A new growing season

At last there will be something to write about happening over at the allotment now that we are starting our best veggie growing season here in Brisbane after a long hot summer.

The big change this year is that I have taken on a second allotment, again.  I used to have two but last year decided to cut back to one in 2014 but it left me feeling “land challenged” when I had to decide what to plant in such a small area – 8 square metres.  Mind you, the result was rather pretty as you can see from this pic I took at it’s growing zenith. (Love using that word!)

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I made the decision to leave my allotment fallow over the summer (as a preventative measure against heat stroke – mine, not the veggies) so I covered it in a thick layer of horse manure from the adjoining paddock, and then a thick mulch of straw and left it for the worms to work their magic.

Nevertheless I found that some things revel in the heat despite my neglect.

I was given a few snake bean seeds by my allotment neighbour and in a state of summer lethargy stuck my finger in the ground (5 times) and popped in a seed, and left them to it. This is what happened.  I reckon Jack is living at the top.

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Those five seeds have kept me in beans for months. It’s an interesting plant, the beans grow up to a yard long in the tropics, mine certainly reach 35cm and would grow longer if I left them, but I like them young.  Prolific isn’t the word!  A big bunch every couple of days. I’ll be doing my own seed-saving so I can pass on the seeds.

This weekend I’ll be over at the lottie putting seeds into the ground  …. and picking beans.

Happy gardening.

A visit to Green Harvest

Yesterday I made a visit to Green Harvest, the organic seed producers, by accident.

I was visiting Maleny on the Sunshine Coast hinterland, driving along the Maleny/ Kenilworth road and just came across it. What a lovely surprise.

If you live in South East Queensland, and you want to purchase organic seeds – Green Harvest is the place. For one thing, because it’s local you know that if they can grow it, so can you. (In theory!)

At Beelarong Community Farm where I have my allotment we practice our own seed-saving. However, if you want to try something new – and they have a wonderful selection of seeds – you get them from (you guessed it) G.H.

I have very little growing in my allotment over these hot summer months – the reason my blogging has tapered off. I have one cucumber plant that is trying to take over Brisbane (I swear you can hear it growing); a few snake bean plants which enjoy sub-tropical conditions; and various herbs carrying on heroically.

That doesn’t leave much for the dinner plate.

However, after chatting to the staff at G.H. I found a couple of interesting plants that will (should!) keep me in green leaves throughout the summer.

This Surinam Spinach Talinum triangulare,  (and I quote) a leafy green; self-sowing annual; use raw or cooked.

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Surinam Spinach

And this – Mushroom plant Rungia klossii – perennial low-growing leaf vegetable, use raw or cooked.

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Mushroom plant

So, dear readers, I shall not starve this summer!

Happy gardening.

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

Bean there! done that!

I had big plans when I set out for the allotment this morning with a long list of  jobs to do including preparing a new bed for the root vegetables, making up a molasses spray to deter the caterpillars and planting more garlic. The garlic I planted a few weeks ago seems to have suffered in the rain and only half of the stuff I planted actually came up.

But the first job on the list was to dig up the old snake bean plants and remove the climbing framework. Then prepare the bed with fertiliser and compost ready for the next lot of plants. Shouldn’t take too long.  WRONG.

Even though the old bean runners were really on their last legs they just wouldn’t give up. I spent ages snipping away, untangling and removing the old growth from the framework, and all the old bits of string I had used in my valiant attempt to train it in the early days.

Should have been straightforward except that every time I delved into the bush I found beans hidden away and I just couldn’t ignore them.  Well, you wouldn’t, would you?  I ended up with a bucket full. The young beans will do nicely for dinner, some of the old ones will be shelled and go into minestrone soup, and some seed I’ll save for next time.

By the time I had finished I ended up with a massive pile of greenery which I had to drag to the compost bay ready to be put through the mulcher. Fortunately one of the chaps is in charge of the mulcher, so that’s good!

I took a break and had a yarn over the fence with Helen who lives next door to the farm.

Then back to the allotment – spent the next hour digging over the empty bed, adding lots of lovely new compost, and leaning on the fork occasionally.

If anybody is reading this, and feels like yawning. How do you think I feel?

So I went home and had a big soak in the bath.

Snake Beans R.I.P.

Jerry Coleby-Williams

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