Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Healthy garden greets me on return from holiday

One of the first things I did after returning from three weeks away was to survey the garden.  The lychee tree is full of leaves, and most of the plants underneath it have recovered quite well from the sudden blast of sunshine. Luckily we have had a little rain to ease the way, and my darling hubby has been watering. Of course it also allowed a spate of weeds to grow up everywhere!

 Among the weeks are plenty of cherry tomato plants which I have left where they volunteered. They fill in the gaps and hopefully will give us some tomatoes.  This has not been a good year for tomatoes - maybe not enough sunny days to ripen them.  We often have cloud cover and I think they like clear sunny days, or so they tell me!  It is warm though - I have not stopped swimming all through the winter, other than when I was away. The gardens seems quite happy.
 In the veggie garden the kale, lettuce and carrots have come along well, although I never get those enormous leaves that seem to grow in other climates.  I do pick the leaves small though - before the bugs can find them ;)  I think next year I might plant even closer together.  The eggplant produces prolifically, even though it does get a bit of bug damage.  A bandicoot got in one night and dug a few holes - they seem to lie in wait for a gate left open and then they pounce.....
 A jap pumpkin vine has made itself at home against the fence, and climbing up the happy plant where the passionfruit vine used to be. Vertical gardening at its best.  I am not sure what will happen when/if I actually get some pumpkins forming, if they will pull the vine down. I guess I will face that when I come to it.  I tied it off out of the way so that it doesn't take over the entire veggie patch.  A branch of the pawpaw tree got too heavy and broke off in some strong wind.

There is already a baby pumpkin - I have killed so many by trying to pollinate that I will leave this on its own and see what happens.  How do you know when it has been pollinated?  Has anyone tried baby vegetables - they are delicious in stews, and potjies (those cast iron three legged pots you use on the fire in South Africa.) I am not entirely sure if they are a different hybrid or just vegetables picked immature.  I had butternut not much bigger than this little guy - delicious!


The silverbeet has been languishing for months and now suddenly took off once some zinnias sprung up beside them - new companion plant?

The rosellas are ready to pick, so I plan to try and dry them for tea - I have taken the seed out of the rosella and then dried some petals in the sun. I find inside the car one of the best places for drying teas (and raising bread dough)


 I have an idea that I would like to try to make rosella "tea flowers"  insert a slice of ginger in place of the seed, but leaving the flower whole and dry them together to make rosella ginger tea flowers.   Tea flowers look so pretty, and are mostly made from chrysanthemums, but I thought I would try my own version. I am hosting an afternoon tea in September to raise money for Habitat for Humanity, so tea is on my mind at the moment.

31 comments:

  1. A tea party sounds wonderful:) Your garden really looks great especially now with all the new leaves on the tree. Hope you are well. Chris

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    1. Chris,
      Yes I think the garden is looking just right for a tea party :)

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  2. Your husband obviously did a good job as caretaker while you were away. Everything is looking great. We haven't had much luck with tomatoes this year either. They are just now starting to bear fruit. We had a very wet July and lost a few but August has been all sunshine.
    I'm glad to see the lychee tree is filling out so you'll have more shade by the time the weather heats up.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Ros,
      yes I am hoping the tomatoes will just be late this year as I have lots of bushes, but the tomatoes are all green.

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  3. Your garden does look lovely and healthy!

    I pollinate our pumpkins etc here and get to them when the flowers first open. First up in the morning is the best time with my plants :)

    What a beautiful lychee tree!

    x

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    1. Tania,
      Maybe that is my problem, when I am rushing around before dark getting ready for work, the last thing I am thinking of doing is playing around with pollen and paintbrush!

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  4. The rosellas will enhance the tea, but those are not flowers. Be careful with terminology as the locals do know these things.
    You can also add jasmine flowers to tea, also rose petals or cornflower petals. Cornflowers and peppermint added to tea is often called Arctic Fire.

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    1. Louise, you are right, the flower falls off and the calyx forms and that is what you use to make the tea! I used the term flowers to form "tea flowers", that open up like a flower when placed in hot water.

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  5. I can't believe that that is the same lychee tree that was just cut back.
    I like your idea of drying tea leaves inside the car, I would have never thought of that. I'm going to try that method with my blue vervain.
    Here we call rosella "sorrel", and we make a lovely drink with the dried petals during the Christmas season. There is also a sorrel and ginger version, so I can tell you that the sorrel and ginger tea you are planning will taste great when you try it. Enjoy.

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    1. Virginia,
      It seems to have worked quite well. I keep thinking I would like to make a solar drier, but have not got any further than thinking about it at this stage.

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  6. I'm so glad to see your lychee tree leafing out so nicely after being cut back so severely not that long ago. The garden looks good too, everything seems to have bounced back from having all those limbs and leaves dropped on them. I hope you had a great holiday!

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    1. Alison,
      I know - I was quite devastated, but everything seems to have recovered quite well - in fact the flowering plants are better!

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  7. The Lychee looks fantastic. It certainly didn't take long to come back. Everything is looking healthy, so hubby deserves a big pat on the back for keeping everything going in your absence. Love the idea of making 'tea flowers'. Best of luck with your fundraising.

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    1. Bernie,
      Thank you Bernie, yes he is definitely a keeper!

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  8. I love the silverbeet waiting for its friend before producing :-)

    I'd love to give you advice about your pumpkins but I'm failing more than succeeding there. Last year I ate some from my pumpkin that looked exactly like your photo and they were still too hard and didn't have much flavour. I left others to grow but they withered on the vine (apparently they didn't get pollinated). My plan was to try pollinating them this year with a paint brush - Tania's comment above gives me hope this will work (I'll try to do it early in the morning). As far as I know, the only way to tell if they've been pollinated is to wait to see if they die young - hardly a good method. Let me know if you find out a better method.

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    1. Laura,
      sometimes figuring gardening out is a wild guess! Maybe garden girls advice is even easier, but most mornings I forget until I am at work! I have some bees in the garden - clearly they are not doing their job!

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  9. I also pollinate early morning, but forget the paint brush, I just break off the male flower and it's surrounding petals and stick it in a female flower. It seems to work as we had some really huge butternuts last summer - almost 50cm long.

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    1. Garden girl - gosh I like your idea! thanks.

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  10. Their are so many attractive pictures available here, I am too much impressed from all of them, And really thankful to you for updating all these pictures. how to grow weed indoors

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  11. It's so nice to come home and see everything doing well. I am really to see that tree coming out so nicely. I love your garden pathway. David/:0)

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    1. David,
      It was! thanks, that pathway is also one of my favourite areas of the garden.

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  12. The Lychee tree did do well after the pruning. Now it really doing so well like there is no evidence that it actually got pruned.
    You are quite adventurous with the pumpkin plant trailing everywhere.
    I for sure will not know what to expect of it in that scale.

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    1. James,
      I pollinated the one pumpkin that I could see. I am going to cut back the growing tips of the pumpkin - they are supposedly very tasty!

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  13. The garden is definitely looking healthy! I wish I could go away and come back to a garden which looks like yours.
    We seem to be growing so many of the same plants it's like looking at each picture and finding familiar faces! :)

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    1. Sunita,
      It is nice to see the same plants growing in different areas of the world and see how other people take care of them.

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  14. I quite enjoyed the romp around your prolific garden. I'm an Aussie expat way of Sydney and my beautiful kid's subtropical garden and my grandparents farm in Narrabri. Miss back home very much after 30 years in the prairies of Kansas. Especially in a drought I enjoy the lushness of the Aussie blogs. Keep up the good work.
    Paddy

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  15. Wow, your lychee tree has bounced back beautifully. And yes, the understory plants look healthy and lush. I know all about sunshine and weeds. Most of my garden lives in full sun, and the weeds are a nightmare!

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  16. this is what it looks like when you return from vaca?! I'm so jealous of these plants you have. I'd be in heaven with a freaking lychee tree!!

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  17. Wow, as everyone has already said - that Lychee tree has certainly bounced right back and so quickly. Its all looking so good. Im hoping for some rain - we are up to day 46 (or something close) with out rain. Which is weird considering it has rained here for 18 solid months and flooded the city. There is definitely something up with the waether! - Kara xx

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