The fruit of the Australian finger lime Citrus australasica is sought after by top restaurants around the world. Often described as ‘lime caviar’ for its small bead-like crystals of tangy juice, it’s used to pep up drinks, in desserts, as a garnish and even to make marmalade. For the home gardener, it is also an attractive tree, growing to six metres, and its thorns provide a perfect habitat for small birds. It is native to the rainforests of south-east Queensland and north-east New South Wales, but will grow elsewhere.
“Garden plants are the biggest source of weeds in this country totalling 70% of Australia’s combined agricultural, noxious and natural ecosystem weeds”1. A more recent review of the literature and a survey of seed experts in Australia has revealed that the ornamental plant trade and vehicle movement are the major pathways for weed spread2. Thus the garden and nursery industry as well as home gardeners must take the blame for this problem which results in inhibition or even elimination of native plants and other species in natural areas. What can gardeners do to avoid this?
Can you produce many fruit and vegetables in a small garden? Of course you can, even when the fruit trees create a lot of shade. Karen Sutherland has used every spot on her small property to its full potential. She tells us her approach in this video.
In the modern age, trees are usually viewed in terms of amenity and safety, with unsafe trees being removed entirely. What is generally overlooked is which aspects of the tree could be retained for the benefit of local wildlife and biodiversity. Urban communities have a preoccupation with sanitation, which is often to the detriment of the critters we share our environment with. Dead and decaying wood is a food source for insects and other invertebrates, which are in turn food for reptiles and mammals and birds. Trees – alive or dead – which contain hollows are habitat for all manner of organisms. Unfortunately, many trees with hollows are deemed too hazardous for urban situations, and end up being cut down. In many circumstances this is necessary, but it is time to re-think to what extent they are removed, what could remain as habitat and how we can help create more habitat.
Ok, it’s official, winter is upon us. And while it may seem easier to curl up on the couch with a cup of tea and a good book, it is the perfect time to get amongst it in the patch! There is a sense of hibernation for a lot of us but wherever you are in this nation it’s time to don the boots and get to it.
The first farmers’ market started in Victoria in 1998 in the Yarra Valley. There are now at least 180 farmer’s markets across Australia, around half of them (77) in Victoria (where I live).1 In the future, this number could increase to 600 or more.2 So:
- What is a farmers’ market?
- Why should you consider going to a farmers’ market?
- What are the problems with current farmer’s markets?
Soil blocking is a sustainable way to start seedlings. Efficient, easy, fun and great for growing strong healthy seedlings, soil blocks are used in large-scale horticulture in Europe and are gaining popularity elsewhere. Soil blocks are small self-contained blocks of lightly compressed soil that allows seedlings roots to be air pruned and allow plants to re-establish quickly following transplanting due to minimal root disturbance.