Saturday, 22 April 2017

Everything You Need to Know About Vertical Gardens, Dragon Fruit, and an Australian Songbird.


Olive Backed Oriole Oriolus sagittatus

What would you pick for the top songbird in Australia or perhaps just in your district?
Perhaps the Magpie, or Butcher bird, or for those who are a bit more savvy with bird identification and bird calls, would you pick the Figbird? Australia does make the top 40 songbirds in the world, but would you have picked this next one?
Olive Backed Oriole (Oriolus saggitatus) Picture of the Olive-backed Oriole has been licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution.

Did you know that not only does the Oriole like to live in woodlands and rainforests, but leafy urban areas that plenty of trees.
You may have heard the call and not realised what bird it the call belonged to.

Let’s find out.  I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons, Manager of Birds in Backyards.

As Holly mention, the Oriole is found along coastal and near inland strips in northern and eastern Australia from Broome WA, to the south-east of South Australia; plus around Adelaide.

These birds are really good at hiding themselves especially the fact that they can throw their calls and mimic other birds such as magpies.

All in all, making it a challenge to find them, but surprisingly they can be found in urban areas that are leafy and green.

Listen out for the "orry-orry-oriole" call, which is their genuine call.

If you have any questions about the Olive Backed Oriole or have some photos to share, why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Growing A Vertical Vegetable
Do you live in the city?
Are you confined to an apartment dwelling with little space for gardening?
Do you want to grow a vegetable garden, but feel you don’t have the room?
If so, then I have news for you!
While limited spaces of a city life can be frustrating for the urban gardener, growing a vegetable garden is anything but impossible.

In fact, with a little planning and imagination, vegetable gardens can be grown anywhere, regardless of space.

Have you ever considered growing a vertical vegetable garden?

You can easily produce the same amount of fresh vegetables without taking up excess space.

A vertical vegetable garden is easy to create.

You can create one using shelves, hanging baskets, or trellises.

The first step is to determine what the conditions are like in the area you wish to place the vegetable garden, such as on the balcony.

The amount of sunlight will be the greatest factor in determining which plants will thrive in your urban environment.

Shady Areas
For instance, if you live in an area surrounded by other buildings, balcony or patio may be shaded most of the time; therefore, you should choose your plants accordingly. 
Leafy vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, and greens do well with limited sunlight, making good choices for shady areas. 
As do sorrel, lemon balm and mints.

Part Sun, Part Shade
If you have half sun, half shade, then perhaps go for Lettuces, rocket, silverbeet, radishes, dwarf cabbages, chives, Basil and Parsley.

Full Sun

If you’ve got lots of sunshine, your selection of plants will be greater, as vegetables grow best in full sun.
Choices here can include: tomatoes peppers, rocket, sage,silverbeet, Malabar Spinach, potatoes, bens, carrots and radishes.

Even vine crops, such as squash, pumpkins, and cucumbers can be grown as long as the container is deep enough to accommodate them and proper staking is available.

How to grow them
Fill containers with coir peat and a suitable potting mix and possibly add some compost or pelletised manure.
Vertical Gardens from pallettes

Almost any vegetable that can be grown in a garden will also work well as a container-grown plant.

Nearly any type of container can be used for growing vegetable plants.

You can use just about any type of container to grow your veggies as long as they have drainage holes.

Since most vegetables can be easily grown in containers, shelves offer the benefit of growing numerous types of vegetables on each shelf as high up as you can reach or as space allows.

You can position the vertical vegetable garden so that all of the plants receive adequate amounts of sunlight at the same time.

Although any type of shelving may be used, the best type is the kind with slats.

This will allow better air circulation and during watering intervals, the excess water on the top shelves will trickle down to the bottom ones.

If shelves are not for you, containers can also be situated on tiers, forming a vertical appearance as well.

Alternatively, vegetables can also be grown in hanging baskets or along trellises. Hanging baskets can be placed on the balcony or on suitable hangers.
Vertical Gardens can be made from anything.
Numerous types of vegetables can be grown in hanging baskets, especially those with trailing characteristics.

Peppers and cherry tomatoes not only look good in hanging baskets, so do trailing plants, such as the sweet potato vine, but they also thrive nicely in them.

Keep them watered daily, however, since hanging baskets are more prone to drying out, especially during hot spells.

Trellises can be used for the support of trailing or vine crops.

A fence can also serve as a trellis for beans, peas, tomatoes and vine crops like squash and cucumbers.
Milk crates and plastic bottles for "el cheapo" vertical gardens.
Use a stepladder as a makeshift trellis to support vine-growing plants like pumpkins. The rungs of the ladder can be used to train the vines while placing the vegetables on its steps for further support – this also works well with tomato plants.

Be creative and find something that works for you and your unique situation.

Growing a vertical vegetable garden is the perfect way for urban gardeners and others to still enjoy a bountiful harvest of freshly grown vegetables without taking up their already limited space.

One last thing, you can build your own DIY indoor garden.

It’s called the Grow Room and was developed by 2 Danish architects.
The grow room is a free standing indoor garden.
It’s quite big because you can sit inside the structure.
The design is open source so you can download the plans for free and follow the 17 steps to build your own grow room.
All you need is plywood, some nails and a local wood cutter to bring this urban farm to life.
The link on my website.


Plectranthus ecklonii
Plants for Colour in Autumn in All Climate Zones Around Australia.

Are you thinking about annuals when it comes to choosing colour for Autumn?
Perhaps you have a tree with spectacular Autumn colour?
Camellia "Star Above Star"
Lavatera maritima
Whatever you decide, there’s always one more thing that you can add to bring in extra zing to your garden.

Let’s find out what’s the best colour for Autumn in your district.
I'm talking with Peter Nixon, Director of Paradisus Garden Design.

Don’t just think of showy flowers like annuals, but perennials whether sub-shrubs, small trees.
Don’t you just want to rush out and get Camellia Start Above Star which is not the normal variety of Camellia?
Peter of course mentioned quite a few choices for various climates around Australia.

  • Warm coastal zones-Plectranthus ecklonii, a sub-shrub.
  • Cooler Gardens-Camellia vernalis "Star Above Star.
  • Tropical gardens-Syzygium wilsonii, the Powder Puff Lilly Pilly.
  • Mediterranean climates-Lavatera maritima.


Dragon Fruit 
Hylocereus undadatus

Not every plant that gets featured in this segment is your typical perennial, whether it’s a shrub, bush or ground-cover.

From time to time, we like to delve into the unusual but ornamental and sometimes just downright functional and even edible.

Some fruits come from trees, think peaches, apples pears: 

Some from climbers, -passionfruit, raspberries, 

A a few others grow on cacti.

You might think of a prickly pear for cactus fruit, but today’s plant fits into the last category. 

Highly ornamental, edible, yet growing on a cactus.
Let’s find out about this plant.

I'm talking with he plant panel: Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Dragon fruit are considered super fruit, and their flowers are spectacular,so that’s reason enough to get planting one.
Sometimes the flower of this cactus if referred to as "Queen of the Night."
Dragon fruit flower
This title makes it seems that you have to out there with a torch to observe the brilliance and inhale the perfume. 
But as Karen points out, the flower often last well into daylight hours, so we can all breathe a sigh of relief.
Certainly it last long enough for moths or bats to come by and pollinate it so every gardener can enjoy the unusual fruit.

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