Broccoli – the plant that keeps giving

I have four broccoli plants and they have been feeding me for weeks.

The magic of growing your veggies in an allotment is that you are never short of advice, wanted or otherwise. So you pick up these tips.

I was given four tiny broccoli seedlings months ago. (Another benefit of having an allotment.) It is of course reciprocated.  I thought to myself “Great, I can now depend on four broccoli heads”. Wrong.

In due time, and with diligent care, the tiny little seedlings grew to their full potential, which gave me a glut(?) of four broccoli heads!

Fortunately, after I harvested them, a much wiser gardener – and there’s plenty of them over at the ‘lottie’ –  stopped me yanking said plants out and told me to ‘leave them be’ and they would re-sprout.

So I did.

And this is the result, below.  Now I know it’s not a very clear picture, but you should get the idea. You can see where I had sliced off the main broccoli head from the top of the plant and the new broccoli head is growing from the stem that I left in the ground.    More dinner for me.

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But wait, there’s more! This head of broccoli is from one of the plants that completely re-grew from the bottom of the original stem and I get a whole new head.

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Now if that isn’t enough I’ll tell you what happened next.  One plant had provided me with the original head of broccoli, then it had re-sprouted and I’d harvested that and I thought ‘surely it’s done it’s dash’ and I tried to dig the (by then, I would have thought, exhausted) plant out of the ground.

That stem was so tough I couldn’t shift it. I got it half out of the ground and gave up. Left it for another day. I’d managed to shift half, but the other half of the root was still in the ground. I gave up and went home.

Days later I returned and this is what I found.  That darn stem was growing again!

You can see below. That tough old stem, lying on the ground with just a few roots still in the soil, is sprouting.

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A week later and the new plant is ‘growing like Topsy’ out of this stump lying on the ground. And you can see the scars on the stem where I have been harvesting already.

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And today I found a second plant growing even further along the stem.

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The lesson I have learned from this is that if you find a plant that loves where it is growing then the seeds HAVE to be saved so that they can be passed on to other gardeners in the same area.

Happy gardening.

The allotment is looking rather spectacular

If you never want to speak to me again I quite understand. Dear reader, it has been eleven months since I last blogged.

I haven’t been lazy, I’m still in love with my allotment and at the moment it is looking wonderful.

You may have noticed, I said ‘allotment’ singular. I gave up my second allotment during our last long hot summer, it was hard to keep up regular watering with no rain and regular 35 degrees celsius temperatures. So now I have one (tiny) eight square metres plot but it’s keeping me in vegetables and herbs. Take a look.

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The netting in the background is to keep the fruit fly off my tomato plants. I bought a mozzie (mosquito) net from the local op-shop for $2 and used that. Worked a treat and I’ve been eating tomatoes for weeks now. And they taste like tomatoes should.

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This season I scattered my veggies to confuse the pests. No straight rows and no ‘beds’ of the same veggies. Just a hotch potch and it seems to have worked. The ‘brides’ on the right of the picture are my netted tomato plants.

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Just an overview of my tiny plot. The bricks are the beginning of my little pathway through the allotment, long since disappeared under the foliage.

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This season I’ve also used flowers interspersed with the veggies to confuse the pests. That’s the theory anyway. It seems to work. With mixing the veggies up and adding the flowers I’ve had a really good harvest – and not too many ‘lace’ leaves.

It’s lovely to be back. Thank you to Sue over at the farm for giving me the push to revive my gardening blog.

I have a certain interest in another blog you may like to check out.   Happy gardening.

I’m taking a break

No, I havn’t fallen off the edge of the world. I’m still tending the allotment but really there is nothing fresh to write about as we harvest the last of our winter veggies and prepare for a long hot summer.

I have harvested the last of the winter crop, just a bit of silverbeet, carrots and a few (tough) beans. Fortunately there is a stash of veggies blanched and in the freezer, some are turned into preserves (this is one I prepared earlier!)

Apart from a few tomato, cucumber and snake bean plants the plot is lying under a layer of mulch for the summer so things will be quiet for a while on the blogging front. If I grow an amazing tomato you’ll be the first to know. In the meanwhile, time to take a bit of a break.

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This is a lovely day spent on a friend’s boat on the Coomera river just south of Brisbane. Here comes summer. Rock on.

A spring heatwave

This is it folks, Queensland summer has begun early.

We are in the middle of a heatwave with long-standing records being broken all over the place with some towns reaching 39 degrees yesterday and it’s still only spring.

Fire warnings have been issued and crews are battling scores of grass and bush fires around south-east Queensland.

Over at the allotment the pressure is on to keep my little seedlings from giving up the ghost.  Water is a precious commodity and one of the answers during drought conditions is mulch, mulch, mulch. We can buy a bale of sugar cane mulch for $7 at the community farm where I have my allotment and that’s what I use.

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Sugar cane mulch

Mulch is essential to your garden during drought conditions. (Our recent storm is just a memory.)  It will reduce the amount of water that evaporates from your soil reducing your need to water your veggies.  It acts as an insulating layer keeping the soil cooler in the summer and roots like that!

The potatoes are mulched

The potatoes are mulched

I’ve already mulched the potatoes and I’ll work my way around the allotment this week.

But just to lighten this post – there is plenty of green still around the place. I’m harvesting lovely carrots but I would grow them anyway just for the pretty carrot tops.

pretty carrot tops

pretty carrot tops

Love these peas. They have a lovely snap when you break them open. Could be why they call them Sugar Snaps. :)

Pretty peas

Pretty peas

And I grow these Cosmos flowers amongst the vegetables, just for the insects.

For the insects

Cosmos (Cosmos sulphureus)

Happy Gardening.

One big downpour and a bountiful harvest

After weeks of drought it rained this week and veggies ran wild.

Couldn’t believe it when I got to the allotment yesterday, I’ve been watering for weeks to keep them alive and one big downpour and it caused a riot in the veggie patch. Growth everywhere. It’s wonderful.

It was a Wednesday morning, and that’s when we all work over on the community garden.

After working in the community garden the volunteers share the produce at the end of the morning. Pat had done a lovely job of cleaning and trimming the vegetables ready for their close-up (Mr DeMille) so I couldn’t resist getting the camera out.

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Now that’s what you call a beetroot. Not sure if it will taste any good but Molita and I couldn’t resist getting the camera out.

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Happy Gardening.

Now that’s a lettuce

Now that's a lettuce

I picked this lettuce yesterday. My favourite “Drunken Woman”. Started on it at tea time and I’ll steadily work my way through it during the week.

I always keep one box of matches in the house, firstly to light birthday candles and secondly to boast about the size of my lettuces.

(OK. I know you are out there and growing fabulously enormous veggies which win first prizes and all that – but I garden in Queensland and fight pests, disease and all manner of pestilence on a daily basis and I think this is the first thing I’ve ever picked without a hole chewed in it!)

Happy Gardening

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The garlic harvest

Today I harvested my garlic over at the allotment.

It was a very small garlic bed, could even have been missed if you didn’t know where to look. Here it is between the lettuce and the alyssum.

The (tiny) garlic bed

The garlic bed

But just look at the lovely crop I harvested this morning. When I’ve dried it off it will be enough to last me through until next season.

Garlic harvest Sept 2013

Garlic harvest Sept 2013

I plant the garlic in April and harvest in September so whatever land I use is tied up for six months and that’s why I’m a bit stingy with it as my allotment is tiny compared to the ones in the UK.

This garlic looks wonderful to me. The heads are much bigger than last year’s harvest which I’m pleased about. I practice seed-saving.  I started a couple of years ago with some garlic given to me from the community garden over at the allotments and some from my daughter-in-law who bought it from Green Harvest up in Maleny in Queensland.  Both lots were organic.

I’ll be saving one of the garlic heads to plant out next April. I’ll also use the baby bulbs that you find growing in the stems of the garlic plant.

I put my keys in the basket so show the size of the bulbs.

Garlic

Garlic

Garlic

Garlic

Happy gardening.

The Mulberry Pickers

The weather in Brisbane is wonderful at the moment (31c degrees and sunny yesterday) and the mulberries are out.

I went to the farm yesterday morning to water my allotment and help other volunteers in the community garden when the word went round “the mulberries are out”.

The mulberry bush

The mulberry bush

I love harvesting vegetables that I have grown but there is something different and magical about foraging for ‘free’ fruit.  As we were picking the fruit it wasn’t hard to get Jo and Maria to give me a smile for the camera. Lovely to be out in the fresh air.

Jo and Maria picking mulberries

Jo and Maria picking mulberries

Maria and I will be making jam from the fruit on Sunday morning so I went home with our stash, trimmed the tiny storks from the top, rinsed the fruit and then popped them in the freezer. I’ll take them out on Saturday night so they can de-frost in the fridge ready for Sunday morning.

I picked up a little hint yesterday about washing these berries as the ripe ones might be quite fragile.  You don’t run them under a running tap.  Just put the berries in a container, fill it with water, gently strain off the water.  This fruit is not sprayed so that gentle rinse is  enough.

Happy Gardening

Warrigal Greens (Tetragonia Tetragonioides)

Over at Beelarong Community Farm where I have my allotment we have an Australian Native Garden where – you’ve got it – we plant trees, shrubs and ground cover that is native to Australia.

In this garden we use Warrigal Greens as a ground-cover plant. Warrigal greens are also known as New Zealand spinach and Botany Bay Greens.

It was one of the first native Australian vegetables to become popular with European settlers.  Captain Cook was known to encourage his men to eat them to prevent scurvy.

WARNING: Caution should be taken with Warrigal Greens as the leaves contain toxic oxalates which can be harmful consumed in large quantities. It’s important to blanch the leaves for 3 minutes and discard this water.  Then rinse the leaves in cold water before using them in salads or for cooking.

I have been reading up about Warrigal Greens and their importance to the early British settlers as a source of nourishment and if you have a few minutes to spare – it’s a long post – check out this link to The Forager’s Year blog. Fascinating stuff.

I love this line from The Forager’s Year “Overall, eating tetragonia may be beneficial if you are a scurvy struck convict.”

So, in conclusion, why would you bother eating it?  Because it’s our native spinach, it’s available all year round  – and nutritionally it reduces the risk of scurvy!   Just make sure you blanch it first and don’t pig out on it.

And why would you bother growing it?  It has no known diseases and snails and slugs will NOT eat this (if that doesn’t send out alarm bells I don’t know what will!).  And it’s great ground cover.

Warrigal Greens (Tetragonia Tetragonioides)

Warrigal Greens (Tetragonia Tetragonioides)

I know I have posted this photograph before but it cheers me every time I look at it. So here it is again. On the edge of the Australian Native Garden is this Bottle Brush tree and the birds love it.

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“I can eat upside down”

Happy Gardening.

Gardener’s gifts

I received some lovely gifts with a gardening theme for my recent birthday.  Thought you might be amused by this pretty little cushion.

Gardeners know the best dirt

Gardeners know the best dirt

I smile every time I look at it.

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quarteracrelifestyle

The "Good Life" on a quarter acre, frugal living

Growing vegetables on one small allotment

Gardener Jen

Trials, errors and joys of creating and maintaining my first garden.

Our Everyday Life in Pictures

Growing vegetables on one small allotment

Exercising Septuagenarian

Growing vegetables on one small allotment

Tootlepedal's Blog

A look at life in the borders

frugal feeding

n. frugality; the quality of being economical with money or food.

The Next Stage

Growing vegetables on one small allotment

The Greening of Gavin

Growing vegetables on one small allotment

Down to Earth

Growing vegetables on one small allotment

quarteracrelifestyle

The "Good Life" on a quarter acre, frugal living

Growing vegetables on one small allotment

Gardener Jen

Trials, errors and joys of creating and maintaining my first garden.

Our Everyday Life in Pictures

Growing vegetables on one small allotment

Exercising Septuagenarian

Growing vegetables on one small allotment

Tootlepedal's Blog

A look at life in the borders

frugal feeding

n. frugality; the quality of being economical with money or food.

The Next Stage

Growing vegetables on one small allotment

The Greening of Gavin

Growing vegetables on one small allotment

Down to Earth

Growing vegetables on one small allotment

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