Is the time and money needed to set-up a greenhouse worth it in the long run?
Late last year we posted some initial tips on how to ‘summer-proof’ your garden in advance of the hot season ahead and the weather certainly hasn’t disappointed on temperature! We’ve been asked by a few of our followers to provide some additional insights on what to do over the summer peak (particularly to reduce water usage) – so here goes:
Many of our customers have reached out in advance of Christmas this year looking for some gift ideas outside of the usual 'plastic, packaged platitudes..' so we've put the thinking cap on and over the next few weeks we will share some thoughts on what you could do differently this year.
To start with, we'd like to share some of the benefits of fruit trees - both as a Christmas gift and as a massive environmental stabiliser for the local climate.
Not only will a fruit tree provide years of gardening enjoyment and a bounty of fresh fruit for you to enjoy at home, but as part of a 'food forest', planting fruit trees can be an active measure in reducing temperatures and combating climate change at the local level.
TGSN owner and biological agronomist Dave Jarrett highlights - "if we take a permaculture approach - that is building up a planting environment that matches the local environment - well mulched, tropical and containing a range of fruit and vegetable variants we can actually create a food forest that can drop the backyard yard temperature by up to 4 degrees. Likewise we can hold up to a 4 degree temperature increase in winter, stabilise local climate and provide an ongoing food source.'
If you're looking for something different for Christmas this year - what about a fruit tree? Start your own food forest and really make a difference.
See us in-store for fruit trees starting at $16, or a huge variety of gardening gift kits, wind spinners and garden art.
We have a large range of passionfruits, citrus trees, feijoas, avocados and potted blueberries, blackberries and raspberries. Our dwarf mulberry trees would also make a brilliant Christmas gift.
Blueberries are a valued addition to any backyard garden. At The Nursery we have varieties that grow well here in Queensland's south-east corner. The shrubs are small enough to grow in a container yet big enough to produce a pleasing crop of delicious berries.
There is a lot we could say about the health benefits of blueberries. They are high on the list of antioxidant foods and are a valuable addition to any diet. In the months when your own plants are not producing, frozen berries are a good source of all the health benefits.
Growing Guide For BlueberriesDo not plant your blueberry plants in alkaline soil.
It will kill your plant!!
Soil: Blueberries prefer rich, moist, acidic, well drained soils high in organic matter. The best pH range for blueberries is 4 to 5.5. This is why it is often best to grow blueberries in a container so you can have better control over the acidity of the soil.
Only plant your blueberry in the ground if you know that the soil is acidic.
Try to avoid using manure, especially chicken or horse manure.
Location: Blueberries enjoy full sun or partial shade and need protection from strong winds, especially the very hot, dry summer winds we sometimes experience. When these winds blow keep the plants well watered.
Pots: Blueberries grow very well in a variety of containers and will grow to their full potential in a medium sized pot of 300 mm to 400 mm in diameter. A 45 litre GrowRite plant bag is also a good option.
Growing Medium: When planting your blueberry in a pot, use a potting mix that is formulated for plants that require acidic growing conditions such as Camellias and Azaleas. Also use a slow release fertilizer.
An alternative to purchasing a commercial acidic potting mix is to create your own blend by mixing peat moss and a standard potting mix together in the ratio of 1 part peat moss to 3 pats potting mix.
Your blueberries will benefit by a fortnightly application of seaweed solution and a weekly application of fish fertiliser during the growing season in spring, summer and early autumn.
Add a layer of leaf mulch to mimic the leaf litter of the forest floor. Pine needles are a good mulch because they are acidic and so enhance growth.
Pollination: The blueberry varieties sold in The Nursery are self-pollinating. The bees love the flowers which helps to support the dwindling bee population.
However, if you find that you are not getting a good crop of fruit, the planting of different compatible varieties can assist with the cross-pollination of flowers which will increase the crop yields.
Bees enjoy the blueberry flowers
Pruning: Blueberries do not need to be pruned other than to maintain the desired shape. Plants may be lightly pruned at any time during the growing season. If heavy pruning is required, wait till late winter when plants are dormant. Remember that excessive pruning will reduce the crop of berries because the flowers develop on the outer tips of the branches.
Enjoy Your Blueberries
Who doesn't enjoy a freshly cooked blueberry muffin?
The fruit is delicious when eaten fresh as well as being a welcome addition to many recipes for creative cooks.
One of the unique characteristics of summer in our sub-tropical regions (Queensland in particular) is the general consistency of sunlight, temperature, humidity and air pressure transitions through the day. Whilst the downside of this time can be limited rainfall, knowing the environment and being able to manage consistently high temperatures can make your gardening journey a lot easier.
Here are our tips to get your garden flourishing this summer:
Stick with the obvious (water, water, water…)
Many Australian households fall behind on their watering schedule during the hot summer months and their gardens tend to wither. Although it can be hard work manually watering (particularly for high demand plant varieties), it is worth the effort - or taking the time to explore an irrigation system. Any system with an automated watering cycle can be a huge time, water and effort saver and well worth the cost of installation in water efficiency alone.
The other big tip on watering is to do it early in the morning. Consistent late afternoon/early evening watering can create mildew and make your work even harder. Be particularly vigilant with your avocados - they need water but not as much as other plants and can suffer mildew or root rot with over watering.
Don’t forget the food
Charging your plants up with a high quality fertiliser can also help stave off the impacts of a really hot summer and see your plants through.
Early Spring is the best time to apply a high quality controlled release fertiliser and then to address specific plan nutritional needs from there, but if you’ve missed the boat on that one have a look at a top tier ‘all in 1’ that is based on kelp and fish so your plants and soil get exactly the microbes they need. We recommend an Organic All In One that we produce here at TGSN as we can vouch for the product and its efficacy.
Keep pests out
The Queensland summer is a haven for plant eating pests and many of them will do a complete job on your garden if left unchecked. If you notice an outbreak of anything untoward - come and see us before it gets too far. A pest control professional might be needed if its completely out of hand, but if you get to it fast enough we can recommend a range of organic pest control mechanisms.
Watch the weeds
Weeds are a given in any Australian garden but things can get dire as the weather heats up. If you’re committed, a regular weeding plan by hand will do the job, but REGULAR is the important word here otherwise you will end up with large swathes of yard to deal with and it can quickly become overwhelming.
If it does become a big deal, talk to us about organic solutions as there are fast and cost effective options that won’t damage the environment.
Keep your pot(s) cool
Potted plants are going to feel the heat first and hardest. The interior temperature of a pot in full sun is akin to that of your car at midday parked in Maroochydore, so the damage to soil biology and plant health can be severe. Try and keep your pots in shade where possible and definitely well watered.
Finally - grow veggies!
The warmer months are brilliant for growing the right type of vegetables.
Keep your watering, weeding and pest control in mind and look at building up a salad bowl here - lettuce, cherry or roma tomatoes…croutons (we’ll teach you about these in a later edition…). The point is you can have some fun and eat out of your garden right through the warmer months as long as you are looking after your plants.
So - the main message is to keep an eye on things as the temperatures rise. Come and see us if you need any specffic advice, soil testing or if you are looking at what to plant.
We’ll see in you December.