herbs (14)

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.

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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.

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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! 

Pepino?

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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...

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....

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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...

9779220488?profile=originalSome of the garden art....

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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 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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2016 SPRING - SEPTEMBER TO NOVEMBER

We all love those first indications that spring is here. Slightly warmer days where we can discard the heavy winter clothing, flowers appearing on trees, birds making eyes at each other in preparation for creating the new generation.

And then a few weeks later we are all complaining about the heat lol.

Planting on front verges has been a point of debate between councils and home owners for some time. Jerry Coleby-Williams has been chipping away at the Brisbane City Council for 10yrs and has finally had a victory for that shire. I live in the Moreton Shire. Still not the done thing to plant up the verge here. But I have, and I love it as do passers by. It has herbs and flowers and is starting to look very pretty.

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Anyone who has read my blogs would know that I attempted Heliculture or snail farming as a form of protein I could easily grow and harvest.

Well, growing the snails in their custom built snail farm proved a great success - I had 100's of them and they reach edible size in a matter of months. But I became so fond of these beautiful little creatures I could never bring myself to throw them into boiling water. They were all let loose.

Helix aspersa or European Garden Snail are actually quite delicate little creatures here in the heat of Brisbane and I didn't think any had survived in the "wilds" of my garden. I was thrilled to find some snail love going on in the front garden this morning.

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I just love the tangerine colour and delicate papery texture of Pomegranate flowers. This is my seed grown tree doing it's thing before the Wonderful.

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I have lots of bright pretty flowers ar

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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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GARDEN RESCUED

I have been very busy in the garden since the Garden Rescue, you all gave me just what I needed, a swift kick up the backside to just get out there and stop feeling sorry for myself. Well that is what I did. It's a start.

9779167283?profile=originalVEGI GARDEN #1

The Lettuce have decided to give us lots of leaves due to this hot weather we are having, they have only been in 3 weeks. The Mini Eggplant are growing well with lots of flowers and my bean seeds that I planted about a week ago are up and climbing.

9779168078?profile=originalVEGI GARDEN #2

The Passionfruit is doing very well they loved their horse manure. The big leaf 'Thingy' to the left came up in the compost from Roger, does anyone know what it might be. The photos were taken when the sun was beating down and are usually standing up more. Warrigul Greens are doing well as are the Sweet Potatoes. Worms Towers still to go in.

9779169060?profile=originalTOMATOES and CHILLIES

It is not the best time for the Tomatoes, Chillies & Capsicums in this hot dry windy weather, but most are doing well with the exception of the trial soil tomatoes. The Mini Roma's are already fruiting and others are flowering. Lots of different Chillies in flower and fruit.

9779165301?profile=originalHERB GARDEN

The Herb Garden is going well. Also the Citrus are flowering and fruiting, though a couple had a setback in that a couple of Palm Tree fronds fell on top of them braking a few branches that were in flower. There is a lot more to be done and I have also been working in other parts of the garden. I am truly enjoying my time back in the garden.

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2014 WINTER June to August

Nights are cool but the days beautiful. The garden is very productive despite my lack of time to look after it, and I get to eat my own fruit and veg daily. No time to do any watering as I leave for work around 6.30am soon after it's gotten light.

The Carambola has been exceptionally productive, giving me good fruit every day. Most fall and smash but some portion of them is edible. Throwing away many kgs of ruined fruit but also giving away a lot of good fruit.

9779131052?profile=originalRed Tamarillo are ripening. Yellow ripened some weeks ago. 

9779131275?profile=originalLots of smallish Pepino fruit developing and I've had a few to eat - really quite delicious and a definite favourite of mine. I cut back most of the patches of plant (still to get to some) which did them good. Fruit could be a lot bigger though - lack of water? nutrition? Still sweet and juicy despite their size.

9779131460?profile=originalThe fig out the back is trying to fruit out of season. NOTE: A short time later this plant dropped all it's leaves and developing fruit, just as it should.

9779131856?profile=originalIt's actually going to be a good year for Soursop after no fruit at all for about three years. Tree is covered in a dozen or more good fruit, some too high to reach. NOTE: The fruit started dropping from the tree in large numbers. I have given the tree a good soak in the hope that extra water during this dry period will help it hold it's large developing crop.

9779131878?profile=originalPlenty of good pawpaw both red and yellow. 9779132069?profile=originalThis is Deer Tongue lettuce. Almost lost these as only one plant survived last time to give me seed. I just tuck seed down beside the beds and cover a little with mulch. The seeds come up when they're ready.

9779132477?profile=originalRuttabaga, or Swede, one of my favourite root veg for winter soups and stews or baked. Apparently good made into chips or mashed also. These are from the second half of the packet of seed I bought last year which performed so dismally for me then.

9779133053?profile=originalNOTE: 31.07.14 Crop from the Ruttabaga. Sweet, crunchy and delicious.

9779133258?profile=originalSnow Peas are still going strong. Nice, but I would much rather have had Sugar Snap pods but that's what I get for using commercial seedlings instead of growing what I really want from seed. NOTE: End of July, and these plants are still producing pods though in much smaller quantities.

9779132892?profile=originalHeaps of lovely crunchy little yellow Zuchinni.

NOTE: Beginning of August and these plants are producing plenty of good fruit still.

9779133856?profile=originalDaikon Radish-like veg still hasn't gone to seed. Will try to be patient. It has now been attacked by aphid. NOTE: Beginning of August and it is finally going to seed. Pretty convinced that it is a Daikon Radish.

9779133887?profile=originalEggplant are still growing new fruit. I've had enough to share around of these Listada di Gandia and the round mauve. Black have stopped.

NOTE: By the end of July I have removed all developing fruit as the plants are struggling.

9779134874?profile=originalReplanted Sweet potato towers x 3 are all going well. Goodness I like this idea, it has worked such a treat.

9779135661?profile=originalNew self watering herb garden bought from Productive Gardens. So far so good. Has to be better than those hanging baskets I insisted on using for the last 13yrs which dried out so quickly.

NOTE: A couple of plants have died for some reason - the Vietnamese Mint being one of them and it should love having it's feet wet all the time, so I guess it's just a seasonal problem. Everything else is thriving. The regular mints in particular seem to like it.

9779135698?profile=originalDaily broccoli crop - some caterpillar damage but not much. I run the head under the hot tap when I bring heads in to kill the caterpillars.

9779135883?profile=originalNOTE: It's the beginning of August and I still have daily Broccoli crop to eat. Staggering the seedling planting this year was the best thing I've done. The odd caterpillar still but most is free of any pest. The days have actually warmed up to 25C though the mornings are still nippy.

9779136456?profile=originalThe Nopales cactus have been flowering. Pretty, simple little flower which will hopefully lead to something edible in the fruit line.

NOTE: Fruit don't seem to get any bigger over time. They're still sitting there, looking just like this minus the little flower.

9779026879?profile=originalIn the front yard, I've been using the nice rounded fruit of the red pawpaw as a veg in chicken soups. Mmmmmm. Good warming winter tucker cooked along with some home grown ginger and chilli.

9779137258?profile=originalHave cropped dozens of small and large (folk at work prefer them big) choko. The plant is in hiatus, waiting for the next thunder storm to start cropping heavily again.

NOTE: Beginning of August and I have cut the plant right back again.

9779138465?profile=originalSelf sown Plantain, an edible weed, which I've grown very fond of. I use it a lot in soupy type meals but would no doubt be good in stir fry as well. Tends to keep it's shape in soups unlike other greens which disintegrate.

9779138670?profile=originalI've had a few strawberries to eat so far. Keep meaning to give the patch some manure.

NOTE: The patch is suffering from the current dry. I give it a drink each weekend but that doesn't seem to be enough.

9779138899?profile=originalAnd the best bit - some new raspberry canes, Chillwack from Garden Express, to go with the Williamette I bought from them some years back which have proven such a success.

9779139668?profile=original28.06.14

New addition - Saba Nut or Malabar Chestnut, Pachira glabra bought from Heart Garden Nursery.

Relative of the Baobab tree which shows in the tiny bloated trunk. Drought, flood and disease resistant and cropping within three years even the leaves are edible (it is deciduous). I have Peggy to thank for putting me on to this little beauty. Here's a really good VIDEO from Daley's Nursery.

9779140276?profile=original9779140660?profile=original15.07.14

Cropped my one and only cauliflower a couple of days back. Not sure what happened to the other seedlings I planted but this one produced the goods. Good eating to the last bit!

9779140862?profile=originalAlso finally got around to cropping the Water Chestnuts and it was worth the year long wait.

Some good sized corms this year as opposed to last when I probably over planted the pot, being greedy. The picture below shows the entire crop (little corms are for replanting) and the pot replanted with good quality potting mix (Searles) and some Organic Xtra and replaced in it's bucket of water.

9779087885?profile=original02.08.14 A few good toms to be had. I'm not much of a tomato grower! I just leave them to their own devices and reap the rewards, if there are any.

9779141873?profile=originalCropped the Purple Yam growing in the pot (lack of anywhere else to put it). The vine died back so I took that as a sign that I should see what was below the ground - ugly son of a gun and slimy when cut. Ate these bits roasted. Not bad. Definitely an acquired taste. I grew up on regular potatoes and they are my preference but of course, they don't like to grow for us here in Brisbane.

9779141677?profile=originalStill plenty of yellow Zucchini on the two plants. I find them a bit flavourless but they are firm and beautiful to look at, good in a stew etc.

9779143099?profile=original

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The start...

My garden to date has consisted of herbs and tomatoes in pots. The tomatoes did ok crop-wise,  but have long since succumbed to the summer heat. The remaining herbs and pots below. The chillies are going crazy, the basil is doing well and the capsicum not so great.9779065694?profile=original

9779066299?profile=original9779069271?profile=original

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Winter Maintenance Tasks in our Garden

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been catching up on some much needed maintenance in various sections of our garden. We have been growing a lot of our edibles in containers while my husband built us a permanent raised garden bed which is now finished and ready for planting.  Prior to that we had an 18m long no-dig raised garden bed made out of hay bales which served us well for a year and also a 20m raised bed on the ground, which we've been resting whilst planting other areas.  It's now been revamped and I'm currently planting out in that too.

 

9779021655?profile=original

 

Some of the maintenance tasks I've been attending to are:

MAKING TEPEES: Since cherry tomatoes, beans and peas are all reaching for the sky, I’ve pulled out some of my collapsed bamboo tepees that I have made and have been repositioning them to support my new crops. Bamboo stakes and baling twine are used to make 3 or 4 legged tepees in under a minute and I love using bamboo as it’s a sustainable resource and locally available very cheaply. I can make a tepee for about 80c! They are very durable, last me usually 1-2 years and I fold them up and store when I’m not growing climbers. They take up minimal space too.

Recently I transplanted 4 snow pea seedlings that had been in a little micro garden plant nursery till I had the time to put them in a new home. They are now happily installed in their new pea pot climbing up a 4 legged tepee. I last had heavy feeding tomatoes and a few salad greens in this pot so I’m rotating with a legume to add nitrogen to the soil and revitalise it.

 

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PLANT NURSERIES: I have set up a few baby plant nurseries in micro gardens – polystyrene boxes filled with nutrient dense light and fluffy potting mix. I allow my seedlings to harden off and get started before transplanting into the big wide world. They are close to the house so I can give them the extra attention they need before moving them to a raised bed.

 

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RENOVATING MICRO GARDENS: I have developed an intensive cropping system from very small gardens which means I can obtain a high yield in the minimum space. I have less work to do as I don’t have to travel around the garden as much but to produce nutrient dense edible crops, these gardens need that extra bit of love. I top up during the growing cycle with my home made potting mix to reinvigorate the mini box gardens and also to replace the depth as the plants suck up the nutrients in the organic matter. There is always some shrinkage in this system but I have far less pests and high production so I feel that’s a fair trade off.

 

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CROPS WE’RE HARVESTING: We tasted the first passionfruit off our vines a few days ago and they were so sweet – very little acid and definitely worth waiting for. They are planted in a naturally sandy soil so nutrients leach quickly. I’ve had to boost the organic matter with compost, adding coconut fibre which holds moisture well and digging in our food scraps. Have also added lucerne mulch to help feed the soil. This part of the garden is along our boundary fence and a pain to reach with the hose so they’ve had to pretty well look after themselves for moisture. Once a week I’ve been taking a watering can over with some E.M., molasses and seaweed to give them some love and let them know I still care! Also use Natramin, Nutri-Store Gold and Organic Xtra fertilisers to build up the mineral content and balance within the soil.

We’re also harvesting loads of chillis, pumpkins, spinach, salad greens like lettuce, baby spinach, rocket, mustard greens, tatsoi etc and herbs of all kinds, tomatoes, leeks, spring onions, capsicum, mandarins, lemons, avocadoes, eggplant and beans.  A bunch of bananas is nearly ready too.

 

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HERBS: Herbs play a big role in my cooking and also for health but I hate going out at night in winter with a torch to grab a handful of herbs at dinner time. It gets dark so early so I’ve transplanted some of my most used herbs into some pots and put them on our outdoor dining table as an edible centrepiece. Much more convenient.

 

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I’m letting our Lemon Basil go to seed and will replant when it gets warmer.  Have just harvested sweet basil and mustard greens, mild chilli and chia seeds and they are drying for processing soon. 

RAISED NO DIG GARDEN BED: This new no-dig raised bed is about 8m long and 1.2m wide with layers of compost, manure, soil, minerals, leaf litter, lucerne and other hay. We’ve had great success growing in raised beds – less pest problems, great drainage, not so hard on my back and much easier to maintain – so looking forward to planting out our larger winter crops in that very soon. The other raised bed (about 20m long) is currently being planted out with edibles from my plant nursery and will soon fill in the spaces as the weather warms up with other crops like zucchini and sweet corn.  It was previously intensively cropped so we've been making the most of our other garden spaces in the meantime.

Looking forward to sharing the techniques we use and picking up some tips from others. 

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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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Donna's Garden - October 2010

Well, I am too scared to check just how long it has been since my last blog - it certainly feels like forever! Working with two little kids never seems to leave enough time to do anything... as my garden can certainly tell you!

We are about 3/4 of the way through putting an irrigation system in which will mean that my poor plants won't be subjected to so much stress by non watering... surely I can find enough time to turn the tap and timer on ;) At the moment there is two systems with most of the veggie gardens having drip irrigation, trees having their own drippers and the side and front garden having microjets - I'll keep an eye on it (if it ever stops raining long enough to need it) and see if that is enough.

I have a fair few things flowering at the moment and will be busy collecting seeds to share including broccoli, radish, italian parsley, mustard for green manure, mizuna, dill, coriander and marigolds for nematodes/ green manure.

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Broccoli


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Radish

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Italian Parsley

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Dill

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Coriander

The main (original) asparagus bed has done well, we have picked heaps and am now leaving the rest to feed the roots up for next season. The ones that were planted last year haven't done very well as I haven't looked after them or watered them, plus the chickens scratched up one bed... hopefully a lot of love and affection this year will bring the ones that survived back to health.

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There is kale and brocolli still going strong, these will have to be pulled out in the next few weeks although I am hoping that the curly dwarf kale will go to seed, it was a winner in my garden this year! There are also a few beetroot and carrots still to be harvested.

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I am trialling lettuce in the orchard under the trees in styrafoam boxes to be used as a baby mescalin size for salads. At the moment there are two, but I think I'll get another one as they are usually cut and come again... hopefully this will mean that there is heaps of lettuce for salad this summer. I will also keep planting in the main beds to see if I can find one that is truly 'heat tolerant' to grow to full size, also the chooks love it even if it bolts to seed.

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Speaking of chooks, they are doing well. Bubbles has already gone broody and finally given up on the eggs, now one of the white sussex (Betty or Flossie - can't tell them apart anymore now they are the same size) has gone broody. They all seem to lay really well and we are probably getting six eggs a week each when they aren't broody - heaps of quiche/ egg dishes, the favourite at the moment is omelet with a kale/ dill/ fetta filling yum! I find they are no trouble, we have a 5kg feeder which I check weekly when I change their bedding, there are two home made waterers with special cups which are checked and filled at the same time. Daily we get 3-4 eggs and they are only on the cheap pellets which is about $13 per month... I don't give them kitchen scraps but give them something green pretty much every day from the garden - I am thinking of growing them lettuce along with mine to put in once a week as a special treat. They get let out on weekends when the dog is shut up inside but I have put temporary fencing around nearly all the garden beds so they can't scratch/ eat my veggies. I wish we had got them years ago, they are great and I recommend them to anyone!

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The trees (that haven't died) are all going really well with the exception of the sole remaining blueberry, the apple and nashi espalier attempts. Think I am going to bite the bullet and rip these out soon, the blueberry is in a pot so it can soldier on for another year. There were a couple of blossoms on the almond, there are flowers on Ashley's passionfruit (his wasn't trimmed but mine was - his is flowering and fruiting but mine isn't - they weren't fertilised at all except with potash), the tamarillo is flowering, heaps of paw paws coming on, heaps of pepinos coming on. The citrus most have new fruit, the avocado and guava are growing huge and most of the trees have new growth. The fig looks great at the moment with heaps of lush new leaves.

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I cornered Annette McFarlene at the BOGI fair and asked about my banana grove. I had four Ducasse that were neglected and struggled with lack of water/ competition from grass and took a year before they started to grow. I let a few suckers grow on thinking that would be the 'baby' for when the mother produces fruit, but these are now as big as the parent - nearly four metres! So each one of the originals has at least two plants, and one has four at differing sizes. In addition to this I was keeping them tidy and cutting leaves off as soon as they started to get a bit yellow not thinking about the job they do getting nutrients from the sun/ retaining water etc. And to top it all off the leaves are shredded by the wind/ clothes line/ tree so not getting as much leaf area! I have been dumping the chicken bedding in the middle and compost too as well as trying to keep the water up to them. She has assured me that they are *not* ornamental and advised they are likely to flower in November (fruit in January) so eagerly watching to see if her prophesy comes true!

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My sandy soil just seems to be a nematode trap, I get it in at least one bed every season despite rotating them and in the weirdest things too like silverbeet?! Anyway there have been a couple of green manure crops at the end of winter and now the big bed has marigold seedlings coming up to do it for nematodes now.

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There isn't much new growing at the moment but I will hopefully get out there next weekend and plant a few seeds for summer. Probably try the last of the winged beans (the other ones didn't come up I don't think), corn, okra, purple king beans, snake beans, cherry yellow pear tomato, and a few others that I can't think of right now.

The side permaculture/ orchard style will also be where I try eggplant, chilli and capsicum this planting - they just seem to take so long and I feel it is a 'waste' of my veggie bed space :) There is yakon, taro, cassava at the moment as well as a couple of sweet potato patches. I noticed there are a few self seeded things coming up including a stars and moon watermelon so they will be good ground cover too.

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My herb bed is chock a block but a lot of it has gone to seed - I will get in there and thin out some stuff and get some new seeds in soon I hope. I planted some fat hen seeds that were given to me by Jacqui at the first Garden Visit at Jane Street and these look to be going to seed, I will have to look up what to do with them!

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New things I am going to try and get crops off are wheat for wheat grass which is really healthy for you and tastes okay if mixed with apple juice. Also chia as it has really high levels of omega 3 which is lacking in most peoples diet nowadays.

Interestingly I have had both boys tested at a naturopath recently for intolerance/ sensitivity and deficiency. They are both lacking int he B vitamins as well as potassium, magnesium and silica - I laughed and said I could easily make up a watering can and sit them outside for a dose :) Apparently these are often deficient in a modern diet with non organic and processed food. Brewers yeast is supposed to be really good so am trying to add it to their diet. Poor baby Brendan has had a bad run with his digestive system over the past few months and as a result he has yogurt with chia seeds, digestive enzymes, probiotics, slippery elm and brewers yeast morning and night - he loves it weirdly enough! David is another matter, I have to hold him down and syringe his into his mouth - hopefully he gets the idea that it is easier for him to just drink it - his is a really yummy chocolate milkshake with whey isolate, pysillium husks and brewers yeast. Nearly everything I cook has ground up linseed or chia seed included in it for the omega 3 content.

It was interesting when labelling my photos that a large number of my plants are from other people thanks to the Brisbane Seed Saver group and the monthly garden visits. It is a great way to meet new people and talk about our gardens and I would like to thank everyone for participating and sharing so much knowledge, seeds, plants and information. It is a great network and hopefully it will continue to grow as new members join. Thanks again to everyone who has given me things for my garden!

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Anyway, that's more than enough dribble about my garden - hopefully next time it won't be so long between blogs... and I look forward to reading about *your* garden!


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