The Pineapple Jam Workshop

Allotment neighbour Bernice and I had a grand group of folk turn up for the jam workshop at Beelarong on Saturday. This was a free workshop as part of Brisbane City Council’s GOLD program.

It was a hands-on workshop, the best way to learn I believe is to get involved and join in with the preparation, cooking and bottling. Although I hand out an information sheet it’s easier to remember if you’ve actually done it. You get the feel of the mixture as you stir, and the smell, and the look of it.

The pineapples I bought for the workshop were so wonderful and juicy that I straight away cut back on the amount of water in the recipe we were using. Seems I could have cut back even more. We ended up with the most delicious pineapple jam – but it could also be used as a sauce over ice cream, or a spread to go over your baked ham before you roast it.

Here are the happy band of jam makers.  (Don’t you just love my preserving pots, the pot you can just about see sitting behind the bbq to the right of the picture is just as big and shiny as the one on the table in the foreground.)

Pineapple jam workshop

Pineapple jam workshop

We are lucky to have this kitchen area at our community garden. Tables, chairs, and that big bbq have all been gifted one way or another.  Beat’s the stuff going into landfill. Win, win as they say.

We make our own electricity using solar power at Beelarong as we are not on the grid. The bbq is run on bottles of calor gas,  and that’s what we used to cook the jam.


We had a fantastic downpour of rain in Brisbane yesterday, can hardly wait to get over to the allotment – my poor little rain starved seedlings will (hopefully) be growing like Topsy.

Happy Gardening




Trombone Zucchini

My allotment neighbour, Alex, added this unusual vegetable to the Share Table today – Trombone Zucchini.  Or if you want it’s more official title Tromboncino Rampicante.  In fact it’s really a member of the squash family. So it answers to many names.

The magic thing about this vegetable is that it doesn’t seem to be attacked by the pests and diseases our zucchini get bothered with, not at Beelarong anyway.  If left, they can grow enormous – and I’ve seen some very strange looking ones when I pressed the ‘google’ button,  but Alex likes to pick them young and tender.

He tends to slice them and stir fry with garlic, but advises that you ‘treat them like you would a zucchini’. So there, you heard it from the master!

Trombone Zucchini Tromboncino Rampicante

Trombone Zucchini (Tromboncino Rampicante)

If you are living in South East Queensland and fancy trying this veggie for yourself you can get these organic seeds from Green Harvest.

Happy Gardening

A ramp to the Windy Loo

We are building a ramp to the Windy Loo at Beelarong Community Farm where I have my allotment.

This will allow wheelchair access.


See, I wasn’t kidding, check it out – that is the name of the company that built our ‘facilities’ many years ago.


But it’s heavy work and we threw ourselves into the landscaping at a working bee last week.


I managed to persuade the team to rest on their picks and shovels for a photograph.


Was I slacking?  Not likely, I was working with the team that kept the food coming!

Happy gardening.

Are your seeds still in the shoe box?

If they are – then liberate them!

It’s very tempting to keep your seeds in a favourite shoe box, or similar, and enjoy going through them. I do that too.

However, the magic only happens once you put them in the ground.

Just a little effort can change this ….


into … this

Version 2

And that’s the joy of it.

Planting Carrots:

Carrots do enjoy a fine tilth so when you prepare your carrot bed if your soil tends to be heavy, incorporate some sand. This will make it easier for those roots to grow down without hindrance and ‘forking’. Give the soil a good rake over to remove as many little stones or obstructions as you can.  Those tiny seeds will love you for it.

Save a handful of that sand for when you sow your carrots. Those seeds are really tiny and by adding the seeds to your handful of sand and then sowing them, the seeds are less likely to ‘clump’ and it cuts down on the job of thinning out the seedlings when they pop up.

Another useful tip I find is incorporating some radish seeds in that handful of sand as well, this will help in two ways.  Radish germinate much quicker than carrots so you will soon be reminded of exactly where those precious carrot seeds were planted.  Secondly, as you harvest the little radishes it will automatically help thin out your row of carrots, thereby saving you some work.

Finally, those tiny seeds sit so close to the surface of the soil that during the first days of sowing, make sure you keep the soil moist, and carrots don’t like to be too crowded so it helps to keep the carrot bed well weeded.

Now, I know you can buy carrots cheap enough in the supermarket. So why bother? Let me tell you that the scent of the carrot as you pull it out of the ground at harvest time cannot be beaten. Smells like a carrot should – and so far you have only pulled it out of the ground!  Just wait until you go home and boil them and add a knob of butter.

Take the first step and get out the shoe box.

“Cooking from scratch”

Our cob oven (pizza oven) at Beelarong Community Farm brings new meaning to the term “cooking from scratch”.  First build your oven.

Mix a bucket full of clay – and continue to do so until you are completely surrounded by buckets of clay.


Then you throw the clay on the ground and you stamp on it to mix it with straw. Even better if you can find a friend to hang on to.


Bill decides to go it alone.


Pat decided to keep her ‘wellies’ on.


Then it’s back to childhood again as you shape the clay into ‘cobs’, sausage shaped bricks.



Then you slap it all together and you build an oven. (Well, doesn’t everybody!)


You congratulate yourself on a job well done.


And then you wait for three weeks for it to dry out.   Waiting, waiting, waiting ……..

Then every so often you get together and you make pizzas.  Out of the oven and onto your wooden board. Sprinkle with a few Sweet Basil leaves from the community garden.


Find a few friends.  Start eating.

Neighbour Day photogaph taken by Jon, James' work colleague

No wonder I have a smile on my face. This, folks, is where I have my allotment.


Happy Gardening.

Using the surplus – Silverbeet

My allotment was bursting with my favourite vegetable last season, Silverbeet (or chard),   so I blanched the excess and popped them into the freezer.  Just a few portions left which I need to use up and this is what Google suggested from taste, my usual go-to website.

Silverbeet and potato gratin

Click on the link for the recipe and this is what it should look like.


So I set to work in the kitchen, using my favourite old-fashioned pie dish. The fine grated cheese on the top is a piece of parmesan that I wanted to use up so I put it through the food processor (lazy me) and out came these lovely fine shreds of tasty cheese.


Baked for 50 minutes and out came my delicious dinner. Just added a side salad made from the gleanings over at the allotment.


NOTE: I used half the recipe so I don’t have to eat it for the next 3 days. The parmesan on the top layer of thinly sliced potato – immediate potato chips, crunchy and delicious.

Happy Gardening (and cooking) !


Lovely Lettuce

It has been very quiet at the allotment over our hot Queensland summer. The weather is suddenly cooler so I am looking forward to getting the allotment planted and producing. And a bit more blogging.

Despite the heat, I have managed to grow a nice few heads of lettuce over the last few weeks, and yesterday I harvested them. Amazing that I managed to do that without them bolting in the heat.  Maybe I’m learning something after all !


A solitary Lebanese Cucumber

Last week I put my allotment to bed for the summer.

This week I weakened.

My allotment neighbour Brian had a small punnet of Lebanese Cucumbers and needed a new home for the last one.

Well Dear Reader what would you have done?

So I planted it. And here it is.


I found this empty plastic water bottle someone had left behind, cut the bottom off, removed the lid, and stuck it upside down in the ground beside the plant for ease of watering .

This helps in two ways, saves wasting water by taking the water straight to the roots of the plant, but it also saves getting water on the leaves which in our humid summer encourages a mould on the leaves. That’s the theory anyway. If it works I will be patenting it.

This lucky little seedling is sitting in a lovely pile of rotted compost because we had just opened one of the big compost bins, right next to my allotment, and I took advantage of it.

I watered it in with a weak solution of worm juice (wee) and pulled the mulch around it to keep the moisture in.


I am not sure about pollination as it sits alone, but it’s sitting pretty close to my neighbours seedlings so I’m hoping it won’t be a problem.  This one plant will keep me in cucumbers throughout the summer as they grow prolifically as long as you keep them watered and they get lots of sunshine. Well, the sunshine is guaranteed!

(I’ve just noticed the toe of my rubber gardening shoe in the corner of the pic.)

Happy gardening

I’ve put the allotment to bed

Yesterday morning I went over to water the allotment and the bugs had moved in. Three days. That’s all it took. So I know that even though it’s still spring – summer bugs are here.

Fortunately I had harvested most veggies.  But I still had some kale which the caterpillars were revelling in and fighting amongst themselves to see who could eat the most. I had a couple of kohlrabi still to harvest and they were covered in a heaving mass of little white critters. Fortunately the turnip part of the kohlrabi was ok and I just stuck it under the garden tap and they were as good as new.

I have nothing to complain about because this last season, all through winter, has been my best harvest yet since I took over this allotment three years ago. I’ve frozen some veggies, I’ve pickled others, made chutneys, and I still have some left in the crisper in my fridge. I will not starve Dear Reader.

So I have decided to put the allotment to bed for the summer.

I have been working on it for a week or so, adding manure, used coffee grains, lawn clippings and veggie scraps so yesterday I finished the job off with a sprinkling of rock dust to add the necessary minerals. I gave the whole thing a good drenching with the hose pipe which will (hopefully) start it all breaking down – thanks to the piles of horse poo.

Then I used a bale of sugar cane mulch to cover the whole allotment. All eight square metres of it!


The farm gets in a load and we can buy a bale for $7. A bargain, and it does encourage us to mulch well during the hot months to conserve water. Some of the allotment holders choose to keep going during the summer and this mulch keeps the ground cooler and at a more even temperature.

This is what it looked like when I finished the job. Nice and snug under the thick layer of mulch and the worms will do the work of breaking it all down over the next few months.


My allotment, lying fallow for the summer. The one in the foreground, with the flowers, belongs to my neighbour. Looks like he has the same idea.

As a reminder, this is what my little plot looked like just a few weeks ago. Allotment heaven. You can see why I need to rest the soil during the summer – it must be exhausted!


Fortunately Beelarong Community Farm never closes (a bit like the old Windmill Theatre) so I’ll join the volunteers working in the community garden throughout the summer. I’ll be blogging about the goings on there as we toil like peasants in the field battling the ravages of the tropical storms, plague and pestilence of a Brisbane summer.  (OK. So I’m a bit of a Drama Queen.)

Happy gardening.

Save $$’s and grow your own

If ever there was a reason to grown your own food it has to be these little darlings. Cherry tomatoes self-seeded and growing like weeds over at the allotment.

I harvested these yesterday. Picked with the warmth of the sun still on their skin these tiny fruits explode in your mouth in a burst of deliciousness.  They are selling similar tomatoes locally for $24 a kilo.


Compare them with the small box of matches and you see just how tiny they are.


I realise not everybody has a garden, or an allotment.  (At home I have a small balcony and I started by growing herbs and salad greens in pots.)  I’ll be writing more later about finding space to grow your own food if you don’t have a garden.

Happy gardening.

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Nourishing Traditions

The Blog that Challenges Policitally Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats

Allotmentals Plot 103

Allotment, garden and other stuff


Sustainable Backyard Food Production

My Front Burner

making what matters

30 acres of sunshine

organic, sustainable and self-sufficient hobby farm in the making

Lottie Land Girl

Living the 'Good Life' the Brown way!

Throwback at Trapper Creek

An ongoing chronicle of meeting the expectations of the land...


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