Small, Sweet Cucumbers – Almost Without Effort

I enjoy trialling new crops, and this season one of the most outstanding plants at ‘Bellis’ has been the West Indian gherkin, Cucumis anguria. This trial had a shaky start, with only one seed germinating from the packet I bought from Eden seeds. I gave it well composted, freely draining soil in a raised bed…

Open Day At Bellis

Almost 1,700 people visited my garden last weekend. And what a very friendly, gentle, respectful and very inquisitive mob they all were. I found the first visitor snoozing in her car as the dawn mist was rising. People arrived gradually at first, but as Brisbane turned on one of its magical autumn days, things began…

In Production Today

After a dry April in Bayside Brisbane, 152 mm rain fell during the 28th April. A good gentle drop with no gales, it filled the rainwater tank and the stormwater soakaway pit. Not a drop was wasted : the compost-rich soil lapped it all up. A banana burst into bloom and my winter greens are…

So You Want To Create A Community Garden?

A gardening friend is getting ready to breathe life into a neglected communal food garden, so I’ve sent him these notes I prepared for Gardening Australia. In 2007 – 2008, there was a spike in oil prices. Since the bulk of food is produced using petrol-dependant technology (oil-based fertilisers and pesticides, petrol powered irrigation, harvesting,…

In Production Today – April 2012

I’m getting fewer summer crops, but my Asian greens are growing very fast indeed. Now that the nights are cooling down, I’ve begun sowing early winter crops, like salad vegetables and tomatoes. My native Midyim (Austromyrtus dulcis, aka Midgen Berry) has only a few fruit this year. They’ve got introduced Myrtle rust, a debilitating disease…

In Production Today – March 2012

March is generally when summer productivity slows and diversity decreases in my garden. But pawpaw have surged ahead, jute and all the basils are brilliant, and I’m picking the last plump figs. Rats beat me to my first two autumn pineapples… Rather like my strawberries, I’m waiting for the nights to become a bit cooler…

In Production Today – February 2012

One regular question I get asked by subtropical gardeners is what to grow during summer. Summer is when I grow the smallest range of crops. It’s not because you have to regularly control grasshoppers and caterpillars, I just stick with ones that fare well if we get baked…or flooded. Jute (aka Egyptian spinach, left) provides…

In Production Today – January 2012

This is what’s ready to eat in my garden this month. The two year-old Italian flat-leaved parsley is flowering profusely, and the triple curled parsley is just beginning to flower. Despite reading that ‘Red Gauntlet’ strawberry is unsuited to the subtropics, it continues fruiting, in fact they haven’t stopped since May. The 300 sq metre…

In Production Today – December 2011

I think I have found an alternative to parsnip for the subtropics. Yesterday I had fun cooking my first Hamburg parsley roots (Petroselenium crispum var. tuberosum). I haven’t grown this herb/ vegetable since I was fifteen and gardening in London. Hamburg parsley is a cool climate crop that, historically, was displaced in favour of the…

In Production Today – November 2011

It’s been a hot, dry, sunny, windy month. The celery and celeriac have only survived as a result of getting two drinks a day… It seems like my 300 square metre productive garden is growing a long list of edibles. Main crops are indicated by an asterisk *. However, it doesn’t take very long, or…

Where Can I Get A Greengage Fruit Tree, And How Do I Grow Them?

Question I recently visited France and was lucky enough to eat a Greengage, it tasted amazing. I already grow one and I think it is a ‘Doree’ cultivar. Can you suggest where I might buy the cultivar ‘Reine Claude de Bavay’, also known in Australia as ‘old greengage’? It was a wonderful fruit, I ate…

Towards A National Food Plan

Draft notes for Queensland Conservation’s submission to aid in the development of a National Food Plan. The final draft was submitted by QC on 2.9.11… Introduction A National Food Plan is vital for Australia’s ongoing food sovereignty. Food Sovereignty may be defined as a nation’s self-sufficiency in food, where affordable staples are made available to…