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
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.


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.