Progress report – end of week 8

The vege garden after a shower

The vege garden after a shower

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Well, Christmas as it usually looks, here in subtropical Brisbane. Hot and humid, that is. At least this year the day has turned out to be only occasionally sunny, with half a dozen showers blowing through on their way from the Bay southwest towards the inland. Hope they’re lasting long enough to rain hard on some parched farmlands out there, and fill up some dams.

The Annexe in the sunshine

The Annexe, walking in sunshine

Yep, it’s Christmas Day, and we here in the Gardener Scampus residence are embarking on the first of our 10 days of vacation – at our workplace all back-of-house staff must take the time off between Christmas and New Year’s. Not that I’m complaining, I might add!

I went a bit mad with the camera this morning and took a veritable mountain of shots of the vege gardens, the ‘ornamental’ gardens, the yard, even the cats before I slowed down. Also took a couple of videos, the first from the back deck during one of the aforementioned showers, and the second of the house interior while Mrs. Gardener Scampus was vacuuming. Might put the former one up on YouTube – wouldn’t dare put the latter one up where anybody could see it. My life wouldn’t be worth a rotten cherry tomato (more on that later).

Anyway, on to the progress report, I say!


Chilli plant ready to explode

Chilli plant with lots of upward pointing fruit

The quiet achievers of the garden, no doubt about it. I like the way they go about their business, neither over- nor under-performing, unlike some of the garden show-offs and ne’er-do-wells (hear that, corn? Beans?)

They’ve pretty much all got fruit on them now, whether in the main or Annexe gardens, or up in the back deck pots. All the fruit is still green, but the single fruit on one of the potted plants had grown so big that AnnMaree harvested it this morning, and I believe most of it has already gone into the marinade for our Moroccan-style pork this evening!

Sadly I didn’t get a photo of the chilli before it was filleted, so you’ll just have to take my word that it was at least 35 cm long and close to 10cm around… oh, alright. It was 10cm long and about 2cm in diameter at the thicker end. But that makes it considerably bigger than just about every other chilli in the garden.

So this was the second type of produce I’ve so far managed to harvest. And it wasn’t long before it was followed by the…

Cherry Tomatoes

First ripe tomatoes

The first ripe tomatoes - later picked and eaten

Yes, I took two tiny, red tomatoes off the smaller plant in the main garden this afternoon – the plant that, while lagging well behind its neighbour in terms of foliage, has been well ahead in terms of fecundity. The fruit will be going into this evening’s salad – how good is that?

Mind you, the mutant next door, when I tied up its wildly waving branches this afternoon, proved to have quite a few new fruit growing in many different places on it. So I hope that it will yet prove to be the equal of its leaner, meaner neighbour.

Healthy tomato plant in the Annexe

Healthy tomato plant in the Annexe

Unhappy tomato plant in The Annexe garden

...and the unhappy plant right next door

Over in The Annexe, it’s the same situation as it has been for the past few weeks. The plant on the left is growing well and starting to fruit. Whereas the poor plant on the right is brown and perhaps diseased in various spots, although the higher branches are green and doing better than you’d expect. No signs of fruit though.

What nasties can it be sucking up from the soil beneath it? Something left behind by the bloke who built the Colorbond fence? I suppose I should bite the bullet and pull it out, ending its misery. But there’s a little bit of Buddhist in me – I just hate to kill any living thing, even one that might be suffering.

Cobs on the sweet corn plants

Cobs on some of the sweet corn plants

Sweet Corn

These are large, green and very happy with themselves, with 2 or even 3 cobs growing on each plant. I noticed this morning that a couple of the cobs’ tassels are turning brown – does that mean those cobs are almost ready? From what I’ve read, that would be at least a couple of weeks too early. So I hope they haven’t caught some nasty disease that I know nothing about how to deal with. I’ll keep thinking positively instead.

Lebanese Cucumbers

Cucumber plants in the main bed

Cucumber plants in the main bed, showing their age

The older parts of the vines in the main bed are definitely looking tired as their leaves pale and go brown around the edges. Each of them still has at least one younger branch that looks and acts vigorous. I tied them all up to the trellis after my Power Gardener Nap this afternoon, and noticed quite a few small fruits coming out. So it appears that they’re currently only experiencing a bit of a lull, and more cucumbers are in the offing.

Cucumber fruit on a vine, main bed

Cucumber fruit on a vine, main bed

The leftmost plant has one or two good sized fruit on it, which will probably be ready to pick by next weekend.

The plant in the Annexe has now got into its daily pattern: during the hot part of the day the leaves droop, only returning to full vigour once the sun goes off the garden bed. It currently also has a 3/4-grown fruit on it – should be ready to pick before the next week is out, I estimate.

Climbing Beans

Bean plants, main garden bed

Slacker climbing beans in the main bed

The saddest story in the garden (so far). None of them look that healthy any more, none of them are growing at all well. When it comes to climbing beans, I’m proving rather a non-green thumb. Oh well, they’re not hurting anything where they are. I’ll leave them there and see how they go. No idea how long they live for – if they make it to the cooler weather (ca March 2010) they might, repeat might, perk up. But I wouldn’t bet on it.


Carrots viewed through a trellis

Carrots as seen through the trellis where the beans should be

It’s like the rain during the week acted as some kind of clarion call to the carrots. Their rosettes of above-ground leaves have all put on a massive growth spurt in the past few days – catching up after several dry weeks.

I don’t think there’s much root growth underneath those rosettes yet – but when it starts, thinning the rows out will keep me busy for a little while.


Beetroot in the main bed

Beetroot in the main bed. Note the size disparities!

Of the 10 plants I replanted in The Annexe a couple of weeks back, 8 are still growing, and 5 or 6 of them are growing well. Of the others, it may be that not enough of their leaves survived the passage, and they’re in some kind of stasis right now before they die. Or maybe they’ll suddenly spring into new life and prove me wrong. It’s 50-50, I’d say.

Beetroot, The Annexe

Transplanted beetroots in The Annexe. Most have managed to survive.

Of the 10 plants in the main bed (must give it a name one day, to match The Annexe. Maybe The Island?), all 10 are still growing, if you’ll believe it, even the two transplants. And the two large ones in the upper row are still the two largest ones out of all 18 surviving plants, by a long shot.

As yet I see no red, swelling roots pushing out above the soil under all this thriving foliage, but I’m now hopeful that many of them will deliver the goods, in their own time.


Eschallots, The Annexe

Some of the eschallots in The Annexe, carefully guarded from cat attack

The Eschallots are obviously slow, steady growers, who don’t like to be rushed. There hasn’t been much change in their size, although I note that some of them have pushed up a second shoot now. That’s nice to see – it suggests they might be starting to like their surroundings now. Sure hope so.

I don’t expect to see much from them for quite a few weeks yet.

Whoops, I’ve done it again – set the wrong date (27/12) on the camera! Honest, folks, I did take all the photos accompanying this post on Friday 25 Dec, aka Christmas Day. Looks like Ol’ Fumble-Brain wins again…

We had a couple of storms during the week, each dropping about a half hour’s worth of rain on the place. Suddenly those dead spots in the lawns are not so dead any more, as green shoots go sprong-o! all over them. You can tell how the plants throughout the yard were just laying low, biding their time, and waiting for the heavens’ aqueous Christmas present. Once the rain falls, they don’t waste time making the most of it! Everything is lovely and green out there again, in 3 or 4 days. Just like that.

The main bed from the west

The main bed viewed from the west

I’ve got this nasty feeling that much of the garden’s produce will be ready to pick during those 2 weeks we’re in New Zealand. Damn it. Everybody but ourselves (neighbours, friends, pests) is likely to see the benefits of my (reasonably) hard work out there.

Never mind. What I’m mainly aiming for from this garden, at least for the first couple of years, is an education – to get my gardening knowledge and skills back up to a point where I become a worthwhile and productive gardener again.

Let’s face it, any actual output from the gardens at this point is just a bonus.

Before I forget, by the way – MERRY CHRISTMAS to all, and good luck with all your gardening pursuits in 2010!


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