Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Update on Mr Fothergills seeds

I received an e-mail from Mr Fothergills asking how my seeds were faring.  So I guess it is time for an update. I was hoping to have huge flourishing leafy plants to show, but the weather has been a bit strange this year. These are the seeds I originally received:

Climbing snow pea - climbing up the back fence and looking quite healthy - I have successive sown some more seeds about a week ago.
Basil seed mat  - doing really well in my herb spiral.
Carrot seed tape - I have put these tapes in different areas - alongside the harlequin carrots, and between the tomatoes as they are good companion plants. They look very neat in their evenly spaced rows and are very easy to plant - great for children.
Carrot Harlequin - these look very robust and are doing very well - I keep assigning more space to them - in fact all the seeds are now planted out!
Parsnip Gladiator - sent to Sunny corner farm
Radish beauty heart - I need to figure out why my radishes do not form bulbs!  I just grow radish tops!
Silver beet organics - I have planted them in two different areas, but they seem very, very slow growing.  I do like them in the little jiffy pots as they are so easy to transplant out into the garden.
Parsley Italian garden pot - this started so well with its little sauna cover and I have now planted them out into the herb spiral where it is very happy.  This is a great way to start parsley.
Strawberry temptation garden pot - the strawberry seeds never came up, but I planted some lettuces into the pot once I gave up on the strawberries and they have done well.  My grandson who does not eat anything green has been picking and eating the lettuce leaves - hooray!
Here are the harlequin carrots with the (little) silverbeet in little jiffy pots alongside.

The herb spiral with its basil tower taking pride of place.
I received another package from Mr Fothergills containing the capsicum seven colors heirloom and blue lake green beans.  The capsicum seem quite slow growing, but it may be because our weather is much cooler than normal.  We also have had a lot of overcast days so they are not getting the sunshine needed for optimal growth.  I have planted them next to some cherry tomatoes along the back fence next to the herb spiral.  Capsicum and tomato are also supposedly good companions.
The black beans had shriveled away so I planted the blue lake beans against this fence and they seem to be doing well.  Some silverbeet are struggling along in front of them - I am hoping with some sunshine predicted this week they will take off.  In front of the ginger were some tropic tomatoes - they all died from wilt - I wont try them again.  Replacing them are tommy toe tomatoes and I have put carrot tape between them.
I was so blessed to receive the free seeds, and hope I can do them justice.  Ours is a difficult climate to grow veggies in and this year has certainly had its trying moments.  Every year I find a few new favorites and  I would say it looks as though the snow peas and harlequin carrots will be the favorites this year.

Monday, May 28, 2012

One of the most tropical flowers is the orchid, but I am a pretty lazy gardener, and somehow orchids always seem a  lot of trouble.  Living here though, I have found myself on occasion being gifted with or even buying an orchid or two.   A while back I moved my crucifix orchid out to the back fence, and with just a few rays of sunshine it began to bloom.  Oh Happy days!
Maybe the orchids need more light in order to bloom, although the white one loves its spot under the shade of the lychee tree and this is the second time it has bloomed this year.  I love the white among all the tropical green leaves.   I have a few other orchids hanging from a bamboo stake in that corner.

 While walking on the windswept beach after our storm I came across this bit of flotsam - I thought it might be  the trunk of a tree fern, but not sure as it is a conical shape.  I brought it home and it fitted right in between the branches of the weeping tea tree.
 The inside is very open and spongy, but the outside is firm, with little holes that will allow for good drainage.  A perfect orchid pot!  I have an orchid that has very long thick branches that need more support, and so I thought they might do better in this tree.  The don't flower in the shade either, so maybe a bit of sunshine will spur them into flowering.
 I also have an orchid in an old copper jug - I once heard that orchids like copper.  I cant get it out of the jug now, so tied that to the tree as well.  It has drainage holes in the bottom.  I think it looks rather pretty with all the assorted containers tied to the tree with their orchids in them.  Now we just have to wait for some blooms....
 The lipstick plant is blooming again and I read that it is also part of the orchid family.
So I guess I am  now into orchids by default.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Veggie garden and flood report in May

The bugs are quite prolific at this time of year, and I wonder whether growing Asian greens is feasible.  I grew a type of Japanese cabbage Tokyo belkana- I have no idea what it tasted like because it was just reduced to slush by some caterpillars.  Might be cabbage moth as there are lots of little moths flying around.  I dumped it all into the compost - hope they don't breed in there.. ..  the bok choy is also getting attacked, so I just pick the leaves as soon as they are almost big enough - seems to be working. My garlic and chili spray seems to attract them... sigh. I see cucumbers in our future though -

 some ready to eat...  I love to pick them right out in the garden and munch on them while I carry on working.  I might have to research the recipe for bread and butter pickles as it looks as though this is going to be a good crop.
I also have rosellas!  I had them once preserved whole in a jar, and you put one into a champagne flute and then filled it with bubbly - very addictive!  I will have to look for a recipe for preserved rosellas - anyone have one?   I imagine it would be the same as preserving any fruit in a light syrup.
 The herb spiral is doing well, and I love the colorful zinnias and the cosmos in the vegetable garden.  Hopefully they will all attract beneficial insects.
lots of them.
I am loving the winged beans - they will definitely have a permanent place in my garden.  I find the bigger ones need to have the strings removed, and then just lightly steamed they are lovely.  Some other recipes I am wanting to try are Thai style with coconut and chili and also straight on the barbecue  - the same way I love to cook eggplant, and mushrooms, and lots of other veggies.
I have lost a few beans and tomato plants to wilt - obviously still a huge problem in my soil.
After writing this post yesterday it started to rain and this morning I am flooded in - 300mm overnight!  I hope my poor veggies survive their roots being drowned!
some views of the side garden
 Under this river you can see the paving stones for my path :)
It just continues to fall
 The paths between my veggie beds look like lakes.  I thought the wet season was over!
I am going to hunker down and make some fresh bread and lentil soup for lunch!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Croton foliage

This little area has had an assortment of different plants, and then I put in a  few different crotons which have lovely colorful leaves.  No need for flowers when you have colorful foliage.  The grass is still battling here - I think the gardener whippersnips it too close to the ground.  It could also get too much shade, or not enough water, gosh all the different options, it is just a little bit of grass why doesn't it just grow?
anyway .............back to the colorful crotons, which seem to be growing just fine.

 I just love the colors.
and the wavy edges

so glad I planted these beauties.
I know it is very late but I am linking to foliage follow up for May here

Monday, May 21, 2012

Hay in May

I was given a  free bale of hay, and you know me - I never refuse anything free!  I don't really like the look of hay in my tropical garden, but laying it out on the weekend I realized it might be just what the garden needed.  We mulch most of the leaves that fall from the lychee tree to add to the compost bin, but a lot of the leaves that fall in the garden stay there and eventually rot down.  That leaf litter can be a haven for mosquitoes, so a light fluffy layer of hay over the leaves might hide them from the mosquitoes .... just a thought.  Probably not.
 I do think different kinds of mulch is good as each type adds different qualities to the soil.  This will soon break down and blend in, and more leaves will fall on top of it.   I am always moving things around and now have the bricks against the edge of this garden bed.  It creates a  nice even line, although there were not enough for the whole length so I added some pots on either edge and let some plants peek through the other gaps.
Working in the garden in the filtered morning light  is sheer pleasure.
I see against the fence there is another sexy pink lady flowering.  She wanted to hang over the fence into my neighbours yard, but I quickly put a stop to that!
I picked a few flowers and we had lunch out in the garden with our friends.
I have been reading a recipe book called Bali - the food of my island home by Janet de Neefe, and we had Balinese style Paella. What a gorgeous book -  fantastic photos and a little story to go with each recipe!  I picked lemongrass, kaffir lime, tumeric, ginger and shallots from my garden.  I even buried the prawn shells to break down and add their goodness to the soil.  That is totally my kind of weekend in the garden.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Resident Kookaburra

A couple of kookaburras seem to have a nest in the tree behind our property.  I was out at the potting bench the other day and you know how you get the feeling that someone is watching you?  Well I looked up and saw him just standing on the fence about ten feet away from me.   Isn't he gorgeous?

We are getting a bit of rain, and more rain forecast all weekend.  I think my plants will love that good soaking.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Shrieking colors for bloom day May 15th

You will know that I am a real sucker for quotes, and especially ones about gardening,  and recently I found a lovely one I had never heard before.  It came from   Floridagirl, who has a similar climate to me, but opposite hemisphere, so she is just moving into spring right now, and soon will be in the middle of her hot humid wet season.
                                   "Everything is blooming most recklessly;
                        if it were voices instead of colors,
                        there would be an unbelievable shrieking
                        into the heart of the night"
                               Rainer Maria Rilke

This "winter" of ours, - our dry season - is quite my favorite time of the year, and I think pretty colorful.
Impatients pops its head up night now, and I spread the love by breaking off branches, dipping them into hormone powder and stick them straight into the ground.
 I also found this plant at the local market called balsam - similar to impatients.
 The ground orchids love this time of year and I recently subdivided them and planted a row down the length of butterfly alley.  I hope they are happy in their new spot and flower profusely.
This common orchid, the crucifix orchid,  loves its location on the back fence and has already sent out two long flower spikes.

And this white orchid is sending out new buds - the last time it flowered just a couple of months ago something ate each of the little flowers one night!  Holding thumbs.

 The ixora is loving a bit more light since I cut the madevilla back
this pink Canna is continuously flowering - the red one not so much.   In some cooler climates they die back during the winter but these soldier on all year.
 at one stage I thought the cats whiskers was getting to be too rampant and pulled it all out, I am glad it came back on its own, the sunbirds and butterflies love it.
Another flower that attract butterflies is the cosmos, and it seems to be doing well in the gardens around Australia that I sent some seeds to.

This year I remembered to plant zinnias - from the seeds I got ages ago from kebun malay kadazan girls - thank you for adding even more color to my garden.

I love lots and lots of flowers in the garden,  and will keep aiming for some shrieking reckless blooming.  How about you?

I am joining in Garden bloggers Bloom day May 15th  check there for even more lovely blooms.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Garden edging and paths with high sides

We had a long weekend, so that was a great excuse to do some shopping and also gardening.   I picked up some plastic garden edging.  I had originally thought of bricks, but they were out of my budget.  Here is where you enter butterfly alley
 and this is where you come out.
I think what makes it so lovely is the fact that there are fairly high plants on either side - enclosing you in green. I would definitely recommend doing this in any garden if you can.   I have tried to zoom in and make sure, but I think there is a butterfly just hanging out in the middle of the photo!!!  That particular plant has some little red flowers that the butterflies love. I love to see birds and butterflies hanging out and enjoying the garden. I am so glad that I made this path. :)
 The veggie garden is looking more perma-culturish every day.
the herbs in the herb spiral  are happy too - especially now that they have a nice layer of mulch.  I am just waiting until the parsley in the lower layer get a little bigger and then I will add mulch there too.  I prefer to sow the seeds in the bed - they don't seem to like to be transplanted.
Gosh I love hanging out in the garden.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

sharing the love

I keep meaning to partake in more simple acts of kindness - this reminds me how rewarding it can be.

All of the gardeners I know are totally enamored with Costa, who is now our Gardening Australia host.  A wild looking, heavily bearded man, into permaculture, chook poo and all things earthy :)  I have been following along on his blog and there is a wonderful giveaway open to anyone in the world - just click on this link removed.  It looks like a great book - just the kind of principles I like to adhere to in my garden.

NOTE:  After reading a comment below from Kristen I am not so enamored by Costa anymore.  It seems that he scrapped the content from sustainablesuburbia .  I really thought that he stood for higher values. Isn't it funny that I talked about principles.  I think the majority of garden bloggers are happy to share links and given credit where it is due.  It gives us more time to garden when we are not busy chasing after who is stealing our content.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Lots of flowers and easy to grow

Every garden should have them - dependable stalwarts.  Those plants that flower all the time, adding beauty and not requiring anything.  Continually self-propagating.  (fertility alley?)  They are rarely showcased anymore here since they are always in flower, and yet deserve their moment in the spotlight.  In a tropical garden there is always lots of green, but then also colour.  The first bit of colour among all the green, is the geisha girl - it keeps on flowering year round, and is a great butterfly attractant.   

 Then there are the large pink anthirium, and some of the tiny purple ones below them.  From the two plants I originally acquired I can now count at least 10, and they line butterfly alley.
 Red ginger starts out as a small bud, and then the flowers open for a couple of months, one on the end of every branch. I have the red and also the pink.

Eventually  the flowers are bowed down by new leaves and aerial roots as the weight pulls them down to to the ground to  start a new plant.

 Ground orchids do best if they have a bit of light and so they are all very happy that my latest bit of landscaping has let in more light.   Their bulbs are continually multiplying and can be divided up into new individual plants.

 The tree fern always has new fronds curled up ready to unfurl into shady green branches.  As those branches fall off and lie on the ground the spores find root and voila - we have another baby tree fern!
 Hibiscus is another common tropical flower - they only last for a day, but that means every morning there are fresh flowers on the bushes.  I really must remember to pick some to dry for tea.  You know celestial seasonings red zinger? That is made from hibiscus flowers.
 In the wet season the bromeliads really shine, and every time one of them flowers they will send out another pup to the side.  This can be removed and planted in another spot.

Living in the tropics,  my commonplace flowers might seem exotic to someone living in a more temperate zone.  What flowers do you have in the garden that are the bones of the garden?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Slow living April 2012

Linking to 

SLOW LIVING - Month by Month April 2012

NOURISH:  I have been trying a new recipe every Tuesday in order to gather together some well tried and tested recipes to make menu planning easier.  I am also trying to have more meatless meals along with Rhonda from Down to Earth.  Last night we just had a bunch of roasted veggies - pumpkin, onions, garlic, broccoli, celery, and carrots with brown rice.  It was totally delicious, and I realized I must not stress about not having a plan for dinner, and just cook what is there. 
PREPARE I made some comfrey ointment, hoping to have a positive effect on my hubby's sore ankle.

REDUCE:  I cleaned out the pantry and repacked a lot of things into glass bottles, reducing the amount of plastic containers.  I took note of the extra items I had that were purchased and then not used again and will plan to use them up so that I only keep a core list in my pantry, not half the supermarket. 

GREEN:  Does the fact that I now have a pair of gardening gloves made of bamboo count? I won a couple of pairs of gardening gloves from  -the-urban-farm-handbook-challenge.  

GROW:   The garden is definitely starting to pick up and produce now.  I harvested lots of ginger in order to make room for the tomatoes, and the winged bean are going crazy! I thought they were just a wet season vegetable, but I see they are here for good, so will have to assign that portion of the patch over to them.  I am harvesting salad greens by picking off the leaves so that they can continue to grow.   Some seedlings seem slow in starting up.  I have starting adding a little sulphate of potash to my fortnightly feed with seaweed.

CREATE:   My grandkids are going on a holiday to Brisbane where it gets a little cooler than here so beanies and scarves were requested.  I used  a variegated yarn, and think they turned out quite well.  
I reached over 100 followers on my blog and organized a giveaway of one of my silk scarves.  I make them using a paint that uses the sun to set the designs and lay flowers and  ferns on the scarves to set in the design. scarves 

DISCOVER:  Share titles/authors of what has been read this month.  
I simply love Alexander McCalls books in the No1 ladies detective Agency series.  I found a new one in the library called "The Limpopo academy of Private Detection".  I also ordered some for my mom - at a great price and with free shipping.  3 books - paid for in Australia, shipped to South Africa, for a total price of 14.00! It is worth checking out and they have a further 10% off for the months of April and May. book depository   I can't wait for my mom to read them.
ENHANCE: I made a new path in the garden, and love wandering down butterfly alley!  

ENJOY: We had some visitors from overseas and really enjoyed showing them around the beautiful part of Australia that we call home.  There is a rocky outcrop above Mossman Gorge and for the first time ever I got some good photos which I shared on my travel blog here: Good Shepherd  I am so blessed to live here!

thank you so much Christine for organizing this - I am really enjoying this bit of reflection every month!


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