Gardening Questions and Answers #004 – Can You Use Shells for Drainage in Houseplant Pots?

Sea shells should not be used in plant pots because they are made of calcium carbonate (chemical formula CaCO₃), which is exactly the same substance as limestone and garden lime. They will make the potting medium extremely alkaline. Some plants don’t grow well in alkaline soils! Any material that is added to improve drainage shouldContinue reading “Gardening Questions and Answers #004 – Can You Use Shells for Drainage in Houseplant Pots?”

Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – January

It’s January, and we find ourselves right in the middle of the summer season. It’s in this month and the next that we experience the hottest day-time and night-time temperatures of the year. With the weather so hot and dry at this time, and with hot north winds blowing, it’s important to keep up withContinue reading “Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – January”

Gardening Questions and Answers #003 – Are Ornamental Sweet Peas Edible?

Are Ornamental Sweet Peas Edible? Ornamental sweet peas are not edible, they are toxic and should not be eaten! The common sweet pea, Lathyrus odoratus is an ornamental leguminous annual climbing plant which is native to southern Italy, and is grown purely for its very fragrant and colourful flowers.   Are Sweet Peas and EdibleContinue reading “Gardening Questions and Answers #003 – Are Ornamental Sweet Peas Edible?”

Fruit Tree Problems – New Leaves Tightly Curled and Turning Yellow on Cherries and Plums

Tightly curled, yellowing, distorted, and diseased-looking young leaves at the tips of the branches on stone fruit in spring, mainly on cherry and plum trees, is a sign of damage caused by aphids.   What are Aphids? Aphids are small sap-sucking pests insects around 2-4 mm (1/16-1/8”) long, with soft, pear-shaped bodies. There are aroundContinue reading “Fruit Tree Problems – New Leaves Tightly Curled and Turning Yellow on Cherries and Plums”

Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – December

December is the first month of summer, and with the warmer weather gardens explode into life – lush, abundant and awesome to behold. With the days getting longer as we progress towards the longest day of the year, the summer solstice, there’s more time to enjoy the garden and the great outdoors! During this time,Continue reading “Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – December”

Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – November

It’s November, the last month of spring, the weather is moderate, deciduous trees are in leaf again, days are warm and there’s lots of green growth in the garden. The changeable and windy weather from October continues, but now there’s also the possibility of very sudden hot weather striking without warning so it’s important toContinue reading “Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – November”

Gardening Questions #002 – How Many Trays to Use When Starting a Worm Farm?

  When setting up a worm farm vermicomposting system, how many trays should I start with? Most of the worm farms that are sold at garden centres use a stackable tray design, and when first starting, use only a single tray. When the first tray is full, when the contents reach the fill line onContinue reading “Gardening Questions #002 – How Many Trays to Use When Starting a Worm Farm?”

How to Make Borax Ant Bait for Indoor and Outdoor Use

Ants can be a major pest in the garden because they ‘farm’ aphids and scale – they safeguard them in their nests over winter, then bring them out in spring and carry them onto the new plant growth, then collect the honeydew that aphids and scale excrete as they feed off the plant’s sap. ToContinue reading “How to Make Borax Ant Bait for Indoor and Outdoor Use”

Gardening Questions #001 – Grow Nasturtiums from Cuttings?

Can nasturtiums be grown from cuttings? Nasturtiums are usually grown from seeds but can also be propagated from cuttings during the warm growing seasons, the best period being spring or late summer when weather is milder. How to make a nasturtium cutting: Cut a piece around 10cm (4”) long, making the cut below a leaf.Continue reading “Gardening Questions #001 – Grow Nasturtiums from Cuttings?”

Why Are My Cabbages Not Forming Heads?

When cabbages are first planted they initially produce lots of large broad leaves, but in the latter part of their growing season the inner leaves at the centre of the plant begin curling inwards and cupping around a short-thick stem, growing tightly together to form the head of cabbage we are all familiar with. TheContinue reading “Why Are My Cabbages Not Forming Heads?”

The Easiest Way to Dry and Process Turmeric Root to Make Turmeric Powder

  Turmeric (Curcuma longa syn. C. domestica) is a subtropical/tropical plant which is a member of the ginger (Zingiberaceae) family, and is native to Southwest India. It’s grown traditionally as a spice, medicine and as a source of bright yellow dye. Ground turmeric root is an important culinary spice, and curry powder contains up toContinue reading “The Easiest Way to Dry and Process Turmeric Root to Make Turmeric Powder”

How to Improve Drainage in Plant Pots, The Proper Way to Do It!

When growing plants in pots, it’s sometimes necessary to increase drainage because some plants are sensitive to excessive moisture around their root zone, and stagnant water at the bottom of the pot can lead to root rot. The old garden myth of putting a layer of rocks in the bottom of a pot to increaseContinue reading “How to Improve Drainage in Plant Pots, The Proper Way to Do It!”

What Age Wood Do Fruit Trees Flower and Fruit On?

Fruit trees flower and fruit each year, but some of them do so only on new branches, or specific parts of older branches. Why does this matter? If we prune off the wrong branches, we might lose our whole fruit crop for a year! By knowing what age of wood fruit trees producing their fruitContinue reading “What Age Wood Do Fruit Trees Flower and Fruit On?”

Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – October

October is the mid-spring period, flowers bloom in abundance, the warmer weather with rain bringing ideal conditions for lush plant growth. The cold weather hasn’t quite finished yet, cold nights and even frosts can still be expected, along with strong winds, so it’s important to protect tender plants and seedlings. Things to Do This Month:Continue reading “Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – October”

The Fastest Way to Transplant Volunteer Seedlings with Minimum Root Disturbance

  It’s always a great idea to let vegetables such as lettuce to go to seed, because a single plant can produce hundreds of seeds, resulting in lettuce seedlings popping up all around the garden. Plants that grow on their own, that weren’t intentionally planted, are known as volunteers, and volunteer vegetable seedlings are basicallyContinue reading “The Fastest Way to Transplant Volunteer Seedlings with Minimum Root Disturbance”

Book Review – How Can I Use Herbs in My Daily Life? by Isabell Shipard

How Can I Use Herbs in My Daily Life?: Over 500 Herbs, Spices and Edible Plants: an Australian Practical Guide to Growing Culinary and Medicinal Herbs (You can click the image or link above to view product details or purchase this book from Amazon and support Deep Green Permaculture!) This book is also available fromContinue reading “Book Review – How Can I Use Herbs in My Daily Life? by Isabell Shipard”

Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – September

It’s September, the beginning of spring, the time of new life and renewal! The weather is starting to warm up, but there are still cold days, rainy weather and winds to contend with. Early spring is the best time to mulch garden beds, as the soil is still moist and is slowly warming up. ThisContinue reading “Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – September”

Companion Planting with Land Cress for Natural Caterpillar Control

Land Cress (Barbarea vulgaris) and American Upland Cress (Barbarea verna) are biennial, edible leafy-green vegetables from the Brassicaceae (cabbage) family. The young leaves, which are spicy in flavour, are often used as a substitute for watercress in dishes, and can be cooked, or used fresh in salads and sandwiches. They’re nutritious leaf vegetables that containContinue reading “Companion Planting with Land Cress for Natural Caterpillar Control”

What Are the Small Flies in Compost Bins and Are They a Problem?

  Many gardeners are familiar with the experience of  lifting the lid off a compost bin and seeing a cloud of small flies rise into the air in front of them. These little flies are vinegar flies or drosophila, and the reason why they’re found in the compost bin or worm farm is because theyContinue reading “What Are the Small Flies in Compost Bins and Are They a Problem?”

How to Plant, Grow and Harvest Potatoes

Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) are a herbaceous, perennial, root-crop plant from the Solanaceae (Nightshade) family that grow to around 60cm (24”) high, and are native to Central and South America. They originated in the Andean highlands almost 10,000 years ago, but have naturalised widely and spread to all continents, growing in climates ranging from temperate toContinue reading “How to Plant, Grow and Harvest Potatoes”