What’s On The Show Today?A new pest to watch for in Plant Doctor, berries that are high in antioxidants in Vegetable Heroes; continuing the series on mass planting with Garden Designer Peter Nixon in Design elements, and an flower and Gladioli in Talking Flowers segment.
New Pest: Tomato-potato psyllidA new pest that could be coming to your garden soon is not something we gardeners would be glad to hear about.
But it has been detected in Australia and New Zealand so it’s something we need to be on the lookout for because it seems to combine the damage of a couple of pests.
Worse than that, it attacks plants from the Solanaceae family, like tomatoes, eggplants and potatoes, and even some plants in the Lamiaceae like Catmint.
Let’s find out all about it….
This new pest is something to watch out for and possibly a good time to take a hand lens with you out into the garden to have a closer look at the pests.
What does it look like?
If you have any questions about this new pest; the tomato-potato psyllid, then why not email us firstname.lastname@example.org or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675
There are fruit that are at the some ranking as vegetable heroes,.
Would you have thought that the second most popular berry after Strawberries are Blueberries?
Blueberries are the fruit of a shrub that belongs to the heath family includes cranberries, azaleas and rhododendrons.
FACT: Did you know that Blueberries are one of the only natural foods that are really true blue in colour?
They’re sort of a bluey purple colour and have what’s called a waxy ‘bloom’ that protects the surface of the blueberry.
This bloom you can rub off with your finger if you’re curious to see what the true colour of blueberries are.
WE all know what blueberries look like from the punnets that are sold in the supermarket, but what do they look like when they’re growing on the plant?
Blueberries grow in clusters and come in sizes from a pea to a small marble.
Did you know that blueberries are one of the only fruits native to North America, but it wasn’t until the early 1950’ that blueberries were first brought to Australia.Why’s that?
A couple of guys- Messrs Karel Kroon and Ralph Proctor from the Victorian Department of Agriculture trialled growing them.
But, Australia was out of luck there because these guys couldn’t get past the disease problems.
Twenty years later, the Victorian Department of Agriculture tried again.
This time, a chap called David Jones carefully planted and tended to his blueberry seeds and eventually successfully grew several blueberry plants.
Still, it wasn’t until the 1980’s that Blueberries were commercially available.
Where to Grow? What They Need?
Blueberries need moist soil, good drainage and lots of organic material.
Blueberries are acid loving plants that do best in soils with a pH between 4.5 to 5.5
If you can grow Camellias and Azaleas, you can grow Blueberries.
If you don’t have that ph you will have to add either elemental sulphur (where the pH is too alkaline) or lime / dolomite (where the pH is too acid). If the soil pH is higher the plants may show signs of iron deficiency.
If that sounds too hard, grow you blueberry plant in a pot.
Tip:Very important when growing blueberries. they have a very fine fibrousy root system, just like Azaleas, and this root system needs a porous medium in which to grow, a bit like coarse sand from where they came from.
If you have poor drainage, then grow them in a raised bed or at the very least, on a mound of soil and use lots of mulch.
So, a little bit fussy there.
Which to Grow
Not all blueberry plants are alike, so choose the variety for your region carefully.
For temperate areas which don’t get too cold in winter, we need to grow a variety which is low chill.
Gardeners in the know about chill factor will now know, that means a certain amount of hours below 7° C.
|Blueberry flowers being pollinated|
Low bush variety-is a dwarf shrub that only grows to around 30-60 cm.
Low bush varieties love colder climates and need very low temperatures for the fertilised flowers to “set” and form berries.
They’re not grown in commercial quantities here.
The highbush variety, grows to 1.5–3 metres, has many different cultivars that are well suited to the Australian climate.
In Victoria, Tasmania and Southern New South Wales, you are more likely to find the Northern Highbush, high chill variety for sale in your nursery.
Winter chilling is quite high -(over 1000 hours below 2°C) but they can still able tolerate high summer temperatures.
The fruit of the Northern Highbush is harvested later in the season, from December to April.
For Northern NSW and Queensland, you need to grow a variety called Rabbiteye
The rabbiteye is a low chill, late season variety that’s best at coping with warm and humid summers
Rabiiteyes can also cope with dry conditions, making it right at home in Arid climates too.
PRUNING YOUR BLUEBERRY BUSH
IMPORTANT TIP: Blueberries fruit on the tips of the previous season’s growth.
I spoke to a blueberry grower last year and was told to let the shrub establish first.
That means, you must pluck off the flowers in spring so it doesn't set fruit, but the 3rd year you can let it flower.
If you let them establish for the first two years apparently the plants will last a lifetime!
Once your Blueberry shrub is established new stems will come up and fruit for up to four years initially from the tip to down the whole branch.
From the third winter onwards, cut back old, dry stems every winter.
Cut them back either down to ground level or to a vigorous new shoot near the ground.
They first produce sideshoots from the base of the plant soon after flowering in spring. Then in early to midsummer, vigorous growths push up from the base of the bush.
Hard pruning in winter will encourage this renewed growth and result in larger, earlier fruit.
Generally a tough bush that needs constant picking of the ripe fruit or they’ll get too soft.
MISTY another tough evergreen variety.. It is an early fruiting variety, with light blue, medium to large fruit of excellent flavour.
GULF COAST: The bush is vigorous and upright, with moderate toughness. The fruit is medium to large blue with a medium colour. The fruit has a problem in that it holds the stems on many of the berries at harvest. The flavour of the fruit is medium.
BLUEBERRY BURST Good all rounder with super-sized fruits but best in pots.
Blueberries are pest free apart from caterpillars and birds, and if you prune the shrub so its open in the middle it reduces fungal disease.
Selecting and Storing Blueberries –
Pick or buy blueberries that are firm and have an even colour with a whitish bloom. Blueberries are another fruit that don’t ripen off the bush.
Blueberries should be eaten within a few days of picking or buying.
I tend to eat mine straight of the bush.
Ripe berries should be stored in a covered container in the fridge where they will keep for about 1 week.
Don't wash blueberries until right before eating as you will remove the bloom that protects the berries' skin from going bad.
If kept a room temperature for more than an hour, the berries will start to spoil.
Blueberries can be frozen.
Why are they good for you?
Blueberries have large amounts of anthocyanins,- antioxidant compounds that give blue, purple and red colour to fruit and vegetables.
Not sure what all the fuss is about? Antioxidants are very well known for their health benefits, especially their ability to reduce damage to our cells and Blueberries contain more antioxidants than most other fruits or vegetables
Blueberries are also a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, manganese and both soluble and insoluble fibre like pectin.
Plus they’re low in calories.
If you think they’re too fussy to grow, for the same price as a cup of coffee, treat yourself to a punnet of Blueberries, eat them straight out of the punnet (wash them of course) and enjoy the health benefits.
THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY
Tropical gardens have a different regime of wet and dry compared to other climate zones in Australia.
The advantage is plants grow outside as if they’re in some huge greenhouse with perfect temperatures and irrigation or rainfall to make them grow like blazes.
But is the planting really all that different in tropical climates, and can we gardeners further south still grow these plants?
Let’s find out about in part 2 of mass planting in the tropics.
I'm talking with Peter Nixon, landscape designer and Director of Paradisus garden design.
Peter mentioned the following plants.
If you have any questions about mass planting for tropical climates, why not email us email@example.com