Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Garden Share collective January - fruit

Welcome to the garden share collective hosted by kate at rosehips and rhubarb and Kyrstie at a fresh legacy.  Thank you for doing this, it keeps me motivated!

The theme this month is fruit, and since I have a small garden I never really thought I would be able to grow much fruit.  The main feature in my side garden is the lychee tree and this year I really wished we didn't have it in the garden.  We had it pruned a while back and the gardener said that he couldn't lop the height off for some reason (I was at work when this happened) Of course it has now grown higher and when it fruited over December, we couldn't reach a single fruit, but believe me the bats and rosellas could!  The noise, and the mess were horrendous.  My poor hubby was raking up leaves and rotting fruit a couple of times a week to try and gain control, but the fallen fruit still attracted fruit fly. Well, end of the sorry story we are digging deep in our pockets and going to have it pruned again - this time the top will be lopped off.  I hope the garden does not suffer too much!
Here you can see the lychee tree behind the fence.

 - Fruit Salad Alley. It gets lots of sun.  Part of our septic system runs under there, so I have kept everything in pots so that the roots dont cause problems.  Last year in August we enjoyed a small fig harvest, and I get strawberries, mulberries, limes and lemons.  So far the pomegranate has not fruited, but just today my neighbour showed me passionfruit on her side of the fence. I recently added a lot of compost so maybe it liked that.  I spent some time today showing it what a  lovely arch there is on our side of the fence as it seems to like my neighbours side of the fence better!

 I took a photo of my lemon which has quite a bit of fruit on it this year. I didn't notice the green ants while taking the photo.  If you take ten green ants and put them into a glass of water you can make lemonade so no wonder they like my lemon! (of course you strain it before drinking as they have a nasty bite!

In the lemon pot is this volunteer capsicum. It reminds me of the pepperdew that you get in South Africa.  small squat capsicum - lovely colour and quite a prolific fruiter.

I also have limes

A while back I began to hear about fruit forests, where the fruit trees were kept small enough to harvest, and then provided shade for the understory plants.  I like the sound of that because I seemed to be continually taking the shade cloth up and down in the veggie patch.  I have a few papwpaws but they dont provide much shade, and a lime mandarin which for some reason has never produced fruit.  then I planted a barbadoes cherry.  It has lovely long arching branches, and the cherries are chock full of vitamin C.  the birds love them, so we share, and I think sometimes they get more than their fair share.

My plan for next month is to work on getting the garden ready to plant some veggies.  Pick up some dolomite lime, five in one mix, seaweed and maybe order some seeds.. I am off to go and see what all the other gardeners in the group have been up to.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Peppercorns on my vine

Some plants love this heat, and one of those is the peppercorn vine.  I noticed a while back that I was getting little strings of "pearls" forming on the ends of the branches.  I cut about a dozen of them and put them into a brine to pickle,  I am not really sure when the right time is to harvest them.  I love them out in the garden just to nibble on, but in order to preserve them they have to be pickled.  I might make steak au poivre one day and put both green and black pepperocrns into the sauce.  Recipes are hard to find, so if anyone has anything to share I will be most grateful.

I have also heard that the vine needs to be pruned properly after fruiting in order to produce the most peppercorns.  I am thinking of training it along the side of the perrenial bed, but want to make sure I do it the right way.  I saw something that said it only bears on outside shoots.  What does that mean?
I am certainly glad that there are no maintenance plants working hard in the garden as it is sooo hot and humid outside. 

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Happy New Year - time to get out into the garden

Yesterday we had almost an entire 24 hours without rain so I sprayed myself liberally with mosquito repellent and went out into the garden and chopped and hacked my way through the jungle.  This will allow more light into the ground and plants and hopefully there will be less damp areas for the mozzies to hang out and breed in.  I also would like it to dry out enough to mulch up the leaves.  The rex begonia love this weather.

I really chopped away a lot of hanging branches here to let the light in and scraped up some lovely mulch from the path to put between the bromeliads.  There are still lots of lovely strands of lady slipper orchids hanging down into the path.

I was photographing the hanging lady slipper orchids and look at this funny face I captured!

Underneath the fan palms the beehive gingers are going crazy - I will get into this area next and clean it out a bit.

I hope everyone else has had a wonderful relaxing time with family and friends and looking forwards to lots of new gardening projects in the new year.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Too hot to garden!

I missed the last Garden Share collective, although I did read what others were doing in their gardens.  It really is way too hot and humid to work in the garden.  There are too many bugs, and nothing new has been planted.  a few plants struggle on - those that love this weather - the garlic, the choko, the coffee, and YES!  I have peppercorns on my vine!  Lots of basil. lots of tropical flowers. Anything that doesnt require me to be outside too long in this heat.
I bought myself a present - a set of watercolour pencils.  Has anyone else ever tried them?  I love the way that you can have the control of a pencil but, when you add water, the magic begins. I have spent quite a few pleasureable hours out in the garden, experimenting.  It is not too bad under the shade of the gazebo.

One thing I do love is to be inside with a good book and I just have to reccomend a new author I have discovered.  Hannah  co-authors a blog fork and fiction which runs along similar lines - a story and some awesome recipes. For years I have been working on a book along similar lines.  Stories about my sailing days, with recipes I gathered along the way, and this has inspired me to drag out my manuscript and give it another go.  It will never get published hidden away out of sight.
Check this book out if you are looking for a good read

season of salt and honey 

I have been baking and crafting and spending time with family.  I hope all my readers manage to spend time with those they love,  in flesh or in spirit.  Happy Christmas everyone, and see you n the New Year!

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.


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