Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – what’s growing in February2015

Another month of sunshine, which is not a surprise since around Chinese New Year is the hottest time of year.  We had a little rain about three times, including today, but not much rain actually fell.

I put a lot of papaya seeds in the ground. Quite a few papaya came up in pots, where I didn’t really want them, and almost none came up in situ, where I had put seeds, and thus I wanted them. So today I transplanted them from where they’d come up to the back lane.

transplanted papaya

transplanted papaya

one is already falling over.  It died in the end

one is already falling over. It died in the end

papaya

papaya

These papaya I transplanted a few months ago

Then tonight I read that papayas hate being transplanted.  Well, I have done it plenty of times before and they survived and grew, but perhaps it set them back a bit – I don’t know.

What I also read:

  • Sun Light: Grow best in full sun. Papayas love the heat and sunlight.
  • Fertilize: Papayas are heavy feeders and require regular fertilizing. Adding compost is also recommended.
  • Water: Papayas have large soft leaves and evaporate a lot of water in warm weather, so they need above average watering.
  • Soil: Papayas do best in rich soil that is high in organic matter. Make sure your planting location and soil has good drainage to avoid root rot.

See more at: http://www.tropicalfloridagardens.com/2011/06/27/growing-caring-for-papaya-trees/

Since then a lot of seeds I put in germinated, but some of the transplanted papaya died – snails and mealy bugs, mostly were the cause, plus the roots didn’t hold them upright securely enough.

I put some passion fruit seeds in, and snails killed one pronto, but I then protected the other sprouts, and now they are about two or three inches tall.

snails attack passion fruit seedling

snails attack passion fruit seedling

I’ve seen a grasshopper around, and some leaves eaten like the one below.  Fortunately they are the mature plants’ leaves, so it’s no problem.

grasshoppers eat passion fruit vine leaves

grasshoppers eat passion fruit vine leaves

happy hibiscus

happy hibiscus

This rat somehow or other it got itself into this bin and couldn’t escape.  They can carry nasty diseases so it’s not safe to let them stay around.  Around twice a year I have to trap one.

this rat looks cute - somehow or other it got itself into this bin and couldn't escape.

this rat looks cute – somehow or other it got itself into this bin and couldn’t escape.

Squirrels attack a passion fruit once every three days at the moment, so I protect them with these tea envelopes from Daiso.  Mostly it works.

squirrel protection

squirrel protection

I always thought mulch was good.  But it turns out it is hiding snails.  So I removed it.

mulch

mulch before removal

snails

snails under the mulch

A pumpkin actually grew to maturity.

pumpkin

pumpkin

A papaya came up from seed.  The blue pea flower is staying for the moment.

papaya

papaya

I tidied up the concrete garden.

green

green space

The squirrel got this passion fruit.

squirrel attack

squirrel attack

attacked

squirrel attack

After this I harvested almost all remaining passion fruit, except for the ones that felt very light, and thus probably weren’t ready.

harvested

harvested

The lime tree ha never been very successful at fruiting.  I am now getting a few small fruit.

lime

limes

It’s a happy time of year for bougainvillea

bougenvillea

bougainvillea

I moved and repotted a couple of bougainvillea

bougenvillea

bougainvillea

Elsewhere, happy bougainvillea

bougenvillea

bougainnvillea

bougenvillea

bougainvillea

Now I am sundrying leaves for one or two days

leaves

leaves

and then I crunch them up when crispy, and put them into the compost

crunched up

crunched up

growing

growing well and happy with lots of water

this

this is even happier this week

them

them – forgotten their name

Over the past year I have put a lot of mock orange seeds into the soil.  The previous years they have germinated and come up sometime around Christmas or after. Then I could transplant lots of seedlings into small pots, and give them away, or grow them bigger. But this year it hasn’t happened. No little mock orange plants. It’s disappointing.

growing well

mock oranges growing well

I can sometimes see the birds land on this mock orange and eat the ripe seeds

1

bird magnet

mock orange seed

mock orange seed

These passion fruit seedlings which I grew from seed and put into the soil last month are growing really well

2

these passion fruit seedlings which I grew from seed and put into the soil last month are growing really well

I have pruned the passion fruit vines right back.  I probably should have done it before Christmas, as the vines are growing again now, but with all the rain for the last months of the year they were flowing then.

pruning passion fruit

pruning passion fruit

What I am not sure of is if I should prune back to the wood, as below, or leave some green stem and leaves, as above. I did both to see.

pruning passion fruit

pruning passion fruit

plumbago

plumbago

As of last week the rest of the papaya seeds I had put in have come up.

papaya

papaya

blue pea

blue pea doing well as I water daily

blue pea

blue pea will survive without much watering, but are happy with the water

boug

bougainvillea is getting better the longer the hot days continue

boug

the transplanted bougainvillea is doing OK

boug

the other transplanted bougainvillea is surviving

Due to all the rain last year the passion fruit season has been very long.  There are only about three left on the vine, and I notice there is a flower, but it probably won’t produce fruit.

passion fruit

pretty well the last passion fruit of this season

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2 comments

  1. Greetings. I’m growing stuff on hot concrete in Chiang Mai. For the first time this year, have had excellent luck with tomatoes (see link below). All heirloom varieties grown in pots. Taste wonderful. Biggest problem here is the leaf miners. We spray the leaves with a mixture of neem, garlic juice, and etc. to deter those. Otherwise, no pesticides at all.

    A friend in Penang wants some of my tomatoes very much. I would love to send him some, but I think it likely that they would be confiscated by one or another post office at the border. I’d hate that quite a bit! But I hit upon the idea of sending him seeds a few days ago… It is my belief that while it will probably be difficult to grow tomatoes in Penang, it will nonetheless be possible. Just need to pick the coolest months of the year, and then manage heat, deflect too much rainfall, and etc. Among the things I’ve told him is to be sure and start with GOOD potting soil, and not the crap stuff that so many sellers (around Chiang Mai, anyway) try to pass off. In an effort to try and help him, I did a search for “where to buy potting soil penang” this evening. I’m afraid the results are dismal, with the most productive links offered in Oakland, California, and somewhere in the UK!

    Your web pages seem to be routinely offered near the top of the search results, and I’ve read a few of your pages. (Snails: hair clippings and crumbled egg shells around the plants will deter those critters very well. But you probably already know that. Not sure what kind of mealy bug you’re having problems with, however.)

    So if you don’t mind, please allow me to ask: where does one go in Penang to get the very best potting soils? Are good ones sold anywhere, or must one make their own? And since I’m asking, do you have any favorite garden shops that carry a good selection of, or really helpful, fertilizers, insect deterring mixtures, and/or (God forbid) insecticides?

    Again, I’m not in Penang. I’ve been there, but have no idea where to get any good gardening things there. Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

    Ken

    Chiang Mai tomato photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.928187540533980.1073741928.100000282296169&type=1&l=8bc24c63e0

    1. Hi Ken. Thanks for your post. It’s probably also illegal to send seeds, but …

      The coolest months here are from October, and last year through to January was cooler than usual. I haven’t generally had to use any insectide, but we also grow neem, and garlic is easy to get, so we can make it.

      I have bought compost and soil before, but it has come with bugs and weeds, so now I buy small bags of no-nutrition soil from Tesco – RM1.90, and add my own home made compost. I haven’t found nurseries very useful as mostly the people don’t know anything. I’ve had to learn from trial and error. As for fertilizers, I get some again from Tesco, when they are on special. I use nurseries many for decorative plants. But mostly we try to grow everything from seed, or from cuttings.

      I don’t use egg shells at all as they attract rats – I have to catch a rat about twice a year. They can be terribly destructive to seedlings. And they will dig up every egg shell that has been in the soil for even a long time. In the end I had to dig and remove all of them myself, or a rat would come and do it, and destroy everything else.

      Where does your friend live in Penang? If close we could perhaps meet up and talk. I’d really like to grow tomatoes, but have only had very limited success here.

      Your photos on FB look good.

      Best wishes,

      Ian

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