Saturday, September 26, 2009

Passiflora edulis

Another seed I have been growing is those of the passion fruit.

Again, they are normally grown from seed, although they can be grown from cuttings (clones).

Passionfruit are self-pollinating climbers, fast-growing and have the most gorgeous flowers. A lot of them suffered from sunburn while in pots in the garden, but the one plant I put in the soil next to a chain link fence is looking really healthy and green.

The one in this photo is recovering from its sunburn in the safety of the house.

Read more about growing passionfruit

Growing Kiwi

I've been growing kiwi from seed too. I've got a few left out of maybe 100; there is something they don't like here and I'm not sure exactly what it is yet. They grew really well in my Dad's (unheated) greenhouse in Scotland but their growth is stunted here.

Kiwi have male and female plants and, like the papaya, you need both to produce fruit. Again sex cannot be determined until they flower and none of mine have flowered yet, and I think I read it may take years until they do.

However, it's an interesting project if not exactly a money-spinner.

To Grow Kiwi from Seed

Buy a kiwifruit in the shop, take it home and cut it open. Extract a few of their tiny seeds and remove as much pith as you can from around them. I find the easiest way to do this is to lay them on absorbant kitchen paper and place the paper, seeds and all, inside a colander and run them under the tap.

  1. Leave them to dry in a warm dry place, and when they are completely dry they can be planted into some compost, just lightly press them into the surface of the soil.
  2. Water well, and seal the whole pot inside a sealed polythene bag.
  3. Leave in a light, warm place out of direct sunlight and after a couple of weeks you should see the seedlings peeking through. 
  4. At this point, remove them from their plastic bag.
  5. When they are large enough to handle, after they have grown at least their second set of leaves, gently transplant them into individual pots. 
  6. Keep in as bright a situation as possible and water daily, potting on as they outgrow their pot.
In a warm climate like Spain they can be planted straight into the garden, but in cooler climates you will need to keep them indoors or at least in a greenhouse or conservatory, bringing them indoors when frost threatens.
There are varieties you can buy now at that is specially grown for UK climates.

The botanical names for the kiwifruit vines are usually either actinidia chinensis or actinidia deliciosa.

Castor Oil Plant

I'm an awful one for collecting seed I find on my travels. Then at some future date I plant them; and when they grow I haven't a clue what they are!

Extensive searching on google suggests this cute little fella is a Ricinus communis except he doesn't seem to have red leaves yet. I did have three or four others that I potted on and planted out, being fast growers, but they promptly died on me!

Carica papaya

Papaya plants are normally grown from seed. Belonging to tropical countries, I am experimenting to see if they'll grow successfully here in Relleu ( sub-tropical), however, I do not expect them to do too well come the winter storms as their stems break easily. Two are in pots and may be moved indoors. The third is in the garden.

Papaya have separate male and female plants, and both are needed for successful fertilization, though one male can service many females. As I have no way of knowing what sex mine are until they flower, I'm hoping three is enough. With my luck I'll get three of the same!

This one here is approx. 6 months old and 3 feet high.

Air Purifying House plants

spider plant Dracaena

Many toxins enter households every day in the form of food packaging, cleaners, waste material etc, and NASA has done research to see what plants are best for getting rid of them.

Formaldehyde: Commonly used in a number of items including particle board, pressed wood, foam insulation, cleaning products, and treated paper or fabric. If your home or office contains particle-board furniture, grocery bags, tissues, paper towels, or anything that has been treated to make it stiffer, wrinkle-resist, fire retardant, or water-repellent, then you’re likely to have formaldehyde in the air.

Benzene: A solvent used in manufacturing paints, inks, plastics, rubber, dyes, pharmaceuticals, and detergents.

Trichloroethane: Can be found in adhesives, varnishes, paints, and used in dry-cleaning.
At the very least, chemicals like these can irritate the eyes and skin, lead to allergic reactions, and cause headaches. At worst, they’ve been linked to more serious problems including asthma, cancer, anemia, organ damage, and birth defects. Given the pervasive presence of these chemical in our homes, it can be difficult to create an environment that is free of them.

Top Plants for Reducing Indoor Air Pollution

Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea seifrizii)
Chinese Evergreen (Aglaonema modestum)
Dracaena (Dracaena sp.).
English Ivy (Hedera helix)
Ficus, or Weeping Fig (Ficus benjamina)
Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)
Golden Pothos (Epipiremnum aureum)
Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum sp.)
Philodendron (Philodendron sp)
Pot Mum (Chrysanthemum morifolium)
Snake Plant, or Mother-In-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata ‘Laurentii’)
Spider Plant (Chlorophytum comosum)

For best results, have at least one six-inch plant for every 100 square feet.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

My Palm Tree

It's possibly a Trachycarpus fortunei but I'm ready to stand corrected.

Cordyline australis

This is my 2 year old cordyline australis shortly after I planted it out earlier this year.
I have another growing quite happily in a bucket, and several dozen seedlings less than a year old.
Another of my experiments, I haven't seen any growing locally. There are plenty yuccas, agaves and palms so I'm hoping this palm-like plant will fit right in. It also withstands strong winds which, of course, is a necessity here.

Viable Seeds?

I bought 10 Cofea arabica seeds on Ebay last week and, as recommended, soaked them in water for 24 hours before planting. All bar one floated. Does anyone know if that means they are dead or not? I read somewhere online that old seeds don't germinate too well, but I've no idea if these were old or not.
Anyway, they are planted up so I'll have to wait (up to 6 months) and see if grow or not.

The spreading grass area

I've decided to grow a lawn unlike my neighbours who prefer concrete (low maintenance), chiefly for composting material to improve the soil.

I tried planting seed a few years ago but it came up and died the same summer.

My next door neighbour had a lawn courtesy of the builder; his was the show house for the estate. I've no idea what type of grass was laid but he dug it up and replaced it with concrete, but not before some had escaped under his hedge through to me. It creeps like couch grass!

I hated it at first, as no matter how many times I pulled it up, it came back. It's roots got everywhere. So, finally, I took some by the roots and transplanted it to the area where I had initially planted the seed, and it took off and gradually spread over the whole area.

It survives drought, it greens overnight after the rain, it's hardwearing and yet soft underfoot and it keeps weeds at bay.
I love it.
Pic above shows what a week or two of rain has done to the length of it!
Just wanted to add, I was in the process of cutting it today, when I felt something move up my leg under my denims. It got higher and higher despite my attempts to brush it off. I raced into the underbuild and pulled my denims down. Out popped the most enormous centipede I have ever had the misfortune to meet in my life. It had to have been at least 6 inches by half an inch. Couldn't photograph it for my collection as it was off like a shot. Think it got a bigger fright than me, and that's saying something!
I've been advised that I've been extremely lucky not to have been bitten by this insect, and that its sting is venomous.
Who wants to volunteer to cut the rest of the grass????

Intro to Izzy's Spanish Garden


My name is Izzy.

Welcome to my blog about gardening here in south-eastern Spain, where the soil is poor, rain water extremely limited and the tap water contains more chlorine than the local swimming pool! Izzy's Spanish Garden is going to tell you about the trials and tribulations of gardening here in Spain.

The sun, however, is almost always present.

Winters are cold but never freezing, (although there could always be an exception one year) and nine months out the year we are subject to the most horrendous winds which is why I do not have a greenhouse. I think only a brick one could withstand the gusts and that kinda defeats the whole object.

Summers are long hot and dry, and usually windless, which is when even a slight breeze would be Heaven-sent.

This is equivalent to USDA zone 10. My old home in Western Scotland was zone 9 (believe it or not), and I've spent the last year or two experimenting and learning what plants plants can grow in both places.