greens (8)

Well, I finally have a small space within the nursery that surrounds my new home, to grow some pots of edibles for myself. 

Some sunlight during the day but shade in the arvo.

Because I'm renting I'm keeping to pots and grow bags (still to come) so I need food plants that won't grow huge or need too much space and are productive and versatile.

Herb pot (foreground) has been going for many months now at the last house-sit. When moving, I emptied the pot, shoved the plants in buckets of water and re potted it all at my new place. I didn't expect much but all the plants have taken off again. 

Sage, Sorrel, parsley and a sad looking Rosemary hiding in the middle along with a couple of Asian greens and Spring Onions grown from store bought cut-offs. 

I have bought a large Rosemary from the nursery as it's my favourite herb.

Small pot on the right has Rocket and more sprouting garlic.


Pot on the left is Ethiopian Cabbage, surrounded by garlic that just insisted on being planted. Good for garlic shoots. The seed for the EC came from Yandina Community Garden and out of an entire packet that I have been carting around for a year, only two precious seedlings came up. 

Pot in the middle has my precious Walking Stick Collards which had a pretty good germination rate. I'll have to thin these out in a pot this size.


Warrigal Greens grow in easily accessible spots on the island, including on the beach. I will liberate a plant or two for a grow bag. Very useful green.

I liked the look of the Chaya that Dave was spruiking and have ordered one. It looks like the sort of perennial that would do ok in a pot. A bit like Aibika only tastier by the sounds.

I would love a Moringa, one of my favourite greens, but any other suggestions for things to grow that I just must have, please! 


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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.


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. 


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




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.


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


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.


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.



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).


Lots of citrus including this Mandarin...


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


Plenty of ripening Dragonfruit.....


Two large figs covered in fruit...

9779236086?profile=originalAn espaliered orchard with chook run down the middle (chooks are free range in the backyard and can come and go from this run), great idea....






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


Grow tunnel for greens.....


Pumpkins galore.....


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


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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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.



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.


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.


Cauli action at last! Can't wait.


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


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.


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.


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.


I do like 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.




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.



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.



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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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


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.


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



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.


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


Lettuce of many type going to seed for next winter.


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





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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Collard greens are one of the oldest members of the cabbage family and date back to prehistoric times. They have been used in cooking for centuries.

Thanks to Christa for this very informative LINK.

LINK to conversation relating to the different varieties of Collard available.

I have hankered after Tree Collards (VIDEO showing propagation) for some time. They need to be grown from cutting to remain true but I cannot find them in Australia.

The closest I could find is seed for this Portuguese Walking Stick Collard Greens.There are quite a few people on eBay selling the seed. The ones I buy are Couve galega.


This is the info from Wiki:

Collard greens (collards) are various loose-leafed cultivars of Brassica oleracea, part of the Acephala group, which also contains cabbage and broccoli.

The plants are grown for their large, dark-colored, edible leaves and as a garden ornamental, mainly in Brazil, Portugal, the southern United States, many parts of Africa, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, southern Croatia, northern Spain and in northern India. They are classified in the same cultivar group as kale and spring greens, to which they are genetically similar. The name "collard" is a corrupted form of the word "colewort" (the wild cabbage plant).

The plant is also called "couve" in Brazil and in Portugal, "couve galega" or "couve portuguesa" (among several other names) in Cape Verde, "berza" in Spanish-speaking countries, "col" in Colombia, "raštika" in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia and "raštan" in Montenegro and Serbia. In Kashmir, India, it is called "haakh". In Tanzania and Kenya it is more commonly known by its Swahili name, "sukuma wiki", and is often confused with kale. In New Zealand, it is called "dalmatian cabbage".

Supposedly healthier than Kale, Broccoli, mustard greens, sprouts and cabbage it has the ability to bind bile acids in the digestive tract resulting in lower cholesterol. Hmm, have been reading lately that we are too bound up in the whole cholesterol debate and it isn't as bad as the big pharma companies making cholesterol lowering meds like to make out, but there you go.

Supposedly offering cancer protection (is there any plant that doesn't?? there seem to be so many cancer inhibiting "wonder plants" these days) due to glucosinolates found in the plant which detox and provide anti-inflammatory benefits.

9779173676?profile=originalI have the notion that the plants are at least semi-perennial but cannot find information at the moment to back this up. I planted my first seed last spring and they are still going strong though they didn't grow well through the hot months, they have picked up through winter. Later planting of seed was very successful producing good strong healthy plants with lots of big leaves.


Aren't I naughty. I didn't write down the original date I planted these seed - just spring. Working back from the pic above taken in June 2015 I planted the seed in spring 2014 - say around October 2014. That makes the plants currently as at this date in May 2016, around 20mths old or getting on for two years. Time sure flies when you're having fun experimenting.

Original description did not give a scientific name: 400+ Seeds Portuguese Cabbage Organic Collard Greens $5.29 free delivery from Portugal. Below is the photo from the ad. Bought 01.10.2014 from eBay.

Now selling under the name of 2011pfreitas the same seeds are on offer HERE as Couve galega for $AU5.77 delivered free.

Below: plants growing in Portugal.



Maybe half the plants survived another summer but didn't like it. They were severely attacked by aphid and Cabbage White caterpillars. The only support I gave them was to wash off or squash the offending insects occasionally, wanting to see how they coped mostly on their own. Some died - especially if I cut off the majority of their leaves, found it best to leave them on even if ravaged by bugs - and some survived.

The plants seem to have reached their optimal height - about 1m.

The surviving plants are looking pretty gnarly but are still trying to put out nice new leaves. They are also producing a lot of side shoots which this cool, wet morning I have used to attempt to propagate  -cutting them off at the joint, removing the bulk of leaves before planting them into the raised bed.

Some plants have also put out their own ground shoots which look like wonderful new young plants beside their mamas. Nice.

Below: New ground shoot from gnarly old mothers.


Below: Side shoots used for cuttings.


Below: One of the cuttings before removing excess leaves.


Below: Cuttings in two separate beds.



Almost forgot - here's a pic of some flourishing "Collard Greens" bought as seedlings from the Cab Mkt some weeks back. Short plant. The leaves are thinner and more tender than my PWS Collard.


And also the "Purple Tree Collard" bought at great expense on it's own from Daleys some months back. Looks pretty much the same as my PWS Collard but a bit paler...but then I have a fair bit of colour variation with the PWSC grown from seed as well.



The Collards have finally come good mid-winter. I removed all the chewed on leaves this morning and finally have some good looking leaves for eating. 

Some of the original Portuguese Walking Stick Collards grown from seed (from Portugal via eBay for about $5 delivered) about two years ago. Coming good again. Incredible plants. They seem to have reached a certain height and are going no further.



The Daleys Tree Collard- purple leaf Brassica oleracea var. acephala bought at great expense for one plant (around $28 delivered), is also coming good. Slightly different appearance. Sure doesn't look like the plant pictured on the Daleys website though.

From pics I have seen of the Couve tronchuda these look like they - with thick white central veins.


And the Collard bought as seedling from the Caboolture Market, showing no sign of turning into a walking stick version, is also growing well. NOTE: Mid August 2016 and these are spent and dying off. 


I was very neglectful of the cuttings I put in. I tend to plant very densely and the poor wee things didn't stand much of a chance once the other plants started to block out their sun. But certainly one has survived (below). The cutting to it's right may yet come good also.


From Dave - chart showing some of the varieties:


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Some Random Observations:

Today, I realised I haven't bought any salad greens for 4 months.  

The other night, I made tomato soup that was completely home grown.  It was served with home made olive bread rolls and grated home made cheese.  Happy to report that is was really damn good, and I don't even like tomatoes. 

Tonight's Thai Beef salad was pretty much all our greens again.  A Thai Youtube friend taught me you can include radish leaves which I did.  He is correct. 

I have a fridge and pantry full of preserves - gotta stop doing jams etc for a while. 

My perch are only a few months away from harvest.  I need to buy more fingerlings to settle over winter. 

I think the passionfruit crop is slowing down - thank god. 

I have a crop of cauliflower and turnip seedlings slowly sprouting indoors.  They will go into the new wicking bed that I am making which will use a big fat slab of my compost (which now even includes locally sourced horse poo).

Snow peas are shooting in the shady patch. (Must check on the zucchini in that bed as well!)

I'll get to try lemonades soon for the very first time - courtesy of my own tree which is planted in planter box seat that I built myself.  

Kratky hydroponics is not going so well.  I'll post in the wicking bed group about that soon. It's my own fault.

Aquaponic bok choi is ready for harvest.  They look really good. 

Bobbie eats poo.  It's disgusting.  He is a wonderful little man except for his toilet habits/diet. 

Man, I feel like a farmer!

You guys have taught and inspired me so much!  I'm very grateful.  

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Sunday in Lissa's Garden

We 'online gardeners' do not always have the opportunity to see the gardens or meet the gardeners we have come to know virtually. Last Sunday I battled rain and roadworks for the 140 K drive to Strathpine and Lissa's lovely garden. What should have taken around 2 hours took 2 1/2 but, "Neither snow nor rain nor heat..." seems to thwart the gardeners I've met, so how could I let the side down? ;-)By outer suburban standards, this is a pretty small yard but still manages to support a garden with many mature trees (mostly growing up, not out), three raised veg beds totalling around 12 m2 as well as a lawn for the dogs. There are numerous smaller growing plants and a sheltered propagating area.One advantage not often mentioned is that in a small garden you are more likely to notice the small good and bad things that go on in it. A couple of plants sported the distinctive marks of leaf cutter bees, and Lissa knows where they are hiding :). She also tells me that she checks the veg beds morning and night, aided by a torch. Try doing THAT with a large garden.Amongst the delightful, mostly edible abundance were the two plants that lured me down the hill; bananas! Toowoomba is really at the edge of climate for bananas, but do grow and (more importantly FRUIT) up here in sheltered positions. And I have those sheltered positions? Errrr, nope but am I willing to bodgy up something in shadecloth until the surrounding trees grow enough to provide that sheltered spot? Need you ask? Both of the varieties I was interested in are reasonably cold tolerant and one, the Dwarf Ducasse can also be used green as a cooking banana, which could be useful.Touring the garden with secateurs (my favourite kind of garden tour!) and umbrellas, I've come home with cuttings from several interesting plants as well as some potted ones. Who knew Aibika had more than one variety? If I can get them all through this winter my garden (and diet) will be much richer. Thank you, thank you thank you! I'll post the plants and their bios in another blog entry. Check Lissa's photos for ones of her garden, mine look like the drizzly day it was so I won't bother posting them.After the wander around the garden and a delicious lunch with the veggies for the stir fry coming, naturally from the garden, we hit the Internet to do more garden related things. I had looked at the BLF site for a while because I kept ending up here when googling for information on some of the subtropical edibles I already grow or am considering. Lissa gave me a few pointers on how to use this site and, "Have you seen/did you know about?" etc led us to looking up a variety of other things that one of us had seen, and before I knew it, it was time for me to start back.We never made it to the front yard, which is Lissa's next project. West facing, it needs some plantings that will help cool the house. The current plants are mostly ornamentals, but the choko on the front fence is what told me I had the right place when I was searching for house numbers. I've got a few ideas, but I'll have to email them.Thank you Lissa for your hospitality (and plants!) I had a lovely day.
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9779022066?profile=originalSo much happened in the garden in December it was necessary to break the blog / diary down into months.

Above -  first day of 2013. We've had enough rain that the tank hasn't run dry, but not enough that I can rely on the rain to keep things consistently moist so have been watering mornings. Afternoons on occasion if I have really early work starts.

The plants really appreciate it. I've been rewarded this season with lots of  self-sown salad and greens plants like red and green Amaranth, rocket, mustard greens and Egyptian spinach. Add this to the Aibika, sweet potato leaves, choko tips, pumpkin tips and I have a plentiful supply of home grown greens.

Below: Self sown salad and greens around the cool compost pile.

9779022300?profile=originalContinueing my love affair with eggplant. The Listada di Gandia has been cut right back (pic above, middle bed beside the tall Tamarillo) and I have hopes that it will grow back but suspect these two plants have run their course.

Have a store bought one struggling in the front yard which I will try to transplant into the back. Also some self sown L di G in a couple of places. The Flea Beetles have wrought havoc on every plant, young or old, this season.

Below: This is supposed to be Brazilian Orange :/ or so said the seed I was given by someone. Doesn't match up with the pics I see on the net, but is none the less delicious. Creamy flesh when roasted with a delicate flavour.

If anyone thinks they can identify which one it really is I would appreciate knowing.

The wounds on the fruit are bird caused. I suspect the Indian Mynah which roam around my yard quite a bit. Either that or crows.

Planted some leftover bits of seed for three different eggplants and this is the only one that came up. Early Purple I think.


Below: The Winter Melon are doing great! See blog for full story. This fruit is 9 days old!

9779023701?profile=originalBelow: The Red Okra (seed originally from Elaine) grow well for me now.

Used to hate this fruit but will now use the young ones in stir fry and salad quite happily. Large ones here are a little big for eating (they get quite fibrous) so will continue to grow for seed.

Flowers and plant both very attractive to have in the garden.

9779025091?profile=originalBelow: Cucumber haul for the last few days in the fridge. Prof. Mary Sheehan (white) and the others are Muncher and Spacemaster. I use the scruffy ones for juicing and the purty ones for eating and sharing :)

9779026059?profile=originalBelow: The Carombola is dropping dozens of little fruit :( It's not cropped well for some time now after initially providing kgs of fruit each season. I've just given it a big drink of water in the hope that the remaining fruit doesn't fall.

The yellow/brown fruit are just burnt and desiccated from lying around in the sun for days.

9779027056?profile=originalThere are still pockets of fruit left in the tree, but not many.


Peaceful cool, damp Sunday. Goodness it's delicious after years of turmoil :)

A little bit of rain coming and going this morning, just enough to wet my hair and T shirt but not do much for the plants. At least it's cool. The tank is down to 1000L (tap level) so I'm back to using town water. The beds are quite dry below the top layer - I spend a long time trying to wet them thoroughly.

Found a beautiful little Blue Banded Bee, newly hatched out, when I was trimming back the Salvia this morning. Five stripes - can't remember whether this meant male or female. It was sitting hanging on to a tendril with it's mandibles and it's wings looked like they were still plumping up. There's a fast moving black bee in the garden that I'm yet to see close up. Possibly a Leaf Cutter or Resin bee.

Let's get the bad out of the way first lol. The Persimmon has dropped it's second fruit during the heat. None for me this year unless I buy them!

9779027687?profile=originalBelow: Sadly, the bagged pumpkin babies are all dying. They yellow and shrivel. Lack of water and too much heat?

9779028669?profile=originalBelow - 16.01.13 finally have one good pumpkin growing. The small one ventually shrivelled and fell off.

9779028695?profile=originalThe Wampi is producing a bit of fruit at a level where I can get at them. Have to be careful I don't eat too many as they are quite acidic (citrus relative).

Good old reliable Pawpaw is producing some nice fruit. I leave all yellowing leaves around the base for this tree. Returns nutrients to the soil and provides shade for the roots.

9779029671?profile=originalStill chipping Cadaghi seed from the entrance of the bee hive daily. Some days more than others. Not much this morning (below) but seed can clearly be seen in the Cerumen sitting on the brick. I don't see them do it, but the bees must be putting these there. The Cerumen might help to remove the sticky seed from their legs.

9779030079?profile=originalBelow: Belatedly thought of using the new netting to shade the corn and bean seed struggling to come up in the heat. Think I've lost most of the seed.

9779030858?profile=originalBelow: Winter Melon now 11days old. Other babies seem to be growing slower.

9779031872?profile=originalBelow: Healthy self sown patch near the clotheslines. Another pumpkin? NOTE: Turns out it's a Winter Melon from potting mix I threw out when seeds didn't come up.


Hot and dry with bushfires all over - especially Tasmania, Victoria and NSW. Mum and Dad came very close to being evacuated at White Patch. Fires are still burning on the island.

I am going out each morning to keep the vege patches wet and productive and try to give major garden plants some water. Many of the Tamarillos are suffering badly in the heat. The ones in the front yard may even be dying - have dropped all their leaves. Great pity as they were covered with fruit, some of which is ripening.

The custard apple, soursop, ceylon hill gooseberry and carambola all have developing fruit and I'm giving them drinks every few days in a effort to stop them dropping these.

Out of the three cucs grown this season - Spacemaster, Muncher and Prof Mary Sheehan, the last is proving to be the most productive and long producing. A nice cuc - often with a hollow in the centre of the fruit. Goes a little golden when it's ripening. I've had almost nil problems with mould - could be due to the lack of rain, type of plant but I do think the addition of rock minerals has had a positive impact.

9779033081?profile=originalBelow: This pic doesn't do my Amaranth forest justice! Some are taller than me. Nothing much affects these attractive and useful plants. I add a leaf to my sandwiches (the red look particularly nice) and add them to salads and casseroles. Now developing their flower heads which look a lot like Celosia.

9779033861?profile=originalBelow: The Winter Melon is starting to develop it's white protective coating from the top down.

9779025694?profile=originalBelow: One of about four other WM babies.  They get little sticky, brown exudations on the skin. Not sure if this is something burrowing or normal.


I was walking around the garden with Ana and her little one Scarlett the other day and had a very exciting moment. My first ever!! Dragonfruit flowers and fruit developing. And I missed them! Never mind, some new buds are developing so I'll keep a careful eye on them for some night time viewing.

9779034870?profile=originalBelow: 31.01.13 The same fruit 12 days later.

9779035469?profile=originalBelow: 19.01.13 Second flower.

9779035688?profile=originalBelow: 31.01.13 The same flower 12 days later developing fruit.

9779036674?profile=originalBelow - My dear little Rattle Ants are paying a lot of attention to the developing flowers.

9779036276?profile=originalBelow: 31.01.13 Same flowers 12 days later getting attention from another variety of ant.

9779037279?profile=originalBelow - 2nd, 3rd and 4th (baby) Winter Melons. Some caterpillar damage but they were found before they chewed through the stems.

9779038280?profile=original9779039088?profile=original9779039677?profile=originalBelow - 21.03.13 Excited about this Sweet Leaf or Bunchosia given to me by James. The tips are really nice.

9779040282?profile=original9779040666?profile=originalBelow - 21.01.13 Some more Cardoon flowers. The first lot still haven't turned into seed. Really hoping they do. Each flower has a little white Flower Spider hiding in and lots of ants visiting. The beetles like these as well.

9779041468?profile=original9779042068?profile=originalBelow - 21.01.13 Have tried regrowing beans and corn but the heat has been too much. The corn has a few growing but the beans are not doing well at all. I've planted Richard's sweet potato seedling in the middle - something useful.


The native bees are giving me lots to study at the moment. The Cadaghi seed phase seems to have stopped without the disaster of slump that I half expected. They still aren't foraging and bringing back pollen to the degree that they were previously but I did see one bring in small pollen sacs this morning. They're still milling around the entrance and flying short distances - the gray ones. NOTE: Soon after this the darker foragers came out, so I think the gray guards were just checking things out.

The last couple of days they have started bringing home some lavender to purple threads and are attempting to drag them through the top entrance (bottom was mainly used for Cadaghi - very specific) with their mandibles. I pinned one thread down with my fingernail and the bee turned around and tried to tug it free with it's mandibles. Have witnessed them this morning dragging them through the bottom entrance also. One came out with a thread again and either dropped it or threw it away.

Around 7 this morning I witnessed them forming a cloud of activity (we won't call it a swarm as that's what honey bees do when they vacate their hive for another destination - ASB don't do this) that extended for around 1.5m all around the hive. They were quite agitated, even aggressive. Paying a lot of attention to me sitting beside them, but not biting. This happened last night around 5pm also. Today this lasted about half an hour then they settled down to business as usual - bringing out larval cases, bringing back the odd pollen sac and bringing back some purple thread.

Andrew from ANBees has suggested it's something to do with palm flowers - they are blooming around us at the moment.

Bob L. is working on figuring it out. I'm buying one of Bob's boxes for splitting in the next week or so.

Below: the purple thread.

9779042894?profile=original9779043095?profile=originalI've finally sat down and made a few Insect Hotels from PVC, bamboo, curled bark and straws for the smaller insects (thank you to Ian on ANBees for that idea).

I have heaps of Blue Banded Bees around but they really like the holes in the brickwork in the shady carport. Would be wonderful to see someone move in to one of my homes.

I also have the most beautiful wasps collecting caterpillar from the cucumber vine. They're quite long - about 4cm, have an orange dot on the top of their head and orange epaulettes on the shoulders, black in the middle and an orange striped abdomen. Too fast moving for me to photograph.

Here's a pic from the Vic. Museum which looks a lot like it:

Mud Wasp Abispa sp.

Mud Wasp

Below: Insect Hotels.


I have had a bee war today.

The bees were quite agitated around 5pm last night when I was sitting out there working, buzzing around me but not biting. This morning they had a lot of little gray bees poking their heads out for a look-see at dawn before the darker bees came out. None of the bees have done much foraging the last few days - little sign of pollen being brought back.

Around 7 to 7.30am they did a lot of "clouding" about 1.5m around the hive but then seemed to settle. At 3pm I was out gardening and finally noticed they were swarming all over the front of hive. On closer inspection I found many little dead and dying bodies around the hive. I had missed the war.

By 6.45 tonight things had calmed down. Lots of dead bees being dragged out of the hive and dumped. The intruders appear to be slightly smaller with a small pale mark on either side of their thorax. Bit hard to tell with the naked eye.

The hive appears to be letting the odd pollen carrying bee inside which at first made me think that the original bees won the war but now I doubt that as the victors are throwing out the gray juveniles.

Here's some pics:


10pm last night there were still a few bees milling around the outside of the hive. Normally everyone goes inside for the night.

5.30am much the same. A few milling bees.

6.15am more activity starting despite it being an overcast morning. Bodies are being dumped from the bottom entrance again. Bob has suggested putting down a white cloth which makes it much easier to see the bodies.

Many able bodied gray bees are being dumped - grays are immature so it makes me think the invaders have won and are dumping my babies. Will watch to see if they start dumping the larvae.

Getting quite wet out there. I was hunched on a hard rock with an umbrella and notebook. Even the dogs wouldn't stay with me lol.

1.00pm More carnage as the victors toss out more dead and dying bodies, many gray juveniles amongst them.

Below: Victors on the front of the box, vanquished tossed down on the cloth out of the entrance.

9779048085?profile=originalBelow: Gray juveniles can be clearly seen amongst the dying.

9779048875?profile=originalBelow: Close up of the victors. More Carbonaria's perhaps? Certainly not Hockingsi which are bigger.

9779049454?profile=originalBelow: My vanquished Carbonarias.


The carnage goes on today despite it being rainy and blustery. The victors are continueing to throw out bodies - now getting down to pupae. They're also flying in a cloud around the box to about 1.5m in a very assertive fashion. Again, if I sit beside the hive they give me an intensive once over without biting.

I do notice a lot of them have this little white patch on either side of the thorax. Searches for pics of native bees in books and online show both the Tetragonula Carbonaria (mine) and Austroplebeia Australis has having similar markings. Found this just now on Native Bee Sanctuary:

Austroplebeia australis

This warm-loving species of stingless bee make an intricate, lacy curtain of cerumen each night as a barrier across their doorway…then they pack it away when they’re ready to face the day again! At the base of their thorax (between the head and the adbdomen) they have tiny cream coloured markings. They like to nest in hollow trees and fight off small hive beetle invaders by sticking them down with resin and biting them. It’s hard to tell them apart from T. carbonaria, without looking inside at the different nest shape they have, but they often build a a tunnel-like entrance into the hive, and the lacy night curtain is always a give away!

Haven't noticed any lacy curtain of cerumen. 

Other ways to tell them apart when I finally get to split the hive and open it up:

Identification: When the hive is opened, Trigona (now Tetragonula) will crawl over the intruder, into eyes, ears, mouth etc. Austroplebeia do not show this behavior, and is one distinguishing behavioural difference.

Trigona (now Tetragonula) build a hexagonal brood cell, in a flat layer spiraling outwards (horizontally). Austroplebeia do not build in a discernable regular pattern.

The Austroplebeia queen has a light brown appearance, in contrast to the dark brown Trigona queen.


Showers and gusty wind, but by 7am the victors, which have been identified by Bob L. as another group of Carbonaria, are throwing out more dead bodies. Adults locked in combat to the death, no babies. Perhaps the battle still rages deep inside the hive.


Tail end of the cylcone has brought strong winds and lots of rain. I could have filled my 5000lt tank 10 times over. Time for hot and spicey beef-cheek stew with some added Winter Melon and Aibika amongst more mundane veg.

I've ventured out to plant Lupin and Sub clover as most things have finished cropping and it is perfect seed germination weather.

The Cardoon seed heads were becoming soggy, the plant was dead, so I cut them off and brought them inside to dry off a bit. On pulling them apart I found very few viable looking it was a lot like picking ticks out of dirty human hair. Pretty yuck but I have some seed for winter, I hope.

9779050487?profile=originalThe two other Winter Melon fruit passed Joseph's "pick me" test as the little surface prickles were wiping off and the fruit becoming white all over.

I made a stirfry using part of the small one with a nice piece of fried Salmon last night. Put in too much oyster sauce once again. Also Kangkong of which I finally have lots!

9779051665?profile=originalBelow: Winter melon stir fry

9779052253?profile=original28.01.13 - The bees kept entirely to the hive during yesterdays gusty, rainy weather due to the cyclone up north. More bits of Qld flooded and people drowned trying to cross creeks etc. Pretty intense stuff.

This morning there was a complete lull in wind and rain for about an hour so the bees and I both came out!

The bees became very active - still removing the odd very-dead body (as opposed to the struggling live ones from the other day) but now flying off with dozens of pupal cases. It's much too soon for any Queen they may have installed to be laying let alone the eggs reaching hatching stage so I'm hoping that the invaders are accepting my larvae as their own. I did find one worker dumping an entire larva though.

The material they are dumping is amber coloured on the whole, like normal larval cases, but some of it is bright orange. I've asked Bob what he thinks that might be but I suspect Bob's internet is down still post storm as I haven't heard from him for a few days.

During the lull I've gone around with my hand saw and taken the top off one pawpaw and a couple of tamarillos that were pushed sideways by the heavy winds. The pawpaw will be fine but the tam's were already badly affected by the drought and may already be dead - this includes my original plant which would be three this year. Pretty much it's lifespan anyway.

Considering the flush of growth that will come in the next few weeks due to all the water (seeds are coming up everywhere! salvias are growing roots at leaf nodes all along the length of stems!) I have cut back bushy plants to allow for the new growth. All the different salvias mainly.

The cooler weather has given me back my apetite :) Fried eggs, toast and stew for a late brekkie.


Overcast with occasional showers this morning. The bees have returned to business as usual on the whole - bringing back pollen and removing larval cases.

There are still a few bees staggering around on the ground and rocks apparently unable to fly. When I put them on the hive box the victors pounce on them as soon as they become aware they are there and knock them off again. Very odd how the losers seem to have lost the power of flight.

The victors colour markings are much stronger than the originals. The majority of them are very dark/black in colour with a strong white marking of hairs to either side of the thorax.

I've cut back all the growth around the hive yesterday. It was getting leggy and messy with lots of dead flower heads. Shade cloth put up again to provide shade.

The hive is pungent smelling again today. Could smell it from metres away. Bees are bringing back some Cadaghi seed again.

I think myself that there is a link between the Cadaghi resin collection of the original bees and the takeover. I suspect the victors could have been drawn by the smell and wanted the booty for themselves.

9779053256?profile=originalBelow: After the storms. I've been very lucky again.

9779053272?profile=originalBelow: 31.01.13 Decided to cut it all back this morning. This will give the beds time to rest and recuperate before autumn planting.

9779053098?profile=originalBelow: 28.01.13 Cut back pawpaw had quite a lean to it and was top heavy.

9779054655?profile=originalBelow: 30.01.13 The wind and rain is knocking kgs of fruit out of the Carombola. It's so tender it bruises when it hits the ground and there is some fruit fly damage in some of them. The bulk have made juice.


31.01.13 Had to crop my one and only pumpkin as I got carried away trimming back the vine and it all died.


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