passion fruit

Penang passion fruit picking

You can buy passion fruit in Penang.  You rarely see them in supermarkets, but more often in (wet) markets. However I grow my own.

I have quite a few vines – it’s impossible to count how many as they are kind of mixed up, and some may be dead, but their stems are used by other passion fruit vines to climb on.  Every year I germinate some seeds and plant several vines – or quite often the seedlings grow up in pots of other plants – as the seeds were in the compost  given to those plants, and thus they have germinated.

Those seeds in the compost weren’t there by chance. When I eat passion fruit I often save a few seeds to put in the compost.  If I find really big passion fruit in the markets I’ll buy some, and if they are tasty, or if ones I have grown at home are particularly nice, I’ll save some of the seeds and germinate them.  Either way, each year I put in some seedlings, as the vines only last for a few years before they die.  So some vines are descendents of previous vines, and some are new ones, from passion fruit from the markets.   The ones that die off always have replacements at different stages of growth.

To germinate the seeds I just wash any pulp off them and dry them.  Then leave them until around February.  That’s around when passion fruit starts to grow for the year.  In February or March I plant the seeds shallowly in some soil with some nutrition in a trough or pots, and put in some legume seeds – usually mung beans.  The legume seeds increase the germination rate from about 5% to maybe 80%.  Birds will watch me put the seeds in and come and eat some, but most will remain.  Most of the seeds will germinate. And when the seedlings are a few inches high I will replant the strongest ones.  They will grow well in a pot, but I’ve never got fruit from potted passion fruit.  You need to have them in a reasonable expanse 0f soil, or in the ground.

The growing season is from around February – March usually, but in the first year you probably won’t get any fruit from the new vines.  Perhaps in May and onwards they will flower and then later fruit.  And they will continue to do this until around October / November or so most years.  But one year the weather was such that they had a second spurt of growth and fruiting until February.  Usually around Christmas I prune them, but not as far back as the hard wood, leaving some green.  I’m not sure if that’s the best way, but it seems to work for me.

All through the year they lose leaves, and I dry them in the sun and when crunchy, scrunch them up into little pieces and put in other pots or on the passion fruit garden.  And after pruning I do the same, but it is a much bigger operation as there is so much foliage.

 

today’s passion fruit picking

I used to be able to wait until the passion fruit were ripe to pick them, but the last couple of years squirrels attacked more than half of them – I didn’t mind the occasional loss as everything has to eat – but they often just eat a little and waste the rest and all I can do with the rest is compost it.  We tried lots of ways to stop the squirrels, but nothing was particularly effective. So now I have to pick them green, once they feel heavy with fruit inside, and ripen them – which can be done by moistening them, putting them in a plastic bag, and burying this in compost.  Squirrels can tell better than me when they are ripe, so feeling the weight is the best I can do to tell if they are ready to ripen.  I just check sometimes to see progress, and when ripe bring them inside until I am ready to eat them.  This way I get to keep pretty well 100% of the fruit – only the hidden ones that I didn’t see and which ripened on the vine are squirrel food.

Today I picked ten passion fruit, last week the same number, and I can see at least 30 that are still on the vine, but not yet heavy enough with fruit inside. There are a few flowers too, from which we’ll later get fruit.  I see the bees buzzing around – other plants attract them too, so there are usually bees.  The bees get the nectar, the birds get some seeds and a second chance by dining off the compost when it’s open, and we get the fruit.  Now everything is happy except the squirrels.

Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – what’s growing in June 2016

At the beginning of June it was raining quite frequently – at least once every couple of days.  But for the last couple of weeks it has only rarely rained.

A week ago I picked the last of the pumpkins from the present pumpkin vines, making for a total of almost 30 pumpkins this season.  So I still have enough pumpkins to last several more weeks. However, several small pumpkin plants have started growing out of the compost I put on the garden.  We’ll see if I get more.

The passion fruit vines have finished their hiatus that started around February this year and have started to grow again – particularly the ones that grew out of the compost and the seeds I germinated.  I usually keep some seeds of the best passion fruits and also put a few seeds in the compost just in case they come up sometime.

We had bought two grape vines. We put them in different locations.  One thrived, the other didn’t do so well, so we moved it, but wherever we put it, it wasn’t happy.  It died this week.  Unfortunately the remaining moringa tree seedling also died.  It was thriving until something bit its top off. I moved it, and it sprouted some more shoots, but then it was attacked again by something, and it didn’t survive.  A similar problem happened with a tomato plant and it’s now unhealthy.  Until now I have had no success with tomatoes here.

Otherwise it’s going well.  Pumpkin season may, or may not, be over, but passion fruit season is coming.

small mock orange are growing happily

small mock orange are growing happily

 

lime tree is slowly growing limes

lime tree is slowly growing limes

 

passion fruit seeds have germinated

passion fruit seeds have germinated

 

Passion fruit that germinated earlier this year are growing tendrils and starting to climb

Passion fruit that germinated earlier this year are growing tendrils and starting to climb

 

pumkin plants are growing from seeds in the compost I put on the garden. Also, the garlic I planted is now unhealthy - up till this week it was growing well; something chopped the top off the tomato plant and now it's dying

pumpkin plants are growing from seeds in the compost I put on the garden. Also, the garlic I planted is now unhealthy – up till this week it was growing well; something chopped the top off the tomato plant and now it’s dying

 

another young pumpkin plant is spreading

another young pumpkin plant is spreading

 

in another spot the tomato plant is healthy, as is the garlic

in another spot the tomato plant is healthy, as is the garlic

 

plumbago sometimes dies off a bit, but after pruning comes back

plumbago sometimes dies off a bit, but after pruning comes back

 

citrus trees like this spot

citrus trees like this spot

 

papaya in a pot - for decoration

papaya in a pot – for decoration.  I  have some water for watering. I don’t want mosquitoes so I use it quickly then dry the buckets in the sun.

 

lemongrass and hibiscus

lemongrass and hibiscus

 

tumeric plant and flower

turmeric plant and flower

 

ougainvillea

Bougainvillea

 

duranta - a thirsty plant

duranta – a thirsty plant

 

some herbs

some herbs

 

aloe vera - we drink its juice in the morning

aloe vera – we drink its juice in the morning

 

rosemary

rosemary

 

Jpeg

crepe ginger plant has grown a lot

http://www.jaycjayc.com/costus-woodsonii-red-button-ginger/

one grape vine dies - it didn't like its location, and moving it didn't help. The other is very happy in this spot

one grape-vine died – it didn’t like its location, and moving it didn’t help. The other is very happy in this spot

 

herb

basil

 

mother-in-law's-tongue

mother-in-law’s-tongue

 

Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – what’s growing in March 2016

It’s hot and dry.  It has only rained briefly once since I last put fingers to keyboard on this topic.

hot and dry

hot and dry

 

papaya trees dying one by one

papaya trees dying one by one

I don’t know why, but every month or so another papaya tree dies.  In a few more months at this rate there will be none remaining.

I need to water the plants every day.  And they are mostly doing well.

baby lime

baby lime

 

lime tree is flowering a little

lime tree is flowering a little and fruit growing

 

passionfruit seedling

Passion fruit seedling.  Something seems to be eating the lower leaves.  Luckily it is not eating the higher new shoots and new leaves can develop.

I also put some passion fruit seeds into this pot, along with some mung bean seeds, which encourages the passion fruit seeds.  We’ll see if they germinate.

passion fruit seeds

passion fruit seeds

 

mock orange baby leaves

mock orange baby leaves

 

mock orange baby leaves

mock orange baby leaves

Until early March I was getting about two tiny pumpkins a day – they tasted like courgettes or zucchini.  Now they are not appearing, and instead five pumpkins are growing to full size.

baby pumpkin

baby pumpkin with full size pumpkin growing above

 

another type of pumpkin

another type of pumpkin – about 20 cm across now

 

pumpkins growing towards full size

pumpkins growing towards full size

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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

A short update on what is happening in the garden this month:

The passionfruit plants I germinated many months ago, and which grew to tiny seedlings – and then stayed tiny – are now starting to grow.

passion fruit seedling

passion fruit seedling

The mature vines are producing the occasional fruit.

passion fruit

passion fruit

Mock Orange are flowering and producing seeds, as normal, although mostly the birds get them before I get a chance.

mock orange seeds

mock orange seeds

However, the plants are only growing slowly, and none of the seeds are germinating.  Their growth spurt seems to be around the end and beginning of the year.

mock orange seedling

mock orange seedlings

mock orange flowers

mock orange flowers on a larger plant

The pumpkin are dying down now, but some new pumpkin seedlings have appeared.

pumpkin seedling

pumpkin seedling

The tomato plants are growing, and have flowers, but I have yet to see any fruit grow.  Growing tomatoes here is tough.

tomato plant

tomato plant

And the Cana Lilies flower sometimes…

cana lily

cana lily