Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

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.

Our 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 people



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Comment by Scarlett on February 13, 2009 at 17:02
Ps zuke has been mildew free. That Brix meter will tell you if your plants have adequate nutrition to resist pests. That would be interesting wouldn't it!?
Comment by Scarlett on February 13, 2009 at 17:00
It's just a normal zuke, black jack? i think it's called. All my zukes have always come up with that pattern on their leaves.
I know,I read about your trouble with the rockmelon and I checked ours (it was sitting there when we came home from holidays) and it was fine. I don't imagine anything could get through that skin once they get to a certain size so I didn't worry about it. I ended up picking it to early though, which is partly because I got frightened it would go soft and get stung :)
I could do so much more if I wasn't time poor as I am (says she tapping on the computer...) I still have heaps of room (and also not nearly enough, depends on how you look at it). My front yard is only natives. I really need to get more tubers happening, they are the real staple. I wish I had another water tank. I wish I could use the hose!!!!!
Comment by Donna on February 13, 2009 at 13:07
I always love reading your blogs Scarlett, they are always so inspiring. It is truly amazing what you have been able to achieve with a standard(ish) size block!
Is your zuke varigated or have you done a milk treatment for mildew? And I can't believe that your rockmelon is just sitting there in the open - all mine were bagged when they were the size of a marble, I had some fruit spotting bug on a rampage (I think it was anyway).

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