Saturday, 17 October 2015

A garden visit - and walking the labyrinth

This week a group of us from Beelarong Community Farm visited horticulturist Linda Brennan's home Ecobotanica.  Linda and her husband moved onto a bushland block on the outskirts of Brisbane   two years ago and they have turned it into a wonderful oasis, complete with labyrinth.

The first of the group arrives at the bushland setting, they look a bit like Lilliput people next to the towering old Australian gum tree. It was a beautiful day.

After a warm welcome from Linda and her husband we started our morning with a labyrinth walk.  Here is the overview.  It is a classic style built to specific measurements.  A labyrinth has spiritual and meditative properties.  This link to the Labyrinth Society will explain it much better than I can.

The entrance, facing East.

With friend Bernice, ready to walk the labyrinth

And then it's over to the vegetable garden, through this entrance. I love the rooster on the roof and the flowerpot man guarding the entrance.

I loved the veggie garden, growing vegetables being my passion, and I spent the most time there. I'm afraid my photograph doesn't do it justice. It was packed with the most interesting and huge variety of vegetables and herbs. In the foreground is the pink bath with water-loving plants and fish (to keep down the mosquitoes, they eat them).

This is the front of the chicken run (or as we say in Australia "the chook house"). The two brown boxes either side of the painted door are the front of the nesting boxes. Just open the top and remove the lovely new-laid eggs.

We had a shower of rain which took us indoors for a delicious, and adventurous, morning tea. This colourful plate is of nasturtium flowers from Linda's garden, stuffed with cream cheese and fresh herbs. They disappeared in no time.

On the plate with the doily is the bunya nut cake. First time I've tasted bunya nuts and the cake was delicious.  You would have a long wait if you planted a bunya nut tree today. It only starts to crop when it reaches 100 years old, and then it only crops every 2 or 3 years. It's a tree native to Australia, the nut is original "bush tucker" and favoured by indigenous Australians - check out this link for more. It has an interesting history.

Finally, we visited the cottage garden and I found this beautiful Australian native hibiscus tree with the flowers a most delicate pink.

Thank you Linda. We had a wonderful time.

Happy Gardening.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Carrots and parsnips - on the straight and narrow

I have grown plenty misshapen, and in some cases X Rated, carrots in the past but with my last planting I decided to spend a bit more time preparing the ground to achieve the 'perfect' carrot.  This time I was also trying for parsnips again which don't grow too well in our hot climate. But I love a challenge.

Before I planted the seeds I spent the morning raking and sifting the soil to bring it to a fine tilth, removing any small stones that could cause 'forking'. Then I added plenty of sand to the earth to make it even easier for them to form in the soil.  It worked, I've been rewarded with some beautiful straight, sweet vegetables.

Pulling parsnips. Gently does it.
Yay, straight.
I was happy with my harvest but I'm not sure I'll be so fussy next time.  I miss the carrots with their individuality. This year no more laughing with allotment neighbours at the carrots with appendages. No more tittering amongst my gardening friends at carrots entwined. No more guffawing.

Just a big bunch of carrots.

Just for the giggle. Here are some parsnips from the past.

And a pair of romancing carrots.

Happy gardening.

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

The snake bean, a yard-long ?

One of the vegetables that do well in our hot Queensland summer is the snake bean, also called the yard-long bean, due to it's length. This bean loves our hot humid summer weather when other beans would give up the ghost.

Due to the length of the bean, and the heigh of the plant, a pretty tall structure is required for them to climb up.  A bit of a challenge when you are only 5ft 4in but if you have a wheelbarrow and a mallet all is not lost.

Erecting support for snake beans
Thank you to fellow gardener Sara who provided the wheelbarrow and took the pic.

I took this photograph at the end of last summer, and the end of their growing season, that's why the leaves look a bit moth-eaten, but I had been harvesting from these few plants continually for 4 months. Truth to tell, by then I was sick of them, and so were my friends !

Snake beans 

They can grow to extraordinary lengths but I like to pick them when they are young and tender.  Like this. 

Snake beans (with Brazilian spinach)
Happy Gardening

Monday, 12 October 2015

Monday morning at the allotment

The ground is so dry, we haven't had a downpour for ages, so I spent some time this morning giving the allotment a good drenching with the hose pipe.

Then I took out the camera.

These cherry tomatoes are so sweet and a heavy cropper.

The Italian black kale "Cavolo Nero".
I have just the one plant and it keeps me in kale for months. I chop it up in soups and it's great for making baked kale chips.  Check out the recipe for kale chips by clicking onto this link.

Silver beet (some call it chard). I steam it, add a nob of butter and it's delicious.

My butternut lettuce is doing well, only planted the seedlings a few weeks ago. 

Tat Soi an Asian green, originally from China.
Tat Soi is full of nutrients and is particularly good sautéed in a stir fry, It needs to be cooked quickly, just enough to wilt the leaves.

And to attract the bees I mix the veggies with a few flowers.

Happy Gardening!

Welcome to my allotment garden

My passion is growing vegetables.

With just a small balcony at home I took over an allotment plot a few years ago and this is where I spend my time.  At Beelarong Community Farm.  It's a community garden in Brisbane, the centre of the farm is the community garden area where volunteers can work and share the produce.  But they also have small allotment plots for rent too, and I have a couple of those.

This pic was taken on the first day, a few years ago - turning the sod as they say.

My first day at the allotment, clearing the patch

I didn't know much about growing vegetables in a sub tropical climate when I first took over my plot, having been reared in the UK,  so it's been a learning curve. And I'm still learning.  

This blog is going to follow life on 'the farm' and my veggie growing exploits.