Saturday, February 28, 2009

Botanic Gardens, Potting On

Autumn has arrived. This week has been quite cool, some days a little too cold for my comfort. I wish I had many waterproof cloches of various sizes to house some of the plants that love warm sunshine. Yesterday, our family had a wonderful time at the Royal Melbourne Botanic Gardens, before taking our little one to his surprise Motor Show. Weather was marvellous - warm sunshine and not too windy. I also visited the Herb Garden with Samuel while Hubby lay on his picnic mat doing nothing. Here are a few pictures which I have taken :
Thai basil flowering. Thyme
Common basil
Evening gardening work : The curry plant has overcrowded its little pot and I have potted it on using a 30cm pot. I used premium potting mix + 1 spade coarse sand + 5g slow release fertiliser all mixed in. After potting, I watered the pot thoroughly to give it a good soak of seasol.
Tip : Water soil where existing plant is in, thoroughly at least 2 hours, before potting on or re-potting, to soften the soil so that the plant is easily removed from its pot.
Curry plant after potting on.
I bought a netting which covers part of the peach tree. Fruits are getting larger but at a snail pace. I did not get to eat a single pear on the tree...all eaten by birds but do hope to taste the peaches.
The vietnamese mints in the 30cm pot which grew from two cuttings ( have becoming trailing and spilling over the edge of the pot. Recently their leaves did not look as green and healthy. I left the pot without watering for a while, fearing that I have waterlogged the potting mix. Their leaves were not as limp after several days. Today I decided to turn it out of its pot to check after deliberately watering the mix.
Growth spilling over the edge (above).
The roots are not potbound yet I think, but there are a lot of roots at the base (above). So, I potted it on into a 40cm pot, just with normal potting mix and 20g of slow release fertiliser. Also trimmed off the roots right at the base. Watered the mix to moisten it and I shall add some seasol tomorrow.
This tomato sucker (below) which I had rooted from the parent Mighty Red tomato is sprouting new growth in the vege patch. Of course it is really a little late experimenting this as it is already beginning of autumn. I am really trying to compare growth in either soil or potting mixes (in pots). So far two similar suckers which were potted into potting mixes did not grow. I am still trying to work out the reason.
The vietnamese mint cutting which I have planted in the vege patch is also showing new growth.
Buk choy is growing fine except that white butterflies love to lay eggs on it. Probably a wonderful food for its caterpillars.
Look at how the caterpillars have munched away edges below. I have to check this pot every day :

Those That Are Flowering...

The cayenne pepper has been putting on new stems and leaves, looking greener as ever and I am probably going to see lots of chillies soon as there are lots of flowers coming up. Capsicum and chilli flowers look quite similar as they belong to the same family :
Some flowers of the cayennne pepper.
Cayenne pepper looking greener than ever compared to many weeks back.
This ornamental but edible spicy chilli (below) is producing more flowers and tiny fruits :
My Purple king (below) gave a wonderful surprise this morning! It is flowering! It is amazing how it looked so dead just a few weeks back and now it is flourishing!
Flowering purple king
Check out some of the leftover sunburnt sun-fried leaves and the new green growth on the purple king
The capsicum in the pot is going to flower soon, despite not having extremely healthy green leaves. I have a feeling it is lacking nitrogen and have since watered in quick plant food 'Aquasol'. Yes, giving it some quick soluble food proves to be the solution. It did become greener and bushier, producing more side shoots :
Capsicum in the pot
Comparing with the one in the pot, this one in the vegetable patch has greener and more glossy leaves and also flowering soon :
Capsicum at the vege patch flowering soon.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Collecting Seeds of Thai Basil

Refering to the thai basil ( which was not very successfully propagated from stem cutting and had many flower stalks. I have decided to leave it to flower and see if I can gather any seeds :

The thai basil which produced very little leaves and kept bolting to seeds

Well I did. After many weeks, the white 'seeds' in the flowers have turned 'dark brown/black' (if you click the picture below, look into the leaflets around the middle of the stalk, you are able to see two seeds) :

Click on this picture to enlarge it. You can see two seeds encased within the sepals? leaflets?. There are actually four seeds altogether encased together.
I managed to collect a good deal of dried thai basil seeds. This is just the beginning :). If completely dry and ready, seeds should fall out easily when leaflets are opened, brushed with finger and turned upside down. If not ready, they will still be a little sticky and best left to dry completely before seed collection.
Some of the thai basil seeds collected.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Growing Cuttings - Vietnamese Mint, Common Mint, Rosemary

Day temperature was about 24 degrees celsius with mild sunshine. This is the pot of Common mint (below on the left) I have bought recently. I am taking it out into the sunshine daily but shielding it with a box which I have modified into a 'greenhouse' - providing protection against the cold as well as keeping potential pests away. The mint cuttings in the black pot (below on the right) are taken from the main pot. Both rooted in water and potted in premium potting mix + some coir fibre + 1 g slow-release fertiliser and watered in Seasol. I also used a plastic cloche over these mint cuttings :
Left : Common mint (main pot) Right : Mint cuttings taken from main pot.
The two vietnamese cuttings which were grown in the green planter did not do well. ( Their leaves became yellowish and limp after two weeks. I had to pull them out of the planter and investigate. I repotted one of them, hoping it will recover. The potting mix in the green planter was rather waterlogged. The planter only has two small holes on two ends of it and I think drainage was very bad. I cannot reuse it until I drill more holes in the middle of it. The roots of the vietnamese mint cuttings could not breathe and were rotting in the wetness, and thanks to my generous watering, which worsened the situation. Fortunately, the one repotted in premium potting mix slowly regained its health and its yellowish limpy leaves are gradually turning green and turgid again. The vietnamese cutting which I salvaged on another day (it was broken from the main stem and wilting in the pot) has been potted. Also . I used premium potting mix + some coir fibre + some composted cow manure for this cutting. I also covered the cutting in the few days after potting with a made-shift mini green house fashioned out of a cut plastic bottle. I made two holes on the side of the cut bottle so that there is some air circulation. This two weeks have been rather cool and vietnamese mint likes warmer temperatures, so the cut bottle provides some protection from the cold. It is also good to keep potential pests out while the cuttings are establishing themselves :
Left : Vietnamese mint found broken from parent plant, salvaged and potted. Right : Vietnamese mint uprooted from green planter and potted again. Note right's leaves are not as healthy as left's. Salvaged Vietnamese mint protected by mini cloche made out of cut plastic bottle.Using a cardbox, I made it into a 'mini-greenhouse'. It is not waterproof but rain over here is predictable anyway.
Mint cuttings protected by 'mini cloche' against cold and pests to help with establishing themselves.
Two rooted cuttings of Rosemary were also potted in Premium potting mix + coarse sand and watered in with Seasol. Seasol is a plant conditioner and helps transplanting shock

Friday, February 20, 2009

Budding Lavendar

My Lavendar Bee Pretty has put on new buds! For now, I am not going to fuss around this plant and will leave it as it is. I think the more I fuss about lavendar, the more it suffers. :P
I bought this small pot of common mint from a nursery. Just could not resist the smell of mint and I love putting some of its leaves into teas. The pot has been standing at the kitchen window ledge. I have prepared 3 cuttings out of the larger ones and waiting for them to root, one is already doing so after 5 days in water. Just needs to do a plastic cloche to house it once I re-pot it as mint is very susceptible to white flies and caterpillar attack (the previous pot I got from IKEA not only had white flies and caterpillars but also rust). This time I am more prepared about this subject on transplanting.
The Purple King has indeed survived the burning heat ( ) is producing new leaves and shoots! I am looking forward to collecting some beans. Hopefully by mid-autumn, it will produce some. At the moment, I am just giving it lots of tender loving care. :)
Remember the cayenne pepper which had leaves like the above? Yellowing spots along the veins...( Well, I have worked out that it was not over-fertilising. It is some kind of nutrient deficiency. I gave it some quick soluble plant food 'Aquasol' on 10 Feb and it seems to be getting better. Aquasol contains trace elements and probably the cayenne pepper is lacking in one or two of them. Lack of several elements can cause yellowing like this, though there may be different specific yellowing patterns for each lacking element. The yellow spotting is going off and the plant is putting on new shoots at the side of the main stem. Leaves are also greener now. :) See below :
The tomato bush is almost reaching its end. Remaining tomatoes are ripening constantly and I harvest on a daily basis. Up to date, I have harvested about 40 tomatoes :
A new chilli which I bought...really spicy some kick to the food we eat :) Will be potting it on once it is ready.
Finally! I lay my hands on this pot of curry plant from Bunnings. A new addition much coveted. Smells like curry definitely and I thought a little like a bitter chinese herb called Tung Kway too. Looks a little like Lavendar but has silvery felty leaves. This little pot needs potting-on soon.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Smoky Day...Some Work and Some Harvest...

Today is a smoky day due to the bush fires in some parts of Victoria which left hundreds dead. This morning as I opened the door to the backyard I could smell smoke and I was astonished for a moment, wondering if the reserve behind us was on fire! I told Hubby and he said today would be a smoky day. The tomato sucker which rooted in water and planted into a potting mix with coir fibre, cow manure and seasol as below has been out in the sun. Hope this one takes off and show me some growth as the previous one was stunted due to reasons which I do not know of. Well, I doubt I have much time to see any fruiting anyway since it is already mid Feb/late summer. Gardening is pretty much experimental for me at this stage but I would like to ensure the plants do grow well. Thyme was harvested again today and this is how it looks like thereafter :
The rooted vietnamese mint cuttings were in their green planter. Could there be any other herbs that is as easy to grow as this? They just thrive with nothing much except sun and lots of water and an occasional amount of seasol :
The red skin potato plant is growing well in the pot from a tiny bud :
As I was watering all my herbs, I found a broken vietnamese mint stem in the pot. Not sure how it broke but it was all soft and limp. I quickly put it in a container of water and it was absorbing water so well. Now it is turgid again. I know I need not wait very long before roots appear and it can be planted into the green planter with the other two.
This is how the buk choy look like a few days after harvesting. New leaves are growing already. Buk choy is a cut and come again vegetable. Great to have!
This is the harvest for my kitchen - some tomatoes to ripen as usual and a bunch of fresh buk choy. Also harvested a bunch of thyme, a few sprigs of rosemary and 5 cayenne pepper.
Over these few days, I was pleasantly surprised to see little shoots coming out of the sun-fried purple king bean plant. I thought it was a gone case. Fortunately for it, I hadnt pulled it out of the ground. It seems to be resurreting with new green growth of shoots. Here's a peek at it before the heat wave, after and now :
I do hope it will grow again even though its older leaves were toasted by the scorching heat and have turned as crispy as potato chips.

Monday, February 9, 2009

So In Love with Herbs & Spices!

One of my greatest desires is to grow a lot of herbs and spices in my garden, whether in pots or on the ground. Herbs are such wonderful things to have - good to throw some into dishes, really beneficial for health, nice to just smell them or rub them with my finger tips and give such a glorious view. I can spend a lot of time just admiring my herbs. Currently, I have about ten pots of herbs/spices in my garden - thyme, rosemary, lavendar, vietnamese mint, oregano, thai basil, mixed basil (including lemon, thai and purple basil), bay, mint and chilli. I would love to add the following to my list - coriander, curry plant, curry tree, lemon grass, aloe vera, more types of chillies - some time soon. My revived Lavendar Bee Pretty sitting so prettily. Some flower buds are developing again. Hope that I will be able to see them flower a second time within six months.
Mint producing a few little plants at the base - slowly - I guess being confined in a pot does that to the mint.
Bay tree growing slowly as it is. More leaves but same height, I th ink.
Oregano is producing little shoots from below after the trimming.
Rosemary sprigs harvested one week back see them growing new ones again! :) A little pot like this is actually sufficient for my family's usage.
Thyme was given a boost by cutting back and here they go, shooting up new soft wood stems again. There is so much to harvest and give away.
My Mixed Basil from seeds...Purple Basil, Lemon Basil, Thai Basil...rubbing the different leaves with finger tips and smelling it is refreshing! Even my boy wants to have a sniff at them.
Vietnamese Mint leafing more and more after harvesting one big handful to be dried.
The shallot flowers have opened...
"All that mankind needs for good health and healing is provided by God in nature...the challenge of Science is to find it." - Paracelcus, the father of Pharmcology, 1493 - 1541