Tag Archive: pot

Making the most of leftovers

Back in autumn I pruned my callistemon (an Australian native) but what I was left with was a fair few branches that were a bit too big to compost and felt like a waste to throw out. I decided to use the branches in a pot to form a tepee and planted sweet peas all around the bottom.

 sw pea 11

The peas have only now decided they are going to flower, despite being almost summer. However when they are this pretty and delicate, I guess I shouldn’t complain that I had to wait – hopefully they will continue to flower through summer and make the most of my left over branches.

 sw pea 1 sw pea 2 sw pea 4 sw pea 5 sw pea 7 sw pea 8 sw pea 10 sw pea 12 sw pea 13 sw pea 18sw pea 20 sw pea 17 sw pea 16 sw pea 15 sw pea 14


Last year we placed three small hanging baskets on the fence which can be seen out the window next to my desk where I write this blog. They flowered all spring and summer and made my work space very cheerful. However I’ve ignored them and they’ve been dead and empty for most of winter… With spring getting ever so close, it was time for replanting! I dug through some compost and fresh potting mix with the soil already in the baskets followed by planting some cheap flower seedlings and a few oregano cuttings. Instant colour & brightness! Hopefully they will continue to grow, flower and inspire me over the next gardening season.

Pretty much dead & empty...

Pretty much dead & empty…

basket 4 basket 5 basket 6

New view from the window

New view from the window

basket 3

While I may have a small garden – I try not to do things by halves. I try to squeeze in as many plants as will successfully grow, use every inch of space I have and am ever hopeful of getting the kind of plentiful harvest most other gardeners enjoy. In saying that, if you saw the size of my garden you’d probably laugh at the 2kgs of seed potatoes I bought to plant out… but as I can’t hear you from here – they’ve gone in!

A lot of people can’t be bothered growing potatoes given how cheap they are at the supermarket – but they are just so easy to grow! Last year I got some grow bags to put them in (so I could pack them up at the end of the season, and move them as our renovations progressed) and it was so exciting tipping out the bags to see how many had grown. I planted this year’s spuds out last week and will be harvesting them in summer. I bought a variety pack including 1/2kg each of Inova, Nicola, Coliban, Desiree, Sebago, Pontiac, Ruby Lou and Dutch Cream. I’m growing them all under the same conditions, so I’ll be interested to see which ones grow better and give a larger harvest. Will keep you updated with the results…

Given the cost of blueberries in supermarkets and how cheap blueberry plants are, I figured it made sense to start growing them at home. They are pretty small plants too which works well with the limited space I have. They also have gorgeous delicate little flowers which are perfect for helping with the eye-appealing side of the garden. As a lot of my blueberries didn’t even make it inside last year (couldn’t help but eat them straight off the bush!) I thought this year I should plant some more. Now’s the best time to plant them and I bought 4 new plants last week which are now out in the garden.

The new blueberry plants

I bought my first blueberry plant a couple of years ago and followed what I thought was good advice on how to grow it…. it died pretty quickly. Obviously the advice wasn’t that good! Last year I decided to try again and followed different advice – this time from my all time hero Alys Fowler.

The main points are:
1. Blueberries require acidic soil.

The first year I didn’t do this, just used standard potting mix and the plant died. Last year I bought special acidic potting mix and have kept the plants in pots – they thrived in it! Really, really recommended going the extra mile to get acidic soil.

2. Grow them in pairs

3. Position in full sun

These three things have left me with happy plants and blueberries to harvest throughout spring to autumn – even within the first year of having them. This season, hopefully a few more blueberries might actually make it inside….

About a month ago I got quite keen and started my first round of autumn and winter seedlings (see Preparing for Autumn and Winter – New Seedlings post). Not long after this I went on holiday…. Most people would have waited until they came back from holiday before starting their seedlings – but I’ve never been known for my patience. I decided not to leave them outside while we were away in case of extreme weather days, so they stayed under a window inside. I came back to an overgrown mess of leggy seedlings!

I was pretty impressed by the amount of growth, but a lot were just too leggy to plant as they were. A quick internet search about what to do lead to mixed results… a lot of people said leggy seedlings will simply die – just start again. There were a few sites/posts however saying it was possible to plant them up (similar to what you would do with tomatoes) and roots grow in the newly planted section. A whole lot else said the seedlings will rot if you try this… As it felt like such a waste to throw my seedlings away, I thought it was worth a try!

I firstly cleared out all the seed pots that hadn’t germinated at all and then I separated out the seedlings that were ready to go straight into the garden and planted them. I then selected out all the seed pots that hadn’t gone leggy and moved them aside. This really helped to reduce the chaos in the seed trays!

With the remaining seedlings I placed them (still in their paper pots) in the bottom of a standard small plastic pot. Then I filled up around the seedlings with soil to what visually felt like a normal seedling size/length (…the real scientific approach….)


...after one week....

...Kale seedlings after two weeks...

Unfortunately I lost a few seedlings to snails in the first week (it really is a constant war… forget and lose the battle) but I’ve put some copper tape around the other pots to help keep the remaining ones safe. Two weeks later and a lot are still going strong! While some have died, there are still many alive and doing well. I’d say a successful experiment so far – more updates to come.

I also have the next round of seedlings are off and running! This time I’m moving them daily to get the best of the sun and so far their growth (and even the colour of the seedlings) has been a lot better.

Next round of seedlings

So yes, initial care is the best method – but is seems not all is lost when it comes to leggy seedlings.


After several weeks of patiently waiting… there is new growth on my snake plant cuttings! Success! Ok, so the growth is extremely small, and they are a long way off being full grown plants – but at least it’s a start!


New growth can be seen on the snake plant cuttings


I also replanted the shoot that had grown out the side of the original plant. It too has grown and a new leaf is now developing. Progress is looking good…..

New leaf emerging

Waiting for autumn finally got the best of me – last week I started preparing my first round of autumn/winter crop seeds. I’ve been using paper pots in the last few months to see if it helps reduce transplantation shock, but I must admit I haven’t noticed a huge difference so far. Some of the seeds I’ve planted are probably a little early, some a little late but I’m hoping for the best (and if you never push the boundaries, you never learn what can work!)

So what’s on my seedling list? I’ve planted:

  • Leek
  • Onion (red & brown) 
  • Silverbeet (standard & ruby chard)
  • Kale (tuscan, red & blue)
  • Parsley
  • Endive
  • Radicchio
  • Cabbage
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Broccoli (normal, purple sprouting & romanesco)
  • Cauliflower (normal & purple sicily)
  • Turnip
  • Radish (watermelon & china rose)
  • Kohlrabi
  • Pak Choi
  • Aquilegia (thre types)
  • Freesia
  • English daisy
  • Foxglove
  • Cornflower
  • Larkspur
  • Honesty
  • Nasturtium
  • Stock
  • Pansy
  • Calendula
  • Xeranthemum


So with over 90 seed pots on the go I realise I maaaaay have over done it a little… But I really wanted to try some new seeds this year and realistically they’re not all going to thrive.

Like a little kid I race into the “laundry” each morning (it has been a spare room, was then our kitchen and now a make-shift laundry … ahhh, renovations) to check the seedlings which emerge so much faster than first expected! I love checking the progress daily and it’s amazing how quickly they grow. I may have to find a new home for them very quickly though before they become too leggy. Looking forward to more growth & the harvest to come!


After reading that Snake Plant/Mother-In-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria trifasciata) can be propagated incredibly easily (in a book by my hero Alys Fowler) – I kept an eye on all my friends indoor plants hoping to find one I could steal a leaf off. Apparently Sake Plants have gone out of fashion recently as none of my friends have it! Although disappointed I did manage to find one on sale which felt like a bearable compromise. I would now really like a new plant for my desk (particularly if I’m going to be spending a lot more time blogging!) so I decided to try the “create your own indoor plant” experiment.

As it goes, all you have to do is cut up a leaf into sections and place into potting mix. Make sure the pieces are facing up (ie correct growing direction) and keep moist.It apparently takes 6-8 weeks for new signs of growth, so no change so far. Keeping my fingers crossed & look out for updates!

In the past week however I have noticed a change in the original pot that wasn’t there before….. A new shoot has emerged from the original plant, so looks like I will have at least one new plant after all!

Other easy indoor plants are avocados. Everybody needs an avocado plant – ask my brother, he has 10 of them!

Creating indoor plants from avocado seeds is incredibly easy!

"Ava" - current avocado plant, with constant new growth looks healthy

"Avie" - last year's avocado plant

All you need is a seed from an avocado which suspended over water (memories of primary school science coming back to me…) will germinate after a few weeks. A new indoor plant is created as easy as that! Seeds from overripe avocados work best and keep them in water until a few leaves have formed. I had one last year that died (& still not sure why) but one I germinated this year is looking significantly more healthy & is a great addition to the kitchen!

Companions in the garden

While I love my pets – Gina (a jack russell x sausage dog…. we think) and Lea (a small tabby cat) – how they see the garden doesn’t always align with my view. This year I have accepted it is not just my garden, it is theirs as well and have tried to adapt the space accordingly.


It was an easy solution for Lea. I could continue to have my plants squashed in certain pots that she loves to sleep in (I even tried skewers & sticks which she would also flatten and sleep on), or I could leave a few empty pots to keep her happy. Also I had to accept that any time I picked up the camera she would appear, wanting to be part of every photo.

Gina on the other hand, while small and cute – she’s quite territorial. Make that incredibly territorial. She guards our property from any dog who may walk past by running up and down the fence line reminding them of how big and tough she is (they are never fooled). After watching many plants become trampled and even setting up pots to try and break up her running (with mixed success) – I decided to make a formal dog run for her.

Creating the dog run

One of the hardest parts of the garden to get anything to grow has been the section directly behind the front fence. Gina had compacted the soil with her running and a large tree on our nature strip means little light ever falls there. To try and improve this I dug up all the soil, added gypsum (we have heavy clay soil here which I’ve spent a lot of time trying to break up), & compost and mixed it all in. I created a more formal dog run with small stakes and twine, and planted some shade tolerant plants in which have all taken off with great success! Gina no longer tramples my garden and she remains happy being the “big” guard dog. 

It’s lovely having the company in the garden – the pets supervise every planting and change made, and they have both really enjoyed what our front yard has become. They now spend loads more time in the garden than when we first moved in, enjoying all the new spots created by the new plants (e.g. lying in the shade of a pumpkin leaves) which is really a great compliment.