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?

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Costa came to see my little garden!

We had a local garden competition and our council managed to negotiate Costa from Gardening Australia to be one of our judges!  My gosh - heart palpitations!!!   I knew I had to enter, but was away just before that, leaving the garden in the hands of my non gardening hubby.  Added to that we were in a drought when I returned, and the bandicoots were wreaking havoc in the garden.
I got stuck in, and tidied up, mulched, and planted new seeds in the wicking boxes (which were just microgreens when he arrived!)

The first thing you see when you enter my garden is fruit salad alley and we began to chat about getting kids interested in gardening.  The volunteer tomatoes in the mulberry pot have had a wonderful side effect.  I tied the stakes up into a teepee and this protected the mulberries from the birds., plus it is also fun to go scouting around looking for a plump ripe mulberry.

 The strawberries were also just starting to ripen, since then I have enjoyed a few little garden treats.

Everyone commented how much cooler it was once you got into the side garden and could enjoy the shade of the lychee tree.    I think Costa would like to come back in lychee season and climb that tree!  (he is a bundle of energy) I notice there are a few little lychees plumping up, it has taken a while since we lopped the top off the tree, but at least now we will be able to reach the harvest.
 He commented that the pathway around the tree was a great idea, and I do like that I can reach into all of the garden beds from the pathways.  I also like the fact that he noticed I was growing the same kind of plants as my neighbour, therefore making my garden seem larger.

One big advantage of cutting the tree back is that we now have much more light into the garden which means more flowers. Of course as soon as Costa left we got a night of good soaking rain and suddenly the garden looked lovely and colourful once again.  That is the nature of gardening though.

 I explained that we were right between seasons,  I showed him the worm buckets, but forgot to mention that this area is cleared because I am getting ready to grow ginger here. I explained about how well the wicking beds work, and that the barbadoes cherry provides shade for the veggies. I forgot to mention that I throw weeds onto the weed mat path, and then once in a while (just before a visit from a special gardener!) I will turn over the weed mat, smothering the weeds, and leaving a clean path.

 I forgot to mention that this straggly lemon is one that I keep to practice my grafting.  Hopefully next time he comes back one of my grafts will have taken.

 I also gave him a bit of my peppercorn vine as he wants to try to grow it in his garden in Sydney.  It will have to be in a hothouse I reckon!

My gosh what an exciting time this has been.
What you do if Costa came to see your garden?

Thursday, September 21, 2017


As you know I grow most of my veggie garden from seed.  That can be a slow and frustrating process, but when it works, can be so very rewarding. I do like growing greens in broccoli boxes as it keeps them contained and the soil seems to stay moist.  I had a bunch of black seeded lettuce seedlings, and potted them up fairly close together into a broccoli box, filled with potting soil mixed with five in one, and they did very well, I will buy those seeds again.  My little wicking bed of mint just keeps going, through drought and wet.

One thing I added this year was a little greenhouse, and I think that has made all the difference.  I often read on the seed packets that certain seeds need to be planted in situ, but I struggle with that - I am often not able to water the garden as I leave in the dark and often arrive home in the dark.  The greenhouse has been a huge asset because the plants in there stay warm and moist with a spray of water a couple of times a week.
I had some little seedlings of beetroot, silverbeet and broccoli raab just bursting out of the ground when a bandicoot found its way into the garden...  I tried supporting the little plants back up again, but they have struggled.  I am not sure if I should just raise seedlings since the greenhouse does give the plants a better chance of surviving. How important is it to\plant seeds directly?  I am going to try again with seedlings raised in the greenhouse and see if that makes a difference. Of course keeping out the bandicoots will help as well.  we set up our trap and then re-locate them far away(and find and block the hole in the fence where they got through in the first place!)  This area has been good for greens as there is a bit of shade form the barbados cherry.  I had ginger growing here last wet season, but this year I think I will do sweet potato here and have the shoots climbing up the fence for easy harvesting.

We had quite a chilly start to winter, and the tomatoes did not start out with abandon, but are now doing better. Lots of volunteer cherry tomatoes have popped up everywhere and every day we get enough to add to our salads.  I have a few yellow cherry tomatoes plants and those are all in pots.
Cherry tomatoes volunteered in the mulberry tree pot and I staked them up into a teepee.  One huge advantage is that the birds now cannot find the ripening mulberries - yeah!

This area is starting to be cleared as the winter veggies die off.  I am thinking I will grow ginger in this area.  Sweet potato are starting to pop up as I grew them here last year, but those will be moved to the fence bed.  

The moringa in the herb spiral grew straight up and started flowering.  I was interested to see what the pods looked like, and tasted, but I have not seen any pods so will chop it off down to the first outward branch so the leaves are easier to harvest and it provides some nice leafy shade. 


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