Hobart Backyard Farmer

Just another garden blog

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Queen of the Night

Not a fancy, romanticised name for a prostitute, but, instead, for a cacti. Queen of the night, or Selenicereus grandiflorus for the very fancy is an, according to Wikipedia epiphytic or lithophyic (tree or tock dwelling), night blooming cacti.

I have had this specimen for probably a decade or so, living in various conditions, until moving it into its new home a few years ago, it seems happy. It is not how you might imagine a cacti, with long, branching stems featuring aerial roots, creeping off around the place. This is the 1st time I have seen mine flower with a single, large, pleasantly scented flower, true to reputation, only lasting a single night.

Queen of the Night Cacti Selenicereus grandiflorus 1

Selenicereus grandiflorus 2



Waverley Wildflower Walk

We went for a stroll (sounds leisurely and splendid hey?) on the Waverley wildflower walk over the weekend. I had never been on the walk, which starts, and funnily also ends behind Mornington. Mostly open grasslands and woodlands, with sections of it forming a part of “The Charles Darwin Trail“, which aims to  follow in the footsteps of Darwin’s time in the area. Amongst the interesting display of native flowers, I was most interested in the orchids. A few unopened sun orchids were noted (they only open in bright sun), but what really caught my attention were plentiful displays of these Diurus orchids, which, from looking at photographs, and for those boring or interesting enough to care, might be Diuris Sulphurea.

Diuris Sulphurea

Diuris Sulphurea 2

Composting Revisted

I picked up a couple of new raised beds recently. After much digging and leveling, they have both been installed, one filled with existing soil, the other one though, being a little on the entirely empty side. Ideally I was just going to fill with straw and grow potatoes, but with current straw prices, availability and a ute that is on its last legs, I reconsidered that idea. I had better buy up on straw this season.

What I do have after such a wet winter, is an abundance of lawn clippings, so I thought I would try my hand again at composting, now that I have a big raised hole. I have filled the hole with fresh clippings, sheep manure, cow manure, which, given all the sticks, might not have arrived directly from the cow, and sugar cane mulch (which I thought I would try it out given the price of straw). The theory is that the pile of fresh grass will start to break down and turn into a literal hotbed as I have seen piles of grass do. I will then start feeding it with the other materials, turning it over with a fork daily or so until, I don’t know, I have something resembling soil that I can grow what already feels like, late potatoes. I can add those to the list of late everything else that has yet to be planted. I will keep folks updated on the progress, with instagram quality photos of a pile of grass and poo.

On another note, I caught a snap of my favourite little visitor to the garden, a Superb Fairy Wren. These guys seem to be seasonal visitors the the garden (not to the region though), but appear to be hanging around more this year than previous years. I would love to entice them to be year long residents.

Composing in the garden hobart

Superb Fairy Wren Hobart

How to waste a long weekend

I am qualified to answer that question, as I am a habitual long weekend waster. Starting with big dreams of tidying the yard, and sometimes even bigger dreams of tidying the house and a multitude of tip runs to rid of all the clutter and crap, which I can only imagine results in, I don’t know, joyous skipping and whistling. I wouldn’t know, I never quite seem to achieve it, or normally, even start it.

It might be because I am inherently lazy, a dreamer, or too busy? On this occasion, for 30 minutes or so this weekend, it was because we went on a short walk to O’Grady’s falls, a child friendly walk at the bottom of Mt. Wellington. I have heard that, due to all of the rain we have had, it is a good year, not only for weeds, but for the native orchids of Tasmania. Bringing me in a round about way to the point of this post. Because no-one has ever said, “we would like more orchid posts”, here is another orchid pic. This time, a type of Bird Orchid. I have never come across these before, but mind you, I don’t go in search of them. The plants could be seen, I reckon by the hundreds on the sides of the tracks leading to the falls. a closer look, a few can be found sporting these cute little flowers.

Hobart Bird Orchid

Hobart Bird Orchid 2

O'grady's falls Tasmania

Pleione Orchids

Just a quick, easy post, with the picture doing most of the work. I couldn’t resist taking a quick pic of these gorgeous, but obviously crowded Pleione orchids. Pleione are a terrestrial (ground growing) orchid which naturally occur mostly in China. Easy to grow and flower in Tasmania. The species pictured is Pleione formosana.

Pleione Orchid

Sea Sparkle Again

For those of you who missed the last major occurrence of bio-luminescence in southern Tasmania, I am glad to say that you might again be lucky enough to see this really cool, natural light show. After heading down to Lauderdale canal last night, we found a much better display at the end of Bellerive Beach, just near the cricket stand/fish bar. Glowing waves, and light pulsating underfoot while walking on the shoreline. I admit, even though a documentary I recently viewed (which happened to feature Tasmania) pointed out the bio-luminescence is quite common in nature, it still does not fail to amaze me.

As I write this, I just heard the news that a friend who went seeking the show this evening was sadly disappointed, so maybe, don’t get your hopes up 🙁

Bio-luminescence in Hobart 1

Bio-luminescence in Hobart 1

Hopping Mad

I would be too, with such a shabby, frog related headline…you waited months for this crap?

Anyway, i’m not dead, I haven’t been in jail, and I haven’t been on the run (for the whole time), I have just been a bit lazy and time poor.

But, after a few weekends of solid weeding, the yard is finally in a state where i can take a snap without shame, so I will soon be boring those silly enough to subscribe, with regular ramblings again.

I mentioned a frog, and you bothered to read down to this point without jumping straight to the pic? Yes, the post is about a frog. I must admit, these guys are one of my favourite visitors to the backyard. This one was discovered hanging out in the glass house last weekend.

It has actually been great to get back in the garden and on top of things after the mild, but still cool winter. Hopefully I can get you guys back reading the blog and keeping me on top of my weeding.

Brown tree frog hobart

Hobart Lazy Blogger

Yep, that’s me, my apologies yet again, I am a terrible blogger.

It has been an interesting year here in Tasmania, weather wise, with autumn really only just having begun after consistently warm days right up until very recently. The recent rain has been a much welcomed relief from the El Nino conditions that we have been experiencing of late. The struggling weeds now have a new lease of life. It is great to see everything wet. combined with the overcast days, I am reminded of my hometown of Ballarat.

Now that we actually in Autumn, there is lots that can be done in the garden, in fact, it is personally my favourite time of the year in the garden. We are picking carrots and chinese greens (Tatsoi and Pak Choi) that were planted in February. Along with the spring onions which seem to be a perpetual staple in the garden, they make for great stir fry ingredients. Interestingly, I have tried to grow Tatsoi in late winter, only to have it go straight to seed. A mid to late February planting seems to have worked most consistently for me.

By the end of May, I will hope to have my broad beans and peas/snow peas in, and then garlic will be planted in June. It is however, that same old story about which beds to tie up while considering future spring planting. I obviously need more beds.

Just because I have pics with me, the Tamarillos are going strong, perhaps with more fruit than what we can eat… We will give it a good go though.

Grow Tamarillos in Tasmania 1

Grow Tamarillos in Tasmania 2

Grow Tamarillos in Tasmania 3

If You Can’t Beet Them

Wow, what a lazy blogger. It has been over a month  since i have last posted…ill have to try to do a few to make up for it!

Here is a token post with some freshly harvested yellow beetroot. I can’t recall the name of the variety, but if are not already aware, you should know that beetroots are available in an amazing range of colours, shapes and sizes. Beetroots are delicious, keep well in the ground and fridge and i’m led to believe that canning them is easy as…i might even give it a go if I can manage to motivate myself to do so.

Grow beetroots in hobart

Big Ripe Melons in Tasmania

I note that I was able to lure you in again with my, perhaps only suggestive to me, post title.  The melons, almost as if a switch was flicked, are turning yellow and ripening almost literally overnight. Home grown melons in Tasmania, I am still impressed!

how to grow melons in Tasmania 1

how to grow melons in Tasmania 2

how to grow melons in Tasmania 3

Email Alerts Broken

You have likely just received a test post email due to the testing of the automated email which Hobart Backyard Farmer performs for each post (it was broken!) FYI, you have missed out on being alerted of a couple of great posts over the past few days, so, jump on and take a look.

hobart backyard emailer

Straw Bale Potatoes

Due to the lack of watering and sheer laziness, I suspect my chicken wire potatoes experiment will be a failure (judging by the struggling, thirsty looking plants living in there). I have however inadvertently  performed another experiment with better than expected results. Before I lay claim to this technique, it is not new, and I have heard of people growing potatoes in this way, in fact, I regularly ride past a garden where a whole bunch of spuds are being grown using this method.

What I am talking about is growing potatoes in straw bales. I have read that all sorts of veggies can be grown in this way, and I have experimented with it myself  a while back, but, I believe that my bales were a bit too fresh. Last year though, during potato harvest, I discarded a few scrappy potatoes on top of a straw bale. I have noticed the plants growing vigorously over the past months, and recently dying back. The result, a nice amount of good sized dutch creams, and a harvest, unlike the normal back breaking and dirty affair, that was as easy as pulling straw apart.

I think next season, a change from this years efforts (or lack thereof), it will be straw bale potatoes all the way.

grow straw bale potatoes hobart 1

Grow Straw Bale Potatoes Hobart 2

Big Melons in Tasmania

How is that for click bait? I am sure you are sorely disappointed, unless you are a gardener in Tasmania and you are getting excited about the prospect of one day being able to post pics online of your own large, sweet, juicy melons… is this the quasi filth that you have signed up for?

The post is really a bit of an update on the hydroponic setup, in particular, the melons which seem to be doing especially well. The variety is “cool times”. These are the melons with which previously I have had the most success, but I never saw the sort of vine growth that I am seeing this year in the hydroponics setup. The fruit are also trending towards being much larger than previous grown.

I am also trialling a few veggies that I have intermittently tried to grow in the ground without much luck, including capsicum and eggplant. Chillies are making another showing, with last years Jalapenos re-shooting for another year. I believe this is not uncommon on the mainland or if brought indoors, but down here, outside, chillies are normally an annual.  Another chilli variety is also being trialled,  I can’t recall the name but I believe it rated the world’s hottest one year in some sort of competition.

Alarmingly, the cucumbers are already starting to show signs of powdery mildew. This seems early, and hopefully will not affect the melons. We did get our 1st cucumbers of the vine though, and, they were perfectly delicious.

Hydroponic vegetables 1

Grow Melons on Hobart Tasmania 1

Grow Melons on Hobart Tasmania 1

Grow Melons on Hobart Tasmania 1

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grow hydroponic vegetables 3

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Another New Addition

Found this little cutie with his leg caught in some bird netting (over the brambles, just to fit the stereotype). I am regretting my moment of weakness for releasing him to continue his existence within the menagerie of the backyard. Now I am envisioning a future like Mr. McGregor from Peter Rabbit.

Hobart backyard rabbit

New Addition to the Yard

We have a new addition to the yard, and he hates the lawn as much as I do. We 1st noticed the tell tale signs of an increasingly hole peppered lawn a few months ago, but until the other day, only caught a couple of fleeting glimpses of culprit. This lil’ fella is a Southern Brown Bandicoot. He is the second Bandicoot that we have had take up residence in our yard since moving in… a welcome addition, even with all the holes.

southern brown bandicoot in backyard 1

southern brown bandicoot in backyard 2

Christmas Cherries

It is a Tasmanian tradition to have fresh cherries on the table for Christmas. They don’t get any fresher than staight off the tree.

Now that I have finished boasting, Merry Christmas to all.

Grow cherroes in hobart

 

Awwwww Again

This time with a happy ending. Another nest in another orchid, but unlike last year, these little guys left their nest this morning to face the big wide world.

Bird's nest in orchid 1

Coffee Plants in Hobart

For those of you who were enquiring about where to obtain coffee plants in Hobart….I came across a few decent sized plants at K&D  Cambridge today. I think they were around $29.

Coffee plants in Hobart

Have I Posted About Orchids Before?

Just a quick post while i wait for my lunch to arrive.

I tell people that I don’t really like Masdevallia orchids. Seeing them all flowering like this in the shade house though, I might have to stop saying that.

Grow masdevallia orchids 1

 

Grow Masdevallia Orchids 4

Grow masdevallia orchids 3

Raspberry Time

I am starting to notice the the negatives of the seasonal nature of the garden, as that kinda makes the blog seasonal. The problem with this is, you guys may get sick of the same boring posts (and pics of raspberries) year after year.

On the flipside of my soon to be heavily repeated content, the fact that I am celebrating the coming of the raspberries on the blog once more means that the blog is now just over a year old. Happy Birthday! Thanks to all that have signed up over the last few months to recieve your sporadic, but hopefully, mildly entertaining updates via email… I hope that I can continue to entertain, inspire and create unwarranted jealousy in to the future.

Grow raspberries in hobart

Orchid Update

You guessed it, I haven’t posted in a while, so i’ve taken a couple of quick snaps of orchids. For those of you who are interested, these were all living in the orchidarium and began to spike and flower in there.

The orchidarium itself is getting updated with a new larger tank, i’ll post on that soon.  I have more posts from the vegie garden coming, I am just trying to find the time to fit them in around other things. Hopefully a few pics of these gorgeous orchids with placate you for now.

Hobart phaleanopsis orchidarium 1

Hobart Phaleanopsis Orchidarium 2

Hobart Phaleanopsis Orchidarium 3

Hobart Phaleanopsis Orchidarium 4

Hobart Slipper Orchid Orchidarium 1

Green With Envy

After Juz (a reader) showed me up with his well formed broccoli earlier this year…I have been patiently working on getting revenge with an equally well formed green brassica, only this one is a cauliflower. No secret tricks with this one Juz, just mother nature doing her thing. BTW, I tried your trick on another Cauli but I think all I succeeded in doing was to create a great place for slugs to hang out!

Last of the Pumpkins

As I prepare to plant this year’s pumpkins, I have just cut the sole surviver of last years harvest, a testament to the storing qualities of pumpkins. Dont forget to grow plenty this year and keep yourself in delicious pumpkins throughout the cooler months.

Pumpkin growing in Tasmania

 

Leeks

As always..I planted this winter crop too late in autumn for it to be of any use in hearty winter soups. Now these little but lovely looking guys have to make way for the corn. I am sure though that we will find a use for them in the kitchen…maybe spinach pie 😊

Backyard leeks

First Coffee Harvest

The pic speaks for itself…

Grow coffee in Tasmania

Spring Has Most Definitely Sprung

I should start by informing you that I am not the backyard farmer, I am writing as ‘a guest’.  After listening to the Backyard Farmer stating his before mentioned laziness at blogging, I went about taking some photos of our backyard welcoming in Spring.  Mostly with the intention of encouraging a blog post, I was however promptly reminded that this blog is in fact Hobart Backyard Farmer….not Farmers.  After some nagging/encouragement, I have been invited to add this Spring post.  To be truthful, I just think blossom popping up to signal in a new season is so magical & we have been blessed with some perfect sunny days, I just felt the need to share it.  That said, this is primarily a post about what is happening in the garden at the moment. Aside from some pretty blossom, there is much to do!

early spring in Hobart 1

Fruit trees are blossoming & we are enjoying the last of the Winter tamarillos, their tough skin allows them to hang around & enjoy the sun without being bothered by birds.   I know they have been blogged about before & they are a favourite in this home, quick growing & yummy.

early spring in Hobart 2

Garlic,  so we have no hassles from vampires this summer.

early spring in Hobart 3

Raspberries…..everyones favourite, most don’t even make it inside the house.

early spring in Hobart 4

Rhubarb, recently blogged & now being consumed, this literally comes from nowhere & before you know it, ready to harvest.

early spring in Hobart 4

Most importantly bees!  A welcome sight in the Spring garden, we have many herbs & flowers scattered about the garden to attract these little fellas & the garden is happily buzzing.

early spring in Hobart 7

Last of the Winter vegies to be taken out, ready for new crops & planning.

early spring in Hobart 8

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We are pretty excited to see the greengage & goldengage flowering at the same time.  We invested in both, out of a love of good old greengages, as we were advised they need each other for good pollination.   Fair enough, but last year they blossomed at different times.  Maybe the recent extra warm days following an especially cool Winter have encouraged a well timed joint effort this year…..I really wouldn’t know, it’s all trial & error, but looks promising.

early spring in Hobart 10

The humble Marigold (calendula officinalis).  We have this randomly around the vegie garden, considered helpful to repel garden pests, plus its bright yellow & orange flowers attract some wanted garden visitors.

early spring in Hobart 11

A pretty bonus from having pea straw garden beds.

early spring in Hobart 12

Last but not least the strawberry patch.  Truly.  Hoping it’s not too late to rescue this season?  This has suffered from our not wanting to garden when it was still cold (slackness).  It is a classic example of how having a food garden is hard work & there is always something to do.  To anyone contemplating having a go, just do it!  Give it a try, whether it be big or small, it is so worth it, the taste is so much better.   Absolutely no waste, pick what you need, couldn’t be fresher & if there is any surplus, you will not be short of happy receivers.  Rewarding in many ways, Hobart Backyard Farmer has achieved so much in a suburban backyard in a few years,  his efforts are much appreciated.  Happy gardening 🙂

early spring 002

Grow Sub Tropical in Tasmania – Coffee

This time it is coffee. I have had this plant for maybe 3 years. Last year it flowered for the 1st time, delicate white flowers with a pleasant aroma which I cannot recall. It began to set green oval fruit, which have stayed that way over winter, and, only in the last week or so, have begun to flush red.

I grow it indoors by a window, year round. While flowering, I placed it outside during the day to assist in pollination, but, to be honest, I don’t know how it is pollinated, but, being outside is sure to help with insect or wind pollination. Maybe I should just google it. I would like to try growing coffee in the glass house, but have yet been able to successfully strike a cutting to be my guinea pig…maybe this year will be my year.

I am also not sure if it will flower again this year, but, even if it does, at the current rate of production, I might be able to experience a cup of coffee from my own tree in, I don’t know… 8-10 years? Just doing my bit for the slow food movement.

If you are interested, here are another couple of posts where I have experimented with growing sub tropical foods in Tassie:

http://www.hobartbackyardfarmer.net/tropical_fruit_experiments/

http://www.hobartbackyardfarmer.net/tropical-tasmania-melons/

http://www.hobartbackyardfarmer.net/mid-winter-tropical-fruit/

http://www.hobartbackyardfarmer.net/ginger-in-tasmania/

Grow Coffee in Tasmania 1

Grow Coffee in Tasmania 2

Grow Coffee in Tasmania 3

Grow Coffee in Tasmania 4

Rhubarb

I tried to think of a creative title for this post, but, rhubarb doesn’t give me much to work with. In a moment of desperation, I googled “jokes involving rhubarb”… if feeling really awkward is your thing, you could try doing it, as, I can assure you after 2 minutes or so of research, there are not even any funny rhubarb jokes. There are jokes involving rhubarb, but, no funny ones, and, I actually suspect that most were originally potato or cabbage jokes that have been reworked for rhubarb.

Why am I putting myself through this unpleasantness? Well, I harvested the 1st rhubarb of the season, and took a picture as proof.

Unfortunately, it may well be the last rhubarb of the season. I say this because I am yet to learn the secret of getting a continual harvest from rhubarb throughout the season. It seem that I will get a mass of growth in early spring, I harvest maybe 60-70% of it, leaving some leaves for energy, and I might even throw some ferts on it and mulch, but, it never seems to do much for the rest of the season…If anyone knows the secret, I would love to know.

Grow Rhubarb in Tasmania

You Say Potato

You all know I am a lazy blogger, but I have a confession to make… I am a lazy gardener, but this year, I have been way too lazy and I fear that my spring crops will pay the price with smaller yields. I am busy trying to get things tidied up and prepared for the summer crops… I am cutting it very fine though, but I think I should just be able to scrape things in and get a back on track with a good summer crop.

The previous few years I have dedicated new beds to potatoes which has allowed me to plant near the base and layer straw and soil on top as they grow. This technique resembles the “mounding” that “they” say one should do to maximise harvest, and allows me to get a good amount of organic material into the garden bed over the season, to improve the soil structure and quality. This year however, while looking around at my weed covered vegie beds, and cross referencing my calendar, I thought maybe I would not have the room or time to plant the spuds, but, I  was reminded by my pseudo-wife just how delicious home grown, new potatoes are, when the skin just flakes off and they melt in your mouth.  With this in mind, I started thinking of where in the garden I could slot the delicious tubers.

I saw a while ago, I think on Gardening Australia, a technique of growing potatoes in wire mesh “cages” for those with limited space. I remember thinking at the time, with my expansive allotment, that I do not need to worry about the trivial space saving tricks of those more space challenged than myself. Turns out that I am a bit space challenged, as, even as a grown man, I am not allowed to seize the lawn, which I despise mowing, and turn it over to the vegies, therefore, I have resorted to stealing ideas and pockets of space for the spuds.

The cages are pretty easy to build, 4 stakes forming a square in the ground and some hexagon wire mesh (chicken wire?) wrapped around. I then lined with paper. I then chucked some partially decomposed straw on the base, a spud or 2 on top of that, and a bit more straw. The theory is, I will keep adding straw as the potatoes grow, and come harvest time, will remove the wire and feast on my bountiful crop.

A disclaimer… This is the first year that I have tried both, growing in these cages, and growing purely in straw, and therefore, cannot vouch for its effectiveness. I will however, let you know the results. Below are some pics, obviously not of the same cage due to a variety of factors (yes, I forgot to take photos).

Grow potatoes in limited space 1

Grow potatoes in limited space 2

Grow potatoes in limited space 3

Grow potatoes in limited space 4

Grow potatoes in limited space 5

Collector’s Corner

This weekend in Hobart, I felt like I had finally come out of the winter hibernation. The lawns received a well overdue mow, small jungles were brush cut and garden beds were weeded, all to the smells of the blossom and the sounds of birds (except during the hours of mowing and brush cutting). I think though, I may have preempted rising from the winter slumber (to be accurate, in my case, it is more of a deep laziness) as I find myself today, baled up inside with the heater on. I guess September is like this in Hobart, but, as Elvis says, the world turns, and it will only be a month or two until things start to be consistently warmer, the heater can stay off and I won’t have any excuses not to be working in the garden.

In the meantime, and, I know I keep posting orchids (with Spring, I will begin to start balancing this out more), I took some pics of my favourite nursery, Collector’s Corner on our recent trip to  Melbourne. I have mentioned Collector’s Corner in previous posts, for which I really should be receiving a commission so I thought I would put together some photos to show what I am raving about. I don’t think I have been there this time of year, as I have never seen so many Cymbidiums in flower at the nursery before.

So, bear with me, I am blaming my hibernation for all of the orchid posts…enjoy, and I will get back to the farming ASAP.

Collector's Corner 1

Collector's Corner 2

Collector's Corner 3

Collector's Corner 4

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