Friday, June 15, 2012

Car gps

Most young drivers have car gps in their cars nowadays. They’re convenient and they get you to where you want to go. I however am old school; I rely on my own trusty street directory but I think they’ll be phasing it out in the near future. Then I would have to join the rest of society and get myself a car gps also.

Growing Bananas

Bananas are the world's favourite tropical fruit. The fruits are rich in fibre, potassium, vitamins A, B6 and C. But it's also about flavour - and you just can't beat the taste of a home grown banana.

Bananas have been cultivated for so long that they have lost the ability to reproduce by seed. They need gardeners to survive. They are propagated either by division or by tissue culture, and that means they are all genetically identical clones. They're not true trees, in fact the stems are made from layers of tightly-packed leaf-bases, and each new leaf is forced through the centre of the stem. At maturity they flower and the first part of the flower to open is male - that’s called the bell. Then the spirally arranged female flowers come out and develop into fruit.

Anyone can grow backyard bananas, but banana-growing in Australia is highly regulated and a permit is needed to plant or transplant a banana. There's a good reason for this. Banana plants are susceptible to serious diseases and plants can only be bought from government approved, certified disease free sources.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Artist paint

When I was in school, one of my favorite subjects was painting. I used to be quite good at it but then after leaving school I neglected this interest and now I’ve totally lost the skill. I should’ve nurture this interest back then; who knows I could’ve become a famous painter! Well I guess it’s never too late to pick it up again so I’ve gone to get some canvas, brushes, palettes and some artist paint to re-kindle my long lost talent.

Staking Tomatoes

Tomatoes have two growth forms. The main cropping varieties, such as Apollo, are traditionally grown up tree stakes, or suspended from glasshouses, on wires. A single stem is trained upward and the side shoots are removed for a really heavy crop.

But cherry tomatoes have a freely-branching habit. If you train them as a single stem, up a stake, you lose over half the fruit. Commercial growers use wire fences, but I've modified that idea for the home garden.

Just use lattice, supported by stakes. The joy of growing them like this is that you can loop the plants through the lattice as they grow. This means training becomes really simple.

The advantage of growing tomatoes on a frame, as opposed to a ground cover, is that you keep fruit and leaves away from the soil. This cuts down the risk of fungal disease. And the joy of growing cherry tomatoes like this is that they're really trouble-free and you get a lovely crop – in fact about two kilos of fruit every week for about 10 weeks. It’s a tip well worth trying.

Rustic tables

I love my gardens; I could spend all day in them either working up a sweat or just relaxing. There’s nothing more relaxing than sitting on my favorite seat by the rustic tables with some lemonade and some cakes to share with friends. This I try to do at least once a week when the weather is good and usually on a Sunday when most people are free. Come by this Sunday and we can have a cup of tea and cakes together.

Understanding Mulches

There are two basic types of mulch - inorganic mulches, such as pebbles and gravel - and organic-based mulches, such as pine bark, bales of pea straw, chopped pea straw, and sugar cane mulch.

Organic-based mulches break down and add goodness to the soil. A favourite is baled pea straw. It is good because the bale can be broken apart into biscuits and these pieces are spread out on the ground. This means it doesn’t blow away and the birds won’t scatter it.

When mulching with different straws or sugar cane it’s important to add at least five to seven centimetres for each layer to make it work effectively. But it needs replacing every year because it breaks down. Heavier mulches, such as pine bark or pebbles, need only be four to five centimetres deep.

The mistake most people make is using compost - such as mushroom compost, garden compost or a cubed pea-straw-based product - as mulch. The problem with using these as mulch is that they are too fine and can absorb moisture. They allow moisture to be drawn out of the soil, through wicking, and they form a great weed seedbed, allowing for weed seed germination. Use these composting products as a soil improver or conditioner – they are fantastic for this - but top it off with a coarser product that doesn't absorb moisture. That way, you know you're doing your best for the garden, by conserving moisture, suppressing weeds and insulating your soil.