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

What’s growing in December? The answer – not a lot different to November..

Sadly the flood in early October has now claimed another victim – my only papaya actually producing fruit.  It took two months, but it succumbed.

almost dead

almost dead

roots no longer securing the tree

roots no longer securing the tree

sad death of the only papaya producing fruit

sad death of the only papaya producing fruit

Now only one out of more than 30 papaya survives after the flood.

only remaining papaya tree

only remaining papaya tree

maybe plumbago saved it

maybe plumbago saved it

My guess is that some chemical (s) or herbicide was washed away from its location and killed the papayas.  Did the plumbago somehow save this tree?  Naturally the ants and mealy bugs are trying to kill this one.  I removed the mealy bugs with water and a toothbrush, and then sprayed with garlic spray – that should keep them off for a few days and keep the tree alive.

Do you know about mealy bugs and ants?  Ants carry the mealy bugs onto and up plants and put them where the mealy bugs will have food – the nice juicy sap of plants.  And then the ants eat the sweet excretions of the mealy bugs.  But if you do nothing, the mealy bugs generally kill the plants. So you want to stop ants in the first place, and then remove any mealy bugs if they get through your line of defence.  I use ant poison near the plants, but this also washes away, and then the ants get through.

The garlic spray is crushed garlic, mineral turpentine and water.  1 litre of water, 5 whole garlic bulbs, and one tablespoon of turps.  That’s a lot of garlic to crush, so soak garlic for one hour in water to make it easy to peel. Another recipe is shown at the end – it’s easier as there is less garlic to peel.

under attack by mealy bugs

under attack by mealy bugs

I put papaya seeds directly into the soil.  They usually germinate easily.  But I did this last month and I saw them growing nicely – and then the snails ate them all.  This month I am using snail bait – which is an innocent chemical I think – and the little ones are growing.

growing new papaya

growing new papaya – with snail bait and dead snails

As an aside, I went to Ace Hardware to buy snail bait the other day – and the price is now double when I last bought it a few months ago.  I don’t know who doubled the price – the manufacturer or the store.

growing new papaya

growing new papaya

growing new papaya

growing new papaya

growing new papaya

growing new papaya

Papaya seeds are really easy to use – just take out of the papaya fruit and put directly into the soil.  Washing the seeds, taking off the protective skin of the seeds etc. doesn’t seem to be at all necessary.  But they don’t seem to produce fruit unless in the soil – in pots they look nice and will flower, but that seems to be it – at least for me.  Of course, you should grow several trees, as then chances are you’ll have one male – and you need a male for the flowers to be pollinated.

Anyway, the blue flower pea is growing well, as usual. I just throw the seeds where I want them and some comes up.

blue pea always seems to grow well

blue pea always seems to grow well

As mentioned elsewhere, the council has done a huge amount of fogging in our area to kill mosquitos.

fogging

fogging

No full size pumpkins are growing at the moment.  I get flowers, which the bees love.

pumpkin flower - the bees love them

pumpkin flower – the bees love them – there’s a bee in the middle of the photo

Then I get little pumpkins, but they just drop off if I leave them – none grow big.  So instead I pick them and cook them.

little pumpkin

little pumpkin

Until about three days ago we’ve had rain almost every day or night for two months, and it’s been cooler.  We’ve had a huge number of beautiful sunny days, with the rain usually falling in the later afternoon or night.  The passion fruit are happy about this.

passion fruit

passion fruit

But the main crop of passion fruit is over, and I only get a fruit now every few days.

passion fruit

passion fruit

As mentioned in earlier blogs, some animal – squirrel or rat I suppose – occasionally attacks a passion fruit and gets through its thick skin.  Usually it’s knocked to the ground as a result.  But in this case not, and a gecko is eating the fruit that’s left.

passion fruit was attacked

passion fruit was attacked

passion fruit being eaten by gecko

passion fruit being eaten by gecko

In the last week the passion fruit vines have been shedding lots of leaves – most of them green leaves.  I am thinking that perhaps I should prune the vines.  Anyway, the leaves don’t compost well,  but a day in the sun on some black plastic dries them out nicely.

passion fruit leaves

passion fruit leaves

And then I just put them directly onto the garden as mulch.

passion fruit leaves on garden

passion fruit leaves on garden

Tiny snails attack the leaves that are trailing on the ground.  So these smaller young passion fruit plants are growing more slowly as a result.  I try to lift the vines up so the snails can’t get the leaves.

21-2014-12-13 11.44.19 (Copy)

Passion fruit seeds germinated and growing.

baby passion fruit

baby passion fruit

And three weeks later they are bigger.  Why the other two pots’ seeds didn’t germinate I don’t know.  Not even one seed.

baby passion fruit a couple of weeks later

baby passion fruit a couple of weeks later

Mrs Tropical Expat’s hibiscus cuttings are growing.

hibiscus cuttings

hibiscus cuttings

hibiscus cuttings

hibiscus cuttings

And finally, there are some lime tree babies growing – they just grew up near the lime tree and we repotted.

assosrted

assorted

Garlic Oil Spray is a great, safe insect repellent. Simply put three to four cloves of minced garlic into two teaspoons of mineral oil. Let the mixture sit overnight, and then strain the garlic out of the oil. Add the oil to one pint of water, and add a teaspoon of biodegradable dish soap. Store in a bottle or jar, and dilute the mixture when you use it by adding two tablespoons of your garlic oil mixture to one pint of water.

That’s it for this month.

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