food (14)

Do you know what 'foodscaping' is?

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I've never heard of the term 'foodscaping' until I've stumbled upon this article explaining the unfamiliar word and the real value which it brings to people. Turned out, it is a word that has to be in our dictionaries necessarily.

In short, foodscaping is a particular type of landscaping, a.k.a. edible landscaping, in which large areas of private, or even public properties are used to grow food instead of decorative plants. Foodscaping is all about planting a garden which looks beautiful and feeds you at the same time. A blend between landscaping and farming, this is in fact a new trend in the gardening industry which gathers more and more supporters worldwide. It is not like having a vegetable garden in the backyard or a few hotbeds to grow fruits and veggies, but it is more like an implantation edible plants into the landscape. If you’re wondering how to landscape your front yard, think berry bushes instead of a shrubbery, strawberries and lettuce instead of grass, fruit trees instead of willows or palms.

One of the benefits of embracing the idea of foodscaping is that it is a very sustainable source of organic, healthy food which also means savings at the local greengrocery. A research of The Australia Institute called “Grow Your Own” reports that the main reason for growing their own food for 71% of the Australians is to have a healthier meal at their dining tables. Еvery second household grows fruits, herbs, nuts and veggies, which equates to almost 4.7 million households growing food. While only 20% of the households in the Northern Territory tend to grow food, in the southern states, such as Tasmania, Victoria and South Australia, more than 57% of the households are involved in food gardening.

In a country with so many drylands, the lawn is quite an institution, and Australians have developed a good taste for making a lawn look attractive and colorful. It is ridiculous how more advanced countries modernise their urban spaces by devastating food-producing areas in order to ‘landscape’ them. But what’s the point of maintaining an unproductive landscape in a world where the climate is so unstable and the energy sources are limited? In a world of overpopulation and extremely large amounts of food waste, why not interleave our food system by embracing foodscaping as a standard?

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My new whitegoods don't nag

Must be the time of year (Christmas).

The other night I put dinner in the oven, went to check on it three quarters of an hour later to find that it was still sitting there but with lots of cold air blowing over it. The oven had died :(

Never mind, says I, I have I a microwave and a new cook top.

The next morning I go to melt my cheese on bread for breakfast to find the microwave had died as well. I know from  clients experiences that this happens during periods of thunderstorms. Stuff dies. The microwave is possibly 10yrs old and that's pretty good in this day and age.

Yesterday I phoned my electrician. I'm chatting to Chris thinking...you don't sound all that good...when he tells me he is in hospital suffering from "a rare disease". Chris had Gullian-Barre disease poor love, an auto-immunse disease and will be there for for another 6mths. No help there.

So tonight I have new microwave courtesy of Coles (who, bless them, had a special going if you bought something over $100) but no oven.

The good news is...my new microwave doesn't nag like the old one, the fridge and the car. It beeps once to tell me the the time is up and then is silent. Not sure that is a good thing after all!

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Dehydrator first use ~ & my new garden ~

It's been a long time since my last blog ~ I haven't been doing much gardening if at all over that time (About 4 months...) ^^

I am surprised we're even harvesting anything at all, but the passionfruits, chillies, lime (fruited for the first time), angled luffa, Rosella (and the sweet potato leaves, and choko shoots if you eat these too) are producing despite the neglect ^^

9779029456?profile=original9779029699?profile=originalI was going to make jam with the rosella but I've introduced rosella tea to my mum and she really liked it, couple with the fact that it supposed to help with hypertension she asked me to dried them into tea instead.

I was given a dehydrator a couple of weeks ago, so I am eager to give it a try .. I picked the rosella on the weekend, but I didn't get time to do it until today, hope they're still fresh ~

9779030691?profile=original9779031095?profile=original"Before" as I lay them out on the trays ~

9779031490?profile=original"After" about 4 hours later ~

These are from my parents garden, now that I've moved out to a rental place, I'll have to start establishing a garden all over again....

 

It is a much smaller 'playground' though... hopefully meaning easier to manage :)

9779032261?profile=originalThis is 'it' ^^ ... we're going to dig up the lawn with permission from the landlord.  Will have pots and polythene boxes on the bark mulch area as there's weedmat underneath and it would be messy to dig them up.  Also, I notice the water run along the back fence where the bark mulch are during rain, so I think it's better that I don't plant into it.

We started lifting the lawn today, and found the ground underneath was very hard and clayie... I thought the soil wasn't going to be good, so I bought half a cubic metre of compost and half a cubic metre of course river sand... but not too sure whether that's enough to build up the soil now...

Hopefully I'll have an update with the garden set up ready to plant soon ~

Lastly, I bought a new basket for my new garden ~  $9 from the reject shop!

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Last revised 27.06.15.

I'm a list maker.

I like to gather information together in one spot so I don't have to keep hunting it down or scratch my head wondering where I read something and not being able to find it again. And I like to share, so please feel free to use this list of links or recommend more sites to be added as it's a continuous work in progress.

It is up to you to decide if you wish to deal with any of the companies, this is not a recommendation, just a list.

Share any comments on your experiences with various companies, such as postage (good, bad), packaging (good, bad), viability of product......you get the picture :)

AUSTRALIAN SEED SITES by state, as many of us like to buy local seed to suit our climate and support local companies:

BEAUTANICALS QLD

BIOME ECO STORES Qld

BOONDIE SEEDS QLD

EDEN SEEDS / SELECT ORGANICS QLD

GREEN HARVEST QLD Maleny

ISABELL SHIPARDS HERB FARM QLD

SUCCEED HEIRLOOM QLD

VAN VEEN ORGANICS QLD Elimbah (just north of Caboolture)

GREENPATCH SEEDS NSW

ROYSTON PETRIE SEEDS NSW

THE HIPPY SEED COMPANY NSW

THE LOST SEED NSW

DIGGERS CLUB VIC

GARLIC WORLD VIC

GOODMAN SEEDS VIC

HUMPHRIS NURSERY Vic

NEW GIPPSLAND SEED & BULBS VIC

THE SEED COLLECTION Vic or FB page

WHITEHOUSE NURSERY Vic

AUSTRALIAN SEED WA

SEEDS2FREEDOM WA

HEIRLOOM HARVEST SA

SEEDS 4 YOU SA

THE ITALIAN GARDENER SA

CORNUCOPIA SEED TAS

PHOENIX SEED TAS

RANGEVIEW SEEDS TAS

SOUTHERN HARVEST TAS

YELWEK FARM TAS Oca, Potato Onions, Garlic, Onion Shallots

OVERSEAS SEED SITES:

Want to know which seeds customs will allow you to bring in? Check out ICON- AQIS’s import conditions database.

Further information can be found at DAFF.

BAKER CREEK HEIRLOOM SEED America

WHATCOM SEED COMPANY Oregon

FRUIT TREE/PLANT SITES by state:

QLD

AIRPORT NURSERY Hervey Bay Qld

AUSTRALIAN NATIVE HIBISCUS QLD

BLUE SKY BACKYARD BANANAS QLD

CREEC Qld Caboolture - native tubestock $2 Ph 38889285

GEMVALE ESTATE DRAGON FRUIT FARM QLD -974 Eatons Crossing Road, Draper Qld 0422301733

We allow farm visits. Email: louceccato@gmail.com

HEART GARDEN Bundaberg Qld

INDIGISCAPES CENTRE QLD

ISABELL SHIPARDS HERB FARM QLD

KUMBARTCHO QLD

LIVING BAMBOO QLD Samford

RED FOX DRAGON FRUIT FARM QLD Nanango

TAMBORINE DRAGON FRUIT FARM QLD Mt Tamborine

VAN VEEN ORGANICS QLD Elimbah (just north of Caboolture)- 70 Bigmor Drive, Elimbah Qld 07 5408 6470 / 07 5495 7946 / 0422 107 914 - most of the fruiting plants are grafted and most of the native are seedlings, however there is some seedlings fruit plants.

WITJUTI GRUB BUSH FOODS NURSERY Obi Obi  Qld

NSW

BAMBOO WHOLESALE NSW

DALEYS FRUIT NURSERY NSW

FORBIDDEN FRUITS NURSERY NSW

FRUIT SALAD TREE COMPANY NSW

VIC

DIGGERS CLUB VIC

FLEMINGS NURSERY VIC

GARDEN EXPRESS VIC

YALCA FRUIT TREES VIC

HERITAGE FRUIT TREES VIC

SA

PERRY'S FRUIT & NUT NURSERY SA

TAS

WOODBRIDGE FRUIT TREES TAS

SOCIETIES, ORGANISATIONS AND NETWORKS:

ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGY ASSOC

AUSTRALIAN FOOD SOVEREIGNTY ALLIANCE

AUSTRALIAN CITY FARMS AND COMMUNITY GARDENS NETWORK networking community gardens around Australia

AUSTRALIAN GREEN DEVELOPMENT FORUM

AUSTRALIAN TROPICAL FOODS

BOGI (Brisbane Organic Growers Inc)

CAPE TRIBULATION EXOTIC FRUIT FARM

ECO RADIO BRISBANE FB page

IOPS - International Organisation for a Participatory Society

MORETON BAY ECO ALLIANCE FB site

OPEN FOOD NETWORK

PERMACULTURE RESEARCH INST. OF AUSTRALIA

RARE FRUIT AUSTRALIA INC

RARE FRUIT SOCIETY OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA

ROGI (Redlands Organic Growers Inc)

SEEDSAVERS Seed Savers Handbook - for full list of groups

SUB TROPICAL FRUIT CLUB OF QLD INC

TROPICAL FRUIT WORLD

URBAN AGRICULTURE NETWORK

WILDLIFE PRESERVATION SOCIETY MORETON SHIRE

COMMUNITY GARDENS, GROUPS, BLOGS:

BEELARONG COMM. FARM Morningside

BUDDINA COMMUNITY GARDEN - Sunshine Coast

CABOOLTURE SEED SAVERS

EARTHWISE GARDENING 

EUDLO SEED SAVERS

FOLIA

GRACEVILLE COMMUNITY GARDEN

GREEN P - Sandgate Community Garden

GYMPIE COMMUNITY GARDEN

JANE ST COMMUNITY GARDEN

JERRY COLEBY-WILLIAMS and FACEBOOK JC-W

LOGAN FOOD GARDENERS

MANGO HILL COMMUNITY FARM INC

MANLY WYNNUM COMMUNITY GARDEN

MILLEN FARM Samford

NOOSA SEED SAVERS

NORTHEY STREET CITY FARM

QUEENSLAND HERB SOCIETY

ROCHEDALE COMMUNITY GARDEN

SAMFORD LOCAL GROWERS

SEED SAVERS

SELF SUFFICIENT ME

SOUTHSIDE SUSTAINABILITY CENTRE & COMMUNITY GARDEN Bulimba Creek

SUCCESSFUL GARDENING Annette McFarlane

SWAP, SHUFFLE SHARE

VERA STREET COMMUNITY GARDEN Toowong

WESTFALEN COMMUNITY GARDEN, Dunlop St, Collingwood Park Contact: Mr & Mrs Graham & Gillian LYNN on 3814 5080

YANDINA COMMUNITY GARDEN

TRAINING, WORKSHOPS, BOOKS, VIDEOS, EVENTS, INFORMATION and PRODUCTS:

AUSTRALIAN ORGANIC SCHOOLS offers training material

BACKYARD ORCHARD CULTURE Dave Wilson Nursery - sensible info re multi planting and keeping fruit trees at the right height in a backyard

BIRDS IN BACKYARDS

CENTRE FOR GROWING SUSTAINABILITY

CHOOK TRADER chickens etc for sale

CITYFOOD GROWERS Peter Kearney, Maleny

DINNER GARDEN

EARTHBOX AUSTRALIA

EARTHWISE GARDENING

ELIZABETH FEKONIA

FOODMATTERS 

GEOFF LAWTON - free permaculture videos including urban

HIDRO GREEN ENERGY

INDIGISCAPES

KEFIR Doms site

KITCHEN GARDENERS INTERNATIONAL

KUMBARTCHO

MAD MILLIE CHEESE MAKING KITS

MORETON SHIRE COUNCIL

NUTRITECH SOLUTIONS

THE MICRO GARDENER - Anne Gibson

PERMABLITZ BRISBANE

PERMACULTURE RESEARCH INSTITUTE

RegenAG community based family enterprise committed to helping regenerate Australia’s farms, soils, communities and on-farm livelihoods.

WEEDS AUSTRALIA

WEED SPOTTERS QLD

BEE SITES:

ANBees online group

AUSTRALIAN NATIVE BEE RESEARCH CENTRE

AUSTRALIAN NATIVE BEES - WHERE TO BUY

BOB THE BEE MAN Bob Luttrell

BRISBANE BACKYARD BEES

BURNETT BEE KEEPING SUPPLIES Kingaroy - Australia wide service

KIN KIN NATIVE BEES

NATIVE BEES OF AUSTRALIA Museum site

THE NOVICE BEEKEEPER blog spot

SOCIAL INSECTS LAB Sydney Uni

SUGARBAG Tim Heard

ZABEL Russell and Janine

FOOD SITES:

BONNIE BEEF Qld

EDIBLE YARDS

FARM MATCH and FB FARM MATCH

FRESH LOCAL PROVISIONS Samford

GOORALIE FREE RANGE PORK Qld

KOOKABURRA ORGANICS

ORGANIC & QUALITY FOODS Qld

OLIVFRESH ORGANIC OLIVES Qld

QUAIL KINGDOM Qld

TILLARI TROTTERS Tamworth 100% free range see discussion

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Preparing a meal from scratch.



A meal prepared from scratch is rather special or even unusual for many families when both parents are working, kids are to be taken to sport and its so easy to nip into the supermarket and buy something quick to pop into the microwave.

We find that it's more satisfying if the meal is made from home-grown food, nurtured from seed or seedling and protected from possums, heat and drought.



Why is it that a lettuce or cucumber picked from the garden and sliced for your salad seems so much more valuable than the one from the shops? Maybe because we all understand the effort that has gone into its creation
and are intimately linked to this piece of green that provides our sustenance.



If you have poor soil as most of us do in Brisbane, you’ll feel all the more appreciative. Coaxing healthy food from the depths of shale or clay is all the more challenging.



Sometimes we need a little help to connect us with the joy of growing and eating our own fresh food. Be generous and share your tips and traumas about growing food. You’ll be surprised how many people
will be interested.

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Coffee thoughts

I'm drinking coffee right now. I love coffee. I love going to the grinding shop and smelling the different coffees in the big round tubs. I love buying coffee in a vaccuum pack and foofing the smell onto my face through the valve on the way home.Developing coffee berries

I try to only drink one or two cups per day on work days, and one or none on non-work days. Sometimes I switch to tea for a while and give my liver and kidneys a break from all the theobromeine (sp?). If I drink coffee after midday it keeps me awake until after 11pm.Barista mystery: how do they make those patterns on the top of latte?My weapon of choice? Stove top espresso 'machine'. I found a place that sells replacement seals yesterday - New Farm Deli (next to Merthyr rd Coles). Unfortunately they were out of rings for the 3 cup aluminium model that I need, sigh.Special trick? Warm the milk in a jug in the microwave and then twirl an upright whisk in it like you're trying to light a fire. This makes lots of good milk froth fast.Favourite coffee shop in Brisbane? Black Star in West End - they use fair trade and they use a double shot in every cup. Va va voom. Killer pastries too.I made my own coffee once. Wow. At $10 an hour for my labour it would have cost $50 for 250g of ground coffee - that's a standard small brick of espresso coffee. Obviously with mechanisation it would be faster, but that's without distribution, marketing or retail mark-up. I guess I had about a third to a half a bucket of berries to produce this much coffee. A big coffee bush makes lots of berries - maybe one bucket per bush each season.Is it better to buy local coffee or support developing economies by buying fair trade coffee? I don't know. I do both. We buy Zeta's coffee through Food Connect (which is made near Byron Bay) and fair trade coffee in Coles or at Black Star.Coffee is a sub-tropical bush (2-3m tall, about 1-2 m wide) that likes medium to rich well-drained soil and filtered light or semi shade. It's drought tolerant but responds to water. Plants wilt if they are getting thirsty and recover well from wilting if you water them. Coffee is a very ornamental plant - it has dark glossy leaves, small pretty white flowers in late Winter/ early Spring, and red berries through late Spring/ Summer. In Autumn the berries drop to the ground and create a mess (which isn't a problem if you are collecting them and if not they rot down pretty quickly - but consider this if planting in pots on decking etc). Aside from this annual event they are very tidy and well behaved plants - no need to remove dead wood or old leaves etc to keep them looking nice. They are very low maintenance - you can maybe feed once a year in late Winter: a good whack of compost, some dynamic lifter perhaps. You should check their pH - if they are light green instead of dark glossy green they are either getting too much sun or the pH is too high. They like about 6.5 (from memory - I should check).Coffee grows well under taller trees and particularly likes the edges of forests. Our three are growing very happily down the southeastern side of the house where they receive filtered morning light and about 1-2 hours of overhead light at midday. Before that I had them at the edge of the poinciana up the back where they received a blast of afternoon sunlight and were sheltered in the morning; they just never grew and looked wan and yellow, so I moved them. At the moment they have lots of fresh new growth - but they haven't flowered yet. Maybe next year.These mature coffee bushes are at New Farm Park. I've also spotted some outside Jazzy Cat Cafe in West End and in the hibiscus section of the Mt Coot-tha Botanic gardens. You often see them in parks.

Ripe ones are dark red to a purple black colour but still plump.

Under the skin is a translucent pulp. To process them you need to remove the skin and this pulp. Industrially they use rollers and washers. I just rubbed them off. Slimy.

Underneath is a papery membrane surrounding both beans. Again you just scratch this open and break the beans out of the membrane.

Then you need to leave them to dry. A rack is good for this. Filtered sunshine and turning at least once a day is good to prevent mould, although I didn't have any problems on this front and wasn't particularly diligent. After about three days the beans are dry and you can have a go at the next membrane - another papery one that covers each bean. These photos are all on fresh berries, no drying, which is a bit messy and more difficult.When the membrane is dry it sort of flakes off - but it can also stick to the beans which is bad! (Maybe it needed to be drier?)

The beans are sort of grey at this stage.

Once you have nude beans you can roast them in the oven on a baking tray on low heat until they start to smell like roasted coffee beans, and go all sort of carmelised. This is how you buy them at the shops - from there it's just grind them to suit your weapon of choice and start percolating.

The coffee I made tasted pretty good, not brilliant. It sure gives you an appreciation for coffee to do all this by hand. When I was in Cuba we visited people who had coffee bushes in their gardens and it was a great honour and pleasure to be given hand made coffee like this.I tried making dandelion coffee once too. It was not nearly as good as that you can buy. It was an awfully fiddly job. I had a great deal of trouble getting all the dirt out off the roots.I'm keen for our coffee bushes to flower - I want to try it again. I think perhaps that not all of my berries were perfectly ripe last time. I guess it's probably best to collect and dry them as you go, being very picky about the stage of ripeness, and then roast them when you've got enough.cheers Scarlett
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My plan, and a request for advice

Thanks to many kind people's comments here, I've now got a basic idea in my head of what I want to do. Here it is, step-by-step, and since I'm so new to this, I'd love any tips at all :-)

  • Mark out the proposed garden area, probably 1.5m x 5m (thank to Elaine for the tip about being able to reach across it. Will 1.5m x 5m be a big enough garden to grow most of my vegetables? I plan on growing quite a variety of stuff to feed our four person household (all adults).
  • Dig remaining clay off surface with mattock and remove it (and see if I can make a pizza oven out of it! Mmmm wood fired pizza!)
  • Till soil underneath to aerate it as much as possible, maybe to 30cm deep (is this enough?)
  • Fill the space from the removed clay with compost and aged horse manure (anything else?)
  • Mix soil, compost and horse manure
  • Test pH of new soil mix
  • Research what needs to be done for soil of my pH
  • Prepare new soil/compost/manure mixture with a few additives based on research (i.e. dolomite, seaweed water, etc)
  • Plan out first crops to go into the ground in the next week or so (is this too soon after soil preparation?)
  • Plan out crops for other areas of the yard to benefit the garden (pyrethrum (spelling?) to make organic bug spray, bee-attracting plants, beneficial bug-attracting plants, wildflowers and sunflowers (to make me happy :-)
  • Research green mulch crops I might like to grow before planting or as a live mulch while my main crops grow
  • Find sources of seeds and buy some
  • Buy plastic cups and seedling mix/potting mix to germinate seeds in
  • Buy a few books on gardening
  • Research and buy supplies of consumables (seaweed solution, etc)
  • Buy fencing materials to keep the foreman and junior forewomand (the rottie and the beagle) out of the garden (there's a builder's recycling yard at Underwood I might go to). Photos of the foreman and junior forewoman are on my photo page.
  • Harden the seedlings when ready
  • Transplant them into garden
  • Mulch
  • Do the usual watering, bug removal, etc.
  • EAT! :-)
Any tips at all are most welcome. I have no idea what I'm doing!!
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First photos of my "garden"

I still feel strange calling it a "garden" so I continue putting the term in quotes. :-) Go check out my photo album (let's hope the link works) https://brisbanelocalfood.ning.com/photo/photo/listForContributor?screenName=2rom30eun8hev

The photo album still says it's awaiting approval, so they might not show up until that happens.

Daniel.


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My edible garden: the beginning

Day 1.

I have wanted an edible garden for years and decided to do something about it yesterday. I live with family (I'm one of those perpetual students!) and also like the idea of having a wide variety of healthy, non-GM, excellent quality foods which are almost free. We recently got a retaining wall done, and in the infinite wisdom of a certain nameless family member (not me), the "soil" removed from the retaining wall area was spread across the back yard to even it out a bit.

Sadly, the "soil" was actually clay, and a good portion of the back yard, including my proposed garden area, is solid, aweful clay. It actually bends my spade when I attempt to dig into it. I did spray a whole bottle of some clay breaker stuff on it to attempt to soften it up, but it has done nothing. Even 30 minutes of soaking with tank water only gets the water about a millimetre into the clay. I might have to hire a rotary hoe for a few hours, rip up the clay and hope there's some half OK soil underneath.


Day 2.

Watered the clay breaker futher into the clay, still with only a millimetre's penetration. :-(
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We are recruiting for a few positions in Food Connect Sydney and was wondering if you would mind letting people in your circles know about them.

I've included a blurb below which you can cut and paste into an email to make it easier for you.

Thank you very much!

Julian.


Food Connect Sydney is pleased to be offering the following positions:
Marketing & Sales Coordinator
City Cousin Coordinator
Subscriptions Coordinator
Bookkeeper & Office Administrator
Food Connect Sydney’s vision is to be a leader in making ethically grown food from local
farmers accessible to any household in Sydney. Food Connect Sydney buys direct from
local organic and chemical free farmers and packs it into three sized boxes. These are
then delivered to a local host or “City Cousin” where subscribers come once a week to
pick up their pre-paid box.

Applications due on Friday, 30th April.

For more information please go to: http://sydney.foodconnect.com.au/?page_id=59

Julian Lee
Food Connect Sydney
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Slim pickings over summer

I am enormously happy that Food Connect can now supply suppplementary vegetable bags in our weekly fruit box. It's fantastic - we're not so completely at the mercy of the garden, and I can buy garlic and ginger without making a special trip to buy chinese imports (pretty much all the garlic in the shops is over from China). So now I've been buying carrots and broccoli every week as well - there are only so many meals we can eat based on eggplant, zucchini, cucumber, snake beans, rocket and spring onions :) We're eating much more pasta than usual! Sauteed olive oil, garlic, zucchini, eggplant and pine nuts, then stirred grated cheese, chopped parsley, rocket or basil, salt and pepper. Yum!

My tomatoes are patchy. I MUST get a fruit fly lure. Hopeless. It's on the list. I haven't managed to eat a beefheart yet - we just keep cooking with the bits we can rescue. I really want to eat one like an apple so I see how much I like it. I do love the idea that they have hardly any seeds or seed slime and heaps of the red 'meat' - marvellous.

IOur sunflowers are rioting. It's beautiful. In consequence the pale headed rosella couple are back. They spurn us for the rest of the year but visit every morning and many evenings to pillage our sunflowers. They're very shy at first, but by the end of the season we should be able to enter the garden without them leaving. They have a lovely high "puk" call, a real bush sound - but we're 8km from the city! They will have to compete with the chickens this year (not to mention the kids, who love to sit down with a sunflower head and pick all the seeds out). The seeds are very sweet and crisp when they're fresh, and are translucent white. I never get around to keeping them. It would be too fiddly anyway, it would take me hours. Apparently they're high in selenium and vanadium (as I recall - oh dear, I really should check these things). I wonder what they pull up from the subsoil? Probably potassium and phophorus I guess. I wonder about other things. Maybe boron or copper? Would be interesting to know.

A lot of the sunflowers are a lot shorter this year. I wonder if this is a different seed strain (I just buy bird seed from the supermarket, it's very competitively priced), the lack of attention (as they were completely neglected, whereas if they wilted and I was home I might have given them a mercy bucket of water), or if they have exhausted something in the soil because I planted them in the same place and have not fertilised the area. Sulphur deficiency can cause stunting, but they seem to be a decent colour - not very deep green and super healthy, but not obviously yellow and wan either. Interesting. I should scatter some sorghum seed too - the chickens would like that. Perhaps I might just do mixed bird seed next time and see what comes up. Hopefully there will be some sort of leguminous nitrogen fixer in there, that would be handy.

My companion planting chart says that cucumbers and sunflowers are friends, and I can see what it means. The cucumbers have been climbing through the lower leaves of the sunflowers very happily and the sunflowers don't seem to mind at all. The sunflowers are providing shade and trellis for the cukes, and the fruit is kept off the ground where you can see it and pick it before they get too big and where they are safe from some of the soil born rots. The cukes are suppressing weeds between the sunflowers. Nice.

We only have one zucchini plant in production. The other one is coming on now. So for once we don't have a zuke glut - just one or two every day or so. We do have a cucumber glut from just two plants - we are getting about one a day. That's a lot of tzatziki!Our capsicum has been disappointing - rather slow and not ripening evenly. We have three plants and we're getting about one a week. I think they're too hot. Semi-shade would have been better I guess. The big star is the eggplant. I put in the long lebanese variety, and am amazed to discover that they are, as promised, very sweet and delicious, not bitter at all. For a long time I've been averse to eggplant, even with the salt treatment to bleed the bitterness out, but am delighted to discover I am actually very happy to eat it when it doesn't have that nasty solenaceous bite behind it. Perhaps because we are picking them when they are very young? We have two plants producing and we're getting plenty but not too much.More corn is on the way. Some died in the hot part of the garden (oops - I forgot to water the seedlings every day for the first few days), but the bit that gets morning shade is galloping along. My daughter has planted her very own corn and california poppies in a pot and successfully sprouted them with no interference from me at all. Am very pleased she is doing this on her own. I'm a bit surprised she has been so attentive about watering it every day. I left her completely to her own devices and she knows what to do. Amazing what they learn through watching.We have one glorious rockmelon about to ripen. I think the four of us will set the table and eat it with delight.

The moon and stars watermelon is coming on. I'll be so happy if i get one! I've only ever grown one champagne melon (in a pot in Melbourne!) before.I let one cucumber rot into the soil and now have a million cucumber seedlings. My friend gave me some beautiful heirloom pumpkin seeds which she got from Green Harvest. So I have fairytale, red leicester? and one other (I forget) all sprouting. I planted some Qld Blue seedlings too which are starting to gallop about. Hopefully it's not too late.

The chicory flowers are very pretty. People keep asking me what they are. I have stooked them to keep them from flopping around everywhere. It seems to have fresh flowers each day which open by mid morning and are faded by evening.I've got horrible grass back again. Am about to get moving on really fixing the back garden up - putting in edging and a proper section of lawn etc.. Will probably take me all year, but it has to be done. So many things on the list!Happy gardening peopleSJP

BLUE JAVA BANANAS

DWARF DUCASSE BANANAS
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Today in our garden

An exciting day today - we harvested the first bunch of lady finger bananas. Two more bunches coming. The blue faced honey eater came and shouted at me and fluffed all his hair up in disgust when I was cutting one of the flower bells off. Funny critter - sorry little buddy! I left one for him - felt too mean. Found two ripe passionfruits and a small ripe pawpaw.The Blue Java and Dwarf Ducasse bananas haven't flowered yet - they are in harsher spots. Down the side with washing machine grey-water is obviously ideal. The old sucker that we cut down was enormous! Have chopped it up, put the stem in the banana pawpaw circle pit to rot and used the chopped banana leaves as mulch.Our broad beans are now flowering, as are the Tommy Toe tomatoes. The brussel sprouts are getting bigger and I can't see the cauliflower tips anymore - hopefully they're curding up in there. Have eaten the last turnip (hide the turnip slow food) and almost had the last beetroot. No mature pak choy or bok choy left. I'm not very diligent with succession planting, so we'll have to wait about a month for all of these again. Doesn't matter - heaps of carrot, parsnip, celery, silverbeet, broccoli, best-ever salad mix - hopefully the other brassicas will kick in while the little seedlings grow up. The chooks gave them a few beatings. Too soft hearted again, and can't bear to fence the big garden (aesthetics). After some urging was tempted to feel around for potatoes but resisted. The bandicoots can wait - we have lovely food connect spuds to keep us going.Must do something about having proper beans and peas - it's a disgrace. Soil too composty - need a good spot for them, will have to give this challenge some attention. Not used to having legume trouble.Our strawberries are very slow - have only eaten two so far, and these from an old plant in a neglected styrofoam box, not from the new plants I bought for this season. Too much parsley. Not enough chives. Rocket coming out our ears (yum :) . Garlic looking good. Will probably run short on spring onions again soon. I don't think any of my spanish onions made it (heat stress - planted too early in March).The mulberry tree is green again and the self-pollinating pecan has dropped all its leaves. The lychee looks very happy with lots of new growth. I cut the turmeric and galangal back today 'cos they'd gone completely yellow.I transplanted some leeks into the vegie garden that had self-seeded elsewhere in the yard (thankyou Eden Seeds). Amazing how they cope with massive mis-treatment. They are quite a favourite. The artichokes are coming back well (fingers crossed they don't get struck down again after this rain) but I'm pretty sure we won't get any this spring, we'll have to wait another year now - darn aphids :(Am getting organised to send a postal order to Green Harvest. Lots of good things I haven't got yet in their latest catalogue. For example jersualem artichokes - yum!We ate the first flush of mushrooms from our box and now heaps more are coming up. They are incredibly delicious!
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