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Category Archives: Garden

Garden Update – March 2013

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After a relaxing long-weekend in Byron Bay, the first thing we did after unpacking was get straight into the garden. We now have a new no-dig garden bed planted with the seedlings I’ve been nurturing on the verandah for the last month. In this garden bed we used up the leftover chicken and horse manure we collected on a drive to Tamborine last year, we also used compost from our compost bin mixed with sand scavenged from our daughters day care – can you believe they were throwing it away during landscaping renovations, there’s also commercial potting mix and it’s been mulched with coir peat (coconut husk) to keep the soil protected. So far, the corn, peas, capsicum, silverbeet, & broccoli are flourishing. However, the zucchini have caught a nasty case of fungus due to all the wet weather we’ve been having lately. There’s plenty of new growth though, so fingers crossed.

Mr T also installed a fence around the veggie patch so the dog can’t frolic amongst the edibles anymore. It also means there’s no risk of her demolishing the harvest before it hits our plates as she did with the last strawberry harvest. You can see in the photo that the Rosella and Queensland Arrowroot have grown quite a bit since the last update. I can’t wait to make some more Rosella Jam in a few months.

Fenced off vegetable garden

Fenced off vegetable garden

Biochar video

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A little something for the weekend…

Garden Club @ Freestyle Tout

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For those of you who don’t know, Freestyle Tout is one of Brisbane’s premier dessert cafes. This year they’ve managed to combine two of my great loves: food + gardening.  The garden club meets every second month and each meeting will include expert advice from guest presenters.

The first event this year ‘Growing a Compact Garden’ was held yesterday with guest presenter Linda Brennan from Ecobotanica. Linda has over twenty years experience teaching gardening and her list of qualifications is very impressive. What’s more she was friendly, professional and was more than happy to share her wealth of knowledge with myself and other attendees .

I arrived on time at 10am and easily found a carpark right outside the cafe – a nice surprise for a Sunday morning. Unsurprisingly, the carpark was full by the time I left at midday.

After introductions we got straight into the gardening as Linda explained how to repurpose wicker baskets as herb gardens. Then we had the chance to make our own eco pots:

And were given tips on growing our own water chesnuts:

We were also lucky enough to sample a generous collection of teeny tiny sweet delights and coffee. There were chocolate brownies, heart shaped choc-dipped biscuits, lemon meringue tarts and mousse-filled raspberry & white chocolate cups. Divine!

All-in-all it was a great way to spend a relaxed Sunday morning and I’m looking forward to the next one.

Bee Watering Station

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Inspired by this video I’ve put together my own bee watering station – no activity yet. Although I do know there are bees around as I encountered a few yesterday on what I think is a Corymbia ficifolia (Red Flowering Gum) growing in the front yard.

bee watering station

Bee Watering Station

Trying to Grow Kang Kong

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Kang Kong & Broccolini

Kang Kong & Broccolini

Eat more green leafy vegetables. That’s what all the health experts tell us. Sometimes it’s not easy when you pay so much and then they wilt so quickly in the fridge.

Greeny leafy vegetables are something I really want to be able to grow successfully in my garden. However, I haven’t had much luck so far. Bright lime green Caterpillars ate most of my last attempts at growing salad vegetables last winter. There’s also the fact that many traditional green leafies are not exactly suitable for subtropical weather.

Then I stumbled upon Asian greens, in particular Kang Kong, or water spinach as it is also known. This green leafy is a semi-aquatic plant from the Morning Glory family and is well suited to the sub-tropical climate here in Brisbane.

After watching Phil Dudman’s Growing Kang Kong video I thought I would give it a try and went out to buy some.

The photo above shows a rather large bunch of Kang Kong which was bought from a local Asian grocery store for $1.20 AU. The small bunch of broccolini was bought on the same day from the local supermarket for $3.00 AU. I am still confounded how there can be such a price/volume difference.

My growing attempts were thwarted though as I watched the Kang Kong miserably shrivel up and wilt in the vase of water I attempted to grow it in. This is obviously not going to be quite so simple as growing spring onions in water.

How to Grow Ginger

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ginger bulb

This bulb of ginger has been left out in the kitchen bench for a few weeks.

If you want to enjoy homegrown ginger, it really isn’t hard to do. This piece of ginger was bought at the local weekend markets and then after a few weeks in the fridge (when I didn’t use it for cooking) I left it out on the kitchen bench for about two weeks. You can see the light green sprouts starting on several bumps. All I need to do now is pop this in the garden, or a large pot, water frequently and soon it will start popping out shoots and growing like this one I posted yesterday. If you live in a cooler climate you can try growing it indoors, just remember to give in plenty of humidity – you might like to try keeping it in the bathroom.

Growing Seedlings at Home

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The front verandah which is southward facing (in the southern hemisphere) has also become the seedling nursery. It’s an ideal situation to protect the delicate shoots from the severe summer heat we’ve been experiencing. They get morning sun but are protected from the blistering midday and afternoon heat.

In case you aren’t aware, Australia has been experiencing a record-breaking heat-wave recently. The Bureau of Meteorology even had to add a new colour to their temperature maps as central Australia experienced temperatures over 50 degrees celsius! This weekend saw that heat-wave broken by torrential rain, flooding and strong winds along most of the eastern coast of Australia. This was good for my seedlings which have thrived with the sudden drop in temperatures and generous rainfall. Not so good for many people who have been evacuated or left stranded by raging floodwaters.

new seedlings

New Seedlings – 19th January 2013

And the seedlings today after this weekend’s torrential rainfall and cooler temperatures…

sprouting seedlings

The seedlings have sprouted!

ginger shoot

Ginger shoot, Galangal & Dwarf Mulberry Tree

These seedlings are potted in plain, organic compost (no fancy mixes for me) and the ones in pots have newspaper lining the bottom to prevent the compost from washing out of the drainage holes. They get watered once per day – after this weekend I’m thinking it might be better to try and water them twice a day while they are so young as they all really thrived with the extra water they received.

Most of the seedlings were planted roughly two weeks ago. Some were quite fast to shoot – silverbeet, zucchini & nasturiums. And others I thought would never sprout – sunflowers, broccoli, corn & sugarsnap peas. They all seem to be doing pretty well now though. Now I just have to keep them alive!