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.
This 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.
From 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 a fold in a curtain.
This nest is composed of several individual cells staked end on end.
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.
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.
This 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:
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).
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.
I'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.
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.
Beautiful cool moist day. The garden is loving it! Bean seeds planted three days ago are coming up already. These are purple pod beans.
Below: Self sown patches of goody are coming up everywhere.
Below: Dragonfruit on the fence has 7 fruit on it. Two unfortunately are over the neighbours side.
Below: I've put some cuttings on the hose post and up the dead Grevillea.
Below: The Red Okra is still going great guns. Such a pretty plant, flower and fruit.
Below: The Lebanses Cress from Ana is doing very well. There's enough that I can start taking some for my sandwiches.
Below: The Kangkong that I struggled to get growing is now doing very well.
Below: 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.
Below: The Dwf Macadamia has put on lots of new growth. Something has been eating some of it.
Below: 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.
Below: The Betel Leaf is just loving the moist weather. Even the one under the Lychee has finally taken off.
Below: 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.
Below: Fruit on the Rosea bought at the Caboolture Mkts. More rounded.
Below: Looking up the side - Soursop on right, Carambola in the middle, bamboo at the top end.
Below: 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.
Below: Mystery melon self sown and growing so much better than anything I have planted myself.
Below: 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.
Below: 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.
Below: 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 :)
Below: 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.
Below: 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.
Below: 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.
Below: Bed 1 mostly to be redone - Joe's beans coming up at the top end. Still growing corn, chinese veg, eggplant, amaranth, basil.
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.
Below: 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.
Below: 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!
Below: 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.
Below: 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.
Below: 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.
Below: 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.
Below: 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.
Below: 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.
Below: Didn't want to waste any of my one beautiful pumpkin so pricked it full of holes and roasted it......
Below: 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.
Below: 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.
Below: 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.
Below: 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.
Below: 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.
Below: 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.
LESSONS 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.