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.


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


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


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


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.


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


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 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)


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


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!

Welcome to my garden blog where you can keep up to date with all of my gardening activities and growing tips.

I've started this blog because I give out so much information to everyone who comes to visit my garden for tips and tricks. The visit can be a little overwhelming. So to make it a little easier, I'm gathering up all my wealth of information to share it with you all in one place; here on Start To Grow.

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