It's a jungle out there

6 November 2009
Two girls fighting over one baby, an enemy is identified and killed on sight, a mutant lurking in the shadows! Am I on the set of a Hollywood movie? No, it's more exciting than that - it's my backyard where life and death meet on a daily basis and all the strangeness is real. Come with me, I'll show you ...

Click on each photo to enlarge.

I've been spending some time in the garden in the early morning lately. Since Hanno had his knee operation, I've taken on his garden tasks. I like to do that early, before the sun gets too hot. So at about 5am I collect the eggs, let the girls out to free range for the day, start watering the plants and checking to see that all is as it should be. Wild geese honk as they fly over on their migratory path and realise that the pond they always relied on has been filled in by the person who lives over the back. Yet another natural place taken away by "development". It's quite, it seems like nothing much happens, but that belies the truth. It's a jungle out there!

We've been growing two types of sunflowers this season - Mexicans and giant Russians. The first of the Mexicans has flowered and I'm looking forward to the time when I can pick a bunch of them and have them inside on the kitchen table. The Giant Russians are for the chooks and wild King parrots. As soon as they see the massive yellow heads they'll send out the call and every King in the vicinity will come and feast on them.

Look carefully, a stranger approaches. These caterpillars eat into the centre of sunflowers and stop them flowering. I picked it off the leaf and squashed it under my Croc. Life and death in the vegetable garden, it's tough.

These look like ruby silverbeet but they are beetroot, from the same family. You can eat the leaves and the roots. We've been eating a lot of raw beets lately, grated with salads. I've also given some to my friend Bernadette who is using them as an organic juice.

The Marketmore cucumbers are growing well and have been fruiting for about a month. They'll soon be replaced by a follow up crop of these Lebanese cucumbers (below) that have been grown at the end of the Giant Russian sunflower rows.

There is an empty patch here that I'm sure Hanno has plans for and on the edge, a new crop of celery just starting to come up. I've been picking some of the baby celery leaves for our salads - they're crisp and tender but haven't yet developed the strong celery flavour that I love.

And what's this? A mutant! A white cucumber flower when they should all be yellow. Very interesting. I had a good look and it's the only white flower. All the others are as they should be. But it's growing a cucumber, so I'll just have to watch it and see if it's different in any other way. This is how new types are found - natural mutation. They are called sports. It may be something, it may not be. We'll wait and see.

Around the corner from the mutant, corn is growing sweet and strong. We've had a few feeds from these, have a few more to go and we have follow ups growing in the next bed. Further along this row are Chinese greens that we grow for the chooks. It's not that we don't like them, it's just that they grow faster than any other green and therefore we can keep up the supply of them for our hungry chickens.

Nestled in between the giant Russians and the Washington Navel orange, looking towards the parsley and eggplants. I harvested the first two eggplants and added them to my basket.

The first of the sweet potatoes are sprouting. Like any good Permaculture plant, they'll perform at least two roles. We'll eat them and the mass of vines they produce will help shade the chook house during the hottest summer months.

And while I stood there looking at the sweet potatoes and giving them a good soaking with the hose, a real hullabaloo broke out beside me. I had collected the eggs earlier and one of the broodies came back to find her eggs gone. She tried to take over the nest of her sister, who has been sitting on one egg for about two weeks. They both stood up, fought on the little ladder, both changed nests, then changed back again and all the time making enough noise to have me locked up. I hosed them to calm them down and they ran off. But the one who had been sitting on the one egg, soon rushed back and is still now sitting on that egg. We'll throw it away when we finally get it out from under her.

My harvest basket, minus the tomatoes I picked and the eggs collected earlier. It made a fine meal for us that night.

A prawn salad - with local prawns from Caloundra, and everything on the plate, except the potatoes, white onion and the prawns, grown out the back, in that jungle out there.


  1. Thanks for the laugh, Rhonda. It is always nice to see what is going on at your place.

  2. Your garden is lovely and I love to see all your down under veggies and flowers just as I'm getting ready to hibernate for the winter.

  3. While life blossoms and greens up for you, it is dying and brown for me! :( I will live through the cold, brown winter months looking at your lovely garden, and think to myself how wonderful it will be to tend the garden after hibernation!

  4. A lovely walk with you Rhonda, thanks. The food in the last photo looks particularly luscious! Have a great weekend.

  5. Thanks for the stroll around your garden this morning, Rhonda. I really enjoyed it and your prawn & salad dinner looks so yummy and fresh!

    I planted the free Heritage tomato seeds from the Burkes Backyard magazine and can report that I have had a 100% sprout rate. They are ready to plant on now into pots to harden up before i plant them out properly.

    Cheers - Joolz

  6. Thanks for the smile. I hope that some decent rain reached you last night.

  7. Are those terracotta pot on top of your stakes for catching earwigs? I've just had so many in the garden this year as well as millipedes and they love coming inside and crawling up yopur legs..yuck. Im hoping to grow some cucumbers without them getting burnt to a shrivel.

  8. I hope Hanno gets healing come quickly for his knee. I am glad that the time of harvest is here for you and not the plowing. It is a lot of work to do both of the jobs you too so love. My husband has been helping me so much with my knees being injected once a week for three weeks. Soon Hanno and I both will be back at task. Hang in there.
    This too shall pass.

  9. What a great yarn, I expected the wild man from Borneo to come into it. lolo
    Heard the SE Qld had a bit of a storm last night. Did you get any of that? We have been getting unbelievable hot weather here the past week. 39º on Wed. That was a rude awakening to what is not even summer yet.

  10. Wow! I have learned so much about gardening from you and put lots of it into practice this growing season! I've been "gardening" for the past 18 years and never had enough to preserve until we put in raised garden beds. Today we canned out first green beans! WhooHoo!!

    Would love to hear more about growing sweet potatoes and regular potatoes.

    Hope Hanno continues to mend quickly.

    Cheers! Julie

  11. What a wonderful walk through your garden (with camera in hand)! It's a real inspiration as I plan for next year's adventures in my own garden. Thanks for all you do and share!
    Marilynn in Ohio

  12. Garden is looking great and th "triffids" are doing well :)

  13. Rhonda, those prawns had my mouth watering! We just got back from our honeymoon in Byron and the seafood up that way is amazing. You are so lucky having all that coast so close! Yummmmmm.

  14. It's Autumn here. I'm crocheting wrist warmers to help keep out the cold. We didn't have much of a summer here. The seasons seem to have gone to pot, don't they?

    Your chickens are so cute. Our neighbours keep them and it's so nice to hear them during the day.

  15. Your garden looks brilliant, just what we in England need to see at this time of year, when everything here has died down, and we are settling into autumn.
    The salad looks yummy, and the prawns are quite mouthwatering, loads bigger and juicier-looking than our usual type!!

  16. Rhonda, it is always an inspiration to see the fruits of your labour (and Hannos).

    We are trying cucumbers for the first time this year and they have developed their true leaves.

    We are a bit frustrated as our spring has been very cool but we are seeing some our our courgettes already.

  17. Hmmm - can I come to dinner at your place - prawns, yum!

    Seriously though, the garden is looking absolutely fantastic.

  18. I adore looking at your garden and all the funny happenings! I am just now, at the fine age of 40, venturing into gardenhood! I'm taking an Organic Master Gardener's course (here in Ohio) this winter and I'm already preparing my beds and dreaming of chickens!! Thank you! And have a glorious weekend!!

  19. I love the walks through your garden and I can just imagine the heat that you must be getting to make that all grow during the beginning of my winter.

    But that prawn on your plate! Wow! Is that a normal size? Unfortunately I can't get "local" prawns here, but even the frozen ones in the shops are nowhere near that big.

  20. Thanks for the walk through your lovely garden. Mine is ready for winter so until next spring, I will have to enjoy your morning walks through your garden. We got 2 feet of snow last week and this week the weather has been great, nice and warm so the snow can melt. I am going to plant the last of the perennials, that I bought on sale at the end of the season, this weekend and hope they make it through the winter.

    Enjoy your weekend and your garden.

  21. I'm starting to get quite jealous of your garden!

    Just as mine has faded yours come into its own. I've got months before I can get out there and start growing again. Months of dark nights and hatching growing plans in front of the fire....

  22. PRAWNS???!!! What a lucky bissim.

  23. Your garden and way of life is such an inspiration to me. I am having more success(so far) with our small patch.We had dug up some lawn area and grew some vegies from seeds and everything has been good.The kids love it too. Your prawn salad looks yummy. All the best for Hanno's recovery.

  24. Beautiful sunflowers! My eldest two and myself are dying to have a crack at growing those. My daughter's classroom had them growing wild outside of it last year, and the cockatoos just devoured them.

  25. This post reminded me of G.K. Chesterton's wonderful little essay "Tremendous Trifles", which, also, mentions the jungle a graden can be for someone with open eyes...

  26. I could sit for hours & sometimes do, to watch the going's on in our yard. Another lovely post Rhonda.

  27. I'm so jealous of your long growing season in QLD. Your post is like reading a crystal ball to see where my garden will be at in two months.



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