Back in business

Before I start, I want to say a big thankyou to those who have made such nice comments about my return to blogging. Real warm glow stuff (I should stop more often!). I won’t reply individually to comments, you’ve all got one big thankyou to share amongst you.

So…the first photo on the ‘new’ blog is one I’m very proud of :

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Three beautiful caulis. My first time growing them, although I cheated a bit and bought the seedlings at Bunnings. When they developed huge leaves, on long stalks with no sign of a central flower head, I started picking the leaves for the chooks who love anything in the brassica family. Might as well not waste the leaves, I thought; I didn’t really  expect any flower heads anyway, as I’ve never been very good at getting broccoli to form heads. Then, to my great delight, I noticed tiny heads coming, so I left the rest of the leaves on the plants and waited until the heads were just starting to open a bit and picked them.  Sizewise, they’re the equivalent of a ‘small’ supermarket cauli. Very happy with this effort and will try again next season!

This, I think, is a seedling plum :

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I’ve planted it in memory of Bill Mollison who recently went to that great permaculture garden in the sky. The seedling came from a friend’s planter box, which I established for her to grow a few veggies. The contents of her worm farm were routinely emptied in there and some time ago I noticed a dozen or so seedlings that looked like they might be plums. I potted them up and have planted them in various areas in my food forest. This was the last of the batch and I found it when I was looking through my plants for something to plant for Bill.

The comfrey is finally coming back after its winter rest. I must dig up a few more pieces to spread around the food forest. The chooks like it and I can never have enough greens for them :

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I’ve been a bit worried about my little Australian Finger Lime. I wrote about it here. I planted it in a large tub next to the gas bottles, up against the side of the deck :

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It sat there all winter and hasn’t put out any new leaf growth for spring. The nice, bright yellow-green of the leaves has dulled to a darker green; maybe that was a reaction to the winter cold, but it’s in a sheltered spot facing east and we’ve had some warm days and it hasn’t picked up at all. Some of the leaf tips died and I’ve been expecting it to go to god anytime. Then I noticed these little pink things. Flower buds? Looks like it :

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I’m hoping that’s not a sign that it’s making one last try to do its thing before going to god. I’ll be happy to see the leaf colour looking better and new growth appearing. Fingers are crossed.

Tomato seedlings are in the polyhouse waiting to be planted. A bit small yet :

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I didn’t bother to sow seeds in the normal way and prick out seedlings. I soaked the seeds overnight and sowed 3  or 4 to each tube. That way there’s no interruption to growth from potting on. I’ll eventually thin to a single seedling per tube by simply cutting off the unwanteds at ground level. I may put some of those in as tiny cuttings. I’ve done it before and it works well.

We have rabbits here. At the far end of the street, there are huge numbers. The property next door to me has breeding burrows which they don’t bother to do anything about. Between us there are two battleaxe driveways to rear properties. The rabbits cross the driveways and head straight into my place. All that side of the property is my food forest; 150 metres long x 15 metres wide. You can imagine how the bunnies love getting in there! I’ve spent the last couple of months going right along the boundary (all 150 metres of it) and adding chicken wire to the bottom part of the existing fencing. It has done some good, I think. The rabbits still come in from the street entrance and from the property behind, but they’re not coming far in. They seem to realise that they can’t get back through the fence and are keeping their retreat options open by staying close to the exits. So the middle part of the food forest has been receiving less damage than usual and self-sown seedlings that normally wouldn’t survive are growing. This large cluster of self-sown poppies is the result :

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With any luck, the bees will get some pollen and I’ll get some poppyseed for my home-made bread.

This is a blueberry in a large tub. Nothing strange about that. But look at where the arrow is pointing. How did that get there? A single asparagus :

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I just checked the rainfall figures for May, June, July and August and compared them with the average for Melbourne. We had 360 mm and the average is 220 mm. No wonder the lower rear section of the block is squishy to walk on. It’s meant a huge explosion in germination and growth. This is part of the food forest which is on a slight slope and better drained :

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The light-green ground cover is chickweed. The thicker mass in the background is Warrigal Greens aka New Zealand Spinach. All that ground was completely bare at the end of summer. The rest of the food forest looks the same. I’ve been pulling the chickweed for the chooks. It’s flowering now and setting seed, which will mean similar growth next winter. The Warrigal Greens will probably die back if we have a dry summer like the last, but it will leave masses of seed, too. I’ve always envied those photos of permaculture gardens which show a huge abundance of growth. Now I’ve got it too. Must be doing something right (or should I just put it down to a beneficent rain god?)

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10 Responses to “Back in business”

  1. Chris Says:

    Yay for your cauli success. I lost my brassicas in that one warm day we had during winter. It sent them all to seed. Oh well. Glad to see someone succeeded though. Bet they will taste delicious.

    I know what you mean about touching base with all those lush pictures of abundance, where people get a lot of regular rain. Then feeling a little like the fairies must’ve visited my backyard when I wasn’t looking tpp. Because all that lushness is not what I’m used to seeing, this early in the growing season.

    Like a mad chook, I’ve tried to get as many trees into the ground this year, so they get a good year to start their life with. It’s not always going to be the case. Nice to see you have some trees going in the ground too. I also planted a tree for Bill Mollison. It was a silk tree. 🙂

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    • foodnstuff Says:

      Yes the caulis were beautiful. Funny thing they were so white when I picked them, I thought it must have been the particular variety, yet after a day in the fridge, they’d gone the creamy-colour of shop bought caulis. Wonder if the depth of colour is a sign of their age? I’ve never heard of a silk tree. I’ll Google.

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  2. fergie51 Says:

    Sensational caulies, goof work! Flippin’ rabbits, how distressing. Don’t suppose you can use a bang stick there, bit too close to others. Maybe a ferreting enthusiast???? How lovely seeing the asparagus appear in with the blueberry and I think I might just plant something for Bill too.

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  3. narf7 Says:

    Bah HUMBUG to rabbits (and to people who do nothing about them). I used to be one of those city folk who thought that nature was cute and cuddly. You read about people who say “we humans should all follow natures cue, animals aren’t selfish or hurtful”. Err, anyone who says this has NO idea about nature! It’s often eat or be eaten out there and you have to deal with problems like rabbits or they will explode into plague proportions. Kudos on your semi solve. Love the cauliflowers. Now that the hipsters and the Paleo people have elevated them to something akin to godlike status, they cost a bomb in the shops. Might have to try growing them myself. We got our first 2 fridge wickers in and replanted the poor possum and wallaby chewed blueberries from out the front into them. They have new leaves opening and appear to be very happy in their new homes. We will have to wait and see if that persists. Not a lot of literature out there about planting out larger shrubs into wicking beds so it’s all an experiment. Love the chickweed. It tastes like corn to me and I love it in salads. Never had warrigal greens but I hear they grow well. Glad you are back 🙂

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    • foodnstuff Says:

      I think the blueberries should do well in your fridge wickers….they’ll be big enough. I’ve got one in a large pot, nowhere near as big as a fridge, and it’s doing OK. Just make sure the soil isn’t too alkaline as blueberries are said to like an acid soil

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      • narf7 Says:

        Our soil is acid at the best of times and the blueberries are in a strata that is predominately rotted oak leaves and aged horse manure so they should do pretty well then. They are much happier now that they have been moved and are opening some new leaves. I think they were being predated by wallabies and possums where they were anyway. We gave them a good prune (LONG overdue) and replanted them near the back door where Earl can “acidify” them whenever he chooses 😉

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  4. Sherri Says:

    I am impressed by your cauliflowers, I haven’t tried growing any myself as yet.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Jane Says:

    I’m a bit late catching on, but like everyone else I’m glad you’re back. I have never been able to grow cauliflower, but I can and do grow broccoli and save some seed, however a mouse or rat ate my last lot so I’m really keeping an eye on the one plant that’s setting seed at the moment.

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