Creative uses for old wood

I just visited The Home Garden blog and found this great post about recycling old pieces of trees.

They have created some very simple but attractive designs using nothing more than a tree branch and a chainsaw.

Check it out at The Home Garden

I would love to create some items like this in my garden, but fear that the wood would attract a termites nest, bringing them closer to my home. I guess I’ll have to move further south where they are not as much of an issue.

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DIY Inverted Planter

Remember Mr Squiggle? “Upside down Miss Jane…”

If you’re not from Australia then maybe not.

Anyway, I saw a link the other day to an upside down tomato planting system. Being a commercial version it cost around $27 to get one delivered.

I thought that it was a great idea, but it looked like it would only last one season of growing due to it’s flimsy plastic design, I quickly forgot about the planter.

Yesterday I was browsing through and found there was a post on how to build your own Inverted Planter for next to no cost.

The idea of an inverted planter is that there is no need to tie your tomato plants to a trellis, as gravity holds them hanging down freely.

The following is taken from the commercial version’s website:

The Topsy Turvy™ Tomato Planter works in a simple yet ingenious way. As the sun warms the plant like a greenhouse, the root system explodes and thrives inside the planter. Because the Topsy Turvy™ is upside down, water and nutrients pour directly from the root to the fruit, giving you up to 30 pounds of deliciously ripe tomatoes per plant!

Use your Topsy Turvy™ to grow deliciously ripe tomatoes for homemade sauces, sandwiches, salads and more without harmful pesticides or backbreaking work.

Now there are no claims made that this new planter system from Instructables will out perform many years worth of tried and tested in ground methods, but I thought it would be pretty cool to try, and something interesting to show friends when they come around. You can find the instructions at
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Growing Passionfruit Followup

After having 13 comments, many of them questions, on the post How To Grow Passionfruit, I thought I would follow up with some answers.

Heart of passion!

When is the passionfruit ready for
picking? Do I wait until it turns from green to purple and wrinkled, or
do I pick it green? thank you

fruit will quickly turn from green to deep purple (or yellow) when ripe
and then fall to the ground within a few days. They can either be
picked when they change color or gathered from the ground each day. To
store passion fruit, wash and dry them gently and place them in bags.
They should last 2 to 3 weeks. The fruit is sweetest when slightly
shriveled. Both the fruit and the juice freeze well

Can I grow a Yellow Passion fruit from the fruit seeds that I will bring
from Peru? and I wonder if the rainy weather of Washington State would
help or not?

I wouldn’t be bringing in seeds from another country as they could contain
deseases that could cause the local passionfruit vines to die.

Growing Passionfruit from seed can be done. but is not the best way
to go. If you have a hybrid variety it will not grow the hybird variety
from the seed, also if you do not live in a true tropical area your
root stock will not be resistant to Fusarium wilt. Grafted plants
generaly will not get Fusarium wilt.

I might give this a try this year. I’ve been going big on growing my own
food for about a year now and this year am also adding blackcurrents
and mushrooms to the produce I already grow at home. I figure that my
garden is closer than the supermarket so I’m saving time as well as
money and getting better food.

I am living in South Africa in the Northern Cape (Kalahari) which is semi
arid. We have very hot summers and cold winters with frost. Will they
grow in our region and how can I protect them in winter?

How often must they be watered in summer and during winter?

Passionfruit love hot summers as long as they have plenty of water, but they do not like frosty conditions. Maybe you could create a protective cover for you vine over the winter months

Passionfruit love lots of water in both summer and winter, and since they are such gross feeders they love lots of nutrients as well.

Hi I have grown a magnificent 6 m trellissed granadilla.It bares large
flowers and then drops the flowers one by one never reaching the fruit
stage. The plant is now 6 years old and to date has never given a
single fruit.

Is there a solution to this problem or is this just a rogue plant that looks fabulous.


Kevin, I think that it may be a potassium deficiency. Purchase a packet of Sulphate of Potash and mix it up at double the rate on the packet. Pour it allover the root zone and water in well. Then mix up a half strength batch and pout it on the leaves with a watering can. Potassium is the nutrient that encourages strong flowering and fruiting, while nitrogen is used to produce lots of leaves. You can use Potash on any of your plants to improve the growth of their flowers.

I heard it is possible to grow passion fruit in Chicago–is that strictly
inside or….Also loved the “banana” passionfruit I ate in New Zealand as
a child-any news on obtaining those plants?

Hi, I’m not from America so I am not very familiar with the climate. In short passionfruit do not like frost or snow. So if it snows in Chicago then you may need to grow your vine indoors if there is plenty of light provided.

i have a case of passion woodiness how is it controlled

Passionfruit woodiness is a disease and must be dealt with by destroying the plant. Other problems that look like passionfruit woodiness are listed below.
  • magnesium deficiency
  • nitrogen deficiency on sandy soils
  • ‘winter yellows’. This is brought on by cold weather, windy conditions, low humidity or a combination of these.

I have had a passionfruit vine growing over my clothes hoist in the
backyard for many years, it is an unusual passionfruit that was given
to me, on the top of the passionfruit there is a stub that is attached
to the passionfruit and it has quite a soft outer casing.

It could be either the Alata or a Granadilla I am not too sure but the
problem is that it does not get any passionfruits on it, it gets the
flowers and then they drop off without going to fruit.

Do you know what can be wrong with the passionfruit vine.

The passionfruit is even more than the Panama Passionfruts



Sandy, Maybe you have a boron and Potassium deficiency. Add some Sulphate of Potash to your plant as well as some Borax. Be careful with the borax, one teaspoon in 10 litres of water is plenty for a start. You can add two good sized handfuls of Sulphate of Potash to the soil around your vine and water in well.

hi, i live in fresno, california is it possible to grow passion fruit as
its very hot and very cold climate. also, does anyone know where i can
buy a passion fruit tree? thanks much

Hi, As I live in Australia it is kind of hard to know about the climate in California, BUT passionfruit vines can handle cool weather as long as it does not frost. Frost will kill passionfruit very quickly. You could grow them under a cover for the cooler months. The best bet is to plant a vine after the end of the frost season then see how it goes the following year.
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Little seeds = lots of water, Big seeds = a little water

EmergenceWhile I was planting some pumpkins and peas in the garden yesterday I could hear the voice of my grandmother ringing in my ears…
She always used to tell me that when you are watering in seeds that you should think about their size. Large seeds absorb a large amount of water (enough to get them to germination) in the first 24 hours. Watering too much more will increase the chance of seed rot.

Small seeds require lots of water prior to germination as they cannot absorb as much as they need, and they are planted closer to the surface than larger seeds which can lead to them drying out quicker.

A tip I found on the Tiny Farm Blog – using burlap to protect the seedlings.

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How to use Soil Wetting Agents & Gels

The soil in my yard is sandy… In the area’s that I’ve put some effort into there is plenty of organic matter and the plants are doing well, yet the lawn area and the older garden beds there is one big issue, hydrophobic soil. Hydrophobic soil almost repels water that is put onto it, and it can take a fair bit of effort to take care of.

One method is to use Soil Wetting Agents, basicly they are a combination of different detergents which break the surface tension and disolve the waxy coating that the soil particles develop over long periods of dry weather.

Pot plants also need soil wetting agents to ensure that the water you are applying to them is working effectively. When soil inside a pot becomes dry and is then watered, the water finds the path of least resistance and flows right through to the bottom. this barely wets the soil and the plant does not access the water.

I watched Gardening Australia the other night and saw this great video on Soil Wetters and water saving crystals.
You should check it out and tell your friends.

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Bio Pots

While shopping at Kmart (Australian for Walmart) I found these great new pots made from bamboo stems, rice husks and straw. pots

They come in a range of great colours and are 100% biodegradable. For a 100mm pot they only cost $3 each. Quite stylish for growing herbs in.

While they are slightly more expensive than PVC pots of similar sizes I think that having a pot that is going to return to the earth rather than sit around for the next hundred years when it gets broken is a great way to go.

From their website I have found the following:

Lifespan outdoors with a plant – 1 year
Indoor with a plant – 3 years
Indoor without plant – 10 years

– Solid, lightweight and waterproof
– Allows plant roots to breathe
– Great in greenhouse conditions

You can find more information at their website

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Who do I read?

At the moment I subscribe to around 15 RSS Feeds from other blogs.

Reading these blogs gives me ideas for my own garden, as well as providing me with some ideas to post about.

Here they are in no particular order…

Tiny Farm Blog

My Tiny Plot

Scarecrow’s Garden

Fluffius Muppetus

Veggie Gardening Tips

Garden Desk

Her Gardening Blog

The Herb Gardener

Glenns Garden

Mr Brown Thumb

Smell Like Dirt

All the Dirt on Gardening

Backyard Gardening Blog

Adventures in my Urban Garden

This Garden is Illegal

I highly recommend that you should subscribe to any or all of these blogs!
You can also subscribe to my blog HERE.

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How to reduce transplant shock

Fragaria Vasca / Wild StrawberryI”ve been potting up a number of seedlings I purchased in trays, as can be seen in the post Cheap Plants. One of the comments was related to transplant shock of larger plants compared to seedlings. This got me thinking, and I realised that I did not know a lot about the reasons behind transplant shock and the best way to minimise it.
I also realised that there are a number of things I have been taught to do when planting plants, but was not aware why they should be done.

Lets begin by defining transplant shock, it is the stress or damage received when the plant is taken from a pot or one part of the garden and re-planted in another location.
Stress to a plant could be drying out, being planted in sunnier or shadier area than it is used to. Damage could be broken branches, damaged roots, lost leaves etc.

For large trees, transplant shock can go on for years and can be the cause of death for many trees. But lets stick to small plants today.

Tip #1. Choose the healthiest looking plants
While browsing through the nursery pick out the best looking plants from the selected species you are after, bright healthy foliage is what you are after. Anything that is limp looking can stay there for the next person.

Tip #2. Check the roots
When you have picked your plants, gently squeeze the pot to loosen the plant, gently pull on the stem and remove the plant from the pot a little way. Healthy growing roots are bright white in colour, dull white is ok and brown is not good. Make sure you take home plants with healthy roots!

Tip #3. Prepare the soil
Take the time to dig the hole where you will plant the new addition. Mix in some compost and water the soil well the day before to allow any excess moisture to drain away. A friend of mine always digs triangle holes for his plants, he thinks it forces the roots to break through the soil and stay healthy.

Tip #4. Water well
Before planting out, take the pots and soak them in a bucket of water for 10 minutes each. You can add a small amount of seaweed extract to the water also. Doing this will ensure that the roots are full of water before being put into their new environment.

Tip #5. Planting out
Make sure the hole you are planing in is far bigger than the pot, maybe twice the size, this will allow the roots room to grow in some cultivated soil.

Tip #6. Protection
Is your plant frost sensitive? Sensitive to sun or heat? Or has it been grown in a shade or greenhouse? Ensure that you get your plant used to the new conditions that you would like it to grow in before you leave it uncovered. Try a piece of shade cloth and some mulch for hot climates, or a cover at night for cooler climates.

Tip #7. Watering in
After planting, you should water the plant in to remove any air gaps surrounding the root system. Make sure that the water isn’t too cold if it is in winter time, luke warm water from the tap will give the roots a warm welcome.

I hope this has been as educational for you as it has been for me. I’m sure that my plants will grow better in the garden after I’ve planted them out from now on.

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Cheap plants

Yesterday after visiting Bunnings, my fiance was horrified that I came home with three punnets of plants and a bag of potting mix when I only went to get some tap washers.

I’m a sucker for new plants, and some times it can take a fair whack out of my weekly budget if I am not careful.
My resolution for June (and the rest of the year) is to keep my plant spending habit to a minimum, that is to get value for money.

My Bunnings trip saw me come home with three punnets of seedlings, a bag of potting mix and of course the tap washers.

Each of the punnets had 8 seedlings in them and they were $2.50 each. Far better value than the slightly larger plants of the same variety for $3 for each plant, they had only been grown on for another two weeks or so.

After coming home I fixed the taps, and potted up my new plants.

Here are some photo’s of them potted up, I did run out of pots so some ended up right into the garden.

DSCF2192 DSCF2191 DSCF2188

Who would have though all those plants cost only $7.50?

The plants are:
Mixed Hypoestes
Salvia – Blaze of Fire
Mixed Vinca

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