My Garden: Plant babies and uninvited guests
Now that we've moved, we finally have a little garden to work with.
Even the backyard, around the pool would be suitable for planting things. In pots but nevertheless.
Our old house had a backyard but it turned out not to be great for anything, since there was hardly any sun on that side. And the rooftop was scorching from the moment the sun came up, until late afternoon so I would have had to do a lot of watering to keep up. Plus a rooftop is not ideal if you want to be able to move things around. Dragging big, soil filled pots down two flights of stairs is not on my favourite-things-to-do list.
We share both the front and back with our neighbour, so each keeps to one side.
She has a lovely seating area up front, and I have pots and raised beds (kind of).
I'd love to have a seating area too but the urge to grow our own food, or at least some of it, wins it from the idea of having luxury seating. We'll get there eventually.
Friends and foes in the garden
Just like most other garden lovers, we have some plant friends, some less desirable plants, and some uninvited guests sometimes.
It started out with a small banana tree that wasn't going to give us anything other than its green leaves. No fruit. It had to go.
My son was an eager volunteer to cut the thing down. Something he did with a determination I rarely see in him. It was almost like an obsession the way he was chopping away at the innocent banana tree, I almost felt sorry for it. Almost.
The leaves had to go first and once he had those all done, he started to chop down the trunk of the tree. However, the last little stump of it didn't budge so we decided it needed to be dug out.
He did the best he could but in the end, even digging didn't make it go away.
It wasn't for lack of determination, that's for sure!
He wasn't about to give up but I told him that if a plant is rooted this strongly, and won't move an inch, we should probably just let it be. It obviously wasn't going anywhere.
Not only was I right but to our big surprise, the thing started to grow brand new leaves!
We've been in this house since February 20th of this year, and this is how much it has grown already!
And not only that but from its root spawned another little baby banana tree.
So now we have two.
Apparently, banana trees need to be cut down, or at least its stem needs to be trimmed, in order to regrow. Now it actually will bare fruit!
The little one is in the way, so it will have to be moved elsewhere.
We won't see any bananas this year but next year is looking good!
In the corner of the house, there's a papaya tree. Another tree I didn't think much of at first.
The leaves turned brown one by one and started falling off the tree, and I just couldn't figure out why. Wherever I searched for information, it would only tell me reasons why leaves fell, like insufficient water, pests, not enough sun. Neither of those things were the case here so it had to be something else. And then, out of the blue, the tree started to produce flowers.
My son and I were talking about it and all of a sudden, this idea came to mind.
Maybe, just maybe, the tree was dropping its leaves to make room for the fruits that would follow the blooming stage. Papaya aren't small fruits so the way the leaves were now, there would be no space for them.
The very next day, I was on a trip for work, when I noticed a row of mature papaya trees, all baring fruit almost ready for picking. It gave me the answer I was looking for:
All of the trees only had leaves on the top of the tree, obviously to protect the fruit from the heat of the sun, but no leaves on the rest of the tree.
As you can probably see, the papaya tree has also grown two baby trees!
And then...last week, finally, the first little papayas! YAY!
Papayas take around five to six months from flowering till ripe fruit for harvest so we have to be a little patient. But it will be worth it.
I've already decided that the first fruit will be taken from the tree while it's still green so I can finally make some sorely missed Thai papaya salad.
I've tried to get green papaya here but people just look at me really funny when I tell them that I want a fruit that's not nearly anywhere close to ripe. 😆 Now, I will have my own!
From friends and foes to downright dangerous
Yes. You read that correctly. Dangerous.
And no, I'm not talking about the little garden snake in the picture above...
Nope. This is something else entirely.
In the corner of one of the beds, a small leafy plant started growing. At first we thought it was a melon plant that had been left behind by the previous tenant who had been asked to leave by the way. Not because he was a terrorist but because he had the habit of using the pool as his bath.
My neighbour didn't feel quite comfortable seeing a hairy old man taking a dive in the pool in his birthday suit every day so he was asked to find different accommodation.
Happy days because it opened the door to this place for us.
Back to the plant though...
The thing grew and grew but as it grew, I noticed that it grew nicely upright, and not like you'd expect from a melon plant: creeping on the ground.
I didn't know what this was but it surely wasn't a melon!
Thanks to Google, we now have the tech to figure out what kind of plant something is from a picture and what we discovered, shocked me to be honest. And I'm not easily shocked!
The latin name for it is Ricinus Communis. Now, for a lot of people, this doesn't mean a thing.
But for me, someone who was obsessed by the series 'Breaking Bad', it rang an enormous alarm bell.
Not the regular kind but one with a huge BANG sound.
The plant is also known as a Ricin plant, or a Castor bean plant.
The castor bean produces Castor oil when pressed but what it leaves behind can be transformed into ricin, one of the most poisonous toxins on earth!
Now, granted, it takes quite a bit for this to become lethal as it needs to be processed. However, the beans alone can do some damage and it's not something I want to experiment with. So it has to go.
It did have me think though. Amazing how one single plant can produce something that's amazing for ones health on one side, while being a powerful weapon on the other. There is NO antidote!
If you ingest too much of it, your body shuts down and you die. That's it!
Which had me wonder who on earth would think it to be a good idea to throw one of those seeds into their garden. But hey, naked guy seemed to be a weird one...
And here she is, in all her glory.
Beautiful but deadly.
Sorry but she's moving out.
Little uninvited Guests
The other day, we were just about to walk to the store, when my kids yelled that there was a snake.
Right next to us!
Lucky for us it was only a little garden snake, and a pretty one at that.
If it was up to me, I wouldn't have had any issues inviting him or her into the garden but I knew that our neighbour would not be so charmed by the little snake so I took the broom and 'chased' it away to the other side of the road. She attacked the broom but you could barely see any teeth.
Too tiny to be harmful.
Unfortunately, later we found her dead on the road, as she didn't go into the grass like I'd suggested but back on the road. Cars and snakes don't go well together.
Shame because I did think she was cute. My neighbour was just happy she didn't enter the yard.
I felt guilty for days.
My teenage daughter had to tell me to stop mourning a snake haha.
Anyway, poor little thing. I hope she gets to slither her way around snake heaven with her buddies.
She was very beautiful though!
Our future plans
I hope to be in this house long enough to get something going.
To be honest, I don't really want to move unless I absolutely have to or buy my own land.
I threw down several seeds but none of those did anything. Strange. So I decided that we'll be trying to grow vertically. That way we can grow more in a smaller space and it's easier to keep pests under control.
We are blessed to live where we live because the weather pretty much makes it possible to grow vegetables year round. So the plan is to grow the usual. Tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, lettuce, beans, strawberries, etc.
I've been wanting to get a small lime tree for ages but haven't found one yet. But I know I will eventually. I'd also like to grow passion fruit but they're hard to come by weirdly enough...
My aloe vera, which I took with me from the old place, is thriving, and I'm hoping to get a few vanilla orchids soon...
It's a plan. I'll keep you updated!