May 012013
 

BAAG has been working to improve habitat, protect local ecosystems and plant species in the Little Bolin Parkland adjoining our garden centre for the past 16 years in partnership with:

* Friends of Yarra Valley Parks
* Parks Victoria
* The Local Community
* Melbourne Water
* Wally the wombat, his family and friends

Friends of the Yarra Valley Parks
The FYVP 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. They work with Parks Victoria rangers and focus our efforts in parks along the Yarra River from Burke Rd Ivanhoe upstream to Warrandyte. There are also loads of other conservation groups in the Yarra Valley to choose from. Give one a go today!
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May 012013
 


I have been lucky to have been able to spend much of my working life surrounded by plants; studying and working in the natural environment, in local gardens and in garden centres. Like many of us, I love the opportunity to get out of the city and into the wilderness, regrettably these days it doesn’t happen quite as often as I would like. Fortunately Melbourne has been gifted with an amazing combination of parks and reserves that provide us relief from our increasingly busy lives and a sanctuary for many native species that share our city and surrounds.
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Apr 282013
 

A question which regularly gets asked at the nursery is “what do I do with my soil now I have removed the concrete?”

The issues that arise with soil under large areas of concrete include compaction, hydrophobic soil, lack of organic material and pH. Depending on the degree of compaction, you may need to hire equipment to do some of the initial breaking up of the soil. If it isn’t too bad, then a sturdy garden fork and muscles will do the trick.
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Apr 272013
 

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

Paving cleaners – manmade paving (bricks or concrete pavers)

HCl acid is the best substance to use when removing excess grout from brick or concrete pavers, and will leave a good clean finish.

To avoid damaging your clients’ plants or grass, try to wash into a drain and not onto garden beds or areas of lawn. Mix roughly ten parts water to one part acid (until the mixture fizzes) – always add the acid to the water, never do it the other way around.

And NEVER use it on natural stone pavers.

Paving cleaners – natural stone pavers

Once again, NEVER use HCl acid on natural stone pavers. Instead, use a specialised product to remove light mortar or grouting haze.

Miteq Masonry Cleaner 304 is safe to use on terracotta, natural stone and cement-based pavers and grouts. It is also great for removing the efflorescence (white bloom) you see on both terracotta and glazed pots. And while it won’t repair their cracks and chips, it will help give them a new lease on life by also cleaning off mould, mildew and dirt stains.

Miteq Masonry Cleaner 306 is particularly good at removing organic based stains (such as timber and rust stains) from clay bricks and pavers, terracotta, ceramic tiles, concrete, natural stone and cement-based pavers. It’s also really handy for cleaning the shower!

Miteq Masonry Cleaner 301 is the best thing to use when cleaning paved driveways that have accumulated grease and rubber marks and are generally soiled. It is also a great product for removing rubber marks and grease from terracotta, natural stone, cement based pavers and grouts. These surfaces all come up a treat, but especially so when it is used with a pressure washer.

Paving Sealers

Paving sealers are a great way of making sure that most soils, greases and general food stains don’t become ingrained. They keep stains from penetrating deeply, especially into newly laid surfaces, and make cleaning and the removal of contaminants much easier. There are two types: penetrating sealers and surface sealers.

The first type of penetrating sealer is water-based. This sits just below the surface and gives a good “natural” look – it doesn’t change the appearance of the paver – while also acting as a waterproofing agent. It allows the pavers to “breathe” and can be painted if needed. Miteq Sealer 102 is especially good around pools and other damp areas.

The second type of penetrating sealer is solvent-based, and is used to give a higher level of protection to dense surfaces (granite, bluestone etc) and in heavily trafficked areas (driveways, patios, bathrooms, etc). Miteq Sealer 103 is ideal for these surfaces and areas.

Surface sealers, such as Miteq sealer 201, are used to achieve a high-gloss “wet” look. They sit on the surface of the paver and don’t allow it to “breathe”. While generally glossy, they can have a matt finish. They can often be slippery, and so some varieties can have an anti-slip agent added to them. Some can also be used as an anti-graffiti protectant.

Apr 252013
 

Autumn is the best time to plant your winter vegetable garden. As the weather cools and the rain starts to fall more frequently it is a pleasure to get back into the garden, remove spent summer crops and plant vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, broad beans and peas. It is an advantage to start planting at the beginning of autumn as many winter vegetables require a long growing period. Read on for everything you need to do to ensure a bumper winter vegie crop.

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Apr 142013
 

Jerusalem Artichokes (Helianthus tuberous) can also be known as Sunchokes. It is curious that they are neither true artichokes… nor are they from Jerusalem! They are in fact a member of the sunflower family originating in eastern North America.

The plant is a hardy, tall, herbaceous perennial growing up to 2m tall. It features attractive yellow flowers, however it is recommended that the lower buds be pinched out to increase the yield of the edible tubers underground. The tubers are used a bit like a potato, and they are similar to a ginger root in appearance. Jerusalem Artichokes have a unique, creamy, smokey flavour.

Jerusalem Artichokes are easy to grow, but can run wild in the garden. Contained garden beds or large crates are ideal growing spaces to keep them in check. It is essential to dig up all the bigger tubers and replant the small ones each year so the quality and taste does not deteriorate.

Avoid feeding them with too much nitrogen, but use a good supply of potassium such as Sulphate of Potassium and chicken manure, otherwise the top green growth will grow at the expense of good fleshy tubers.

The tubers can be harvested 4-6 weeks after flowering. Jerusalem Artichokes contain Inulin which makes them low in calories as well as promoting good gut bacteria. Their delicious taste is opposed to the flatulence they can cause in their digestion (just a polite warning). After the tubers are harvested, well washed and peeled they can be mashed, baked or chipped. They also give a delicious creamy, smokey texture to soups.

Handy tip: An old method of lessening the flatulence is to boil up the peeled tubers and toss out the water. Repeat the process twice more before eating.

Apr 022013
 

You know the seats… you’ve probably all sat on one them at one time or another. The beautiful tiled concrete seats along Brunswick Street were made a few years back by our very own giftshop guru Guiseppe Raneri. Bruce (BAAG’s co-owner for the past few decades) was very proud of himself for working out how to use the camera in his flash new smartphone. The German tourists pictured here were very patient as Bruce pressed quite a few buttons in order to grab this great shot.

Apr 012013
 

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden
Sceptics say that you can’t have a garden with chooks. They dig up plants, they make a mess of mulch, they leave droppings around, but this could be said of many pets. My experience is that a garden just isn’t one without them. To see them strutting around the lawn, or lying down and stretching out their wings to soak up the sunshine brings colour and movement to a backyard like nothing else. Even though many of the varieties don’t necessarily make cuddly pets, hens have a lot more to offer than just their good looks and amusing antics. They do know whose hand it is that feeds them.

Click the pic to book into our Backyard Chooks for Beginners class… or keep reading for more great chook info.
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Mar 282013
 

Photo © Bulleen Art & Garden

When you’re working with sleepers, it’s important to use the right ones for the right job. It doesn’t matter if you’re building a retaining wall or a vegie bed or a fence, or laying garden edging or playground borders – the key to doing the job properly is knowing which sleepers are best for the work at hand. To do the job right and to make sure that health and safety standards are met, it pays to do your research before you jump in.

Luckily, we’ve done that bit for you. Read on for more info on the different kinds of sleepers we stock here are at BAAG, as well as explanations of which job each type is suitable for.
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Mar 252013
 


The Banyule Arty Farty Festival was on again last Sunday the 24th March 2013. BAAG was there again and a great day was had by all.

This is a fantastic, creative, hands on festival for children. We had a float in the Grand Parade down Burgundy Street at 10am and we also ran an environmental art activity in the environment section of the festival. Kids were able to make a collage using ‘found’ natural objects.

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Mar 152013
 

After being away from the nursery for a while I’m always interested to come back and see how the plants are growing around the place, what is in flower, what is fruiting and what is struggling or thriving. So this time after a break, the first thing I noticed was the goji plant (Lycium barbarum) in Edible Alley, the edible garden alongside the BAAG driveway, its pendulous branches positively dripping with glowing, orange fruits.

It is the first time our goji has fruited, as the new growth was pruned in previous years before having a chance to fruit (they are tip-bearers) and because the plant was still young (they start producing after 2-3 years). Now that it is established, we knew not to prune it until after fruiting and have been well rewarded. Feel free to try one when you are in next before they finish. They are small but quite refreshing, not to mention a superfood.

To grow a goji plant, plant it in a sunny position with adequate food, water and drainage. Branches grow as long flexible stems that can be trained to allow the ends to weep and then pruned to maintain a good shape after fruiting or in winter whilst dormant.

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Mar 012013
 

Saturday 20 April 2013, 9am-4pm
At Minalinka Farm (in the Yarrambat / Diamond Creek area)

View Aquaponics Greenhouses & Wicking Beds in vegetable-production for a family & more – see how to use tubs, baths and water tanks. Fruit Trees & Food Forests (organic gardening along Permaculture lines). There are Water-Savvy Gardening talks by Stephen Onians at 10am and 12 noon (see email link below to register). There is also an afternoon workshop from 1:30 to 3pm on Swiss Flan-making (for an additional $7 cost) Martina will guide you through how to make delicious savoury & fruity flans – afternoon tea is included.

Cost: $8 entry (includes self-guided tour, talk and tea/coffee/lemongrass/peppermint tea) All registration fees are donated to Diamond Creek (Thrive) Community Garden. Contact Stephen at minalinka@optusnet.com.au by 9pm Thursday 18 April to register your interest, to obtain the address and for further details.

Feb 262013
 

We are excited to be stocking these fantastic recycled Vegie Garden Crates direct from the local apple orchard. They are proving to be incredibly popular. The reclaimed crates are very sturdy and are 1.2m square by 600mm deep, making them the perfect size for growing all of your vegies and herbs. You can use them as either a traditional or a No-Dig Garden. Due to their portable nature they are ideal for those who like to change their gardens around every now and then and especially handy for renters who change residence from time to time.

All of our Vegie Crates come lined with a sturdy plastic root barrier, which helps to protect the timber against rotting. Being 100% recycled they are a wonderfully sustainable addition to any garden.

Being so popular they occasionally sell out quicker than we can source them. To check availability call the yard on 8850 3030 or email yard@baag.com.au.

Feb 252013
 

Photo © Outback Sleepers

With quality hardwood sleepers becoming increasingly difficult to source and their prices soaring, BAAG now offers concrete sleepers. Available in 2m lengths and very reasonably priced, concrete sleepers are an excellent alternative when building a retaining wall.

With a variety of patterns and colours available, we’re confident we’ll find an option that suits you. Suitable to use for retaining walls of up to 3m high, these sleepers are super strong and reliable. Of course, we can provide the steel uprights that you will need to use for these as well.

A variety of designs are also available in precast concrete step kits. With size, height and depth options available, give us a call to find one that will suit you.

Given the strength of these, some walls may need an engineers report before building commences.