Monday, February 11, 2013

Frugal Gardening.

Love this lovely home grown package from Old Lotus.
I'll have to action a Thai curry to do it justice.

 If you can't be bothered reading about my garden click to the end of the post now. You've been warned. It'll be boring for anyone who isn't me. 
I garden in Hardcore Old Testament Style Conditions- poor soil, 100% shade, drought, floods, rats, possums, marauding bush turkeys, snakes, grass hoppers, plagues of locusts. So if things survive in the FF Garden, they're Stalwarts. Shop bought plants are prohibitively expensive and I rely almost 100% on cuttings. Here are my top 10 plants to propagate (and every photo is of a plant I've struck from a cutting):
1. Geraniums and Pelargoniums
This one has scented citronella leaves-
Some People sneer at a geranium but I luff them. Just break off a stem and shove them in the ground. The don't like wet feet and they do prefer sun.
This one was from Grandma's garden-
2. Cordylines
When you garden in shade, coloured, variegated foliage is essential
Just cut off a branch and shove it in a bucket of water. It'll send out white coloured water roots. Shove it in the ground. Hey presto, you've got a new plant. Like this-
3. Gingers
This one began life as a cutting from Zsa Zsa's garden. Just cut a branch and shove it in the ground
They look good en masse with cordylines and underplanted with bromeliads
4. daisies
I don't know what type this is but I've got about 6 bushes flowering like mad all grown from cuttings
Shastas are easy to propagate too. But they only really have one flowering period in summer
5. Salvias
The red ones can look a bit municipal park, but I luff Dark Knight (think it's called that) that was taken as a cutting from a neighbour's garden in about 1999
and Joan. It has the best coloured flowers and strikes super easily
6. pentas
pops up everywhere by itself and super easy to grow from a cutting. Gets a bit thirsty but is pretty hardy.
7. kalanchoe. 
love their silvery grey leaves. If you stick a leaf in the ground it'll grow little plantlets that can but pulled off and planted. They are slow growing but worth it. And nothing eats them!
8. coleus
Ok they need a bit of water but they strike easily and when nothing's blooming add a bit of necessary colour.
9. rosemary
I dip pull the lower leafs off and dip them in honey before I plant them. They hate wet feet and thrive in a drought. And you can't really roast anything without their leathery leaves.
10. succulents
Some people are prejudiced against these but they ask for so little and give so much. And nothing eats them. They're slow growing but super easy to propagate
This agave is from my Grandparent's garden
Saw Silver Lining Playbook with my friends and thought it was pretty good.
Actioned some blondies with some white choc chips and some raspberries
Did my ironing in front of Band of Brothers which is the best series. Gruesome and sad but excellent.
Before the month ends I might publish my home made frugal recipe for white oil. Because aphids are no one's friend. No One's.
I did something today that I've been putting off for ages.  Since about mid last year. It wasn't as hard as I thought, and now I feel relieved (the best feeling ever). Hooray.
Happy week People.
PS Four Corners was unbearably sad. Those poor kids.


  1. Great post, far from boring! I am currently planning a cottage style garden in the back corner of our yard. I was balking at how much all the wee plants were going to cost me - it never occurred to me that I could grow many from cuttings. I am going to go snipping at my Granny's garden tomorrow I think. The cordylines with the pink edge look pretty, I think I might throw some of those into the mix too.
    It is such a relief to complete something you have been putting off :)

  2. Hello, love the gardening post, wish I had a garden myself.

    What was the thing that you put off? Glad you felt relieved. Hoping I will feel that way myself soon.

    1. it was some complicated paper work stuff that I kept avoiding.

      I dreamt about it las night so I knew I had to finalise it. x

  3. I love that feeling of doing something you've been putting off, good for you FF. I also love succulents and all your shade loving plants. xx

    1. I love that feeling too! Relief is the best thing ever

  4. Garden always looks so colourful even in trying times! Saw Silver Linings last weekend in Melbourne, loved the ending as I'm a sucker for feel good endings but apart from that, wouldn't rave.
    Cheers Judy

    1. I really enjoyed it, was so light after Zero Dark 30. And I liked seeing Jackie Weaver too.

  5. I'm always impressed by anyone who can talk about "underplanting" confidently. Such flair!

  6. Love the garden posts. Smiled when I saw your comment on my blog. We must both be garden-minded tonight. Love cuttings - so much from so little. The best thing about gardening.

    Glad you did the job you had been putting off. When I do something like that I always wonder why the hell I had left it for so long!

    I need some fictitious staff. Particularly for my garden. Not sure if Mrs Danvers is married or if the Mrs is purely honorary. If she is truly a Mrs and Mr D is looking for work send him my way. (Being fictitious and all I am sure the Brisbane to wheatbelt WA commute won't be a problem.)

    Best go. Farmchildren need goodnight kisses and tucking in.

    1. I suspect Mr Danvers might be dead.


      Or was the Mrs bogus to give her some sort of domestic servant status?

    2. I always wondered whether the Mrs was bogus - hmmm intrigue. Next time I re read the book I will pay strict attention to her marital status.

      Given that Mr D seems to be missing in action I shall have to seek a fictitious army of gardening staff elsewhere.

  7. Great timing with the gardening post. I'm so overwhelmed by the size of our property (1.5 acres) that I'm yet start any proper garden buttyphus post was very inspiring, I need to source some cuttings! We finally finished building a chook shed today, it's 5 star and huge my chickens are going to be very happy living here and will hopefully produce many eggs! Actually FF do you ever do a sponge? I think it's the one classic I don't remember you mentioning.

    1. that's big. Just start small, sort out your soil, get the mulch that suits, and get cuttings from friends and family

      have never cooked a sponge!!!

  8. Marvelous you can garden with the 10 plagues--bush turkeys sound dreadful! Aren't geraniums fun? Too bad for the snobs. I love the orange ones with bright blue salvia. Mad keen gardener,especially vegetables and fruits, am quoted in a seed catalog. I am trying to come up with your gardening outfit...

  9. FF,
    I'm a terrible procrastinator - I put everything off until I'm stressed to the max. You don't seem that type. I also am wading through piles of paperwork at the moment. It is a feeling of ecstasy when it's all been filed away.

  10. I've stopped watching Four Corners because I couldn't bear the week after week of injustices.

    I have made my own white oil too. From a recipe I found on the ABC website. My citrus has been plagued year after year by bronze bugs. It is ridiculously cheap and easy to make for yourself. Especially if you need it in bulk every spring.

    I've always wanted to track down some of the scented geraniums for my garden. I will have to make a point of tracking some down.

  11. Sadly I lack skills in the gardening department. Four Corners was so so sad. I was feeling sorry for myself due to my less than ideal employment situation, I now feel incredibly fortunate to live in this country...

  12. Dear FF

    That's the thing about Brisbane. Put a stick in the ground and it grows. So lucky! Haven't had such good fortune here in Canberra. A stick is a stick is a stick -until it falls over and dies.
    But the veggie garden is doing well, though now rather out of control. Tomato bushes are like Jack's bean stalk and shooting outwards too, or like the Sleeping Beauty's woods. And so heavy with fruit. Should have been removing some of the laterals, I know. But forget and then they grow about a foot. Will probably turn orange from all the tomatoes we're eating. Basil bushes are huge too. Garden smells wonderful in the evenings when I harvest and water. The scent of crushed basil leaves is magical, also the pungent tomato plant smell, oregano and rocket. Gardenias in pots still pushing out flowers that smell heavenly in the evening.

    Just finished watching the BAFTAs. Much more amusing than the Oscars generally are, Stephen Fry and his bawdy innuendo encourages the other Brits. Also the acceptance speeches by the Brits are so much more interesting. The Americans are so polite and determined to mention everyone from their hairdresser onwards that they actually have nothing much of interest to say. Anne Hathaway even felt she had to thank Victor Hugo!

    Saw "Lincoln" on the weekend. A brilliant movie, so illuminating about him as both man and President and the work to get the 13th amendment banning slavery passed. Daniel Day-Lewis certainly deserved to win Best Actor, much as I love Hugh Jackman and his performance in Les Mis.
    Suspect Mrs Danvers somehow disposed of Mr D, or he ran away. He was a very quiet little man who was soon terrified of her and the fuss she made if he left even a crumb anywhere. Think he probably took to drink!

    Best wishes, Pamela

    1. Totally agree with you Pamela regarding the BAFTAs. Stephen Fry was excellent and the speeches were short and sweet. Katy Perry's dress was a bit too much though - my husband nearly fell out of his chair!

      Having said that, I am looking forward to watching the Oscars and particularly the Red Carpet Arrivals to check out all the dresses & gowns!

      Loved Hugh in Les Mis too.

      Lorraine E.

  13. I find relief makes me hyped up with joy. Just the best feeling. Even though I live in the desert, I find your gardening posts entertaining and am now the proud owner of two plants I struck into water! They are cuttings from a non-descript houseplant and gee I love their green-ness inside the apartment.

    More on the packing saga - what nail polish to take to Spain in winter? I don't want to make you nervous now but travelling with a baby can mean limiting luggage (for yourself) and it is at the forefront of my mind as to which colour to choose. No, I am not about World Peace either. Just looking good, and feeling better (as a wise woman once said)

    BTW, one of my sisters and I were discussing your ah-mazing legs and consoling ourselves that it must be luck and genes and has nothing to do with resisting good food;) xoxo

  14. Looks like you have a great garden despite the challenging conditions!
    Penny x

  15. Love geraniums too ... Every year I pot them up for our terrace and because it has full sun , they flower and flower and flower...
    Have a fabulous week... xv

  16. Thanks for the handy gardening tips! I enjoyed Silvery Linings too, such good acting, you could really feel like you were there in that house with them. Such unusual characters. Am having trouble getting back to sleep! Then I getting slightly panicky as I have to work in the morning, soon!

  17. All your flowers look amazing! and from cuttings yet...
    Dying to know what the Thing you Did was- but yes, isn't that the BEST feeling?!!
    Also, wanting to know what show you are talking about as Downton Abbey ends next week for us here in the States and we'll be looking for something else great to be gripped by.
    PS. Thanks for voting for me! Fingers & Toes crossed 11/10 !!! (er, wait-How does that work?)

  18. I will keep this list as I will be planning my garden soon. Even though I have killer paws, I'm hoping I'll get something to grow.

  19. I live vicariously through your beautiful garden, seeing I don't have one. Love your passion for Old Testament gardening. A-M xx

  20. I absolutely adore succulents. I have the shallowest garden beds known to mankind and short of hiring a jackhammer, cannot dig them deeper. Succulents thrive beautifully and as for propagation, rip off a bit and chuck it near some dirt. Hey presto, new plant!

    We have loads of cordylines too - also gardenias and chinese star jasmine and frangipani and palms and eleventy billion cobalt blue pots. I call it "tropical cottage garden". I la la love gardening, even though I really have no idea what I'm doing! Such fun x

  21. Oh, and the best thing about my garden is the two free range bunnies who share it, bless their little fluffy tails. x

  22. Hi FF,

    Thanks for the reminder that geraniums / pelagoniums don't like wet feet. That might explain why I keep killing mine. On the weekend I was reminded of your comments about being 'flamed' the false post accusation for example). A few days ago I took quite a bit of heat on a blog because of a comment I made. I realised what strength it takes to put your self out there and be open to scrutiny as you do with this blog. Being of the cowardly persuasion, I just resolved never again to comment on ANY blog. But I make an exception for you dear FF.... and I hope that your little sailor is now restored to full health and is back on duty. Judith in Canberra

    1. Hi J

      sory to hear about the blog comment. I know people who have received criticism for comments before and they have been hurt.

      I am subject to scrutiny but luckily most of the comments I get are not cruel (although I do get those too.)I've had them all- fake food posts, fake outfit posts, bad parenting, ugly old hands, too old for wearing shorts, being called fat, treating my child badly, wearing horrible clothes, dressing too old for my age, being pretentious. I've also been accused of not really getting the stuff done I blog about because the person commenting feels they can't or couldn't achieve what I do.

      I tell you everything but reveal nothing. There are huge tracts of my life that are very private and of course I don't show a lot of what I'm up to.

      Blogging is complicated these days- privacy is a big thing to consider.

      It's one of the reasons I never show my kid's face.

      I hope you comment again on the blogs you enjoy. If it makes you happy why not? x

    2. Im sorry to hear that too Judith..

      I love my blogs, well the ones I follow.. but I have seen some pretty eviscerating comments on a certain Australian blog which I think has a younger readership

    3. Hi SMR

      congrats for being the first person to ever use eviserating in a comment! This blog doesn't have a young readership, but I don't think that precludes it from receiving the odd snarky comment. Sadly.

      A lot of people think snark of hate comments are from jealous people. I do not subscribe to that theory.

      I say if you enjoy commenting, do it.

      Allt he action happens in the comment section anyway x

  23. I was watching four corners. so depressing. some people have to put up with a lot.

    Love the succulents. Would a cordyline grow on a melbourne verandah do you think?

    I have to say for a garden person with something of a public profile you look like much less of a banksia man than the gardening australia host. well done.

  24. Who should sneer at a geranium?? They are fabbo plants. Unassuming, happy little fellows who devotedly keep producing sweet little flowers all year round. I love them too.
    Such gorgeously bright colours in your garden - so very sub-tropical.

  25. Hello FF...great post! Always wondered how you grew things from cuttings,so thank you for the know how. Geraniums and succulents are great tough plants.
    Do you know how to grow lavender from cuttings please?
    thank you.

    1. I used to have a few lavender bushes grown from cuttings but they recently died. I blame the high humidity altho Sidonie lavender thrives on it.

      Just cut off some branches, take off the lower leaves and shove in the ground. They like hot dry spots and full sun and do not like wet feet.

      If you put say 10 in 1 is sure to strike.

      I always put tonnes of cuttings in so if most don't make it some will x

    2. Once again, thank you.

  26. We nicked a few cuttings from people's green waste piles after the storm - so thrifty! The Husband always cuts all the leaves off cuttings when he replants then - I assume so they can concentrate on growing roots, but it is always makes me sad!

    FourCorners was so sad. We are so lucky, living in luxury really.

  27. Hi FF,

    I am not a gardener (living in a flat and all) but I love the idea of something beautiful being created out of adversity, with a bit of love and elbow grease. Oh So Poetic, don't you think?

    Apropos 4 corners, I saw a bit of it.
    I have recently visited Cuba on holiday - they are not friends of the US and their economy has been diabolical for ages.
    Nobody is homeless there. All the kids housed, fed and in school. They don't have much, there are issues, but they have the basics attended to. I could talk about that at length, but this is not the forum for it!

    Luff your work as always.
    cilla xx

  28. Swear by propagating, my garden would be naked without the plants I've grown from cuttings......all of my English Box hedges were nurtured along from spindly sticks dipped in rooting powder(?)..... now, ten years later they are joined together and mid shin height. Marvelling at how different some of your plants are to what grows in my garden....they look so exotic! Rx

  29. I love your garden tips. Most won't translate to my frost beset Canberra garden but I do think I can do geraniums. Tell me do you prune them hard? The ones I see seem to all go leggy.

  30. You must be so heartened that the gardens bouncing back. I'm no green thumb but I did pull out a few hatchlings off a bromeliad the other week, whacked them in the ground and away they've went. I tried to gently tug on one the other day and that baby has roots, to do your whole garden from cuttings must take commitment.

  31. Thanks FF now I know what I have in pots on my table Agaves. You can see Im in the novice class so your tips are for me I guess.

    Didn't see 4 Corners . will go to have a look now

    BTW Do you watch My Kitchen Rules? . I love it

  32. Don't know what Four Corners is. Must have been powerful to nerve strike so many. I love your garden. I miss a garden. Have plenty of room but deer herds visit constantly. They eat it ALL. Seem similar to your bush turkeys.
    Except for the perfect child, I love your garden best.

    1. Thankyou for loving the garden. I love it too. During really sad awful times, caring for it, and exhausting myself looking after it has probably saved my sanity.

      Four Corners is a documentary news show that goes for an hour every Monday night. It's been on since I wa a little kid and the investigative journalists are very hard hitting.

      Last night was about people who live in the USA who'd lost their jobs, then their homes and now lived in their cars or in motels. It was brutally sad to see the impact of this on their children. Seriously heart wrenching about the kids. Some of whom were babies. Awful in a million differnet ways.

  33. FF i think this may be my 2nd comment ever despite following your blog since your first post! I remember when your amazing pink Christmas decoration did NOT win the coalface competition! You inspire me to cook more clutter less and find joy in the small things. Thank you for beautiful blog which is a real highlight of my days.

  34. People are against succulents? How is this possible? Who are these people?

  35. I am going to pass this post on to my head gardener...he has tried to grow plants from cuttings but hasn't had much success.

    I must try those blondies...I make them quite frequently but never thought beyond plain old chocolate chip with the occasional addition of coconut.

  36. So many of those plants remind me of my grandparents, and their garden.

    I love knocking over those jobs that are hanging over your head! It often is so much worse in your head. Well done you!!

  37. I need to get on to this cutting business.
    Im a gardening novice- and i'm not kidding. I bought a whole heap of beautiful flowering pants quite cheap from Bunnings, and was so excited to plant them. I popped them in and cared for them for a good month, and then unfortunately everything died within a space of 2 weeks!
    Apparently, this happens to perennials. I was heartbroken! Lol.

    1. Not all perennials die- could have been a water or soil issue but you have to remember that Bunnings plants are lavishly fertilised with hardcore liquid fertilisers- nitrogen for green leaves and phosphogens for blooms- not many people maintain this at home. Cuttings are key- check out what the neighbours grow x

  38. Dear Ms FF, I love a garden post and yours most of all. Growing from cuttings has both a miraculous and frugal element about it that seems very attractive. I am working out that one simply has to keep trying and not give up in the garden. As with yucky paper thingies. There is nothing more miserable than avoiding what must be done — I am a past mistress of this too. I hope you celebrated your moral victory with some champers. I think the anonymity of the Internet allows people who are so inclined to practise unkindness. They get kicks from putting a pin in someone else's bubble of happiness. I think that this is simply one manifestation of a growing incivility in society which we witness as bystanders in malls, in so called opinion pieces in the media and sadly especially in politics. I could not watch the 4 Corners program — that people are so reduced in a land of plenty seems the worse sort of perversion. Surely we will be judged by how the least of us is treated. I am off to kiss my sleeping children and be grateful I live in a country with a real safety net. love Lindaxxx

  39. 4 Corners was brutal. Seriously can you imagine raising 2 babies in a car? and she was lucky she had a car.


  40. Love the gardening post. Trading clippings is a lifestyle choice here in Asia. We give and receive and our garden is thriving, if not a little over-planted. Nothing dies. If we strike 10 plants, we get 10 plants.

    Sadly, when we lived in Australia all plants venturing into our garden knew they were preparing to die. Our garden was, and still is, dreadful. We had quite a reputation for it and received a lot of advice, and sympathy. We have learned a lot over here and when we eventually return home we WILL have a bountiful garden which will be full of colour.

    PS. I think this post inspired my choice of outfit today. Very colourful.


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