The Garden Share Collective: July 2014

Garden Share Collective

I’m participating in the Garden Share Collective again this month, so here’s a round up of what has happened in our garden over the last month.

gsc-trees

Our fruit trees are growing well. Here from left to right is our black sapote (chocolate pudding) fruit tree, guava (coffee tree underneath) and our tropical apple.

gsc-tropical-apple

I’m so excited to see our first tropical apple coming along well. The citrus trees are doing much better and we have had a few limes. The macadamia is nearly up to my hip.

gsc-carrots

We’ve had a bumper crop of carrots and bulls blood beetroots. We eat the leaves of the beetroot, either steamed or roasted just like kale chips. We have also had a few of our own sweet potatoes, but they are a bit stringy for my liking.

We planted in some of our seeds from Fair Dinkum Seeds, and the garlic and marigolds have come up already. The Egyptian spinach is not doing much. The coffee plants have red beans on them, but not enough to make it worthwhile harvesting yet. We got a free basil seedling from our local library on Saturday that needs planting out.

The weather has been getting cooler, so we haven’t spent as much time in the garden as I would have liked, but everything is going well.

Coming up I’m hoping to give everything a handful of rooster booster, trace elements and seaweed solution. Things will be quiet again since winter is here.

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The Garden Share Collective: June 2014

Garden Share Collective

I’m participating in the Garden Share Collective again this month (after a bit of a break), so here’s a round up of what has happened in our garden over the last month.

fairdinkumseeds

We generously received some seeds to trial from Fair Dinkum Seeds. I encourage you to go and visit them, as they specialise in hard to find heirloom seeds.

fairdinkumseeds-2

We plan on having a gardening session and planting  some of these in the vegetable beds this afternoon. Haven’t we had lovely weather lately? Perfect for gardening anyhow.

citrus

Our citrus trees are going well, but they take forever for the fruit to develop to maturity. I’ll give them some seaweed solution and potash today.

figs

Our figs are starting to develop, and I can’t wait to try them. You know I have never had fig from the grocery store, only home-grown ones. They are always seem to expensive.

carrots

In the vegetable beds, we are growing carrots and bulls blood beetroots. It looks like we are going to have a bumper crop, since Matt used the whole packet of carrot seeds! There is also some sweet potato and Egyptian spinach growing in the beds. Our chilli is going well, but Matt finds it’s not hot enough. We aren’t actually harvesting anything at the moment.

Today we are also planning on adding some mulch to the vegetable beds, and one bed, in particular, needs a top of organic matter and soil. I’ll also give all the fruit trees some rooster booster. I’m hoping to have a productive afternoon in the garden.

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The Garden Share Collective: February 2014

Garden Share Collective

I’m participating in the Garden Share Collective again this month, so here’s a round up of what has happened in our garden over the last month.

feb-zucchini

We have been harvesting black beauty zucchini (above) and a few acerola cherries (below). All the rain we have had was a welcome sight. We also harvested a suyu cucumber, but it was terribly bitter and inedible. Apparently the bitterness is caused by environmental stress, or irregular watering (ah ha!). The only downside of all the rain we’ve had recently.

feb-acerola-cherry

Some of our fruit trees really need to go in to the ground as they are out growing their pots.

feb-mandarin

We’re having mixed results with the citrus trees. I rang the nursery to see why they were forming fruits and then falling off – they suggested the citrus need a complete fertiliser. I have only been using chicken manure and Epsom salts. However with the rain, they seem to be starting to form larger fruit. Some how in my head I think they need potash, but I could be wrong. The photo (above) is of a mandarin that has taken months to mature.

feb-rockmelon

We are yet to harvest the canary yellow rockmelon (above), as I’m not sure how big the mature sized fruit is, but I’m really looking forward to trying it. The Egyptian spinach is at the end of it’s life and now producing seed pods.

Matt spent the long Australian Day weekend mowing and cleaning up both the front and back yards, so the place is looking really good (outside anyhow). I need to get some more seeds in the ground in the coming month.

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Garden design widths

kale-bed3

When designing your garden it’s handy to know what are good measurements for the vegetable bed width and path width. Both will depend on your available space and the design shape you wish to use.

The ideal width of your bed will be if you can reach to the centre of the the bed from all sides. A good rule of thumb for a ground level bed is 1.2 metres.

The best width for a path will need to be able to accommodate a wheelbarrow. If you are designing for a school or aged care facility you may want to make sure a wheelchair can be used on the path. 90cm to a metre is a good width.

The Garden Share Collective: December 2013

Garden Share Collective

I’m participating in the Garden Share Collective again this month, so here’s a round up of what has happened in our garden over the last month.

figs

We’ve been waiting and waiting for it to rain, and finally it did! Yeah. The garden is now looking fresher and greener. Our fig plant is fruiting and so is one of our limes. The acerola cherry has berries on it and the coffee plants are just thriving in this weather.

mystery-plant-bed

We planted Egyptian spinach months and months ago, and only now has it started to come up. We must confess we didn’t know what it was when it first came up and someone identified it for us on the Brisbane Local Food Ning.

kale-bed3

Only the third bed is planted out with huge amounts of kale and behind it you can see the Egyptian spinach. In the forth bed, there are the tiny beginnings of cucumber, rockmelon and zucchini – fingers crossed they make it through the next couple of hot months.

It’s going to be pretty quiet in the garden because it’s just too hot to be outside working in Summer. So the plan is to keep everything alive for the next few months.

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The Garden Share Collective: November 2013

Garden Share Collective

I’m participating in the Garden Share Collective again this month, so here’s a round up of what has happened in our garden over the last month.

heartsee

It’s Spring time but there’s not much happening in our garden. Not one of the bulbs I planted came up! Matt pulled out all of the brassicas in our vegetable beds because the caterpillars were winning that battle. There is not much remaining in the beds, just some kale and beetroot.

lemon-tree

The dwarf Meyer lemon tree that was on it’s last legs has been revived with some chicken manure and seaweed solution. We repotted the herb garden we were given at Christmas and it’s doing really well. I was surprised, because it was planted in soil made entirely from grass clippings!

We lost a couple of fruit trees this month with the lack of rain and heat. I think they were mostly lychees which a colleague had warned me that they were too fussy for Brisbane’s hot weather. I did grow them from seed, so it was sad to see them wilt and die.

Matt was given a gardening kit for his birthday and it was made up of two narrow tin pots for the windowsill. Unfortunately the combination of the tin being too hot and the coir bedding material meant it needed to be watered every day. The lettuce ended up pathetic looking and only the dill is doing really well. Matt has abandoned it as a failure.

Here’s hoping we get some more rain so we can revive the garden this coming month. I am planning on planting some flowers in the outer garden and some drought-hardy vegetables in the vegetable beds.

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The Garden Share Collective: October 2013

Garden Share Collective

I’m participating in the Garden Share Collective again this month, so here’s a round up of what has happened in our garden over the last month.

I volunteered at Northey Street City Farm, but it’s starting to get too hot to be working outside in the garden in the middle of the day.

In the vegetable beds, I planted Red Kuri pumpkin, Eggplant Listada di Gandia, Leek Elephant, Hales Best rockmelon, Sugar baby watermelon and Minnesota midget rockmelon. Some of these seeds were old, so it’s more than likely they won’t come up. We also need some decent rain to soak the beds.

bottlebrush

The red bottlebrushes of the King’s Park are spectacular and are really the highlight of our garden this month. The rainbow lorikeets adore them.

bottlebrush2

We have been harvesting lots of green beans and green leafy vegetables. My parents had an abundance of lettuce, so we got a bunch and made lettuce soup – delicious, if not unusual and very subtle.

Plans for next month include working out how to revive my citrus tree that looks half dead but still bares a fruit. I also want to plant out the first bed with more vegetables.

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The Garden Share Collective: September 2013

Garden Share Collective

I’m participating in the Garden Share Collective again this month, so here’s a round up of what has happened in our garden over the last month.

sept-carrot

I volunteered twice at Northey Street City Farm in the nursery, so I learnt how they propagate seeds and then make the seedlings ready for selling to the public. I got some rejects to take home and plant – Purple Dragon carrots (above) and kale seedlings which seem to be doing well in Bed 3. Some old potatoes have also come up in this bed.

sept-bed-brassica

This is bed two – we been eating lots of baby cauliflower and green leaves from this bed. Matt picks off all the caterpillars by hand each afternoon. 

sept-bed

This is bed four – we are harvesting green beans and kale from this bed. I fertilized all of my fruit trees with yellow leaves with Epsom salts.

sept-beans

I planted two seeds of Giant Pumpkin for a growing challenge, but they unfortunately haven’t come up. Matt bought a chilli seedling and planted it in bed one. It’s Scotch Bonnet orange – very hot.

The highlight of the month was going on a tour of Northey Street City Farm, which I had to go on before I volunteered to work there. It was very inspiring. I’d like to go back to volunteering again before the weather becomes too hot. I also wrote a blog post on what is a herb spiral?.

This coming month I’d like to plant out some seeds in bed one and three.

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What is a herb spiral?

Herb Spiral Northey St

I have been lucky to come across two herb spirals in the last month. Herbs that need good drainage are planted at the top of the raised garden bed. Plants which need good sunlight are planted on the side that receives the most sunlight and shade loving plants are planted on the other side.

herb-spiral-northey

Northey Street City Farm herb spiral

The first herb spiral was at Northey Street City Farm. It is approximately 1 metre high by 3 metres wide with three different levels for herbs. The top level is well drained and drier, while the bottom level is moister and cool. Different plants are planted on different levels depending on their needs.

Raised spiral gardens offer a range of micro-climates to meet the habitat needs of different plants. Raised spiral gardens are also very space efficient, and conserve water. A herb spiral can add detail to an otherwise flat or boring landscape.

Herb Spiral Qld Plant Expo

Queensland Plant Expo herb spiral

The herb spiral at the Queensland Plant Expo was smaller and probably a better size for most suburban backyards. It had only two levels and the spiral was made with stones to define the different areas. You can see they have used straw mulching to keep the weeds away.

Herbs for a herb spiral

Herbs that prefer moist conditions (plant these near the bottom of the spiral facing the morning sun):

  • Bergamot
  • Borage
  • Coriander
  • Cress
  • French tarragon
  • Ginger
  • Lebanese Cress (in a pot)
  • Lemon balm
  • Mint (in a pot)
  • Mushroom plant
  • Parsley
  • Rocket
  • Vietnamese mint (in a pot)
  • Watercress

Herbs that prefer / handle drier conditions (plant facing the summer sun and on top of the spiral):

  • Garlic chives
  • Lavender
  • Marjoram
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Society garlic
  • Thyme
  • Yarrow

Smart Permaculture Design by Jenny Allen

Northey Street City Farm tour

Northey Farm Tours sign

Northey Street City Farm is a permaculture garden in the centre of Brisbane. It is located on 2 hectares of flood-prone area, which is leased from the Brisbane City Council.

buliding

In Zone One is the cafe, kitchen gardens and building. The building has been positioned on poles so that it is at the highest point of a 1 in 100 years flood, so that it will not be flooded. The kitchen gardens are for demonstration purposes and are in the shape of keyholes to maximise the output.

There are at least three large meeting places which can be used by visiting groups, but in particular school groups.

Bob gave us an eye-opening demonstration of earth art.

Across the road, there is a regeneration area, which is maintained by the local Bush Care group. There are also groves of native fruit trees in outer zones.

compost

There is a dedicated green waste recycling centre, which includes a large worm farm and compost tunnels. They use the worm liquid to fertilise their plants, rather than as castings. Northey St uses a three bay compost system to rotate the waste matter.

chicken

There are three chicken tractors and these are moved every fortnight.

Also across the road are the productive gardens for the markets and lunches. The new vegetable beds are made up of cardboard, compost and straw. Northey St use the no-dig technique and the beds are raised to make the most of mini floods. They plant open-pollinated seeds and collect them again for saving.

allotments

Nearby are the allotments which are available for hire. Some people are using nets to keep the bush turkeys away.

orchard

There is also a citrus orchard and this area includes sub-tropical fruit trees. As an investment in the future, there is a grove of hardwood trees which will be harvested in 20 years time.

Northey Street Farm sign

There is a nursery on site called Edible Landscapes Organic Nursery. The organic markets are held in the car park on every Sunday.

Thank you to Northey Street City Farm for the free tour. Tours are held every Tuesday at 9:30pm and highly recommended.