Category Archives: Perennial

Sydney’s Winter Garden

Well it’s getting cold but at least the sun’s out and the ground is starting to dry up after all that rain.  Winter in Sydney does not mean time to stop gardening.    So what to plant?

If you’ve got the room and you haven’t yet you should get your garlic and broad beans in as soon as you can.

It’s also time to start planting your brassica’s.  That means cabbage, kale, broccoli and cauliflower.  Keep going with leafy greens (salads and Asian greens) or replant if that recent hail destroyed what you had.  Carrots and most herbs can be grown can be grown all year round in Sydney.

If you’ve got a bit of space and are looking for a low maintenance edible, have a try at growing Jerusalem Artichoke.  In the right sunny spot these will put on a great show of sunflower like flowers (same family) and you can treat them like perennials by simply leaving a few tubers in the ground at harvest time.  If you’re keen, now’s the time to plant them.

As ever, if you need some help, give us a call or leave a comment/question below.

Enjoy!

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Time for Tea

If you are in Sydney then you’ll know it’s not gardening weather today, and while a lot of us would think every day is a tea drinking day, today is definitely a day when you want a warm up of tea in your hands.  So how about growing your own?

I’ve purposely let the bought teas in my cupboard run low so that I’ll be forced to start drinking from my garden.  It’s so easy when you are in the kitchen to just pull out a tea bag but it’s not that much harder to pick your own fresh.  I just needed a little push and maybe you do too.

So what to grow?  I grow mint and lemon verbena.  These are great combined or separate.  They can be picked fresh and used straight away or dried for later use but because they are so easy to grow I don’t bother drying.  Mint likes plenty of water, can handle shade and runs away so grow it in a container where you’ll remember to water it or a spot where either you’ll remember to control it or don’t mind it taking over.  Lemon verbena likes a drier sunnier spot and a good regular prune.  I cut mine back regularly and if I don’t drink the leaves I pop the stems into vases.

Other good, easy choices for tea are lemon grass, mexican marigold (pictured above, another one that will take over if you don’t keep it under control), lemon balm, chamomile, fennel and roses.  Other suggestions I’ve heard of but haven’t tried include rosemary, basil flowers and lavender.

If you really like your tea you can try growing camellia sinensis.  This is the plant grown for black or green tea.  You need to be a little patient as the plant needs to be a few years old before it’s ready to harvest but after that time you can pick off the young leaves and prepare them for the tea of your choice.

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Things to think about: when buying plants


Space

The thing I like to think about most is the space I have and how I want the plant to fill it.  This means thinking about how large the plant will grow, when it flowers, what it’s sunlight and water needs are but also what shape the plant currently is and how I may need or like to shape it as it grows.  If you have a particular shape in mind you need to look at a few different plants to make sure the one your buying is heading towards the shape you’re after.  You then need to start shaping it as soon as you plant it.

Health

You need to make sure you’re buying a healthy plant.  Check the foliage.  Make sure there’s no discolouring or mis-shaping of the leaves.  Check the base.  You don’t want to be able to see any roots and a lot of weeds in the potting mix is never taken as a good sign.

Flowering

If you’re buying a flowering plant and there’s a question of the colour of the flower then you need to know what your buying will have the flower you want.  However, you don’t want to buy a plant in full bloom if you can help it.  Better to buy a plant getting ready to bloom.

Value

Another thing I think about when buying plants is how many plants can I get out of the one pot?  Often plants can be split so if you want a lot of plants is worth looking to see which ones you can break up.

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Growing Corporate

Late last year we were contacted by Razor & JOY to come and have a look at their courtyard space with a view to installing an edible garden. I’d been very keen install an office garden so was excited by the prospect. It was also a beautiful looking site (once the pot plants here removed).

We built the beds (2 four metre long and 1 two metres long) out of recycled hard wood timber palings, sanded and oiled. Lined them with geotextile fabric and filled them with a rich organic mixture of compost, manure, straw and lucerne.

Staff assisted in the final stage and the beds were planted with salad greens, tea herbs, herbs, tomatoes and beans, chilli’s and capsicum. There’s a strawberry box, micro green box and seed raising box.

Pots of dwarf citrus, midyim berry, blueberry and bay were added.

The garden is lovingly cared for and picked by the staff. Unfortunately the pests have been pretty happy with the garden addition as well but hopefully with a little tweaking the pests will have less to eat and the staff will have more. Reports are that this has been a really worthwhile addition to office life and has definitely been a very satisfying project for me to work on.

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Rhubarb

What a fantastic, shade loving, perennial plant Rhubarb is.  It lasts for years and it produces offspring so you can divide it up and plant out more or give it to your friends.
Rhubarb doesn’t like growing in a pot as it has a large root system but that’s about it’s only fault.  Oh, and it’s posionous leaves.  Don’t eat them and don’t feed them to your rabbit, guinea pig, dog, children… they are fine in the compost.

Rhubarb has a crown which doesn’t like being soggy so keep them in well drained soil.  They go dormant in the cooler months which is the time to move or divide them and you need to be careful you don’t disturb their roots if you’re digging in the area.

Aside from this they are pretty hardy, pest resistant and giving plants.  Pull off the stems as you want to use them.  I cut them up and simmer them in orange juice.  Great for adding to yoghurt.  Or go the old classic and simmer them up with sugar and apple (and strawberry if you want something really special), then give it all a crunchy sugary top and throw it in the oven to brown.

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Growing for Food Security

Sitting on our back deck this morning, nibbling a couple of home grown blueberries and reading the SMH I came across an article urging people to buy from farmers markets or better still grow their own.  The focus of the article was food security.  So I started thinking about which foods I’d grow if food security was my main concern.

Blueberry would not be high on the list.  We love our blueberry bush but it produces 5-10 berries a day for a few weeks of the year.  For vit C I think it would have to be a lemon tree or if that were too hard then lilly pilly.  For some kind of staple the choko would probably be the winner in ease and bounty.  We are growing one in a pot to contain it’s wild spreading.  And for leafy greens I’d suggest warrigal spinach, easy, all year round source of greens.  You need to be a little careful with warrigal spinach.  The leaves should be blanched in hot water for 3 minutes before eating to remove the oxalic acid.

What would you grow?

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Get Growing in Sydney

November in Sydney is a kind of go for broke month where you need to get everything in the ground you want before it gets too hot.

If you want something that will last longer than the season think about artichoke, asparagus (easier than it looks) and warrigal greens.

If you are planting with the kids beans, zuchinni and pumpkin are always satisfying and if you’re looking for something a little different have a go at okra and some heirloom tomatoes.

Other fantastic things to get in the ground now include: sunflower, watermelon (doesn’t require as much space as pumpkin), chilli and my current favourite, mitzuna.

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