Sunday, April 26, 2015

Successes and failures

This blog posting has taken a few weeks to happen, but at last I can report on a magnificent failure, plus two very satisfactory little successes.

Projectionist! The failure slide first, please...

A failure? Yep, nothing like what I was hoping for. This, folks is a pot of failed radishes, grown from a little punnet of "Micro Radish" sprouts which I spotted at my local giant market-dominating supermarket. The gardener in me said "go on, have a go at growing them into radishes". And when I also spotted some "Micro Chervil" sprouts and "Micro Coriander" sprouts, the grand experiment began...

Here's the punnet of micro radishes, cute and fresh little
zingers which are nice tossed into a garden salad.
Plucked from their punnet they sit in their own
little pot of growing medium, which is kind of
like compacted cotton wool, sort of.
And here's the failure in action: no little round
radishes at all. It's a nice pot of leafy greenery
with red stems, and the leaves taste peppery, like
mustard greens, so I can still use them in stir-fries,
but the experiment was to grow radishes, and
in that attempt I didn't do all that well.

However, I didn't collapse into a funk of despondence, because at the same time I was tasting bitter (or, more accurately, peppery) defeat with the radishes, I was also savouring some, well ... savoury success. The coriander and chervil experiments have turned out quite nicely.

At $1.49, my chervil sprouts are cheaper than nursery
seedlings. More usually they're $2.98 a pop, which is still OK.

The potted chervil is belting along, loving the deluge of rain
which has soaked all of Sydney to its sandstone bones.

Ditto, the coriander sprouts, they're doing well too.

The chervil sprouts look great in the punnet. You can see some
long, thin black chervil seeds still attached here and there.
The trick with planting them up is to divide the punnet into
clumps. Don't bother with trying to separate out individual
sprouts, that's too much like hard work, and it's also too
much handling of the tender sprouts. Instead, just break this
kind of clump into four or five mini clumps, and plant these.

Here's how that single clump looked after being divided up
and planted out. The next trick is simply to keep the sprouts
watered. Some Seasol or Eco-Seaweed once a week is also
a good idea, as these solutions encourage roots to grow.

It's the same story with the coriander. 

It's the same story with the coriander. Just
divide the punnet into several clumps, not
individual seedlings, then plant them out.
Water often, seaweed solution weekly.
Both the coriander and the chervil should last for months, if planted now. As I've said many times before in this blog, coriander loves winters in Sydney and lasts for months in the cooler weather. In summer it grows too fast and turns to whispy-leafed seedy stuff in a matter of weeks. So now is the best time to plant some coriander.

And chervil loves winters here, too. It's also one of the better herbs for growing in part shade or at least gardens that don't get a full day of sunshine (which is the case in many inner-city gardens).

At the prices the supermarket is asking for these mini sprouts, this way of growing them is easier than seed and cheaper than nursery-bought seedlings. Good luck!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Weaving in the breeze

What is charmlessly known as the "back end" of my blog includes stats on which blog postings attract how many visitors, and I can confidently say from previous experience that this subject matter – spiders and spider webs – keeps the punters away in droves. In fact it sends them clicking away faster than you can say "boo" to a scaredy-cat.

And so I know that the arachnophobes have already all gone...

However, spider web aficionados, all seven of you, can enjoy the following two photos of our resident orb-weaver's magnificent work, captured this Easter Monday morning as it's perfectly sprinkled with fog's micro dew drops.

Our front garden is heaven for orb weavers, as the distance between the street tree and the roof of our verandah is about 6 metres, I'd guess. That's nothing for a confident orb-weaver to span. Beneath that main span of silk, its superb web, which is about 1.5 metres in diameter, wafts above our thick jungle of groundcover wattle bush, where no humans set foot. So, once built, a web can last for several days, until a bad storm brings it down or a goofy bird flies into it, leaving gaping holes which are then repaired overnight.

The web is incredibly strong, like a ship's sail. There was a slowly waking morning breeze as I took these photos, and the web acted like a pair of lungs, breathing in and out as the wind blew it back and forth in a steady, slow rhythm.

Where's the spider? Hiding in the bushes. It does its insect hunting at night, helped greatly in this task by the street lamp outside, and our house lights, too. By morning Mr or Mrs Scary-to-Arachnophobes (and insects) is not to be seen.

It's one of the pleasures of gardening, sharing it with all creatures great and small. And both Pam and I often marvel at the cleverness and beauty of spider webs. These large orb-weaver webs are the cathedrals of spider-dom, but all their creations show how nature gives each and every creature its own special talent that helps it to thrive and survive. The main thing the rest of nature asks of we gardeners is to let them be, as much as possible. Just stand back and admire by all means, but live and let live if you can.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Easter break

Blink and you'll miss it. I was surprised to discover that it's been more than a month since I last updated this blog. Nothing to say all March, but now it's Easter I'm back from a blogging holiday I never knew I'd taken.

It's a gently wet morning this Good Friday, and I do love the way our garden looks when the rain is no more than mere drizzle. We do have a problem with harsh light here in Australia. I'm always taking my blog photos in the mornings and evenings, when the light isn't quite so dazzling, glary bright. However, on wet mornings like today's it's so easy to take photos and enjoy a different set of colours.

And so I felt a Panorama coming on! Here it is (click onto the photo and it should come up bigger). 

The Spanish moss is owning the grevillea now, such a scene
stealer of a thing. In the central foreground the Serrano chilli
bush is at its crimson peak, covered in red zingers. And the
equally red geraniums on the right just keep plugging away.

Here's those Serranos up close. Great chillies,
too. They rate around 7 on a 10 point scale of
heat, which means they pack a punch but are
not homicidal. They also happen to be a very
lovely shape and a beautiful red when ripe.

And so I hope everyone reading this blog has a lovely Easter. Here in sunny Sydney the forecast is actually for four days of showers and cooler weather but I don't hear a lot of complaining. The warmth of summer has lasted all through March and only said farewell on Thursday.

I have a few interesting little gardening experiments on the go, based on growing things I bought at the supermarket. It's still a bit early to announce the experiments as a success, but I do think my little garden blogging holiday is over, so I'll be back sooner, rather than later.