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.

Jul 282012

New to BAAG this week are fantastic old vintage painted metal school / cinema chairs from Sth East Asia. These chairs are very sturdy yet lightweight and would look great in a study, bedroom or as spare seating for that next family gathering either inside or out.

For more fantastic gift ideas visit our Giftshop Page.

Jun 222012

After a few nights of our poor restock crew getting drenched we finally have nearly all of our new season’s bare root fruit stock on the benches. We have a massive range of fruit trees this year, but best to get in quick before the really popular varieties sell out.

Jun 212012

Just arrived this week is our new range of eBamboo products. There is a great selection of eco-friendly bamboo table and dinnerware made from a biodegradable natural organic Bamboo Fibre. These items can be used for hot or cold liquids and are food safe and heat resistant. A great eco-friendly product.

For more fantastic gift ideas visit our Giftshop Page.

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 132012

A treasure trove of fruit growing information has just been made publicly available through the work of Pat Scott to rescue the newsletter content compiled by the members of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia from 1980-2002. Thanks to Pat, Sheryl Backhouse and all the writers for making this resource available. I know where I’ll be spending my spare reading time over winter! Click here to visit their website.

Jun 112012

Join local reveg guru Glenn Mansfield, BAAG and the Friends of the Yarra Valley Parks on Wednesday the 18th of July between 9am and 12 noon for a planting day in the park next to the nursery. BAAG has been busy working on the site for over 15 years, creating a healthy indigenous habitat in an area where there was once just weeds.

Come down and find out about the unique and wonderful plants and animals found along the middle Yarra; learn about some of the revegetation techniques used to rehabilitate the site and have a bit of fun getting your hands dirty while having a positive impact on our environment. Kids are more than welcome as well, and they always have loads of fun at these days.

If you would like to join us please rsvp via email to (There is no charge, it just makes it easier to organise the day if we know numbers)

May 292012

Just arrived in the shop is a fabulous assortment of Fair Trade products, including a range of colourful quirky decorative mirrors and fantastic hand made door curtains from recycled bottles and bottle tops. We also have a great range of animals made from scrap tin which are designed in Australia.

Fair Trade products are great as gifts or as a little treat for yourself. They are sustainably produced and by purchasing Fair Trade product, you are helping to make a difference to the lives of people in developing countries. For more information on Fair Trade Product please click here

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