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Tomato Diary 8

You can see all the tomatoes coming along — and also see where I’ve picked off all the dying bottom leaves.

The experiment: to grow tomatoes on my balcony during a Sydney winter using seeds scraped from a store-bought tomato. (Although we’re well into spring now.)

Oh dear, things are looking worrying. Last evening it was very windy so I moved the pots to the balcony floor, which meant that this morning I was able to look down on the leaves. Powdery mildew is rampant!

A selection of the leaves I’ve removed in the past few days.

Not happy at all.

So off I went to Google again to see what is suggested. And would you believe it — milk! Diluted 1:4 or 1:5, and sprayed on the leaves weekly. So I have diligently done so. As for the pot that is being “watered” with milk, I can’t say that those two plants look any better or any worse than the three plants getting more conventional fertiliser. It’s the middle pot in the photo of all three pots at the top.

They look good from this angle!

Now the race is on: will any tomato ripen and be edible before all the plants die from the bottom up?

Tune in later for Tomato Diary 9.
Tomato Dairy 1 here
Tomato Dairy 2 here
Tomato Dairy 3 here
Tomato Dairy 4 here
Tomato Dairy 5 here
Tomato Dairy 6 here
Tomato Dairy 7 here

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Me and my shadow

My shadow on the deck of Lord Nelson, 2013 (Indian Ocean)

This week’s Photo Challenge assignment is “focus on the shadow of your subject rather than the subject”. Here are two photos of my shadow back in my intrepid sailor days.

Shadows of me (at left) and other crew members on Tenacious, 2004 (leaving Jersey)

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Tomato Diary 7

5 Sept: The largest tomato is golf-ball size now.

The experiment: to grow tomatoes on my balcony during a Sydney winter using seeds scraped from a store-bought tomato.

Sadly, we are back to a mix of good and bad news for this update. 😦 As you can see above and below, I have lots of tomatoes coming along.

We’re out of winter and into spring now, and the temperatures are warming up. The sun blasting onto the exposed pails was quickly drying out the soil. Easily fixed, though: I put up some black sunblockers to keep the pails in the shade, and made nifty covers for the soil on top.

Sept 5: Keeping cool!

However, here’s the bad news: the lower leaves are yellowing again. You can see it in the photo above. I shall try fertilising twice a week rather than once, and see if that helps. However, in true experiment fashion, I’m going to try something different for this pot (you may have noticed the yellow straw on the right, there to remind me that this is the experimental pot). I read that tomato plant problems are often caused by lack of calcium in the soil. Well, what has lots of calcium?

Calcium and B vitamins — not just for mammals!

Yes, milk! And sure enough, various gardening websites told me that “watering” tomatoes with a 50-50 water/milk mix is a “thing”. However, once plants go on the milk diet they can’t be given standard fertiliser because the chemicals break down the good bacteria in the milk. So we’ll see what happens!

Tune in later for Tomato Diary 8.
Tomato Dairy 1 here
Tomato Dairy 2 here
Tomato Dairy 3 here
Tomato Dairy 4 here
Tomato Dairy 5 here
Tomato Dairy 6 here

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Succulent flowers 2

Not a very promising start.

As mentioned last week, here is the Unknown Succulent with its flowers. At first I thought the drooping ends were just more weird growth, but after a while I realised there was something inside.

What is going to burst out of those pods??

The droop disappeared and the things at the end of the stalk formed a sort of umbrella of downward-pointing flowers.

I had to stake them upright because the weight of the Noisy Miner bird, foraging for who knows what, knocked them over.

Quite pretty, actually!

Posted for #FloralFriday

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Travel Memories 5: Coober Pedy

Hole in one, maybe?

Hands up if you have actually heard of Coober Pedy. I certainly had not until I’d lived in Australia for a while. However, if you’re an opal lover, you probably are familiar with this small mining town in the outback. Due to the searing summer heat, many people live in underground houses carved from the rock; there are even underground churches.

However, it was the golf club that really caught my attention. There’s no grass whatsoever, but there is carefully raked sand and gravel. Where there’s a will, there’s a way! Forgot your clubs? No problem, you can rent some.

Travel Memories: a single photo from a trip — one that always makes me smile, or reflect, or want to go back.


click here for a larger version of the map below

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Succulent flowers 1

A friend said this looked like a scorpion’s tail.

The apartment I moved into a year ago came with an assortment of succulents in the balcony’s garden beds. I have never liked succulents. After a year of living with them, I still don’t like them — weird shapes, weird textures — but I have come to grudgingly admire their “take no prisoners” approach to self-propagation. These things just won’t be contained.

Two of my inherited plants flowered over the recent winter. One, conveniently, had a plastic plant label so I know what to call it here, but next week’s plant is merely “unknown”. Today we have Echeveria – Blade Runner.

Hmm, maybe the things on the end will turn into flowers?

The flowers look a lot better when seen from the front. I had to lean over the garden bed and hold the camera so it faced me, with the viewscreen swivelled so I could see what I was framing. They look huge in these shots, but were really about the size of a small grape. (Don’t you love my checked flannel shirt?)

The flowers were extremely appealing to the bird below. It’s a Noisy Miner (they’re called “noisy” for a reason!), and would visit numerous times each day. (It also liked the “unknown” succulent’s flowers that you’ll see next week.) Unfortunately, it never stayed very long and this was the only shot I was able to take.

Not a very flattering angle, for bird or flowers!

Posted for #FloralFriday

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Travel Memories 4: Granada

Flamenco in the afternoon.

The reason I went to Granada was to see the Alhambra, the Moorish palace/fortress. Checking online just now to date the Alhambra (largely 13th and 14th centuries), I see that these days (well, pre-pandemic) the site is so popular you must book timed tickets in advance; in 1992, I simply walked up from town when the mood took me. I wandered the back streets of the old town, stopped for tapas and sherry, listened to guitar and ‘canto jondo’. I strolled around the Generalife Gardens, where there always seemed to be the sound of water — gurgling, trickling, tumbling water. And I marvelled at the flamenco. Not paid performances or professionals, these were ordinary men and women, in jeans and skirts, having a great time dancing in tents set up in the streets. Some of the women wore elaborate (and heavy!) dresses. The makeshift tent floors vibrated and rang with the stamping of people’s feet, mothers danced with young children, and girls in their own ruffled dresses looked on hopefully from the sidelines. It was totally unexpected, and quite stupendous.

Travel Memories: a single photo from a trip — one that always makes me smile, or reflect, or want to go back.


click here for a larger version of the map below

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Choose a colour. Any colour.

Well, that’s what Jude said! “This week’s assignment – Choose a colour. Any colour, it could be your favourite one.” Orange is definitely not my favourite colour (that’d be blue) but Jude’s assignment this week is to “Allow only variations of the colour within your photograph.” I’ve gone for orange because I have a cheerful bouquet of poppies on my table right now, largely orange, and I thought they’d make a nice photo. Then the hunt was on for other orange photos! The bristles I also photographed today, but the rest are archives.

2020 Photo Challenge #33: variations of a colour

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60th Wedding Anniversary

Two very young-looking people cutting the wedding cake.

Today (20 August 2020) is my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. I’m very sure they’ll be enjoying some bubbly and nice food to mark such a momentous occasion. Because they live in Canada and I live in Australia, it’s not really possible for me to pop ’round and join them, but I am thinking of them.

Happy Anniversary, Mum and Dad!

Here’s to you!

(my mother sent this photo of the balloons I had delivered on the day)

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Tomato Diary 6

First tomato! 19 August

The experiment: to grow tomatoes on my balcony during a Sydney winter using seeds scraped from a store-bought tomato.

The news is good for this update! I have not one but TWO tomatoes. Granted, not very big, but definitely coming along.

Tomato number two is to the right of the ‘large’ one and up a bit.

After the yellowing leaves reported in the last update, it was time for action. I bought some 10L pails for $2 each in my supermarket to use as pots (I added drainage holes), and extracted the two sets of two plants from their existing pots (maybe 3L in size), then very carefully prised apart the roots. I then planted two in each of two 10L pails, as far as apart in the pail as I could. The smallest plant moved into one of the now-vacant 3L pots; I would have thrown it out, as I did with another one the same size, but this plant was farthest along with flowers so I figured it deserved a chance. It’s the one showing tomatoes in the photos.

8 August: two in a new pail, two in an old pot. Once again, I buried the lowest set of leaves in the soil in order to get more roots, so the repotted two don’t look as tall as you’d expect.

Here are two shots of all five on the balcony. I’m a bit worried about how tall they’ll grow! They’re getting full sun now from sunrise (about 6.30am now) until the point where the sun is too far west to hit my balcony, roughly 1.30pm. So seven hours of direct sunshine. They’re also getting weekly fertiliser now.

19 August, basking in the morning sun.

19 August, basking in the morning sun.

Tune in later for Tomato Diary 7.
Tomato Dairy 1 here
Tomato Dairy 2 here
Tomato Dairy 3 here
Tomato Dairy 4 here
Tomato Dairy 5 here