Real World Gardener Creating Habitat for Native Bees in The Good Earth

August 26th, 2020

THE GOOD EARTH

Building Habitat for Native Bees

This year, gardening has been taken up by many people who have never gardened before.
But that’s not all, worm farming, keeping chickens and bee-keeping have become more popular because people are spending more time at home. 
You probably know there are honey bees and Australian native bees. 
But which type of bees pollinate your crops better or is there no difference?
Let’s find out.. 
I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska of www.mosshouse.com.au 

Margaret suggests build habitat for the native bees because they are so much better at pollinating your flowers, in particular veggies in the tomato family, than honey bees. 

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  • Building native bee habitat can be bricks made from clay, or wood and other materials.

Margaret's Clay Bricks Recipe

Mix clay with water then 2 or 3 parts of sand.
Margaret then pours the mix into moulds. One litre milk containers say from rice milk.
When dry she drills various size holes into these 'clay' bricks and places them strategically around the garden.
  • For 'blue banded bees,'  or even 'teddy bear bees,' drill holes 6mm in size and 6cm deep. The bees will excavate the holes further.
  • Bees will also next in bricks where the mortar has worn out. 

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Most native bees are dormant or die during the Australian winters.

Flower are important from spring onwards.
Plant flowering trees with small flowers such as melaleucas or paperbarks.
  • Borage is also an excellent plant for bees because it has a high percentage of protein and sugar in the pollen and nectar.

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  • Perennial basil is also fantastic for not only attracting bees but hover flies and other beneficial insects to the garden.
  • Why not also let some parsley or coriander go to seed.
  • Provide some water for the bees-not deep, and include some pebbles so the bees don't drown. Plant saucers are ideal for this purpose.
  If you have questions for Margaret about keeping native bees, or have information to share, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com

Real World GardenerHow to Create a Hot Compost on The Good Earth

July 25th, 2020

THE GOOD EARTH

Hot Compost

 

How many of you out there still do not have a composting system of some kind?

There’s no excuse, even if you only have a small balcony, everyone should be composting their kitchen scraps instead of it going to landfill.

  • You just need some space for your compost.
  • you could have compost bays, compost bins, or any structure that can hold up to 1 cubic metre of compost.
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Compost bins at Margaret's House: Photo by Margaret Mossakowska

 

There’s so many systems out there to accommodate all kinds of limitations that you might have.

You can even make a compost heap without building or buying anything.

I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska from www.mosshouse.com.au

Let’s find what to do .

 

Vermin: put Rapid mesh under you bins if you have rodents invading your compost.

Alternatively, put food scraps into a worm farm, and use you compost bins just for green waste.

Worm farm that is smelly:

  • Too many food scraps will make the worm farm smelly and anaerobic. Mainly nitrogen rich.

The way to fix it is to add more carbon rich material such as shredded newspaper, coffee chaff or straw.

note: coffee chaff is free by-product of coffee roasting, that is husks of coffee beans. You just need to ask.

Compost Bins/Bays

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  • To make a hot compost you need to assemble at least 1 cubic metre of material in one go.
  • Wait for it to heat up to 55-60 C, usually after 2-3 days, then you can turn it.
  • Use a compost thermometer so the compost doesn't get over 60 C. This temperature is enough to kill weed seeds and insect eggs.
  • Commercial compost is biologically dead because it is heated to  more than 70 C.
  • Ratios are important: 4 buckets of carbon rich material to 1 bucket of green clippings/food scraps.
  • Molasses can be added to compost to innoculate it, or use comfrey, nettles, nasturtium soaked in a bucket of water.

Margaret now runs workshops that you can attend without leaving your home because they’re via Zoom, that’s on your computer.

If you have any questions, why not email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

 

Real World Gardener Talking with Josh Byrne on Gardening beyond Isolation

June 26th, 2020

GARDENING IN ISOLATION AND BEYOND

 

Australians are turning to gardening in droves during the pandemic but there are pitfalls for new gardeners.

Help is at hand of course, and there are ways to keep gardening evening when things return to normal and gardeners may have less time to devote to their plants.

Let’s find out all about what to do.1.2_Josh_Byrne_A4_Print.jpg

I'm talking with Josh Byrne, presenter for Gardening Australia TV presenterand environmental scientist.

PLAY: Josh Byrne & Plant Pals_17th June 2020

 

I asked Josh these questions:-

Q1. What are the benefits of gardening? (it’s good to get another voice to mention these-often say it already on my radio show.)

A: Good fun, a great hobby that makes you feel good and great for mental health.

Q2. How much space do you really need to have a garden?

A:All depends on what you want to grow.

 All you need is a balcony with a bit of sun.

Urban block gardens can grow a fair percentage of the fruits and vegetables that you can consume.

Q3. Who are the new, novice and emerging gardeners of 2020?

A:People in the 25-35 age group, the millenials, who are spending more time at home.

Q4What are some of the common mistakes this new band of gardeners might make?  (eg, choosing the wrong plant for the location, sowing seed in the wrong season-I noticed the one nursery chain had out summer seedlings only last week).

A: Novice gardeners might put a plant in the wrong spot, or buy annual vegetables, either seeds or seedlings for growing at the wrong time of year. Overwatering or underwatering might cause plant death early.

Q5. It’s easy to get disheartened after a couple of failures, for example seed raising, plants getting eaten by bugs. What’s your advice?

Josh suggests, read the back of the seed packet or the instructions on the plant label.

Ask horticulturists at your local garden centre. There is also plenty of gardening blogs and gardening websites that can help with your gardening question.

Q6. When things get back to more like they used to be, what are the tips/suggestions to keep on gardening?

Don't forget about your plants just because your routine gets back to normal. Keep going now that you have a taste for it. If you hit a bit of a snag, don't worry, keep going and not be disheartened.

Q7. Tell me about Plant Pals. How did it come about?

Greenlife Industry Australia, the peak body for the production, supply and retail of greenlife has launched Plant Pals, an initiative designed to connect new, novice and emerging gardeners with greenlife experts.Plant Pals is a new campaign to keep Australians engaged in gardening as life slowly returns to normal following COVID-19 lockdowns. It's really about making sure gardeners both new and old are getting plenty of support in their gardening journey. Linking gardeners with plant suppliers, expert advice, blogs and podcasts.  Click on the link PLANT PALS

Q8. For those who haven’t started gardening, how can we get them interested? (perhaps join a community garden?)

Perhaps join a community garden, because they're a great place to connect with other like people in the local community. Vist local parks and botanic gardens to get more exposure to plants in wonderful settings.

 

If you have any questions of course, why not email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Creating Rain Gardens in The Good Earth

March 27th, 2020

THE GOOD EARTH

Rain Gardens or Flood Mitigation.

Rain isn’t always reliable so rather than letting it flow into the stormwater especially when there’s a deluge, there are ways to let slow the water. Bog%2Bgarden%2Bon%2Bnature%2Bstrip.jpg

Of course there’s rainwater tanks, but you may need more than what they can hold. 
You need to change your thinking and work out a way to keep water in your garden longer.
Let’s find out more. 

I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska, director of www.mosshouse.com.au 
Slowing the rush of water when there’s a deluge, will prevent your drains from backing up and possibly flooding your house. 

  • You can create rain gardens, wetlands or bog gardens.
If you have a spot in your garden where water likes to gather after rain, that's a good spot to create a bog garden.  It doesn't have to be any deeper than 10cm.
There are many Australian natives that would suit to grow in a bog garden.
Plants that suit for this situation are 
Marsh Flower (Villarsia exaltata), 
Purple Loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria), 
Tassel Sedge (Carex fascicularis), 
Jointed Twig-rush (Baumea articulata) and Water Ribbons (Triglochin procerum).

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Rain gardens are a filtering garden and aim to slow water from leaving your property.
Think of all that water gushing out of your downpipe going to the storm water, when instead, it could be passing through a rain garden.
Choose any container, such as half a rainwater tank, or any sort of large plastic container.
Have an overlow at least half way up rather than letting the soil at the top float away.
Put in lots of sand at the bottom with soil/compost on top. The rain should just percolate through this soil rather than rushing down the drain.
Reed and native grasses suit to be planted in this type of garden.
There’s a choice of rain gardens or bog gardens, it’s up to you. 
If you want to know more or if you have any questions about reed beds, rain gardens or flood gardens, why not email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.
 

Real World Gardener Unusual Trees in the Good Earth

March 3rd, 2020

THE GOOD EARTH

Unusual Trees for Your Garden
Do you have fruit or nut trees growing in your garden? 
Picking fresh fruits from your own tree, is a different experience altogether to buying the same produce from a shop.

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Moringa oleifera with seed pods

However, not everyone has the space for an orchard, and growing fruits in a small space may seem like a daunting task. 
With the right selection of fruits for small spaces, though, you can enjoy picking fruits off the tree in your own backyard. 

I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska director of www.mosshouse.com.au 

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Jabuticaba

Margaret mentioned Moringa olifeira or drumstick tree, horseradish tree or just miracle tree, is best in subtropical  dry, hot areas. Think arid regions, and you have the right environment. All parts of the tree are edible not just for us but as fodder for animals as well.
Jabuticaba or Brazilian grape tree is in the Myrtaceae family, along qith the allspice tree (Pimenta doica) and eucalypts.

The way the fruits grow is known as "cauliflory," in other words they grow up the trunk and branches of the tree.
 If you can grow Jacaranda you grow this tree. 
Acer saccharum or sugar maple for cooler districts. 
If you want to know more or if you have any questions about these unusual trees, why not email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Growing Plant Fibres in The Good Earth

October 31st, 2019

THE GOOD EARTH

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Luffa or loofah grows on a vine

Growing Plant Fibres

  • Did you know that there are lots of plants that may be used to produce plant fibre and many fibre plants are grown as field crops to make paper, cloth, and rope? 
  • But how easy is it to grow plant fibres? 
  • In this segment, you will find out that it's not only easy to grow these plants, but the fibre they produces is a sustainable source of products that you can use around the home.
 

Let’s find out what this is all about all about. 

I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska from www.mosshouse.com.au

These fibre plants are useful and easy to grow.

If you want a more sustainable bathroom sponge that you use, it can be grown in your garden.

Use the luffa for washing your dishes too.

After the luffa is finished with, throw it in the compost bin where it will break down; after all it's a plant fibre.

Growing luffa is dead easy, easy as long as you don’t confuse if for a cucumber or zucchini vine.

Don’t be like me, make sure you label the spot where you put those seeds in the veggie bed.

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Cotton plant

Then there’s the cotton bush which has pretty hibiscus type flowers.

Easy to grow and easy to harvest the cotton.

You just need to remove the large black seeds before you using it.

If you have any questions for me or for Margaret, why not write in to Realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Indoor Plants for Warm Climates in Design Elements

August 28th, 2019

DESIGN ELEMENTS

Indoor Plants for Warm Climates

The most important elements required for healthy houseplants include light, water, temperature and humidity.

If any or all of these factors aren’t properly met, your houseplants will inevitably suffer.

You might be sweltering under the fans in the heat of a subtropical summer but what about your indoor plants?

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Dieffenbachia

Can they cope or is this the climate where they thrive the best?

So let’s find out more in this new series on indoor plants.

I'm talking with Julia Levitt, Landscape Designer and Director of www.sticksandstonesld.com.au

The good news is that tropical plants usually enjoy warmer conditions and don’t perform well once indoor temperatures fall below 13-16 C.

Plus they like a lot of humidity, that means at least 50%, but better at 70% or more.

Most of the tropical, ornamental indoor plants with attractive foliage & colourful leaf patterns are suitable for hot & humid climates.

For example Dieffenbachia or Dumb Cane, Dracaena, house ferns of many kinds, Tricolor plant, snake plant, Philodendron, Money plant, Syngonium etc

Real World Gardener Woodash for the Garden in The Good Earth

August 1st, 2019

THE GOOD EARTH

Woodash and Charcoal for the garden

Winter time is when woodfires are burning in homes for warmth in all but tropical areas around the country.

Or perhaps you’ve been barbecuing or smoking some produce for the dinner table, and have some woodash?

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So what do you do with the leftover woodash and bits of charcoal?

Would you be thinking that the woodash and charcoal from the fire can or cannot be used in the garden? 

Let’s find out .

I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska of www.mosshouse.com.au 

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It turns out the woodash and charcoal are great amendments for your soil in the garden.

Charcoal are the black bits left over when the fire has died down. Essentially, it's the wood that hasn't been fully combusted.

Woodash is alkaline, so it’s great for those plants, such as from the onion family but not for Azaleas, Camellias, Rhododendrons and other acid loving plants.

Charcoal, on the other hand, is great for increasing the water holding capacity of your soil, and potting mix, plus it’s a home for microbes and fungi.

  • You can put your crushed charcoal in the worm farm, but not too much, otherwise the worms will be dessicated. 

Margaret suggests making a liquid slurry of the woodash before adding only a small amount.

If you have any questions for me or for Margaret, email us at rea.worldgardener@gmail.com.

Or you can write in to 2RRR PO Box 644, Gladesville NSW

Real World Gardener Gardening in Dry Soil in Backyard Biodynamics

September 6th, 2018

CKYARD BIODYNAMICS

Soil-Organic-Fertilizer-Compost-Garden-HGardening in Dry Soil: How to Make Your Soil Healthy

Is your soil healthy and full of earthworms or is it dry, degraded with no sign of anything living?

When you pick up a handful of soil, what colour is it and does it run through your fingers like sand, or stay in a big clump?

All of these things are important to know but here are some ideas to help improve your dry soil so your plants will be more vigorous and healthy. 

Let’s find out .

That was Diane Watkin, co-founder of Biodynamics Sydney.

PLAY: Gardening in Dry Soil_29th August 2018

Neglected soil, degraded soil, sandy soil, all of these possibilities add up to "lifeless dirt."

It's no good putting in a bagful of earthworms because they will surely perish as there is no food for the worms.

To encourage life back into your soil you need to add liquid in the form of compost eat, worm tea, seaweed tea or fish-head tea.

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Chelsea Physic Garden photo M Cannon

Also you need to add organic matter in the form of organic or biodynamic compost.

All these things will bring back the microbial life and encourage earthworms to return.

For those gardeners not able to access bio-dynamic compost and any of the preparations Diane talked about, the second best alternative is to use organic compost, especially home-made compost and some sort of seaweed tea, weed tea, or similar.

 

If you have any questions about improving your soil, either for me or for Diane, why not email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

 

Real World Gardener Native Lasiandra in Plant of the Week

July 5th, 2018

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Melastoma affine: Native Lasiandra: Blue Tongue

 

If you’re into your gardening and love the colour purple for flowers and perhaps fruits or foliage, then this little gem might surprise you.

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The reason is that it’s native to Australia but looks just like it’s exotic cousin from South America.

Let’s find out about it.

 

 

I'm talking with Karen Smith editor of www.hortjournal.com.au

 

Because this plant is indigenous to Australia, there are pollinators that can visit this plant successfully, unlike the Tibouchina which it resembles.

Here's how they do it.

Funnily enough, Melastoma produces no nectar - giving pollinators large amounts of pollen instead, which must be extracted through pores on the anthers.

The flowers are pollinated in the wild by carpenter bees - the Giant Carpenter Bee and the Metallic Green Carpenter Bee - they grab hold of the stamen (the bit that holds the pollen) and give it a good shake.

Introduced Honey Bees can't 'buzz pollinate' - they don't have the ability or technique to vibrate their wings while clasping the stamen.

So, they can only gather pollen if it has been already released onto the petals.

 

That’s why you’ll never see fruits on a Tibouchina but will, on a Native Lasiandra. 
Worth getting for that reason alone.

If you have a question either for me or the plant panel why not drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

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