Monday, November 22, 2021

Blue tea

 Last Christmas my grandchildren gave me a collection of little vials of loose leaf herbal teas, in a little calico bag.   One of my favorites was blue bliss, a mix of butterfly pea, lemongrass and blue cornflowers.

I was pretty excited to see butterfly pea seeds for sale at the local open gardens we had a couple of months ago.   I popped them into the new raised beds when I took out the eggplant that had reached the end of their growing season.   They took off, and pretty soon I had these amazing bright blue flowers growing up the trellis.  So exciting!

I had made some cupcakes using my vegan chocolate cake recipe in some pretty little cupcake holders. I thought I had posted the recipe here on my blog, but see I have not, so I have been remiss as I think you will love it as much as I do (and everyone else that I cook it for).   I will post that recipe in the next couple of days, so watch out for it. 

During the year I had purchased a lemon myrtle plant, so I picked off a few dried flowers off the vine, added a few leaves of lemon myrtle to my infuser, grabbed a cupcake and then settled down in my favourite chair next to the pond.
Now that is what I consider a perfect afternoon tea!

What is your favourite tea?  do you grow it in your garden?   

Saturday, October 16, 2021

one tonne of 220mm gravel

 Over time the gravel in my paths sinks down, and as I pull up weeds, the earth comes up, and it all begins to look a litle untidy and of course allows more weeds to grow. I ordered a tonne of gravel to be delivered, and of course it has kept me very busy spreading out a thin layer everywhere it is needed.   It looks different, but it is the same rock just, very ,very dusty.

We also decided to open up the front a bit and include the carport as part of the garden.  It really is wasted as a carport because most vistors park out front in the visitors parking.  I dug up a few big plants (they have been there for 15 years!)  and others just wouldnt budge so they got a reprieve.   I poured boiling water over one, and then will just continue to cut back any growing shoots and see how we go.  It has been so hot and dry, so have had to continually water to establish the new plants.  I planted a Rose of sharon that I grew from a slip.  Such a pretty bush, with pale pink, darker pink and white flowers.  Luckily I now have a wheelbarrow! purchased from the same yard sale as I got the pond! this opened up the whole area. and then I had to level it all out.

Once it was edged with bricks and the stones layed it looked as though it was always meant to be!

All the pots are scattered around the area, and I think they enjoy more sunshine than tucked along the fence.  Fruit salad alley has taken on a different form.  Now you can leisurely wander into the garden which slowly reveals itself , defenitely an improvement on the curb appeal.

The next job is to remove all the plants that had grown up along the fence line behind the pots.  

I dont think I will be ordering any more rock deliveries for a while.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

I added a pond and water fountain to our garden!

 I have been helping my stepson and family move into their new house.  Lots of work, but luckily they have a bit of overlap where they can live in the old house, and then do all the upgrades they want to in the new house.   Lot of cleaning and  painting, but the thing I have been enjoying the most is of course the garden!  They have a pond,a nd I have never had anything to do with water features.   One day driving home I noticed my neighbour getting ready for his garage sale, and washing out his little pond.   I nipped over to ask if he was selling the pond, and he was, so I bought it on the spot!   

It is a two part fibreglass system, and in his garden had the top part resting on the lower pond.   Once I separated them out, and put the waterfall section on a stand it seemed so much bigger.  

 Projects always look worse before they start to look better, dont they?   I originally had this  shrub as a green wall, but had to cut most of it away.  It will start to fill in again pretty quickly.

I filled it with pretty little blue iridescent pebbles (which came with the pond!   ) I placed my brahmi plant in the top section, and it has never looked happier.   The peace lilly sits in its pot on top of the pump, and then I have some duckweed floating around on top.  .  I do want some more plants , and would love water lillies, but not sure if the pond is too shallow.  I hear different points of view.   They will find their own height, or they need at least three feet of water!  after 24 hours to allow the water to settle I added the fish.

They are just guppies, but some have lovely colours, and as I feed them twice a day I feel they are getting to know me.  They will come and eat out of my hand if I hold a piece of fish food in my fingers.   This is a whole new project for me so if anyone has any advice please share your thoughts.  In the meantime we are enjoying happy hour every evening alongside the sound of tinkling water.  So lovely.   

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

New plants always get me out into the garden

I spent a few days with a friend of mine last week.  Having a break and doing "girl stuff"  like yoga on the deck, coffee and beach walks in the afternoon.   How lovely, I really need to do more of that in my retirement!  I came away with a few different plants and an extra basket that she didnt want.

Over the weekend we had an open garden event and I had been so inspired visiting other peoples gardens, and picked up a few seeds.   Seeds from my area are always the best, as they have become acclimatised.  I popped a few into some pots and have been taking good care of them.  I also planted out some Thai pink egg tomatoes a while back, and every seed has come up!  Defenitely enough to share around., I am just letting them get a big bigger.

At the open gardens I fell in love with coleus once again, so was pleased to get some cuttings from my friend.  I planted them out in the little bed next to the gate.  Probably the sunniest spot in my garden.   I re-did the edging, but need to get some more gravel in to top up the bare spots, otherwise it is just a haven for weeds.

Working out in the back under the lychee tree is always a pleasure.  We have been 
cutting back some branches every week to allow more light to filter through and hopefully then will not have to get professionals in to trim back the tree at huge expense.
I planted a birds nest fern and a hoya in the new hanging basket,  it looks pretty - I do love hanging baskets, it makes people look up into the lovely branches.
Once the leaves were mulched up and added to the compost, it was time to hang out in the swing and just watch the plants grow!  Have you been busy in your garden?  

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Veggies are flourishing

 At the start of our growing season I seem to struggle with the veggie garden, and then suddenly notice that things start going better.  At the same time though, the bandicoots always seem to find a way in.  So finding and repairing holes in the fences is a daily occurance lately.  Our fences are old, so they push against the fence, and burrow under it until they create access.  I then fill in the hole and screw a piece of wood against the fence, or place a heavy rock against it.

It is heartbreaking to go out every morning and find my new little seedlings dug up....
The raised beds are just high enough that they cannot get in, so at the moment it is just the herb spiral and I think I need to create some sort of bandicoot fence around that.

I have been harvesting these eggplant - a few every day.  They grow in little bunches.
The other produce I harvested was my pumpkin. the vine has started flowering again in two different areas, so far only male flowers, but I am keeping my eye out to see if I can get another one pollinated. 

I was amazed at how intense the colour was when I opened it, so had roast pumpkin with dinner, kept some for soup and  I roasted the seeds as well.

I have quite a nice assortment of mixed greens for a daily salad for lunch too.
I hope your garden is flourishing as well.!  

Saturday, July 17, 2021



A couple of weeks ago we had an amazing crafternoon, and learned to make kokedama! As expected, the very next week a few of us got together to make more! A wonderfully addictive craft - have you tried it?

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We used a recipe of 7 parts peat moss to 3 parts bonzai soil with enough water to hold it all together. I would suggest making a small one to begin with, we had a choice of mini mondo grass or jade plant. I chose the jade plant for mine.

First of all prepare a small bowl with a piece of stocking stretched over the top, with the toe intact or knotted at the bottom. Line with spagnum moss which has been soaked in water. Make a little palm sized ball of the potting mixture, and then break it exactly in half, that is one way to check if you have the right texture. Insert the plant and continue to massage the ball so that the root is well contained. Pop into the spagnum lined pot and pull the stocking up and around. Add more moss if needed, and then tie the stocking off close to the plant so that the moss is sealed inside. It is ok if a little pokes out of the top.

Now you start with wrapping the string around your little kokedama! Firstly tie around the plant from top to bottom at an angle, then begin to weave the longer end around on the right hand side of the original tie, and coming up on the left hand side, crossing over to the right and up again on the left. Continue in this way until the entire ball is covered with string or until you are happy with the result.

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Here I used crochet cotton, which is much thinner, but you have more colour options and I think it looks better when wet. This is a little carnivorous plant that likes to be fairly wet. I have kept it in a bowl of rocks, so that it is not standing in water, but the water in the rocks creates a little moist microclimate.

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In the end I made quite a few, one little one I hung above my garden mural, because my macrame had rotted away and the poor plant was just dangling by a string.. Three others I placed onto a tray of stones. They just require dunking in water once a week. I am not crazy about the way the string deteriorates over time, so here I just put one layer of the crochet cotton on top.

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I try not to use peat moss as it is unsustainable, and here in the tropics coconut coir is my first choice. I used one part each of coir and potting mix, and then a quarter part each of perlite and clay. I will monitor them all and let you know how they each turn out. Let me know if you have made kokedama (or if you have never even heard of them!) and if you want to make them now after seeing how cute they are!

Saturday, July 3, 2021

Aerated Compost Tea

 I am harvesting a few cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and lots of greens from the garden, which is good.  we have rain just about every day so I dont have to remember to water!

I made up a few flower posies and bags of greens to share with friends, I so love to share what I have in the garden.

Most of my gardening endeavors start with amending the soil. Even though I have a small garden I compost as much as possible, in as many ways as possible. My tumbling compost bin is my favourite, since everything is contained and vermin cannot get in, and also tumbling keeps everything nicely mixed. Recently I heard about aerated compost tea.

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I filled a sand bag with compost and tied the top closed, then placed it into a plastic storage bin. This was the biggest container that I had handy, and it made a fair amount of liquid. I topped the plastic container with water that had been standing for a couple of hours to make sure any chlorine evaporated, since I only have town water. I then added about a half a cup of molasses, as this adds food for the microbes.

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Then I inserted a little aquarium pump, and left it running. It is supposed to run continuously for about 24 hours. but the pump was getting hot, so I turned it off over night.

After two days I picked up the (heavy) bag and dumped that out into the standing compost bin. Then I could scoop out the lovely liquid with the watering can and water my veggies. It didn't smell bad at all - the molasses scent was still quite strong. I am so happy with the way my veggie garden is performing so figured it deserved a reward.

Has anyone else activated their compost tea?


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