Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

Lots of baking, some espalier, and a new vegie garden on the way

It's official. I can't live happily without a vegie garden. So I'm putting one in. Here is the 'before' shot of the extremely annoying patch of grass in the front yard which kept growing across the gravel and creating a lot of work. 


I'm ashamed to say I killed it with glyphoshate (because it's right where we walk all the time, and the grass is very virulent, and it's windy). But I'm proud to say that I always weed the gravel and the very annoying edges by hand. We have a lot of frogs, and I want to keep it that way. 


(NB edging between grass and gravel is an art. Pieces of wood nailed across the grass are not actually an edge. They are just an annoyance!)



I planted out the adjacent garden beds earlier in the year (around April) because I couldn't stand looking at them. The old trees had been cut down, but some understorey plants were struggling to survive. I kept to the theme and went for a cottage garden style thing, using cheap things I could get my hands on. I've also planted a bit of garlic (it's going gangbusters, you can see the bluish spike of elephant garlic above the forget me nots), herbs, and some sympathetic natives (the back yard is native trees).


So the annoying grass died and we pulled it up - and found more brick path underneath! Bonus! We don't have to buy more gravel to make a path between the car and the stairs. 


We found some old posts in the shed and used them as edging. We got some very mossy rocks from a shady spot by the fence. They won't stay like that - this spot gets about eight hours full sun (as much sun as possible is necessary down here, although it will be hot in summer). Six hours would be best - especially a bit of afternoon shade.



As is so often the way, we also found an unwelcome concrete strip hiding beneath the grass and soil.

Out she comes! 


Look at this amazing chocolate volcanic loam. It really is beautiful. I can't wait to grow giant beautiful healthy vegies in it!!  


Note the wild parsley (which I have been raiding) against the grey palings of the house. The previous owner must have had a garden there - the most recent owner just killed everything :(


It would be a good spot for vegies (it gets some shade in the afternoon in summer, unlike the space we're using), but I decided against anything too radical. The real estate agent/ owner might not understand, if I started removing the gravel and making garden beds...


Making new beds in the back yard wasn't appealing either . There is no tap in the backyard, the grass is incredibly virulent, and it would be expensive to make grass-proof edges. Although there are some good microclimate spots I could have used. Oh well. This will do for the moment - it gets rid of the grass problem at least. It will be interesting to see whether the kangaroos who hop past at night choose to decimate it though...

Might have to fence it.


Note that this spot is adjacent to the only tap in the garden as well... It's very good permaculture zone 1 - we walk through/ past this garden bed every single day, and it's right next to the tap so it's easy to manage the watering (which will be the main issue). Also because it's out the front it must look good, so I'll be incentivised to maintain it fastidiously. It's only small though :(  


More!!  I want to buy a place so I can go crazy again ;)



I bought some bagged sheep manure from the local hardware supplies. It has lime in the bottom of the bag, to counteract the acidity. I will scatter it, mulch on top, and let it all rot in for a few weeks before I plant anything. It's too cold for most things anyway! Although I might try some broad beans, some brassicas, spring onion and silverbeet before Spring.



I'll keep you posted as this progresses. It will be excellent to have some pics to post again :)




I've also gone absolutely baking mad, in a good way :)


Sourdough ciabatta.


Lime and lemon marmalade - limes from my mum's lime tree, which grows in an old metal tub (pretty good going for Melbourne). Lemons are from my friend Bev's tree. Thanks guys!


Bev's lemons. If I lived closer we could do a Moroccan Lemon preserving session with some salt and spices. 


Marmalade, butter from the local dairy, and german grain loaf (using a packet mix from the supermarket). It's hard to explain how delicious this is :)



Multi-bread: when the kids are home sick it's easy to bake a loaf a day! Multi-grain from packet mix, white sourdough (trying out the pizza stone my dad lent me - it's underneath), and two sourdough spelt quinoa loaves - one with caraway seeds, one with poppy and sunflower seeds.


Unfortunately the spelt loaves didn't cook right through except at the ends! I had to feed the middle section to the chooks. First time I've done that. Oh well. First time for everything I guess :(



German cinnamon yeast buns from Nigella Lawson's "How to be a Domestic Goddess".

WARNING: cellulite risk! :D



Sourdough rye, wholemeal and white loaf. 


Spelt sourdough.



Wholemeal sourdough.


Our neighbours have a giant kiwi vine (actually two plants, one boy & one girl) growing over a trellis/ verandah round their North facing back door. They gave us a huge pile of them. I made this kiwifruit and lemon jam. It's very tart and really yummy. I had to make a little baking paper parcel of lemon pips to ensure there was enough pectin to set it. I didn't realise baking paper was tough enough to be boiled in a sugar syrup - but it is!



Pear and Caramel Tart from Donna Hay "Seasons".


Some of the chooks are laying again. Good on you girls. I do like garden scrambled eggs.



I was visiting a garden recently and saw these good espalier. I'll put a discussion up with more photos. 



I still have a collection of bits and pieces on our back porch, which we use all the time. I let my chives dry out and they died right back, but they're coming back again now :)



Mint goes like the clappers down here. This was thoroughly raided about a month ago, you can see the baby leaves coming back already. I keep it in short soil (so it's shaded and protected from wind), sitting in a saucer of water. 



My celery isn't much in the vertical planter - millions of skinny stems, too many leaves. Probably needs calcium. It's good for making stocks/ casseroles/ sandwich fillings though - very tasty.



I pruned my mum's raspberries, and have come home with a lot of root cuttings. This green cutting had come all the way up through the bottom of her raised tank garden - from under the brick path! Monstrous. These are just sitting with some soil dumped on them until I get to them.


I made the chooks some hay caves for warmth (you almost couldn't see the boxes, it was like three hay swales), but they've flattened it all again - will have to give it a tsjuz. 



Rocket has bolted. Sigh. Vietnamese mint has died right back (bottom of planter) - but I expect it will regenerate in Spring. Parsley and lettuce and strawberries going fine in the planter boxes.



Chooks out foraging :)



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Comment by Lyn Buffett on August 1, 2011 at 15:11
I love that you found a path under all the grass!  It is like that Brittish program where they dig up roman ruins under fields!!
Comment by Elaine de Saxe on July 25, 2011 at 17:18
Goodness! You have been busy! Great photos, almost good enough to eat ;-)
Comment by Scarlett on July 25, 2011 at 16:44
PS i will be very cross if anything happens to the food supply (e.g. petrol or coal crisis) while we're living here with virtually no vegies etc! at least in the country we're surrounded by lots of local food production, so we'd definitely be able to eat meat, dairy and spuds at least! still, i hate the thought of leaving our beautiful brisbane garden with the fruit trees all coming into production... :(  
but my mum is very happy i did! (I can imagine if i was a grandmother...)
Comment by Scarlett on July 25, 2011 at 16:40
I wish i was a domestic goddess, i wish i had a glasshouse, and i wish i had a bigger vegie garden! If we buy somewhere after this I will go totally sick with vegie gardens, orchard and hopefully a glasshouse of some sort - or at least cloches! there are fruit trees on the block next door, am hoping the owner doesn't cut them down before next autumn :(  i think he's going to build it in, so it's likely. *sigh* still eating last season's apples from the freezer... at least in the country no-one minds three silly chooks at all! :)  (and it's too cold for chook mites down here - hooray!)
Comment by Lyn Buffett on July 25, 2011 at 16:14

It reminds me of when I lived in Wellington (NZ)....COLD!!!!  Luckily for me there was an old glasshouse on the vacant block of land next to the house we rented.  I patched up the gaps in the glasshouse with plastic and grew wonderful things in that warm haven.  It was great spending time in there out of the cold.

Comment by Vanessa Collier on July 25, 2011 at 16:08
Looks lovely Scarlett.  Shame you can't have more vegies but at least you've managed to make a start.  Seems that you're busy in the kitchen instead so you're still not wasting any time.  It's great you're still allowed to have chooks.

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Vetiver grass helps to stabilise soil and protects it against erosion.  It can protect against pests and weeds. Vetiver is also used as animal feed. (Wiki.)

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