2016 AUTUMN – MARCH TO MAY

 

14.03.16

The weather is improving already though still a few hot days. Enough showers now and then to keep my 5000lt tank ticking over for garden use.

It’s a jungle out there.

The garden – fruit trees, ground covers, flowering plants have gone berserk with growth. I need to have a major trim back. Easter is coming and the delicious thought of four days in which I can slop around in my gardening clothes and thongs, tossing composted manure around and replenishing beds with the spoiled lucerne bought from Tim (Brisbane Rural Produce) is intoxicating. People keep asking “what are you doing this Easter” and I happily reply “poo tossing”.

Some things, like the A Choy/Canadian Wild Lettuce on the left and middle of the pic are being left to go to seed. The Nopales has reached a size where it will go over in a storm again and I will have to trim it back to the original pad.

Sweet Leaf have grown into sizable woody stemmed bushes and are taking up too much space in the vege beds. Not a lot of usable “veg” from these to justify the space they take up. Cut them right back to a stump the other day. If they grow back well and good – I will attempt to keep them more trimmed than I have to achieve edible tips. They grow well from cuttings stuffed into the ground.

The blasted, so called thornless (hah) Youngberry has re-shot with a vengeance and is growing all over the ground. A trap for unwary feet. I think I will have to use drastic measures to get rid of it permanently ie poison.

The white choko which has been sitting so politely on the wire frame around the water tank for the last two years doing very little in the way of growth, has suddenly taken off. I have tried many times to train it over the tank but it insists on growing outwards.

The plant is covered in tiny potential fruit embryo on the female flowers (pic below) but the triffid like growth threatens to wrap me in it’s arms when I walk that way. I will watch it more closely while home over the Easter break to see if anything (my bees would be good) is fertilising the flowers.

It’s been ages since I had some choko to eat and quite a few people are asking for some to grow on for themselves. Hard to get hold of, these white ones.

I have to keep cutting back an entrance for the native bee hives on the left.

Little embryo white chokos on the female flowers.

The Brown Turkey figs have done especially well for me this season. I’ve been picking one to three every day. Unheard of before. They get eaten for morning tea at work.

Picked the last of the corn the other day. Third crop I get in during the warm months. Once again, disappointing result with cobs. The ones I get are good eating but not what they should be in size and quantity. Some plants on the last rotation didn’t cob up at all.

The giant Okra are second generation from seed given to me by Rob C. This lot are bigger and thicker than any Okra I’ve ever seen but still just as good cooked.

Sweet Potato in the basket (white/purple) are from my tidy up of the rampant plant. Yet to harvest the grow bags but hope to get that done today (25.03.16).

Sweet Potato is supposed to grow sedately in tubs with frames in my yard but it has managed to escape and get a hold here and there (as SP does!).

Gees, if the world came to a crashing halt this is the plant to grow – edible leaves and tubers and it’s abundant and hardy. Anyway, the rampant growth was beginning to bug me and threatening to engulf my old blind dog when she went walking by herself, so it had to come out. There were a few hidden gems of tubers in the ground but on the whole they were just too difficult to dig out of the hard packed ground without a pick axe.

Before and after some pulling.

Yes, that’s a red pawpaw in the raised bed. Self sown. Manna from heaven.

I am just loving this pretty chilli plant grown from Mark B’s seeds. I don’t use them all that often but love the look of them growing. Chilli plants are almost the perfect plant – perennial, respond well to a cut back, hardy, decorative and edible.
The Carombola is gearing itself up to a winter crop with lots of growth and flowers. Meanwhile, it never really stops cropping. These fruit drop from the heavens daily and end up in the weed tea bucket to drown the Fruit Fly larvae.

Have I mentioned how much the bees and I love Salvias? Another perfect plant in my book.

I cut all the Salvia plants back about a month or so back and they respond with new growth and flowers.

Lavender salvia with red salvia behind.

Purple Salvia with Blue Banded Bee.

Pale blue salvia.

Pink salvia with blue (edible) Clitorea ternatea vine.

Pawpaws – for whatever reason they just like this yard. Below are some brag photos of different plants around the yard. I prefer to eat the fruit green as a veg. The ripe ones get taken to work at the Respite Centre for the clients to eat. Cook appreciates the fresh fruit.

Plant donated at a GV from unknown member.

Pretty sure this plant was also donated by the same member. Aren’t they plump, velvety and full of promise.

Plant from Masters (?). Yep, it has reached the roof line. Will need a ladder to harvest these. The male bought at the same time had his top chopped off – should have done the same to the female but she was a bit shorter at the time.

Less prolific volunteer plant. A bit too shaded these days but still produces some good fruit.

And there’s another two plants out the back grown from seed from the best volunteer plant I ever had but which finally succumbed to old age and storms. But, I reckon you’re getting a bit sick of looking at pawpaw plants by now 😉

On to something completely different. Greens. So important to our diet and with so many options to grow and eat.

Remember the quest for a true Tree Collard?

True Tree Collards are best grown from cutting but they were impossible to find in Australia. I finally sourced seed on eBay ($5 + free delivery from Portugal) for Portuguese Walking Stick Collards…and they proved enthusiastic growers and good eating. The plants suffered through our summer – being attacked by everything that loves greens. Some died completely, some survived. If I removed all the affected leaves they died so I eventually accepted that I should just stand back and observe. Occasionally I would spray pests off with a hose. An ongoing experiment, I want to see how hardy and long lived they are.

Eventually Daleys advertised “Tree Collards” Brassica oleracea var.acephala for sale. Plants were very expensive at around $27 each delivered, but I bought one. How could I not.

Interesting fact – our (currently absent) new member Dragonman claims credit for bringing these into Australia on behalf of Daleys.

Below is the leaf of the Daleys plant on the right and my Walking Stick Collard on the left. There is some difference despite almost identical growth habits. The Daleys plant has a pale stem and the WS a darker stem.

More mature darker stemmed Portuguese Walking Stick Collared in the foreground and the Daleys Tree Collard with a pale stem in the background. Hopefully both should grow from cutting and both eventually produce seed. The PWSC is putting up shoots much to my delight.

While we’re on the subject of good greens I have developed a great fondness for Tahitian Spinach aka Celery Stemmed Taro. Great plant. Negligible Oxalic Acid and can be eaten raw (I watched someone do it at a workshop at Yandina).

It is not Cocoyam despite the common name in the link. It is also not Taro (see descriptions for all three in the link to Cocoyam).

Cocoyam is similar but different and eaten for the tuber not the leaves. Cocoyam leaves are high in Oxalic Acid and should not be eaten raw. I can vouch for that, having done it. Like digesting needles as it goes down the throat and esophagus. Didn’t stop until it reached the stomach.

From an old posting by Scarlett

Taro = Colocasia esculenta; 

Cocoyam = Xanthosoma saggitifolium – Apparently the cocoyams with brown or purple stems are not suitable for eating – choose only those with green or pink stems.

Tahitian spinach = Xanthosoma brasiliense.

Wish I had a wet spot to get the Tahitian Spinach growing a bit more abundantly.

Stem to leaf join on the Tahitian Spinach.

Stem to leaf join on the Cocoyam and Taro.

Can’t do a blog without a nod to the incredible, prolific, sweet and wonderfully edibleJaboticaba (in the basket below). Small leafed. Bought from Daleys about six years back. Pretty bush that produces repeated crops during the warm season. Waiting to see if it will flower up once more for me but it seems to be having a rest.

I give it a bag of composted horse poo and toss fresh grass clippings under it now and then and a water once a week. Don’t know if it really needs any of this but, like wearing lucky undies, I can’t bring myself to stop “just in case”.

Gardening friend Fran in Tassie has been sent some seed and will attempt to grow them down there. She’s one determined girl and will hopefully succeed.

Roger turns them into jam. I eat them chilled and make Shrub drink out of them. Added some Vermouth to the mix last night. Yum.

Dragon fruit cropped well once again. DM tells me I have the common self pollinating one. Yay for that. The others sound like a lot of mucking around for a slightly tastier fruit.

Also in the pic is my one and only pumpkin, a Persimmon and some Tamarillo fruit. The latter tree is old and the fruit smaller and not as nice flavoured as from a young tree. Either that or I am losing my taste for them.

I have been given a Red Dacca. It’s grown well but I noticed this morning that the newest leaf is pale. May not mean anything but worth watching. Planted into a bag of composted horse poo which gives the plant a real boost in the beginning. NOTE: The leaf has turned green.

We’re always on the look out for plants that bees, both native and honey, love. I love Rocket (used to hate it, also used to hate Coriander) and this Wild Rocket has proven a hit with the bees and myself with it’s prolific growth and abundant flowers. Here’s one of my girls visiting.

25.03.16 I emptied out the Sweet Potato tower grow bags this morning. Talk about a lousy crop. The whole sad tale in is the SP Tower BLOG at the end under “2016”. I’ve no longer got the purple/purple variety growing either.

28.03.16

What a delightful Easter break this has been.

A nice bit of drizzly weather has made working outside very comfortable. I’m thrilled with what I have achieved in three days – beds have been replenished with cut back plant material, grass cuttings, lucerne and topped with a layer of composted horse poo; unwanted plants have been removed; the Cassava under the Custard Apple has once again been chopped back and this time I’ve poisoned the stumps.

I still need to move the giant pile of grass clippings out the front (thanks Brad the Mower Man) into the back yard and rob the hive but these are two things that can wait.

Now to choose some seed and get it planted. The fun part 🙂 and my reward. Change of seasons is really the only time I do actual work in the garden apart from a bit of daily maintenance.

I strongly recommend you DO NOT PLANT CASSAVA – not unless you plan on keeping a close eye on it and dig up everything each time to start with fresh cuttings. I did not actually plant this patch. I tossed some old cuttings to mulch under the custard apple and the blasted things took root. I cut it all back 3mths ago and to my astonishment found supposedly dead bits of leftover wood still hanging out of the CA tree but putting out green shoots!!

I hate resorting to poison but apart from some big strong person hacking them out of the ground with a pick axe this is the only remedy. The long stems are all being chopped and binned.

Beds replenished and ready for winter crop. I seem to be acquiring a bit more permanent stuff in each bed each year. Less room for veggie growing. Might have to remedy that.

I have a small patch of Jerusalem Artichoke – come up again from tubers I left in the ground last year. Good. I like plants that are hardy and resilient like this. All through summer I grew other things over the dormant tubers.

Seed saving is a full time job…and I just don’t have the knack. This is the mess I have to wade through to find some seed for this new season. The dear little four tray holder on the right was what I naively started out with. Then came the big shoe box and it has since branched out into other containers.

31.03.16 Trying again with garlic. Small purple from Joseph and the large corms from two bulbs bought from Caboolture Markets and locally grown. Planted out this morning.

Yet to decide where the potato bits are going – probably back into the compost pile like last year.NOTE: The compost pile is exactly where all the spuds ended up.

30.04.16

Four weeks later and Joseph’s garlic is growing well. The big bulbs are still sitting there but not putting out shoots yet.

31.03.16 My little garden helper Freya – almost completely blind, often incontinent around the house and in bed with me and at the end peeing blood, but still a happy little beast enjoying her food and a game – has had her last day today. Always a hard decision to make. We will miss you little girl.

03.04.16

Looking back on previous blogs for this season I always seem to plant a lot of things which either just don’t come up or don’t perform as expected. But…I feel I’m learning each season.

This time around I’ve planted some Purple Pod Peas (saved seed from crop grown from Pat Pierce’s seed), Yellow Pod Peas (lord knows where they came from – anyone remember giving them to me?), Broccoli (seed saved from last seasons bought seedlings – sweet and long cropping, slow to bolt – only a dozen plants came up from this seed and I had to buy seedlings from the same supplier), lots of Rocket (from my own saved seed), various lettuce (a lot didn’t come up, had to buy seedlings and more seed), garlic (see photo above – small purple ex Joseph and giant bulbs from local market), potato (at the moment just eyes from bought spuds and some seed potato from Rob C), Kentucky Wonder Bean (bought seed),  Cherokee Wax Bush Bean (did not come up),Oregon Giant Snow Pea (bought seed). I have a little space left to grow some cauliflower. Will most likely pick up some seedlings at the market this morning.

Still growing snake beans, Jack Beans, rocket, Portuguese walking stick collard greens (had some steamed with butter S&P last night and they were good!). The mini caps are still growing but need a haircut to refresh them – fruit often damaged by FF. Lots of chillis including Phil’s black one now fruiting.

04.04.16

Bought yesterday from the Caboolture Mkts as seedlings – Collards (seem to be some short growing form, hairy leaf), sprouting cauli (seems to be the cauli version of broccolini), cauli(regular white variety), carrots (orange and purple – no variety given – continuing my experiment with growing these from bought seedlings – tried splitting them up but too difficult to seperate them – perhaps a good soak in water might have done the trick – too late, planted now).

I have some Listada di Gandia eggplant coming up from saved seed. Definitely my favourite.

10.04.16

Speaking of eggplant – these beautiful little purple jobs are producing an abundance of fruit and they are delicious and sweet. I have no memory of where the plant has come from but guessing a seedling from Caboolture Mkts.

Cropped this Stars and Moon water melon the other day and it is a beauty. Juicy and sweet. I feel so chuffed having successfully grown it! Had a few fruit from three or four seedlings bought from the market so altogether a good year for melon for me.

The Jack Bean Canavalia ensiformis introduced to me by Vinay (three seed planted, two lived) is a very strong and healthy grower. Now starting to produce pretty lavender flowers and bean pods.

Tried some steamed last night – flavourless. Better chopped up into a flavoursome dish where they keep their colour and meatiness. One person suggested they might be stringy but this is absolutely not the case.

16.04.16

What a beautiful morning. The last two nights have been so deliciously cool I have worn a jumper to bed…but then I only sleep with one bamboo blanket over the top. No rain for some weeks and I’m suspecting that despite the morning watering of seedlings and seeds planted for Autumn/Winter crops the days may have been too hot and dry as few have come up.

Bloody roaches have decimated the Listada di Gandia eggplant seedlings that came up. I don’t have any more saved seed for these. Will have to buy some.

The white choko is finally starting to produce fruit. Around the corner in the shade, not in full sun as I expected.

And I have purple/purple sweet potato back courtesy of Anne (Gibson). Thank you for going to all the trouble of posting these to me Anne, much appreciated.

This lot planted out purely in Searles potting mix.

17.04.16

I’ve had very little success with seed so far. There have been a few hot days which could have caused havoc despite the daily morning watering. Lettuce, Broccoli, Beans and Peas are the main culprits. The broccoli is saved seed from last years delightful crop grown from market bought seedlings, so not a lot of surprise there.

I soaked the bean and pea seed for a day before planting on this occasion – something I don’t normally bother with. Replanted without soaking.

The Snowpea Oregon Giant I think did not come up last year either (The Lost Seed). I’ve replanted but this will be their last hoorah.

The Purple Pod peas saved from plants grown from Pat Pierce’s seed last cool season have also not come up and there is no sign of the pea when I dig around. Lots of worm activity. I have also replanted these with the last of my saved seed.

A few seedlings from the saved broccoli seed have come up. Replanted today. I really want these to grow.

Kentucky Wonder beans (Willowbrook Cottage) have not come up and no sign of the bean when I dig around. Replanted today. Last hoorah.

If they don’t come up in the next couple of weeks I will overplant with sugar snap peas and bought broccoli seedlings.

Have also planted some Cardoon seed saved from a couple of years back. Wouldn’t mind trying these again and would like some fresh seed to save.

30.04.16

Labour Day Long Weekend. Delicious temperature and drizzling. Apart from talking to the neighbour over the fence and phoning the vet I am having a human being free day.

I’m defrosting the freezer (still in PJ’s) in between nipping outside to broadcast and plant various seed. Some of it a bit old so while I run the risk of drowning in vegetation I suspect a lot won’t come up. Things like Fennel, Dill, Lunga Della Riviera Leek, Yellow Eckendorf Mangel Beetroot, Meadowsweet, Chinese Celery, Giant of Italy Parsley, Purple Climbing Beans, Berlicum 2 Carrot, Land Cress, Lettuce (Auzzie Yellow, Royal Oak Leaf, Lollo Rosso, Salad Bowl Red), Sugar Snap Sugar Ann, Listada de Gandia Eggplant, Champion Purple Swede, Phacelia, Viroflay Spinach, Catnip, Chive, Mangel Wurzel, Fengyuan Purple Eggplant (from Joseph).

I’ve still got a container full of packets that I have no room to plant out.

Nearly everything is looking healthy and responsive to the cooler weather and bit of rain.

Rob gave me a seedling a few weeks back for a mini Pepino type Solanaceae and it’s doing really well. Developing some flowers so it will be interesting to see and eat the fruit. Must ask him for the correct name.

Caulis from bought seedlings growing well.

Some of the broccoli seedlings. Saved seed only produced a dozen plants so resorted to bought again. Naked patches are were the roach babies, tiny teeny little destruction machines, have munched some to death. Roach baits are a little helpful.

A few happy sunflower faces from broadcast bird seed.

Mini caps grow well from seed in store bought fruit.

Some of the remaining gnarly year old Walking Stick Collard greens are putting up beautiful little shoots.

I’ve had maybe 5 fruit from the White Choko vine. A bit disappointing so far but it may yet come into it’s stride. I’ve allowed a couple to get to a size where they may shoot for me and be planted in other locations around the yard. Very sweet eating roasted.

Seeds are coming up everywhere. When I top dress the pots with composted horse poo it’s makes a great place to grow more toms – these are Romas – and lettuce.

Eggplant are loving this weather – producing at the moment is the small sweet purple, these Black Beauties and a Listada Di Gandia.

01.05.16

It’s a beautiful drizzly Sunday morning. Sitting here eating Eggs Benedict with local avo and smoked salmon, listening to the gentle pat of the drops falling. Lovely. I ventured out this morning and spread around a packet of All Seasons carrot seed. No room for anything more!

One of the interesting plants I picked up from the Caboolture Mkts a few weeks back is this “Collard Green”. Obviously not the same as my Walking Stick Collards or the Tree Collard from Daleys. Good eating steamed though. Slightly hairy leaves.

15.05.16

What a beautiful relaxed weekend. Just went out to pick some greens to go with my roast pork dinner (with home grown roast eggplant and white choko) – spoiled for choice with two varieties of Collards, Beets, Asian greens – and the Kookaburras were calling enmass from a power pole nearby. Bliss. Hugo and I love it.

I have a mystery plant thriving in the veg garden and it looks like an Angled Loofah. Absolutely no idea how it got there. Must have been a seed substitute but it’s growing hale and healthy on the bean/pea frame so hope it provides some veg to eat. NOTE: Ate some – yuck. Removed the plant as it would have taken up space I could use for growing edibles.

28.05.16

Autumn is almost over, not that it’s been much of an autumn. Mornings are a bit cool but days are still warm. No rain for many weeks and un-watered parts of the garden are wilting badly. Reduced to using town water on the veg beds due to the low level in the rain water tank.

Cabbage White caterpillars are still rampantly doing damage but I have so many different greens growing that there’s still plenty for me. I pick the caterpillars off by hand or squash them.

Lettuce and other greens are loving the weather. Broccoli and cauli are growing strongly and should produce well. Peas and beans are not. I have replanted both up to four times with very poor results so far. Will wait for some cooler weather to try again.

Below: One lush little corner is pretty indicative of how the general veg are growing – garlic, collards, Asian greens, carrots loving the current weather.

Attempting to grow the Walking Stick Collards from cutting and so far they are looking really good. Time to remove the two year old parent plants I think – very decimated by caterpillars.

The Jeruselum Artichoke and Water Chestnut are both dying back. Time to harvest and replant.

I visited the home of friends Ian and Christa a few weeks back. Their garden is stupendous – chocka full of interesting plants. But the highlight was meeting their two new babies, a little brother and sister pair of foxies. Cutest little beasts you ever did meet tumbling and playing all over the house and yard.

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