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Red velvet geraniums

The other day I pinched a cutting of this geranium that was overflowing in a car park. Naughty of me, I know, but you couldn’t even tell where I took a bit after I’d done it.

I don’t know the name of the variety, but I call it red velvet because it really does look like it. I’ve only seen it around in the last few years, so I think it must be a relatively newly bred variety.

It’s so lush and a beautiful dark vivid red. I have a couple of  dark red pelargoniums in pots, but this is definitely a geranium.

I planted the cutting as soon as I got home. Geraniums usually take easily from cuttings, so I hope this one does. Fingers crossed.

The gift that keeps on giving

When I first moved into this house, when it was still a mess of boxes and unpacked chaos, my friend Deb dropped around, bearing two plants she’d propagated herself.  Zygocactus, or as many people call them, Christmas Cactus. (But since they flower in late autumn early winter here and Christmas comes in summer, I don’t call them that.)

A few weeks later the first one started to flower, this gorgeous soft pink one. Up to then, the only flowers I’d seen were on my mum’s plants, which were all the same, a kind of hot pink. I liked these ones much better.

I kept them indoors until they’d finished flowering, then put them out on the deck, where they get whatever the weather sends them, including rain

Now, a year later, the pink one is in flower again, so I’ve brought it inside. I know that when it’s almost finished flowering, the red one will begin to bloom. On these grey and gloomy days, the splash of color is such a joy.

They’re very easy to propagate, I found. Last year a couple of the little links fell off the red one, and I poked them into a bit of potting mix in a little pot, and they’ve grown and it looks like they’ll even flower this season. Another friend has expressed interest in the cuttings.

I’m now keeping an eye out for different forms and colors.

Do you propagate plants? What’s your favorite?

I've got worms!

And I couldn’t be happier. And no, it’s not that sort of worm — I’m talking about my worm farm, which I set up a few weeks ago.

I had a compost bin and a worm farm at my old house, but for various reasons I wasn’t able to bring them with me when I moved. My new garden is much smaller, and mostly native plants, which don’t need much fertilizer, and in fact some of the plants thrive on poor soil. But my vegie boxes do need their soil enriched.

I was also feeling rather wasteful, throwing vegetable peelings and other compostables in the rubbish bin, so I bit the bullet and ordered a worm box on line, along with a supply of compost worms. Different worms do different jobs, and these worms live just beneath the surface and process vegie scraps, waste paper and other organic material into . . . well, worm poo, and worm wee. Both of which plants just love.


I set it up just outside the laundry door. I collect my scraps in a small bucket (with a lid) that sits on the kitchen bench and every day or two I take it out to the worm farm and pop them in. I chop everything up small to make it easier for the worms to process. You can see from the photo the kind of thing I mean. 

Eggshells, which they can’t process in big chunks — they have tiny mouths and no teeth — I let dry first and then grind to a sand-like texture in my stone mortar and pestle, which my parents brought back from their time in Penang. It takes barely a minute and it provides the worms with the grit they need for health. And it’s good for the soil, when it gets there.

I’m already collecting worm wee — they like to be kept damp, and the excess liquid trickles down and is collected, and from time to time I turn on the little tap at the base and collect it in a bottle, which I then dilute to the color of weak tea before I feed the plants with it.

Funny story. Another friend of mine has a worm farm, and one evening at dinner with friends I was mentioning how much I missed my old worm farm and compost bin, and a friend said, “I could give you some worm juice if you like.” (Yes, quite the high-brow dinner party discussions we have. <g>)

Our host, who had been in the kitchen and missed the context, had just put the next delicious course on the table. He looked at her in horror. “Worm juice?” he said, appalled. “What on earth do you do with that?” Clearly thinking this was some kind of frightful heath fad and that we would drink it. We laughed and explained.

I’m very happy to have a worm farm again. There’s no bad smell, and it’s using up my organic waste and turning it into something productive for my garden and my pot-plants. It’s a win win situation.