It’s a long time since the green stuff got a look in.
I haven’t had to water for a few days, thanks to the wonderful rain we got recently. Despite the forecast saying we’d have rain for the past week, though, it hasn’t materialised and I was out again with the hose this morning. And really, I was amazed at the growth things put on in this climate after a good soaking. It’s the usual culprits: banana, passionfruit, mango – and now they’re joined by the avocado, lychee, and even the citrus. Time for more before and after shots, I think!
The banana’s the one that’s impressing me most. It loves its slightly damp corner by the fence, where it’s fairly well protected from the wind blowing its leaves to bits, and the ground is slightly lower so moisture accumulates there. Even so, the growth is almost visible. What is a rolled up pointy leaf bud in the morning is fully unfurled and a huge leaf by the evening.
I’m constantly nipping out the growing tips on the passionfruit vine, which, if left unchecked, would be all over two neighbours’ gardens and strangling the flame tree. It has the added benefit of making the vine produce more side shoots, which is what I want.
The Tree Formerly Known As A Dead Stick, or Frangipani, is also flourishing. Its leaves are enormous, and more appear every day. It clearly enjoys life in a large ceramic pot, with its feet out of any water that might pool while the rain is heavy. I look forward to pink flowers one day soon.
I am fighting an ongoing battle with caterpillars and grasshoppers. You can only pick off so many by hand… They are munching holes in almost everything. Where there’s a lot of foliage, or the plant is well grown, I’m not so concerned, but they have destroyed a few plants down to the bare stem. I don’t know what the answer is. We get limited success spraying with soapy water, and I’ve had to resort to pyrethrum where a plant is infested with a dozen or so insects, but if I could point all the little devils at one or two sacrificial plants, I’d be happy! And of course, their favourite food is the tender young leaves on the fruit trees, and my most cherished ornamentals. They have made lace of the lower leaves of the Brugmansia (Angel Trumpet), so obviously they are immune to the poison in the leaves.
The Monstera deliciosa (Swiss Cheese Plant) in the corner is also thriving. It’s at least doubled in size, the leaves are huge and glossy, and I’m still amazed that I can grow something like that outside which has to be carefully nurtured inside in a pot in Europe. Tropical gardening is a continuing adventure and delight.
Come the autumn, I look forward to discovering how vegetables do here, with the construction of my raised beds and shade tunnel. I’m going to miss the things that prefer cooler weather. The area I have to work with is small, sheltered and hot, and floods in the Wet. Which means that even the things other people in this climate can grow don’t thrive in my back yard. So the first year is going to be a process of trial and error, seeing what works and what dies. I may be growing some fairly exotic stuff, working with the climate and environmental conditions, instead of against them! And I certainly don’t expect to feed us completely out of such a small plot: 3/4 square metres – especially if the grasshoppers discover it.
Everyone is getting a nice dose of worm tea and Seasol tonight, and a good watering. We’re going away for three days, up to Cairns and the Atherton Tableland, and while I’m away, the garden is left to the kind and tender mercies of my neighbour. She’ll water for me, but she doesn’t know the plants and their preferences, so I want everything to have a good feed and be as strong as possible. I’m a tremendous enthusiast of worm tea. It might smell like, well, what it is, liquid poo, but it is absolutely chock full of nutrients and micro-organisms and the plants, which have no sense of smell, adore it.
And now, it’s time to sit in my swing seat with a cold glass of water, enjoy the sound of trickling water, and plan what plants I want to install next.