Garlic grows from cloves, the bulb like sections that we split up to eat. You can sometimes start it successfully from shop bought bulbs but these are often sterile or treated with undesirable chemicals. Best bought from organic stores or garden suppliers. In warm areas chill the bulbs in the fridge for a few weeks first before planting. Plant garlic from late Autumn to mid Winter. It grows best in a sunny spot with good drainage. It doesnt like wet, soggy ground so in these areas its best to build a raised bed. Dig well aged organic matter through the soil. Plant the bulbs pointy end down into holes that are 2.5-4 cm deep. Feed every couple of weeks with a liquid plant food such as Thrive Soluble All purpose as this is high in nitrogen which is important for establishing plants. Reduce to monthly applications through the cool weather. In Spring it may be helpful to add Sulphate of Potash or switch to feeding with Thrive Flower and Fruit. Watch for thrips and aphids on leaves. Garlic is a slow crop and can take at least 5 months for the bulbs to grow. Harvest when the flowers start to die off and leaves begin to yellow. Pull out the whole plant and hang it to dry.
HOW DO I DRY HERBS ?
Drying herbs is quite easy for you to try at home. Harvest herbs before flowering and best cut mid morning before the heat of the day but free from early morning dew moisture. Remove dirt, dust, dead or diseased leaves. Yellow or spotted leaves should be discarded. Shake gently to remove any insects hiding. Remove lower leaves by about an inch. Then, tie the stems into small bunches of say 4-6 branches, with twine or string and hang them upside down in a warm, dry, airy place out of the sun. Make small, loose bundles and allow for good air circulation. You can hang them inside in a kitchen or pantry. Some herbs that are tough like Rosemary, Sage, Parsley, Dill, Lavender, Bay leaves and Thyme are easy to dry whereas tender leaf herbs like Oregano, Basil, Tarragon and Mints may mould and discolour if not dried quickly. You could try drying these softer herbs in a paper bag. Cut several holes in the bag and hang upside down with the end tie closed. Make sure they are not too crowded in the bag. Check in about 2 weeks to see how they are. The herbs will retain more flavour if you store the leaves whole and just crush them when you are ready to use them. Dried herbs are best used with a year as the lose their colour in time which means they lose some of their flavour too. Microwaves can be used as a quick method of drying small amounts of herbs too. Lay a single layer of clean, dry leaves between dry paper towels and place them in the microwave for 1-2 minutes on high power, depending on the wattage of the microwave. Let the leaves cool and if they are not brittle, reheat for 30 seconds more and retest. Thick leaved herbs may need to be air dried for a few days prior to microwaving. Conventional ovens can also be used. Spread the herbs on baking trays and dry at the lowest temperature. Home food dehydrators also are excellent. Herbs are dry sufficiently when they are brittle and crumble easily. Separate them from stems and store in an air tight container. Glass, Plastic or heavy duty zip-lock plastic bags can be used. Store herbs in a cool, dry place away from sunlight, moisture and heat.
WHAT PLANTS GROW WELL AT MY PLACE?
This is a question we frequently get asked at the Nursery! It really is hard to say! From street to street, suburb to suburb, soils can vary and rainfall can be different even from one side of the street to the other! So how do you work out what will grow? Walk around the local streets and see what others have that are growing well. If you don’t know the plant, take a picture or even ask the owner what the plant is called, or ask for a cutting, this makes it easier when you come into the Nursery looking for it! Its very hard to pick accurately what a plant is from a description like its green with flowers and is everywhere! Bringing in a picture from a book also can be difficult as the book may not be printed in our State or even this country so you may never be able to obtain the look that is printed. Perth is a very hot environment with water restrictions so plants that grow well in Tasmania are not going to do so well here. Plants that are indigenous to Western Australia are a sure choice. Plants like Kangaroo Paws, Albany Woolly Bush, Walpole Wax are all endemic to our state.
I’D LIKE A PERFUMED GARDEN, WHAT PLANTS ARE SUITABLE?
Perfumed plants are popular in the garden, planted near a pathway so you can gently brush by them and their scents are released into the air! Strategically placed near a window that opens is a great idea too so you can smell them from inside. Some highly scented plants can ward off insects and flies too. You can cut many flower varieties and place inside in a vase, thus bringing the outside inside! Cottage gardens tend to have lots of perfumed flowers. Here are some varieties of plants that you could add to bring pleasing aromas to your home garden.
Gardenia, Rose, Mexican Orange Blossom, Murraya Paniculata, Geranium, Frangipani, Stephanotis, Hoya carnosa, Wisteria, Rosemary, Lavender, Jasmine, Heliotrope, Honeysuckle, Magnolia, Sweet Viburnum, Citrus trees, Tuberose, Stocks, Sweet Pea, Herbs, Carnations, Dianthus, Jonquils, Bay tree, Lemon Verbena, Cestrum, Diosma, Boronia, Brunsfelsia, Clematis, Osmanthus, Daphne, Jacaranda, Buddleja, Pittosporum Miss Muffet, Freesias and Hyacinths.
HOW AND WHEN TO TAKE FRANGIPANI CUTTINGS
Frangipanis are easy to grow from cuttings. The ideal time to take cuttings is just as the tree is coming out of dormancy and has not produced new growth, so late Winter into early Spring here in Perth. Pick a healthy branch or you can even use a fallen or broken branch that is in good condition. Make a clean cut by secauteurs or saw, remove any leaves or flower buds if they have started, then leave the cutting (which oozes a milky sap) in a cool dry place for about a week or two till it has sealed. A good sized piece to cut would be about 30cm long. When the open wound has hardened, place firmly into a pot in a warm sheltered spot. Use a good quality draining Potting Mix. You do not need to use a Rooting Hormone on the cuttings, unlike some other plants you may try and propagate, nor do you need to stand the cuttings in water till they root. Water well when potting, then lightly, till new growth appears. Frangipanis don’t like wet feet. Stake to prevent movement if necessary then remove as it gets older. Alternatively you can place cut pieces straight into the ground rather than in pots but in a location that gets full sun most of the day. Plants can take dappled shade but won’t flower as much and are more likely to get ‘Rust’ disease.
WHICH PLANTS IMPROVE AIR QUALITY INSIDE THE HOUSE?
We have been asked recently by a customer which plants have the ability to cleanse and purify the air inside homes. Yes, there are plants that filter out toxins and pollutants and replace the carbon dioxide we exhale with fresh oxygen. They naturally add moisture to the air thus preventing dry skin, colds and sore throats caused commonly by the effects of constant air conditioning and heating inside. Not only do they add beauty and a cheerful atmosphere inside they naturally clean the air, so bring a bit of nature indoors and place more plants around!
A study by NASA in America in the 80’s concluded that houseplants were able to reduce 87% of air toxins in 24 hours. They conducted tests to investigate ways to purify the air in their space facilities and these findings have also benefited houses and offices. They found that many houseplants filtered out common pollutants, unwanted gases and cleansed the atmosphere. Studies have found that people are calmer, happier and even healthier when living alongside plants and flowers, with a reduction in common illnesses.
Around the home there are many hidden toxins present that we cannot see but can be detrimental to our health if we are exposed to them constantly over many years especially those who have health problems to begin with. Until recently indoor air pollution was not considered a health threat but people began to insulate their homes and offices to conserve energy and lower heating and cooling costs, and as a result indoor air lingers more, allowing pollutants to accumulate. Outdoor pollution is also welcomed inside when you open the door especially if you live near an industrial area.
There can be Tobacco smoke, Paint and adhesive fumes, Pesticides, Pets and other animals that shed hair, Heaters, Air conditioning equipment, Poor ventilation, Dirty filters, Leaky roofs and water leaks which cause mould, mildew and dampness, Household cleaners, Chemicals, Flooring and resins, Synthetic carpets, Dust mites, man made Building materials, Printers, Fax machines and Printer inks and exhaust fumes from vehicles polluting the atmosphere and escaping inside through an open window. These may cause skin and eye irritations, headaches and allergies. The chemicals emitted are commonly Benzene, Formaldehyde and Trichloroethylene.
These following plants have been proven to help eliminate some of the above:
Rubber Plant – (Ficus Elastica) – Has thick, glossy evergreen leaves, very hardy to have indoors as a house plant. Removes chemical toxins in the air.
English Ivy – (Hedera helix) and Devils Ivy – (Epipremnum aureum) are both fast growing trailing plants. They are good at filtering a variety of polluting compounds in the air. Good for people who suffer from Asthma or allergies. Also good for pet owners as they have been shown to reduce airborn fecal matter particles and spray from chemical ingredients found in aerosol and some household cleaning products. Tackles car exhaust fumes too, so placed near a garage, car port or pegola would be a good idea.
Aloe Vera – An easy to grow, sun loving succulent which help to rid fumes from chemical based cleaners and paints. The gel inside an Aloe plant can also help heal cuts and burns. Place plant near a sunny kitchen bench or near a window inside.
Spider plant – (Chlorophytum comosum) An evergreen, resilient plant. which has lots of cascading foliage. It helps absorb carbon monoxide fumes which are produced by Cars, Trucks, Engines, Lanterns, burning Wood and Charcoal ,Gas stoves and Heating systems. Carbon monoxide is a colourless and odourless deadly gas. Helps eliminate poisonous gases from rubber, leather or print products around the home also.
Gerbera – An attractive plant with green foliage at the base and colourful blooms. Needs lots of light to keep flowering inside. Can remove toxins from products like solvents, paints, inks, drycleaning fumes and cigarette smoke.
Mother in laws Tongue – (Sansevieria trifasciata) A thick, leathery, tall growing plant with leaves that are sword shaped. Helps to filter out toxins from cleaning products like toilet paper, tissues and personal care products.
Chrysanthemum – A bright and colourful old fashioned, favourite flower. A popular Mothers Day plant which can cheer up a coffee table, office desk or outside on the patio. Loves bright light so place near a window. The blooms help to filter out fumes from Glue, Paint, Plastics and Detergents. Also negates the effects of tobacco smoke.
Azalea – This beautiful flowering shrub helps combat chemicals from foam insulation and plywood. Usually an outdoor plant but can be kept inside for short periods of time especially if its flowering.
Ficus – The common Ficus Benjamina grows well inside in a living area near light. It helps disperse air pollutants that come from Carpets and Furniture.
Dracaena – (Massangeana fragans, Marginata or Reflexa) All these varieties can grow inside or out and help remove residue left behind by varnishes, gasoline and lacquers.
Philodendron – This family of plants are tough and durable with strong, usually green foliage. They are easy to care for house plants that little attention. Have been known to rid the air of toxins from glue and leather.
Ferns – Especially the Boston fern are known not only for their graceful appearance but help rid the air of pollutants found in Paints, Nail Polishes and Glues. Expel moulds as well, that’s why a lot of people keep them in bathrooms.
Orchids -Popular long lasting flowering plants which rid the air of many pollutants found in glues and paints. Make an excellent choice as a gift for someone who had just renovated their house! They give off oxygen at night so are great indoors for short periods of time.
Palms – (Arecaceae) Palms are great for helping disperse the toxins left in the air by cigarette smoke. The Dwarf date Palm (Phoenix Roebelenii) Lady Finger Palm (Rhapis excelsa) Bamboo Palm (Chamaedorea) are all good choices. Palms need light, so near a window or door is a good spot and they should be put outside for a refresh, regularly.
Umbrella Tree – (Schefflera) This glossy leaved, sturdy, oval leaved, evergreen shrub is a popular pot plant. Its waxy, shiny leaves don’t appear real! They soak up nasty toxins especially cigarette smoke.
African Violets – (Saintpaulia) These pretty little indoor plant seem delicate but are also air fresheners.
Peace Lily – (Spathiphyllum) and Anthurium Lily These well known planst with glossy green foliage and stunning flowers which appear throughout the year. Remove harmful toxins like acetone and ammonia. Good in office environments where the leaves soak up fumes emitted by Adhesives, Copiers and Printers.
Zygocactus – This tough succulent which grows easily and produces flowers at its tips around Christmas time. Helps reduce general air pollutants.
Hoya Carnosa – This is a waxy trailing plant with delicate, star shaped, scented flowers, at various times of the year. It is efficient in helping to remove carbon dioxide from the air. It prefers indirect light.
Bromeliad – These tropical plants have attractive foliage and colourful flowers. They also have been proven to release oxygen and water vapors during the night improving air quality. They seem to help with smoke from cigarettes and tobacco as well.
Dieffenbachia – An attractive, tropical perennial plant with green foliage and specks or spots of white. This plant assists with removing carbon dioxide from the air and reducing your carbon footprint. They remove toxins from paint, household cleaners, carpets and office equipment.
HYDRANGEAS – WHEN DO I PRUNE THEM AND HOW TO CHANGE THEIR COLOUR
A good time to cut back Hydrangeas is at the end of Autumn into Winter so May, June or July every year. If left unpruned they have a shorter flowering period. Cut back a few of the oldest branches and any thin or diseased branches. Cut back by between a third or half.
Hydrangeas change colour depending on the type of soil they are growing in. The flowers will colour blue if the soil is acidic and pink in alkaline soil. White coloured plants will stay white in any soil type. You can try and change the soil you have by adding chemicals to it but it is a slow process taking several months and many applications. Garden Centres usually sell a ready mixed product called Hydrangea Blueing tonic which has iron and aluminium in it or try adding Sulphate of Iron. If you want the blooms pink you can add Garden lime.
WHY DID MY PLANT DIE?
Gee, there are many reasons why plants die! its very hard for someone to guess why this has happened to your plant and sometimes there is no explanations or apparent reason for their demise.
So here are some of the causes, that we have come across, that could help you in determining if any of these are the culprit in your case and you can correct the problem.