2015 AUTUMN – March to May

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End of the hot season crops. Corn almost ready to harvest, Okra still producing, Snake Beans giving fruit daily. Aibika (Water Cabbage) left back, Water Chestnut in the tub on the left, Nopales in the tub at the front left. Amaranth going to seed, Mouse Melon (type of cucumber) still yet to produce. Sweet potato in three tubs didn’t produce well this rotation. Will try growing in the composted horse poo.

 MARCH TO MAY 2015

30.03.15 Autumn is such a beautiful time of the year and we’ve had some good rain off and on to keep it productive in the garden and refill my 5000lt tank.  Some days can still be hot with the odd day up there in the 30’s wilting everything. A good soak of the roots helps the plants to recover for the next day.

The main difference this autumn has been the use of Tim’s well composted horse manure from out Somerset Dam way. Beautiful stuff and the plants are loving it.

Once the current crops are finished it will be time to replenish the beds. I have a huge pile of composting grass and garden clippings (thank you Brad the mower man) and a small mountain of bags of composted horse poo. Will add some sprinklings of Granite, Basalt and Dolomite for a bit of added mineral and replant with winter crop seed and seedlings.

Some old favorites doing well – I’ve managed to grow three corn crops this hot season. One of my favourite veg to eat and it keeps so well in the freezer – no waste.

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A portion of one of the corn crops. Straight into the freezer wearing their natural coats and they come out very usable.

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Pawpaw – now one of my favourite vegetables to use green. I eat it almost daily grated on ham sandwiches, roasted with dinner or added to stews or casseroles.
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Eggplant – probably Black Beauty. I obtain my seedlings from many sources and they’re not always named. Love to watch these grow and develop – like little works of art each one.
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Snake beans are loving the composted horse poo – never had such a good year for them. Initial seedlings bought from the market and seed from that crop replanted immediately to give another bumper crop of tasty, meaty beans. Okra in the pic as well.
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Dwarf Ducasse bunch ended up in the dehydrator to make a healthy sweet treat.

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Loving the colour and variety of the crop – l-r: green pawpaw, Kombucha, honey from my bees, dragonfruit, eggplant, okra, eggplant, Tamarillo, snake beans, sweet leaf, chilli, Rat Tailed radish.
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A good reason to grow healthy organic veg – my grandson Clayton loves to eat it!

Some new additions to the garden for which I have high hopes:

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Bitter Melon – very nice added to soups, stews and anything else you fancy.
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A Choy (Chinese veg from Janet and her Mum) going to seed.  I have high hopes that this summer growing lettuce substitute will establish itself around the garden as a volunteer.
garden visit March 2015 Dianne's
One of our GV’s (Garden Visits) to a Brisbane Local Food members home. This time birthday girl Dianne. So good to get together with like minded people to swap produce, plants and information.
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Newly hatched Assassin Bugs – useful predator in the garden.

05.04.15

Around May last year I picked up my breeding stock of 24 snails from Glasshouse Gourmet Snails and introduced them to their new home.

SNAIL FARM 21.03.13
Snail farm – modeled on the type used at Glasshouse Gourmet Snails.
GLASSHOUSE GOURMET SNAILS 17.05.14
May 2014 – Original breeding Stock of 24 mature snails. Long dead but their progeny live on.

The snails hibernated through winter, woke up in spring and started mating like mad producing thousands of little tiny babies. Yum – Escargot recipes were researched.

But, I had my problems. A determined rat kept eating holes through the shade cloth and stealing the maturing snails. I kept plugging the holes but the rat kept getting in.  Friends came around and helped me put rodent mesh on the outside of the box. Then the heat hit. The combination of rat attack and heat reduced my stock to nearly zero.

Luckily, some had escaped into the general garden and set up home on the opposite side of the yard near a large tub of water which I euphemistically call  “The Pond”.  They seemed to like it there, with occasional forays out into the yard when it rained heavily. I would come out with the torch at night to check on them and leave offerings of their favourite food – cuc, carrot and ground chook food.

With the cold weather coming again I felt it time to collect the remaining snails and rehouse them in the now almost completely fixed snail farm for their hibernation period. I managed to find 20 very large snails, a good number considering I had accidentally stood on about 5 of them over the summer period. They’re really quite delicate and easily killed. They don’t recover from a broken shell!

So here they are, ravenously eating their way through my offering of various greens (they’re quite particular and like Okra, A Choy and brassicas best – didn’t touch the Betel, dandelion or pumpkin leaves), carrot, cuc and ground chook food. Anyone would think they had been living off the land for the last few months! Let’s hope they appreciate how cushy they get life inside the box with food and water laid on and stay put.

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March 2015 – Twenty re-housed surviving Garden Snails. A fresh layer of garden potting mix has been laid in the bottom of the farm for breeding purposes – nice and soft for egg laying. They took a fancy to my garden tubs for hiding out during the day so two have been gifted to them. Double layer for a bit of insulation.
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Lot’s of slow motion love going on inside the snail farm. This is what passes for an orgy in the snail world. Snails have both male and female parts and each will impregnate the other, both laying eggs.

 12.04.15

Here near Brisbane winter is a peak growing time in the vege bed. It’s the time we can grow our traditional crops such as brassicas of all sorts and tomatoes. The White Cabbage Moth, White Cabbage Butterfly  and the dreaded Fruit Fly take a holiday and leave us in peace for a few months.

Last weekend I had the joy and filthy exhaustion of re-doing two of the three beds for the cold seasons crop. Pretty much the only time I do any hard yakka in my no-dig garden apart from moving the pile-o-grass that the mower guy leaves for me on the front verge.

New season is so exciting – trying to find the space to grow old favourites but also fit in something new. I prefer to sow seed direct into the bed. I used to grow a lot of seedling but tend to buy them from the markets these days.

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First and rather pleasant job after taking down the summer netting, is cutting back the finished crop into bits.
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We’ve had a bit of rain so the netting needs to be left out in the sun for a day or two to dry out before storage. The occasional shake removes any geckos or insects trapped.
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I like to sprinkle the beds with some cheap ($2 a bucket from the landscape shop) minerals – in this case Granite (also known as Deco) for potassium and Basalt for calcium and iron. I also sprinkle some Dolomite for calcium and whatever else I have to hand…I’m not very scientific!….Potash, trialing a product called Total Cover by Life Force with trace elements, maybe some Organic Xtra and also trialing Mycorrhizae (a mutualistic relationship with the roots of most plant species – google for more info – quite fascinating).
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Top the greens off with some compost to plant into – in this case some very well composted horse poo that I’ve been fortunate enough to have delivered by the bag for $3 by the incredible Tim who drives for about 1.5hrs to bring it to me (I buy 50 bag per time).
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All ready to go again with seed or seedlings. Some of the still cropping plants have been left – on the left there’s some Sweet Leaf and I’m trying out Collard Greens (cannot find Tree Collards here in Australia – if anyone knows a source of cuttings, the only reliable way to propagate them, please let me know). On the right are Jeruselum Artichoke, Basil and in the middle is a self sown pawpaw which has turned out to be a male and will be removed.

Planted last weekend. Some of the seed is a few years old so fingers crossed.

  • Cardoon – Cynara cardunculus Rouge D’Alger
    Carrot – Muscade, Nantes, “Red Core” Chantenay
    garlic – local variety
    spuds – store bought sprouting
    cabbage – Couer de Boeuf des Vertus
    Bean – climbing purple (did not come up), Kentucky Wonder
    Snowpea – Oregon Giant
    Sugar Snap Pea – climbing
    lettuce – various – purple cos, Oriental, + +
    Mangel Beetroot – Yellow Eckendorf, Beetroot Burpees Golden
    Strawberry Spinach – Chenopodium capitatum
    Collard Greens –
    Orach
    Radish – Champion (ready to start cropping 05.05.15), Purple Plum (planted 06.05.15)
    Cauliflower – Snowball (did not come up) replaced with seedling from the market
    Cress – American Upland
  • broccoli – seedling from the market
  • rocket
  • silverbeet
  • Swede – American Purple Top (planted 06.05.15)
24.04.15 cauli and broccoli, roma toms growing under Okra
All three raised beds are now planted up. This one with Broccoli, cauli, rocket, roma toms, silverbeet, coriander, Upland Cress and the Okra still being very productive.

 01.05.15

First day of May and it’s perfect gardening weather – nice and drizzly with intermittent showers. I have had to cover the snail farm with a sheet of plastic as oddly enough, they really don’t like it too wet and all this rain could drown the eggs.

It’s now been a few weeks since I planted various seed in the list above. Plenty of time for them to show themselves willing to be productive or not. Some of the seed may have been a few years old so no surprise.

The Purple Bean still hasn’t shown itself so it has been replaced with some Kentucky Wonder. The carrots still haven’t sprouted so I spread “Red Core” Chantenay over any space that was empty. I’ll either end up with heaps of wonderful things to eat or very little at this rate! Would much rather over plant than under plant.

The Snowball Cauli also haven’t shown themselves. Luckily I bought plenty of cauli seedlings from the market the other week and they are going great along with the broccoli, rocket, silverbeet and Roma toms. A couple of the Roma toms have been hit by cutworm (? hard to verify – could be slater or wood roach) but on the whole the majority of seedlings are growing perfectly. Fingers crossed.

I’m sitting here, a bit damp in my jumper, house pants with the comfy tie up waist and Ugg Boots on a day that passes for cool in Brisbane having just polished off some ham and eggs and toast with home made Rosella Jam with a big mug of hot chocolate milk while listening to the gentle drip-drip of rain outside. Bliss. I was going to go out but this is too good to leave. A day to archive in the memory.

2 thoughts on “2015 AUTUMN – March to May”

  1. My summer veggie garden was a complete flop. I did manage to get a few kilos of spuds and some small pumpkins but a combination of having to go to TAFE again, and not a lot of spare time to spend in the garden meant that “something” (I am guessing rats) got in and ate all of my huge tomato crop (we got 5 small tomatoes for the whole season and one of them was nibbled!) and is now wading through my root crops nibbling them off and digging up potatoes etc. The local feral cat is doing her best to eat the rats, but there are only so many she can scoff and these rats are clever and stay inside Sanctuary where she can’t reach them. I am doing a complete redesign of Sanctuary and will be creating a lot of raised water wicked beds this winter as that will mean easier watering and less of it as our summer period is very dry. We have had very little rain this autumn, and even though my mouse melons went mental (took them ages to crop though), I had a lot of leafage and a billion white fly moved in to take advantage. Reading your wonderful post makes me indescribably happy. I am going to try to source some of the minerals that you are talking about here and do some serious work with the soil. I might just throw in a total cover crop of broad beans and maybe buckwheat over the winter in order to let the soil recover while we are redesigning slowly over the winter period. I have a blogging friend on the mainland who has taken pity on me and who is helping me redesign Sanctuary with permaculture first and foremost in mind. I am going to go with the flow and work with her plan to see if we can’t actually get some kind of “crop” next season. It is heartily depressing to grow so much, to water so much, and to get so very little. Thank you for sharing your gorgeous garden and everything that you grow. It keeps me motivated and excited about gardening. What is sweet leaf by the way? Cheers for sharing Lissa, you just cheered me up enormously 🙂

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  2. Hey Fran 🙂
    Great about cheering you up 🙂 Bummer about the rat 😦

    I saw one of my resident little b’tards running along the fence last night while I was outside with the torch. I can hear them in the roof frolicking, creating babies for next season. They’re up there right now. Must get some poison up there. My best mouser Gretel died last year and the remaining dogs – one is blind and and the other deaf (very happy dogs I might add) – aren’t up to the job. A neighbours cat has been trying to catch them at night for me but is hampered by the bell around her neck. Alerts Hugo (apparently he hears the ringing) that she is there also and he chases her off.

    Re the wicking beds have a look at this blog a friend wrote if you have a moment. Elaine is the self titled Wicking Queen and is having great success with them. She is a lady of mature years and finds them easier to maintain than regular beds. Elaine loves answering questions if you have any.
    http://brisbanelocalfood.ning.com/group/wicking-beds/forum/topics/a-wicking-bed-happened

    What are you studying at TAFE? Apologies if you have already told me!

    I grew Mouse Melons for the first time. They went rampant, grew all over everything reminiscent of Morning Glory (though the bees did like the tiny yellow flowers) and then produced hardly anything worth calling crop. I didn’t like them all that much either. Won’t be doing them again. I pulled them out yesterday and fed a great clump to my snails who seemed to get some enjoyment out of them.

    Time to plant our brassicas 😀 Oh excitement! Love this time of the year. I have a great big box of seed but hadn’t replaced the brocolli seed from last year, so off to the markets early this morning to buy some seedling. Oh goody goody!

    Don’t think I’ve ever had White Fly (knock on wood). No doubt you have your own method of control, but I found this organic control while searching for information on them.
    http://greenharvest.com.au/PestControlOrganic/Information/WhiteflyControl.html

    A cover crop and some minerals sound like a good way to help your garden recover.

    I would personally hate to lose a growing season. Your winter is probably quite severe compared to ours though, which is our peak veg growing season. Do you normally grow much during winter? Elaine swears by Lucerne as a cover crop. I don’t bother with CC myself – as I said, I hate losing any growing space. I just chop up the last crop, add a few goodies as described in the blog, top it off with composted something-or-other and replant. There are many ways to achieve the end result.

    Healthy soil produces healthy disease resistant plant 🙂 Once the plants start developing problems I take them out soon after as they are telling me they have done their dash.

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