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The Garden in May

Click on image to enlarge view 

A visual record this month.

I wanted to start focusing on individual plants rather than the garden as a whole.

In the montage mix, note the Jerusalem Artichoke harvest from one plant! And in part shade!

The Prickly Pear has taken off . Maybe that's not a surprize in Queensland --given the past infestation -- but its rootedness ensures I can look forward to nopales.--especially  for salsa.

And I'm so pleased that after a year of so much frustration with cucumbers my Achocha plantings have decided to settle and grow. Mouse Melons are still indifferent...

...and my Samphire survives. I haven't grown it from seed with any success but cuttings are a maybe.I have nibbled and can vouch for the taste and texture...So I'm keen to persevere.

The Katuk does well. A most generous plant. The leaves in Autumn have a deeper, less sweet,  flavour but there are more of them.

In the air I'm being over run with chokoes and, not far behind, Butternut Pumpkins/Squash. Beans coming on. Plenty of greens in da spinach mode: Egyptian, Okinawan, Brazilian...and the Vietnamese Pepper/Betel Leaf.
I had this dish when I was recently in Melbourne -- Bo la lot – Betel Leaf Wrapped Minced Beef(or Lamb) -- and it was stunning.

Much as I want to grow my Cannas I've planted Indian Shot Canna (Canna Indica) as a mulch resource (note the small crimson flower in images) and my Queensland arrowroot (Canna edulis) is doing famously. I'm planning on adding a large range of flowering Cannas not only for the flowers but as a mulch resource. At the moment I'm relying on Lemon Grass to supplement my mulch reserves in the hard , mulch scarce, months of August to November and have also planted Vetiver Grass with that coverage in mind.
Since I'm burning wood to create ash (as a soil addition)  I'm looking forward to any cut backs and trimmings both at home or in the neighborhood.
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A wave of soil with floating pots: mound gardening with knolls

Since I've seriously begun to zero in on what I want,  the sense of what I'm doing becomes clearer -- at least to me.

My template is mixed vegetable gardening -- cropping a large number of different vegetables  in the same space.

To do this in the sub tropics and be imbued with the design logic of cottage gardening isn't a straight forward exercise because I'm growing a lot of unknowns.  If I was simply planting standard kitchen garden  fare I'd have some idea of what any one plant will or should do, but when you chase an eclectic mix of exotics --with many of them being vines --  the medley is sure to be a surprise. 

In the traditional cottage garden, you layer and mix the plants by height. But in our warmer climate such certainties are undermined because of my preference for climbers, creepers, ramblers and tubers. I'm not into look -- despite the flowers -- so much as cohabitation. Planting and growing is about pushing and exploring the envelope.

En route you lose some of your soldiers...

But with each success -- and with each disaster -- the garden speaks to you.

Let us not presume that I am in control. Nor am I so smug to answer in the affirmative the question, "are we there yet?"  The truth is that I have no real idea where I'm going.

It's improvisation -- a layering of what seems to be a succession of good ideas at the time.

This means I don't so much have one garden but several. Last year's. Last season's. Last month's. This week's...

While I've pursued many projects in this kitchen garden in way of experimentation, the overriding handicap of  building it on sterile sand has forced me to be relentless in pursuit of moisture. If I had my time again, I'd start off differently by digging long trenches and filling them with manures before building the garden beds on top. Hindsight is useful like that, but once you are away you make the best out of what you've got....5 years later on. 


But I keep returning to past activities and tweaking and re-applying them. Of late I've seriously gone back to harnessing my garden paths as mulch sponges. I keep layering paper and cardboard on the paths and throwing cut stuff on top, so that they become squishy. I may walk along each path only occasionally so it's not as though they're thoroughfares for traffic.

The irony is that rather than build up the beds, I dug down the paths. In sand you can do that.

While there is no pressing drainage need warranting raised beds -- I'm thinking that I should revisit the option. I'm not planning to raise the beds so much as add mounds to them.This is a Melanesian gardening habit, and the logic is beginning to register with me.


If I add mounds to the beds -- knolls -- I increase my ground surface area, and engineer an inclined plain down which plants can tumble or ramble without necessarily wallowing in damp. I'm finding that many of the plants I'm growing don't so so well on a flat surface. I've also worked out that if I locate a terracotta watering pot in  the core of the knoll (like a volcano's vent) I can more efficiently irrigate the knoll than I  would be able to do a flat garden bed.

According to the above graphic, this works. It works on paper....

So, in a sense, I'm thinking of raising up my terracotta pots as though they've been elevated by a wave of soil -- upon which they'll float.

I hate to say this as it seems bizarre, but my experience with  mound gardening, thus far,  suggests that plants have more choices. They can go up or down. Drink by going deeper or chasing the falling contour of the soil surface. Fruiting bodies resting on the sides of each knoll are less prone to fungal infection and rotting. Inside -- within the knoll/mound -- there is more room for tubers to grow and/or go deeper.And like a box of choclates, you can invest your knoll with different centres: rotting wood, manures, kitchen scraps, dead and buried cane toads.

While the mounds will work by dint of contour design alone, the embedded terracotta pots make for a stunning hardware addition. As a centerpiece, the pots' moisture offerings are more accessible to more plants  so that their irrigating area increases.

The troughs between the knolls also serve to collect water as they function as gulleys. And running the length of each bed are the moisture retaining mulch sponge paths.

Now all I have to do is find -- or make -- the 'soil' to make these knolls happen....in places they have not existed before.One garden bed at a time.

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The Garden in April: the Month of the Triffids

After a desultory Summer, the garden has re-invented itself as a garden of Triffids.

Plants that move! Clamber relentlessly. That twirl and twine and choke and crawl...That drag themselves tendril by tendril.

Plants that cannot be stopped!


Outback, taking over, are African Yams, Chokos, Russian Cucumbers and New Guinea Beans. In the mix are Snake Beans, Yam Beans, and Bolivian Cucumbers (Achocha) Sweet Potato, Butternut and Kobacha Pumpkins...

With so many climbers and creepers I had to install lifts. So as the garden grew up and crawled I started feeding it jute twine and began running feeder lines hither and yon like a aerial circus or a spider on acid.

Who would have thought that the air could be so occupied and verdant when the soil is so far away?

I wish I had a plan for this macrame but its all impulsive twisting and tie-ing as I try to keep ahead of the tendrils. Nonetheless, it's a novel garden now. I ran an old hose from the huge Silky Oak to an overhanging Dawson River Bottle Brush so that the future aerial activity has more freeway.

It's detente. I'm trying my hand at plant husbandry. A plant trainer. 

Without my trusty roll of twine....they'd take over. 

The irony is that despite employing such a simple tool, the climbing plants are thriving. They must like the exercise and the journeying, even though I set the route.And nothing has traction like twine. It's ladder for plants.

Unlike the Permies' penchant to 'design' a garden from the getgo, this one comes together on the fly.
For more discussion on this climbing adventure, check out this link for a comments thread about my experience using twine for climbing plants.
But I do have other plants growing closer to the ground, and, with the cooling of the weather, have been madly planting out and sowing seed. Seeds I had planted before that did not take over Summer, are now sprouting on my second try. 

I've improved my sowing routine and embraced a different relationship with...weeds.


Over Summer the weeds got away from me. It was a great season for weeds and given that I was so often ill, the weeds freely grew without challenge. So where they grew I let them be...

Then I smothered them! And those I did not smother in their beds I harvested for mulch.

And a fine thing too. I kept laying down and moving about weed mat on the paths between the garden beds and any weediness underneath died. Why pull a weed when you can darken  it to death? If I don't keep the mulch up I get weeds because my mulch is chockers with grass seeds (because it is cut grass). 
But surprisingly on the beds I get few weeds...
Despite that I seldom weed...so long as the mulch keeps a'coming.

To then be able to turn weeds into much -- by throwing them atop cardboard, packaging and newsprint on the garden paths -- is a delightful irony.But it works just fine. And given that harnessing a creeper is a simple snip snip with a pair of scissors -- both jute twine and plant  is keenly laid to rest on the very same paths. I recycle the dead.

So I smother the weeds with weed mat and then blanket them with paper and mulches.


I've ratcheted up my exotic penchant with my recent seedings. Among the  more interesting plants I've sown are:
These plants may be growing but not all are thriving...not yet anyway.

I  guess my major oversight was to not plant out enough flowers...for blooming at the moment. I've rectified that with another sunflower indulgence and a keen insertion of some classic cottage garden  standards  like Hollyhocks, Lupines and such.

But vegetable or flower, I'm still learning how to handle each plant so that it grows to maturity. It's been a great Summer for peppers after the bad times of the past. But cucumbers -- the ready fruiting thereof -- still alludes me, so maybe I'll be cross pollinating with a feather next time around.

And talking of peppers...and many of my plants in fact: I've been trying to rectify their habit to hall over. My soil is so sandy and the much I use so friable, that plants struggle for anchorage , especially when they get larger or bear fruits. So I've run a 'hand rail' the length of each bed on which I can rest sticks and such to support the plants underneath. Even inserting stick does not suffice as they too fall over so the sticks often need to be supported. Thus my hand rail...chest high: bamboo canes running parallel to the soil.

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Culinary Adventures

I'm dedicated to cooking. For me it has always been a life saver. The evening meal is my special time. 

Everyday it comes around and every day, for me, what-to-cook is an adventure.

So I get to explore different ingredients and different cuisines; pursue passions; indulge in foodish dilettantism...and eat.

I prefer to cook for others...but if I'm doing meal-for-one, I can sneak in the foods that others  may be distrustful of. 

Like offal. 

Cooking got me feeding 2 kids and rests as the baseline of achievement for those days that I'm ill. I may spend the good part of a day recumbent, but for me , being able to get up and cook an evening meal is an obsession.It is a register of worthwhile things done in a day that may have little else to show for it.

So everyday, come tea time, my habit is to experiment...

Consequently I'm grounded in a few culinary traditions.Over the years my core passion has been Middle Eastern foods but of late I deflected to an interest in Turkish tucker which is different again.

More recently I'm in East Asia, in Malaysia and Korea, with taste beds  half way to Latin America.

That may seem a strange mix but consider the core anthropological fact that so many vegetables, so popular in Asia, emanate from Central and Latin America. Preparing  them is both different and similar, each side of the Pacific Ocean.

But in this mix -- after decades of cooking meals -- I'm alighting on a 'style' -- a cuisine -- that has a certain dietary logic that, at least, suits me.

Its constituent parts are:

  • Meze : small side dishes which I'm familiar with via so many Arab menus.And while I've put in the hard yards, making and growing Mediterranean style side salads, my passion today, meze-wise, is the way the Latinos create salsas. While 'salsa' means 'sauce' it doesn't have to be wet and runny, nor does it always include tomatoes or chillies.Salsas, like meze, can be made of many things...and I mean many things you may not realize can be served together in the same bowl.Similarly, the Malay tradition of sambals is a Occidental version of  the salsa. In Korea the side dish habit is referred to as Banchan. Indeed, in all these traditions your local menu is formatted by these small side dishes.They maketh the meal.
  • Starch: Since embracing the family curse -- Diabetes II -- I've been following a low carbohydrate diet. It works and my blood sugars are stable.But recently I've been fascinated by what's being referred to as safe starches. These are the non-grain starches/bulk foods like spuds, sweet potatoes, yams, taro, plantains...and rice(although that's a grain). I keenly grow 'em if I can and I cook 'em. Despite the carb quotient. I explore their nutrient qualities, food traditions and attributes. En route I've become a sweet potato junkie and embraced an addiction to sweet potato noodles (called dangmyeon, Korean: 당면). 
  • Yogurt and pickles: While I used to make sauerkraut I now limit my lactobaccilus indulgences to home made yogurt and the Melbourne Celto-greek in me wants to have yogurt at every meal. I've gone beyond Tzatziki (greek yogurt and cucumber, a Greek national obsession) and are now in free form Cacik mode. Cacik is 'yogurt and...'[insert vegetable here]. Wonderfully creative it is too -- region by region. Also from the Turks -- the Ottomans -- I leant to respect pickles. By that I mean   pickles per se, that aren't necessarily fermented. Indeed, pickles like this are really a salad as they are cut with vinegar in mind. A similar pickle tradition exists in Korea (say no more than kimchi) and Japan -- all very meze, very banchan , salsa-like. While the taste may be a fav, the underlying logic is that you eat an acid with your meal. Indeed research shows that acids consumed via yogurts, pickles our sourdough fermented breads impact on the metabolism of the carbohydrates eaten at the same meal.
Perhaps you are wondering, what all this has to do with gardening.As it turns out: a lot. The KITCHEN GARDEN lends itself to growing a range of different herbs and veges that can be employed as meze, table starch, or pickles. In all this: fresh is best. 

If you move away from 'salad' thinking or the melange of separated vegetables mono-culturally prepared as accompaniments to whatever,  you are stepping into a sort of trans-global mix of ingredients and food traditions that can be fed by your garden habit by dint of the adage: 'a little bit of this and that.'
And since I've recently planted some yam bean/Jicama I gotta say that Jicama salsa is a quintessential convergence of what this approach can generate: starch + vegetables + acid. 
That's the clincher you see: small dishes. Eclectic blend of what the garden delivers: served up as pickles, sambals, salsa....with a starch passion sponsored by what's gown out back.
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The Garden in March

The Garden in March, 2015. Hopefully the Summer heat and humidity is in the past and seedlings get a better start in life. Despite the wet Summer, the garden looks bedraggled and unsure of itself.It hasn't quite decided which plant will rule the soil or the air. 

African Yams, chokoes, Russian cucumber and Sweet Potato have taken to the sky trails along jute trellises strung like spider webs this way and that. The Frangipanis have settled in, and while as yet not much use for shade, many of the trees are beginning to keenly  flower. The pawpaws, after a lacklustre existence thus far, are fruiting forth.The Jerusalem Artichokes are flowering preliminary to die back...and last season's white potato leftovers (the spuds that missed my fossicking)  have sprouted and broken through the earth's surface.

I've invested in an early planting of seed potatoes -- Nicola and Sebago -- with the plan to later add other varieties to the soil. This has been my best year for peppers but, like tomatoes, I get ready die off as ripening approaches. Sometimes the whole plant dies.So I have to pick early if I want  fruits for the table.

I'm hesitant about planting out my next batch of seedlings because I have lost so many over Summer. Heat, relentless sun...the soil's incapacity to hang onto water: all these elements make the beds are brutal kindergarten.

For now, there's not much to harvest. The very last of the parsley, plenty of basil, lemon grass is thriving, the 'greens' are limited to exotics, the spring onions have all been pulled. My much yearned for cucumbers don't do so well. My many katuk bushes have been feeding me but they haven't bushed up as yet so when harvesting I have to be gentle.The kangkong -- water spinach -- has recovered from its desultory habit and infestations and is now harvestable.

Ready to amaze are more New Guinea Beans that I'll know what to do with. This time of year, its' well worth growing as a Zuchini substitute . But then Winged Beans have not done much at all, although I keep trying and Snake Beans are placement fickle.


The skytrails are the most exciting Summer invention. Jute twine strung above ground in patterns or on impulse has proven a great method of trellising that nonetheless holds up to stormy weather. When I cut back the vines, the whole lot -- string and all -- can be deployed as mulch. I haven't solved the upright challenge as yet, mainly because the bamboo canes I've been using are  slippery perches. Even when they get pulled to the side by the twine, so that they rise up like leaning towers, they still 'work' and allow for fiddling and customising. 

My best work was the shade lean-to I strung off the back veranda against the late afternoon sun. The native legume I used quickly embraced the trellis system. Unfortunately I'll be crying when I have to cut it back for the darker and cooler days of Winter.

The plan was to use choko but the choko vines have been desultory over Summer, only now taking off.

The Summer may have been wetter than expected, but the soil temp was still high.Mulch was harder to come by and my shade options have not, as yet, consolidated. I've now planted out with growing-more-of-my-own mulch in mind. More lemon grasses, Cannas, Vetiver....and I now deploy branch trimmings, cardboard and newspapers as carpeting for the garden paths.

Where the weedy grasses have taken off I lay down weed mat to starve them of sunshine. This works extremely well, and I plan to use the same mat option to cover fallow beds.So have weed mat/will travel. Very useful stuff.

It was a great season for weeds, and since I use very weedy grass clippings as mulch, they got away from me in places -- more so than previous years. So 'grasses' are mixed up with my pigface beds, despite the initially laying down of wet newspapers. I've learnt -- leastways I think I have -- to be patient, and this weedy infestation will spend itself so long as I keep a careful eye on management and sponsor other plants to overrule the infestation.

I don't normally weed. I think it's a mug's game to be out there pulling weeds every other week. I do it a couple of times each year because I have to, but I'm a keen supporter of autocratic suppression  and even if my mulch is the source of the weediness, more mulch also serves to smother opportunistic growth. You can never have too much mulch. Layer upon layer until you reach a point where the beds are no longer weed prone.

In the offing -- hallelujah from on high! -- when my frangipanis are closer to  heaven  than they are now, I'll have more therapeutic shade to play with and manipulate. I can't wait for the Plumeria to grow UP more....

Got no choice. Gotta wait.

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Urine as fertiliser

There's a lot of info available online on the subject of human urine as fertiliser
This is a good introduction:
Aside from the associated water saving -- flushing less -- advantage, there is a scientific case that urine  may be the answer to a looming global shortage of phosphorus, a key component in fertilisers.
Despite the  'yuk' factor, human urine is actually a relatively clean substance. It should be sterile when produced at the body  factory. Compared to other sources of  manure fertiliser -- cow, horse, sheep, chicken -- it carries much less chance of contamination by pathogens. 

Indeed, in-house human urine -- rather than the other solid stuff -- is where most of the good nutrients are at. 

The downside is the smell. However, if urine is diluted and spread on soil or mulch within 24 hours of its production, the odour issue won't register significantly in the process. Although some commercial  system do -- the preferred domestic management approach rule should be don't store your urine: use it fresh.

In situations of drought or water restrictions, recycling urine can save a significant amount of water. Even low-flow toilets use approx 6 litres   per flush (as opposed to 13.2 litres for the full) so that a visit to pee on average 5 times per day will use up a daily quotient of 30 litres of water.

After working as a nurse for many years, especially in geriatric facilities,  urine doesn't scare me at all.  I also recall the time before sewerage connections were installed in houses and folk relied on outback 'can' toilets and under bed 'potties' -- just like kids' toilet training hardware-- to get them through the night without en suites

 I've been experimenting. So far so good. While it takes some dedication to collect and distribute human urine -- production is easy -- compared to other exotic gardening activities, like making manure teas and composting, it has its efficacy merits.

Why bother with pee, you ask? 

I think the core advantage with urine harvesting is that it can contribute to your water budget by reducing  usage. It won't impact on your water bill much given the way the utilities currently charge, but each week you could be saving 300 litres of drinkable water from being flushed away. Scandinavians  are building townships that recycle urine as a form of sustainable sewerage management.

Is the effort  worth it for the plants?

Hypothetically you'll save on input costs as you won't be importing fertilisers.Aside from the phosphorus advantage, research is very supportive:
Indeed if you were  feeling a bit low on any day  and feeling a tad worthless as a human being , you can take heart from the fact that  you  could supply enough urine to fertilize roughly 6,300 tomato plants a year.

There's power in pee!

THIS POST set off an extensive and very useful discussion here on Brisbane Local Food.
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Broomhood: Straw broom Zen

Maybe it was because my father used to remind us of his business acumen thus: "I started out sweeping the floor at Reeds"(a Prahran department store) -- that I have a penchant for brooms.

The Presentation nuns at primary school first taught me the gentle art of using a single sheet of newspaper to pick up dirt from the floor by sweeping your catch onto it. Nuns were big on sweeping and highly skilled practitioners of the traditional broom arts. Every spick and speck was ferry-ed to the bin every day.

It was god's work -- an AMDG thing:Ad maiorem Dei gloriam.

Later, when working as a store man I used to push 'no dust' -- sawdust -- around the underground storeroom of Buckleys and Nunns at the end of each shift, just as I would sweep with water and broad bristle brush strokes, the floor at a meat packing plant a few years later.

Even dead bits of animals were no match for my broom skills.

I've swept community halls and pathways; brushed rugs and ceilings , street gutters and verandas.

Put a broom in my hand and I'm a happy man. I find it my version of Zen(and-the-art-of-sweeping).

But try to hand me a vacuum cleaner and I will vociferously resist...

Brooms are tools conducive to renewal. They are a physical embodiment to the metaphysical and meditative properties contained in the everyday layering of dust, dirt and detritus. An quintessential communing with nature....scraping back to reincarnate the days gone before.

Of the brooms, the straw broom is the one most conducive to spiritual fulfilment. Its organic meadow-harvested fibres are adaptive to so many surfaces. On rugs, they are unequal.In time they mould to the users sweeping habits.Brooms become their masters, masters become their broom.

With very frequent use, a trans-substantiation is possible:
People who spend most of their natural lives sweeping get their personalities mixed up with the personalities of their straw broom as a result of the interchanging of the atoms of each of them. In this world the number of people who are nearly half people and half straw broom would amaze you...

In deference to my own habits, let me say that my straw broom and I are merely going about together.
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The Garden In February

After a steady bout of humidity there's been many excuses to green up but with that, the constraints of fungi. Some plants just can't cut the mustard and I've lost plenty to  too much wetness.

But what you lose on the swings you make up on the slides....

More promise than actual harvest the garden has recovered from the dry spell of late last year and has taken off along with its surfeit of weediness. Some plants, like the Russian cucumber has been space greedy but my other cukes have been fungi brutalised.Peppers doing well as are the tubers. 

I haven't generated as much shade as I had planned ...yet, but the substance is there in growth mode.

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Cheap and easy way to make yogurt -- in a rice cooker

I've been making my own yogurt for years and have developed my technique with easy DIY in mind.Home made yogurt is so much cheaper than store bought stuff as all you need is milk and a little starter (left over from a previous batch).
  • Cooking thermometer: make sure you use one with a long stem and easy to read (very large) numbers.
  • Rice cooker with a glass lid: if you don't have one of these, get a second hand one from an Op shop...and learn to cook your rice on the stovetop using the steaming method.
  • Insulated bag.
Make sure the steam hole in the rice cooker lid is of a wide enough diameter to allow the insertion of the thermometer stem. (Or that your thermometer arm is narrow enough to pass through the cooker lid eyelet).
My cooker takes 3 litres of milk...and makes 3 litres of yogurt. It lasts us a week. I used to make larger quantities but fresh yogurt will start to 'go off' after 10-14 days. Best to treat it like milk with a limited shelf life.
  • Fill the rice cooker with full cream milk, insert the thermometer through the eyelet hole in the lid and turn on the machine. 
  • Heat milk to 82 degrees Celsius (180F)
There is no need to stir. Just keep checking back to monitor the temperature as it rises.
  • Turn off rice cooker as soon as the milk warms to  82 degrees, remove milk filled bowl, with lid still on and thermometer inserted, and place in an airy spot to cool.
  • Allow warmed milk to cool to 43/44 Celsius (110/111F)
  • When cooled, spoon in 2 tablespoons of store bought Greek yogurt  or yogurt from an earlier batch.No need to stir it in. Just plop.
Chris' Yogurt is good ...so too is Dairy Farmers Greek Yogurt. "Pot set" yogurts are all good. So long as you like the taste. What you want is a reliable culture that's still very much alive. You can also add any probiotic strain you may have if you want -- such as from a probiotic supplement (just screw open the capsule).But remember, once you've done one batch, it can be used to inoculate the next. Over time the bug mix will be specific to your kitchen just as sour dough strains are.
  • Replace the lid, then place the cooled and inoculated milk in an insulted bag.
I use 'Hot Bags' I got from South Africa...but if you wrap up your rice cooker bowl in a beach towel and placed it in an insulated shopping bag you'll get the same effect.
  • Leave the yogurt to ferment overnight or for 12 hours at least. 
  • Refrigerate your yogurt in the container you made it in: the rice cooker bowl. 
You can decant your yogurt but it can be a messy and wasteful business. It also fosters contamination.The Easiyo insulated yogurt maker containers you can get in the supermarkets are too tall for easy fridge storage...and the lids aren't secure. A rice cooker bowel fits in my refrigerator OK. I recommend that you store as you cook.
  • As you come towards the end of each batch, set aside (in a clean glass jar) a couple of tablespoons to inoculate the next.Don't rely on bottom scrapings.
Bon appetit!

The mistakes you can make with yogurt making are straightforward:

  • Burning the milk. Some caking on the bottom is OK but don't lift that layer up so that it mixes with the milk above.With the rice cooker method, burning has not been an issue.
  • Not keeping to the temperature parameters. Don't add the inoculant above or below the recommended temperature. You'll still get yogurt but much less of it as the ferment will be very milky.
  • Ferment times. I ferment for  about 12 hours (overnight). The longer you ferment the tarty-er the yogurt flavour
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Turning the corner...in production mode

'Tis a niggling habit plants have of not doing what you expect them to. You plant with a template in mind -- a projection on how the garden will grow....
Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.
..and the  all hell breaks loose! Maybe in temperate climates...maybe in the cooler months here... there's predictability -- but this time of year it's every seed for itself. 

"But it's the seasons!" I hear someone shout. Sure. Seasonal is what it is -- but what seasons?

My inclination is to presume that I have two gardens. A hot and humid one...and a cool and dry habitat. Between the two are x number of months of transition. 

So my ruling is that I have two seasons -- each conducive to a different horticulture -- with linking bits.

I'm not such a grand master of my patch that I can confidently matchmake seed with season any and every time. My head is still caught up in my long ago existence in the temperate zones and I still think like ye olde English cottager. 

It's a green thumb's dead hand....

But really my  greenery kith and kin live elsewhere, leastways this time of year. I've moved north just as in a few months I'll move south again. 

Of course this is precisely what is happening curtesy of the sun and the axis of the earth. For one part of the year I get to play giardiniere and for another I'm in the tropics, caught in a sort of Monsoon mode.

Two modes. Two different kitchen gardens.  Each requiring a different headspace.

Under monocultural precepts this ebb and flow  is simply dealt with through engineering and an annual harvest. But the more polycultural your mix the more complex the practice required.

For a town not noted historically for its kitchen gardens -- what constitutes the Brisbane garden mix? A choko  vine and a mango tree?

I'm not saying I can rule on this but I'm thinking it is still an open agenda. We may be constrained by culinary habits and expectations  but the disconcerting fact is that we are so located by dint of latitude, that -- either in season A or B -- we could grow almost anything, any annual.

In this I'm much  taken with Jerry Coleby-Williams habit to divide his garden according to production.
  • Edible roots
  • Edible leaves
  • Edible seed
  • Edible petals
  • Fruit
  • Medicinal/spices  
His  In Production lists are always awesome.I think it's a great way top keep ontop of your gardening ways and means because it does keenly measure how productive your patch is at any one time.

Jerry Coleby-Williams lists his produce monthly. Here's his list for last January...so I took his and made up my own. In way of inspiration, the items in  green are what I'd like to grow now (if only I'd thought ahead)

Underlined are what I've been harvesting this month.

Edible roots
Arrowroot, Canna edulis
Jerusalem artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus 
Potato (sprouting again despite harvest)
Radish, Raphanus sativus ‘French Breakfast’
Sweet potato
Turnip, Brassica rapa ‘Gold Ball’
Yam, Winged, Dioscorea alata
Yam, African (Discorea)

Edible leaves
Aibika, Abelmoschus manihot
Aztec Spinach (Huauzontle)
Basil,Thai and Large leaf
Chinese celery, aka smallage, Apium graveolens
Chives, Allium schoenoprasum
Dill, Anethum graveolens
Egyptian Spinach,Corchorus olitorius
Endive, Cichorium endiva ‘Green Bowl’
Florence fennel
Garlic chives, Allium tuberosum
Japanese parsley, Cryptotaenia japonica
Kangkong, Ipomoea aquatica
Lemongrass, Cymbopogon citratus
Mint (common garden)
Moringa oleifera
Nasturtium, Tropaeolum majus
Parsley, Petroselenium crispum ‘Italian flat-leaved’
Purslane, Wild, Portulaca oleracea
Purslane, Golden, Portulaca oleracea var. sativa
Radicchio, Cichorium intybus
Rocket, Wall or wild, Eruca sativa
Sweet potato
Vietnamese mint, Persicaria odorata
Welsh onion, aka spring onion
Warrigal greens, Tetragonia tetragonioides

Edible petals
Rocket, Wall or wild, Eruca sativa

Edible pods
Madagascar  Bean
Snake  bean (Red Dragon)
Winged bean (Psophocarpus tetragonolobus),

Cucumber (Russian, Lebanese...)
Dragon fruit
Globe Eggplant
Lemon,  ‘Meyer’
Lime, West Indian
Mouse melon, Melothria scabra
Tomato, cherry

Medicinal / Spices
Aloe Vera
Ginger, Zingiber officinalis  
Turmeric, Curcuma longa
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