Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Garden Share collective April - the theme is SAVE

Once again it is time to catch up with other gardeners in our  Garden share collective and the theme is SAVE. Link to the other gardeners here.
I really dont make jams or preserves out of the garden - I prefer to just grow enough so that it is eaten right there and then while fresh.  I did plant extra ginger last year, and dug that out a month or so ago.  I like to keep a big bag in the freezer, so easy just to grab a chunk and grate it - I do that with turmeric as well.  My favourite after dinner drink at the moment is grated turmeric and ginger in hot coconut milk, with a little black pepper grated in.  A little golden cup of goodness.
Oh another thing I have been doing is picking and drying our coffee beans, and the first batch was roasted last weekend.  I just pick them as they ripen, so it looks as though I will have one pot a week :).

I do love to grow from seed - it seems proper somehow.  If someone else has started the seedlings it seems more like fostering or babysitting, whereas planting from seed is giving birth!  It seems that hard sometimes too!  I have decided that planting directly is the most sucessful for most of my crops.  I like to grow intensively and continually harvest leaves as soon as they are big enough.  In fact I am also trying microgreens again - will save that for another post (if they work out!)  Here I have some lovely rows planted, with their labels at the end of each row.  I clear a path into the sugar cane mulch and then sprinkle the seed, press lightly to connect with the soil, then lightly drizzle coir over the top.  We have suddenly had a wet season deluge of rain every day, so hopefully the seeds have not drowned.  I also noticed it is full moon so probably not the ideal time to plant.  Oh well.
To the left of the bar I have kangkong, then rainbow carrot, silverbeet, mangel wurzel, beetroot, then lettuce, banana capsicum, and cinnamon basil.

I do plant tomatoes as seedlings, and have laid the pots along the edge of the herb spiral.  Cherry tomatoes pop up everywhere, but the other tomatoes can be replanted quite deeply and they form extra roots along the stem.  This makes them bigger and stronger in my opinion.   Some tomatoes also need to be planted in pots since I have baterial wilt in the soil.
Saving seeds - some of my seeds that I planted were saved from previous harvests, and those seem really special - it feels as though there is a circle that I am completing. I find that when I save tomato seeds they seem to have developed a resistance to my common garden ailments.
How I save seeds;
Tomato seeds need to be placed in water for a couple of days so that they ferment, then the slime is washed off (I use a sieve for this) and they are dried.  I just spread them out onto a paper serviette with the name written on the serviette.  When dry they are folded over and stored in my seed box.  Herbs and lettuces are left to go to seed, and then the tops cut off and placed in a  small paper bag.  Label and peg to a washing line that is under the eaves.  When dry they can be shaken so that the seeds drop off and the branches can be removed.

Things on my to do list:
Keep up succession planting, so as there are empty spots, I will plant a few more seeds.
I have a few gift cards for the big box hardware store, and on my list are sugar cane mulch, seaweed solution.
Next month the theme is leaves, and hopefully by then I will be harvesting daily salads from my garden.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A kookabura visits our veggie patch

My hubby looked out the study window to see a kookaburra hanging out in the veggie garden so I went around the side with a camera.  He was not at all shy and let me take a few photos before he flew off.


enjoy!  I hope you are having a lovely weekend!  

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The colour white in the garden

Parts of my garden are quite shady (epsecially since the heavily pruned lychee tree is growing back) and spots of white really show up in those areas.  The butterfly bush is dripping with flowers and the honey eaters love them so there is always a carpet of white flowers that they have ripped off and tossed ot the ground!  I took this at dusk with the flash with my phone and like the way the white flowers show up.


One of my eucharist lillies started to bloom and I noticed how pretty it looked with the pink and white in that area.


This is another plant that has slowly recovered  now that there is more shade.  I just love the strappy leaves with curly edges.  No idea what it is called.


Just a couple of months ago this poor garden was looking very sad.  The whole top of the lychee tree was pruned, leaving sun pouring down on the garden.  I erected a few shade cloths and umbrellas, and now lots of little leaves have appeared so they are getting lovely filtered light once again. Isnt it amazing how resilient plants can be? 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Garden share collective - colour

The latest garden share collective calls for a a post about colour.  Well I suppose brown is a colour!
I have been preparing the soil for my main growing season during the last couple of weeks.  I spread out some manure (brown), sprinkled a little lime (white)  and after lightly digging that in I spread brown cardboard over the top of that!
Our local Coles supermarket has been selling little potted herbs for 1.98.  These are the best deal ever, they are so crammed with little plants, that I have been buying them and then using them as little transplants.  3.95 for a six pack or 1.98 for a million pack!  I got fennel, parsley and even capsicum (the capsicum had two plants.)  Here is  some of the fennel.  They are such delicate little plants, so I just lay them into a trough and filled in from the side.  I know we are on the edge of the fennel growing area, so they might not form a bulb.
 Two different kinds of parsley were planted in the wicking beds, with eggplant in the center.
 I have some overseas visitors coming in the beginning of April and realized that since I was short on cardboard, the area near the pathway had uncovered soil and the manure was beginning to attract some flies.  So I thought it might have cooled down enough to pop a few seeds in and cover the ground with some mulch.  No job in the garden is ever a small job, but this seemed more enticing than the cleaning of windows which had been my original chore for today.  Oh golly I find is so easy to be enticed out into the garden.  This little section under the cherry tree had its edges straightened and some seeds planted.  We will just have to walk out into the garden instead of looking out at it through the dirty windows!
 Further back will just have have to wait until I have more time.  The area against the fence has some green beans against the fence and two rows of fennel.  I did put up the shade cloth as the sun is still pretty fierce.
The sweet potato have been dug out and the soil amended, then cardboard laid over the top.  The very back section behind the pawpaw tree is where I put the last of my grass. (Yes it is all gone!)  I laid it upside down in a huge pile and then covered with cardboard.  It will eventually rot down into lovely soil.
That citrus tree at the very back of this bed is a mandarin lime and it has never shown any sign of flowering or fruiting.  It has good soil, happy leaves - what else should I try?
In the next month I need to straighten and secure all the edges of these beds, and plant out some beets, radishes and tomatoes.
Oh!  I found some colour - the coffee beans are starting to turn red, so I am going to have to do some research to see how those need to be processed.
Check out all the other gardeners on the Garden Share Collective here at Rosehips and Rhubarb.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Garden recovering after the lychee tree prune

About six weeks ago we had the lychee tree pruned again - this time we had the top lopped off. that was what should have happened last time.  Now it should be easier to maintain the tree at a manageable height. Of course this meant that the entire middle section of the tree had no leaves for shading my lovely tropical shade loving plants!  There were definitely some sunburn issues, even death in some cases.  I have had some shades cloths and umbrellas over the vulnerable areas. but new leaves are sprouting and at long last the intense summer heat seems to be waning.
 The area with my umbrella palms can stand out now as a feature, instead of hiding away behind the lychee tree branches.  This area was not affected, even though it now gets more light.
 The golden candles definitely is enjoying the sunshine, and I love the purple of the geisha girl together with the yellow.  This is a favourite area for the sunbirds and honey-eaters.   They are not at all shy and will come down for a bath in the bird bath with me working right alongside them.
I have been busy prepping the veggie garden for planting, so even though I have been quiet on the blog I have not been idle in the garden.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Garden share collective February

Once again I have not posted since the garden share collective.  This month is supposed to be about preserving.  The only thing I have preserved is the peppercorns that I preserved in brine.  Whenever I see a new stalk I pick it and pop them into the brine. Easy peasy. Certainly not going to keep us in pepper for a year though.
 I read that the peppercorns only fruit on the lateral branches, and since the vine is sending shoots out, I thought it might be a good idea to put up a trellis.  Hopefully those will climb up and spread out and then it will be easy to harvest.  Only one aspargus plant has been really succesful - the purple asparagus, so I moved the other two onto that side of the trellis and will see if they do ok there.  I have harvested some of the asparagus already this year and it is the most amazing aspagus I have ever tasted.  Even if I let them get too long they are still tender all the way to the end.


  The other side of the trellis was where I planted some tropic tomatoes.  They did well last year in another bed, so hopefully they do well again this year.  It really is still a bit early to plant out tomatoes, but if I lose them I lose them and if they survive then I have a head start on the season.


Against the fence I planted a few green beans, with a few cucumbers in front. I got those on the clearance rack and the cucumbers didn't survive, but the beans look like they will.   I have been digging up some awesome sweet potatoes, just as I need them.  I keep topping that bed up with compost when I have to make room in the bin and they seem to be loving it. Yesterday I plonked a load of seaweed on top as well! The clearance rack yielded up some green beans, cucumber, zuchini, asian greens and kale.  I planted them out and tucked them up in some lovely sugar cane mulch.    Most people plant much later in the season, but I always try to get a head start, and using the clearance veggies means I am not much out of pocket if they dont survive.


I need to dig up some ginger as it is going crazy - really crazy in one particular area - that was where the worm bucket was before - could it be that, that has made the difference?  I still have quite a bit of ginger still in the freezer from last years harvest, but have taken a liking to ginger and tumeric in coconut milk after dinner so my stash might start to go down a bit quicker. You can see how high and thick and lush it is in one area!

As promised I have been getting ready for my dry growing season - we really havent had much of a wet season.  Horribly hot and humid, but not much rain.  I did a bit of shopping - lime since that is reccomnded when you add a lot of compost to the soil.  Then I found a big smelly bag of  mixed manure - and also some epsom salts and sugar cane mulch.  I already have charlie carp and sulphate of potash on hand.  My barbados cherry is full of blossoms!
 I often find fallen cherries lying on the ground, in perfect condition - they are full of vitamin C, and have three pips inside, unlike regular cherries.


To do:  I will be digging up the rest of the sweet potato and adding lime to that bed - it needs to rest a bit before planting.  I placed an order for some seeds, so am anxious to start off my dry season veggies.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Garden Share collective January - fruit

Welcome to the garden share collective hosted by kate at rosehips and rhubarb and Kyrstie at a fresh legacy.  Thank you for doing this, it keeps me motivated!

The theme this month is fruit, and since I have a small garden I never really thought I would be able to grow much fruit.  The main feature in my side garden is the lychee tree and this year I really wished we didn't have it in the garden.  We had it pruned a while back and the gardener said that he couldn't lop the height off for some reason (I was at work when this happened) Of course it has now grown higher and when it fruited over December, we couldn't reach a single fruit, but believe me the bats and rosellas could!  The noise, and the mess were horrendous.  My poor hubby was raking up leaves and rotting fruit a couple of times a week to try and gain control, but the fallen fruit still attracted fruit fly. Well, end of the sorry story we are digging deep in our pockets and going to have it pruned again - this time the top will be lopped off.  I hope the garden does not suffer too much!
Here you can see the lychee tree behind the fence.

 - Fruit Salad Alley. It gets lots of sun.  Part of our septic system runs under there, so I have kept everything in pots so that the roots dont cause problems.  Last year in August we enjoyed a small fig harvest, and I get strawberries, mulberries, limes and lemons.  So far the pomegranate has not fruited, but just today my neighbour showed me passionfruit on her side of the fence. I recently added a lot of compost so maybe it liked that.  I spent some time today showing it what a  lovely arch there is on our side of the fence as it seems to like my neighbours side of the fence better!

 I took a photo of my lemon which has quite a bit of fruit on it this year. I didn't notice the green ants while taking the photo.  If you take ten green ants and put them into a glass of water you can make lemonade so no wonder they like my lemon! (of course you strain it before drinking as they have a nasty bite!

In the lemon pot is this volunteer capsicum. It reminds me of the pepperdew that you get in South Africa.  small squat capsicum - lovely colour and quite a prolific fruiter.


I also have limes

A while back I began to hear about fruit forests, where the fruit trees were kept small enough to harvest, and then provided shade for the understory plants.  I like the sound of that because I seemed to be continually taking the shade cloth up and down in the veggie patch.  I have a few papwpaws but they dont provide much shade, and a lime mandarin which for some reason has never produced fruit.  then I planted a barbadoes cherry.  It has lovely long arching branches, and the cherries are chock full of vitamin C.  the birds love them, so we share, and I think sometimes they get more than their fair share.



My plan for next month is to work on getting the garden ready to plant some veggies.  Pick up some dolomite lime, five in one mix, seaweed and maybe order some seeds.. I am off to go and see what all the other gardeners in the group have been up to.

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