Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

2011/2012 SUMMER December to February

Second day of summer and what a glorious morning! Rain at last and the temperature has dropped. Last night was heaven and without the aircon.

Tackled Bed 2 yesterday very early before the heat got too bad - pulled out the remaining carrots (all very long and thin, slightly chewed at the top - snail?rat? but usable), and used the celery as green matter (never did grow big and thick but used quite a bit in casseroles). The toms can stay - they don't mind being buried under a bit of compost.

Now for the fun part of finding something to grow in it. Checking my seed I don't have much suitable for this time of the year - just some rocket and radish, so will probably buy some seedlings.

Bed 3 (left) with Lebanese and Chinese Snake cucs is going great guns. I spend a few minutes each morning encouraging the tendrils to climb the frame. Lots of fruit developing and I get one every couple of days for eating (Lebanese only so far).

Bed 1 is becoming productive already - the corn should be all pollinated, the cherry toms are starting to produce and the Fordhook Giant silverbeet is a delicious delight almost nightly for dinner. Have to pick off the caterpillars most mornings as they want to share it with me! The rockmelon in this bed is growing very well and producing lots of little yellow flowers. My experiences growing melons from seed has not been hugely successful, so hoping these bought seedlings give me a better result.

Below - the Ceylon Hill Goosberry bush is flowering :) Fruit would be wonderful. Such a pretty little bush and grows easily from cutting (I have a few more dotted around the garden this way).

Below - The Listada di Gandia has a couple of dozen fruit on it again. It seems to have recovered just fine from the dry period where all the fruit was splitting.

Below - rockmelon flowers from bought seedlings.

Below - the rockmelon spilling out of the bed.

Below - Yellow Pear cherry toms. NOTE: These were not a great success - perhaps due to disease?

Below - little capsicum developing - bought seedlings. No label. NOTE: Crunchy and bland. Quite good in salads.

Below - Fordhook Giant silverbeet. Don't know what it is about silverbeet but I can eat it until the cows come home with gusto :) This grows so fast I have plenty for dinner each night but must pick off the caterpillars daily to stop too much distruction.

Below - Little oddity - tiny cobs sometimes form at the top of the corn flowers.

Below - re-doing Bed 2 - carrots have all been pulled up (about 1.5kg of long thin carrots, slightly chewed at the top by rat?snail? but quite usable).

Layers of green material (celery has had it's day), lucerne, minerals (dolomite, granite, basalt), Organic Xtra, molasses pelletised organic fertilser ex Brian Stepenson. All topped off with a thin layer of garden soil for planting seedlings/seeds in.

Below - Bed 2 an empty pallette :D The fun part!

Two little bean plants from Jennifer happily doing their thing on the left and I did leave the Amish Paste tom plant as it's still producing some fruit.

04.12.11 I'm using seed alone for this bed - mainly because I was too lazy to go to the markets and buy seedling.

Planted today in this bed: corn "Kelvedon Glory", spring onion "Toga", dwarf bean "Snap Bean". kohl rabi "Olivia" (Nathan gave me one of his recently and it was delicious roasted - never eaten these before), beetroot "Detroit 2" and "Burpees Golden", silverbeet "Fordhook Giant", lettuce mixed, parsnip "Hollow Crown", carrot "Purple Haze" and "All Year Round", salad rocket, climbing snake beans from Florence - brown and black seed (names unknown), climbing bean "Purple King",


A bit of rain has filled the tank and encouraged the seeds to do their thing. Corn has been cropped and it wasn't a bad haul. The "Sweetcorn" produced smaller plants and cobs, and "Gold'n'Pearls" a larger plant with larger cobs.

Below - All the dogs were keen to enjoy some of the crop with me - Hugo is "guarding" the haul, patiently waiting for me to share a cob with each of them.

Below - Gretel has managed to nab someones elses cob as well as her own. Note the "paw of possession" and guarded body language. Don't you dare try to take this off me!

Hugo is such a gentleman about his food, unlike the girls who are utter pigs.

Freya enjoying a cob.

Below Loofah fruit with ants which are always in attendance on the loofah vine.

15/12/11Below - the cucumbers are growing so well on the framework from Bunnings, with string supports.

Below - Oh the excitement! I have hidden rockmelon. NOTE: Came out one morning and this melon was just a pile of mush.

Below - Kelvedon Glory seed from Bunnings doing well after two weeks. NOTE: This grew exceptionally well and strongly. Yet to develop cobs. Later...due to all the heavy rain during pollination the end crop wasn't as good as it should have been, but very tasty rich cobs all the same.

02/01/12 Below - same corn just over two weeks later.

02/01/12 Below - my quick attempt at making a rat drowning trap. They are living in my rockmelon bed!

02/01/12 Below - two of four melons developing. Hope I get to some of it before the rat does.

Bees dead - About two weeks ago I noticed less activity with the native bees.

A week ago I bit the bullet and opened the hive which was full of maggots and small running flies, with only a handful of bees left. They appear to be Phorid flies and have completely decimated the hive.

Tim (Heard) thinks the hive may not have "re-queened" leaving it vulnerable. Hopefully it is covered by Tony (Goodrich) 12mth warrantly and will be replaced.

NOTE: Tim gave me contact info for Tony and he replaced the hive with a wonderful thriving one :)

02/01/12 Below - have been getting good crop from the Lebanese cucs. This is a Chinese Snake cuc. The plant is more susceptable to mildew than the Lebanese (see following pic).

02/01/12 Below - Lebanese on the left and Chinese Snake cuc on the right which is much more affected by mildew. I've sprayed with a milk mix twice now but it doesn't seem to have made much difference, if any.

02/01/12 Wampi - the fruit bat is visiting already. None for me!

02/01/12 Some of the various flowers in the garden at the moment. Salvia are doing particularly well.

Below - Purple Salvia

Below - Red Salvia - the Blue Banded Bee just loves these along with the eggplant flowers.

Below - Variegated Pink Salvia

Below - Blue Salvia

Below - One of the few Cosmos plants (from seed) to survive the early heat.

Below - small sunflower - seedlings bought from the market.

Below - Crepe Myrtle (Lagerstroemia) - bees love it.

Below - Tansy

Below - Amaranth "Mekong Red" self sows all over the place.

Below - even the Comfrey is putting out pretty little flowers.

Below - Coreopsis

Below - Yet another hand pollinated pumpkin flower which will probably come to nothing like the others. NOTE: This has grown the biggest bettest pumpkin! :) but the only one that the huge vine produced. Eventually pulled the whole lot up and put it into one of the beds as green material.

Below - Pink Shatoot flowers. Plant is still only 1.5m tall. So far no fruit. NOTE: Seems very prone to scale - watch for ant activity. 07.04.12 This plant is a total dud as far as fruit production is concerned. Will probably be removing it. Really need just a good black mulberry plant.

Below - I have very little success with toms, even these Yellow Pear cherry toms aren't doing any good.

Below - my first ever Beetroot - "Burpees Gold" and "Detroit 2". In spite of seed being well spread around they are all coming up in a couple of dense areas. Possibly due to the rain washing the seed around I would guess. NOTE: These were pretty much decimated by caterpillars and didn't like the heat. End product was a few very small beetroot that ended up in a stew.

Below - The three mature pawpaw trees have all come good again after looking so ill during winter. Below is the oldest one still doing it's thing.

Below - Red bi-sexual Pawpaw also fully recovered from winter and flowering. Yet to get any fruit from this young tree. NOTE: Daleys forum and BLF have pretty much decided this is purely a male plant. If it pollinates my yellow females they will produce yellow fruit but the seed has the potential to grow both. This plant dropped all it's leaves during the weeks of heavy rain. Useless AND touchy! 07.04.12 This plant eventually fell over and has gone into the compost pile.

18/01/12 Below - First melon of four removed a little early due to vermin chewing and fruit fly showing interest. It was a little chewy and lacking in flavour but quite edible.

19/01/12 Below - Second melon fell off by itself in spite of me checking the stem each day. Vermin-chew again and I found a fruit fly laying in one of the wounds. Mostly ruined, but the bit I ate was delicious.

21/01/12 Below - fourth melon (didn't photograph the third - much the same as this) good texture but lacking in sweetness. Good in the juicer.

21/01/12 Below - Small crop from the self sown broccoli!

Need to try growing more of this next summer. Hoping it will continue to re-crop as the winter parent plants did. Some issues with caterpillars but picked them off daily. NOTE: Got very little crop from these plants. The last tiny heads were on the chewy side. This one was quite nice though. No good for summer growing.


We've had a great deal of rain the past few weeks. Some plants thrived with this, some didn't. The red Pawpaw is almost dead - no real loss as it's male only. Caterpillars are rampant and have completely ruined the young silverbeet and decimated the Broccoli which is still slowly producing a tiny crop - nothing like the winter crop.

Tamarillos are coming into their own, loving the rain. The one growing near the watertank turns out to be a yellow (bought from Cab. Mkts. for $1!) are they are definately just that bit yummier than the red. Ready to eat straight off the tree. NOTE: Check out Elisabeths recipes for cooking these for dessert after blanching and removing the skins. 07.04.12 Turns out I don't like them cooked :( much nicer as they come raw.

The Aerial Yam and Yakon definately loved the rain and have all put on growth spurts. NOTE: 07.04.12 These vines have almost reached the top of the melaleuca - watching and waiting for some aerial tubers so I can give them a go.

The Bush beans are now providing enough for me each day. The Snake Beans have been slow to produce anything - the bean pods look so much like stalk I often don't see them until they're well grown. NOTE: All the bush beans cropped at once - blanched and frozen. The snake beans are producing a few fruit - some are over 60cms long! All very tasty.

Listada di Gandia producing yet again. I have fertilised this as it just keeps on giving crop - still a few split though - thought this was due to the dry, but happened during the rain as well. NOTE: Don't let them get too big on the bush. Best around 6"/15cm long.

16/18 spotted lady bugs are rampant - I've given up squashing them and now just flick them off which seems to serve the same purpose and makes me feel better not killing them.

The bananas, including the Dwarf Ducasse below, just loved the rain and have put on some growth.

The Dwarf Pink Shatoot mulberry showing fruit again. Yet to get anything to eat from this! NOTE: 07.04.12 Dud, dud, dud. Will eventually remove this plant as it is quite useless.

The cucumber patch has spent itself and the vines have been removed to the compost pile.

Carrot seed sprinkled over the bed just before the rain came but mustard green, grass and amaranth coming up rampantly amongst them.

Bed 2 is a sad mess - the rain has washed away all the corn pollen just as the silks appeared NOTE: Crop wasn't as bad as I expected - not fully pollinated cobs but enough and tasty (see pic below); carrots a very sorry result with the heat; caterpillars decimating the beetroot, rocket and completely ruining the young silverbeet to the point of skeletising it despite picking them off daily.

I did get some tiny potatoes - enough for one dinner.

The Snake Beans have shown good growth but little inclination to produce much fruit. They surprise me though - the fruit look so much like stem they have sometimes gone beyond cropping before I see them there. Have collected some pretty speckled pods with jet black seed to grow next time.

Betel Leaf and Taro loved the rain and have put on some growth.

Some of the Dragon Fruits have reached the top of the fence and are spreading out. Fingers crossed that they produce some flower, but no sign as yet.

Stupid rampant pumpkin vine still trying to take over the back yard and refusing to allow me to fertilise any more flowers. Did produce one giant pumpkin though. Surprising how quickly it grew from fertilisation.

The Lychee behind it has rust again and needs to have this all cut off.

The bat ate what little Wampi crop I had again. Too high to reach. Will have to get Michael out to trim them back when I finally have some income again!

Surprise! Reasonably useable crop from the plants which had their pollen washed out by the torrential rain. Some caterpillar damage, but not much. Some of the plants did not produce even one cob. Too closely planted? I hadn't expected so many of the seeds to germinate and had put two per hole.

Odd fat black-filled kernels at the top of one of the cobs. NOTE: 16.12.12 Eventually found out this is Smut, a  form of fungus.

I've bought some interesting seed from America, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed.

Melacoton Cassabanana (Sicana odorifera),

Huckleberry (Solanum melanocerasum),

Purple Sprouting Broccoli (Brassica oleracea),

Rapini (Brassica rapa),

Carrot Amarillo (Daucus carota) - yellow

Cardoon Rouge D'alger (Cynara cardunculus),

Carrot Muscade (Daucus carota),

Huckleberry (Solanum melanocerasum),

Tomatillo purple (Physalis ixocarpa),

Strawberry Spinach/Garden Berry (Chenopodium capitatum),

Rutabaga laurentian (Brassica napus)

Found  a huge amount of beetle damage to the fig this morning. Just the day before it was happy and pristine and developing quite a few small fruit. Most of these seem to be ruined as well.

Killed them all with flyspray. NOTE: 07.04.12 These beetles did reoccur - I killed the next lot the same way. Having a lot of trouble with what I think are Cucumber Beetle eating all the leaves on my Chinese Gooseberry. Killed these also.

After a search on the net have found what I think is the beetle on the Qld Museum website:

Celtis Leaf Beetle
Menippus cynicus


Adults and larvae feed on the young foliage of introduced Chinese Elm trees (Celtis sinensis), a pest tree species in Brisbane. The larvae are black and caterpillar-like. This species is native to central coastal Queensland where it feeds on the native tree, Celtis paniculata.

Recently the beetle has expanded its range further south and is now common in Brisbane.


Length about 10 mm. The oval-shaped, convex body is dull brown with a black underside.

Snake beans are starting to produce after taking their time to grow some length. Some are so long that one bean is enough for dinner! NOTE: 07.04.12 I never did record the names of the climbing beans planted this season in the blog. Naughty naughty! Labels near the plants fade out or get hidden by vegetation - not a reliable way to remember. Luckily the long beans have a longer, pale coloured seed to differentiate from the other black seeded one.

Notes for this season:

  • Always record names of seed or seedlings planted in the blog. Labels are not enough as they fade out or get lost in the vegetation.

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Comment by Lissa on December 10, 2011 at 6:46


It took me ages to work my way around all the stuff on the site as I rarely scroll down on the home page! Have a look at the links on the right/bottom on home page and the videos on the left.

And yes blogs are great - these are my personal diary as learned in class at Northy St, for keeping a record of what I've been up to in the various seasons. We tend (I tend?) to forget things so looking back over the pics and written record is proving invaluable.

Comment by Joseph on December 9, 2011 at 14:59

If you can spare a couple of extra minutes in the morning, it's worth hand pollinating a few of the female flowers on the rockies just to be sure.

I tasted the first honeydew/casaba melon. It passed the brix test with flying colours but was a little crunchy. I should have left it for a couple of days to soften.

Can you believe I've only really just discovered the blog section of Local food? Methinks the melon saga of mine should have gone here instead of in Q&A. Silly me.

Comment by Lissa on December 2, 2011 at 17:41

Foodhook seedlings came from the Caboolture Mkts. I've never grown this particular silverbeet before - there's not much "giant" about it, or perhaps that comes with age. There are two good outlets for seedlings at these markets.

Rockmelons are left to tumble over the side of the bed Anne. I wanted them to have the benefit of the rich soil in the beds. Last year I had minimal success growing heirloom rockmelons (Banana Melon) in the general beds.

Comment by Anne Gibson on December 2, 2011 at 14:23

My Swiss Chard is growing quite well despite the heat but I'm keeping the water up to it and mulching thickly. I love the look of the Foodhook Giant too - where'd you get that Lissa?

Comment by Elaine de Saxe on December 2, 2011 at 14:03

Fascinated that Foodhook Giant is relishing the heat! The Swiss Chard I like to grow doesn't like heat much; but then you've started your silverbeet in the heat rather than it growing in the cold first.

Comment by Anne Gibson on December 2, 2011 at 12:32

Looks great Lissa.  We seem to have almost identical plants in our tank beds at the moment!  I'd be interested to see how your rockmelons go - do you let them have their own personal space or trail them up a trellis? Everything looks so healthy.

Comment by Lissa on December 2, 2011 at 9:36

Up for some surprises with seed if you want to bring some along :) thank you.

Comment by Florence on December 2, 2011 at 9:12

Productive as always :) I've had corn kernels developed on the supposedly male flower tassels before too, I think it was a late planting in colder months so I thought it was related to that...

What are you thinking about planting?  I can bring some seeds tomorrow if I have them ~

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