Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Redirecting you to our new page

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Mother's Day

Mother’s Day is just an overrated commercialized day and we don’t celebrate it our family …. Said no mother ever!

Mother’s Day is all about celebrating all the wonderful things your mum has done for you and forgetting about the things that niggle at you. Because don’t forget many of us are mothers too and I’m sure our children feel the same way if not now definitely in the future!

I heard an advert on the radio the other day that basically went like this “if your mum told you she doesn’t want a present this year, just time with you is present enough”, means you aren’t the best gift chooser and please don’t waste money on something I don’t want.

Now days it seems like we are spoilt for choice in the present department. Years ago a pot of chrysanthemums was the only choice you had for Mother’s Day. 

You know what? It’s still a darn good choice.

Chrysanthemums are traditionally given at Mother’s Day as they flower profusely during autumn and they contain the word mum! 

They are so many varieties of chrysanthemums available today; there is surely one to suit every mum. 

The US National Chrysanthemum Society has derived that there are 13 different types of flower forms and over 100 different colours.

Chrysanthemums are honestly one of the easiest plants to grow and are a perfect gift for green or brown fingered mums! Chrysanthemums have long lasting flowers and are relatively pest and disease free. 

Potted chrysanthemums can flower for several weeks indoors but thrive best if placed in full sun. They can be grown in pots or in the garden. To keep them looking fantastic and to promote more flowers all spent flowers and discoloured leaves should be removed and liquid fertilised fortnightly. After flowering chrysanthemums should be cut back to about 15cm (6") high and be given some organic link complete organic fertiliser. They can have up to three flowerings a year.

If you don’t like the traditional Chrysanthemum, Trevallan Lifestyle Centre is overflowing with living flowering gifts. Cyclamens, azaleas, pansies, anthruiums, orchids, camellias, roses are all in bloom, look fantastic and are easy to care for – even brown thumb mums should enjoy all of these! 

Team any of these plants with a beautiful planter and you have the perfect present even if your mum doesn’t have a garden. Planters are a little different from normal pots in that they don’t have a hole in the bottom. With a planter you just place the plant inside the planter, no potting. They are great for indoors as you can still give your plants a good drink without having the water running everywhere problem. Just don’t over water!

With every present you give though, don’t forget to give a little of your time as well. Even though we are adults we are still our mum’s children. She just wants the best for us – so ignore the so called mothering insanity and give her a hug and kiss and let you know you love her. Because while a mother’s love is unconditional we as children need to reassure them that our love is unconditional too!

Best Cut Flowers

I love the cooler weather. I know the days are still warm but the nights have that glorious cool tinge.

All the plants I love to surround myself with are now in bloom or coming into bloom.

I love gift giving at this time of year. I don’t do cut flowers, of course! I want my gifts to last a little longer but I also know not everyone has a green finger so I don’t want them to stress about my gift.

Which is why I always love giving

Cyclamens are the perfect indoor or shade plant for the cooler months. They have a long continuous flowering period – usually from April until October. They are available in a rich tapestry of colours ranging from white to pink, red and mauve, some are even bi-coloured. The leaves are even pretty coming in a range of shapes - from broad to rounded, kidney, or heart shaped. They may be blotched, patterned, or even marbled on the upper surface.

Cyclamens aren’t fussy which is why they are the perfect gift.

I always tell people “treat them cold keep them beautiful!”

Even though cyclamens grow fantastically indoors they love the cold; it seems to refresh and revitalise them. Every few days you should give your cyclamens a drink, wetting soil and foliage and put them outside for the night. They will appreciate the cold frosty morning!

I find just a good watering every few days is fine. I always like to place my cyclamens in a planter. Planters are a little different from normal pots in that they don’t have a hole in the bottom. With a planter you just place the plant inside the planter, no potting. They are great for indoors as you can still give your plants a good drink without having the water running everywhere problem. Just don’t over water.

Cyclamens appreciate a regular liquid fertilise. I alternate every fortnight between Triple Boost and Silica and Potash Liquid fertilisers. The Triple Boost keeps them healthy and the Silica and Potash keeps them flowering. It is a good idea to remove the spent flowers. A spent cyclamen flower should never be cut off. Instead, remove tired blooms and stems by gently twisting off at the base and pulling them away from the main tuber.

Cyclamens grow from a tuber and tend to die down during our hot humid summer. If you are lucky though and find a cool, dry, shady spot in the garden (that isn’t taken by you) they can continue to grow. If your cyclamens do die down keep them in a cool, dry, shady position and water sparingly and hope they reappear in the cool months again. If they don’t regrow think about it like this – A bunch of cut flowers that lasted over three months. Wow now that’s value for money!

A cyclamen will warm your soul even on the coldest morning. So don’t forget to spread the love this weekend.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Roses are Red

The rose has long been a source of fascination and meaningfulness for cultures around the world.

Cleopatra was believed to have covered the floor of her palace room with roses before Mark Antony visited for in those times anything which was said "under the rose" was deemed to be a secret.

For many of us Queenslanders though how to keep roses looking amazing feels like a state secret. 

I often stare in awe at the pictures in magazines of roses elsewhere in Australia. How dare they have the climatic conditions to grow these plants successfully? I suppose we can’t have everything – at least the maroons can play football!

I have never claimed to know the secrets of growing roses in a climate where for about six months of the year we have what feels like 100% humidity.

Many rose growers out there will probably have a small heart attack at my way of growing roses but that’s ok, my way is the right way for me and maybe if you’ve never had any success in the past it may become the right way for you. 

The first thing I needed to realise was that my roses may never look like they do elsewhere. The humidity we suffer is the cause of most rose problems. No amount of sprays, fertilisers or correct planting techniques will change the problems humidity brings.

To combat most of the rose problems such as black spot, fungus, bud worm that occur during the warmer months I’d trim and fertilise. 

I don’t spray. 

During the really humid months most of my roses look like bare thorny sticks. 

I find removing all the affected leaves, trimming back the plant and then fertilising with a slow release complete organic fertiliser like Organic Link works fantastically. 

I always trim my roses like I am cutting the flowers off for a long stemmed vase. I personally can’t stand long straggly bushes so I make sure all my roses get a good prune continuously throughout the year.

After pruning you can use a product like Steriprune which is designed to protect wounds against infections and die back.

Come the cooler months and my roses are thick and lush and full of flowers. 

The few leaves that do get black spot or mould just get pulled off and when the flowers die, I still trim the stem right back like I am cutting it for a long stemmed vase.

During the cooIer months I might sometimes spray with a pyrethrum based spray for insects or Searles' Rose Pro Black Spot & Insect Killer which takes care of a myriad of insects and diseases. 

My roses are in full sun in pots and in the ground.  

They get fertilised numerous times throughout the year with Organic Link and I’d try to regularly liquid fertilise them with Rose Triple Boost.
Having great roses and plants in general isn’t a state secret.
Which is why we are excited to have Des Warnock, our Fertiliser Guru, talking us through the ‘Secrets to a Healthy Garden, Organically’ at Trevallan Lifestyle Centre on Wednesday 30th April. Tickets are essential phone 3021 8630 for more details.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Winter Vegetables

Autumn. Warm Days, cool nights. Perfect for vegetable planting.
By now your vegetable patch has been freshly composted and manured. It’s just waiting for you to plant out.
The basic cool season vegetables that I find grow well in most areas are –  broccoli, beetroot (my favourite), cabbage, cauliflower, leek, onions, shallots, silverbeet, spinach, snow peas, strawberries (my other favourite), peas, kale and rhubarb. 
If you don’t get a frost or you can cover your vegetables - beans, lettuce, capsicum and tomatoes can also be grown.
If you get really cold you can give brussels sprouts a go.
This is the basic vegetable range; there are so many different variations on these classic cooler weather vegetables.
In seedlings alone you can get about four different versions of broccoli. 
If you start using old fashioned open pollinated seeds the list can be endless. 
If your vegetable patch consists of a variety of different sized pots don’t worry, there is a large range of dwarf vegetables available in seedlings and seeds. 
Leek, lettuce, capsicums, shallots, silverbeet, spinach, snow peas, strawberries, peas and rhubarb all grow well in pots without needing dwarf varieties.  
The secret to growing any vegetables in pots follows the same principles as growing in the ground. 
Start with the best quality soil or potting mix, mulch with an organic material (I like organic sugar cane mulch that is free from weeds), fertilise with a complete organic slow release fertiliser and liquid fertilise fortnightly with a complete organic liquid fertiliser. 
I like using the Plant of Health range of fertilisers – Organic Link and Triple Boost and Searles' range of garden soil and potting mix - Peat 80 Plus
I find the cooler months are the best time for growing herbs.  Nearly all the herbs are available now. Herbs grow well in the garden or in pots and most herbs can be grouped together in pots to make mini herb gardens. 
The best thing about growing cool season vegetables is that it’s usually too cold for the pests to be out and about.  If you do get a few pests a pyrethrum based spray or one of the new organic sprays like eco oil or eco fend work well.  Mildew and mould is a common problem during wet winters - copper spray (some are considered organic) can be the best solution. 
I have heard that having pretend white butterflies in your vegetable patch not only looks pretty but helps deter moths.
Remember though the healthier the soil, the healthier the plants and the less likely you are to get problems. Now get outside and get dirty!

Springtime Surprise

I love gardening surprises, especially when it takes no real effort on my part.

Something that always gives me great pleasure in the garden is bulbs, corms and tubers.

While I am over wishing I could have the spring display like they do in Europe or even Melbourne. I now appreciate the spring flowering bulbs that grow in my not so cold climate.

Bulbs, corms and tubers are all sometimes erroneously referred to as bulbs. The technical term for plants that form underground storage organs is geophyte.

All these types of plants cycle through vegetative and reproductive growth stages; the bulb grows to flowering size during the vegetative stage and the plant flowers during the reproductive stage.

These plants need certain conditions to trigger the transition from one stage to the next, such as the shift from a cold winter to warm spring. Due to the bulb, corm or tuber being a storage device these plants can also survive adverse conditions such as cold, excessive heat, lack of light or drought.

The foliage of these plants absorbs nutrients from the soil and energy from the sun for setting flowers for the next year.  After the foliage period is completed, bulbs can be dug up for replanting elsewhere.

If we lived in Holland, autumn is the time to plant daffodils and tulips, as they flower in spring, but here these bulbs don’t grow that well or easily.

Don’t despair though we can still plant some beautiful bulbs, corms, and tubers at this time of year. Lucky for us we usually have a short winter too so our spring flowering bulbs, corms and tubers are usually up and flowering before other cities.

Freesias, hyacinths, ranunculi, babiana and iris’ are all available at Trevallan Lifestyle Centre and now is the time to plant.

As you know I’m a no fuss gardener. There is probably an exact art to planting these plants but I find the easiest way is to make sure your soil is healthy and loose then plant your bulb right way up (instructions are on the packets!) and cover with soil.  Sun is necessary. I like to put a little bit of Organic Link fertilizer on top of the soil at this stage. Water the area like a normal garden – making sure it’s wet but not a bog. Once the leaf or flower starts to appear I use Triple Boost liquid fertiliser weekly. After flowering I give it a little more Organic Link to give it some nutrients to store for next season. 

Some people lift, dig up, their bulbs each year and store them until the next season. I don’t as I find I can’t store them very well and they end up dying, so I leave mine in the ground.  Sometimes I dig them up and break up the clumps so I can get more but then I usually replant them straight away.

Because bulbs and the like die down and then reappear I like them planted in amongst other plants so each year I get little flowering surprises in my garden.

Give your garden a little surprise this spring and plant some bulbs today.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Talking Dirty

Last week on Trevallan Lifestyle Centre's Facebook page I posed the question "what gardening terms do you use that people think you've made up, don't understand or have a little giggle at your expense?"

There were some great examples given and I thought I'd enlighten you all with some gardening terms that I find I use and  people think I have started to talk in my own special language.

Deciduous, pronounced dih-sij-oo-uhs, is the term I am most often asked to explain. Deciduous means "falling off at maturity" or "tending to fall off", and it is typically used when talking about plants that lose their leaves seasonally. Many plants especially in cooler regions drop their leaves in autumn, have a dormant period through the winter and then come alive again in the spring. In some subtropical and arid regions plants lose their leaves during the dry season and have a dormant period until the wet season begins.

Active Constituent
Active constituents are the substance/s in an agvet (agricultural and veterinary) chemical product primarily responsible for a product's biological or other effects.
For example Glyphosate is the active constituent in most weed killers. In horticulture, companies register products with different trade names but you will often find the active constituent is the same. Trade names such as Yates Zero, Searles Dead Weed, Brunnings Weedkill all contain the same active constituent - glyphosate. When dealing with chemicals in gardening know your active constituents and you'll never have to rely on trade names again.

This next one can cause a few giggles - Bisexuality and plants
A Bisexual flower or perfect flower is when flower has both the essential whorls i.e., androecium and gynoecium (male and female reproductive units). Some examples are Lilies, Roses, Sweet Peas.

When it comes to fruit and vegetables we generally use the term bisexual plant. So the plant has male and female flowers on it. You do not need two separate plants. For example a pumpkin will usually produce both male and female flowers and then hopefully insects pollinate the females and your pumpkins grow big and strong.

Self-watering pots
Now unless you have gnomes in your garden doing all your dirty work there is no such thing as a self-watering pot. When you buy a self-watering pot you still have to water.

In a self-watering pot you have a very large saucer or water well and the soil is held above the water well with a false bottom. The water well and the soil are usually connected by a wick of some sort.

As water is used by the plant, capillary action draws more water up from below, exactly as much as is needed and no more. The soil has just the right amount of water all the time, but also maintains air pockets, which the plant roots also need. This is great for plants that don't like over watered as you just fill the bottom chamber.

While self-watering pots are great I find they only really work once the plant has an established root ball.

This weekend talk dirty with someone and show off your new gardening knowledge.

Design by Small Bird Studios | All Rights Reserved