Sunday, February 27, 2011

Lime tree has a sleepover! five invited guests.

My little lime tree has been having some guests to sleepover - catterpillars.  Round about the time of the cyclone I commented how many orchard swallowtail butterflies there were, and they were flitting about my lime tree.  Clearly they were laying eggs.   Now I love butterflies, but I also love my lime tree, so what to do.....?
I picked a few off and moved them over to my neighbours huge kaffir lime tree - I am sure that can support a few more catterpillars.  I kept five - I think they are the same as I watched one emerge last year. orchard-swallowtail-butterfly- .   those I had on a branch I had picked from a  neighbours tree, but this time I clearly have a preffered host plant for them.
Citrus fruit can be plagued by a lot of problems in the tropics, but limes are more resistant than lemons or oranges.  I had bought some oil spray thinking that the curling leaves were a sign of  leaf miner, but havnt used it yet.   Now I am not so sure I will use it as it might kill the caterpillars AKA baby butterflies!  I just hand plucked the few leaves that seemed to have prolems. 
The catterpillars have been munching on the leaves and getting fatter and fatter.

Look at those spines!  These photos are not so good as it was pouring with rain all week.

Eventually they began to stop eating and postion themselves for the change - you can see the thin threads this one has formed to support the chrysalis in which it will stay for about two weeks until it emerges as a butterfly!

Already the size is reduced by about a third - it must take a lot of energy to get into the proper position.
The rain doesnt sem to have affected them at all.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Lipstick plant and more wet weather

I have put down some stones - still have a bit more to go, but this is definitely keeping the place mud free - whch is marvellous with all the rain we have been having.  This is a true tropical wet season, and I am ready for it to end!  It is hard to even find a few moments without pouring rain in order to take  a few photos!

I am happy with how the rain seems to drain away quite quckly from the gazebo and towards the pathway garden which I dug a little lower.   I need to bring the level of the stones up a bit, so still need to haul in a few more loads.
After my holiday I noticed that the anthirium flowers were green and have been foliar feeding with liquid seaweed every weekend and now I have nice colourful flowers.

Some other flowers that are enjoying the wet weather are the lipstick plant, This year it has developed long tendrils and they are covered in lovely red flowers.

When they start out they look like lipstick emerging from a tube!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Pavers for the new path

As you know we have had large amounts of rain since cyclone yasi and that is what concreted the idea that we must do something about this area where no grass will grow. 
I began to dig out the grass and level it out, of course I had to wait for the mud pit to dry up a bit.
 The sand that I dug out was used to mound up this area since a dip in the middle of the grassy area had formed.  I want it to drain out away from the house.  I will have to add the sand a bit at a time so as not to kill the grass.
 We went to the hardware store to suss out all the options and came back with these slender pavers which were easier to maneuver around the tree roots.
I think this is a rather pleasing look don't you?

I am putting down a layer of cardboard and then will top it up with stones around the pavers. 
To put the area that I am talking about into perspective - here is a wide view of the side entrance, with the gate open.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Branching out

While the weather has been too miserable for gardening I have been doing some spring cleaning (Ok autumn cleaning... you know what I mean)

Cleaning out the clutter that was a conglomeration of torn out recipes, printed out recipes and scribbled out recipes led to this idea:
I will choose at least two new recipes a week to try
They will be posted on africanaussie-recipes if they are worth keeping, and will be added to my most treasured recipe box right there on the blog.

Requirements are that they will be:
Healthy, diabetes friendly, relatively easy and economical. I try to have meatless mondays and maybe vegetarian one other day of the week. I am just posting the main course, unless I find a marvellous soup, salad or dessert. I have otameal for breakfast every day (I know it is boring but it works and doesnt require much pre-planning or forethought. I take my lunch to work, mostly just a soup or salad or leftovers.

Join me if you dare...... Link back here here every week and we can all learn some great new recipes, or if you just want to share a recipe, post it in the comments, and I might feature it in a later menu.

Menu for this week:

February 12th Saturday..........chickpea burgers - rest frozen for lunches, ok but recipe not a keeper.
February 13th Sunday ............grilled prawns with roasted potatoes and salad -one of our all time favourite meals. No recipe really. just butterfly prawns, remove heads but keep tails on, then sprinkle with dried chile flakes and olive oil - place under grill for a few minutes.

Note: bury the shells in the garden afterwards, great for attracting worms!
February 14th Monday ...........chicken breasts stuffed with brie, capsicums and snow peas, rice and mixed sauteed vegetables.
February 15th Tuesday stepson cooked for us, a nice treat! - also chicken breasts but stuffed with mushrooms, feta cheese, garlic chives and oregano (from my garden) and scalloped white and sweet potatoes made with cream - very tasty but a bit too rich for everyday.
February 16th Wednesday.........leftover chicken and potatoes (without the sauce) over salad greens - nice!
February 17th Thursday.............Pumpkin curry
February 18th Friday .................Artichoke Strudel.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Water in well

You know those seeds I planted a couple of weeks ago?  Well I am sure they are now well watered - flooded more like!  Obviously radishes like lots of water - they are doing well, along the right side of this "path" just past the ginger.  They are the daikon radishes.
Wow - it seems to be working - this is the area I have been adding the extra sand I have been digging up.  Somehow a deep dip had formed in the centre and that aways filled up like a lake in the rain.   The grass certainly seems to be covering up the sand.  This is amazing grass for this type of weather.  I have heard it called buffalo grass.
 The only thing it does not like is shade and this is the area I started to dig the grass up in order to lay stones.  The cyclone and the rain  halted my efforts.  I don't think I will be doing any digging here this weekend.  I really wanted to get a move on with this project.
The forecast said clearing.... I will have to re-read that forecast.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Cyclone yasi

Cyclone Yasi has gone, and at the last minute it veered further south than us, and continued inland for days wreaking havoc along its path.  Luckily there was no loss of life, but poor Queensland has really suffered this wet season.  The bible study I attend started up last night and we discussed Genesis where Jacob reveals Pharoah's dream.  Seven years of abundance will be followed by seven years of famine.  Jacob is put into a position of power to monitor the collection of one fifth of the crops to put aside for the bad times to come.  Maybe our government needs to read that, and start putting money aside.  We have already entered the lean times, but better late than never.   This will happen again, this is the tropics, and it is cyclone season after all.  We have just got very compacent during those years of abundance.  Now they seem surprised, and unprepared. 

OK I know this is a gardening blog, - getting down off the soapbox now - OK I am off.... :)

This is what the sugar cane crop does when it gets pounded with lots of rain!  It will pop back up again and recover, so not all is lost.  Unfortunately the banana crop down south wont recover.

 We cant complain though - the council were out straight away clearing the roads and picking up fallen trees and branches.  This was two days later - roads are cleared and there are piles of branches waiting to be picked up and taken to the dump.  Oh Gosh we will have good mulch next year!

 After the wind came the rain - days and days of it!
 The gazebo had been tied up against the fence, so I washed the cover and then hung it up to dry, but dont know what I was thinking, as the rain continued on.....
 and on, but I was overjoyed to see no damage in the garden...... these tropical plants wont mind sitting in sodden ground for a week or so.  That is what they are designed for.
 the little creek down the end of our road is normally 20ft down  - it went over the bridge in the night...
 No wonder they tell you to stay out of creeks - this was a mighty rushing river!
I feel so blessed that we did not suffer any damage and my thoughts and prayers are with those who have lost houses and property. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Get rid of the grass.

I typed up this post just after Australia day last week.  A mid week break - now it looks as though I will have another mid week break, but not for such wonderful pursuits.  As cyclone Jasi is heading stright for us!  Holding thumbs that everything in my garden survives and that I can still continue on with this project as posted! 

Australia Day was spent tidying up and thinking about yet more garden projects... :)
The grass in this area next to the gazebo is in deep shade -
We have decided to give in.  Too much time and effort has been wasted.  There is a point where the grass just stops growing, no matter how much water, fertilizer, and even roll lawn we add.
This dust is getting everywhere, and then when it rains it is mud..... a project that really is long overdue.

Will it look silly to have the row of mondo grass extend across towards the tree?  The area where the grass doesnt grow will probably be filled with stones.  Paving is too expensive, and also this is an area where there are lots of tree roots so it is not level enough to lay pavers. I am toying with an idea of a little concrete bench off to the side of the gazebo.  Just a row of concrete blocks - very simple, but can also be used for extra seating alongside the table..... 
We never open the big double gate and so the one closest to the fence will stay permanently closed and we will extend the border up to there.  Yeah more area to plant in!    \The first thing I did was move my plumeria tree.  It is sulking badly, as you can see, so hope it  recovers.  I cut off one of the branches to propogate another one.  I have not had a lot of success with them - maybe because I keep moving them!!!!  This one was already growing in a contorted shape because it didnt have room.  Now it has room.
 I laid out some cardboard to start to kill the grass while I decide what I will plant in that area.  I have a bouganvilla climbing the other side of the gate so that will cascade over the top as well.  It will be nice to have  a colourful area to look out from the gazebo.
The very best news was that it was quite pleasant working out there.  Oh yes! please let this humidity be coming to an end!


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