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Gardening in a semi-arid subtropical landscape – Mount Isa

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    G’day All,

    Thought I’d share with you all my experiences and learning curve growing in a semi-arid subtropical region. Recently relocated from Perth Western Australia and a mediterranean climate to Mount Isa, a semi-arid subtropical region in Northern Queensland. The contrast in regions is tremendous- I’m accustomed to deep sandy soils, easy access to ground-water and winter rains in Perth, to now shallow rocky and dryyyyyyyyyyyyyy soil ( when I say rocky, think of sieving a shovel of soil to be left with a few cups of soil and the remainder rocks :blink: )

    Anyway, upon my arrival here a few months back I started a small garden and am slowly working on increasing.

    Here is the first photo taken 6 weeks after I first planted showing the backyard- left hand side:

    and here is the backyard- right hand side:

    The central garden bed was filled with weeds/grasses and is still riddled with the vexacious nutgrass. Already growing in the yard was a huge mango tree

    :tup: a well established but looking a little neglected mandarin tree ( ellendale variety i suspect) and a well established lychee tree :clap:

    In front of the mandarin tree you can see a new Lisbon Lemon I have planted.


    I managed to aquire some banana suckers and pineapple suckers from a very generous gardener in town and have planted them down the side of the fenceline

    Between each of the bananas I have planted a pawpaw

    And after the annual Rodeo they hold here, I managed to source all the horse manure and leftover hay once the cowboys and their horses left the camping area :woohoo: . Lucky me managed to shovel up 5 piles like the one below, each pile being about 1.5 cubic metres


    All of the photos so far were taken on the 23rd August- so any growth or vegies growing in the photos were planted from the 14th July onward.

    Here are some zucchini and roma tomatoes planted from nursery seedlings…

    Here is the vegetable bed in the back left hand corner.. So far this bed has had two lots of deep-litter cow manure added and dug in

    left hand side are cos lettuce.. to the right is a small pawpaw and along the back edge are some capsicum seedlings. All the vegetable seedlings planted at this point were from nursery seedlings.

    here are some assorted lettuce seedlings and some rocket


    I also germinated some beetroot and planted them out

    And started a choko in readiness for planting out

    And some sweet corn I germintated just planted out:

    I was also fortunate enough to obtain some sweet potato cuttings, which after they took root in my grow-tubs, were planted out in a pre-prepared bed. This bed was dug to a depth of one shovel and sieved to remove the rocks.. By memory the trailer was about 1/3 full of rocks varying in size from pea-size to say hmmm rockmelon size



    About this time the mango and lychee began to show signs of flowering

    Here is the mango

    Here is the lychee flowering


    Along the fenceline where the bananas and pawpaws are planted, I’ve planted a variety of passionfruit including:

    Panama Red

    Panama Gold

    Banana Passionfruit

    Black Passionfruit

    Sweetheart Passionfruit


    These next photos were all taken on the 18th September..

    Here the bananas are starting to show signs of settling into their new homes:

    I’ve also planted a black genoa fig:

    The Panama Red Passionfruit seems to be enjoying the location and manure:

    Another shot looking back at the bananas with a small pawpaw


    This photo shows the Panama Gold Passionfruit, quite good growth in the 4 weeks since the previous photo of the same plant:

    And here are some of the other passionfruit :


    This is the back left hand corner garden bed..cos lettuce, dwarf beans, silverbeet, and some seedling lettuce/rocket to the right of the picture. The pawpaw is starting to indicate the cow manure is breaking down nicely

    And here is the pawpaw –

    So far I’ve planted 5 pawpaw.. this is doing the best.. another pawpaw beside this one isnt visible in the images as the top was bitten off by a bird of some description….

    The zucchini and roma tomatoes took off also:

    As did the sweet potato cuttings:

    I went back and begged some more sweet potato cuttings and mulched them all with some of the horse manure/hay mixture. One eggplant can be seen in the top centre of the photo…


    The beetroots also done well, and I’ve been picking the leaves to add to salads

    Also planted a few more zucchini beside the beetroot…

    The sweetcorn is planted in the same bed as the beetroot and is really doing well :

    I also planted some snow peas you can see behind the sweetcorn.. unfortunately it succumbed to sooty mould ( i think this is what it is :blink: ) very quickly.

    The established spring onions are regrowth from the bottoms of spring onions I purchased at the grocery store and planted 😛


    To germinate and propagate seeds/cuttings I’ve found a few of the plastic tubs from Crazy Clarks etc indispensable :tup: I add some potting mix, stick cuttings inside or plant some seeds directly into the potting mix; seedling punnets also do wel inside them:

    Here is some comfrey shooting from some root cuttings i sourced:

    And here is an avocado already germinating:

    The choko also started to shoot by this stage


    The mango and lychee trees have both started forming fruit :clap:

    I’m quite excited about this, growing tropical fruit is new to me, I’m just hoping the fruit bats which are apparently quite notorious around here leave some for me 🙂

    This shows the forming mangoes:

    And now for the forming lychee.. and the busy bees pollinating the late flowers:


    Tomorrow I will take some more photos to update the progress in the backyard since the last images were taken on the 18th September. Some things are doing well, some are faily miserably 🙁 The daytime heat ( 30-38C) followed by cool nights is providing the ideal conditions for sooty moulds and fungus’. I’m used to seeing these appear toward the end of a growing season, whereas here they are seemingly one of the further hurdles to tackle in the vegetable garden :sick:


    Wow mrgnome – you’ve been busy! Looking good.What a change from WA…….

    I put my Moringa seeds in pots in tubs at your suggestion……..worked a treat thanks.Eight out of eleven were doing well in a small “green house” but this stupid cold snap has seen the two most advanced just keel right over…………. 🙁 🙁

    I’d be working out some protection from the fruit bats ……they won’t bother to leave any for you!


    Any indication of what caused your two moringa to keel over BW?

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