Pachypodium Lamerei – Madagascar Cactus Palm

Pachypodium Lamerei

Pachypodium Lamerei

I have a delightful new addition to my cacti/succulent family. It was a present from some dear friends who attended the Mediterranean Garden Show in the Eastern Algarve. They know I love quirky, so they bought me quirky.

Thank you *big smilie face*

After thanking them for the gift I asked them for the name of the plant… err they didn’t know. Ah, right. I then took a photo and consulted Mr. Google with an image search. His best guess was a palm tree. No, Mr Google, it is NOT a palm tree, FAIL! (Turns out hew was closer than I original thought)

Well, if Mr. Google can’t recognise this alien plant what an earth is it? Okay, thinking outside the box I typed: ‘cacti with leaves’, in the search box.

Eureka! It’s a succulent palm! – A Pachypodium Lamerei (Madagascar Palm)

I’ve called it Madge.

Facts

The Pachypodium Lamerei originates from Madagascar in Africa. according to further research on Guide to Houseplants , it isn’t really a palm but a succulent from the Apocyanaceae family.

Flowers: Yes, it has clusters of fragrant, white flowers in summer (on mature plants) if it has plenty of sunlight.
Leaves: It may drop it’s leaves in winter so don’t panic.
Temperature: The Madagascar Palm won’t tolerate frost and the world of succulents website states:

the minimum temperature is about 55° F (13° C), but it depends very much on the moisture of the substrate. The drier the substrate, the lower temperatures are possible. Ideally you shouldn’t fall below a minimum temperature of 59° F (15° C) during the rest period.
Bad news for Madge – she will live outside on a covered sheltered terrace, in full sun next to the house wall. Our winter temps can drop down to +1C at night so hopefully she will be okay.

Water: Water thoroughly and only allow the top of to dry out between waterings in the summer. Sounds like sound advice but my pots aren’t transparent. Another site

For beginners it is sometimes difficult to consider when and how much water you should give the Pachypodium. You should not treat it like a cactus in any case. A helpful rule is to not be completely dry to the soil during periods of growth before it is poured again.

Soil: 2 parts soil 1 part sharp sand or perlite.
Feed: Spring and summer with cacti fertiliser

After extensive research I now wonder how I will care for Madge during the winter months. While we have space indoors, the rooms do not get direct sunlight. Maybe I will need to leave her outside until the colder weather takes hold then just bring her inside for a few months. I think it will be a matter of trial and error.
Reference:
http://www.guide-to-houseplants.com/madagascar-palm.html
http://worldofsucculents.com/how-to-grow-and-care-for-pachypodium/

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How to Propagate Hibiscus in 10 Easy Steps

Hibiscus are my favourite plants (shrubs) because they are SO easy to grow and reward me with an abundance of beautiful flowers throughout the year.

Red Hibiscus Flower

Red Hibiscus Flower


I began experimenting as to the best method of propagating hibiscus from cuttings a couple of years ago when the cost of buying plants in Portugal rose significantly. I’m talking about a 100% rise, so a great incentive to master the technique!

There are several different methods used to propagate shrubby plants, but this one consistently works for me.
There are several different methods used to propagate shrubby plants, but this one consistently works for me.

How to to propagate Hibiscus

1. Take green cuttings (new growth) of about six inches long from the parent plant and remove all but a couple of the smaller leaves.

2. Immerse cutting into the hormone powder or gel so once planted the “treated” area is higher than the planting depth. There should be at least one growth node under the soil.

Hibiscus cuttings

Hibiscus cuttings

3. Fill suitable plastic plant pot with damp sandy soil and press down firmly.

4. Make small hole for each cutting – about a couple of inches deep (I use a small stick). Insert the cutting so at least one of the nodes are under the soil. Firm the soil around the cutting.

Cover Hibiscus cuttings with plastic water bottle

Cover Hibiscus cuttings with plastic water bottle

5. Create a humid environment for the cuttings by adding a plastic cover. Some people use a plastic bag – I use half a plastic bottle.

6. Stand the pot in a tray of water so the soil remains damp, but be careful not too wet. If the soil should become waterlogged I remove from pot from water tray to restore the balance. I usually only follow this process for about a six weeks. If the cuttings are “happy” in the environment you have created the leaves on the hibiscus cutting should still look green and healthy. If the rooting process is not working and the leaves are brown and shrivelled, discard and start the process again.

7. Move pot to a sheltered location out of direct sunlight. I find dappled shade is best.

8. Once the cuttings are established and new leaves begin to grow I remove the plastic cover so the young plants adapt.

9. After about a six months, sometimes more, depending on how quickly the cuttings grow, repot cuttings to individual pots using good quality compost and you will have several young plants ready to pot on.

Hibiscus cuttings one year later

Hibiscus cuttings one year later

10. Hey presto! This healthy plant is just one of three I grew using the above method.

I grow my mature hibiscus plants in containers close to the house to shelter them from the destructive salt winds. This was originally a temporary measure to protect them while hardier plants and shrubs matured. However, I have been so pleased with the results the hibiscus have remained in the original containers where they were planted six years ago. Hibiscus are normally planted in the ground here, and the shrubs easily grow to over six feet tall.

Their versatility has surprised me as they grow well in either sun or shade. And, providing you keep them well watered, fed and pruned they are very easy to grow – certainly far easier than vegetables!

A Romantic Evening in Venice

The prompt for this week’s photo challenge is bridge. Unfortunately, after an extensive search through my photos for an inspiring bridge in Portugal, I drew a blank. Will a bridge in Venice suffice?

Gondolier - Venice

Gondolier – Venice

On our first evening in Venice we sat at one of these tables sipping wine while watching the Gondoliers at work. It never ceased to amaze me how they managed to squeeze under the low bridges, and still maneuver the gondola. I wanted a ride but we just ran out of time.

Bridge in Venice

Bridge in Venice

If you’ve never been to Venice do add it to your bucket list. I hope to return one day  to claim a romantic ride in a gondola.

FitBit Blues

A poem dedicated to my Fitbit.

I have a trusty Fitbit it likes to keep me trim

I have a trusty Fitbit it likes to keep me trim

I have a trusty Fitbit it likes to keep me trim
It puts me on the treadmill so walking’s not a whim.

Ten thousand steps my daily goal is harder than it seems
So I find my feet still walking even in my dreams.

Competing with my Fitbit friends who want to stay in shape
It makes me walk around and round till neighbors stop to gape.

And as my Fitbit cracks the whip and round and round I go
My footsteps echo in my mind like a Broadway tap dance show.

So if you buy a Fitbit and think that you can skive
Did you know it emails you to give you added drive?

It also sends reminders when its battery’s running low
Or congratulations: only two thousand steps to go!

So if you have a Fitbit and think that you can rest
Beware, it logs your footsteps and sets skivers extra tests.

I had a trusty Fitbit it tried to keep me trim
But these feet ain’t made for walking so now I’ve joined the gym.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

I’ve lost 10kg since Jan but now dropped back to 8kg. Gotta get walking!

Driving in the UK – Variable Speed Limits

On a recent trip back to the UK we found, much to our surprise, driving far more stressful than in Portugal. Okay, you probably don’t get so many crazy drivers taking unnecessary risks, but that is probably due to the fact that most of the UK roads we traveled were nothing more than one long traffic jam with cameras monitoring your every move.

Driving on the M25 was most definitely, as dubbed by Chris Rea, ‘The Road to Hell’, and the M1 was as bad.

Why the variable speed limits?

One day we were driving along quite nicely when the overhead gantries flashed 60 mph, then 40 mph. As a result most drivers immediately hit the brakes (as Big Brother was watching), which then had a knock on effect as the traffic almost ground to a halt which caused yet another traffic jam and more chaos. Is this the intention?

Then there are the numerous road works.

The one thing that struck me about the UK was the number of cars. Is public transport so unreliable or expensive no one uses it any more? Or is the island sinking under the weight of an ever increasing car obsessed population?

After experiencing the excessive traffic in the UK I will never moan about Portuguese roads again. By comparison, the A22 Motorway which runs from Lagos in the West, along the Algarve to the East and into Spain is almost empty. The N125 can be problematic with traffic delays exacerbated by a continual round of roadworks and the influx of tourists in the high season. (That and the fact no one wants to pay the tolls on the A22).

 V is for ‘Variable speed limits‘. That’s my pet peeve for today.

Why not join me in the A-Z of Pet Peeves Challenge by sharing your  personal A-Z .  Simply post a peeve to your blog and don’t forget to share a links to your peeves to  Pet Peeves A-Z  page so we can all follow your progress!

#petpeevesA-Z

Related Post: Driving in Portugal – 12 Survival Tips

Order or Out of Order?

My passion for gardening has now extended to include collecting succulents and cacti so every time I visit a garden centre my first port of call is the succulent and cacti bays. So far choice has been limited as most garden centres and shops sell nigh on the same plants. If anyone knows any specialist centres along the Algarve or Alentejo please let me know.

You can imagine my surprise when I spotted these!

Mix and Match Cacti

Mix and Match Cacti

Apparently they are grafted cacti. I am not sure … to me they look grotesque. I never bought one.

What do you think?

Stretching the imagination into the realms of weird horror I wonder if in years to come they will be be grafting a woman’s head onto a man’s body. Or even a dog’s head onto a cat or a dog’s head onto a man!

This post was prompted by the photo challenge prompt Order not by excess vinho.

Furrrrrry Friends

Do cats and dogs need us as much as we need them?

Furry Friend

Furry Friend

When I was a child I had two cats both of which were killed on the road.  When I lost my first cat I was heartbroken so my parents, in an attempt to soften the loss, bought me a kitten which I named Lucky. Unfortunately, he  was not so lucky as he found his way down to the main road where he also met his maker.

I still remember the bond I had with them so when I snapped this photograph of my baby grandson with their family cat  it rekindled childhood memories.

We never got another cat and my bond with ‘furry friends’ was broken.

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Friend

Inconsiderate Drivers or Road Rats?

Today I was driving down a very ‘wibbly wobbly’, twisty narrow road to my mosaic class. Given my knowledge of the road I drive steady. Real steady. I call it the road of Hell or the pathway to Heaven.

I always anticipate the unexpected  as it is not unusual  to drive round a  bend to discover a burro and cart, chickens and stray dogs, or even  police cars parked in awkward places to pull in cars for vehicle checks. And that’s before you’ve taken into account drivers who overtake on the brow of a hill or/and or a blind bend. Anything can and does happen, so I concentrate.

This morning I caught sight of a car in my side mirror. For God’s sake, he was overtaking me on the brow of hill and and crossing a single white line. I had a ‘moment’ as I was not planning a trip to heaven just yet. He pulled back at the last minute as a large oil tanker hurtled round the bend at speed (thankfully I carry a spare pair of pants). I blinked then prayed before beeping my horn at him in disgust while shouting, Asshat!

He then hitched a ride right on my bumper for the next few wibbly wobbly terrifying miles impatiently weaving in and out to overtake then pulling back.

He makes his move. Again on the brow of the hill. No way could he see. He is almost level with my drivers door before he realizes he is running out of road as an oncoming car appears over the hill and flashes the headlights at him in warning.

I am now incensed. He is still tail-gating on my bumper. I slow down as his inconsiderate overtaking tactics are making me nervous. Extremely nervous.

“Hey, Asshat, I don’t want a bunch of flowers left at the side of the road to mark my passing to the next world. There is nowhere for me to pull over or for you to overtake. PATIENCE!”

Sheesh, this guy must have nine lives. I looked in my mirror, Asshhat is on his mobile phone gesticulating to an invisible audience.

Eventually, he overtook and squeezed by narrowly missing an oncoming car.

Needless to say he got the two-finger sign from me as he sped past. He was gone in seconds, and as beads of perspiration trickled down my back I let out a sigh of relief. Why are some drivers SO inconsiderate? He may have had a death wish aka late for the airplane, doctors appointment, work or whatever, but you are a long time dead.

I mused: would I stop to help if I discovered his car wrapped around a tree as I rounded the next hairpin bend? Ponderous.

 I is for ‘Inconsiderate Drivers‘. That’s my pet peeve for today.

Why not join me in the A-Z of Pet Peeves Challenge by sharing your  personal A-Z .  Simply post a peeve to your blog and don’t forget to share a links to your peeves to  Pet Peeves A-Z  page so we can all follow your progress!

 

Who’s up for the challenge?

Photo credit: Pixabay.com

Revamping My Blog – Help Please

I need some help from my followers, please. As it says on the tin I am ‘Revamping My Blog’, aka moving the furniture around and giving it a fresh coat of paint. After seven years it’s well overdue some TLC.

I’ve tried posting to the WP Community Pool and I’ve lost the will to live by lack of response from the blizzard of bloggers all fighting for airspace.

so here goes…

About Page

When I visit a new blog the first post/page I look for is the ‘About‘ page to see what we have in common. It’s surprising how many bloggers don’t have one. I’ve just updated mine, is it okay?

Gravatar

I’ve updated to

Links to websites included?  yep. Have you completed your gravatar info?

Header (Masthead)

I am useless at design  so if anyone would like to put forward suggestions for improving this, I’d be grateful. You can tell me it sucks… I’m not proud to admit defeat.

Update: someone has just contacted me and made some suggestions! Watch this space. THANK YOU!

Tag line

Which do you prefer: Surfing life one day at a time

or

Surfing life one wave at a time

Pages

I have merged some pages and created others such as ‘Pet Peeves A – Z‘.

I thought this would be a fun challenge if anyone would like to join in. Just leave links to your PP blog posts in the comment box and I’ll do a round up of Peeves once a month.

Sidebar Widgets

I have lots! Probably too many. As I’d like to add more blogs to my blog roll I think I am going to create a page to accommodate an overview of my favourite blogs. I notice a couple of bloggers I follow do this and I think it is a good idea. What do you think?

Anyways, that’s it for now. ALL feedback appreciated, thank you.

Growing Cucumbers in Pots is SO Easy!

Imagine eating your own home-grown organic cucumbers. Hmmmm… delicious!

Why not challenge yourself to grow cucumbers in pots or indeed any container which has adequate drainage. Even if you only have a small garden or sunny balcony give it a try and let me know how you get on.

I usually buy about six seedling plugs from the market or a local garden centre in March . They are really cheap  (about 25cents each) and less frustrating/wasteful than growing from seed. If the seedlings are not available in your area then packets of seeds can be purchase in garden centres, DIY shops and even supermarkets.

Growing from seed means you lose about two weeks as they take time to germinate and I’m far too impatient for that. But sometimes needs must and we go with the flow.

Cucumber seedling plugs

Cucumber seedling plugs

I then plant into small containers such as yogurt or small flower pots using multi-purpose compost.

Baby cucumber plants

Baby cucumber plants

Old plastic water bottles are up-cycled as plant cloches to protect young plants from cold winds and inclement weather until they are more hardy.

Mini cloches - Old plastic water bottles are up-cycled as plant cloches to protect the young plants from cold winds and inclement weather until they are more hardy.

Mini cloches – Old plastic water bottles are up-cycled as plant cloches to protect the young plants from cold winds and inclement weather until they are more hardy.

The reason I always buy more plants than I need is because some of the seedlings will probably be enjoyed by my pet snail ‘Sid’ and his family, and the runt of the seedlings usually die due to cold weather or just bad luck.

So out of six small plants I end up with three healthy specimens.

When the plants are a little more robust I then plant in one large container in good quality compost and some rotted manure (when available). I initially protect the plants by making plant collars from plastic water bottles

plastic collars to protect plants

plastic collars to protect plants

Once the first flowers appear I feed with liquid tomato feed available from garden centres, supermarkets or DIY stores which seem to sell everything bar toilet rolls. It seems to work well and as yet I’ve not found a more general purpose vegetable feed other than manure tea which if you are living in a confined space is probably not a good idea.

About ten weeks later your first cucumbers are ready to pick. Usually several at once!

Cucumbers grow well in pots

Cucumbers grow well in pots

I will plant my next batch of seedlings in June so these will take me through to October/November – depending on the weather.

Growing Tips:

– Feed every couple of weeks.
– Water daily
– If you let the the cucumbers grow too big the seeds become tough and bitter. I usually pick when the cucumbers are about 6 inches long.

My first crop of cucumbers - May 27th.  2017

My first crop of cucumbers – May 27th. 2017

When I have a glut of cucumbers I now pickle in vinegar with onion. They are delicious!

Pickled Cucumbers

5 Cucumbers
1 Kg onions, peeled and halved
80 grams sea salt
500 ml vinegar
350 grams granulated sugar
4 or 2 tsp mustard seeds (I only use 2 tsp)
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
Slice the cucumber and onions thinly, layer them in a bowl, sprinkle salt. Weigh them down with a plate and leave overnight.
Drain off the liquid, rinse well and drain in a colander.
Combine vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, cloves and turmeric in a pan and bring slowly to boil. Stir to dissolve the sugar, add cucumbers and onions and boil for 1 minute.
Transfer the cucumber and onions to a jar and reduce the liquid for 15 minutes, then divide between the jars to the top.
This will keep for several months.

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So who is going to take up the challenge?