Sunday, 30 October 2011

poor little tangelo

My multi-graft citrus had three little tangelo fruits, but they stopped growing.  One of the branches holding the fruit started to die back and the fruit started ripening.  The poor tree keeps getting die back followed by a fresh flush of growth and I still don't quite know what's causing it.  This is the branch the first fruit was hanging on before it fell.
And here's the sad little tangelo.  It's not even the size of a mandarin and still had a flush of green on it, but the elongated neck suggests it was a tangelo and not off the mandarin graft.
Didn't look much better inside and was bitter and inedible.  One of these days I'll have a proper edible fruit off of this tree.  There are still two other tangelos on it but I don't know if they're going to get any bigger, though hopefully more ripe.
Citrus trees really are picky things when they're young.  This one's still only three years old.  Maybe one day it wont' be this fussy... maybe one day I'll actually be able to enjoy the fruits of all this fussing!

bad luck tomatoes

What is with my bad luck with breaking tomatoes?!  Last year I pulled my Florida weave too tight and snapped one of my tomato plants off at the top.  This year, I didn't get my black cherry secured and we had so much wind it snapped right off.  It was growing so much taller than the honey of Mexico I was waiting to secure it.  Waited too long!
I was especially disappointed because the broken section had some flower buds on it!  Well it's not the end of the world.  The laterals - the side shoots - of tomato plants grow just as well as the main shoot.  I hope.  And at least now the two plants are the same size.  Since this photo I have gone in and set up a second layer of Florida weave to keep them from snapping again.
And the good news is there are some more flower buds.  They're both small-fruited tomatoes so it might not be too long before the first fruits come in.  Hopefully before Christmas!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

chilean jasmine and drimiopsis

I've had someone write a comment asking how my Chilean jasmine (mandevilla laxa) is going, so here's an update.  I decided to put in another plant there on the right, it used to be obscured by the fig tree but the fig to a big cutback this winter,  So to give you some perspective, that's what they all looked like last summer, and on the left you can see how far the rest of them have grown over the winter.  They're fairly tidy in that they only want to grow along the wires I've set up for them, but I do wish they'd fill out faster.  I wonder what time of year they flower?
And here's an update on my little drimiopsis maculata.  They're not a common bulb but I saw some growing in the neighbourhood and managed to find some online.  I adore their spotted leaves, and so far the clumps have multiplied quite vigorously.  I panicked about 6 weeks ago when they all dropped their leaves before realising that they have a very short dormancy period just before spring.  These are their brand new spring leaves, which eventually lose their spots.  But at some point they'll also put out lovely spikes of white flowers.

bergenia is in!

I had a very hard time finding bergenia at this time of year.  They flower in winter and shops generally sell plants in flower when they're looking tempting.  So by late spring not one shop was selling them, and even asking my local to order them in wasn't getting me anywhere.  But then I got a call at work - my local had managed to source some!  They're just little at the moment but they should grow and spread all summer long until they fill out the bed.  I call them my little cabbages.
So here it is, the patio garden in its early glory.  Soon enough I'll have updates as everything settles in and grows thick and lush ... I hope!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

garden a.d.d.

My husband likes to joke that I have garden A.D.D. - as in, I have a very hard time just sitting and relaxing in my garden.   There's invariably something that catches my eye that wants doing, a weed to pull or a seedling to water.  No sooner had I taken photos of the new patio and posted them on this blog, but I was outside enjoying a snack in the sunshine and this time got distracted by the cats being adorable.  They love our new couch as much as we do!
But whilst I was up I also noticed that one of the goldfish was hanging out right on the surface and snapped a rare glimmer of gold.
Then decided I should add some closeup photos of the new annuals I put in.  Here's the red salvia.
And here's a close-up of the impatiens.  Look at all of those flower bud ready to go!
That's enough garden A.D.D. for one day!

finishing touches on the patio

I'd been slowly collecting plants for the patio but hadn't had the time to put them in ... then accidentally cut my finger in a kitchen incident and was told to keep out of the garden for a week!  Being told I couldn't cook, clean or type was one thing, but not gardening, how sad!

At last, though, I was able to get in there and finish up the plantings.  Along the back wall are two ginger lilies, I hope they grow up nice and tall by the end of the summer as we can see into our neighbour's driveway over that fence!  In front of the yuccas are those new cannas, still settling in.  In front of those are some annuals for quick colour - red salvias and some "sunpatiens": impatiens bred to tolerate the sun.  I really wanted a row of bergenias along the nearest bed but it's the wrong time of year to get them, so I may plant some more annuals there.
Here's a view right down the patio, including the two bangalow palms.  They seem to have adjusted well to life outside.  We had a lot of cloudy days so they were gradually introduced to direct sun, wind, and cool nights.  Their new growth is powering along, I just hope they don't outgrow their pots too quickly!
And just a reminder, here's what we had in this place before this transformation.  Those thick ficus trees and cumquats dominated and boxed in the space and felt a bit bland and formal.  Now when we sit on our couch on a warm, sunny evening I feel like we're living in a little slice of luxury!

Friday, 7 October 2011

tomatoes are in at last!

I almost didn't think it would ever happen.  Look at how long and leggy my poor toms had gotten!  The basil's still small, though, I'll wait a bit longer before I plant that out.
I made a hug mistake, though.  It's a good idea to plant leggy seedlings several extra centimeters deep in the dirt to grow some extra roots.  When I plucked the leaves off my honey of Mexico, I did this.  Don't do this.  This is silly.  Trim off the leaves, don't yank them.  Good thing I had extra seedlings...
And now, at last, they're in the tub.  They only need a small stake at that size, but it won't be long until I'll be wrapping string all around them to keep them from flopping.  But will I have tomatoes before Christmas?  That's the real challenge in Australia!

wildcat is open!

My wildcat orchid has opened her blossom!  It may be the one and only this year but it's gorgeous.
It's actually got five pointy petals but the bottom two are hidden behind the bib.  I hope the blossom lasts for weeks!

cannas, cannas everywhere

I'm really starting to move forward on the new front garden bed.  I've got a birthday party on the 29th so I'm eager to get some plants in before then!

Here's a bit of a "before".  A palm in a pot will go where that cardboard is now (we've filled TWO council bins with cardboard from the furniture and there's still some left!).  At the moment we've just got the yuccas, the pond, and some dichondra at the front.
The plan is to pull out the two shabbiest hedges along the brick and grow some ginger lily.  I also want cannas in front of the yuccas and some bergenias along the bath about to where the pond is.  Finally I'll fill in with some annuals.  Lush, green and a bit tropical!

Cannas aren't in the shops just yet as they seem to wait until they're in bloom and beautiful.  So I ordered some from a canna website.  It also let me be really picky about what I got.  There are hundreds of varieties of cannas in short, medium, tall, with leaves that are green, red, or stripey and flowers that are pink, red, yellow, orange or spotted and either large or small in size.  So much choice!

I ordered five plants and they arrived in the mail yesterday.  So far when I've mail-ordered plants they sure tend to be generous - I count 8 rhizomes here!  Three of them were a bit small so perhaps they thought they should together count as one.
I dug a shallow trench in front of the yuccas, spaced the cannas out (not quite in a straight line, that was on purpose!) and filled them in with some horse manure to enrich the soil.
Now it's pretty clear they won't be blooming before the party but I hope they at least settle in and put out some leaves for a bit of foliage.  The variety is called "copicana" (no, not tropicana!), about 1.5 metres tall with green leaves and elongated orange blossoms.  Hopefully they'll look like this!

Sunday, 2 October 2011

tomatoes almost ready to go

It's time to swap over the beetroots to the tomatoes.  Unfortunately not many of the beetroots reached even "baby" size but I really needed to make the swap!
Once they were out I finally had to dump out all the dirt in this tub.  For the last two years I suspect that my tomatoes have gotten some kind of disease that's in the soil.  Which meant I needed to get rid of all the soil and I even rinsed out the tub with bleach.  I got a bit of a surprise when I pulled the tub away from the steps - a whole colony of snails!
Once the snails were dealt with I put together the wooden frame I use to keep the tomatoes in shape.  This year I got extra-fancy and fit cross-beams along the length of the tub too.  The soil is a fresh mix of potting soil and mushroom compost plus a sprinkle of some sulphate of potash and organic fertilizer pellets.
The only down side is that I can't plant out my tomatoes just yet.  I was out of town this week so I haven't had the chance to harden them off yet.  But hopefully mid-week I'll be able to finally put them in their new home!

step by step by patio

The patio's really starting to come together.  Last weekend's project was to fill in the strip below the mosaic, where I used to grow rosemary and sage.  It's only about 20cm wide but it means we can push the couch farther back.  We dug out the dirt, roots and bark, then lay down some edging along the back and sand over the dirt.  Then with the help of a spirit level and a mallet we lay out the stones.  Finally we swept some more sand between them.  Not a bad effort I reckon!
And even more exciting, we have our couch and chairs!  Of course the cats are already enjoying them too.
I also bought a pair of bangalow palms, one for either side of the couch.  I'm not sure how well they'll do outside so I'm going to introduce them a few hours at a time for the next fortnight.  They're meant to be pretty tough palms so I hope they don't mind a bit of wind and sun through the summer!

fishies get a new pond

Well it's not actually a new pond, but after two weeks in a bucket of increasingly green sludge the goldfish are back in their home.  Look how crystal clear that water is!  You can see right to the bottom.  As you can see I've added a new plant - dwarf papyrus.  I had a little colocasia in there but the big floppy leaves blew over all the time.  Hopefully these thin little reeds will stay upright.  The water lily is also putting out new leaves and there's at least one bud forming.
The best part is, my patch job fixed the leaks!  Hopefully I won't have to drain their pond again for a year, as long as I can keep the water pretty clean.