Product Review – Fiskars UPX82 PowerGear X Tree Pruner

Fiskars UPX82 PowerGear X Tree Pruner, a super-sturdy and lightweight, ergonomically-designed pole pruner for easy cutting in all directions Pole pruners are versatile pruning tools which provide extended reach, allowing gardeners to access tree canopies and dense bushes to trim overhead branches without needing a ladder, or to trim inaccessible dense growth at ground levelContinue reading “Product Review – Fiskars UPX82 PowerGear X Tree Pruner”

How to Get Multiple Mulberry Crops from One Tree in a Single Season

Mulberry trees are deciduous trees which are traditionally winter pruned when they’re dormant and have no leaves, with the pruning carried out in late winter. When spring arrives, the buds on the bare branches open to produce new leaves, as well as new branches which carry the mulberry fruit. Yes, I did say fruit. Botanically,Continue reading “How to Get Multiple Mulberry Crops from One Tree in a Single Season”

What is Osage Orange, and is it Edible?

Osage orange (Maclura pomifera), also known as Bois d’ arc, Hedge Apple or Horse Apple, is a member of the Moraceae family, to which figs, mulberries, breadfruit and jackfruit also belong, and is native to the south-central United States. This thorny, fast-growing, medium-sized tree or shrub which grows up to 20m (60′), tall, but isContinue reading “What is Osage Orange, and is it Edible?”

Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – April

April brings us well into autumn, and the days are now getting shorter. While the soil is still warm, it’s a good time to plant trees, shrubs, and herbs, as their roots will have a chance to take hold before winter. This is also the last chance to harvest fruit such as apples and pearsContinue reading “Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – April”

Can Eucalyptus Leaves be Composted or Used as Garden Mulch?

In Australia, one of the most common trees are eucalyptus trees, also known as eucalypts or gum trees. These evergreen trees manage to drop a decent amount of their leaves, branches, twigs and gumnuts below their canopy. Since this debris doesn’t rot very easily, it can persist for a very long time. It’s tempting forContinue reading “Can Eucalyptus Leaves be Composted or Used as Garden Mulch?”

How to Sterilize and Disinfect Pruning Tools

Plant diseases, caused by pathogens such as bacteria, viruses and fungi, can easily be spread from one plant or tree to another if pruning tools are not disinfected before use. Sap from trees and plants usually sticks to the blades of secateurs, loppers, saws and other pruning tools. Any infected sap can transfer diseases toContinue reading “How to Sterilize and Disinfect Pruning Tools”

Guest Post – Should You Get a French Drain?

Despite its name, a French drain didn’t come from France. It’s a drainage system created by an American named Henry Flagg French. It’s mostly used for removing water from fields, but today, it’s much more common to use french drains to avert water from inside homes or yards. In short, a French drain is usedContinue reading “Guest Post – Should You Get a French Drain?”

Gardening Questions #007 – Is Tree Stump Killer Herbicide Safe Around Ponds?

The active ingredient in herbicides used specifically for killing trees and tree stumps is triclopyr butoxyethanol ester (triclopyr BEE), which is NOT safe to use around ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, any other waterways or bodies of water. The product leaflet for Triclopyr 600 Herbicide issues the following warning: PROTECTION OF WILDLIFE, FISH, CRUSTACEANS AND ENVIRONMENTContinue reading “Gardening Questions #007 – Is Tree Stump Killer Herbicide Safe Around Ponds?”

Gardening Questions #006 – Why Do Earthworms Gather at the Top of Compost Bins or Worm Farms and Try to Escape?

Compost worms in worm farms and earthworms in compost bins can often be seen gathering in large numbers inside the lid, often trying to escape. This usually happens when it’s about to rain. Before it begins to rain, the air pressure (barometric pressure) in the atmosphere drops, and the worms can sense this, so theyContinue reading “Gardening Questions #006 – Why Do Earthworms Gather at the Top of Compost Bins or Worm Farms and Try to Escape?”

How to Repair Broken Terracotta Pots and Garden Features

Terracotta is a hard, fired clay that’s reddish-orange in colour, and is commonly used for making pots and garden features. This material has been used by human civilisations for centuries, dating back to the times of ancient China, Greece and Egypt, a testament to its usefulness. Unlike plastic pots which degrade over time with exposureContinue reading “How to Repair Broken Terracotta Pots and Garden Features”

Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – March

March heralds the beginning of autumn, so there’s lots of tidying up in the garden. It’s also an ideal time to plant new trees, as the weather is milder and there is some time for the trees to establish themselves before winter arrives. Pick marrows, pumpkins and squash before the flesh becomes coarse. Only pickContinue reading “Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – March”

How to Identify and Treat Herbicide Contamination of Commercial Soil, Compost and Manure

  Over the last decade, there have been increasing reports from gardeners that their vegetables and flowers have been damaged or killed after adding manure or compost to their gardens, or when they’ve planted into new soil they had delivered. In fact, the problems of contaminated composts adversely affecting horticultural crops first surfaced in 1999.Continue reading “How to Identify and Treat Herbicide Contamination of Commercial Soil, Compost and Manure”

How to Control Fungus Gnats in Indoor Plants

  The annoying little flies often seen flying around indoor plants are fungus gnats. The adult flies are just a nuisance, but their larvae, which mainly eat fungi growing in decomposing organic matter (such as over-watered plant potting mix!) will also eat the roots of houseplants, and can transmit root diseases. Fungus gnats are onlyContinue reading “How to Control Fungus Gnats in Indoor Plants”

Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – February

February is the last month of summer, and it’s still a fairly dry time of the year in Melbourne, so water deeply and less often during dry periods to encourage roots to grow down, making plants less vulnerable to heat and drought. Take advantage of the hot dry weather to do weeding, and lay theContinue reading “Gardening Calendar (Australian Temperate Climate) – February”

Citrus Problems – Leaves Curling Inwards Along Their Length

When leaves of a citrus tree curl evenly along their length, this is a protective response to minimises leaf surface area in order to reduce moisture loss. It indicates that the roots of the tree can’t supply enough water to support the leaves. This form of leaf curling may be due to temporary conditions, suchContinue reading “Citrus Problems – Leaves Curling Inwards Along Their Length”

Gardening Questions #005 – Can You Put Earthworms in the Compost Bin?

In nature, earthworms consume decomposing plant matter, and if a compost pile is constructed, they will often move into it on their own when the plant material is broken down and the compost is completed. When compost materials are piled up, or a compost bin is filled, bacteria will begin the breakdown process, which canContinue reading “Gardening Questions #005 – Can You Put Earthworms in the Compost Bin?”

Gardening Questions #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 #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 #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 Edible PeasContinue reading “Gardening Questions #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”