Saturday, December 31, 2011

Tip of The Day #4

If your plants look wilted in the sun, do not water them to make them feel better. Plants naturally release the moisture from their leaves to conserve water in the heat of the day, directing all moisture back into their roots. When the shade returns over them, they spring back to full health. Watering them in full sun will cause plants damage.

;)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Vintage JigSaw

Here's today fabulous distraction . . .
Click on the image below to play your online jigsaw.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tip of The Day #3

To kill weeds without chemicals, simply use boiling hot water. Straight from the kettle or left over cooking water from the saucepan, pour directly over the weeds. Watch them die over the next day or two. Saves you money and great for the environment.

;)

Monday, December 19, 2011

Boosting Strawberries



Growing strawberries is usually very easy, whether they be in a pot or planted directly in the ground. But there are times when strawberries just don't seem to grow the way they should. Dry leaves, little or no fruit, just plain sick. 

Strawberries require plenty of water. Drip irrigation is well worth the time and effort. Try not to use overhead watering, but if you hose water, ensure that it is in the evening or very early morning to avoid sunburn on wet leaves. A fortnightly application of seaweed fertiliser (e.g. Seasol) improves the vigor of the plants. 

My Challenge

This year, I had one pot of strawberries that just lost its zest for life. So I started to research what strawberries really need, rather than just watering in more soluble fertilizer.

Strawberries like a slightly acidic soil with a  pH of 5.0 - 6.0.
Solution: Just add some Pine or Sheaok needles around the strawberries.

I tried a small handful of Sheoak pine needles gathered from our local playground and just watered over as usual.

My test pot was a complete success!
Bursting with flavorsome fruit and very healthy leaf growth.
I've never seen so many strawberries on this bush before.
Picking an average of 4 ripe strawberries per day. 

If you have tried the Pine or Sheoak Needle application on your strawberries, please let me know how it went and if you have had the same success.

Strawberry plant thriving with sheoak pine needles

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Tip of The Day #2

How do you remember when to plant each plant?
The simple answer is that you can't remember everything, so we have Growing Guides to help us.
But I do have a little trick of my own . . . birthday association.
Choose a family member's or friend's birthday for each month of the year and remember them with a vegetable that you would sow in that month. Call me crazy, but it works!

;)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Garlic Harvest

Summer is garlic harvest time.

The confusing thing about growing them, however, is that many magazines say that they are ready to harvest after flowering. In actual fact, I find that when the stem wilts, it's time. (The same can be true for potatoes.)

Check out these beauties from my veggie garden, harvested this week.




Garlic Tips
  • Garlic loves well rotted cow manure and lime.
  • The perfect garlic has a shade of purple.
  • Keep well watered and in a sunny position.
  • Excellent for growing in pots.
  • Don't be scared to use a lot of cloves of SLICED garlic in recipes, as they are a lot less pungent than the minced garlic (as commonly used in garlic bread).
  • Never buy a pure white garlic; they have been bleached
    (imported from poor sanitary conditions in such places as China or Mexico)
  • Buy in season for LOCALLY grown garlic at your Fruit 'n' Veg store.
  • YES, you CAN grow your own garlic from the Fruit 'n' Veg as long as it has the slight purple colouring. Organic is the best choice.
  • Remember to HANG your garlics to dry. Do not leave them on a surface to dry as their moisture tends to pool. Use their own stalks for tying together, or use natural twine.
  • Suitable for storing.

My December Garden


It's only early December but the garden is still Spring-lush, and full of summer salad potential!

My Adelaide garden been through such a tremendous transformation in one year, that it has been hard to believe that such a small spot behind a work shed could prosper so much. I'm feeling truly blessed.

You may notice a few of the planter beds are bare already. Harvests have been taking place.

Gone are the Spinach, Garlic, Spring Onions, Broad Beans, and the first round of Broccoli.

Our current ongoing harvest includes:
  • Strawberries
  • Rhubarb
  • Lettuces
  • Carrots
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Cucumber
  • Dill
  • Coriander
  • Parsley
  • Basil
And soon . . . the POTATOES.


The potatoes have been my biggest experiment this year with growing them in different planting situations. Direct in the ground, in a special planter bag or direct into a potting mix bag.

The potatoes in potting mix bags have struggled the most, mostly with yellowing leaves and lack of height. But I can wiggle my fingers down inside of each bag to feel how my potatoes are progressing in size, and all seems very healthy there.

Do you need to feed Potatoes during growing time?
Yes, and there are two ways you can do it. Using both methods is recommended but not too frequently.
  1. Lucerne as a mulch
  2. Thrive liquid soluble fertilizer

What's next for Summer?

We can look forward to:

  • Capsicums and chillies will begin to set and ripen
  • Cucumbers will multiply
  • Carrots will be harvested over time as needed
  • Broccoli harvest
  • Potato harvest
  • Large Tomato harvest
  • Pulling out old broad bean plants and digging the nitrogen back into the soil
  • Getting beds ready for new crops
  • Next round of planting

What to plant next? That is the question. Meanwhile, check out the progress of some of our garden produce . . .


Pink Pearl Cherry Tomatoes

Capsicums in flower

Burpless Cucumber in flower and setting

Chillies are setting

Teacher Comedy

Friday, November 25, 2011

Lamb and Broad Bean Tagine

From the Taste website (www.taste.com.au). Tried - Tested - LOVED!

Photography by Steve Brown

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 tbs olive oil
4 (about 300g each) lamb shanks
2 large red onions, halved, sliced
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbs ground cumin
1 7cm cinnamon stick
2 400g cans Italian diced tomatoes (La Gina brand)
250ml (1 cup) beef stock
375g (2 1/2 cups) shelled fresh broad beans (1.2kg fresh)
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
190g (1 cup) couscous
250ml (1 cup) boiling water
1 tsp finely grated fresh lemon rind
1/4 cup loosely packed chopped fresh continental parsley

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 170°C. Heat oil in flameproof casserole dish over medium-high heat. Add 2 lamb shanks and cook, turning, for 2-3 minutes or until browned. Remove from dish, repeat with remaining shanks. Add onions and cook, stirring, for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add garlic, cumin and cinnamon, and cook for 1 minute or until aromatic

  2. Return lamb shanks to pan. Add tomatoes and stock. Cover, bring to the boil over high heat. Place in oven and cook, turning shanks occasionally, for 1 1/4 hours.

  3. Meanwhile, cook broad beans in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for about 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain. Rinse under cold running water. Remove the skins. Place the broad beans in a bowl and set aside.

  4. Uncover lamb and cook for a further 20-30 minutes or until lamb is falling off the bone and sauce reduces and thickens. Add the broad beans for the last 15 minutes of cooking. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

  5. Meanwhile, place couscous in a heatproof bowl. Pour over boiling water while stirring with a fork. Cover, set aside for 3-4 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Fluff grains with a fork. Add lemon rind, season with salt and pepper, and stir well to combine.

  6. To serve, spoon couscous onto serving plates. Top with lamb shank, spoon over sauce and sprinkle with parsley.

Notes

This recipe uses a lot of Broad Beans. We were taken by surprise and had enough time to cook a second batch of broad beans before adding a the end of cooking.

I recommend adding the broad beans only within the last 5-10 minutes of cooking to keep their beautiful colour.

Great recipe to get through your broad bean crop quickly.

♥♥♥

New Additions To My Garden


Treloar Rose
Hybrid Tea Bush Rose
Abracadabra

 Available at Bunnings and online at www.treloarroses.com.au
Cost: under $20

 ♥♥♥





Hydrangea Macrophylla 'Jon01'
Strawberries & Cream

Available at Bunnings.
Handy Fact Sheet: www.tesselaar.com
Cost: $10 - $22

Tip of The Day #1


WASHING TOOLS

When washing your garden tools, always use cool water that is running slowly. Never use warm water as it will encourage rust to set in. Rub with your hand over the tool to ensure that it is thoroughly clean. Allow to air dry outside. If tools are put away in a warm shed immediately after a wash this will also encourage rust to grow on your tools.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Potting Mix Drama Fix

I have two of my very favourite varieties of tomatoes in my vegetable garden at the moment. One is a standard Burnely Bounty and the other is my absolutely top ranking cherry tomato, Pink Pearl. I can't tell you how keen I was to grow Pink Pearl again. Awesome flavour.


However, something occurred a week or two ago that sent my heart into full panic.


My Pink Pearl cherry tomato bush was completely limp!

And it happened just when my internet was down, my usual flurry of information hunting could not be carried out. So in desperation I rang Mum.

We hypothesized all the possible causes:
  • a worm/bug
  • an infection,
  • a twisty tie having been tied too tightly, etc.

So I ventured out into the garden to fully investigate the problem with trowel in hand.

But here is the curious part...

As I begun to dig down into the pot around the roots of my tomato plant, it found it incredibly hard and dry.

Now WHY should that be so unusual?

Because of the amount of water I was pouring onto it daily. I believe in a really good saturating drink of water for every plant. The water catchment pool underneath was even dry. So what happened to all of that water???

The problem was staring me right in my face.

It was the POTTING MIX.

It was the new type of potting mix that I had used: Debco's PotMate Vegetable & Herb potting mix.


PotMate contains a wetting agent as well as a controlled release fertiliser, trace elements and growth simulants. Pot Mate recommends that to get the full benefit of their potting mix, gardeners should not blend it with any other potting mix.

Shame on me, I HAVE been blending with other potting mixes using the Debco PotMate to great effect throughout my rasied bed vegetable garden.  But this time, I obeyed the instructions on the bag and went the whole hog on the PotMate for my favourite tomato. Nothing could be too good for my favourite plant.

But it does seem to be a wetting agent or water retainer additive problem.

Inserted garden hose to water deep down.

THE FIX
I gave my tomato a big drink of Seasol at the time of digging around the roots, and then inserted two hose pipes deep into the pot to ensure that the water would get down lower.

THE RESULT
My tomato plant bounced back to life over night! And is now bursting with tresses of cherry tomatoes, one week later.

Why did my other plants not suffer dryness with a blending of PotMate?
Because I mixed it in well to give effective drainage. The compost, general potting mix and cow manure were all working together to grab that moisture and get it to the roots properly.

LESSON LEARNED
BLEND, BLEND, BLEND your potting mixes for the best results♥
Debco PotMate is still I lovely product, but needs to be handled in the right way for beautiful results.

;)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mulching the Flower Garden


This month I have decided to focus on my front garden's watering needs and invested in a forest mulch to help reduce watering costs and to reduce weeds. My front garden is made up of bushes, roses, bulbs, ground covers and other flowering plants.

The best way to care for your garden is to ensure that it not only has good drainage but is also able to store enough moisture in the soil around the roots especially during the warmer months of the year.

Leaving your soil exposed to direct sunlight will cause considerable evaporation. And that is never good news for your plants during summer.

Adding mulch to any garden is like saying 'I Love You' to your plants.

What One Cubic Meter (m3) looks like.

I ordered one cubic meter (m3) which is a front-end-loader's scoop full (mounded trailer sized amount).  This surprisingly turned out to be a very generous amount and I was able to cover more that what I had expected, even with ensuring that the mulch was applied as thickly as recommended.

My order (including delivery) cost only $75.
If my car could have taken a free lone trailer I could have saved $25.

Keep your eyes open for Spring specials at your local garden soil suppliers. Spring is the best time to buy your mulch to save money.

Mulching Tips
  1. Water your plants well. Add a wetting agent if needed.
  2. Remove weeds.
  3. Dig in any compost to enhance the soil, if required.
  4. Clean up any dead leaf matter from native Australian trees (eucalyptus, paper bark, wattles, etc.), as they can slowly poison your plants like a toxic cup of tea.
  5. Dig up bulbs (at the end of Spring or early summer) to thin out or store, if appropriate.
  6. Apply your mulch thickly as it will reduce with time.
  7. Do not allow the mulch to come in direct contact with the base of the plants. Your plants need oxygen circulation.

Mulch Options

Don't be confused by all the different types of mulches on offer.  Some just "add nutrients" or contain added Blood and Bone.

I'm a firm believer that you don't need to buy anything "added" as your plants have individual nutrient needs.

Your native plants will have different nutrient needs compared to an acid loving Camilla or Protea. And those types of plants will need different care than any water-loving European introduced species.

The only exception would be a succulent/cacti themed garden, which would ideally benefit from pebbles.

A standard mulch (usually called a Forest Mulch) is ideal in most gardens.


Happy mulching!

;)

Friday, October 14, 2011

Australian Weather Radar

You'll love this and wonder how you ever did without it.

I cannot do without the Bureau of Meteorology's website radar and weather forecasts. Whether it's for planting or wanting to know if it's worth hanging the washing out on the line or time to bring it in, this website is a must!


Click on your city and see an active radar picture of your area.




Click on your state (top right of screen) to get a more detailed weather report for the coming days.



Under Adelaide Forecast you will find a daily update for the city.
There are also wider state reports available from the Weather and Warnings page.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Strawberry Picking Season


Mid to late Spring is when those first juicy strawberries in the garden start to ripen and just beg to be eaten.

So October in South Australia is the start of the season. Not every variety will be ripening this month, so be patient. The strawberry season can last as long as into April or May next year.

Beerenberg at Hahndorf, South Australia

If you don't grow your own strawberries, then head up to Beerenberg at Hahndorf (Adelaide Hills) for their strawberry picking season which starts mid-October to May. It's the most wonderful family day out and ideal for jam makers.  Beerenberg's website


Strawberry Season
October to May


What to do when first strawberry flowers appear?
Liquid fertilise just as the first petals begin the fall.


What should you watch out for?

Two usual infections to watch out for are fungus and virus.

October is typically a wet month, so when the rains come they come in heavy showers which may cause the strawberries to get moldy. Keeping the fruit as dry as possible helps to keep control of fungus.

If mold occurs on the fruit, pick it off, and inspect the other fruit surrounding it for similar signs. Remove any leaves that show signs of infection and bag them for the regular rubbish bin.

If you are growing your strawberries in a pot, make sure that the soil is not excessively wet constantly. If you have a self-water, drain it out from time to time to ensure good drainage.

Slugs and insects are another enemy that you need to be on the watch for.
Aphids need to be controlled immediately as they spread viruses.
A simple spray to control aphids is to use soapy water or pyrethrum spray.


Jam Making?

A good tip is not to pick strawberries for making jam during a very rainy week. The fruit will be very low in pectin and swollen with moisture, so any attempts to make homemade jam (especially using lemon juice) will fail. (Had personal experience with this one.)

Wait for a good sunny week to pick strawberries.


Growing the best Strawberries possible.

Start with a good well known variety that is certified.

Some strawberries throw out runners, others don't. So choose the right type for your location. Runners even throw themselves down into the lawn if they run out of room in the container.

Strawberries actually like a slightly acidic soil so do not feed them any lime powder.
To naturally boost the acidity level, try a little sprinkling of shea-oak or pine needles.

Fertilise at the beginning of the fruiting season. The best start means the best taste.

♥♥♥

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Greenhouses on a Budget


The hardware stores are not going to like me right now because I am about to give you the low-down on where to purchase greenhouses for much, much less.

Buying on-line will save you an enormous amount.
To purchase, all you need is either a PayPal account (like direct debit) or a credit card.

Here's my Greenhouse shopping website tip:




To show you how much you can save, here's a quick comparison. 

Upright 4-tier greenhouse
690x490x1580mm
Well known retailer: $43.29
Crazy Sales: $28.45 + $8.90 postage = $36.90
SAVE $6.39

Walk-in Greenhouse
1.8 x 3.0 x 2.0m
Well known retailer: $299.00
1.90 cm x 3.64 cm x 1.8m
Crazy Sales: $103.55 + $16.37 postage = $119.92
SAVE $179.08

I have never been let down by any of my greenhouses from Crazy Sales, yet.

I have both a retail hardware store's greenhouse and a Crazy Sales greenhouse to compare against, and they are genuinely the same product. So be assured of what you are buying.

Whether bought online or from the hardware retail store, they all come as a flat pack for self-assembly and are very easy to put together.



What a great way to save and have a little more left over to buy your pots, plants, soil and seeds!

Affordable Planter Troughs


"Your quest, if you choose to accept it,
is to find an affordable garden planter trough in Australia."


Planter Trough: An extra large, often rectangular in shape;
long as well as deep in which plants can be grown.

80 to 100cm in length.
75 to 105 Litres in holding capacity.

Now, finding my favourite large planter had an unexpected turn for me this year.

Over the past couple of years, whenever I could spare a little extra cash (or get one for my birthday or as a christmas present) I always got a Zarif 105 Litre ($65-69) from Bunnings.

But then, just as my last birthday came around, so did the last Zarif trough at Bunnings at Marion! (GASP! SHOCK! Nooooo!)

I have been singing the praises of the Zarif planters to everyone who has come through my garden, as I have backyard challenges that only planters can overcome.


Why use a planter trough?
  • Restrictions on planting or building over pipes that run through a property.
  • Aggressive and invasive grass runners.
  • Height of planting assists those with back pain issues.
  • Warmth on the side of the containers assist the plants growth.
  • Limited room or sunlight.
  • Balcony gardening.
  • Concrete/Paved courtyard gardening.

I took some action and contacted Zarif direct to see where I could at least get one more, just to finish off one of my rows. Amazingly, I was able to organise a single trough to be sent over to a Cheap As Chips store closest to me. Yes, a single planter and no more.

Sorry everyone, no more Zarif planter troughs. But I am hoping that they will resurface sometime.

BUT here's a next best thing that is now available at Bunnings stores.


Eden Garden Planter (80cm) for $49.95
Dimensions: H 34cm, D 38cm, L 80cm (slightly less at the bottom)

Eden Garden Planter 80cm


Eden Garden Planter (80cm) and Zarif Terrace Terracotta Trough (98cm)


The Eden Garden Planter (trough) is a little smaller than the Zarif (98cm) one, but at least the Eden planter already has ready made drainage holes.



Eden planter trough - front left

I have one in my garden and it doesn't look out of place at all. Being a little shorter has allowed room for a single container on the end.

Affordable 

These are definitely the most affordable on the market here in South Australia that I have been able to locate.

Trough planters are quite difficult to locate. So far, only Bunnings has been able to supply large enough planter pots that are adequate for a vegetable garden. 

Other planters range in price between $100 - $400.
Often made of fiberglass or concrete.
Those prices and materials really do make them too expensive and too physically heavy for the average home gardener.


Planting Tip 

  • If you have aggressive grass runners, such as Kikuyu lawn, make sure that you place the planter trough upon bricks before filling with soil.


♥♥♥

Thursday, September 29, 2011

David Austin Roses

David Austin - Heritage Rose - first year
I am a thrilled owner of my very first David Austin rose. I have the Heritage variety proudly in my front garden by my bedroom window where I get just enough sun to be the ideal spot in my garden.

David Austin - Heritage
I have never really been a rose lover until recently. The David Austin varieties seem to grow yearly and they really are something different from the common hardware store nursery roses.

There seems to be something very special about owning a David Austin rose because when any of my neighbours in my street buy theirs, we all know about it and hope to see the first blooms.

It's a strange following, perhaps its a bit like a boys' equivalent of owning a sports car.
"'Let's see what she can do."

It's now spring here in Adelaide and the green leaves are out on my David Austin Heritage, and the first buds have appeared and so have the aphids.  So I am taking the 'organic' approach and squashing them off with my fingers rather than spraying.

So I thought I would share with you a great website that catalogues a huge range of David Austin roses.

You may find that there are so very beautiful D.A. blooms popping out around your suburb and find that you'll be itching to know which variety they are.


Who knows. You maybe the next David Austin Rose fan club member!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How to Compost -Tutorial

Composting basics






Remember the basic mix of a great compost is:
  • Carbon - newspaper, shredded documents, straw, sawdust, mowed lawn clippings
  • Nitrogen - fruit and vegetable waste, egg shells, chicken/rabbit/cow manure
  • Oxygen - turn it over every month
  • Water - just damp not soggy

Never put into your compost:
  • Cat, dog or human poo
  • Oil, fat or grease
  • Weeds and aggressive grass runners (e.g. kikuyu lawn)
  • Meat products (attracts mice)
  • Plastics
  • Avocado seeds and skins (they don't break down well)
  • Bacterial infected plant matter (place in a plastic bag for main rubbish)


Main Technique

  • Use all of your kitchen scraps in a compost. 

  • Layer whenever possible. Occasionally throw over some straw, newspaper or sawdust.

  • Every month, throw over one or two handfuls of Blood and Bone powder.

  • Water the compost occasionally to encourage the natural break-down process.

  • Bugs and worms are essential, please do not spray unless Red Back Spiders move in.

  • Remember to turn it over with a fork once a month (minimum).
You can move your compost bin to a new location and refill instead to ensure that the compost is turned adequately. The more you turn, the quicker it breaks down, the sooner you can use it.

Rhubarb and Orange Loaf Cake

Spring is Rhubarb harvesting time.


Cake

175g butter, melted
225g castor sugar
2 medium eggs, beaten
zest of 1 Orange
3 egg whites
225g Self-Raising Flour
50g ground almonds
1 teaspoon baking powder
200g Rhubarb stalks, 1cm pieces

Topping

30g Plain Flour
20g butter
10g Demerara sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
10g flaked almonds

METHOD

Preheat oven to 180 C.

Lightly grease and line a 900g loaf tin.

Start the topping.
Rub together the flour and butter with your finger tips to form rough breadcrumbs.
Stir in the sugar, ground ginger and flaked almonds.
Set aside.


Whisk together the melted butter, sugar, whole eggs and orange zest until thick.


In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff.


Fold in flour, almonds and baking powder into butter mix, followed by the rhubarb.


Fold in the whisked egg whites.


Pour into prepared loaf tin.


Sprinkle on topping.


BAKE for 1 hour.

Farmers Market Song

Makes me feel just a teeny weeny bit embarrassed. Am I really middle class?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

October Planting Guide

OCTOBER

One of the best months in the Australian calendar where most of the climate zones throughout the nation can plant the same vegetables.

Temperate Climate
  • Asparagus
  • Basil
  • Beans
  • Beetroot
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Capsicum
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Chillies
  • Chives
  • Coriander
  • Cucmber
  • Dill
  • Eggplant
  • Endive
  • Garlic
  • Lemongrass
  • Lettuce
  • Parsley
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkins
  • Radish
  • Rocket
  • Rockmelons
  • Sweetcorn
  • Squash
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini

Cool Climate
Same vegetables can be grown as in the Temperate Climate zone.
  • Peas
  • Potatoes
  • Swedes
  • Turnips

Arid Climate
Same vegetables can be grown as in the Temperate Climate Zone.


Check out Gardening Australia's website for a more detailed list.


Great Soil Basics


Starting a new raised garden bed or planting into a pot?

The rule for having healthy soil is a 1-1-1 mix ratio.
  1. A premium potting mix
  2. Compost
  3. Well-rotted manure (cow, chicken or sheep manure)
 
Using only one of these will result in poor or diseased plants.

Focus on texture, structure, pH, organic matter and fertility.
Great soil feels good to touch.


Potting Mix

Many premium potting mixes now come with added Wetta Soil and Slow Release Fertiliser pellets but they can also have their draw backs.

During winter, the Wetta Soil can retain too much moisture around plants that need to be in well-drained soil.

Slow Release Fertiliser is great for initial planting but needs to be replaced after three months. Some plants require a different type of fertiliser, so please be aware of your plants needs before planting.

A bag of Potting Mix can be used for planting directly into if pushed for space or potting. Just remember to mix in a little well-rotted manure through the top and to put drainage holes in the bottom of the bag.

Compost

Never grow your plants directly in compost alone as this can lead to a diseased plant.  Even though many pumpkins often have their beginnings in many gardeners backyards in this manner, please resist the temptation.

Tomatoes are particularly known to suffer in compost-only soil, as they pick up on diseases quickly.

Compost alone can lead to a very high pH level which may kill the plant or prevent fruiting.  The pH is more neutralised when mixed with a potting mix.

If the pH is still too acidic, simple throw a couple of hand fulls of Lime over the top and rake or dig in.

Well-Rotted Manure

Manure is a must have in any garden.  Rich in nitrogen and many trace elements; this is your plant’s food.

If you keep chickens, ensure that their manure is well dried out as it is potentially lethal in its fresh state.  Fresh chicken manure at the base of a tomato will kill the plant practically overnight.  However, the dried chicken manure is still No.1 in garden fertilisers.
  • Chicken
  • Cow
  • Sheep


What about Horse manure? It lacks the high nitrogen for most vegetables but is great for flower beds to enhance the soil condition.

Too much manure/fertiliser can result in excessive leaf growth and no fruiting.

Not every plant requires manure, such as carrots.  High levels of manure/fertiliser will cause carrots to fork and curl.


Bag or Truck Load

If you find that you are making regular trips to get bags of potting mix, compost and manures, then it’s time to consider a truck-load.

Truck-loads work out financially cheaper, and many garden centres have different soil options to suit your garden’s needs. One of my favourites is Railways in Adelaide.

Too much dirt in one delivery? Don’t let the word “truck” put you off as the size of a standard load is as much as what can fit into a front-end-loader’s scoop.



Direct Dig 

If you are digging direct into the ground you need to know what type of soil you have before you start.  This may affect the ratio of soil mix that you may need.

If you have a soil that does not drain properly or does not allow water to penetrate it well, it may be a clay soil.  The solution is to add a wetting agent over the area (allow a couple of weeks – try test digs), and then dig in Gypsum.

Sand is an alternative to gypsum if the clay soil problem is only minor

If the soil is too sandy, you will need a lot more compost.


Garden Life


Worms.

Never underestimate the benefit of worms to keep your soil healthy, even in pots and planters.  Worms are a must have! The most wonderful garden accessory.

Looking to buy worms online in Australia? Try WormsRUs.


Bunnings also sell worm kits now. Worm poo tea for your garden can work just as well as many other dig in manures. My neighbour swears by it. I'm still a firm believer in my chickens' output.




Monday, September 26, 2011

Mushroom Kits

My first harvest of Portabello Mushrooms
I am always one for trying out new things in the garden, but this one didn't need any garden space at all, in fact it only required room INSIDE my house.

I bought this kit completely on a whim one night while I was online at www.gardenexpress.com.au ordering my seed potatoes. I just added this one on the end of the order and took my luck.

The kit I chose was Portabello Mushrooms.

My other choice was the standard Button Mushroom Kit and a half-&-half Kit, but for real mushroom flavour and colour, there is nothing like Portabello Mushrooms (A.K.A. Swiss Brown).

Keep an eye out for Garden Express at your State Show, as I found them this year at the Royal Adelaide Show selling the mushroom kits for $6 less than what they were online.


Mushrooms Kits from Garden Express online (Australia)

HOW DO I GROW MUSHROOMS?

The kit arrives dormant.
Everything is included in the kit, except for the water sprayer.

GROWING TIME: approx. 3-5 weeks

WHEN: Most times of the year, but best around 18-22 degrees C.

WHERE: Keep in a darkened room (laundry, cupboard or spare room) free of draft.

YIELD: approx. 2.5 to 3kg
(Most kits produce two (2) very large crops, then several smaller fruitings thereafter.)

STARTING YOUR KIT: Open the box and remove the bag of dry peat moss called casing.
Leave the large bag of compost inside the box.
The compost may appear brown if newly inoculated with spawn, or if it is mature, it will look frosty white or mouldy, as the mushroom mycelium grows through it.
If the compost is brown and newly inoculated, close the kit up and keep it at 18-22 degrees C for 7-10 days, before adding the peat moss casing layer.

When the compost looks ready (white/mouldy) keep the box open at all times.

Follow the instructions on adding the casing and the initial wetting to start the kit.

CARE: Spray half a cup of water over the open box every morning.
Keep in a darkened room (laundry, cupboard or spare room) free of draft.

COST: $16 to $24

MY VERDICT

5 Stars.
  • The kids excitedly report every day how much bigger the mushrooms have grown.
  • The taste and flavour are exceptional.
  • Definitely worth doing again.
  • Easy to grow and harvest.

Australian Gardening is Easy!

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