Monday, November 30, 2009

Sweet Potato Creepers

A windy and cool day with sunny breaks.
By far this calendula flower is the largest bloom and it is produced by one of the calendulas at the patch next to the garage. Great stuff!
One Lilium LA Hybrid flower has opened. Was not as white or spectacular as I had imagined.
I found and bought four sweet potato creepers from bunnings. I thought it is a wonderful idea to grow them on the mulched areas where my golden sheen hedge is. My original intention was to either leave the areas mulched with red gum bark chips or grow some succulent crawlers to control weeds but having sweet potato creepers to do that would be even better. They can weed control when they spread out and they can be eaten too. The only concern would be winter as sweet potato cannot withstand cold. I will have to protect them when the time comes if they survive summer and autumn.
Lemon verbena which I transplanted into the lavender area outside my bedroom window is doing well. It is really a good idea to minimise root disturbance and plant the whole rootball + potting mix in. The plant did not show a single sign of transplant shock.
My sunflower Sun king...5 of not look very fantastic this season. I think the soil here is not very good and I have to improve it after this. I have added more composted rooster manure and watered them with charlie carp today and hopefully they can grow bigger. At least they survived because in the beginning, they did not even look like they were going to make it.
I worked on this mulched area behind our bedroom wall. I removed all four existing shrubs which did not look fantastic nor were useful. The area has a lot of pebbles. I am beginning to understand that the pebbles were added by the landscapist to curb potentially extensive/invasive root growth since the plants were so close to the house. Strange that the lavender area has not a single pebble. Since this area is pebbly and does not get lots sunshine, I contemplate planting aloe vera here.
Two holes around the dripline of the plum tree area were further deepened and I put in a soft drink bottle tube (cut at both ends) each for watering/fertilising purpose.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Chilli Padi Flower Buds...Tomato Silvery Fir Fruiting...

My three chilli padis are having a growth spurt! I think they will soon overcrowd this pot.
One of them is having flower buds already! Yippee! Chilli padis!!!
One of the capsicums on the plant seems to be ripening. If it does, it will be my first time seeing it ripen as last season, it fruited too late and could not ripen in autumn-winter temperatures.
My strawberry delight has developed a runner. Hmmm....what should I do with it? I have to check with the nursery. I am means more strawberry plants!
I trimmed down the large pot of mint as the infestations with tiny caterpillars seem out of control. Will net it after feeding charlie carp.
The lucerne seedlings are everywhere on this patch F. I have decided to plant them and use them as either mulch or fertiliser for my garden.
I cleared Patch B of the snow peas...into my compost bin...and the matured pods for seeds.
Irritating weed sprouting up everywhere among the golden sheens.
My tomato silvery fir in the pot.
Tomato silvery fir #1 on the front garden. Got to erect protection over it soon or I will lose the fruits to Marco my dog!
Tomato silvery fir #2 on the front garden.
Here's two tiny silvery fir tomatoes! Looks like once the flowers go, I should see fruits...which is not like that for my tomato beef steak...I am beginning to wonder if I have a sterile plant!!!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Warm and Still Day...

A warm and still day with UV so high I did not want to stay out in the sun too much. It was tempting though upon coming back with my son from sports class to have a peek at my beautiful garden and snap a few shots. One of the five calendula officinalis plants...the leaves really looks like vegetable for soup. I wonder how it tastes like. The plants are all flowering and have many buds, and tiny caterpillars for me to pick and squash too...Obviously the leaves and flowers are yummy to them.
Since my tomato beef steak has no fruits even with clusters of flowers, I bought two cheap pots of bee-attracting flowers to help the situation.
I had a few pots of plants under this makeshift netting which helps with fluttering butterflies (in day) and moths (at night) looking for leaves to lay eggs on. It came a bit late but I never calculated that this property have this particular problem. I did not include the large pot of common mint as there were already eggs and caterpillars hiding somewhere in its leaves. I thought the two smaller pots are safe but sadly, they also showed signs of caterpillar damage. :(
My eggplant supreme is growing well but still the leaves are munched on at night. I must get my butt moving and come out in the nights to look for the culprit...potentially earwigs.
My passionfruit panama gold is looking hopeless as its growth cannot keep up with its leaves being eaten. I am fed up with what has been having it for supper.
The two caterpillars ( which I caught, fed and cocooned, have turned into moths!!! So they are the ones which laid eggs on my mint!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Little Suspicion Can Be Good Sometimes.

Yes a little suspicion is good. That helps me to squash caterpillars before they and their cocoons take over my garden. 1. Take note and start searching when you see holes in leaves or eaten edges.
Physical changes in appearance of leaves can indicate caterpillar invasion like the mint and strawberry pictures show. Usually the caterpillars love young leaves and they can either eat the whole leaf or just the under-surface leaving blotched leaves.
2. Poo on leaves. I can almost 100% find a caterpillar when I notice poo on leaves. They look like tiny black beads. I saw them on my calamondin comquot and I really found a brown caterpillar to squash.
Tiny black poo on my annabel daisy leaves indicate tiny caterpillar while larger poo indicates larger caterpillar.
Searching reveal a small caterpillar which dropped onto the potting mix. Sometimes it is tough finding small caterpillars among the leaves especially for really bushy plants like mint and daisy. I will take note and return the next or following day and I am guaranteed to find fat caterpillars...fat but easy to locate because of their size.
It is also good to inspect plants often for egg deposits under the leaves. I have found clusters of white eggs under my tomato silvery fir leaves, collected the leaves in jar and they hatched into tiny caterpillars after a few days. It is difficult to squash each of them so I use hot water to kill them. See
Every residential area is different. When I was renting in the previous suburb, caterpillar problem was minimal and confined to mainly my buk choy. I had lots aphids issue over there. Whereas at this new place, caterpillars are very prevalent. Since this is the first spring my plants are having here, I will take note and take measures to net my plants the next spring.

Patch Next to Garage - Fresh Faces.

This challenging patch...with its very clay soil...leaving me clueless on when I should work on it...digging is tough on dry and warm days as the soil is hard like stone...digging is not easy on cloudy wet days as the soil clumps up and hardens into lumps. But with all the effort I have put in, I am beginning to see incredible results.

The tiny pot of annabel daisy has grown 6 times. I keep on with deadheading its flowers which encourages new blooms. So far this daisy is growing faster than any plant here. I hope the space I have designated for it would be sufficient. Compare with

The little rosemary bush is also doing well. Compare it with

So is this oregano. Strangely, I am expecting it to spread outwards but it seems to be growing upwards. I would want it to be an edible ground cover here. Compare it with what I saw in the botanical gardens :
The two candy tuft plants are also well. Notice that the annabel daisy, rosemary and oregano have been mulched but not the candy tuft. I was waiting to see if I need to pull up the candy tuft plants in case they did not survive.
Tip : It is better to wait and see if a plant establishes itself well after transplanting. If it does, then apply mulch. Better to mulch later in case you need to dig the plant up for some reason.
The Lilium LA hybrid plants are budding.
3 of the 5 gladioli plants are growing big. But 2 others have not appeared.
These 3 calendula officinalis plants are the fresh faces of this patch. I have just transplanted them here. So far very good results.
Tip : During transplanting, minimise root disturbance and maintain potting mix shape. Transfer the whole potting mix with plant over. Water with seasol after that and make sure the plant is hydrated daily.
Here's another new bay tree. It is very tiny now and it is a slow-growing plant. I have planted it in the centre of the patch and it should be the tallest and the focal point of this patch in years to come. Edible too!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Patches A, C, D & E

The recent warm and long day time have made growth explode in my garden.

At patch A, the three purple king bean plants and the tomato beef steak plant are growing. I cannot seem to see any tomatoes developing at the moment even though there are flowers. I did not remember having trouble with my Mighty red tomato. Puzzled, I consulted fellow blogger 'Scarecrow' and she gave me this useful link :

Putting veges and edibles aside, I am feeling really proud of this pot of Annabel daisy. It has grown in size about 6 times.
My beloved capsicum plant is developing its fruits steadily. It is ahead of most plants because this is its second season. Feeling more secure with it in a larger pot.
This is one of 5 calendula officinalis plants I have germinated. They are subject to caterpillars like many of my edible plants in the garden but with much vigilance, I have picked and squashed most of them. This one is budding already!
My strawberry delight at Patch C is doing well in its pot although also subject to caterpillars. Its strawberries are very sweet!
Lemon Verbena at Patch C is also doing well and I have allowed one stalk to flower just to see how the flowers look like.
Wow my lemon grass at Patch C which initially did not look like it was going to make it, has actually gone into growth spurt! Hopefully the eggplant supreme and passionfruit panama gold will speed up in growth as well or they could be overtaken by the lemon grass!
After treating my kaffir lime plant at Patch C with chelated iron (not much organic solutions for this), it leapt into growing beautiful healthy-looking new leaves and more fruits and flowers almost immediately...indeed it was iron deficiency!
Eggplant Supreme at Patch C is also doing well except having its leaves munched on probably at night by some insects. In the day, I cannot find any bugs on it.
This is Patch C : strawberries, kaffir lime, eggplant supreme, lemon grass, passionfruit, lemon verbena, capsicum and pixzee peach. Quite an assortment of plants cramped together.
This is Patch E : coriander and continental parsley both flowering and seeding. I did not care as I am surely alright for them to seed and grow new ones, which means new supply of herbs. There is another clump of lemongrass and my pot of bay plant there.
I was cleaning the dusty leaves of my three cyclamens when I saw this. A search reveals them as the fruits of the cyclamens. I read that using seeds is tough so I am just going to leave them alone. I wonder if there are corms in the soil. Hopefully! So that cyclamens can cover the whole of Patch D and under my pomegranate tree and grevilia. They have glorious blooms! See or click on 'cyclamen' label on right side of my blog.
"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