Saturday, October 12, 2013
If you’re like most gardeners, you’re probably ready to get your hands on some dirt by the middle of winter. If you install a hobby greenhouse next to your home, you may be able to make that wish come true virtually every day of the year.
Growing vegetables in a hobby greenhouse allows them to extend the season, sometimes by months, giving you a year-round gardening opportunity. While you can’t grow all vegetables in a greenhouse 12 months of the year, you can plant cool-weather vegetables and let them grow through the worst of the winter weather with a simple heating system installed.
How to Grow Vegetables in a Greenhouse
Greenhouse vegetable plants may end up growing faster and stronger than those grown in a traditional garden, because you will be giving them the ideal environment for growth. When it’s below freezing outside, passive solar collectors and small heaters can leave the interior of a greenhouse cool but perfectly liveable for most spring vegetables. In the heat of the summer, fans and other cooling units can protect tender plants from the scorching heat of a southern climate.
You can grow greenhouse vegetable plants directly in the soil inside the enclosure, but container gardening is a more efficient use of space. You can take advantage of all three dimensions by placing planters on shelves, using trellis systems for vine plants and hanging planters for smaller vines, such as cherry tomatoes and strawberries.
Winter Vegetable Growing
Growing winter veggies for greenhouses is possible because most cool-season plants can tolerate temperatures near freezing, as long as their soil isn’t muddy. Container gardening solves that problem by giving the plants a perfect mix of potting soil.
If you’re planning on winter vegetable growing when building your greenhouse, add a passive solar collector such as a wall of black-painted water jugs. This will collect solar heat during the day and reflect it into the greenhouse at night, helping to prevent freezing. Add an additional small heater, either propane or electric, for the coldest days of the year.
Once you have the greenhouse built, experiment with plant placement for the best growing conditions for each variety. Cool season plants such as peas, lettuce, broccoli, carrots and spinach all have slightly different needs, and moving them around in the enclosure is the best way to find what works best with each plant.
Sunday, August 4, 2013
Fertilising and Pruning
Citrus are high feeders and love fertiliser. In many books you will read, fertilise your citrus twice a year. We have a different opinion. “A little bit - often” is our philosophy. Therefore feed your citrus at least four times per year. Timing is not critical, if you haven’t feed your tree for a while, start now. There are many different commercial citrus fertilisers on the market. We generally don’t recommend these fertilisers as their instructions are often difficult to comprehend,
eg. X kilograms per age of tree.
There is nothing quite like, good old fashioned blood and bone or well rotted chicken manure or cow manure or ‘Organic Life’ or ‘Dynamic Lifter’. Any of these are fine and it’s a good idea to alternate between them. Water your tree well; remove any mulch from around the tree. Spread the fertiliser evenly around the soil underneath the
canopy, but not directly against the trunk. The amount varies, depending on which fertiliser you choose. Don’t be afraid, you can use up to half a bucket, per tree of organic fertiliser. Generally the organic fertilisers are less harmful if you accidentally overfeed. When all else fails, read the instructions on the bag. There is no need to cultivate the fertiliser into the soil as this will only cause damage to the surface roots. Water in well and then replace the mulch.
Citrus in pots also require regular feeding. Fertilise at least four times per year. Either ‘Organic Life’ or ‘Dynamic Lifter’ is great; put a light covering over the entire surface of the pot. If these products are a little too smelly, you can use ‘Osmocote’ or ‘Greenjacket’ slow release fertilisers.
Citrus unlike many other fruit trees don’t require annual pruning to aid in fruit production. They can be happily left for
many years unpruned and will still produce an abundance of fruit.
Alternatively, citrus can be pruned into any shape that is desired. Citrus are often trained and pruned into Standards, for a formal topiary effect. Planting citrus close together and regular pruning can form a lovely dense fruiting hedge. Citrus are very adaptable and can be trained and pruned into many shapes only limited by your imagination.
Australian Cumquat pruned as a Standard
Espaliered Citrus are becoming very trendy for the smaller gardens or balconies. An espalier is when the citrus is pruned and shaped flat against a wall or lattice. All varieties of citrus are suitable and it is simply a case of tying the new growth back against the wall, fence or lattice and pruning off, any forward growth that can’t be tied back, creating a flat two dimensional plant. This saves space, creates a beautiful green wall and the citrus still produce an abundance of fruit.
Kaffir Lime trained as an espalier
Old, neglected, citrus can be resurrected by a heavy rejuvenation prune. If the tree is old and ugly and hasn’t fruited well for years attack it with a chain saw, taking it right back to the main fork. This sounds drastic, but the tree was useless as it was, so you have nothing to lose. As it starts to re shoot, fertilise well and water regularly. Most often the tree with comeback better than ever and continue producing fruit for many more years.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Cumberland Plain Woodlands
Scientists generally recognise the 'Cumberland Plain Woodlands' to represent those distinct groupings of woodlands dominated by trees of Eucalyptus moluccana,(Grey Box), Eucalyptus tereticornis (Forest Red Gum) and in some areas Eucalyptus crebra (Narrow-leaved Ironbark).
Summary of the nomination
The nomination of 'Cumberland Plain Woodlands' is for Schedule 2, ie, 'Ecological Communities that are Endangered'. The nomination provided a summary of information about the ecological community and evidence about the conservation status of the ecological community type. This community type was once widespread in the Cumberland Plains region west of Sydney NSW but has been reduced to a few fragmented stands by human use of this land for farming, industry and housing. The nomination states that the remaining stands of this ecological community are threatened by the spread of the Sydney suburban areas.
Statement with regard to the Endangered Species Protection Regulations
This nomination has been assessed by officers of the Threatened Species and Communities Section, Biodiversity Group, Environment Australia. ESSS has been advised that the information supplied with the nomination meets all the requirements specified by regulation.
Description of the range and status of the ecological community
The Cumberland Plain Woodlands is the accepted name for the plant community that occurs on soils derived from shale on the Cumberland Plain.
The Cumberland Plain Woodlands ecological community is characteristically of woodland structure but may include both more open and more dense areas, and the canopy is dominated by species including one or more of the following: Eucalyptus moluccana, Eucalyptus tereticornis, Eucalyptus crebra, Eucalyptus eugenioides and Eucalyptus maculata. The understorey is generally grassy to herbaceous with patches of shrubs, or if disturbed, contains components of the indigenous native species sufficient to re-establish the characteristic native understorey. The Cumberland Plains Woodlands ecological community includes regrowth that is likely to achieve a near natural structure or is a seral stage towards that structure.
The following assemblage of grass, forb and sub-shrub species characterises the understorey of the Cumberland
Plain Woodlands ecological community:
Not all species listed as characteristic of the assemblage occur in every single stand of the community. Also, the total list of plant species that occurs in the community is much larger than the characteristic assemblage, with many species occurring in one or a few sites, or in very low abundance. A detailed description of the ecological community is provided in Benson D. (1992). The natural vegetation of Penrith. Cunninghamia 2(4): 541-596.
The distribution of Cumberland Plain Woodlands in the County of Cumberland in 1788 was approximately 107,000 hectares. Only 6% (6,420 hectares) of the original community remained in 1988 in the form of small fragmented stands. Although some areas occur within conservation reserves, this is in itself not sufficient to ensure the long-term survival of the community unless the factors threatening the integrity and survival of the community are ameliorated.
Threats to the community include clearance for agriculture, grazing, hobby and poultry farming, housing and other developments, invasion by exotic plants and increased nutrient loads due to fertiliser run-off from gardens or farmland, dumped refuse or sewer discharge.
How judged by ESSS in regard to the ESP Act criteria
It is the view of ESSS that the ecological community known as 'Cumberland Plain Woodlands' is subject to current and continuing threats likely to lead to extinction as demonstrated by the following two of the four criteria for an ecological community provided in the document 'Listing Endangered Ecological Communities under the Endangered species Protection Act 1992: Guidelines for Nomination and Assessment of Proposals':
a) marked decrease in geographic distribution (to 6% of the original community), and
d) restricted geographic distribution such that the community could be lost rapidly by the action of a threatening process (such as clearance for farming, industry and housing).
ESSS judges that this ecological community meets the criteria for endangered under s6. (3) for the following reasons:
it is likely to become extinct in nature unless less the circumstances and factors affecting its abundance, survival or evolutionary development cease to operate.
'Cumberland Plain Woodlands', should be listed under 'Schedule 2 Listed Ecological Communities' of the Endangered Species Protection Act 1992.