Sunday, September 25, 2011

Spring vignettes

Just some happy snaps on this Sunday from my mother-in-law's glorious garden. This garden is 3/4 of an acre, overall, and so too hard to describe or photograph in one, so I have settled for taking photos of little individual plants, groupings, or scenes instead. Enjoy!

We are looking out at the wisteria draped over the pergola as it flowers for the first time this season;

The soft scent of jasmine fills the air by the picnic table, behind the Japanese maple;

And then there's lilac, lovely blowsy lilac.

The roses are covered in a russet flush of new growth;

The azelea over by the far fence has had more flowers than leaves for months;

The orange and yellow of these sunny tulips looks especially good against the blue-violets of the bluebells;

But, to be honest, I am very fond of the drifts of bluebells all on their own;

These are MIL's favourite tulips in a velvet purple-burgundy, except they are planted in a bit of an obscure patch in the garden and are not so easy to see;

And last but not least, the white clematis over the front gate is beginning to blossom to welcome visitors who walk down that path to the house.

Have a good week, everyone xx

Saturday, September 24, 2011

'Shrooms on Saturday night

Oh, oh, oh! Possibly the most boring photo I have ever posted on my little blog, but those little white balls may very well be my first mushrooms from my mushie kit! Easily mistaken for specks of styrofoam, these appeared as tiny specks yesterday and the largest is about 2mm across today. They are all squished up in the back left corner of the box.

In other good mushroom-kit news, the right hand side of the box finally looked 'frosted' about three days ago and I have covered it over with the remaining bedding mix and it all looks nice and homogeneous now.

So, kit was first set up (well, half of it!) on September the 13th.
First potential mushrooms spotted on Sept the 22nd.
First mushrooms harvested on...?

I'll keep you posted :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mid-September back garden tour

I have shiny new and uncorrupted camera cards so I am back to my old snap-happy self and to celebrate I'm going to share a dozen or so photos from the (mostly) vegie garden out the back of our house.

We've had a few little harvests lately:

There was a lovely big bok choy (growing in a pot with a baby plum tree).

And the experimental Greenfeast peas had enough fat pods on them to be able to cook enough for a side to dinner for three adults and a pea-'loving toddler.

And there are more peas on their way, although the whole plot is starting to look decidedly lopsided now and I don't anticipate it will last much longer.

There were a couple of baby beetroots (not my forte, not yet anyway!)

I was going to throw all these baby beetroot leaves into a stirfry - since the actual roots were so disappointing but I accidentally left them out in the garden overnight on Monday and it absolutely bucketed down that night and the were beaten down into the ground. Still, I thought the photo was too pretty not to share; those colours! Imagine the vitamins in them!

And, as ever, the rainbow chard is still providing loads of leaves for us for no effort at all on my part. It's not quite as vibrantly coloured as it was when the weather was cooler.

We've got more fruit and veg on it's way too.

There's the Aquadulce broad beans, which are taller than my waist. I have dutifully nipped out the top buds of each plant. Apparently if you don't do this they will not set fruit, and I can say that despite all the flowers over a month ago I didn't see a single bean pod until after I'd done the nipping.

The other broad beans - Bunyard's Exhibition, that I sowed much later - are only around a foot tall but producing flowers already. Now, do I do the nipping now, or let them get taller and then nip them? I always feel like I'm making up this gardening gig as I go along!

And for months and months I have been looking at the purple pepino flowers and moaning that they were doing nothing. And then, suddenly, there are at least a dozen fruit! I theorise that the weather had to warm up enough to bring out the pollinators (feral bees, no doubt). I don't know how long they'll take to ripen, and I don't know what they'll taste like (like 'melon,' I've read), and I don't even know if we'll like them but it will be good to find out!

Some of the recent sowings are doing quite well so far and not too attacked by snails, like these daikon which I'm growing in one of my Styrofoam boxes (the carrots have sprouted too, but are too tiny to photograph).

There's beans doing their thing. These might be butter beans, but I can't remember what I've put where (it is written down though!) For some reason, the beans in the pots sprouted weeks ahead of those in the ground. Maybe because the pots are warmer than the ground?

Oh gosh, I can't remember what these are either! Pumpkins? Cucumbers? Zucchini? Eek! It's a pot luck garden! These were sown in jiffy pots and then transplanted.

And just for fun, I've planted lots of red and yellow sunflowers, and 'black' and white hollyhocks along the fence. I'll write a whole post about this soon, I'm hoping.

The red-flowered sunflower seedlings have red stems and leaf veins too. These were planted in toilet paper tubes filled with seed-raising peat (I love that stuff!) I accidentally left the tube poking a bit above the ground but I'm sure it won't matter. Some bugger of an insect has had a nibble on a number of the sunflower seedlings which is a little bit irritating.

These are tiny baby hollyhocks. Some I planted singly, and some in pairs like these two, in anticipation of some natural attrition!

Seems such a shame that nasturtiums are a weedy nuisance when out in public! They are supposed to be total pest magnets in the vegie patch so it seems contradictory to plant them there, but the idea is that you attract the bugs - aphids especially, but also slugs, snails and caterpillars - to the nasturtiums and not to your vegies. However, I seem to have the healthiest, pest-free nasturtiums out there, and my brussel sprouts are absolutely covered in grey aphids and not fit to speak about (or eat, for that matter, might give the old brussels a miss next year)

It's a very exciting time of year, this ever-lovely Spring.

[and, even better, look at this! A new satellite photo of our little house:

It shows my still unfinished path out the front, the new extension out the back, the water tank which, thanks to the big downpours earlier in the week, now has enough water in it that some comes out when you open the tap, and finally no more huge pine tree! Compare it to this photo back in April:

Woohoo, rolling along quite nicely!]

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Feeling seedy

See? I told you I am addicated to sowing seeds; I have bought even more! I realised the other day that despite all my mad sowing, I didn't have any eggplants at all to speak of. I went out almost immediately (well, a couple of days later) and bought a punnet of Lebanese eggplant, and another of the fat 'normal' kind, the name of which escapes me, and planted them out in the garden. And I got a couple of packets of purple eggplant seeds, but, like a true addict, it wasn't enough and I needed more: Ebay beckoned.

First port of call? Yet more eggplants!

Thai 'Udumalaphet';

Source: via Katie on Pinterest

'Casper' white;

Source: via Katie on Pinterest

A funky unnamed red variety;

Source: via Katie on Pinterest

Famous 'Listada de Grandia';

Source: via Katie on Pinterest

And while I was on a roll with the weird and wonderful?

Silver Queen, burgundy, Star of David and Clemson Spineless okra: (cool binomial name too, Abelmoschus esculentus). I don't even like okra - I think it's like eating glue - but Chef D does and I couldn't resist the mixed colours.

Source: via Katie on Pinterest

White beetroot (isn't that mutually exclusive?);

Source: via Katie on Pinterest

'Moon and Stars' Watermelon;

Source: via Katie on Pinterest

and green tomatillos (and what do they taste like? No idea!);

Source: via Katie on Pinterest

But now, a little bit of a problem: We're off overseas in a month for a month. Should I plant these now, or later? Eek! I got carried away and didn't think of that when I was madly clicking 'buy it now' the other day. I think I will hedge my bets: Just a few of each now, and more when we get home. Is it just me or is Spring running away with us already?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dreaming in colour

I've spent the weekend dreaming about gardens, and colours, and paint... I had a little revelation recently: I love colour. Now, that probably doesn't sound all that dramatic, does it? However, I have spent well over a year thinking about our house, about modernizing our house, trying to work out how to make it a canvass for our lives, and drooling over sleek and modern photos in sleek and modern magazines, and thinking neutral, neutral, neutral, don't let things clash, it must all be seamless and stylish, etc etc.... and then, like a blast from above: Why do you want to make a house that would sit happily in a magazine? How is that reflective of the kind of life you want to lead and are working towards? Isn't that somewhat boring? Where is the spirit? So, then, the next question must be: how to introduce lots of colour without it looking too garish? Well, maybe, forget the house, the kitchen, the lounge, the bathroom, and, as always, focus on the garden instead.

I have been playing with some ideas about colour in the garden. I can't find anything on the WWW that shows what I'd like to do - an original idea? Unlikely! - I have found loads of pictures that are reflective of the kinds of colours I have fallen in love with, so on this Sunday night I'll share just a few of them with you.

Source: via Katie on Pinterest


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gardening with toddlers.

SP and I went shopping today, and our last stop was at the Giant Hardware Store, so I could spend too much money there (again). SP had had enough of shopping by this stage and I spent most of the time we were in there picking up debris pilfered from my handbag and then dropped over the side of the shopping cart. So I rushed around, as you tend to do when out with a toddler, and along with all the other planned purchases I impulse bought a 'Panama Red' grafted passionfruit vine, figuring it could go alongside the other black passionfruit vine I'm hoping will cover the fence. Then we left and went home. SP roamed about the garden while I unloaded everything from the boot of the car, and then I went to water my new plants...

Oh. Crap. For a hopeful second I thought my new passionfruit had just been yanked out of the pot, but no, it was snapped in half as well and below the graft too. Thank you, SP. We owned that plant intact for approximately 40 minutes, which I think might be a new record for a plant death in our garden.
But, hope springs eternal (it must, when you are a parent, and when you are a gardener too; I think we are inherently optimistic people) and as we were about to rush off to a dinner date I shoved the stems and roots back in the pot and I'll have another look at it tomorrow to see if I can try my hand at grafting and rescue it. Maybe? Possibly? Or see if it will send out shoots from the top section of the graft? Gah, I don't know!

Here's a photo of the culprit as she contemplates destroying my baby beans or pulling out a bok choy instead...

What are the keys to gardening with toddlers? Only that you need patience, tolerance, a sense of humour, and to try not to get too upset when plants are pulled out, or sat on, or trodden on. It's all terribly interesting when you are 18 months old after all, even when you have the attention span of a mayfly.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Experimenting with 'shrooms

When SP and I went to the Royal Show the other day, I couldn't resist buying myself a mushroom kit. To be honest, I don't even like eating mushrooms very much, but I've wanted to try growing them for ages and the temptation was too big to resist (I did, however, manage to resist buying any show bags full of chocolate or sweets, go me!) I went for a combo kit: half white mushrooms and half Portabello Swiss brown mushrooms. I got it home, eagerly unwrapped it and found... this:

Now, the instructions say that you are to keep the mix covered until it goes white and 'frosty' and then, after that, you open it up, spread the bedding material over the top, and then spray it with a water mister judiciously. It's pretty clear, even in my dodgy photo, that one type of mushroom has taken off whilst the other is lagging behind. What to do, what to do?

I decided to put the bedding mix over the white side and fold the plastic and box leaf over the side that was still brown to see if it will catch up. Such a glam photo too, with the B-grade camera (my good camera is out of action, poo) and the recycling in the laundry in the background... So here goes nothing, or here goes $18 worth of mushroom kit anyway, grow, mushies, grow! Hopefully soon I'll know if the brown side is brown mushrooms, and if the white side is white mushrooms, or if the brown side is white mushrooms and then the white side is brown mushrooms. Or something like that.

Never mind.

Appropriate now to share my most favourite poem of all time?


Sylvia Plath, 1959.

"Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,

Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We

Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot's in the door."