Saturday, 9 March 2013

MTM: March 2013

Please note: my classes are always a month ahead of themselves so you have time to prepare and plan ahead the jobs needed to be done in your garden. 

March 2013

This month we should all be reaping our rewards from the summer vegie patch, as well as watching the change of the new season begin. March can often be a wonderful month in your garden. The humid heat of late summer still exists after all that rain over the last month and the ground is easy to dig over. So March is a month for renovating and getting all your garden beds ready for the winter crops to come.

After hitting some of the hottest temperatures in history; I'm so glad that summer has gone; and what about all that rainfall? Everyone's water tanks must be overflowing. 

Now it’s time to start digging over all your garden beds and getting ready to start the prep work for winter. We also need to look at all the damage the heat did during summer and try and help our gardens recover. My lawn that once was beautiful, completely died in January and is only just beginning to repair itself.. Thanks to all the rain we've had in the last few weeks. 

At one stage I thought Autumn had arrived in January; as the area where my lawn once grew, was now completely covered in leaves....Most of my deciduous trees dropped a lot of their leaves to try and recover from the heat. I was very fortunate that my Ornamental Pear survived after dropping every leaf. It provides us with lovely shade throughout the summer and would be hard to replace. Following on from the extreme heat, we were lucky in some ways to be given some very heavy rainfall, which helped the effected plants recover.

I'm pleased to say that my lawn is looking much healthier now.

After visiting Lesley’s garden recently; we both discovered how wonderful the garden soil was coming along. Lesley has placed a lot of horse manure in and around her garden beds and this was what was happening as it was breaking down. Don’t you just love Mother Nature?


Richard's top 10 Jobs to do this month

1. Have you picked up your diary yet for your garden? You all know now that you need one.

2. Autumn is a great time for moving any plant that you have planted in the wrong space.

3. Look at sowing a quick crop of lettuce before you start your winter garden beds.

4. Look out for spaces in your garden that needs a makeover.

5. Maybe you would like to start propagating a few conifers now. If your friend has a hedge you like, ask for the cuttings when they trim it; so you can propagate your own.

6. Don't forget to plant your Sweet Peas on St Patrick's day. (17th March)

7. Replenish your compost bin by gathering up all those falling/fallen leaves.

8. Your lawn will also begin to slow down, so you can now mow your lawn less frequently.

9. Plant your garlic later than March please!

10. Do a general tidy up around your garden for winter, look at damp areas in your garden that will hoard snails, and especially containers with mosquito laying potential.

Narelle has done a fantastic job at cleaning up her yards for winter....(too bad about the heavy tip prices though)

Vegie Guide
As we are all aware; mulch and water plays a big factor when it comes to growing vegies It's also better to know which fertiliser to use with the right crop. 
Autumn is a good time to listen and learn and below is a guide of what to plant in March.

Vegie planting guide for Temperate regions in Australia 

Planting in March for Australia 

(also Love-lies-bleeding)
Plant in garden.
Harvest from June
(also Beets)
Plant in garden.
Harvest from June
(also Fava bean)
Plant in garden.
Harvest from July
Plant out (transplant) seedlings.
Harvest from May
Start undercover in seed trays and plant out in 4-6 weeks.
Harvest from July
(also Gobo (Japanese Burdock))
Plant in garden.
Harvest from August
Start undercover in seed trays and plant out in 4-6 weeks.
Harvest from June
Plant in garden.
Harvest from July
(also Garden chives)
Plant in garden.
Harvest from June
(also Collard greens, Borekale)
Start undercover in seed trays and plant out in 4-6 weeks.
Harvest from June
(also Cilantro, Chinese parsley)
Plant in garden.
Harvest from May
(also Japanese radish, Lo Bok)
Plant in garden.
Harvest from June
Plant in garden.
Harvest from June
(also Finocchio)
Plant in garden.
Harvest from July
(also Borecole)
Start undercover in seed trays and plant out in 4-6 weeks.
Harvest from June
Plant in garden.
Harvest from June
Start undercover in seed trays and plant out in 4-6 weeks.
Harvest from July
Plant in garden.
Harvest from June
(also Japanese Greens, Mitzuna, Mibuna)
Plant in garden.
Harvest from May
(also gai choy)
Plant in garden.
Harvest from May
(also Pot Marjoram)
Plant in garden.
Harvest from May
Plant in garden.
Harvest from May
(also curly leaf parsley or flat leaf (Italian) parsley)
Plant in garden.
Harvest from June
Plant in garden.
Harvest from May
(also Arugula/Rucola)
Plant in garden.
Harvest from May
(also Vegetable oyster)
Plant in garden.
Harvest from July
(also Eschalots)
Plant in garden.
Harvest from July
(also Swiss Chard or Mangold)
Plant in garden.
Harvest from June
(also English spinach)
Plant in garden.
Harvest from May
(also Rutabagas)
Plant in garden.
Harvest from June
Plant in garden.
Harvest from May

Vegies being picked now 

This list is from my garden as well as the four garden beds we have in garden class

Nugget pumpkins


I hope your list is this big from your garden. The list can be endless for this month as you should all have so much and be sharing with family as well as friends.

Don't worry if you don't have much of a bounty from your garden. You're here to learn, and I'm here to teach you. My first year students have come such a long way with their gardens; and you will too.

Who’s listening in class?

I recently wrote about Jean & Graham's garden, but if your new, you may have missed it. It's a true inspirational source for any gardener. You can view the lovely article here.

Jean & Graham's garden - Just a small part of it.
I recently wrote about Leslie's garden too, with her bountiful supply of fruit.
Have you finished harvesting yet Leslie? 
Please come back and tell us how you preserve it all for the year ahead. 

Growing the humble winter soup vegies
Turnips, Swede and parsnips don’t you just love them? What great vegies to grow through winter for those soups casseroles and just for that weekend roast.


Sowing Turnip Seeds:  

Sow Turnip seeds 2cm deep, spreading the small seeds thinly to 2cm apart in the rows. Space the rows 30cm apart. Use double rows to conserve space in your home garden.
Sow seeds early in autumn. Although they can be grown in the summer, the plants prefer cool weather. Leave the middle of the summer for the heat loving vegetables.

Days to Maturity: 35-45 days  

How to Grow Turnips:

While Turnip plants will tolerate poorer soils, they will grow better in richer garden soils, and be less likely to take on a woody texture. Work the soil and add compost. Make sure to remove any large rocks and stones.
Turnips seeds sprout quickly, in about a week. After two weeks, thin seedlings to 10cms apart.
Provide ample water, as the most common cause of woody stems is dry soil. As with other root crops, the action is below the soil. The leaves may not tell you when the soil is dry. Our rule of thumb is "when in doubt, water". Don’t forget to mulch as well, sugar cane is ideal.
If you are growing Turnips just for leaves in salads and soups, provide plenty of fertilizer and a high nitrogen mix. If you are growing them for the roots, avoid a high nitrogen fertilizer, which will deter root development. 


Harvest Turnip leaves for salads as soon as they reach a size large enough to eat. 10 to 15cms is ideal. After cutting the leaves, new leaves will grow. You can usually harvest the leaves several times.
As with most root crops, it is better to pull them while still young and tender. Begin to harvest Turnips at golf ball size. Once they reach tennis ball size, the root will become tough and woody.
Some people leave their autumn crop in the ground and pick a few, as needed, well into the winter months. If the root and plant is still growing, they can become too large. I recommend pulling them, cutting off the leaves and storing them in a cool, dry place. Many people will store them in their garage or shed to help retain moisture and freshness.

Insects and Pests:
Turnips are bothered by a variety of insects and pests. The insect world knows that this vegetable is tasty and nutritious. They include slugs and snails, aphids, beetles, cutworms and root maggots. Because they grow and are harvested quickly, large infestations are not often a problem in the home gardens. By the time you spot a problem, it is time to harvest.

Occasional mildews, but not that often.

Turnips are cool weather crops and withstand light freezes.

Turnips and swedes are both members of the cabbage family and are closely related to each other - so close that it is not surprising that their names are often confused. For instance, swedes are sometimes called Swedish turnips or swede-turnips and in Scotland, where they are thought of as turnips, they are called neeps. Nowadays, the confusion is not so acute. Many greengrocers and supermarkets sell early or baby turnips or, better still, French turnips - navets. Both are small and white, tinged either with green or in the case of navets, with pink or purple. Consequently, people are learning to tell their swedes from their turnips and also discovering what a delicious vegetable the turnip is.

History : Turnips have been cultivated for centuries, principally as an important livestock feed but also for humans. Although they were not considered the food of gourmets, they have been grown by poorer families as a useful addition to the winter table. Swedes were known as turnip-rooted cabbages until the 1780s, when Sweden began exporting the vegetable to Britain and the shorter name resulted.
Until recently, turnips and swedes have not enjoyed a very high reputation among cooks in many parts of the world. This is partly because they are perceived as cattle food and partly because few people have taken the trouble to find acceptable ways of cooking them. School and other institutions tend to boil and then mesh them to a watery pulp, and for many people this is the only way they have eaten either vegetable.
The French, in contrast, have had far more respect for the turnip, at least. For centuries they have devised recipes for roasting them, caramelizing them in sugar and butter or simply steaming and serving with butter. Young, tender turnips have also been popular all over the Mediterranean region for many years, and there are many dishes using turnips with fish, poultry, or teamed with tomatoes, onions and spinach.
Nutrition : Both turnips and swedes are a good source of calcium and potassium.

Swede is one of the easiest vegetables to grow and is well-suited to the novice gardener. They also crop over a very long time. This is because they can be left in the soil throughout the winter.
Swedes are grown in most cases purely for the tasty edible roots but it's also possible to leave the root in the ground and eat the green leaves which will appear in the spring. Just cook them as you would for spring greens.  There are three types of swede and they are known as green tops, bronze tops and purple tops. Purple tops produce the largest crops and are the most commonly available.

Where To Grow Your SwedesSwedes prefer a medium soil which contains lots of nutrients although they will be happy growing in most soil types. They are unfortunately prone to club root so make sure the soil is not too acidic. Acid soils encourage club root. The ideal pH for swedes is somewhere between 7.0 and 7.4. If the soil is short of nutrients then add some well-rotted manure a month or so prior to sowing seed. If manure is not available then add a long lasting fertiliser such as blood and bone or similar.
Swedes don't like being waterlogged. If your soil is not free draining then either dig in some well-rotted compost or grow them on a mound so that the water drains away.

Sowing SwedesThe best time to sow swede in most areas is March to May but if your area is warm postpone sowing in June.
Mark out a drill about 3cm deep and sow the seed thinly. If you are sowing more than one row then the rows should be 60cm (apart.
Care of SwedesThe seedlings will take about 10 days to emerge. Thin the seedlings out to about 25cm apart. Keep them well-watered and well-weeded and you should have no problems.
 Harvest SwedeYour swedes will be large enough for harvesting in early autumn. But if you leave them in the ground until the odd frost or two has got to them then they will taste much sweeter. Swedes store well. Place them in a box with layers separated by sand or store them in a sack. Store them in a cool area out of light.
Pests and Diseases

Aphids Curled leaves and wilted stems with lots of green black or bluish insects on the leaves and stems
Gall Weevil White maggots appear from the top part of the roots
Downy Mildew Grey patches of mildew will appear with the leaves wilting
Slugs and Snails The leaves will have holes in them and you may well notice the typical slimy trail of these pests
Flea Beetle These normally go for the young seedlings of the will leave round holes.
Wireworms Small tunnels through the roots.
Club Root Disease The leaves will  droop and the roots will be distorted.

Growing Parsnips   

Before the potato was introduced into Europe in the late 16th century, the parsnip was largely used in cooking. Few vegetables are as easy to grow, as nutritious or as versatile.

Parsnips are available as a fresh vegetable throughout the winter, actually improving as the winter progresses and especially if a frost gets to the roots. They can be baked, boiled or fried and the leaves can also be eaten as a green vegetable, getting double value from the crop.
The problem with growing parsnips is that they have a very long growing season.

Sowing to Harvest Time 6-11 months
They are one of the first crops to be sown and probably the last crop to be harvested. They occupy the land for six to twelve months, thus taking up land which could be used for growing a series of crops. 
If you have a small garden you may decide against growing parsnips for this reason, although you may decide to grow a catch crop such as radishes or lettuce, before the parsnips become established in the spring.

Where to Grow Your Parsnips

Soil is the most important factor when growing parsnips. If you have thin gravelly soil you will only get small mis-shapen roots the best soil is rich and slightly on the heavy side, although it should not be recently manured as this causes the parsnip to fork as they do if growing on stony ground. Almost all well drained soils will produce a good crop. Level the bed off to give a clean fine soil a day or two before sowing, which will normally be as soon as conditions allow in the late summer or early autumn.  
Parsnips dislike very acid soil and do best in one which is slightly acid, neutral or slightly alkaline, test your soil with a soil test kit several weeks before preparing the seed bed and if necessary, add lime to achieve a pH of 6.5. The site you choose for parsnips is not as important as the soil, they prefer an open sunny site, but they will also grow quite happily in a lightly sha ded plot.

Sowing Parsnip Seed
Although parsnips appreciate a long growing season, you can sow later, up to late autumn if you have to, and still get a worthwhile crop. Ensure that the seed is fresh this year because parsnip seeds do not keep well.

Before sowing make sure the soil is well dug and free from stones to a spade's depth. Make a shallow drill in the soil about 2cm deep. Where you require more than one row, make the rows 30-45 cm apart. Sow one seed every 5cm.  

Because parsnip seed is so light it is advisable to wait until the weather is calm before sowing. You may be able to buy seeds that are pelleted; there are a few parsnip varieties which are available in this form. The pelleted seed is slightly heavier, so they will not blow away so easily. After the seeds have been sown cover them with soil, sifted soil is best for this, and then firm down. Water the area if the weather is dry. Germination takes approximately three to four weeks and is is quite possible for the newly forming seedlings to be lost amongst the newly germinating weeds. Weed frequently and carefully.
Many gardeners sow a quick maturing catch crop such as radish, or lettuce. This not only gives you an extra crop but it also helps to mark out the rows of parsnips. If you do not wish to do this, keep your marker in position until the parsnip seeds have germinated and the rows of seedlings is obvious above the ground.

Care of Parsnipswhen the seedlings are about 5 cm tall, thin them so that they are 20cm apart. Water, particularly during the early stages of the crop, if the weather is dry and weed frequently. Be very careful when weeding with a hoe, if you damage the developing roots you may open the way for attack by canker.

Harvesting ParsnipsParsnips will be ready for harvest in late winter but best left in the ground for a month or so because their flavour is improved by some exposure to frost. Frost increases the amount of sugar in the roots. Parsnips can be harvested up to mid-sept.
Small parsnips in light soil can be pulled up once the soil around them has been loosened with a fork.  Normally the only way parsnips can be lifted without breaking them is by digging. Begin at the end of the row and dig a hole beyond but close to the last parsnip. Dig the hole as deep at the parsnip and loosen the soil around the root and then it can be easily removed without damage. Lift the next parsnip by moving the soil next to it into the hole from which the first parsnip has been taken and continue like this to the end of the row. You may find that you have to dig down much further than you expect, the end of a parsnip tapers off for a considerable length 15 cm or more, and has a very strong grip on the soil.  You may want to break off the thinnest part of the root if you want to avoid digging a very deep hole possibly 45 cm deep for each root.  Once the parsnip has been lifted, cut off the remaining leaves, these are excellent compost heap material.

Storing Parsnips
Although the best flavoured parsnips are ones that are lifted and taken into the kitchen straight from the ground, during the winter when the ground is cold. Store parsnips in the same way as you would carrots. Cut any leaves off close to the crowns and then pack them in layers of dry sand or peat in a large wooden box.  Put a lid on the top to keep out the light and place the box in a cool, dry and airy place.

Pests and Diseases
Wireworm Small regular holes and shiny yellow larvae
Sclerotina Rot Roots in store rotten and covered with a white fluffy mould
Canker Reddish brown, dark brown or black patches on the shoulders of the root.
Leaf Spot Small brown spots on the leaves.
Celery Fly  White or pale brown blisters on the leaves, leaves shrivelled.
Carrot Fly Irregular holes in the root sometimes with small whitish grubs inside.


 Clumping BAMBOO, How Fast are they?

Incredible! Gracilis & Oldhamii are the fastest growing here in that order. Most of the species will acheive 80% of their max height within 3 years from a 200mm pot!
Gracilis needs 2 summers for a 200mm pot into a magnificent 4-5m thick green hedge.
300mm pots reach their destination much faster.

Wind is not generally a problem, keep in mind the aspect. Westerly’s are usually bitterly cold and dry which can shred and yellow tropical plants, north easterly summer winds usually have no effect on any of the plants.
I find plants from Japan, Southern China and Himalayas handle the cold with ease; where as Indonesian plants suffer towards the end of winter but leaf up instantly as the days lengthen again.
Many of the bamboos such as Gracilis, Tiger grass, Gold stripe, Khasia, Oldhamii* are very tight. So compact that a rodent couldn't squeeze through. Usually 500mm -1m wide is fine, Oldhamii can get bigger if unattended for many years.
Some are described as open clumpers such as, Chungii, Buddah Belly, Painted ect. Some of the larger ones if ignored can get 2-3 metres wide such as painted Bamboo (Vitatta).

What Soil Do they need?

They will live in terrible soil, but not flourish, just like a palm.

I dig a hole at least twice the size of the pot, dig in a blend of rotted horse, cow and chook poo but any manure is fine!

Worms are a good indicator the soil is right, clay is full of minerals but needs air through it. Add organic matter and a handfull of clay breaker (Gypsum) always does the trick. Soil should be soft.

75-100mm mulch the best investment ever, worms love it!

How much water and what fertilizer?

Plenty of water like any tropical plant untill established, if soil is prepared properly and 75mm of mulch kept maintained, will survive on rainfall in temperate regions. some cases irrigation dripper may be needed, especially in pots!!!

Any organic liquid fertilizer for soil such as sea sol or nitrosol helps promote lush growth in warmer months, high salt ferts such as aquasol or thrive kills essential soil bacteria.
Why are they the price they are?

Many of the plants are extremely difficult & slow to recover from propagation.
Ground digging is a huge effort which much of the time requires earthmoving equipment and expertise.

Storing large numbers of the plants in small pots over summer requires heavy irrigation 3 times a day.

Great in the cool ground, but in a pot Its like living in a black wetsuit in the sun,they hate it!

Why buy from Wollongong Wholesale Nursery?
  • Competitively priced plus special discounts apply to garden members
  • Grown in the full sun & used to cold Sydney winters proven performers!
  • Professional Landscape advice on plant selection and suitability
  • View the plants in a real garden display environment, you will be amazed!!!

Can you hedge them?

Clumping Bamboo is great for hedging. I have also seen 15m buddah belly variety grown as a 40cm bonsai. So it's really quite a remarkable plant.

The shoots are like telescopic fishing rods, when cut they will not grow taller, but will still develop leaves all the way up on each node left on the cane. Perfect for topiary as well.

Recommended Varieties;

Bambusa utuldoides viridii vittata (China Gold Bamboo)  
Attractive, short (6m) and upright, just what I like!
Similar in habit to gracilis however, the clump is a little more ‘open’ and has incredible lemon yellow canes with striking green stripes. Cold doesn’t worry it too much, fast growing, commands attention from your guests.

Bambusa Multiplex 'Alphonse Karr'      

Beautiful hedge or feature hot pink shoots turn gold with bright green leaves year round. As it is a multiplex, it is not as tall and strait as Textilis but is still a great hedge plant. Growing anywhere up to 7 meters if untouched, it will happily be cut off to hedge size and will take strong cold winds and even salty air.

Thysanoleana Maxima (Tiger Grass)
This striking plant from Thailand looks like bamboo but it's actually a perennial grass. Grows beautifully in a pot, looks great near water features and handles the full sun/shade. Not a big plant at around 2 meters in height. Culms turn dark red in the hot sun giving it tiger stripes with fresh green leaves.

Phylostachys 'nigra' (running black bamboo)  

This is the only running plant we keep and only do so because of its huge demand in sydney. Growing to 4 metres tall if not trimmed, this plant is invasive and not reccomended for planting in the ground unless well contained. But in pots or planters it looks amazing! It will easily handle full sun, wind, even snow on it! Leaves will brown on the ends if it dries out even once so must be irrigated during dry periods.

Bambusa Multiplex 'Goldstripe'  
ecent to australia,originally from bamboo down under, will reach an optimum height of 4-5 metres (5 metres in shade) and 600mm-1m around the base. Nice pronounced cream coloured stripes up the canes. An attractive asian style leaf much like alphonse karr plant, but with much tighter habit and probably more upright. Very cold hardy to -5 celcius at least did not lose a leaf last winter.

Bambusa Vulgaris 'Wamin' (Giant buddahs belly)  
Splendid ornamental plant or hedge, everyone just wants to 
touch it and rub the striking bellies for good luck. 
Will only grow to 5 meters this one with very thick shiny
culms, stays very green and is very tough.

Bambusa Oldhamii (Giant timber bamboo)
This plant as a superb windbreak to protect crops and property, although this seems a bit of a waste as it is a stunning plant which can highlight any garden as a feature or mass planting. Growing to 9 meters but leaving only a small footprint, it grows thick, tall and has large leaves which look fabulous all year round.

Native Australian Bee’s

Australian Native Bee - Stingless
Perhaps you are thinking of keeping your own hive for pollination and honey? 
They are happy little things that take up very little room and work tirelessly in your garden pollinating cucumbers, fruit trees and lots more. You'll never have to hand pollinate your zucchini or pumpkins again...

Stingless bees are effective pollinators in the garden and orchard. Their long tongues allow them to access pollen from tubular flowers as well as the flatter disc shaped flower heads. However, being tiny bees, they do not forage for pollen and nectar far from the hive, with a range of 100-500m at maximum. Most of their forage will come from gardens, parks or bush-land close by. 
These industrious little bees are known as effective pollinators for macadamias, mangoes, avocado and melons. David's hive is near the vegie garden, as they can happily buzz about the vegies doing what they do best. Strawberries, citrus, avocado, choko and coconut are also pollinated. I have also noticed hundreds of them, together with European bees and other nectivorous insects on the Jaboticaba tree when it is in flower. The hum of busy bodies is curiously very soothing!
Stingless bees will seek out native trees and shrubs for food, but are just as happy with a wide range of forage plants that include exotics. Although native plants are a great source of forage for these little bees, a cottage garden with its floral display year round is a great start for nectar and pollen; as are herb and vegie gardens. 
Your beehive will get very hot in summer and cold in winter. Ideally, position your hive in the shade of a tree or under a verandah. Here you aim for early morning sun or dappled sun without strong sunlight.
If your bees are under a tree you may also put a large piece of timber over the top of the hive to give an additional shady ‘verandah’. Some folks sit a broccoli box over the top of the hive to give it some heat protection. I would prefer to avoid the broccoli box, providing shade and allowing air circulation.
Hot and dry weather drinks
In summer, your bees will need to drink. A dish of water is no good as they will drown in it. Instead, provide them with a wet hessian bag under a nearby tree. They suck the water from the bag. You’ll also find other beneficial insects will stop by for a drink here too.
Trees to avoid
Native bees collect and use the resin from trees to create waxes. However, beware the Cadagi, Corymbia torelliana. Dr Anne Dollin from the ANBRC says that the bees love to collect and store the resin, but it melts in hot weather, suffocating the hive. So, keep them away or cut these trees down if they are in your garden. 
Collecting the honey  
You will have either a single box hive or a split hive with a collection box.
The hive may be raided for honey once or twice a year, usually in late spring and summer. Raiding the hove for honey will mean exposing the whole hive, brood and honey pots to the open air. Try to do this as quickly as possible to minimise the risk of predators including microscopic mites entering the hive.
Single layer hives.
Step 1 You will see on one lower edge of your hive, a hole with a bolt in it. This is designed to release from your hive. Loosen but do not remove the bolt at this stage.
Step 2 Remove the aluminium lid then the timber lid. They may be stick down by the bees for protection.
Step 3 There will be a glass lid underneath. This will probably be completely blackened by the bee activity in the hive. Prize off the glass lid with a woodworkers chisel or hive tool.
The bees will fly out and crawl into your eyes, ears and nose. Use a bee keepers veil if this annoys you. They will not sting.
You will see two types of cells in the hive. The brood with bee larvae and eggs is capped off and has small regular cells in a circular pattern. The honey storage areas are large cells called honey pots.
Step 4  With a fine knitting needle or skewer, prick the honey pots around the edges of the hive to release to honey.
Step 5 Replace the lids then open the bolt. Angle the hive, drain the honey out of the hole into a cup and reseal the bolt immediately. 
 A full hive like that pictured can be split into two hives. This is best done by a person who can identify the brood and who supplies another box. Call me if you’d like me to perform this service for you. It will not need to be done for 12 months or so.
Honey collection hives
To raid the double layered hives with a collection layer on top will require that you undertake steps 1-3 above.
Step 4  With the hive tool or chisel, prize apart the two layers. You’ll see a timber separator between both layers. The bottom layer has the brood and the top has mainly honey pots. Cover the bottom layer with the timber or glass lid while you clean out the honey collection layer.
Step 5   Using a spatula or flat blade knife, and a large bowl ready, run the blade around the inner edge of the top layer, releasing the honey pots and wax into the bowl. Open the hive again and remove the glass lid. Replace it with the honey collection layer once again. And reassemble the hive.
The honey
To separate the honey from the wax and bees; which inevitably get stuck in it, I sit the honey pots and wax in a metal strainer. Squash it a bit. It’s runny, so the honey leaks through into the bowl below. Keep the honey in the fridge. The wax can be used for the end of didgeridoos and may even be left outside for the bees to reuse. You can also make lovely facial creams and lip balms with the bees wax.
 Pollen deposits
Bees will collect large amounts of pollen for future use when it is abundant. This appears as honey pots full of powdery yellow substance. I don’t eat this but leave it out for the bees to collect.
Where to order your Native Bees
Russell and Janine Zabel are fantastic people, with wonderful advice. View their very informative fact sheet on their website here.
Russell and Janine Zabel, Hatton Vale QLD (in boxes)
Phone: 0404 892 139

Let’s visit the vegie bed
As you can see I have tidied up the vegie plot and replanted sewed quick growing greens, these will grow enough before we need to plant out for winter.

Visiting the garden beds

Hi Anna!

This bottle gourd is SUPER HEAVY

Hello Adam :)

Hamburg parsley 

Or parsley root. With parsnip-flavored roots and edible parsley-flavored leaves, it's high time this dual-purpose veg was resurrected.

Recommended varieties: "Hamburg parsley is an off-beat vegetable also known as parsley root or turnip-rooted parsley"

Sowing and planting: The roots of the hamburg parsley aren't quite as impressive as the parsnip and require a long growing season to fully form. Sow in drills 1cm deep and 25cm apart from early autumn if you want your crop to mature by late winter Germination is slow, so sow 3-4 seeds in clusters 23cm apart and sow radish between stations to mark your crop. When the seedlings have developed, thin to one single, strong plant.

Cultivation: The roots will split and form comedy legs if you allow the soil to become too dry. Water and mulch regularly if you're experiencing a dry summer.

Pests and diseases: Small roots are less vulnerable to parsnip canker, but old-fashioned varieties won't be as resistant to disease as F1 varieties. If rot develops rotate your crop

Harvesting: They should be ready to harvest three or four months after seeding, Not only do you get two for one with this veg, you can also harvest it any time between late summer and mid-spring the following year. The root can be left in the ground all winter and dug up as and when your Sunday roast requires. If you're harvesting in winter, cover your crop with straw or mulch to prevent the soil from any frost..

Storage: Roots can be stored in moist sand in the shed, but will lose some of their sweet, parsnip-like taste.

Extending the season: These are tough old roots, so if you're particularly partial to hamburg parsley (and you will be) you can also sow a crop in early spring, cultivate over summer and harvest early the following year.

Growing without a veg plot: Because these roots are smaller than most, hamburg parsley can be grown in containers if they are deep enough. Keep your container out of scorching sunlight or the foliage will wilt.


Lets go nuts with peanuts

Why and how to grow peanuts?
Peanuts are a great addition to a home garden since they require minimal care and provide you with a bumper crop.. If you’re looking to try something new in your garden this year, maybe it’s time to take a closer look at the potential of peanuts.

Home-grown peanuts offer lots of possibilities in the kitchen. Talk about peanuts galore! They can be roasted in their shells, ground into peanut butter or boiled for a traditional healthy snack.

When you are selecting peanut plant from Wollongong Wholesale Nursery keep in mind your first crop won’t be your last; but you will need to save all the nuts so you can replant next season.

In the garden…
Peanuts generally need a long growing season and relatively sandy soil,. However, if you add enough organic matter by hilling or planting in raised beds, most peanut plants will be able to grow in clay soil. So after you have saved your seed from your first crop this is how we plant them....
Plant peanuts 5cms deep and about 15cms apart. Next, add a thick layer of compost and a layer of mulch.
Be aware–peanuts need shallow weeding. You could damage them by digging too deeply into the ground where they are developing. When the plant begins to flower, arms will drop into the ground under the flower and produce peanuts. Hand-weeding is the only option after the peanut sends out arms.
Also, after your plants start flowering, it’s important not to let them dry out or they won’t produce as many of the mouth-watering legumes you’ve been waiting for.
Once frost is in the forecast or the plant stems begin to turn yellow, it’s time to harvest. Try not to harvest while the soil is wet, and don’t wait too long to harvest your peanuts–they’ll start sprouting in the ground if left unattended! Dig around the perimeter of where the plant’s leaves have sprawled. Lift the plant out of the ground and flip it, so that the leaves are on the ground. If rain is in the forecast, bring your plants into a shed or garage.

A couple days later, it will be time to pull the peanuts off the plant. Most of them will be in a clump at the center of the roots, but some will also be attached to the lower branches.  A well-grown peanut plant can yield 50 -100 peanuts–more than enough for your next ball game outing! Spread the peanuts out to dry for a month where rodents won’t be able to get to them, and then store them in a closed container.

Peanuts left in their shells can stay fresh for years.


What to do with a bale of straw. 

Straw bales make excellent mulch! If your soil continues to hard pack between plantings, I suggest some leftover straw dug in and turned right through those garden beds.
The nutrients and organic matter straw provides; will mix with your existing soils and help amend those hard-packed areas in your garden beds.

Soil Cover
Use loosened straw placed around seedlings and over the exposed areas of your garden beds. This provides an inexpensive alternative to Sugar Cane Mulch when it comes time to plant out.

Weed Barriers
Once you have your bale of straw mulch beds to a depth of 100mm you will have some weed seeds pop up with in the first, two weeks of planting , so be on the ball and just hand remove them, they should stop after that.

Moisture retention
Using straw as a topping will save time with your plants' watering requirements. The need for moisture will lesson with a good layer of straw. As the straw settles, it will hold moisture and prevent the top of the ground from crusting.
And, while addressing moisture, let me remind you to keep ample moisture available to those idle beds, as well. The organic and natural enzymes do their best work with suitable moisture.
The best time-saving measure a gardener can take is applying mulch. This goes for every garden site, from vegetable garden to flower bed. Mulched gardens are healthier, more weed free, and more drought-resistant then un-mulched gardens, so you'll spend less time watering, weeding, and fighting pest problems.

Mulch 101
There are two basic kinds of mulch: organic and inorganic. Organic mulches include formerly living material such as chopped leaves, straw, grass clippings, compost, wood chips, shredded bark, sawdust, pine needles, and even paper. Inorganic mulches include gravel, stones, black plastic, and geotextiles (landscape fabrics).

Both types discourage weeds, but organic mulches also improve the soil as they decompose. Inorganic mulches don't break down and enrich the soil, but under certain circumstances they're the mulch of choice. For example, black plastic warms the soil and radiates heat during the night, keeping heat-loving vegetables such as eggplant and tomatoes cozy and vigorous.

Using Organic Mulches
There are two cardinal rules for using organic mulches to combat weeds. First, be sure to lay the mulch down on soil that is already weeded, and second, lay down a thick enough layer to discourage new weeds from coming up through it. It can take a 10 to 15cm layer of mulch to completely discourage weeds, although a 8 to 10cm layer is usually enough in shady spots where weeds aren't as troublesome as they are in full sun.

Wood chips and bark mulch: You can purchase bags of decorative wood chips or shredded bark from the nursery to mulch your flower garden and shrub borders. A more inexpensive way is to pick up free from your local council ( but please be ware there could be many weed seeds hiding in the green waste mulch).

 Shredded leaves: If you have trees on your property, shredding the fallen leaves creates a nutrient-rich mulch for free. You can use a leaf mulcher machine, but you don't really need a special machine to shred leaves—a lawn mower with a bagger will collect leaves and cut them into the perfect size for mulching.

You can spread a wood chip or shredded leaf mulch anywhere on your property, but it looks especially attractive in flower beds and shrub borders. Of course, it's right at home in a woodland or shade garden. Wood chips aren't a great idea for vegetable and annual flower beds, though, since you'll be digging these beds every year and the chips will get in the way. They do serve well as a mulch for garden pathways, though.

Grass clippings: Grass clippings are another readily available mulch, although it's a good idea to return at least some of your grass clippings directly to the lawn as a natural fertilizer its fine to collect grass clippings occasionally to use as mulch, and the nitrogen-rich clippings are an especially good choice for mulching vegetable gardens. Your vegetables will thank you for the nitrogen boost!

Compost: If you have enough compost, it's fine to use it as a mulch. It will definitely enrich your soil and make your plants happy, but keep in mind that when any kind of mulch is dry, it's not a hospitable place for plant roots. So you may want to reserve your compost to spread as a thin layer around plants and top it with another mulch, such as chopped leaves. That way the compost will stay moist and biologically active, which will provide maximum benefit for your plants.

Straw and hay: Another great mulch for the vegetable garden is straw,. It looks good and has most of the benefits of the other mulches: retaining soil moisture, keeping down weeds, and adding organic matter to the soil when it breaks down. But be sure the hay you use is mostly seed free, or you'll just be making trouble for your garden by having to many weeds pop up.

Nothing, unfortunately, is perfect. When using organic mulches, keep in mind the following facts:
  • As low-nitrogen organic mulches such as wood chips and sawdust decay, nitrogen is temporarily depleted from the soil. Fertilize first with a high-nitrogen product such as blood and bone or power feed to boost soil nitrogen levels.
  • An organic mulch retains moisture, which can slow soil warming; in spring, pull mulch away from perennials and bulbs for faster growth.
  • A wet mulch piled against the stems of flowers and vegetables can cause them to rot; keep mulch about 10cms away from crowns and stems.
  • Mulch piled up against woody stems of shrubs and trees can cause them to rot and encourages rodents, such as rats and mice, to nest in the mulch. Keep deep mulch pulled back about 15 to 30cms from trunks.
  • In damp climates, organic mulches can harbor slugs and snails, which will munch on nearby plants; don't spread mulch near slug-susceptible plants.
  • Organic mulches are usually more or less acidic, depending on their content; mix some lime with the mulch beneath plants that prefer neutral or slightly alkaline soil

Styrofoam boxes used as planters. 

This old box I had lying around at home and now I am going to turn it into a herb garden and with some recycle old fence palings dress it up so you done see the box, by adding a good herb and vegie potting mix this box will become an instant garden. 

The Styrofoam will be great insulators for summer as well as winters just add a few drainage holes and you’re ready to go. Next you need some old timber I have chosen an old fence that I just picked up for free recently.
On the other hand you can also use a pallet; you can pick these up for free from most hardware places.

Then you need a circular saw, a hammer, some screws and liquid nails and you’re ready to go. Cut the timber to length to fit around the outside of the box screw it all together and finish the top off with a timber capping. You can paint or stain if required.

Please note the finished product can be seen here soon. See if you can make one yourself. Don’t forget to send me some pictures.


Vertical herb garden

The other week I was trying to come up with an idea to help a friend with a small court yard to grow vegies and herbs. This is what I came up with...

I picked up a couple of old wooden pallets from out the back of the nursery. Of-course  I picked the best looking ones there. 

Make sure your pallet is hardwood timber
The pallets made of pine usually rot too quick

All I did was hang a few hooks from the timber and add some wall mounted pots once this is finished I think it will look great. 

Just join both the pallets at the corner so the will freely stand up and won’t fall over. These will fit into anyone’s garden, court yard or balcony. You can have fresh produce at the touch of your hands any time.

Now all you have to do is add potting mix and all the herb and vegies you want.



An old favorite from when I was a kid; my Mum and Dad had one growing in the garden and I was so lucky nobody else in the family like them.

If you're looking to create an edible landscape that's as pleasing to your eyes as it is to your taste buds, try the pomegranate tree. Its height of 2 to 3m makes it perfect for any back garden. And it’s juicy, red fruit — set against dark green, glossy foliage — adds color and texture to your landscape while also tasting great.

 Choose a location that gets full sun -- at least six hours of sunshine every day. The area should have a height clearance of approximately 3mts  and be 3 to 6 mts away from other trees, garden structures or your home.

Dig a hole with a garden spade that's approximately three times wider and three times deeper than the pot in which the "Wonderful" pomegranate transplant is currently growing.

Remove the pomegranate transplant from its pot and rinse the root ball with a garden hose to remove some of the old potting soil from around the root ball. This helps expose and loosen the roots in the root ball, which in turn helps the plant get established faster.

Place the pomegranate transplant in the hole, situating it so that its root ball is level or just slightly higher than the surrounding soil, then fill the hole in with the soil that you removed.

Water the pomegranate tree immediately, using enough water to moisten the dirt to a depth of 50cms. This helps eliminate any air pockets that were created during the digging and transplanting.

Add 100mm of organic mulch around the pomegranate tree, such as bark chips or shredded leaves. This helps keep the soil moist and blocks weed growth while also shielding the pomegranate tree from hot day and night temperatures.

Continue watering the pomegranate tree every other day for the first two weeks after planting, then reduce watering to just once per week. Always apply water at the pomegranate plant's base rather than getting its foliage wet; this helps reduce the risk of fungus diseases.

Fertilize the "Wonderful" pomegranate tree, once in the autumn after planting and again the following spring. Use a good fruit tree fertilizer. Double the fertilizer amount in the tree's second year, then triple the fertilizer amount in its third year, after which the fertilizing applications hold steady.

Watch for insect pests. While pomegranates are relatively pest-free, rare cases of aphids, mites and other bugs may occur starting in the spring. In such cases, spraying with organic insect spray  and eco oils— applied according to the manufacturer's labeled guidelines, as potency varies widely by product — can correct the problem naturally.


Propagating this month 

From seed...

Sweet pea’s plant by the 17th of March which is St Patrick’s Day.

From cuttings...

Golden Duranta    
This is one of the easiest shrubs to grow from cuttings coming out of summer just prune the hedge pick up as many cuttings as you wont to reproduce, and insert them into a 140mm pot put in at least 15 cuttings per pot water them in and place in a shady spot before your eyes these plants will grow and I will guarantee not to many failures here. All you have to do then is plant your new hedge out in spring so they have a great new start.

From Division...
Any of the flax plants (Phormium elfin)
Phormiums are best propagated by division. Healthy plants soon grow into a large clump as new fans of leaves develop around the older ones.
These eventually develop their own roots and can be detached from the parent plant. 
It is possible to cut pieces off a large plant without actually digging it up but it is difficult to do this without losing most of the roots from the cutting. It is probably better to dig up the whole plant then divide it into several pieces using a spade or knife.

Well, that's it for March, hope to see you again for next month....We have lots of exciting things happening over don't forget to pop in to the nursery to check out some exciting specials.

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If you have a query you can also email me and I will get back to you...Maybe your question will be written and answered right here on Blooming Gardens....

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