Monday, October 30, 2006

Our Favorite Garden Places

Firstly let me say I am not doing this for any commercial reasons, I have no motive other than to let fellow gardeners benefit from our knowledge based on years of experience and mistakes.
I have talked about soils in my last Blog entry, we now get our soil from ‘Capalaba Landscapes’ it is a ‘premium mix’ with about 80% soil and does not shrink.
We get our water plants Lotus, Water Lily’s from ‘Francois’ at Capalaba 0404151149.
A lot of our Heliconias Gingers and Costus come from James and Jenny Munro at ‘Cooloola Heliconias’ 54853316.
If you don’t want to travel too far from Brisbane, Greg Smith at ‘Palms for Brisbane’ always has a good selection of Tropical plants.
Neville from ‘Wellington Point Nursery’ and Brendan from ‘Rainforest Seclusion’ at Thornlands are both nursery owners who are not afraid to get a new and unusual plants in and ‘Timbara’ Nursery also at Thornlands is great for water feature ideas and general garden gear.
We also purchase some great plants from the Chandler ‘Sunday Markets’ Ian and Helen Wicks have great selection and knows their plants backwards.
The best seaweed product we have found is ‘Natrakelp’ we know it is made purely from Tasmanian kelp which incidently is the fastest growing plant in the world.
We use lots of ‘Sugar Cane Mulch’ we get ours delivered from Win and Andrew Currant on 55462303 or 0414458175, they are farmers from Jacobs Well.
Stump Grinding; ‘grumpy’ on 0421878236 will do a good job for a low price.
Last but not least is our very favourite nursery ‘The Palm Place’ at Wappa Falls Road, Yandina. This is run by Jean and Leo Gamble and they have a selection of great plants and are great people.
Bromeliads, well just come to our ‘Open Garden’ where Judy will have a great selection of named varieties.

Friday, October 27, 2006

October 2006 Garden News

Well the big news is that the TV show ‘Garden Guru’s want to film in our Garden. I consider this to be quite an honour, just hope they can leave it a few weeks until there is a bit more colour in the garden. Just had a phone call and they are on a tight schedule and want to film this Sunday and the segment will be on Channel 9 on Saturday 21 October 2006. How much of my garden will be on I don’t know as the segment will be on water features in pots, I have a few but like all our garden it’s been done on a budget, hope they are not too disappointed.
Well the ‘Garden Guru’ team have been and gone, it’s quite interesting to see the production team at work and how many takes they have to do before the producer is satisfied. Of course the show is very commercial and heavily sponsored, that’s ok as without that we would not have a gardening show of this calibre. Probably the four hours spent filming will be condensed into a five minute segment. I am now starting to think seriously about our ‘Open Garden’ weekend, getting flyers to garden clubs, letters to newspapers and buying bits and pieces that we need for the opening. I bought a 40 kg bag of ‘Crop King 88’ for the lawns and a couple of 25 kg bags of ‘Nitrophoska Blue’ for the plants, this should bring the plants and lawn on to look the best (depending on rain). Still buying more plants every weekend, returned from the Chandler markets with two Cycads and a Tree Begonia, still need a couple more Begonias to fill the dreaded gaps. More wind and more Heliconias down, this has been a bad period for the taller varieties of Heliconias. What luck, my project for 2007 was going to be a water lily pond, I have been looking at poly ponds and they are about $500, I was lucky enough to find one in the ‘weekend shopper’ for $200. So that’s now here and sitting waiting for 2007. I will just enjoy the refurbished pool area for now.

Gale force winds over the last two days, really hate the wind. Had an email from a Sydney production company who have seen my ‘photo bucket’ album and who are doing a TV series next year on ‘Best Backyards’. The next day there was a phone call from the ABCs ‘Gardening Australia’ who want to visit on 24th and 25th and film for 1.5 days, all this time for a five minute segment. It’s all happening. I am happy about all this attention because Judy and I have worked really hard these past few years, so it’s nice to get a bit of recognition for all the hard yakka. Found a rare plant ‘Mexican Mist’ at ‘Wellington Point Nursery’ Neville the owner is always willing to get in something new and interesting, the new plant should be a stunning addition to our garden. The garden is just so very dry, the strong winds we have been having have really taken all the moisture out of the ground. September’s early rain has all but been forgotten. If there’s one thing that gets me down it is the frustration of seeing the lawns turn brown and the continual fight to keep our plants alive, no wonder farming is such a stressful occupation. This spring has been bad because of the strong winds and lack of rain. It could be worse; we could be living in Brisbane which has much stricter watering regulations. I must admit I always get stressed out this time of year and it has always rained prior to our opening, just hope the rain doesn’t decide to hold off until 18, 19th November. On Saturday we had a few miniscule drops of rain followed on Sunday by real gale force winds which lasted all day. Just what we needed I don’t think. Well ‘Gardening Australia’ have come and gone and the segment will be shown on 25 November 2006 at 6:30pm on of course the ABC.

A very professional team should be a great segment. The ‘Garden Gurus’ have also been back and will show a segment on 18th November featuring our garden and how it evolved, should be good for the Sunday’s ‘Open Garden’. It’s such a busy time of the year, not enough spare hours in the day.

Soils are Soils

Having solid clay from the surface to about 80 feet deep has made gardening in our estate very hard work.
We have not forgotten that clay is a soil and that plants will grow in it, but if you want a really nice garden then you must put a lot of hard work into improving the soil.
We have had to bring in all the soil for the garden beds.
We have tried various organic mixes with only fair success and the shrinkage with some of these soils was just too much, which meant that the beds had to be done over and over again.
Some of the soil mixes were 90% sawdust or crusher dust and absolutely useless.
I am now very particular and look for a pure 80% soil mixed with coal and manure.
When establishing a new garden I usually put a layer of animal manure as a base then add the new soil and cover with compost, then cover again with sugar cane mulch. I am a mad keen composter, nothing in our garden goes to waste ‘what comes out goes back in’.
I have a Greenfield 6hp shredder which I use a lot, I put all the soft wood, leaves ect through it, then straight to the compost heap.
I also put a lot of liquid kelp into the soil, as I believe this is a great stimulant for healthy plant growth.
It does not happen overnight, it will take years to get the soil good but the end result is well worth it.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Some hints and Ideas

1.When hanging a few hanging baskets use barbed wire as this will stop the pots from moving.

2.Use Sugar Cane mulch, if you buy by the bale it will last longer, the coarser it the better it will let the water through. Lay to a depth of 60 to 100 mm deep. We use about 180 bales a year. Also helps prevent weeds and helps the soil.
3.Buy a shredder and recycle all or most of your garden waste, do not waste your money on an electric toy, go for a 6 to 8 hp petrol shredder. I use a 6hp Greenfield and this handles most of our garden waste.
4.All garden waste is composted including lawn clippings, I use Urea, blood and bone and mushroom compost with some crushed granite dust. This breaks down to great compost. The animal manure seems to accelerate the process.
5.We use Kelp liquid when planting all new plants into the ground and dip cuttings into a rooting compound plus water them with a kelp liquid We are great believers in Kelp.
6.If you want a cheap Water feature get a half 44 gallon plastic drum from your local produce center and place in hole and surround with rocks.
7.Second hand pavers make a great mowing strip, just a small amount of cement in a trench, a rubber mallet and line level and away you go.