Monday, March 30, 2009

Really Is An Avocado Plant!

I cleared up the mighty red tomato bush this morning. With only two tiny fruits on it (some looted by possums, some eaten by my dogs), it's not worth keeping it. I have been rather curious with a plant growing in the midst of the tomato bush and after cutting the bush down, I was able to dig a little to check if this was an avocado plant. Right instinct! It certainly was. I think I must have buried one last winter or spring with all the vege scraps from the kitchen. It is already 15cm tall. The large seed was still in the soil. I know avocado trees take donkey years to grow and fruit, say at least 10 years. And I will be fortunate if it ever fruit! So I have shelfed the idea of growing avocados after doing some research and reading forums on it. However, recently I read something by Jackie French, who says an avocado tree can be trained to be in a large pot in-house, where it serves as an ornamental tree due to its beautiful green glossy leaves and expensive look. That is quite tempting, though I always wanted useful trees that produce edible fruits. Pots and pots...Notice the fly screen barricading the vege patch behind the pots? I had resorted to that because recently Marco has decided to venture into the patch due to boredom. Upset is an understatement. He uprooted one of my flowering capsicum, snipped some tomato branches off, knocked over the laundry hamper covering the fruiting capsicum and stomped on my oriental radish seedlings. I only managed to salvage my seedlings. It was a distressing moment given I have put in so much effort.
The avocado plant with seed still in tact. The tomato bush cut down, the avocado plant growing just close by.
Seedlings of oriental radishes growing fine, saved by me after being stomped down by Marco.
My little experiment of growing avocado from seed here on the window ledge. Been waiting for a long time.
Vietnamese Mint roots super fast, within a few days of standing in water.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Big Day Work

Warm and still day. A good day to do major gardening and so we did. We spent a good 3.5 hours at our new property.

1. Clearing all the bark mulching revealing a layer of weed mat. We did one stretch today. Pulled up all the rose shrubs which are not growing very well due to neglect and the drought. Dug only three holes as that almost killed my husband. Probably another seven more to go for that stretch. Add composted cow manure. Planning to grow hedges. I like the spittosporum shrubs, either the silver or the golden sheen. They make good tall hedges (at least 1.5 metres) if pruned regularly in the first few years to establish bushiness. I would love to establish a privacy screen for this large area to house my fruit trees (tendatively planning persimmon, fig, nectarine, grape, peach, apricot) and flowers (sunflowers, daffodils, nasturtiums are among my favourites). Of course, not forgetting my beloved herbs and veges. It's going to be an exciting journey establishing a wondrous green haven right at my door step!

2. Pruning the lavendar on the left side of the patio. We bought a pair of Friskar Pruning Shears, a super light one and it made work easy. I do hope the lavendar bushes on the right side of the patio will survive as I think I have cut into too much of the old wood. One book 'The Complete Burke's Backyard' says they will almost certainly die. I hope not. :( But well, there are a lot of lavendar on this property and I jolly well can grow some other fanciful plants if they really die. A grape vine? Good idea!

Lavender trimmed on left of patio
Lavender cut back way too much into old wood on right of patio.
3. Fertilising the 3rd vege and 4th patches (below) in the backyard with cow manure and blood and bone. Then covering with weed mat after watering. The unidentified vine (below) growing at the corner was rescued by me previously as it was overwhelmed by the sprawling parsley. I cleared the corner of parsley, fertilised the area with cow manure and gave the vine a stake. Today, it looked very well.
One of the vege patches in the backyard. Researching now to assess if the dwarf fig can fit here.
The unidentified vine. Either keep it or may replace with passion fruit which can climb the green wooden wall.
4. Harvesting a bucket of parsley which have filled up patch #5 since the the last harvest few weeks ago :
5. Mulching around the olive tree.
6. Mulching around the plum tree.
7. Weeding. That's Samuel's job. :) He was pulling up the easy weeds which had triangular leaves and pinkish flowers while I handled dandelions and lamb's tongue which sprouted up among pebble-mulch. Tough weeds!
A tiring but fruitful time. Looking forward to more work before we finally can move in in December.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Neighbouring Onion Has Sprouted.

Fine sunny weather today. Went to the library with my son and did reading up. Got a parking fine because I was two mins late. :( Anyway, I did a little gardening work today. I used Mancozeb Plus Garden Fungicide on two pots of mints which were having powdery mildew here and there since the day I potted them. Even with pinching off affected leaves, it did not help very much so I resorted to fungicide to salvage the mints. As I was inspecting the plants, I was happy to announce that the 'neighbour' has finally sprouted too...I mean the left onion. :) I also finally got down to making a cage for my buk choy which were always attacked by egg-laying white cabbage butterflies. I cut down the leaves today and fed them to my earthworms. I am pretty sure it will deter the butterflies now unless they are going to bomb my buk choy mid-air with their eggs! The cage is made of galvanised wire and is rust-proof. Here's how the cage looks like :
I just read a book about the importance of standing large pots on bricks or any support you can find. This helps with proper draining of excess water during watering :

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Miessence Balancing Moisturiser

If you are looking for a safe and organic skin moisturiser, try Miessence. They have four types in their range suited for different skin. I am currently using the balancing moisturiser. Ingredient wise, it certainly has the most natural things you find in nature : Certified organic aloe barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf juice, olea europaea (olive) leaf extract, certified organic calendula officinalis flower extract, certified organic matricaria recutita (chamomile) flower extract, certified organic lavandula angustifolia (lavender) essential oil, certified organic simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, non-gmo lecithin, certified organic althea officinalis (marshmallow) root extract, sclerotium rolfsii gum, certified organic olea europaea (olive) extract, aqua, certified organic rosa rubiginosa (rosehip) seed oil, certified organic helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, certified organic butyrospermum parkii (shea) fruit butter, certified organic hypericum perforatum (st johns wort) flower extract, certified organic ethanol (sugar cane alcohol), citrus aurantium amara (bitter orange) fruit extract.

Check out www.onegrp.com for more information.

One Rosemary Cutting has Flowered.

Cold morning. Cosy afternoon. A little drizzle interspersed cloudy and then sunny day. Collected a few drops of rain in buckets ;o. Since the soil was moist and soft in the morning, I did some weeding. The creepy weeds are growing very well at the sides of the vege patch and soon will come near my capsicum and mighty red tomato bush. One of the potted rosemary cuttings has decided to flower instead of growing. Flowering for herbs is not really ideal since it means its energy for growing has been given to flowering. But it is not a bad sight at all.
One dandelion weed growing well in the vege patch. Dandelions are common weeds and their leaves are nutritious for making tea, which can be used to water plants. In fact, shops sell dandelion tea bags for human consumption and dandelion flowers can be used in salads. They have deep tap roots that can draw nutrients from deep in the soil.
My capsicum is growing well, at least with much peace of mind since I am able to protect it from possums. Another on the right of the picture is developing.
One little purple king pod is growing near the ground just close to the very mature pod. I have placed a plastic sheet under it on the ground weighed down by rocks.
The aloe vera is growing two new pups in the centre...one tiny one and a slightly longer one.
The vietnamese mint overtaking the large pot's surface. It is really a sprawling grower. I am ready to harvest some for ladies' fellowship next Monday.
Two of my six lots of oriental radishes. I am now cracking my head on how to protect them from digging possums. Neighbours just told me possums dug their ground and ate their silver beets!
One cluster of chillies from the nellie kelly hot chilli.
Another cluster. So happy to see larger chillies developing before ripening. I have harvested some ripe ones in the past but they were really tiny.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Protect my Capsicums from Possums.

This morning when my son went kindergarten, I hurried to Kmart and Bunnings to scout for a large laundry hamper/bin. Great! Found one that costs only $6 with a cover, lots of holes. I am using it as a protector for my capsicum at night. Lots of holes so the sun can still reach my two capsicum plants even in the mornings, and great ventilation as well. I believe that would deter the possums from eating my capsicums. This bin will also be utilised as an autmn leaves bin as I am going to use it to make leaf mould once I gather enough autumn leaves, from the plum, peach and pear trees which will drop their leaves soon. Below is the pot with two holes left by the possums. Wondering why they would be interested in fruit stones? Nevermind I have lots of seeds to spare. My friend told me her capsicums also had been attacked in another suburb and we both think the bite marks resemble those made by possums. It's better to take measures. I will leave the tomatoes for them but nothing else. :P

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Possums' Visit

Warm morning. 7.00 am. I went out and sat on the steps of the back door, enjoying the company of Smokey and Marco, and watching the sky slowly brighten up and the sun rising. There were also warm breezes and birds chirping. This kind of autumn weather is memorable. I doubt I can do that when winter comes. I do not anticipate its arrival. One thing is lacking - a table and chair and a cup of hot coffee! All the sown oriental radishes have emerged with the first set of leaves. But I would have to wait for the true set of leaves to grow before thinning them out. One of the two spring onion bulbs is growing. 'Hello neighbour, are you sprouting too?' The pot next to this has a peach and nectarine seed buried in it as per my previous entry : http://organic-is-better.blogspot.com/2009/03/seedlings-of-oriental-radishes.html. Unfortunately, what's left are two holes this morning. That was when I realised that possums have been visiting my yard. The dogs cant be digging such nice holes with their paws just to get fruit stones!
The second purple king pod has grown. I am taking lots pictures because it grows very rapidly.
Glad to find two more pods hidden away under the leaves.
Okay the dogs cant have done this. Smokey eats whole ripe tomatoes even if he jumps onto the patch. The verdict : possums have been gnawing on these unripe fruits. I began to realise that the plastic bags I found on the grass each morning was not the work of my dear Marco, but the possums, which have been picking my peaches. 'Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.' Matthew 6:26 of the Bible. The birds and possums and my dog have been sharing the peaches and they do not need to work hard for them. See how true the verse is?
My dear capsicum at the vege patch, how am I going to protect you from the paws of the possums? I mean, I would love to eat at least one home-grown capsicum.
The capsicum in the pot is a bit slower than those two at the vege patch in flowering and fruiting but they are steadily reaching there. I am proud to announce three flowers and lots more! This capsicum is a true hero because it was dug up from the vege patch and potted (http://organic-is-better.blogspot.com/2009/02/long-long-entry.html), but it did well under my tender loving care. :) I have to keep fertilising it to give it enough nutrients to fruit well.
My potted on lemongrass are not showing any signs of transplanting shock so far and they have even shown taller growth.
Thyme is also showing healthy new growth. Recently snipped off some for my beef pasta. Fresh home-grown herbs...yum yum!
The aloe vera which was potted on and then re-potted few days (http://organic-is-better.blogspot.com/2009/03/work-on-cloudy-day.html) after that. In this new pot, it seems happier and has not shown any stress.
My cayenne pepper has put on so many chillies I cannot even count...at least 15? This is one of the groups of chillies I have taken. Today my shepherd has given me some seeds of chilli padis. I have sown them in premium potting mix + composted cow manure + a tiny handful of seedling fertiliser. Hope to see some germination soon. Yippee!!!
Another project in progress : dog poo for compost! I have been gathering the dogs' poo in recycled potting mix (30L type) bags and dog food (15kg) bags. I will have to let the poo decompose on its own at one far corner of the garden. It is a slow process without worms but there are the fungi and bacteria at slow work. Rather than throwing them into garbage bins, the dog poo can be reused when completely composted/aged. It is quite safe to use this as long as the dogs are in good health, not eating rubbish and not on deworming tablets. Anyway by the time the poo is completely composted, it will be safe to use as mulching or organic fertiliser.
video
7.00 Autumn morning.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Harvesting Worm Castings & Potting On Comquat Calamondin

Hot day. 35 degrees celcius. After corresponding with Lucky about my worm warm, I am finally sure that I can harvest the worm castings. Evening came and I left one tray exposed to light so that the worms will hide. Using rubber gloves, I raked through the castings. Not an easy job even though the worms hid. I still had to pull out worms manually...tiny ones are harder to pull out. I collected a 5L bucket of worm castings, which inevitably contained very young worms and lots of worm eggs. That was just 2/3 of a tray. Then I added coir fibre to the tray to serve as new bedding for the worms. It also serves as a food source. I potted on my comquat calamondin (calamasi), adding the bucket of worm casting and composted cow manure to premium potting mix. Tomorrow morning, I would water the pot with seasol to ease the calamasi from transplanting shock.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Seedlings of Oriental Radishes.

Another sunny day. I am sure the plants are loving this weather, especially after a good soak of rain a week back. Now that the pots are slowly drying out in the sun, I can use the well-collected 100 litres of water on them. The two strongest capsicum plants are flowering more and see that little capsicum? I wonder if it will turn out to be yellow or red as I have forgotten to label it during sowing...bad habit for a gardener.
The purple king is having more flowers and another pod is coming. I am glad that they are coming out so quickly despite the plant being ruined in the heat wave. This tomato sucker which I grew in the ground actually started out well but somehow it decided to die.
The seedlings of the oriental radishes have emerged, after being sown merely four days ago.
I use plastic take-away containers to cut out pot labels. Labels are not expensive to buy but why not save on it and recycle plastic containers like this? Wooden ice-cream sticks are also equally effective.
Here's how the labels look like. I have eaten a home-grown peach and a supermarket nectarine. Just bury the seeds here for fun. It is autumn and I shall see if either of both will grow. Even if they do, I cannot grow them on my new property because I can only afford land for dwarf versions.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Peaches for Harvesting.

We had a wonderful day of fine cosy weather today. Samuel and I just came back from just sitting outdoors...bathing in the warm evening sun. Even he told me "Yes Mummy, it is a wonderful day!" I did not have much to do today except put out the pots from the mini green house into the sun and mulched my capsicum plants at the vege patch with cow manure and watering it in. That was about it. Spend most time just admiring the plants and their beauty. A few of the peaches came off easily from their stalks and I guess they are almost ready. They smell fragrant.
My naughty doggy cannot resist the peaches and has been plundering some. 'No! No'
Mine Mine...one of the onion bulbs is finally showing shoots! It is a long wait! I think it takes much shorter time to do that in tropical weather.
The dwarf orange tree is fruiting...these are about lime sizes. Given it citrus fertiliser few days earlier.
The calamasi plant. Hope to see more fruiting soon.
A proper look at my newly acquired kaffir lime plant.
A beautiful cayenne pepper chilli in the midst of changing colour.

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"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