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. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

My hubby did a great job with the garden!

I arrived back after more than four weeks overseas to discover that my garden had done just fine without me, thank you very much!  The peppercorn vine is full of little bunches of peppercorns.  Last year I pickled some, but might do some research on drying them instead.  I made a lovely pepper sauce to go with our pork chops last night.
 The lady slipper orchid has made its way into the veggie patch, so I now have flowers and fruit intermingling.
This bed required lots of weeding, and then I quickly planted some seeds to make the most of whatever growing season we still have.  Tatsoi, rocket and whatever else was left in the packets. The asian greens in the one box were pulled out to make way for bok choy.  Mizuna was my clear favourite, so I will plant that again.
 For the first time ever I have been able to grow rainbow chard - isnt it pretty?
 I never grow huge leaves of kale - think it is still too hot here, even in our winter.
 I love these little teardrop yellow tomatoes. It is reaching to the sky!
 This is where the lady slipper orchid originates - soon this walkway will be dripping with colour.  The honeyeaters sure do love the nectar they produce.
It sure feels good to be out in my own garden once more.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Fruit salad alley update

Fruit salad alley had a makeover!  I had been thinking that the fruit trees needed a little bit of loving care, and when yet another lovely long weekend came around I set to it.  I cut back the passionfruit vine so that it can shoot out some new shoots and produce more passionfruit.  I removed the strawberry pots a while back as they were being swamped by the passionfruit.  They are now in the veggie patch.

I wrote about the process and the seed collection has published it on their blog - you can see it here.  I get paid in free seeds, so it is a win-win situation.  Here you can see my lime tree re-potted (and straightened up).

All the plants seem happy and there are lots of little green leaves shooting out which makes me happy.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Easter weekend spent in the garden

Happy Easter to all - a little late, but I was out in the garden!  Four whole days doing gardening related activities.  Can life get any better?
On Saturday we went shopping and I spent my birthday coupons - what fun!  I decided to incorporate a couple of plants inside and have a row of terracotta planters with aloe vera on on the kitchen counter.

Then I also found an amazing stand and pot that now has a spathiphyllum in it.  Bringing the outdoors inside a little bit!

A lot of work was done in the veggie patch.  I laid out another soaker hose as my old ones perished.  Chook poo (chicken manure) was spread out over the main bed where I added lime a couple of weeks ago.  This was then covered over with a few layers of wet newspaper and some sugar cane mulch.
 Some things have done well in the greenhouse - my tomato seedlings have done well - I planted a few out into the garden.  Red cherry and yellow pear, the rest of the tomato plants were transferred into deeper pots and remain in the greenhouse.  The tatsoi has just grown long and leggy as well as the lettuces, so think I will plant seeds direct.  The corn out in the garden has either been eaten or has suffered from dieback, so there are only four plants remaining.  Against this trellis in the above photo I planted cucumber and against the back fence I planted snow peas.   I cant always grow snow peas, but on the way into work this morning the temperature was 22* C so I count that as a good sign.
I want to start some silverbeet, and more kale -  already there is some doing well in the greenhouse along with the peppers and moneymaker tomatoes and I will be planting those out into the garden in early May.

The cactus rose along the front path were all tidied up and some of them re-potted.  I added a white gravel mulch.

I bought some more big pots and then the fruit trees in fruit salad alley were re-pottted as well. Home made compost and five in one were added to the potting soil.  The mondo grass at the back was trimmed right back and the passion-fruit vine was also trimmed.  The strawberries were moved into the veggie garden as they were being covered over by the passion-fruit.  I see lots of delicious tasty fruit and veg in my future.

Did you also spend your time over the long weekend working in the garden?

Monday, April 10, 2017

Getting ready for the new season

I have spent time out in the garden the last two weekends, and everything is looking much tidier now. .  The asian greens I planted in the boxes seem to be doing ok and in fact are just loving all the rain.  The taller box is waiting to have tomatoes planted in there.  Since I have bacterial wilt in the soil regular tomatoes have to be planted in potting mix.

The coffee tree came out a couple of weeks ago since it was getting diseases  and generally taking up too much room.  The green peppercorn vine has been happily taking over the whole area during the wet season while nobody was watching, so that got a very severe cutting back.  It supposedly only fruits on new growth and I see a few peppercorns, so once those are harvested it will get even more of a prune.

That opened up this area quite a bit and I have planted corn behind the compost bin (the soil is lovely there!) and trombocino squash against the fence.  Cucumbers against the trellis.
The little greenhouse has some seedlings I have started. - yellow cherry tomatoes, tatsoi.

 I then cleared out the center bed, and added compost and lime.  I have not limed for quite a few seasons, and assume it probably needs lime since compost is my main soil amendment.   The soil looks lovely and loose and friable and filled with earthworms.   In a couple of weeks I will direct plant beetroot, silverbeet and kale into this space.  The turmeric can stay there and only be dug up if I need the space for something else.
 I planted out a few assorted greens into the empty boxes. Parsley and warrigal greens.

 My ginger didn't really do so well this year and I think I should plant something else there, but it is a bit shady.  I might try some cherry tomatoes anyway just because that area has never had tomatoes. I have pruned the barbadoes cherry down so that it is just one branch thickness so that might give the area enough light.
I love this time of year, with all the planning and planting, and best of all the temperature has dropped ever so slightly and it is downright pleasant out in the garden these days!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Garden planning near and far

I have my little sheet all printed out with the plants I am going to plant this year. I sway back and forth about moon planting, but generally try to plant by the moon.  It does make sense to use the gravitational force of the moon if you can.  One thing that has never been made clear to me is - does it work the same for seeds and for seedlings? I have lots of compost brewing, as well as three buckets of worm castings.   Exciting times.

 I have seeds, and have purchased a little greenhouse.  It might seem an odd thing to do in my hot, wet climate, but in actual fact, I am hoping this will at least control the amount of water my little seedlings get.  If it gets too hot in there, I will add a shadecloth over the top.  I also plan to grow the microgreens in there as they get so many bugs out in the garden.  There has been an ever so slight decrease in temperature,
Remember my gorgeous dragon fruit flowers?  Well, they matured into lovely luscious fruit, and my grand daughter was trilled to see this one was in the shape of a heart!.
 The garden has not been empty all this time, every spare spot has been filled with turmeric, ginger or sweet potato.  The polystyrene trays have been left out and seaweed dumped on top of them, so that will be some lovely soil built up in there as that all rots down.

 Even though the heat this summer has been excessive, some plants in the herb spiral have done very well. My moringa tree has taken off and I need to keep harvesting the leaves to keep it low an bushy.  the Mexican tarragon, sawtooth coriander and lemon balm look good, and the parsley is still going strong in the polystyrene box.

As well as my own garden I am also going to be starting a little raised bed garden for my daughter when I go to visit her in America in July.  She lives in zone 7, so it is a whole different climate for me. I am thinking of getting them a raised bed, if any of my readers have any ideas of gardening in that climate please leave ideas or tips in the comments.

I also am going to have to think about making my garden as maintenance free as possible. since hubby will be left holding the fort here. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Kimchi and fermentation

Last week I attended a two hour course on making kimchi - what fun.  I tried a couple of times before to make fermented vegetables and really was not that confident. It was nice to do a course.  This is done in the jar, so small quantities, which I like the idea of - I cant imagine how long it would take me to go through the amount of sauerkraut that one head of cabbage would make.
When I came home I found I had a few cucumbers in the fridge so set up some lacto fermented cucumbers.
Here is my kimchi:

Yesterday was five days, so I gingerly opened the jar and took out the cabbage leaf plug, still held very securely underneath the liquid.  It has very nice flavor and crunch.  It is hot here, so fermentation is maybe faster than it would be in colder climates. I make water kefir and it is ready in two or three days.  
The cucumber was tasty and about as crisp as other pickles I have tasted.  We cannot get grape or oak leaves here, so I put in a black tea bag. 
I have been looking online and researching other recipes. Does anyone else ferment?  What is your favorite recipe?


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