Jan 292013

All plants need a certain amount of water to grow. One of the biggest decisions that home gardeners needs to make is how they plan to get the water to the plants that require it. Simple systems such as a trigger nozzle on the end of the hose can be the most efficient but do take up a lot of time especially for large gardens. Large automated systems work well but are more expensive to set up and can become inefficient if incorrectly installed. Considering all the options available ensures that you will get the best system suited to your lifestyle and needs.

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Jan 252013

Nectarine - Nectazee Standard

Of the fruit trees growing at BAAG, one that stands out as a great plant selection is the Nectazee standard at the front entrance (our north eastern parterre bed). Nectazee standards are part of the Fleming’s Trixzie miniature fruit tree range which is made up of Nectazee Nectarines, Pixzee Peaches, White and Black Cherree Cherries and Pixzee Pears. Like most other dwarf fruit trees, barring dwarf pomegranates which are ornamental anyway, these produce full sized fruit on miniature sized trees.

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Jan 232013

The Friends of Yarra Valley Parks is a group whose primary aim is to involve the wider community in conservation issues and activities within the Yarra Valley Parklands. They believe that the Yarra Valley Parklands has the potential to become one of the great urban conservation parks. Their activities include plant propagation, planting and weed removal. FYVP work with Parks Victoria rangers and focus their efforts in parks along the Yarra River from Burke Rd, Ivanhoe upstream to Warrandyte.
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Jan 222013

The BAAG Bookshop

Be sure to browse through our bookshop when you next visit BAAG, we stock a wide range of books and DVDs that cater to professional gardeners, gardening enthusiasts and even people who don’t like gardening at all!

We have titles covering many diverse topics including native & indigenous plants, art, lifestyle and books especially for kids. If we don’t have the book you are after we are more than happy to order it in for you. Our books also range in price from a few dollars right up to that special coffee table book as a gift for somebody special.

Bulleen Art and Garden aims to deliver a service to its customers that recognises the importance of environmental issues, both local and global. In this respect, we also stock a wide variety of books which promote sustainable gardening and sustainable lifestyle choices.

Jan 202013

Photo by Karen Sutherland from Edible Eden Design - edibleedendesign.com Used with permission

Ceratonia siliqua in the Fabaceae family

Carob trees feature edible pods, the seeds are not consumed. They grow to become quite large trees when mature, as large as 10m x 10m. They have an extensive network of shallow roots, as well as a tap root to as deep as 20 m. They can tolerate temperatures to -5 deg C and are very long lived. A carob tree can crop for up to 400 years! The pods are like dates, but with a harder texture. They are also chewier than dates.

Why grow carob?
When roasted, the pods taste like chocolate. In the past carob chocolate has developed a bad name because of high palm oil content used, but there are sustainable options available today. Be sure to read the ingredients and look for Certified Sustainable Palm Oil. Carob is very sweet and a good, nutritious snack which is high in calcium and protein. It is an excellent subsistance food, in times of war many have survived off carob along with other wild foods.

The Mature pods, when thoroughly dry, will store for many years and can also be used to make wine or brandy.

Other uses
The carob is an evergreen, rounded, drought tolerant and very ornamental tree. They are sometimes used as windbreaks as well as shade and fodder plants for animal pastures. Carob can be used as a treatment for diarrhoea! They can also be clipped into a hedge.

Growing carob
Carobs are similar to olives in adaptability. They can be grown in a large pot and are tolerant of drought and poor soils, although better crops will be produced in areas of higher rainfall. They are wind pollinated, with flowers in early winter. Pods are harvested during autumn. Fertilise with small amounts of well rotted animal manure

Both male and female trees are required for pollination. Most trees bought for ornamental purposes are seedlings with unknown gender.


Hermaphrodite, self fertile. Medium size, high yield of good quality beans. 50%+ sugar. Early fruit bearer.

Female, needs a hermaphrodite for pollination. Medium sized tree with a high yield of medium beans. 50%+ sugar. Many consider this variety to have the best flavour, it is not quite as sweet as other varieties.

Jan 202013

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Physalis philadelphica 

For those of us who are into our Mexican food, tomatillos are an essential ingredient. Salsa without tomatillo simply isn’t salsa. Distantly related to tomatoes and growing in a similar way, they are much easier to grow than tomatoes, coping with cooler weather, hardier, less prone to disease and somewhat shade tolerant. These are very productive plants, and given you need to have two as they absolutely need a cross pollinator, that will probably be enough for one family. However, the more the merrier and your friends will be happy to share in your largesse.

They grow in a similar manner to tomatoes and can be staked, but can also be left to sprawl, place approximately 1m apart. Unlike tomatoes, they are not heavy feeders so no there is need to fertilise. They also cope with cooler weather than tomatoes and need a shorter growing season, very useful in Melbourrne! If growing from seed make sure you get Physalis philadelphica and not its close relative the Cape Gooseberry (Physalis peruviana). Technically Tomatillos are perennial, but they are generally grown as annuals. Harvest when the fruit has swelled to fill the husk but before fully ripe, when still green (or purple – depending on variety) and firm. The size is similar to a large cherry tomato, but the flesh is meatier. Leave the husks on until ready to use, store in refrigerator for up to 1 month (or freeze). When removing the husks, the fruit is smooth but slightly sticky, wash thoroughly and use.


Toma Verde – A prolific tomatillo with fruit the size of a small tomato. Sweet tangy flavour, fabulous for salsas and other Mexican dishes. Will lose the tangy aspect if allowed to ripen too much.

Tomatillo Purple – Another prolific tomatillo, purple in colour with a sharper flavour than Verde, making a fantastic salsa. An heirloom or heritage variety.

Jan 182013

Perennial Vegetables

There’s finally room at BAAG for me to have the Perennial Vegetables bench that I have been trying to get for twelve months. As you can see in the pic, this is just the beginning… I will be adding more stock to the bench in the coming months. Be sure to have a look next time you are in. (It is in the herbs and vegies section over near the chook shed. Book Book)

Perennial vegetables can be a useful addition to the edible garden by providing an ongoing supply of vegetables that don’t need to be replanted each year. Well known perennial vegetables include asparagus and rhubarb, but there are many more out there that are available. As well as being low maintenance, perennial vegetables can provide other benefits to your garden such as habitat for beneficial organisms, soil building and edible landscaping.

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Jan 032013

Since Ancient Times, Edible Gardening and producing food was motivated by survival. The Egyptians, the Persians and the Romans developed ‘Paradise Gardens’ that became increasingly elaborate, intermingling ornamental and edible plants. In Medieval Times, Christian Monastery Gardens used function in geometric patterns to enclose herb, fruit and vegetable gardens. Most of the peasant population also cultivated edible garden plots by their home or in community gardens, essential for their daily sustenance. During the Renaissance ‘Paradise Gardens’ were elaborate with fantastic gardens of clipped hedges, mazes and exotic plants, including fruits and vegetables carefully and often expensively sourced from all over the world.

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Nov 292012

When selecting the right cucumber for you there are a few things to consider. Regular or burpless, small or large, long or round. The regular cucumbers generally have a bitter skin that requires peeling, whereas you can eat the skin of a burpless and remain indigestion-free (probably best in front of the Queen). The skin is very good for you!

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Oct 312012

When you buy a product with the Fairtrade label, you’re buying an ethical and sustainable product. Fairtrade standards apply to traders and producers of food and non-food products in developing countries. Fairtrade Labelling is a certification scheme that works with traders and producers in developing countries to achieve sustainable prices, better working conditions, and opportunities for local communities to have more control over their future.

By requiring companies to pay sustainable prices, Fairtrade addresses the injustices of conventional trade, which traditionally discriminates against the poorest, weakest producers. Producers are not simply beneficiaries; they are joint partners in Fairtrade.

Twenty years ago Fairtrade Labelling initiatives were set up by major development charities and had as their core purpose the alleviation of poverty and sustainable development. The Fairtrade system benefits approximately 1 million workers and farmers in 60 developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Including their dependents, five million people are affected. Fairtrade certification allows them to achieve economic independence and empowerment while improving their standards of living.

Fairtrade secures for producers a fair price paid for their products, but also puts in place a Fairtrade Premium – a sum of money paid on top of the agreed Fairtrade price, decided upon democratically by producers within the farmers’ organisation or by workers on a plantation. This premium goes towards things like access to low or no-interest loans; building infrastructure; communications systems and transport; health, education and training.

Fairtrade also rewards and encourages farmers and producers who practice environmentally sustainable methods, like minimizing pollutants, pesticides and herbicides, and use organic agriculture principles.

So apart from looking or tasting great, and making a nice present, Fairtrade products are helping communities in developing countries to be more financially independent, and have better and sustainable working environments. That’s a feel-good gift if I ever saw one.

Oct 282012

Passionfruit vines don’t have to be pruned to get good fruit set, but pruning in early spring (after last frosts – important) will help promote new growth where the flowers and subsequent fruit will form. Pruning will also keep a rampant vine under control. Avoid pruning the main stems and main lateral stems, clean up the twining often rampant side stems. You can remove as much as one third of the previous year’s growth.

Keep the vines well fertilised (and watered) all the way from spring through to autumn. In this instance it is helpful if you use a fertiliser which has a N:P:K ratio weighted towards the Phosphorus and Potassium end, so a ‘Flower and Fruit’ or a Citrus fertiliser will work well.

A common complaint is lots of flowers and no fruit. Try hand pollinating if the bees are not doing the job, using a fine paint brush, transfer pollen from the stamens (5 of these per flower) to the stigma (three of these per flower). If that is too tedious simply pick a flower and swipe it across other flowers using a downward motion to transfer pollen onto the stigmas. Also try planting something like lavender nearby to encourage bees into the vicinity.

At the nursery we no longer stock grafted passionfruit. We decided to do this after finding that the very vigorous rootstock heavily suckered and eventually outgrew the grafted material on too many of our customer’s plants. All the good advice and intentions in the world to remove suckers didn’t seem to work, hence the decision to nip the trouble at the source as it were, and stop stocking grafted passionfruit.

Oct 282012

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

You need a male and a female of these very vigorous vines, so allow for both a sturdy supporting structure and plenty of room.  They grow at a very fast pace over spring and early summer and will rapidly cover a large structure with lovely rounded leaves providing perfect summer shade, but also dropping their leaves in winter to allow winter light in.  Flowering in late spring, the male flowers will pollinate the female flowers and the fruit develops slowly, being generally ready to harvest over winter.

Intolerant of poor drainage, doing best in good quality deep loamy soil well enriched with manures.  Feed well over spring (high Nitrogen fertiliser) when the vines are growing rapidly and water well in summer.  Be patient because your kiwi will not fruit for the first few years, fruit will start to appear after 5 years or so and gradually the crop will become heavier until you have a very prolific fruiting vine at age 7 or 8 years.  Prune hard in winter.  Their vigorous growth habit means they will end up a tangled overcrowded mess unless you remove excess growth.  Fruit appears on the first 6 or 7 buds on new wood.


Kiwi Fruit – Haywood (Female)
Deciduous twining vine, covered with fine hairs, with large, rounded, lime green leaves. Female flowers have central thick white styles. Also known as Chinese Gooseberry. Late season maturity. Suited to strong trellis or pergola, this cultivar isn’t quite as rampant as other cultivars. Large, even-sized broad oval fruit. The greenish-brown skin is covered by short, fine silky hairs. Excellent keeping qualities and good flavour. Used for fresh fruit, jam, wine and food presentation. Very high in vitamin C.

Male Vine
The male vine is more vigorous than the female vine. Plant in a protected site on secure trellis. Winter prune to remove water shoots. Does not produce fruit but necessary for the production of fruit on the female vine.

Kiwi Fruit – Bruno (female)
A very vigorous climbing plant, which is highly productive of delicate tasty fruit that ripen in May (earlier than Haywood). Needs frequent pruning to keep in check but capable of bearing very heavy crops. Large and elongated, with a dark brown skin, with dense, short, bristly hairs. Light green flesh of good flavour. With a relatively low chilling requirement.

Kiwi Fruit – Dexter (female)
A low chill cultivar which bears early in life and keeps longer than Bruno. Needs fruit thinning and severe pruning.

Oct 252012

These beautiful bookend sets have been getting a lot of attention since we started selling them. Designed in Melbourne by local designer OSHI, they are $99 for a set of two. You can choose either two Skipping Girls, or a combination set with a Skipping Girl on the left and the Nylex Clock on the right.

Click through to see a pic of the Nylex bookend.

If you have any queries about our range of Unique Gifts please call 8850 3030 or email gifts@baag.com.au

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Oct 022012

Composting (Photograph by Bulleen Art & Garden)

Composting is a natural biological process, which converts wastes to rich organic humus. This process is carried out by organisms, both microscopic and larger, including bacteria, fungi, worms and insects.

Apart from the obvious benefits that compost has in our gardens, we should all remember that the natural biological process of composting converts wastes to rich organic humus… that means it’s extremely environmentally friendly.

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Sep 202012

Curly Parsley (Photograph by Bulleen Art & Garden)

Parsley can be a bit ubiquitous. It turns up as a garnish on all manner of dishes from salads to steaks and everything in between. But don’t write it off… parsley is incredibly good for you (not to mention being an excellent cure for bad breath).

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