The season has started out dry. The mornings are still crisp and cool but the days are occasionally hot. The tank is down to 1000lt so I'm back to using town water to keep things alive, with a new longer hose that reaches all parts of the backyard.
"Tidy me" wants to clean up the backyard, but "messy me" is saying leave it alone! as both the honey and native bees are still enjoying the nasturtium trailing all over the place and the mass of yellow flowers on the blooming Red Mizuna, now developing into seed.
So many cherry toms I picked half a bucket full the other day and tried (unsuccessfully) to turn them into jam. Now have three jars of Swt Tomato Sauce.. for icecream ?? ...doesn't sound quite right.
The new front yard garden is growing well beyond my expectations. All the herbs and seeds planted (toms. tomatillo, rocket, flowers) are ultra green and healthy. Must be the decomposing grass clippings which aren't just nutritious but also act like a sponge, holding the water.
This is the bed back at the end of May...
..and now, three and a bit months later.
The three surviving rhubarb are doing well.
The pepino are growing and cropping so well on this western side of the house. I've had enough to share some with neighbours and visitors - trying to create converts!
I've planted Pepino all along the front fence. At some point no doubt, passers-by will realise that the big globular fruit are worth nicking :/ This bed has been mulched with more donated grass clippings.
The Dwf Wurtz avocado is blooming profusely. Don't hold out much hope that this will be a year when fruit set as the plant is still only 3yrs old.
Remembered to check the yellow dragonfruit the other day and was pleased to find two had finally yellowed. They take much longer to ripen than the red ones and are much thornier (multi-pronged thorns fall off when ripe - right onto the ground where I can stick myself with them!).
Severely disappointed in the size of the fruit - each providing two teaspoons of fruit lol, but what fruit! The flavour was much more intense than the mild flavoured red. There are two more fruit left on the plant, both are four teaspoon fruit!
The Jaboticaba continues to grow well and doesn't mind the friendly choko giving it a hug. A couple more years to wait for fruit on this one though there looks to be some tiny nobs suspicioulsy like little flower buds.
The strawberry patch has been incredible this season - I can forgive it for giving me almost nothing in previous years. No real problems - the odd snail and some fruit rotting on the plant. All normal stuff.
Made some Cassava Cake following Joseph's recipe HERE. Quite good. Certainly substantial.
So pleased with the sweet potato tower experiment that I've set up three new bags (waiting for Bunnings to get the promised frames in).
Note the different leaf types - this is the white skinned/ purple centred. This one doesn't shoot as well from the tuber as the others. Begged some cuttings from Joseph....
Purple skinned/white centred....
...and purple skinned/purple centred (original cuttings from Ann Gibson).
Slightly blurry pic of the Seduction rose bursting into bloom again. One hardy rose that one!
The Loofah has two nicely shaped fruit on it. Enough sponges for me for a year or more.
Carolyn's chilli plant is showing strong regrowth after a cutback and feed. Trying, once again, to grow Ginger in the blue pot from store bought rhizome. Matthew has since given me some better root stock but still waiting for these to show their head above ground.
The Dwf Pink Shatoot mulberry is showing new growth and fruit developing despite it being so dry. Fruit is ripening and delicious! Scott and Alison were visiting and we all managed a little taste.
The Ruttabaga (swede) was a dismal failure. Plants were sickly from the start. Tubers were bitter. Threw the lot on the compost pile.
Couldn't resist buying these cheap hand made junk-owls from Albany Gdns Nursing Home stall. Bit of fun :)
Crumbled and bought a couple of peanut seedlings from Bunnings as I was having no success growing my own from seed. Then found one growing near the fig this morning.
Evan's Babaco is putting out new growth. Keeping it in a pot seems to be part of the trick of keeping this alive. Will eventually plant it out in a mounded/raised area....somewhere, lord knows.
Very excited to find dozens of APANTELE GLOMERATUS hatching out this morning from cocoons on my brassica leaves. These little predators of caterpillars were in turn being hunted by tiny spiders.
Their tiny bodies are only 0.5cm long and they were flying in clouds around their hatching spots, or just drying out their little wings after hatching.
Paul Wood delivered my new top bar beehive on Sunday :) Very beautiful and my early Christmas prezzie to me (thanks to the tax dept xx).
We placed it so the girls would hopefully create a flight path out over the raised beds but they had their own ideas, and fly out to the left of the one entrance left open (to help keep marauders at bay until they have created a strong hive).
One good storm and a bit of drizzle here and there hasn't been enough to break the dry and I'm long back to watering to keep important plants alive. Annette Mcfarlane was telling us September is generally the dryest month of the year. Didn't know that :/ but good info to have. My cucumber seedlings are still struggling along but won't be planting out any more seed until some decent rain comes and deeply waters the beds.
My hive has produced at least one Queen cell that I can see from the viewing panel. Paul wants me to report when it hatches. He was telling me last night that the hive will probably have a few of these cells throughout and the Queens will either fight it out for supremacy or the workers will decide who lives and who dies. It would be wonderful for me to catch the mating flight, but unlikely.
New FT job starting on Tuesday with Burnie Brae as the Activities Officer :) Can hopefully link some of the stuff I do through BLF and the upcoming Burpengary Community Gardens workshops with this.
I've put a smallish water feature behind the hive to provide them with water. Added two of my food plants - Kangkong and Lebanese Cress, to help them access the water without falling in. Yet to see a bee anywhere near it or the bird bath, so have no idea where they're getting their water from at present.
Pepino fruit have been attacked by Fruit Fly....which finally got me motivated to refresh the Wild May fruit fly trap. Supposed to be done every couple of weeks apparently :/ Good grief.
Weather is still hot and crispy dry. No chance of planting any seeds or seedlings and have to find the time to water important plants now that I am back at work full time at BB.
Paul (Wood) came over yesterday for my catch-up visit - we opened the hive and seperated the bars carefully using a large knife run up between the comb and the wall of the hive and then lifting the bar straight up. It looked from the outside as if the combs were crossed between the bars, but inspection showed the combs were simply very wide or built from one side of the bar.
One sticking-out bit on one comb, near the bar, had to be removed carefully - cut right out. The other end was also bulging, but cutting this out would mean little holding the comb in place at the top, so it was just parred back. Had my first taste of my own honey :) Biased, but it was extremely delicious. Very intense flavour.
One good thing - my Jaboticaba (black), which can't be more than three or four years old, is producing a few fruit. I've been told repeatedly that it won't fruit until about the 7th year. Perhaps this is when it gets into full swing with fruiting. Pity the Yellow J. died.
Finding it difficult to fit in gardening/watering time with the new job at BB. Out there watering at 5.15am or after work late in the arvo which isn't good.
Checked on the Jaboticaba the other day and was stunned to see they had grown into this in a mere two weeks. Still too firm to pick but can't be too far off being edible. 10 little fruit. My very first :)
A few zuchinni developing on the plants bought as seedlings from Bunnings one day. Front yard.
The Nectarine is doing very well out the front, but the heat is playing havoc with the other plants. This is the end that gets the most sun - the toms are getting sunburned.
The slightly cooler end (left) with the Rhubarb is faring a little better.
The few Cardoon plants that struggled through the wet winter have decided to go to seed without every having been any use. Never mind, will give me fresh seed and the bees love the purple flowers.
Out the back. I refilled the middle bed with the compost pile at the weekend - have planted Edamame (ex Joseph) top end and Snake Beans down the bottom end. Have some corn seed planted in seedling trays (Bub helped) for the middle.
Had to replant most of the cucumber seed on Bed 3 (left) as only two of the Suyo Long took. The Prof. Mary Sheehan all died in the heat and I don't think I have more seed.
Still very dry weather despite a bit of rain about a week back. Daily watering required to keep things alive. The custard apple at the back corner of the pic has dropped all it's leaves again despite a deep watering. It always seems to come back.
The Lychee doesn't seem to have set any fruit at all. Pepino are all being ruined by FF.
Only a few more weeks of "spring" left. Hot and dry on the whole though this morning is exceptionally beautiful weather and temp. Very peaceful with just the sound of birds and the odd car going past and woof from my dogs. Nice. I have a pretty little pigeon turns up each morning just after dawn looking for a free feed outside the aviary. Unfortunately the doves have also twigged and there will now be an explosion of dove babies on the scene.
I walked outside the front door with a cuppa this morning to be greeted with an intense sound of buzzing and nectar birds feeding. The Lillypilly in the front yard was in full bloom again, something it does regularly throughout the year, but this time my very own bees were making the most of the blossom. Very nice to see :)
One of the girls at work.....
I have finally! gotten around to re-doing the pots on the front porch. Little heartbreaking to dump the non-productive plants I've been carefully nurturing for over a decade onto the compost pile but they are only plants. The strawberry pot (useless thing) is going to a neighbour...eventually. It's d'd heavy to move.
Hanging baskets have been replanted with herbs and flowers.....
New pots have been planted with Tahitian Spinach and the one remaining Babaco (from Evan)....
...and the very pretty Purple Yam bought from my fruit market some time back and now growing well. Needs a bigger pot eventually.
Cocoyam bought from Yandina Community Gdns for $2. Planted up with some herbs and flowers.
We have rain! Through the night and it seems to be a reasonable amount. Things should start growing again soon.
A few carrot plants are going to seed, first time ever to me.
One of the three surviving Cardoon is blooming. The prettiest thing.
Purple potatoes from Joseph are growing strongly.
Both figs, this white one in a pot and the black one in the garden, are both developing little fruit. Look HERE to see how the tiny Fig Wasp (there seems to be a few different varieties) pollinate the flowers.
Elderflower cuttings are growing well. Being warned about suckering with these plants but I am looking forward to making cordial from the flowers. One of the cuttings is already flowering and normally I would cut this off, but it is such a hardy plant I don't think it's necessary.
The Youngberry is cropping also, enough for two or three of the large berries per day. Must take a pic.
Here's the Youngberry fruit. Nothing mindblowing but quite nice - tart/sweet flavour and a juicy mouthful.
The Dwf Ducasse bunch is plumping up nicely.
Here's more of the Cardoon blooming - the pollinators, bees, beetles and ants, just love these gorgeous flowers.
The native beehive is still going great guns. I've moved them a tich closer to the Pineapple Sage and added a potplant that helps hold down the lid and will provide shade during summer as it grows.
We had quite an intense hail/rain/wind storm here last night around 5pm. Just before I had to go out for dinner! Small hail, not a lot of damage.
Almost at the end of Spring. After this weeks storms and bits of rain, the grass is greening (means mowing) and the fruit trees are blooming.
The Custard Apple dropped all it's leaves, promptly put out shoots and is now flowering.
The Carombola is following suit....
...and the Soursop.
Little eggplant seedlings are self sowing happily in Bed 3...
...and the Asparagus is making a comeback.
I harvested my first honey yesterday. Clumsily done at 5am due to time contraints. Paul suggests more like 10am when the workers are out, which means weekends only.
Good rain last night! Couldn't have planned it better for a Sunday morning at home. Have now planted out all the plants and seedlings I've been nurturing along in pots waiting for some wet weather:
Jicama, Jeruselum Artichoke, Purple Yam, Cardoon, Ginger, Elderflower, Pigeon Pea, Salvias of various types, Warrigal Greens (Tetragonia tetragonioides or New Zealand Spinach), Five Spice (Coleus amboinicus var variegatus - described as a cooking herb with an Oregeno type flavour).
Below: Warrigal Greens
Below: Five Spice