Thursday, May 31, 2012

Double Delight Rose Jigsaw

Today's jigsaw is a reminder to order your new roses for the garden.
May, June & July are the best months in Australia to plant roses while they are dormant.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Massive Beetroot

I had just come back from 2 hours of gardening at the school when I thought I had better check on how my garden was growing. My eye was drawn to my small crop of Beetroot as some of the leaves were becoming quite exceptional in size. I made the decision to pull and got the biggest shock to discover that my garden could be something straight out of a children's book. OK, I'm really thinking of a book about a giant turnip, but beetroots kind of look similar. ;)

It was enormous!

Weighing in at 2.3kg with the leaves off.

Given a little clean up, these Chioggia heirloom beetroots are a beautiful red♥

A massive 2.3kg Chioggia Beetroot next to a normal size beet.
 My first ever GIANT of the garden!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Dahlia Tree

May is the month when Dahlia Trees (often mistakenly called Giant Dahlias) flower in Adelaide, South Australia.

And to my absolute delight I discovered that this year my Dahlia's have attracted a wonderful sight: honey bees.

Their little pollen sacks were stuffed full! I have never seen bees so happy at this time of year (late Autumn).

Bee with very full pollen pocket!

If you want to grow a Dahlia Tree, it couldn't be easier. They come back year after year.

To multiply your plants, lay a branch cutting on the ground, cover lightly, keep watered from time to time and new branches will sprout.

They respond amazingly to Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food (pellet fertiliser). 

During heavy rains Dahlia Trees absorb a lot of water into their branches and become heavy. Branches have a tendency to fall forward or over. If you choose to prune any over laying branches, be aware of the water inside the branches as you cut. They really are full of water; they store up for dry periods. You may choose to simply tie the branches up until flowering season has finished.

Prune back as branches die back, leave a few nice branches if you wish. New branch stalks will appear next growing season.

Dahlia Trees have a great height and cheery colour to brighten up a cold autumn/winter garden and create a safe place for the chickens and cats to roam around under especially during rain.

And as I have just discovered, they attract bees to the garden, especially in the colder seasons.

I have never had a problem with pests or diseases on my Dahlia Trees. Simply gorgeous!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Australian Climate Zone Jigsaw

Here's today fabulous distraction . . .
Click on the image below to play your online jigsaw.
Test your Australian Climate Zone knowledge!

To play again, click on the Scatter icon at the bottom of screen.
(cog wheel to scatter)
Australian Climate Zones

School Garden Pest Control

Home-made remedies to control pests in the garden have become popular again. Once they were only something grandpa would mix up on the cheap, but it has now come full circle and we have found a new respect for the 'old' methods. Not only are they cheap and easy but beneficial to the environment, the plants' and our healthy.

Even though 'home-made' sounds cleaner and greener, they should still not be ingested. When storing these solutions please keep them out of reach of children and never store them in soft drink bottles to avoid confusion.

These home-made pest control sprays are great for using in the school gardens too.
There are maths, chemistry and environment lessons all rolled into one spray!

Here are a few of my favourites:

1 Litre Sprayer
Aphids, Caterpillars and Other Insects: Add 2 tablespoons of soap flakes, dish washing liquid, or liquid hand soap to 1 Litre of water. Stir thoroughly (do not shake). Use warm water to help dissolve quicker, use when cooled. Spray.

Scale and Mealybugs: Oil suffocates these bugs, so we use 4 tablespoons of dish washing liquid put into 1 cup of vegetable oil. Mix ratio 1:20 = 1 part oil mix/20 parts water. Spray.

Ants (1): Add 10-15 drops of peppermint oil to a small hand sprayer. They won't cross the path.

Ants (2): Vinegar drops or small squirts from a sauce bottle across their path. They won't cross the path.

Grasshopper, Caterpillar and Possum Deterrent: Mix 1 cup of molasses with 1 Litre of water and spray over the foliage.

Possum Deterrent (Fence Line or Planter Box): Combine Vaseline and Vicks Vapour Rub together (petroleum based). Smear along the top of the fence or around the edges of the planter box. The slipperiness and smell does deter them. Lasts a long time.

Fungicide ~ Milk Spray: To control Black Spot and Powdery Mildew
Mix ratio 1:10. 1 part full cream milk to 10 parts water.
Spray young growth as it appears which is around every 7-10 days.

Black Spot Fungicide:  Add 3 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda to 1 Litre of water. (Do not use too much bi-carb as it will become too strong.) Add a few drops of dish washing liquid or fish emulsion to help the solution stay on the leaves.

Herbicide (Weed Killer): 1 cup of salt to 1 Litre of vinegar. Dissolve and brush directly onto weeds. It is not selective! So be careful how you use it.

If you have tried any of these, tell us how they went for you.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Bee Education

Bees are vital to the existence of our food supply and flower reproduction. We need to encourage bees to visit our gardens, and to do that we must have flowers that will attract them.

Bees seem to be very attracted to blue, purple and yellow colours the most.

Some easy-to-grow, bee-attracting flowers that can be started from seeds:
  • Forget-me-nots are spring annuals that produce copious quantities of seed, ensuring that the plants re-appear year after year.
  • Lavender in all its forms is a wonderful bee attractant and, because of its long flowering period and its range of varieties, it’s possible to have lavender in flower for most of the year. Dwarf Lavender Munstead can be grown from seed.
  • Nasturtiums, too, grow readily from seed. Both the bee-attracting flowers and the leaves are edible.
  • Catmint, with its grey foliage and soft mauve blooms, makes a delightful edging for veggie beds.
  • Phacelia is renowned for its appeal to ‘good’ garden insects, including hoverflies and honeybees.
  • Salvia, especially the blue flowering variety, attracts bees.

Herbs are also a good for attracting bees, while also helping to keep other garden pests away. Try:
  • Basil is an annual that grows right through the warmer weather, producing sprays of white, pink or mauve flowers in late summer and autumn. Allowing a few flowers to develop will attract bees.
  • Thyme is a perennial mini shrub that, like basil, flowers in late summer.
  • Sage, the culinary form of the ornamental salvias, does a good job as a bee attractant.
  • Rocket can be classed either as a herb or a salad vegetable. Allowing some rocket to flower and go to seed will encourage friendly insects to visit the garden.
  • Also try borage, chives, garlic chives and coriander.
This handy information came from Yates website.

 Here's some great bee videos:

The Waggle Dance of the Honeybee

Honey Bee (pollination/digestion/honey)

Gardening Tips: Pollinating Trees without Bees

Beekeeping at River Cottage