Thursday, 26 May 2011

Frangipani seeds

It was just hanging on the tree. Some of the seed had already dropped.
I had never seen one of their seedpods open before.
I've seen them like this.

and like this.

Every frangipani I've ever propogated has been a cutting. They are one of the easiest plants to grow from cutting in our climate. It’s best to do it in the winter when sap movement is at its least, but they will strike at any time of year. All you need is a piece of hardwood about at least 30 cm (1 foot) long. I’ve taken cuttings a metre long and they have grown well. Leave the cutting lying on the ground for a couple of weeks to dry out a bit and then put it into some potting mix. Within a few weeks it will have formed roots.

We have a few frangipani trees in our garden – 18 to be exact. We love them for two reasons. Firstly, when they are in flower (for about half the year) they are spectacular. Secondly, we got most of them for free and they are so easy to grow.

This is the tree the seed pod was on earlier in the year when it was in full flower.

When we first started the garden, John’s Mum asked her friends at the bowling club for some cuttings. Apparently every elderly lady has a frangipani tree in their garden and they were all happy to share a cutting. We ended up with more than a dozen.
The two evergreen frangipanis came back from Katherine as cuttings in our suitcase 3 years ago.
I admit I have also bought a couple - a dark red one and one with star-shaped flowers.

You can tell I'm no expert - I don't have a clue on the various varieties. I had never thought (or even heard) of growing them from seed but, of course, to get all the new hybrids that are around someone must.
I'm guessing, since they grow in the warmer months I should keep the seed to try it next Spring. It probably won't be viable, but it's worth a try and will be exciting if I can grow one from seed.

Monday, 23 May 2011

Markets on a rainy Sunday

It was raining when we woke up Sunday morning and looked as if it would rain all day.
It wasn't heavy rain like we have in Summer.
It was the grey, dull, on and off showers sort of rain.
Miserable weather.

What to do with the day? Not a great day for gardening. Maybe some baking? Housework? Sounds exciting?

We decided to check out the Fernvale markets.
Fernvale is a small country town about 20 minutes drive from here and they have a market in their school grounds every Sunday. We had driven past many times but never been to the markets.

A real country market with lots of fresh fruit and veg, plants, old tools and homebaked goodies.

These young ladies tempted me but we have enough chooks for now. We came home with some tomatoes, strawberries and a pitch fork. We will definitely be going back again - soon.

and there was still plenty of time left in the day for baking, gardening and housework.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Harvesting by torchlight

It's wonderful to see plants grow and thrive but in the vegie patch the end product is the payoff.

Last weekend's harvest was beans and squash. There were so many beans on the five little plants they were weighed down. We had beans and squash with dinner for three nights and we gave away quite a few squash.

Last night we had a stir-fry of honey-soy vegies - some from the garden (tatsoi, snow peas, beans and chilli) and some from the shops (carrot, capsicum). During the week, it's dark when I get home from work so harvesting requires a bowl, a torch and scissors - and a quick check inside in the light for any wildlife that may have been doing their own bit of harvesting.
I leave for work at 7am and don't get home until 6pm at the earliest (depending on traffic) so apart from a quick water one or two mornings during the week, the vegies have to fend for themselves Monday to Friday. Any that need more attention than that just don't survive. Most seem to manage quite well though, probably because over time I've learnt what's likely to do well and tend to stick with my favourites.
The rocket is powering on. It always seems to do OK with very little care. I love rocket in a salad.

Speaking of salads, lunch at the moment is often some lettuce and an egg (thanks to the ladies) on a sandwich or a salad wrap.
and the next crop of lettuce are on their way as well.

I'm keeping an eye on the broccholi but nothing to harvest there yet.

Soon there will be lots of lemons. The tree is loaded. They need a couple of cold nights to sweeten them up so I've been told.

The spring onions are coming on. Won't be too long before I can start using them.

Sweet basil and Thai basil self-seed around the garden but this year I bought a punnet of mixed basil seedlings to add to the collection. I'm hoping they self-seed as well. I'm wondering what purple pesto would be like.
 As always there are some successes and some failures. Generally I like to think of the failures as a learning experience. I realised too late that the row of carrots I planted between the zucchini and the tatsoi were not destined for greatness - too crowded. I've sown another row elsewhere (with a bit more room to grow) so fingers crossed they do better.

Some of the seedlings never made it into the ground. Some seeds didn't even sprout. I think they were passed their use-by date, but were worth a try.

These seedlings are a bit slow but seem healthy enough. They were something new I tried this year. Not sure what they are - I think either red cabbage or kale. Maybe someone can tell me or I'll just wait and see.

The asparagus (also new this year) is growing nicely. It won't be ready to harvest for long time yet but it looks healthy enough. That's oregano in the front corner. It seems to thrive on neglect and just keeps spreading.

As long as it gets enough water, the Vietnamese mint will be more than we need for quite some time.

It would be nice to be able to spend more time in the garden. That may happen one day, but until then I'm grateful that  there are so many vegies that don't seem need a lot of TLC.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

What's Flowering in May

Most of the flowering plants in Missy's garden are tropical, so (like me) they don't really like Winter. With the days getting shorter and the temperatures dropping, there are not as many blooms as there were. Late Autumn is the time we prune and mulch ready for winter and I concentrate on the vegetable garden. But although many plants go dormant, living in the sub-tropics means that there will always be something in bloom.
Looking about the garden this morning I found ...

The potted geraniums are starting to bloom.

The climbing bauhinia is STILL flowering - I think it flowers all year round.

The red calliandra and the white one in the front yard are both covered in flowers. The birds love them.

 The Brazilian Red Cloak is still doing well.

Some of the hibiscus are still flowering and the Ixora have the odd bloom

A bit of a surprise- one lone Canna had a flower. Most have gone dormant for Winter.

The poinsettias are the stars of Winter. I obviously didn't cut them back enough last Summer because they are huge, but look great covered with blooms.

in case anyone is wondering about the hedge

You cannot kill Sheenas Gold.

To see what's blooming elsewhere check out Garden Bloggers Bloom Day at May Dreams Gardens.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

After the rain

After the rain, when the sun returned, the trees turned gold reflecting it's rays.
The sun, from the far horizon was playing with them, washing just the tops of the trees in light.

Then across the sky appeared a rainbow.

The trees brushed with gold were forgotten. The rainbow was now queen.

The clouds that had filled the sky earlier sulked huddled together on the horizon.

Even as the sun disappeared below the horizon and the sky began to change into it's night attire, the rainbow remained. She had waited patiently for her time to be centre stage and she would remain there as long as she could.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Remembering Mum

Tomorrow is Mother's Day.

Mum at 21 - on her honeymoon
 My mum was a strong lady and the major force in shaping my beliefs and attitude to life.

 She taught me valuable life lessons through example.
Lessons such as -
Being successful is mainly about being content with what you have.
The harder you work, the more you achieve. It's up to you.
Giving makes you happy, much happier than receiving.
You don’t need a man in your life to be happy, but when you have a good one cherish him.
Sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut and sometimes you need to speak up....
 and much much more, of course….

Mum and Bev in Tasmania
When I was younger I knew more than she did, but as I got older Mum seemed to get wiser and I valued her advice more and more - on so many things. She was also the keeper of family recipes, phone numbers and birth dates and our childhood treasures. If we needed to know anything we asked her.

Mum and Dad
My Dad died just before my sixth birthday, so from the age of twenty-eight Mum raised my brother and I as a sole parent. Her own childhood with a terrible step-mother was traumatic therefore she never contemplated remarrying while we were growing up.

25th Wedding Anniversary
 Then at 47, with both her children grown, she married a wonderful man - Bevan. They had twenty-five happy years together and were true soul mates. Everyone who knew them spoke of them together as one word, a single entity. They were BevandAda, not Bevan and Ada.

Mum and I
In about 2 weeks, it will be three years since Mum passed away. Bevan followed her less than four months later. I still miss her. I miss her wisdom & her unconditional love, but I will always have what she gave me.

I am now the keeper of Mum’s recipe books, the family photos and childhood mementos. About two years ago I started compiling a book of favourite family recipes and memories. Pressures of daily life took over and I haven’t worked on it for quite a while. It’s about time I did. I don't want it to become an unfinished project.

I’m spending Mother’s Day working on the book - remembering Mum.

Monday, 2 May 2011

It's back

The vegie garden is back in production. YAY!!

Our own supply of fresh produce again. YAY!!

There's a small amount of lots of different vegetables. I had mixed success with the seed I started in trays. Some did well and they are in the garden. Some are still struggling to be ready to plant out. The seed I sowed directly in the ground did better. Not as many germinated but those that did have grown more quickly and healthily. I also bought some punnets of seedlings at our local nursery.
 The first baby squash have started to appear...
and the first of the beans....

and the snow peas.

Some of the lettuce is ready to use and their successors have been planted. There's some red cabbage seedlings I've just transferred from their tray at the end. Don't know if they'll survive, though. They look a bit scawny. Along the trellis at the back are some snap peas just getting started.

The tat-soi is almost ready to start using. I think I was a bit more heavy handed with the seed at one end than the other. Behind them is a row of carrots just starting to appear, then behind them some zucchini.

Aren't baby zucchinis cute?

The spring onions and broccoli seem to be going well together. There's a few beetroot at the end of the bed as well. About 4 or 5 of the seeds I sowed have come up. I'll add some more soon.

  Basil self-seeds everywhere. Generally I let one or two grow and pull the rest out but I've transplanted some to grow along the edge of the tomato bed (a bit of companion planting). The tomatoes, at the moment, are romas and self-seeded (probably cherry). I am still coaxing a few seedlings of other varieties which will hopefully survive to go into the garden.

Almost forgot the rocket. It's a staple in the garden and so reliable. It looks like every seed has germinated.

Asparagus is new to me. I've seen that Africanaussie in North Qld and Hazel in Victoria both grow it successfully. Since I live half way between, when I saw some at the nursery I couldn't resist. So far they look healthy enough.
I missed not having the vegies over Summer and felt a bit guilty that I'd just let it all go wild, but it's back again with a vengeance. I feel like a REAL gardener again.


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