Monday, August 17, 2015

My garden is a delight for the senses

I have been wandering around the garden wondering how it will look in the eyes of my visitors.  Will they gaze up in awe at the wall of hanging lady slipper orchids?

Will they enjoy picking the parsely and bokchoy  in the herb spiral as the bright gerbera daisy nods them a lazy good morning?

 Will they anxiously watch as each tomato starts to colour and quickly pick them before the birds do?

I know we will all be reminiscing about the last time we ate garden figs together in the garden forty years ago!

I will be back after my little holiday - see you in September!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Showcase of interesting ideas

I have been contacted on occasion by readers who want to get the word out about kickstarters or new ideas.  We are living in a changing world and it is marvellous to see little businesses pop up as a result of kickstarters.  This gives people the opportunity to get something off the ground, and I am happy to support some of them.  I am going to do a monthly blog post showcasing new ventures, products and ideas.  If anyone wants to reward me for this I will of course accept products to try, but will be fair and honest in my assesment. I will disclose this information as required, I have not received any renumeration for these products.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has -- Margaret Mead. 

Self watering pots:
These little pots are great, every time I visit one of my daughters I set them up with some herbs in pots and they always die.  The only ones that do survive are the ones I plant in self watering pots.  I reckon these are perfect     kickstarter - connect a pot.

There is a free app that has just been released in Melbourne called sustain me, at the moment just in Victoria but with plans to expland.  It provides information of what, how and where your waste items can be recycled, upcycled, donated or thrown away.  I cant wait until it gets up to Queensland as it looks like a very useful app. You can find more information here

Keeping cameras dry
After spending so much of my life in and around the water I realize the benefit of a really good dry bag, and I would reccomend this  waterproof swymbag

Spice mixes
I have a friend - Sally, who started a market stall selling spices, and it has really taken off - she has some lovely dinner packs and some unusual spices that are hard to find.  She also finds some awesome recipes to share, and information about how spices affect your health.  She will post anywhere in Australia - here is her facebook page Wild about Spices  The list of products and prices is in the view menu section.

If you want to try fermenting these fermenting bottles looks awesome.  They started out as a kickstarter and at the moment are only available in the US.  I am definitely going to buy some next time I am visiting my daughter there.  I love the way the spring holds the produce down under the liquid.

What new products have you discovered recently?

I will include a photo of a sunbird on my lady slipper orchid just for your enjoyment and because I honestly cannot post without a photo!  It just looks strange :)

Monday, August 3, 2015

Garden share collective, wrapping up July

Time to share our gardens again! - here is the link .  Our wrap up will now be at the end of the month, although I will be a little late for the end of August as I will have family from overseas visiting..
July has been a good month in my little tropical garden.  I have been working really hard to make sure that we have something to harvest.
Cucumbers: We had tons of rain which some of the garden liked, but the cucumbers which had been doing well got downy mildew, so they had to be ripped out before it spread to the other new cucumbers I had planted.  I am not sure if they will have fruit by the time August 18th rolls around.

Tomatoes: The two tropic tomato bushes that a friend gifted me have been overloaded with fruit and the cherry tomatoes are also doing well, so I think this month will be all about the tomatoes.
 Eggplant:  The eggplant went through a bit of a slow phase, but then when I cut back the barbados cherry and they got more light they took off.  here are the round Thai ones and I accidently left one to get quite big and it was lovely and tender.
 I also have the long purple ones.
 I bought a punnet of silverbeet on the clearance rack and they are looking quite nice and healthy - unlike the ones I grew from seed.   This plant in the front is watercress
 I also have lots of peppery rocket, and also a new to me plant - amsterdam celery - which is a great addition to salads.
 Choko:  The choko vine is growing, but no sign yet of any fruit.
 Blue lake beans:  The vines look healthy and I have seen a few flowers but no beans yet.
 Snow peas:  Snow peas are travelling up their trellises, but sure taking their time to fruit as well.  Once again maybe I am just being impatient.  In front of them is darwin lettuce which seems to like this climate.  It is similar to a romaine, although the leaves are soft and floppy.
Lettuces and greens: Something started chomping on my red leaf lettuces, so I got out my chili garlic spray and shood them away.    Tatsoi and bok choy have been planted but not growing that fast.  I suppose since I start from seed it seems to take forever, but I just love the whole process.

Sweet potato:  Volunteers are popping up all over the place, and that is fine I reckon they are growing under the lettuces so maybe they can have a symbiotic relationship!  I seem to have another round of coffee beans starting up.  I didnt do anything with the last ones, but the birds sure enjoyed them!

Pawpaw: I picked the first of our red papaya, and there are lots more on the tree - yum.  It is not as red fleshed as some that I have seen.

To do:  I have been spreading out a bit of chook manure and blood and bone and watering in well and then have also mixed up a foliar spray of charlie carp and sulphate of potash and will continue to keep that and the mulch up to date.  Regular watering is sometimes hard as I have been leaving for work in the dark and coming home in the dark. If it doesnt rain I get the hubby to turn on the soaker hoses once or twice a week.

Friday, July 31, 2015

40 hours with no food!

For quite a few years now I have participated in the World Vison 40 hour famine.

I am doing the 40 hr famine again this year.
If I raise 100.00 I will give up food for 40 hours
If I raise 200.00 I will give up TV as well for 40 hours
If I raise 300.00 I will give up Facebook as well for 40 hours.

A few facts:
 This year is the 40th anniversary of the 40 hour famine.
 In the past 7 years alone more than 2 million people have benefitted from food assistance through 40  hour famine funds.
 This year you will be supporting World Vision projects in Bangladesh, Cambodia, East Timor, Laos,  Malawi, Nepal, Swaziland and Uganda.  The funds will go towards solutions like nutrition training for  parents, child health services and better agricultural practices.

If you would to donate or find out more please visit my fundraising page here:
Gillians 40 hour famine fundraising page

I will start after dinner on Friday the 14th and will put up a blog post here to let you know how much I have raised.  Thank you for your support.

I raised 325.00 and exceeded my goal - thank you everyone!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What have I learned from the world wide web?

As I was doing my update on my in ground worm buckets last week I began to mull over how my gardening has changed since I started blogging....

Worms;  I had never even heard of worm composting when I first started gardening.  In fact I thought they were talking about earthworms.  I didnt have room for a worm bin, so discounted the idea of having compost worms in my small garden.  Then I read about worm tubes, but wanted to be able to harvest the castings, so with a little bit of inspiration from here and there my worm buckets were born.
worm buckets

Permaculture:  This is something that still does elude me a little.  I have such a small garden that I really only have zone 1/2 or 1.  Permaculture can spill out into other areas though and so I see those principles popping up in different areas of my life.  Nice to know that we dont have to own a huge farm to become permaculturists.

Food forest:  I have lately been seeing more and more videos of fairly small gardens absolutely chock full of produce.  I have slowly introduced more layers into my garden hoping to achieve the same effect.  So far I seem to be having success in certain areas. Some plants I found needed more light than this gave.  My fruit trees actually do better in the sunny site that is fruit salad alley.

fruit trees in the tropics

Organic:  I have never wanted to add chemicals to the garden, and try to use free or foraged items wherever possible to amend and enrich my soil.  Seaweed, comfrey, compost and worm castings are added regularly.  I still buy sugar cane mulch as that is so nice and fine and good in the veggie patch, it would be good to be able to provide my own mulch.  At times I have used some of my lemongrass, and might think about doing more of this.
producing my own mulch

Wicking beds:  I dont have a huge budget for the garden, so discounted wicking beds until I heard of someone doing it with polysterene boxes.  I have had eggplant growing in my two wicking beds for a few years now, and they are flourishing.  No sign of the bacterial wilt which has killed every eggplant I have ever planted into the soil.
wicking beds

I would say that 90% of what I have learnt comes from other bloggers. Do you find that your gardening has improved through the world wide web, and how?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Garden bloggers bloom day July

I thought I would show you a photo of my lady slipper orchid for Garden bloggers bloom day
It is a vine, and climbs the weeping tea tree just outside our bedroom window.  I was so excited to see this one flower, and then I looked behind it to discover 4 more buds forming behind it!  How aweosme to have the area dripping with orchids!
 These eucharist lillies are so nice to have in the shady areas of the garden.  Most flowers need sunshine, so they were a good choice for that area.
 These do better in the sun, the cordeline is a lovely hot pink.
 I am just loving this flower and am not sure if it is a jacobina - does anyone know?

thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for the chance to share the lovely blooms in our gardens - HERE
 is  a link to more of them! 

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Tutorial - propagating by lthe layering method.

One of the best ways to propagate ginger plants is by the layering method.  My pink ginger was acquired from a  friend who popped one of her flowers into a pot, and now I am doing the same.   One I put into a pot, and the other I put straight into the ground.  Both were held down with wire pegs so that there is firm connection with the soil.  as you can see the original branch is dying as it gives  life to the new plant.  Isn't that awesome?

A  lot of plants can be propagated in this way - here you can see that the flower is already putting out new leaves, and as soon as it is pegged down into the earth or a pot it will begin to grow roots and a new plant.
Sometimes gardening just amazes me.


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