The Gardens of Chiconia 37: winter vegies

It’s winter in my garden, so it must be time to grow tomatoes!

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 6.51.22 pm Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 6.50.51 pm Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 6.48.13 pm Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 6.51.59 pm Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 6.48.50 pm Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 6.49.19 pmNo, I’m not raving. We’re averaging pleasant daytime temperatures of around 24-26°C (75-78°F), it hasn’t fallen below 10°C (50°F) at night, the bugs are (mostly) in abeyance, and it’s the perfect time to grow the things that can’t cope in the height of the summer. Tomatoes, zucchini, herbs…

Of course, I’m not showing the silverbeet and bok choi which have been decimated by the Eggfly Butterfly caterpillars – it’s an ugly scene of devastation. It happened last year too, and I hoped a change of venue would make the difference, but it hasn’t.  So far, my Brazilian and Malabar Spinach seem to be untouched – the greedy beasts seem to prefer the brassica family.

I hope winter is treating the Aussies and Kiwis among you kindly, and that the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere has brought balmy weather and longer sunny days.



The Gardens of Chiconia 30: Super Size!

It’s not the gardens I’m talking about, although at 3/4 acre (3,000m²) they’re large enough. 

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 5.24.06 pmNo, it’s the bugs.  I’ve complained before about monster grass-hoppers and Very Hungry Caterpillars. Lookee here. That’s a standard trowel… and that, my friends, is a Lawn Grub. The out-sized offspring of a beetle, whose natural habitat is, you guessed it, lawns. What two of them were doing in the bottom of my capsicum planter is anyone’s guess. I left them on the bird feeder for the magpies to enjoy…

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Malabar spinach

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Brazilian spinach

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Today’s planting.

More fun in the backyard today. I planted three varieties of tomato, four different herbs, English, Brazilian and Malabar spinach, bok choi, zucchini, two different kinds of capsicum, two different kinds of strawberry and a Norfolk Island black passionfruit vine on the side fence.

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11 years of faithful service, and now it’s time for a new handle!

There’s still space in the raised beds for a bit more, and I have some work to do preparing the potato bed, but it’s beginning to take shape. One tool I won’t be using is my poor border spade, which gave up the ghost today and will need a new handle before it can be used again.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 5.24.22 pmWe’ve given the starfruit a big boy’s haircut, and all the deadwood is now gone. The Husband offered himself up to the green ants, and went in with the chainsaw. Many bites later, the job is done, and the tree is now a third of its original size, but looks much happier. It’s had a top dressing of pelletised chicken manure and blood and bone around the new dripline, so hopefully that’ll give it a boost. My Garden Tea is still bubbling away and isn’t ready for dosing out yet. Take a look – that’s alpaca poo floating on the top, mixed with comfrey. I’ll post about Garden Tea when it’s ready to go.

Another trip to the dump got rid of the last trailer load of prunings. The jungle is now tamed, and ready for its chooky inhabitants. The Husband has been patiently chipping away at the rock hard ground where the base of the chook house will go, so fairly soon we’ll be able to put in the edging and get a load of crusher dust to lay.

Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 5.24.56 pm Screen Shot 2015-04-26 at 5.25.08 pmI’ve been getting a couple of small limes a day from my little tree, so there has been a surge of Lime Zucchini cake eating. Using our own limes just gives us all the excuse we need to stuff our faces with what is now a firm family favourite.

And here is our reward for a day spent mostly doing yard work!

Tomorrow, I’m picking up my needle again.

On the menu tonight…

While I was away, the Gardens of Chiconia have not been idle.

Screen shot 2014-07-06 at 11.05.21 AMThis basket is tonight’s supper, along with some nice local lamb cutlets. We have Chinese cabbage, bok choi, spinach, rocket (arugula), baby sweet potato leaves, a small but perfectly formed zucchini and some young green and butter beans.

I must organise some more bok choi and Chinese cabbage seedlings, spaces are opening up to plant more. I’ve had to prune the zucchini plants back a bit to give the beans a chance. There are lots of them, but if they get enough sun I may get another flush of flowers and hence more beans. And nipping leaves off the sweet potato vine not only helps to keep it to a reasonable size, but also gives me another green leaf vegetable.

The tomatoes are tall, green and rampant, and are slowly beginning to flower. The cherry toms have just set some microscopic green fruit, the Romas have begun to flower and the Grosse Lisse have buds. So it looks as if I’ll get a nice long tomato season! The Grosse Lisse plants are huge, so I’m hoping for a big crop so I can bottle some tomato sauce.

Back to the laundry. How we managed to accumulate 4 loads of it I’m not too sure, but it all has to get done. Plus weeding, soup making, cleaning, admin and last but not least, sewing. Hurray for quiet Sundays….

More soon. 😉

The Gardens of Chiconia 18

Screen shot 2014-06-25 at 10.27.42 PMMy seed potatoes are here!

They went into their spud bags this morning, nestling in a rich dark bed of garden soil liberally laced with compost and blood & bone, watered in with worm tea. As soon as the first shoots are a hand’s length high, I’ll be burying them under consecutive layers of compost and sugar cane mulch until the level reaches the top of the bag. That way, the plants will develop the largest possible root system, and hopefully a generous quantity of potatoes.

Screen shot 2014-06-25 at 10.28.32 PMScreen shot 2014-06-25 at 10.28.01 PMAnd my zucchini obligingly produced a female flower bud or two, so in addition to all that futile male floral flamboyance, there will be some zucchini to enjoy. Look at the wee thing. It’s just the tiniest bit rude, isn’t it? Baby green beans are also making an appearance, the first of many, I hope.

Screen shot 2014-06-25 at 10.29.10 PMI’m eyeing the Chinese cabbage hungrily. It doesn’t know it’s doomed to be a nice stir fry one of these days, along with the rapidly maturing bok choi…

No sign of germination yet from the very elderly pumpkin, bean and melon seeds I stuck in pots on a gamble. I suspect they were a bit past it. They get another few days and then I put something else in there.

I must get some seeds going to stick in the gaps when I harvest some of this green loveliness….

The Gardens of Chiconia 17: winter flowers

I’m not talking about the big, flamboyant stuff that flourishes in my tropical garden.

I’m talking about flowers that mean FOOD!Screen shot 2014-06-24 at 3.17.14 PMScreen shot 2014-06-24 at 3.18.03 PMScreen shot 2014-06-24 at 3.17.46 PMScreen shot 2014-06-24 at 3.17.27 PM

Screen shot 2014-06-24 at 3.18.42 PMOh, there are other flowers too, most notably on things that are not normally known for their flowers…. I’m waiting to see what this is going to do next. I’ve never seen one flower before.

Screen shot 2014-06-24 at 3.18.54 PMAnd the sun is doing a great job of cranking out the rays that are feeding watts into our new solar power system.

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Just LOOK at the colour of those new leaves

The avocado tree has replaced almost its entire canopy (rather a grand term for such a little tree), and has almost doubled the size of it at the same time. The lychee is putting on a massive burst of new growth.  I’m quietly hoping either or both of them may show willing with the odd flower or fruit in spring.

Right, outdoor interlude over. Back to the kitchen.