Monday, February 23, 2015

Forests of colourful tropical flowers in my tropical garden

The hot and humid wet season seems to suit the tropical flowers much better than  it suites me.

I still gaze in awe at the fact that the Anthirium is one of my most carefree plants.  

From one plant gifted by a friend years ago when I was first starting my garden, I now have a forest!  I have also passed on multiple plants to other gardeners, so it is a gift that keeps on giving.  

There is also a forest of red ginger - so reliable.

Way in the back corner are one of my favourite tropical heleconias - the sexy pink lady.  Once each stem has flowered it will die, so I need to get out there and cut back the dead stalks. That way the flowers can be the centre of the show again.

Theese beehive gingers seem to be playing peek a boo against the side fence.  They are tucked away behind the fan palms.

This has been one of the driest wet seasons I have ever known.  Last week there was a cyclone to the northwest of us and one to the southeast, leaving us high and dry and very hot!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Quack quack we have a winner!

I am pleased to announce that Julie at Frog Pond Farm  has won the duck finger puppets from my giveaway.

 I am waiting to get her address and then will post them off to her lovely farm in New Zealand.  If you haven't visited her blog yet, please do, as she has the most gorgeous photos of the most exquisite farm life that she lives.   My grandson pulled her name out of an envelope and then we went to look at the blog to see who had won.  "Oh she has sheep, and a lovely black cat!"  Her awesome vegetable patch didnt get any recognition at all.  The grands came around with some corn seeds and we put a few into the ground, using their brand new kiddie sized tools.  I had a bucket of compost that had filled with rainwater and got rather stinky so little miss 4 was horrified with the smell, and didnt stay outside for long.  Mr 7 is a true gardener at heart, and was carefully measuring how deep the seeds were planted, and asking how long it would be until they popped up, how long until we tasted our first corn etc.
The lipstick plant is loving this hot wet weather,
 In fact there is quite a bit of colour in the garden at the moment, now that the rain has slowed down a bit.
Mmm I might have to start thinking about what I am going to plant next in the veggie patch.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Do you want to partake in a quilt squares swap? Lets make blog hug quilts.

If you want to see my grow your blog party post hop in quick as I will be drawing my giveaway this weekend on the 15th!

During the grow your blog party I came across Annett who lives in Germany and made this wonderful quilt from fabrics she collected from her fellow postcrossing participants.  She agreed that I could post a photo of the quilt.

Below every square she had the name and the country of who had sent her the piece, and I just thought this would be  a wonderful thing to do to represent my blogger friends from all around the world.  A blog hug quilt!  Would anyone like to participate in this?
 I like the idea of strip quilts, and could put the name of the blogger or friend represented underneath each strip.  I purchased a bunch of flat fats in an assortment of florals in anticpation.
 I think a quilt with three rows of strips finished 10" or 25cm square would make a nice little lap quilt.  The names could either be added in the middle of the square or underneath it. Also it needs to be cotton so that the squares all sew together easily.   I am not a proficient quilter, so need to make it as easy as possible!

I would love to have a quilt showcasing how far and wide the readers of my blog are.  Let me know how you would like your name on the quilt (name of blog or your name, and country)
If you would like to make one as well I will send a piece from Australia!  Let me know the size you would like.  is another idea, for either idea I would like 11" or 30cm squares.

 I will update the list at the bottom of this quilt and have a link on my side bar so that you can check the progress..  Annett already has a piece whizzing her way to me, as she wants to start another quilt!

1.   Annett       Germany       sending  - yes       receiving - yes

are you next?

Monday, February 2, 2015

Garden share collective February 2015

Golly how is it already time for another garden update!

Yes, like Lizzie at Garden share collective   who hosts this link up, we have had a bit of rain over the last month, but not what we normally get.  We have also had incredible heat.  36 degrees celcius, with 68% humidity!  Basically the garden is just humming along on its own.  I nip out every now and then to check that it is still there, and dribble on a bit of water if anything looks dry.  Within a half hour it is dry as a bone again!  The okra is doing ok, although they still look rather spindly, I popped in a few more seeds, they have to be hardy plants to survive this weather.  I was hoping for a little okra forest, but not sure that is going to happen.
 I have one little okra pod, and it has stayed this size for weeks.  Is it ready to be picked?  I thought it was supposed to be burgundy.

The okra is in the front of the herb spiral - that area does not get any shade from the shade cloths.  the franzipani tree provides a bit.  I am not sure why I dont have any flowers - the tree looks healthy otherwise.  am thinking maybe I need to add a bit of sulphate of potash again? Or seaweed?   The ones growing in the sandy soil on the beach are all flowering.....

 The rosella against the fence are doing really well, I thought I might have planted too many, too close together but they all seem to be surviving. I have two shade cloths up, and it is almost pleasant to work under the shade. Almost.
I got a new salad plant from a friend, it is called sweet leaf, I havent picked any yet. The leaves can be added to salads and need not be cooked as they do not have the oxalic acid common in many tropical greens.  I keep spreading the half composted leaves around as mulch because new leaves keep falling, and I need to make room in the compost bin.
This is kang kong, or chinese watercress.  It is growing really well, I have harvested all the leaves a few times and it just grows right back up again.  It is a very tasty green for cooking. I now have two different types of kang kong.  It loves the wet weather, and has a nice mild flavour.  I already have Malabar spinach and that has a slimier texture when cooked, but I find that the best flavour and texture comes from cooking an assortment up together.  Sweet potato shoots, Malabar spinach and kang kong.  Nice sauteed with a bit of chili and garlic.
 My avocado has new leaves!  Yeah!

The sweet potato growing around the base of the avocado tree. Green beans and eggplant are producing well, in fact it is one of the more productive wet seasons I have had since I started the garden.  The barbados cherry is growing madly and provides some awesome shade, so my food forest might eventually work!
Hello to all my fellow gardeners out there, I am off to go and see how your gardens are doing!

Friday, January 30, 2015

Another cheesemaking day! Haloumi, ricotta and Quark

Last weekend I decided to make cheese again, and called up a friend to see if she wanted to join me. I have a tiny kitchen and knew we would have to share the thermometer, but had pretty much doubled up on everything else we would need.
We made haloumi, and whey ricotta, and it was a fun afternoon.  There was a forty five minute break where we sat and had a salad and some of my life changing bread.  I gave her the recipe so that she could use some of the leftover whey to soak the ingredients for the bread.  Using up every last scrap of the ingredients is something I love about cheesemaking.
That night I made up a simple salad of greens, avocado, sauteed haloumi and tinned tuna. Yum

When she had left I looked in the fridge and realized I had another two litres of milk just sitting there.  It was not going to be used up before it went off, and the kitchen was all still nicely sterilized and ready for cheesemaking.  I got out the recipe book, and found that quark used just two litres, and not a lot of time....  I had heard a lot of Europeans rave about quark so gave it a go.  A very simple cheese, the milk is just barely heated, and then a mesophillic culture is added, and the milk left overnight at room temp.  The next morning it is left to drain in a cheesecloth lined colander.  I tried some with berries for breakfast, but then remembered my daughter talking about German cheesecake.  I found this recipe , and used up all the quark, omitting the cream, and halving the sugar.  I used lime zest in the crust.  Oh, Oh what awesome goodness!  I will be making this again!

With a cup of coffee and berries on top it was as good as any cheesecake I have ever had.

Hubby's idea of a good meal is one that uses the least amount of time and the least amount of dishes, so he just rolled his eyes at the fact that the making and draining of the cheese, and then the making and chilling of the cheesecake all in all took 4 days!  It did pass his taste test though.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Grow your blog party January 2015

Hello!  Come on in   ... dont be shy!

I am once again joining with Vicki at Grow your blog to discover more wonderful blogs to read and follow and also to expose my blog to more readers.  thanks so much for hosting this, Vicki,
 I did it in 2013  and it was such fun!

Firstly, an introduction:
My dear hubby and I (my name is Gillian) live in the tropical north- east of Australia.  We both grew up in South Africa, lived our separate lives for 20 years, and then "found" each other 10 years ago.
7 years ago we moved in to a unit with a very small backyard, which was dominated by a huge lychee tree, and nothing else.  Slowly I have added more and more small fruit trees, anything that flowers, and a food forest.  I am lucky enough to be able to tuck orchids into the trees, and they often surprise me with their flowers:

There is nothing I love more than wandering out into the garden and picking some eggplant, sweet potato, ginger, lemongrass, tumeric and a few curry leaves, and then coming inside and making a curry for dinner!  Once that is simmering I will nip out and pick a few salad greens and some cherry tomatoes, and voila we have dinner.  I share some of my recipes on the recipe tab of this blog.

We walk every day, mostly on the beach, and love to explore the local area we are lucky to live in, you can see some posts on the explore the tropics tab.

I hope you enjoy finding out more about life in the tropics from my blog, and I look forward to discovering even more exciting blogs to follow worldwide.  It is a little like armchair exploring.

I love to sew, craft, knit and crochet whenever I get a spare minute.  I like to make things that are useful as we live a clutter free life.  You can find some projects on the crafts tab on this blog. I recently made this quilt for my grandson created from heirloom garments from past generations of his family.  As I was sewing it, I felt that all these women represented would be hugging and nurturing our new little arrival.  I felt truly blessed while I was making this.

 I have two step grandchildren here in Australia and a grandson in America, and occasionally will post about grandparenting from afar.  I really love finger puppets, in person or on skype, in fact any time I am with the grandkids I turn into a rather silly grandma making rhymes or stories about anything and everything.

Sooo.... a giveaway!   I have this set of duck finger puppets, hand knitted by me.
the rhyme goes like this:

Five little ducks went out to play,
over the hill and far away.
Mother duck said quack, quack, quack.....
Four little ducks came running back.
Four little ducks went out to play,
over the hill and far away.
Mother duck said quack, quack, quack.....
Three little ducks came running back.
Three little ducks went out to play,
over the hill and far away.
Mother duck said quack, quack, quack.....
Two little ducks came running back.
Two little ducks went out to play,
over the hill and far away.
Mother duck said quack, quack, quack.....
One little duck came running back.
One little duck went out to play,
over the hill and far away.
Mother duck said quack, quack, quack.....quack quack QUACK......
Five little ducks came running back. :)

 This giveaway is open worldwide, and please just tell me in your comment if you want to enter.  I know it takes forever to go through all the blogs on grow my blog but all the giveaways are to be announced on the same day - February 15th, so make sure you get your entries in.  

Thursday, January 15, 2015

One year in, an update on my in ground worm buckets

I realized lately that when things are flowing nicely I really dont think about them much.  Point in case is the worm buckets that I started out back in November 2013.
You can read about that here: My start in worm worm farming. Just over a year now, so they have run the cycle through a wet season and a dry season.
I also put some little worm tubes into the wicking beds, but they dont seem to do very much, although I place a few bits of fruit or some scraps into them every now and again.  They might need to be emptied out and re-filled.....

 The in-ground worm buckets on the other hand - oh my!  they are a wriggling mass of healthy fertilizer manufacturers! Here is the one bucket in the sweet potato bed.

I think two are just perfect in my little garden, as I like to have kitchen scraps to put into my compost tumbler as well.  Since I started the buckets I notice the same tiger worms in my compost tumbler, so not sure how they migrated there, but they do make sure it all gets broken down very quickly, and it stays lovely and moist.

I like to collect the kitchen scraps in a newspaper package and then just place it into the bucket.  The worms find their way in and I dont have a problem with other insects like flies or cockroaches.  I also generally have a layer of shredded newspaper on the top of the bucket.   There is always a lot of talk about supplying bedding, but I reckon the shredded newspaper serves that purpose.

I am not sure what all these little white spots are? - are they worm eggs or baby worms?  I think I have the right mix of creatures, bedding and rotting food, as it never smells and I dont have fruit flies or vermin.

 Recently I "harvested" the castings from one bucket and spread it around my hungry plants.  One extra bucket goes back and forth between the buckets as the top layer.  So now the bucket in the perrenial bed has an empty bucket placed on top of the bucket in the ground.  I slowly start to add my little newspaper wrapped food packages, and the worms migrate up to the top layer, leaving behind nice worm castings. The top bucket then becomes the new bottom bucket. I normally just add a few shovelfuls under the mulch to pots, or any plants I feel need a bit of a boost. I dont collect any leachate as that just naturally flows into the ground around the buckets.  I have also used some of it to make a worm casting tea to spread the goodness around.

As the wet season is here I realize I need to drill a few drainage holes around the edge of the lids so that they dont collect water, as we are in a dengue prone area so have to watch out for anything that could contain standing water.
All in all I am really happy with my system, and just so grateful for all the information out there so that we can learn and then adapt our knowledge to our own particular needs.


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