Hello, my name is Sandy.

Garden things in July 2015

top down view of cos lettuce growing in a garden bed

It's been a while since the last Garden Thing, so let's get into it, eh? These are my cos lettuces in our no-dig garden bed. They indeed survived and appear to be thriving. Hooray, the garden bed is OK!

side view of cos lettuce growing in a garden bed

Except... are they actually cos lettuce? That's what the label said, but they don't look like what you get in a pub Caesar salad. Maybe they grow into that - we will see.

top down view of my new strawberry tower

We finally have a strawberry tower. I've wanted one of these for so long, but kept getting stuck on fretting over how to make it. Eventually, I decided to just suck it and see. Plants are hardy - if it doesn't work, I'll just put them somewhere else.

But looks like it has worked. It's been a couple weeks and the strawberry isn't dead. There's even new leaves growing.

The easy, cheap way to build a strawberry tower

Get 3 medium-sized pots, and maybe a little one to go on top. Fill with soil, stack, then plant. Water well for the first week or two.

Some tutorials tell you to cut holes into the pots - more holes means more spots for leaves to poke out - but I'm not down with the cutting, in case I need these pots for something else.

tomato seedling in a garden bag bed

I have two garden bag beds, containing the soil I've been cultivating over the last two years. Over the weekend, I found a little tomato plant growing out of it. At least, I think it's a tomato. It looks right, but the leaves don't have that tangy tomato smell (tomatine?). This bag bed gets full sun for most of the day so it's the perfect spot for my pre-season tomato.

carrot growing in a garden bag bed

In the other garden bag bed is a carrot crop. Not a particularly exciting one - I was hoping to have them harvested by now, but carrots take a long time, and I planted them quite late in the season. So, we'll just wait and wait. Once these come out, we'll give chilli another go.

a pleasant pot of catnip

Potted some catnip and cat grass too. Every time we've tried to grow these, they've ended up getting mangled or dead. But we're trying again in some nicer pots, in a nicer garden, to see whether they'll live longer.

At the very back, to the left, you can see a bromeliad, though I'm not sure what. It should be dead by now, but every so often, I notice it's grown a tad longer, so I'm hopeful it'll grow into something remarkable enough for me to figure out the name of.

Back and centre is a Crassula tetragona, grown from cuttings taken last October. Yes, they're still alive!

Partially in the photo, on the far right, is... drumroll... an arabica coffee tree! :D They have them at Bunnings now, so you don't have to drive all the way out to the larger nurseries to find one. It'll take 18 months or so before it bears fruit, but fingers crossed, we may eventually get enough for half a cup of coffee. It's growing in a pot, so it can come with us when we eventually move again.

a little succulent trio

OK, last one - my donkey tail Sedum morganianum with a freshly trimmed Crassula ovata (Jade plant), and a Lithops I've had for a couple of years. It wasn't looking happy indoors, each new leaf pair smaller than the last, so we'll try this outside instead.

All right, it's cold and I'm thirsty. Time for tea before bed. :) What are you growing in your garden?

Garden things in October 2014

messy garden wall

I'm annoyed with my garden. As expected, it went mental over winter. We completed a massive round of weeding and harvesting, and looked sweet for a while, but we're back to being a mess again.

The mint bed seems to be overgrown or half-eaten - always. That happy medium where the leaves are full, beautiful and under control lasts but half a moment. I hoped it would grow up the wall too, but it never took to a trellis, or died back when it reached half a metre in height.

patch of pruned mint, where a chilli seed has been planted

So to serve it right, I've pruned everything and planted a chilli seed. A small, manageable fruiting plant might do better in this space. Perhaps the mint will provide an undergrowth, keeping bugs away from the chilli plant itself.

Alyssum sprouts in an old tree stump

The stump is doing all right. Our alyssum (Lobularia maritima) seeds are coming up. Hit and miss with the fluctuating weather, but hopefully they'll take.

Violet creepers

A patch of creeping violet popped up just after we finished the stump. What a lucky coincidence - it's exactly what I wanted to plant there. Nature just saved me $8.49.

Violet flower head

At least, I hope it's a violet. The flowers don't look like the ones on the internet.

messy creeping fig

The creeping fig (Ficus pumila) looks a bit shit now by comparison, and I'm questioning my decision to use such dense foliage in such a small space. I'd like it if the violet took over the ground area, leaving the fig as wallpaper - that might be nice.

I'm also questioning our lone kangaroo paw. The summer/winter tag-team plants thing might not be such a great idea after all.

luxury bug house under an avocado tree

There are a variety of luxury bug villas around my garden. They're for good bugs like ladybugs, wasps, soldier flies, spiders and the like, but so far, I've not seen anyone living in them. To be fair, I've not marketed them very well. Best get to work on those airbnb listings.

tansy, tanacetum vulgare

Repotted my tansy. I'm very skeptical now, about the ant-repellant thing. When I took it out of its original pot, there was a gang of little workers hanging round having a chat. Maybe in this larger pot, with a fat-arse earthworm living in it, it'll grow strong and smelly, and keep the ants away. I'll give it one more go to see if it's not all bullshit.

bird's eye view of veggie bed

This photo perfectly captures the state of my veggie bed at the moment. Clockwise from the top:

  • Withered clover, pulled out and left on the soil as mulch.
  • Bare mound of dirt, with pumpkin seeds waiting to sprout. :)
  • Rocket - the crop just won't stop.
  • Chinese radish - you can barely see the leaf at 9 o'clock.

And in the centre are strawberry leaves. We've had tiny strawberry plants pop up all over in the last few weeks, most likely from seeds in the worm poo. I wasn't planning on planting strawberries this summer, but since these started from seed right here in our garden, they may fare better than last summer's plants.

tiny strawberry seedlings

So cute when they're little!

tiny succulent in a pot

I'm not sure what this tiny succulent is, but I got a handful of them from my mum's garden. They grow upright, with tiny finger leaves extruding on all sides. The nicer my mum's garden grows, the more interested I become in succulents. They are such funny little things.

two tiny succulents in a pot

Finally, I had my final assessment yesterday for garden school. According to the trainer, I am a competent junior level Horticulturalist - yay!!

I'm worried, though. I'm 99% certain I enrolled in 4 electives, but have only done assignments for 3. According to Open Colleges, I have no more units left in their system, so I must be all done. I will be most unimpressed if I can't graduate because of admin errors on their part, especially if they make me pay extra for a time extension. But I've checked twice to be sure, saved all the email correspondence, and passed the oral assessment for that unit without having been given the textbook. So surely there's nothing to worry about... right?

Rainy Friday nights are best spent indoors, thinking about outdoors

grey evening in Perth

It's Friday night and I should be at the pub like a young cool person. But instead, I'm at home like an old boring fart because it's raining and I want a pizza. #yolo

tree stump planter with soil

I finished my stump last weekend and sowed alyssum seeds (Lobularia maritima). They're a wee, cute plant with masses of tiny white flowers. I needed something shallow rooting, because it was too hard to dig deep into the stump. We're working with a depth of at most 10cm.

Apparently alyssum attracts all sorts of beneficial insects - particularly wasps. I don't care what the internet meme says about wasps not being bros. Wasps eat the insects that eat my plants. They are totally my bros and I can't wait to make friends.

Though, my first hope is that tonight's downpour doesn't flush it all away.

Sempervivum tectorum babies, I think

My rosette succulents had many babies. I think they might be Sempervivum tectorum, but I'm not sure. I can confirm these are not currently protecting me from thunderstorm, so I either don't have enough, or it's not the right plant after all.

tiny cactus flowers

And lastly, I was surprised by two tiny cactus flowers. This was really nice. Cacti of all sorts make me nervous. The prickles, the hairs, the blunt force trauma - arg! So it was lovely to see something pretty where there was previously trepidation.

OK, well, my pizza has arrived and I'm going to go eat it while I dream of sunny weather. Bye bye!

cute cactus arrangement