Archive of: Organic Composts
Landscaping Tips: Which Is Better? Cultivars Vs Varieties
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‘Cultivar’ and ‘Variety’ are two terms used by gardeners and horticulturalists that form a part of the scientific name of a plant that describes its characteristics. Asking which is better out of cultivars and varieties is a difficult question to answer, as they each have differing characteristics, which may or may not be suited to the gardener or landscaper who is using the plant.
In terms of how often they are used, and which is used more by landscapers today, some horticulturalists believe that there are more cultivars being planted than varieties but this cannot be easily verified. Additionally, when it comes to the naming of plants, sometimes gardeners and horticulturalists can be lazy in how they write this information, so this can be even more confusing. The best way we can assist you in answering this question is to provide an overview of each type, and perhaps you will be able to make a decision for yourself as to which you feel is better for your garden.
The word ‘cultivar’ is a shortened term for a cultivated variety, which is a plant that has not been propagated by seed, but rather through human intervention such as via stem cuttings. The offspring of a cultivar will maintain the characteristics of the parent plant for only one generation. This means that the seeds from this plant are not guaranteed to have the same characteristics of the plant from which they came.
An example of this is if the cultivar has a particular colour of flower that is sought by the landscaper. Rather than being able to save seeds from the plant at the end of the season, the landscaper would need to buy a new plant as the seeds that the current plant produces would not be guaranteed to produce offspring with the same characteristics as its parent plant. The advantage of using cultivars is that you may find plants with characteristics that are desirable, such as a particular colour of flower or aroma, which you would not find in a variety.
The word ‘variety’, which is often abbreviated as ‘var’, refers to plants that grow and reproduce naturally. The seeds of these plants are more likely to produce offspring that have the same characteristics as their parent plant, for example, if the parent variety had purple flowers, the seeds that are produced from the plant will most likely have the same. Because cultivated varieties are patented by the plant developer, they might cost a bit more than varieties that grow and reproduce naturally, which makes varieties often cheaper to buy.
For more information about the different types of plants that we have at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre, come in and talk to one of our experienced gardeners.
A Guide for Gardeners – Soil and Nutrient Management
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In the same way that we test the soil before we lay the foundations of a house, the preparation that you put into your garden lays the foundation for the quality and quantity of your yield. This depends largely on the health of the soil in which you plant your garden, so getting the soil right is the most important step to having plenty of healthy vegetables, herbs and other plants.
One easy assessment that will provide you with some important information about the health of your soil can be done simply by viewing the colour of the soil. Dark brown or black soil indicates the presence of decaying organic matter, which means that the soil is likely to be quite fertile. Pale-coloured or yellow soil shows that there is a lack of organic matter and nutrients so the soil will need organic matter added to bring it up to where it needs to be for growing healthy plants. Red soil indicates the oxidising of iron compounds and although this soil will have good drainage, it will need the addition of organic matter and nutrients before planting.
Healthy soil is alive with vitality and provides food for the plants to ‘eat’ while they are growing. Organic matter is responsible for this life and vitality and this is where the nutrients for the soil live. It also holds moisture and attracts microorganisms and earthworms, which assist the fertility and structure of the soil. Organic matter consists of anything that was once alive such as compost, manure, mulch, lawn clippings and leaf matter.
Testing your soil for nutrients is a good way of working out what it needs and how you can provide it. Different fertilisers have various chemical compounds so testing the soil will give you an idea about which one is needed for the different plants you are growing.
Another way that you can provide nutrients for your soil, apart from organic matter, is through adding water soluble fertilisers. Nitrogen fertilisers need to be added frequently in small doses, so that the plants have time to use them without the fertilisers making the soil too acidic, which will burn the roots of the plant. Organic fertilisers such as manure will release nutrients slowly, and give the plant time to use them.
For more information about getting your soil as healthy as it can be, come in and talk to one of our experts at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre today.
Urban Gardening: How to Begin Composting
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Living on a farm makes it a lot easier to grow your own food and compost your scraps to produce more food – thereby continuing the cycle of growth and renewal. But often it is the case that for those living in urban areas, it is a lot more challenging to have the motivation and know-how of doing these things. The restrictions of space and time often prevent urban dwellers from knowing where to start with composting. However, achieving the dream of being as self-sufficient as possible, no matter where you live, is an attainable lifestyle choice.
Don’t Waste Anything
When someone dies and you attend a funeral, often somewhere during the proceedings you will hear the line “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”. This could refer to the idea that organic matter comes from the earth and returns to the earth. In the funeral context we remember that humans are made of organic matter – we are raised from the earth, and return to it once we are finished with our physical bodies.
Every organic item (and some non-organic items) that you come into contact with, have the ability to go back into the cycle and become something else. So start thinking outside the box. Look at things from the perspective of ‘how can this be used’ before throwing it in the bin.
Save Your Scraps
Preparing a healthy meal usually produces a bunch of vegetable scraps that are often thrown away into the bin where they go to landfill, and rot away next to a plastic bag or a disposable nappy. In this scenario, their use is limited and the cycle ends when they rot and become nothing. However, saving your vegetable scraps and composting them allows you to produce something from what would normally be discarded. Compost scraps can become food for your plants, so you can eat again, and again and again, from the same organic matter.
Compost does not need to be something that takes up a lot of space in your garden, especially if you have a limited area to use for what you want to do. Having a compost bin in the corner of your garden provides somewhere for you to throw your scraps, where they can become of use. Composting assists you in turning your vegetable scraps into fertiliser for your plants.
Did you know that worms love to eat your scraps? Worms will eat breads and grains, vegetables and fruits, as well as tea bags and coffee grounds. They turn this organic waste into rich soil that can be used for growing fresh food. You can easily create a worm farm with a little know how, and they do not take up much space, making them the ideal compost buddies for those living in urban areas.
Tips To Get Your Plants To Grow Fast
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There are few things in life that are as rewarding as planting a garden, watching it grow and enjoying the fruits of your labour. The joy of watching something that you have planted come to life right before your eyes is a joyous experience. As each new shoot opens itself to the morning sun and gradually stretches and grows, you will be able to watch its progress and delight in its journey. Like any new birth, there are many different ways of going about the process, but a few helpful tips can assist you in getting the most out of your plants.
Prepare the Ground
In pretty much anything that you undertake, there usually always needs to be the foundational preparations that create the space for the evolution of new growth. You would not place a newborn baby into a dirty cot, with harsh scratchy blankets, and the same goes with newborn plants. If the ground is dull or lifeless, or has had chemicals used around it previously, it will not produce the best yield that it can. So the first step to growing healthy, fast growing plants is to prepare the ground.
Fertilise the Soil
One way to prepare the ground is to have a look at the soil and ascertaining what it might need, to prepare it for growing plants. If the soil is too dry or too wet, it will not be a good place for the plants to flourish in. Prepare the ground by aerating the soil regularly for a few days and adding some organic matter into the soil. This could be done by mixing in vegetable scraps, mushroom or any other compost, or buying specific fertilisers such as dynamic lifter. Keep turning the ground over and water it regularly until it starts to show signs of life. Once the soil is looking healthy, it will be ready for you to plant.
Grow Your Own Seedlings
Another way of helping your plants to grow fast is to grow your own seedlings. Placing seeds directly into the soil can take a lot longer than if you germinate them inside the house, or in a green area where conditions are monitored closely. Plants that have had this start in life will be strong when they meet the harsh elements of being outside and they will have more chance of flourishing.
For more tips on how to get your plants growing fast or to pick up some healthy seedlings to get your garden started, come and see us at the Bacchus Marsh and Redgum Garden Centre.
Using Mushroom Compost
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Organic composts, such as mushroom compost and soil are a natural way to add goodness back into the soil without adding in a ton of hazardous chemicals.
Where Does Mushroom Compost Come From?
It is a by-product of mushroom farming and is a mixture of various materials used in farming such as straw, poultry litter and hay, amongst others. These products are converted into a nutrient dense mixture that is used as a base for growing mushrooms.
Once the mushrooms have been harvested, this material is harvested and processed.
Why is Compost Good for the Soil?
Used in a proper manner, organic compost will nourish soil that is marginal or poor and provide nutrients for plant growth. The compost changes the make-up of the soil and helps not only to add nutrients but also to break up and aerate the soil. This improves drainage and microbial activity in the soil, thus improving it overall.
What is so Special about Mushroom Compost?
Mushroom compost tends to look a lot like dark topsoil and has a loose structure. It smells earthy and rich. Pennsylvania State University has proved that mushroom compost is made up of an average of 25% organic material and almost 60% moisture.
This makes it ideal for mixing with soil and handling. The nitrogen content of mushroom compost is around 1.12% and it is in a form that is easily absorbable by plants. It also has an ideal pH for most plants and it is a stable and mature organic compost.
How Much to Use?
You should aim for a uniform application of approximately a three-inch thickness on the surface. This should then be worked into the soil below.
Make sure that you work it into the soil properly to ensure that salts in the compost are properly diluted. Also be sure to get a proper lab analysis from your supplier to ensure that you are receiving a good quality product.
What about Weeds?
Before the compost is taken out, the entire inside of the mushroom house is steam-treated in order to get rid of any possible seeds, pests or pathogens. It is important to ensure that the mushroom compost has been properly treated and has not been left outside where it could be exposed to various seeds and pathogens spread by the elements.
Even if the soil is steam-cleaned, if it is left out for too long, it is possible that it can become contaminated with weed seeds again.