birds (6)

ALICE SPRINGS DESERT PARK

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This is the most incredible park - like a combination of Australia Zoo and the best native botanic garden rolled into one. We stopped and chatted with one of the horticulturalists doing some new planting and it was mind boggling the amount of planning that goes into each "region" of plantings.

Lots of (wheelchair friendly) well laid out walking trails, plenty of toilets, a kiosk, gift shop (with actual interesting stuff), animal shows, animal enclosures and displays. Awesome.

Below are some of the birds that performed in the amphitheatre for the bird show.

I should have kept notes during the performance as to which bird was which. My daughter and I don't always agree from memory on the names. Feel free to contradict anything I have written!

Believe this is a Wedge Tailed Eagle. She is only a young bird and was pursued through her performance by a flock of wild crows and a wild WTE.

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Barn Owl

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Magpie, singing on command.

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Buzzard uses rocks to open an "Emu" egg and get the prize within.

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Whistling Kite chasing a lure.

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Emu enclosure....

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....and how to catch and cook an emu!

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The park was full of a huge variety of often flowering native plants. Still trying to name some of them despite buying some local reference books.

Below is a sample of the plants blooming during our visit in July. Thank you to Gary at ASDP for helping name the plants I couldn't.

Pterocaulon sphaletatum (Apple Bush)

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Chysocephalum apiculatum (Common Everlasting)

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Senecio gregorii (Annual Yellowtop)

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Gossypium bickii (Low Desert Rose)

Plant family: Malvaceae. Floral emblem of NT and pretty obviously related to Hibiscus it's also closely related to cotton producing plants. It grows wild here but I only saw isolated plants growing, no groups.

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Dead Finish (Acacia tetragonophylla)

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Clianthus formosus is now Swainsona formosa Sturt Desert Pea floral emblem of SA - self seeds and grows wild around here but is hard to cultivate where you would like it to grow! Also comes in a white form (which I didn't see).

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Wild Tomato, Solanum orbiculatum - edible but bitter. Comes with a warning that many of it's similar looking relatives are toxic.

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Cunninghams Rattle-pod (Crotalaria cunninghamii)

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Grevillea eriostachya (Honey Grevillea)

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Ptilotus latifolius (Tangled Mulla Mulla)

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Lawrencella davenportii (Davenport Daisy)

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Dodonaea microzyga (Brilliant Hopbush)

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Xerochrysum bracteatum (Golden Everlasting)

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Corymbia opaca (Bloodwood, formally Eucalyptus opaca)

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Many of the trees growing in the park had fascinating bark.

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There is a HUGE variety of bird life out here in central Australia. You would need to get hold of a specialist publication to read about them all. The Park had quite a few bird displays, many big enough to walk through, with particular environments and birdlife in residence. Difficult for me to get good photos of these fast moving little creatures with my small camera.

Finches, budgies, other parrots, doves and water birds abound at the natural waterholes. I wasn't lucky enough to see the wild budgies at this time of the year.

One of the enclosures at the park.

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Spinifex pigeon

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Pied Stilt (per my parents)

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Australian Bustard - male and his female - he kept pacing and wouldn't stand still for me!

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There was so much to see and do at the park, I've only covered part of it. Hours of wandering and looking pleasure. I hope I get the chance to come back again during a different season and I hope others get the chance to come out here to visit this incredibly beautiful, diverse and interesting part of the world.

A constant surprise.

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ALICE SPRINGS OLIVE PINK BOTANIC GARDEN

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You can't visit Alice Springs without going to visit the Olive Pink Botanic Gardens. I searched for information about any guided tours through the garden and couldn't find anything and asking at the gardens came up with pretty much the same answund on the gardens from the website OLIVE PINK BOTANIC GARDENS:

The Garden was founded in 1956 by Miss Olive Muriel Pink as the Australian arid regions flora reserve.

Today we carry on this tradition as an arid zone Botanic Garden specialising in flora from Australia's vast interior.

BROCHURE which contains information about Olive's life and some of the plants growing there. I haven't had the time to identify the plants I photographed today but they may be listed in this brochure.

MAP OF THE GARDEN The garden is laid out as meandering pathways with a Cafe at one end. A very nice Cafe as it turns out, with a selection of gluten free food. I had a delightful late breakfaser. "Ask the guys working around the garden" seemed to be the best and it turned out some of them were really helpful and happy to talk.

Some backgrot of Eggs Benedict on GF toast. There is also a steep (think mountain goat) walk up Annie Myers Hill. Much as I wanted to see the view from the top my vertigo set in about 5m up and I had to turn back....creeping back down the rock steps on my bottom. A little girl raced past me going up. Could have been worse. I could have rolled down head first.

The steps up to Annie Myers Hill. I made up for the loss of this view by heading for Anzac Hill instead.

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Some of the plants growing - if you can name them go ahead and I'll add them in.

A Mallee according to Elaine - confirmed by the handbook as a Finke River Mallee.

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Seed pods on the Finke River Mallee.

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Possibly a Sturt Creek Mallee.

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Dense Cassia

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Ironwood - root bark is used medicinally by the aborigines.

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One of the many Grey-crowned Babblers that live in the gardens. Curious, chatty little beasts that nest communally, extending on nests and making them quite large.

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One of the communal nests dotted around in the surrounding trees.

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Bower Bird nest under one of the trees. The little bird didn't seem all that phased that I was standing there watching and taking photos. He came and went as suited him.

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The Bower Bird's treasure trove of trinkets - all white - baby bottle lid, bottle caps, bits of plastic, pegs.

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And the little bird himself, a Western Bower Bird, as far as I can tell....

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One of the outdoor areas.

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And another, the significance of the sand eludes me.

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Striking rock formations are a feature in AS.

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Seating at the Bean Tree Cafe.

9779275658?profile=originalAltogether a very pleasant visit and well worth going to see. I met some nice travellers there and had a bit of a chat. People come from far and wide to visit AS.

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2012/2013 SUMMER FEBRUARY

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01.02.13

Time to cut up non-producing plants to  replenish the beds and do some propagation after all the rain. The temperature is much more comfortable though steamy, perfect for plant propagation.

I've planted up a heap of my first lot of Cardoon seed, some strawberry runners (for Joseph), red salvia removed from places I didn't want them growing (I cut back the Pineapple Sage the other day and chopped it up for mulch, but this is also a good one to grow from cutting), Cranberry Hibiscus and Cleome from cutting, Pepino and Betel leaf from cutting - the latter produce little rootlets almost begging to be reproduced.

I have lots of wildlife visitors to the garden - lizards, insects, birds. I try to find the name of each one so I can learn their role in the garden but some of the insects are very hard to identify.

Have identified this one as a Red-spotted Mirid Bug (Trilaccus nigroruber). One of those great, almost invisible, little predators we like to encourage to the garden. This insect is a predator of larvae of other small insects. I've watched it sticking it's proboscus into crevices and holes on the eggplant it seems to favour.

Brisbane Insects

9779075852?profile=originalThis morning while taking cuttings, with the dog standing right under the bush, a little Silvereye flew straight between us and sat on the bush completely unafraid and sang it's little song. It's mate and it were working the garden for caterpillars. The mud wasps have been gathering these lately also.

I'm appreciating that nature sets up it's own balance between predators and prey if you let it.

Silvereye - photo from Bird Life Australia

Have finally this morning seen the solitary native Leafcutter bee. I see evidence of it's work on my rose bush with neat little circles cut out of the leaves but not the bee itself. It is very fast moving but obliged by stopping right in front of me to groom itself for a whole 10secs so I could get a good look at it.

Here's some video from the Aussie Bee site.

Photo courtesy of Brisbane Insects.

They carry their pollen under their abdomen rather than in pollen sacs on the legs. Neat little white V on the face.

9779076466?profile=originalFrom the Qld Museum site here's the nest! Will have to keep my eyes open for this around the yard:

The cigar-like nest of a leaf-cutter bee removed from in fold in a curtain. This nest is composed of several individual cells staked end on end.

The cigar-like nest of a leaf-cutter bee removed from a fold in a curtain.
This nest is composed of several individual cells staked end on end.

02.02.13

Spent the morning working on tidying up the front yard. One of the mower guys and Heath have given me piles-o-grass so it was a good opportunity to start the no dig gardens in the front with all the Bribie newspapers courtesy of my Mum. 

Heath will also take out the palms and pony tail plants for me next time he brings his chainsaw. I think he enjoys having something to cut down myself!

I've also cut back all the dead growth on the white Mandevilla - something that has been bugging me for ages.

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I've had to throw out kgs upon kgs of fruit from the Carombola due to fruit fly sting plus bruising when they hit the ground.

The bruising can be avoided but the fruit fly is a big problem, so I've hung a Wild May trap this morning. First time I've tried this product. It could take a very long time to eradicate or reduce the problem.

The tree is flowering again so it will be interesting to see if I have better results with the next lot of fruit.

9779078681?profile=originalThis is exactly what I saw in my garden yesterday - a mating couple of dragonflies. The female with a very red abdomen. There was a second insect with red abdomen, so assume it was another female, keeping them company nearby. Libellulidae - they were very long, about 7cm.

Pic courtesy of Brisbane Insects:

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I've just spread around in the bare patches under the few corn plants that survived the recent heat, the rest of Joseph's chinese veg seed - Pak Choy (Chinese White Cabbage) and Gai Choy (Chinese Mustard, Bamboo Leaf).

07.02.13

Enjoyed the antics of my resident Willy Wagtail this morning. Looks like it might be a juvenile. It sits on my clothes line preening itself after a bath then heads for the roof line where it picks off flying bugs mid air.

Photo courtesy of Birds in Backyards.

9779079479?profile=originalI've planted a bit of seed into grow pots. The Cardoon planted a few days ago from my own saved seed is coming up already! And I was worried it might not be viable.

Planted: Red Nasturtium "Imp. Empress", Artichoke "Imprerial Star" (long shot for sub-tropical), Orach "Ruby Red" (4 seed only, not really it's time), Black Eggplant (from store bought fruit), Wampi (what the hey - someone will grow seedlings) and cuttings from various things, mainly to give away. Also need to plant the Edible Chrysanthemum seed today.

Bed 3 is ready to go with pea and bean seed. Trying to hold out to March as I expect a bit more heat between then and now. Very little worm activity in any of the beds which is puzzling. Something to do with all the rain?

The Dragon fruit bloomed last night - it did rain a little so I hope they pollinated ok. Gave them a dust myself with a slightly wet finger as well.

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The weather has remained showery and relatively cool, perfect weather for seed sowing, so I've crumbled and sown seed before my original March aim.

Bed 3 - Beans: Flageolet flagrano (bush bean ex Craig); Purple Pod climber (my saved seed); James' climber (my saved seed).

Peas: Sugar Snap (my saved seed) and Purple Pod (donated seed source unknown) - both climbers. There's also a Cardoon (my saved seed) in there along with some silverbeet which has struggled along through the heat, plus various sweet potato growing under the A frame and putting the unused interior to purpose.

Bed 2 - Cauliflower "Sixty Days" (Green Harvest) apparently well suited to warmer areas and can be frozen; Broccoli - Early Purple Sprouting (Baker Creek Heirloom), Green Sprouting Calabrese (The Lost Seed), Waltham (my own saved), Rapini (Baker Creek Heirloom);  Kohlrabi (Florence);  Purple King beans on frame(donated seed dated 2011 source unknown) and one Cardoon (my saved seed).

There's also some silverbeet struggling along after the heat, a Listada di Gandia eggplant (Bunnings seedling), Sweet Leaf (James' cutting) and some shallots (rooted stubs from store bought).

I've tossed some coriander, dill and fennell amongst everything with the aim of detering pests.

Bed 1 - Joe's beans (climber from Elaine or Jane); existing corn Golden Bantam - half of these didn't come up in the heat and are only 80cm or so tall and going to silk, under these are chinese veg (seed from Joseph); the Cardoon plants have mostly died off but two are making an effort at comeback after being cut back; some Mekong Red Amaranth (self sown) and an eggplant self sown.

Around the general yard I've planted Sunflower (saved seed); Edible Chrysanthemum (Suceed Heirlooms), Fennel (source unknown); Dill (ex Anne Gibson); Phacelia "Syn. Californian Bluebell" (Green Harvest) which has fragrant lavender-blue flowers and fern like foliage, attracts hoverflies that control aphids and is good bee forage amongst other things; winter lettuce (saved seed - slow to bolt variety unknown); coriander (Eudlo seed savers).

Many of the herbs have been planted down the length of the bottom of the bed at ground level or just thrown around the general beds. I'm interested to see how many come up.

I'm thrilled that so many plants are now naturalising themselves in the garden. These include Amaranth both red and green, rocket, mustard greens, Egyptian Spinach, nasturtium, lettuce. Many of these are coming up yet again after all the recent rain. Even Jicama have come up again by themselves.

Asparagus have improved with the rain but are still only producing the odd stem that I can take. Extremely good though! They nearly all get eaten while I'm pottering and don't make it to the kitchen.

Nasturtium have sat quietly as little plants all summer long. I expect they will take off shortly as the weather becomes cooler - there's also still plenty of seed lying around all over. Can't wait to plant out the new red seedlings.

The Ceylon Hill Gooseberry has some kind of bright yellow mould on every fruit. This morning I checked again and it has changed from bright yellow to a dark colour. The fruit doesn't seem to be affected. The asparagus is growing thickly around this plant and I expect the combination of lots of rain and less airflow has contributed.

18.02.13

Beautiful cool moist day. The garden is loving it! Bean seeds planted three days ago are coming up already. These are purple pod beans.

9779081676?profile=originalBelow: Self sown patches of goody are coming up everywhere.

9779081876?profile=original9779083091?profile=originalBelow: Dragonfruit on the fence has 7 fruit on it. Two unfortunately are over the neighbours side.

9779083860?profile=originalBelow: I've put some cuttings on the hose post and up the dead Grevillea.

9779083479?profile=original9779084855?profile=originalBelow: The Red Okra is still going great guns. Such a pretty plant, flower and fruit.

9779085272?profile=originalBelow: The Lebanses Cress from Ana is doing very well. There's enough that I can start taking some for my sandwiches.

9779086254?profile=originalBelow: The Kangkong that I struggled to get growing is now doing very well.

9779086685?profile=originalBelow: The Custard Apple dropped a few fruit but the bulk are doing well. You can see where the Leaf Cutter bee has been busy at work taking bit of leaf for her nest.

9779087673?profile=original9779087484?profile=originalBelow: The Dwf Macadamia has put on lots of new growth. Something has been eating some of it.

9779088491?profile=originalBelow: Rattle ants have moved into the insect hotel in the Soursop along with some tiny ants and a mud dauber wasp. Rattle Ants seal off the entrances with silk from their larvae.

9779089459?profile=originalBelow: The Betel Leaf is just loving the moist weather. Even the one under the Lychee has finally taken off.

9779090282?profile=originalBelow: Self sown eggplant - I have to assume it's Listada di Gandia. The fruit is more elongated that the original, same as the fruit from the Bunnings seedling.

9779090689?profile=originalBelow: Fruit on the Rosea bought at the Caboolture Mkts. More rounded.

9779091663?profile=originalBelow: Looking up the side - Soursop on right, Carambola in the middle, bamboo at the top end.

9779092262?profile=originalBelow: The swt potato tower is growing well. I have maybe three or four different types around the garden now. They grow so much more easily than regular potatoes.

9779054693?profile=originalBelow: Mystery melon self sown and growing so much better than anything I have planted myself.

9779093493?profile=originalBelow: Water Chestnuts doing great at last. Have only just finished eating the remaining ones I was given from last season. They keep so well in the fridge.

9779094457?profile=originalBelow: Last of the Golden Bantam corn that survived the hot spell. Won't EVER bother growing these again - they silk up at different times and the cobs are tough and tasteless.

9779094678?profile=originalBelow: Threw all of the remaining chinese veg seed from Joseph under the corn and most of it has come up in this moist weather. Nice :)

9779095266?profile=originalBelow: Give it a couple of days with me not paying much attention and the Winter Melon is taking over the washing trolley. Can't touch it now as it's developing a fruit. This plant grew from potting mix I threw out when seed didn't germinate.

9779038684?profile=originalBelow: Bed 3 newly planted with pea and bean and one cardoon from saved seed. Still growing Okra, swt potato, silverbeet. Climbers are down the length of the frame, bush bean is under the Okra.

9779095883?profile=originalBelow: Bed 2 newly planted with cauli, four different kinds of broccoli, one cardoon and beans along the climbing frame. I've thrown some herb seed in there for the hell of it, dill or fennel and coriander.  Still growing silverbeet bottom end, Sweet Leaf, eggplant and chives at the top end.

9779096092?profile=originalBelow: Bed 1 mostly to be redone - Joe's beans coming up at the top end. Still growing corn, chinese veg, eggplant, amaranth, basil.

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Only a few days of summer left, thank goodness. The last two days have been hot and steamy (the artichoke seedlings did not! appreciate it and some have died) but this morning is dripping rain again.

Went along to Bob Luttrell's open garden yesterday and was able to attend most of his talk about his experiences with native bees over the years and demonstrations of various hive designs. He's working on lightweight cement structures at the moment. And metal covers with tile roof that fits over the main body of the hive - he feels this keeps out the predators who won't fly up from underneath.

Bob showed us various vertical splitting techniques with different hive designs. Hopefully I will end up with one of these to try when we eventually split my hive.

Below: Last look around the garden before autumn. Time to read last autumns blog! which of course, is the whole point of having them.

9779097277?profile=originalBelow: The Cardoon is sending up new shoots. Lucky I don't pull things out anymore - I just cut and leave the stumps in the ground.

9779097894?profile=originalBelow: To provide support for the peas and beans, I've put up some netting that I bought some time back. Not an easy task to fight with this stuff on my own, but I eventually won!

9779098064?profile=originalBelow: The self sown Winter Melon which has now claimed my washing trolley as it's own, is producing more fruit which is quite wonderful. I have only one left in the pantry and would really like more to eat.

9779099462?profile=originalBelow: More Dragonfruit is ripening. Currently selling for about $5 each around here, though Joseph has found them on the southside for about $1.50 each.

9779099677?profile=originalBelow: The cutting I put on the hose post seems to be putting out a flower bud....even though the piece isn't rooted. Will be interesting to see if this develops further.

9779100090?profile=originalBelow: Looks like I might have Myrtle rust on the Ceylon Hill Gooseberry. Not a good shot, but note the marks on the fruit and leaves. These were initially yellow circles.

9779101065?profile=originalBelow: The Cranberry Hibiscus is such a pretty edible to have in the garden. Seedlings are coming up around the cold compost pile though I don't remember seeing any seed pods.

This one responds well to pruning to keep it neat and promote the fresh young leaves which are the best eating.

9779101097?profile=originalBelow: The self sown mystery melon must be getting near the time for harvesting. Looks like a Honeydew to me. Don't remember eating any HD this summer, rockmelon yes, so lord knows where the seed came from to end up in the kitchen veg scraps dumped in this spot. Perhaps it's regressed to one of the parent plants?? Whatever. It's a little gift.

9779101285?profile=originalBelow: Didn't want to waste any of my one beautiful pumpkin so pricked it full of holes and roasted it......

9779102256?profile=originalBelow: The end result to put in the freezer for later use. The flesh was still quite chunky but could be squashed down once it was in the bags. Nice and flat for storage. One lot used for Pumpkin Cake which I've been enjoying nightly with some icecream, really quite yum.

9779102478?profile=originalBelow: FRONT YARD - Finally started real work on the front yard thanks to Health using his chainsaw to cut off the Ponytail plant and two fountain palms for me. That big mound down near the air-con unit is where one of the palms is still quite big and viable. Aiming to kill it off with the substantial heat from the grass cuttings. It will eventually rot down.

Steve the mower guy is bringing me lots of lovely grass cuttings. I just love looking at this pile and thinking about what I can plant when it's all rotted down. Doesn't take long. There's newspaper and ground cover under this lot.

9779102901?profile=originalBelow: The Jaboticaba is doing very well. Really looking forward to getting a first crop. The raspberries struggled this year but there's still plenty of healthy stock. I will be propogating them all along this bed. Will try to keep them some better form, but for all that, they crop just fine left to their own devices.

The choko (green) has made a comeback as always, when it rains. The white one couldn't take the heat. Many people are asking me for fruit to grow so it seems everyone has lost their plants.

9779103291?profile=originalBelow: The Dwarf Wurtz is doing well. After dire warnings from many NOT to prune it I found a video on YouTube from a professional who just gets stuck in, so I've trimmed off some of the growth and branches that were annoying me. There's still more...I'm working myself up to it!

Pomegranates in the background are growing well - seed sown on the left, Wonderful in the middle.

9779104058?profile=originalBelow: The "four sisters" - Tamarillos grown from seed at the same time, have had very different journeys. The one in the foreground, in what I considered to be the worst spot not getting much natural rain, has done the best - managing to keep both it's fruit and leaves. The one on the right was bowled over in a storm, cut off and has kept it leaves (there were not fruit). The two in the right background kept their fruit and dropped all their leaves during the recent bout of heat that went on for a few weeks.

I've cut them right back in the hope that they recover.

Canistel in between plants (right) is still plugging along. New growth, but it's a very slow grower. Tempted to get rid of it but it's healthy, so can stay for a bit longer.

The rocket is now self sowing in this bed. Pepino struggles out here - probably too hot and dry for it. The strawberries are settling in nicely - original plants from a couple at Redlands a few years back.

9779104296?profile=originalBelow: Heath has been giving me grass over the fence. Finally convinced him not to dump it! but he still looks puzzled that I would want it lol. He's tossing the backyard stuff over into my banana patch.

9779105266?profile=originalLESSONS LEARNED THIS SUMMER:

  • Do NOT grow Golden Bantam corn again. Plants don't grow at the same rate, therefore don't pollinate at the same time. The end cob is tough and bland. I tried seed from three different sites and they were all as dismal.
  • Take precautions for fruit fly BEFORE the tree fruits! (Carombola). NOTE - my fruit fly trap has caught nothing in a week and yet all the fruit is stung. Perhaps it's not fruit fly sting? The Americans have problems with stink beetles (?) but no sign of any excess of beetle either. NOTE 17.02.13 fruit fly maggots are hatching in bagged fruit.

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Spring gardening

It's a lovely time of year in the garden and it's been nice and cool so far, although the temperatures have been starting to climb for the past couple of days. I've finally finished exams so I'm looking forward to tending a lot more to my vegie patch and hopefully putting in a new bed for next year.

We went to the Roma St botanic gardens in October and found this great topiary giraffe - it's so cute. : )

After that huge amount of rain we had I waited a week or so and then decided to harvest the garlic. We got bulbs from all the cloves that I planted. I think I may have left them in a little too long - almost all the leaves had died back. Hopefully they'll still taste good.

And Lissa - Here are my blueberries so far. I picked the third one this morning - it was hiding under a leaf. There are more on their way and new flowers and buds on the bush so hopefully I'll get more over summer.

The lone strawberry plant that made it from seed has got heaps of small strawberries on it, waiting to plump up and ripen over summer. Yummy!!! I think strawberries would be my favourite fruit.

We've had a lot of visitors to the garden lately - or maybe I've just been home "studying" so I've noticed them more. We have two kingfishers that hunt in our yard each day. I'm not sure if one's a baby or just the male/female of a pair.

The kookaburras are still around, and I frequently walk out the back door to find one sitting on the washing line looking for lizards and worms. Mummy magpie that terrorised cyclists on our street while nesting has also been raiding the yard for her baby that sits near her and squawks.

The fruit trees are growing slowly but surely. The washington navel has one orange growing on it about the size of a giant marble and has dropped all the rest. The valencia seems to have dropped all of its fruit buds and the mandarin still has most of its fruit buds. It's their first year in so I'm not expecting a huge crop from any of them.

The avocado tree still needs a home in the ground and we keep changing our minds as to where to put it. We need to get some sand for drainage before we plant it too. The passionfruit is fruiting again (sorry Donna!), and is really responding to all the rain and my efforts at remembering to water it.

The corn is doing well and is nearly a foot high. I planted cucumber in between the rows, although it is fast outgrowing the corn, even though I planted it later.

The dwarf butter beans are flowering - purple flowers which are quite pretty. The bean fly doesn't seem to be so bad this year, although time will tell when I'm wanting to harvest. Do dwarf beans need anything to climb on or a support? They are just flopping on the ground at the moment and seem to be quite happy for now.

The tomatoes all have very nice large fruit which are being attacked by slugs and flies. The plants themselves have succumbed to septoria leaf spot, and no matter how much I try not to water leaves and pick off the affected leaves I can't get rid of it. There's no natural or organic fix for it that I've found. On the other hand, we are inundated with kilos of cherry tomatoes. I have to go out with a little bucket to pick them each day just to keep up with them. They're also affected by the leaf spot but don't seem to mind too much.

The water chestnuts are growing well and are starting to spread through my makeshift clamshell pond. The QLD arrowroot it growing very fast and will soon be screening our water tank. Thanks again Elaine. The young peanuts survived the onslaught of slugs and snails during the rain and are now starting to take off.

Well that's all from me for now. Hopefully I'll be able to blog about more additions to the patch soon.

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New Fence New Options

I rather liked our old fence. It was really rustic looking and had timbers that reminded me of my grans place in Eltham Victoria- ancient as ever, a bit of intrigue and rough around the edges, yet still celebrating the life of a tree.

The birds would come and sit on the fence and look at me working the garden, waiting for a caterpillar to be turned up or a free feed from the fresh soil.

Sadly, the fence fell down and had to be replaced before the neighbours built a new granny flat out the back.

We resisted a 6 foot isolation wall and went for a fence we can still see over to exchange life commentaries if we choose. Rather than being a barrier between us it is an opportunity for more growing space.

We went for timber and now that we have a strong fence again, it's opened a world of possibilities. A new passionfruit Panama Gold of course- and our neighbour is looking forward to sharing a passionfruit harvest. The planting area has been laced with comfrey leaves to provide calcium and potash as well as nitrogen. I dug in composted old manure and compost from the bin. I expect to be sharing passionfruit within the year.

Our first crop of wing beans, grown up the fence , gave us a small harvest when the weather was warm. I love those little beauties and will be sowing more seed in late November. This time a scraping will help the seed to germinate before sowing.

Not only has the fence provided a new vertical growing space, we’ve utilised the old fence palings around the garden. The hardwood palings, have made planks for protecting the earth from compaction as I plant, and have created a bridge over the swale albeit a springy one that reminds me of the play equipment when i was at kinder a LONG time ago.

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End of beginning of summer ~

We’ve had a warm spring this year, and December being the first month of summer has been very hot for the first part, and very hot and humid for most if not all of the whole holiday period.A recently planted bamboo, and a couple of established and newly planted plants in the cucurbitaceae family have succumbed to the heat early in December. One of those 2am storm flooded the ground the coop was sitting on and the crippled chook who slept downstairs was rescued from stomach deep water (Chicken height), so we had to move the coop away from the bottom corner of the backyard, and took the opportunity to move the chicken run to another corner of the yard where I have a patch of wheatgrass and some sweet potatoes grown. Although the wheatgrass were gone in a few days.. I think I will grow some more in pots for them as treats ~~

Also gave all the chooks a proper hot bath with baby shampoo and rinsed with fre-itch rinse for fleas and lice, complete with a blow dry. Their coop was also scrubbed with detergent and rinse with diluted bleach with new bedding materials mixed with pestene and lemon grass. Hope this will keep the mites or whatever those tiny crawlies are at bay for a little while. Unfortunately as their run’s not fully enclosed, it’s not easy to control parasites, especially from pigeons which we have a high number of due to the scattered grains from the chicken feed…. I really like Donna’s run fully encaged from all predators and freeloaders ^__^Around middle of the month, one of our chooks’ had been broody for a month already, and she’s the one with the bad leg… We didn’t want her to sit anymore for fear of her health because she doesn’t leave her nest for water or food without our intervention, and that prolong sitting would worsen her legs. So we decided to get her a couple of chicks to fulfil her desire of motherhood. I’ve checked several breeders around Brisbane, found a few possible places we can get chicks from, but they’re all a fair distance away, no less then an hour’s drive. In the end my mother bought a couple of hybrids “Lohmann Brown’ from a new local pet shop.

Unfortunately, in hindsight, when we place the chicks under her before sunrise we shouldn’t have moved her out of the coop. Although the chicks immediately went under her when placed next to her, and appeared to be comfortable and stopped chirping. Not so for the broody hen, as she woke up in an unfamiliar environment and found chicks under her, she reacted by pecking at one chick and stared at it for a while then completely ignored the chicks’ chirping for mother.

Even when the chicks tried to get warmth from under her by sticking their heads into her feathers, but she still totally ignored the chicks and found a way to ‘escaped’ back to her nesting area and continued to sit there. She went as far as getting all fluffed up and ‘grrr’ at the chicks when we try to put the chicks in her nest…So, now… my mother adopted the chicks instead…..Around the same time, we had an explosion of 28-spotted beetles. Since I was on holidays, I’ve been out there squashing them with a pair of gloves for a few consecutive days (I found the rubber gloves the best, as the um… juice from squashing seep through cloths garden gloves, and leather gloves restrict delicate finger movements…). The beetles have since spread to the cucurbitaceae and okra, but the population density seems to have decreased markedly although I haven’t squashed any for a while now. I suspect the little birds have discovered them and have been controlling them for me :)

Standing in my backyard for 5 minutes will spot no less then 3 or 4 different varieties of birds dancing around (other then the freeloaders in the chook run), especially when it’s overcast or drizzling. The photo shows one type of birds, can’t get close enough to them to get a better picture with a 3x optical zoom on a point & shot… anyways, anyone can tell me what these birds are?I have noticed there’s been less flowering during the wet weather, and virtually no pollination of what little flowers which bloomed… all the little squash, zuchinni and eggplant buds rotted on the plant except for some beans, which are self-pollinated. Anyone else found the same situation? Been getting more flowers after a few days of fine days though ~ hope we’ll get some pollinations ~Despite the rainy weather, I’ve ordered 2 cubic metres of pebbles to cover the paths around the house before Christmas. Don’t seem to be enough though… should have ordered 2 ½ cubic metres. Oh well… I think I will need more soil/compost soon too as the soil/compost in the raised beds seems to have shrunk…
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