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.

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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 202013

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Every September we get customers bringing in thickened bubbly curled and distorted leaves from their peaches and nectarines, by then it is too late to treat and all we can do is offer a rueful smile and tell people what to do for next year. This is Peach Leaf Curl, a very unsightly and damaging problem caused by the fungus Taphrina deformans. If left untreated, it can cause dieback of new shoots, early fruit drop, reduction of vigour, and eventually death of the tree. The cool wet spring conditions in Victoria are ideal for this particular fungus, so you need to be proactive in controlling this disease.

If you have a bad infestation then apply three sprays in the first year to get it under control. Initially spray in autumn at leaf fall, then a week or so before bud swell in winter, and finally at bud swell (about a week later). Timing is critical, if you leave it too late, you have wasted your time. If there is significant improvement the following spring then you can move to a single spray at bud swell.

Which fungicide do you use? There are several options available to you. You can use one of the commercially available copper or lime based fungicide sprays, or you can make up a Bordeaux or Burgundy spray (these make the trees look slightly blue and are used when trees are completely dormant – never ever when they are in leaf).

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 082013

Capsicum (Photograph by Liz Pye, http://suburbantomato.com used with permission)

Summer is the perfect time to get in your Chillie and Capsicum seedlings. Once the fruit starts to set there is nothing better than seeing splashes of bright red, orange, yellow and green dotted throughout the vegie patch. There are so many great summer salads and stir fries to use them in… what are you waiting for?

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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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Dec 192012

What gift do you give the gardener that has everything? Surprise them with a log! Not just any log however, but a specially inoculated shiitake mushroom log that has matured and is ready to fruit. Pronounced she-TA-kee, these delicacies are commonly used in stir fries or miso soup. Traditionally they have also been used for their anti-cancer, anti-viral, anti-bacterial and nutritional properties.

Harvests of 200-250 grams each can be made up to four times a year and if kept well watered, in the shade and off the soil, logs may keep producing for up to 6 years. Considering that local fresh log grown shiitake mushrooms can cost up to $70/kg, by looking after your log, it could pay for itself in less than a year.

Continue reading for more info on caring for and harvesting your Shiitake Mushrooms.

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Dec 112012

Photograph by Bulleen Art & Garden

We are having a park care planting day this Thursday 13th December from 9am until noon and we need as many volunteers as we can get! We will need to know numbers, so if you are interested in helping to maintain the beautiful parkland adjoining BAAG, please rsvp to enviro@baag.com.au.

These days are always a lot of fun, and you will learn loads about the local vegetation. It is going to be warm, so make sure you bring a hat!

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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Nov 222012

We had a great time at the Manningham Multicultural Festival last Saturday. Joy gave two wonderful talks on Produce from around the world and Bec had a great time with the kids making some found objects collages.

Congratulations to Ita who won the BAAG ‘Guess the Beans’ competition. Her guess was 1890, and was very close to the actual number (1863). Ita wins a Worm Café worm farm worth $99.95.

There were more than 6000 people at the Festival and everyone had a fantastic time. Put it in your diary for next year, it really is worth a look.

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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 292012

Basil (Photograph by Bulleen Art & Garden)

Basil is one of the best known herbs in the world, and with good reason. It’s tasty, attractive and very easy to grow. With over 100 different species to choose from, Basil is never faulty!
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