Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – what’s growing in November

This month has seen a bumper crop of passion fruit – it’s the peak of the harvest.  Some days I have picked 15 passion fruit, and yet at most I would eat two per day, with mango and cream for breakfast.  I’ll probably put most of them in the freezer as is.  Soon the harvest will dwindle.

one day's harvest of passion fruit

one day’s harvest of passion fruit

The small passion fruit vines are still growing slowly.  And I have pruned much of the deadwood from the older vines.

2014-11-15 10.11.33 (Copy)

I pick passion fruit when they start to ripen – squirrels occasionally attack fully ripened fruit

And a few days ago I put some passion fruit seeds into some pots in order to germinate them.  Together I put mung beans, as the germination rate if you sow the seeds with legumes increases exponentially. Usually the mung beans will germinate first and grow, and then later the passion fruit seedlings come up.  But so far nothing has happened.

one of several tubs with passion fruit seeds and mung beans seeds

one of several tubs with passion fruit seeds and mung beans seeds

The next day – mung beans are starting to sprout.

seeds germinating

the first seeds germinating

The pumpkin vines are just growing, flowering, and producing tiny pumpkins, which then shrivel and die. I could pick them and eat them – they taste like courgettes – but I live in hope that a few will grow into full size pumpkins.  Again I have pruned the dead parts of the pumpkin vines.

mini pumpkins

mini pumpkin

So now the garden has a lot of prunings as mulch.

Mock orange are happy as ever with all the rain we’ve been getting, and I have collected quite a lot of seeds, although this week there have been very few. I have been repotting some of the seedlings into larger pots.

from these smaller pots...

from these smaller pots… these larger pots

…to these larger pots

And I repotted the Dutanta to a plastic pot as they are thristy plants and in the ceramic pots they dry out too easily.  Bees love these, by the way.

from a ceramic pot to a plastic pot

moved Dutantas from ceramic pots to plastic pots

And the plumbago are also happy with the rain. The Cana lilies are having a quiet time at the moment.



Roselle are still producing a lot of flowers.  We’ve bought a few more hibiscus.  But there is a caterpillar that eats the leaves.

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this one eats hibiscus leaves

The bad news is that after the flood in early October almost all of the papaya trees got sick, and have died.  I don’t know why – the bad haze at the time, or some toxic overflow from a neighbour that reached them because of the extraordinary flood.  I suspect the latter.  So about 30 trees – from middle size to tiny, have died.

dead papaya trees

dead papaya trees

The only producing tree does not look like it will survive – leaving just one quite small tree still looking healthy.

the only remaining healthy papaya tree

the only remaining healthy papaya tree

And the mealy bugs have attacked this tree, so I am fighting back with minced garlic around the trunk, and garlic spray on the leaves.

mealy bug attack - left alone they will kill the tree

mealy bug attack – left alone they will kill the tree

The soil the trees were growing in looks quite fertile, with worms living in it, so I have put some more seeds in, but it means waiting at least another year to get back to the stage to which the former trees had grown.  I hope the soil is not toxic, and any residues will have been washed away.

Finally, we’ve had high winds a couple of times, and a couple of the larger pot plants have blown over, but nothing, including the plants, was damaged, and they were easily righted. And I have tied up a couple of plants so it won’t happen again.

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mock orange was blown over – but no damage



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