zoo and the best native botanic garden rolled into one. We stopped and chatted with one of the horticulturalists doing some new planting and it was mind boggling the amount of planning that goes into each "region" of plantings.

Lots of (wheelchair friendly) well laid out walking trails, plenty of toilets, a kiosk, gift shop (with actual interesting stuff), animal shows, animal enclosures and displays. Awesome.

Below are some of the birds that performed in the amphitheatre for the bird show.

I should have kept notes during the performance as to which bird was which. My daughter and I don't always agree from memory on the names. Feel free to contradict anything I have written!

Believe this is a Wedge Tailed Eagle. She is only a young bird and was pursued through her performance by a flock of wild crows and a wild WTE.

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Barn Owl

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Magpie, singing on command.

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Buzzard uses rocks to open an "Emu" egg and get the prize within.

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Whistling Kite chasing a lure.

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Emu enclosure....

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....and how to catch and cook an emu!

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The park was full of a huge variety of often flowering native plants. Still trying to name some of them despite buying some local reference books.

Below is a sample of the plants blooming during our visit in July. Thank you to Gary at ASDP for helping name the plants I couldn't.

Pterocaulon sphaletatum (Apple Bush)

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Chysocephalum apiculatum (Common Everlasting)

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Senecio gregorii (Annual Yellowtop)

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Gossypium bickii (Low Desert Rose)

Plant family: Malvaceae. Floral emblem of NT and pretty obviously related to Hibiscus it's also closely related to cotton producing plants. It grows wild here but I only saw isolated plants growing, no groups.

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Dead Finish (Acacia tetragonophylla)

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Clianthus formosus is now Swainsona formosa Sturt Desert Pea floral emblem of SA - self seeds and grows wild around here but is hard to cultivate where you would like it to grow! Also comes in a white form (which I didn't see).

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Wild Tomato, Solanum orbiculatum - edible but bitter. Comes with a warning that many of it's similar looking relatives are toxic.

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Cunninghams Rattle-pod (Crotalaria cunninghamii)

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Grevillea eriostachya (Honey Grevillea)

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Ptilotus latifolius (Tangled Mulla Mulla)

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Lawrencella davenportii (Davenport Daisy)

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Dodonaea microzyga (Brilliant Hopbush)

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Xerochrysum bracteatum (Golden Everlasting)

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Corymbia opaca (Bloodwood, formally Eucalyptus opaca)

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Many of the trees growing in the park had fascinating bark.

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There is a HUGE variety of bird life out here in central Australia. You would need to get hold of a specialist publication to read about them all. The Park had quite a few bird displays, many big enough to walk through, with particular environments and birdlife in residence. Difficult for me to get good photos of these fast moving little creatures with my small camera.

Finches, budgies, other parrots, doves and water birds abound at the natural waterholes. I wasn't lucky enough to see the wild budgies at this time of the year.

One of the enclosures at the park.

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Spinifex pigeon

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Pied Stilt (per my parents)

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Australian Bustard - male and his female - he kept pacing and wouldn't stand still for me!

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There was so much to see and do at the park, I've only covered part of it. Hours of wandering and looking pleasure. I hope I get the chance to come back again during a different season and I hope others get the chance to come out here to visit this incredibly beautiful, diverse and interesting part of the world.

A constant surprise.

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TWO WEEKS IN DAYBORO

I am very fond of Dayboro, the folk are down to earth, the scenery gorgeous. It's still close to amenities but feels "country".  So the opportunity to spend, all up, 8 weeks here is most pleasureable. 

I am staying for two weeks at Lynn and Wayne's place first up - actually having my holiday to cover the period, looking after their four puddies, Jack the (adorable, smart Bull Arab) dog and getting out of looking after the chooks as neighbour Andrea has that job. I just get the free range eggs :)

We did a GV here in 2016  for further information.

The house is a beautiful old Queenslander with great airflow and polished wood floors. The garden a quarter acre of flowers, herbs, veg beds and fruit trees. Wonderful. Pretty much my idea of a dream home....apart from the nutgrass....there is a LOT of nutgrass. It's a real challenge for them.

This is the view I wake to in the morning - it's also a great verandah to sit on at night (no mossies) and sip some red while watching the galas fly over.

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Lynn's front yard has a large area dedicated to bee attracting flowering plants. There are lots of bees - mainly honey, SNB and Blue Banded. 

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Amongst them is this mystery plant which the bees just love! big time. The flowers don't open until it becomes sunny - pale yellow petals with a darker centre. Reminiscent of rosellas and hibiscus....if anyone can name it please.

NOTE: Christa managed to track down the name of this plant which was then confirmed by Jerry C-W. Thank you to both of you:
Yes, Turnera ulmifolia 'Elegans' it is (Turneraceae, Central America). Not very common. Definitely worth saving the seed. 🙂
Kind regards
Jerry

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Some of my charges. Despite being a big intelligent dog Jack is a wuss when it comes to the slightest hint of thunder and needs to be close to his humans.

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Sam, one of four cats and surely the most decorative - he has decided my crop basket is a good place to rest.

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The chickens are very pretty. I'm not up on chicken varieties but some of the prettiest here are Wyandotts which I thought up to this very moment were called Wine Dots! There are also two regular black laying chooks. One of which has a prolapse.

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But the chook with the most personality is fluffy little white Betty. I have no idea what type of chook Betty is (turns out she's a Frizzle) but she lays lovely little eggs and "talks" to me all the time. Vocally asking to be let out of her own little pen in the mornings and following me around when I'm in the backyard, yacking away. Her friend is another small breed I don't know the name of (now know she is a Sebright), very pretty but sturky of me.

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Lynn and Wayne have a big range of fruit trees growing on their block - 

Panama Berries - one of my favourite sweet snacks. This is about half of today's crop (rest eaten before I thought to take a pic).

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Lots of citrus including this Mandarin...

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There's lots of productive orange trees and I think these are perhaps Pummelos or Grapefruit....

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Plenty of ripening Dragonfruit.....

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Two large figs covered in fruit...

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Pawpaw....

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Bananas.....

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Banks of Rosellas that they turn into jams and cordials.....

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Grow tunnel for greens.....

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Pumpkins galore.....

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And a very productive Coffee plant in the front yard that Wayne makes his own coffee out of.....

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Everywhere I go, Jack goes with me. He loves me but I think I must be boring company compared to Mum and Dad who never stop moving and doing stuff. He seems a bit puzzled why I'm out taking pictures when I could be playing catch with him.

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SOJOURN AT KARLA'S - Nov 26 to Feb 25 2017

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I have been so lucky that my first house sit has been somewhere so beautiful. And for three whole months to boot. 

Enough time to sort out the excess of personal belongings I managed to bring with me despite selling, giving away, donating or throwing out the majority of my belongings. I have a rented small 2x2m shed to store photos and a few personal items in. Things I couldn't bear to part with. My many potted plants have gone to dear gardening friends and I know they will be valued, thank you.

I managed to bring with me about 8 car loads of goods. This of course needs to be filtered down to one carload when I leave for the next house sit at Dayboro. To this end I have, of course, bought a larger car! Yet to be collected due to an error in ordering by the car yard. Oh well. 

Living at Karla's is like living in the middle of a gorgeous ultra neat botanical garden with wildlife and chookies thrown in. It's tranquil here - no traffic noises. Cicadas sing outside at dusk, the rooster crows at dawn along with the dawn chorus of local birds; little creatures rustle around in the undergrowth but don't show themselves. Bush turkeys have room to do their thang without being a nuisance in the immediate area. They fly from my giant tree top to another, so long as it'a a bit downhill. Quite a sight.

The garden is filled with texture, colour and artwork. It's beautiful and nourishing to the soul. Something I rather need at the moment.

I have been here three weeks but not had much actual time to work in the garden due to other commitments but have managed to plant some corn, snake beans, okra, sorrel and asian greens. This weekend is taken up with an appointment and staff Christmas party (Karla generously encouraged me to invite visitors). I will also be able to entertain my own family here for Christmas, something I haven't managed to do for many years due to the small area of my own home.

Some pictures of my favourite places and plants around the garden....

Looking back up the drive towards the Quail cage, adorned with Jasmine, under one of the large Poincianas. Karla's quail have managed to incubate their own eggs and there is one surviving baby.

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Some of the flowers about the place. Coreopsis I think (correct me on any errors) and Salvia  There's pineapples growing all over.

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Brazilian Red Cloak plant (Megaskepasma erythrochlamys) per Christa - thank you :)

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Texture and colour everywhere.

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Ixora and Shasta daisies.

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Beautiful Gaura and Crepe Myrtle to attract the bees. 

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Places to sit...

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Ponds of water for the wildlife...

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Dianthus...

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And my favourite, the trio of magpies....

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Zucchini really like it here - four or so plants provide me with a constant supply.

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As do the eggplant....

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Yakon, one of two good sized clumps...

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Flowhive for honey bees....

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Looking down towards the Taj Mahal of chook runs....housing five old chooks and a beautiful rooster.

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Quiet nook under the shade of trees....

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My absolute favourite variety of Rosemary growing in abundance....

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The giant ancient Poinciana out the back, underplanted with a wide variety of colourful plants....

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And the wicking beds planted with cucumber, toms and zuchinni (thank you Karla) with added corn, Lebanese cuc, sorrel, rocket, snake beans and chinese greens. Really liking the wicking beds and the sturdy climbing frames.

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Really nice quick growing cuc and mini caps planted by Karla.

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I'll be here long enough to benefit from the crops I have planted and maybe have some still growing for Karla and her family on their return. 

Hoping to get stuck in to the other two raised wicking beds in coming weeks along with the other vege beds down the side of the house. Wonderful to be somewhere with fresh rain water to drink and veges and herbs to crop for dinner each day :)

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A few storms have come through...mostly wind but some nice rain with it.

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Boxing Day 26/12/16

What a beautiful morning. It's been raining and things are moist and cool. The local birds are happy. So much bird song - wish I knew the names of them all.

After a hectic week at work and Christmas celebrations with family the last two days, I've had the chance this morning to spend some time trimming and cropping in the kitchen garden behind the house and decorative area under the giant blooming Poinciana, while the wicking beds refill. Very pleasant :)

The Snake Beans are growing very well on Karla's incredibly sensible climbing frames. Love them.

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The corn, asian greens, okra, zucchini and rocket are all growing well, despite a few slugs and caterpillars.

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The Okra is blooming.

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I am loving the wicking beds - I think these necessary on a big property like this one where it is too difficult to get around to watering by hand often enough. A lot of work goes into maintaining acreage to the degree that Karla and Bruce do. The gardens are a real credit to them both. I am doing my little bit keeping the back area trimmed and neat but the entire yard is a two (or more!) man job.

And here is the beautiful and dignified Walter with his harem of pretty girls - the pale one, Florence, is his favourite consort. No eggs. Don't know if they are just too old or in a hiatus at the moment.

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And almost forgot - here is the dear little water dragon that inhabits the back garden. Not warmed up when I found him/her this morning and quite approachable.

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Happy New Year 2017! Let's hope it's happier than the last one.

Fair swap with the chookies. They get a big mess of Collard and Asian greens for breakfast and I have two of their eggs made into the yellowest omelet. One of the chookies is an escape artist and likes to get herself outside the fenced run. Naughty girl. She's always there waiting in the morning to be let back in.

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08.01.17

VIDEO taken this morning when I went down the hill at dawn to check on the dragonfruit flowers. Walter in the background greeting the morning along with all the local birds.

NOTE: There don't seem to be many if any fruit forming on the Dragonfruit. Must need hand pollinating.

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25.01.17

Well - here it is already the end of January. We have had some incredibly hot periods, heat waves, and the aircon has been given a workout. I go out to garden around 6am and by 7am I am bathed in sweat. Karla's wicking beds have proven their worth. I fill up the reservoir once a week at weekends and only had to top water new seedling about three times. Some things suffered a bit in the heat (Sorrel didn't like it but the lettuce seedlings have proven surprisingly resilient) but on the whole everything is growing well.

I have been harvesting corn and while the cobs have been small (weather conditions???) they are the tastiest I think I have ever grown.

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The Bok Choy has been growing brilliantly but it now succumbing to the humid conditions with the plants rotting off at the bottom. Never mind, I well and truly had my moneys worth from $2 worth of seedlings.

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The Snake Beans - all the plants have grown well but some are producing smaller fruit which goes to seed remarkably quickly. Never seen this before. There are still more fruit than I can personally use and they have been going to work for the clients to eat.

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The long cuc Karla planted earlier is still growing but not producing. The Lebanese Cuc (below) I planted later has given a few good fruit.

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One of the fruit was left out in the sun all day after picking and became wrinkled. Christa suggested a simple pickling process of vinegar and sugar to create sandwich cuc. 
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2016 SPRING - SEPTEMBER TO NOVEMBER

Verge gardens have been given the ok finally by the Brisbane City Council - a great deal of the credit must go to Jerry Coleby-Williams for years of effort to achieve this.

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Problem is I live in the Moreton Shire, where verge gardens are still frowned on. Never mind. I still have a verge garden and it gives me and passersby pleasure. It's coming along nicely with flowering plants and herbs and starting to look quite pretty. Faces west so tends to flag a bit in the summer heat.

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Readers of my other blogs may remember my attempt at Heliculture or Snail Farming. Which actually turned out very successfully....but I just couldn't bring myself to throw my dear little snails into boiling water. So around Autumn I let them all go free.

Apart from one lone snail I've not seen sign that any survived through winter though they do hibernate in the cool weather. They are really quite delicate and don't fare well in Brisbane's heat without lots of TLC in the form of food, shade, protection from drowning in heavy rain (oddly enough) and bowls of fresh water for soaking in and drinking.

I was quite thrilled, while taking photos of flowers out the front this Spring, to discover these two had found each other and were making snail love :) Hermaphrodites they aren't of one particular sex.

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My new Black Mulberry is producing a handful of fat sweet fruit every couple of days after only a year in the ground. I just love mulberries. Must be one of the most "giving" of fruit trees.

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And thanks to Susanne I have Silk Worms as a project for my grandson, though he is yet to see them.

03.10.16 Clayton came around with his Mum and found the caterpillars quite fascinating.

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The Dwarf Pink Shatoot mulberries are also promising a bumper crop. Very sweet and delicious.

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I had a bit more success this year growing potatoes in the totally decomposed compost pile using store bought chitted spuds (white and purple - exact types unknown).

Now that the plants have flowered and died off I have gone hunting and I'm a little disappointed. All good quality spuds but smaller than I hoped. This is a portion of the total crop. Some still in the ground, some already harvested and eaten. That's a Canistel seed in the basket with them, not a cockroach as a workmate suggested!

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Spring is the time for seed saving from winter cropping plants like this purple bean. Keeping seed in the fridge is best. I don't have the room for this and keep my collection of seed as cool as I can in a big box in the laundry.

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Canadian Wild Lettuce or A Choy seems to be coming into it's own a bit later than the regular lettuce. This plant was acquired as a lettuce substitute for summertime. Leaves are a bit more toothsome than regular lettuce.

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Lots of plants are blooming including the Cranberry Hibiscus. Friend James has turned the hips into a delicious version of Rosella jam.

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I know it's not classically pretty but I really enjoy the spikes of flowers on the Plantain - a useful edible weed that comes up around the garden by itself these days. Source of psyllium but a bit difficult to harvest any useful amount...like Amaranth, I eat the leaves.

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I've struggled in the past to keep Watercress alive in a pond but look how well a few small cuttings have done in this simple little wicking pot made from a rubbish bin. Whether they survive through summer heat is another matter.

03.10.16 Cut the plant right back. It looked all screwed up and sickly - happened very quickly.

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Some of the Portuguese Walking Stick Collards Couve galega are now over two years old. They came into their own again during the cooler months, providing me with beautiful fresh greens, but are now beginning to be afflicted by aphid and caterpillar once again. 

03.10.16 My son gave me a hand to pull out some of the plants as I want to make the garden look nice for potential buyers. The Daleys plant was also pulled out as it looked awful compared with my other Collards.

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The Daleys version of the Walking Stick Collard is doing well also but so not worth the large amount of $ paid for it. Never mind, it was an interesting exercise to do a comparison.

03.10.16 Pulled out. Not looking attractive.

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Having no luck growing large capsicum I've grown very fond of the mini capsicums I buy from the shops (fruit below are my own home grown). Seed is immediately planted out while fresh and more often than not comes up.

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I seem to have Swede or Rutabaga growing - don't remember planting any seed but sometimes I just go out there and broadcast seed around that needs using up. Very fond of Swede roasted or in stews.

03.10.16 Eaten :)

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Some of the long pawpaw on the self sown plant are finally ripening. They have taken much longer than the classic round yellow ones. I seem to remember the fruit being redder last time around. Friends assure me these are still "red" pawpaw. Very nice eating though not quite as sweet as the yellow in the front yard.

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17.09.16

Lordy I feel productive today! And I haven't even broken a sweat.

My mower guy, Josh, has turned up to make the yard look neat and tidy without me getting stressed over the mower and while I was talking with him out the front, two truckloads of Samoan tree loppers were driving by, must have seen the look of yearning (for trees lopped) in my eyes. They stopped and we came to an agreement to cut back the ailing (dead branches) Tibouchinas on the front verge.

The big guy in charge, Silila, really wanted to get stuck into the now overgrown Lillypilly at the porch gate but I just couldn't afford to have both done. Pleased to have the T's cut back though. The boys just did a basic chain saw job without finesse but it's good enough.

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Evidence that my old dog Hugo still has it in him. He disappeared for longer than usual on one of his night time toilet breaks last night and I found this next morning. Good dog.

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The backyard is a mass of flowering plants, including these Mustard Greens, lettuce, broccoli, nasturtium. My SN Bees and honeybees are having a field day along with lots of other insects creating new seed for next year.

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24.09.16

What a truly beautiful day it is. Sunny and warm without the heat of summer. I am dedicating this weekend to garden pottering and resting after a particularly grueling week at work.

The Jaboticaba is an absolute mass of flowers and for the first time I have seen my bees working away at pollinating. In the last month the plant has already produced two small crops of fruit as an enticement to this major effort. In a matter of weeks I will have a huge crop of fruit to eat and share.

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You can just see one of the honeybees working away at a flower, centre - under the branch.

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Rob had some fake butterflies in his garden for deterring pests (they think the plant is already "taken") and I liked them so much I went looking on eBay for some. The solar were quite expensive so I settled for these incredibly cheap jobs @ 10 for $1.67 delivered to Australia! They are well made with quality butterflies, little springs and a fine metal stick - great for sticking into the flesh of tall plants or the soil.

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The Dwarf Wurtz is once again flowering up. I also hope it's this year I will actually get some fruit.

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The Dwf Macadamia is also blooming again. It produced plenty of small nuts last year but they all fell off on the first hot day.

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26.09.16

What a dreadful morning. I have made the heart breaking decision to euthanase my darling Hugo as his health had deteriorated so much despite medications. Will miss you so much Honey Bear.

9779235458?profile=originalI was thinking about how much we love our pets. They are really so much more than just pets they are loyal loving uncritical companions.

I have owned (sometimes jointly) around 12 cats and 6 dogs over the years and like kids, we're not supposed to have a favourite, but Hugo was definitely my favourite. He was funny, had a sense of humour, bossy, loving, didn't expect much more than his daily run up and down the front fence after any dogs silly enough to walk by with their owners, and of course food on time. He was a stickler for food on time.

I was never supposed to have Hugo. My youngest daughter was working at Puppy Kingdom 14yrs back. We already had two young dogs (Miniature Pinschers Gretel and Freya was on order from the breeder) and our council frown on more than two dogs in a household. I admired the pack of Schipperke pups when they came in (they look like black kittens) but knew they weren't for me. Then one of the tiny pups got very sick. Erin was concerned as it wasn't getting the care he needed to survive so she got permission to bring him home. I carried that pup around in my coat pocket (it was winter) to keep him warm and just plain fell in love. He was mine and I wouldn't part with him. The pet shop owner sold him to me at half price. What a bargain.

For the first time in my life I am petless. Well, apart from four old Cockatiels which I will have to find a home for and some silkworms in a box. It's a sorry state to be in. Being petless is also the cue to sell the house jointly owned with my daughter.

So this is the end...or it will be soon, if the house sells quickly. Fifteen years in one spot. Almost the longest I spent living in any one house (my husband used to like to move every two years, which isn't good for a gardener).

It's not to everyone's taste with the majority of the yard dedicated to growing food, but hopefully someone with a passion for gardening will come along and love it. With all the mature fruit trees that I waited years to start cropping. The raised beds full of beautiful soil that I created myself from scratch. The unusual plants it has taken me years to collect. Perhaps with the honey bees and maybe the native bees though I suspect I will have to sell them separately. Not everyone wants to keep bees. How the hell do we move a large top bar honey bee hive?? With great care I guess.

04.10.16 Today brought home Hugo's ashes. My dog in a box :(

I was going to sprinkle him around his "sisters" graves but I find I want him with me at my house in the future. He will stay in his box until then.

09.10.16

Lainie, Cameron and their daughter Halle have been kind enough to offer a good home to my four old Cockatiels - Odette who must be about 17/18, William about 13, Primrose about 15/16, and Baby Bob about 10.

No pets left apart from a box of silkworms. Very quiet here now.

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The native bees have gone to Bob Luttrells, mainly due to the experimental honey supers he had on them and his interest in the DNA of my "not quite" Carbonarias (see hive split blog). I will buy a hive of this same strain of bee back when I have a garden to put them in. Basically my own bees back which is nice.

Many of my pots have gone to good homes - some with friends, and some with my lovely neighbours. Many of the remaining pots will go to the Keperra Community Garden.

A huge thank you to Phil for coming out yesterday and helping me do some of the hard physical jobs (and then he went looking for more!). I just needed that motivation. The yard is looking very tidy and ready for new plantings and new owners.

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While shoveling the compost pile (that was on the right in the pic) into the beds as top dressing for planting, I found a whole basket full of potatoes in there. Very nice too. Had some roasted with dinner last night.

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As for being petless, nature doesn't want that to happen to me and a little tortoise shell cat has moved in under my house. She is a funny little thing - comes close to rub herself against me but hisses while she's doing it. I will try to catch her and take her to the RSPCA. If not, the new owners will find they own a cat along with the house.

Well, the house sold within some five days of being on the market. I got the price I wanted so I am happy enough. 

The lady who bought it, Linda, is a keen gardener which makes it all feel a bit better. I hope she gets as much enjoyment out of the lovely little house and garden as I did. 

I'm off to look after a friends house and garden for some months while she is overseas. From there I can sort out what is next.

THE END........ for the time being anyway.

Oh - forgot to add - the b. Dwf Wurtz avo is finally fruiting. Waits until I'm leaving blasted thing lol.

Plants I want when the dust settles and I am in my own place again:

MORINGA

SABA NUT

LONGAN

BANANA - various

ROSEMARY - upright bush type

CUSTARD APPLE

TAHITIAN SPINACH

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2016 WINTER - JUNE TO AUGUST

04.06.16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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27.06.16

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

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

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

03.07.16

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

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

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Cauli action at last! Can't wait.

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

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

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

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

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

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

50 THINGS TO DO WITH FRESH SORREL

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03.07.16

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

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09.07.16

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

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

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

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

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31.07.16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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07.08.16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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29.08.16

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Lettuce of many type going to seed for next winter.

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

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

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Read more…

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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JABOTICABA - Myrciaria cauliflora

9779173078?profile=originalPlanted somewhere around Spring 2010 (Sept/Oct/Nov). The tree as it looks at 11.02.16.

This pretty little tree is the epitome of easy to grow, almost pest free, multiple fruiting sweet deliciousness in my book. I just love it.

It is a small leafed Jaboticaba bought from Daleys and planted maybe 5yrs ago.

Daleys now appear to have quite a few different varieties on offer including one with giant fruit! Check out their website: HERE

I mention the tree in a spring blog 2010 September to November, so it must have been planted around then. I planted a yellow one bought from the BOGI fair at the same time but it never grew and died a couple of years later. Root bound by the looks.

04.05.2011 Young tree.

04/05/11 Black Jaboticaba, choko (rt) and raspberry (left).

05.10.2013 Blurry shot of the first fruit forming. Perhaps three years from planting.

First Jobitcaba fruit :)

24.10.2013 first crop.

Yum....Jaboticaba

22.04.2014 second crop forming.

2nd ever Jaboticaba crop

16.10.2014....and picked.

Jaboticaba harvest

12.01.15

9779173476?profile=original17.01.2015 getting quite good crops.

Jaboticaba

27.09.15 New flowers forming.

9779146085?profile=original08.11.15 From flower to fruit approximately 5 weeks.

9779174289?profile=original14.11.15 Cropped.

9779147668?profile=original22.11.2015 making Shrub drink from the crop - RECIPE HERE.

MAKING SHRUB

07.02.2016

CROP

11.02.16 New fruit forming immediately after last crop.

9779181465?profile=original02.03.16 Three weeks later those fruit are starting to colour up.

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12.03.16 Four or five weeks from flower and a full basket of fruit. I've already eaten quite a lot during the week. They sweeten each day.

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03.07.16

Much earlier than expected the plant is putting on flowers again. Could be a reaction to the unexpected warm weather up until about two weeks back.

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31.07.16

Fruit forming from the blooms shown above AND new flowers. Incredible.

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18.09.16 And the tree has already produced two small crops of sweet fruit.

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24.09.16 And the tree is in full snowy bloom working on a bumper crop. I have trimmed back some of the outer branches which didn't have flowers on them so give a better view of developing fruit.

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For the first time I have seen my honeybees pollinating the flowers. Bees in both photos.

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16.10.16 Repeat cropping. Delicious.

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2015 SPRING - SEPTEMBER TO NOVEMBER

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

29.11.15 Plants have both died back completely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

05.10.15

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

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

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

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

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

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

31.10.15 Growing well and putting out new leaves.

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

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

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

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

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

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

9779169459?profile=original31.10.15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9779172076?profile=original01.11.15

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

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

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

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

09.11.15

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

16.11.15

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

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

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

9779172685?profile=original21.11.15

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

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

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

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

All cut back and going to be binned this time.

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

Yummm can't wait :D

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

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

9779174497?profile=originalFirst of the Okra crop.

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

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

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

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

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

9779178689?profile=original29.11.15

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

Room for another plant!!

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

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2013 SPRING SEPTEMBER TO NOVEMBER

9779084087?profile=originalThe season has started out dry. The mornings are still crisp and cool but the days are occasionally hot. The tank is down to 1000lt so I'm back to using town water to keep things alive, with a new longer hose that reaches all parts of the backyard.

"Tidy me" wants to clean up the backyard, but "messy me" is saying leave it alone! as both the honey and native bees are still enjoying the nasturtium trailing all over the place and the mass of yellow flowers on the blooming Red Mizuna, now developing into seed.

9779085053?profile=originalSo many cherry toms I picked half a bucket full the other day and tried (unsuccessfully) to turn them into jam. Now have three jars of Swt Tomato Sauce.. for icecream ?? ...doesn't sound quite right.

9779085663?profile=originalThe new front yard garden is growing well beyond my expectations. All the herbs and seeds planted (toms. tomatillo, rocket, flowers) are ultra green and healthy. Must be the decomposing grass clippings which aren't just nutritious but also act like a sponge, holding the water.

This is the bed back at the end of May...

9779086079?profile=original..and now, three and a bit months later.

9779086487?profile=originalThe three surviving rhubarb are doing well.

9779087661?profile=originalThe pepino are growing and cropping so well on this western side of the house. I've had enough to share some with neighbours and visitors - trying to create converts!

9779087877?profile=originalI've planted Pepino all along the front fence. At some point no doubt, passers-by will realise that the big globular fruit are worth nicking :/ This bed has been mulched with more donated grass clippings.

9779088868?profile=original9779090272?profile=originalThe Dwf Wurtz avocado is blooming profusely. Don't hold out much hope that this will be a year when fruit set as the plant is still only 3yrs old.

9779091070?profile=originalRemembered to check the yellow dragonfruit the other day and was pleased to find two had finally yellowed. They take much longer to ripen than the red ones and are much thornier (multi-pronged thorns fall off when ripe - right onto the ground where I can stick myself with them!).

Severely disappointed in the size of the fruit - each providing two teaspoons of fruit lol, but what fruit! The flavour was much more intense than the mild flavoured red. There are two more fruit left on the plant, both are four teaspoon fruit!

9779091467?profile=originalThe Jaboticaba continues to grow well and doesn't mind the friendly choko giving it a hug. A couple more years to wait for fruit on this one though there looks to be some tiny nobs suspicioulsy like little flower buds.

9779092082?profile=originalThe strawberry patch has been incredible this season - I can forgive it for giving me almost nothing in previous years. No real problems - the odd snail and some fruit rotting on the plant. All normal stuff.

9779093064?profile=originalMade some Cassava Cake following Joseph's recipe HERE.  Quite good. Certainly substantial.

9779093659?profile=originalSo pleased with the sweet potato tower experiment that I've set up three new bags (waiting for Bunnings to get the promised frames in).

Note the different leaf types - this is the white skinned/ purple centred. This one doesn't shoot as well from the tuber as the others. Begged some cuttings from Joseph....

9779094280?profile=originalPurple skinned/white centred....

9779094673?profile=original...and purple skinned/purple centred (original cuttings from Ann Gibson).

9779095073?profile=originalSlightly blurry pic of the Seduction rose bursting into bloom again. One hardy rose that one!

9779096658?profile=originalThe Loofah has two nicely shaped fruit on it. Enough sponges for me for a year or more.

9779097256?profile=originalCarolyn's chilli plant is showing strong regrowth after a cutback and feed. Trying, once again, to grow Ginger in the blue pot from store bought rhizome. Matthew has since given me some better root stock but still waiting for these to show their head above ground.

9779097673?profile=originalThe Dwf Pink Shatoot mulberry is showing new growth and fruit developing despite it being so dry. Fruit is ripening and delicious! Scott and Alison were visiting and we all managed a little taste.

9779098458?profile=originalThe Ruttabaga (swede) was a dismal failure. Plants were sickly from the start. Tubers were bitter. Threw the lot on the compost pile.

9779098083?profile=originalCouldn't resist buying these cheap hand made junk-owls from Albany Gdns Nursing Home stall. Bit of fun :)

9779099453?profile=originalCrumbled and bought a couple of peanut seedlings from Bunnings as I was having no success growing my own from seed. Then found one growing near the fig this morning.

9779099275?profile=originalEvan's Babaco is putting out new growth. Keeping it in a pot seems to be part of the trick of keeping this alive. Will eventually plant it out in a mounded/raised area....somewhere, lord knows.

9779099688?profile=original14.09.13

Very excited to find dozens of APANTELE GLOMERATUS hatching out this morning from cocoons on my brassica leaves. These little predators of caterpillars were in turn being hunted by tiny spiders.

Their tiny bodies are only 0.5cm long and they were flying in clouds around their hatching spots, or just drying out their little wings after hatching.

19.09.13

Paul Wood delivered my new top bar beehive on Sunday :) Very beautiful and my early Christmas prezzie to me (thanks to the tax dept xx).

We placed it so the girls would hopefully create a flight path out over the raised beds but they had their own ideas, and fly out to the left of the one entrance left open (to help keep marauders at bay until they have created a strong hive).

9779101088?profile=original05.10.13

One good storm and a bit of drizzle here and there hasn't been enough to break the dry and I'm long back to watering to keep important plants alive. Annette Mcfarlane was telling us September is generally the dryest month of the year. Didn't know that :/ but good info to have. My cucumber seedlings are still struggling along but won't be planting out any more seed until some decent rain comes and deeply waters the beds.

My hive has produced at least one Queen cell that I can see from the viewing panel. Paul wants me to report when it hatches. He was telling me last night that the hive will probably have a few of these cells throughout and the Queens will either fight it out for supremacy or the workers will decide who lives and who dies. It would be wonderful for me to catch the mating flight, but unlikely.

New FT job starting on Tuesday with Burnie Brae as the Activities Officer :) Can hopefully link some of the stuff I do through BLF and the upcoming Burpengary Community Gardens workshops with this.

I've put a smallish water feature behind the hive to provide them with water. Added two of my food plants - Kangkong and Lebanese Cress, to help them access the water without falling in. Yet to see a bee anywhere near it or the bird bath, so have no idea where they're getting their water from at present.

9779101474?profile=originalPepino fruit have been attacked by Fruit Fly....which finally got me motivated to refresh the Wild May fruit fly trap. Supposed to be done every couple of weeks apparently :/ Good grief.

13.10.13

Weather is still hot and crispy dry. No chance of planting any seeds or seedlings and have to find the time to water important plants now that I am back at work full time at BB.

Paul (Wood) came over yesterday for my catch-up visit - we opened the hive and seperated the bars carefully using a large knife run up between the comb and the wall of the hive and then lifting the bar straight up. It looked from the outside as if the combs were crossed between the bars, but inspection showed the combs were simply very wide or built from one side of the bar.

One sticking-out bit on one comb, near the bar, had to be removed carefully - cut right out. The other end was also bulging, but cutting this out would mean little holding the comb in place at the top, so it was just parred back. Had my first taste of my own honey :) Biased, but it was extremely delicious. Very intense flavour.

9779101879?profile=originalOne good thing - my Jaboticaba (black), which can't be more than three or four years old, is producing a few fruit. I've been told repeatedly that it won't fruit until about the 7th year. Perhaps this is when it gets into full swing with fruiting. Pity the Yellow J. died.

9779103055?profile=original23.10.13

Finding it difficult to fit in gardening/watering time with the new job at BB. Out there watering at 5.15am or after work late in the arvo which isn't good.

Checked on the Jaboticaba the other day and was stunned to see they had grown into this in a mere two weeks. Still too firm to pick but can't be too far off being edible. 10 little fruit. My very first :)

9779103472?profile=originalA few zuchinni developing on the plants bought as seedlings from Bunnings one day. Front yard.

9779103880?profile=originalThe Nectarine is doing very well out the front, but the heat is playing havoc with the other plants. This is the end that gets the most sun - the toms are getting sunburned.

9779104096?profile=originalThe slightly cooler end (left) with the Rhubarb is faring a little better.

9779104691?profile=originalThe few Cardoon plants that struggled through the wet winter have decided to go to seed without every having been any use. Never mind, will give me fresh seed and the bees love the purple flowers.

9779105856?profile=originalOut the back. I refilled the middle bed with the compost pile at the weekend - have planted Edamame (ex Joseph) top end and Snake Beans down the bottom end. Have some corn seed planted in seedling trays (Bub helped) for the middle.

Had to replant most of the cucumber seed on Bed 3 (left) as only two of the Suyo Long took. The Prof. Mary Sheehan all died in the heat and I don't think I have more seed.

Still very dry weather despite a bit of rain about a week back. Daily watering required to keep things alive. The custard apple at the back corner of the pic has dropped all it's leaves again despite a deep watering. It always seems to come back.

9779105495?profile=originalThe Lychee doesn't seem to have set any fruit at all. Pepino are all being ruined by FF.

09.11.13

Only a few more weeks of "spring" left. Hot and dry on the whole though this morning is exceptionally beautiful weather and temp. Very peaceful with just the sound of birds and the odd car going past and woof from my dogs. Nice. I have a pretty little pigeon turns up each morning just after dawn looking for a free feed outside the aviary. Unfortunately the doves have also twigged and there will now be an explosion of dove babies on the scene.

I walked outside the front door with a cuppa this morning to be greeted with an intense sound of buzzing and nectar birds feeding. The Lillypilly in the front yard was in full bloom again, something it does regularly throughout the year, but this time my very own bees were making the most of the blossom. Very nice to see :)

9779106860?profile=originalOne of the girls at work.....

9779107873?profile=originalI have finally! gotten around to re-doing the pots on the front porch. Little heartbreaking to dump the non-productive plants I've been carefully nurturing for over a decade onto the compost pile but they are only plants. The strawberry pot (useless thing) is going to a neighbour...eventually. It's d'd heavy to move.

9779108687?profile=originalHanging baskets have been replanted with herbs and flowers.....

9779109899?profile=originalNew pots have been planted with Tahitian Spinach and the one remaining Babaco (from Evan)....

9779110861?profile=original...and the very pretty Purple Yam bought from my fruit market some time back and now growing well. Needs a bigger pot eventually.

9779111075?profile=originalCocoyam bought from Yandina Community Gdns for $2. Planted up with some herbs and flowers.

9779111689?profile=original14.11.13

We have rain! Through the night and it seems to be a reasonable amount. Things should start growing again soon.

A few carrot plants are going to seed, first time ever to me.

9779111299?profile=originalOne of the three surviving Cardoon is blooming. The prettiest thing.

9779112272?profile=originalPurple potatoes from Joseph are growing strongly.

9779113277?profile=originalBoth figs, this white one in a pot and the black one in the garden, are both developing little fruit. Look HERE to see how the tiny Fig Wasp (there seems to be a few different varieties) pollinate the flowers.

9779114090?profile=originalElderflower cuttings are growing well. Being warned about suckering with these plants but I am looking forward to making cordial from the flowers. One of the cuttings is already flowering and normally I would cut this off, but it is such a hardy plant I don't think it's necessary.

9779115656?profile=originalThe Youngberry is cropping also, enough for two or three of the large berries per day. Must take a pic.

19.11.13

Here's the Youngberry fruit. Nothing mindblowing but quite nice - tart/sweet flavour and a juicy mouthful.

9779115866?profile=original

The Dwf Ducasse bunch is plumping up nicely.

9779116483?profile=original

Here's more of the Cardoon blooming - the pollinators, bees, beetles and ants, just love these gorgeous flowers.

9779116895?profile=originalThe native beehive is still going great guns. I've moved them a tich closer to the Pineapple Sage and added a potplant that helps hold down the lid and will provide shade during summer as it grows.

9779117688?profile=originalWe had quite an intense hail/rain/wind storm here last night around 5pm. Just before I had to go out for dinner! Small hail, not a lot of damage.

9779117899?profile=original9779118500?profile=original9779119669?profile=original23.11.13

Almost at the end of Spring. After this weeks storms and bits of rain, the grass is greening (means mowing) and the fruit trees are blooming.

The Custard Apple dropped all it's leaves, promptly put out shoots and is now flowering.

9779120101?profile=originalThe Carombola is following suit....

9779119295?profile=original

9779120679?profile=original...and the Soursop.

9779121686?profile=original9779122257?profile=originalLittle eggplant seedlings are self sowing happily in Bed 3...

9779122875?profile=original...and the Asparagus is making a comeback.

9779123064?profile=originalI harvested my first honey yesterday. Clumsily done at 5am due to time contraints. Paul suggests more like 10am when the workers are out, which means weekends only.

9779123294?profile=original24.11.13

Good rain last night! Couldn't have planned it better for a Sunday morning at home. Have now planted out all the plants and seedlings I've been nurturing along in pots waiting for some wet weather:

Jicama, Jeruselum Artichoke, Purple Yam, Cardoon, Ginger, Elderflower, Pigeon Pea, Salvias of various types, Warrigal Greens (Tetragonia tetragonioides or New Zealand Spinach), Five Spice (Coleus amboinicus var variegatus - described as a cooking herb with an Oregeno type flavour).

Below: Warrigal Greens

Below: Five Spice

large-prod-9583962-Coleus_amboinicus_var.jpg?osCsid=f718e2d91c09805715e8aa8b4aa052cd

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2014 AUTUMN MARCH to MAY

9779087054?profile=originalI've just noticed that every pic is labelled 2013. I've been stupid enough to pick the wrong year each time I reload the camera with fresh batteries.

Good grief, it's Autumn again!

Bit of a lack of rain and some quite hot days in the last few weeks but the garden has been productive enough, for me anyway.

I've SMS'd about 12 mower guys in the hope of getting some decent grass clippings (no rubbish/tree-bits etc) dropped off and to my delight there was a pile waiting there for me yesterday. Very valuable free resource for replenishing the garden and raised beds. If they're not completely organic, it balances out with the fact they they're free and ultimately good for the garden.

Using no chemicals in the garden I get quite a lot of wildlife visiting. The native bees are a constant pleasure - mostly the Blue Banded and Leaf Cutter but there has been a smallish (about the size of Leaf Cutter) black, very fast, bee out there recently. I followed it around but it's too quick to get a good look at. Managed to capture, if a tad fuzzy, two of the BB bees on the purple ginger this morning.

9779087654?profile=original9779088254?profile=originalVery pleased to see some seedlings have come up from the last fruit of the old pawpaw that fell over recently. Would hate to lose that "blood line".

NOTE: 05.04.14 These are growing strongly and have tripled in size. 26.04.15 These plants are now starting to produce fruit.

9779088661?profile=originalFirst time I've ever grown Rosellas and I've had good return from four or five plants. Picked a heap yesterday arvo after returning from work with the intention of making some jam. In my exhausted state (Friday night) I managed to turn the hot plate onto it's highest setting and burned the lot. Yech. Will try again soon.

NOTE: Have managed to ruin two batches of Rosella Jam. Not paying enough attention to it while it's cooking, not doing.....what??? I just don't know but it's horrible. Have ordered Grandmas Jam Making book lol. Turned the last of the pods into cordial, but even that doesn't taste very good.

26.04.15 A few weeks back I helped the good folk of Sandgate Community Garden make jam....successfully. I just hope I can remember for the next time I have my own fruit. Did not grow it this year.

9779088867?profile=originalOne of the Tamarillo in particular has been producing plenty of good fruit. Enough to enjoy a couple every day. Very nice. Such an easy small tree to grow and no fruit fly issue. Just needs it water.

NOTE: This tree has been giving me daily high quality fruit for some weeks now.

9779090076?profile=originalThe Carombola produced a huge crop. This is maybe a quarter of it. All fruit fly damaged, all damaged from hitting the ground from height. I still get quite a bit to eat each day and have made one jar of "jam" which is more like Carombola toffee and has to be levered out of it's jar, but very tasty. Nathan had the same experience making jam from the fruit I gave him oddly enough.

9779090865?profile=originalMy bee girls are very healthy and working hard, bringing back pollen and nectar for the now nearly full hive. So many of them a lot of them have to spend the night outside clustered around the entrance. Toads hang out under the hive to catch any that fall. I've killed 6 of them this week in the freezer.

9779091655?profile=originalVery excited! The first crop of Dwf Ducasse is ready to pick. Most will end up in the dehydrator.

NOTE: The whole bunch has been dehydrated and is very good eating. My sweet treat after dinner.

26.04.15 I've cropped another bunch and two more are growing.

9779092460?profile=originalCan't praise Bush Basil highly enough as a bee supporting plant. All the bees love it and it hasn't stopped blooming for months.

26.04.15 I cut this bush back a month or so ago (to get at the clump of Vetiver). So far very little signs of regeneration.

9779092300?profile=originalAnd the other plant they love is Salvia of any kind. This photo doesn't do this pretty light blue plant justice. They add so much to the garden.

9779093285?profile=originalIn the front garden this white eggplant is growing well and producing lots of tender fruit.

NOTE: Don't leave these white eggplant decoratively sitting on the plant too long as they go quite seedy.

26.04.15 Don't like these white ones for eating. Not nearly as good as the other varieties.

9779093673?profile=originalAlso in the front garden, I bought two red pawpaw seedlings recently (Bunnings or Masters?) and luckily for me, one has turned out to be female.....

NOTE 26.04.15 Turned out to be yellow. So much for labelling. But very good fruit all the same.

9779094455?profile=original...and one male. I thought in my innocence that they were bi-sexual so I've been very lucky getting both sexes.

9779094665?profile=original9779095083?profile=originalTwo remaining out of three zuchinni plants just keep growing and giving. One of favourite treats when I get home each day is to eat a baby with flower attached. Very yummy and I feel like I've had my fresh greens.

NOTE: Down to one plant as of 20.03.14 but it's still producing. These plants seem to enjoy the open space in the front yard. They dislike being put into areas with poor air flow.

9779095878?profile=originalNote how long the stem has gotten over the many weeks this plant has been growing and producing.

9779096293?profile=original20.03.14

Three work days off after a minor op on my arm yesterday. No pain, no stitches. Just a heap of bruising.

9779097054?profile=originalMy one and only ever successful watermelon, but what a beauty. Delicious to the last bit. Stars & Moon from seedling bought from the market.

9779097467?profile=originalSome of the crop the other day. The last of the Dragonfruit, most of the remaining eggplant and daily Tamarillos. The squishy bits on some of the Dragonfruit were easily cut off, cause is debatable - could be the current dry weather or being left on the plant too long. Have a beautiful big mess of dried Dwf Ducasse banana that I'm happily indulging in daily as well. Spoilt!

Figs have just finished but the plant is developing new fruit despite the current dry spell. I try to give it water a couple of times per week.

NOTE: The fig dropped the developing fruit. Must have been too dry for it.

26.04.15 Some nice fruit from the fig. They are again developing another crop.

9779098454?profile=originalBlurry pic of some of the Rosella crop. I've managed to ruin two batches of jam. Buying Grandmas Jam Book in an effort to learn where I go wrong. I think neglect, once I have it in the pots, is a big one :/

Enough left out there for one more attempt.

NOTE: Boiled up to make cordial but even that doesn't taste very good, unlike the first batch I made. Ran out of white sugar and used palm sugar but that shouldn't make much difference.

9779098293?profile=originalLillypilly was covered in birds and bees the other day enjoying the second crop of flowers and nectar in a short period of time.

9779098893?profile=original26.03.14

Some overnight rain the last couple of nights, just enough to wet all the seedlings put in on Sunday c/- Caboolture Markets. Broccoli, broccolini, white cauli, snow peas, climbing beans, kohlrabi, mizuna, cos lettuce, rocket, eggplant ("globe"....not much of a description but worth a go at $1).

One of the mower men I SMS'd has been kind enough to leave me two piles of grass. Very valuable asset when replenishing the beds.

Rhys delivered my snail farm a couple of weeks back. Very nicely made and very grateful for their help :)

Have set it up with some timber for holding food and water provided by Heath using well seasoned old timber from Vanessa's reno. I have my quality chook food with added molasses.....just need the snails. A bit of wet weather and hopefully they will come out to play.

See HERE for the photos and information from the visit to Glasshouse Gourmet Snails.

NOTE: The resident rat has eaten all the snails around the yard, including those in the snail box. Found the stash of empty shells under the pump cover.

9779092690?profile=original9779094090?profile=original30.03.14

I have snail, singular.

Well actually I have put four in there so far but this is the biggest. Here it is escaping away from the snail food :/ as fast as it's little pad will take it. THESE TURNED OUT TO BE TRAMP SNAILS, A PEST.

NOTE: 05.04.14 Found one snail and one large slug eating the grain mix last night. The slug was quickly relocated into the regular bed. I try to water out the farm each morning to keep it moist and the bowl full.

9779100483?profile=original9779100867?profile=originalBeautiful overcast morning after some good rain these last few days so I'm planting out the local garlic ex Elaine and the NZ Yam or Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) which has been sitting happily in the crisper section of the fridge for the last two or three months and obligingly sprouted for me.

Really like these. Roasted they taste like little packets of mashed potato.

NOTE: Wondered why no shoots so checked on them yesterday, 12.04.14, and every single tuber had rotted away with barely anything left to show they had been there.

May - found one plant still growing. Pulled it up thinking it was a weed (hey, it is an Oxalis!) and have replanted it. Seems to be doing ok if slow.

NOTE 26.04.15 - Have just done a potato growing workshop and I suspect these Oca, like spuds, DO NOT LIKE TOO MUCH WATER when growing.

9779101289?profile=originalPlanted last weekend, heaps of Snow Pea seedlings from Caboolture Mkt. Can't have too many Snow Peas :)

9779102261?profile=originalBed 3 - Snow Peas, Mizuna, Kolhrabi, silverbeet.

NOTE: 26.04.15 The Mizuna grew on forever and were not very nice eating. Don't bother again.

9779102864?profile=originalBelow - same bed 01.05.14. Kohlrabi and Mizuna well chewed by caterpillars - I found squashing them in situ put off further damage. They should all recover.

9779103070?profile=originalBed 1 below - cauli and broccoli along with some original plants - rocket and Asian Parsnip which I hope will go to seed.

9779103086?profile=originalSame bed 01.05.14. I did add Dave Blake's ?? (product name forgotten - will have to talk with Dave. See discussion):

9779103870?profile=original05.04.14

As mentioned above, I've found one snail eating the grain mix last night. I find a new snail about every second day so will gradually build up the numbers in the farm with any luck. I call this a Slow Hobby. Nothing fast about snail farming. (26.04.15 Tramp Snail - a pest as it turns out).

To my delight I've found some quality asparagus spears growing, no doubt spurred on by the recent rain. All eaten by me on the spot. None photographed!

Off to visit Jana and Roman Spur today at their suburban New Farm home. Will have to take lots of pics.

The red pawpaw (yellow!!) are producing nice little fruit. I did attempt to pollinate the flowers but to be honest, could see no actual pollen changing hands. Nature might have taken care of the process just as well. (26.04.15 Which it does - this yellow fruiting tree has turned out to be a great producer of quality fruit).

9779104280?profile=originalHave finally grown and cropped some ginger. The freshest I have ever eaten!

9779105053?profile=originalAnd the Cocoyam is finally settling into it's big pot and showing some decent growth.

NOTE 26.04.15 This plant has never thrived nor gotten any bigger. I've been waiting for some growth so I can try eating some tubers. They need a better spot than this pot to grow in, something like a nice bog.

9779105275?profile=original13.04.14

Thanks to Matt (returned to Singapore and offloading plants) I finally have a blooming Clitorea ternatea who's edible blue flowers are used a great deal in Asian cooking.

See HERE for ideas and uses (thanks Joseph).

9779105859?profile=originalSnail farm - I've been collecting one or two new snails a day (Tramp Snails!). They hang around water so find them in the waterchestnut pot or the bee watering pot most often. I should have maybe 15 or so in there but only ever see three or four at a time. One empty shell spoke of a maurauder, possibly a rodent. It's crossed my mind that some have been escaping and I've been recapturing the same ones over and over!

9779106080?profile=original21.04.14

It is the sweetest Easter weather imaginable. Right temp, no rain, peaceful, birds singing, time off to do what I want, dogs pestering me to "love me love me" all day long. I'm eating maybe four substantial meals a day - when I work I eat two small and one big dinner. Drinking a bit more wine than usual. Life is good right at this moment.

The rat ate all my snails :( I found empty shells in the box and lots of empty shells under the pump cover where dogs tell me the little sod has been hanging out. Never mind. There will be more snails or I might just make a special trip to the Glasshouse Gourmet snail people and buy some mature stock. Will have to make sure I close the box each night so the rat doesn't get in for an expensive meal. (SEE THE SNAIL BLOG for the full story).

The mice are getting into the aviary. They are squeezing right through the 1cm diameter wire, something I've never seen them do before. Maybe I've selectively bred a smaller, slimmer species of mouse! Gretel is gone and she was my best mouser. Blind Freya picked one off outside the aviary last night and was justly proud of herself.

The yard is mowed and it looks tidy for a time. Had breakfast out with some of the ladies from BLF at the Paleo Cafe at Northlakes yesterday, very good food.

Off to Bellbunya tomorrow for a three day break. Took some pics of crop happening in the garden - mostly eggplant and Carombola - but the batteries refuse to co-operate and I will have to load them later.

Did get a couple of shots of the Pineapple Sage which was just covered in various types of bees this morning. The other morning it was the Bush Basil beside it getting all the attention, now empty of enterprise. You can just make out some of my Tetragonula carbonaria bees in this shot. There were dozens.

9779106701?profile=original22.04.14

Very excited to find the Carombola producing another good crop of fruit, this time free of fruit fly damage. I was hoping to take some to Bellbunya with me today but the green one I picked the other day still shows no sign of ripening. Must leave them on the tree as long as possible - at least until they start to turn colour to pale golden by themselves, but need to catch them before they fall and ruin.

9779106877?profile=originalAlso pleased to find the Jaboticaba producing it's second crop of fruit this year. Now that's it's started producing at last hopefully I can expect fruit regularly.

NOTE: 02.05.14 all ripe and eaten.

26.04.15 Tree cropped maybe three times since this shot. Nothing out there at the moment, not even some flowers.

9779107676?profile=original03.05.14 Below - trying again with the remaining Ruttabagga seed. Will try to thin them out if get some rain on the beds this weekend.

9779108869?profile=originalBed 3 below - Snow peas are starting to bloom They have been quite slow in taking off. Always difficult to gauge the reasons.

9779109082?profile=originalBelow - The small crop of white/purple sweet potato, my favourite. From memory I loaded the planter bags with half potting mix and half mushroom compost. Not a happy combination for the sweet potatoes which looked unhealthy right through there growing period.

9779068458?profile=originalBed 2 below - planted up with lots of goodies including brassicas, toms, beans, chinese greens, yellow zuchinni (thought it was a bit late for them but worth a go), chives. Self sown eggplant are still growing and producing well.

9779109892?profile=original9779110656?profile=originalBelow - Bacterial problem (per Jerry C-W) that I get on silverbeet grown in the raised beds. Not a problem in the front garden. Must be an air circulation issue as I don't water in the afternoon.

Bacterial leaf spot and bacterial soft rot diseases, which includes the genus Erwinia.

9779111257?profile=original16.05.14

Home sick. A good chance to catch up on a bit of writing as it's about all I can bring myself to do.

Went to the Caboolture Mkts on the way to Bribie for Mothers Day last weekend and there was a huge variety of locally grown produce on offer (below) all very cheap. Left out the Dragonfruit (was given 6 medium sized for $5) - persimmon, ginger, custard apple, avos, loofah, monstera, yam, jicama, purple taro, white/purple swt potato. There were lots of other options there, this is just what I brought home.

9779111283?profile=originalEverything is growing well apart from any bean seedlings that I plant. The b. cut worm seems to like them best. Finally got around to putting loo roll collars on the two remaining bush beans yesterday. The have decimated the Broad Beans also.

9779112860?profile=originalAll the eggplant are cropping well. Listada di Gandia.

9779113078?profile=originalYou Beaut

9779113854?profile=originalUnknown variety self sown. (Rosea?)

9779114287?profile=originalOnce again, I have high hopes of some Soursop crop this year. Tree is holding about a dozen small fruit.

9779115260?profile=originalDeer Tongue and round leafed lettuce are coming up all over the place. I just tuck seed down beside the raised beds and they grow when they're ready.

9779115480?profile=originalInside the netted bed. It definitely makes a difference when it comes to caterpillar damage. The middle area is planted with carrot seed with bird seed also coming up as green manure/shade.

9779115854?profile=originalThe one remaining Oca or NZ Yam is doing ok despite me pulling it out of the ground as a weed a couple of weeks back. If I can get this one growing hopefully I can produce more for future seasons.

9779116460?profile=original"Asian Parsnip" from donated seed looks suspiciously like a Daikon Radish to me. Never grown these before so will have to do some hunting for info. Have left this remaining plant to go to seed.

NOTE It never did go to seed - took too long making it's mind up so it was pulled up to make room for more productive plants.

9779116484?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.

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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".

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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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Nasturtiums - More than just a pretty face!

There are two types of nasturtium but the one I can never get enough of in our garden is Tropaeolum majus (also known as Indian Cress) not the Officinal that grows in water!

They're tasty additions to salads, great space fillers, pest controllers, attract beneficial pollinators, make cheerful cut flowers and are also a great medicinal plant.  But there are many more uses ...

 

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Here are some of the ways we can use nasturtiums in our gardens:



Comment by Elaine de Saxe on July 16, 2011 at 7:07am
  • And they make great mulch!

 

Comment by Scarlett Patrick on Tuesday

  • and they attract predatory wasps  which attack caterpillars
  • also apparently they deter pumpkin beetles and cabbage whites if grown next to brassicas
  • and act as a catch plant for aphids (preferred meal for them apparently)
  • a great companion plant.  
  • great living mulch.
  • unripe nasturtium seeds can be used as a caper substitute - pour freshly boiled vinegar over a tightly packed jar of the freshly picked seeds.
  • (am consulting the seed savers handbook - trying to confirm my memory about the predatory  wasps - which it doesn't mention)

 

Isabell Shipard's wonderful herb book 'How Can I Use Herbs in My Daily Life?' says that nasturtiums "secrete an essence into the soil, which is absorbed by other plants, helping them to resist attack by pests and disease. The smell of the leaves is also a pest deterrent." It's the hoverflies they attract that attack the aphids and the leaves can be infused in boiling water, cooled, strained and with a little liquid soap added, be used as s spray for aphids

 

According to the useful book 'Permaculture Plants' nasturtiums make great companion plants to apples, cabbages, cauliflowers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kohrabi, turnips, radishers, cucumbers and zucchini

 

'Jackie French's Guide to Companion Planting' says:

"Yellow and orange-flowered nasturtiums are reputed to repel woolly aphids, aphids, mites and red spider mites from plants grown above them.  Nasturtium's mustard-scented foliage also repels pests. It doesn't matter what colour the flowers are."

"They are also a good ground cover, not exhausting the soil, nor demanding too much moisture, and they keep moisture in and weeds out.  The only drawback of nasturtiums is that they are annual in cold areas where frost kills them, so you are left with bare soil. An alternative is to plant the nasturtiums every year when you mulch the trees, along with some mustard seed perhaps. The mulch will  have broken down by the time the first frost arrives, and your other orchard species will take over the bare ground."

I am using the nasturtiums more and more now I've realised their many health benefits too.  Isabell Shipard recommended eating 3 fresh leaves 3 times a day a couple of months ago when I had a cough that just wouldn't disappear for over a month.  I only managed 3 leaves twice for one day and the cough went!  I was really impressed - I believe this could be due to the fast working antibiotic action in the plant.

 

Her herb book also says nasturtiums have apparently been found to be effective against some microorganisms that are resistant to common antibiotics, help prevent and relieve coughs, colds and flu and eating 3 seeds daily helps build up resistance to viruses, colds and measles. There are many more medicinal uses listed. So definitely more than just a pretty face from my perspective!

The nasturtium below is growing near my kaffir lime tree.

 

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Propagating Nasturtiums

 

Nasturtiums are easily grown by seed and they self-seed so once you have them in your garden, they will supply you with all your needs for more and plenty to share around too. 

If you don't have enough seed to spread around your garden, you can also propagate them by taking cuttings or divide the roots.  The roots will strike if you put in water or a loose sandy potting mix in the shade.  Interestingly, they seem to flower better in poorer soils - they just tend to produce more leaves in rich soils.  Suits me because they are great space fillers for those sorts of areas in my garden.

A truly multi-functional plant for every garden and for our health!

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Happy Garden in October/November

With the increased rain and warmer temperatures in October and November, the summer plants like the ones in the Cucurbitaceae family were jumping out of the ground like they are on steroids! (Except for hairy melon, winter melon, and angled luffa… these are so tricky!) They are suffering in the last week as the heat intensify though...The peas and snowpeas were suffering from powdery mildew except for a few which were grown from seeds saved from a supermarket volunteered plant a couple of years ago… Although they don’t produce the best pods and seem to be doing not so well in the past week, but I am saving seeds of these ones because they coped the best and didn't get mildew in late spring compare to the others ~Many radishes, lettuces and other greens bolt to seeds quickly under this heat, but they make good green supplements for the chooks. However, there’s not enough for us and the chooks, so I think I have to learn to sow more and at higher frequency for greens. My main salad bed is pretty much empty at the moment with only the sunflowers planted for shade taking up all the room…Here’s photos from October & November ~~~

Paw Paw snowpeas BroadbeansSweet potato flowerspeasLettuces

LettucesRotten PeachCucumber Flowers Yellow Zuchinni Green Button Squash Beetroot

ChokoPak Choi Radish Golden Nugget Pumpkin StrawberryGolden Nugget PumpkinSpaghetti Squash

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