October update

Well, it finally warmed up somewhat and I managed to get one lot of beans (butter beans) to germinate. They’re in a wicking box with a tomato at the rear :

I bought 2 thornless blackberries at Bunnings and put one in a large tub beside the deck. It’s taken off and is heading upwards to the deck wires, where I want to train it. Hope it doesn’t decide to take over the house :

The other one went down the back into a wire ring of compost from the composting toilet. There’s nothing to train this one on, but I’m going to try pruning to keep it as a shrub :

Last year I grew Red-veined Sorrel in one of the wire rings down the back. It flowered and self seeded on the ground beside the ring. Boy, did it self-seed. Plenty there to dig up and repot :

The dwarf Stella cherry is setting fruit. This might be a good year. Better think about getting the net over it :

I’ve planted all my tomatoes—about 25 at last count—in various wicking boxes and tubs. They’re looking well. I took Aussie gardening guru Peter Cundall’s advice and gave each one about a tablespoon of potash and watered it in around the roots. It certainly makes the stems thicker and more robust and greens the leaves. These two Black Russians are in one of the corrugated metal beds :

The grapevine I’ve trained onto the deck wires has put out new growth :

It’s a purple muscat grape I grew from seed, so I didn’t expect it to flower for a couple of years or more. Last year it produced 3 small bunches and this year there are many more flower bunches :

The dwarf pear I planted in winter didn’t flower but it produced a nice crop of healthy new leaves :

I love the clumps of comfrey when the new growth comes in spring :

Last year the rabbits developed a liking for it and devastated most of the clumps. So far this year, they’re leaving it alone. I’m learning that each year we get a different crop of young ones and their tastes aren’t necessarily those of the parents. Much of this will go to the chooks who love it and it will replace the silver beet they’ve been getting for the last few months and which is running to seed now.

The strawberries on the deck, some in pots and others in wicking buckets, are putting out new growth and flowering. Looking forward to another bumper crop this year :

Bunnings have certainly improved their range of perennial food plants in recent times. I checked them out recently and bought four new varieties :

From left, a thornless loganberry, a lemon guava, a kiwiberry and a maqui berry.

I’ve never eaten loganberries, so looking forward to that one fruiting.

The lemon guava is related to the strawberry guava, which I’m already growing. The strawberry guava has small, red grape-sized fruit and the lemon guava has larger yellow fruit. I haven’t tasted that one either.

The kiwiberry is a related species to the well-known kiwi fruit, but has small berries, supposed to be similar in taste to its better-known cousin. It’s a climber too, and looks like being a rampant one, as it took me ages to disentangle the tendrils of my chosen plant from all the others in the display.

The maqui berry is new to me, so I had to Google. It’s a rainforest tree from Chile and Argentina. That one might be difficult to grow in my area. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say.

Now I’ve got to find somewhere to plant them. Climbers are difficult because they need somewhere suitable to climb, while still being accessible for picking and netting from birds and possums. I don’t want to go to all the trouble of building a special trellis.

The lemon guava should be easy. My existing strawberry guavas are hardy and grow anywhere. The maqui berry, in the absense of a local rainforest, will need a bit more thought.

I checked the root systems. They should be able to stay in their pots for a while yet, while I do some thinking.


I did some more Googling on the maqui berry and found to my dismay that it’s dioecious, i.e. male and female flowers are on different plants and presumably, I need one of each sex to get any fruit. I was angry at Bunnings for selling a fruiting plant without proper labelling, but probably they’d say it’s not their fault as they are only retailers, although I think they should be aware and able to offer proper advice on the products they sell. We didn’t always have Google, after all.

Three of the new plants are in the Pick n’ Eat range and their website is listed on the label so I took a look. They certainly have a large range of plants available.

I decided to email through the ‘contact us’ button and ask about the maqui berry. No use asking Bunnings. I doubt whether anyone there would know what dioecious means.

I filled in all the details….name, email, phone number and wrote a message. Hit the send  button and got, ‘this email could not be sent.’

Bother! (I actually said something a little stronger).

So I phoned up the grower and asked.

That’s right, said she on the other end of the line, you need one of each sex to get fruit.

So, says me, I won’t get fruit with just one plant and I don’t know which sex I’ve got?

Oh yes, says she, as long as there’s another one in your neighbourhood.

I refrained from pointing out that the majority of my neighbours aren’t into growing their own food, and the ones that are, stick to easy things like lettuce. I doubt that few would be into rare and/or unusual fruiting plants. And I’m seeing very few bees now for pollination. And I still don’t know what sex I’ve got.

Oh, that’s OK she said, they will work it out.

I thought for a second and asked, what do you mean THEY will work it out?

The plants can change from male to female if they need to, she said.

There was a longer (sceptical) pause from my end.

I won’t keep going. I mentioned that although I knew certain species of fish can change sex mid-stream as it were, I didn’t think plants could. Do they talk to one another and decide who’s going to be which sex? Do they waft sex pheromones into the air? What if they both want to be girls?

I gave it up but I did mention, in the nicest possible way, that I thought the fact that the plants are dioecious should be on the label.

Oh, we’ve changed the labels, she said (well, she would, wouldn’t she?) Sigh!

I’m not going to pay another $12 to get a second plant and hope that they can work out the sex issues between themselves. I found the relevant Bunnings docket in the wpb. I’m going to return the plant and exchange it for something more reliable in its sexual orientation. One of those old-fashioned, non-fancy things that has male and female flowers on the same plant.

And next time I come across a plant I don’t know, I’ll leave it there and come home and Google first.

9 Responses to “October update”

  1. fergie51 Says:

    You really have inspired me a bit to try and regain my mojo! Lots of wonderful crops thriving along.


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Glad you’ve been inspired. The one pic I forgot to include was of your elderberry with all the suckering growth. Will put it in the next update. It might be flowering by then.


  2. Chris Says:

    Your garden looks really good. So many things growing, and so green too. Love it. Especially the grape vine, grown from seed. Have you tasted them yet?

    I think I bought a thornless youngberry recently, which seems to be setting flower now. I also purchased a kiwiberry, otherwise known as a hardy kiwi. Check your labelling – apparently they’re dioecious too. I purchased mine from a nursery, claiming to take cuttings from a self-fertile variety though. My self-fertile carob tree, purchased from the same nursery (so many years ago) did as it promised, too

    I hope you didn’t get short-changed on that purchase either.


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Yes, I got the kiwiberry too, but the label said it was self-pollinated. Same grower as the maqui berry so I hope they’re right about the kiwiberry. It’s the bigger kiwi fruit vine that needs male and female.

      The grapevine flowered and fruited for the first time last year and they were nice and sweet, even before they coloured up.

      It’s all the rain we’ve had that has made everything look so good. Summer will be another thing (unless of course, it’s wet too).


  3. narf7 Says:

    Great to see those beans up Bev. My thornless blackberry (which has pink flowers) didn’t do so well in the first year but it appears to have found it’s happy place this year and it growing strongly. The youngberries have taken over Sanctuary and are all around the perimeter growing up among the grape vines and outside Sanctuary where the roos prune them mercilessly but they keep coming back for more.

    That sorrel went nuts didn’t it! My cherries (inside Sanctuary) also set a fair bit of fruit this year so it will be interesting to see how they go. I only have 5 tomato plants this year (so far) as last year they didn’t actually turn red. Hopefully this year we get some tomatoes to enjoy with a longer (slightly) warmer season.

    I love your grape vine. I found a little pinot grape vine growing in the ditch on a recent walk with Earl and got out one of his trusty poop sacks to collect it in. It’s now happily growing in a pot so I might transfer it up to Sanctuary when it gets a bit bigger. I am going to have to get hold of some different grape seeds and try growing them.

    My pears didn’t flower last year at all. I noticed a fair few flowers on them this year so maybe it was one of those off years? I need some comfrey! I know where I could dig some up and I am going to have to get my derierre into gear and do just that as I want to plant them around the base of the fruit trees so I can chop and drop and use the leaves in making comfrey tea and in my prospective keyhole gardens near the fruit trees.

    I just remembered the alpine strawberry seed! I had better get them planted STAT! Mums favourite berries were loganberries. They do go mental and have HUGE berries. We used to eat most of them before she got them though as kids ;). I am going to have to check our our local Bunnings. I don’t think that they are as adventurous as your Bunnings but fingers crossed I might get a few new interesting fruiting species in the near future 🙂

    That sucks about the macqui berries Bev but at least you kept your receipt! You can swap it for another kiwiberry 🙂


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Yes, the thornless blackberries I bought a couple of years ago had pink flowers, but these ones from Bunnings have white flowers. I assume they’re all hybrids bred to eliminate the thorns, so there must be more than one type about. The pink-flowered ones had beautiful-tasting fruit. I hope the white ones are as good.

      Are youngberries worth growing? I think Bunnings had them, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • narf7 Says:

        If you like to cook your berries Youngberries are probably your very best bet. I don’t like pies or preserves (jam etc.) so I like to eat my berries raw. Youngberries are quite tart but incredibly prolific. I have them springing up everywhere and have to keep digging them up out of garden beds etc. If you want a plant that is going to run along a fenceline or somewhere to cover something up and that will reward you with tonnes of fruit, youngberries are your berry of choice. They seem to be much hardier than anything else and even outdo the raspberries that are threatening to take over the fort. They engulfed the poor thornless loganberry that only has one small area to grow in.

        Our wild blackberries here have two colours as well (both kinds have thorns) so I think it’s just a natural variation in the berries. We have both white flowering and pink flowering thorny buggers in our garden at the same time!


  4. Jane Says:

    Your garden looks so lovely, and all that delicious food to be makes my mouth water. My Dad grew loganberries and raspberries in England, when I was a child and I loved them, blackberries grew wild in the hedges and were not sprayed. Any berries that actually made it into the house, rather than our mouths, were made into jams or pies.


  5. Chris Says:

    Hi foodnstuff,

    Eee gaks! My maqui berry is growing quite well, but being a single plant it is growing a bit far away from yours. Yes, proper labelling would be helpful. Thanks for the tip!


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