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?”

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”

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”

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”

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 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”

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!”