Monday, October 26, 2015

Garden design -in Garden share collective October.

I feel a bit of a fraud calling what I did a design.  More of an evolution.
A note about my old photos: I was having trouble with my smart phone and stopped syncing photos, then thought I would delete them off my phone so free up room.  Take my advice - don't do that - it removes them from Picasa permanently.  So you will just have to use your imagination about what the garden first looked like. :(
Basically there was just lawn and I covered sections with cardboard, and lots and lots of mulch.  (I got an eight ton load from the tip)  Slowly as that broke down I planted, ornamentals on the side and a veggie garden out the back.   The veggie garden is a triangular shape.
One of the first things I read about was a herb spiral and I got a few big rocks and built up a small spiral, filling in the centre with crusher dust which is very well draining. I managed to retrieve an old photo of the herb spiral.

 My main purpose was to be able to grow rosemary, something that struggles here in the humid tropics.  This is in the smaller part of the triangle, the first part of the veggie garden that you reach turning the corner into the backyard.  Over the years the bed flattened out and expanded, but the rosemary bush in the center is still doing well.  It is lovely and sunny so naturally when friends gave me flowers they were planted here, so it now has a flower border, but still plenty of herbs.
I realised early along that I need to create separate beds to that I could rotate crops.  The next bed is the perennial bed, which started out as asparagus, but the purple asparagus is the only plant really doing much.  This last winter (our main growing season) I encroached on the the asparagus and planted out a couple of tomatoes, tatsoi, and now there is a volunteer pumpkin, but I don't know how long that is going to stay as there really is not enough room for a pumpkin vine.  Behind that is a pepper vine, vanilla and coffee. The standing compost has also moved there recently, and there is a choko on the fence behind that.  In front are three wicking beds with mint and kang kong.
 The next one along has two wicking beds with eggplant that have been doing very well for a couple of years now.  They never last that long in our soil which has bacterial wilt.  The front section has Amsterdam celery which looks as though it is a perennial, spring onions and then under the shade of the Barbados cherry is my rocket.  Rocket was amazing this year.  In front is a pot with basil.
 Since you cant see past the Barbados cherry I took a photo from the back of that bed although it still looks very overgrown and messy.  This is where I had tropic tomatoes and tasoi and assorted lettuces.  also cucumber, although that was not amazing this year.  Now sweet potatoes are taking over which is fine as that will grow well during the wet season.  The long green bean is running rampant and I will try to keep it under control.  I pulled out one tomato bush that seemed to be coming to an end and made green tomato chutney, one bush still seems to be doing well.
 The bed against the fence had snow peas, and purple king beans, but it was too hot for them.  I use a lot of ginger, so this front half is now planted out with ginger for the wet season. I started making water kefir, so I can see I will be using even more ginger. There are cherry tomatoes behind that, and then lemongrass. This bed has three paw paws and sometimes things don't like to grow near paw paw trees.  I was keeping them until they flowered and will pull them out if they are males as I only need one male tree.

Slowly the garden filled in and evolved, until I don't have one blade of grass in the backyard, and only a small strip out front.  I had some dwarf fruit trees in pots that were not getting enough sun in the back and they were moved a couple of years ago into what is now fruit salad alley. 

Looking forward to seeing what design features all my other gardening friends on the Garden share collective have shared.  I will probably get some new ideas and be able to add them to my evolution. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Backyard birds - are you counting?

When my brother was visiting with his very fancy camera and lots of long lenses, he took some awesome bird photos.
I will share with you one of the awesome photos my brother took of a kookaburra when he was here... He said he was happy for me to share it here.

Sometimes though it is not so much the equipment, it is what you have on hand.  I captured this lovely rainbow on my phone camera on the way into work one morning, and now use it on my desktop.  It makes me feel so peaceful.

I dont have the equipment to be taking professional photos, but it got me a little bit interested in what all the birds in my neighbourhood are called.
 I was sitting watching my veggie garden grow last weekend - that is gardening too isnt it?  The rainbow lorikeets make such a racket feasting on the berries high up in the neighbours garden, and then I suddenly noticed two large white birds sitting on a branch.  From lots of running in and out with bird books, binoculars etc I eventually discovered they are Torresian Imperial Pigeons.
I of course did not get a photo with my little camera, but it did lead me to discover that there is to be a Australian backyard bird count.   I am doing it - it started Sunday so hope you can join me.  This is a great site for identifying birds, and it is helpful to see what other birds are in your surrounding area which helps with identifying tham..

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Lime green is the colour of the day

My microgreens came up so nicely and I was just about ready to harvest some for my dinner, when -whoosh - overnight something mowed them down - they are now just a bunch of little green sticks.  Sometimes growing food in the tropics is just way too hard.
Luckily I can spend time with my flowers - the sexy pink lady is flowering again.

 I was trimming some branches and look who hopped onto my hand!  I found him a nice leafy branch to move onto.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Garden share collective September - all about seeds

This month is all about seeds.  Connect with others at the Garden Share Collective.
I must admit I am not always very good at saving seeds.  Last collective I showed a lovely photo of my bok choy flowering.  I have been keeping an eye on the seeds as they began to form, last weekend I looked for my little paper seed collecting bags, and then got distracted.  Ooops - now they seem to have scattered with the wind.  A lot of my seed saving is like that, and next year I will have bok choy coming up in that same spot.
A while back there was a competition to grow oats and my grand kids got quite excited about it.  They are now ready to harvest (I think!)
 I pulled out the plants and lay them over the compost, then cut most of the seed heads off.  the remainder of the plants went straight into the compost tumbler - lots of lovely greens (and probably a few seeds I missed!) The seeds are now in a paper bag pegged on the washing ling line under the eaves.  That is what I do with most of my seeds to finish drying them.  I am going to have to research how to process the oat seeds - we will probably have enough to make one granola bar each lol!  It is good for children to follow the process from farm to plate though.

 Here is some more bok choy - the seeds seem to explode really fast - I would normally wait until after the flowering has stopped, but I might be waiting too late.  When do you cut the seed heads off?
My coffee bush is full of flowers.  Last year I got a few coffee beans but didn't process them as I had so few.  I think I will have a few more this year!  I noticed ants climbing up the main trunk, and I am not sure what that means.  I sprayed the trunk with a garlic chili spray, but need to do more research on that too.
 This Darwin lettuce was good, so I will be saving the seeds from that as well.
 My main crop of rocket is going to seed, so I planted a few more seeds next to the tatsoi - both of my favourite greens.  this was where the oats were.
I decided to try some microgreens in a polystyrene tub - this time of year when it get so hot and humid most people don't grow greens as they shoot up and go to seed too fast.  I thought if I grew them intensely and then harvested them as microgreens that might be the answer for this time of year.  I have so enjoyed eating salads out of the garden these past few months.  There are still lots of cherry tomatoes so I need something to go with them!
 The purple king beans didn't do too well - neither did the radishes, so I dug in lots of compost and a mix of manures.  The soil is friable for at least a spade depth down so it should be good for below ground crops.  I planted some jicama against the fence and bok choy in the front. Does anyone have any suggestions why I cannot grow beets or radishes - they just do not form a bulb.  Last time I grew jicama it was the same thing, so I am giving them another go.  In the central bed the sweet potatoes are lovely - I keep harvesting them and then planting out another section so that I have a continuous crop.  This is also the bed where I grew ginger last summer.

I had a seed swap with Liz at 8 acres a while back and received some of her tatsoi seeds.  This introduced me to a wonderful green that I might not have tried otherwise. It is amazing - lovely dark green and it lasts washed in the fridge or out in the garden where I can just snip off leaves as needed.  In fact looking back my best plants have come from seeds that other gardening bloggers have sent me.  Amaranth from Kate at Vegetable Vagabond.  Bok choy from Tracy at Sunny corner farm. I have sent out quite a few seeds in exchange - hope they have also become firm favourites.

To do:
Save bok choy seeds
Save tropic tomato seeds
Research how to process the oats
Research how to process coffee so that I am prepared
Research about ants on coffee trees.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Monday weekly menu

I have a couple of linkys that I am joining in to do my weekly menu plans - It is great as I can get tips and it also keeps me doing it
These are the places I am linking to

Here is my weekly menu with costs.

Week 1 Lunch Dinner Shopping list
Mon  Lentil soup Leftover curried chicken with rice and dahl. oats .99, granola 3.85,greek yoghurt 5.00, chocolate chips 3.10, milk 2.70
Tues prawns with salad Indivual meat loaves, sweet potato, salad
Wed Tuna patties with salad Pork chops with Jamies stir fried vegetables Prawns 4.76, Frozen pizza on clearance 3.00, T bone steaks 7.48, Porterhouse steaks 11.28,  eggs 3.50,  
Thur Curried lentil soup Chargrilled chicken drumsticks with tabbouli
Fri Leftover chicken with salad Frozen pizza with salad Mushrooms 2.98, slaw 2.25, leek 1.98, carrots 1.98, sweet potatoes 3.92, cucumber 1.5  pumpkin 3.88, watermelon 4.15, pears 2.48, mandarins 1.35, lemons 2.78, strawberries 4.00
Sat Meat loaf with salad Black bean and ham soup- cook extra beans for tues salad. Banana chock chip muffins
Sun Black bean and ham soup T bone steaks with salad on barbeque

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Stop food waste

This was posted recently on social media
Cutting food waste by a quarter would mean enough for everyone.

It just makes me so sad that people are suffering from hunger and we are wasting food.  I found that menu planning has really helped in our household with controlling the grocery bills and also with food waste.  We still buy things not on the shopping list, but our food waste is minimal.  If something is not salvageable it goes into the compost.  I think we all have ideas though that might help others to budget, plan meals and use up leftovers.  I am going to post our weekly menu, shopping list, some recipes and costs and then do a re-cap to see how we fared.  Are you willing to join me in this?

For now I will just post mine and follow along with anyone who wants to join in - then if there are enough people interested we could do a regular linky.

I normally shop over the weekend so start my menu from Monday - this was an example of last weeks shopping and menu. If something is already in the garden or pantry or freezer I dont add it to the shopping list, and if I am shopping and see a really good deal I will buy it and include it down the line.

 I have posted the Cauliflower and chickpea salad in my recipes as it was awesome.  Lately I have fallen love with patties and always have ziplock bags of lemon tuna patties and curried chickpea patties.  This week I tried a new recipe for chicken patties, they are a bit different as they are baked in muffin pans, and with a few adaptations that recipe also turned out to be a keeper. Better than chicken nuggets is what I called them.

This blog Dont waste the crumbs has some awesome tips on meal planning and budgeting.  Feel free to add links to your favourite meal planning and budgeting sites in the comments.
Week  Lunch Dinner  Shopping list 
Mon  Pita with cheese and salad Cauliflower and chickpea salad Eggs 2.99, basmati rice 3.29, olives 5.00, milk 1.8, barley 1.55 black beans 5.30 peanuts 2.68, dates 2.00, bread 3.00,
Tues Cauliflower and chickpea salad with boiled egg Leftover roast beef and vegetables
Wed Leftover roast beef and veggies Chicken nuggets, baked potato, tomato onion sauce and bok choy from the garden. Chicken drumsticks 3.84, leg of lamb 22.83,
Thur Chick pea patties with leftover veggies Leftover chicken nuggets with broccoli and carrots
Fri Salad Fish and chips out Cucumber 2.95, broccoli 1.78, potatoes 1.64, onions 1.96, pears 2.50, bananas 3.04, lettuce 1.50,
Sat Lemon tuna patties with salad Roast leg of lamb with veggies
Sun Vegetable soup - make extra to freeze Leftover leg of lamb with veggies


Monday, September 7, 2015

Garden share Collective September - Garden size is a slice of pie!

I have had visitors so am a little late for this post. Here is Lizzies post where you can see the other bloggers talking about the size of their gardens  Garden share collective.

Over the weekend I paced out my garden and it is a triangle 12ft long by 10ft wide.  This photo is taken looking roughly South, so gets the morning sun, and afternoon shade.  To the right I have climbing snow peas and beans with lettuces and tomatoes in front.  Also a few volunteer pawpaw trees.  To the left I have (from the front) spring onions, barbadoes cherry tree, rocket, cucumber on a frame, eggplant in wicking beds, lettuces, volunteer sweet potatoes, tropic tomatoes and a dwarf mandarine lime tree.
This photo is taken from the herb spiral where my veggie garden comes into a narrow point, looking West.  The first bed is a herb spiral that over the years has flattened out and merged into the surrounding area incorporating some gerber daisies as that is one of the few sunny spots in the garden. At the back of that is an old gazebo frame which has orchids hanging on it.  The herb spiral has a rosemary bush on top, then cuban oregana, sawtooth coriander, flat and curly parsley, dill, garlic chives.

This photo is taken from the other corner of the triangle. Next to the mandarine lime tree I have two old council bins they were giving away at one stage.  They are great for storing excess mulch, potting mix, buckets etc.  The bed behind that is my perrenial bed with lemongrass, vanilla, coffee, peppercorns, asparagus tomatoes and polysterene boxes of mint and kang kong next to the path.

This has been a very productive season for me.  Lots of leafy greens, herbs and tomatoes for salad.  Cucumbers have suffered from downy mildew - even the so called resistant variety.  My new favourite green is tatsoi - I got some seeds in a seed swap and sowed them pretty liberally, and am I glad I did!  I got them from Liz at Eight acres - thanks so much - now you can see your seeds in action!

Blue lake beans were not too succesful - only providing a snack for the gardener, never a meal for the family.  Snow peas likewise.  Tropic tomatoes have been amazing and have been feeding our family and all the neighbours for months now.  This is a pretty regular daily harvest, without the leafy greens which I pick as needed. I let these eggplant get a little over-ripe but they were still great roasted.

In fact I never got around to picking this bok choy and it is going to seed - I think the flowers are supposed to be good in salads, so I might pick some and save some. 

My visitors loved eating out of my little slice of paradise.  I think the fact that it is shaped like a slice of pie is a good thing!  


Blog Archive

About Me

My Photo
e-mail me at