Friday, October 17, 2014

Espalier Care


My plum has finally reached the top of the espalier frame after much care and training, but as beautiful as it looks there were no flowers on it this year, but one fleeting one for a couple of days. Meanwhile, my other plum tree flowered first before developing leaves.

My espalier garden is kept well fenced off from my free range chickens. Such is the trade off. So to keep my garden bed to minimum fuss to keep the chooky girls out, I place perennials and self-seeding plants around the fruit trees. It works perfectly with an amazing flourish of colour and height. Yes, very tempting for chickens to dive into.

What surprised me most was the way that my Satsuma Plum developed its leaves, starting at the base and eventually sending up enough energy to the top to start its leafy growth a little while later.


Espalier Care Checklist


  • Fertilise when the first signs of waking up from its winter dormant sleep with a quality pellet fertiliser. Ensure that it has a good drink of water for absorption.
  • Choose the best lateral branches to train and remove all other competing growth.
  • Every layer is tied gently with tee-shirt ties that allow the growth and expansion of the branches. Adjust these as the branches grow further laterally.
  • Remove stem growth and long off shoots from the branches. Rub the stem to remove new growth and snip the longer branch shoots. This will stop any new branches from developing and channels energy into the established branches.
  • Check for excessive ant activity (ants like to farm on fruit trees, so check your citrus trees too in Spring for scale). Reduce pests that may be harming the tree.
  • Spraying for curl and other pests and diseases needs to be done early in Winter or early Spring as soon as the leaves start to appear. For more information click here.
  • Keep an eye on the soil moisture as the days warm up. Deep slow watering is ideal.
  • And if you haven't done so already, ensure that you have a cross pollinator tree nearby that is compatible with your fruit tree.




It has come a long way very quickly and it looks great!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Amgrow Wettasoil Liquid - How to add moisture to drying out soil

The sudden on set of warmer days in Spring not only bring out the blossoms, flies and mozzies, but soil and potting mix dries out quicker, to the point of either cracking or becoming water repellent. There is a solution.

If your soil is left dry for long periods of time it can become "hydrophobic." So no matter how much water you pour onto it, it just won't sink down deeply to the roots.

These days, everyone knows about the benefits of adding a Wettasoil product to the soil, which comes in a dry form that needs to be hydrated and plumped up for a hour before being hand mixed through.

But what happens when you can't disturb the soil around the established plants who desperately need more moisture to be held around their roots?

This is my new favourite product which I have been using for just over 12 months, so I can confidently say that this one works!

Amgrow Wettasoil Professional liquid concentrate (RRP $15.95)


I use this in my raised vegetable garden planters, pot plants and lawn as soon as cracks start to show or the water just won't sink in.

Wettasoil liquid is so easy to use:

Only 15ml to 9 Litres of water in a watering can for every 4 square meters.
It comes with an easy measuring lid, so there is no need to guess.

It can be used oat every watering to make watering quicker and more effective, especially for pot plants with excessively compact, dry soil



Amgrow Wettasoil is completely safe to use around plant roots.

Depending on your climate and soil type, this product should last for up to 12 months in the soil before a reapplication. A reapplication every 6 months actually improves its overall performance.

This is an amazing product to help your plants become more drought tolerant. Which doesn't mean that your plants can go totally without water, but when you do water, the moisture is retained in the soil more effectively and for longer, benefiting the plants.

It doesn't just add more moisture to the soil, but adds plant extracts, amino acids and growth stimulants that improve the plants ability to take up moisture and recover from short periods of dryness.

It stops new dry spots from happening and saves money on watering. With water bills always on the rise, a great product like this is essential.


Cracks in the Lawn

BEFORE


AFTER (1 day after application)

Amgrow Wettasoil Professional Soil Wetter Concentrate liquid is available at all good hardware and plant nurseries, Australia wide.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Longleaf Pine


I grew up with pine trees in country South Australia. Pinus Radiata and Australian Cypress Pines were everywhere. But when I went to high school I saw the most lovely pine tree that had a long clean trunk with long weeping needles. It was magnificent! I spent many art classes trying to draw that tree. Then when I moved to the Adelaide southern suburbs, in a park behind my house...there was that same pine tree{sigh}. Who would have thought I would like a pine tree so much? Admittedly it is a little quirky.

So researching this tree a little more, all I could find was its Longleaf Pine category, but no official name. So if you know what Pine this is, please let me know.

Pine cones are beginning to grow right now, and most notably they only grow on the end of each branch.

Growing from this:


To this:


To become this:

Big beautiful pine tree. I always think of the needles as being pom-poms.


If you can identify this pine species, leave me a note in the comments. I'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Can Fennel and Dill Cross Pollinate?

Gardening forums have been divided on whether the herbs fennel and dill can cross pollinate. This year my garden decided to prove that the warnings are true after all.

I planted my dill in a container right next to the fennel last year. This year, after the dill had died back, new plants began to emerge. I let them grow to see what would develop, and sure enough they weren't dill...and they weren't quite fennel. In fact the foliage colour seemed to indicate that it was a little bit different.

The bottom of each plant has a more fennel bulb look.
The taste is a confusion of both fennel and dill. A bit more fennel but less aniseed.
The texture, however, is far tougher than both fennel and dill which are much more softer.

Having learnt my lesson, I am now growing my dill far away from my fennel plants.

How to prevent cross pollination

  • Plant fennel and dill as far away from each other as practically possible.
  • Since both herbs grow well in pots, moving pots makes controlling their proximity easier.
  • Only plants from the same family can pollinate each other, so the same applies to any other vegetable or flower in the garden.

Fennel

Dill


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Magnolia season at Mount Lofty Botanic Garden


September is the best month to visit Mount Lofty Botanic Garden to see the Magnolias in full flower. We celebrated Father's Day this year with a picnic beneath the gorgeous Magnolia trees.

Access via the bottom car park off of Lampert Rd from the Piccadilly Rd from Crafers.



A beautiful visit! Every month and every season it is different and a great workout. It is steep.
♥♥♥

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Terrariums


This month I had a very special guest come visit me and my garden, gardening guru Michael Keelan who helped me create some amazing terrariums for Channel 7's SALife program (Sunday 5:30pm).

VIEW THE SEGMENT HERE: SALife Website

Terrariums are a great way to garden indoors especially if you live a busy lifestyle or you are away often. In fact these are a great gift for any one who loves gardening. This is even one for the lazy gardeners.

Being low maintenance and clean, a terrarium adds a beautiful living design element to any room that has naturally filtered light. Dress them up, get creative because there are no limits to your imagination when creating a terrarium.

And terrariums are so easy to create!

They really are like a mini rainforest, working on the principles of condensation, evaporation and precipitation. To get your terrarium working well there are some basic rules to follow so that the water cycle works effectively for your plants.

To get started:

Download the Fact Sheet


What you will need

  • Clear glass or plastic container (with or without a lid)
  • Pebbles or coarse gravel
  • Activated charcoal (the smaller granular type from aquarium shops are ideal)
  • Potting mix (Premium or Cacti & Succulent Mix)
  • Plants
  • Mist Water Spraying Bottle with fresh water
  • Decorative objects (optional)


Terrariums on a Budget

Terrariums can be made from the simplest and cheapest materials all the way through to the high end fancy display. Use an old 2 Litre soft drink plastic bottle or even an old food jar. It can start that simple.

So I did my shopping around to find the best buys to get the most for your money.




Choosing your Jar

To activate the water cycle, choose a jar or container that either has a lid, side opening or rounded top opening to help the condensation return to the soil.

If you like tall plants then choose a tall container. Just remember that the pebbles and soil will raise the internal height.

The width of your container and plants are also important to consider as we do not want the foliage to touch the sides of the container or this will lead to rot and fungal problems. Simply snip back any leaves that don't quite fit whenever you see them touching a side.

Homemade polymer clay mini mushrooms dress up this Moss terrarium

Plant Choices

Standard Terrarium Garden
Head to your local nursery to the shade plants section and choose from the mini pots.
Terrariums rarely host flowering plants, but African Violets do very well.

via

Its not always the mini shade plants that take pride of place in a terrarium.
How about these other combinations:

Moss Garden
Moss gardens do not need any form of drainage as they thrive in boggy conditions. Just remember to check on it daily to see that it is still moist. Dryness will kill the moss off quickly. Mosses are not commercially available in South Australia, so it will be up to you to hunt in those darker moist areas of the garden.

Cacti and Succulent Garden
Not all cactus are spiky. Using a more open bowl to allow extra moisture to escape will keep these beautiful plants in the best condition. Always use the right potting mix blend.

Air Plants Garden
Air Plants do not need any soil to grow, just attach to a rock or piece of wood with florist wire or a dab or glue. If your container only contains pebbles, simply wiggle the plant into place between rocks very gently and place in a location that receives fresh air flow as the particles in the air feed Air Plants. A little light misting every now and again is recommended. Air Plants come in plastic containers are available at most nurseries and hardware store garden sections.

Air Plants planted among pebbles

I hope this has inspired you to create your very own terrarium.
They make beautiful gifts as well as brighten up any room.

They only need a light spray of water every 2 to 4 weeks or as needed.

If you have made one, please let me know. You can follow me on Facebook and show off your terrarium creations there too.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Amazing Chinese Five Spice Recipe

I know what you are thinking: Does that spice ever make it out of the cupboard? Have you ever made Salt & Pepper Squid? This spice not only enhances the flavour, it IS the flavour. And WOW!

Having thrown out some old spices from my pantry I did not have a jar on hand so I searched for a recipe to make my own, and I found this amazing recipe and gave my own twist.

My secret? Long Pepper from Beach Organics (Middleton, South Australia).
Scored this from the Willunga Farmers Market.



Amazing Chinese Five Spice Powder

Ingredients

1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground Cloves
1 teaspoon Fennel Seeds
1 teaspoon Star Anise
1 teaspoon Long Pepper
1/2 teaspoon cracked Black Pepper

Method
  1. Grind up the Fennel Seeds, Star Anise, Long Pepper and Black Pepper in a coffee bean grinder or similar.
  2. Add the ground Cinnamon and Cloves.
  3. Mix the spices together and store in an airtight jar.

Notes
The original recipe says to toast the fennel seeds first. I did not do this.
Szechuan Peppercorns are used in the original recipe.
I have substituted the peppercorns with Long Pepper and Cracked Black Pepper.



Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Rusty Bird Garden Jigsaw

Click on the image below to start today's jigsaw. Have fun!

preview120 pieceRusty Bird Garden

Spring is Door Knocking in my Garden

Spring is door knocking in my garden already. It always seems to make an appearance in my garden around the 23rd of August every year. The days are become just that little bit longer and the sun shines more warmly. This week I found buds appearing, new flowers bursting out and a personal flurry of activity in the garden. You couldn't have stopped me, the weather made me do it. Ha, ha! What a great excuse♥

Here's a look around my garden at the end of August this year.

Camellia Nuccio's Pearl flowering

Camellia Japonica - Angel

Camellia Japonica - Beatrice Emily

Double Poppies - my first try - seeds from a friend at church

Helleborus in full flower
Potted Freesias

One of my shade loving plants under the apple trees. Possibly an anemone.

Potted Arum Lillies

Meanwhile in the edible section of my garden, there's some activity brewing...

Dwarf Meyer Lemon is heavily laden with flowers

Dwarf Santa Rosa Plum is already budding, but the Satsuma Plum is still dormant.

Brown Turkey fig is not only growing leaves but fruit at the SAME time.

Garlics are growing well. Lost two earlier on in the season, but their replacements have caught up.

Growing Green Manure crop around the base of the Curly Kale to add more nitrogen to the soil.

On my list of Never Fail Crops - my leeks are growing well.

Broad Beans have started to shoot up fast

Turned over the compost bins. Beautiful stuff!

Silverbeet

Baby Fennel is almost ready to harvest. Oh yum!

August always makes me feel excited in the garden. How is your garden going this year?