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?  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Blast away the mould and mildew

During the wet season mould and mildew have built up on our pavers.  Not only is it unsightly, but they are slippery, so something had to be done.  We borrowed my stepsons pressure washer and my hubby got stuck in.  wow! doesnt it look great!

I didn't like wasting all the water, but then again I don't like the idea of chemicals that are painted on and then leach into the ground.  Some of the fences were done too, but not those with lots of plants against them.  Funnily enough the ones with deep growth against them do not seem to have much mildew.  Why is that?  I thought it would be the opposite way around. The clean fence seems to make the colours pop out more.

 I like the entrance of the path to be a little wider, so a few bigger rocks were added to widen it a bit.  Our leaves need to be gathered up, mulched and put into the compost bins continuously.  Leaves are awesome in the compost, though so I am not complaining..... that also is one of my dear hubby's jobs.   ;) 

 This little heleconia is nice for a bit of low colour, it took ages to settle in and flower though for some reason..

I am hoping that the rain will slow down, the veggies certainly like the rain, but we need a bit of sunshine as well to balance it all out.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Garden share collective June 2014

Once again another month has rolled by and it is time to link up with  Lizzie at   strayedtable for 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 May and heading into June.
The Garden Share Collective

Last month I wanted to work on:

Seed tape .... I did make seed tape, and did a tutorial on the processs - you can see it here.  It was fun, and worked well, expecially with kids. Mostly though I see a space and throw a few seeds in.  I can see myself doing it at the beginning of a planting season.
Worms ..... I have been adding a little of the worm castings every time I plant something, and as a side dressing when plants seem to need a bit of a boost.  It does seem to help.
Sitting .... plenty of that - I like the new (original) location of the swing where we have a long view of the garden. - veggie garden is just around that corner....

Eat veggies out of the garden .... so far we have not been flooded with veggies.  I think it is all the rain - and no sunshine.   This weekend the sun was shining and we took advantage and had a lovely walk on the beach - I know it is not a gardening photo, but it shows you a little more of the area where we live.  This was a sea fan that had washed up from the great barrier reef.

I have been eating salad greens, baby lettuce, amaranth, rocket, bok choy.  I also continue to make sprouts in my lovely sprouter from MrFothergills - this is the best way to make sprouts, you can make as many or as few trays as you like.  I now stagger them, so that I am not flooded with them all at one time.  I also add herbs to my salads, basil, parsley, oregano, thyme and mint are all doing well.

Moon planting... I am aware of moon planting, and loosely stick to the theory that as the moon is waxing we should plant above ground crops, so plant leafy lettuces, silverbeet, eggplant and tomatoes.  Supposedly the moon forces will bring them up from the ground with great vigor.  Now that the moon is waning I began to look at crops that grow underground.  I have trouble with radishes forming long leggy roots, and have been wondering if I should loosen the soil somewhat for my root crops.  I try to adhere to not disturbing the soil too much, but maybe the amount of rain we have compacts the soil..  I dug to the depth of the garden fork in a couple of places to see if that will make a difference.  There are lots of lovely worms, so the soil looks good.  I planted out beetroot and radishes, and if they grow up good and strong then I think that might be something I need to be doing.
 The squash that I planted into the upturned grass seem to be doing well, and the volunteer cherry tomato alongside looks as though it is on steroids.    Lots of little flowers and tiny fruit, so I think next month I will be reporting a much bigger harvest
 I moved some eggplant seedlings into the wicking bed, and hope they start growing a bit quicker as they seem to be rather slow growing.  Everything got a good drink of seaweed tea last weekend, so there are no excuses.
 I found this praying mantis in the garden, he is a good bug - he can stay, but the grasshoppers quickly get squashed between my crocs.

To do in the next month:
General maintenance, filling in empty areas, harvesting.
Entertaining in the garden now that the weather seems to be improving.
Get ready for my trip in July and August to see my new little grandson in America.  :)

 Look at these lovely little feet, I will be playing little piggies with those toes soon!


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