Nov 092013
 

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

To combat the appalling white fly invasion that was tormenting Melbourne gardeners in summer 2013 we introduced a parasitic wasp and a mite. They are susceptible to certain sprays – so we eliminated those pesticides to give them every chance to do their work. We saw a definite improvement in white fly control.
We used Montdorensis mites from and Encarsia formosa (parasitic wasp)

This year (2015) we have engaged the services of IPM Technologies and have jumped feet first into managing our pests in a sensible and intelligently planned manner. This has been a bit nerve wracking as it means a lot more monitoring of pests and NOT reaching for the spray pack. Angelica from IPM Technologies regularly inspects the nursery and is the source of amazing photos of what is going on around the nursery. At this point we have not sprayed the roses at all (unheard of!) and sprayed once for Pear and Cherry slug. We introduced a predatory mite (Persimilis) into our poly tunnel which rapidly cleared up a burgeoning spider mite infestation before it became a problem. Apart from that, it has been a matter of watching and waiting and allowing the natural predators which were visibly there, to build up in numbers and control the aphids on the roses and Silver Birches.

Nov 012013
 

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

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

Granitic Sand


Granitic Sand is a great alternative to paving or turf, and is a very similar product to Dromana Toppings… but at a fraction of the price. It is also readily available unlike Dromana Toppings. It is ideal for drives and pathways, will not go soft with water or muddy in winter. Should be compacted to a depth of 75mm.

Granitic sand is tan in colour.

Bulleen Toppings


Bulleen Toppings are off white to light grey gravel with white fines. It has a light, beige finish when dry. This is the closest substitute currently available for Lilydale Toppings.

It compacts well to form a solid and attractive foundation for driveways and pathways.

5mm Crusher Dust


5mm Crusher Dust is a fine crushed rock, 5mm in size down to dust. It is generally made from bluestone, basalt or granite and is great for compaction. 5mm Crusher Dust is used for backfilling pools, under instant turf or water tanks, for bedding paving or for pathways.

Available in Bulk Bags suitable for crane lifting.

Tuscan Toppings


Tuscan Toppings are generally used as a surface for driveways and paths. After spreading, it is advised to either roll or compact the area to achieve a firm, even surface. Tuscan Toppings pack rock hard but still remain permeable to water.

Crushed Rock


Crushed Rock consists of 20mm minus stone particles capable of solid compaction. Ideal for driveways and paths. Must be used for a foundation when laying paving and for some retaining wall systems. Crushed rock is an ideal under sand or pavers or for a water tank base.

Sand, Soil and Mulch delivery 7 days

We deliver all over Melbourne!

We can deliver our bulk sand, soil, mulch, compost and stone to your site in most areas of Metro Melbourne. Our fleet of trucks are on the road doing bulk sand and soil deliveries 7 days a week, and they come in all sizes (and colours). Our drivers are neat, fit, healthy and always up for a chat.

Contact the yard on (03) 8850 3030 or email yard@baag.com.au to discuss your delivery requirements.

Please note that a delivery surcharge applies on Sundays and Public Holidays.

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

Smaller delivery quantities may only be available to the following suburbs
Please note that deliveries of smaller quantities may only be possible to suburbs listed here, email the yard or phone (03) 8850 3030 to confirm. Please call even if your suburb is not listed, we may still deliver to you depending on your requirements.

Abbotsford
Alphington
Armadale
Arthurs Creek
Ascot Vale
Ashburton
Ashwood
Auburn
Balwyn
Balwyn North
Bellfield
Blackburn
Blackburn North
Blackburn South
Box Hill
Box Hill North
Box Hill South
Briar Hill
Brunswick
Brunswick East
Brunswick West
Bulleen
Bundoora
Camberwell
Canterbury
Carlton
Carlton North
Caufield
Clifton Hill
Coburg
Coburg North
Collingwood
Diamond Creek
Doncaster
Doncaster East
Donvale
Eaglemont
East Melbourne
Eltham
Eltham North
Essendon
Fairfield
Fitzroy
Fitzroy North
Glen Iris
Greensborough
Hawthorn
Hawthorn East
Heidelberg
Heidelberg Heights
Heidelberg West
Hurstbridge
Ivanhoe
Ivanhoe East
Kew
Kew East
Kingsbury
Lower Plenty
Macleod
Macleod West
Malvern
Malvern East
Melbourne University
Mont Albert
Mont Albert North
Montmorency
Northcote
Nunawading
Park Orchards
Parkville
Pascoe Vale
Plenty
Preston
Preston East
Preston West
Research
Reservoir
Richmond
Rosanna
South Yarra
St. Kilda
Surrey Hills
Templestowe
Templestowe Lower
Thornbury
Toorak
Viewbank
Warrandyte
Watsonia
Watsonia North
Wonga Park
Yallambie
Oct 292013
 

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

It can be tricky setting up a productive garden when you don’t own your own place. However it’s certainly not impossible – so if you rent and you’re dreaming of a bountiful yard full of homegrown produce, here are some tips on how to go about it.

So how will your landlord or real estate agent feel about you making a garden at the property? If you’ve scored an accommodating landlord – get planting! Otherwise you could offer general maintenance of any existing gardens and lawn, in return for creating a couple of new beds for your produce. If your landlord doesn’t come to the party, or you have a balcony or small space to grow in, you need to grow your produce in a ‘pack up and away’ style.

Continue reading »

Black Aphid

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Oct 222013
 

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

These can explode in numbers seemingly overnight and yesterday’s beautiful healthy foliage can turn into today’s twisted and curled up mess as you can see from the pictures here of our poor esplaiered cherry in Edible Alley (on the left as you enter the driveway). The difficulty with black aphid in this situation is that most sprays rely on getting the spray onto the aphid, and that is almost impossible when the leaves are curled up and the aphids are busy sucking away on the inside. Your best friends are ladybirds, lacewings and parasitic wasps. These will find the aphids within their curled leaves and they are excellent predators. A good supplier of natural predators is http://www.biologicalservices.com.au/.

If you can’t wait for the natural predator numbers to build up and just have to spray, using any of the contact insecticide sprays (pyrethrums, white oils etc) means you must get the spray onto the insect, so you will need to spray the undersurface of the leaves. Not an easy job when the leaves are curled up and this means you will unavoidably kill some of the natural predators.

Continue reading »

Malus trilobata

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Sep 292013
 

Malus trilobata

Also known as Lebanese wild apple, erect crab apple or three-lobed apple tree.

This tree solves a lot of problems. At the nursery we are often asked for a very narrow tree to act as a screen or to run down a driveway. The ubiquitous Pyrus ‘Capital’, so beloved by both councils and designers grows to 11m by 3m wide, people have been planting them by the thousands, only to discover that 11m is actually very tall in a small space, and a bit overwhelming. Arborists are now busy cutting many of them down, or attempting to lower the crown – not an easy job with this tree.

On the other hand, Malus trilobata grows to a nice comfortable 6-7m x 2-4m wide. In addition, it has dark green, deeply lobed maple like leaves turning to brilliant and eye-catching red / scarlet in autumn. The charming white flowers of spring look good against the dark green foliage and are followed by green crab apples in autumn. A medium to fast growing tree, this tree has a reliably upright symmetrical slender pyramidal shape, imparting a slightly formal look.

It can take almost any soil, including compacted heavy clay soils – very useful for around Melbourne – but will obviously do best in a good well drained loamy soil. Will grow in full sun to part shade and can take heavy frosts. For those of us who love Canadian maples with their brilliant autumn foliage but find them too large, this is a great alternative.

Sep 052013
 

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Staghorn Platycerium superbum and Elkhorn Platycerium bifurcatum ferns are both ‘air plants’, which means they don’t need soil to grow. Both will grow just about anywhere, as long as they are in filtered light with decent protection from heavy winds. They are both relatively easy to grow for even very inexperienced gardeners.
Continue reading »

Currants

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Aug 302013
 

(Photograph by Bulleen Art & Garden)
Currants are small deciduous bushes with origins in cool European lands, where they thrived as forest edge plants, and later as domesticated varieties planted in gardens and hedgerows for their 5mm red, white or ‘black’ (dark purple) berries. This heritage gives a clue to their preferred conditions – moist, slightly acidic soils, with good drainage, lots of rotted leaves or other organic matter, and gentle sunlight – definitely NOT the scorching westerly afternoon sun in Australian summer conditions. In fact, they have the advantage of being one of the few fruits that will produce in light shade… so use them to get more sweet treats out of those garden spots where you thought none would grow! They are also ornamental, with pretty green lobed leaves.
Continue reading »

Aug 292013
 

(Photograph by Bulleen Art & Garden)

Up until now we have been using these cloche hoops with netting to protect the vegies from birds, possums and cabbage moth. Our ever adventurous Dennis recently used the hoops with UV resistant Greenhouse Plastic and is now wildly enthusiastic with his success. He reckons his potatoes are unbelievable, that the growth is way beyond his expectations. Hyperbole aside – it does seem a good way to jump start the season, and give those tomato tragics a safe way of getting them in early.

Aug 262013
 

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Do you remember the amazing flavours from your grandparent’s vegie garden? Why don’t tomatoes taste like that anymore? If you are bored by the tomatoes available from supermarkets, heirloom varieties could be just the thing you are looking for. Tomatoes, and many other vegie and fruit varieties, can be exciting to the tastebuds and reminiscent of days of old if you delve into the movement to grow heritage vegies. The large growers have to grow fruit and vegetables that are easy to machine-harvest, keep well under refrigeration and can be transported long distances. When you grow your own fruit and vegies at home you don’t need to worry about any of these constraints, so why not get a bit experimental with your selections.
Continue reading »

Aug 232013
 


This is great shot of Cottony Cushion Scale on a citrus leaf which was brought into the nursery today for identification. It shows them sitting along a citrus leaf, along the middle rib. This is where you will normally see them congregating.

Unfortunately spraying is not really an option, as any spray that will kill the scale is not selective and you will end up knocking out your garden’s ‘good guy’ predators. This could also compound the problem by making future infestations worse. Your best friends in this situation are two of your garden’s natural predators… ladybirds and green lacewing. You can boost your garden’s natural pest-fighting ability by releasing some of these natural predators yourself.
Continue reading »

Aug 122013
 

I love working in the garden. However when you have limited time and/or small children, sometimes the hard yakka you want to put into gardening is pushed down the list of priorities after changing nappies, making a kite, sticking feathers on a headband, doing the washing, walking to the playground…

So a few years ago my friend Ella and I started a fortnightly gardening group, to get our friends and their kids helping out in each other’s gardens – and finally do some of the things that had been waiting in line behind the nappies and feather headbands. We were also really conscious of how much our children loved helping in the garden, and we thought it would be a great environment for them to meet new friends and learn more about the earth!
Continue reading »

Aug 102013
 

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

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

5mm Crusher Dust


5mm Crusher Dust is a fine crushed rock, 5mm in size down to dust. It is generally made from bluestone, basalt or granite and is great for compaction. 5mm Crusher Dust is used for backfilling pools, under instant turf or water tanks, for bedding paving or for pathways.

Available in Bulk Bags suitable for crane lifting.

20mm Tuscan Stone


20mm Tuscan Stone is mostly used as a mulch or as a decorative path topping. It will not pack down hard like Tuscan Toppings and is permeable to water.

Mixed River Pebbles


Mixed River Pebbles are sourced from an environmentally sustainable supply. They are mostly earthy brown stone with various darker shades.

20mm Scoria


20mm Scoria is used with storm water drainage and can also used for drainage behind retaining walls.

Crushed Rock


Crushed Rock consists of 20mm minus stone particles capable of solid compaction. Ideal for driveways and paths. Must be used for a foundation when laying paving and for some retaining wall systems. Crushed rock is an ideal under sand or pavers or for a water tank base.

14mm Screenings


14mm Screenings is the main ingredient used in concrete. Used with storm water drainage.

7mm Screenings


7mm Screenings is used by plumbers for drainage. It can also be used in concreting to obtain a smoother finish.

Concrete Mix


Ready to go Concrete Mix… you just need to just add cement. Made up of Concrete Sand and 14mm Screenings at the correct ratio. Concrete Mix should be mixed with cement at a ratio of 16 bags per cubic metre.

Torquay Pebbles


Torquay Pebbles are a local Victorian pebble that is available in several sizes. With a white and creamy appearance, these pebbles are smooth. Please call to check availability as supply can be limited. Please note that Torquay Pebbles is NOT available for pickup in bulk from our yard, it can only be ordered for delivery to your place on weekdays. Bags are available in our yard.

10mm Crushed Quartz


10mm Crushed Quartz is a small to medium sized crushed pebble, most commonly used in garden beds and between pavers. The texture is quite jagged, adding character to any garden. Please note that Crushed Quartz is NOT available for pickup in bulk from our yard, it can only be ordered for delivery to your place on weekdays. Bags are available in our yard.

Sand, Soil and Mulch delivery 7 days

We deliver all over Melbourne!

We can deliver our bulk sand, soil, mulch, compost and stone to your site in most areas of Metro Melbourne. Our fleet of trucks are on the road doing bulk sand and soil deliveries 7 days a week, and they come in all sizes (and colours). Our drivers are neat, fit, healthy and always up for a chat.

Contact the yard on (03) 8850 3030 or email yard@baag.com.au to discuss your delivery requirements.

Please note that a delivery surcharge applies on Sundays and Public Holidays.

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

Smaller delivery quantities may only be available to the following suburbs
Please note that deliveries of smaller quantities may only be possible to suburbs listed here, email the yard or phone (03) 8850 3030 to confirm. Please call even if your suburb is not listed, we may still deliver to you depending on your requirements.

Abbotsford
Alphington
Armadale
Arthurs Creek
Ascot Vale
Ashburton
Ashwood
Auburn
Balwyn
Balwyn North
Bellfield
Blackburn
Blackburn North
Blackburn South
Box Hill
Box Hill North
Box Hill South
Briar Hill
Brunswick
Brunswick East
Brunswick West
Bulleen
Bundoora
Camberwell
Canterbury
Carlton
Carlton North
Caufield
Clifton Hill
Coburg
Coburg North
Collingwood
Diamond Creek
Doncaster
Doncaster East
Donvale
Eaglemont
East Melbourne
Eltham
Eltham North
Essendon
Fairfield
Fitzroy
Fitzroy North
Glen Iris
Greensborough
Hawthorn
Hawthorn East
Heidelberg
Heidelberg Heights
Heidelberg West
Hurstbridge
Ivanhoe
Ivanhoe East
Kew
Kew East
Kingsbury
Lower Plenty
Macleod
Macleod West
Malvern
Malvern East
Melbourne University
Mont Albert
Mont Albert North
Montmorency
Northcote
Nunawading
Park Orchards
Parkville
Pascoe Vale
Plenty
Preston
Preston East
Preston West
Research
Reservoir
Richmond
Rosanna
South Yarra
St. Kilda
Surrey Hills
Templestowe
Templestowe Lower
Thornbury
Toorak
Viewbank
Warrandyte
Watsonia
Watsonia North
Wonga Park
Yallambie
Aug 082013
 

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

For over 400 million years there has been a mutually beneficial relationship between the root tips of plants and mycelium (fungus).

The term ‘VAM’ – Vesicular Arbuscular Mycorrhiza – is used to describe one such type of this beneficial relationship between the root tips and the fungi.

The mycelium enters the root tip and together they form a site where nutrients and carbon can transfer. This assists the plant in absorbing the essential nutrients for growth. VAM is an additional way the plant has of absorbing nutrients, and makes it possible for plants to grow in conditions that are suboptimal (nutrient deficient) – such as many Australian soils. Without VAM, the direct uptake of nutrients by plants via their root systems can result in a nutrient deficiency in the soil immediately adjacent to the root zone. Subsequent absorption of nutrients is then limited by the rate at which roots can grow into new soil and by the rate at which nutrients move through the soil. With VAM, the extensive network of mycelium grows past the depletion zones and allows nutrients to be actively transported into the root system. This method is a much more efficient way of maintaining contact with nutrients than the plant continually extending its root system into fresh soil.

Benefits of VAM

The benefits of VAM are many and well documented. VAM inoculants have been available commercially in agriculture (and hydroponics) for some time and are only now being packaged in sufficiently small quantities to be available for use in the home garden (1kg and 150g bags instead of large drums).

There are many benefits of adding VAM inoculants to the home garden and they include:

  • Increased establishment and survival of seedlings (fungi enter the emerging roots and rapidly establish the beneficial relationship aiding survival and successful establishment)
  • Higher growth rate and greater plant size
  • More and better quality fruit and leaves with a higher nutritional value.
  • Increased tolerance to drought
  • Increased tolerance to pests and diseases

Due to the symbiotic nature of the relationship between the fungi and the plant root tips, if you leave an area fallow (no plants in it) the fungi will die. Consequently, in your vegie garden, if you don’t want to grow a winter crop after your summer crop, rather than leave the patch fallow we recommend you sow a green manure crop.

There are many other benefits of VAM, here are some links if you would like to investigate further. Click here for a good over-view of mycorrhizza. For an extensive discussion on VAM, its modes of action and application in agriculture / horticulture, click here and follow the links.

Organic Matter

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Aug 082013
 

Organic matter is anything that contains carbon compounds that were formed by living organisms. It consists of dead and decaying forms (mainly plants and manures), living plants (mostly roots) and living micro-organisms and soil animals

Why do we care?
Because nutrients taken up by plants in the natural environment (this excludes commercial agriculture) are derived largely from the decomposition process of soil organic matter It is easy (and cheap!) to make your own compost. If using your own chicken or farm manures, it is a good idea to run it through your compost system where the heat of the composting process will destroy most weed seeds. Fresh chicken manure is too ‘hot’ to use directly in the soil and should always be composted before use.

Confusion?
Humus, compost and organic matter are often incorrectly used interchangeably. Humus and compost are different, but both are components of organic matter.

Improving soils

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Aug 082013
 

It can be very tempting to look at the soil you have and think it is better to replace it with soil you can buy in. It looks all fresh and new, problem free and feels like a clean slate. Ignoring the environmental aspects of digging up soil, dumping it, creating new soil, relocating it etc, there is a good chance you are better off improving the soil you have rather than replacing it. Better off in that you will have both a superior soil and more money in your pocket.

Many soils you buy are constructed soils, so they are relatively uniform from one batch to the next. These soils can have no, or minimal, clay component, which is a problem in the medium to long term. Often deplored by gardeners, clay has many highly superior qualities and plays a vital role in good soil. You will end up with a beautiful rich dark fruitcake of a soil if you improve your existing clay based soil.

When discussing soil improvement, the first step is appreciating the benefits and essential nature of organic matter. No matter which literature source you access, whether peer reviewed journals, university fact sheets or garden blogs, it is impossible to escape the vital role organic matter plays in the soil.

For Australian soils adding organic matter is almost always extremely beneficial. Add in both compost and manures, spread out over the top and then dig in to around a spade depth. Do not over work the soil and try to work when soil is damp – not dry and not wet. The addition of organic matter allows the build up of worms, soil arthropods and soil micro-organisms; these decompose the organic material and in the process provide nutrients for plant uptake.

Very occasionally (almost never) an enthusiast will add in far too much organic matter resulting in salt build up, large nitrogen release, excessive phosphorus and an imbalance of other minerals. This is rarely a problem in Australia.

Keeping the soil moist – to a level of a wrung out sponge – is important in keeping the soil micro-organisms alive, and these are vital for good plant health. Mulch is very beneficial in improving soil moisture and adding organic material to the soil. As the soil micro-organisms break organic matter down and drag it into the soil, it needs to be replaced periodically. If the organic matter is not replaced, the soil micro-organisms will die and soil fertility will fall.

If you have resorted to importing soil it is important to avoid ‘textural interfaces’. This is where you have one type of soil laid directly over another type of soil; the resulting difference in pore spaces interferes with soil water movement and root development. Make a transition layer between the soils, mixing the fill (imported soil) with the soil underneath.