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OEA – bean mosaics/collage

We’re still on the mosaics, and you can check out what everyone else did here. (The button has changed and looks complicated so I’m waiting to be sure how it works before using it).

After I showed Froglet how to fill in a drawing he decided to do a flower (we sometimes make flowers with smarties so he knows about that already). He got frustrated with trying to get the petals in a nice circle – here is the conversation that ensued:

M: It’s much easier if you start in the middle with flowers.
F: That is how God made them.
M: Those are borlotti beans.
F: Autumn beans, because it’s turning to start to be autumn and the leaves are turning brown. This is a long long sonneblueme [sunflower].
F: Puddles and long grass and raindrops raindrops raindrops, and a long sonneblueme and some leaves that have fallen down. And lentils.

And the result:

On the left is the one his comments above refer to. The second one also has a sunflower and a rainbow (which he got me to draw for him). The small white beans are raindrops.

I should have used split peas because then I could have made pea soup. Any good recipes using dried beans? Will they germinate if I plant them?


A new blog

I feel that this blog is rapidly getting to the point where it needs renaming. Something like “Not Really Gardening”. So probably I should have a separate place for the gardening posts. Here it is:

I Need A Garden!

If you have time and like gardening, stop by and leave me a comment. Especially if you have ever grown a pineapple top. Or a piece of root ginger.

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Plant-related resources

One day I would love to have a permaculture garden. But at the moment I have to make do with lots of pots, and my window-boxes. Here are some of the sites I’m using as reference/inspiration.

I love this site! It’s my reference for:
– my little mango seed, although it wasn’t the sort they suggest, with the several seeds inside the husk,
– passionfruit, which I fully intend to try again as soon as I buy more fruits,
– pineapple, as I have a top ready to plant as well as the previously mentioned surprise seeds in a germinating bag
– sweet potato, which I am having a go with even though we don’t really have space for a big vine, or indeed a vine at all. It’s going to be an indoor sweet potato trial, I have to convince my lovely husband to get a large pot.

I’d love to grow cashews, but it’s not very realistic in a house with kids- check out the pictures though to see what they look like!

Here are some links about growing avocados

and peppers

and citrus.

Ideas for other things to grow including ginger root!

And of course the BBC and Wikipedia, which are wonderful resources for, well, everything really!

Gardening-related blogs I follow:
Down To Earth: Living the simple life in Australia. Posts about all kinds of things – check it out.
Blagger: These great people are trying to live self-sufficiently in a suburban town in the UK.
Weekend gardener: written by gardening industry professionals.
Godspace: Christine Sine’s blog is about God, gardening and community, and how the three go together. I especially love her posts about how God speaks to her through her garden.
The Green Parent: This one is not so much about gardening, just the occasional item.

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Indoors in the garden

I have pruned the Easter cactus and potted the cuttings. Although I can’t tell if they are taking, the original cactus has rewarded me with several new bright green baby leaves. The avocado is growing quite slowly, while three of my kumquat seeds and one of the pears have turned into little seedlings just as I was about to give up on them. I also have an unknown seedling in my tray. Perhaps a tomato? I did put some seeds in but didn’t expect them to grow as I didn’t let the pulp go mouldy first. It can’t be a weed because we’re indoors!
(The above paragraph is the result of my tendency to start writing a post and then save it for posting later in the week! We now know that the mystery plant is a tomato, as I said in my previous-but-more-recently-written post, and that there is a new, very tiny, mystery plant).

The mango has produced a shoot… or possibly a root… hard to tell as it’s mostly red. I took the thick husk of the pit off, and wrapped the pit in a wet paper towel before putting it in an open plastic bag to keep it warm and moist. In no time it had developed this shoot, which is curly because I put it back the wrong way up and so it curled around to face the right way. I stupidly forgot to take a picture of it before planting. Hopefully it will emerge from the soil soon, I hear they’re very pretty.


Pineapple seeds, who knew?

I am so stoked today because not only has my wildflower post been used over at learning cooperative ABCand123 – thank you, Katies – but at lunchtime we found seeds inside our pineapple! I have never seen this ever before. Little black seeds, like apple pips but smaller.
Which I didn’t think to take a photo of, of course. But I have wrapped them up in some damp polyroll and put them in a plastic bag to see if any will root. I’ve also cut the stem off, as advised in various places on the Web, to see if we can make that grow too.

At the moment I am nurturing pepper seeds, pineapple seeds, birch seeds and a variety of other things I have found lying about and don’t know the names of, all in plastic bags and kitchen roll. And today we planted out the entire contents of the seed tray (including a new mystery seedling, not a tomato this time – the last one was, by the way) so everything is in proper pots. The Engineer will be pleased!


In the outside garden

Our gardens are really taking off now. We have had some setbacks with the nasturtiums – it seems like every time I would plant some out, there would be a storm, or just a little bit of wind or rain and they would all be knocked flat. Of the first five planted out, I think two are still alive. but after that, I planted out a further 15 or so, without waiting for them to get tall, and those are doing better. Clearly I should have put them outside as soon as they started rooting. The adverse weather seems to make them grow thick, strong stems and broad leaves, rather than the leggy stems and many small leaves that they were producing indoors.

The other plants are flourishing – I was wrong in my last post, it’s the marjoram that loves its new home and the oregano that is more subdued, but still contented. Both plants were roughly the same size on arrival, but the marjoram now reaches nearly to the top of the balcony railing, despite being pruned back, whereas the oregano has remained resolutely at ground level. I think it’s more of a ground-cover plant really. I’ve harvested quite a bit and hung it in paper bags for drying. Never done this before, I hope it comes out ok!

The strawberries are producing lots of flowers, several runners and a few green berries – I picked off many of the early buds as these are year-round producers and you’re supposed to pick the buds off till June, but then I gave up. They seem very happy anyway and are rapidly taking over the window box. Lovely!
I just went outside to check on the weeds and found a ripe strawberry! Small but completely red, so I brought it in anyway.

We also have a great many sunflowers in various spots, but I don’t know how well they will do, as they’re still very small when everyone else’s are several feet high already! Next year I must remember to get them started earlier.


Muffin Tin Monday

I have seen posts relating to the MTM blog carnival in several places, but most recently at Chronicle of an Infant Bibliophile, one of the blogs I follow. The idea is simple – serve a themed meal in a muffin tin, then post a link to the blog entry concerning it at Her Cup Overfloweth if you want to be part of the carnival. I don’t know whether this is meant to be just a fun thing to do or whether it’s to try and encourage children to eat.

Froglet always has trouble staying in one place long enough to finish a meal (or even get halfway through it), so today I thought we might give MTM a try. This week was Choose Your Own Theme, rather fortuitously as it was such a last-minute decision to do it and I haven’t done the weekly shop yet! So the theme I’ve picked is: Homemade.

Our muffin tin contains both Froglets meal and my own, as it’s rather a large tin. Homemade brown bread with nuts in, homemade kumquat marmalade from our little tree, homemade snickerdoodle cookies – rolled in cinnamon sugar by Froglet – and homegrown salad: cress, baby nasturtium leaves (because the nasturtiums are still tiny), marjoram and oregano. Like I said, it was a last-minute thing!

Surprisingly, the salad was Froglet’s favourite item. He wolfed down the marjoram, oregano and nasturtiums, exclaiming”these taste funny!”, then asked for more. I had to explain that we couldn’t take any more leaves off the nasturtiums as it might stress them too much, if they aren’t already stressed. I only took one leaf off each plant.

As a method of getting him to concentrate and eat, it was unsuccessful, but he certainly enjoyed seeing all the things we had made and grown ourselves on his “plate”. We will be doing this again, and if you have little ones maybe you’d like to join in too!

For lots of different themes, pop over to Her Cup Overfloweth and see what other mums have done.


Our gardens

When I was a child, I loved gardening. My parents gave me a small patch to sow my own seeds on when I was quite small – I don’t remember details, but it was before we emigrated when I was 7. After that, I kept houseplants, gradually expanding my collection to a whole table full of Christmas Cacti, normal cacti, cyclamen and various fruit seeds. I even managed to grow a tiny date palm from a date stone. It didn’t live very long; my avocado plant did much better. And I was forever breeding my cyclamen and harvesting the seeds to grow new, tiny plants – so cute. I recently read that cyclamen are really hard to keep, and indeed the ones I’ve had as an adult have all given up the ghost within a year, but back then I must have had a seriously green thumb because they rarely died.

One month ago, we owned two pots of cacti (belonging to The Engineer), some succulent I was given but don’t know the name of, an aging ornamental fig which was losing all its leaves, an Easter cactus which resolutely refused to flower at Easter (or indeed at all) and two small and unambitious money trees. All fairly easy maintenance, as long as you’re happy for them not to do anything much!

When we started teaching Froglet about plants and flowers, I suddenly remembered how much time I used to spend – and enjoy spending – on my plants. Then we started doing up the window boxes, which have been allowed to grow weeds for the past three years, and I enjoyed that. Froglet and I planted seeds given us by my mother and grandmother, and that was great too. How did I come to forget that I used to love gardening?

I have no idea – possibly it happened when we moved to a new house, with less room for plants in my room, right at the time I had my first boyfriend. Boys being more interesting than flowers to a 15 year old, they were all relegated to the conservatory. The Engineer, reading over my shoulder, has just commented “and now plants are more interesting than me”.

Indeed. (No, not really!) I’ve definitely revived the interest now though. As I write, our spare dining table is full of seedlings. Nasturtiums, sunflowers and cress are sprouting alongside various recycled containers housing two avocado pits – one of which is actually starting to grow -, three potato eyes waiting to be planted outside, a birch seed, two unidentified berries from a shrub I thought was pretty, apple and pear pips, kumquat and passionfruit seeds, a mango pit, and three carrot tops which I am vaguely hoping might eventually flower and produce seed (a forlorn hope I know, but it’s worth a try and in the meantime they make pretty plants).

Outside, a large container has just today been planted with old potato eyes. Various seeds and bulbs are producing flowers or shoots, the ants are delighting in the new fuchsia bush and strawberry flowers, and the oregano has really taken to its window box, which it shares with a slightly less enthusiastic marjoram plant. (Incidentally, fried mushrooms are very good with oregano as well as parsley).

Froglet is, I think, slightly bemused by the sudden interest in greenery, but he is enjoying it too. Today he watered all the plants outside (knocking over several of the seedlings in the process), and we’ve got a spray bottle for watering the indoor seedlings.

I have been saying for months how much I wish we had a garden where he could run about outside without my constant supervision. Now I find I wish we had a garden where he could run about while I look after my plants. But gardens are few and far between over here. Maybe one day.

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