Monday, September 1, 2014

Garden share collective August 1st

I had a break last month since I was overseas visiting my brand new grandson in America.  My poor hubby was battling bandicoots and scrub hens while I was away, but I returned with renewed vigour and enthusiasm for my little veggie patch. A reader asked what bandicoots are - they are like a huge rat that burrow into the garden looking for grubs. I have been going through each bed, weeding, mulching and even planting so I hope the wet season takes its time coming this year, allowing a bit more prime veggie growing time. The first two beds were weeded and cleared immediately I returned.
 Last time I posted I talked about purchasing a dwarf avocado, and on my return I found a grafted avocado at the markets.  It is flowering and has been planted in  the hole that used to be the in bucket worm farm so I imagine that soil must be pretty good.  That was a pretty good reason to get out there in the garden.

I have been given conflicting advice, some say these flowers will fall off, but the lady I bought it from said I will have avos this year.  I am sure you know which  I hope will happen :)

My tomatoes have been going great guns and I am especially loving the yellow tomatoes.  I see a package from Eden seeds in the planted section , heirloom open pollinated - yeah.that means I will be saving the seeds.  In fact I forsee lots of seed saving in the next couple of months. Bok choy, rocket, rosella, tomato just to name a few.

My herbs are doing really well, and there is nothing better than cooking a meal that is seasoned with something out of the garden.  We entertained some dear friends on my first weekend back and sitting out in the garden under the stars munching on freshly baked sundried tomato and herb foccacia was a a lovely way to celebrate being back home again.  MrFothergills sent me some more seeds and I planted out chamomile, borage and summer savory, not sure how they will do in this climate, but I am giving them a go.  

The flat leaf parsley is doing great in the besa brick edge

I have purple basil, green basil and now bi-colour basil, so plenty of basil, and I love making pesto, although my old food processor seems to not be up to the challenge anymore for some reason :(.

Gem squash is popping up, I am always willing to try them, even though our climate is not ideal.

My peppers always seem to be on their last legs, but I do get peppers and chilis, I am not sure what I am doing wrong, does anyone have any suggestions? 

 Look, something is happening to my coffee bush - am I going to get coffee beans?

 In fruit salad alley things are also looking exciting - strawberries....
 The herb spiral looks like an overgrown mess, so there is still work to do - I musn't get conplacent.

To do:
I have been reading a lot about biochar lately - how marvellous it is for tropical soils as it sequesters nutrients that are often lost in runoff during the wet season.  When added to the soil it can absorb those nutrients from your soil, so it is best to mix in with some manure and rock dust.  This mixture is left sitting for a couple of weeks before being added to the soil.   I am thinking this might be something I want to add to my soil.   For more info here is an interesting article permaculture institute on biochar.  Has anyone else done this?

Save seeds
Grow microgreens and sprouts in my sprouter to go with my lovely tomatoes.  Harvest as many greens as I still can in the garden before they all start going to seed. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Back home again, and one bed sorted

Well, my holiday is over, and I have been slowly getting settled in.  My poor hubby was overwhelmed by bandicoots and scrub hens the entire time I was gone.   I think all the holes in the fence are now repaired, so the bandicoots are no longer bothering us, and a plastic kite hanging up in the pawpaw tree seems to have scared the scrub hen away.
Personally I think they saw I was gone and saw the place as being un-protected!  The boss is back now....
The lady slipper orchid vine is showing off its awesome flowers.

 I arrived back to find a lovely little package from Kim at The little black cow.  I had sent her some cordeline stems and she said they are now sprouting, I hope they bring her lots of tropical colour.  She sent me some goat soap and some gem squash seeds in return.  It is so dry right now that it might be a good time to give the gem squash seeds a  try yet again.  I added lots of compost and planted a row of seeds against the fence.  The choko is supposed to be covering the fence, but has been pretty dormant since I left.  I am hoping regular watering will get it up and growing again.

I also received a lovely little package from MrFothergills with some new varieties to trial. Tasty looking Heirloom tomatoes, I will keep those until after the wet season, but maybe try a few seeds in the spare wicking bed. Last year we had quite an extended dry season so if the same happens this year I might be able to get in another tomato crop.  My little yellow grape tomatoes are awesome.  Definitely my new favourite. I have searched all over the blog to see where I got those seeds, and now of course cant find anything, I am pretty sure they are heirloom ones and the seeds will be true to the fruit.

The cassava is growing well, and will provide shade and mulch, I am not sure when one harvests the roots, or if you even have to, but for now I think it can just hang out and be pretty.

 I cleared out the other half of the side bed, and put the ginger in a row down the middle, when it starts to sprout up in the wet season I will move it to fill the bed again..  A row of borage went behind, and summer savoury towards the front.  I am really not sure if either of those will grow well in this climate.

 Some chamomile went into the center bed - gosh those are tiny seeds.  So that is the bed against the fence tidied up weeded and planted.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Garden share collective July 2014

Once again another month has rolled by and it is time to link up with  Lizzie at Strayed from the Table our monthly collective where we share what has happened in our gardens for the last month and what we hope to be working on for the next month.  Wrapping up June and heading into July.
The Garden Share Collective

Last month I wanted to work on:
harvesting some food from the garden.  How did I do with that?  Not so great.... since we have had so much rain and not much sunshine there has not been much going on in the garden veggie wise. The salad greens and cherry tomatoes are the mainstays in the garden
   A couple of pawpaws, some bok choy, lettuce leaves and cherry tomatoes.   A few cucumbers before the vine succumbed to powdery mildew.  The same story with the squash. Certainly not much of a harvest for all the work I put into the garden.  :(

I live in the tropics, and when you go walking in the bush there are trees, and undergrowth.  I have been hearing a lot about food forests lately and wondering whether I am fighting a losing battle trying to grow a normal type of veggie garden in this climate. As you know I have been earning Bunnings coupons from the surveys I do in my free time, and so I think I am going to focus on buying more trees with my "free money".  I think I might plant a dwarf avocado in the middle of the back veggie bed.  The front of the bed already has a barbados cherry which is doing well.  The odd lettuces and bok choy can grow under and around the trees. They like a little shade and why put up a shadecloth when I can have living productive shade? Whatever cherry tomatoes come up on their own will be a bonus, but I am not going to continue to fight bacterial wilt to grow a few odd tomatoes and eggplant here and there. I enjoy picking the greens small and so I don't need huge beds of lettuce.  I sow seeds thick and often.  I also love to grow a variety of sprouts, and am still working on perfecting my microgreens.  I love lots of herbs, and those are a fixture in my herb 
spiral and pots.  My gerberas are flowering - a couple of white ones and then these huge double reds.  

The asparagus was cut down and mulched, but it didnt take long until new ones sprouted - this one made  a nice snack out in the garden....

I have a choko starting to grow on the fence, this is a white one - they have a more tender skin than the green ones, so I am looking forward to a great choko bounty.

The eggplant in the wicking bed are slowly getting a bit bigger.

My little parsley hedge in the besa bricks is looking good.
 the cherry tomatoes are awesome.

To do:
I am going away for five weeks to spend some time with my new little grandson in America (and his Mom and Dad).... so excited.
While I am away it doesn't matter if my bok choy and lettuce go to seed as then I will be able to collect them on my return....
I normally don't grow much in the wet season but am going to research more asian greens that will maybe grow throughout the year.
See you on my return.  

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Orchids and bromeliad in flower at the same time

My white orchid is the most prolific flowerer, but the last time it flowered the ants climbed up the stem and ate the flowers!   I was devastated, and made sure it didnt happen again.  As soon as I saw the buds forming this time I brought the plant inside. The grubby outside pot doesn't look so good, and it didn't fit into any of my other containers.  I just wrapped it in a piece of cellophane and jammed it in halfway.  I like the idea of bringing in the flowering orchids, so will have to either pot them up into pots that fit into my containers or purchase other containers.

This is one of my most succesful orchids, flowers every six months, and this time has two flowering stalks, and at the top of one of the "branches?" there are a few leaves with some roots that I presume I can re-pot and start another plant.

I have a selection of mismatched hanging pots and one of them doesn't even work anymore and hangs at a tipsy angle. One of the pots is marked 4.00, leftover from a clearance plant.  really tacky.   Not a good look at all. My orchids deserve better.
I do like the look of the wooden slat type of planters and have been wondering about making up some of those.....  then they would all match nicely, but not so sure about bringing them inside....  I will have to search for ideas. Maybe just a set of matching hanging pots......any ideas?

Then I noticed a flower spike in one of my bromeliads.  Bromeliads are their own little compost digesters, they feed themselves from rotting leaves that lie in their central cup.

Soon the flower spike emerged :)

Yesterday afternoon Hubby and I were sitting in the swing having an evening drink when I suddenly looked up and saw some red in the tree!  My slipper orhcid has a flower!  yeah!  My long suffering hubby is quite used to me interupting our conversation and jumping up to get the camera.....

 This is one of the plants I purchased with the voucher I won in the garden competion.  The vine will cimb all over the weeping tea tree and then these lovely red and yellow flowers will droop down from it.

 Other gardeners seem to have some idea of when their tropical plants will flower.  It is always a surprise to me, albeit a happy surprise.  I always think that the orchids and bromeliads flower in the rainy season, but it seems that they really flower at the end of it.

According to my research the hippeastrum should start flowering now...I am going away for five weeks, so I wonder if they will while I am gone.  Maybe I will arrive home to find a riot of colour.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

A new camera!

I got  a new camera it is a little red Canon Powershot SX600HS, and so far I am happy with it.  I purchased it with my frequent flyer points - does anyone else do that?  I find it is a much better use of my points than applying it to airline tickets.
I took it outside in the early evening when the wagtail was having its evening bath.

 I zoomed right in to get a shot as he flittered about in the weeping tea tree above my head.

I even took a little video.....but for some reason cannot download it here...

Friday, June 20, 2014

A new fruit for fruit salad alley

A couple of weeks ago I bought a dragonfruit from the markets.

  It is one of my favourite tropical fruits.  Sweet, but not cloyingly so,.....
beautiful - I didnt share it with anyone.

Dragonfruit is actually a cactus, and the plants I have seen are huge - and supported by a central post, so needing lots of room.  Then Lousie from     told me about how she sees them in Darwin growing against a carport.............  hmmm well, either side of fruit salad alley has a nice wooden post.  Driving home from work I saw my gardening friend had put out some dragonfruit cuttings for anyone to pick up.   Supossedly you just place them into the ground, or into a pot as in my case.  So now we just wait and see.....

Rather strange looking aren't they?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Self sustaining garden, producing my own mulch.

As you know I am continually looking for ways to garden in a way that is self sustaining.  I "grow" my own fertilizer with comfrey, worm castings and prawns shells.   Sugar can mulch is something I have been buying for the veggies, and with all this wet weather it rots down so quickly I have been looking around for an alternative mulch solution. I called the local hay guy (whch is cheaper) and he said it is too wet to cut his hay. Some gardeners have talked about using shredded office paper.   I dont have a shredder, but tear paper into thing strips occasionally  to add to the compost.  In clumbs it can mat up and would stop water getting to the soil under it.  When adding it to the compost I always make sure I mix it in well with the leaves etc already composting down..  So I tried the same idea in the garden.
My tumbling composter is full of red wriggler worms and I think regular eathworms.  I am not sure how they got in there, but I am sure they are speeding up the whole process. It also seems quite wet, so I dragged some out, and picked out the bigger bits like banana peels and threw them back into the compsot.  So there is a mixture of shredded paper, composted leaves and worms.  I also mixed in a  few freshly mulched leaves for good measure.

We are still getting quite a bit of rain and the little pattypan squash plants and the franzipani all have some sort of fungus on their leaves.  The apple cucumber looked a bit dirty too after the fence was pressure washed, but there are a couple of little fruit forming..

We had one day of sunshine over the weekend and everything seemed to come to life just in that one day.
 I put some comfrey into a sprayer and added a bit of bicarb and espom salts.  If the sun comes out I want these plants to be healthy and happy and ready to produce some food for the table.  I want to keep that moisture in the soil too when it does stop raining for a while.  The rest of the garden just has all all the cuttings dropped onto the ground and that eventually rots down. What do you use for mulch in your veggie patch?  


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