Lychee – Litchi chinensis
Nearly two months ago we ate a bag of fresh lychees and I kept some of the seeds. I just rinsed them and then let them dry in a saucer (above), then planted them out in some soil – nothing fancy it was just some compost because that’s all I had at the time.
Out of a dozen seeds that I planted, four of them thrived and they were transplanted into a small pot each. Each little plant is now about 20 cm high and looking pretty healthy. One is straggling but I think they’ll all make it.
Lychees are self-pollinating, producing both male and female flowers on the same panicle, so only one tree is needed to get fruit. To become productive trees however, they need a week of cool night temperatures (below 20°C) before flowering.
– ABC Gardening
It’s important to think of your backyard as a mini ecosystem where all the elements need to be balanced. So when you do get an invasion of pests, the predator bugs will deal with them in a few days and keep their numbers down. Some times the best solution is just to sit back and let nature sort itself out.
If that doesn’t work, then you can make your own pest control solutions with these organic recipes:
Chilli soap mix – Aphids
Add a generous handful of hot chilies and a tablespoon of pure soap flakes to a litre of hot water and puree in a blender. Strain the mixture through a stocking. Spray directly onto the aphids and they will quickly die. Several applications may be necessary for particularly bad infestations.
Coffee spray – Slugs and snails
Dilute one part strong espresso coffee to ten parts water and spray it liberally over the foliage of plants that are being eaten by slugs and snails, and on the soil around their base. When the pests travel across the coffee mixture, they absorb it and quickly die.
Milk spray – Fungal diseases, including powdery mildew
Combine one part organic milk to ten parts water and cover the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves and stems thoroughly. This can be used as a preventative measure during humid conditions which favour mildews.
Vegetable oil soap mix – Mites and scale
Blend 2 cups of vegetable oil with half a cup of pure liquid soap and mix thoroughly. Dilute one tablespoon of the mix with a litre of water and spray over infestations. The pests will suffocate and soon die.
Do you have any tried and true organic pest contol methods?
I like the idea of Steve Solomon’s formula for complete organic fertilizer (COF). He recommends you purchase the ingredients in bulk from farm stores. Measure the material out by volume, that is by the scoop or bucketful, and then mix it together in a bucket.
Seedmeals are a by-product of making vegetable oil and mainly used in animal feed. Coprameal is a by-product from coconuts with the bonus is that is usually grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
Blood and bone is also known as tankage.
There are three types of lime – Agricultural lime – pure calcium carbonate, Dolomite lime – calcium and magnesium carbonate, and Gypsum – calcium sulfate.
Mix together uniformly in parts by volume:
- 4 parts any kind of seedmeal except coprameal OR
3 parts any seedmeal except coprameal and 1 part blood-and-bone. (This higher nitrogen option is slightly better for leafy crops in spring) OR
4.5 parts less-potent coprameal, supplemented with 1.5 parts blood-and-bone
- 1/4 part ordinary agricultural lime, best finely ground AND
- 1/4 part gypsum (or double the amount of lime) AND
- 1/2 part dolomite lime PLUS
- 1 part of one of these phosphorus sources: finely ground rock phosphate, bonemeal, or high phosphate guano
1/2 to 1 part kelpmeal or 1 part basalt dust
Gardening when it counts
by Steve Solomon
I decided to expand our selection of fruit trees in our backyard. Unfortunately, I didn’t own any useful gardening books on fruit trees, particularly ones that would help me decide which fruit trees are suitable for Brisbane’s climate and are less than 5 metres so that I can cram in a ton of different trees.
Fruit trees for Brisbane
Here’s my mega list of fruit trees suitable for Brisbane:
- acerola cherry
- apples, dwarf sub-tropical (Golden Dorsett , Tropical Anna, Tropical Sweet)
- avocado, dwarf
- barbados cherry
- blueberries (Sharp Blue – self-pollinating and low chill)
- crab apple
- custard apple
- dragon fruit
- longan (protected from birds and possums)
- macadamia (pot)
- mandarin, dwarf (freemont)
- mango, dwarf
- mulberry, dwarf (red shatoot)
- native raspberry (scrambling bush)
- nectarine (low chill)
- orange – washington; Lanes late; Valencia and red ruby;
- persimmon (but you’d need to prune it to under 5m)
- sea grape tree
- thai apple
Thank you to the knowledgeable people on the Brisbane Local Food ning who helped to compile this great list of small Brisbane suitable fruit trees.
I’d love to hear if you are successfully growing any other fruit trees in the Brisbane area?
If you live outside of Brisbane, you may like the list of trees for a suburban food forest.
Here is some of the information I discovered while researching how to go about growing bananas in your backyard for Brisbane and Queensland.
Bananas require full sunlight for most of the day. They do best is a sheltered area where the roots will not become flooded. The best time to plant them is from September to mid-December.
Bananas require generous amounts of plant nutrients to grow and fruit. (800 grams of lime, 240 gram of urea, 30 grams of super)
Residential growers in south Queensland require a permit to grow a maximum of 10 plants. Permits are free of charge and made to Biosecurity (currently part of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries).
Permitted Bananas in Queensland
The only permitted varieties of bananas are:
- Blue Java – Silvery wax bloom, white flesh, dessert and cooking
- Bluggoe (plantain or cooking banana) – angular fruit
- Kluai Namwa Khom (Dwarf Ducasse) – fragrant sweet flavour, dessert and cooking, very vigorous. Referred to as sugar banana.
- Goldfinger – tangy tasting, doesn’t turn brown when cut
- Ladyfinger – drought hardy, long shelf life, dessert type, sweet creamy flesh
- Pissang Ceylan -pinkish midribs on leaves, agreeably sweet acid
There is currently ONE supplier in Queensland – Blue Sky Backyard Bananas – each plant costs from $25 including postage and handling.
Agrilink have developed a Tropical banana information kit as a series of PDFs. The kit provides information on all aspects of growing tropical bananas in Queensland.
Jerry Coleby-Williams has written a great Fact Sheet: Growing Bananas for the ABC Gardening website.
Image Copyright 2016 Emma Crameri
Here’s a list of some of the gardeners in Australia practicing permaculture:
New South Wales
I bought a new raspberry plant this weekend from the Ferny Grove markets. I sent the last one up to Toowoomba where I hope the frost will help it fruit better, as I was having no luck with it.
The advice I got from the grower was that raspberries in Brisbane need to be the non-frosting kind. I bought a Bogong, but he was also selling Autumn Bliss. He said you can grow your raspberries on a trellis, and pinch out the tips if you want to grow it as an espalier.
We did get some fruit on our native raspberry but not enough to make a meal of them. You can buy them from Northey Street.
To get motivated and organised in the vegetable patch it helps to have gardening charts. Start your new year off with good intentions and hopefully you will be blessed with an abundance of yummy fresh organic produce.
The Diggers Club Sow What When poster – This full colour poster displays over 60 commonly grown vegetables and herbs, including instructions for whether to sow into trays or direct in the ground, which months to sow, spacing between plants and in the row, growing days to harvest. Cool, warm and hot climate zones are covered with additional heat and cold zone maps helping you determine your exact growing area. In addition perhaps the most useful and unique cross reference information relates to the distinction of soil temperature. 59cm x 43cm. $15 for the public, $12 for members from The Diggers Club. Also available as $20 rolled or $9.50 folded from Green Harvest.
Sow When poster – This chart will help you with sowing times, sowing method and seed depth for flowers, vegetables and herbs for cold, temperate, subtropical and tropical categories. 450 x 610 mm; $15 rolled in poster tube from Green Harvest.
Companion Planting poster – Cross reference chart to 75 of the most common herbs, vegetables and flowers, showing beneficial and antagonistic companions and also a list of insect-repellent herbs. 450 x 610 mm; $15 rolled in poster tube from Green Harvest. Also available from The Diggers Club.
Companion Planting chart (IDEP) is based on permaculture principles and produced by IDEP Foundation, a non-profit non-government organisation in Indonesia. It includes some natural insect repellant tips. Free A3 poster on companion planting [PDF 350KB]
Stephanie Alexander’s Kitchen Garden Companion Planting Chart – provides month-by-month suggestions for growing an extensive range of seasonal vegetables across hot, temperate and cooler climates. This A1 poster is beautifully illustrated in the style of the Kitchen Garden Companion book. $20
Moon Planting Cycle Calender – A perpetual guide to vegetable gardening by the Moon cycles. At the start of each month, align the new moon symbol on the moving disc with the date of the new moon for that month (just find this date in the newspaper or a website or diary). Then simply check the recommended activities for each day of the month – soil preparation times, ideal sowing or transplanting times, and fertilising times. Also includes companion planting tips. A4-size laminated cardboard. $12.50 direct from Moon Calendar. Also available from The Diggers Club.
Have I missed any garden charts for Australia?
To encourage butterflies to your garden you’ll need to provide both plants for the caterpillars and a good range of nectar rich flowers throughout the year for the butterflies. A source of water is also required – a bird bath is ideal. Local native plants from your region are the best choice.
Here are some that a suitable for the greater Brisbane area:
Ground covers and herbs:
- Love flower
- Spade flower
- Stinging nettle
- Yellow buttons
- Kangaroo Grass
- Pademilon Grasses (Oplismenus)
- Brisbane Wattle
- Coffee Bush
- Forest hop Bush
- Green Wattle
- Native Finger Lime
- Native Plum
- Brown Kurrajong
- Brush Box
- Crown of Gold Tree
- Lacebark Tree
- Melaleuca and Callistemon
- Rusty Gum
- Sandpaper figs
Vines and Palms:
- Barbed Wire Vine
- Monkey Rope
- Native Wisteria
- Piccabeen Palm
- Richmond Birdwing Vine
There are a number of great little places where you can buy local native plants in and around Brisbane. The top four are my favourite places for variety and price:
Northey Street City Farm
Corner of Northey and Victoria Streets,
Phone: (07) 3857 8775
Pine Rivers Community Nursery – Kumbartcho Sanctuary
Bunya Pine Court, Eatons Hill
Phone: (07) 3264 3953
Fairhill Native Plants and Botanic Gardens
114-132 Fairhill Road,
Ninderry (Yandina) QLD 4561
Phone: (07) 5446 7088
Nova Gardens Nursery
78a Settlement Road, The Gap, QLD
Phone: (07) 3300 4161
Morton Bay community plant nurseries:
Bribie Island Community Nursery
208 First Avenue, Bongaree
Phone: (07) 3410 0088
Caboolture Region Environmental Education Centre (CREEC)
150 Rowley Road, Burpengary
Phone: (07) 3888 9285
Redcliffe Botanic Gardens
Henzell Street, Redcliffe