Friday, January 6, 2017

Orchids in the tropics

I know that I only just posted yesterday and that I haven't posted for months.  Oh well, maybe I will be inspired to post more often.  I had to share my lovely orchids though.  I never know when an orchid is going to flower - they just suddenly appear, and really love this muggy hot weather we are currently experiencing.  Be prepared - there will probably be more photos to follow!

This one is in a hanging basket right up in the lychee tree.  I wondered if it would have enough light.  In actual fact I simply hung the basket up there because it was so unwieldy and untidy with its long branches.....  Over the weekend I looked up and saw the buds forming.  awesome.

This shows them way up in the tree.

I live in an area where orchids grow in the wild - they like this climate.  Every now and then I acquire an orchid in flower, and then I re pot them and hang them on my orchid wall.  Sometimes they flower again, and then I am ecstatic, but really it has nothing to do with the way I treat them.  It is a complete and lovely surprise every time.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

So hot

At this time of the year in the tropics, I don't do much gardening, unless it is really necessary.  During the Christmas break I spent a couple of days tidying up and cutting back, and mulching.  I also drank lots and lots of water to stay hydrated.  The area around the pool has not had much attention for a while, and luckily we acquired this lovely bromeliad.  The golden cane was removed, and then I could get stuck in and plant out a few easier to manage plants.  It all got a good mulching as luckily one of the neighbours has some extra mulch.  Everything is settling in well, and we even have a flower spike!

I cut back severely along the fence because my neighbour has a passionfruit vine growing there.  I couldn't reach to pick the passionfruit, and if left to fall on the ground they attract rats.  I have to continue to cut back the vine so that it doesn't climb all over the plants.  The passionfruit is nice, but the maintenance is pretty time consuming.

I cut a big branch of the lady slipper orchid back and then pruned all the plants around that area pretty severely.  The vine tends to be too heavy and thick for the tree, and I am not sure whether to provide a solid structure such as an arch for it to climb.  It will have to be fairly high, which means none of the standard cheap options will do.

The veggie patch got a good makeover as well - the paths are all cleaned and the edges evened out.  Odd bits of cardboard are laid over the ground to stop weeds sprouting up.  I have a very tenacious capsicum plant growing - along with some eggplant, long green beans and a chili bush. I am harvesting lovely asparagus, just wish I had a few more plants. Ginger, lemongrass and turmeric is doing well.  It has been very hot with very little rain, and soon we will have the flooding rains of the wet season.  In the meantime, my garden and I both take a rest at this time of year.  

I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and have awesome plans to make this year the best ever!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Garden share collective October 2016 - Favourites

Garden share collective time again and this month the theme is favourites.  You can link up here.
Thank you to Kyrstie from  a Fresh Legacy and Kate from Rosehips and Rhubarb for hosting this.

Ginger and Turmeric 

This weekend I prepared my ginger bed.  Ginger might be the favourite plant that I grow. I just bury the sprouting rhizomes, and little green shoots start popping up in no time.  I "bandicoot" fresh ginger as needed and then harvest a huge crop at the end of the wet season, when I need to use most of that bed for other produce. I store those in the freezer where they are easy to grate and add to numerous meals and drinks. I do leave some pieces in the ground to overwinter, so that I have some ready to go for the next crop.  With two in ground worm bins in this bed, the soil is awesome, soft and diggable, and filled with earthworms. Turmeric is the same although I don't have a dedicated place for it - it just pops up all over the place.  I want to put some at the end of this bed, so will just look out for it shooting up somewhere.  What is not to love about these plants?

Herb teas

Then again. maybe my herb spiral is my favourite. Lately I have been enjoying lemon balm tea - such a beautiful delicate flavour.  I just grab a bunch and let it soak in hot water, and then strain off.  I think the compost likes those soft soaked leaves as well, so it is a win-win. Tarragon tea is also lovely - with its faintly liquorice flavour.  Cinnamon basil is supposed to make good tea too - that is going wild in another corner of the garden, I must try that as tea next. My mint is struggling, so I put up the small shade cloth and moved the mint further into the shade. It generally doesn't do well in the wet season.  Funny, you would think it would love it. I do enjoy fresh herbal teas, I don't bother with drying leaves to make tea.  Do you? 


Now, this plant is not used for eating or making tea, but for its aromatics!  It is doing so well in the herb spiral, and I love that when I water this lovely scent wafts up to meet me.  It seems to be propagating well, so I intend to spread it out in different spots the garden.  It seems to have chased away all the mosquitoes form the veggie patch, and I often take a leaf and rub it over my arms and legs.  I like the smell and the mozzies don't.  Another win-win.


I do struggle with anything in the solanacea family because of bacterial wilt in our soils, but have had success with growing them in wicking beds.  Specifically the round green Thai eggplant.  I have had a couple of the long purple ones, but they died off, after  a mediocre year of production.  I recently purchased a sixpack of the big purple eggplant seedlings, and have planted some in the wicking beds, and some into pots.  I am hoping for a bumper crop! 

Breaking news:
I know others have been struggling with their photos turning sideways, so hope this fix helps.  I presume everyone else has also switched over to Google+ for their photos.  It seems as though there are no (or very few) editing processes.  I found the secret code!  Shift +R rotates the photos, and the edit stays once they have been inserted into the blog!  Happy me!  I hope it works for you too. This knowledge might in fact surpass all the other favourites I just posted!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Rampant growth in the tropical wet season

I try to cut everything way back at this time of year so that I dont get lots of leggy growth as the plants spurt forth with the approaching wet season.  Last year our wet season was very late in arriving and in fact, we did not get as much rain as usual. The mandevilla vine which shades the herb spiral has had a very severe haircut, which let in lots of light.
I need to cut back the lady slipper orchid vine as it is too heavy for the tree it is clambering over - weeping tea tree.  It is looking so beautiful though that I am going to leave it a little longer.  No photo - it keeps turning sideways - does anyone else have that problem?

Vegetables and Herbs
 I am going to try to keep some greens growing until the very end of the dry season and in actual fact planted out a new supply.   Tatsoi has become my very favourite green, it survived with very little care while I was away, so I added a little more compost around the base of each plant.  The eggplant at the end of this box is the lebanese one - I hope they do well here, as my other plant died. I still have the thai ones, but want a few more plants.
  I did the same with the parsley.  The basil and tarragon are sending out new shoots, and the lemon balm and sawtooth coriander is going crazy.  Another plant that is doing well is the citronella.  It is hard to determine if it does in fact keep away mozzies, but it smells nice anyway.  The gerberas are enjoying the herb spiral and I also moved a few hippeastrum out into the sun in the hope that will spur flowering.
The peppercorn vine has now travelled all along the length of the asparagus bed.  I only have one asparagus plant remaining, so have let it grow.  On the side that gets morning sun I have prepared a section to grow some snake beans.  They do well in the wet season. The capsicum and chilies are looking a little healthier since my return - I think they must just be very hungry plants as the application of worm poo and compost is what seems to have helped.
One of my pawpaw trees developed a fungus and died, but this one is going strong, and I also get the occasional cherry that the birds leave for me.
My little microgreens are doing well - I am continually sowing and harvesting.  Here the sunflower sprouts are almost past ready for picking.  

Out in fruit salad alley we have been enjoying the odd mulberry, and also a few figs.  The limes are producing enough to keep us going, and at last the passionfruit are beginning to colour up and produce a harvest.  My lemon trees developed little fruit and then they dissapeared - I think they must have dropped off - I will have to research what is going on.   How on earth did gardeners survive before the internet?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Peace and beauty in the garden

In my last post I talked about how much I love to entertain in the garden.
Recently I hosted an afternoon tea, and this weekend a dinner party.  Both of these were outside in the garden.  I made sosaties and tried a new recipe for samoosa pancakes found here .  I changed it quite a bit - added waay more spices, and they were a real hit.  I will post both these recipes onto my recipe blog for safekeeping, as I will be making them both again.

This is what you look out at when you sit in the gazebo.  We had lots of sunbirds and honeyeaters splashing about in the birdbath - they seem unconcerned by people.  You can see all the fallen blossom on the ground - they get quite aggressive sucking out the nectar from the flowers.

A close up of the lady slipper orchids.  My guests response when they saw the orchids up close was amazing.  That just makes me fall in love with my garden all over again. Are you the same?  When someone loves your garden, you are inspired to show it off in its best light?

  This weekend was a long weekend which meant an extra day in the garden, and I worked hard - hubby even came out and helped me.  It is looking even better than before I went away!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Garden share collective - Garden philosophy

Months, it has been months since I last posted.  admittedly I was away - wandering through castles in France with one daughter and her husband, and then in the USA with my younger daughter, husband and grandson, then some time in Sydney with my hubby.  Wow - it sure is hard to get back into some kind of routine!

Luckily my garden survived but I have had very little free time to spend in it lately, and have just been watering and weeding.  Also just plopping spare cardboard on top of weeds - my quick way of weeding! I have tons of weeds and they are all going to seed.  Ahhh! Here is my poor herb spiral - if you look carefully you can see some herbs.  One thing that is doing well is the citronella - not sure if it keeps the mozzies away but it smells nice.

My philosophy is to create a vibrant, healthy garden, full of good things to eat, lovely flowers to admire and a place where friends and family love to gather.
I never quite harvest a huge amount to eat, but golly it is a lovely place to gather, and my heart sings when my grandson comes to visit and his eyes sparkle when he sees mulberries he can pick, even if it is only one or two!  Fruit salad alley is a "thing" in their young lives, and they know that the scraps placed into the worm buckets or compost are going to become wonderful fertilizer for the garden.
Thinking about this I realize that my garden philosophy encompasses my whole life - giving me enjoyment, relaxation and exercise.  The food I harvest is a bonus.
Since I got back I have had an afternoon tea for 10 ladies, numerous dinners under the gazebo, and even weekend breakfasts, and they all revolve around the garden.

I look around my garden and this is what is going on:
Tatsoi and rocket is obviously something I will always include in my garden - it actually thrived on no care:  as it gets hotter though they will slowly begin to wilt and die.

Eggplant, the little round thai eggplant, but the long lebanese ones are doing ok too in the wicking beds.

Carrot looked amazing, but I pulled one up and it is a scrawny little thing, so will leave them be for now and give them lots of water.

My one Mangel wurzel is getting big, not sure about how or when to harvest, but it was fun to try, if only becuase it has a funny name.

Beetroot - look good as usual, but just a tiny bulb - does anyone know why?  I also have trouble with radish not forming a bulb, is it something I am doing?  I normally loosen the soil when I plant.

Choko - at last I have lots of choko - reaching up to the sky. they do seem to be getting stung by something.  Making choko and tomato chutney this weekend.

Cherry tomato are everywhere - they are slowly beginning to ripen,

Fruit salad alley:
Lemon and lime trees are blossoming and tiny fruits forming.  Mulberries, tons of little fruit - once I netted it we have been able to harvest a couple of fruit a day. a few acerola cherries every day.  a couple of pawpaws a week.  Lots of passionfruit, but I hear a rat has been visiting and chewing the green fruits off before they ripen...

I hope I answered the question ok - it was a hard one!  Check out all the other gardeners who have linked up to the garden share collective here.   A fresh legacy - garden philosophy

Monday, July 11, 2016

I am a worm farmer!

Well, as you know I have been trying to fit my new compost tumbler into my composting schedule.  You are supposed to stop topping it up at some stage and then let it finish off before transferring to the stand alone compost bin.   The thing is that I am not sure what to do with the kitchen waste that accumulates while the tumbler batch is processing (about 4- 6 weeks.)   I have lots of leaves, and they seem to take forever to break down too!  The kitchen scraps compost down quickly but the leaves take ages....So I keep adding to the tumbler, and it is in fact now getting rather full and a bit heavy, so something had to be done. This is what it looks like.

 and inside:

A worm farm, everyone suggested....  I have only ever heard of one person with a worm farm in this climate.  Recently though, I saw an honesty stall with bottles of worm wee.  Hubby looked the other way when I went to put my coins in the jar and pick up a bottle.  He certainly didnt offer to take it out of the car when we were unloading.... just saying.  I dont think talk of worm poo or worm wee is one of his favourite subjects.  Soooo... I eventually discovered who owns the worms farms, and it is someone I know!
On the way into Town on Sunday the plan was to go and pick up a handful of worms - I had a nice little turquoise bucket, with some shredded newspaper in the bottom.....

  Mr Worm sat down in front of one of his two worm farms and said "I want to give you this whole tray"....Oh no, I said, I just want a handful - just to get started you know.  I only have an inground bucket - just this size, see - and I heard they grow like mad when you feed them..... With his bare hands he began to scoop out mounds of worms, and poo,... and rotting vegetables, into my perfect little turquoise bucket....  I should have offered to help him - he is an elderly gentleman after all, but I couldnt get past the fact that he was doing this with his bare hands.....I placed the oveflowing bucket into a huge plastic bag and placed it in the back of the car.... Hubby's eyes grew huge - "ummmm maybe we can pick that up on the way out of town?"  We left my package there, gave Mr Worm a lift into town,  and did our bit of shopping..   On the way home all the windows were open and I noticed Hubby was doing his best not to breathe unless he had his head out of the window - a bit hard since he was driving....
So, at home I filled the in ground bucket with the mixture, gave it a lid, and some shade,

The in ground system is also a two layer system.... when it is looking full you place another bucket with holes in the bottom and up the sides on top.  I add shredded paper and food and then they  migrate into the top layer leaving the castings in the lower bucket. then I can remove the castings and place them into the maturing compost to enrich it. ...  these worms are taking over my life and it seems as though I have ended up with multiple worm houses... I for one am glad though that I purchased some plastic gloves!

Updated July 2016


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