Good fences make good neighbours

Good fences make good neighbours even over at the allotments.

My sweet potatoes wanted to take over Brisbane one runner at a time and I was having difficulty keeping them off my neighbour’s allotment as the railway sleepers dividing our plots had rotted and the boundary was lost.

No problem. Batman (aka Peter who oversees our allotments) to the rescue. Sawing and lifting these railway sleepers is not for the faint hearted but in no time, and with help from Brian and Tyron, he had two new sleepers in place and peace reigned once again down at the allotments. No turf wars will be erupting between the lovely young family gardening ‘next door’, and me!  Thanks Pete.

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The new boundary

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The new railway sleepers on the left of my sweet potato bed

The weather in Brisbane is still hot and we are getting temperatures of 28c degrees even though we are well into Autumn so I’m going over to the allotment in the early morning to beat the worst of the heat. April is the beginning of my best growing season and things are happening again. I have planted two lots of beans which are coming through. A couple of rows of dwarf beans and the climbing “Kentucky Wonder”.

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Dwarf beans

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Climbing beans “Kentucky Wonder” staring to pop up (in the background with the circular metal support)

It may seem strange to folk in the UK who are used to big allotments to see my two tiny plots of eight square metres each. One is given over to the  sweet potato so to get a variety in the other eight square metres I need to plant small quantities. But it still amazes me just how much food I harvest from my little patch of earth. I even pick enough to pickle sometimes.

Below, you can see the beetroot is coming along nicely, I’ll be pickling it when it’s ready, but you can also steam the leaves and use it like silverbeet or spinach.

Beetroot

Beetroot

Wednesday morning is always busy over at the allotments when we all get together, and volunteers work on the community garden. We break for morning tea at 10am, these morning teas are legendary. As well as cake and enough tea to float the back teeth it’s an opportunity to taste relishes, pesto, chutney and all manner of things people make using produce from their allotments and the community garden.

At morning tea today we were asked for a few volunteers to help pick the rosella’s as the bushes were laden. These rosella’s are used to make jam and raise funds for the farm. Below is just one of our rosella bushes. I don’t look very busy in the photo but I promise you I filled my bucket.

Harvesting Rosella's for jam

Harvesting Rosella’s for jam

Happy gardening,

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20 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Maria
    Apr 24, 2013 @ 16:18:14

    What a lovely photo of you with the rosellas, Jean! Those beans of yours are doing well. How wonderful that you had help replacing those sleepers…the sweet potatoes in my yard have gone completely berserk and have grown over the fence around the garden that we put up to deter the scrub turkey. We’re heading off to NZ on Sunday but I’ve promised the garden I will give it lots of TLC when we get back 16 days later!

    Reply

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      Apr 25, 2013 @ 06:47:21

      Hi Maria. It was lovely over at the farm yesterday morning picking those rosellas. Four or five of us women bent over the bushes and picking away together, probably not unlike the companionship you get from your knitting group. Doing meaningful work, and chatting together. Mind you, there was a lot of straightening of the back afterwards!
      I hope you have a great time in New Zealand. You do realise by the time you get back that your sweet potato will have spread down to the NSW border don’t you !!

      Reply

  2. HLS81
    Apr 24, 2013 @ 17:33:34

    Your little plots sound fantastic for square foot gardening and I guess down under you get the weather to speed up growth and plant crop after crop once you’ve harvested. I think in the UK we need more land so we can sow everything at once because it takes months for summer to start, then blink and you’ll miss it! Happy gardening!

    Reply

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      Apr 25, 2013 @ 06:54:14

      Thank you for visiting from The Little Patch We Borrowed. You have just raised something I hadn’t thought about before and that is the length of our different growing seasons. You are quite right that with a bit of rain and our sun everything ‘grows like Topsy’. That does include the weeds too of course. Ha ha.
      I love my little allotment but I do envy folk who have enough land to put a shed on, and to plant a few fruit bushes and trees.
      Fortunately although my plot is small, we also have the community garden and the orchard area over at the farm. And of course the rosella bushes for jam making, so I do have access to a wider area.
      Happy gardening.

      Reply

  3. narf77
    Apr 25, 2013 @ 04:25:47

    I love how you labelled the sweet potatoes “Jean”…maybe they will behave themselves if they know which garden bed they live in? 😉 The possums keep my lone sweet potato in check because as soon as the leaves venture out of it’s wire enclosure something grabs them and eats them. I love that metal bean pole, it looks very “Steampunk” Jean :). I have been coaxing a few of my summer beets to keep going by pinching their leaves and using them in smoothies. I ate lots of leaves as “spinach” like you suggest through the summer and they were really tasty, like silverbeet, and I guess they are some of the spoils that you get when you grow your veggies yourself :). Thos rosellas look very interesting. I wonder if they would grow on Serendipity Farm? Are they perennial Jean? They look like shrubs and with stems that thick I would imagine they are shrubby? Cheers for the lovely post and for reminding us that only last month we were sweating here on Serendipity Farm…what a difference a month makes! 😉

    Reply

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      Apr 25, 2013 @ 07:06:41

      Ha ha Fran. I love your first comment. Doesn’t everybody name their sweet potatoes?
      I found the metal bean pole hiding away over at the farm, nothing is ever discarded. I am too short to knock it into the ground so I got Craig over at the farm to help. Even he had to stand on a block of wood with a blooming great hammer.
      I like the idea of “steampunk” or even “Lottie Art”
      I don’t know too much about the growing of the rosella bushes but my guru here in Brisbane is Annette McFarlane and here is what she has to say about growing them http://www.annettemcfarlane.com/Stories/rosella.pdf
      Dorothea is the woman at the farm who is really behind the growing of these rosellas. But we all pitch in with the harvesting of the flowers, and then pushing the stone out from each individual flower. It’s very labour intensive but sitting around in a circle in the shade and rhythmically pushing stones through, and chatting together, is very relaxing. Almost as good as meditation. Then Dorothea takes them home and makes jam for our fund raising. She’s a dynamo. I don’t think she sleeps!

      Reply

      • narf77
        Apr 25, 2013 @ 07:24:49

        Lol I love dynamo’s like that Jean…they make up for me being like Garfield and whenever I hit a sunbeam I need a nap ;). I would love to grow some rosellas here but not sure if they would take our conditions, cheers for that link, I am off to see about them now 🙂

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      Apr 26, 2013 @ 08:27:56

      Ha Ha Fran. I love your Garfield comment. If I fell asleep every time a sunbeam fell, i’d be comatose !

      Reply

  4. Simon G
    Apr 25, 2013 @ 08:57:16

    Lovely blog entry today thanks. Simon

    Reply

  5. Live and Learn-Toss and Turn
    Apr 25, 2013 @ 21:05:31

    It’s always fun to see what’s happening in your garden. We are just beginning our gardening season here. Also, maybe I don’t understand. What is to keep the sweet potatoes from growing over the timbers?

    Reply

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      Apr 26, 2013 @ 08:17:49

      Thank you for your kind words about my little garden.
      Now that is an interesting point you raise. Absolutely nothing is going to stop those sweet potatoes from jumping over those timbers except my shears. The point is that the sleepers give me a barrier to work up to. Saves me ferreting around in the ‘marching’ foliage to try and find the border. Now I just stand on the top of the sleepers and snip snip snip.
      Ah – if only all of life’s obstacles were so easily fixed.

      Reply

  6. Mark
    Apr 28, 2013 @ 08:41:51

    Your plot is lookng fantastic, I’m envious of all the nice warm weather you get in Australia but i suppose you’ve had your fair share of Aprils in the UK lol

    Reply

  7. MrsYub
    May 01, 2013 @ 20:31:14

    I find your sweet potatoes so encouraging! No one I know is growing them. I threw some sweet potato ends in a pot I have in the garden and then left them in a dumb funk, as everytime I had tried to strike sweet potatos before they refused to oblige me and I was over them! These babies have grown up and their trailing vine is busy trying to take over the rest of my garden :S When is a good time to dig them up? How do I know when they are ‘ripe’?
    Love your beans! So healthy and plump and green. Mine look motheaten :S lol!
    The Rosellas look great! I’ve heard of them but never seen them before.

    Reply

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      May 05, 2013 @ 11:02:01

      Dear Mrs Yub. This is my first experience with growing sweet potato but I have read that you can harvest after 4 months in a sub tropical climate but up to 6 months in a cooler climate. What you can do of course is what they call ‘bandicooting’ which means you can take your hand and dig around to feel underneath the plants to see if they are ready. If you feel a nice plump tuber, it’s ready!
      All you have to do then, if you intend to store them is to dry them off first before storing. I didn’t know this when I picked mine and eat them straight away and they were great. I would take more care if I was storing them.

      Reply

  8. notjustgreenfingers
    May 04, 2013 @ 17:09:18

    I would love to grow sweet potatoes but we just don’t get a long enough summer where I live in the midlands. I think you grow a brilliant amount on your small plot. It doen’t matter whether your plot is big or small, what matters is the enjoyment you get from it and the wonderful homegrown vegs you get. Infact, you can grow heaps of veg in a small plot and because it is so packed full, you have less weeding to do, so I think it is ‘win-win’.

    Reply

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      May 05, 2013 @ 11:08:07

      I grew up in the Midlands so I know about your growing season, and as you say sweet potatoes need a long (6 months) growing season in a cooler climate. You should do ok with spuds though.
      My allotment at the moment looks like the ‘one square foot’ garden as I want to grow so many veggies in my small plot so they all have a tiny bed. And this year I’m including beneficial flowers for the bees and to keep the pests away too. So I need to make sure the soil is rich and gorgeous! Lots of compost and rotted manure for those lovely worms.
      Happy gardening.

      Reply

  9. Maureen
    May 19, 2013 @ 20:11:39

    Hi Jean thank you so much for leaving a comment and visiting my blog. Yours looks fantastic. How I envy you your helpful and friendly warden though!
    Our new allotment warden is acting like the Gestapo and sadly has it in for me as I will not be silent when he shouts orders at me ! Our local council seem to be doing nothing about his behaviour, and i ha e written two letters a d so has another female allotment holder.
    so I may even have to take it further as its now harassment and making life intolerable after five peaceful years tending my plot.

    I will be back to look at more of your blog.

    Maureen

    Reply

    • Allotment adventures with Jean
      May 19, 2013 @ 21:35:57

      Maureen I am sorry to hear about the problems you are having with the warden at your allotment. Sounds like allotment holders need to get together as a force to make something happen to sort out this person. Strength in numbers.

      Reply

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