Seed Swaps

Potatoes, Rhubarb and Spring veggies

06 Nov 2011
Sunny 23°C / 73°F

Been a little while since I’ve had the time to journal what’s been happening here. So here’s a catch up on some of what’s currently growing in our garden at the moment.

Orchard: Due to our sandy loam soil, I have mounded up raised garden beds for new fruit trees where a few gardenias used to be – we have enough of those so took the straggly ones out to replace with edibles. Have kept some to bring in the bees for pollination but taken others out to make space for our fruit trees.

We used local resources to build the beds because they are easy to source, cheap and quick to add to the garden. These include horse manure which we compost down first, lucerne, mushroom compost, worm castings from one of our worm farms and sugar cane mulch. After mixing our ingredients together, we add our rock minerals to provide a balance of trace elements vital for healthy plants, ag lime, Epsom salts to provide magnesium sulphate as our soils are so lacking in Australia, McLeod’s Soil Conditioner and Organic Xtra slow release fertiliser. So lots of yummy ingredients to feed our new trees. And of course a good water in with seaweed.

In went a self-fertile red paw paw, a Lisbon Lemon and a Ruby Red Grapefruit. We have a strange fruit tree in our orchard (half lemon and half mandarin). The graft has split and so half the tree produces lemons and the other half mandarins! Looking back at it though, it’s a bit of a strange sight. Have fed this up and nurtured it so lots of babies on board and hopefully a yummy harvest to come.

I’m busy making fruit fly traps from plastic 2 litre milk bottles at the moment to hang in the trees to suck in all those male fruit flies who think they’re going to the pub for a drink of the fermenting brew I put inside, but after a few swigs they never make it out of the small holes to go home cause they can’t find the pub door! So they die happy drowning their sorrows. No doubt a scene many males are familiar with! In any case, it’s a cheap and effective solution.

We have macadamias that have set fruit (still tiny and SO cute!) so hoping we’ll get a good harvest this year. Native bees are best for pollination so we have quite a few flowering shrubs nearby which must help bring in the bees. When fed well, this tree alone produces 25kg of macadamias a year – more than enough for our family of 3 including enough for pestos.

In the orchard, we also have a couple of mango trees and 3 more macadamias. The avocado, loquat and japoticaba have not fruited yet as this is our first year here and trying to restore their health after being neglected but I’m sure in time we’ll get them healthy enough to produce. The japoticaba takes quite a few years before it bears fruit anyway. They are in season at the moment so no doubt at least another year to wait!

We have two zones with mature avocado trees and some have set fruit but there are quite a few varieties here so we have avocados all year round. Great for dips, spreading on sandwiches instead of butter and salads. They need some attention too to bring them back to optimum health but still bear fruit.

Kitchen Garden: Pumpkins have self sown everywhere and are making a pest of themselves – not that I’m ungrateful for free food but I just don’t appreciate where they have decided to grow. We desperately need to clear pumpkin patch again after resting it for a while after a bumper crop so we can put them in a space they can call their own. Still, they are tummy fillers and grow here without any real effort from me so are one of our easier crops to have in the garden. They are just like kids with messy rooms and I have to get over their untidy habits!

In our raised tank garden bed I now have 16 lebanese cucumbers planted on tepees as our daughter eats them whole every day and I just can’t keep up. We can never have enough so these have been succession planted to ensure we don’t have to visit the farmers market with cucumbers on our shopping list as often. Zucchinis are in and already have babies after I checked this morning. So adorable. While these were growing I planted ‘cut and come again’ non-hearting varieties of lettuce like baby cos and red lettuces to provide us with leaves for salads before it gets too hot. Then we’ll be changing to local greens that grow here without bolting to seed and are just as tasty and nutritious. Have also put in shallots, bulb onions and a variety of capsiums in this bed so lots of yummy food to come. A variety of flowers like calendula, alyssum and marigolds also aid in pest management and bring in the pollinators.

In our raised bed which is about 18m long, this has primarily been planted out with potatoes, sweet potatoes and rhubarb. I’m trying to resist harvesting the rhubarb even though the stems are huge and some of their leaves are about 500cm long. They look like Dumbo the elephant’s ears! Must be all the goodies in the soil they are sucking up. I’m trying to grow the crowns this year (first year) so we’ll be able to divide them next year.

I’ve had little peeks into the soil to see how the spuds are going and it’s quite exciting seeing there’s action happening there. I keep building up around the stems with mulch and soil to increase the yield. Will see if the efforts are worth it. The 26 & 28 spotted ladybirds have been dining out on some of the leaves, with their tell-tale lacy holes but these have been few and far between and not really made a dent in their solar panels so I’m not worrying about any treatment. One of Permaculture’s ethics is ‘Fair Share’ so I’m all for a little give and take especially when they leave my spuds alone.

Our broccoli, broccolini, cabbages and cauliflower are all almost at an end. One more soup I think should do it but they cropped really well this year with no white cabbage butterfly interference. I can only put this down to healthy plants and soil and intercropping with nasturtiums which deter these pests. From this experience, they definitely work.

Still got lots of leeks and garlic in and now adding new beans and other greens, more nasturtiums, herbs like dill and basil as we just love basil pesto and adding it to homemade pizzas with our cherry tomatoes. Need to get more carrots and beetroot in but will wait till best for root crops later in the month.

Passionfruits are flowering and setting fruit and the vines are well established this year so hoping we’ll get a lot more. Our next major challenges will be summer heat, drying winds and storms so need to get busy on shade and shelter structures! That’s all for now. Happy gardening! Feel free to follow my adventures on my blog at for what else I’m up to.




Macadamia nuts are like caviar to us Yankees and costs almost the same – I’m jealous.

Posted on 07 Nov 11 (over 4 years ago)


Folia Helper

United Kingdom8a

You’ve certainly been very busy! Seems rather strange that you are putting in crops while over here everything is dying down for the winter! Though we are having the strangest of autumns – very mild & warm during October & the mild weather is continuing now in November! At least it’s giving me time to dig up the beds on the allotment & manure them ready for the spring planting!

Posted on 07 Nov 11 (over 4 years ago)

Ever tried cracking them, hotwired? They are harder to get into than a Brazil nut, though rats don’t seem to be deterred.

Any Bunyas, MG?

Posted on 08 Nov 11 (over 4 years ago)

Would you like to add a comment? Sign up for a free account, or log in if you're already a member.