All posts by Lissa

I used to grow as much fruit and veg as I could in my small suburban yard. Gradually taking over all areas including the front verge. I kept bees, both honey and native and was learning to farm snails - found I couldn't kill my little friends and let them loose. I don't profess to be expert at anything. Gardening is a long learning process with many ways of achieving the end you want. I don't follow any one form of gardening but take the bits I like from the various forms around. Natural gardening would best express what I do. I follow nature. KISS is my motto. Late in 2016 my home, bees and garden were sold and I am yet to put down roots somewhere new. I currently look after other peoples gardens and pets as a FT house sitter.

ALICE SPRINGS AND THE ROAD TO GLEN HELEN

During my week long stay in Alice Springs I have gone from sceptic to admirer of this area. The town is friendly, artistic and vibrant with a real community feel and all the amenities you could want.

Population in 2017 approximately 29,000 (Bureau of Statistics).

In summer average temperatures range from 20 – 35°C and can soar to around 40°C. January is the wettest month with around 40mm (1.5″) of rainfall, however the climate is considered dry and arid for most of the year.

During winter, average temperatures fall between 4.8 – 20°C, with July being the coolest month. Night time temperatures can drop below 0°C and thick frost on the ground can resemble a carpet of snow.

Daylight saving is not observed in the Northern Territory. The time zone in the Northern Territory is Australian Central Standard Time – half an hour behind Brisbane time.

The average relative humidity in Alice Springs is 24%. Humidity is lowest in September (18%) and highest in June (80%).

I personally found July had very low humidity – my hair went straight, my skin dried out and I had a lot of nose bleeds from dried out sinuses.

Clean, tidy and safe, AS does have a small portion of the population made up of folk who like to sleep off too much grog in the parks. We were gently accosted in public one evening by a young lady looking for money or belongings (she wanted my daughters necklace) but took it well enough when given a polite “no” and we walked away.

Other more motivated folk will sit in the park with their artwork, always stunning, and offer it for sale at slightly better prices than the galleries. Lots of art galleries btw just chocka with beautiful indigenous artwork. I brought home two small pieces but wanted more!

The natural beauty of the region is simply stunning. I ran out of adjectives to describe the textures and colours of the landscape while driving around with my daughter. It’s also much greener than I expected with variety in trees and flowering natives, perhaps owing to good rain they have had in recent times. I think I expected flat red sand everywhere but it’s nothing like that. The place is dominated by the hills and mountains of the McDonnell Range – a feast for the eye in the variety of shape, texture and colour of the rocks.

We took an overnight trip out of town to Glen Helen Homestead Lodge on the Finke River and within sight of Mt Sonder – around 2hrs drive at 110kmh along a good bitumen road.

Along the way there and back we turned off to a couple of local gorges to check out the scenery and were never disappointed. The Simpsons Gap outing was later but as it is along the same road I have included it here.

RE-DISCOVERY CENTRE IN ALICE SPRINGS

8km out of town, where all things are re-purposed and sold for a pittance, the Re-Discovery Centre at the local tip is a must-see for the sheer wonder of recycling possibilities.

“Sheep” made by the local school kids as a project in recycling.

Glass bottles are bought from locals for 10c each….

….and recycled into crushed glass for landscape or art use.

VIEW OF THE TOWN FROM ANZAC HILL

THE RESIDENCY

Located in the centre of AS, the building was completed in 1928 and served as the official home for the first Government Resident John Cawood.

Its most famous visitors, in 1963, were Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh who spent two nights at the The Residency as part of their Royal Visit to Australia. Today The Residency is occupied by Heritage Alice Springs Inc. and presented to the public as one of Alice’s most historically significant properties. It also hosts many events throughout the year, such as the Annual Spring Flower Show and Collectors Fair, and is available to local groups to use for meetings, exhibitions and special functions.

ELLORY CREEK BIG HOLE

About an hour and 20 mins outside AS and a short drive along a bit of a rough road.

Cafe, toilets, picnic and camping areas.

Ellery Creek Big Hole- good for swimming. Cold!

A life ring for anyone who gets into trouble….

…like this popular local teacher who cramped up and failed to re-surface during a school excursion while swimming in 2016. A sweet message from one of his students: “I miss you Mr Leggett, you were my favourite teacher”.

Well made walkways are a feature of each waterhole. Perhaps laid by the local correctional centre inmates.

The colour of the incredible rock formations are hard to capture with my little camera.

GLEN HELEN HOMESTEAD LODGE

Around two hours drive from AS and originally built in 1905 in a different location the property was originally used to run cattle. It has gone through many changes, including destruction by fire, and owners and is now a tourist destination on the Finke River.

View across from our unit at the lodge.

Simple lodge made of stuccoed bricks. Comfortable and snug with an ensuite.

Finke River gap a short walk from the lodge along the river bank.

Clare checking on the birdlife.

Looking back up the gorge towards the lodge.

Mt Sonder from the nearby lookout.

Birdlife was abundant – possibly a female Mulga Parrot.

And the best part of the stay – the helicopter ride. $210 for about 20mins of absolute bliss. Justin (our pilot) Clare and myself. Nadia took the photo.

And the view from the air…..

ORMISTON GORGE 

Close to Glen Helen and 2hrs drive from Alice Springs.

Desert Rose growing wild – floral emblem of NT.

SIMPSONS GAP

A mere 20min drive outside Alice Springs.

Rock wallaby

Ghost gums growing in the river bed.

Wildflowers and edible Native Figs grew amongst the rocks.

 

As mentioned AS is rife with beautiful art – sold in retail outlets, in the park, at the mall markets on a Sunday. These are the few bits I picked up at the markets. The indigenous art is original, the water colours are prints. I found I was attracted to the botanical art.

Top left is by local artist Noreen Williams and represents Bush Bananas.

Bottom left is by local artist Sally Williams and represents Wild Flowers.

Right are prints of work by local artist Jude Mapleson and are of (T-B) Glen Helen, Larapinta Trail and Ormiston Gorge.

 

ALICE SPRINGS DESERT PARK

CLICK ON THE PICTURES TO ENLARGE

This is the most incredible park – like a combination of Australia Zoo and the best native botanic garden rolled into one. We stopped and chatted with one of the horticulturalists doing some new planting and it was mind boggling the amount of planning that goes into each “region” of plantings.

Lots of (wheelchair friendly) well laid out walking trails, plenty of toilets, a kiosk, gift shop (with actual interesting stuff), animal shows, animal enclosures and displays. Awesome.

Below are some of the birds that performed in the amphitheatre for the bird show.

I should have kept notes during the performance as to which bird was which. My daughter and I don’t always agree from memory on the names. Feel free to contradict anything I have written!

Believe this is a Wedge Tailed Eagle. She is only a young bird and was pursued through her performance by a flock of wild crows and a wild WTE.

Barn Owl

Magpie, singing on command.

Buzzard uses rocks to open an “Emu” egg and get the prize within.

Whistling Kite chasing a lure.

Emu enclosure….

….and how to catch and cook an emu!

The park was full of a huge variety of sometimes flowering native plants. I’ll try to find their names over time. Below is a sample of the plants blooming during our visit in July.

Pterocaulon sphaletatum (Apple Bush)

Chysocephalum apiculatum (Common Everlasting)

Senecio gregorii (Annual Yellowtop)

Gossypium bickii (Low Desert Rose) plant family: Malvaceae. Floral emblem of NT and pretty obviously related to Hibiscus it’s also closely related to cotton producing plants. It grows wild here but I only saw isolated plants growing, no groups.

Dead Finish, Acacia tetragonophylla

Clianthus formosus is now Swainsona formosa Sturts Desert Pea floral emblem of SA – self seeds and grows wild around here but is hard to cultivate where you would like it to grow! Also comes in a white form (which I didn’t see).

Wild Tomato, Solanum orbiculatum – edible but bitter. Comes with a warning that many of it’s similar looking relatives are toxic.

Cunninghams Rattle-pod, Crotalaria cunninghamii

Grevillea eriostachya (Honey Grevillea)

Ptilotus latifolius (Tangled Mulla Mulla)

Lawrencella davenportii (Davenport Daisy)

Dodonaea microzyga (Brilliant Hopbush)

Xerochrysum bracteatum (Golden Everlasting)

Corymbia opaca (Bloodwood, formally Eucalyptus opaca)

Many of the trees growing in the park had fascinating bark.

There is a HUGE variety of bird life out here in central Australia. You would need to get hold of a specialist publication to read about them all. The Park had quite a few bird displays, many big enough to walk through, with particular environments and birdlife in residence. Difficult for me to get good photos of these fast moving little creatures with my small camera.

Finches, budgies, other parrots, doves and water birds abound at the natural waterholes. I wasn’t lucky enough to see the wild budgies at this time of the year.

One of the enclosures at the park.

Spinifex pigeon

Pied Stilt (per my parents)

Australian Bustard – male and his female – he kept pacing and wouldn’t stand still for me!

There was so much to see and do at the park, I’ve only covered part of it. Hours of wandering and looking pleasure. I hope I get the chance to come back again during a different season and I hope others get the chance to come out here to visit this incredibly beautiful, diverse and interesting part of the world.

A constant surprise.

POTATO GROWING IN BRISBANE

I wrote this blog on potato growing some time ago but don’t seem to have put it here in WordPress. Don’t want to lose it! Gold!!

2015

Big thank you to Lyle (Betts) from the SCG for providing a potato growing workshop for our members, though we did have a couple of ring in’s from BOGI in the form of Ed and Louise. Always good when other groups can join us.

What an excellent, no nonsense approach Lyle has to growing spuds.

Below Lyle is discussing the properties of certified and regular store bought spuds.

MAIN POINTS:

  • Plant from April-onwards for three months.
  • April plantings will be ready for cropping after 60 to 90 days, or around July.
  • Potato plants DO NOT LIKE/NEED TOO MUCH WATER. Water fortnightly if it doesn’t rain.
  • Certified seed potato is best because it is disease resistant. But! any regular spud can be used – avoid those that are damaged/cut or show any sign of disease. Those sprayed with Chlorpropham (aka Bud Nip) won’t produce chits.
  • Buy planting spuds with soil on them – NOT washed.
  • Larger spuds can be cut into pieces with at least one eye per piece.
  • Pieces can be planted immediately after cutting but DO NOT water these at planting time. Alternatively pieces can be left to scab up (dry) naturally or be dusted with sulfur. Leave about three days.
  • Do not cut seed potato. They should be planted as is.
  • Soil should be slightly acidic, friable and contain lots of compost. Clay or limey soil is not suitable.
  • Plant in full sun.
  • Plant your pieces between 10cm and 20cm deep – 15cm is good. About 20cm apart.
  • As the plants grow mound soil, compost or straw leaving about 10cm of plant exposed. This is to stop the sun getting at the potato crop and turning them green (toxic).
  • When the plant reaches about 20cm tall they will flower. This indicates that the plant is now producing tubers. This is the point at which the plant needs water.
  • Spuds can be bandicooted once the plants start producing.
  • Leave the crop in the soil for storage for as long as possible rather than picking and putting in a cupboard.
  • Expect about 8 potatoes per piece/seed potato planted.

POINTS OF INTEREST:

  • Basil makes a good companion plant for spuds.
  • Lyle often replants in the same spot in his home garden, something we are told repeatedly not to do. He makes sure he uses healthy spuds for growing and adds lots of compost to replenish the bed.
  • Wanting a good crop during the growing period, Lyle also grows spuds in buckets hanging off his fence. He puts some holes in the bottom and mounds them as well as he can inside the bucket.
  • Lyle grows all sorts of potatoes at the SCG including Dutch Cream, Sebago, Pontiac and is about to try Kiphler. He feels we should be trying to grow as many varieties as possible.

Below: Some of the group taking a tour through the refugee gardens.

Below: Lyle cutting up some of the Potkin (Kabocha) pumpkin that grows in the garden for sharing and seed.

Thank you to everyone who turned up, including Mark and Katrina who came quite some distance from the south side. Good turn out for a very useable workshop. I hope you all came away with some usable hints and we now all have tremendous success growing spuds. I know now I was watering mine too often for starters!

If anyone has other information or photos that can be added please add below or message me and I’ll add it to the main body of the report so it doesn’t get separated and overlooked.

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Here’s a You Tube VIDEO from England on growing spuds in 30lt containers for another alternative.

LINK to Potatoes South Australia with pics and descriptions of many different varieties of spuds grown for the Australian market.

ALICE SPRINGS OLIVE PINK BOTANIC GARDEN

You can’t visit Alice Springs without going to visit the Olive Pink Botanic Gardens. I searched for information about any guided tours through the garden and couldn’t find anything and asking at the gardens came up with pretty much the same answer. “Ask the guys working around the garden” seemed to be the best and it turned out some of them were really helpful and happy to talk.

Some background on the gardens from the website OLIVE PINK BOTANIC GARDENS:

The Garden was founded in 1956 by Miss Olive Muriel Pink as the Australian arid regions flora reserve.

Today we carry on this tradition as an arid zone Botanic Garden specialising in flora from Australia’s vast interior.

BROCHURE which contains information about Olive’s life and some of the plants growing there. I haven’t had the time to identify the plants I photographed today but they may be listed in this brochure.

MAP OF THE GARDEN The garden is laid out as meandering pathways with a Cafe at one end. A very nice Cafe as it turns out, with a selection of gluten free food. I had a delightful late breakfast of Eggs Benedict on GF toast. There is also a steep (think mountain goat) walk up Annie Myers Hill. Much as I wanted to see the view from the top my vertigo set in about 5m up and I had to turn back….creeping back down the rock steps on my bottom. A little girl raced past me going up. Could have been worse. I could have rolled down head first.

The steps up to Annie Myers Hill. I made up for the loss of this view by heading for Anzac Hill instead.

Some of the plants growing – if you can name them go ahead and I’ll add them in.

Seed pods on the same plant.

One of the many Grey-crowned Babblers that live in the gardens. Curious, chatty little beasts that nest communally, extending on nests and making them quite large.

One of the communal nests dotted around in the surrounding trees.

Bower Bird nest under one of the trees. The little bird didn’t seem all that phased that I was standing there watching and taking photos. He came and went as suited him.

The Bower Bird’s treasure trove of trinkets – all white – baby bottle lid, bottle caps, bits of plastic, pegs.

And the little bird himself, a Western Bower Bird, as far as I can tell….

One of the outdoor areas.

And another, the significance of the sand eludes me.

Striking rock formations are a feature in AS.

Seating at the Bean Tree Cafe.

Altogether a very pleasant visit and well worth going to see. I met some nice travellers there and had a bit of a chat. People come from far and wide to visit AS.

ALICE SPRINGS COMMUNITY GARDEN

I have to pinch myself. I’m here in the dead centre of Australia (visiting my daughter, who works and lives here) and it turns out it’s not so dead. In fact Alice Springs boasts the most productive and attractive community garden I personally have seen. Semi-retired dentist Bruce is a keen volunteer and agreed to meet me at the gardens for a tour.

Bruce tells me his own garden at home is also lush and thriving (I have an invitation to come visit and I hope I can fit it in – lots to see and do in AS in one week). Not an easy feat in a town where any green grass is only there thanks to vigilant and regular watering by automatic sprinklers.

The gardens were originally set up around five years ago with funding and encouragement from the Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC) and some donations from charities – which funded assistance in the beginning from PT project officers to help establish the garden.

Below is the original plan for the gardens. Swales and “dunes” were included with Acacia and Mulberry planted on these to stabilise the area and funnel rainwater and reduce erosion. The Acacia were meant to be coppiced and mulched but this hasn’t work all that well – a commercial mulcher is needed to cope with trimmings. The Mulberry roots have proven to be invasive and many are now being removed.

Quite beautiful mosaic and stucco work on the raised bed edging has been provided by the Work for the Dole scheme workers. These photos hardly do the work justice.

Mandala garden and cob pizza oven…

There are many (50 or more) beds, all on auto watering systems, which goes far to explain the luxuriant growth – a few beds are neglected, as you will get at any community garden – but the majority thriving with the same veg that does well at this time of the year in Brisbane – asian greens, broccoli, broad bean, spinach and even a Cardoon in one bed. Most of the beds are open to the elements but some have PVC tubing covered with shade cloth. Bruce tells me the annual rainfall is about 2″ so the watering system is necessary.

Cost of membership is $30 per year for ALEC, $50 to join the community garden and $20 per month for access to the compost/manure mixes and self watering system.

Bruce tells me they do have a fruit fly problem in Alice. Queensland Fruit Fly. As a Queenslander I felt the need to apologise. I had so hoped they didn’t have this problem there.

While some seeds are sown direct, seedlings are mostly purchased from commercial outlets – local nurseries and Bunnings!

Bruce pulling weeds, edible ones. I could hardly restrain myself from suggesting he keep them for eating. Celery does well here, interestingly.

Some incredibly good heads of broccoli.

Cabbages..

Soil is created using cow manure bought cheaply locally, mixed with organic material including grass clippings, in bins. Horse manure used to be preferred but nematodes proved to be a problem.

End result…

An old refrigerator serves as an excellent and thriving worm farm.

Covered work area…..

Strawberry patch showing the self watering system in each bed. Watermelon also grow well…

The main fruit trees that thrive in Alice, according to Bruce, are mulberry, stone fruit, figs and citrus.

Some of the excess produce is sold through FOOD FOR ALICE  a local food distribution project which advocates for sustainable and ethical local food.

Introduced Buffel Grass is a bit of a problem. Buffel grass grows wild around Alice Springs. It consti- can use. tutes a serious fire hazard and needs to be cut regularly. In conjunction with LandCare, local gardeners have had great success collecting cut Buffel grass and using it as mulch. Try cutting it yourself using a whipper snipper with a metal blade.

Honeybees were plentiful in the garden but I saw no sign of native bees.

Bruce sent me on my way with a gift of thick leafed lettuce of unknown variety (the ticket says Cos but we both agreed it wasn’t).

Thank you to Bruce for taking the time to meet with me today and provide info about the history of the gardens. From your gardening friends in Brisbane Local Food we wish you and the garden the best for the future. Please feel free to join our group to access information collected and shared over the years by our members. Membership is free.

Ask away if you see something you would like to grow out here in Alice and I’m sure someone will oblige with sending seed.

2016 SPRING – SEPTEMBER TO NOVEMBER

Verge gardens have been given the ok finally by the Brisbane City Council – a great deal of the credit must go to Jerry Coleby-Williams for years of effort to achieve this.

Problem is I live in the Moreton Shire, where verge gardens are still frowned on. Never mind. I still have a verge garden and it gives me and passersby pleasure. It’s coming along nicely with flowering plants and herbs and starting to look quite pretty. Faces west so tends to flag a bit in the summer heat.

Readers of my other blogs may remember my attempt at Heliculture or Snail Farming. Which actually turned out very successfully….but I just couldn’t bring myself to throw my dear little snails into boiling water. So around Autumn I let them all go free.

Apart from one lone snail I’ve not seen sign that any survived through winter though they do hibernate in the cool weather. They are really quite delicate and don’t fare well in Brisbane’s heat without lots of TLC in the form of food, shade, protection from drowning in heavy rain (oddly enough) and bowls of fresh water for soaking in and drinking.

I was quite thrilled, while taking photos of flowers out the front this Spring, to discover these two had found each other and were making snail love 🙂 Hermaphrodites they aren’t of one particular sex.

My new Black Mulberry is producing a handful of fat sweet fruit every couple of days after only a year in the ground. I just love mulberries. Must be one of the most “giving” of fruit trees.

And thanks to Susanne I have Silk Worms as a project for my grandson, though he is yet to see them.

03.10.16 Clayton came around with his Mum and found the caterpillars quite fascinating.

The Dwarf Pink Shatoot mulberries are also promising a bumper crop. Very sweet and delicious.

I had a bit more success this year growing potatoes in the totally decomposed compost pile using store bought chitted spuds (white and purple – exact types unknown).

Now that the plants have flowered and died off I have gone hunting and I’m a little disappointed. All good quality spuds but smaller than I hoped. This is a portion of the total crop. Some still in the ground, some already harvested and eaten. That’s a Canistel seed in the basket with them, not a cockroach as a workmate suggested!

Spring is the time for seed saving from winter cropping plants like this purple bean. Keeping seed in the fridge is best. I don’t have the room for this and keep my collection of seed as cool as I can in a big box in the laundry.

Canadian Wild Lettuce or A Choy seems to be coming into it’s own a bit later than the regular lettuce. This plant was acquired as a lettuce substitute for summertime. Leaves are a bit more toothsome than regular lettuce.

Lots of plants are blooming including the Cranberry Hibiscus. Friend James has turned the hips into a delicious version of Rosella jam.

I know it’s not classically pretty but I really enjoy the spikes of flowers on the Plantain – a useful edible weed that comes up around the garden by itself these days. Source of psyllium but a bit difficult to harvest any useful amount…like Amaranth, I eat the leaves.

I’ve struggled in the past to keep Watercress alive in a pond but look how well a few small cuttings have done in this simple little wicking pot made from a rubbish bin. Whether they survive through summer heat is another matter.

03.10.16 Cut the plant right back. It looked all screwed up and sickly – happened very quickly.

Some of the Portuguese Walking Stick Collards Couve galega are now over two years old. They came into their own again during the cooler months, providing me with beautiful fresh greens, but are now beginning to be afflicted by aphid and caterpillar once again.

03.10.16 My son gave me a hand to pull out some of the plants as I want to make the garden look nice for potential buyers. The Daleys plant was also pulled out as it looked awful compared with my other Collards.

The Daleys version of the Walking Stick Collard is doing well also but so not worth the large amount of $ paid for it. Never mind, it was an interesting exercise to do a comparison.

03.10.16 Pulled out. Not looking attractive.

Having no luck growing large capsicum I’ve grown very fond of the mini capsicums I buy from the shops (fruit below are my own home grown). Seed is immediately planted out while fresh and more often than not comes up.

I seem to have Swede or Rutabaga growing – don’t remember planting any seed but sometimes I just go out there and broadcast seed around that needs using up. Very fond of Swede roasted or in stews.

03.10.16 Eaten 🙂

Some of the long pawpaw on the self sown plant are finally ripening. They have taken much longer than the classic round yellow ones. I seem to remember the fruit being redder last time around. Friends assure me these are still “red” pawpaw. Very nice eating though not quite as sweet as the yellow in the front yard.

17.09.16

Lordy I feel productive today! And I haven’t even broken a sweat.

My mower guy, Josh, has turned up to make the yard look neat and tidy without me getting stressed over the mower and while I was talking with him out the front, two truckloads of Samoan tree loppers were driving by, must have seen the look of yearning (for trees lopped) in my eyes. They stopped and we came to an agreement to cut back the ailing (dead branches) Tibouchinas on the front verge.

The big guy in charge, Silila, really wanted to get stuck into the now overgrown Lillypilly at the porch gate but I just couldn’t afford to have both done. Pleased to have the T’s cut back though. The boys just did a basic chain saw job without finesse but it’s good enough.

Evidence that my old dog Hugo still has it in him. He disappeared for longer than usual on one of his night time toilet breaks last night and I found this next morning. Good dog.

The backyard is a mass of flowering plants, including these Mustard Greens, lettuce, broccoli, nasturtium. My SN Bees and honeybees are having a field day along with lots of other insects creating new seed for next year.

24.09.16

What a truly beautiful day it is. Sunny and warm without the heat of summer. I am dedicating this weekend to garden pottering and resting after a particularly grueling week at work.

The Jaboticaba is an absolute mass of flowers and for the first time I have seen my bees working away at pollinating. In the last month the plant has already produced two small crops of fruit as an enticement to this major effort. In a matter of weeks I will have a huge crop of fruit to eat and share.

You can just see one of the honeybees working away at a flower, centre – under the branch.

Rob had some fake butterflies in his garden for deterring pests (they think the plant is already “taken”) and I liked them so much I went looking on eBay for some. The solar were quite expensive so I settled for these incredibly cheap jobs @ 10 for $1.67 delivered to Australia! They are well made with quality butterflies, little springs and a fine metal stick – great for sticking into the flesh of tall plants or the soil.

The Dwarf Wurtz is once again flowering up. I also hope it’s this year I will actually get some fruit.

The Dwf Macadamia is also blooming again. It produced plenty of small nuts last year but they all fell off on the first hot day.

26.09.16

What a dreadful morning. I have made the heart breaking decision to euthanase my darling Hugo as his health had deteriorated so much despite medications. Will miss you so much Honey Bear.

I was thinking about how much we love our pets. They are really so much more than just pets they are loyal loving uncritical companions.

I have owned (sometimes jointly) around 12 cats and 6 dogs over the years and like kids, we’re not supposed to have a favourite, but Hugo was definitely my favourite. He was funny, had a sense of humour, bossy, loving, didn’t expect much more than his daily run up and down the front fence after any dogs silly enough to walk by with their owners, and of course food on time. He was a stickler for food on time.

I was never supposed to have Hugo. My youngest daughter was working at Puppy Kingdom 14yrs back. We already had two young dogs (Miniature Pinschers Gretel and Freya was on order from the breeder) and our council frown on more than two dogs in a household. I admired the pack of Schipperke pups when they came in (they look like black kittens) but knew they weren’t for me. Then one of the tiny pups got very sick. Erin was concerned as it wasn’t getting the care he needed to survive so she got permission to bring him home. I carried that pup around in my coat pocket (it was winter) to keep him warm and just plain fell in love. He was mine and I wouldn’t part with him. The pet shop owner sold him to me at half price. What a bargain.

For the first time in my life I am petless. Well, apart from four old Cockatiels which I will have to find a home for and some silkworms in a box. It’s a sorry state to be in. Being petless is also the cue to sell the house jointly owned with my daughter.

So this is the end…or it will be soon, if the house sells quickly. Fifteen years in one spot. Almost the longest I spent living in any one house (my husband used to like to move every two years, which isn’t good for a gardener).

It’s not to everyone’s taste with the majority of the yard dedicated to growing food, but hopefully someone with a passion for gardening will come along and love it. With all the mature fruit trees that I waited years to start cropping. The raised beds full of beautiful soil that I created myself from scratch. The unusual plants it has taken me years to collect. Perhaps with the honey bees and maybe the native bees though I suspect I will have to sell them separately. Not everyone wants to keep bees. How the hell do we move a large top bar honey bee hive?? With great care I guess.

04.10.16 Today brought home Hugo’s ashes. My dog in a box 😦

I was going to sprinkle him around his “sisters” graves but I find I want him with me at my house in the future. He will stay in his box until then.

09.10.16

Lainie, Cameron and their daughter Halle have been kind enough to offer a good home to my four old Cockatiels – Odette who must be about 17/18, William about 13, Primrose about 15/16, and Baby Bob about 10.

No pets left apart from a box of silkworms. Very quiet here now.

The native bees have gone to Bob Luttrells, mainly due to the experimental honey supers he had on them and his interest in the DNA of my “not quite” Carbonarias (see hive split blog). I will buy a hive of this same strain of bee back when I have a garden to put them in. Basically my own bees back which is nice.

Many of my pots have gone to good homes – some with friends, and some with my lovely neighbours. Many of the remaining pots will go to the Keperra Community Garden.

A huge thank you to Phil for coming out yesterday and helping me do some of the hard physical jobs (and then he went looking for more!). I just needed that motivation. The yard is looking very tidy and ready for new plantings and new owners.

While shoveling the compost pile (that was on the right in the pic) into the beds as top dressing for planting, I found a whole basket full of potatoes in there. Very nice too. Had some roasted with dinner last night.

As for being petless, nature doesn’t want that to happen to me and a little tortoise shell cat has moved in under my house. She is a funny little thing – comes close to rub herself against me but hisses while she’s doing it. I will try to catch her and take her to the RSPCA. If not, the new owners will find they own a cat along with the house.

Well, the house sold within some five days of being on the market. I got the price I wanted so I am happy enough.

The lady who bought it, Linda, is a keen gardener which makes it all feel a bit better. I hope she gets as much enjoyment out of the lovely little house and garden as I did.

I’m off to look after a friends house and garden for some months while she is overseas. From there I can sort out what is next.

THE END…….. for the time being anyway.

2016 WINTER – JUNE TO AUGUST

2016 WINTER – JUNE TO AUGUST

 

04.06.16

No rain for two months and the entire garden is drooping. Last night we finally had some good rain and I thoroughly enjoyed the sound of it on the roof and plants through the open front door while I slept.

Very nice indeed 🙂 This should pick up the garden.

The weather has remained too warm through Autumn – all the cabbage white caterpillars are still doing damage to my growing crop of broccoli and cauli and cane toads are still mooching around the yard at night.

I have decided the latter are probably helping me out by eating some of those crop demolishing roaches which now permeate all of my veg beds and the compost pile. The roaches do their thing as well – breaking down plant material, but when they get stuck into my newly planted seedlings and fell them like little trees I am not happy!

6am and still dark out. I will try to get some photos when it gets light.

The sight of rain dancing into the bird bath after months of dry got me very excited.

I have replanted beans and peas from seed and seedling three or four times but the conditions just didn’t suit them. Finally have some purple bean action going on.

For the first time ever I seem to be having some strawberry success and it’s due to the little wicking pot I made them from a cheap rubbish bin from Bunnings. I did have to buy a soldering iron to poke the hole through the plastic. As per Elaine’s long running experiments with wicking beds this is filled with nothing but soil and works just fine.

I am thrilled and fascinated by this self sown red pawpaw. Most likely grew from the composted horse poo I have been using. The fruit are red, sweet and delicious – waiting on this lot to start ripening – they do seem to take longer than the yellow.

Bit blurry and still dark outside, I was sneaking up on this little honey eater with a large umbrella in one hand and the flashing camera in the other. First time I’ve seen birds making use of the purple salvia which I had given up as just decorative. I’ve also seen the Blue Banded Bees visiting the flowers so I have a good reason to keep it growing now.

27.06.16

I usually take my photos just before the sun rises, but these mornings that’s not until I’m about ready to leave for work about 6.30am. So a serious lack of photos at the moment.

Finally some chill in the air the last few days and it’s been drizzling off and on as well – the rain water tank is full. Hopefully this will slow the destruction of the caterpillars still out there working on my precious cauli and broccoli plants.

Lots of gorgeous fresh lettuce to eat in a variety of leaf shape and colour. Greens galore – asian, collard, spinach. Some chew marks on these but still plenty for me.

03.07.16

Finally got some photos this weekend. It’s cold. Sitting here rugged up in many layers of clothing and uggs. Hands are freezing and have to go for periodic warming up between my now chilled thighs.

Some of the lettuce of many varieties dotted all around the beds wherever there was a gap. They prefer full sun. They just keep on giving. Some seedling grown, some seed grown.

Cauli action at last! Can’t wait.

When you buy seedlings from others you sometimes get surprises. Not sure what this is yet…but it’s edible!

Rob gave me a tiny seedling for a Mini Pepino Solanum caripense recently. The plant has grown substantially and I notice yesterday was affected by some kind of virus causing the leaves to curl. Was cutting back the affected parts of the plant and found these little fruit, about marble size. Not ripe – I bit into one. NOTE: I eventually cut this plant right back but if it’s anything like it’s Pepino relative it will bounce back.

I planted a couple of Lovage seedlings – don’t think I’ve grown this useful herb before. Like an intensely flavoured celery. Grows easily unlike celery. Useful in salads, soups and casseroles.

This season I tried three different Asian green seedlings. The really short one (Bok Choy?) grew quickly and died off quickly – good for stir fries. The mid sized one is still growing but I’m not finding a lot of use for it. But this tall one continues to grow well after many weeks and has proven to be very useful as a repeat cropper and steamed green. You can see it’s very popular with the caterpillars also, but plenty for me.

Kohlrabi on the left. Garlic growing under all this – hope it survives.

I do like Sorrel…in a salad or on a sandwich. A good, slightly bitter, herb. The plain green one (French?) does well for me but this red veined variety is a little pickier about how and when it grows well.

50 THINGS TO DO WITH FRESH SORREL

03.07.16

Bit of a surprise – I checked the Jaboticaba today and lo and behold it is producing it’s next lot of flowers already. Not sure if it is confused by the weather or if this is normal. Check theJABOTICABA BLOG HERE for cropping times of this tree so far.

09.07.16

I’m having some success with store bought chitted potatoes growing for me this season. Those little pale coloured jobs, not sure of the variety but probably Sebago.

I’ve planted them out some weeks back in the broken down compost pile and this morning mounded them with composted horse poo and topped with lucerne. The latter is apparently to prevent any greening of my spuds.

According to the blurb I have read I’m thinking these are indeterminate or repeat cropping, due to the height they have reached in growth. Determinates stay low….apparently. New to all this in relation to spuds. Have only known the term in relation to toms before. (Thanks here to Cres for bringing the subject up.)

See this VIDEO which explains the difference between the determinate and indeterminate types in detail.

31.07.16

Last day of July and despite some really warm days in the late 20’s this is a nippy one. One month of “winter” to go. I’m taking two weeks off mid August and hope to get some much needed tidying up done around the yard…along with some relaxing.

What’s happening – well, the pawpaws have cropped well all through winter but the fruit of this particular tree out the front (all the good croppers face west btw) is now out of reach. Great pity. But I just have no way of personally reaching them.

Meanwhile, these two trees are still well within reach with my little three step ladder. All excellent sweet fruit.

One of two giant sprouting chokos (gone to good home in Dayboro with Lynn) on the right (the second now planted) compared to one I didn’t eat that is also sprouting. Found during a tidy up.

Broccoli is a bit disappointing this season though still plenty for me alone. NOTE: Since come good!! Lots of brocolli.

Small but quality caulis growing well enough now the caterpillars have stopped.

The Jaboticaba is both fruiting and flowering at the same time! Such a prolific plant. My favourite.

A few hardy honey bees venture out on this cold morning but the others hang around the entrance waiting for more sunlight to warm things up.

Lifted the lid for an inspection of the hive yesterday and there was a young rat sitting there looking back at me with soft little eyes. Ohhhh. Got the old dog and showed him the rat, but the rat being young and agile and the dog being old and stiff, the rat got away.

The SNB’s have also been very active once the days warm up. They seem to enjoy being snuggled into the white choko and purple salvia plants.

There’s plenty of flowers going on – Salvia, this Seduction Rose, nasturtium etc.

Volunteer lettuce are everywhere along with the nasturtium and a pumpkin.

Earlier photo of some of the carrots from seedlings bought from the Caboolture Mkt. Bought as “purple or orange” they’re obviously of a stumpy variety.

Rocket is another plant I adore eating. Seed sprinkled around the tops of pots proves rewarding.

The sweet potato are growing well this time around using just Searles potting mix and moving the grow bags to new location to thwart the potato weevil. This is the purple/purple from cuttings provided again by Anne Gibson, thank you Anne, after my first lot went west by accident.

Note the leaf shape – sharply tri-pointed, and purple colour of the stems.

And a purple/white nicked out of one of the other bags. Perfect. Leaves for this plant are heart shaped.

07.08.16

Yay, I have two weeks holiday. Love my work but it’s so nice to have a break from the long days and all the driving. Not feeling the best. I have an incipient sore throat and back pain in my upper and lower back from a couple of different episodes. Massage today. Move the pile of mulch tomorrow….if I can.

Went to the market yesterday and despite the fact that my beds are still chocka with winter plants cropping I went ahead and bought dozens of new seedlings.

Bought: mixed lettuces (the original ones are still viable but going to seed – the volunteers are coming up all over the backyard), broccoli and cauli (trying for some last minute crop before the heat sets in), leeks (the young lady thought I said I wanted leeks and I didn’t dissuade her), that tall asian green (forgot to remember the name again), silverbeet (what can I say, ever the optimist when it comes to silverbeet and it’s rellies).

I pulled out some spent cauli and old greens that weren’t looking so hot and found room for all the new seedlings somehow. Probably too much shade from the existing brassica leaves but, I can hope.

While sorting out space for the new seedlings I found some crop hidden around the place. Another Kohlrabi was roasted with dinner along with some broccoli and cauli with some home grown carrots.

Very excited to have some success with spuds this season. Was watering this morning and found one of the spud plants dying so decided to see what was at the end of the vine (on the left in the pic). Very nice surprise.

29.08.16

Well, here we are the end of another cool weather growing season in Brisbane and it’s been a very productive one in my garden. Lots of quality veg for the kitchen and some success with potato growing. Fruiting trees are kicking into action with the promise of good things to eat in the not too distant future.

It may also be my last cool weather season here with my garden as the house will no doubt go on the market before too long as my old dog is on his last legs (has cost me a small fortune at the vets but he still enjoys life despite his breathing difficulties at night) so I’m glad it has been a bumper one.

I didn’t think the broccoli would amount to anything this season, which has been unseasonably warm, but it all came good in the end.

My front verge is coming into it’s own. Very hard to establish plants in this west facing garden in summer. I’ve planted some dwarf callistemons, daisies, lavender, pineapple sage, rosemary, parsley, nasturtiums and marigolds. Looking pretty.

I finally have some new (white and green) choko vines establised after the Madagascar Bean vine smothered the last one about a year back. Choko is another plant difficult to establish in the heat.

I’ve tried growing edible chrysanthemums (or Shungiku) from seed many times without success, but found these seedlings at the Caboolture Markets last weekend. Everyone tells me how nice they are to eat in salads and Japanese cooking. An annual that self seeds apparently.

Many of us around Brisbane struggle to grow large types of Capsicum. I have been buying the mini Caps from the shops and planting out the fresh seed immediately into the beds with some success. As I cut them up I replant the seed again. Fresh is best. Leaving them to sit on a plate for a day or two doesn’t provide the same results of new seedlings.

Volunteer lettuce has come up everywhere this year, including in the Ginger pot.

The Dwarf Pink Shatoot Mulberry took some time to come into it’s own but promises a bumper crop this season.

Lettuce of many type going to seed for next winter.

And the usual  winter profusion of flowers including Nasturtium, Salvia and Amaranths.

Have to include this pic of my daughter Clare in her Library at Alice Springs with the delightful Costa who was visiting.

Old Chook Travelling

I find life seems to be made up of chapters.

Childhood, my first chapter, was spent on Bribie Island – a rather idyllic and laid back upbringing with the only rule from my parents being that we were home by dark. I went around with bare feet or rubber thongs until I went to High School in Caboolture at around 12yrs when I had to wear real shoes.

By 18 I found island life constricting and left for New Zealand on a trip paid for by the Miss Australia Quest for which I had won a fund raising prize of a free trip as an entrant. I had a reckless intention not to return to Bribie and sold up everything I owned of value before I left, including my old car ($100) and some electric hair curlers. I had never ridden on public transport let alone a plane. I had never lived anywhere but with my immediate family. It was all pretty scary but I felt the need to expand my boundaries.

At 19 I married a 30yr old English emigrant to NZ. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Three kids and close to 30yrs later I found I had a kind of freedom back – with two daughters, one sin-in-law, four cats and three dogs in a small house half owned by myself and another family member.

15yrs later, after turning the yard of the small house into an organic haven of fruit trees and vegetable beds with honey and native bee hives, I find myself alone with one old dog on his last legs and four old Cockatiels. The agreement with the co-owner was to sell the house once the last of the old dogs, Hugo, had passed on (I couldn’t afford to buy them out – having had a run of unemployment and now in an enjoyable but low paid job).

Initially I was very resistant to give up my home (my husband used to move us every 2yrs so 15yrs in one spot felt blissfully like forever with my established garden) but eventually I had come to a place of acceptance and looked forward to the next chapter.

At the moment Hugo is being treated for pneumonia, at great expense I might add, but is quite happy. He turns 14 this December. A good age for a small dog but the end looms.

Once the house is sold I will come out with a moderate amount of money after paying off my bit of mortgage but not enough to buy another house or even a unit.

At 61 I don’t want another mortgage…considering I could even get one. So, faced with the choice of moving into some nasty cheap rental with no ground for growing anything (and I must garden), no rainwater tank for drinking or watering, no space for a pet I eventually came to a bit of a radical conclusion for a home lover like me. I realised that for the very first time in my entire life I would have complete freedom. No kids, no pets, no husband. I would travel.

How would I travel?

I could use my bit of capital and buy a campervan. Looked into that – very expensive to buy anything remotely comfortable and I would not have anything to drive around in apart from that vehicle. I would have to pay for camping spots. And I would have no capital left to handle emergencies etc.

I started checking out house sitting and realised that this could be a way of travelling with little expense. I could hang on to my economical diesel car and travel up the Queensland coast by increments. On my bucket list is a visit to the Cape Tribulation Exotic Fruit Farm and this was one way of (eventually) getting there.

So, the immediate plan is to sell up everything – no point in storing easily replaced furniture at great expense. I will buy a laptop computer and blog my way up the coast – hunting out community and private gardens and organic farmers markets as I go. Hopefully. And staying in other peoples homes, looking after their gardens and animals.

This style of life can’t go on forever I realise. I am a homebody and will need a place of my own at some point – but in the meantime I will be checking out new places, meeting new people and looking for my perfect spot to live. My Mum at Bribie may also need my assistance as Carer at some point.

It will sort itself out in the end.

I have a plan 🙂

 

 

 

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.

2015/16 SUMMER – DECEMBER TO FEBRUARY

This is a continuous summer diary which has been added to as the season progressed.

22.12.15

Hot and basically dry with some overcast days but enough showers to keep the rain water tank ticking over for watering.

Some plants are enjoying this weather, some aren’t. The cucumbers (Lebanese) and snake beans do not like it oddly enough. After cropping a few good cucumber fruit, perhaps 10, the plants have succumbed and have been cut back. Perhaps they will regrow. More likely I will replenish the bed and start again with some new seedlings from the markets.

Land Cress growing in the middle of the bed. Surprisingly heat tolerant.

04.01.16 Replanted 29.12.15 with these Mini White cuc found in the giant box of seed and due to expire this year.

13.02.16 Five weeks later I have some good growth with flowers. Also some pest activity with aphid and fungus. Not a good year for me with cuc.

22.12.15 Some of the snake bean crop. The red come from Pat Pierce’s seed. The speckled comes from lord knows where. A throwback perhaps.

And the green, planted from saved seed. I’ve seen a mouse getting around in my beds. It’s tucking into the beans during the night and eating the seed out of the pod.

This is the other side of the snake bean frame. Not so happy in the current conditions.

NOTE 29.12.15: This side of the frame cut back and replanted with Joseph’s snake bean seed.

Let’s get the painful stuff out of the way first :/

The bumper crop of Lychee fruit I thought I was going to be eating are dying off. Probably not enough water.

On the other hand the reliable old custard apple is producing lots of little fruit.

Dense plantings are doing best in this weather, providing shade for their own roots. Self sown Florence Fennel is going to seed among some Kale and Canadian Wild Lettuce (A Choy). The Fennel flowers are attracting lots of different insects.

The Nopales and ginger are growing in separate pots. Poor old Nopales has become root bound in it’s pot and needs to be started again which is tricky as the base pad (the oldest one) has produced some impressive spines.

The Burgundy Okra are growing quite slowly but producing a few useful fruit.

22.12.15 Rob’s green Okra are hitting their stride though. They are getting more sun than the red.

04.01.16 They are getting woody and unusable more quickly than usual. Hit hard by leaf eating insects.

22.12.15 The Brown Turkey figs are thriving with potential here for some good eating. The fig beetle is trying to mate and lay it’s eggs. With a flick of my fingers I practice coitus interruptis daily with these wee nuisances in the hope of slowing them down.

29.12.15 To my surprise one of the figs was ripe. Delicious.

22.12.15 The Bitter Melon plant, though now many months old, is still producing these useful fruit for me. I’ve replanted seed and will remove the old plant when it shows signs of slowing down.

04.01.16 One of the BM fruit ripened and about to burst. Not edible at this stage it’s good for seed.

The yellow fleshed pawpaws have all ripened bar a few small ones and been eaten at work by our respite members.

The oblong fruit from this self sown plant is still reaching it’s potential. Hoping for some red fleshed fruit.

NOTE: Turned out to be a sweet red pawpaw!

22.12.15 Corn and zucchini are loving the conditions….

04.01.16 The corn (second crop) is starting to flower even though some are still very short – 25cm. These seedlings were a bit tall and possibly root bound in their little pots when I bought them. Should have chosen the smaller ones.

NOTE: While I did get quite a few reasonable edible cobs from this stunted planting I’ve taken extra care with the third planting done yesterday 31.01.16 – minerals sprinkled around (granite and basalt) and MycoApply sprinkled under each seedling on planting. These seedlings have come from a different supplier also.

20.02.16 Third and last corn crop of the season – planted out as described above. Doing much better than the previous crop. Seedlings growing in a bit of shade from the Bitter Melon on the right not showing as much height.

Ants are loving the zucc flowers. Zucchini get both male and female flower like pumpkin (thank you Elaine) so assistance with pollination is unlikely unless the ants like long walks.

NOTE: The yellow zucchini seem more keen to produce fruit. All the green – planted in the raised beds – were duds and either died or were removed by me.

04.01.16 Little zucc fruit. One of my favourite snacks.

22.12.15 Carrots are doing well enough. Seed growing this season wasn’t very successful. Carrot seems to like to be grown from fresh seed and some of mine was a couple of years old. Then again, may have just been the bout of hot days straight after I planted them. Some seed came up then I resorted to bought carrot seedlings for the first time ever and they are growing really well. Should have thinned them out a bit more.

NOTE: Have been cropping some carrots but they haven’t done well this year. Stunted. But tasty. Will try again in winter.

This self sown pumpkin vine is going places. After climbing the Elderflower it’s taking control of the clothes line…which is ok for the time being as I usually use the porch line. I ate some of the excess male flowers last night in a “Thai” dish. I love Thai food but cook it abysmally.

31.01.16 Finally have a fruit forming! I was out one morning and saw a female flower closing up so I pollinated it.

20.02.16 – 11days later the fruit is starting to colour up. Hopefully will mature before the plant has to be cut back for the electrician.

27.02.16 The job has had to be postponed so the pumpkin, nicknamed Fred, is safe to finish growing.

22.02.15 This Sweet Capsicum also went into the dish. I’ve been growing mini caps using the seed from store bought fruit and they are proving quite productive and hardy.

NOTE: Fruit Fly just love these little fruit. Blasted things.

04.01.16 Mini caps grown from seed of previously eaten fruit. Every time I open one I bring the seed out and plant them.

2

2.12.15 The Walking Stick Collards are hanging in there. Not heat lovers but they are surviving, apart from a couple of plants I removed. You can see from the holes in the remaining leaves (I removed a lot of leaves affected by some very dedicated and hard to shift aphid) that they are popular food among the local insects. Still some for me in there.

29.12.15

Woke this morning to the glorious sight of dozens of dragon fruit flowers at dawn. What a beautiful thing they are.

Keeping a record of the growth of the fruit from day to day. Deadly dull stuff at the moment but hopefully will be more interesting when you can scroll through the pics at speed and see the growth.

Front porch near the flowering Lillypilly….

…and more out the back – many hanging over the neighbours side of the fence.

31.01.16

End result of this lot of DF flowers. I’ve been taking the fruit to work for morning tea as it ripens. Very interesting to see the reactions of our elderly clients who have mostly never seen or heard of this fruit before. They have nearly all been willing to try a spoonful, likening the flavour to Kiwifruit, and two have asked for cuttings.

NOTE: For maximum sweetness Pat Pierce (Rockhampton) recommends cropping five days after colouring up. Tarter if you pick immediately as I have been doing.

28.12.16

The Pomegranates on the seedling grown tree have been ripening fast. Picked some yesterday, careful with the thorns. Nice and sweet and juicy but not as much pulp laden seeds (or sarcotesta) as the store bought fruit. Fun fact: Native to Iran and India technically they are a berry.

The Wonderful fruit is still very green and much larger than the seed sown plant fruit.

27.02.16 The Wonderful fruit never did turn red but the insides are top notch pomegranate.

24.12.15 The original patch of Williamette raspberries have made a comeback thank goodness, after my failed attempt to move plants onto a nearby frame. Hardly game to touch them again. Grasshoppers are making a meal of the leaves but not affecting some decent fruit growth.

NOTE: Most of the fruit has withered in the current conditions and no doubt due to the grasshopper damage done to the leaves. Never mind, the patch survives for another day.

28.12.15 I have one yellow zucchini plant out the front. This incredible plant gives me a sweet fruit a day which is usually munched on raw. This one doubled it’s size in one day and ended up in dinner. Black Jack Zucchini planted out the back a few weeks back are developing flowers and fruit.

NOTE: The latter black zucc came to very little – producing few fruit and dying or being removed. Could be the location didn’t allow enough air flow. Could just be that the yellow is a better plant to grow.

24.12.15 The self sown brillantaisia guianensis out the front has bloomed and it’s really quite eye catching. A relative of the salvias per Christa. It can stay so long as it doesn’t try to take over the world and can prove it’s worth as bee attracting.

04.01.16 Michael H’s little Thai Ginger plant has filled the pot in no time at all. Must start using it.

NOTE: Almost impossible to get anything out of this pot! Michael tells me he hasn’t harvested any of his yet. Phil calls it a Lesser Galangal – as opposed to a Greater Galangal which is tall.

04.01.16 My first ever Turmeric plant. Finally managed to get one growing. Pot is possibly too small but it seems happy enough at the moment, no doubt tooted through the bottom of the pot into the soil.

04.01.16 Lagerstroemia or Crepe Myrtle. One of my favourite flowering plants. I had many different colours in a previous house but only this one here. The native bees will be all over it once they realise it is blooming.

If you have one, dead head the spent flowers as they start to form seed heads and it will re-bloom.

Also blooming purple Cats Whiskers Orthosiphon aristatus. Member of the mint family and easy to propagate from cutting.

04.01.16 Maranta, thanks to Janet’s original gift, has now established itself well. Edible tubers – usually harvested when the plant starts to die back winter/spring. I might try harvesting throughout the year now that I am more familiar with it’s growth habits.

04.01.16 Dwf banana growing very well 🙂 Thank you thank you.

02.01.16 Callistemon flower – my little camera doesn’t do it justice. Pale pink and beautiful.

07.01.16

Having an enforced week off due to shingles on my face. Pain free initially due to an early start on the anti virals but required to stay away from work so….thinking of it more as an unpaid holiday that I didn’t realise I was going to have. (31.01.16 – apart from the scar on my chin from a bacterial infection in one rash I have no visible sign left of the shingles rash but the whole right side of my face is always itchy, especially at night, and sometimes quite numb. 26.02.16 The itchy was ruining my nights sleep – now using a Homoeopathic remedy to give some relief).

Went into the hive this morning and harvested four combs. The last one was so heavy it fell off into the hive – always a tricky situation. Honey on everything – the knife, my clothes, my gloves. Five bees managed to get inside the suit with me somehow – removed the suit three times without being stung. I really must get a full suit when I can afford one.

Anyway, here’s the harvest so far minus one jar given to a friend who dropped around some Davidson Plums and beautiful big cucumber for me. Thanks Rob 🙂 There’s still more in the buckets but it takes time to dribble down to the bottom.

09.01.16

Soursop fruit. Relation of the custard apple but the fruit is zingy sweet/tart and a bit fibrous. Either a bat or a rat has decided this one is ripe enough to eat.

31.01.16

Garlic (on the left) bought from the Caboolture Mkts this morning as “locally grown”. Looks suspiciously like the Chinese one on the right but still has some roots attached – something not permitted with the imported stuff. So I/we have decided it may be locally or at least Australian grown after all.

30.01.16

Went along to one of Tim Auld’s top bar beekeeping workshops at Stockleigh today and it was really very good, thank you Tim. Lots of background information about beekeeping in general over the years and bees themselves with lots of practical hints on bee keeping.

The afternoon was spent robbing one of Tim’s top bar hive, learning to make candles and fix our comb guides with wax and string. Very good value for $85pp.

11.02.16 Bartered with Rob some of my honey for one of his home grown Aquaponics Jade Perch. 30cm long when harvested at about 1.5yrs old. Plump, meaty and with a good layer of fat. It was delicious stuffed with a lime and Davidson’s Plus fruit from Rob and cooked in a steamer pan with a mix of home grown and store bought veg.

01.02.16 Interesting new veg thanks to Vinay from work. Canavalia ensiformis or Jack Bean.

Not a lot of flavour on their own per se, they keep their colour and firmness chopped into a dish. They grow in summer, hardly any pest problems. Pretty useful in my book.

Six seed provided, three planted in my bed and the others given away to Elaine, Christa and Dianne.

11.02.16 One week after planting I have three seedlings, this being the best looking. One is slightly chewed but hanging in there.

13.02.16 I grow five or six different chillis – mainly because they’re pretty, perennial and easy to grow.

I use perhaps two a month in cooking and give a lot of them away. Some of the Indian ladies at work ask for them regularly. One eats them outright with her meal of curry and rice.

Note the insect home on the leaf curled up in the middle of the pic. A Leaf Cutter bee has already had at it and now someone else has curled it up for a cozy spot to live.

13.02.16 The trial crop of my treasured Walking Stick Collards have proven appealing to all sorts of pests and I am trying to let them sort it out for themselves as much as possible. When I remove all the leaves the stalk dies. I need natural predators to develop for what ails them (caterpillars, grasshoppers and aphid – no fungi problems).

I have high hopes that they will come into their own again in the cooler weather, providing me with a supply of tasty greens. The trial crop planted last cool season (maybe 9 or 10mths old now) is to see how long the plants will live and what sort of pest problems they will have. I have more seed to plant out if this lot prove to be spent.

20.02.16 Collard Greens – Now this is very interesting (at least to me with my CG experiment). Out checking the garden this morning after some fabulous rain last night and found this little Collard Green growing away to the side of the bigger ones. (It’s in the bottom of the pic against the garden edging).

Tried gently digging down to see it’s source and it seems to come as a shoot from the bigger live plant on the left – the very left one is dead and now removed.

If they shoot by themselves this is very good news! These can be also be propagated by cutting apparently. I tried one but the weather was too hot – more of a cool weather project.

27.02.16 Found another shoot! Excellent.

The pests are making a meal of all the CG plants BUT while standing there (I admit it, I was picking off Cabbage White caterpillars) I found a tiny fast moving leech-like predator on the moist leaf obviously enjoying a meal of aphid and a little parasitic wasp hunting for caterpillars. I just need to leave nature to it and she will create predators for my pests – like the ones below eating aphid.

13.02.16 Patience needed! The Dwf Pink Shatoot mulberry is working itself up to another bumper crop of sweet, sweet fruit. So glad I didn’t succeed in pulling this plant out by the roots during our earlier touchy relationship. The plant just needed some time to come into it’s own. With the help of a few threats.

27.02.16 Still waiting for the green fruit to ripen. Much slower than the Black.

07.02.16 Loving the Jaboticaba. Blog HERE. This is the best fruit tree in my book. These fruit are so sweet – delicious eaten chilled. The only “pest” I see on the fruit is a bit of Woolly Aphid which is easily wiped off.

The tree now repeat crops immediately after the last flush of fruit.

Okra has been hopeless this season. The fruit in the pic below were all woody and inedible. Composted. Rob isn’t having this problem – he brought me some good fruit from his garden.

Still waiting, waiting for the pineapple to ripen. Gotta be patient with pineapple from start to finish.Two years to grow a fruit.

NOTE: The pineapple ripened to a super sweet little fruit. Well worth the wait.

13.02.16 Both SNB hives are going great guns. Happy little darlings they are.

13.02.16 A drama is unfolding in the garden. Gecko’s have ruined two of my air con units. You can see one behind all the foliage. The electrician is coming in two weeks to replace the units so by then I will have to have all this planting cut back. The fig (White Adriatic) will mostly likely have to go, great pity. The Elderfower won’t mind being cut back. But the pumpkin vine needs a bit of time to ripen this fast growing fruit. My only one!

All the Dragon fruit and the dead stump it is growing on will also have to come out. Can’t expect the guys to work around a cactus.

13.02.16 One last bowl of Elderflower cordial from flowers on the bush I have had to cut back. Leftovers of the last batch in the bottle.

20.02.16 Nice surprise this morning to find these two gorgeous little eggplant fruit.

Along with this Black Beauty (seed grown) forming.

20.02.16 Weird shaped little watermelon on the Moon and Stars plant/s. I’ve had four fruit this season – best I’ve ever done. Nice eating too. Note the Tramp Snails out after the rain last night. I don’t find they do much damage – they seem to focus mainly on decomposing plant material so in fact help.

20.02.16 Next lot of DF ripening. Hanging off picking until Monday or Tuesday (5 days from colouring up) to increase sweetness per Pat Pierce suggestion, thanks Pat.

NOTE: Yeah, I would say the fruit were a little sweeter and a little less tart. I like them both ways.

20.02.16 I get a lot of Blue Banded Bees in my garden. Love them. After the rain last night there seem to be a lot conducting their buzz pollination work around the garden including this female (four bands – the boys have five) repeatedly working her magic on an eggplant flower. Note the ants on the back of the flower. Would love to know their purpose in the grand scheme of things.

Well here we are once more at the end of another hot season. I wouldn’t say it’s been a dreadful hot summer, just normal with some hot periods. I’ve had some good rain off and on – enough to keep the tank replenished for watering.

Not a good season for cucumber or beans but that usually means I’ll have a bumper crop next season.

Below some of the DF, eggplant and chilli along with a Salvia flower.

And a Bottle Gourd from Vinay. Very like Hairy or Winter Melon, but much smaller, in that it’s a mild flavoured marrow type veg that takes on the flavour of a dish it’s added to. Cook at work has taken the other half to use in the kitchen.

I did buy some red fleshed DF from the market the other weekend. I can’t tell much difference between the flavour of this and the white but some of my more discerning gardening mates reckon it’s superior in that it’s sweeter and juicier. I honestly find them much the same apart from the colour. Cook at work used one to make a very pretty topping for some cheesecake.

It has been a summer full of colour. Around the western suburbs of Brisbane where I work there has been trees constantly in bloom from the time the Jacarandas start – so beautiful.

Below a native Blue Ginger, Dichorisandra thyrsiflora. The Blue Banded’s love this flower when it comes out. Growing in the shade of the Carombola…which is dropping fruit from the heavens at the moment. Barely any of it edible due to going splat and Fruit Fly.

Well another summer season has come to an end. We’re all looking forward to Autumn and Winter, especially in the garden for what we can grow (broccoli, cauli, beans, peas, potatoes – goody goody).