vegetable (11)

It's been a long time..... late spring update ~

It's been a long time since my last blog... I haven't been active in the garden at all this year ~ But garden being a living thing, as long as you give them water and attention once in a while, they'll grow by themselves I think....

Just look at the Ruby chard, and kang kong... they pretty much died down over winter, but as soon as the weather start warming up, and I start watering regularly again, they sprang up with life! Same with the carrots that were captured in this photo, and not to mention the parsley and lucerne... they were growing even over winter when I didn't even water the garden due to my morning sickness ^^


Other plants which bounced back up as soon as they received a bit of clean up and water were the strawberries, and the garlic chives, which are hiding behind these strawberry pots ~ 

9779164692?profile=original Although the strawberries they produced were rather tasteless... but I think they're getting a bit better... Anyone still getting strawberries?

Other plants that are popping up after hibernation are chocolate mint, ginger, cassava, taro, mother of herbs, and I think I saw a bit of oregano....  I think the galango didn't even die down... 

After cleaning up all the self sown Chinese mustards which bolted to seeds, probably due to lack of water, I've planted some snake beans (see the story of my snake bean seeds here), and some tongue of fire beans.  The tongue of fire bean seeds actually expired in Feb this year, I was just hoping they'll germinate... but none did, then I planted blue lake, which also expired (there was a time I couldn't resist buying seeds, but don't get around to plant them ^^, so I refrain from buying seeds now)... none of those germinated either, so I ended up sowing the purple king beans I saved last year ~ Now these were planted quite a few weeks later than the snake beans, probably around mid to mid-late October but were growing faster than the snake beans, and have now started to flower ... 


Purple king on the left, and snake beans on the right ~ I have surplus purple king bean seeds to share if anyone would like some ~

Other then beans, I've also sown cucumber in a pot, and tomatoes in seedling pots which are ready to transplant ~ They are about 7 weeks old, varies between 20 to 30 cm tall ~ The varieties are Thai Pink Egg, Grosse Lisse, Tommy Toe, and Yellow Pear ~ I should have spare seedlings of the latter three to share at the Christmas get together if anyone's interested ~

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Growing your vegetables and herbs indoors can be very productive and enjoyable. Like any organic food growing, the tactics you apply can have a profound impact on your success.

Indoor food growing will protect your plants from larger animals, but not from insects. Indoor plants are likely to suffer from the lack of natural biological controls, that is, the predators that would keep plant insect pests in check in a more biologically complex outdoor environment.

The major insect pests indoors are: aphids, scales, white flies, mealy bugs, and mites. These all produce honeydew. The insects usually enter the home or indoor area on a plant or are brought in with garden materials. You can use this web site to help you identify which of these pests are affecting your plants.


Pest management tactics

  1. Physical - When a few bugs appear: hand-pick, squash, or rub them off. You must be observant each day to be successful with this as leaving things for a week could mean the end of the plant. Washing the plant off in a mild soapy water may also help, but be sure to not make a mess inside.

  2. Move the plant outdoors – At different times of the year, depending on your climate, there will be plenty of general insect predators and parasites in your garden, putting the afflicted plant outdoors for several weeks may take care of the problem. When moving plants infested with honeydew producers outside, you might wish to place them on stands with ant-excluders around the legs so that ants don’t prevent the aphid predators and parasites from doing a good job.

  3. Introduce predator insects indoors - For bug-infested plants that are too large to move, hand-pick, or hose off, you can import predatory insects. After cleaning up the pest insects the predators will die off from lack of food, so for each new outbreak new predators will have to be imported. This web site is a great resource for suppliers of predator insects and linking which predators relate to aphids, scales, white flies, mealy bugs, and mites.

  4. Organic insecticides - If you have exhausted all other methods of insect management, then be sure to select the least toxic material that will do the job. Move the plant outdoors if possible, and wear a mask and gloves while handling the insecticide and treating the plant, washing yourself and your clothes afterwards. This Australian site provides a list of well known organic products that deal with the aphids, scales, white flies, mealy bugs, and mites


Plant disease management tactics

Plant diseases are harder to cure than insect infestations, some tips are provided below which are primarily preventative measures:

  1. Do not over-water – Too much water will promote mould and turn the soil anaerobic. Closely monitor soil moisture levels. You may choose to have a wicking system with your indoor beds which will recycle water and allow consistent moisture levels. Here is an example of an Australian company selling well designed wicking systems into timber garden beds.

  2. Do not over-fertilize - Excess nitrogen may encourage aphid infestations indoors, in addition to creating weak, over-succulent plants more susceptible to disease. Use a blend of liquid organic fertilisers and apply no more than monthly. My preference is to supplement these with biodynamic preparations bi-monthly, such as soil activator.

  3. Maintain optimum temperatures for plants to grow – If its too hot or too cold they will not thrive, lack vitality and be more subject to disease. Our web site subscriber area provides optimum average temperatures for all common vegetables to thrive. Humidity is an important factor and if the indoor climate is too humid, you will encourage mould. In this case, use a fan to create airflow or open a window.

  4. Cut out infections - Leaves infested with mould or fungus leaf-spots can be cut off.

  5. Crown stem or root rot - It is best to destroy the plant. Avoid the problem in the future by not over-watering or over-fertilizing, and by keeping water off susceptible plants.

  6. Improve observation skills – Concentrate on developing your observation skills so you can know when the plants need help. This is getting in-tune with the plant and its very possible if you spend sufficient time observing the plant and objectively thinking through how it responds to changes. A green thumb could evolve from these observation skills.

  7. Replace soil – If you are not solving the disease problem, the last resort is to replace the soil in fresh material. I feel its helpful to get into the rhythm of replacing soil used in pots for food growing each year and try composting that soil so you bring life into it and then use that “refuse soil” next year in rotation.

You will find detailed information on pests and disease management of vegetables, herbs and fruit trees in our web site subscriber area on 300 food crops. In our biodynamic gardening courses, we do concentrate on biodynamic methods of pests and disease control.


Author – Peter Kearney –

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Donna's Garden - November 2010

Well it has been a long journey but at long last MY BANANA'S ARE FRUITING!!! Ali beat me to the punch as her flower appeared about a week before mine.. but I have two (in your face Ali lol) and one with a short leaf so soon to be three! I am also almost expecting up to another four as there are plants very similar in size - seven in total at (approx) 35kg ea flower - 245kg of bananas!


Here is a blog about my banana plantations if you're interested/ missed it. I first planted these four in June 2008, nearly 2 1/2 years to produce fruit - not sure if that's a record or not but it felt like it with well meaning onlookers advising that it takes 9 months for banana's to fruit.

Check out some of the angles, they will need supported for sure as the bananas grow bigger! The two at the back are fruiting already despite having full size suckers, the one at the front on the left has a flag leaf on one despite having full size sucker, and the one at the front on the right doesn't have a full size sucker but the 'correct' teenager yet it doesn't have even a short leaf yet!


When the flower first appeared I thought it looked a bit rude - now it is a lot nicer! Not all the petals have opened yet but already I counted 70 bananas on just one of the flowers, bring on January! The plants are looking very dodgy, we will have to rig up some sort of support as the bunch grows or we might end up with the whole plant falling over.


The Infrastructure Manager has been very busy creating two more gardens down the other side of the back yard - didn't give him much choice when six more banana pups turned up. They are two of each Lady Finger, dwarf Lady Finger and dwarf Blue Java - hopefully we get one of each to survive... although at the moment looks like we'll get 100%!


To create the beds, Ash concreted the edge then I used the yellow pages to create a barrier on the grass, covered with a generous sprinkling of blood & bone, some cut up banana fronds and comfrey leaves then covered with lucerne - here's hoping the grass dies!


The tamarillos are struggling on gamely (think they get too much sun) and there is a lot of fruit and flowers, hopefully I will be able to get either seeds or cuttings going this year and I will plant some more in the new banana bed. I have both a red and an orange variety, if anyone has a different one I'd love a cutting or seeds. [Edit, my blog 'My Fruit Tree Obsession' says I have a yellow and a red... but the fruit looked orange last year?]



One of my guava is fruiting not sure which one - china pear or thai white (think it is the thai white based on my blog 14/06/10 but time will tell). These have both done really well, and that part of the garden is looking decidedly forest like with 2 x citrus, avocado and these two competing for space! I will have to give them a good haircut this year to keep them in their place.




The passion fruit have all gone crazy, Ashley has fruit already (grafted purple ones from the green shed) but mine (red and yellow panama) are finally starting to flower - lets hope this year I get some fruit! I carefully didn't fertilise them but gave a good shot of potassium and boron for good measure after last years disaster.





Most of my veggie beds are empty, slack with the succession *again*. I got out last weekend and planted a huge amount of seeds, but looks like a lot didn't come up... will have to replant corn and beans at least. The red okra came up and a few others likely cucumber, pumpkin, melons (didn't label very well either *again* - you'd think I learn my lesson but nooo lol.)





My sweet potato is out of control, it loves the rain and produces heaps of vines, but needs encouragement to put forth roots and therefore create tubers. Every so often I go and bury them by chucking a shovel load of dirt onto the vines.


Didn't realise that I planted the new stuff amongst the stuff I missed last year woops. This might get a bit crowded with tumeric, ginger, comfrey and a plant that tastes like asparagus - Scarlett can you please remind me the name?


Yesterday I got out and dug all the marigolds into the big bed (a bit early but I got sick of waiting) and finally put the irrigation system into that bed - just have to connect it to the rest - and covered all with a layer of lucerne. In general I am trying not to dig but I seem to get nematodes all the time and this is the best way to combat them, if it doesn't work I will have to do a molasses drench but that does kill all the good bugs too. I'll chuck a couple of shovels of fresh compost in there next weekend.


There are two beds out the back to clean up, they have some tomatoes that severely outgrew the tubes that I was trialling, the green zebra has grown up and then over the side and now the fruit are all hanging down the side! I am waiting for the broccoli and radish seeds to ripen and the tomatoes to finish (or another tomato elsewhere to start) before cleaning them up and putting the irrigation in.



Well during writing this blog I have searched through and found information in four of my previous blogs, it is a great relief to know that I don't have to reply on my sketchy memory!

If you want to see full size photos, they are in my November 2010 album.

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June winter garden

After seeing how neat and tidy Mark's setup is.. I decided to buy some proper seedling trays and seed raising mix.

Partly also because I found my own seed mix have a lot of weed seeds in them and I have no idea what comes up were what I planted especially for those I am growing for the first time.

I got the seed raising mix, 8-cell punnets, and name tags from Pick'n Pay. Bought the trays from a man at Chandler's market who also have an ebay store.

Now doesn't it looks much more tidier than recycle punnets and pots of all different sizes? Of course, I will continue to recycle, but would be more same size pots for the same plants..

Here's a photo of what I bought from Pohlman nursery at Gatton when we visited Toowoomba this past weekend.

The punnet in the bottom right is of a coloured Cauliflower variety they're testing, and I only got it for $1~ I've planted some of them around my newly dug 'hole' where I've transplanted my watercress..

The green manure bed is growing well, but the rocket still dominates over the marigold and mustard... we cut some each day as treat for the chooks and they loved them ^^

The tomatoes have started flowering, but I haven't got a photo of that yet... can't wait to see what fruits I am getting as I planted seeds from a mixed bag..

The top soil has been really dried, so I've watered more frequently, especially where I have just sown seeds.. and am concern about the tank water supply over winter.. I really need to get some mulch..

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Protecting your vegetable garden from large birds

If you are a new food gardener, a very experienced one or in between, it is quite likely that large birds have taken more than their fair share of produce from your garden. Its a very common complaint of food gardeners in my experience, particularly in locations with big native bird populations. I have just published an article to my blog titled Protecting your vegetable garden from large birds and talks about methods to minimise the impact of these large birds. These methods cost virtually nothing and do not involve turning your beautiful organic garden into a fortress or condone harm to the birds.Peter Kearney -
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Slim pickings over summer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Container growing tips


This week I posted a new article to my blog on container growing, which I thought would be of interest to the city dwellers in this group with limited food gardening space. The article talks about the challenges and how to overcome them, resulting in reasonable levels of productivity, whilst still using organic methods. You can read the article here. Please fell free to comment either on this site or on my own site.

Happy gardening
Peter Kearney
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Connections help us to weave through the sometimes bumpy road of life and enrich our human experience. Growing your own vegetables, fruit and herbs allows you to enter a hot bed of connections which are fundamental to life on earth.When a food gardener becomes conscious of these connections, a green thumb begins to appear and your effectiveness jumps significantly. You become much more effective at growing your own food in your own backyard, community garden, school or farm. Lets explore these connections, some from more conventional gardening methods and others which recognise the non-physical elements at play in the garden.A primary connection your plants depend upon is the soil. Healthy soil with a strong life force will improve your seed strike rate and the capacity of your food plants to: resist diseases and pests, handle moisture variability and produce healthy crops with seeds worth replanting. For most gardeners, soil is only looked at when the bugs and pests appear or when the crop yield is lower than expected. Think of caring for the soil as you would ideally seek to maintain your own health, with consistent practices bringing balance into your life to ward off the next health or emotional crisis.Plants impact each other through unseen connections. It s very important to consider the plant family that comes before the one you are planting, as well the plants sharing the space with your food crop. Some love to be companions and thrive in their growth, while other plants are not compatible at all and some get on with any plant. By working with these connections between plants in managing your garden, you are using natures gifts in a very conscious way.Other plants have the capacity to increase the sensitivity and health of the soil around your food plant by drawing in life forces and nutrients from an area quite distant from your garden bed. Stinging nettle and dandelion are two such plants. Some people have a similar impact when they come into an organisation.Animals have just as much right to live in your domain as you do. In attempting to grow food, the challenge is to recognise how they can help your food garden. This is quite a radical way of looking at what most people call “pests”. Bees are helpful in any garden and these can be attracted by flowers. Some flowers attract insects which eat other insects that may be very partial to your crop of cabbages. Birds are happy to eat some creatures that will love other plants in your garden. Occasionally those birds may eat some of your crop, but perhaps that s a fair trade for letting them do their daily work of cleaning up the garden. We have a wonderful family of happy jack birds around our food garden and they act as its guardians in protecting our garden from other large birds.The planets have a very big impact on the success of your gardening. Their forces are always streaming down onto the earth. The moon is the most obvious planet with a connection to plant growth and moisture. Reproductive forces are enhanced around the full moon. Other planets in our solar system, as well as the constellations, all impact plant growth and the success of cultivating and harvesting. You could ignore these forces and still grow food, but they are another gift to help us be more productive gardeners. Conventional agriculture and even most organic gardening practices ignore these forces. Biodynamic gardening has a strong focus on connecting with these cosmic forces in a conscious way with food growing.The human connection to the garden comes before everything. Without your love and attention, there is no food garden. This connection can very easily extend to other people and to me this is a hidden treasure of food gardening.I want to share some of my own experience here. I helped commence a Biodynamic gardening group in my local area about seven years ago. We met at each others places each fortnight to work on vegie patches and orchards and enjoy each other's company. This went on for three years. I felt very enriched by this community building experience and this led me to the business venture I have now and the community development work I do in urban agriculture. I had expanded my community connections and recognised from first hand experience how satisfying it was to share my desire to grow healthy food with other people of like mind. To my great joy, my son, who was a teenager at the time of the gardening group, showed an interest in joining with the adults to garden. He has now completed three years of Biodynamic farming training in Europe and is ready to help transform our food system with his young and vibrant energy.Peter Kearney -
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How does my garden grow?

Ate our first tomato of the season yesterday - it was a Green Zebra, yum. Won't be long before we are swimming in tomatoes, there are so many on the vines. Have had a bit of problems with some little black spots but keep pulling those leaves off. Just notices some white mould on one of the plants so have pulled off what I could see - hopefully it doesn't spread. Only three seedlings survived so I have planted these ready for when this crop is harvested. Also ordered some seeds from diggers that are supposed to be good for drying so will get them started soon.This weekend I will harvest my first broccoli. The plant is huge, but the seed head It isn't very big but looks like it is about to go to seed so hope the rest get a bit bigger. Mind you it could well be normal for the variety but I won't take the chance just yet.The beetroots are still a bit small but I did dig some up and plan to try baking them, only ever had them out of tin before so will see what they taste like. Otherwise I will try Scarlett's recipe and pickle the next lot.The tamarillo has flowers and the paw pa thw has two little fruits so will get fruit of them this year. The other fruit trees are too small and I will remove any fruit after they finish flowering to give them a chance to grow better root systems this year. I will start another blog listing the varieties I have planted so far.I recommend Asian lettuce to anyone who wants a quick easy harvest - originally bought seedlings from bunnings but have since sourced seeds for Mizuna & Red Mustard still looking for Mibuna but looks like I have found it just have to buy heaps as it is from a wholesale supplier so will probably order it next week . Planted in June and have not bought any lettuce since July, it is cut and come again and while the Mizuna from the original seedlings (which by the way are still going although are about to be replaced) is flowering the leaves are still nice to eat.Strawberries were a bit of a no show with only one or two fruits at a time but have planted a heap of seeds so will see if they come up. The beans are also a bit of a no show with only a couple at a time, probably not in the best position should be more sun but it was available so gave it a go.The bok choy are starting to go to seed but have harvested one and will harvest more this weekend, the silverbeet have been harvested twice already and are ready for another go this weekend. I make a yummy quiche - cook frozen puff pastry in the dish, mix up cooked & chopped silverbeet, semi dried tomatoes, spring onions, fetta cheese and almost fill the pastry. Mix up eggs, milk, tumeric and pour over the top and sprinkle cheese over it - ends up almost a silverbeet pie.All my herbs are going well, the dill and coriander almost took over the garden but I will pull the old ones out (or more likely prune them) soon as new ones come through. Collected my very first seeds which were basil seeds.Spring onions, red onions and garlic take too long to grow but are doing well. Zucchini is now the bane of my gardening life, they gave me two fruits then succumbed to a white mould and have had nothing since (fruit gets rotten and drops off when very little) so they will be given the boot this weekend. I was also disappointed with a pumpkin that was supposed to be a compact garden and the plant only grew as big as a dinner plate and the fruit was 20c piece size. Have bought proper pumpkin seeds from diggers so will try them along with new zuchini in a different garden as soon as I get some seedlings up.Sunflowers are starting to flower although the bottom leaves are yukky - I wonder if it is a normal thing for them to do (like paw paw & tamarillo)?Asparagus crowns have come up, not allowed to touch them this year - maybe not even next year :( but at least they are in. I am not sure if it matters but I think they might be different sexes as some have little seed pod things on them and others don't seem to. I think the females are supposed to be better cropping but you can still harvest the male spears I hope...
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Last week of winter

What have I done? I am the anti-potato.For some reason I cannot grow potatoes in Queensland. They always die on me about half-way through the growing season (OK, so it's happened twice, but it never happened in Melbourne). I know potatoes are a bit marginal in this climate, but it must be possible. I'll post a photo and see if anyone can help out.It's been a very egg-y week. Hooray for Booty, PinkRosie and Heckle!! Thankyou girls. I had to tape some toy eggs together and put them in their nest to show them what it's all about, but they then produced their first eggs only a few days later. They've been doing egg-y type clucking for weeks and I was starting to despair. The books said prepare a laying mash every morning which had me spooked - our mornings are somewhat rushed and I'm not a good early morning person. Am very glad the old "this is an egg" trick worked. Can hopefully stick with the grain feeder, kitchen scraps, garden greens and forage diet (although maybe I need mash and don't know?).eOur macadamia is flowering and still dropping the last few good ones from the previous season when the wind gets up. Great for biscuits. We have the long-arm macadamia cracker from Green Harvest - it's a gem.Our lychee is flowering, as are the broad beans and the calendula. I'm pleased about the calendula because I just scattered seeds and ignored them. My king orchid is flowering - pretty :)

I've constructed a new bean/ pea spot in proper soil, not compost, so hopefully my legume situation should come good. The trellis will hopefully provide a bit of afternoon shade for the hottest vegie garden bed too, now that the sun is climbing in the sky.We have celery everything, lots of parsley, we're eating the last of the carrots and parsnip but new ones are coming on. The self seeded lettuces are getting big enough to pick, whilst we still have big ones left that I've mostly been picking the outer leaves from. (I just let one lettuce go to seed - they're self pollinating - and once the seed pods had dried off a bit I picked the flower head, cut it up with secateurs and dumped the bits where I wanted the new lettuces to come. We also have some volunteers in weird places – like in gaps in the sleepers!).

The chooks keep pecking our strawberries. Sigh. Have some in a mini-garden which are safe enough though. We're also getting lots of snow peas from this, also curly leaf parsley, spring onions and it has my saffron crocuses in it too. I'm growing thyme and sage on the top layer.Our broad beans are flowering madly and I'm guessing they're about to set. The tomatoes are green and getting bigger, as are the brussel sprouts, we still get enough broccoli spears for a stir fry every 4 days from 5 plants (I think it's italian sprouting broccoli) and I've put some in the freezer now too.

Pak choy and chinese cabbage are ready again, next wave of beetroot, carrots and parsnips is getting there. My spring onion seedlings are very slow in all this cold weather. Big excitement – picked the first cauliflower and 2 more are visible already. Cauliflower cheese with parsley and celery – yum!I've been enjoying bringing the dill flowers into the house as cut flowers - great architectural form, a nice light yellow-green colour, and they last rather well, although they drop pollen.Am worried I picked our bananas too early after all. Have rested a couple of ripe bananas on the hands and am starting to see proper signs of yellow. We’re still getting a paw paw every week or so.Am getting excited about the weather warming up so I can plant some new things. I had a look over my seeds this week to see what I think. My daughter is requesting rockmelons. I’ve requested Yakon and Jerusalem artichokes from the Green Harvest catalogue. Think I’ll put them in the “orchard” area with the young citrus.All our chicory is hearting up like crazy now – must be pumping the roots up. We’ve only been using it for salad greens. I don’t think I’ll attempt chicory root coffee, although I do like Caro & Ecco. Once I made my own coffee bean coffee. It took 5 person hours to make 250g (admittedly all by hand and no skill). Tasted OK, pretty much standard. There’s a case for Fair Trade coffee! Have three coffee bushes – no beans yet though. I’m looking forward to doing it again when they produce.
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