Monday, January 15, 2018


Some things I just keeping trying even though they have never worked in the past.  Are you like that?
One thing is grafting -  I tried both a lime and a lemon tree grafted onto a citrus that grew up from the rootstock of a lime mandarin.  I cut a pointed edge on the scion and then inserted it into a slit.   I rested a moist bit of coconut husk into the branch above the graft to allow some moisture and then placed a plastic bag over the entire thing.   Tied up nice and tight with grafting tape.

The other thing I have not always had success with is pollinating pumpkins.  I see lots of bees and flying insects, but supposedly pumpkins have to be hand pollinated.  I have let a volunteer pumpkin have its way in the back veggie patch because at least it shades the ground.  I have heard young pumpkin leaves are very tasty, but I have never tried them.  This little thing was right beside the path so I got a female flower and broke away the petals then sort of dabbed it all over the stamen.  I hope I wasn't too rough, but I was too lazy to go and get a paintbrush.  It looks like a cute little stripey butternut.
 I thought my cranberry hibiscus had totally disappeared, but it has sprung to life again!  This has lovely zingy tasting leaves - great in a salad mix. It is supposed to be perennial, but in my climate sometimes things just dont survive. I dont blame them, summers here can be cruel.  We have had record high temperatures and record low rainfall.
.... which brings me to my flowers.  I have noticed that the flowers on the anthiriums

 and peace lillies (spathiphyllum)  all green or very pale.  I gave them all a foliar spray of seaweed with a bit of epsom salts and sulphate of potash mixed in.  That is my goto mix for any struggling plant. THEN I check Mr google!  They could either be older flowers that are turning green or heatstress. I think I know which one gets my vote! I dont know if these are the older flowers, but I dont think so.  Anyway, I will cut them all off, that will give the plant a bit of a rest anyway.

 I found a little orchid on clearance at the supermarket so it had to come home with me, and it seems quite happy for now. 

I hope everyone's new year has started off well.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Happy Christmas everyone!

I enjoyed making up a salad Christmas basket as a gift.  It has a tomato plant that has the tomatoes and leaves so tightly packed it is hard to see them.  I have never seen one like this before,  With a little mizuna, tatsoi, a cucumber and some flowers this should do well.  As you can see I divided a bit of the silver falls dichondra from my other pot, spreading the love....... 

We have had very hot weather, with a few showers at night, and I keep thinking the wet season will arrive at any moment.  In the meantime I took a chance and planted out some cucumber seeds.  They have come up and look quite happy alongside the sweet potato.  If it gets very wet they might succumb to powdery mildew and if not I might get some cucumbers.

 The capsicum that languished in the garden for months has suddenly started producing fruit! Maybe I have been growing it in the wrong season all along!

Faithfully the eggplant just keep producing, not prolific, but steady.  this purple one and the small round Thai one.  I noticed a bit of white fly so must spray with some horticultural oil.  This time of the year can get very buggy. 
I have an orchid that a friend gave me long ago and it has very long arching branches.   One is in a hanging basket in the lychee tree and another is in a copper pot tied up to a trellis. The flowers are very delicate and seem short lived.  
 You can see here how long the branches are!
Of course my ladyslipper orchid just keeps on and on, blooming prolifically.  I just love the curtain of hanging flowers from the arch.  Does anyone else just sometimes sit out in the garden and revel in the beauty of the flowers and breathe in the garden air?  When I sit on the swing and the honeyeaters come flitting around, chirping and chattering and playing in the birdbath I really feel so blessed. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy seeing photos of my tropical garden as much as I love sharing them.

We will be spending Christmas with some of the family, and thinking of others far away.  I hope you are blessed this Christmas with health and happiness and love, lots of love. 

Merry Christmas and see you again in the New Year. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Christmas welcome basket

On the way down to some doctors appointments in Cairns I lucked out when I arrived in Bunnings just as their monthly garden group began.  They provided pots, plants, decorations and soil to make your own Christmas centerpiece.  This is my favorite store, but now it has been elevated!  Look at what I made.  I love that dichondra silver falls - they are always talking about that on Gardening Australia, and I even got another lipstick plant which will eventually have to go into its own hanging basket. The pointsettia should be in an area that does not get light in the evenings to help it keep its colour. It is more of a welcome basket than a centerpiece, and gives a lovely christmassy welcome feel to the entrance. 

 I do surveys to accumulate points which I then trade in for Bunnings coupons, and there really is nothing better than free shopping in my opinion.  I had accumulated 70.00 in coupons, so had fun looking for bargains to make my free money go even further.  I found tons of plants on the clearance rack.

 I also found some garden pretties - these are glow in the dark balls, they might work better than the solar lights I keep buying and either they never work or they just don't last. 

I love the purple arum lillies, and treated myself to this, although they look a little pinker than some of the others in store.   Some leaves look as though they are showing signs of overwatering, but I thought they liked a very moist environment.  I will plant them in the garden and hope they do well. 

There were some 1.00 artichokes, and I will plant them out, but not sure what they will do in my climate. My little asparagus seeds that I planted are all doing very well, so my perrenial bed will probably need to be modified and enlarged at some stage.  I  also got some herbs, thyme and oregano, which dont do well in the wet season - they might go into my kitchen pots.   I feel as though I already had my Christmas - in fact I have,  because the adults do not get presents, so this is it!.
What have you done to get ready for christmas?

Friday, November 17, 2017

Dragonfruit flowers

Last night my neighbour called me and told me that the dragonfruit flower had opened.  this one has dropped over onto her side of the fence. It seems to be night blooming, lovely huge flowers, so there we were, cameras in hand, recording the event.
Just look at those stamens.... 
This morning the flower was already beginning to droop and close up.  then all the energy will go into forming some yummy dragonfruit.

 There are two other flowers forming.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Planting seeds in anticipation

 I placed an order for some seeds, and as usual couldn't resist adding in some that I am not sure are going to grow here (in the wet season too!)
Sunflower - sunbird
Cucumber - redlands long white
Carrot all season
Sweet william - summertime mix
Asparagus - Mary Washington
Eggplant tsakoniki
Angled luffa

I really want some flowers - for a couple of years I had yellow cosmos and they were awesome for attracting butterflies, this year I thought I would try some sunflower and sweet William.  Everyone says you cant grow carrots and cucumber in the wet season, but I see them at the markets, so thought I would give it a  try.  The cucumbers are against this fence, with sweet potato in front.  I have used this bed for ginger for quite a few years, so thought I would switch it over, and put the ginger in other places. the tomato plant is still looking healthy so I will leave it there in case it gives me another flush of tomatoes before it succumbs to the heat and humidity. 
The eggplant are in the two boxes with the luffa in front of that old futon frame.  I started out some seedlings of sunflower to give to the grand kids and some rosella for a friend. those are in the greenhouse.   I planted rosella in front of the peppercorns.  That is the asparagus bed, but right now there is only one lonely asparagus plant there, oh and  a couple of chili bushes.
On the fence side of the middle bed a pumpkin has sprung up, so I might let it wander around - there is not that much room, so might not let it get big enough to get pumpkins, but we can eat the greens and also stuff and cook some pumpkin flowers. I am hoping it will climb this support, but mine always seem to prefer rambling over the ground, so it can only stay if it behaves itself. There are two boxes with mint and one with sorrel.  I also planted some turmeric in this bed, and a couple of rows of carrots.
The other box under the tree is where I have started some more asparagus plants - they take two years until they can be transplanted out. Long term investment. There is some sprouting broccoli in the other box and the leaves are usable, but think it is too hot to get any broccoli now.

I felt very confident yesterday as I tended the garden, dug out all the weeds, cleared the paths and planted my seeds,  then last night it rained, and poured, a total wet season deluge.  I have no idea what my little seeds will be doing - have they all washed away or did they enjoy that good long soak?  
 I need to get some mulch so that all the weeds don't return - I love it when my garden looks so neat and clean.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Necklaces - take your pick

Here is a selection of the necklaces I have made. The main place I will be selling these is at the local markets, starting next month,  but thought I would just offer them up here  to get some reviews and see which ones will be the most popular.  Please contact me at Vemvaan(at)gmail(dot)com. to get banking details and give me your shipping address.  All orders are plus shipping.
Please tell me in the comments which are your top three favourites and why.  I can also custom make one for you - just contact me. 

#1  Earth colours plaited with toggle beads. 10.00

#2  Black and white. 3 strand center knot 10.00

#3 Red and white assorted knots 10.00

#4 Turquoise and blue assorted knots 10.00 SOLD

#5 Sensory necklace - perfect to wear when babies are nursing or even just cuddling and they want something to play with and tug on.  Beads are toggle beads so they can be moved and turned. 15.00 SOLD

#6 Black and white multi strand 10.00

#7 Yellow multi strand 10.00

#8 Brown multi strand 10.00

#9 Reddish brown multi strand 10.00

#10.  Plum multi strand 10.00

#11 Lavender purple and pink 10.00

#12 Red multi strand 10.00

#13 Pink with white spots 10.00

#14 Blue and yellow nursing sensory necklace 10.00

#15 Pink nursing sensory necklace 10.00

#16 Pink and plum knotted 2 strand necklace 10.00

#17 Black and red multi strand 10.00

#18 Beige extra long, doubled over to different lengths 10.00

#19 Black and white with fabric rose 10.00

#20 Plum with multicoloured braided wrap 10.00

#21 Turquoise multistrand with textured yarn 10.00 SOLD

#22 Black and white multistrand 10.00

Friday, October 13, 2017

New venture - playing with recycled materials

At this time of year the gardening slows down.  The things that grow during the wet season just manage on their own, and I often turn my attention to doing things inside the house. - with the aircon going!  As I mentioned previously I discovered a wonderful organization in Jacksonville that trains and prepares survivors of the sex trade to enter the business world.  You can read more about my adventure into making necklaces and see the first necklaces I made, or the company re-threaded here.

Last Saturday I invited some friends over for a crafternoon and afternoon tea. I showed them how to make the necklaces and they each took their creations home with them. I had quite a colorful assortment of fabrics for them to choose from. 

 I had also made a few clay polymer beads.

 Hubby thought I had some new plant decorations when I had them drying on skewers in the most convenient location!

All in all I am building up quite a collection for my market stall, but I get bored, and want to try new things ..... 

After spending about twenty years sailing the world on my sailboat I do have a love for knots.  Nautical knots, celtic knots, whatever.  I began to wonder if I could use the t shirt fabric for knotting, and spent a wonderful day exploring different knots.  My gosh - it is so much easier to follow a video than when we first tried to tie a turks head on board Vemvaan following the numbered instructions in a book!  Look at this cute little bead that I wove - they are going to be awesome on the sensory necklaces.  I have one ready to package and send off to my daughter so she can try it  out with my little granddaughter!

I will post a selection on the blog in case anyone wants to order them from afar!  I do live in  the back of beyond so our little market stall is quite far for everyone to travel to.
Is anyone else selling items from their blog?  Is it best to go with a company like selz or etsy?  I love blogging - it is a way for me to connect with others around the world with similar interests, and I dont want it to just become a commercial venture.  I do slack off with blogging though when there is nothing going on in the garden, so thought I would share what I do at these times.  What do you think? Is it a good idea to diversify and include other aspects of my life?


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