Saturday, 13 May 2017

What Fertiliser is That, Making Compost Tea and Growing a Stinky Flower


Fertilisers explained-granular or liquid, seaweed or organic, which is it to be?
How well do you know your fertilisers
There are two basic groups of fertilisers, solids or granular which are generally more slow acting, and liquids which are fast acting.
Whether you add organic matter or fertiliser to your soil, you provide your plants with three basic building blocks.
Controlled release fertiliser and Blood 'n Bone 

These are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, often referred to by their chemical symbols of N (nitrogen), P (phosphorus) and K (potassium or potash).
Packaged fertilisers list the amounts of NPK each product contains, often showing it in a ratio format, called the NPK ratio.
But which ones should you use?

Let’s find out.. I'm talking with Steve Falcioni General Manager from

What to Watch Out For?
For gardeners in cooler climates, the winter period will see plant growth and microbial activity in the soil slow down.
What are the implications?
Nutrient uptake by plants is minimal if you're still using granular or solid type of fertilisers at this time.
The reason?
Bulky fertilisers need to be converted into a useable form before plant roots can take them up. So, if microbial activity, which does this conversion has slowed down to a crawl, so will this conversion and that leads to slow nutrient uptake.
Rock dust is the slowest of all to break down taking up to 6 months or more, depending on when you apply it.
The way plants use nutrients is quite complex and varies from plant to plant. 
Some need lots of one nutrient but little of another, while others need a balanced amount of each. Understanding which nutrient does what gives you a rough guide to selecting the right fertiliser for your plants and garden.
That's why some fertilisers are labeled Citrus and Fruit, or Flower and Fruit, or Azaleas and Camellias. They are specific to those plants.
Seaweed extracts don't have enough nutrients in them to be classed as fertilisers, but they are plant tonics because they increase root growth and stimulate plant cell walls to strengthen.
If you have any questions about fertilisers or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675 and I’ll send you a packet of seeds.


Have you ever heard of Compost tea and wondered, “ can I make this myself?”
We all know that compost is great for the garden for all sorts of things.
Adding compost helps with the microbial activity in your soil, it retains moisture on warm days and keeps the soil warmer, on cold days.

But is there something even better than plain old compost, and could it be compost tea.?
When I first though of the idea of talking about compost tea, I didn’t realise that there’s a whole lot of information out there, both for and against, the benefits of compost tea.
Some say, it’s doesn’t really do all that much while others says it has plenty of benefits.
The best idea then is to present the fores and the againsts and let you make up your own mind.
You don’t even have to do that.

Instead, brew up your own compost tea, with a recipe that’s provided at the end, and decide for yourself whether or not it was worth all the trouble.
How to Make Compost Tea?
So are you now wondering that you just put a handful of compost in a bucket and add water?
Or do you need to have that worm farm and put the worm castings in the bucket and add water?

Well you can do both.
You can then use it as a foliar spray or as a soil drench.
So why go to the extra trouble of brewing, straining, and spraying a tea rather than just working compost into the soil?
There are several supposed reasons of why it’s good for your garden.
First, compost tea makes the benefits of compost go farther.
What's more, when sprayed on the leaves, compost tea helps suppress foliar diseases, increases the amount of nutrients available to the plant, and speeds the breakdown of toxins.
Using compost tea has even been shown to increase the nutritional quality and improve the flavour of vegetables.
If you've been applying compost to your soil only in the traditional way, you're missing out on a whole host of benefits.

Still not convinced?

Well there is debate believe it or not about the benefits of compost tea.

What we know so far is that compost tea is water in which compost has been steeped. 
Leached into that liquid are some of the compost’s nutrients, microorganisms, and a compounds called humates.
Humates help plants take up more easily the nutrients already in the soil and offer a host of other benefits.

Compost tea has long been used as a weak fertilizer, but the focus is all about the microorganisms it contains.
I would have to agree there, because the amount of nutrients would be quite small.

Microorganisms are needed for soils to be healthy plus composts provide protection against diseases, especially root diseases.
Composts as we know by now, improve soil structure and assist with soil aeration, water retention; and improve nutrient uptake.

The claim for compost tea is that the microorganism provides the same benefits.
Those microorganisms sprayed on leaves, are supposed to fight off garden diseases.
Apparently in the United States, there are kits that you can buy that will aerate that liquid will it’s steeping plus they recommend that you add molasses.
Molasses boosts bacteria—something that benefits grasses in particular.

Meanwhile adding protein feeds like fish emulsion or liquid seaweed boost fungal activity, which is of more benefit to larger shrubs and trees.

If you want to make your own compost tea, here’s the simple recipe.

Easy Peasy Compost Tea Recipe:

You Will Need:
A bucket, a stir stick and water, plus a shovel full of compost
Start by filling a clean bucket 1/3 full of compost
Fill the bucket with water, leaving only an centimetre or two from the top.
Stir the compost a few times for the next 5 to 7 days.
Let the mixture steep for 5 to 7 days, stirring a few times each day.
After 5 or 7 days, strain the mixture and store in an airtight container.
Compost tea is steeping compost in water for several days.
Strain and you are ready to use! 
Tip: to save straining you can place the compost in a fine mesh bag and hang it in a bucket of water.
Note: Use this mixture immediately on your garden, because the benefits reduce with standing.

So for the gardeners who are against the benefits of compost tea.
Lee Reich, writing over at warns that the jury is still out on compost tea.
Reich claims that evidence of benefits is so far largely anecdotal.

Similarly, Linda Chalker-Scott, an extension horticulturalist and associate professor at Washington State University, has undertaken an extensive review of the scientific literature on compost tea—and turned up very little that proves the benefits of aerated compost teas. (Interestingly, non-aerated teas seemed to fair a little better.)

I would love to hear about listeners' own experiences, tips, recipes, experiments or concerns.
I know there are plenty of fellow compost geeks out there, so please feel free to share what you know


Pool Trends

From pools that seem to abound around urban gardens, they all look pretty much the same.
These days, people are going for the glass fencing, concrete surround and blue tiles for the pool floor.

Black tiles in KifsgateGarden, England photo M Cannon
So what else can pool lovers do?

Let’s find out? I'm talking wiht Matt Leacy Principal Director and Landscape Designer from Landart Landscapes.

Pool tiling trends really go from one extreme to the other – either dark, close to black tiles or completely white.
“With a complete white tiled pool you get a really natural water colour,” Matt Leacy says.
“A black pool will give you a certain amount of elegance and can sort of act as a reflector.
If you want a point of difference to your pool that’s a great option.” 
Not enough space for a pool this big?
Patterned tiles running along the water’s edge have also seen a resurgence.
And if you don’t have a big backyard, don’t be like some urban households with small backyards who still put in large pools instead of opting for a small plunge pool or custom made spa.


Starfish Plant
Orbea variegata 

Are you a plant collector of something?
Perhaps you collect Bromeliads, Frangipanis, or maybe succulents?
Not all succulents are garden friendly and this one today, you need to be wary of for more than one reason.

But first, let’s find out about this plant.
I'm talking with the plant panel :Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Originally from South Africa this succulent is often collected by enthusiasts,
Orbeas are leafless, succulent perennials that form compact clumps. 
They branch from the base and grow out from rhizomatous rootstocks. 
The four-angled stems are usually sharp-toothed, with a soft tip. 
If you're growing this plant in a pot, place it in a sandy well drained mix.  
Plants can survive long periods without water, but water them before they shrink too much and will not be able to recover. 
The flower of Starfish plant, really does look like a starfish, but it’s also called giant toad plants’, ‘carrion plants’, ‘carrion flowers’, ‘giant zulus, and ‘starfish cacti’. 
From SA’s Biosecurity website, the following information about this plant.
The outer sheath of the fruit peels back to expose a mass of seeds, each with a tuft of hair that will be dispersed by the wind.
Carrion flower can also spread vegetatively via stem fragments moved by people,
machinery, animals or water.

So there it’s a threat to arid landscape in South Australia.

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