Tuesday, November 26, 2013
I finally have one...yes one...very healthy, bushy green and flowering hydrangea. It is a big achievement for me as every hydrangea I have ever grown has never survived the harsh summers in my Adelaide suburban garden.
Hydrangeas is my part of Adelaide need to potted and never directly planted straight into the garden, so that they can be moved on extreme weather days. The Adelaide Hills provides a completely different environment altogether, and can be easily planted out permanently in the garden.
I normally move delicate pot plants such as hydrangeas inside on very hot days, but there are times when I under estimate the suns intensity on slightly less hot days. And that's when plant sun burn can strike!
So this month I am trialling a product from Yates called Waterwise Drought Shield ($9.95 at Bunnings) to help me through this summer.
Drought Shield also helps to protect against light frosts. Yates recommends that plants be sprayed in early autumn for best protection against frost, and reapplied every 30 days until the risk of frost has passed.
Yates Waterwise Drought Shield claims to protect plants from heat, water loss, drying winds, frost and transplant shock.
Yates does warning that some plants such as bromeliads and ferns may be sensitive to the spray, so always do a test spot on a leaf first and inspect the next day to see if it is suitable for your plants.
I shall be keeping a keen eye on my plants this season to see how good Drought Shield performs.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
I challenged myself this Spring to see if my new planting arrangements and soil conditioning had changed what bug life was coming into my garden. I wanted to attract the beneficial bugs to eat up the other invaders that I suffer with every year.
The good news is that the aphids are fully under control thanks to the small wasps and hover flies. You know when they have been busy because they leave aphid mummies behind on the leaf.
The hover flies have been particularly active this year and in higher numbers. They seem to be particularly attracted to the German Camomile flowers which are a new addition this year.
I have been trying to restrain myself this year from squashing the aphids with my fingers just to see if the beneficial bugs are doing their job. Yes, they are! My patience has paid off.
I did discover a good number of ladybugs especially in amongst the agapanthus, in the jasmin tree and on the clothes on the washing line. Never in heavy numbers, just regular sightings that seems to be up since last year.
There are good and bad ladybugs. So from my own observations I believe that they have all been excellent and most welcome in my garden. The colours have varied between the red and orange/yellow varieties. The more yellower variety of ladybug will feed on mildew fungus. That's a bonus!
Bees are especially welcome to my garden. The sunflowers and broad beans have been keeping the visiting bees very happy!
The blow flies have been particularly bad this year, but many people I know far and wide throughout South Australia are reporting the same thing at the moment.
Moths are also on the increase with the more spectacular larger moths with the 'eyes' on their wings coming into my garden for the first time ever. The moths and butterflies really seem attracted to the calendula flowers, which are also new to my garden this year.
There are also plenty more insects that I cannot identify as yet, but I know that they are really enjoying their home amongst the new flowers beneath the plum espalier.
What is the benefit of Beneficial Bugs?
Less sprays, less chemicals, let nature balance the garden. Whenever any bug or insect population gets out of of hand then there is a missing predator that should be there. A good mix of plants promotes a good relationship between the mini beasts, providing a habitat and food source. Overall, its money saving and environmentally sound.
Bugs are welcome...within moderation. :)
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Our one and only Dragon Fruit is growing really well. But having never seen any flowers on it I was wondering how it would ever develop fruit.
I'm glad I came across this Dragon Fruit pollination video on YouTube, as it could also mean that I may need another 'tree' as a pollinator. Fingers-crossed that our 'tree' is a self-pollinator. I can't wait for the first flower.
Did you know that the best time to hand-pollinate a Dragon Fruit is between 10pm and 11pm?
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Glut and famine can be found in a most vegetable gardens; some things grow rather too well while others get eaten by cabbage moth caterpillars, go straight to seed or suffer disease and produce very little for the amount of water and fertilizer spent on it. Suddenly the time and money spent becomes a real weight as to whether its worthwhile continuing a garden. So a solution is needed.
My veggie garden is undergoing a very quiet time this season as I am reassessing what I should REALLY plant.
I found that I can grow some plants very easily so I need to reduce those plantings and stagger their plantings. But I also discovered that it was cheaper to buy some veggies rather than to attempt to plant them and fight their disease, water and fertilizer issues. Its a matter of balance.
Having looked at my soil in the planter boxes and ground level garden beds, I want to get the mix right. I brought in some organic loamy soil by the trailer full to refresh the ground level garden beds, followed by a planting of rocket to fight the nematodes in other parts of the garden.
I currently have test crops in to see how well the loamy soil performs, such as the Broad Beans, Curly Kale, Garlic, and heirloom Chard.
As comparison, I have planted some other crops in the older soil to see if they will perform equally. Then I can make a really informed soil choice. I'm sure it will all be worth the test and measure for the longevity of my garden and its productivity.
Here's the basic principle every gardener should use when planning a garden...
3 Principles of Gardening
- Shelf Life - Whatever stores well
- Availability - What you don't normally see in the shops
- Price - What is too expensive to buy
Root vegetables, pumpkins and anything you like to jam, dry, preserve or freeze.
Note: Potatoes cannot be frozen
'How fast will you eat what you grow?' is a good guide, too.
Broad Beans and many other bean varieties are usually very rare amongst the shops in a fresh form, that is because they really need to be eaten at harvest time.
If it is hard to get your favourite fruit and vegetables in your area then they are the ones you should grow.
Stone fruit and tomatoes have much more flavour when picked from your own garden and allowed to ripen in a cool dark place in your house. They far exceed what you can buy from the shop when it comes to flavour and smell. So even though that are readily available, the smell and flavour may not be there, that is why they fall into the Availability category.
Avocado prices can be extraordinarily high at times, so growing your own may work out to be much more affordable.
Dollar to kilogram ratio ($/Kg), herbs are by far the most expensive. They store well when dried so they also fall into the Shelf Life category.
Follow these 3 principles of gardening and you will find you have a more balanced way of gardening that is sustainable and rewarding.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
As you might well know, I'm an avid suburban chicken owner, plucked from the farm but with a total love for rearing my own animals still. The move also shifted how I do things on a smaller scale. So when I needed some handy advice I discovered Lisa Steele's blog called Fresh Eggs Daily .
Lisa has thrown herself into learning everything she could about raising happy healthy chickens. If you haven't checked out her blog yet, I really encourage you to do so.
This month Lisa has now released her very first book, all those handy hints from her website and so much more, all in one handy volume.
Fresh Eggs Daily now available on:
Book Depository (PayPal accepted)
Friday, October 4, 2013
Friday, September 27, 2013
Gypsum (calcium sulphate) is added to soils that are heavy in clay which can be really sticky. Adding lots of organic matter such as compost with the gypsum helps to break down the clay to be easier on the plant roots to grow and not become water-logged.
Gypsum also releases minerals within the soil structure which where bound up in the clay particles so that they become available for plant nutrition.
Make sure that you use natural garden Gypsum, not the white builders' variety.
Ratio for Gypsum: 0.5-1kg to 1m2 of soil (dig through)
How do I know if I have clay soil?
Poor drainage is the first sign. There might be signs of moss, but not in every case. Grass may not grow in that area or plants that have been previously planted there never seem to thrive.
When the soil it moist, grab a handful and squeeze it together. If it stays firm, in shape and not crumbly it will be clay soil. Good loamy soil will soon fall apart and not stay in shape.
Do a 2 foot test hole first. Fill with a full bucket of water and time how long it takes to drain.
If water is takes 12-24 hours to drain you can be sure its a clay soil.
A second test is to use a glass of water. Drop in a 6mm size piece of dry soil. Let it stand for 24 hours without moving or stirring it. If it slowly falls apart in the water this soil should respond to gypsum being added. If it does not dissolve it might not be worthwhile to add the gypsum as the soil will not respond.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
|Fresh slime mold|
There's something new in my garden every month, but this find takes the cake!
I find all sorts of different fungi in my front garden (because there are no chickens out there to scratch it around). The mulch layer in the garden beds have grown practical lab specimens!
This month, however, sees a new sort of growth that is NOT a fungi but a mould.
Commonly known as Dog Vomit Mold (or Mould).
It is often found in bark mulch in urban areas after heavy rain or excessive watering.
They often appear in Spring or Summer following soaking rains.
It started out as a white mass, progressed to a dust pink, to a brown and then to a camouflage grey colour as it withers away.
Dog Vomit Slime Mold is also known to be yellow or orange in colour. Theses are often referred to as Scrambled Egg Slime.
This species is known to cause asthma and allergenic rhinitis in susceptible people.
|Withered slime mold|
Tuesday, September 24, 2013
My children were all excited thinking that there were new cocoons in our front garden, hoping to see the life cycle of a butterfly, but came the morning light they discovered that they were more like frothy bubbles on the rosemary bush stem. Frothy like frog spit, but there are no frogs in our garden at the moment. So running back inside they grabbed me to help identify what it could be.
The answer is the Spittlebug or Spittle Bug, also known as the Froghopper.
What are they?
Spittle Bugs are a relative of the aphid family.
Both adult and nymphs are sap sucking insects.
When they become adults they will grow wings and look like a leafhopper.
There are over 23,00 different Spittle Bugs varieties!
Eggs are laid during summer or spring. Hatching occurs in the following spring.
They are commonly found in junipers, pine trees, eucalpyts and rosemary plants, but not exclusively.
What do they do on the plants?
Spittle Bug nymphs attach themselves to plants by their mouthparts. Once attached they feed on the plant sap. Its their consumption of the sap, water and carbohydrates, that help them produce the formation of the their spittle or frothiness.
Why do they create the frothiness?
They create the froth on the plant stem for three main reasons:
- To protect them against predators.
- To prevent water loss and functions as a thermal controller.
- It insulates them from temperature extremes.
Do they cause damage?
Severe Spittle Bugs attacks can cause stunted growth of a plant, however these bugs are not considered as serious pests. Often associated with black sooty mould on tree branches. They prefer the young shoots to adhere to.
If you are at all worried about these bugs on your plants, simply blast them with the spray of the hose to detach them to encourage them on their way. No need for chemical sprays.
If spraying is required for severe infestations, use maldison.
They are often well controlled by predators, such as small birds, spiders, assassin bugs, ladybirds/ladybugs, and lacewigs. Eggs, nymphs and adults are often parasitised by flies and small wasps.
We often think of bees as those pesky bugs, who’s only purpose is to annoy and sting. But the honey bee actually has great importance to our environment. This infographic from Green Living will show you all the value bees have, and you'll think twice next time before you swat any bees away.
Please share and spread the love and appreciation for bees in our garden.
Please share and spread the love and appreciation for bees in our garden.
Sunday, September 8, 2013
It is so exciting to see all my new fruit trees developing leaves and blossoms for the very first time in the first week of Spring.
All of my citrus trees all have new leaf growth and have all been fed with dried chicken manure that has been left to stand for a season before being used.
My espalier Plum has shown its first leaves this weekend. So thrilling to finally see.
The Fig tree is the most rapid growing tree I have ever seen!
The Dwarf Peach has been the most pretty to watch open in blossom.
Even the Apricot tree is starting to blossom!