How to feed your citrus tree (lemon, lime orange)

After planting my new lemon tree last week, I set out to find how to fertilise it and get it to grow to it’s best potential.

There is plenty of info out there for lemon & citrus trees, but nothing as complete or concise as that at Aussie Organic Gardening.

The blog post is so good, I’m not even going to paraphrase any of it.

If you have a citrus tree, check their blog out. I’ve also added the blog to my RSS reader to keep getting their updates.

Espalier – Growing Flat Trees

In short, Espalier is the name given to a technique of growing trees into a two dimensional flat plane by grafting, pruning and training.

The espalier technique was developed in Europe in the 16th century to help temperate climate fruit grow in cooler climates, by growing them flat against a sunny wall. Gardening Australia has a great Fact Sheet on Espalier.

Any shrub or bush can be espaliered, but popular species include:

  • Olives
  • Citrus (orange, lime, lemon)
  • Camellias
  • Gardenia

You might be surprised, but growing a tree in an espalier fashion is easy to do at home.

Finding the location and setting up is the most challenging part. The tree will need to be grown on some kind of sturdy trellis. If you choose a wall, simply attach some horizontal tensioned wires about 30cm apart, they are going to have to take some weight so ensure they are well secured.
Some kind of clips will be required to hold the branches being trained to the wires, soft spongy plastic ties can be bought at your garden center.

Before you plant your tree, look at it from all angles. It is best to plant it with the most horizontal branches to line up with the wall. The other unwanted branches can be pruned back to keep the tree flat.

It is going to take some care and time to keep your tree under control, especially during the growing season so keep your secateurs handy.

There are a number of different styles of espalier you can try.

Palmette Verrier

Six Grid

Tripler Vertical U Shape

The Fan

Belgian Fence

The new Lemon Tree

IMG_0281 Another trip to the nursery on the weekend saw us come home with a swag of new plants, one of them being a lemon tree.
After choosing a nice looking specimen the lady at the nursery asked what it’s primary use was.

My fiance was not impressed when I told her that all I wanted was a lemon tree to pee on. (Peter Cundall recommends it!)

After working out that we would be using the lemons for cooking, the variety I had chosen (Meyer) was not the ideal variety as it does not set very well (in cheesecake etc).
I ended up with a Eureka lemon, which is very similar to the old Lisbon variety with fewer thorns. Here are some more differences between the lemon varieties.

After digging a large hole (about 1.5 times as deep as the roots and 5 times the diameter) and mixing in some dolomite to sweeten the soil, the tree was in the ground. The nursery lady said not to touch the roots as lemon’s do not like that.

A good water and a bit of sunshine later the lemon tree is looking fantastic. All I need to do is wait for the lemons to make some lemon cordial!

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More home vegetable gardens as food costs soar

The other end of the garden
With the rising cost of fuel and food, many Australians are going back to growing a vegetable garden in their back yard to help reduce their household expenditure.

Horticulturalist and Assistant Retail Manager of Eden Gardens has recorded that over the past year the sales of fruit and vegetable seedlings has risen 50% on the previous year, while sales of regular garden plants had stayed stable, indicating that more families are growing their own to save some money.

Most people have come to the realisation that the world oil price is staying high, and rather than sacrifice good quality vegetables people have turned towards growing vegetable gardens to ease the financial burden that increased fuel costs and drought have brought.

The Diggers Club, a group who grow and sell organic heirloom fruit and vegetable seeds formed in 1978, marketing manager Lisa Remato says that in an area of 10 square metres you can grow enough vegetables for one person.

A lot of keen home gardeners have known this for years, I have only began to branch out into growing fruit in the past 8 months with a passionfruit vine (I’ve had many a lemon tree!). My biggest challenge has been moving to a new climate which has very hot summers that burn off alot of my vegetable crops.

The Diggers Club are offering health-care card holders (lower income families) a package of seeds for $19.40 which should be able to grow over two tonnes of food! 350kg of pumpkins, 1025kg of tomatoes, 619kg of cucumbers, 9kg of peas, 200 heads of brocoli, 100 bunches of silverbeet, 8kg of beans, 700 lettuces, 1200 carrots, 300 parsnips and 300 onions!

That’s a lot of food, and when compared to buying it at the supermarket it’s really cheap if you’re up for a little work each week.

The biggest problem that the world faces is that there is a generation of people out there who have no idea how to grow vegetables. It is great to say that people could grow two tonnes of food, but it’s the knowing how to do the job that counts.

I’ll leave you all on a modified anecdote

Give a person a basket of vegetables and he will eat for a day, teach a person how to grow vegetables and he will eat for a lifetime.

Share your gardening knowledge with everyone, and you will both be rewarded.

Garden Blogger Sessions – This Garden is Illegal

We all love our gardens and love to share what we grow within them. The Garden Blogger Sessions is something I’ve come up with to draw people who blog about gardening together so we can gain some insight into what makes them tick…

Hanna from This Garden is Illegal was kind enough to donate her time to be the first of what will be many garden bloggers input to the Garden Blogger Sessions.  This Garden is Illegal has also developed a Garden Blog Search Engine, make sure you get your blog included and get the search widget on your site!

What Country do you live in?
US of A
 
What kind of climate?
Generally unpredictable.  I technically live in zone 5 but Cleveland, OH is in a rare situation of being on a massive lake with a cold area above it.  It creates some interesting and rapidly changing weather patterns (such as Lake Effect Snow).  Some winters we can see zone 6 like conditions and other winters, more like zone 4.
 
City or country?
Suburbia, Cleveland, OH, USA
 
How big is your garden?
Slightly bigger than a postage stamp.  That roughly translates to a 1/5 of an acre.
  hannas_garden.jpg
How long have you been gardening?
That is a tough one.  I have been technically gardening since I was about 5.  But up until I was 19, it was termed “daily chores”.  I have enjoyed gardening (meaning I was doing on my own and not as manual labor for someone else) for about 12 years now.
 
Who taught you how to garden?
I learned the basics from my mother.  But, these days, when I have a question about gardening, I tend to turn towards the internet.  It is a little like God in that there is no answer that cannot be found as long as you know how to speak to it.
 
Where do you get your inspiration for your garden? (eg parks, botanical gardens, other peoples gardens)
Chaos theory.
 
Do you plan out your garden on paper, or just go planting things all over?
Really, my garden is kind of like a ghetto.  I just cram them all in and they all hope for the best.
 
How long have you been blogging about gardening?
Just over two years.
 
What inspires you to post?
Honestly, because people appreciate my humor on the blog.  I make those kinds of jokes in the offline world and people just look at me funny (not like ha-ha funny either).  Plus, I just enjoy gardening and trivia.  I can combine what I find on my blog as a kind of reference for myself.
 
Any other comments?
“I did not have sexual relations with that gardener.”
The pic is attached. It is of my veggie garden, which is my pride and joy (plus, it is relatively weeded at the moment).

Are you interested or know someone who may be interested in partaking in the Garden Blogger Sessions? Get onto our Contact page and send me a message. I love to hear from my readers!

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Planting Out my Cheap Plants

IMG_0064It was a month and two days since I potted up the seedlings I bought and blogged about in the Cheap Plants post.
The time had come to plant them out in my garden around the pond.

Over that month both the Vinca and the Hypoestes have grown fantastically strong root systems which will put them in good stead in the wilderness of my garden.

Here are a couple of photo’s of them prior to planting and in their final location.

I hope that they will grow quickly to fill the area with a sea of colour. You can see part of my feature rock next to the pond!
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Mosquitos in my Pond – Mosquito Control

IMG_0052Yesterday I went out to a granite outcrop near my house to collect some rocks to decorate around the pond that I installed a couple of months back. I managed to collect about 50 nice sized pieces and one very large feature rock.

Anyway, on returning I found there to be a swarm of mosquito larvae living in the water in my pond! The photo at that size does not show them that well (follow the link and you’ll see it bigger) but the little black specs are mosquito wrigglers.

Living in northern Queensland (Australia) where diseases like Ross River Fever and other mosquito borne diseases are rampant, the best thing I can do for the environment and my neighbors was to rid them from my pond.

Enter team mosquito control

My father suggested that I put a couple of drops of kerosene on the surface. The kerosene would cover the surface and prevent the wrigglers from getting any oxygen (they have no gills and need to come to the surface to breathe).
Nice idea, but I hoped to put fish in the pond one day and did not want to harm them.

A quick search around the net found that goldfish or guppies would eat the larvae and make a dent in the population.

Off to the pet shop to buy some fish! My fiance selected 4 small goldfish (two were black with bulging eyes) to go to fish paradise and eat themselves into big goldfish.

Mosquito control is everyone’s responsibility. Ensure that you check any standing water around your house (rain barrels, buckets, bird baths etc) for wigglers to prevent the spread of mosquitoes.

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Snake Bean Troubles

IMG_0058 After discussing gardening with an old bloke at work a few months back, he gave me a small jar with some bean seeds in it and told me that they would be the best beans that I would ever eat. The original parent seeds were reported to have come from Italy about 10 years ago, seed has been saved and kept in the family for that time. I feel that I am very lucky to have been allowed to grow these special beans.

I felt a bit like Jack from Jack and the Bean stalk, except I didn’t have to sell my cow or upset my mother. I came home and planted them out and watched them grow.

I’m not sure if they’re called snake beans because the beans look like snakes or the plants grow up the support I gave them like snakes… I think it may be both.
IMG_0057
Now they’re about two meters in height (6ft 8in) and are beginning to flower, except the nice healthy leaves have turned a yellow colour in the past few days.

Can anyone help?

There are some great Snake Beans being grown over at Balcony Greens

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First Passionfruit Flowers

IMG_0036After much tender loving care my passionfruit has grown from a small 3 inch pot sized stick back in February to a fairly large flowering vine by July is a fair effort. I was expecting a 12 month waiting period for the first fruit, bu t a couple of days ago I found the first flower buds.

With a little help I pollinated the first flower to ensure that I get at least one fruit, not that I don’t trust the bees around here, its just that there is a whole mango tree full of flowers to compete with. IMG_0062There’s a baby passionfruit in there…

IMG_0044Un-opened flower bud.

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From this to this in 5 months…

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