2014 Spring – September to November

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The main growing area in the backyard. Spring 2014.

I was taught years ago to maintain a seasonal diary, or blog, to keep track of the changes, successes and failures. It’s always interesting to go back and re-read what went on during a season. So easy to forget all the little details unless you write them down.

Main things going on in the photo above – this shows my backyard and primary growing area. My block is about 24perches or 600sq m.

Two of the raised beds (numbered 1, 2 and 3 from the right – don’t ask! that’s just the way I did it at the time and all my blogs use this system so I have to stick to it) have been re-done. Basically they are big compost bins replenished with whatever I have in the compost pile, any manure I can get my hands on, rock minerals from the local landscape shop ($2 a bucket for Granite/Deco for potassium and Basalt for calcium and iron), Organic Xtra and whatever else I happen to think would benefit eg Dolomite, Epsom Salts and Potash.

I have tried many different types of commercial garden supplements. No doubt they are each good in their own way but are usually expensive and tricky to source and I’ve never found one that blew my socks off and felt I just had to continue buying. The locally produced Organic Xtra has proven it’s worth and it’s easily bought from the produce shop.

My focus is tropical/sub-tropical veg more suitable to our Brisbane climate but during winter I grow all the veg I grew up on and love – all the brassicas and beans, peas. During our hot summer when these crops won’t grow a lot of the focus is on learning to grow alternative crops such as Aibika, Warrigal Greens, yams, taros, nopales, yakon, jicama, jeruselum artichoke, arrowroot, cassavaย  and sweet potatoes along with the more traditional cucumber, snake beans, okra, peanuts, corn, radish etc.

I am trying to educate my tastebuds to accept the new veg….but I find there are some things I just simply don’t like. Like yams and taros. I find them sticky or floury. I like old fashioned potato but have had difficulty growing them well in Brisbane. There are people doing it successfully though, so I just have to keep trying. The greens I find more palatable and once cooked up you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart from the more traditional silverbeets.

I have a native bee hive of Tetragonula carbonaria – dear sweet little things that take care of themselves mostly, and a top bar honey bee hive.ย  The top bar hive requires a lot more attention but is more rewarding with honey.

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Top bar hive from Brisbane Backyard Bees
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Through the viewing panel of the top bar hive. The girls never stop moving and working. Fascinating to watch them create their own combs.
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Early morning and the girls are very busy coming and going with their loads of nectar and pollen.

I also have a native stingless bee hive of Tetragonula carbonaria. The extra bit on top is for honey collection.

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Native stingless bees Tetragonula carbonaria.

I moved on to this property around 13yrs ago and immediately planted some fruit trees. Despite the drought hitting around the same time I was able to keep these trees alive and they now (mostly) reward me with regular crops. The Dwf Pink Shatoot mulberry (below) is one of the new additions.

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Some of the fruiting plants I grow include: mulberry (both black and pink Shatoot above), Soursop, Carambola, pawpaw, pineapple, Pepino, Lychee, Custard Apple, Wampi, Persimmon, Tamarillo, Jaboticaba, Grumichama (yet to fruit), dragonfruit, grapes (animals steal them before I get any), pomegranate (yet to fruit), avocado (Dwf Wurtz yet to fruit), bananas, tropical nectarine, persimmon.

I wanted to “farm” some protein also. I can’t keep chickens or quail as my dogs would kill them and I suspect I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to eat any of my birds once they became pets. I looked into aquaculture but found it too technical, expensive and prone to disaster. So I’m trying snails (see my snail blog).

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Snail box or farm built by friends for me. The sides are shade cloth – not strong enough to keep out determined rats – and will have to be reinforced with mouse wire.
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Some of the snail inmates. Happy, simple folk who just like to eat and sleep.

28.10.14

Home unwell with diverticulitis, so to divert myself from the pain I have gone out into the garden to take some photos.

The snail farm is becoming a major problem and I’ve had to ask for some help in securing the sides from this very determined rat. Every night new holes that I have to try to bung up and my snail population is quite obviously going down.

Plenty of lightening but not much rain last night. Rain would be great but the lightening has it’s own benefits, releasing nitrogen from the air. The garden looks refreshed this morning.

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Tropical, or low chill, nectarine. Goes by the name of “White Satin” for some obscure reason but I am absolutely thrilled with this plant. Covered in fruit which took mere weeks to start ripening. Very sweet and delicious.
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I have the tree covered with a cheap eBay mosquito net to keep the dreaded Fruit Fly at bay.
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Nice Pepino fruit picked this morning. Shows the golden colour and purple stripes of a ripe fruit.

I’m having rather an odd problem with one of the raised beds. It seems to be more than usually infested with Slaters and Wood Cockroaches which aren’t normally a bother as they help consume the organic material I have put into the beds. For some reason they are attacking and eating the seedlings I have growing in Bed 1. They have ruined my cucumber seedlings and are trying to chew through the stem of the tough Jeruselum Artichoke.

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What’s left in Bed 1. Nearly all seedlings and seed gone to heaven. I’m not game to replant until the over abundance of Slaters and Wood Cockroaches sorts itself out.

Bed 2 in comparison is going great.

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Bed 2 untouched by the infestation of Slaters and Wood Cockroaches that are plaguing Bed 1. Yellow Zucchini, Okra, peanut, corn, eggplant, tomatoes and snake beans.
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Beautiful little pineapple forming. I just love to watch these bromeliad fruit grow.
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The Wai Chi Lychee has been in for some years and initially would give me kgs of good fruit each season. None for years now with theories on the why-for ranging from rain at the wrong time washing away the pollen to not enough water at fruiting time. This year I seem to have quite a lot of tiny fruit forming….fingers crossed.
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A decorative gardener for many years, my focus is now on edibles and plants which support the insects that thrive in an organic garden. For this reason I just love salvias of all types. Bees love them (both honey and blue banded) and they provide a splash of bright colour in the garden.

11 thoughts on “2014 Spring – September to November”

    1. Thanks Florence ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ve had little time to learn much about them since but observe them daily. I find watching the behaviour of an animal helps a lot. A rat is getting in and no doubt stealing my babies though (not much sign apart from a few broken and empty shells). I will have to find some time to rat proof the farm.

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  1. Chicken wire may not be enough for rats. Maybe welded snake wire? Could they be coming up from below, or do you think they are climbing the shade cloth to squeeze between the walls and lid?

    The red Shatoot look delicious. Mine do, right up until they start to colour…of course I planted the thing in the hen’s yard ๐Ÿ˜†. The plan is that the girls will get the lower third, the birds the top third, and the rest for me, but the little tree will have to get a lot taller before that happens!

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    1. Chicken wire was all I could find at a busy Bunnings at the weekend. I’ve never heard of snakewire, will check it out if this doesn’t prove to be sufficient to keep the little sod at bay. The rat just nibbles a hole right through the shade cloth. No climbing necessary.
      The mulberries are a real treat at the moment. Some ripen daily. My source of fresh fruit.

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  2. I love this post. Snail farming? What an innovator! I wish a rat would steal my snails as here in Tassie we have a billion of them along with great big leopard slugs that are cannibalistic of other slugs but still eat their (not inconsiderable) weight’s worth of garden material (usually my tender veggies). We inherited 4 acres in Tassie from my dad when he died and even though we are penniless middle aged student hippies we have set about trying to “fix” the soil, remove as many of the rocks as we can and generally turn our 4 acres into an edible forest by any means we can. We studied horticulture and know a bit about plants but this annual gardening thing is a new lark for us. Veggies are like maths, I just don’t get them ;). I will though and this year was the first year we planted from seed but the results have been somewhat lackluster as our (rat free) snails tackled most of them and the rest are just very slow to the game. We are slowly growing nuts and fruit from seed and as we save up we are buying fruit trees to add to the biomass. We have lots of manure, oak leaves and as much grass as we can wade through (carefully at this time of year, the snakes are back!) so we are using it to build up the rubbish silty top soil that sits on top of a mass of rocks which themselves sit on a thick layer of yellow clay that sets like rock in our long dry summers. Did I mention that the entire property is on a very steep slope with sheoaks at the top and swamp melaleuca’s at the bottom? Lots of lessons to learn but it’s our little patch of “school yard” and we are most happy to potter around learning our life lessons from nature and the soil. I don’t think I actually know you Lissa but here we are. I don’t even remember where I found your blog to load into my RSS Feed Reader but I am a voracious blog reader and get up at 3am daily in order to read the blogs that I follow before 7am hits and it’s time to head off and walk the dogs before getting “stuck in” to whatever is most pressing at any given time. Today the blackberries are waving to us from the deck, the boneseed is threatening to inhabit our property for the next millennium, the possums are on wary hiatus as Earl the wonderdog has been patrolling at night and we just might get a bit of fruit from our small unprotected orchard and its a glorious 24C (hot for us) sunny day down here in Sidmouth on the river Tassie. Cheers for having such a wonderful blog and for sharing your exploits with us all so that those of us lusting after the tropics can live vicariously through your posts. You are doing what we are doing, just you get to sweat a bit more in the summer and we get a bit colder in the winter ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    1. Wow. I have a fan lol. Very funny.
      I would so love to live somewhere a bit cooler than here. It’s not the end of Spring yet and we’ve had a day hitting 40C already. My poor Cockatiels sat in their (metal) aviary panting poor things.

      I’ve only seen Tasmania on TV – who’s that guy who lives down there and is learning farming? Looks lovely. It’s a dream place to visit. An old workmate went down there to run a PO some years back. No idea which town.

      The Leopard slugs sound incredible. Fruit Fly is our personal pain in the butt up here. Do you get them in Tassie? Qld Fruit Fly but I expect their are different varieties for each region.

      You’re an even earlier riser than myself. Though I seem to be sleeping a little longer now that I have said I’m leaving the stressful job. Those couple of hours in the morning before leaving for work at 6.30 are my special time for researching and reading.

      Still learning how to use WordPress. Do you have your own blog I can link to Narf?

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      1. That farming guy is Matthew Evans of Fat Pig farm. Methinks it was a most calculated “farming” event and was capitalising on making a television show but he does seem to be working hard to spread the good food word. My dad’s partner ran a post office down here as well. Small world eh? We don’t officially have fruit flies here, or foxes or termites but I have my suspicions about the former and the latter ;). Tassie is unemployment central and Stevie-boy and I are both mature aged students. Better to learn something useful than work in a thrift shop methinks. I get up at 3am so that I can learn all kinds of things. By the time 7am hits I am buzzing with excitement about what I just learned and am raring to face my day :). Yeah, my blog is here. Not very polished but very real ;).

        http://theroadtoserendipity.wordpress.com/

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  3. Thanks for the link Narf. I read some of your blogs last night but I’ll be blowed if I can figure out how to link to my own. A friend is tutoring me on WordPress. Looks like I need to go back for some more lessons.

    Matthew Evans, yes that’s the guy. I don’t make a point of watching but have caught his show every now and then. Found himself a wife and had a kid too. That’s dedication for a TV show lol.

    Unemployment central hey. There goes my plan to sell up, move down there and find a job (kidding – I would never leave Qld). I may have to become a mature aged student myself as have just quit my job with no prospects of another. Time for a life change. I do like learning though, so it’s just the lack of income that would be a pain. What do you study?

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