Friday, May 20, 2016

Green ants nest

I know some of you have been interested in the green ants we find here.  We have been seeing trails of green ants all around the garden and last weekend found the nest up in the tree.  It was about three feet around!  I know they are befeneficial, but that was just too many ants in my little garden, so we cut it down and my brave hubby carried it attached to a long stick down to the creek.  I didnt get any photos, but found this fascinating video that shows how the nests are built. Sir David Attenborough is the best!  Anyone else a fan?
http://www.treehugger.com/animals/watch-these-incredible-green-ants-build-leaf-castle.html

Monday, May 16, 2016

Coffee beans and passionfruit

I harvested the remaining coffee beans this weekend - so they are out on trays drying.  Honey processing, so that means they still have a certain amount of the fruit attached as they dry.
 The curly parsley is doing well in the wicking box.  I keep cutting the bigger stalks, and the plants keep producing more stalks.  I love to have plenty of parsley for salads, taboulli, soups, in fact a handful of parsley will improve just about anything.


The other things that I have been having success with lately is microgreens.  I will do a separate post on them soon.  They deserve a post of their own.   Here I have radish and kale.
 I also took a photo of the passion fruit forming from the center of the flower.  Isnt nature awesome?
I am enjoying the slightly cooler weather and pretty regular rainfall.  

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Flowers, fruit and tea

The cordelines are flowering and I think they look quite scruffy.  The bees and honeyeaters love the flowers though.  I thought I would take a closer look at the flowers.  They are quite untidy as the birds go crazy pulling bits off, and they go in all different diections....
 Taking a closer look shows how pretty they are though.  They remind me of the flowers on the bromeliads.
 At long last my passionfruit vine has flowers, and fruit.  It has taken so long - I am really not sure why.  Fruit salad alley is sure looking productive lately.  Lemons, limes, the odd strawberry and mulberry, and now passionfruit.  It is perfectly place near the front door because you can smell their sweet scent even before you see the flowers.  It is like living in paradise.  I am truly blessed.
 Sometimes I experiment with seeds that I am not sure will grow in my climate.  I ordered a bag of seeds specially for teas. Lemon Balm, cinnamon basil, chamomile, anise and mint.  I hope they grow, I have had a lot of success with the seeds I order from The seed Collection, and they have published an article I wrote for them on composting in small places.  Have a look here Composting systems for small gardens.
I planted it next to the mexican tarragon in the herb spiral.  My grandkids think I am awesome growing lollies in the garden - peppermint and liquorice, and hopefully next we can make flower tea!

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Garden Share collective April - the theme is SAVE

Once again it is time to catch up with other gardeners in our  Garden share collective and the theme is SAVE. Link to the other gardeners here.
I really dont make jams or preserves out of the garden - I prefer to just grow enough so that it is eaten right there and then while fresh.  I did plant extra ginger last year, and dug that out a month or so ago.  I like to keep a big bag in the freezer, so easy just to grab a chunk and grate it - I do that with turmeric as well.  My favourite after dinner drink at the moment is grated turmeric and ginger in hot coconut milk, with a little black pepper grated in.  A little golden cup of goodness.
Oh another thing I have been doing is picking and drying our coffee beans, and the first batch was roasted last weekend.  I just pick them as they ripen, so it looks as though I will have one pot a week :).

I do love to grow from seed - it seems proper somehow.  If someone else has started the seedlings it seems more like fostering or babysitting, whereas planting from seed is giving birth!  It seems that hard sometimes too!  I have decided that planting directly is the most sucessful for most of my crops.  I like to grow intensively and continually harvest leaves as soon as they are big enough.  In fact I am also trying microgreens again - will save that for another post (if they work out!)  Here I have some lovely rows planted, with their labels at the end of each row.  I clear a path into the sugar cane mulch and then sprinkle the seed, press lightly to connect with the soil, then lightly drizzle coir over the top.  We have suddenly had a wet season deluge of rain every day, so hopefully the seeds have not drowned.  I also noticed it is full moon so probably not the ideal time to plant.  Oh well.
To the left of the bar I have kangkong, then rainbow carrot, silverbeet, mangel wurzel, beetroot, then lettuce, banana capsicum, and cinnamon basil.

I do plant tomatoes as seedlings, and have laid the pots along the edge of the herb spiral.  Cherry tomatoes pop up everywhere, but the other tomatoes can be replanted quite deeply and they form extra roots along the stem.  This makes them bigger and stronger in my opinion.   Some tomatoes also need to be planted in pots since I have baterial wilt in the soil.
Saving seeds - some of my seeds that I planted were saved from previous harvests, and those seem really special - it feels as though there is a circle that I am completing. I find that when I save tomato seeds they seem to have developed a resistance to my common garden ailments.
How I save seeds;
Tomato seeds need to be placed in water for a couple of days so that they ferment, then the slime is washed off (I use a sieve for this) and they are dried.  I just spread them out onto a paper serviette with the name written on the serviette.  When dry they are folded over and stored in my seed box.  Herbs and lettuces are left to go to seed, and then the tops cut off and placed in a  small paper bag.  Label and peg to a washing line that is under the eaves.  When dry they can be shaken so that the seeds drop off and the branches can be removed.

Things on my to do list:
Keep up succession planting, so as there are empty spots, I will plant a few more seeds.
I have a few gift cards for the big box hardware store, and on my list are sugar cane mulch, seaweed solution.
Next month the theme is leaves, and hopefully by then I will be harvesting daily salads from my garden.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

A kookabura visits our veggie patch

My hubby looked out the study window to see a kookaburra hanging out in the veggie garden so I went around the side with a camera.  He was not at all shy and let me take a few photos before he flew off.


enjoy!  I hope you are having a lovely weekend!  

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The colour white in the garden

Parts of my garden are quite shady (epsecially since the heavily pruned lychee tree is growing back) and spots of white really show up in those areas.  The butterfly bush is dripping with flowers and the honey eaters love them so there is always a carpet of white flowers that they have ripped off and tossed ot the ground!  I took this at dusk with the flash with my phone and like the way the white flowers show up.


One of my eucharist lillies started to bloom and I noticed how pretty it looked with the pink and white in that area.


This is another plant that has slowly recovered  now that there is more shade.  I just love the strappy leaves with curly edges.  No idea what it is called.


Just a couple of months ago this poor garden was looking very sad.  The whole top of the lychee tree was pruned, leaving sun pouring down on the garden.  I erected a few shade cloths and umbrellas, and now lots of little leaves have appeared so they are getting lovely filtered light once again. Isnt it amazing how resilient plants can be? 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Garden share collective - colour

The latest garden share collective calls for a a post about colour.  Well I suppose brown is a colour!
I have been preparing the soil for my main growing season during the last couple of weeks.  I spread out some manure (brown), sprinkled a little lime (white)  and after lightly digging that in I spread brown cardboard over the top of that!
Our local Coles supermarket has been selling little potted herbs for 1.98.  These are the best deal ever, they are so crammed with little plants, that I have been buying them and then using them as little transplants.  3.95 for a six pack or 1.98 for a million pack!  I got fennel, parsley and even capsicum (the capsicum had two plants.)  Here is  some of the fennel.  They are such delicate little plants, so I just lay them into a trough and filled in from the side.  I know we are on the edge of the fennel growing area, so they might not form a bulb.
 Two different kinds of parsley were planted in the wicking beds, with eggplant in the center.
 I have some overseas visitors coming in the beginning of April and realized that since I was short on cardboard, the area near the pathway had uncovered soil and the manure was beginning to attract some flies.  So I thought it might have cooled down enough to pop a few seeds in and cover the ground with some mulch.  No job in the garden is ever a small job, but this seemed more enticing than the cleaning of windows which had been my original chore for today.  Oh golly I find is so easy to be enticed out into the garden.  This little section under the cherry tree had its edges straightened and some seeds planted.  We will just have to walk out into the garden instead of looking out at it through the dirty windows!
 Further back will just have have to wait until I have more time.  The area against the fence has some green beans against the fence and two rows of fennel.  I did put up the shade cloth as the sun is still pretty fierce.
The sweet potato have been dug out and the soil amended, then cardboard laid over the top.  The very back section behind the pawpaw tree is where I put the last of my grass. (Yes it is all gone!)  I laid it upside down in a huge pile and then covered with cardboard.  It will eventually rot down into lovely soil.
That citrus tree at the very back of this bed is a mandarin lime and it has never shown any sign of flowering or fruiting.  It has good soil, happy leaves - what else should I try?
In the next month I need to straighten and secure all the edges of these beds, and plant out some beets, radishes and tomatoes.
Oh!  I found some colour - the coffee beans are starting to turn red, so I am going to have to do some research to see how those need to be processed.
Check out all the other gardeners on the Garden Share Collective here at Rosehips and Rhubarb.

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