Sunday, August 29, 2010

My recent spending spree at the local nurseries!

I usually get gardening fever early in the spring. But this year is a little different. In the middle of 95 degree summer days, I am absolutely hooked on being out in the garden almost every day. Here are just some pictures of plants that I have purchased recently. 

two lemonquat trees "Lemon Drops". these are a cross between a lemon and a kumquat. They will have both small and full sized lemons. look carefully for the three fruit on the tree. I bought this at HDepot of all places. A rare find. I was thrilled when I saw these, I had been looking all over for a lemonquat.

another great find. This is from Lowe's. It's a tough evergreen gardenia called "Heaven Scent". The single blooms are very fragrant, and the leaves resemble boxwood, which I plan to use it for a boxwood-like hedge. the flowers can be steeped in hot water to make a tea resembling jasmine tea, but with a much fresher taste. The label on the plant says it makes a great cut flower.

And here are the tropicals. I just bought this Rollinia at JRN's nursery two days ago. It's about 5 ft, including height of the 3 gal pot. It bears an alien looking fruit, but many people say it has a fantastic taste. We shall see! It's related to the annona's, which I love. It was the last tree left at the nursery, which signalled that it was waiting just for me. I'm still debating whether or not to plant my tropicals in the ground or keep them in pots for at least one winter. 

This is my new sugar apple. The label says "Na" vietnam. I don't know whether or not that's the name of the variety, I just found out that in vietnam some people call all annona's "Na". So this is what my mom named me after! (it's my family nickname).  I noticed the older leaves are a bit sensitive to hot sun (west exposure), but the new growth seems to adapt very well.

This is a grafted, unnamed Avocado I "ran into" at Home Depot recently. Those new leaves were just little buds when I bought it just 2 weeks ago. Very hot afternoon sun, we're talking 100+ degree heat indexes, no damage whatsoever.

Sapote "Makok" 3gal. There were some 7 gallon trees with buds and FRUIT, but unfortunately for me, they were twice the price of the 3 gallons. I plan to buy 2 more varities of sapotes, so I had to settle for the smaller pot. By spring next year, this one should be loaded with blooms. On my wishlist is the Hasya and Alano.

Wax Jambu, "shrinark red". ("Man" in vietnamese with various accent marks, pronounced "mung"). I LOVE the taste of this fruit, though some people say it is bland. It is very subtle, but very distinct. Some say it can take some frost, others say it is ultra-tropical.  I had a 7 foot seedling that died earlier this year. I will play it safe this time around and keep it indoors in the winter. The leaves of this wax jambu smells just like the fruit. I tried making a tea from some fresh leaves, and the taste was definitely there. 

Longan seedlings update

Here's that tiny longan plant, with newly developed leaves. It has grown fast. I now have 8 shoots coming up.

day 3 (from potting up)

week 1 (day 7). leaves on the largest seedling

week 1. I now have 14 seedling shoots, 4 more to go. 


Thursday, August 26, 2010

My order is here! from Edible

Here is a small order from They are a very interesting nursery, a selection of all kinds of random edible plants, even a few tropicals.

Left to right:  4" Jaboticaba, 4" passion fruit incarnata, Japanese flowering Ume Apricot 4", and 3 x asparagus Jersey Knight 2.5"

Overall I am extremely pleased with my order. It was well packed, and shipping cost is the cheapest I have ever seen online. The 4" pots are more like 5".

Passiflora incarnata is one of the hardiest fruiting passifloras. This one cost like $8, it will grow rampant. Jersey Knight asparagus will be used in the flowering border, cost was like a dollar! I bought them in small pots on purpose. Have you tried digging holes large enough for 2 year roots?  And the Ume, i'm not sure what i'll do with's a zone 7 plant, and I am in zone 8-9. Ume plums (apricots) are used for pickling. The jaboticaba....bonsai maybe....or jaboticaba hedge? I'll be making a second order soon, this place ships year round.

Beginning of a longan forest!

I planted about 25 longan seeds. About 22 of them sprouted within a week. The temperature was around 95 F, and the area where i planted them was under the water hose, so the soil was more moist than other areas.

I don't know if Longans will grow true from seed, but even if they didn't, they will still be good. And with 25 trees, one of them is bound to be a great one. You can always graft a known variety, such as Kohala, on your other 24 trees if you don't like them. Or maybe I'll start a bonsai forest of Longan trees. So many ideas! Most likely though, I will end up giving these away.

I dug the seeds up after a week, and this is what they looked like:

I planted them in 3 inch pots on top of a self watering tray. (that's what I had, I wish I had bigger pots, notice the long taproot). I also used regular bagged topsoil from Lowe's. It's made mostly of pine bark and sand, I hope they do well. If they do, that would be all I use from now on. I had a bag of Pro-Mix, but I'll save that for smaller seedlings. Here is a tiny longan shoot, isn't it cute?:

I installed a bright 6400K T-5 lightbulb under my kitchen cabinet last year. All my plants thrive under these lights. I have more installed in my office on a book shelf. One pot holds a tumbling tom tomato cutting, and another is an avocado pit, which has started putting out a root, purely for decorative purposes, since I already recently bought two named Avocado trees. Cost for one T-5 bulb and fixture: $35 from Watering tray at $15. Pots @ $13. 1 quart watering can, plastic $2 at Walmart.

Bouquet of bay leaves, for cooking AND for keeping the kitchen bug free. I discovered by accident when I picked these branches and placed them in my kitchen for culinary as well as decorative purposes,  that the gnats virtually disappeared overnight. It's been a year and they still have not come back. Fresh or dried bay leaves work very well.

Also on my counter is a pot that I stick small garlic cloves into, the ones too small to even bother chopping. Notice the small shoot coming from one of the bulbs! Garlic shoots can be eaten raw in salads.

You won't find this at your local hardware store! A Pink Wheelbarrow!

I bought this at It was $80 with free shipping. It has two wheels instead of one, which makes it very easy to use. It took me 15 minutes to assemble. Oh, and did you notice it was PINK!!  I HAD to get it.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Carambola, Star Fruit

Carambola, Star Fruit.

This tree was 5ft tall in a pot when it was given to me. It seems to be deciduous in our zone (8b-9a). The only problem was that it's flowers bloomed in February, and was often killed by late freezes. In 2009, the last year that I lived at my old house, I came to check on my star fruit tree and discovered loads of fruit. They were huge, but hidden.  Look carefully at the pictures and you will see them. I wish I knew what to use them for, a lot of them dropped to the ground, the birds didn't even eat them. They were the sour kind, so many people don't value these fruits.  If only I was into the raw foodie recipes back then or had a Vitamix, I would have been able to make smoothies or something. I buy lemons constantly, these would have been a great substitute.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Fantastic idea for using water drainoff from potted plants

I love ideas that find ways to change waste into usable stuff.

Problem: when watering potted plants, the water comes out of the drain hole and stains your patio. That water is full of nutrients and it's being wasted.


the gardener in this post places 1/4" tubing in his pots and diverts the water into the ground where a citrus tree drinks it up!

Cut Flowers, Arrangements

I need to take a class on flower arrangement. I can never get them to look the way I want them to. What's the secret?

These are my arrangements, the plants that stand out the most for me are the ones I get from my garden.

My magic petunias mixed with store bought bouquet. I call them magic because they bloomed constantly from October through May of the next year. My then 2 year old daughter chose them from Home Depot, she refused to get any other flat of flowers but these petunias. It HAD to be these. These turned out to be fragrant and last a long time as cut flowers too. I even had a pleasant visit from a hummingbird one night as I stepped out to get groceries. Yes, these are "magic" petunias. I wish I had taken a picture of them growing in my front yard, it was a MASS of pink.

the grassy leaf, i took from my garden. the arrangement didn't look complete without it.

grassy leaves and Asparagus Meyerii, foxtail fern are mine. the rest was from Central Market. 

I grew everything in this arrangement, except for the green chrysanthemum.

the leaf in the glass is from my wax jambu tree

The orchid is called Princess...something. For some reason, everything with Princess in the name grows amazingly well for me. This orchid bloomed from Valentine's day until June, when the last flower dried up. 4 months, is that normal? It was already in full bloom when I received it. 

Purple Caimito

I don't know why I love this tree so much. It's given me so much grief! This one died shortly after I bought it, from ebay.

So I bought another one. It's the pot in the middle. That one's not doing too well right now either. But it's still alive!

Indoor Lights

This is a room in my old house. I thought I could squeeze in an growing light setup AND paint.

These were mostly plants I bought at the Maui airport and brought home. 

Frangipani cuttings

Bird of Paradise from seed. It took awhile to get to this point.

Macadamian nut seedling

Planted Aquarium

initial setup

the plants didn't last long as the goldfish got bigger...and bigger. They uprooted everything.

Potted Longan

This longan tree was in a 16" pot. It had almost seedless fruit. I remember it being very sweet!

Banana Tree

Banana tree at my mom's house. This plant also comes back year after year to flower and fruit.

Guava Trees

My sister had a guava "plantation" in her back yard. Most trees were grown from seed. These are the white-fleshed kind. 

Wax Jambu, seed grown

My mom grew this from a seed, bought at an asian supermarket. I placed it this nook to protect it from the cold and winds.

Dragon Fruit Climbing a brick wall

Ambarella, Dwarf June Plum

My dwarf ambarella tree. This was taken right after I planted it in the ground. It took off, even in rock hard clay soil.

this is the same plant a year later. It's almost as tall as the wall.

Caesalpinia Pulcherima (sp?), Pride of Barbados

This plant dies to the ground every year in the winter here in Houston (z9). It survived our last 2010 freeze (20 F) and returns around May and looks like this. We've had this plant for 15 years, it's about 15 ft tall.

Weeds in the Garden.

Weeds are plants too!

The yellow flowers were almost 4 ft tall. 

Crazy melon looking weed @ my old house.

and it's fruits...

they smelled like melons