Showing posts from January, 2010

Australia Day!

I have travelled throughout my life to many different countries around the world, and people would often ask me which country was the best.  I believe we carry our happiness within us and it is up to us to make the place we are in at the time into a "home". Every country has its special day, and on Bastille day I introduced the family to boullabaise, mexican fare on cinco de Mayo, and then even turkey on Thanksgiving.  Bobotie and milk tart from the land of my birth are standard fare.  We can stay at home and travel the world in our kitchen!  I love exploring the foods of different countries, and shopping at markets around the world, chatting to locals and gleaning new tips and different recipes.  I always liked that term - citizen of the world! This Tuesday, January 26th,  is Australia Day.   Snags and damper?  mmmm  lamb chops, steaks and baked sweet potato along with a nice salad will be the more likely fare.  I love the diversity of this my new country and hope to t

Trying to keep the bugs in check

I know I have created a tropical garden, but with the tropical garden comes things I dont want! Mosquitoes and bugs! Over the weekend I cut back a few branches from the tree that were touching the wooden fence. This meant that absolutely no light reached into the part of the garden where the cordelines and costus were. Also some heleconias and a torch ginger. I think that might be why I was not getting many flowers and a lot of the leaves were being totally eaten away by catterpillars and green grasshoppers. (Probably other things as well, but that is what I could see.) I hope this allows a bit of light in so that the sodden ground can dry out a bit between storms and the plants benefit from a bit more sunlight. There is a fine line between full shade and dappled light. The tree fern just loves this weather, as do the impatients.  I have let it run a little wild. I have also thinned some plants out so there is more air circulation. Worked on the area to the right of my littl

Beehive gingers

The little pathway to the center of the garden..... I love the way the beehive gingers are all congregated at the edge of the path.  They will be in flower like this for months. The shampoo ginger (which is also part of the beehive family) has a few flowers forming in its little pockets. The lady that gave my this ginger said she would just run her hands over the inforescence and her hands would be quite soapy.  Well I did that and defiinetly got some liquid out of the pockets - it did smell divine - sort of gingery - but no suds.  Was I expecting too much?

Vegetables and Herbs

  I do love how colourful the area around the birdbath has become - maybe a little too wild though - I could see some cutting back was needed soon.  The coleus edging can take over - it started out as one little four inch pot, now is a ground cover in two areas of the garden,    The madevilla vine is also getting quite heavy and the arch had rusted though and was bending.  It  needed some stabilizing and re-inforcing.  I guess it was not designed for such heavy use. I have also noticed that the birds are not visiting the birdbath as often - maybe there is enough water around, but then again maybe they dont like to feel "trapped" inside under the arch.  So I pruned back the cats whiskers around the birbath and moved the birdbath right out from under the arch.  It will be more convenient there anyway as we need to be quite vigilant about cleaning out standing water so that the dengue mosquitoes dont breed.   Once the wet season is over I will move the rose into the new rose g


One of the things I did over the holidays was to clean out some clutter. We both like to live as clutter free as possible, and the one thing that bothers me is boxes of "stuff" packed away, wasting space where nobody ever even knows it is there. Years ago I spent a lot of time living and sailing on a small yacht, and there was very little extra room for "stuff".  I remember a few times when I would retrieve a special article of clothing only to find that it had been ruined by mildew.  I developed an attitude that I would rather enjoy things right there and then, than put that enjoyment off for another time that might never happen. Consequently when we unpacked a box that contained some treasured things my hubby's grandfather and my father had made we decided to put them out somewhere where we could enjoy them every day.   They might not last quite as long out in the elements, but I love these daily reminders of those we love. These wooden owls that my father

Lemongrass and herbal teas

The asparagus is tipping over and although I have read that you should not disturb the roots I did put in a few small stakes to support them.  I have stopped harvesting them in order to build the plants up for next years harvest. These were only two year old plants this year. I also cut some lemongrass and used it as mulch around the base -I think it keeps bugs at bay and also it smells divine.  The lemongrass was running a bit rampant and needed cutting back, so I coarsely chopped some of the stems to dry and make tea.  I am not sure if you are supposed to use the stems or the leaves for tea, but I think the stems are more flavourful - at least that is what you use for cooking.  Anyway this time I had used all the leaves for mulch!  I often use a lemongrass stick in my regular tea as a stirrer and it imparts a lovely flavour.  That got me going, and soon I was cutting back the spearmint, chocolate mint, stevia and even a few hibiscus leaves and kaffir lime leaves. I have never dri

Bug season

The hot wet humid season should be termed the bug season.  The amaranth that I planted was totally decimated by some creatures, and I was not sure what had done the damage until I found this little green grasshopper.  I have seen them on occasion before. As you can see there is not much of the amaranth left, and I have cut back most of the top growth in the hopes that new leaves will appear.  They will probably just eat those as well ... oh well I will consider this a green manure crop - maybe it is enriching the soil as well as making those grasshoppers fat!  This fat grasshopper is no more though - may he rest in peace! The next thing I found was this catterpillar crawling up an asparagus frond. Well my!  He went the same way - I have seen a bunch of these chomping on my sweet potato leaves.  I hope these are not catterpillars that would have turned into beautiful butterflies.  how does one know?  I toyed with the idea of keeping him in a shoebox the way we used to with silkworm

Going Troppo

A tumeric leaf unfurls A ground orchid flowers: Sweet potatoes start to poke their way above the soggy ground The start of a new year, and I have been looking back on the last year and how much my garden has changed.  I begin to wonder.  What new projects can I come up with?  I wanted my garden to be self-sustaining, and not require constant money effort or time, I achieved that, but what next?  I enjoyed the creativity of pulling everything together, and now I feel a bit of a sense of deflation. Maybe too this is a little bit of what we call here "going troppo".  The constant heat and humidity is very draining, and anything you do outside has to be interspersed by bouts of re-hydrating and cooling off in the pool or the air-conditioning.  I did about an hour of weeding and pruning yesterday, and that was all I could handle.  True, I shouldnt have done that in the middle of the day, but I was in the shade.  All the plants are growing to immense proportions.  The only

Growing shampoo?

A new ginger flower has appeared. A friend gave me a piece of rhizome a couple of months ago and called it shampoo ginger. It is also known as pinecone ginger, and these new inflorescences (as they are called) do seem to look like a pinecone. They are similar to the yellow beehive ginger but do not seem to have the open bracts. It will be interesting to see the fluid that is created in the bracts - evidently it is a very sweet ginger smelling shampoo! What with my loofas, and ginger shampoo I might go into the bath products business! We have had a tremndous amount of rain in the last couple of days. This is the "little" creek that trickles along for most of the year just down the road from us. It is normally about 30ft below this bridge. Now it is a swirling brown river! The skies are overcast and I think we in store for further rain - I like the way this heleconia shows up against the cloudy sky. The tropical flowers love this type of weather - a bromeliad flower h