Monday, 20 April 2015

Let's Have A Walk

It is suddenly starting to chill down in the late afternoon, and the gleam in Steve's eyes is visible as he starts his favourite job, gathering firewood.  Part of a dead tree very conveniently fell down the other day, so Steve took off with the trailer and chainsaw and came back with a couple of trailer loads of well seasoned jarrah, ready for the fire.  Here he is tackling the wood pile out the back, using his very favourite tool, the block splitter.  Thank you for keep our house toasty warm my dear. :-)
 With the onset of the rain, the small birds are out in profusion.  Wrens, robins and fantails scurry around after bugs and worms, while the nectar birds drink their fill from the autumn flowers that are starting to grow in my garden.  Look at this little smartarse, he is a Western Spinebill and is very clever with his upside down and sideways actions.  He even did a hummingbird impersonation yesterday, hovering briefly alongside the plant, wings beating a zillion miles per hour.

Let's have a little wander around the back garden...
This has been a really successful plant, it's a red salvia.  I grew it from a tiny cutting and it's obviously one tough baby as I am pruning it back regularly now, such strong growth.  The flowers are full of nectar so the bees and birds love it.
 I am tres excited about this.  It's a banana passionfruit vine with its very first flower.  I haven't eaten these since I was a kid and have always wanted to grow them.  I was a bit worried that it wouldn't be warm enough here, so I've planted this and two passionfruit vines along the fence, so they get as much sun as possible. 
The two passionfruit vines have gone absolutely mental, putting on massive growth and I reckon there are at least 25 fruit, which is pretty good going as I planted them quite late, only a couple of months ago.  They are the non-grafted Nelly Kelly, we didn't want a repeat of growing the grafted one in Perth, where rogue runners of the root stock kept sending up useless vines all over the place.  I'm not sure if this crop will be any good though, as the weather is cooling off quickly now, so they may not ripen.  Fingers crossed
 This has been a useful plant for quickly filling in spaces.  It's a pepino, low growing with abundant dark green foliage and pretty little purple flowers.
 And, it has fruit!  Ideally I should be supporting this plant so the fruit can hang off the ground away from bugs and excess damp, but I never got around to it.  The fruit are ready when the whitish-green colour of the skin turns more yellowy.  They taste something between a melon and a cucumber, not terribly exciting, but a nice extra addition to a salad or a cheese plate.  And they grown so easily with little attention, so, bonus!
 I filled in other spaces in my newly planted back garden beds with tomato plants, Black Russians and Tommy Toes.  One of the Black Russian plants was great, producing good fruit, but I had all sorts of trouble with the other two, with a yucky thing called Blossom End Rot.  If you see the tomatoes from above they look absolutely fine, but underneath, as you can see in the photo, they are a rotting mess.  I did some research and there are a number of reasons why this happens, insufficient calcium in the soil is one, and infrequent watering is another.  I suspect the latter as I was being stingy with watering.  Anyway, we wont keep any seeds from these plants, and buy some fresh ones for next year.
 I am really pleased with this plant, it is a Bell Chilli, a really mild one, a shade up from capsicum.  These pretty bell shaped fruit will turn bright red so as well as being a food plant, it is also a beautiful garden plant too.  It will last for a few seasons, so I'll take cuttings from time to time to grow new plants.  This one was a cutting from my friend Ruth.
 I haven't officially grown pumpkins for three years now ha ha, but I use my composting worms' castings around my plants, and I give my composting worms pumpkin seeds and skins to eat.  So, those seeds, that obviously don't give a hoot about being partially devoured by worms, germinate in droves.  I pull most of them out but let a few grow, and ended up growing four big Queensland Blues and eight sort of a Jap/Blue cross.  More than enough for our needs.
 This is my determination bed.  It looks messy here and since this photo the foliage has tripled in thickness, great.  It's sweet potato.  I will not rest until I've got the hang of growing them.  It struggles a bit here simply because there is not a long enough period of warm weather, apparently it likes about four months of warmth.  I've tried twice before and failed, but this time I've planted it in a corner behind the house that gets full afternoon autumn sun, and it's growing in black soil mix, my thought being that that dark colour would hold warmth more.  If the leaf growth is anything to go by, it's looking good!  Crossing fingers again.  :-)
 The citrus are doing really well, this is our pride and joy, a Tahitian lime.  It is stuffed full of fruit and the leaves are green and glossy and abundant.  The two lemons are going well too, a lot smaller than this overachiever, but both have some fruit and strong new leaf growth.  The mandarin is still on Death Row, it needs to get its arse into gear or it's gone!  It puts out loads of piddly small leaves that wither away, and not a fruit in sight.  It has exactly the same soil treatment as the other citrus so I really don't know what to do to improve it.  Apart from rip it out and put another one in. 
 The Valencia orange is struggling a bit too, it is always the first tree to have yellowing leaves, and its growth is very slow compared to the others.  But is has a few fruit on it.  I did notice that is has red scale on it, so it's now had a spray with White Oil.  Hopefully it will be happier now.
 This is arrowroot.  I have this plant out the back, and another puny specimen near the chooks.  The only difference being that this one was well watered.  And my goodness does it make a difference, this one is really lush and lovely.  I have put this in mainly because I like the foliage, but the leaves are also a great addition to the compost heap, it seems to be a good habitat for the odd small frog, and if I really got my act together, I could dig up the corms and make arrowroot flour!
 A friend gave me a tiny banana tree last year, so I popped that in the back garden, near the arrowroot and sweet potato.  I'm trying to make this my 'tropical corner'.  I've also put in a White Sapote and plan to add an avocado and a hibuscus.
 This is Minim Greek Basil, it has grown like the clappers, hooray!  I love being able to wander out the back and grab a handful for my salad.
 Our three chooks are doing well, with egg production slightly on the increase.  We got nine last week which is much better than the 5-6 we've been getting.  Amazing to think that at one stage we were getting about 22 a week.  Never mind, they are getting older now. 
 THIS, is a pain in the bum.  Although the chook house has a concrete floor, there is a tiny gap between the wall and the floor, and the bloody mice get in.  I keep putting rocks along the edge, and bricks, but they find a way.  This time of year seems to be the worst.  I never knew how much they tunnel too, they have actually tunneled right under the concrete floor of the house into the chookyard on occasion.  We'll have to make up a runny mix of concrete and pour it around the edge of the house I think.
 Do you remember the wooden book Steve made?  It sits right outside the chookyard door, in my front fenced garden.  This is what 18 months of weathering has done to it.  I love it, it has character.
And on a final note on our walk, my frog pond has five fat residents.  The pond is an old bath sunk into a hole in the ground, and I've put a few logs and an old pallet over one end, to stop the kookaburras from gobbling them up.  They sun themselves for hours every day, and there are tadpoles, yay! 

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