Saturday, October 31, 2009

something for nothing

This is a selection of some of the variegated bromeliads I have under the lychee tree. The one that looks like a baby pineapple is very cute :)

I may have posted before how much I love to save the life of a plant who others have given up on. I found a couple of very sad looking bromeliads on the clearance rack a while back and bought two of them for 50 cents. What a surprise and delight I had this week when a beautiful red and yellow flower appeared in the centre - the other one is closely following along.
I do love bromeliads - the flowers stay for so long. It is like buying a lucky dip - you have no idea what the plant might amount to in the end!

Monday, October 26, 2009

wild lorikeets

At last we got a good photo of a lorikeet in one of the trees that surround us here! These huge arching flowers are really attractive to the lorikeets. Most afternoons at around 2pm the noise is deafening with them flitting from tree to tree. Most of these trees are about a hundred feet high and there are always flocks of about 50 birds flying from tree to tree! In most countries of the world these birds are carefully bred and kept in aviaries or cages. How lucky we are!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Rain means green

We have had a few showers of rain this week, and suddenly everything seems a bit greener. My seeds arrived and so I will be doing a bit of planting this weekend - also finish off the little path to nowhere between my tropical plants. I often have to go right in between the plants to trim old branches or cut flowers and so am making a path right into the center - this means I will not be stepping on little plants all the time. I will give it a little curve at the end so hopefully it will lead wanderers in to go a little deeper into the garden.

I really enjoy having the path at the back of the bed to go through and have access. In fact I have planted some ginger and pawpaw there as that will make it easier to harvest from there. My cardamon is getting chewed up by grasshoppers and that too might have to be moved - maybe it is to close to other plants where it is now, and would enjoy being on the edge at the back.
we have a Kookaburra that seems to like visiting and sitting on our fence - surveying the scenery. I do love their laughing chatter. It reminds me that I am living in a great country.

Monday, October 19, 2009

welcome sign

I got a welcome to my garden sign to hang on the garden gate!
Here is a link to all the what is in bloom right now photos. I wanted to finalize the photos I have on file so that I can start fresh in November. It rained today - all day long:), so it looks as though the wet has started. Now hopefully I will have lots of new tropical blooms to post photos of.
so enjoy, and I hope there are not repeats that have gone before.....

Friday, October 16, 2009

Permaculture and feeding my soul

I have been toying with the idea of planting a green manure crop during the wet season. In the end I ordered pigeon peas, recommended for the tropics. You get an inoculant with it that helps to fix nitrogen in the soil when you cut it back. This is also recommended for building up the soil to resist wilt diseases. I want to taste the actual peas though and might keep some growing to use as mulch. One site said that this is the pea most commonly used for making dahl, so maybe I wont have to buy lentils anymore and can just use what I grow in the garden :) It looks like quite a strong large plant and one blogger uses it to grow her tomatoes next to and then uses them to stake the tomatoes. Here is the bed cleared and ready to be planted.

I have never done green manure before, so this is all a learning experience. Most sites say to cut down the plant and then it releases nitrogen into the soil, but on the tropical permaculture site I read that every time you prune back the plants they release nitrogen, so maybe an ongoing source of nitrogen is better than one big hit. You can eat the peas fresh, dried or even sprout them, so it seems that whichever way I go this is going to be one very useful plant.

The other seeds I ordered were amaranth - the amaranth plant looks lovely with red leaves and long arching spikes of grain. You can eat the leaves and the grain! I love these multi-use plants :) The grain has a very high proportion of protein compared to other grains. I have been wanting to try before I buy, but have not found anyone growing this plant. At the very least it is still a pretty plant!

My snake beans have been doing OK, but I haven't really convinced anyone else how wonderful they are. I do peel them and chop them into salads and soups, and they get gobbled up, but I wouldn't say anyone says ---- ohhh snake beans again - good! So I ordered some seeds for another kind of snake bean - they grow very quickly, they like the wet season, and are about as long as the other beans, but very thin and the taste is more like a regular green bean.

I was trying to define my way of gardening - permaculture/ organic/ food for the soul (flowers :)/ self sufficiency/
1. Permanent perennial plants used as much as possible, or if not then at least seeds saved and used for following crops or sharing.
2. Growing the things I need the most closest to the house (well I have no problem with that - as I probably only have one permaculture zone, being such a small place)
3. Being as self-sufficient as possible - eg. growing my own mulch. Note to self - you have to get some bamboo! for stakes and mulch. The comfrey is both mulch and fertilizer. I am getting ready to propogate some more plants.
4. There is no room for a rain water tank, but I am researching some kind of filtering system to use grey water during the dry season.
5. Preferably not have to invest too much money into bringing in amendments from outside. I have used free seaweed, free coffee grounds. Make lots of my own compost and leaf mould.

I think the thing I most love about my garden is that the more natural things I do, the more problems correct themselves! I had a bit of a grasshopper problem. but then noticed a wagtail had moved in and he was busy all day gobbling them up. Grasshopper problem solved! While I was gathering information to work on the problem, nature was fixing it! How cool! More time to spend on the swing admiring the flowers, and feeding my soul.

Monday, October 12, 2009


When we got back from our holiday the tomatoes were looking very sad, so this weekend I ripped them all up and created a new compost pile where they will be next year. Crop rotation! I have an old table legs and base which is going to act as the support for the vines. So with a bit of fencing around the sides it has created the perfect compost pile. With all those tomato seeds I probably wont even have to plant the tomato bushes! Leaves, bushy trimmings, the old tomato plants and some cardboard have almost filled it to the top. I will probably get some seaweed in the next couple of days as that always seems to get compost heating up quickly. There is a pumpkin volunteer nearby so if I train that over the whole pile it can look good too!
The area that used to have the tomatoes has been cleared and I am going to do a green manure crop - not sure about maybe doing some sun solarization first. My eggplant wilted overnight and died - two now, but when I cut through the stem it was perfectly green and all I read about wilt says it will be red or black through the stem. My neighbour is growing Lebanese eggplant (the long thinner variety) as he thinks it will not suffer the same problems. Once we get a wilt resistant variety I will be very happy.
Good news - we got some rain! It seemed like a good soaking rain overnight, but once I dug down a couple of inches I realised it had not gone down very deep. Oh well, maybe it has broken the cycle. I also went into the markets and bought a new plant - it is a large bushy shrub/ small tree that will create more of a visual barrier at the back of the tropical plants. It is supposedly the only plant that Ulysses butterflies will lay their "eggs" on - Do you call them pupae?
In fact it has been so lovely lately - some trees in the creek near us have burst forth with huge arching red flowers. The lorikeets love them, and all afternoon it is so noisy out there with them flying in and out and jostling each other for the best space. It still thrills me after having had parrots in cages that here they just fly around wild, in the hundreds :) So hard to take photos though as the trees must be a hundred feet high. The honeyeaters also love the passionfruit flowers, so our bird population has soared! The wagtail has been swooping down and catching grasshoppers on the cleared "tomato bed".
The island that we went to for our holiday, and family wedding - Heron Island - is known for its birds, but we have more at home! Isn't it wonderful to go away on an exotic holiday and then return home to discover that home is in fact even better than a five star resort! I feel so blessed!


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