24 March 2008

Autumn Growth

Growing Progress

I was wandering around my garden this morning, and saw a splash of yellow up in the orchard area. Closer inspection revealed this beautiful Loofah flower, so I sent DH back to fetch my camera. It's surprisingly large, about the size of an (Australian) 50 cent piece. For those that don't know, the 'loofah's' that you buy for scrubbing yourself in the shower actually grow on this vine. After the seedpods reach maturity, they dry out, leaving a stringy sponge like remains. The seeds are in the middle of these. When I get some, I'll post some more pictures of this phenomenon.

Here is the little loofah growing beneath the flower. It's still very small though.

Sadly, I doubt that little loofah will be fertilised, as I think this is the male flower (or a cluster it seems) here, not open yet. There are several other female flowers in the development stage though, so hopefully I'll get at least one loofah this year. It really is a little late for these, so I wasn't expecting to get any at all at this point.

While I had the camera out, I snapped pics of everything else that is growing along to do a long overdue update here. These are the rosellas, loaded with fruit. I harvested my first 2 a couple of days ago, and hopefully there will be lots more soon. Looking forward to making my rosella jam!

The small gooseberry bushes have recovered from their bug devastation surprisingly well. I gave them a water with some worm casings, and new leaves came out strong. I've also done my best to kill off any of those stripey bugs I find, and while there are still a few around, they aren't in the same numbers as they were. Hopefully the cold will keep them away now.

And here is my first gooseberry flower! Hard to see in there, but there are several other buds as well, so hopefully we'll actually get some gooseberries off these.

The cotton plants are coming along slowly. This is one of the two planted in the garden beds, which seem to be doing slightly better than those up in the orchard. I have no idea if they'll make it far enough for us to actually get cotton, since they really are slow. It will be interesting to see.

I have another little rockmelon growing on the vine that self-seeded among the carrot seeds. It's about 10cm across right now. Since rockmelons grow pretty fast, this one might actually get ripe before it gets too cold, hopefully. A tiny caterpillar did take a bit of a bite out of it, but that won't stop me if it gets big enough.

I also discovered that some of my potatoes are dying off. I'm not too sure why this is. When I saw the first one, I thought it was lack of water, so I watered a couple, but then those died too, so I'm suspecting that the water sped up the decomposition of the grass, making it too hot for the plants. I'll leave them there, and not water the rest and see how they go. Since there are other potatoes in this lot I don't want to dig them up and risk killing those off. I might have to invest in some bales of actual straw to grow the next lot, and see if that helps.


Here is one of my Roma tomatoes that were the first seeds I planted this season. It's not doing too badly, if you ignore the weeds that inevitably sprout up around it. I'll have to put some stakes into the ground nearby soon too.

Some of them though, are being a little overwhelmed by the pumpkins that have self-seeded around them. I can't bear to pull them out though, as these are the healthiest and fastest growing pumpkins I have on the place! Probably all that nice worm castings that they're growing in.

Here is one of the peas that has come up from my first planting. Only 2 out of 6 have come up so far. I'm not sure if something is stealing the seeds (possible, as I suspect they weren't planted deep enough), or if I didn't water them enough for them to germinate.

The climbing peas planted among the corn are having a higher success rate. Is this because the corn is protecting them from predators, or because they were watered more? Who knows. The aim with these is that they will climb up the corn stalks, as the last few cobs of corn are harvested.

Here is one of my broccoli or cauliflower seedlings coming up (no, not the one to the right, that's a weed, that one on the left there is the seedling). I can't remember which is which. I planted one lot on one side of the bed, and one on the other. Not to worry though, I'm sure I'll work it out before I eat them. I've only planted 3 of each, as our family isn't too keen on their greens, but hopefully I can slip these in somewhere!

Here is, I think, a lettuce seedling. I've planted these in around the broccoli/cauliflowers. Again, we don't really eat lettuce, but if all else fails, I can always feed them to the chickens.

And finally, here's the one nasturtium that has come up out of the 3 or 4 I have planted. I thought growing some flowers might encourage DD to become more interested in the garden, plus of course, attract more bees. This season we have nasturtiums, pansies, and cosmos. I also have some dahlia and sunflower seeds for next summer. I'm really looking forward to the sunflowers, I've never grown them before.

I have also planted some of the above flowers and some red kidney beans that are yet to come up.


I really must get into some more gardening tomorrow. I have some arrowroot tubers from Greenharvest, as well as some comfrey root cuttings, and about 20 seed potatoes that I need to get in the ground. Well, the seed potatoes will probably wait until they get some eyes, and until I work out what happened to my last lot of potatoes! Don't want to kill this lot too. The arrowroot is for making flour (a main ingredient of gluten free cooking, and from what I've read, pretty easy to process), and comfrey makes an excellent fertiliser for plants.

I also need to plant out two pineapple plants that I've raised from pineapple tops in post. They are doing great, and the roots are coming out of the bottom of the pots now. They'll go up in the orchard area.

I plan on planting out the mango I planted from a seed a year or two ago. It hasn't been cared for too well, just shoved into a pot of potting mix, so it is still tiny. Hopefully if it gets into the ground, it will get going a little more. I will still buy a more mature mango tree soon, but no point in not planting this one.

Speaking of fruit trees, I have been drooling over the trees over at Daley's Nursery. So far, I still want to get:

  • mango tree (probably Bowen?)
  • Apricot tree, possibly 2.
  • Lychee tree
  • Carob trees (maybe 3-4? I'm thinking they would go well as a hedge at the front of the house)
  • Black Sapote tree (also known as the chocolate pudding fruit!)

Hopefully I'll order these (and the others that I'm sure I was planning on but have forgotten) with my next Istock payment.

I also plan for the future:

  • Grapes (Thompson seedless)
  • Olive tree (for oil)
  • Sugar cane
  • Bamboo (well contained!)

And if I can get hold of one, I'd love to try growing a cocoa tree, even if they are not supposed to fruit in this climate.

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