Archive for August, 2010

A few Worm Truths

August 27th, 2010

It has been wet down here in Melbourne,  I have been surfing the net and I thought I would share a few interesting things I discovered about our little garden friend – the worm.  Some people say that when you cut a worm in half, you will have two worms.  Sadly, this is not true.  I thought I should share this information with you all, before you head out into the garden and make a terrible mistake with your shovel.  This myth comes about from the fact that the dear little earthworm has 3 to 5 hearts, but the little worm needs all its hearts, and unless the cut is made close to the tail, a severed worm will die.

isn't he cute?

All earthworms are true hermaphrodites, with both male and female parts.  Any two compost worms of breeding age can fertilise each other every which way and produce eggs, each of which can contain up to twenty compost worms.  They hatch in twenty-one days in good conditions, but if hard times come, and things are looking bad for the worm farm, the little eggs can remain dormant for months or even years until good times come again.

Under ideal conditions, worm populations can double every couple of months.

Compost worms usually won’t survive in the open garden, unless the soil is very well mulched and you do not have any ducks.  However, if they are placed under mulch, they can be ‘lured’ from one spot to another by building tunnels or paths of mulch – manure and newspaper for example.  Provided there is organic material on the surface, they will travel vast distances to go wherever the food source is richest.  They are quite adventurous in that way, brave little worms that they are!

If you invest in a worm farm the worms would like me to tell you that worms don’t like onion, garlic, citrus, and they don’t like fat or oil.  Also, to please remember they have very small mouths!  If your worms get pale and anaemic-looking they might be living in too acid conditions.  A little (very little, just a dash) of lime or wood ash dissolved in water and watered over the top of the farm can help peck them up.

Well, thats all I have to share today.  Happy gardening!

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August 17th, 2010

I have been having heaps of fun over the last few months experimenting with cuttings.  You don’t really need money to enjoy gardening.  My cuttings have provided me with plants for free.  Of course, visiting a nursery and buying plants there is fun too, but gardens do not have to be bought.  They can be collected, with love and happiness, just as our mothers and their mothers did,  way back in a chain that goes back thousands of years.  In fact, even today, friendships are made through garden clubs and chats over fences where cuttings are exchanged.  It is a great way to meet neighbours!

my cuttings growing well

Garden plants need not cost a lot or even anything at all if you grow it yourself.  Start with a cutting or a seed and you have got a plant for nothing!  I have a tiny nursery outside the back door.  It is the place where I stick cuttings and seeds into pots, it is not tidy and neat but it is a place where I experiment and have fun.  One of the best things about cuttings and seeds is that you can afford to experiment – if it drops dead it doesn’t really matter, you haven’t lost anything, but when it grows, it makes you feel really excited.  I am always amazed and excited when the seeds I plant begin to shoot up. 

If you use non hybrid seed then you can save the seed from the plants you grow to use again the next season.  This is real old fashioned gardening at its best. 

Happy gardening!

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August Plant

August 15th, 2010

Daphne [Thymelaeaceae]

Sweet Daphne

My gorgeously perfurmed and most treasured of shrubs for the winter the Daphne is covered in fragrant flowers at the moment.  The perfume drifts across the yard while I hang out the washing and meets me late in the evening when I go outside to tuck the ducks up in their cosy pen. 

Daphne Odora

Growing daphne can be a heartbreaking job as they will sometimes give up the ghost for no apparent reason and suddenly die, despite all the care you lavish upon them.   What they need is the right spot, no where else will do aparently, and if you find them the place where they are happy, they are very easy plants to care for. 

The Daphne loves morning sunshine, but likes a shady retreat in the afternoon.  These ladies also like a well drained position and don’t like to get too wet, or in the summer too dry – but too wet and they get collar rot, to combat this you need to plant your daphne in a raised garden bed and make sure the root junction is above soil level.  In the summer don’t hover about watering and loving it every day, but let the soil dry out in between the waterings. 

bring a little inside to enjoy

Little Daphne loves, loves, loves old manure or compost gently worked into the surface back around the drip line, but be careful not to dig around to close to the roots, Daphne does not care to be disturbed!  And, whatever you do, do not give her any lime, she does not care for that at all.

Reading over the above, I am amazed at how well my daphne is doing, all things considered.   But, if you can find a spot where they are happy, it is truely a wonderful investment to have a Daphne somewhere near your back door.

Happy Gardening.

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The Heap

August 12th, 2010

This morning I headed out to the compost bin and gave it a bit of a stir with my trusty fork, then gave up on the fork and got stuck into it with a stake.  It never fails to make me feel better, both I and the heap give off a good bit of steam.

When I was first learning about gardening, I put my hand on the top of a compost heap one chilly morning and I remember the shock I got to find it warm.  It was like a living thing.  It seemed to me to be a wonderful thing that a heap of rubbish and manure should become a living, steaming thing.  I still feel this today.

This winter I have built a very good compost heap.  More organised than other years with layers, sort of.  I have put in weeds, kitchen scraps, leaves, duck poo & the shredded remains of my old tax files.  I feel a sort of pride as I mush it about, it is very nearly ready!  Excitment +

There is a science in compost but there is also alchemy, a kind of magic.   The things I have learned about compost make up a corner of bigger lessons about life itself.  Everything that lives must die.  Everything decays.  Life springs from death.  These are matters at the heart of things, and at the heart of the compost heap.  A compost heap is all about life from death, but it is also about muck and muck is the stuff of life.  If  life is getting a bit on the mucky side I recommend going out to the heap and giving it a good old going over with the fork!

Happy gardening.

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August Jobs

August 8th, 2010

Aquilegia (the sweet little Columbine)

There is much to do in August.  For a beginning I need to get out and buy some Aquilegia seedlings.  I just love these flowers and now is the time to plant them.  They are very rewarding too as they seem to self seed in the garden, but, I need more in different colours!  You can also plant out snapdragons, foxglove and larkspur if the mood takes you.  Yes, folks, time to get ready for spring!

broad beans in my vege patch

I also need to get busy in my humble vege plot.  Looking a little worse for wear at the moment.  I intend to follow up the dolomite lime I put on last month with some cow or sheep manure.  Of course, first to find a cow or sheep!  So, a trip out to the country must be planed, where you just might happen to  drive past the signs that say  Cow Manure $5 a bag.  My children won’t come on these trips with me any more, even though I keep it a secret as to the real purpose of the trip, they complain about the smell in the car on the way home.  So it will be a lonely trip for me.  Should I still take the picnic lunch?  The up side is that there will be no one to complain should I take in a couple of nurserys on the way. 


Did you know that you can buy Dynamic Lifter in tablets?  While wandering around in Bunnings I discovered this.  The packet assured me that they are totally organic slow release fertiliser.  But I did not purchase any because, well, truth to tell, it just didn’t feel right to just put one tablet under my tree.  I enjoy forking around under the lemon to loosen the soil and then spreading the bag of whatever on top.  To tell the truth I even enjoy the smell.  A tablet just won’t do the same thing for me, never mind the tree!

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Some little pots I prepared earlier…

August 5th, 2010

Dpmt you just love tiny daffodils?

Remember that layer bulb pot I did way back in March?  Well, the little gems have all popped up and are doing their very best to brighten up dull winter days with their cheerful little yellow flowers!  Don’t you just love it when things work out?  Bulbs can be like that.  Plant and forget, then enjoy the surprise when they do their thing.  Spring really is on its way!

Someting for nothing!

The hydrangea cuttings I popped into a pot when I was cutting back my hydrangeas have all got leaves on them too.  So, plants for nothing!!!  Very pleased with that, if I do say so myself!  And I do!

Another surprise waited down in the back corner of the garden, the old potato pot.  The story here is that while cleaning out my pantry I came across an old potato beginning to sprout.  It was trying so  very hard I thought I would give it a hand and so put it into a big black pot and covered it with some old compost.  I have done this little trick before and it is always worth giving it a go. 

This potato plant will give me a pot of potatoes later

As the plant grows you just cover the poor little thing with soil or compost or hay until you get to the top of the pot.  The potato plant gets into the game by pushing up leaves and putting out roots into the new soil all the way to the top of the pot.  Then you have a potato plant to enjoy, and really they are pretty just like that.  But there is more.  Not at this stage but soon….The potato flowers in spring, spreading roots all the while then dies, and you are left with a pot of potatoes!  As well as the potatoes you get some super improved soil to use in the vege plot.  Talking of which, my broad beans have started getting flowers.  Very exciting!

Happy gardening.

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The August Garden

August 2nd, 2010

Primulas cheer you on a dull day

August means the primulas are flowering – and primulas grown by the front door mean good luck to all inside.  Naughty, malicious fairies won’t go past a bed of primulas – they stay and play amongst them instead.  That is the fairy lore, and whether you believe it or not you cannot argue that the blaze of colour that the primulas add to a garden on a dreary winter’s day will cheer anyone up.

rosemary in full flower

My Rosemary bush is flowering right now as well, and Rosemary is the herb of friendship and remembrance.  The scent of rosemary really does stimulate most peoples’ memory, in folklore it is an emblem of remembrance.  A bush of rosemary by the back door means you have always got a very handy herb for seasoning your lamb.  I like to put a bunch of rosemary under the chicken when I pop it into the oven.  The subtle scent is wonderful and flavours the bird right through.


Another plant that is flowering in my garden now are the Proteas.  These perennial shrubs are suitable for most areas, but it is best to choose one suited to your very own.  They are one of the glories of autumn and winter, with great massive blooms that you would pay several dollars each for at the florist – but nothing at all if you grow your own. 

The jonquils are out now and the camellias are still covered in flowers.  The small violets are still smiling in amongst their leaves and the hellebores are looking very happy.  It is a busy time in the garden with much to see and enjoy

Happy gardening.

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