Caterpillars’ Playground

That will serve me right for ‘gadding off’ for a week and leaving my allotment to the critters.

It’s turned into a caterpillars’ playground.

I’d sprayed with a home-made molasses spray but I obviously didn’t do it right, or often enough.

So when I arrived at the allotment yesterday I ripped out the couple of red cabbage I’d been growing for pickling and threw them on the compost heap as it was too late to rescue them. Then it’s over to the kale bed, the plants were not so badly affected and I decided to harvest as much as I could before the caterpillars really took over. The silverbeet wasn’t affected at all.

I had a good harvest, two huge bags of kale, a bucketful of silverbeet, flat leafed and curly parsley and a very pretty Red Coral lettuce.

Red Coral Lettuce

The Italian and the curly kale have got so many little places where tiny caterpillars can hide (and I don’t need the protein) so when I got it home I filled the sink to the top with cold water laced with a tablespoon of salt and a tablespoon of vinegar and soaked for ten minutes to make sure there was nothing lurking that I had missed.

Kale and silverbeet seems to disappear to nothing when you cook the leaves but I still had plenty to pop into the freezer.

Despite the cabbage moths using my plot as their own special nursery there is still plenty of food left for me.  I got a bit carried away when I was sowing my Speckled Lettuce seeds and despite giving seedlings away, and transplant some too, I am still left with this carpet of young lettuces which I will pick and use the tender new leaves in my salad.

Speckled lettuce living ‘tenement’ style

Here is one I transplanted and you can clearly see the speckles on the leaves. (I had just been around with the hose pipe.)

Transplanted Speckled Lettuce

This curly kale plant looks almost too pretty to eat. I harvested the outside leaves yesterday. The caterpillars left this one alone.

Curly kale

Here’s a pic of the allotment yesterday after I had thrown out the cabbages and harvested food to take home. Starting at the front and moving backwards I have flat leafed and curly leafed parsley, mint, giant endive, kohl rabi, harvested silverbeet in the bucket, silverbeet plants, various lettuce, carrots, beans, two types of kale, leeks, garlic and the potatoes still growing in their bags.

The rather bedraggled looking lettuce just behind the bucketful of kale is a Drunken Woman lettuce that I have left to go to seed. It has a huge seed head so I am expecting to have plenty of seeds to share. The original seeds were a gift, I’m not even sure if you can buy them in the shops.

As I have said before, I have just the 16 square metres of land so I plant small amounts of each vegetable.

The allotment

Happy gardening.

Spring has sprung

It is the first day of spring and it’s a perfect spring day in Brisbane. Fine and sunny, it’s now well over 40 days since we had rain.

So I took myself over to the allotment armed with the hose pipe to give the plot a good watering. My last visit was just three days ago and I was surprised to see that some of my veggies seem to have had a growth spurt in the meantime.  Very satisfying to see, but I was surprised how they have come on because although I have been watering, it’s not the same as a good downpour.

Then I took a leisurely stroll around the community garden with the camera.

Flowering brassica

Flowering broccoli

The harvest, cos lettuce, Italian kale, silverbeet

Self sufficiency – and a trip to the Farmers Market

For one brief moment in time I have reached the stage when I am eating all my own vegetables.

I have my potatoes stored in a brown paper bag and garlic dried off in the garage from the last season, small but potent. In the freezer I have an abundance of snake beans – I may never get to the bottom of them as I had a bumper harvest.

I’m picking fresh carrots, parsnips, kale, silverbeet, lettuce, and the herbs mint, parsley, garlic chives, rosemary.

Whoops!  I buy onions, but I am told that South Australia is the onion-growing capital of Australia. So perhaps I can be forgiven as our weather is sub-tropical. I havn’t mentioned tomatoes because I am classing that as a fruit – and so does the dreaded fruit fly which has stung every tomato I have ever tried to grow except the tiny cherry tomatoes.

Talking of fruit, that brings me to the reason for my visit to Jan Power’s Farmers Market at the Powerhouse in New Farm Park yesterday morning. We seem to have a glut of strawberries at the moment and I wanted to buy a few kilos for jam making. I also needed a dozen free range eggs. So off I set with my ‘Nanny Trolley’.

It was a beautiful morning and lots of people had turned up. You couldn’t have hurried if you tried (why would you want to?) because there were so many strollers, an amazing variety of shopping trolleys, and dogs of all description on the end of a lead (oh my grammar – they each had a lead of their own!).  Every man and his dog had turned out to enjoy the sunshine.

The first thing that hit me was the smell of frying bacon. Now I had already eaten fruit and yoghurt at home, but suddenly it just wasn’t enough.  So I stopped at Jon’s Delights for breakfast and he cooked me the most amazing bacon and egg burger.

Breakfast at Jon’s Delights, The Barn

Then I got a bit snap-happy. These are only a few of the pics that I took of the wonderful array of stalls.

Beetroot

Lettuce

Oranges

Garlic

Parsnips

You want to get me locked up!?

And finally I picked up my booty. Three kilos of strawberries for $10.

Going home to make jam

The allotment in pictures

Things are looking pretty good at the moment down at the allotment. We havn’t had rain for weeks but I have kept up the watering and the veggies are thriving so I got out the camera and tried a few different angles.

Cavalo Nero, Italian Kale

The kale bed

Silverbeet

Lettuce, not sure of the variety as the seedlings were a gift

Red cabbage has a long way to go

“Baby Beet” beetroot

A little visitor on the mint

And this post wouldn’t be complete without another pic of the ‘Drunken Woman’ lettuce. As it goes to seed it just gets taller and taller and I think, rather lovely.

Drunken Woman lettuce going to seed

Happy gardening.

A busy day at the allotment

I had a busy day at the allotment yesterday. There is always the weeding and the harvesting to do but this time I wanted to clear out some old crops and do some fresh planting.

I had nothing pressing so thought as the weather was absolutely perfect in Brisbane, clear, sunny and not too hot it would be a lovely way to spend the day.

Upon arrival I had a good chat with my allotment neighbour Tim and admired his sweet potato patch. He showed me the bags of sweet potato he had harvested that morning and I just hope his wife has her recipe book out because I know who is going to have to deal with them. He was generous enough to give me a couple of these wonderful tubers – I love sweet potato, especially roasted in the oven. I was able to reciprocate with my crunchy radishes.

Then a couple of visitors to the farm rocked up and questioned Tim and myself about how you go about getting an allotment. They were a nice couple and that took a while of course. And they left us with a possum joke – see my earlier post.

Time eventually to get down to work. I started by ripping out the wizened pea plants. I was still able to harvest the last of the peas but basically they had done their dash. The cherry tomato plant was in the same state so out it came, but not before I had gathered the last of the little tomatoes. I am going to cook them tonight in my pasta sauce.

Then I got my big fork out and turned the ground over. Not sure what will be planted there yet, I need to feed the soil first anyway.

The next job was to weed the whole plot (I only have 16 square metres so it’s not a scary job to tackle).

By the time I had finished the weeding it was time for lunch. This meant a trip to Bunnings (hardware store) and their weekend sausage sizzle. Stuff I don’t normally eat but tasty as all get out. They slap a sausage onto a piece of white bread, smother it with fried onions and then you add a generous squirt of the sauce of your choice. Tomato, barbecue or mustard. I noticed one particularly adventurous diner eating his swimming in both tomato and mustard sauce. It cannot be done elegantly as he was able to display! I have a theory that the reason folk visiting Bunnings at the weekend wear their daggiest clothes is not because they are taking a break from the gardening or the DIY jobs – it’s because they don’t want tomato sauce on their best clothes.

I got off lightly at Bunnings’ gardening department on this occasion, buying only a punnet of Rainbow Silverbeet.

Back at the allotment I planted the silverbeet then used the farm’s watering cans to give a good dose of liquid fertiliser around the plot. The last job was to get out the camera ….

Weeding done and liquid feed watered in

Rainbow Silverbeet seedlings planted and watered in

Hollow Crown parsnip plants just popping up their heads

Baby Beets looking a bit straggly, hopefully they’ll pick up as I’m planning to pickle them – I have the jars and vinegar at the ready but looks like I’ve got a bit of a wait.

The curly parsley’s looking good

A pansy just starting to bloom up the corner of the allotment

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