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Chillies from Around the World

Grow a whole world of chilli flavour with these new chilli varieties from Oasis Horticulture. And I’ve got a cute way of growing them in pots with labels so you don’t mix them all up!

Happy Gardening Gardenette Melissa x

Budget Gardening Tips & Tricks

There’s nothing like swooning over other peoples gardens or day dreaming over the beautiful creations at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. But the trick is to take inspiration from these 5 star gardens and bring them back to your own backyard without breaking the bank!

Our 3 key tips for a budget friendly garden:
1. Grow from seed
2. Propagate your own plants
3. Get creative Investing in a greenhouse from Sproutwell Greenhouses is brilliant for the beginner gardener – look at their lend-to-models or those that are similar in size to a wardrobe. (Check out their range here: http://sproutwellgreenhouses.com.au/)

A greenhouse can help you get a head-start on the season when growing from seeds, nurture young seedlings before they are ready to plant out and improve the strike rate of cuttings……continued beneath video…

Most seeds like a soil temperature of around 18 degrees or more to germinate, so a greenhouse is the perfect place to keep them warm and germinating well. And the Sproutwell range of greenhouses have adjustable vents to regular the temperature inside.

When choosing what to grow in your garden, think about the herbs you use weekly and might be buying from the supermarket at $3 a bunch. And think about the vegetables you and your family can’t do without. It’s these herbs and veggies that you should grow in your garden – this will save you loads of money and it’s great knowing exactly how they’ve been grown.

So you have a continuous harvest rather than a produce flood, you can plant another round of seeds once the first lot you planted have reached the stage where they are ready to plant out into the garden. And remember if you grow too many seedlings, you can always trade them with friends or at a local crop swap meet.

If you want a garden full of flowers, remember to grow as many as you can from seed or cuttings to save you money. Many plants like succulents are super easy to propagate from cuttings and they set root and grow easily.

And when it comes to growing things in pots – get creative about your containers. Look for unusual containers in op shop like tea cups, kettles and old vases – just drill a hole in the bottle for drainage and old biscuit tins are perfect for herbs. You don’t need a lot of money for an incredible garden, just a creative mind and a bit of ingenuity.

Drying and storing herbs

We’re often asked for tips on how to harvest, dry and store herbs – so here goes! Our top tips on drying and storing herbs….

The woodier herbs like Rosemary, Thyme, Bay and Oregano are often the easiest to dry because they don’t have high moisture content. Sure, air-drying can be a slow process but we love it because it doesn’t cost you anything and the herbs retain lots of their essential oils and flavour. Plus how pretty do they look all hanging in a row.

The best time to harvest your herbs is in the morning after the dew had dried and before they flower, that’s when their flavour is most intense. If you’re picking them for drying you don’t want any moisture on the leaves or they’ll rot – and be sure to shake off any dirt or insects that are trying to take a ride.

Harvesting your herbs helps to keep plants looking nice and bushy – just don’t cut the whole plant unless it’s time to replant it. About a 1/3 of the branch at a time is a good
rule of thumb.

I always remove the lower inch or so of leaves (you can save them for drying too) and then just bundle the cut herbs loosely together in a bunch – don’t jam too many sprigs in there – you want some air circulation. Then hang the bunch to dry in a warm, airy spot away from direct sunlight. Depending on the herb they’ll be dry in about ……xx

Or if you are a little impatient you could place the leaves and stems in the oven for 15 minutes at 150 degrees celcius. The leaves can then be stripped from the stems and kept in airtight containers. I like to store the leaves whole then just crush them before use to retain more flavour.

Some herbs like Basil, Chives, Mint and Tarragon can be successfully stored in airtight plastic bags in the freezer. 

Coriander is one of those wonderful herbs that you can use from root to tip. But because it’s a fragile herb it’s tricky to store well. So if you can, have it growing close
to the kitchen so you can pick and eat it fresh from the pot or patch.

 You can keep your coriander fresh for longer by treating it like a bunch of flowers. Simply cut the stems and pop it in a glass of water. Just don’t submerge any of the
leaves, re-cut the stems frequently and change the water every day or so. You can even put the jar in the fridge to keep it for longer. I’ve even stored chopped up
coriander in ice trays.

So there you have it – drying, harvesting and storing herbs Gardenettes style.

Fruit Tree Pruning Basics

Don’t be daunted by how to prune fruit trees – I’ve got a couple of simple guidelines that will help make the process easier.

Firstly start by removing the 3 D’s – that’s any dead, diseased or damaged branches. Then look for any crossing or those growing downwards.

As you go consider the shape – you can prune fruit trees to many shapes – but the main goal is to open up the structure of the tree. This will increase airflow amongst the branches which can reduce disease outbreaks. And pruning will also allow more light into the centre of the tree which will help with fruit ripping.

Let’s start with pome trees – that’s your apples, pears and quince – these trees fruit on obvious fruiting spurs – so we don’t want to prune all of these off! However still need to shape the tree – so look for last seasons growth – that’s the young thinner branches and cut them back to 5 or 6 nods to get the shape you want.

Peaches and nectarines fruit on wood “last seasons growth”. So this pinkish/reddish branch which grew last spring & summer, will produce this coming summers crop. But they need to be cut back by about half so the tree can support all this fruit! Cut just after one of these nodes – ideally an outward facing one – and cut at an angle.

If you had any fungal or pest problems last season then it’s a good idea to do a clean up spray of eco-fungicide mixed with eco-oil. And to help prevent leaf furl on peaches and nectarines, spray them mid winter with a copper based spray and then again right before the leaves emerge in late winter/spring.

If I’ve not talked about a fruit tree that you have or you need more help with pruning then check out if your local nursery has any classes OR carry around a handy book like “The Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia” by Louis Glowinski

So know that you know how to prune fruit trees – well the basic tips anyway….go get snipping!

How get rid of black flies around indoor plants – Fungus Gnats

The pesky little black or grey flies darting around your indoor plants are fungus gnats!

While the flying adults are just plain annoying, it’s the larvae which live in the potting mix that can be doing some serious harm to your plants.

The adult flies lay their eggs into the potting mix and the teenie tiny, larvae hatch out and feed on organic matter including plant roots and soft tender stems. This can cause wilting and slow the growth rate of your plants right down.

But there are 3 simple ways to get rid your fungus gnat problems!

Number 1 – DO NOT overwater your plants. Fungus gnats love wet potting mix and outbreaks most often occur when the soil isn’t allowed to dry out between waterings. The eggs and larvae need continuous moisture to survive, so allowing the soil to dry out before you wanter can help break the lifecycle.

Number 2 – Kill the larvae in the potting mix using a soil drench of eco-neem. This is really easy to do – simply mix up the right dilution in large bucket. Then take each of your plants and allow them to soak in the mix until the air bubbles have stopped. Let them drain outside in the shade, before bringing them back inside. You’ll need to repeat this soil drench in 7 days because the flying adults can live for a week or more.

Number 3 – Do NOT allow water to pool around the roots of your plants. So tip out excess water that may gather in cover pots or saucers after watering. Leaving it will just encourage algae to grow, which the fungus gnats will just feed on!

So don’t let fungus gnats invade your indoor plant jungle and remember….there is anyways room for one more plant!

You can buy eco-neem from Bunnings & all good garden centres OR online here: https://ecoorganicgarden.com.au/produ…

Grow your own mushrooms

Check out or buy these kits here

Coffee lovers listen up! Our favourite drink also produces a TONNE of waste….in fact – in Melbourne CBD alone it’s estimated that nearly 5000 tonnes of ground coffee waste is thrown away every. single. week.

But thanks to a couple of clever lads, some of this coffee waste is being used to grow mushrooms! Life Cykel Mushrooms grow their shrooms on urban farms in shipping containers and then cleverly selling the super fresh mushies back to the cafes who gave them the coffee grounds! But so we can all be mushroom farmers – they created these brilliant Home grown Mushroom Boxes.

These kits grow the stunning Oyster Mushrooms which have a velvety texture, smooth taste and dense nutrient content. They’re also packed with B vitamins, calcium, phosphorous and iron – in fact they often get called the vegetarian steak!

Getting them growing at home is simple. Just open the grow window, cut a cross in the plastic and then mist the opening with water twice a day. All that white stuff inside the plastic is the mycelium or mushroom roots – that have grown in the waste coffee grounds and are revved up, ready to grow once you open the bag and add humidity.

You don’t need to put these babies in the dark – just keep them sitting on your kitchen bench and the crop will be ready to harvest in about 7-10 days. But as soon as you notice they aren’t doubling in size each day, you can pick the entire crop. And each mushroom kit will give you 2-3 flushes of growth, just turn the plastic bag around!

Cook these up however you fancy, but I can’t go past mushrooms on toast. Of course though, this classic cafe dish wouldn’t be hipster without a sprinkle of microgreens….but don’t worry there is a coffee waste kit for that too!