passion fruit

Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – what’s growing in March / April 2018 – (Countdown: 17)

So, what have I learnt after seven years of seaside tropical garden pot gardening?  I would need to read all my blogs on this topic to recall.  Here are a few things, though.

  • So far I haven’t found anyone or anything that can offer good advice.
  • Get some plants from your neighbours if you can – if they grow next door you can probably grow them.
  • The plants that grow quite easily for me in pots and with sea air are:
    • Torch Ginger
    • Pandan
    • Hibiscus
    • Bougainvillea
    • Mock Orange
    • Duranta
    • Lemongrass
    • Lime tree
    • Blue pea
    • Papaya
    • Basil
    • Passion fruit
    • Canna lily
    • Mother-in-law tongue
    • Pumpkin
    • Neem
    • Curry plant
    • Aloe Vera
    • Plumbago
    • Roselle
    • Ginger
    • Tumeric
  • The plants I have had little luck with include:
    • Tomatoes – they grow from the compost, but at best supply one fruit, and then wilt and die. The one tomato is delicious, though.  Packets of seeds I have bought never did any better.
    • Rosemary – we kept plants for quite a whil, but some black bugs kept on attacking it, and it eventually succumbed
    • Root vegetables like carrots, potatoes
  • Some plants are only happy growing at ground level – others don’t mind balconies higher up etc.
  • Some plants seem to follow the northern hemisphere planting seasons
  • Composting works, so you can grow organically
  • Deliberately putting seeds into the compost is a good way to get them to germinate.  Particularly pumpkins and passion fruit.
  • Some plants don’t mind being transplanted, but some do. Papaya are better to seed where you want them to grow, for example.

We expected it to rain while we were away, but it didn’t so some plants suffered a lot and required heavy pruning and a lot of watering to help them recover. One of the lime trees was the most affected, and had to be the most heavily pruned. One basil plant died.  Others have all recovered.

Here are some of our plants:

neem

mini-eggplant

mini-eggplant tree

crepe ginger

lemon grass

kobu lime

rosemary and grape, which grew out of the compost

basil and mother-in-law’s tongue

tomato

aloe vera

plumbago – pruned a lot due to dryness of weather

pandan

I don’t knw the name of this one

papaya

grape vine

various plants in lane

various plants in lane – citrus, mock orange, crepe ginger…

fern

crepe ginger, curry plant…

papaya and citrus

lemon grass

small papaya

Bougainvillea and others

aloe vera

I don’t knw the name of this one, but it’s easy to grow and survies not watering well

hibiscus

lemon grass

I don’t knw the name of this one

Bougainvillea

duranta

Bougainvillea

young crepe ginger

crepe ginger

mostly mock orange

Canna Lily

lime tree

pumpkin vine

mung beans trying to germinate passion fruit

aloe vera

pandan

papaya

papaya

mock orange

lime tree

limes

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Rainy days are here again, with passion fruit ripening

Actually, it’s more like rainy late afternoon or evenings, with long sunny periods until then.

Having said which a few hours ago, it rained this morning briefly, and it’s currently overcast. It feels like the season is changing.

After a short hot and dry period around Chinese New Year it has cooled down and got wetter.  Evenings are cooler than before.

And the passion fruit are finally ripening.  I had more than 60 passion fruit on the vines, and now they are finally ripening.  It used to be the season ended in about November, then the vines were quite dormant until February or March.  So I’d prune during that period.  I did some in February. But I have had to wait until now to finish pruning, once the passion fruit have been picked.

And already the young passion fruit plants have started growing, so it’s really late to prune.

Here are about two days pickings:

Once I have picked the passion fruit I can prune the part of the vines they were growing on.  And then dry the leaves in the sun, and the dried leaves and stems go onto the soil as mulch.

But the pruning is a bit of a race against time, as pumpkin vines are rapidly growing and spreading.  The theory is that the pumpkins will grow and then die off before the passion fruit flower and fruit later in the year.  Already the pumpkin vines have flowers on them.  But once the pumpkins vines spread over the passion fruit vines, it’s hard to prune the passion fruit.

pumpkin vines spreading fast

Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – what’s growing in January/February 2018

The four month cool and wet spell lasted into January, and then at last it warmed up as we approached Chinese New Year.  Thereafter it was hot and rained only occasionally of an evening. I have to water the plants almost every day now.

Canna Lilies happily grow and bloom all year.

this I grew from two cuttings from another crepe ginger – now there are over 10 stems

a young lime tree – some of its first fruit – still small

plumbago seems to be happy in this spot

I normally prune the passion fruit vines at this time of year – dry the cuttings in the sun, and then put on top of the soil to add nutrition back

I had put a lot of pumpkin seeds in the compost, so now in places where I’ve put the compost sometimes pumpkin plants appear. Then I transplant them. This grew from a tiny transplanted plant.

Another pumpkin plant I recently transplanted.

Lots of baby lines on my original lime tree

Over 60 passion fruit are on the vines now

I’m growing several papaya on the roof – today the first flower opened

Aloe Vera like this spot – I should harvest soon. They always have little babies growing nearby so there is always another crop coming

bought from Cold Storage – this plant is struggling

Basil is OK here

Mock Oranges are usually doing well

some of the many passion fruit growing

passion fruit I recently picked – or fell to the floor

these are very easy care – just water occasionally

some more crepe ginger plants

Bougainvillea

Duranta are happy if they have plenty of water

hibiscus

mini-eggplants. Great in soup.

So many mini-eggplants grow on one tree in a big pot

We’re spreading crepe ginger all over the place. So easy to care for and they look great.

One of our pandan collection

The original crepe ginger plant, from which we’ve cultivated about 15 pots

just starting cultivating more crepe ginger plants – it takes a few weeks.

Growing stuff on hot concrete – gardening in tropical Penang – what’s growing in August 2017

It’s rained often on consecutive days, and then not rained also for several days – but overall it’s quite cool and there hasn’t been so much sun.  The plants mostly soldier on.

At the moment what we can eat from the garden are the ginger poker sprouts – nice in salads or desserts; rosemary, basil, passion fruit, limes, mini eggplants, aloe vera, roselle… and I’m hoping for papaya reasonably soon, and lemons sometime. Pandan is growing well here and there, so we’ll be able to do something with that, too.

back garden

papaya growing

tree getting taller

citrus in the sun growing fast

a small papaya has come up – a lot of competition so it is growing slowly

the grape vine survives

the white Bougainvillea is particularly happy

basil

Canna Lily having a bit of a rest

after repotting the citrus is growing a lot on the previously bare lower branches

I left the limes a bit too long on the tree – they are yellow

It’s supposed to be hot, but instead cool and wet – so we have flowers and many unripe fruit

passion fruit flower

I have to pick them green or the squirrels get them

some limes I picked

birdie breakfast

birdie breakfast

birdie breakfast in the compost

birdie breakfast in the compost

birdie breakfast in the compost

the bird comes every day for the open compost container

papaya earlier in the month

papaya in a pot – it won’t fruit, but it’s decoration

plumbago battle on

ginger poker propagation

one of the many ginger poker around our place

duranta

hibiscus

rosemary – after a battle with bugs

we eat the sprouts in salads

and we eat the little eggplants from this plant

the citrus in the sun grow quickly

papaya

the pumpkin vine is growing fast – often where I don’t want it to grow

the bird often leaves leftovers lying around after it’s eaten

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