Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Strong Winds and Some Rain.

Tuesday. It has been very windy today and will be tomorrow as forecasted. 45km/h. My taller plants such as the calamondin, kaffir lime and cayenne pepper in pots were swaying under the mercy of the wind. I have erected plastic sheets around them to ease the stress. Hopefully this will help preventing any casualty. I had all the pots against the tall wooden fence a while back where they can get sunshine but it proves to be a bad windbreak area.
Calamondin protected by two layers of plastic sheets.
Kaffir lime and a small pot of mint surrounded by a sheet of plastic.
Vietnamese mint covered by a large towel with a plastic sheet on top.
Newly potted apricot Moorpark and fig brown turkey taking shelther in the garage against strong winds, rain and possible possum visits.
Would love to have more rain as water collected from the previous round has been almost used up. However, I do not welcome the wind at all. Gardening over here is rather challenging...up against droughts, heat waves, strong winds and cold weathers. And possums too. Seriously looking forward to moving to my new place. At least I dont expect to see many possums there.

Friday, June 26, 2009

So Much Work!

Work at new house : Vege patch D : Work with cow manure and lime. Planted and mulched 3 pots of cyclamens. Hope they will grow well in this shady spot.
Rake up fallen plum leaves.
Place leaves in make-shift netting in backyard to let them turn into leaf mould.
Succulent plants flowering beautifully.
Lavender growing new leaves.
Work completed for patch next to garage. Hope not to see weeds!
Work in rental house : Calamondins not doing well. Fruits attacked by aphids. Treated with pyrethrum.
Lemon verbena growing lots of new shoots after last trimming.
Cayenne Pepper under netting since finding out they were attacked at night.
Curry plant growing more shoots in the new house after trimming off lots of aphid-infested shoots.
Buk choy planted from pot to vege patch.
Treated oregano root ball with pyrethrum as it seems it is attacked by gnats.Repotted the oregano and wonder if it will survive the treatment.
Re-potted the aloe vera into a shallow wider planter. New pups emerging. Delicate...broke one.
Potted the Pixee dwarf peach with aged manure and premium potting mix.
Peach tree is losing all its leaves. (below)
Rake up to make leaf mould.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kebbah Using Mint

Today I tried out a new recipe for dinner...Kebbeh...taught by a Brazilian friend from my lifegroup. It is a lebanese dish which uses lots of mint. I love growing mint but have not really used it for any of my cooking. This dish is delicious. Another ingredient is onion...good way of eating it for those who hate it as it is finely chopped. It turned out great. Here is the recipe for sharing :
250g burghul wheat (available from lebanese shops) 500g mince beef 10 sprigs of common mint (chopped up leaves finely) some cumin 1 tsp of salt some black pepper half an onion or several shallots (chopped finely) sunflower oil for brushing baking pan
1. Soak the wheat in about a glass of water for minimum of 2 hours to soften it. 2. Mix the beef, black pepper, salt, onion thoroughly. 3. Add to the wheat and mix well. 4. Add the mint and mix well. 5. Form into rolls about 5cm long and 1.5-2 cm diameter. 6. Grease the tin with thin layer of oil. 7. Bake the kebbeh at 180 deg celsius till meat cooks (around 20 mins)
Common mint harvested. Kebbah
When I was preparing the kebbeh in the kitchen, I caught a glimpse of the backyard out of the window and rushed for my camera. The evening sun's was caught on the two tall trees far away. It was a beautiful sight. I would miss this open view, the two fields beside the house and the reserve behind when I move to my new house.

Snow Peas and Oriental Radishes Have Germinated.

Yeah! The snow peas and oriental radishes have all germinated successfully at the vege patch. I had them all under protection using cut milk or fruit containers. Now that they have germinated, I daily open up the containers for them to get sunshine. The three snow peas in the pot are doing well too. With the pot in the greenhouse, I need not worry that they will be karate chopped overnight. Till they are well-established, I will figure out a way to protect them from pests.
Oriental radish seedlings
Snow pea seedling

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Purchases & Rosemary Treatment

Haiz...my two capsicum plants from the vege patch did not survive the recent potting after an overnight attack. They were rather withered and I decided to pull them up to free up the pot for other things.
I went to Bunnings after my BSF (bible study international) this morning. Shopped for quite a while and finally brought home a Brown Turkey fig tree, a Pixee Peach tree, a Moorpark Apricot tree and 3 pots of cyclamens. I had wanted another fig type but only Black Genoa and Brown Turkey are available and they are good as well. I will have all of them in pots first (going to use large pots pinched from existing herb/vegetables). I am eyeing the chives/purple buk choy pot and perhaps my vietnamese mint pot (since they are so prolific and I have not been using much of it anyway). The trees can be in pots for up to a year so I will send them to the ground when I move to my new place. For now till potting, I will have them in the garage at night as possums are up and about nightly (evident by their droppings on the fence, on the front of the house and even in my pots!)
Pixee Peach (dwarf 1.5m tall max), Morepark Apricot (best variety for home gardeners) & Brown Turkey Fig. Three pots of cyclamens for a shady spot in my new house.
In the afternoon, I also applied fungicide to my original rosemary plant and its two plantlets which I have propagated. They have all somehow developed mildew. It is so puzzling. Hopefully the fungicide wont burn too much of their leaves! My lavender is growing very well except that its luscious leaves have attacted green aphids. I have to figure out how to treat this problem. Previously I have applied pyrethrum spray for white flies and it worked, but almost killed my lavender!
Two plantlets (left & middle) and the original pot of rosemary are attacked by powdery mildew and treated with fungicide.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Mint Update

From one pot of common mint costing me $2, I have propagated several pots successfully, with some knockbacks by powdery mildew occasionally.
Pot A cuttings in ice-cream tub. Attacked by powdery mildew and treated with fungicide.
Mint grown from Pot A cuttings which are potted into my previous buk choy pot.
Pot B with 3 cuttings done before my Tassie holiday, looking horrible due to neglect. Pot B cuttings looking great after returning from holiday and recent picture after harvesting once.
Pot C (black) and Pot D (blue) cuttings shortly after planting over from water.
Mint grown from Pot C.
Mint grown from Pot D. Attacked by powdery mildew several times, treated with fungicide.
Another lot of mint grown at the vege patch from cuttings in a soya bean milk container (no pic previously)
Mint given by a friend last Christmas (08).
Same mint at the vege patch June 09. Subject to aphids attack.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

New Buk Choy, Snow Pea & Spinach Seedlings...Daffodil Bulbs.

Recently after my Tassie trip, I planted two purple buk choy seeds. They have since germinated but growing really really at snail-pace. Same goes for my chilli padi seedlings. After the 'demise' of my first set of snow pea seedlings at the vege patch, I decided to grow them in pots for the first part of their life till they are well-established to be planted at the patch. And this round, I planted Digger's seeds instead, which are resistant to mildew. I learn that snow peas pods as well as the leaves can be eaten. Markets are selling at $11 per kg, not mentioning the supermarkets, so I am really keen to grow some, especially when my family does love them. The 3 new ones germinated after ten days in the pot and the pot is usually in the mini greenhouse except during the day.
I have also sown two spinach seeds in a green planter but only one germinated.
One of the few plants left at the vege patch - mint and the avocado below.
I have worked the soil on the left side of the vege patch and added aged cow manure. Planted daffodil bulbs, watered and covered with a layer of water-saving mulch.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Revamping the Patch Next to the Garage.

Today's weather was great...sunny enough, not cold enough to make me hibernate, so I put on my garden gear and spent two hours at my new house doing a tiny area next to the garage while my son went kinder. The 'tiny' area did not turn out to be too tiny after all. I could not finish my work in one go but was pleased with what I have done, at least getting all the irritating weeds out the of the patch. I removed the old rotting existing weed mat with all its pebbles and replaced it. Weeds were growing all over the old mat. A new weed mat, a few layers, will help stop weeds from growing for months. I was also glad to see a few fat earthworms in the earth. That is a good sign.
1/6 of the tiny area with weeds growing among the pebbles and rotting weed mat beneath. Clearing the pebbles and laying of new weed mat...half of the tiny area done.
5/6 of the area done. 1/6 of it was planted with daffodil bulbs after loosening soil and adding blood & bone and composted cow manure.
A bucketful of parsley harvested.
Leftover parsley growing at shady Patch E.
After working at the tiny patch next to the garage, I raked up all the fallen leaves of the plum tree at the main lawn. I am intending to use them for leaf mould. Also dug up some baby dandelion weeds. I am a little optimistic seeing some of the lawn seeds sown some time back germinate. Although new dandelion weeds have sprouted as well but I only found two dandelion flowers to pluck off. If things remain this good, I would be able to save thousands and not have my lawn re-done again.
I cooked a pot of seafood hotpot for dinner using the parsley and rosemary and thyme from my garden. Hmm it was yummy! Here's the recipe for sharing :
200g boneless white fish fillet (cut into 2cm)
150g prawns (shelled)
6 mussels (frozen ones are easy to use)
2 squids (cleaned and cut up)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion (cut into 1cm)
1 garlic (crushed)
A few sprigs of thyme
A few sprigs of rosemary
Chopped parsley (for garnish)
400 g can canned tomotoes
1/3 cup white wine
1 tbsp lemon juice
1. Heat olive oil and fry onion till soft.
2. Add garlic, tomatoes, rosemary, thyme and white wine and simmer.
3. Add fish when broth boils. Allow to cook for around 2 minutes.
4. Add the prawns, squids and mussels and allow to cook some more.
5. Add lemon juice and parsley.
This dish is simple and quick to prepare, healthy and yummy and goes well with pasta or rice.
"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