Archive of: Organic Gardening
How to Treat Plants that are Infested with Pests
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If you have an infestation of pests on your plants, there is a good chance that you are providing comfortable conditions for them to be there through some means unbeknownst to you. Perhaps there are areas of your garden that are in need of care that provide places for insects to live and breed, with your plants being the feasting grounds. This can be very annoying if you are hoping to grow food for yourself to eat. First step—secure the perimeter!
Clear the areas around where your plant is growing, and ensure that your garden is in good health. Remove anything that is dying or looks like it may be infected or housing insects. Your best defence against an insect invasion is a healthy garden zone. Use natural composting methods to keep your plants strong and vibrant.
What Attracts Pests?
Usually pests are attracted to a specific plant, so rotating and interplanting your crops will assist with keeping infected plants quarantined rather than it spreading to all of them. Moisture that lingers on plants can cause fungus and other pests to take hold, so it is best to water them in the morning when they have all day for the moisture to dry.
Invite Friendly Pests
One way to combat a pest infection is to invite friendly pests to your garden by planting things that they like to eat. These beneficial pests include ladybugs, brachonids, lacewings, hover-flies and praying mantises. Different insects will be companions for your crop, depending on what you are planting. It often pays to do your research and find out which insects are the good ones to have around for that crop and invite them to the party by planting some of the plants that will attract them to the garden. They will then eat any pests that are trying to eat your crop, before it’s all gone!
While there is an array of different chemical solutions available for you to spray on your plants to protect them from pests, there is also the question of how safe the food will be after using them. Back in the old days, before chemicals were made in factories, people came up with their own remedies for combatting pests, which used ingredients that were found in the pantry. These include canola oil, soap, garlic and cayenne pepper, just to name a few. Do some research online for finding the right treatment for your infestation, or come and talk to our expert gardeners at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre.
How Much Do You Expect to Pay for a Professional Gardener?
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Often when we first design and put in a garden the enthusiasm is there in bucket loads, but for some of us either it begins to wane over time, or we just don’t have enough hours in the day to maintain it. If you are finding that you can no longer keep up with your garden, it might be time to look at getting in some professional help to keep it in good shape for you. One of the most frequently heard questions that we are asked at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre is what will a professional gardener do and how much would you expect to pay.
Services Offered by Gardeners
Depending on what level of gardening you want, there are many different services offered by gardeners that can include designing, landscaping and maintaining the whole garden for you. This can also include installing retaining walls, pavers and water sprinkler systems. If you simply want a gardener to come in on a regular basis and maintain the existing garden with weeding and clearing away refuse, that service is also available. Getting clear about exactly what you are seeking beforehand and what work needs to be done, will give you an idea about what you are going to be asking for.
Cost of Gardeners
Depending on what work you need done, prices can vary around $30 per hour for basic, semi-skilled labourers to do mowing, weeding, clearing and mulching. For professional garden services that are hired on a contract basis, usually the cost can be anywhere from $60 to $80 per hour. Often if there is a specific job that needs doing such as removing trees or installing a retaining wall, this will often be quoted as a flat rate, on a job by job basis. Talk to the staff at Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre for information about local gardeners’ referrals or information relating to what you might expect to pay for particular jobs.
What to Look for When Hiring a Gardener
Remember that when you hire a gardener you are essentially inviting them to come into your personal space, so you will want to choose someone who is trustworthy. If a gardener turns up for a job late, without the required safety gear, lacking in tools or generally causing you to question their work ethics, it might be a good idea to look somewhere else. There are some pertinent questions you can ask while you are on the phone booking them to ascertain whether they are the appropriate person before you give them the address. What services do you provide? Do you have insurance? How long will the job take? Can you provide a written quote? Do you have any references?
Organic Gardening as a Business
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With what we understand today about many of the practices of mainstream farming, we are aware that there are often several chemicals used in the production and growing of many of the fruits and vegetables we buy. It is for this reason that a growing number of people are changing to choosing organic produce in an effort to reduce the amount of toxins that we absorb into our bodies. This means that even the smallest organic growers now have the opportunity to sell their produce, whether in large amounts, or simply at smaller markets, or to neighbours and friends.
Before you start, it is a good idea to put some thought into what produce you would like to grow. This will mean working out what is sustainable for the amount of land that you have, as well as the climate where the plants will be growing. You may also want to take into account the other local growers in your area. Investigate whether you can fill a niche that they are not fulfilling with their own produce. It is also important to factor in how much time you are prepared to put into your growing business. Some crops will require more from you, while others such as squash, sunflowers and corn will practically take care of themselves as long as you keep the weeds down.
How to Grow
Organic farming is all about reducing the amount of chemicals used in the soil, by using natural ways of keeping weeds down, reducing pests and cultivating crops. Choosing your growing method for organic produce means doing some research and working out how you want to go about doing it. There are different methods involved for keeping pests at bay. One such method involves growing specific companion plants that invite good pests in to eat the ones that will destroy your crops. Do as much research as possible to find out what will work for you, as well as how to go about achieving success. Different plants will need different nutrients so ensure that the crop you are growing is getting everything it needs for optimal health of the plant and the best yield possible.
Where to Sell
If you live in rural areas, the honesty box outside your house is still a popular choice for selling organic produce, as well as farmers’ markets. Many cities and suburban areas now have organic farmers’ markets on weekends, which provide a perfect opportunity to sell all your tasty, chemical free produce to happy customers who will keep coming back.
When to Plant
Research the plants that you are thinking of growing, and the season that you want to grow them in, to ensure that the conditions will be the best for them. The moon planting guide is an excellent resource for knowing what to plant and when, so pick up a chart and follow it as a guide for the best times of the year for particular produce. Don’t forget to talk with other organic farmers whom you will find are an invaluable source of information, and stop by the Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre to talk to us about what we know about organic gardening practices.
Is Your Garden Bland? Increase The Interest Level With Natural Materials
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For centuries, gardens have been created to enhance the appearance of homes and buildings, large and small. From well-planned, formal and structured to rambling and free-spirited, gardens have been a very visual way of expressing creativity and providing a natural environment for us to enjoy.
Gardens Need More Than Plants to be Interesting
Regardless of the types of garden we all have, there is always room for improvement. An attractive garden isn’t just about what plants or shrubs we have planted, but about the overall appearance and the ambiance that it creates. To get the right look and feel for a particular area or climate, gardeners often include ponds, water features, seating areas and other interesting items such as pebbles and rocks.
In fact, the use of landscaping materials like rocks of various sizes, polished river pebbles and natural stone has given the modern garden an extra dimension. Careful placement of these pieces offer a contrast between their stark beauty and the soft and colourful effect of flowers and foliage.
Stones, Rocks and Pebbles Mirror the Natural Environment
Customers of Bacchus Marsh Redgum and Garden Centre see our range of decorative rocks and many of them return with sketches of their gardens. They can choose from three sizes of Tuscan pebbles and granite, and a range of scoria, white pebbles, rainbow rock, river rock and lightweight rock. Our friendly staff are always on hand to offer advice on the best type of rocks for the designs they have sketched.
Japanese Gardens – Peaceful Perfection
While rocks and pebbles have always been a part of garden designs in most parts of the world, it was the Japanese who brought their appreciation of rocks and their placement to the Western world. A walk through a genuine Japanese garden is a path to tranquility. There are no excesses of colour or mixing of styles or anything that is out of place.
Every piece is placed carefully to complement its surroundings and every rock serves the purpose of creating a three-dimensional picture individual to each garden. Placement is vital and great care is taken, especially with large rocks, to give the impression that they have been naturally dispersed in a random fashion. The effect is one of balance and harmony.
The Best of Both Worlds Together in Harmony
Home gardeners have incorporated the best of these ideas into their creations, with waterfalls, pebble gardens, statues and ponds all featuring alongside our lovely native plants. The natives attract our beautiful birds and the local wildlife find the rocks, pebbles and other landscaping materials a great place to hide from predators.
If you want a space like this in your back yard, we have all the rocks, pebbles and natural materials you need.
Solve Watering Problems By Knowing Your Plants
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Getting just the right amount of water into their plants to keep them healthy and growing has always been a challenge for most gardeners. We have all been guilty at some time of over-watering and having a favourite plant die from drowning, or finding a wilting plant, remembering too late that it was some time since it received any water.
Is there a Secret to Successful Garden Watering?
So what is the secret? Well, there is no secret, but the answer is a frustrating one – it depends. Knowing how often to water your plants means that you must also know what type of plants you have, as the watering requirements will differ from one type to another. It also means that you need to know how well your soil retains moisture.
If you are new to gardening, our staff members at Bacchus Marsh Redgum and Garden Centre are happy to recommend a range of mulches that will assist to keep the soil in your garden moist. We also have top soil, sandy loam, triple mix and mushroom compost and they will help you choose which is best for your particular needs.
Soil and Moisture Balance Only Half the Story
Getting the soil and moisture balance right, however, is only half the story. Mulches, for example, reduce evaporation especially in the summer months, so that the water used on the garden stays in the soil longer than it would without mulch. However, if regular watering is not done, the soil will still eventually dry up, with the obvious adverse effects on the plants.
A Regular Light Sprinkle or a Once-a-Week Deluge?
The number of times a week that watering should be done depends on the season, the location and the types of plants in the garden. Hardy plants native to the area may only need watering once a week. Also think about how long the watering takes. Are you only giving the garden a light sprinkle or a lengthy watering that penetrates the soil to a reasonable depth?
Most gardening experts recommend the latter for a couple of reasons. Doing a lengthy watering once a week uses less water than a light sprinkle three or four times and is much more effective. Installing an automatic trickle watering system when constructing a new garden is another way to make watering easy, and take out the guesswork.
Still Confused? A Pebble Garden and Succulents could be the Answer
We supply a range of pebbles to customers with small garden areas who like the modern look of pebble gardens filled with succulents. These require minimal watering and the pebbles act as a barrier to evaporation in the same way as mulch does. Whatever type of garden you decide to create, getting the right plants for the right location will solve the watering problems at the outset.
Plants That Thrive In Australia’s Hot Sizzling Sun
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There is no doubt that if you are living in Australia you are living in the lucky country. We are so blessed with such wonderful weather that it can be hard to pick your favourite season. For some, summer can be the toughest to endure due to the sizzling heat us tough Aussies are required to withstand. At least we can escape indoors, shaded areas or even the swimming pool.
Not so for our gardens.
There are plenty of plants that thrive in these harsh conditions. With a little love and the addition of protective layers of mulch or rock, you will have your garden singing and offering up wonderful growth.
So what plants best suit this climate and what can you do for your garden to help it cope with soaring temperatures?
Any gardening centre in Australia worth a pinch will tell you that you can’t go past Australian Natives and Bacchus Marsh & Redgum Garden Centre is no different.
It’s just common sense that if you plant out offerings from your own environment you will enjoy the success and beautiful garden you desire. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some great plants that have adapted well to our environment.
For a hardy, flourishing garden you can’t go past :
- The delightful and showy Kangaroo Paw. This stunning plant is available in an array of colours.
- Cordylines are also available in a range of colours, the strappy leaves of this plant offer colour and feature well in any Australian garden.
- Gazanias are also a firm favourite. This native from Southern Africa thrives in our conditions. They flower just about all year round and offer great ground cover to taller plantings.
If you are looking for a vine to grow over an arbour or patio to offer some shade, these plants all work very well:
- Lilac Vine is a delightful draping creeper with showy purple flowers.
- Grapes! Why not grow a vine that will also offer a sweet treat? The bonus to this vine is that is dies back during the winter months when you may prefer to let the sun shine in.
- Bougainvillea is also very popular in our gardens due to its hardiness and beautiful flowers.
If its shrubs and trees you are after then we suggest:
- Callistemon viminalis from the bottle brush family has beautiful 15-25mm red stamens that will appear all year round that attract the birds.
- The hardy Banksia is also a must for any Australian garden for its bird attracting qualities and easy cultivation.
Vegetable Garden Woes
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Having a vegetable patch is one of the most rewarding things you can do for your family.
We hear a lot of talk in the media about the benefits of organic gardening and if you have your own veggie patch then the chances are you want to do it as naturally as possible and avoid using synthetic chemicals.
The truth is that there are many things you can do without resorting to this drastic state. And Bacchus Marsh Redgum & Garden Centre have a great line-up of tips and tricks to help you achieve the top results you dream of.
Now think about how a human body responds when it has nutritious food, a good night’s sleep, sunlight, and regular exercise and avoids stress.
If you get a little sniffle you might take some vitamin C or olive leaf extract and it goes away. You only get out the big gun antibiotics for really bad infections.
The same is true with your garden. There is no point in attacking it straight off the bat with the big guns if you can handle minor issues in a gentler way to avoid stressing the plants.
The soil is your plants’ foundation. It is where your plants will get their nutrition from. It is important to add plenty of lovely compost, worms and mulch.
There are plenty of soil conditioners and fertilisers on the market that are safe to use on your vegetables. Just ask our friendly staff to steer you in the right direction when you are in the store.
A healthy plant will not attract pests or sickness.
Keep the plants regularly watered but don’t water at night as this means there is a chance they will get root rot or fungus. Early morning is best for your plants.
Become an Observer
Not all creepy crawlies in your garden are pests. Some, in fact, are exactly what you need to gain a good crop as well as feast on the bad guys, so it is wise not to spray indiscriminately.
Ants can be a good indicator. You may think they are scurrying up and down your plant because it is going to rain but the truth is they may be feeding off the juices that a parasite secretes. Gross but true.
Controlling the Bad Guys
The truth is that the damage is usually caused by insects such as mites, slugs, snails, nematodes, cutworms and inchworms.
A sticky environment will go a long way to preventing these critters. You place it around the base of the plants on a plastic band. This will prevent their advance as they become stuck in it.
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