Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – what’s growing in January 2015

After a few days in mid-December with no rain, I thought the rainy period had come to an end.  But then rain resumed, so we’ve had three months of rain and cooler weather.

So all through Christmas it was cool, and thus more Christmassy than usual.

a  grey Christmas

a grey Christmas

The Great Flood of early October eventually killed off all the papaya but one – and the ants and mealy bugs are trying to finish off the last one.

only papaya left after the great flood - and happy plumbago underneath

only papaya left after the great flood – and happy plumbago underneath

mealy bugs

mealy bugs destroying a papaya tree

mealy bugs

mealy bugs

this grasshopper has been eating some of my plants

this grasshopper has been eating some of my plants

I have fought back by putting more papaya seeds into the soil. A few have germinated.

a tiny papaya grown from seed on location

a tiny papaya grown from seed on location – one on the left dying – after snail attack?

a slightly bigger papaya grown from seed on location

a slightly bigger papaya grown from seed on location

a slightly bigger papaya grown from seed on location

a slightly bigger papaya grown from seed on location

It rained almost every day until about the second week of January, when the rain became less and less frequent.  When it hasn’t rained we’ve had glorious sunny and reasonably mild days.  As of the middle of the month it hasn’t rained for a week, and I have had to use town water instead of collected rainwater on the plants for the first time in three months.

great weather

great weather

So, with all the rain the passion fruit, which had decided the fruiting season was over and had stopped producing, reevaluated the situation, started flowering again and produced more passion fruit.  A second crop. There are about 40 green full size passion fruit on the vines waiting to ripen, now.  As a result vines weren’t growing. And now in mid-January, the baby vines are starting to grow as the rainy period appears to be over.  Baby vines which have really done nothing for months are growing tendrils in order to grasp onto something higher and grow up.

one of many passion fruit flowers

one of many passion fruit flowers

one of many passion fruit flowers

one of many passion fruit flowers

some of many passion fruit

some of many passion fruit

Every day now for the last month I have been gradually pruning back the passion fruit vines, then drying the leaves in the sun, and putting the leaves on the garden.  This allows more sun and air in as the vines get thinned, and seems like a good idea.  According to web articles I have read, one should prune back one third – which is more or less what I am doing.  I just have to follow the vines first to ensure I am not pruning anything which has fruit on it. Once I have picked the fruit I can do that part of the vine.

passion fruit seedlings I grew from seed

passion fruit seedlings I grew from seed

passion fruit seedlings I grew from seed - two weeks later

passion fruit seedlings I grew from seed – two weeks later

passion fruit seedlings under attack - snails or grass hopper

passion fruit seedlings in middle of photo under attack – snails or grass hopper

a passion fruit plant I grew from seed last year - it's been dormant for months, but now has tendrils reaching out

a passion fruit plant I grew from seed last year – it’s been dormant for months, but now has tendrils reaching out

Strangely two mock oranges I have grown from seed are now very sick – they had spent some time with a smaller pot of mock orange that wasn’t well.  All the others are very healthy, so I don’t know what is happening.

dying mock orange - why, I don't know

dying mock orange – why, I don’t know

Mock Orange loved the rain and produced lots of fragrant flowers, but not so many seeds thereafter – and the birds come and eat many of them. From memory, around Christmas many mock orange seeds germinated and I could then collect tiny seedlings and repot them as they grew.  This year was cool and wet, and perhaps that’s why this hasn’t happened.

the mock orange loved the rain

the mock orange loved the rain

the mock orange loved the rain

the mock orange loved the rain

the mock orange loved the rain

the mock orange loved the rain

the mock orange loved the rain

the mock orange loved the rain

lime tree - hardly any growth for four years - but a few tiny fruit at last

lime tree – hardly any growth for four years – but a few tiny fruit at last

mango tree across the road - with lots of ripening mangos

mango tree across the road – with lots of ripening mangos

mango tree across the road - in the middle is a squirrel eating a mango

mango tree across the road – in the middle is a squirrel eating a mango

Mostly squirrels are leaving my passion fruit alone, as eating mangos, with their relatively thin skin is easier, I suppose.  But still the passion fruit are attacked sometimes. I always pick the ones that have just started to turn purple, to try to beat the squirrels, but they can tell which are ripe inside better than I can.

squirrel on the roof - it had just attacked one of my passion fruit and I scared it away

squirrel on the roof – it had just attacked one of my passion fruit and I scared it away

blue pea plant grwing well as usual

blue pea flower plant growing well as usual

cana lily

Cana Lily

Pumpkin vines have still been producing tiny pumpkins that just then rot – unless I pick them first and eat them – steamed and then with butter.  However, I notice one pumpkin that is growing towards adult size.  Other baby vines are starting to grow some more and spread.

pumpkin vines are growing

pumpkin vines are growing

the one pumkin so far growing towards full size

the one pumpkin so far growing towards full size

Now I have to use town water again for the plants, as I have used up the rain water supply.

my favourite accessory at the moment - RM5 from Daiso - and it works great

my favourite accessory at the moment – RM5 from Daiso – and it works great

I have put some more passion fruit and mung bean seeds into this pot. Let’s see if they germinate this time.

passion fruit and mung bean seeds, sown mid January

passion fruit and mung bean seeds, sown mid January

And just for fun I am growing a couple of papaya in pots at the moment.  I don’t know what I will do with them when bigger.

a couple of potted papaya

a couple of baby potted papaya

Aargh – chasing the squirrel away from my passion fruit again.

super-squirrel

super-squirrel

And the lovely weather continues.  This is normally the sunniest and hottest time of year.

lovely weather

lovely weather one morning at the Penang Club

 

 

 

 

 

 

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