Companion planting

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Here are some tried and tested companions that help a variety of edible plants:

  • Marigold with tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce and most plants – repels white fly and root nematodes
  • Corn with spinach, swiss chard and leafy greens – protects and shades delicate leaves from the harsh sun
  • Borage with strawberries, cucumber and most edible plants – increases yield by adding nitrogen to the soil and attracting bees
  • Onions and garlic with fruit trees, tomatoes and eggplant – help deter aphids, slugs and other insects and weeds
  • Geranium with grapes, tomatoes and eggplant – attract insect pests so they stay away from other plants
  • Comfrey with tomatoes, berries and fruit trees – the leaves are full of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium
  • Nasturtiums with cabbage, radishes and apple trees – attract aphids so the aphids avoid other plants
  • Sage with cabbage, carrots and strawberries – repels the cabbage white butterfly.

Can you think of any others?

Edible Garden Design by Jamie Durie

Photo by Jan.

Best plants for Brisbane’s weather

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I attended a seminar on vegetable gardens presented by Tim Auld. He encouraged the group to brainstrorm the best plants for each of the seasons in Brisbane.

He explained that the traditional seasonal climates (spring, summer, autumn and winter) are mostly applicable to southern states of Australia. Queensland has a more temperate climate (sub-tropic) and further north have a tropical wet season (Dec – March).

Here’s the list of plants the group came up with:

Plants for the wet season (December to March):

  • ceylon spinach, choko, kang kong, melons, squash,  snake beans, sweet potato, taro and yams

Plants for a Cool temperate summer (April to August):

  • broccoli, carrot, garlic, lettuce, onions, peas, potatoes, radish, silverbeet, spinach, and tomatoes

Plants for a Mediterranean summer (September to November):

  •  basil, beans, beetroot, capsicum, chilli, corn, melons, silverbeet, and squash

Getting started growing Bananas in Queensland

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Unfortunately due to an overwhelming demand since Cyclone Yasi, there is a six month waiting list for banana plants! So I’m going to have to put my banana growing plans on hold. Here’s some of the information I discovered while conducting research.

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 is from September to mid-December.

They require a large amount 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 Primary Industries and Fisheries).

The only permitted varieties 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 only ONE supplier in Queensland – Blue Sky Backyard Bananas – each plant costs $30 each including postage.

Further information

Agrilink produce 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 Fact Sheet: Growing Bananas for the ABC Gardening website.

Gardening charts for Australia

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?

Tree planting and watering

Here are a few more steps to assist keeping your trees hydrated:

Add a handful of water crystals to help the plant survive in drought and periods when you neglect to water them. The clear jelly-like crystals absorb and store water.

Plastic aqua spikes or water cones are pushed into the root zone of a seedling or plant to give it a regular watering. A plastic water bottle is added on the other end. You can also add kelp and fish fertilizer to the water to fertilise at the same time.

The local council uses pipes with their road side plantings. These pipes are usually 30 cm long with perforated holes. They need to be inserted into the ground before the seedling or tree is planted in place, and allow water to be directed at the root zones of the plant. This targeted watering prevents water loss from evaporation and is more efficient then watering at ground level.

Tree guards are triangle plastic sleeves that held in place by a three wooden stakes. Other versions are made from pink coreflute plastic. They help increase the success rate of seedling plantings by reducing cold, wind and animal damage. They are used by Landcare in Australia for bush regeneration projects and highway plantings. A smarter version includes a water pouch to provide self-watering to the root zone.

Homegrown Evolution has a great list of self-watering planters.