What’s The Difference: Garden Snips vs Hand Pruners or Secateurs

August 19th, 2021

Garden Snips vs Secateurs

You would think that gardening tools would have all the same name pretty much all around the world.
What else would you call a spade ?
Perhaps a trowel may have a few different names, but what about secateurs and garden snips?
Are they the same thing?

  • Secateurs are sometimes called  pruning shears or hand pruners .

    1-DSC_1477.JPG
    My Toolkit: Felco No8 secateurs 
  • Secateurs can be bypass style, where the cutting blade passes a curved non-cutting 'anvil.'
  • Secateurs can also be anvil style where the cutting blade cuts into a 'anvil.'
  • Good quality secateurs will cut easily, feel comfortable to hold and spare parts are able to be purchased.
  • Secateurs are used for the  'green' wood on plants cutting easily up to the diameter of a person's fingers.
Calibrachoa_Cabaret_Good_Night_Kiss_Basket_25420.jpg

Garden snips ( bottom of picture) are closer in appearance to scissors, with two cutting blades. Unlike scissors, they have a spring to make repeated cutting of plant material easier.

  • Garden snips are best used for trimming off spent flowers on plants such as calibroachoa, petunias, and other annuals and perennials. Light trimming of soft 'green' plant material is OK as long as the stems or branches are not too thick. Garden snips don't have the cutting power of secateurs.

Let’s find out more

I'm talking with Tony Mattson, general manager of www.cutabovetools.com.au

PLAY: snips vs secateurs_18th August 2021

Like me, a lot of gardeners would have both types of secateurs-anvil and bypass as well as a pair of snips.
After all, not everything can be pruned with the one tool.

If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

What’s The Difference: Dibbler vs Bulb Planter

August 19th, 2021

 TOOL TIME

What's the Difference?

Dibbler or dibber vs bulbs planter

Ever wondered if there’s a difference between two garden products, tools or ways of doing something? Tool time will look at some of these differences over the next few months.

  • Today, it’s about the difference between a tool that’s used to mainly plant bulbs.
  • Planting bulbs is a lot of fun, but can quickly turn into a chore if you have quite a few different bulbs that need to go into the garden.
  • Just imagine planting out the scene pictured, at Keukenhoff in the Netherlands.
  • Every type of bulb will have a preferred depth and spacing so to get it right you will need a special tool.
  • This is where those bulb planters of plant dibbers come in handy.
  • plant-field-lawn-meadow-flower-tulip-1153098-pxhere.com.jpg

Dibbers are those carrot shaped bits of wood with a pointy end, that are used to poke holes in soil.

They will have graduated markings showing depth and sometimes have a metal tip.

Some come with a T-shaped handle, others just a rounded knob at the top.

Dibbers are great for quickly planting up lots of small bulbs, seeds and transplanting seedlings.

Bulb planters are mainly for bulbs, big ones and little ones, but especially big ones.

  • This is a heavy duty implement that acts much like an apple corer with either a short or long handle. Bulb planters have the ability to push through hard soil because of their serrated edge and also have a spring-loaded handle that dumps the ‘core’ of soil you pushed through. 
  • This also makes it a handy tool for digging out bulbous weeds such as oxalis and onion weed, and it can be used to planting small seedlings and tubestock, too.
  • Depth markings are along the side taking the guesswork out of planting.  

High quality carbon steel ones will keep their edges sharp and not get coated with rust if you are forgetful about cleaning your garden tools.

Let’s find out more: I'm talking with Tony Mattson, General Manager from www.cutobovetools.com.au

 

Winter Pruning of Figs in Plant Doctor

August 18th, 2021

 PLANT DOCTOR

Pruning Figs: 

Ficus carica is the edible fig that hails from the Mediterranean.

Fig trees aren’t quite as ubiquitous as citrus trees are in the produce garden but they are still a firm favourite.

What's not to like?
They are delicious to eat fresh and or dried, plus nothing beats home grown figs. 

There are a few different types: 

  • 'Black Genoa' is typically a large growing fig tree and not suitable for small back yards. This is a fast growing heavy cropping tree that produces large sweet purple skinned fruit. Good for inlan Australia but not so good on the far north coast.
  • White genoa-great for drying about half the size of black genoa: also grows well in cooler areas.
  • Brown Turkey  good for eating fresh, is a very hardy tree that does well in inland areas.
  • White Adriatic-a green skinned medium to large fruit.
  • Dwarf Brown Slow growing and compact this small tree can be kept at about 1 - 1.5 m in height. Great for small spaces and pots and smaller backyards
There’s a only few things you need to know when attending to those trees and believe it or not, winter time is one of those times.
In fact, winter time is the time you need to go out and take a look at your fig tree, assessing it for what to prune and what to leave
fig%2Bfruit.jpg
 
  • When you first get your fig tree, prune the tree by half; cut it back to 3 or 4 branches.
  • Prunings can be used to propagate more trees as the cuttings take root very easily.
TIP: figs like to grow in shallow soil which has been enriched with limestone. 
  • pH 8 is an ideal for figs, and you can do this by adding crusher dust to the soil. 
  • What is crusher dust?
  • Crusher dust is a blend of small crushed blue metal rocks and finer dust.
  • Either add it to your pot or to the soil.
  • Incidentally, crusher dust is a great medium for striking 'slow to take' cuttings.

Getting Down To Pruning

Steve’s tip is to prune new fig trees by half when you get them, but for older trees, prune one-third to one-half each year. 
  • We are looking for the new growth to supply the current season's fruit.  
  • Prune out any limbs that are less than 45 degrees to the trunk. Keep branches that are more or less at right angles to the main trunk.
  • Remove any branches or laterals that are less than half a metre from the ground.
  • If you need to, you can now bring it into shape but otherwise you have done your main pruning.

So let’s find out what more needs doing.
That was Steve McGrane, agriculturist and horticulturist.
PLAY: Pruning figs_7th July 2021
If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Bulbs for Dry and Moist shade in Design Elements

July 24th, 2021

  DESIGN ELEMENTS

Warm Bulbs What Are They?

Spring flowering bulbs like daffodils, tulips, freesias, bluebells, to name a few are all bulbs from the northern hemisphere. They do best in cool climates and once the main spring show is over, there's nothing left to excite.

  • It's time to changeup or simply extend the flowering season to what garden designer Peter Nixon terms 'warm bulbs.' 
  • These come from warmer climates such as South Africa and South America, therefore are more suited to a large part of eastern Australia-the 'cool sub trops.' (Cool sub-tropical).
  • The other benefits of these spectacular bulbs are that they flower much later and longer;  late spring into summer and even autumn.

Warm Bulbs part 4-Dry Shade and Moist shade

What kind of shade? NOT GLOOM!
  • We are talking Cliveas, and not just Clivea miniata. 
Try the following Cliveas

clivea%2Bnobilis.jpg
Clivea nobilis


 Clivea nobilis -umbel with many florets, starting in late winter; variable colours from pale orange to deep orange red with green tips.
Clivea gardenii-tubular and pendulous flowers; orange to red, however yellow and pink clones are also sometimes available to the plant collector.
Clivea caulescens-flowers pendulous and tubular; orange-red with green tips
Clivea robusta-pendulous flowers with green tips
Clivea%2Bgroup%2B2%2Byellow_green%2B%25282%2529.jpg


Bright shade will keep them happy. Full sun will fade the dark green to a pale washed out green and at worst, will burn the leaves
  • Keep one thing in mind. Where the leaf union comes together, it has to be well above the soil otherwise the clivea will rot.
  • As the roots push the upwards, DON'T be tempted to cover up the root system with more soil. 
  • Leaf litter or a leaf mulch is fine, but these grow in high rainfall areas and require their root system to be not sitting in water.

Moist Shade: 

Eucaris amazonica, flowers in high summer, usually around February, with pure white flowers with a green cup centre, almost daffodil-like.

Eucahris%2Bamazonica.jpg

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden designer from Paradisus garden design. www.dgnblog.peternixon.com.auwww.paradisusgl.peternixon.com.au     

 

Instagram paradisus_sea_changer FB Paradisus Garden Design

If you have any questions or feedback for me or Peter about these bulbs, why not write in to realworldgardener@gmail.com or info@peternixon.com.au

Warm Bulbs for a Sheltered Northern Aspect in Design Elements

July 24th, 2021

 DESIGN ELEMENTS

Warm Bulbs What Are They?

Spring flowering bulbs like daffodils, tulips, freesias, bluebells, to name a few are all bulbs from the northern hemisphere. They do best in cool climates and once the main spring show is over, there's nothing left to excite.

  • It's time to changeup or simply extend the flowering season to what garden designer Peter Nixon terms 'warm bulbs.' 
  • These come from warmer climates such as South Africa and South America, therefore are more suited to a large part of eastern Australia-the 'cool sub trops.' (Cool sub-tropical).
  • The other benefits of these spectacular bulbs are that they flower much later and longer;  late spring into summer and even autumn.
Thunia%2Bmarshalliana%2B%25282%2529.jpg
Thunia marshalliana photo P Nixon

Warm Bulbs part 3-Northern Aspect with Shelter

So what do you plant in your shady area perhaps under trees where there’s usually dry shade?
As long as it’s not gloomy, such as really dense shade.

These bulbs are not for the harsh western aspect of exposed to harsh winds.
Thunia marshalliana from northern Thailand. 
Expect to see a cycle where it dies down before fresh new leaves come through in spring, with flowers appearing in summer. 
The leaves remind me somewhat of a crucifix orchid in the shape and configuration. 
The flowers are a standout white with a slight fragrance and grow atop long arching canes.
You could grow these in a large hanging basket so you could see the flowers from below.
  • When in growth, apply plenty of orchid fertiliser.
  • Propagation is super easy; just like for the keikis (baby plantlets) at the ends of canes, and cut of and pot up.
Worsleya procera commonly known as the Red fox orchid  or  lavender hippeastrum.

Worsleya%2Bprocera%2Bblue%2Bhippeastrum.jpg
Worsleya procera

One of the world's rarest bulbs originating from Rio de Janeiro.

Flowering can take  up to 7 years !
Leaves are deep green that have an unusual curvature giving them a sculptural look.
Listen to the podcast, it's rather long but very interesting.

Species Hippeastrum: Not your ordinary hippies!

Don't go past species Hippeastrum that originate for the most part, in south America.

  • All of course are in Amaryllidaceae family.
Hippeastrum%2Bpapilio%2Bbutterfly%2Bhippie.jpg
Hippeastrum papilio
You won't find much information about these hippeastrums in general so take note.
Some of these can grow as epiphytes in their natural environment!
  • In the ground, they need superb drainage but not under trees unless the canopy is quite high, say 2-3 metres above the bulb.
Start your collection with the Hippeastrum papilio 
or  green Hippeastrum calyptratumHippeastrum%2Bcalyptratum-green%2Bhippi.jpg
 
Peter outlines quite a few of the species hippeastrums so have a listen to the podcast.

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden designer from Paradisus garden design. www.dgnblog.peternixon.com.auwww.paradisusgl.peternixon.com.au     

 

Instagram paradisus_sea_changer FB Paradisus Garden Design

If you have any questions or feedback for me or Peter about these bulbs, why not write in to realworldgardener@gmail.com or info@peternixon.com.au

Warm Bulbs pt. 4-

South African Bulbs for a Harsh Western Aspect in Design Elements

July 24th, 2021

Warm Bulbs pt. 2-Harsh Western Aspect 

Every garden has an aspect that’s hard to plant out because it’s either too shady or too harsh and dry or even spot that receives hot western sun .
Today I’m focusing on bulbs that can give you a long display in the warmer months but have evolved to withstand hot and dry months.

haemanthus%2B%25282%2529.JPG
Haemanthus coccineus photo M Cannon

These bulbs originate where they are not exposed to very cold winters but have evolved to withstand hot dry conditions.

The bulbs in this group are in the Amaryllidaceae family which consists of mainly bulbs with long strappy leaves. The flowers are usually in an umbel-like cluster on a short or long scape.

 
Quite a few are known to have large showy flowers.
Haemanthus coccineus or 'blood lily likes an exposed location. 
 
It will refuse to flowers if in a shady, lush location. 
Don’t be like me and put the blood lily in too much shelter so the leaves grow long and the flower season trigger is missed.
  • A dead give-away is if the leaves are quite long and extended, then the bulb is in too much shade.

If you live in Adelaide, say a couple of streets back from the beach such as in Brighton, then expect your 'blood lily' to take off like mad. The low humidity and winter rains are a perfect climate for this bulb.

Haemanthus%2Bcoccineus%2Bx%2BH%2Balbifloss%2Bpink%2Bblood%2Blily.jpg
 
You can also look for the interspecific hybrid of Haemanthus albifloss x H. coccineus
If you love the shape of tulip flowers, then plant a row of these bulbs which will flower summer to autumn.
Brunsvigia%2Bgregaria.jpg
Brunsvigia greagaria 
 
Brunsvigia gregaria which has agapanthus like flower on steroids in a crimson coloured bloom.
Or even the combined genus of brunsvigia and amaryllis ending up with Amarygia.

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast with Peter Nixon
 from Paradisus garden design.

Snails and Dahlias in Plant Doctor

July 22nd, 2021

 PLANT DOCTOR

What's Wrong With My Dahlias?

Dahlias are collectible in that once you start growing them, it's hard to not to want more every time you look at a plant catalogue.

If you want more proof, then look no further than the dahlia societies www.dahliasaustralia.org.au which exist in four states, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
Dahlia%2BPink.jpg

 

But dahlias need some looking after if you want perfect show quality blooms.

One horror is holes in leaves of your precious plants.
What could cause that?
One culprit could be caterpillars or grasshoppers.
Another is one of the worst marauders appear in just about every garden,  and every gardener wants them to be gone.
IMG20180406083330.jpg
  • Snails is what I’m talking about, those slimy leaf munching pests that multiply rapidly and even climb shrubs and trees.
  • Did you know that inside a snail's mouth there is a file-like 'radula' that scrapes the leaves and flowers.
  • Snails are also hermaphrodite, meaning that after mating, each of them can go off and lay eggs, up to 100!

Snail Patrol or Control:

So, what do you do to try and reduce their numbers?
The big tip is to be vigilant and control their numbers before they outnumber your plants.
 
Copper sprays are good to control those small snails that have climbed up into the foliage.
Coffee sprays are also known to control snails.
 
General prevention or control-bit of a mixed bag as to their effectiveness.
  1. Classic beer trap
  2. Diatomaceous earth
  3. Ring of ash.
  4. Crushed eggshells
  • Thin copper tape is better to control snails climbing up into pots or into trees.
One thing we forgot to mention is that natural predators like ducks or blue tongue lizards are a great help.

You may not want ducks, but you can think about creating a blue tongue lizard friendly garden.
That’s in another segment.
let’s find out.

PLAY: Snails & dahlias_16th June 2021

I'm talking with Steve Falcioni of www.ecoorganicgarden.com.au

If you want more information about snails or have some feedback why not email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Why Have Leaf Blowers in Tool Time

June 25th, 2021

 TOOL TIME

Blower Vacs: Leaf Blowers: You Know You Hate them.

For many years I resisted buying a blower or blower vac because not only the noise emitted by these devices is deafening, but I felt that sweeping leaves would be more productive, not to mention quiet.

 
You can just imagine the 'swoosh, swoosh' of the rake as it sweeps up piles of leaves.  
But do you find raking leaves instead of blowing them therapeutic or just a chore?  
blower%2Bvac-without%2Bbag.jpg
 

On the other hand and let’s face it, you’ve probably seen so many instances of people, not necessarily gardeners, just blowing their leaves out into the street so that there neighbours get the leaves with the next guest of wind.

That kind of behaviour has given leaf blowers a bad rap.
Sure you're exercising more than using an electrical or petrol driven device, but is it really the best way to use up your valuable time instead of the multitude of garden tasks?

Apart from the noise, is that all there is to leaf blowers and blower vacs?
Straight blowers can be hand held or back packs as seen by commercial operators.

  • Battery operated leaf blowers can be as light as 2.5kgs which makes them very light to use.
  • When buying a leaf blowers, consider how much air volume and air speed you might want for your purchase.
  • Perhaps you want a blower vac, that sucks up the leaves and gets mulched by the impeller inside the bag.
  • The leaves get chopped up, not always that finely, but still you get a reduction in the amount of leaf matter that gets sucked up.A good average amount of leaf reduction is 5 bags to 1 bag.
Well how things change.
I admit to having used a blower vac to vacuum up leaves on hard surfaces and to some extent in garden beds.

I love the fact that leaves are mulched up and can be put straight onto the compost pile.

PPE and Safety
To use blowers and blower vacs always use right protective:gear-ear muffs or ear plugs, and safety glasses, gloves, strong shoes, full length trousers or overalls and long sleeves.

Listen to the podcast

I'm talkingTony Mattson, general manager of www.cutabovetools.com.au

If you have any questions about blower vacs or have some feedback, why not write in to realworldgardener@gmail.com

Real World Gardener Growing Bananas part 2 in The Kitchen Garden

June 25th, 2021

Growing Bananas part 2

Harvesting your bananas

Now it's time to get down to the pointy end of growing bananas.
It is really easy to grow those banan plants so don't be discouraged.

  • You may remember that the banana plant is actually the world’s largest herb and the stem is known as false stem or pseudo stem because it consists of compact cluster of overlapping and spirally arranged leaf sheaths.
  • No bark, or cambium layer at all.

So what else is there to banana growing?

How much fertiliser?
To get your bananas ready for harvest, fertilise your banana plants well.
Fertilise well with a bucket of organic fertiliser around the base every month in the warmer months.

Or the permaculture way is to dig a pit right next to the trunk and put in fresh food scraps. Cover well so your chickens or rats and mice can't dig the scraps up.It does take quite a while, up to 6 months for the bananas to ripen after the fruits appear.
You can take down the whole bunch, but for the home gardener, that is too many bananas that will ripen at once.

  • Instead, take off a single hand at a time, and bring them into the kitchen to ripen.
growing-bananas.jpg
  • Looking at the photo on the right, you can see that there are layers  or groups of bananas that make up the whole bunch.
  • Each layer can consist of up to 10 or more individual bananas or 'fingers' that are connected at the same point. This layer is called a 'hand.'
  • Several hands make up a banana bunch.
Fertilise well with a bucket of organic fertiliser around the base every month.
Or the permaculture way is to dig a pit right next to the trunk and put in fresh food scraps. Cover well so your chickens or rats and mice can't dig the scraps up.
 
The big tip is to be patient because it can take up to 6 months before your bananas become ripe.

The other tip is the whole bunch is harvested when the angles on the fruit have almost disappeared and the fruit is evenly filled.

You can also take off a hand of bananas and see if they ripen in your kitchen perhaps in a brown paper bag.
Have a listen to the podcast.

I'm talking with Toni Salter https://theveggielady.com/growing-backyard-bananas/
If you want more information about bananas why not email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Growing Bananas part 1 in Kitchen Garden

June 25th, 2021

KITCHEN GARDEN

Banana%2Bflower%2Band%2Bfruit%2B1.jpg

Banana Growing parts 1 & 2

Did you know that bananas are the world's largest herb. Have you ever wondered if it would be possible to grow your own bananas?

 You may have seen the plants for sale in a couple of plant catalogues and thought to give it a try, but never got around to it.
Would it help if I told you that a number of gardeners around Australia already do it and it’s surprisingly not that difficult.
  • I'm growing the sugar banana or "Musa 'Ducasse.' The flower is pictured here and yes, it's a big plant.
  • The trunk is actually layers of tissue that are wrapped like a swiss roll.
The key to fruiting is keeping the amount of stems or suckers down to a manageable number so the plant doesn't take over your garden.
 
A good number is three which includes the mother plant which has an active flowers on it, then one sucker ,and a smaller sucker.
  • Get rid of all the others by chopping them to the ground.
Once the mother plant has finished flowering, it won't produce anymore, so cut the stem to the wrong and mulch it up for the garden.
 
Banana%2Bflower%2Band%2Bfruit%2B2.jpg
Banana 'Ducasse' growing in my garden photo M Cannon
 

NOTE: You have to buy banana plants from a QABN-Quality Approved Banana Nursery, that way you are buying a disease free plant.

You can't just take a sucker from somebody else's garden.

Bananas do like a lot of moisture so during periods of drought, the banana plant do not throw as many flowers.
 
The other suggestions which I thought was worth a try, is to bury some kitchen scraps in the ground near the main stem of your banana plant.
 
Have a listen to find out more.  
 

If you want more information about bananas why not email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

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