Tuesday, June 28, 2016

An Onion a Day won't keep Tony away.

I won't profess here to know everything about onions, actually I find a lot of it rather confusing.

Late season, early season, onion sets, plant before the shortest day, plant after the shortest day and on and on it seems to go.

So I just do what works for me in a few simple steps.

  • I tend to plant somewhere around the shortest day of the year. A bit before or a bit after.
  • Soil preparation is a good dig over with the digging fork.
  • Add blood and bone. I use Yates, Professional Blood and Bone.
    An organic based fertiliser suitable for all garden plants, including Australian natives. Provides nitrogen for healthy leaf growth and phosphorus for strong root development.
  • Give the bed a good rake over.
  • Grab a punnet of seedlings from my local plant nursery. I grabbed these about three weeks ago but today was the first chance I've had to bung them in.
  • Separate the seedlings fairly carefully into individual little onion plants.
  • Just dig a small hole with your first two fingers or a small trowel, place the seedling in the hole and back fill. Make sure you plant as close as possible to same depth as the seedling was in the punnet.
  • Plant around six inches apart with around ten inches between rows. You can plant closer but you'll get smaller onions.
  • From one, seedling punnet, I get on average around eighty onions. Great value.
  • Water in well.
  • I will apply a weekly liquid feed until I can see a bulb begin to form and from there they're on their own.

Some fun facts re the health benefits from onions. (from the Onions Australia website).
  • Japanese women rarely get heart disease. This may be because (recent study) that 83 per cent of Japanese women obtain quercetin from onions.
  • Quercetin in onions helps by stopping LDL cholesterol becoming oxidised - oxidised LDL carries cholesterol to the artery walls more quickly.
  • According to Dutch research; half an onion a day keeps stomach cancer away.
  • University of Hawaii found similar results in a study of lung cancer. Those who ate more onions were half as likely to get lung cancer.
  • A French study has even indicated that onions and garlic may be helpful in guarding both men and women from breast cancer.
  • The sulphur content of onions may also inhibit tumours.
  • Onions can help to kill bacteria
  • A Japanese study found by adding onions to ground beef helped neutralise Salmonella.
  • Applied to the skin onions may have healing powers. People have used onions to kill funguses, yeast and parasites.
  • Onions can also soothe the sting of insect bites


Sunday, June 26, 2016

Maleny Botanical Gardens visit.

I've just returned from a three day visit to see my Sister on the Sunshine Coast and learn from her photographical expertise and extensive knowledge (aka; pick her brains).

Part of the visit also included a trip to the Maleny Botanical Gardens.

Here's her take on our visit. You can see who the photographer is in the family.

Don’t go to a garden with a gardener.

I’ve been wanting to go to Maleny Botanic Gardens for ages. They’ve been around since 2012 so it’s taken me 4 years to get there. Owned by a multi-millionaire South African who, according to articles on the site, has aspirations to make the best Botanic Gardens in the world. I went with my brother who is an experienced gardener and an amateur critic. He raised his eyebrow at the $16 entry fee (each) and we set off on the path the friendly lady at the entry directed us to. We didn’t pay the extra to go in the Aviary. With 16 acres of garden to investigate I figured that would be enough for one day. I had my 100mm macro lens on and it was a nice bright overcast day. Pretty good for flower photos. 
Keep in mind that winter, even on the Sunshine Coast, is not the ideal time if you want to see a garden at its best. As a long time resident of the Sunny Coast I was pretty impressed with the views of the glasshouse mountains. Stew pointed out we could get the views for free just up the road.  
I busied myself taking photos and when I poked my head out from behind the camera I could see Stew screwing up his nose and frowning and shaking his head and muttering to himself.
“What?” I asked.
“Look at this” he says, pointing a toe toward a patch of dirt. 
“What?” I say again, looking around. 
“This” he says with emphasis as I shrug and look like the ignorant gardener I am. 
And then he starts. 
“If you’re gonna charge people to enter and make claims aiming for the best botanic garden in the world, you don’t have dead patches left in the garden. You don’t leave branches and fronds and shit lying around. It’s untidy, poorly maintained and there are diseased plants.”
“Oh”, I say, looking around me. 
"There’s no design”, he goes on. “I had high expectations and I’m completely underwhelmed”.
“Oh” I say again, casting a more critical eye around. It still looks pretty impressive to me. I can see what he’s saying but I’m far more forgiving. The gardens are huge. It would be a massive job to keep everything in order. There are lots of grassy areas, ponds, waterfalls, statues, sculptures, strategically placed seats and plenty of picnic tables. I grin and keep taking photos. Plenty to keep me busy.
We meander up paths and over bridges. Discover a quaint little fairy garden. Stew finds some cactus he likes. 
The garden is designed in stages and we must have entered a different section as Stew suddenly gives a half approving nod. 
“This looks better,” he says, "There’s more cohesion in the design and the plantings."
It appears we’re in the oriental inspired garden. He did concede that perhaps it was just a style difference but he was still critical of what he considered the poor maintenance in the earlier section. 
We discovered a mass planting of Tibouchina that was like a pink version of a Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow plant. 
We disagreed on the arched walk. Stew thinks it should have been one long tunnel of the same plant. I quite liked going from one to the next. 
I’m more of a patch work style and Stew is clearly a mass plantings kind of guy. 
He argues when you have this much space you could have a whole row of each kind. 
More paths, ponds, waterfalls and picnic tables. 
I’m having a lovely time. Stew says it’s nice, just didn’t live up to his expectations.
We wander up to one of many gazebos and are spoilt with a bloody lovely Devonshire Tea for $11ea. For the number of people who have now turned up I think it would be good if they could offer a bit more variety on the menu for lunch. 
We didn't pay to go in the Aviary but it looks like it would be worth the investment. There were birds at the reception and a few chooks scratching around. The kookaburras were eager to join in the conversation too.
Stew goes to see if he can buy any plants. Apparently they sometimes have a table with plants on it (but not today), but obviously not a fully stocked nursery like Stew was hoping for. (He hadn’t considered how he was going to get any plants back to Toowoomba on his motorbike).
We head off in another direction, past the Aviary and animal enclosure toward the Monet Pond and gazebo. I’m guessing this section is still evolving or I don’t know much about Monet, but it didn’t inspire me and we kept walking. There’s a cute Monet bridge but the surroundings don’t lend themselves to making great photos of it. Hopefully that will come in a future stage. 
I’m delighted by the grounds. I’d have no hesitation going back or recommending it for a visit. I have my house on AirBnB and will be leaving brochures there for guests.
We headed back up through what was most likely the first stage of the garden. Stew is impressed by the (mass planting!) white Tibouchinas. He concedes that the gardens are getting to him and his earlier judgement of 4 out of 10 may have been a bit harsh. He upgrades it to a 6. (Just between you and me, I think there may be just a little bit of garden envy going on.) He still has a lot of gripes but I think the garden has won him over. It turns out there is a plant identification system, although it's not obvious. He can't find the names of the plants he wants anyway so resorts to good ol' facebook for help. 
I’m happy to give it an 8.5. I’ll be bringing my mum here to check it out. Fortunately, there are golf buggies available for hire to get around. There’s no way she’d make it otherwise. The grounds are huge. It’s awesome. I loved it. Can’t wait to go back in Spring. 

Monday, June 20, 2016


52! what a beautiful number.

52mm of rain.

On top of the 32mm we had two weeks ago. It's adding up to a fantastic June.

And after the first five months of well below average rainfall we now have a month of above average rainfall. I suppose that's how averages work though.

The four rows of Broad Beans I'd planted in the work veggie garden have shot up out of the ground. I'd been worried they wern't going to shoot at all. Nothing a good soaking of rain wont fix.



Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Veggies at Work.

Had a grand old time at Glenvale Villas, where I work, today.

I managed to get half the day in the village veggie garden.

I had punnets of lettuce, mini cabbage, broccoli, beetroot and marigold to plant but I was stuck for room so I had to do some ruthless culling and some heavy harvesting.

I needn't have worried about the heavy harvesting because by knock-off time all the excess harvesting had been picked up by the residents.

I also reorganised one of the beds in a raised planter box. In the photo below with the lettuce planted was full of the herb oregano.

It wasn't being used as far as I could tell so I found a clump with roots on and planted that into a pot and dug the rest of 
the oregano out so I could make better use of the planter box as you can see with the lettuce planted.

I've got a little more reorganising to do but I'll share that when I actually get the job done.



Saturday, June 4, 2016

Coriander growing time.

Why rewrite what has already been written about our dear Corie, aka coriander, when Penny Woodward from Organic Gardener Magazine has already done a such a bang up job.

Best grown from seed sown directly where they are to grow. Once you start moving them around and transplanting them it only increases the speed before they run to seed or shortens your harvest time..

Also regular picking or harvesting, whether youre using it or now will add to the life span of your coriander. This also applies to most other herbs as well.

So, get sowing, now's the time!