Brisbane Local Food

Growing local

I'm afraid that our chickens are completely stupid fluff-brains. Serves me right for getting designer chickens. I pulled the sunflower stalks and put them in their pen. They sit on them, but don't eat them. So I pulled the seeds out of the flowerhead and made interested noises so they would realise they could eat them. Nope. I give them caterpillars (we now have corn ear worm) and it takes 5 minutes for them to realise that there is a tasty morsel on offer. I give them passionfruit - nope (not what it says in the permaculture manual!). What they like is broccoli leaves, and cooked rice, and scratching all the mulch from the vegie garden onto the path. They are moulting. I made a cake tonight and it was electric yellow. Apparently it is Booty the Chinese Silkie who is responsible for this.

We were up the coast this weekend and we found a wild mandarin tree fruiting its head off in the hinterland behind Boreen Point. Not yet ripe, but amazing bounty. It was hanging with some very abundant wild guavas near a picnic spot.

We bought a big round mulch bale and we've planted the sweet potato driveway out.

The straw bale has gone up in price since last time - it cost $92 dollars delivered ($62 by itself I think). I should have got another couple whilst I was at it. Horribly, though, the straw had bird mites in it. My daughter got awfully bitten when she rolled around in it and we all had a few itches for about a week, just from walking over it. Grrr, I really hate those things. Makes you realise why people just have plain lawn and no trees - nothing too messy, random or confronting about that.

The pumpkin vines have taken off.

The female fruit is starting now. We've had heaps of male flowers...

...and now finally we're seeing some baby pumpkin action. I do hope we get some pumpkins before the frosts come.

Every time we get a pineapple in our Food Connect fruit box I pull the top and plant it.

Some of them are starting to grow quite well now. They tend to sulk for ages (as they grow new roots I guess). They can sit there for a long time with very little water and not die, it's quite remarkable.

We are about to get into a spot of bother with our bananas. We have eight bunches all developing.

No-one can eat or deal with that many bananas...I think each bunch has about 50 on it....Funny :) The first pawpaws are coming now too. We have a lot of green ones - should be a steady flow of ripe ones through Autumn/ Winter I guess. Excellent for breakfast with lime juice and honey drizzle and possibly some yoghurt.

I am going to bring passionfruit into work with me tomorrow and try to give them away. We have SO many. These are the yellow/ banana variety.

The lemon grass edging seems to be taking well. I've planted lots of autumn things. Beetroot, celery, basil (again!) and broccoli seedlings, and I've sprinkled bok choy, carrot, dill, turnip, broccoli, silverbeet and bush bean seeds. We're past the Autumn equinox now.

Our dinner diversity is coming back up again - yay!

Note the hole in the rockmelon. I think a possum or rat had a bite and let some bacteria in. There is another one still ripening now. I didn't get any moon and stars watermelons at all (just vines) so we've decided to kill that vegie garden. It's obviously just too hot in that spot, it's very difficult to grow anything there unless I watered every day. I will plant a fruit tree there instead, spread the compost and use the sleepers for something else.

The broccoli is producing well again now ( I put it in at the start of summer, it sulked for a while), and we have another crop of corn ready for the BBQ. It is unbelievably sweet and juicy. There is nothing that can beat it.

The new fruit fly set up means that we are finally getting lovely blemish free tomatoes. I am very chuffed. Mainly I'm just using the male fly lure (which is very effective indeed) and the exclusion bags. I am now used to these and they're not hard - you can see the red tomatoes through them, I just ignore them until then.

Cosmos is now flowering from seed scattered in about November. Good for encouraging pollinating insects, and should now hopefully self-seed in the garden and be an annual volunteer.

I went to Elisabeth Fekonia's Cooking with Tropical Garden Foods workshop and it was fantastic. There were about 15 people and we all made amazing dishes and then shared them. I hadn't heard of a couple of the plants and Elisabeth had some for us to take home and add to the garden. It was really fantastic fun. I loved the pit-pit/ New Guinea asparagus. It's really yummy.

This picture includes the pit pit and madagascar bean dish.

This one includes the cassava in coconut cream dish that I made (in the wok). I used some of Elisabeth's homemade galangal and turmeric paste to make it beautifully fragrant. It was great to eat cassava again. I've planted some and it's growing well. Elisabeth's on this site now, she has great photos, and it was fantastic to hear about all the tropical food plants she grows over the hot summer months. Thanks Elisabeth! :)

My heliconias didn't flower well this year. Either I need to feed them or they are in too much shade. Hmm. My native ginger is going gangbusters though, and makes a lovely vase. I planted a bird of paradise and it transpires the label was incorrect - it's a traveller's palm! I will have to pull it out, it's giant and no good to me. Sigh.

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Comment by Donna on March 24, 2009 at 12:28
Hey Scarlett, very inspiring as always to read about your garden - I can't wait until the Garden Visit to have a closer look!
Comment by Scarlett on March 23, 2009 at 12:37
Our birds lay one or two eggs a day each, and apparently have a break of about 3 months each year. The eggs are only 1/2 - 2/3 normal size.
I've not had bird mites in any hay bale I've ever bought before. This one was quite damp all the way through - it must have been sitting out in the rain for quite some time. I guess a bird had probably been nesting in it. Really they shouldn't have sold it to us in that condition. It should have been kept undercover, and preferably away from birds!

We generally use sugar cane mulch in our chickens' nesting box. Luckily we had been using a small bale (from the hardware store) and didn't put this one in. I think we were just unlucky.
Comment by Florence on March 23, 2009 at 10:35
um... . I am interested in the Pekins and silky for my next batch of chickens... how much do they lay?

Currently I have 2 x leghorns, 2 x Australorps, and 2 x Araucanas - they eat almost everything you give them... they were bought as sexed chicks, none of them layed yet... unfortunatelly one of the Australorps and one of the Araucanas turned out to be roosters... I'm currently trying to find new homes for them..

I didn't know sugarcane mulch would come with birds mites... was thinking about using them for the chicken beddings... I better not then...

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