Posts Tagged ‘pots’

Posted on 1st October 2013

Grow | Green Beans

By MEREDITH KIRTON

 

climbing beans

french beans

Got a fence?  2 metres of beans growing along it could feed your family all summer, and the kids will love going outside with a basket to cut their own greens for dinner, or just nibble on raw beans as they past.  If you can’t find a fence, no probs, you can grow dwarf beans in the garden in rows.

Both runner types and dwarf types can also be grown in tubs too, though obviously the taller varieties will need a tall tripod about 1.8m is ideal, and they are actually very pretty too, with some purple (‘Purple King’ and ‘Purple Queen’), or yellow (‘Bountiful Butter’) podded varieties available. These are all frost tender, and should only be sown after all chance of late cold snaps are gone.

If you live in a colder climate, then Perennial beans, known as runners, can also be grown. These are cut back each autumn then reshoot in spring from their crown.  The two best known ones are ‘Scarlet Runner’, which has beautiful red blooms, and ‘Borlotti’ which has speckled red beds.  These are both the sorts of beans that need slow cooking to be edible, like kidney beans ‘Canellini’.

Whatever you settle on, beans like an enriched soil with lots of added compost to thrive.  They also love regular watering, hate the wind and dislike being overfed, as they actually make their own nitrogen with their specialised roots.  They produce more and more beans the more you pick, so harvest them continually every 4 days or so to keep the plants productive. Be careful not to damage the bush, which is quite easily done, when you harvest by always using a knife of scissors, to reap your bounty.  Sow
seeds when the soil warms up and you’ll be munching away in 10 weeks time.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted on 2nd September 2013

Grow | Rosemary

By MEREDITH KIRTON

Rosemary is a much loved herb and used to flavour many dishes, but especially Mediterranean ones from where the plant is a native. It is an evergreen, oil-rich plant that normally grows as a bush about 1 x 1 m (3 x 3 ft), making it perfect for hedging, but it can also be more sprawling, in the case of ‘Blue Lagoon’, or completely ground-hugging, like prostrate rosemary. The spring flowers are normally sea blue, but there are also white, pink and dark and pale blue-flowered forms.

For best results, plant rosemary in a sunny position in freely draining soil, and if yours is acid, then add some lime or dolomite. Rosemary also does well in pots. Feed lightly after flowering, and trim back all over. This usually coincides with Remembrance Day in the southern hemisphere (11 November) and encourages plants to stay bushy.

Rosemary is easily dried but can be picked fresh all year round.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted on 14th February 2013

grow | nectarine

By MEREDITH KIRTON

 nectarines growning on tree

Nectarines and Peaches (Prunus persica) are one of the quintessential summer fruits, with the season running from late October right through to April, and a real glut coming onto the market around December/January.  What many people don’t realise is just how easy peaches are to grow, or how beautiful they can be… They can be grown in many areas of Australia, as the varieties available range from tropical selections (that cope with the heat) right through to cooler temperate varieties. They also can be bought in dwarf varieties, suitable for small gardens and pots, sold as Trixzie® grow about 1.5m x 1.5m. Their fruit is full sized, despite their diminutive statue.  They can also be espaliered to be able to grown along walls and in narrow spaces, or kept as a beautiful small tree. Another idea is to plant more than one type in the same hole, known as duo and trio planting, or grow multi grafted plants to allow for a few different types, and on the one plant. Known as fruit salad trees with these multi-grafts it is possible nowadays to have the one tree bear a white fleshed peach, yellow fleshed peach and a nectarine all on the same bush!

Nectarines and peaches also have the added bonus of being self fertile, which means that they don’t need another variety to still be able to cross pollinate and set fruit, which can be a problem in the back yard situation for some other fruit tree.  The biggest problem you will face is likely to be the birds, who, just like you, love the juicy sweet flesh but will also eat them greener, ruining the crop.  Nets are essential for keeping them out of reach.

Peaches also get fruit fly in some areas of Australia, so you will need to be vigilant for this as the fruit ripens. Normally planted in winter when they can be purchased bare rooted and the range is widest and cheapest.  They can be bought year round though if potted, and like a full sun position and are quite hardy, but don’t like being water logged so you will need to ensure that the soil drains will.  Dig a hole, fill it empty with water and check that it drains away completely in 10 minutes.  If it’s acting like a bucket, build up your planting level to above the ground in either a mound or raised bed, to ensure drainage is adequate. They will take about 3 years before they bear reliably, and need particular training to keep the bearing.  To do this, each winter remove any branches that grow inwards, and shorten the remaining branches, all the time creating an open vase like shape, just like you do with rose bushes but on a much bigger scale.  Also watch that you remove suckers, or the shoots that appear below the bud union, as they appear as these can overbear your plant and have no guarantee of being a tasty fruit…they are just chosen for their disease resistance and vigour as an understock. Each winter, check your plant for scale insects and spray with a suitable copper spray at bud swell to stop the disease peach leaf curl attacking
your plants.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted on 1st September 2012

grow | oranges

By MEREDITH KIRTON

orange blossom

orange tree

Few backyard fruit trees are as giving as citrus.  An all seasons tree, a well cared for orange tree looks great year round, with white, fragrant  spring blossom, glossy evergreen leaves and the stunning globes of glowing  fruits in winter.  They also don’t take long to start bearing fruit, with most varieties producing after 2-3 years, and they have the added bonus of being self-fertile, so they don’t need a mate in order to set fruit, just the birds and the bees to do their trick!

Choosing the type of orange that most suits you depends on what you’re likely to do with the fruit.  For juicing, the best type is Valencia, as
it’s juicy, but for eating, most people prefer the Navel, which is seedless and sweeter, and known for its belly button like indentation.
There are also sweeter still blood oranges, which have a red tinge to the flesh.  Most types grow 4m or so tall, but you can get all these grafted
onto dwarfing rootstocks, called ‘flying dragon’ which normally keeps them about 1/3 smaller than they would naturally grow.  These in particular,  are useful for growing in pots.

Oranges love a sunny, well drained position.  It’s particularly important to regularly feed your citrus trees, as they have hearty appetites for
nitrogen, to keep their leaves green and fresh, but shortages of magnesium and manganese can also cause leave yellowing. Also potassium is needed for fruit and flower set, and regular moisture supplies too as any drought conditions can cause them to jettison their crop.

Pests to watch out for include the spines citrus bug, the bronze orange bug (known as stink bug) and aphids and scales.  Citrus leaf miner too can
cause problems.  All these can be kept in check by regular sprays of horticultural grade oil sprays (like Pest Oil) from late spring to late autumn.  This is a safe way of pest control as the oil doesn’t contain any poison.

Harvest oranges any time after they have coloured up, but waiting till after a light frost tends to sweeten their flavour.  Extreme cold will kill citrus trees, so protection from heavy frosts is also needed.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted on 6th March 2012

review | potting mix

By MEREDITH KIRTON

Growing edibles in pots is the only option for many people on units or townhouses. If you want a potting mix that is certified organic to grow your garden in, the you can’t go past the Grange Range with it’s specially designed blend for vegetables and herbs. Look for it at your garden centre or contact www.grangehomegardener.com.au for stockists.

Home gardener potting mix

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Posted on 1st October 2011

grow | strawberries

By MEREDITH KIRTON

strawberries grown in pots

September is the month of strawberries in Australia, ripening first in Queensland and then the season works its way down the coast towards Victoria, each week signaling another flush somewhere of yet another plump, juicy fruit.

Growing to about 0.5m in width and only 20cm or so high, the strawberry is ideal as a groundcover, or as a strawberry patch, but can also be grown in pots, baskets and window boxes.  In fact, this berry is ideal for the backyard, so long as you can protect the ripening fruit from birds and even the pet dog, who all love the taste of the fruits.  Try nets and empty glass jars to prevent them from getting to your crops.

To grow your own, it’s important to protect these fruit not only from hungry mouths, but also from the ground where they can get fungal problems easily.  That’s where the name “straw”berry actually comes from, as originally straw was placed around each bush to protect the fruit from landing on the damp ground.  Commercial growers often use plastic, but growing your fruit in baskets and pots also has the same effect.

Strawberries need full sun to flower, and there are both white and pink flowering types.  There is also a yellow fruited Alpine or non-spreading strawberry, which is said to be harder for birds to see.  It is, however, just as tasty!  Dig in lots of manure prior to planting rhizomes or seedlings, and feed regularly with liquid manure or liquid blood and bone to encourage recropping.

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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Posted on 14th September 2011

grow | peas

By MEREDITH KIRTON

Kitchen garden growing peas

Peas (Pisum sativum) are perhaps the most commonly eaten green vegetable, but mostly from the frozen food section of your supermarket.  The shame of this is not only how delicious fresh peas are, but also because growing peas is one of the kindest things you can do for your garden’s soil.  And that doesn’t even touch on the socially enriching time that shelling peas together around the kitchen table can be!

Peas seem to celebrate spring.  They are fast growing, very pretty with either white or purple flowers, nutritious and can be eaten fresh or cooked in a wide range of cuisines from salads to stir fries or with the Sunday roast.  Even the new growth is edible and peas can even be sown on a windowsill for pea sprouts fresh year round.

Peas are normally sown in autumn or winter, but can be sown into early spring in cold areas like Tasmania and even into summer in areas where it doesn’t get too hot.  You plant they seeds directly where they grow every 5cm or so and then gently firm them down into the soil.  Dwarf peas don’t need any support so are ideal for pots and hanging baskets, but taller growing peas will generally need 1.5m tall stakes to help support them, and if possible run this north to south so they get the most sun possible.

Peas take about 8-10 weeks to start cropping, and the more you pick the more you get, so pick regularly.  At the end of your pea season, dig your pea stalks back into the ground and you’ll enrich your soil with not only organic matter, but also nitrogen, as peas have a magical way of using special nodules on their roots to take nitrogen from the air and turn it into a plant useable form.

planting peas

Photography by SUE STUBBS | Blog designed by RED PEPPER GRAPHICS

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