Aug 162012
 

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Don’t forget the birds, butterflies and bees! Provide a feast for them in your garden with a range of natives that are flowering now. It’s a fantastic time to appreciate the floral splendor of the Australian bush, whether the delicate blossom of a Hypocalymma or the robust bud of an Isopogen.

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Aug 162012
 

Once prized for their antiseptic and medicinal properties, marjoram and oregano and now fairly common in Australian kitchens and gardens and with good reason. They are both easy to grow, gorgeous to look at and incredibly tasty. Oregano, due to its spreading habit, is also an excellent ‘living weed mat’, giving you a tasty plant that does the weeding for you.

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Aug 092012
 

At the moment in our gift shop we have a great range of highly decorative Moroccan style lanterns with gorgeous colored glass. These lanterns come in various shapes and styles and they operate with a single tea light. Perfect for that next family gathering outside.

Aug 012012
 


I know… you hate broad beans. Perhaps they were served to you as a kid… boiled to within an inch of their lives, until they were the colour, taste and texture of cardboard.

But have you tried eating them when they are picked young? Take them from their pod before the tough coat has had a chance to form on the beans. They are the colour of fresh spring leaves, and are light in flavour. There’s nothing better than cooking up some spaghetti or fettuccine, toss this in a hot pan with fresh broad beans, garlic, sea salt, olive oil, ground pepper, some anchovies and serve with shaved parmesan. Mmmm… a true spring treat.

Broad beans are great to grow in autumn and winter. Mature plants are frost hardy too. Sow them from late summer through autumn and winter. The beans take 3 months to mature, so you’ll normally have your broad bean eating frenzy in spring. Plant them in blocks so the plants support each other, and you may need to tie string around them to keep them upright (especially in the case of the taller varieties). Broad beans are easy when planted from seed. They are large seeds, so they are easy to handle (great for kids!) and you get loads from a pack. Plant the seeds 5cm deep and water them in well. You won’t need to water them again until you see their heads pop up (unless it’s abnormally hot or windy.)

Broad beans are not hungry crops, so you only need to lightly manure the soil. Sprinkle around some dolomite or garden lime and fork through the soil. Pinching out the tips after the first flowers appear will encourage the pods to set.

I love the broad bean flowers, they’re white and black. So very unusual. You can also get a crimson flowered variety from Diggers seeds. (see the pic above for how great they look!)

Two tried and true old fashioned varieties are:

Aquadulce – has long, well filled pods with a nutty flavour.

Coles Dwarf – A heavy cropper with long pods to 20cm but on a shorter plant, may not need tying if planted into a block.

Jun 162012
 

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

A smelly beauty – Stapelia variegata

Coming from South Africa, the most common species of Stapelia is the carrion or starfish flower plant. It forms clumps of fleshy stems which can be green or grey-green, and are often reddish. The flowers are as big as 5-9cm wide and appear in late summer or early autumn. They are spotted yellow and brown. Perfect for the Hawthorn supporter in your life! They smell, just a little bit, of rotting flesh, which is VERY attractive to flies.

It is a plant that will grow well in a shallow wide pot, or used as a fascinating trailing plant. Grow it in sun or partial shade, in moderately fertile potting mix. They can be grown in free draining soil.

Jun 162012
 

Vaccinium macrocarpon

Cranberries are famous for two things: cranberry sauce served at Thanksgiving with turkey and for use in treating urinary tract infections. It was highly valued by Native North Americans for medicinal use, and the berries were able to be effectively stored beneath snow during winter as an important food source. Now we also drink the Vitamin C rich berry as a juice and apparently the berry floats in water and bounces when dropped! Is there nothing this clever berry can’t do?
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Jun 102012
 

Feeling daunted by permaculture terminology? Wondering what it all means and whether you can have a slice of the Permaculture pie?

Let us lead you gently through zones, elements and relative locations with our simple guide, leaving you feeling relaxed, emboldened and ready to take the permaculture plunge.

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May 162012
 

Whilst recognizing that using cultural methods for weed control rather than reaching for the herbicide is better for the environment, there are times when things just get out of control. At this point one tends to look for a herbicide. The shelves of some nurseries are hardware stores are lined with bottles promising all sorts of wonderful results. The trick is to use something which will both do the job and do the least harm, or better yet – no harm.

Probably the most widely used herbicide by the home gardener these days is glyphosate. Originally marketed as Roundup™, now the patent has ended glyphosate is marketed under many names and is readily available in various concentrations and applicators.

Glyphosate is extremely useful to the home gardener. It is considered to be relatively low in toxicity and have no carcinogenic effects, so it is safe to use in the home garden. However it is not necessarily safe for your plants. Just about every nursery person in retail has had a customer bring in a weirdly distorted stem of a rose bush and ask what is wrong – the answer is glyphosate spray drift – and it is not reversible – you are now looking at an ex-rose. Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide; this means it will generally kill what plant life it lands on. There are a lot of exceptions, but as a rule of thumb in the home garden, expect it to kill what it hits.

Also be aware that glyphosate is extremely toxic to aquatic life, and when it runs into streams and waterways, it isn’t denatured just diluted and concentrations as low at 10ppm can kill fish. Nor is it good for your soil. It is reported to be quite toxic to the beneficial soil micro-organisms – those very things you have spent so long encouraging and nurturing by digging in compost and manures. Frustrating!

That said, you can still use glyphosate, just use it sensibly. Spray on a still day when no rain is forecast. Spray to the point of run off. Think about this. Do not spray until it runs dripping off the leaves, because then it has run off the plant. Spray until it is like a fine mist coating the plant. This way you get the best coverage on the plant, use the least amount of herbicide and protect both other plants and the soil.

There are relatively mild selective herbicides which can be used to kill broad-leafed weeds such as bindii, clover, oxalis, dandelion, and thistles. These use various active ingredients such as Bromoxynil Octanoate, MCPA (2-ethylhexyl ester) and DICAMBA. Use these with care and take note of any with-holding periods (e.g. keep chooks and pets off sprayed lawns for a certain period of time).

Alternatively you can use acetic acid (main component of vinegar) and salt sprays as a non- selective herbicides – best used for weeds with large flat leaves, also controls algae, liverwort and moss.

When using herbicides, use common sense, use the minimal amount to do the job, use when the plant is actively growing, and spray on a still day. Use protective clothing and wash up thoroughly afterwards.

May 162012
 

Myrtle Rust is a plant fungal disease that was first diagnosed in NSW in Myrtaceae family plants in April 2010

Myrtle Rust is now in Victoria. To a greater or lesser extent (depending on flora and climate conditions) this will change our landscape. It appears that we have no choice but to adapt and learn to live with this fungus. It attacks plants from the Myrtaceae family (list below), some are affected more badly than others (Lophomyrtus, Syzygium and Agonis). Badly affected species are referred to as host plants. We recommend that susceptible host plants be removed in highly infected areas, as re-infection after fungicide application is highly likely. Replace with non susceptible plants, preferably not from the Myrtaceae family.

Rust spores travel very long distances on the wind and may infect stands of susceptible plants many kilometres from the original infestation. Rust spores are also gathered and spread by bees.

Fungicides are effective in the control of Myrtle Rust. Rotation of fungicides between products containing different active ingredients is recommended to ensure fungicide applications remain effective.

Fungicides available to the home gardener for myrtle rust control on non produce plants (i.e. do not use for food plants) are:

Copper oxychloride. Use at 30g per 10L water and leave a minimum of 7-14 days before spraying again.
Mancozeb. Use at a rate of 23g/10L water and leave for a minimum of 7 days before spraying again.
Triforine. Use at a rate of 13ml/10L water and leave for a minimum of 7 days before spraying again.

Do not use any of these sprays more than twice in a row before switching to an alternative spray. Spray to the point of run off. This means just that – stop spraying before the spray runs of the plant – you want a fine mist all over the surfaces of the plant, you don’t want it to run off.

Read the instructions on the label of the product and follow these instructions.

Genus List of Myrtaceae      
Acca Cheyniana Lophomyrtus Pleurocalyptus
Accara Choricarpia Lophostemon Plinia
Actinodium Chytraculia Luma Pseudanamomis
Agonis Cloezia Lysicarpus Psidium
Algrizea Conothamnus Malleostemon Psiloxylon
Allosyncarpia Corymbia Marlierea Purpureostemon
Aluta Corynanthera Melaleuca Regelia
Amomyrtella Curitiba Meteoromyrtus Rhodamnia
Amomyrtus Cyathostemon Metrosideros Rhodomyrtus
Angasomyrtus Darwinia Micromyrtus Rinzia
Angophora Decaspermum Mitranthes Ristantia
Archirhodomyrtus Eremaea Mitrantia Sannantha
Arillastrum Eucalyptopsis Mosiera Schizocalomyrtus
Astartea Eucalyptus Myrceugenia Scholtzia
Asteromyrtus Eugenia Myrcia Seorsus
Astus Euryomyrtus Myrcianthes Siphoneugena
Austromyrtus Gomidesia Myrciaria Sphaerantia
Babingtonia Gossia Myrrhinium Stenostegia
Backhousia Harmogia Myrtastrum Stereocaryum
Baeckea Heteropyxis Myrtella Stockwellia
Balaustion Hexachlamys Myrteola Syncarpia
Barongia Homalocalyx Myrtus Syzygium
Basisperma Homalospermum Neofabricia Taxandria
Beaufortia Homoranthus Neomitranthes Tepualia
Blepharocalyx Hottea Neomyrtus Thaleropia
Britoa Hypocalymma Ochrosperma Thryptomene
Callistemon Kania Octamyrtus Triplarina
Calothamnus Kardomia Osbornia Tristania
Calycolpus Kjellbergiodendron Oxymyrrhine Tristaniopsis
Calycorectes Kunzea Pericalymma Ugni
Calyptranthes Lamarchea Petraeomyrtus Uromyrtus
Calyptrogenia Legrandia Phymatocarpus Verticordia
Calytrix Lenwebbia Pileanthus Welchiodendron
Campomanesia Leptospermum Pilidiostigma Whiteodendron
Chamelaucium Lindsayomyrtus Piliocalyx Xanthomyrtus
Chamguava Lithomyrtus Pimenta Xanthostemon
Apr 162012
 

When I feel blue, or need a distraction from the stresses of life, I head into the garden! Time slows and my mood becomes lighter when my fingers are in the dirt and the intricacies of the world beyond my back door come to life before my eyes. There are many health benefits to be had from gardening. Here are a few of my favourites…

The Sun

The sun does a great job of warming up humans. My house can be chilly but once I venture outside and feel the warm sunrays on my back, I thaw out. It’s also a source of vitamin D (also found in some foods), which encourages the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorous in our bodies. It helps to maintain healthy bones, and regulates and strengthens the immune system.

For most people, adequate vitamin D levels are reached (without wearing sunscreen) through regular daily activity and incidental exposure to the sun; though to avoid the most harmful UV rays, exposure is recommended before 10am or after 3pm. In winter we may need more exposure to reach a good level. Pulling weeds or giving the garden a drink is a good chance to catch some valuable rays.

Get Physical

A casual stroll around your patch to check on how your goodies are growing is a lovely way to stretch the legs. Gardening is also a top way to exercise. You can pretty much design a workout just by doing some tasks in the yard! Try lifting pots (for strength); stretching to pull out a weed (for flexibility); reaching up or squatting down to check for pests (for mobility); digging, watering, planting, mulching, pruning, turning compost, raking, mowing, sowing and harvesting (for endurance)!

You really know you’ve exerted energy when you can wipe the sweat from your brow, stand back while you stretch your back and arms, and admire your hard work in the garden. It’s very rewarding!

Relax

The birds chirping in the trees, a soft breeze blowing past your face, the smell of flowers, and ladybugs dancing on the leaves – sounds like a relaxing day in the garden! When we turn off the appliances and tune out of the buzz, and tune into the outdoors, we can let our mind breathe. Even just for half an hour, being in a garden is great relaxation. Observing a butterfly’s path across the treetops; the textures of different foliage, flowers, and fruit; a worm’s journey into the dirt; a frog’s peaceful rest on a log; birds supping on nectar; the grace of leaves nodding in the breeze, are all things to help you slip into a relaxed state.

Gardening puts you in touch with the earth’s cycles, its rhythms, and its purpose. Allowing your mind to let go and feel a part of something bigger than yourself, is freeing. Some people achieve this when they do things like surfing, meditation, bushwalking or camping. When you put yourself among flora and fauna, it’s easier to let go of tension and everyday worries. Maybe the extra oxygen in your nostrils helps clear the mind! Designing and implementing a garden is also mentally rewarding: a sense of empowerment and self esteem can result when one can create and control the environment.

Connect

Gardening with other people is a fantastic way to connect and interact. Starting a community garden or joining an existing one is an opportunity to make new friends, swap knowledge and information, and enjoy other like-minded people’s company. Not to mention being able to share and eat the fruits of your labour!

Helping out in a friend’s garden, or giving a family member or neighbour a hand is a valuable and wonderful gesture. Sharing and swapping cuttings, seeds and seedlings creates a rich network of shared resources, and provides an opportunity for those new to gardening to learn some tricks and tips! It’s also a lovely way to hand down traditions and knowledge to future generations.

Getting children involved in your garden is a great way for them to exercise, and learn about and appreciate plants and the cycle of growing! A playgroup (for younger children) focused in the garden is a lovely setting for catching up with other parents and carers. A safe garden that needs a bit of weeding or planting is a good space for kids to get outdoors and get dirty, and learn about teamwork and sharing. Giving kids little tasks to carry out really helps them foster a sense of achievement and pride in their work. The old adage ‘many hands make light work’ also applies here; compare a morning’s work in the garden on your own, with a morning when five mates and their kids lend a hand. The results are usually very impressive!

Produce gardening with kids also gives them an appreciation and experience with where their food comes from, and how.

Growing Your Own

How many times have you heard someone say “it tastes better from my garden!”? Perhaps we can taste the satisfaction when we chew on a bean from our own trellis, as opposed to something that’s probably been in a truck or cold storage for a period of time before it even gets to the supermarket shelf. The reward of knowing you’ve produced something in your own patch of dirt makes home-grown produce sweeter. Apart from being cheaper, more sustainable and better for the environment, growing at least a portion of your own food gives you a better understanding of what you eat. You also gain a real appreciation for seasons, and weather! Mother Earth is a great teacher.

Happy gardening!

Feb 012012
 

Sand, Soil, Stone and Mulch delivery 7 days a week

How much do I need? Click here to use our handy calculator.

Brick Sand

Brick Sand

Sometimes referred to as fatty sand. Mainly used for mortaring brick or stone work and for laying under pool linings. Standard mix for mortar is 6:1 (6 parts sand to 1 part cement). For one cubic metre of sand you will need 8 x 20kg bags of cement. This will lay approximately 1200 bricks. Shades of colour may vary between batches.

Concrete Paving Sand

Concrete / Paving Sand

Mainly used as a concrete sand in a standard 4:2:1 mix (4 parts 14mm screenings, 2 parts sand, 1 part cement).
Concrete / Paving Sand is the main sand used when laying pavers, and is also the ideal sand for a water tank base.

Fine White Sand

Fine White Sand

Ideal for use in childrens’ sand pits. Also recommended as a jointing sand for paving. It can be mixed with brick sand 50:50 to make a general render. (3 parts brick sand, 3 parts FW sand, 1 part cement)

Sand, Soil, Stone and Mulch delivery 7 days a week

Jan 232012
 

Pea straw is a crop high in nitrogen grown mostly for animal feed. When used as mulch it breaks down within a year and improves soil structure and nutrient levels. It is perfect for vegie gardens, but also great in general garden beds. The bales make it easy to store until you are ready to use it… as long as you keep it dry.

Get together with your friends, family and neighbours to take advantage of BAAG’s FREE delivery of Pea Straw. The minimum order to qualify for the free delivery is 30 bales, there is no maximum order. A bale of Pea Straw will mulch around 5 to 6 square metres.

Click here for more info and ordering conditions.

Nov 152011
 

This member of the cabbage family is enjoying resurgence in popularity. Kale is a type of non-heading cabbage from which leaves are harvested for use over a long growing period. It may be grown year round but in Melbourne it is typically planted in autumn, as it develops a good flavour during cold conditions and is less prone to attack from the cabbage white butterfly, a lover of the cabbage family. It is a highly nutritious vegetable and highly ornamental also!

Plant kale as seedlings in autumn or propagate from seed in late summer. It requires a moist, rich soil containing plenty of well-rotted cow manure and compost, with dolomite lime added. If growing from seedlings plant them deeply, up to the first leaves, to establish a stable plant. Plant in an open sunny position and protect from cabbage white butterfly using a fine mesh netting or fly wire. If you do notice pale green caterpillars chewing holes in your seedlings then remove by hand and look on the undersides of the leaves for pale yellow eggs, which may be rubbed off. You can also simply remove affected leaves. If the caterpillars persist then you may spray with Dipel or use derris dust.

Harvest kale after 8 weeks and carefully remove individual leaves as required, taking care not to wrench the plant, as it may topple. Use kale leaves in any way that you would use cabbage. Kale can produce leaves for harvest for up to 12 months, before producing flower shoots which may be eaten like broccoli.

Varieties

Tuscan Kale has very dark green leaves with a dimpled surface. Also known as Black Tuscan Kale, Cavolo Nero and Nero di Toscana.

Red Russian Kale has frilly curled leaves and light green leaves tinged with pink.

So called Ornamental kales can be eaten but are generally of poor quality.

Oct 302011
 

Rose 'Neptune' Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Roses can be planted all year round. The colours and varieties you choose will depend a lot on individual taste. Remember that fragrance is a great asset of many roses.

Since its earliest cultivation the rose has been hybridised from the species to now boast such styles as old garden roses, hybrid teas, floribundas (cluster flowered), miniatures, climbers (pillar, climbers and ramblers), weepers, David Austins (English roses), groundcover, patio and shrub roses.

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Aug 162011
 

What is a Raingarden?

Raingardens capture stormwater from hard surfaces and filter it through layers of sandy soil. These layers help to slow the rate of stormwater entering our waterways while also filtering out pollutants, excess nutrients and chemicals that normally build up on these surfaces in urban environments.

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