Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Propagating plants

I haven't spent much time propagating plants but in the past few weeks have given it a go with some geraniums, pelargoniums and bougainvillea. The geranium is a gorgeous red-pink miniature cluster of flowers. The pelargoniums are both scented, one a cinnamon and the other a rose - I simply love the scented ones as previously posted.

The bougainvillea is a deep pink colour with dark green leaves.

All of these I've struck from cuttings. They look to be taking okay, but no doubt still have a way to go. Hoping they'll survive the summer okay too.

Lastly I've struck some Wormwood cuttings. Wormwood seems to be good for chooks in keeping insects at bay, as it is a natural insecticide.

I want to plant a couple of bushes close to our chook shed and have also spread some branches on the floor of their shed.

The other cuttings, once robust, will go around the kids' playground area and hopefully add to their sensory explorations!

Happy gardening!

Seedlings amongst friends

Nothing like sharing the odd seedling with others. Thanks to our friend Kels for these lovely, healthy cucumber seedlings. Apparently lovingly reared from the compost heap (as all good seedlings are) ;-)

Now to find a place to plant them!

Happy gardening!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rose-scented Geranium (Pelargonium 'Graveolens')

Rose scented Geranium by margoc
Rose scented Geranium a photo by margoc on Flickr.
There are so many lovely scented varieties of Geranium, but the Rose-scented Geranium (Pelargonium 'Graveolens') has to be my favourite. I am propagating some to put around the kids' sandpit and play area, along with another variety which is Cinnamon scented - it's amazing!

Apparently, these varieties are not true Geraniums but are Pelargoniums, native to South Africa - what an import, I love 'em!

The Mulberry Hotel - Our Chook Pen

We have finally got our chooks! Hooray!

Simon, Alfie and Peter worked over a weekend to put up the frame, then the wiring and cat/fox proofing happened the following weekend, and finally the chooks arrived this weekend!

The girls are 18-week-old ISA Browns, vaccinated and about 3 weeks off laying. We have tenatively named them Eeny, Meeny, Miney and Moe.

They are still a bit unsettled but we are sure it won't take long for them to enjoy The Mulberry Hotel!

Happy gardening!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Transplanting strawberries

When I was about twelve, Mum and Dad bought a small berry farm in our home town and I recall many asummer's day picking strawberries, loganberries, boysenberries and raspberries! Picking strawberries is especially backbreaking. But, I absolutely love strawberries, they are one of my favourite fruits. Did you know they are part of the Rose family (Rosaceae)?

We have some in hanging baskets, one of which has continued to fruit over the winter months, which is amazing! Strawberries tend to put out runners each year and the main plants can last up to three years before you need to replace them, although the fruit gets smaller with each year. I transplant them each year and have enough now to do just that this time around, which is great!

It's really easy to transplant strawberries. Usually you would do this towards the end of winter (particularly in Perth's climate) as the plants are usually dormant in the cold weather.

Transplanting strawberries 1
Pull apart plants and remove old leaves and dirt from roots.
First, dig out the clump of strawberries plants and gently pull each plant away from the others and remove the dirt from the roots by swishing in a bucket of water. You can add a very small amount of seaweed solution to the water (but no more than a capful). If the roots are especially long, trim them with a sharp knife or secaters.

Next, pull away the outer leaves (those that come away easily is usually enough) so that you have about four left on the plant.

Now you are ready to plant! Strawberries are susceptible to mould and mildew so it's a good idea to plant them in a sunny, well drained position. You can create a mound of soil on which to plant your strawberries to increase the airflow and drainage around the plants. Some gardeners use black plastic to stop weeds from crowding the plants - we did as our berry farm was a commercial operation, which also housed trickle irrigation to minimise mould and mildew. For the home gardener, mulch does just as good a job (and doesn't fry your soil either).

Make sure your soil is beefed up with good compost and blood and bone, and add some rock dust too if you can get some. Strawberries like a slightly acidic soil.

Transplanting strawberries 2
Space plants for good airflow and apply a good layer of mulch.
Finally, to plant, simply make a hole with your trowel handle large enough to ensure the roots have plenty of wriggle room and drop in your plants. Cover to the small crown and firm down the soil. Water in well and apply a good layer of mulch (this helps to keep your fruit clean too).

You should check your plants daily for the first couple of weeks just in case some don't take. Replace these with other plants. Keep them watered regularly.

Watering in strawberries
Water in well with a weak seaweed solution.
If you want a decent strawberry crop, you probably need at least ten plants minimum. We have three hanging baskets plus a planter box. Baskets and planters are also a good way to minimise snails and slugs if they are a problem in your garden - they LOVE strawberries!

If you are into companion planting, lupins, beans and borage are good helpers for strawberries as they feed the soil and attract pedatory and pollinating insects such as bees and wasps.

Happy gardening!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ingenious plants: onion weed

While we were giving the garden a spring clean-up and planting seedlings over the weekend, I also dug out a huge couple of handfuls of onion weed (Nothoscordum borbonicum).

What an ingenious plant it is too! It ensures its survival by growing smaller bulbs, or bulbils, off the main bulb, which, when disturbed, break away to take up a new, vigorous life of their own, multiplying your onion weed problem in no time!

Lyn Bagnall writes about onion weed on her Aussie Organic Growing blog (she also has a book available on organic gardening) and has some ways to rid your garden of onion weed. Lyn says:
To get rid of onion weed, you have to prevent the bulbs storing food for growth. Onion weed can also produce seed. Cutting off the foliage at ground level will prevent the plants making carbohydrates in their leaves, and also prevent seed forming.
In an unused garden area, you can do this by slashing, or mowing, the foliage to ground level, then covering the area with black plastic for several months. Anchor the edges of the plastic with planks, bricks or whatever you have to prevent it blowing away.
You might prefer to use mulch instead of plastic, esepcially if you are growing other plants and vegies nearby. Check the comments out on her post - some other ideas there too, like eating it! I'm not sure about that one, but you never know. :o)

Onion grass - one ingenious weed!
Onion weed by margoc

In our raised garden beds, I use a small fork to loosen the soil and pull out the main plant very carefully, to minimise the lose of the bulbils - then I fish out as many of the small bulbs as I can see, though this is by no means foolproof. In larger, more sparse areas a spade would be better to catch as much soil around the bulb as you can, minimising disturbance. Some of the bulbs are really quite deep, often a spade head deep or more! And, as many forums and gardener comments say, even pulling out the green shoots helps, as it'll stop the bulb receiving sunlight (photosynthesis) and nutrients.
It looks like many gardeners face onion weed, as this amateur gardener shows!

All we can do is keep digging...!

Happy gardening!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Spring plantings and seedlings

We had a very productive day in the garden today - the first in a little while in fact. Firstly, Alfie and I went to the gardening shop to pick up some seedlings, particularly capsicum and basil, the purple kind too. We found some nice looking yellow button squash too while we were there. After our last zucchini effort though, I'm a little sceptical about squash, but willing to give them another go.

Spring plantings
Capsicum and purple basil seedlings.

Also got some aged manure and sugar cane mulch and dosed the garden up, including the lovely looking tomatoes that came up from the compost - I just love these sort of visitors :o)

The lemon and lime also got a dose, plus the olive trees, papaya and guava. The lime and lemon got a good prune too - both have a number of flowers as well, so here's hoping for some fruit this year - although may still be a bit young, but we will see.

Simon also made a narrow bed on the outside of our boundary (to the vacant lot behind us) and transplanted some tomatoes and put in some of the purple basil seedlings as companions. He also popped a couple of the yellow button squash in the middle just to see how they go.

More Spring plantings
Boundary garden bed with tomatoes, basil and yellow button squash.

Now all we need is to monitor for bugs and nasties, and, more importantly, water regularly!

Happy gardening!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Ah-choo! Spring is here

Ah-chooooo! Okay, it is most definitely spring! The bees are out in full force, flowers are everywhere, there's that familiar haze across the urban landscape that is no doubt full of pollens and other stuff small enough to tickle noses - at least my nose is telling me that!
Grounded stars
Star flowers at Lake Monger by margoc
Our garden has been ticking away in the background over recent weeks, so not much to report, except that a jolly good mow was required last week, as Alfie, being almost one and a half, nearly disappeared in the tall grassy weeds!!

The spuds are rocketing along and the rocket has been severly cut back to allow the spuds to do so :o)
They have needed a bit more water of late - we haven't been all that consistent in their watering, but they seem to have produced in spite of the neglect!

Our artichoke has three lovely big flowerheads which can almost be cut - can't wait to make a nice, fresh stew with them!

Artichoke by margoc
The snowpeas have finally finished and we pulled them out yesterday - this year we will plant some capsicums in their place and see how they go. I'm keen to make a capsicum puree for the kids, to replace lots of the tinned toms we go through (in the bucketload!) - it will be a nice change in flavour and sweetness I think.

We have had to water again after recent rains and it always amazes me how quickly the ground becomes quite dry and the sand once again seems to take over (as much as the weeds and grasses).

By the feel of the sun, Summer is just around the corner - it won't be too long before we are complaining about the heat!

Happy gardening!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

How edible is your town?

An entertaining talk by Pam Warhurst about growing vegies across our towns and cities where land is unused (even growing stuff in cemeteries!).
"There's so many people that don't really recognize a vegetable unless it's in a bit of plastic with an instruction packet on the top.” (Pam Warhurst)
Growing vegies, Pam says, builds community, builds resilience, and builds lifelong strategies for healthy communities, all through the power of small actions.

Inspiring just to "do it" :o)

Happy gardening!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Goodbye carrots and beetroot

So ends our beetroot and carrots! And a fine display they put on too and kept the kids interested and involved in garden adventures!

Great to see both Alfie and Clancy develop confidence in gardening as they explored whether the vegies were ready to pick or needed more time. And fun too just to pick and eat straight from the ground (or bush, in the case of the snow peas!) - with a quick wash of course :-)

Now we can start to think about spring crops - oh, the choices!

Happy gardening!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Winter plantings

We planted some mini cauliflower seedlings yesterday. Clancy grew them from seed in a big pot.

More potatoes are surfacing as well which is a good sign. I dug up one that was rotten so far, hopefully that's the only one, but the bed, although no-dig, is quite water logged given the amount of rain we've had in the last week. I forgot how torrential Perth rain is!

We also picked a couple of beetroot and some baby carrots over the weekend and the carrots are really sweet - they are a baby carrot variety.

We also fed our citrus trees with the worm castings from our worm farm which needed a bit of a clean out. They've grown heaps in this past month or so and always seem to respond well after a bit of a prune.

Other vegies on the move include snow peas, pak choi, Swiss chard, variety of lettuce and rocket and the herbs too! Who says winter is for hibernating?! ;-)

Happy gardening!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

How does your garden grow

We did a quick whiz around the garden in between rain showers and picked some greens for dinner: beans, snow peas and parsley and thyme. The passionfruit are dropping regularly too - yum!

Potatoes are just beginning to poke through the mulch so will keep an eye on them and make sure they have enough cover. Exciting! The mixed lettuce has been a hit too - a good idea to plant over the spuds us :-)

Love this rain but could do without the 100km/hr winds thanks!

Stay safe and happy gardening!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Big Bopper is fruiting

At last! The Big Bopper passionfruit vine, after much flowering and promise, has about half a dozen fruit hanging proudly!

I wonder how big the fruit get? Anyone had much luck with this variety?

These look average size so far, so let's see if they get any bigger. They are nice and heavy which is a good sign.

Bop on Big Bopper!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Eco Fair in Mosman Park

If you have some time tomorrow you might like to check out the inaugural Eco Fair at St Luke's in Mosman Park.
Here's hoping the rain holds off ...at least for some of the time!

Happy gardening!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Autumn goodness continues

We've had close to 60mm of rain over the weekend which makes it a perfect time to plant and sow in the garden!

We picked up two olive trees at the local garden shop: a kalamata and a manzanillo.



We had two half wine barrels from a friend down south which are a perfect size for these.

Alfie and I also planted out our Desirée potatoes on the weekend, plus some mixed lettuce and rocket.

Simon and Clancy planted some purple garlic on ANZAC day which sprung up only about 5 days later with the rain and the relative warmth!

Water (via rain) is an amazing elixir. You can just see how alive everything becomes after a decent rain! It's renewing and rejuvenating :-)

The birds obviously love it too - the Willy Wagtails are such great gardeners too!

What a special time in the year! Happy gardening!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Kids in the garden

Alfie will be one next month - who knows where the time has gone! As he engages more, especially outdoors, I'm reminded of when Clancy was a toddler and how we spent lots of time out in the garden when we lived in Canberra.

Now Alfie can spread his wings (or should that be green thumbs?) in the garden! How do you best engage the highly physical toddler without unleashing total garden destruction? My answer is pots.

And a big sister helps too! Alfie follows Clancy everywhere and no doubt is learning heaps from observing her and then copying where he can! He was stoked to "help" sow some peas in these colourful pots. If he decides they need not be in pots anymore, well, at least he hasn't destroyed the bigger garden beds! :-)

I've also noticed that Clancy can now focus on the whole process of choosing and filling pots, choosing seeds, sowing, watering - the lot, when she only need deal with one or two pots. This detailed experience combined with the bigger picture experience of exploring the garden in its entirety (we often walk a circuit in the morning to check everything out) is a good overall development process I reckon.

Little jobs, exploring and discovering, pretend plantings (planting cut flowers for example) all help to develop Clancy and no doubt Alfie into engaged and confident gardeners!

And if course it's simply gotta be good fun... Happy gardening!

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Perth has been inundated with the pesky millipede lately, but they didn't count on Clancy!! Two benefits: Clancy gets to explore the world of bugs while ridding the garden of our mini plague of millipedes!

Some say they are of some benefit in the garden, but probably not so when in plague proportions!

Happy gardening!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Working with seeds

I mentioned in our last post that we hadn't yet seen the carrots pop up, but they have since then! Don't you just love their delicate fine leaves?

Will be keeping these moist so they get the best start possible and we also sowed another couple of rows in one of our large planters. That should keep us in carrots for a while. :-)

As for our Okra seeds, we have yet to see these emerge from the soil! Have been reading what others have experienced with Okra and apart from keeping the soil moist and the environment warm I can't see what else could hinder them. So, we will wait a tad longer - they can take up to 3-4 weeks to germinate so they still have 1-2 weeks to surprise us!

Oh, the suspense! Happy gardening :-).

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Gardening companions

Clancy decided our garden needed a scarecrow. And he couldn't be happy, he had to be an angry scarecrow to scare the birds away!

The weather has been warm enough to give our seeds a cracking start too. The beetroots are already surfacing, as are the peas and beans planted at the same time. Its been barely a week!

Haven't seen the carrots yet. I have a feeling the seed was old. Will give them a week's grace.

Enjoying Autumn, happy gardening!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Autumn plantings

Clancy and I planted some Autumn vegie seeds this week.

We started with seeds from our Okra plant. Clancy potted them by herself and we are hoping to see some green shoots in the next week or so! We are experimenting to see how/if the Okra grow well this time of year - they seem fast growing and produce lovely lady's fingers so hoping they will be a good quick Autumn crop amongst the longer term vegies.

Next we planted some dwarf peas together with turnips - good companions apparently. The peas have already surfaced - a sign that the warmth is still around! The turnip seeds are much like caulie seeds so we mixed them with some sand to spread them evenly in the bed (especially as it is a no-dig bed).



Then we planted out a line of baby beetroot. They too have sprung up quickly. The trick I've found with beetroot (and carrots too) is to keep the water on them in the early stages so they continue to mature at a consistent rate (as we noted back in October last year). We also put in two lines of baby carrots. Again we will see how they fair this time of year - they seem to handle the cool a bit as long as they get a bit of a warm start I reckon.

Now to the beans - we did in fact plant out some dwarf beans as we've done previously, so we haven't yet got the cubby concept going! May as well use what we have to start with! We planted out the beans into pots and put these around the garden bed and the sandpit for a bit of greenery. No doubt once they start producing the kids will be picking and eating them like nothing else! Just the ticket :o)

Now the weather is cooler, we've been refreshing our potted plants. I repotted a fig into a larger pot and topped up the herbs with a bit of fresh potting mix and blended manure.

Ah, Autumn, I just love this time of year!

Happy gardening!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

It's Autumn, what shall we plant?

Clancy and I are looking at the Gardening Australia Vegie Guide to see what we can plant in our garden beds, now the Summer seems to be over.

We found this article by Millie Ross which shows how to plant out a bean chubby house! Clancy thought that would be very cool :o). As our grapevine is beginning to lose its leaves, it would be good to plant beans at the end of the raised bed that is next to the vine so we can string the beans across to it to provide a tent-like cover for Clancy (and Alfie) to play under. Worth experimenting anyway.

Other things Clancy would like in the garden include beetroot, potatoes (we haven't planted them in our Perth garden yet, only back in Canberra, Clancy says), sweet potatoes and of course some purple, yellow and orange flowers!

Happy gardening!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Big Bopper is flowering!

Big Bopper flowering by margoc
Big Bopper flowering a photo by margoc on Flickr.
We are very excited to see our Big Bopper passionfruit in flower! Since planting it in September, we've eagerly awaited its growth and seeing flowers in full burst is simply wonderful!

Of course, we hope there are fruit to follow!

Stay tuned and happy gardening!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Gardening buddies and grower extraordinaires

Since moving back from Canberra we've managed to stay in touch with some of our great buddies there.

I got an email from my mate Helen to say they'd set up a new website for their one acre farm, Wynlen House, located in Braidwood. If you are ever that way do stop in; Braidwood is a beautiful part of the world, and Helen and Bron are usually found at the local market on a weekend flogging their amazing organic produce!

Produce from Wynlen House. Photo courtesy of www.wynlenhouse.com.

I've popped their link under the Events area on my blog here.

This is what you can achieve when you have a passion for dirt :o) . . . Happy gardening!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Zucchini problem

Zucchini problem by margoc
Zucchini problem a photo by margoc on Flickr.
Our zucchini is suffering (poor thing!). Not sure why, so seeking ideas. It's watered every day but was a bit neglected as a seedling.

What could be drying out the small fruit? They get to about 1 inch long then shrivel up!


A few of our favourite things

We harvested the last of our vegetables from our no-dig garden today - much cooler day and conducive to gardening - we've missed it!

You can see our budding gardener, Alfie, is already quite confident and may well be a vegetable connoisseur by the looks.

Beetroot and carrots turned out well in the end, although some are a little bitter, probably from being in the ground for a while and perhaps the irregular watering?

Anyway, looks like we'll be feasting tonight!

I just love the harvest it's such fun and even better is the anticipation of what's new - we're already thinking about what to sow next!

Oh, and we beat the rats in the end by 3 corn cobs! 3 to the rats and 6 to us in the end! :o)

Happy gardening!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The great corn race

Our corn has come good! However, we are racing aginst some hungry rats too!

The score so far: Rats: 3, Us: 4


rats get corn!

Happy gardening!

Monday, January 16, 2012

New Summer plantings

So far December to January hasn't been headsplitting hot -- yet! Am sure February will turn it on for us here in Perth, as usual.

We received two Papaya trees from Simon's grandmother which we've put in the terraced garden bed for a bit of protection, particularly in the Winter months as they don't like the cold wind and weather too much - hopefully that corner will provide a bit of residue heat and protection (borrowed a bit from the large Macadamia tree next door. I'm just hoping the rats don't take to the fruit like they do to the nuts!!)

Two Papaya trees and Okra seedling.

We also have a large Okra seedling growing and are hoping this does better than our previous two!! I love the gumminess of the fruit too. :o)

Thanks to Simon for cleaning out the garden bed in the heat and dosing up the bed before planting these babies in their new home!

Happy gardening!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Children in the garden

Well, Christmas has come and gone and our two weeks holiday already seems a distant memory (but memorable to say the least!).

The extra time we could spend in the garden has meant Simon and his Dad could get the mulch in on the kids' playground area at the back of the garden - and it's looking a treat!

Simon raking mulch over a cardboard barrier.
Work in progress with trees, pond 'to-be' and mulch.

More mulch to go in of course, but the space is much more inviting already. Check with your local council to see if they offer a free mulch service, otherwise you can expect to pay about $60 (or more!) for a trailer load. I want to get more trees in pots around the area, including some fruit trees, plus some herbs for that extra sensory element. :o)

Unfortunately our grapes, while producing a large amount of yummy looking bunches, was struck by powdery mildew. Sulphur doses came too late I'm afraid and we had to remove all of the crop. Better luck (and preparation) next year. The vine provides lovely shade over the sandpit as anticipated and the lattice fence some extra shad on the area in general.

I hope you had a relaxing Christmas in the garden and here's to a productive 2012! Happy gardening!