24 January 2012

Aquaponics update

Apparently our system is busy maturing (not unlike our teenage son).  Before you put the fish, in the form of fingerlings, into the tank, you let the system cycle for two months with just plants to let the system, or more precisely, the micro-organisms, mature.  So we are just at the stage where we are ready for fish, and the plants are growing away happily, though more slowly than they will once the system is mature.  So here are a few images of what's growing.  We are just experimenting at the moment, which includes dropping some seeds straight in, growing things that are out of season and trying some wicking.  We've had a problem with a few grasshoppers who've found, and love, the sage and just last night a rat who ate the first tomato that was almost ready to be picked (@#$%&*).

15 January 2012

Surviving The Heat

I recently saw a post on Brisbane Local Food, where someone had built a structure over their summer garden bed to give the veggies some relief.  We have a raised garden bed of self seeded Chinese greens that was really struggling in the Brisbane heat of this past week, so I thought it was time to give it a go myself.  Fortunately, I had just pruned the palms, so I had palm fronds coming out my ears.  And a few star pickets and a bit of string later, and here we are

Making It From Scratch

Like so many others, I enjoy reading Rhonda's blog, Down to Earth, and so have been inspired to make more from scratch.  So this month, its been breakfast cereal.  I'm a real fan of nutty museli, so I thought I would give that a go.  My first attempt was just OK, but I've added more flavour into this second batch with a bigger variety of nuts, more sunflower and pumpkins seeds, extra coconut, and more honey (that was produced by a friend's bees - thanks Hans).  And the result is fabulous.
Here are the dry ingredients

11 January 2012


When we bought the property, it was a little unkept, but as our priority was to get straight into food production, we didn't do much about a general tidy up.  The entrance to the property was especially messy.  There is a line of beautiful palms but the dead fronds hadn't been cut off in years and the grass was growing right up through them.  So one of my holiday jobs was to cut the fronds and mow underneath (OK, so snakes may have been a motivator as well as beauty).  But I got out into it and got dirty and sweaty and so after all that hard work, its time to show off the results
Much better!

Bean crop is coming along

I mentioned we are growing beans and a few other crops for a local restaurant.  The first crop we planted is now in full swing with plenty for us and plenty left over.  We have just under ten growing on the fence and up the corn.  We planted a second round and this is about to start setting beans as well.

Its wonderful these days to have so many choices for small scale producers and for consumers.  You can go direct to families through Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) such as that used by Purple Pear or through an intermediary such as Food Connect  You can sell at farmers markets such as the one at Northey Street here in Brisbane or sell to local stores, cafes and restaurants.  The main thing is to know where your food is coming from and how its grown, if you can't grow it yourself.  Its so ironic that safe, healthy food has become such an issue in this age of mind-blowing technology.  Have we outsmarted ourselves?

But back to the beans, here is the progress on the next crop, which are the yellow butter beans variety

10 January 2012

swale update

I've just finished another "chop and drop on the swales" as well as having planted lots more ground cover.  So we now have the main trees as: macadamia nut, avocado, pecan nut, black sapote (chocolate pudding fruit), jaboticaba, peanut butter tree, custard apple, lemonade, pomegranate, Tahitian lime, malabar chestnut, finger lime, lemon, orange, tangelo, fig, guava, mango, mandarin and tropical apple.  There are still a few more I'd like to plant, but its a feast waiting to happen as it is.

09 January 2012

Sunflower harvesting time

In the last week or so, as the sunflowers were nearing their time, the cockatoos decided to get in early and started feasting on our long awaited crop.  I covered the heads, but they managed to chew through many of those covers as well, so we just had to harvest and hope for the best.  We managed to salvage 12 heads, with a few more going straight to the chickens as there was so little left.  Luckily we have a large kitchen bench to hold the bounty...

Watermelons, watermelons everywhere

The watermelons are ripening up and proving to be monsters!  We just picked and ate our first one, with another half dozens not far off and plenty more to follow.  Here is a pic of the first one and it weighed about as much as a four year old child.....