Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 - The Gardening Year in Review

As far as years go, I'd be the first to admit that 2015 has not been a "biggie" in the scheme of things. We didn't set any growth records, we didn't redesign the garden, storms didn't destroy it, bumper crops were not harvested ... in fact it proved to be a perfectly normal year all round. Phew!

Yes, there were successes and failures, lots of fun with plants and plenty of fascination with nature, plus a little sadness, and so there remains but one more thing to do before we pop the champagne and declare "Happy New Year" to friends and neighbours: and that's to hand out some awards to the deserving. Now, if Pammy could hand me the envelopes, let's begin the 2015 Garden Amateur Awards!

Plant of the Year/Blog of the Year

And the winner is a happily resettled refugee! Pam's former potted office plant, this delightfully spotty Begonia maculata, was forced to move from its original home simply because it had outgrown the space. It has now settled in superbly into its new outdoor home under the murraya bush (still within view of Pam's office), where it shares the moist shade with other former residents of Pammy's verdant office, some maidenhair ferns. The big suspense surrounded the begonia's chances of surviving its first winter outdoors ... and it not only romped it in — it kept on growing. 
Now, this begonia is a bit like those Hollywood blockbusters that take out all the prizes on Oscars night, because as well as winning POTY (Plant of the Year) it also took out the prestigious BOTY (Blog of the Year) award for the most-read blog posting here at Garden Amateur. It seems lots of people wanted to know about what does well in a shady spot.  

Wildlife of the Year

The winner of WOTY (Wildlife of the Year) is Mr and Mrs Native Paper Wasp, pictured here building their new creche just outside our kitchen window. Much maligned by the ill-informed anti-insect crowd (the Taliban of nature lovers), paper wasps are beneficial insects which are nowhere near as cranky as the Taliban says they are. 

Idea of the Year

Turning little punnets of supermarket sprouts into crops has proved to be a runaway success, and deserving winner of the IOTY (Idea of the Year) award. Pictured here is the chervil sprouts loving life as thriving crops, and elsewhere in the garden the same idea has produced great crops of both flat-leaf parsley and coriander. 

Crop of the Year 

Though they are small in size, the little Lebanese zucchini takes out the 2015 Crop of the Year (COTY) award through its production of healthy flavour in good, steady numbers. These tasty little fruits just keep on coming, despite the fact that their foliage growing overhead looks like a hospital ward of powdery mildew disasters. Doesn't bother the little workers down at ground level, they just keep on producing.

Surprise of the Year 

After more than 20 years of being quietly green and very fragrantly leafy, our false cardamom plant decided it was time to be flowery, which makes it the standout choice for SOTY (Surprise of the Year). However, big questions remain to be answered in 2016 (which might put it in line for Suspense of the Year): Will it flower just once every 20 years? Will it flower every year from now on? What in the hell prompted it to start flowering? Does it know something about climate change that we don't know? Stay tuned...

Fish of the Year 

This special one-off award has been inaugurated purely to honour the passing of our little goldfishy mate, Paul, who passed away late this year, just a few days short of his sixth birthday. Most little goldfish never achieve much in the way of internet fame, but at least Paul has been read about by hundreds of readers of this blog, and he also has been immortalised artistically in this lovely painting by his honorary mum, my slightly biased pick for Artist of the Year (AOTY), Pamela Horsnell. RIP Paul, you did great.

And so that's it for our 2015 Awards Show here at Garden Amateur. Pammy and I and all the regulars here at the Garden Amateur blog would like to say a big "thanks" to everyone who has visited our blog, left a comment or just accidentally found us while looking for something else. We'll be back in 2016 but in the meantime, have a happy and safe New Year and we look forward to continuing to share our love of gardening, nature and anything else that we fancy all through the coming year.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Lebanese flavour

Here in Australia, and in my part of Sydney in particular, we have a sizeable Lebanese community, and they're wonderful, hard-working people. As is the case with many established Anglo Aussies (like myself) and migrant communities (such as the Lebanese) where we first get to know a bit about each other is in our shops and restaurants. 

Pam and I love Lebanese cuisine. As well as their famous kebabs and koftas, their many vegetable dishes are superb. Our supermarkets always have in stock big piles of Lebanese cucumbers, Lebanese eggplant and Lebanese zucchini. These vegies aren't just sold to people whose family's roots are in Lebanon. Everybody buys them, and that's because the Lebanese people have bred over the centuries a wide range of vegetables that presumably suit both their climate and their palates. 

And so this year I'm having a go at growing the little pale green Lebanese zucchini, and so far the results have been delicious. I prefer them to the prolific, larger, dark green 'Blackjack' zucchini which I have grown here in previous years.

Here's two zucchinis with the flowers attached
picked this morning. These aren't as prolific
in production as Blackjacks, but they keep
well. So, after washing and drying, I pop them
in a plastic container. After a few days we
have enough for a delicious side dish.

Here's the plants in the garden, with the mirror
on the shed wall making the plot look a bit
bigger. And no, they are not a special variety
with variegated foliage! Sad to say, they have
powdery mildew on the leaves, and nothing I
am doing is really helping much at all.
The powdery mildew is quite aggressive, and though I am
regularly spraying plants with an organic treatment, it doesn't
seem to get rid of existing mildew. All it does is slow its spread
to other zucchini foliage. I'm also careful when watering to
keep water off the foliage and direct it to the roots, so I can't
think of anything else I can do.

This is the product I am using. eco-fungicide.
It's organic, a powder that you mix up in a
spray bottle and spray all over the foliage, on
top and on the underside. It's based on
potassium bicarbonate.
In previous years I've tried the other well-known organic treatment of milk sprays, and they were even poorer in performance than the eco-fungicide. Pictured below is the healthy foliage of the other Lebanese zucchini plants which haven't yet succumbed to the powdery mildew. This is a much better result with the eco-fungicide than anything I ever achieved with milk sprays, so I am sticking to the eco-fungicide.

There's one or two faint spots of mildew on the
leaf on the right, but the foliage still looks good.
The good news is that the powdery mildew, while it slowly harms the foliage and the plant, isn't instant death or anything like that. The foliage on one plant has looked crappy for a few weeks now and the plant is cropping away happily. So mostly the powdery mildew weakens the plants, probably brings the cropping to an early end, and certainly looks very dodgy!

I've always said that the baby little zucchinis you get attached
to zucchini flowers in restaurants and supermarkets have a
much better flavour than the fully grown zucchinis that are
sold without (the short-lived) flowers. Well, it's the same with
the small Lebanese zucchinis. These never grow to any great
size anyway, and they are best harvested when only 3-4 inches
(75-100mm) long, and they taste great, whether you steam
them, fry them or cook them any which way. 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Restaurant for flying visitors

Recently, last week in fact, I shared an experience with just 20 million other people on the planet that day. It was my birthday. (Do the maths ... 7.3 billion on Earth, 365 days a year, average of 20 million people have a birthday each day. Don't worry, you're still special!) 

My Pammy is an all-time champion gift buyer, present wrapper, card sender and general rememberer of everyone's birthday, and so this year she found this nice garden gnome bird feeder for me, along with some other lovely thoughtful gifts. All I had to do was add some seed.

It just so happens that I always have a little bag of birdseed on hand, and my best customers for free bird seed are a two very gentle turtle-doves who have just successfully raised a chick over the recent late winter/early spring period. Though I try not to make them dependent on me for seed, whenever the mood takes me to put some out, they're there in a flash.

So it didn't take long for them to discover their new bird feeding guy. (In case you're wondering who the white-streaked green gnome is, he's a plastic money-box gnome who I keep under shelter, just beside my shed door. He's filled with sand so he doesn't blow over, and he does door-stop duty when needed.) The doves patiently take turn to feed. Soon after I took this photo, the one feeding stopped, hopped off, and the other hopped up for some seed.

In case you're wondering "are turtle-doves native to Australia?" my bird reference book says "no". They are native to South-East Asia and southern China, and were introduced to Australia from the 1860s onwards (like a great many Australian residents, come to think of it).

They're the gentlest, most docile birds I know. These two have been an item for a few years now, and I hope that I'm not spoiling them with the occasional extra feeds. They do look a bit porky, though, don't they?

So "thank you" Pammy for the lovely gnome bird-feeder, it's a classy addition to our gnome-friendly, bird-friendly garden.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thirsty work

We all know that birds love a drink and a flap in a birdbath on a scorching hot day such as today, but some of our other garden workers need a drink, too. 

I spotted a group of our native paper wasps carefully clustering around the water-filled cup of a bromeliad. As I'd liberally watered the whole garden this morning due to the forecast of 38°C (100°F), which has been exceeded already, the bromeliad had little puddles of water here, there and everywhere, and every tier of its central cluster of leaves had a puddle attended by a thirsty wasp.

This photo is a slight fudge, as I remembered that I took it on another scorching hot day a few years ago. In our largest birdbath I always place a gently sloping, low rock into the water, so bees and wasps (and tiny birds) can carefully move down the slope and slurp up a drink. If the rock is too steep-sided they run the risk of falling in and drowning.

As for the human workers, Pammy and I are both inside the house, sipping some tea and mostly staying inside. Everyone needs a refreshing drink on a scorching hot day like today!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

One hedge bites the dust

Here's a handy tip. If you're planning on sneaking up to our front door, don't do it at night. You could get trapped in the spider webs which run from hedge to hedge across our front path. Fortunately, this isn't much of a real problem, as we know who is likely to visit our house most of the time, and so it's my job to make sure all the spider webs are down before our guests arrive. When it's just Pammy and me returning home from a night out, we have some sticks sitting on a ledge by our front gate, making it easy enough to swoosh away the webs (much to the spiders' annoyance, I am sure).

However, we've decided that not only is this all too much bother, the hedges themselves aren't what they used to be. Here's a photo of them in their prime a few years back.

They don't look green and lush like this anymore. Tiny native insects called "psyllids" have ruined our hedges (of the lilly pilly called 'Tiny Trev'). You can't see the psyllids, but you can see the damage they cause, which is lots of tiny pimples on all the leaves

This is a photo of the psyllid damage to the lilly pilly's lovely, bright red new growth, which is what they really attack with vigour. Over the years the psyllids have been winning the battle, the hedges are covered with ugly, pimply foliage, and so the worst of the hedges is coming out, and the others will come out soon, as well.

The chemical treatment that was recommended for psyllids is Confidor, but that is not only a non-organic solution to the problem, it's a nasty one I won't use. Recent research seems to show that Confidor might also be very damaging to other insect populations, especially bees. And so, with no organic controls of psyllids available, the only solution is to either (a) replant with a psyllid-resistant lilly pilly species (which are available) or (b) forget the hedges altogether. I'm going for option "b".

Given that we're basically being driven mad by the relentless spider webs across the path, it was an easy decision to remove the hedges and replace them with some lower-growing and also lower maintenance plants. So here's what we did...

Step one is to almost break your back removing 10-year-old lilly pillies with monster root systems. This only takes two hours and the only thing you have to show for your efforts is this photo of brown nothingness. The good news is that the soil there is weed-free, has plenty of worms and is still light and lovely.

Step Two is to figure out what to grow there that is low-maintenance, low-growing, indestructible and blessed with redeeming features such as year-round foliage and a burst of flowers at some stage of the year. So it was off to the garden centre to buy some plants plus three bags of potting mix to top up the soil.

If you were hoping that I'd choose something rare, or unusual, or challenging to grow, you will be bitterly disappointed to see this plant label. Star jasmine. There are only 5 million star jasmines thriving in Sydney at the moment, so I am hoping this will be number 5,000,001. This plant loves Sydney in much the same way that Murraya loves Sydney, and vice versa. Glossy green foliage year-round, scented spring flowers. It's often grown up posts and fences, but it's also a good groundcover. Local councils love to plant it inside concrete traffic islands, and it thrives there. It will grow in sun, semi-shade or shade, but flowers best in full sun. My job will be to cut it back a couple of times a year, but not as often as I've had to cut back the lilly pilly hedges. 

Down the other end of this narrow pathside bed, while we wait for the star jasmine to make its way down there, I've planted a punnet of vincas, which hopefully will thrive and flower prettily for three or so months, after which I can ruthlessly pull them out (with a gentle word of thanks to them tossed in for good measure).

And so, traaa daaa. Ten minutes' work and that part of the job is done. All I need to do it water them in, but before I go, here's a word or three about a product I have been using for a couple of years and rarely mention. It's the seaweed solution, eco-seaweed.

I have been using this same container of eco-seaweed since 2013, and there's still lots left. I know it goes back to 2013, as it was a freebie given to everyone who attended some kind of gardening PR day (can't remember where or when, sorry) when I still had a job at Burke's Backyard. eco-seaweed is a certified-organic, dried seaweed product which you mix up at the rate of one teaspoon per 9L watering can. No wonder I am only halfway through the pack!

Here's what it looks like close up. Ummm ... dried black seaweed. The label on the pack says one jar makes up to 800 litres of solution, and I don't doubt that's true.

Now, most gardeners are very familiar with the product called "Seasol", but they often misunderstand Seasol, and I don't think any amount of repeated explanations is ever going to get through to them that Seasol isn't a fertiliser, it's a root growth promoter and general plant tonic. 

Well, that's the identical problem with eco-seaweed. The companies marketing Seasol and eco-seaweed want you to believe that they are uniquely different products, but as far as I am concerned they're pretty much the same thing (except that the Seasol is sold as a liquid, and the eco-seaweed is a dried concentrate). 

I didn't bother buying any more Seasol after my bottle of it ran out in 2013. I just switched over to the freebie eco-seaweed and two years later I am still using the same pack. AND I have a second freebie pack of eco-seaweed here (the one that Pam brought home in her freebie gift bag), and so I think we might just have enough eco-seaweed to see us through to 2020 at least. 

The least I could do for the company who has given us almost a lifetime supply of excellent quality plant tonic is this free plug! Besides, I like it and it works just fine.

They also have several other modern, sophisticated, eco-friendly, organic-certified products on the market (such as the freebie eco-fungicide that was also in their gift bag – thanks!) so do check them out at their website.

Finally, a thrilling action shot of me watering in the plants. This is one of the best uses for these seaweed solutions: watering in newly planted plants. I'll give them a follow-up watering with more seaweed solution a few weeks from now, and they should be doing nicely by then. Fingers crossed!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Good crops, bad crops

Of course everyone who has ever watched a detective show on TV knows about "good cop bad cop", where one detective is nasty to the suspect (ie, the bad cop) while the other one (the good cop) offers the "perp" a drink and a kind word, in the hope that the suspect spills the beans to the nice detective before the bad one gets seriously upset and starts turning off the tape recorder and throwing chairs around the interview room.

What's this got to do with growing vegetables, you ask? Well, I suspect my vegetables are trying to work me over. My potatoes are my bad cop, my spinach is the nice guy. I think they want me to grow fewer potatoes and more spinach, but my mind doesn't work that way. I like eating both of them, so I am going to continue growing both of them, despite my dud crop of spuds trying to play the bad crop.

What do I mean by "dud crop of spuds?" Well, this is all of them. Not even one colander full. I was rather hoping for a few kilograms, and all I ended up with is far too many one-inch tiddler mini spuds and only a dozen or so "proper-sized" Kind Edward potatoes. Here's what happened ...

Back in mid-October, the potato plants started to do their usual thing of looking ugly. That's OK, potato crops do that. The foliage is meant to slowly die off while, underground, countless dozens of little spudettes turn into enormous great big spuds.

A month later, by mid-November, the plants looked like they'd done their dash, and so I harvested the lot ...

... and couldn't even fill one lousy colander. It's not as if this is my first go at growing spuds. I've done it a few times before, sometimes growing them in the ground and other times in bags. And I grew them this time using the same methods as before. Of course I could turn around and blame my seed potato supplier, but that would be churlish (however, I have resolved not to order from that same supplier next year, just as a precaution). Never fear though, this potato-loving boy will be back next season, hoping for a better result.

Meanwhile, in the very same patch of ground, and right next door to the dud spuds, my long-lasting crop of perpetual spinach had reached peak abundance, so I harvested the lot before our forecast scorching hot 41°C Friday hits us.

Ever the experimenter, several months ago I spotted a red-stemmed variety of perpetual spinach in amongst the more regular green types at the local nursery, so I have given that a try. Perpetual spinach isn't English spinach, and it isn't silver beet, and it isn't ruby chard. It's a close relative of all these, but it has the lovely quality of simply lasting a long time in the ground.

When the leaves are young and small we pick them as colourful little extras in a leafy green salad. Later on, once the number of leaves gets ahead of us and they mature into bigger leaves, we've been picking several at a time for cooking as a spinach side dish. (My favourite is to simply stir-fry it, along with currants (or sultanas) and pine nuts.)

The flavour is closer to English spinach than the more pungent silver beet/chard, but the main benefit of this is the way it lasts and lasts through all the winter months and spring. Once summer's heat comes along it's a goner, bolting to seed, but I've given up growing short-lived English spinach and rely instead on this. I'm not sure of its botanical name, but it's sold in nurseries around here as perpetual spinach, so give it a try once the worst of summer has passed.

And so, even if my vegie patch wants me to grow more spinach, I'm not taking the bait. Next year I will spud-up again, and there'll be trouble if there ain't a bumper crop!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A little discovery

The simple act of finding something delightful is one that I never tire of, and I know Pammy feels the same way. We're often saying to each other "hey, come and have a look at this" when one of us discovers something worth sharing out in the garden.

Other times, instead of marching in triumphantly bearing the latest "news", I like to take the other tack and let Pammy share in the secret delight of discovering the same thing I had just discovered, but all by herself. 

This time, while she was busy elsewhere in the house, I was out in the garden and spotted the first Tillandsia (Spanish moss) flower of the season. And so I snipped off a bit of the plant with its flower and just left it on the desk in her studio, for her to "discover" when she wandered into that room. Here is the little cutie.

The Spanish moss flowers around this time of year, and so the
discovery of this year's flowers was not a major surprise.
It was more a matter of relief that they had finally appeared,
as they usually flower in mid to late October, and so early
November is getting a little bit late for them.
The first time we discovered these tiny flowers was a thrill,
and we did it by accident. Several years ago I just happened to
take some photos of the plant and, only when I opened the
photos on my computer screen, did I notice little green flecks.
So I went outside, got very very very close to the plant and called
out "Hey Pammy, come and look at this!"

Last year I used a toothpick to give you some idea of the small
size of a Spanish moss flower. This year, as I was in Pam's
studio, I grabbed a pencil for the same scale effect.
Out in the garden, stand back five feet and you probably won't
see a thing, apart from a tangle of lightly hairy silver "beard".

And here's the Spanish moss itself this cool, soggy spring afternoon. It's draped from the branches of our grevillea, which itself has grown a bit scrappy and bare-branched at its lower levels over the years. Without the Spanish moss the grevillea would look pretty ordinary, but it is the perfect framework from which to drape the long shawls of whispy grey beard, and between the two of them they're a lovely team of plants. 

The Spanish moss itself is thriving here. I always give it a light spray whenever I water the garden, to give the Spanish moss the feeling that it's in Louisiana (or Georgia, or Mississippi, or Florida ...) where it's always a bit steamy. Come to think of it, Sydney is pretty steamy in summer, too, but the extra watering I've given it in the last two years has really seen it grow better than ever.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A cardamom-flavoured surprise

When a surprise comes in the form of flowers, it's always a welcome one, and this week we have been watching a surprise floral show from a plant which has been in our garden almost as long as we have — that's 24 years — and has not flowered before.

Here it is, photographed this morning, our dwarf cardamom is in bloom. As far as my Googling tells me, this is known as Alpinia nutans, but I have also seen it listed as Alpinia calcarata. Either way it's an ornamental ginger with foliage strongly scented of cardamom. 

In fact, that's why I bought it in the first place. It came in a little pot and the label said "cardamom". Naively, I believed it was real cardamom for many years. The fact that it didn't set pods didn't bother me. I just thought I was too far south of the tropics for it to set pods. But no, the real answer, which I learned a few years ago, is that this plant is sometimes also called "false cardamom" (as well as dwarf cardamom). And so it will never ever set seed pods, because it's the wrong plant.

A week or two ago we got quite a surprise when we noticed that it was in flower towards the back of the clump, and that in a much handier position for photography, a new flower was rising vertically from one fan of tropical foliage. 

I love the way flowers form buds and slowly open, and our dwarf cardamom took about a week to go from this peek through the curtains to being fully open.

Yesterday morning it was almost there ...

And this morning, after some light overnight rain, it's a bit of a mess — not a textbook bloom by any means — but it's open and putting on a show.

Further back in the clump, up against the fence, there are a few other blooms, such as this easily visible one and the barely visible pointed spire of another new bloom just to the right.

It's a delightful mystery as to why this plant has decided to burst into multiple blooms now, after so many years of merely seeming to be a foliage plant. I can't think of anything I've done to make it flower, as I never fertilise the clump of foliage, nor do I ever water it. The only maintenance I perform is to cut it back, as it loves to spread, and its leaves often become brown, shredded at the edges and generally very scrappy looking. The new, young foliage is far more tropically lush and lovely to look at. But as for what made it decide to flower now, after so many years, I haven't a clue.

You can use the cardamom-flavoured leaves of this  dwarf cardamom plant in cooking. An Indian-Australian friend of ours has occasionally taken several leaves from it. She makes up milk-based sweets, which are then wrapped in the cardamom-flavoured leaves and steamed, to produce lovely dessert treats spiced gently with that cardamom scent.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Loving the Misty Companions

I love all the little experiments that I conduct in this garden, especially those which take a few years for the results to burst into bloom.

This morning, I can report that all the work saving the seed of our Love-in-a-Mist (Nigella) flowers a few years ago has resulted in a small but very pretty show of self-seeded, multi-coloured Love-in-a-Mist blooms this morning. Here's a blue one.

The experiment goes back to late 2013, when I collected the seed of the Nigella flowers after they finished blooming. I then planted the seed the next autumn, and in October 2014 they bloomed in the same mix of colours as the original seed packet. Next phase of the experiment was to do nothing. That's right, folks. Do nothing. I know that Nigella is considered a weed in some climates, so I figured that virtually anything and everything grows here in Sydney, so mine should do the same and not need any help from me.  

In midwinter this year I noticed the first ferny shoots of Nigella coming up, so all I did to help them along was pull out the usual bunch of weeds trying to smother them (and everything else here).

Being good weeds themselves, the Nigella have been growing and forming flower buds since then, but the big question for my experiment was "which colours will I get?". I suspected they might all default to just one colour. Well, so far the answer is two colours! White and blue, but there are lots of buds left, and for the perfect result to replicate the original seed packet I bought in early 2013 is that I'll need some pale pink ones, too.

I like everything about Love-in-a-Mist. The flowers are pretty but a bit weird with that ferny lacework (the "mist") around them. And the flower buds are definitely up there on the "ain't nature wonderful" scale of interesting things that only nature can design.

I'm happy for these flowers to become an established, self-seeding part of our garden. The more life goes on, the more I see all the annually flowering established plants that pop up every year as gentle, pretty little companions in my life. 

They mark the coming and going of the seasons (and the years), and it's not just the flowers that we notice. It's their whole life cycle, the emergence of the buds, the blooming itself, their inevitable fading and, in the case of several of them, their modest green summers as leafy people quietly building up energy reserves for their big show next year.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Changing of the guard

Well, me and my big mouth ... there I was blogging recently, saying our lovely little goldfish, Paul, was coming up to his sixth birthday. I'm very sorry to tell you that Paul didn't make it that far. He passed away soon after that, and since then we've been galvanised into giving our water garden a makeover, and bringing a new family of goldfish into our garden. (We've buried Paul in the garden, with a little metal plant marker with his name on it serving as his gravestone. RIP Paul.)

We've expanded our water garden so it comprises two large ceramic pots filled with potted Louisiana iris, and each pot requires some resident goldfish to munch on the mosquito larvae that will inevitably be laid there. So, it's two goldfish per pot ...

Here they are, still in the bags I brought them home in from the aquarium shop. In the bag on the right are Tony and Carmela, and in the bag on the left, AJ and Meadow. Late night TV crime show fans might recognise the names, but if not, doesn't matter. It'll be hard to tell them apart, but Tony is the one with the black markings. The others are innocent.

If you're thinking of goldfish for outdoor ponds, the cheap and
common "Comets" are said to be one of the best choices. At
Marrickville Aquarium these four cost $14. They're tough,
they eat mozzie larvae, they can cope with murky-ish water,
and they aren't rowdy.
Paul came to us from the Marrickville Aquarium shop too,
so maybe Meadow and AJ are his distant cousins?

The basics of adding goldfish to an outdoor pond are straightforward.

1. I filled both pots up with water on Wednesday this week, and so the water itself has had a few days of sunshine (and a bit of rain) to evaporate off chemical residues of chlorine and other stuff that is added to a city's drinking water. Apparently adding little goldfish straight into tapwater will kill some of them. So, "age" your water for a day or two.
2. Leave your new goldfish in their bag of water, and sit it in the pond for at least half an hour, or more, so the temperature of their water slowly becomes the same as the temperature of the pond's water. Then gently release them into the water. That's it.

Here's both ponds with their bags of goldfish. Tony and Carmela
are in the bigger (and new) pot on the left, and Ajay and Meadow
are in the original, smaller pot on the right. 
Here's a slightly fuzzy shot of Tony and Carmela moments after
they were released from the bag. They stayed down the bottom
of the pond for a few minutes, and now they are swimming
around, exploring their strange new world.
Last but not least, I've installed an ACME cat frustrator for
our local fish-obsessed pussy cat, the eternally unsuccessful
Wile. E. Coyote, who hunts by night and never catches a thing.
Just as in my previous posting, where I talked about the second generation of curry leaf trees starting its career here, now I'm introducing the second generation of our mozzie munching goldfish. The times they are a' changing...

I hope they enjoy it here, and I certainly hope that they are here for at least six more years, hopefully. Come to think of it, I guess I could say the same for me!