Monday, March 12, 2018

Trees in my food forest - Moringa

Living on the edge of the Daintree forest I can see firsthand how forests are such an awesome self-sustaining culture.  The leaves and fruit drop on the ground and breakdown to form a wonderful thick rich humus. It makes sense to try to replicate that system in the area of our gardens where we grow food.  That is where the idea of food forests in permaculture was born.
I like trees that just give a little filtered light because the fact is that sometimes I still do need to have some sunshine. Living in the tropics, full sun is just too much for most plants.  I find that I am continually cutting branches back to let light in or planting new shoots to create more shade in another area.  Those branches that I cut back are returned to the floor of the food forest, either as green mulch or into the compost and added later.  I am going to focus in the next few posts on each of the main trees I have as the upper layer in my food forest.
A while back I planted a moringa tree in the herb spiral, which  I purchased at the local markets.  I didn't realize that it would grow quite so tall, and so quickly, and a couple of weeks ago I cut the branches right back. Already it has lots of new growth as you can see in this photo.

So far I have just been grabbing a few leaves here and there to nibble on, but this time I landed up with a bunch of leaves, so decided to dry them and make some powder.  I used the same method that I did for drying the rosella for tea, simply spread them out onto the reflective windshield car mat, although this time I didnt park the car in the sun as that can affect the nutrients that are retained during the drying process.

 I made some delicious bliss balls and used this recipe.  My food processor didn't get it that fine (plus I had a few stalks left in there!), so I didn't exactly get a powder.  I don't really drink smoothies, but have stirred some into my oatmeal after cooking and it just blends right in.  It also makes quite a nice tea.  I am looking for other ideas of how I can incorporate this into my diet.

The Organic India site has lots of information about Moringa, and it seems to provide a vast amount of beneficial vitamins, and minerals. It grows very quickly in my climate from a branch, and so I am going to propagate a few more trees.  It provides that filtered light and yet it just has a tap root that means you can grow herbs around its base, so it is fast becoming my favourite  tree in the food forest. Every branch I cut has now started shooting out new little leaves - even the ones I just lay against the side of the fence, thinking I would use them later for stakes.

If you want to know more about what climates Moringa can be grown in look at this site: Moringa

What small trees do you use in your food forest?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A memory quilt from my Moms fabric painted cloths

As you know, I really enjoyed making the two memory quilts for my two grandchildren. Here is the one I made for  my granddaughter , and I do not have a photo of my grandsons quilt.  That will have to be rectified when I go over in May.
 I was left with a few table runners and tray cloths that my Mom had painted.  She did that later on in life at the retirement village where she lived.  Such a lovely lady did the classes, and I remember how she included everyone and worked with them according to their abilities.  My Mom made some lovely tablecloths and place mats that I use often.  I really wasn't using these.
My older daughter said she would not mind a light summer quilt, so I laid out all the bits of tray cloths and some other quilting fabrics I had lying around.  At one stage I had a bit of a swap here on the blog, exchanging fabric squares so that we could all make a "blog hug quilt"  I never got enough to make  a quilt, but those pieces have been stashed in with all my other fabrics, so this was a good time to use them up.  I knew at this stage that I needed to add a plain border or something, some of the colors were very different.  I asked my daughter what her favorite color was.  Green she said - I would never had guessed that - just as well I asked. 

I came up with a sort of plan, and worked out how much of the plain fabric I would need.  I have always liked narrow strips of different fabrics and managed to gather together enough for three strips.

I purchased a sheet set and then used the flat sheet as a backing - with just two strips of a paler green fabric.  The dark green fabric I found is called Home sweet home.  I thought that was appropriate. I like the fact that it is a mottled green, and it seems to match the flowers theme well.  Other than the multi colored strips all of the seams were sewn with an exposed seam.

Then it was a case of binding the edges and then lots of snipping.  Into the wash and plenty of shaking outside to ruffle the seams.  It will probably get another wash before I leave.  I don't have  a dryer - think that works well too. 

This will be going with me when I visit her in September. 

Monday, January 15, 2018


Some things I just keeping trying even though they have never worked in the past.  Are you like that?
One thing is grafting -  I tried both a lime and a lemon tree grafted onto a citrus that grew up from the rootstock of a lime mandarin.  I cut a pointed edge on the scion and then inserted it into a slit.   I rested a moist bit of coconut husk into the branch above the graft to allow some moisture and then placed a plastic bag over the entire thing.   Tied up nice and tight with grafting tape.

The other thing I have not always had success with is pollinating pumpkins.  I see lots of bees and flying insects, but supposedly pumpkins have to be hand pollinated.  I have let a volunteer pumpkin have its way in the back veggie patch because at least it shades the ground.  I have heard young pumpkin leaves are very tasty, but I have never tried them.  This little thing was right beside the path so I got a female flower and broke away the petals then sort of dabbed it all over the stamen.  I hope I wasn't too rough, but I was too lazy to go and get a paintbrush.  It looks like a cute little stripey butternut.
 I thought my cranberry hibiscus had totally disappeared, but it has sprung to life again!  This has lovely zingy tasting leaves - great in a salad mix. It is supposed to be perennial, but in my climate sometimes things just dont survive. I dont blame them, summers here can be cruel.  We have had record high temperatures and record low rainfall.
.... which brings me to my flowers.  I have noticed that the flowers on the anthiriums

 and peace lillies (spathiphyllum)  all green or very pale.  I gave them all a foliar spray of seaweed with a bit of epsom salts and sulphate of potash mixed in.  That is my goto mix for any struggling plant. THEN I check Mr google!  They could either be older flowers that are turning green or heatstress. I think I know which one gets my vote! I dont know if these are the older flowers, but I dont think so.  Anyway, I will cut them all off, that will give the plant a bit of a rest anyway.

 I found a little orchid on clearance at the supermarket so it had to come home with me, and it seems quite happy for now. 

I hope everyone's new year has started off well.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Happy Christmas everyone!

I enjoyed making up a salad Christmas basket as a gift.  It has a tomato plant that has the tomatoes and leaves so tightly packed it is hard to see them.  I have never seen one like this before,  With a little mizuna, tatsoi, a cucumber and some flowers this should do well.  As you can see I divided a bit of the silver falls dichondra from my other pot, spreading the love....... 

We have had very hot weather, with a few showers at night, and I keep thinking the wet season will arrive at any moment.  In the meantime I took a chance and planted out some cucumber seeds.  They have come up and look quite happy alongside the sweet potato.  If it gets very wet they might succumb to powdery mildew and if not I might get some cucumbers.

 The capsicum that languished in the garden for months has suddenly started producing fruit! Maybe I have been growing it in the wrong season all along!

Faithfully the eggplant just keep producing, not prolific, but steady.  this purple one and the small round Thai one.  I noticed a bit of white fly so must spray with some horticultural oil.  This time of the year can get very buggy. 
I have an orchid that a friend gave me long ago and it has very long arching branches.   One is in a hanging basket in the lychee tree and another is in a copper pot tied up to a trellis. The flowers are very delicate and seem short lived.  
 You can see here how long the branches are!
Of course my ladyslipper orchid just keeps on and on, blooming prolifically.  I just love the curtain of hanging flowers from the arch.  Does anyone else just sometimes sit out in the garden and revel in the beauty of the flowers and breathe in the garden air?  When I sit on the swing and the honeyeaters come flitting around, chirping and chattering and playing in the birdbath I really feel so blessed. Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy seeing photos of my tropical garden as much as I love sharing them.

We will be spending Christmas with some of the family, and thinking of others far away.  I hope you are blessed this Christmas with health and happiness and love, lots of love. 

Merry Christmas and see you again in the New Year. 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Christmas welcome basket

On the way down to some doctors appointments in Cairns I lucked out when I arrived in Bunnings just as their monthly garden group began.  They provided pots, plants, decorations and soil to make your own Christmas centerpiece.  This is my favorite store, but now it has been elevated!  Look at what I made.  I love that dichondra silver falls - they are always talking about that on Gardening Australia, and I even got another lipstick plant which will eventually have to go into its own hanging basket. The pointsettia should be in an area that does not get light in the evenings to help it keep its colour. It is more of a welcome basket than a centerpiece, and gives a lovely christmassy welcome feel to the entrance. 

 I do surveys to accumulate points which I then trade in for Bunnings coupons, and there really is nothing better than free shopping in my opinion.  I had accumulated 70.00 in coupons, so had fun looking for bargains to make my free money go even further.  I found tons of plants on the clearance rack.

 I also found some garden pretties - these are glow in the dark balls, they might work better than the solar lights I keep buying and either they never work or they just don't last. 

I love the purple arum lillies, and treated myself to this, although they look a little pinker than some of the others in store.   Some leaves look as though they are showing signs of overwatering, but I thought they liked a very moist environment.  I will plant them in the garden and hope they do well. 

There were some 1.00 artichokes, and I will plant them out, but not sure what they will do in my climate. My little asparagus seeds that I planted are all doing very well, so my perrenial bed will probably need to be modified and enlarged at some stage.  I  also got some herbs, thyme and oregano, which dont do well in the wet season - they might go into my kitchen pots.   I feel as though I already had my Christmas - in fact I have,  because the adults do not get presents, so this is it!.
What have you done to get ready for christmas?

Friday, November 17, 2017

Dragonfruit flowers

Last night my neighbour called me and told me that the dragonfruit flower had opened.  this one has dropped over onto her side of the fence. It seems to be night blooming, lovely huge flowers, so there we were, cameras in hand, recording the event.
Just look at those stamens.... 
This morning the flower was already beginning to droop and close up.  then all the energy will go into forming some yummy dragonfruit.

 There are two other flowers forming.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Planting seeds in anticipation

 I placed an order for some seeds, and as usual couldn't resist adding in some that I am not sure are going to grow here (in the wet season too!)
Sunflower - sunbird
Cucumber - redlands long white
Carrot all season
Sweet william - summertime mix
Asparagus - Mary Washington
Eggplant tsakoniki
Angled luffa

I really want some flowers - for a couple of years I had yellow cosmos and they were awesome for attracting butterflies, this year I thought I would try some sunflower and sweet William.  Everyone says you cant grow carrots and cucumber in the wet season, but I see them at the markets, so thought I would give it a  try.  The cucumbers are against this fence, with sweet potato in front.  I have used this bed for ginger for quite a few years, so thought I would switch it over, and put the ginger in other places. the tomato plant is still looking healthy so I will leave it there in case it gives me another flush of tomatoes before it succumbs to the heat and humidity. 
The eggplant are in the two boxes with the luffa in front of that old futon frame.  I started out some seedlings of sunflower to give to the grand kids and some rosella for a friend. those are in the greenhouse.   I planted rosella in front of the peppercorns.  That is the asparagus bed, but right now there is only one lonely asparagus plant there, oh and  a couple of chili bushes.
On the fence side of the middle bed a pumpkin has sprung up, so I might let it wander around - there is not that much room, so might not let it get big enough to get pumpkins, but we can eat the greens and also stuff and cook some pumpkin flowers. I am hoping it will climb this support, but mine always seem to prefer rambling over the ground, so it can only stay if it behaves itself. There are two boxes with mint and one with sorrel.  I also planted some turmeric in this bed, and a couple of rows of carrots.
The other box under the tree is where I have started some more asparagus plants - they take two years until they can be transplanted out. Long term investment. There is some sprouting broccoli in the other box and the leaves are usable, but think it is too hot to get any broccoli now.

I felt very confident yesterday as I tended the garden, dug out all the weeds, cleared the paths and planted my seeds,  then last night it rained, and poured, a total wet season deluge.  I have no idea what my little seeds will be doing - have they all washed away or did they enjoy that good long soak?  
 I need to get some mulch so that all the weeds don't return - I love it when my garden looks so neat and clean.


Blog Archive

About Me

My photo
e-mail me at