Aloe Vera and other succulents

I have a modest collection of succulents, including some thriving aloe vera from Freya and Brian’s garden in Stanthporpe. They’re so easy to grow and take no fuss at all.

Aloe vera is an essential plant for any herb garden, as it’s just so easy to grow. You just basically chuck a bit in a pot and pop it in a sunny spot. And if I ever have the poor luck of pulling something out of the hot oven anytime soon, I’m almost guaranteed of burning my hand, so a little aloe vera can help. Although I haven’t had a chance to try this out yet, as David likes to do all the cooking at the moment, which is just great of course! Apparently you can break a leaf off and use the clear juice from inside to rub on the burn to give relief. This plant is the major ingredient in the aloe vera gels I used when I got sunburnt when I lived in the territory. You know, back in the days when I didn’t have a vitamin D deficiency!

This jade money plant is very special. It was one of three plants left by my grandmother, one went home with my mum, one with my aunty and I got the third. I think my mum’s plant has been eaten by her pet peacocks! I haven’t done anything to this plant, just the occasional light fertiliser, and it prefers full sun. These plants are considered to be lucky for prosperity, due to the shape of the leaves, which is said to resemble coins and money.

I’m not sure if a ponytail fern is technically a ‘succulent’, I don’t think it is, but I keep it in the same area because it prefers the same conditions – full sun and not too much water or fertiliser.¬† I used to have a big ponytail plant in Darwin which I bought as a tiny plant in 1990, and carted it around for nearly 15 years so it grew quite big. In the mess that became my life when I left, I think my ponytail plant ended up in the garden of my friend’s house which she sold during that period of time. This plant I have now is a special consolation, it’s a pair bound together and they have actually produced an offspring which now has it’s own pot.

The other succulents I have are plants that have kind of ‘migrated’ to our potted garden, and thrived, most coming from Dave’s mum’s garden. These plants are very hardy, and other than the aloe vera and the jade money plant, I don’t even know what they are! They seem very prolific too, taking to a new spot without any fuss at all. Sometimes, I simply put cuttings¬† and shove it in a pot with the other succulents, not even bothering to plant it in, and it still takes! Our other plants which need more care have decided they would not grow in pots that are too dry and hot with too much sun, so I have shoved some of these succulent cuttings in there to fill the fallow spot!

I am also trying some small cuttings of these in two bonsai pots I have, and they seem to be going well. I planted a tiny piece of jade money plant that broke off last year into the green bonsai pot, and it’s slowly growing and will make an attractive bonsai plant. I will have to learn more about repotting bonsai at some point, as the roots will become bound. The root ball will need pruning at some point, hopefully later rather than sooner!

If anyone knows any common names for these other plants, please let me know! These cosmetic plants I tolerate in our potted herb garden, only because they are so very easy to grow, take no fuss at all and fill empty fallow spots where other plants won’t grow.

Advertisements

Colourful Baby Beanies with picot edges

I made the pattern up for these beanies, because I felt like making something cute and quick!

The pattern is based loosely on the Lincraft one I used for the other beanies I’ve made, but this time I left a space after every increase. I prefer to do this now, so I don’t have to count when to increase. Either leaving a space like in these beanies, or a ridge with a post stitch, takes away the need to count every single stitch, this way making them is more fun.

These beanies are shorter than the other beanies I’ve made, as I skipped the last three rows that would have gotten turned up. Then, for a flourish, I added a row of simple picot to make it pretty. And I don’t think these are too pretty for a boy, although I just couldn’t help myself but to make a pink one! I guess I might meet someone with a girl who might like it, or I can donate it to the hospital. All the colours except the pink one are pure Australian merino wool which I bought from Lincraft. The pink wool is some really soft, silky yarn my mum gave me ages ago and we’re not sure what the blend is as it doesn’t have any labels. Each beanie takes about an hour or so to make, and I used 4mm or 4.5mm hooks.

I really should stop making these beanies, in case they don’t fit a real baby, I’ll never really know for sure until I have a baby to fit one on! That’s why I’ve made these in slightly different sizes, hopefully one will get worn!

Simple Spiral White Doily

I do really like this simple spiral pattern, and it’s very easy to memorise for sitting in front of the tv in the evenings.

I’ve been working on this doily for quite a while, and simply stopped when I got to the end of the roll of fine cotton. I think this was one of the many rolls of fine cotton my mum has given me. I used my 1.75mm steel hook which was nice to work with and not too small for my eyes when I wear my glasses. I didn’t follow a pattern, it’s just the same as my blue baby rug, which I’m still working on. I guessed what that pattern was by looking at a picture on crochetspot, although mine is a bit different. It really isn’t hard, you just increase a stitch once every gap of which there is about a dozen per round.

When I finished this it was round and the edges were curled up, so it needed blocking. I simply wet it under warm running water and pat dry with a towel. Then I lay it on my piece of white cardboard that I use for blocking and pinned it out, stretching it into a star shape.

I think I’ll just use this as a doily somewhere? Or maybe I’ll add some beads to the edge and use it as a jug cover – I’m not sure yet!

Our Potted Herb Garden, Spring 2010 Update

My spring update for our potted garden is a bit late, as summer feels like it’s already here! Here I like to keep a note of what the garden is doing, what’s flowering now and how it went over the winter. This information is specific to where we live, on the mid-east coast of Australia in Brisbane.

What didn’t last the winter? Well, we have decided that as a potted garden, we shall only grow that which wants to be grown and will not fuss over ‘sooky’ plants anymore! The rosella we picked up for $1 died after one crop, as good as it was, we got just one jar of jam out of it! We have also decided to give up on tomatoes. For all we have heard about how easy they are, we have not found that. It may well be they just need too much fertiliser to make the crop worthwhile. This is why we’ve decided to not bother with most fruit and vegetables, and to concentrate mostly on herbs. Herbs have given us the most success, are easier and cheaper to grow, are more suited to a potted garden and give us the most joy. Also, the cost of growing herbs is much better than buying them fresh from the shops, which can be expensive.

BASIL
I was expecting the sweet basil to die right back, but it now has some young shoots at the base, so after some pruning, it looks like we will get another season out of it. I have now three pots of all-year-round basil including 2 large bushes, which all seem happy and look to last. Although the eldest is showing signs of age with smaller leaves, I do still remove all the flowers to see what it will do, and these flowers are still very fragrant and are used in our cooking.

CHILLIES
Most chillies in our potted garden seem very happy, returning a good crop even in the smallest of pots. We use the red fruits in our cooking, well that is, David does! He makes a most excellent chilli jam with it. A few of the smaller seedlings did die over the winter, it may have been due to where we had them. I’ve moved them near the rosemary and lavender, as these are good companion plants because their scent confuses pests. The chillies like full sun and don’t like to sit in water. We are hoping to try capsicums this season, as they are related to chillies so we should (hopefully) have more success with those than with the tomatoes.

ROSEMARY
Our second rosemary plant had a case of white mould just like the 1st plant did last winter, so I treated it the same way by rubbing off as much white as I could and made sure it was getting full sun. It’s now looking happier, I’ve also staked it to stand more upright, and I’ve planted a 3rd shoot for hopefully another bush. Our eldest rosemary plant is looking much happier this year, I’ve been pruning it into shape nicely, and it’s giving us a good crop for kitchen herbs.

POTTED DWARF LIME TREE
The lime tree had some yellowing of leaves at the base which turned out to be a vitamin deficiency so we treated with extra fertiliser. Also, we were more vigilant with making sure excess water is tipped out of the base, as citrus hate to have their roots sitting in water. We did some minor top dressing this spring, gently removing as much soil from the top as we could and replacing with some fresh potting mix. The roots do look quite bound, so we will have to prune the root ball next winter, which I am very nervous about. When the tree was up against the fence a whole section of leaves went strangely missing. I guessed it was a rodent nibbling on it so moved it away from the fence and we haven’t noticed any more mysteriously missing leaves.¬† At the moment, the lime tree is flowering, and it also has some tiny fruits developing. To keep the tree happy during this fruiting we really need to maintain the fertiliser, and watch the water. We pull it under the cover when it rains so it doesn’t get too much, and pop it back out into the sun. This seems to keep him happy, at least for now. Last season we got just 3 fruit of it, we’re hoping we get a bit more this season.

CHIVES
The chives seeded late last summer, so I collected them and planted them out in early spring. One of the older pots also got pulled open and re-potted in spring. The chives do very well in the sun, those in smaller pots need more water. David really likes to trim a bit off for his cooking, they go especially well in his dumplings and dampers, and because we have a fair bit now, he can chop a bunch off without any worry.

ROCKET
Last summer we bought one punnet of rocket, which had 6 individual plants. These got planted, and provided us with a very modest crop in the summer. It was so very pleasant to have fresh salad leaves on our sandwiches, we only wished we had more. Thankfully they all seeded late in summer and into the winter, so I diligently collected the seeds. About 3 weeks ago we planted about half of our stash of seeds in a new, large rectangle planter box. We couldn’t believe our eyes when within 3 days the shoots started to appear! The weather had been humid, warm and wet. Now we are very hopeful to have a more substantial rocket crop for salads this summer!

PUMPKIN
With several small pots fallow due to the plants that didn’t last the winter, we popped some pumpkin, watermelon and capsicum seeds in to see what would happen. So far the only thing that has appeared is this gainly and enthusiastic young pumpkin! Like the rocket, this handsome specimen appeared within the week. We are thinking we might be game enough to just chuck him in the ground, middle of the courtyard. What else can we do with a pumpkin? He needs to grow across the ground, doesn’t he?

MINT
The mints spent the winter out in the garden sun, but when the heat returned we popped them back in the shade. Since being moved to their summer spots, the mint has perked up, as has the lemon balm and peppermint. We just have to keep the water up on these and they will be happy there.

PARSLEY
I thought the parsley would flower and die off, but it hasn’t. It’s just bubbling along not doing much at all. I still have 3 pots of that and it doesn’t seem to have changed.

OREGANO AND MARJORAM
I pruned these when they got too big for the small pots I have them in, and they look quite attractive. I wash and dry, then de-stem the cuttings for our kitchen. They prefer sun, so I put one of the oregano plants in a pot we had hanging on our fence, but it was too dry, the pot didn’t hold enough moisture and the plant died. These might prefer sun, but they also need regular water, especially if they are in small pots that dry out. I’ve since started again with that pot, emptying it and lining it with a plastic bag. Then I chucked in some cuttings of the hardy cosmetic succulents that have ended up here from David’s mother’s garden. They can try their luck in that pot as nothing else likes to grow there!

LAVENDER
I’m at a bit of a loss as to how harshly to prune my lavender bush. I pruned it too hard last summer and didn’t get much flowering, so left it and now it’s been flowering fairly steadily for several months. But it’s getting quite big and hanging down below the pot and leaning over in what appears to be a very uncomfortable position! I’m waiting for it to stop flowering so I can prune it back. None of the cuttings I’ve tried to plant have taken. That’s a shame as I’d prefer to have a backup plant or two, as I just love having lavender in my garden!

CHAMOMILE
This is one very lucky plant indeed. When we got it last summer, it was part of a punnet of 4 which included the peppermint which was what I really wanted, and the chamomile was looking very droopy and sad. I had a spare pot left over at the end so gave it a chance and popped it in that. It’s now a year old, and has been in a sorry state. It’s had a case of persistent white mealy bugs, well that’s what I think they are anyway. But it didn’t die and seemed stunted, it’s stems growing in twisted bunches curling back upon itself. David has been occasionally spraying it with confidor, and just recently it decided it should perk up, which was a surprise! And now at last, the plant is showing it’s first flowers on a long normal looking stem, after having a good old boohoo for 12 months! It’s lucky, because we had decided not to fuss over high-maintenance plants, so we shall see how this one goes. Maybe I will be able to make my own chamomile tea afterall!!

Three Small Things – coaster, ornament, beanie

<<< Here is a quick spiral coaster I made in pink following the coaster pattern at crochetspot. This coaster is currently under our water bottle at our pcs to soak up any condensation.

>>> After a discussion at crochetspot about the first thing you ever made, I remembered these things I used to make as a child. I don’t have any of the originals left, so made this one recently. When my mum taught me how to crochet, she first taught me how to chain, then how to crochet into a circle. I have a memory of continuing the first round for as long as I could fit the hook into the centre, making the stitches over and over on top of each other, as I didn’t know how to start the next round! I didn’t know what else to do with them at the time, so I made a chain handle and decided they should be Barbie doll handbags! Now this one is hanging off my pc with the purple premmie booties I made!

<<< After spending a couple of hours window shopping for babies things on the weekend, I was inspired to whip up this little beanie while I recovered on the couch! It was amazing that I had the EXACT amount of yarn left for this, which was great as I wanted to use it all up. This was the last of the arcylic baby yarn from Lincraft. I used the lincraft pattern and a 4.5mm hook. This is the same pattern as my green and orange baby beanie and my purple and white baby beanie, but this one is the bigger size for a 6 month old, as my baby is due in summer and should be in winter clothes by then.

Crochet Motifs in White

Here are some more motifs I made using patterns in Jan Eaton’s ‘crochet basics’ book that I borrowed from the library and had to return last week. It such a good book, I might have to borrow it again!

  • 3 Lacey squares, on pages 68-69
  • 3 simple shapes, triangle on page 76, wheel hexagon 74, flower hexagon page 75

Like my other motifs and false starts, these will go in my sample bag. I wonder if I’ll be able to sew them altogether one day to make a big rug? Lol, not sure that will work with the lacey squares … hahaha

Three Small Things – coaster, dishcloth, flower

These are three small things I’ve made recently using patterns from Rachel’s Crochetspot. Needless to say, this is one of my favourite crochet websites for free patterns and crochet related discussions.

<<< This drink coaster is proving to be handy, I’m using it by my pc to sit my bottles of water on. This was with a 4mm hook and my thickest cotton, it’s great for soaking up the condensation on my drinks. The pattern for this coaster is at Crochetspot.

>>> I haven’t made a crochet dishcloth before, so I started with this small one to test it out. It’s about the size of a hand’s palm, we’ve started trialling it in the kitchen, and so far so good. I made this basket-weave dishcloth with a 3.5mm hook and some thick aqua coloured cotton my mum gave me for my birthday. The pattern for the basket-weave stitch is at Crochetspot.

<<< I had a go at this small flower from Crochetspot for fun. This was with a small hook and fine cotton and is currently hanging from my pc with the my purple premmie booties.

A big thankyou to Rachel and her team at Crochetspot for these patterns!

Next Newer Entries