Nerine “Winter Cheer” In Flower Now 2016

May 28, 2016

This week heralds the start of flowering for Nerine “Winter Cheer”. It is a true pink and stands up to blustery, rainy conditions throughout June without any sign of damage or sagging. I purchased these bulbs from David Glenn and Criss Canning at Lambley Nursery.

Nerine "Winter Cheer" 27th May 2016. Wallaroo Mines, South Australia.

Nerine “Winter Cheer” 27th May 2016. Wallaroo Mines, South Australia.

Nerine ‘Winter Cheer’

‘Winter Cheer’ is a very late flowering variety which flowers here at Lambley through much of June and into July. A good cut flower, its rose-pink flowers are held on 50cm tall stiff stems and are cheerful addition to a winter vase.

I buy most of my bulbs from specialist growers and Lambley would be one of the best nurseries anywhere in the country. Bulbs are strong and well-grown and shipped at the right time of the year. If you are anywhere near Ballarat on any day of the year it is worth a visit. They are dry climate specialists in the truest definition without focusing only on succulents. If you want flowers every week of the year check out their website or visit their nursery, you will not be disappointed.

Camellia Bloom is Spectacular 2016

May 19, 2016
Camellia Japonica Flower. The first for the 2016 season.

Camellia Japonica Flower. The first for the 2016 season.

In my teenage years I came across a flower I then thought was the most spectacular flower I had ever seen. It was a pink Camellia Japonica and although at the time I did nothing further I have felt the same ever since.

Like many others I purchased a plant, when I was in my twenties and planted it without any thought to its special needs, eg acid soil. It gradually died and I thought it was just too difficult.

In my thirties I again had the opportunity to buy one but this time I researched its needs and planted one in a pot with acid potting mix and it thrived for several years, blooming beautifully. Unfortunately a divorce saw that one come to grief.

It took me several more years before I was again in a position to devote some care to a Camellia and now I again have a plant in full flower with just the same effect on me that I felt in my youth. Today that Camellia Japonica is in bloom and it looks just lovely.

I think it is the formal shape of the flower, perfection in shape and depth of colour that inspires me!

Dwarf Orchard

March 22, 2016

Despite having only a limited amount of space I still want to have a small orchard. My needs have changed and being a single person with grown children means I only need small quantities of a range of fruits. In an attempt to satisfy the desire for fresh fruit I am establishing an orchard of dwarfed fruit trees.

Dwarf Orchard

This is the area devoted to the Dwarf Orchard. In the background is an established orange tree while to the right is a wood fired pizza oven.

This area was initially overgrown with various shrubs and creepers making a green massed jungle. I want to have as many areas productive as possible so the rabble was removed and this is the area I will plant. Before planting I will install the edge boards and the irrigation system ready for planting when we get a cool patch of weather. May have to wait a couple of months before that happens.

Well the weather remains warm to hot but the nights are cooler now and with work progressing every morning and night we eventually have something to show for it.

Garden Edging installed around the dwarf orchard on the southern side.

Garden Edging installed around the dwarf orchard on the southern side.

Edging installed around the orchard on the eastern side.

Edging installed around the orchard on the eastern side.

The edging is to help keep the paths clear because the blackbirds scratch any mulch onto the paths. These borders should stop them and help with any drainage.

After the edging I top dressed the area with premium compost that I purchased from Peninsula Nursery. I then set about sorting the rest of the soil and spent many hours digging out dead roots from plants that had been taken out over the past few weeks. With compost incorporated into the topsoil it only remained to plant the trees I had saved for this area.

Potted trees in position for final planting in the dwarf orchard.

Potted trees in position for the final planting in the dwarf orchard.

Potted trees in position for final planting in the dwarf orchard.

Potted trees in position for the final planting in the dwarf orchard.

Each hole for these trees were dug to the depth of the pot but twice as wide. Into the soil removed I incorporated some premium compost into the soil and back filled then watered each tree in well.

Still to come is the irrigation system which will be a micro spray system that will water the entire zone so that planned inter-plantings of flowering bulbs will be watered at the same time. Trees will be kept small and this will ensure the roots don’t compete too much.

After the irrigation is completed and bulbs planted the entire area will be mulched with bark or chips to help with weed control and moisture conservation. I will post the remaining work as an update to this post rather than holding this article back.

 

Wicking Beds for Kitchen Garden

February 29, 2016

This article is to describe the process I went through to build my first two wicking beds near the kitchen.

The frame of the first of two beds near the kitchen. Each bed is 2.4m x 90cm. The colourful base is just a protector before putting in the pond liner. This affords extra protection from puncture through the bottom.

The frame of the first of two beds near the kitchen. Each bed is 2.4m x 90cm. The colourful base is just a protector before putting in the pond liner. This affords extra protection from puncture through the bottom.

The frame is made from permapine timber each piece 200mm x 50mm H4. Length is 2.4m x width 90cm. I made two similar frames and placed one on top of the other to give an overall depth of 400mm then tied them together with 70mm x 45mm soldiers in the corner and screwed them together with tek screws. This gives you a pretty solid box which open at the top and bottom.

It is important to have the structure level so use a spirit level to set them up before going any further. Once level make sure there are no sharp objects on the floor such as stones and twigs that could pierce the pond liner once it is filled with soil. In this photo you will see a colourful material that is actually a failed blow up pool which I cut up to lay flat and give that extra bit of security.

Once this stage is finished it is time for the overflow and pond liner. I used only good quality pond liner instead of black builders plastic because it is thicker and stronger and will last longer. In my smaller barrels I have used black plastic because they are much easier to empty and replace but these beds hold about 1 tonne of soil mix and I want them to last as long as possible. The only area that is important to keep watertight is the bottom and sides up to the overflow.

Pond liner installed in frame and socked agricultural drainage pipe in place.

Pond liner installed in frame and socked agricultural drainage pipe in place.

Before locking in the liner drill a hole about 25mm in diameter that you can use to fit the overflow. In this bed I used tank fittings which are 25mm in diameter and come with back nuts and rubber washers to make it waterproof. Position the bottom of these just above the reservoir which is made of 100mm socked agricultural drainage pipe. Make sure that the overflow fitting goes snugly through the pond liner and tighten the lot to make it watertight. There is no water pressure involved in this so firm is good enough on a nice flat surface.

In the next stage I used a staple gun to hold the liner in place while the rest of the process was carried out. Once pegged to the wall make sure there is plenty of slack in the bottom so that the weight of water and soil does not tear the liner as it settles.

Next you need to install the reservoir. I used socked 100mm agricultural drainage pipe. This is slotted drainage pipe you can buy from agricultural suppliers or plumbing outlets. It comes either bare or socked with geotextile. I prefer the geotextile socked type because the roots will not grow into it and clog up the reservoir but if you want to save money then others use weed mat above the reservoir to hold back the roots. This layer needs to allow the tracking of water but hopefully keep the roots above it and keep the garden soil apart from the wicking sand.

To install the reservoir pipe you will need about 10 metres of this pipe for a bed such as this. Pull the sock over each end and seal with a string or cable tie.Install the fill pipe which will come up the inside of the box above the top so you can fill the reservoir. Cut the bottom of the filler at 45 degree angle then cut a small slot in the ag pipe and pull the sock over the junction and cable tie in place. I also secured the filler at the top to the inside of the frame to prevent it getting accidentally pulled out of the pipe which would mean digging it all out again.

Once done some of the pipe will want to sit up a bit but you need it level on the bottom to get the most water holding capacity. No need for anything drastic but it is time to fill the gaps and loops with building sand or similar with no organic matter that can break down. When adding the sand use shovel loads of it to hold the pipe in place then continue filling until all spaces filled and you have covered the pipe and overflow to a depth of at least 30mm all over.

At this point you can test the system by filling the reservoir through the fill pipe until water runs out of the overflow. At this stage, if you have levelled the wicking sand evenly you will see a small film of water  above the sand and the overflow running. Stop filling and go to the next step.

Wicking frame with reservoir installed and sand put in and levelled. You can see the filler pipe in the front left corner coming above the top of the bed.

Wicking frame with reservoir installed and sand put in and levelled. You can see the filler pipe in the front left corner coming above the top of the bed.

You need to put some sort of barrier between the wicking sand and the garden or potting mix. I use sugar can mulch which is very effective but others have used weed matting, either way it must let the water through effectively.

Garden soil filled to the top of the bed. Excess pond liner trimmed to the top of the bed and this will prevent any wood preservative from leaching into the bed.

Garden soil filled to the top of the bed. Excess pond liner trimmed to the top of the bed and this will prevent any wood preservative from leaching into the bed.

On top of the barrier put about 30cm of potting mix or soil followed by a layer of mulch and job done.

The top of each side is capped with board to tidy up the job. These are recycled boards and give a ledge tp sit on or put tools and things. Still to be repainted. Filler tube can be seen above this cap.

The top of each side is capped with board to tidy up the job. These are recycled boards and give a ledge to sit on or put tools and things. Still to be repainted. Filler tube can be seen above this cap.

Because this is a kitchen garden I want to be able to go out to the garden and not get dirty picking herbs and such. Therefore I dug down 80mm around the beds, put in weed mat and back filled with 50mm white marble. On the right side I will putting some extra wicking barrels to use the space well but no walking over and muddy paths.

Because this is a kitchen garden I want to be able to go out to the garden and not get dirty picking herbs and such. Therefore I dug down 80mm around the beds, put in weed mat and back filled with 50mm white marble. On the right side I will putting some extra wicking barrels to use the space well but no walking over any muddy paths.

The same treatment between the twin beds as on the outside.

The same treatment between the twin beds as on the outside.

 

Gravel laid down and caps painted. Just a matter of mulching and planting up over the next couple of weeks. The 50mm gravel seemed it could be difficult to walk on but it is great and no problem with the added advantage over small gravel that get stuck in boot treads and carried indoors.

Gravel laid down and caps painted. Just a matter of mulching and planting up over the next couple of weeks. The 50mm gravel seemed it could be difficult to walk on but it is great and no problem with the added advantage over small gravel that get stuck in boot treads and carried indoors.

Bed mulched and planted with some test seedlings. In this bed there is lettuce, broccoli green dragon and afro parsley. Don't forget to water these in at the start to remove air around the roots. I watered morning and night for the first day then the following morning and let the wicking take care of them after that. Working great after 4 days andsome very high temperatures around 39c.

Bed mulched and planted with some test seedlings. In this bed there is lettuce, broccoli green dragon and afro parsley. Don’t forget to water these in at the start to remove air around the roots. I watered morning and night for the first day then the following morning and let the wicking take care of them after that. Working great after 4 days and some very high temperatures around 39c.

Hot weather continuing so needed to arrange some sort of protection for the seedlings. This is insect proof netting which stops butterflies laying eggs on broccoli etc and also gives 15% protection. This is an interim measure only because it is affected by the wind so will be changed after this heatwave to something more robust.

Hot weather continuing so needed to arrange some sort of protection for the seedlings. This is insect proof netting which stops butterflies laying eggs on broccoli etc and gives 15% protection. This is an interim measure only because it is affected by the wind so will be changed after this heat wave to something more robust.

 

Deconstruct Laundry Tub Planter

February 24, 2016

This morning I emptied the Concrete Laundry Twin Tub Planter so that I could get a wheelbarrow between the aviary and the taps. In this tub I had some bulbs planted, some of which has already begun to move and three had green tops. I dug all these out and repotted them in smaller pots of 3 or 4 bulbs. I will plant these out once they finally die down and I have a planting space for them.

Aviary showing the corner of the Double laundry tub blocking access to the back section.

Aviary showing the corner of the Double laundry tub blocking access to the back section.

I will keep hold of the laundry tub and use it again in a different place. Perhaps it will become a herb planter, especially for mint which can become invasive if left to its own devices in the ground.

Nerine Fothergillii in flower after being potted on from the emptied laundry tub.

Nerine Fothergillii in flower after being potted on from the emptied laundry tub.

Finch Aviary Report 23rd February 2016

February 23, 2016

Just a short update to my earlier post on the finch aviary. The zebra finches have started to hatch and the Cut Throat Finches have three eggs.

Recently hatched Zebra Finch. There are at least 2 more chicks in the nest but they would not co-operate to get a photo. Cannot photograph from above because the zebras have built such a tight nest with a tight roof and I didn't want to disturb them any more than necessary.

Recently hatched Zebra Finch. There are at least 2 more chicks in the nest but they would not co-operate to get a photo. Cannot photograph from above because the zebras have built such a tight nest with a tight roof and I didn’t want to disturb them any more than necessary.

This is the nest of the Cut Throat Finches. Very spartan when compared with the zebras whose nest appears impregnable. This photo taken through the open lid.

This is the nest of the Cut Throat Finches. Very spartan when compared with the zebras whose nest appears impregnable. This photo taken through the open lid.

Finch Aviary Report 10th Feb 2016

February 10, 2016

The Finch Aviary has now been established a couple of months and the pairs have settled in well.

The aviary when first installed after relocating it from my old house. I have had this several

The aviary when first installed after relocating it from my old house. I have had this several years and it is very strong and sturdy. Had to lay down the pavers first and I have my sons Phillip and Tom to thank for helping with that.

Nest Boxes

New nest boxes were built and installed a few weeks ago and suitable nesting material was supplied.

Newly made finch nest boxes. They stand 17cm high and 12cm x 10cm wide and deep.

Newly made finch nest boxes. They stand 17cm high and 12cm x 10cm wide and deep.

The nest boxes are made of pine that I reclaimed from a disposable pine pallet. I put it through the thicknesser just to get a nice smooth and bright finish. Each box stands 17cm high by 12cm wide and 10cm deep. All joints were glued and nailed. The pop holes are 40mm in diameter and the perch is 10mm dowel. I randomised the location of the perches in case the birds got fussy but they don’t really seem to care one way or the other.

For nesting material I used a lot of sugar cane mulch and various dried grasses and coconut fibre. Each pair seems to have its own preferences.

The lid is hinged at the back for a quick look and easy cleaning.

First Finches

I stocked the new aviary with only three pairs to begin with although it could hold many more birds than that, to make sure they settled well and there were not special issues with the new site.

Zebra Finches

Zebra finches are quite cheap and always a good variety to start with because they breed easily. They are an Australian native finch and found in huge numbers in rural and bush locations. I have even seen a small flock hanging around the back or my shop in Kadina with some albino young.

It rained a couple of weeks ago and that triggers most finches into breeding at this time of year. I believe it is to do with the timing of native grasses flowering and giving enough seed for the young nestlings. My pair were triggered by that rain and have built a beautiful nest inside their box including lining over their heads. They also seem to have robbed a few of the empty boxes of their nest materials.

Zebra eggs in the nest. Can't see them by opening the lid because they have built a beautifully lined nest including the top.

Zebra eggs in the nest. Can’t see them by opening the lid because they have built a beautifully lined nest including the top. I can see at least 6 eggs.

 

 

A pair of zebra finches.

A pair of zebra finches. The male is on the right with the orange cheek patch.

Cut Throat Finches

These are a bit more expensive than Zebras and I have no real experience with them so will just have to wait and see.

I have checked their nest also, which was started much later being only triggered by the second rain event, and they have a single egg at the moment. It will be interesting to see how many eggs they lay.

Cut throat Finches

A pair of Cut throat finches. The male (right) has the red cut throat only.

Gouldian Finches

These are the most colourful of all my finches. An Australian native finch that likes it hot. They have not started nesting yet although the male is singing and dancing quite a lot.

Gouldian Pair. Eah sex can come in various head colours such as in this photo there is a black cap female and a red cap male. The brightest coloured bird is the male.

Gouldian Pair. Eah sex can come in various head colours such as in this photo there is a black cap female and a red cap male. The brightest coloured bird is the male.

Plants

Inside the aviary is an Oldham’s Bamboo in a large pot growing through and around the branch perch. The birds love sitting amongst the foliage of this bamboo.

 

Joe’s Connected Garden – Open Garden 2016

February 8, 2016

This will be a short post because I did not take the usual dozens of photos for my next blog. The reason I didn’t take so many this time was that the day was full of interactive lectures, panel discussions, demonstrations and one on one chats with gardeners. By the end of the day you realised that time had flown and it was time to go home.

I have been to many open gardens over the years and have gained something from every one of them but this is the one where I learnt the most without any commercial angles involved.

Harry Harrison spoke several times at length on a variety of subjects and in such a way that you understood everything without too much jargon. Harry represents the Rare Fruit Society and makes regular contributions on various radio gardening programs and at the Adelaide Botanic Gardens for Diggers Club. I have seen him in action before but never quite as unrestricted as he was yesterday and clearly relishing the opportunity to embrace any subject unhindered.

Joe and Rosanne, who seem to the front people for these connected gardens, presented their gardens and gardening beautifully and were never backward in pointing out the features of their gardens.

If you ever have the opportunity to visit this garden in the future do yourself a favour and get there!

This is Joe after whom these connected gardens are named. Here he is showing off his pot grown Mango in January.

This is Joe after whom these connected gardens are named. Here he is showing off his pot grown Mango in January. Photo:

“HOME GROWN – An Australian Vegetable Garden” DVD Review

January 13, 2016
The front cover of this 2 DVD set features Lambley Principal David Glenn with snaps of his vegetable garden.

The front cover of this 2 DVD set features Lambley Principal David Glenn with snapshots of his vegetable garden.

I recently bought a DVD from Lambley Nursery Gardens located in Ascot near Ballarat in the Victorian Goldfields. This DVD features the vegetable garden of David Glenn and artist Criss Canning and is a true working vegetable garden, not one that is staged for a TV show or built and planted in five minutes on one of the magazine style gardening shows. The price of $39.95 for a 2 DVD set including postage represents good value for this 175 minute production. The production is by the professional crew at Adele Video Production.

It has been a long time since Australia has seen a DVD produced dedicated solely to vegetable gardening. Many years ago through the auspices of the ABC Peter Cundall featured a series of DVDs on vegetable gardening, notably “Patch From Scratch”. Since then vegetable gardening is seen on tv only in magazine snaps without any real substance, each section barely taking more than 3 minutes of air time and often punctuated with a cooking segments as well. Although vegetable gardening and cooking are closely linked vegetable gardeners are looking for detail related to their passion for growing food.

In “Home Grown – An Australian Vegetable Garden” David Glenn covers nearly all the major vegetable groups the home gardener in the southern half of the country could want. Most of the information does relate to growing in cool temperate to cold regions and does not apply to subtropical and tropical crops where the  is totally different and weather, rainfall and seasons do not correlate with the southern areas.

There is some spectacular videography clearly taken from a drone and it is used to good effect to show the artistry of the David Glenn and Criss Canning gardens. During the spring and summer segments the vivid colours over the property are simply stunning and the clear geometry of the property is shown in the winter segments.

The inside over of the DVD box shows the seed collection and details the vegetables covered in this series.

The inside over of the DVD box shows the seed collection and details the vegetables covered in this series.

Apart from the crops listed above special mention is made of Seville Oranges and many of the herbs needed in a good kitchen garden.

WHO IS THIS FOR?

These DVD’s are for the gardening enthusiast and those who want to know the origins of the food they put in their mouth. At one point David mentions a dinner where some growers refused to eat the product they grew because they know what was put on them going to market! That is the first good reason to grow your own and the other is the freshness and taste of home grown vegetables. Some crops such as sweet corn deteriorate significantly within hours if being harvested.

WHO IS THIS NOT FOR?

The crops in this series are grown from seeds that are also sold by Lambley Nursery and Gardens. David Glenn makes no apology for this and he strongly advocates the use of modern seed varieties rather than heirloom seeds and he develops that argument throughout the videos. If you are an heirloom advocate these videos are still of value for all the information contained in them, much of which applies to all types of seeds and plants but if you are a religious heirloom devotee and cannot tolerate modern hybrids then save your money.

DAVID GLENN

David Glenn presents the narration throughout this series as he does on his “Dry Climate DVDs” and he speaks well and clearly with a soothing and relaxing tone. If you cannot be outside gardening then watching the David Glenn DVDs is a very relaxing way to spend a couple of hours.

David Glenn’s experience as a horticultural expert is undeniable dating back 60 years when he first worked in his uncle’s nursery in England and continued to his present site in Ascot. Today’s Lambley Nursery and Gardens (named after his roots in England) are spectacular in every respect and are a must visit for gardeners travelling through the area. In fact, it is so good that it is worth travelling there just to see these gardens, the dry climate garden is something to behold in any season but if you can’t get there in person consider the DVDs that showcase this garden “Dry Climate Gardening” and you will be amazed at the range of plants that can be grown successfully in a dry climate, and not just succulents and aloes either!

WHAT IS MISSING?

Fashion applies in every area of our lives and these days it seems that carbohydrate is shunned, albeit in error. Carbohydrate is still an essential part of our lives and there is no better carbohydrate to grow in your own garden than potatoes. Unfortunately these weren’t mentioned in this DVD, probably because David doesn’t grow them but most home gardeners still love to grow the spud at home. Many chemicals are used on commercial vegetables before, during and after cultivation to enhance storage and appearance. If you wish to avoid this and taste the sensation of new potatoes then growing your own is a must so I found it a disappointment not to see potatoes on this DVD. A popular fast food burger chain recently released a youtube video showcasing how they used real potatoes for their french fries. It all looks good until the end when they tell you what they spray on their chips because they “all have to look the same!”. Check out their video here if you are interested.

What else? Many things are covered including soil preparation and improvement, sowing, planting, weeding, management and harvesting but watering other than of newly planted seeds and an occasional comment about maintaining moisture for germination, seems to be ignored. Now that maybe because the difficulties of irrigation are so second nature to a commercial gardener (referring to David’s flower growing) that the difficulties experienced by home gardeners are often overlooked. How much, how often, critical times to increase water and when to reduce water are all important to a successful garden and time using a trial and error approach will get you there but it would have been nice to have this issue addressed in a little more detail.

WHERE TO BUY?

The best place to get your copy of this production is from the man himself David Glenn as Lambley Nursery and Gardens website. Just click on the get your copy link it will take you there.

RATING

Highly recommended for any serious home vegetable grower or anyone keeping a restaurant kitchen garden.

Apples doing well.

December 10, 2015

Apples planted in my Wallaroo Mines house this winter are doing well and even have a couple of apples. They are all Columnar Ballerina Apples from Flemings Nursery via Smiths Garden Centre in Kadina.

image


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 77 other followers