Showing posts from September, 2010

Bromeliad bed extended

At the end of the bromeliad bed is the corner where I have been growing gerbera daisies, but I think they are not happy there.  It is probably a little too shady and water logged, and that will only get worse as the wet season approaches.  This weekend I moved the gerberas out into the front where they will get full sun and good drainage.  A couple of my bromeliads have been producing extra pups, so they were cut off and moved to their new home.  As I prepare my tomato bed I will be digging up more and more stones, must really start to wash them off though so that the top layer has no dirt in them as that just attracts weeds. I just need a few more bricks and that will complete this area nicely. This one has coloured up so nicely since it was moved into a more sunny position.  It only gets morning sun but that seems to be enough. I have always hankered after a water feature, and if you look closely the inside of my neo looks just like a little pond with a water lilly stretching u

Yates challenge - please comment and vote for me!

Please click on the yates challenge link below and make comments on my 2 blogs and vote for me.  I want to win some of the great prizes, and also I want to get the word out that growing vegetables in the tropics is challenging but also rewarding!  We get forgotten up here, and cant grow the "regular" vegetables! If you live in Australia then sign up yourself :) - time is running out..... thanks all! Update to this post - sorry - you have to be signed up to vote -

Arch supported once again.

I spent the entire day on Saturday in the vegetable garden.  There was lots to do.  Always the changing of the seasons seems to bring extra chores.  First thing to go was the support that I had added to  the back fence so that the passionfruit vine which went wild had somewhere to go.   That died off due to the woody passionfruit virus but has started up again travelling in the other direction.  I have decided I dont want it going along the back of the vegetable garden again as next season I want to plant tomatoes along that back fence and need to prepare the soil there.  At the moment there are small stones there, so it will be a big job, but I have time.  The arch had sagged down so much that there really was no arch left.... I had purchased a cheap arch and it had rusted away. Not a good look at all. I removed that bit of wire and with hubbys help we inserted it into the old arch.  We put the wire under the mass of passionfruit and mandevilla vines and pushed, nothing moved......

Crucifix Orchid

I have really wondered about orchids - do they require exra fertilizer besides bark?  Mine just do not seem to flower as  well as I would have hoped.  They are in the shade and I do realise they need a bit of sun when they are ready to flower, but quite honestly I dont have space for a summer house for them! Would it be better to have them on some sort of screen that could be moved out into the sun to promote flowering?  Mmmm, I do have an old cane arch - that has given me an idea!  I will shelve that idea in the back of my mind, but I can see pots of orchids suspended in a type of screen effect.  Not sure where I would put it..... but having somethign moveable might be the idea. Before I began gardening totally organically I used to spray my orchids with fertilizers and they would flower twice a year.  Now they get a little seaweed tea, and because they are not in soil where they would get my compost, that is pretty much all they get.  They are in a  mixture of bark, and because the

A clean slate in the vegetable garden - the Yates challenge

I am slowly realising that the wet season in the tropics is a totally different season to anywhere else. I joined the Yates challenge and planted some bean seeds, but not one came up. Regular vegetable just do not do well here. I got my free packet of carrot seeds in the mail this week and will give them a try. I haven't tried them before but who knows, they might like all the rain. My gem squash was doing quite well, and then it seemed to take on a new lease of life and start running rampant in the vegetable garden - oh no!  wait a minute! this is a different vine and the gem squash has totally died off again.  Succumbed to powdery mildew yet again! I think this is a jap pumpkin vine.  Instead of the beans against the fence I have planted long tropical snake beans, jicama (yam bean) and ginger.  Right in the corner my sweet potatoes are starting up again.   So in a little while this fence will be covered in greenery, and I have learnt a lesson - in the wet season only plant ve

Ulysses butterfly chrysalis formed

A chrysalis has formed - it looks just like a leaf that has folded over, and the caterpillar must  fold a leaf over itself to form the top of the chrysalis.  I would never have found it if I wasn't looking.... From the underside it doesn't look as though there is anything inside the leaf. It looks like a jellylike substance - and I have heard that during the metamorphosis, that that is what the chrysalis contains.  Just a jelly, and from that emerges a beautiful butterfly!  amazing! Just after my divorce I read a great book that compared troubled times to that time in the chrysalis, where you are just a blob of jelly, but time heals, and  Gods hands re-create, and you will eventually emerge better and stronger  just as a butterfly will emerge from its chrysalis!  What a wonderful thought that was to hold onto.  We don't have to do anything, just wait, and see what beauty will emerge.   and the plain brown spiky caterpillar is changing into the same green one, so it is n

Free fertilizers

On our beach walk today I noticed that we once again have seaweed - for some reason it disappears during the dry season - I must remember that and stock up next time!   It started raining but I couldn't stop myself and was running around dragging bunches of seaweed back to the car.  I like to think I looked like a mermaid emerging from the deep bringing armloads of pure gold, but that would actually take a bit more imagination.  I certainly felt as though I had struck gold! The asparagus is now mulched with seaweed and some new shoots are appearing. Yummy - time to start harvesting them now! The other thing I have been wanting to do for a long time is make comfrey juice. I do already use the leaves as mulch and add them to the compost. Glen, who gardens in a community plot in England has posted some very interesting reports on comfrey.  Find him on kitchen gardens - link to the right. Loosely following his instructions I have a pot of comfrey leaves which is going to drip down in


I bought five amaryllis bulbs at a garage sale about three years ago, and they were planted in the back garden at the house we were renting.  It was a little overgrown and I was pleasantly surprised every now and then to find a beautiful bloom.  When I dug them up to move over to our new place I discovered they had multiplied and I now had about 15 bulbs!   I gave them pride of place all along the edge of the bed, and as the leaves would flop around I would keep telling hubby (and remind myself)  that the flowers were beautiful, and worth putting up with the yellowing floppy leaves for the rest of the year.   I would trim back the leaves, and occasionally wonder when these silly things do flower.  By the time I discovered that they would commonly flower in spring it was already well into summer, and we had not had one inkling of a flower!   Maybe they needed more sunlight?  I moved some across into the garden outside the bedroom window, and eventually moved some bromeliads surroundi

Strange new catterpillars - could they be ulysses butterflies?

Coming home from work yesterday I noticed that something had been nibbling on my new lime tree!  Well, this is not good, as it is just a very small lime - but what to do!  Very interesting looking catterpillars, and there were two of them.  I picked  a few branches of my neighbours kaffir lime tree and put them into a vase.  Then carefully transferred the catterpillars to their new home. Another one was moved...  You can clearly see the shape of the kaffir lime - like two leaves stuck together. They seem to like their new home and settled right in for a meal, funnily enough there were some of the same catterpillar on my neighbours tree, so at least I know that this is  also a plant they would have chosen.  She thinks it is a ulysses butterfly - how lovely!  Funnily enough I have another plant in the back that was specially chosen as a ulysses catterpillar host,  but figured these might have a preference for the citrus flavour!  The ulysses butterflies are difficult to catch on fil

Wet season is just around the corner

These little guys we call rocket frogs and they have been getting inside the house.  Less than an inch in size, they can jump four or five feet so are very difficult to catch and re-locate outside.  My grandson has great fun chasing them.  When one of those jumps on you in the middle of the night it can give you a big fright. I guess that means the wet season is just around the corner.  This hibiscus that I grew from a slip has done well, and I love the way it start to unfurl... Into a very delicate flower.  Look at the detail - I just fell in love with it, and so glad that the little slip that I had in my handbag all day took! The desert rose has buds just about to burst open, it has recovered from the rather severe pruning I gave it after a bad bug infestation. Even the franzipani is showing signs of life. This must be part of the bamboo family,  but it behaves very well and is not at all invasive, so I have placed a few cuttings in other areas. So is my garden ready for

The yates spring challenge - beans

My fellow gardening blogger from Year in a  Gippsland garden blogged about accepting the yates challenge to grow some spring vegetables from seeds.  I took up the challenge and am starting some beans.  As we come into the wet season here in Far North Queensland there is a limited amount of vegetables we can grow.   Some of the problems we face are mildew and bugs, any plants that cant stand wet foliage are out, so that is the end of our tomato crops.  I sitll have a few cherry tomatoes growing, but have to continually cut off any yellowing foliage to allow lots of air to circulate.  I have chosen beans to grow and in the past have not had a lot of success with beans, so am holding thumbs.  I am planting them in between the pigeon peas that I have growing in a  line down the centre of my veggie bed.  The pigeon pea seeds were innoculated which means they add nitrogen into the soil every time they are cut back.   This bed was built up using lots of mulch and compost, with no artificial

What is in my vegetable patch right now

I have noticed that lately the asparagus stalks have been getting thicker and stronger.  I dont know if it is because we are heading into the wet season which is when we are supposed to harvest them.  In more temperate climates, the plant dies down in the winter, but here it has continued to grow and produce, but I have left the shoots which is supposed to build up more strength in the roots.  This weekend I cut back all the older shoots that were starting to collapse at the base. These were planted as two year crowns and at the same time I got a packet of seeds for a purple asparagus.  Out of the whole packet only one plant survived.   It looks very spindly, but I will leave it in the pot a while longer before I transplant it into the ground.   The asparagus tops are full of little seeds - I wonder if they will grow?  I put some into a  couple of pots.  They are very slow growing, but since mine are doing so well I will start some long term planning for more.  Here you can see the t

Colorful coleus

Coleus is a great plant to fill in any empty areas, I find you can just cut off a little bit, and either root it first in a little water or else just plonk into the ground and it will grow. what is not to love about that! look at the variegated colours on this leaf!  Who need flowers when you have leaves like this?

Recycle those broken garden solar lights

I dont know how many solar garden lights I have bought in my lifetime and they have all eventually stopped working.  The solar part of the top starts to rust and they slowly dim, until they dont work anymore.  Since I hate to get rid of something that might go on to have another life I have been saving them in hopes I would have a  bright idea. well, talking of bright ideas led to candles...  mmmm how does that look?  I put one on either side of my pathway - they showcase my new stone "welcome to spring" stepping stone.  It was lovely sitting out in the gazebo looking out at the lightly flickering candles.  There was a light mist of rain which did not seem to bother the flame, and just enough to cool things down without making us head inside. I was thinking about drilling holes so that they would drain, and then when one was filled with rainwater I thought that they might also be used as little floating vases to add a bit of colour.   so they have yet another us

Ground orchids and cannas

Rain, constant rain, and this is not yet the wet season - who would know! The red canna has opened up and is such a rich wonderful colour. I ripped out the vinca that had sprung up between them while I was away.  They had been crowding out the established plants so had to go.  Hopefully now the cannas will enjoy their newfound freedom.   They struggled a bit in the back and so now have a sunny spot against the fence.  I hear so many people who are in love with cannas and find them easy, but this has not been the case with me.   The old leaves always look untidy, and the flower stems are often top heavy and flop down on weak stems, so maybe with a bit more openness I will get some strong healthy plants. The ground orchid has long been a staple in my garden and propogates frequently, but I will always find room for more. I needed some this weekend  to give away, so did some subdividing.  the ones that are left will rapidly fill in the empty area I created. In between rainshowers I ma

Tropical fruit trees

I have been hankering after a lime tree forever.  For my birthday everyone chipped in and I went off to go and spend the money at the garden center in Bunnings.  Owing to the small spcae we have, it has to be a dwarf variety, and probably in a pot, although I  do prefer trees in the ground - somehow it seems a bit alien to be putting a tree into a pot.  I never get the watering right either.  Whoa there, we dont want to jepordize this before it starts!  They have dwarf meyer lemon or dwarf lime - I chose the lime as a lot of my neighbours have troubles with their lemons.  I think limes are more apt to grow without problems in this climate. So here is my new little addition- I chose one that already had buds - a sign of good things to come! Marketing gets me every time - I loved the lime green pot, the name "sublime", and even free recipes on the back of the label! Dont those limes on the label look delicious! So in my small garden I now have quite a few fruit trees - the l

Herb spiral update

Over the weekend we went shopping in the big city.  I got lost in the garden center. Well, I wasnt technically lost, and my hubby knew that was where he would find me when I lost track of time! The herb spiral has become overgrown with mother of herbs. That is a tropical plant much like oregano, but all you need is one leaf in a pot of spaghetti bolognaise, so I probably have more than an ample supply for an Italian restuarant.  The comfrey off to the one side of the little path is doing well, despite - or maybe because of me continually cutting back the lower leaves for compost. I found this cute litttle lemon thyme - the thyme I have grown from seed has always been rather spindly and I thought I might do better to buy the enitre plant,and maybe this lemon type will do better in the tropical climate. Strawbery plants were on special, so a section mother of herbs was cut back to allow space for the strawberry plant.   as you can see most of my weeds are cherry tomatoes and p