oldandcrusty

Today's mighty Oak is yesterday's nut who held its ground

Archive for the tag “gardening”

The Moonflower

I’d like to introduce you to a beautiful luschious vine called Ipomoea Alba (or Moonflower / Moon Vine – there are a few names I think). This is a tropical vine that grows quite fast, and when it flowers…. wow, it’s amazing! I did, however, learn a few things about Moonflowers which didn’t seem to be documented in my google searches.

At the beginning of last Spring (September 2012), I sowed some Moonflower Seeds (care of http://www.kingsseeds.co.nz) and they popped up their little heads right on cue. Once they were big enough I planted them with plenty of compost against our back fence which I trellised before-hand. It really needed lots of training as it wanted to grow straight up, and it was easily trained.

It grew like mental and only just recently did it reward us with flowers. This is like 5 months later! Our Moonflower Vine had some surprises for us. I was the only one home when our first flower bloomed. I’d read that the flowers open in the late afternoon within a matter of minutes and bloom all night. So as soon as I saw one of the flower buds starting to open, I sat in front of it to watch it do its magic!

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This is what the flower bud looks like. They stay like this for a few days before they’re ready to show themselves. When they’re at the stage (below photo), you know you’re in for a display that evening.

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It was fascinating to see the huge white flower unfold before my eyes.

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What I didn’t realise is how tissue-thin these flowers are. I assumed they’d have a strong, exotic scent, but they were very subtle.

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The next day the Moonflower had yet another surprise for us. I assumed in the early morning as soon as the sun caressed it, the flower would do the reverse of what it did that night. But oh no… it did not. It just shriveled up and fell off! Classic!

I’m not sure if our Moonflower is behaving normally, because I’ve never seen these before, and I’m pretty sure they’re grown in tropical climates, not sub-tropical where we hale from. If you have any tips for me, post a comment below. I’d also love to hear from other people who have one of these vines.

Lastly, this vine is only a “hardy annual” whatever that means (can you tell I’m a green greenthumb?) so I’m expecting it might just curl up and die over winter. I will wait and see.

Happy gardening!

Herbies Go Bananas

Before I start this post, I just need to reiterate that I’m very new at this gardening thing, so before you read and then chastise me in your comments, please just chuckle inwardly, then set me straight with words of encouragement, and expert advice.

MY FIRST HERB GARDEN

Well, it’s not just a herb garden… there are flowers and some vegetables too. A mish-mash. Kind of like my head-space.

When we moved to our new house in Totara Park, the garden was a mess. The landlord admitted he and his wife were no gardeners, so it looked pretty awful. Fortunately, they’d already pulled out a couple of monsters, but on one entire side of the house they had planted rambling Rosemary bushes which were colossal. A few weeks after our shift we (and when I say we, I mean my husband) pulled the wretched things out, just about hospitalizing himself in the process. But we got it done and it looked better bare and barren than it did with woody, scraggly Rosemary. Next problem: clay soil. Urgh! I was still fairly ignorant though so covered up the barren-ness with weed-mat and planted some lovely ground-cover gardenias along one side of the house. Weeks later they had not changed in shape, size or colour. Maybe they are just the slow-growing variety (if that exists). That’s when I started doing some research. The more searching and reading I did, the more I got excited about the idea of gardening. That’s where the herb garden comes in.

This is the gnarly dreadful stuff that my hubby pulled out of the garden.

Digging out the clay soil – a pig of a job.

One section of raised bed was particularly clayish so I (and when I say I, I mean me) began to dig. And dig, and dig and dig. After reaching Germany (okay, slight exaggeration) I threw in all sorts of good composted soil, and pots and home-made trellis. And this is what I ended up with. Ta-dah!

Ready for planting with pea trellis, pots and good soil.

The plan I had in the back of my head was to have an area where I could plant edible herbs, medicinal herbs, some pretty flowers to attract bees, some pretty flowers to deter baddies, and some veges. After a couple of months of propogating (and some buying), it’s looking pretty good, and will by summer, hopefully be pretty amazing.

Looking healthy and happy.

WHAT I’VE PLANTED

There’s a myriad of living things in this raised, sloping garden. Alderman Climbing Peas are growing well up the trellis. Other veggies in there include broccoli, cucumber, zucchini, curly lettuce and garlic. Herbs include staples like parsley, mint, sage, dill, oregano plus interesting things like marjoram, peppermint, lemongrass, pineapple sage. Then medicinal plants like feverfew, hyssop, borage, lavender, yarrow, and chamomile! Almost forgot to mention marigolds, nasturtium and these other flowering things that I don’t know the name of. I daren’t put more in otherwise there will be no room for my pretties to grow.

I love looking at this little patch of transformed dirt. I’ve started on the other side of the section and that’s a work in progress which I’ll blog about when it starts looking like something other than a hunk of dirt – but it’s also going to be amazing!

Basically the idea is to cut down on the grocery bill and boost our family’s fruit and veggie intake. Nothing like a salad made with fresh lettuce, fresh tomatoes and fresh cucumber picked only minutes before! What could be better for you? Bring on summer!!

Oregano

Mint… going mental… good thing it’s “contained”

Borage… edible flowers and superpower medicinal properties (also a good bee plant).

A variety of Roman and German Chamomile to make Chamomile tea. I can’t wait for flowers to appear.

Marjoram

Lavender

Nasturtiums (with edible flowers) are going crazy on one side and flailing on the other. Weird. Perhaps they like being a little more sheltered next to the wall?

Spacemaster Cucumber. I’m hoping there’s enough room here to contain it’s spread. Apparently this variety takes up less room (whatever that means).

Peppermint
Did you know peppermint repels spiders?

I can’t remember the name of these, but they’re beautiful.

Alderman Climbing Peas. 3/4 of the way there. A little higher then hopefully (fingers crossed) we’ll harvest big fat juicy peas!

UPDATE FROM LAST POST

The demise of the tomato was a learning curve indeed. I was ignorant. Now, better informed, I’ve got two well-established tomato plants in big pots which have just started venturing outside to harden off (or harden up as I tell my kids). Yellow flowers even! And little tomato plant seedlings getting stronger and bigger every day. We are in for a free feast!

Over-and-out,
Old & Crusty

The Demise of the Tomato

I started buying seeds a few months ago.

We’d moved into a house next to Totara Park with native trees, native birds and loads of sun, so it only seemed logical to put in a decent garden. Being a stay-at-home-mum and on one income also meant a desire to save money by growing some veges and herbs.

I need to mention, I’m new to this thing called gardening. I know nothing!

Hence came the research. Okay, so companion planting is important, which means certain kinds of flowers needed to be planted as well. More seeds. Then there are medicinal plants (and I’m all for trying natural first when it comes to remedies)… More seeds.

I’ve purchased so many seeds now, and done so much research that my dreams consist of seedlings, watering, digging, weeding and of course, harvesting and eating.

One of the things I was most looking forward to eating this summer was tomatoes (you know, the kinds of tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes – none of this rubbish you buy from the supermarkets that taste like water). So I patiently waited for winter to be over and done with, then waited a little longer to be sure, then I planted two very yummy sounding tomato seedlings.

The day before the frost

Two weeks later, a cold front swept over New Zealand and delivered a beautiful but unwelcome Spring frost! Tomato plants (let alone seedlings) don’t like frost. The frost was all over every single leaf. By the time I went out to investigate the damage, the plant was already dying.

Frost Bitten

More research: How to save tomato seedlings after a frost? The answer? Not the answer I was looking for.

The dying seedling

However, it seems there might be hope. One blogger left a “dead” tomato plant in the ground and a couple weeks later it started to sprout again. So I’m going to do a wait and see, rather than pull out and start again. I figure it’ll save me a few bucks – and buck-saving is imperative right now.

I’ve got some heirloom tomato seeds arriving any day, so at least I’ll have a back-up plan. Either way, I’m gonna be eating tomato-tasting-tomatoes this summer!

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