The Family Plot

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Okay, here’s the story behind the title and photograph:

Our eldest daughter, who lives over 4500 km from us, donated some housetree leek cuttings (Aeonium arboreum) from her garden. It is the tall purple/brown leaved plant on the left in the planter box.

Our middle child, another daughter and one who only lives just over 80 km from us, donated a purple heart plant cutting, (Tradescantia pallida), This one is the trailing plant in the centre of the above picture.

The final cuttings, on the right, are another housetree leek plant but a different variety, having soft lime green leaves with smaller petals. These were gifted to us by our youngest child, a son, who lives just under 2000 km from us.

The Aeonium are native to the Canary Islands whilst the Tradescantia is native to the Gulf Coast region of eastern Mexico. Please note that the housetree leek is not to be confused with the house leek which is another plant altogether (Sempervivum). The purple heart plant is also known as Wandering or Walking Jew a name also used for a number of other plants so be careful if you wish to buy any.

All cuttings were set on their way by planting into various pots and allowed to grow undisturbed for a while. Recently, I took some cuttings of my own and placed them in the above container along with some good quality potting mix. They are still settling in but they are looking healthy and every time I water them, I am thinking of my widely dispersed family.

Hence why it is called The Family Plot!

Family and friends are my flowers growing in my life’s garden. I must always care for them with love so I can keep them forever.                                                                           Joe Analco

Happy gardening,

TUG

 

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The view from a window:

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Okay, here’s the story. When I’m shredding old palm fronds I do it under cover in what used to be a car port attached to the garage. We erected a privacy fence at the front to shield the view from passersby and converted it into a general utility area. Like a lean-to I suppose but as it’s a bit bigger than that perhaps we should call it a lean-three!

Anyway, we have a clothes line under cover, but with a nice breeze, a darts board, folding tables and spare chairs, etc. Like a storage dump but nicer. From under the roof, I can shred away quite happily, sheltered from the rain or hot sun, for a couple of hours. From one side I can look out through the screen to the street, not very interesting but I can spot visitors. Another view is out towards the Chook Nook and I can see what the girls are up to or look at our veggie patch and plan. However, on one long wall, aligned opposite the garage wall, some previous occupant of our house has inserted a small hatch – like a window but without the glass. Looking through the hatch/window I can see our back deck and the garden bed directly in front of that.

The bed has two Gardenias (native to parts of Africa, Asia and some Pacific Islands) which flank the bed. I did have trouble with the leaves turning yellow and dropping off but after applying coffee grounds as recommended by a number of readers that problem seems to have gone away. The plastic pods look a bit unsightly though! We put them in at the same time but the one on the right of the picture is a fair bit smaller than the other one. I think this is because it doesn’t get as much shade from the hot sun as the other one does.

The middle of the bed contains some Allamanda (a native of the Americas but mainly towards the southern parts), Ixora (Asia) Tibotchina (again native to the Americas but formerly known as Lasiandra)

The picture doesn’t really show the true beauty of the Allamanda which continuously delights us with flushes of deep yellow flowers.

The Ixora with its large cluster of tiny orange blooms is a favourite of Mrs. Tug.

We love the large showy purple flowers of the Tiboutchina, Here, in Australia, they are also known as Glory Bushes or Princess Bushes. They come in flushes twice a year. You can just see the last remaining flower from the last flush.

In the fore ground of the photograph you can just see part of a window box I built, complete with some small pots in which I’m growing Zygocactus (Brazil) Still just tiny cuttings at present.

Immediately, to the left in the foreground is the top of a Dracaena (native to Africa, South Asia and some parts of northern Australia. I’m growing this in a pot,

That’s it then with my view of a couple of things.

“All gardening is landscape painting”.                                                                                         Alexander  Pope

Happy gardening.

TUG

P.S. I was joking about the plastic pods!

 

 

The many seasons of Australia

7b583e1a67b4611e5df9608b7d58e99f--broken-promises-teaching-tips[1]A little while ago I was having an online conversation with one of my readers, Ignited Moth, via the comments section on my last post. I stated that some of our Australian indigenous people followed more natural seasons than those recognised officially. I thought I might expand on that. So, to start, here are some extracts from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology:

Australia’s climate is diverse. Monsoon tropics, savannah, alpine and temperate regions can be found in various locations.The sheer diversity of ecological zones can’t be meaningfully simplified to a rigid European (style) seasonal calendar for the entire continent. Aboriginal people inhabit regions that are geographically and ecologically distinct.

The meteorological view of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is one of great diversity, where the names of the seasons are often dependent on localised events or resources.

The ability to link events in the natural world to a cycle that predicts seasonal changes is a key factor in the successful development of indigenous communities. These natural barometers are not uniform across the land but instead use the reaction of plants and animals to gauge what is happening in the environment.

To the people of D’harawal Country, for example, during Marrai’gang, when the cries of the Marrai’gang (quoll) seeking his mate can be heard, is the time when the lilly-pilly fruit begins to ripen on trees. However, when the lilly-pillys start to fall, it is time to mend the old warm cloaks from the last cold season, or make new ones, and begin the yearly trek to the coastal areas.

As a result of all this, seasonal cycles as described by the various Aboriginal cultures differ substantially according to location.

This produces a far more intricate and subtle overview of Australia’s climate than the four-season European climate description of summer, autumn, winter and spring, applied as it is across most areas of the continent.

So obviously, their form of seasonal awareness is based on generations of observing and passing on the knowledge gained. Which is, also obviously, what all societies and communities did before the whole process became generalised. Even today, many non-indigenous farmers and gardeners still use this age-old folklore to predict conditions for their own microclimate.

There are as many local native calendars as there are regions but i’ll give you an example of one from our Northern Territory:

The Miriwoong Seasonal Calendar has three seasons, broken down into eight stages.

Seasons Stages
Nyinggiyi-mageny
Wet
Barrawoodang
December, January: Strong wind, thunder, lightning and big rain.
Jaloorr-mageny
February, March: Rain (coinciding with monsoonal downpours).
Warnka-mageny
Cold
Genkaleng
April, May: South winds start, introducing cold weather.
Werlthang
June: Dew forms overnight and dries in the morning.
Manbilying
July, August: Irregular cold weather rain (doesn’t occur yearly).
Barndenyirriny
Hot
Boornbeng
September: Country starts warming up.
Dilboong
October: Country dries out and becomes brown and dusty.
Deroorr-mageny
November: Thunder, heat and humidity, introducing the wet season.

I imagine that indigenous people from all over the world still rely on this ancient but still valid method of observation and mental note taking to, not only plan their own actions, but to pass on to the next generations the accumulated knowledge.

Q; Why did the woman go outdoors with her purse open?

A; Because she expected some change in the weather.

Happy gardening,

TUG

A subtropical lunch

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Well, our pineapple finally ripened. After my error in waiting too long to pick the dragon fruit, this time I checked a number of sources and generally they agreed on two things. The fruit must be golden coloured and must smell like a pineapple!

Our plant is a dwarf variety, Ananas cosmosus, and so it’s rather on the small size, making it ideal for home gardeners with a spare patch of land. Propagation is generally made by two methods:

By using the top leaves from a bought pineapple, which is how I guess most gardeners get started.

By taking offshoots, called pups. N.B. Pineapples are, of course, related to the Bromeliad family and anyone familiar with growing these will know all about pups.

Whichever method is used, one simply inserts the new plants into a suitable pot or bed. The leaves from the fruit should have their lower leaves removed and then left in a dry warm spot for a few days to allow a callus to form. The pups don’t need this.

I’ve read that the pups will produce fruit quicker than the top leaves. I’ve taken two pups from the mother plant and will plant them at the same time as the top leaves and will monitor the status. I’ll be sure to let you know of the result.

Anyway, we cut the pineapple into bite sized chunks (the cutoffs went to the chooks) and served them on platters together with bananas, nectarines and grapes – a true tropical fruit salad. BTW, the pineapple was very juicy and still warm from the sun. Certainly the freshest pineapple we’ve ever eaten.

Man who eats many prunes, get good run for money!                                                            Possible Chinese Proverb

Happy gardening,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      TUG

Of coriander (cilantro), cucumbers and golden beans…………

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In the absence of a trug, I have to gather the fruits of my labours in whatever comes to hand – in this case an old roasting pan! The above photograph shows a recent harvest of coriander, cucumber and golden beans.

I usually leave the coriander to turn to seed in the garden bed. Many people recommend picking them and then drying them somewhere warm and airy and I have done this in the past but find the above practice just as good. The seeds stay viable for a long time stored in the pantry, and we can sow them out for fresh plants or grind them as required for recipes. I love the very pungent smell that arises whilst working the mortar and pestle. Then when you add other spices to the mix – mmm, heaven indeed!

Been a really good year for cucumbers apart from the odd little beastie burrowing inside (we just cut these bits off and feed to the chooks). We’ve eaten many of these lovely gourds and have given some away to neighbours, friends and family too. A bountiful plant indeed. Personally, I have found the skin a bit too thick for my liking and will experiment with another variety soon. Meanwhile I’ve just sown some dwarf cucumbers known as Lebanese Cucumbers. They are of a much smaller size and are quite sweet. Never having grown these before, I’ll be sure to let you all know how they turn out.

We got quite a large bounty of the golden wax beans, the above picture shows just one picking, however, I’m not too happy with this particular variety as my tastes are drawn more to the straight slim types popular in restaurants at present – maybe I’m turning into a trendy gardener (huh, I don’t think so).

I’m a gardener. Can you dig it?                                                                                                       L.Tempchin & G. Ankerbrand

Happy gardening,

TUG

Knock, knock! Who’s there? Dragon! Dragon who? Dragon your feet again?

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It’s dragon fruit (pataya) time again and the above flower is the precursor of the fruit. This a very large flower measuring around 8 to 9 inches across. It commonly blooms overnight or first thing in the morning and usually its magnificence is missed by most home gardeners as after only a few hours it just droops. It is from the base that the fruit emerges.

Last year, we only had one fruit but the above will be the second for this year. I missed the first flower but the birds or flying foxes (more of these creatures later in the post) didn’t miss the fruit!  Whilst I was dithering around, wondering the best time to pick the fruit, one of the above beasties got there first. I’ve since learned that the right time to pick is as soon as the fruit changes colour from green to red or yellow – depending on the variety. So the progeny of the above flower will be watched carefully.

Flying foxes are intelligent and remarkable. These unique animals help regenerate our forests and keep ecosystems healthy through pollination and seed dispersal. They are a migratory and nomadic ‘keystone’ species; meaning a species that many other species of plants and animals rely upon for their survival and wellbeing. Flying foxes, like bees, help drive biodiversity, and faced with the threat of climate change, land clearing, and other human-caused ecological pressures, we need them more than ever.

Flying foxes are bats or, more accurately, mega-bats (big bats). They are commonly known as fruit bats, but their diet is predominately nectar, pollen, and fruit — in that order. They don’t use sonar like smaller, insect-eating bats; only their eyes and ears like us. They see as well as a cat at night and are just about as smart.         Source: http://www.animalsaustralia.org

There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling.                                             Mirabel Osler

I’ll make sure to let you know if I harvest this fruit (lovely with ice-cream) in a timely manner.

Happy gardening,

TUG

When your undies feel like sausages!

I’ll spare you an image of this but anyone who has experienced hot and humid conditions will  know what I’m describing below:

You’ve been working out in the garden all morning and the humidity has been exceptionally high. You keep on attending to the various tasks even as you pull your shirt away from your back now and then. It’s only when you sit down for a rest that you realise just how sticky all over you’ve become.

So having completed that days outside chores, you head indoors for a shower. That’s when you become aware that you can no longer just slip your undies off – They are so sodden with perspiration that the only way to remove them is by rolling them down your thighs in a way that reminds you of sausages but not in a nice way.  The rolled down undies now resemble a very thick thong! I just have to chuckle to myself as I then nip into the shower.

All of the above reminds me of a funny e-mail that did the rounds some years ago and I thought I’d pop in here for those of you with a good sense of humour. Just a couple of things to bear in mind:

  • A Pom is an Australian nickname for English people.
  • All temperatures are in Celsius
  • Karratha is a mining town situated the top end of Western Australia and is surrounded by wilderness.
  • I’ve edited (slightly) a number of swear words but you’re sure to get the meaning
  • The seasons in the southern hemisphere start at a different time to those of you living in the north/

A Diary of a Pom In Karratha

August 31st

Just got transferred with work into our new home in Karratha, Western Australia, now this is a town that knows how to live!! Beautiful sunny days and warm balmy evenings.

What a place! I watched the sunset from a deck chair on the veranda. It was beautiful. I’ve finally found my home. I love it here.

September 13th

Really heating up. Got to 35 today. Not a problem. Live in an air-conditioned home, drive an air-conditioned car. What a pleasure to see the sun everyday like this. I’m turning into a sun worshipper.

September 30th

Had the backyard landscaped with tropical plants today. Lots of palms and rocks. What a breeze to maintain. No more mowing lawn for me. Another scorcher today, but i love it here.

October 10th

This temperature hasn’t been below 35 all week. How do people get used to this kind of heat.

At least today it’s kind of windy though. But getting used to the heat is taking longer than I expected.

October 15th

Fell asleep by the pool. Got 3rd degree burns over 60% of my body. Missed 3 days of work. What a dumb thing to do. I learned my lesson though. Got to respect the ol’ sun in a climate like this.

October 20th

I missed Kitty (our cat) sneaking into the car when I left this morning. By the time i got to the hot car for lunch, Kitty had died and swollen up to the size of a shopping bag and stank up the $3,000 leather upholstery. I told the kids that she ran way. The car now smells like Wiskettes and cat s***. I learned my lesson though. No more pets in this heat.

 

October 25th

The wind sucks. It feels like a giant f***ing blow dryer!! And its hot as hell. The home air-conditioner is on the blink and the AC repairman charged $200 just to drive over and tell me he needed to order parts.

October 30th

Been sleeping outside by the pool for 3 nights now. Bloody $600,000 house and we can’t even go inside.

Why did I ever come here

November 4th

Its 38 degrees. Finally got the ol’ air-conditioner fixe today. It cost $1,500 and gets the temp down to 25, but the bloody humidity makes the house feel like it’s about 30. Stupid repairman.

I hate this stupid f***ing place.

November 8th

If another wise arse cracks, “hot enough for you today” I’m going to f***ing throttle him. F***ing heat!

By the time I get to work, the car’s radiator was boiling over, my clothes are soaking f***ing wet, and I smell like baked cat!!

November 9th

Tried to run some messages to work. Wore shorts, and sat on the black leather seats in the ol’ car.

I though my f***ing arse was on fire. I lost to layers of flesh and all the hair on the back of my legs and my f***ing arse. Now my car smells like burnt hair, fried ass and baked cat.

November 10th

The weather report might as well be a f***ing recording. Hot and sunny. Hot and sunny. Hot and f***ing sunny.

It’s been too hot to do anything for 2 damn months and the weatherman says it might really warm up next week. Doesn’t it ever rain in this damn f***ing place? Water rationing will be next, so my $5,000 worth of palms just might dry up and bow into the f***ing pool. Even the palms can’t live in this f***ing heat.

November 14th

Welcome to HELL!!!! Temperature got to 41 today. Now the air-conditioner’s gone in my car.

The repairman came to fix i and said “hot enough for you today?”

My wife had to spend the $2,500 mortgage payment to bail my ass out of jail for assaulting the stupid f***er. F*** Karratha! What kind of sick demented f***ing idiot would want to live here?

December 1st

WHAT????? This is the first day of Summer??? You are f***ing kidding!!!

That’s all folks, a very belated Happy New Year to you all.

 

TUG