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You've seen me struggle over the years to measure my gardening success or failure.  I've tried weighing.  I've tried converting the weights to money that I'd save in the shops. 

Here is my current answer:

I am self sufficient in most herbs. I don't buy eggs. I buy very little beer and no spirits.  I don't buy compost or mulch. 

I do buy vegetables.  I buy meat.  

I think that is my answer.  



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This time of year...

This time of year ...with all this rain...the garden goes feral. My one regret is that the Chaya is slower to grow than I had hoped. That's because I love the taste of it. I'm also keen to replicate it ++++. I also have orders for same. So Chaya -- the little b! -- tests my patience.
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Using Vetiver in the Kitchen Garden

Here's a look-see of how my renovated kitchen garden has come together. The core layout plan rests on planted Vetiver clumps rather than hedges, with all vegetable plantings within a 1.5 metre zone around each clump. No beds. No paths. Just mulched ground with Vetiver here and there and plants in between.

 It needs more work of course but the template is clear.


As for the chains: they're from an aluminium curtain and so far they are working great. Just the right presentation for climbers like beans to attach. For tomatoes, it's an easy wind on without fear of slashing their stems.

After my success with my milkcrate garden I'm finding that growing some vegetables in containers is good business. When I water the container, any water that drains through enters the soil below. As the weather shifts, I can move these containers around to full sun or part shade to suit their disposition.

My hack is that I use my own soil to fill my containers so that presumes I make my own -- which I  do.(Soil + Manure + Wood chips) And all that mulching and Vetiver growing makes great soil. That and the chooks with their scratching about and pooing.

As you see I also use wood chips. There is cardboard under all that chippery and there is no better material than wood chips to hold the cardboard down. Any weed breakthrough is dealt with by laying over a patching of cardboard and more mulch.

Over time the main mulch cover will be cut Vetiver grass, but I reckon a layer of wood chips at least annually is a good idea.

This garden is bore-water fed, although I hand water the pots.I usually turn the bore water sprinklers on once per week.


To plant seedlings into this garden, either use an augur or a stabbing tool. I made one by attaching a very short star post to the end of a short broomstick. You just want a hole of a size  to accommodate a seedling in a tight fit.

Once planted, I mark every seedling with a bamboo stake.

  1. So I can find it
  2. So neither I or the dogs will step on it.

It's remarkable. I may have to scoop some wood chips out of the hole to make room for the seedling, but I have not lost one seedling -- not one!

At present, I'm planting seedlings in groups while I explore various patterns. Sometimes I like to divide the plantings into two separate locations in case one spot prove inhospitable. If shade, part shade or no shade is involved, your planted seedlings will mature to harvest at different rates. That will give you a staggered supply. That way you will avoid gluts.

Compared to the way I gardened before, this layout seems ever so neat. Well it isn't neat so much as navigable as before I was losing produce in the jungle because I could not find it when foraging for food.

This openness is much appreciated by the dogs. For my part, I find walking about the garden between the plnats brings out the peasant in me.




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I have been wanting to keep a few chickens in the garden, the boss won't agree so I went out a bought a couple anyway, they have settled in really well , pic attached



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Coriander conundrum

This year, I had a REALLY good crop of Coriander. Planted in the shade of a pawpaw tree in early April, it grew and thrived for months giving us lots of luscious leaves, and then as the weather heated up and the pawpaw tree got removed, it went to seed, as was to be expected. The plants grew taller than me (ie quite tall), and were covered in flowers and then 'seeds', and I was looking forward to a good crop of coriander seed - but that was not to be. All the little round seed capsules were empty. Now, my garden has LOTS of flowers - Queen Anne's Lace, Alyssum, Zinnia, Pentas etc etc, so lots of pollinator attractants, and I always have honey bees, native stingless bees, flies, hoverflies, etc.. Does anyone know what caused the abysmal seed production? I have collected viable seed of coriander in past years, though never from such huge bushes.

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Cardboard and Wood Chips Mulching

9779379053?profile=originalI don't know why I refuse to leave well enough alone.

I can't help myself. A kitchen garden that grows annuals is  an elastic  medium. With the seasons and such there are any number of excuses to change the design. Guess I'm not much of a Permaculturalist.

As it happens I am sick of foraging for my harvest. My penchant for jungling means I do not have an easy grab for a bite as I am losing too much food hiding in the greenery.

Since I've also taken my penchant for milk crate gardening to another level I'm less dependent on my beds. I really need them to make soil in the way only dirt, plants and critters can. And I've done well with the making of the soil outback. Like some holy transubstantiation I have turned it from sand to loam.

All my own work -- in partnership with Nature's ways and means.

At 'the farm' -- our Vetiver plantation -- we have planted out thousands of slips in beds covered with cardboard and woodchips.  It works for us real good. While I cut the Vetiver grass for at home mulching, I need more than I've cut so far.

SO I thought  what works at the farm should work at home. So I've covered my beds with cardboard and laid down a blanket of woodchips on top of that. In time the cut Vetiver stems will be joining the layering, but for now, our farm houses a huge pile of woodchips -- some of which I'm stealing for domestic use.

I've done a few other things too as part of this revamp:

  • 9779378478?profile=originalI've placed planted out milk crates on the beds so they drain to the soil below
  • I've rejigged my overhead aerials to run aluminium chains down to climbers and ramblers (like tomatoes) below. Better than string or rope because these things offer purchase. It's chain curtaining that I got el cheapo from an Op shop. Should last me forever (pictured right).
  • I've done away with paths so that I can walk wherever I want between the plants I've planted by stepping on the woodchip carpet

I've mentioned this before this video has impressed me greatly:this is my primary inspiration.

Now that I have the soil that actually will grow things, I can be more selective with what I do with it.

I use the soil I have made as part of a simple mix for my containers like milkcrates. In them I'm growing plants that are either hard to grow or are vulnerable or expensive -- and I let the more feral species grow in the beds. Squashes. Tomatoes. Radishes. Greens.

Like Alice does.

I also appreciate her shade. I'm unlikely to throw shade cloth over my beds -- but I do use climbers on my aerials not only to protect my plants from the hot sun but I need a cooler spot if I'm going to work out there. As It is, I stay out of the garden between 11am and after 3pm most days because of the heat in Summer.

If I can cool it to an ambience that suits me without the plants suffering unduly -- I'm keen.

I also woodchip mulch my containers and, as Alice suggests elsewhere, use some chips in my potting mix as a carbon reserve.

A layer of cardboard boxes flattened out plus a topping of woodchips makes for an awesome mulch blanket. To plant I need to stab through it to the soil below.

The cardboard is plentiful by dumpster diving at the local shopping centre.

The woodchips are got by hailing down tree cutters and negotiating  with them to get their load of chips for free (or for a few cans of beer).

This woodchip makeover is carpeting the soil between my Vetiver clumps here at home as the Vetiver has functions unique to itself in way of  hydrating the upper layer of soil and sponsoring microbiology.


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Dried Tomatoes in oil

I just dried a pile of cherry tomato halves in the dehydrator (thanks, Andy). I'm thinking of storing them in oil in the fridge. Has anyone else done this, and if so, how long did you keep them for? I have seen all sorts of advice on the web - some contradictory- and am unsure if this is worth doing. An alternative is to just dry them till they are completely desiccated and grind them to a powder as has been suggested here before. Any advice gratefully accepted.

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In Praise of Black Nightshade

9779377879?profile=originalFolks generally seem to be unaware of the merits of one of my favourite "weeds", Solanum nigrum or Black Nightshade.  And those who are aware, often confuse it with its cooler climate cousin, deadly nightshade, and give it a wide birth.

This plant is a gem though.

Firstly, you can eat the leaves as a cooked green.  This isn't a huge deal as the leaves aren't that big and don't have much to distinguish them by flavour.

Secondly. the ripe berries can be used in jams and for making wine.  The best sparkling wine I've made from backyard fruit came from Black Nightshade.  The berries are small though, looking like that of an elderberry, although not produced in such abundance.  I tend to collect the berries as they ripen and accumulate them in the freezer until I have enough to make a bottle of wine.  I've never had sufficient to make more than one bottle at a time.

Lastly, and the real reason I love having this plant in my garden, is that it's the fainting goat of the Solanum family.  This plant is a magnet for the 28-spotted Potato Ladybird Beetle, which in the past has been a real problem for my potato and tomato plants.  A few years back I noticed that the beetles favour the nightshade over my solanum crops and I've been cultivating it ever since.


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The garden come spring

Well spring has surely sprung but I’m still waiting on consistently nice weather before I count my chickens. I have been trying to get all my irrigation updated and ready for summer when there is just no way I’ll get enough time to make sure the watering gets done.  I bought shrubblers from Bunnings and they allow you to adjust the flow rate or even turn them off which is great for my multi Vegie garden bed set up.  I have 3 per bed at the moment


. I also set up drip irrigation for the “outside the fence” garden. I’ll be removing some of the winter stuff soon and replace it with more summer crops.  I already have corn planted but I’m thing rosellla’s and more tomatoes since they seem to be going so good out there. 


The harvests are going great.  I’m only buying potato and onions in terms of veggies at the moment.  


we have plenty of fruit too as mulberries strawberries and blueberries are in abundance and the peaches have started.  Still buying bloody apples though - my kids cannot survive without their apples.   I buy about 20 Per week for the 3 of them.    Once they are grown, I’ll only be eating the fruit I grow dammit! 




Flowers are just starting to look great.   I’ve got my first and only surviving strawflower in bloom, but damn, she’s pretty!


My pumpkins are making my garden look like a fairytale right now.  They are growing up through my fence and over my garden shed.  So pretty!


Ive also got some avocados Ron my Pinkerton.  So excited to see if I’ll actually be able to harvest any this time. 


lastly, I harvested some honey today so have a look at my real rough and ready approach to honey harvests.  I call it the smoosh and filter method.  


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self isolating at home

so for the past 12 months or so we have been quiet on the visiting etc front - health issues , covid etc . just as i was getting up steam to do Valeries visit bang accident at work - no driving for  5 months at least - so staying still has been challenging ( was threatened by doc with hospitalisation and tied to the bed) gardening with one arm has been a challenge but the garden elf has been busy as usual mostly helping others but did get the ne strawberry garden nearly finished and yes i did sneak filling a 9779370480?profile=original few barrows of crusher dust in when he wasnt here ! less painful than the physio i have to do twice daily... the hanging baskets have a mixture of alpine and ordinary strawberries = variety unknown - came from relatives garden and she has been growing them for 30 years ... planter boxes contains a mixture of new guinea beans, spaghetti squash, cucumbers yard beans, winged peas and passionfruit ... drippers and sprays run 3 minutes twice a day - will increase as the weather warms up

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End of August 2021

9779363874?profile=originalToday was a very good day despite being hungover and feeling the excesses of the previous night. I went to Valeries garden visit and it was wonderful to see everyone again - I have missed the visits. I then came home, had a nap and then played in the garden in the warm afternoon.

Spring has well and truly sprung in my yard. I’m already harvesting peaches from the tree at the front but my angel peach has only just set fruit.¯_(ツ)_/¯ oh well, I’ll have an extended harvest so I’m not complaining.


The garden flowers seem to have burst, as if over night.  
How can you not love life when this is your afternoon? 

The harvests are still bountiful.  I won’t repost, but I harvest a full basket of food about twice per week.  When the mulberries are in full swing (soon), I can harvest a basket of mulberries alone!

9779365087?profile=originalSo many things growing well at the moment.  Peas are finally doing well.  I’m going to save seeds from my strongest to see if I can have success again next year.  

My latest planting of brassicas are doing well under their net which gives them just enough protection from the sun to keep them thriving. 


Im also trying some cucumbers in the ground as they don’t seem to well lately for me in the wicking beds.   I’ve also got some carrots and a random bean popping up too.  The bully nasturtiums is of course trying to take over.  If anyone can recommend a true clumping type, I’d greatly appreciate it. 

The strawberries are doing so well.  At least 600g per week being harvested and they just look beautiful. 


Well that’s it from me guys.  I’m loving this beautiful time of the year and hope all your gardening adventures are a success. 


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9779356296?profile=originalAll vaxed up and nowhere to go!

I'm therefore sentenced to potting around outback. Mind you, I gotta make a list of what is to be done?

Otherwise, I won't build a head of steam and I need to last to the end of the week outdoors, outback, quarantined at home...

And such gardening weather! The botanicals call to me like over sexed bulls.

So each day I attend to WITBD -- what-is-to-be-done -- by listing on my listing app ToDoist.

My shopping list is a bit of a no start. I can't even renew my gardening supplies, as I am not essential enough to go do the hardware or nursery thing.

I did, however, order seeds online and although many suppliers have been gutted by lockdown greenies buying optimism in little packets, I did snaffle a spring awakening supply.

It is Splinter after all: the warmth is already pervasive, as my mulberry tree informs me.

At the plantation -- our Vetiver crop may be slowly recovering from the cold -- but here at home the comestibles are going bananas (as the images suggest).

The symbiotic method being engineered so well by colleagues  in Vietnam (see here on fb for example of recovering marginal land) -- is delivering for me in backyard Brisbane.

The first principle is that you design your produce growing around planted Vetiver.With mulching and the green mulch ground cover -- my soil is holding onto its moisture better than anytime before because the Vetiver acts like an irrigator. While I do test the soil's moisture content, I know anytime I pull back the Scurvy weed + mulches, I'm getting worm demographics right at the surface.

9779357466?profile=originalThe plant I'm most hopeful about -- as an experiment -- is Portuguese cabbage (Couve Tronchuda). It's actually a collard -- but a brassica that delivers in my patch without all that cabbage angst -- and with a flavour that transcends (spit. spit) the taste of kale.

9779358071?profile=original 9779357695?profile=original

As for the rest, when I go foraging, I have a lot to choose from.My Chaya has suffered again over Winter (because of the cold I expect) and is the only one of the veges that looks desultory.

And I can never grow enough Okinawan Spinach to sustain my hunger for it.

I can focus more on particular plants because I have reduced my growing space and consolidated the beds.

I do suffer from the handicap of not seeing the veg for the greenery --as the images -- so busy with plants -- suggest.

I've also gone back to making my own green tea. I don't have a special recipe, but my base ingredients are sheep manure + prickly pear paddles, which I chop up to assist break down.

I also add any excuse I have to dump milk or yogurt. So when I finish with my Filmjolk I add the bottle rinse to the tea pot.

Dairy is  a great driver of tea brew recipes.

For a time I was brewing Scurvy weed I harvested from the beds, but brewing that was like taking coals to Newcastle. Prickly pear -- as a succulent -- should have some of the substrate that empowers aloe vera and yucca based fertilisers.

On areas not growing comestibles, I still spread human urine -- as if you wanted to know that. Don't try this at home unless your soil is as sandy as my own.

I do, however, do a green leaf very well and suffer from no diseases at the moment. I mean the garden -- not me.

The Scurvy Weed abolishes the snail problem, as they must expend so much energy getting from A to B thru the jungle.

And since I've added even more ponds -- I grow on the Vetiver in water -- the frogs are my minions, while all that undergrowth of Scurvy Weed discourages Cane Toads. I bring on Vetiver at ground level, but my three ponds are at least 50 cm above ground and covered all in a mat of Azolla.

Not cane toad friendly and discouraging of mosies.

To delight us humans and the bees, I've planted out an array of cottager type plants, with Pride of Madeira ( Echium Fastuosum Candicans) promising the most buzz for my buck. Any flower that blooms gets buzzed by bees and sundries -- including the local sugar sucking birdlife. At back and next door, the Peruvian cactus is so loud each morning with bee hum when it is in fantastic bloom.

In regard to my use of weed mat and cardboard as mulching mats (see HERE for my past contribution)...just look at the images. The mats are so hard to find amongst all that growth. Nowadays, I'm sophisticated in that department and will select which plant I think will do better under weed mat or with cardboard; what size of mat I should use ; and the planting  layout I should employ as a template.

This matting has solved the overgrowth challenge presented by the vigour of the Scurvy Weed. Some may insist that that what makes it a 'weed' --but I love the stuff in a way only a dotting partner could.

Why Scurvy weed should love my patch so much is a question for ecology, as it is a minor activity in most wild places I've come upon it in its native setting. I have reintroduced Dog Bane and Beach Bean (Canavalia rosea) into the beds -- them being my other fav ground covers. I'll also be planting out Black Beans when they soon sprout and (touch wood) Millet  to keep the Scurvy weed company as advantageous  mulch greenery.

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Lockdown in the garden

Hey All, 

I just couldn’t face the chaos that work would have been today so I took a mental health day and spent it in my garden.  It has been going great even though I’ve got a spider mite problem at the moment.  My back garden outside the fence is doing fantastic. I have spinach beetroot and celery here as well as other bits and pieces.  


Next is the potatoes I harvested out of there.  Only 5 potatoes planted and I got all those you see down the side from the dug area you see.   I’m starting to work this potato thing out!   I’m keeping my small ones to replant as soon as they9779360064?profile=originalSuch a pretty basket full!   These were from memory Dutch cream.  They also did really well for me at the farm.  


My bloody chooks have been getting out again and made a mess of my gardens.  I decided to rip everything out and replant except for a marigold and some brassica in the first bed.  Let’s hope I’ve managed to contain them this time.  I also have a choko that a lady at work gave me and it seems to be reasonably happy.  It is shoved between the concrete and the garden beds, a space of about 8cm! It seems to be doing fine and I hope I’m finally able to grow choko.  Plan is for it to grow up the fence. 


My blueberries have all burst into bloom so hoping for some decent blueberries this year.  Just fertilised them today. 

Do you rip out your broccoli once it’s main head is gone?  Don’t! Have some patience and it will reward you with an even greater harvest of side shoots. 


We are getting so many trombonccino! My plant takes up the side fence wall and I really ought to give it a trim back. 

I’m just about out of citrus. I harvested the last emporer mandarin today, my 4 cara car oranges and some of the Afourer mandarins.  That tree is still loaded as my husband and kids hate how hard it is to peel.  Big babies!  It is a really nice mandarin. 

I might finally be getting a pea harvest! My garden is so temperamental- peas especially! This is about the 5th time I’ve tried peas this season and looks like 5th time’s the9779359268?profile=original

I also just had to show you my strawberries!! So good.   About 1 punnet per week at this stage but soon it will be every couple of days.  Can’t wait.  


If you look in the background, you’ll see my very full fruit fly trap!

Well everyone, hope you stay safe and sane in these crazy times.  I look forward to the day where everything goes back to normal but until then, at least I have my gardening to keep me sane.  

happy gardening folks. 

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Help me plan/dream

Horrendusly lucky in that my partner and I might buy a house in the next year or two. Have experience with small veggie patches in various rentals. However we are currently in a unit, and I'm missing it.

Therefore I'm attempting to garden vivaciouly via spreadsheet. Help me. Please? :)

Probably a small suburban yard. We work full time, so anything that can't be eaten gets zero attention, but obviously edible things will get some care. Might get chooks if space permits. Have a worm bin already. Really don't see the point of grass, so we're gonna gradually eliminate any lawn and have something nice instead. Addtionally, large native productive trees might accidentially fall into holes in nearby council land.

* Local sucess stories - what grows really well for you? E.g. A tomato plant we once bought at keperra tafe horticulture sale was legendary - wish I knew what it was!
* Cultivar reccomendations on fruit trees for Brisbane, and where to find them.
* Interested in edible locally native stuff. Because it should grow!
* What species of lilly-pilly are tasty? There are so many! I know there was a nice one at the back of PAH that I used to snack on...
* Any other tips on planning?

Thank you, this seems like a nice community :)


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Mandarins, anyone?

We clean-picked our mandarin tree this morning, and have three boxes of mandarins - all ripe - they wouldn't hang on the tree much longer. 

If anyone would like some, please let me know. I can't hang on to them for long, as they are quite ripe. 

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Taro and its uses

Taro is probably one of the most versatile plants on earth! However it is one that you have to know how how to grow it, how to harvest it, how to store the different bits of it and how to prepare it and how to cook it and then lastly how to eat it.  It is a complex plant but worth it if you master it as it is a complete plant that nothing is wasted.

To start with planting moist or wet soil, almost boggy preferably, make a hole as deep as the size you want your taro to be then stick your taro top in as far as you can only fill in a little to stop the top coming out if it rains. 

While the plant is growing the young leaves are very good for you and tasty but are full of oxalic acid! this need to be removed by blanching in boiling water for 30 seconds then washed before cooking as you would spinach. Us Islanders prefer it to spinach as it has a nicer flavor as long as the oxalic acid is removed and we cook it in coconut milk with fish and the famous Polisami or corned beef wrapped in leaves these are the leaves. 

Harvesting- put a pole in along side as deep as the taro plant was planted and pull sideways the taro will dome out without breaking.

Taro if not cooked right can be dry and hard so it is important to boil it slow and long and let the centre of the piece cook.

The stems just below the leaves down to about a quarter of the way down makes a lovely dish also called baba (pronounced Mbamba in Fijian) where it is blanched in boiling water for a minute then the skin is stripped off with a sharp knife then it is shredded with fork. lastly a cup thick coconut milk that has been mixed with a cup lemon juice is poured over it . this can be served straight but often accompanied with freshly chopped chillies

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