Open Garden 2018

The web page for our Open Garden 2018 is https://upperyarravalleygardenclub.com/open-garden-2018/    Click here to view

If members on Facebook or twitter could share this link to all their friends, then many people will hear about the Open Garden for this year without any paid advertising. If you are not sure how to share, please call me on 0417787673 (Have your facebook page ready to follow instructions) – Thanks, Colin

July 2018 Meeting

Bronwyn Koll (QueenslandFruitFlyRegionalCoordinator,YarraValley)and Kevin Sanders (orchardist).

Bronwyn’s role is to help keep Queensland Fruit Fly out of the Yarra Valley. Main points of her talk:

  • QFF is native to the Queensland rain forest but has for many years been found in northern Victorian fruit-growing districts – Wodonga, Shepparton, Cobram etc.  Since 2013 it has become so prevalent that it is no longer monitored and the idea of fruit-fly exclusion zones has been abandoned. It was found for the first time this year in the Yarra Valley, as isolated outbreaks around Lilydale and Sylvan. There have also been outbreaks in Tasmania and WA.
  • QFF has a 28-day life cycle. The adult is a red-brown colour, about 7mm long, with characteristic yellow banding on the body. The female lays her eggs under the skin of ripe fruit.  In the early stages, all that can be seen is a little mark (‘sting’) on the fruit skin. The resulting larvae are creamy white with a black head, about 5 – 10 mm long. The fruit rots prematurely and falls from the tree.  The larvae then pupate underground and develop into flies.  These emerge from the ground and feed on protein until sexual maturity. The cycle then repeats. There could be 2 or 3 cycles in a typical Yarra Valley summer.
  • There is the potential for almost every type of fruit and fruiting vegetable in the Yarra Valley to be affected, including wild blackberries, prickly pear, tomatoes, and fruit from wild trees. The commercial implications are severe, but the growers have an incentive to monitor and control, whereas it has been difficult to motivate home gardeners.
  • What should home gardeners do?
    •  be constantly vigilant
    • do not bring fruit from home gardens in other areas of the country into the Yarra Valley
    • remove neglected trees
    • share information with other gardeners
    • set traps
    • pick fruit : don’t let it lie on the ground
    • net host trees
    • If any affected fruit is found notify Shire Council.
    • Do notcompost affected fruit: either boil it or freeze it to kill the maggots, then dispose of it in the garbage.
  • Traps, baits and sprays are available at nurseries and hardware stores. A trap can also be homemade from an empty soft-drink bottle with three 10-cent size holes cut into it near the top. Use a bait made of 1 cup of fresh fruit juice and pulp mixed with one tablespoon of cloudy ammonia. Hang the trap in the tree on the shady side, about 1½m above the ground, and change the bait weekly.
  • Bronwyn left a number of fliers and information sheets for members to study.

Following on from Bronwyn’s talk, Kevin Sanders spoke on apple growing in the Yarra Valley. Kevin is the Deputy Chairman of Apples and Pears Australia Ltd and has been growing fruit in the Yarra Valley for 40 years.

  • Apple trees grown for commerce differ from home-gardeners’ trees in that they are far more productive, having more lots more wood and fewer leaves. Since 80% of pests and diseases occur on new and growing shoots, commercial trees are thus also less prone to problems.
  • Since the mid-90s the trees have been semi-dwarf types with a very low canopy, grown 4 x 4 m apart on a V-trellis with posts and wires for support. The trees are pruned initially to have 3 narrow trunks and no branches, after which no further pruning is required.
  • The apples are harvested by machine over a 20-week picking season, but next season this will be done by robots since labour costs are 60% of the total production cost.
  •  Each tree produces 120 apples, and with 4000 trees, this represents a yield of 20 tonnes/hectare.
  • Pollination:  when the trees are grown so intensively, getting enough bees is a huge problem. Kevin’s orchards have their own supply of bees: 3 hives per hectare
  • Spraying: most of the sprays in use are nutrient sprays rather than pesticides.  Beneficial insects are encouraged in preference.  Immediately prior to rain, some fungicide is used against black spot.

The varieties grown depend on market fashions. At present Pink Lady, Gala, Fuji and Granny Smith are the most popular.  There is a new variety about to be released called Kanzi.

June Meeting 2018

Lindsay Hadland from the Yarra Valley Bonsai Group gave a talk on bonsai.

Main points:

  • The literal Japanese meaning of ‘bonsai’ is ‘tree in a pot’, but the accepted definition of the term is ‘a miniaturized but realistic representation of a tree found in nature.’ The craft dates back to ancient India, when travelling apothecaries carried living herbs in pots.  The Chinese copied this custom from the Indians and developed it into an art form, practised by learned men over 1000 years ago. From there it was soon taken up and further developed by the Japanese. It has been depicted in paintings from at least 706 AD.
  • Parts of a bonsai:
    • Trunk line – the most important feature
    • Nebari – where the base of the trunk meets the soil – the second most important feature
    • Branches
    • Twigs and canopy
    • Taper – important to stop the plant just looking like a stick in a pot
    • Pot – must blend with and complement the tree
  • In nature, tree shapes vary from the mountains to the plains, due to differing environmental conditions: soil, wind, water, light.  Bonsai aims to emulate this. The various styles of the individual trees are
    • Informal upright
    • Formal upright
    • Slanting (as if leaning toward the light)
    • Semi-cascade
    • Cascade
  • The form of the bonsai in the pot can also vary:
    • Forest (groups of the same species)
    • Clump (single tree with multiple trunks coming from the base)
    • Multi-trunk (similar to clump, but with the trunks coming from further up the main trunk)
    • Raft – emulating the situation in nature where a tree has blown over but still has its roots in the ground and sends up multiple trunks
    • Windswept
    • Literati: simply a work of art rather than emulating natural growth
    • Root-over-rock: as when a seed in nature sprouts on top of a rock, sending its roots over the rock and into the soil below
    • Broom – the whole clump forms a broom-like structure.
  • Rules of bonsai – which can be broken at times!
    • Branch placement going up the trunk: leftžrightžback
    • First branch should be ⅓ of the height of the tree above the pot
    • Branches should be progressively closer together going up the trunk
    • Apex should be domed
    • Height of tree should be 6 x diameter of trunk at nebari
    • Width of the pot should be ⅔ the height of the tree
  • Suitable trees for bonsai: In theory, any tree can be used but some are much easier than others. Look for the following attributes –
    • Small leaves
    • Tree able to back-bud on old wood
    • Able to tolerate extensive root work
    • Vigorous
    • Small flowers or fruit.  If these are not small, the tree can still make a convincing bonsai, provided it is not allowed to form flowers or fruit.
    • Deciduous trees are easier to work with than evergreens, especially Chinese elm, trident maple, beech, hawthorn, ash, larch
    • Easiest evergreens are pine, cedar, fir, spruce
    • Australian natives are becoming popular: banksia, melaleuca, leptospermum, ficus, callistemon, casuarina. Eucalyptus are difficult.
    • Flowering and fruiting plants: crabapple, cotoneaster, pomegranate, wisteria, pyracantha, azalea.
  • Bonsai tools: for beginners, just secateurs and ordinary workshop tools will suffice.  Specialized tools for the more expert include scissors, branch cutters, knob cutters, wire cutters, jinning pliers, tweezers, chopsticks, root rakes, fine saws.
  • Bonsai potting mix: there is no such thing as one ideal bonsai soil. It depends on what is locally available: pine bark, scoria, diatomite, zeolite. The mix must be free-draining with uniform particle size (sieve it!).  Avoid mixes with fine particles, including the commercially-available mixes. (Although the commercial mixes can be sieved to remove the fines, this wastes about 40% of the product). One recommended mix is 50-50 diatomite and orchiata pinebark from NZ, both with particle sizes 2 – 7 mm.
  • Bonsai sizes: tree heights range from 3-8 cm up to >1m. In Australia the classification is generally limited to 3 sizes: 5 – 15 cm, 13 – 20 cm, >20 cm. Based on weight, the 3 categories are: able to be lifted with one hand, able to be lifted with two hands, and requiring a forklift.
  • Creating a bonsaGrow the tree seedling in the open ground or in a growing potKeep it alive! Keep it moist but not too much – allow it to partially dry out between waterings.Fertilize quite heavily, aiming for rapid growth (but be aware of growing conditions in the tree’s natural environment). Opinions vary as to the frequency of fertilization. Lindsay uses Charlie Carp every Saturday during the growing period.
      • Let the treeling grow, clipping it back as required.
      • When the trunk is about ⅔ of the desired size, chop off the branches, leaving a small stub. This  will form a new leader below the stub.
      • Repeat the process with successive leaders.
      • As each leader grows longer, it will thicken, as will the trunk below it.
      • When the desired trunk thickness is achieved, cut off the branch.
      • New branches can be wired to grow in the desired direction.
      • Lift every 1 or 2 years to prune the roots. The ideal is to have fine roots close to the trunk.
      • Place the tree into suitable bonsai pot when it has reached the desired size.
    • Learning more about bonsai:
      • Join a club (e.g the Yarra Valley Bonsai Group)
      • Take a training course – available at YVBG, some nurseries etc
      • Attend workshops with a Bonsai Master, either local or international
      • Bonsai apprenticeships are available in Japan – a  very demanding 5-year course.
      • Books
      • Internet sites and blogs
      • You-tube videos (be sceptical)
      • Trial and error
    • Yarra Valley Bonsai Group
      • A young club, only 10 years old
      • Based in Mt Evelyn.
      • Meets 2ndTuesday of every month from 7.30 – 9.30 pm
      • Workshops last Saturday in the month, from 1 – 4.30pm
      • See website for more details.

    Lindsay brought a number of bonsai trees to illustrate his talk: a trident maple forest, a cedar, Chinese elm, leptospermum, banksia serrata.

      • Let the treeling grow, clipping it back as required.
      • When the trunk is about ⅔ of the desired size, chop off the branches, leaving a small stub. This  will form a new leader below the stub.
      • Repeat the process with successive leaders.
      • As each leader grows longer, it will thicken, as will the trunk below it.
      • When the desired trunk thickness is achieved, cut off the branch.
      • New branches can be wired to grow in the desired direction.
      • Lift every 1 or 2 years to prune the roots. The ideal is to have fine roots close to the trunk.
      • Place the tree into suitable bonsai pot when it has reached the desired size.
    • Learning more about bonsai:
      • Join a club (e.g the Yarra Valley Bonsai Group)
      • Take a training course – available at YVBG, some nurseries etc
      • Attend workshops with a Bonsai Master, either local or international
      • Bonsai apprenticeships are available in Japan – a  very demanding 5-year course.
      • Books
      • Internet sites and blogs
      • You-tube videos (be sceptical)
      • Trial and error
    • Yarra Valley Bonsai Group
      • A young club, only 10 years old
      • Based in Mt Evelyn.
      • Meets 2ndTuesday of every month from 7.30 – 9.30 pm
      • Workshops last Saturday in the month, from 1 – 4.30pm
      • See website for more details.

    Lindsay brought a number of bonsai trees to illustrate his talk: a trident maple forest, a cedar, Chinese elm, leptospermum, banksia serrata.

May 2018 Meeting

Penny Woodward on pest-repellent plants and pest control in gardens. Penny is the horticultural director of the ABC’s ‘Your Garden’ magazine, the author of seven books on gardening and the co-author of a book on tomatoes.

Main points:

• Healthy gardens are less likely to have pest problems. The start of a healthy garden is healthy soil, containing abundant microbial life, worms and fungi.  Compost – preferably home-made – is very important.

• To maintain a healthy balance:

o Avoid using chemical pesticides, which may kill the beneficial micro-organisms in the soil.

o Avoid over-watering and over-feeding plants, which can encourage rapid, sappy growth. Sappy growth produces pheromones, which attract pests.

o Avoid monoculture: grow many different plants together, both flowers and vegetables.

o Practice 3-year crop rotation.

o Encourage predators, especially spiders.  Don’t destroy their webs.  Ants can also be beneficial, although they do farm aphids, which can be controlled by banding the trunks of susceptible trees. Plant native plants and strongly-scented flowers to encourage birds; have water to encourage frogs and microbats.

o Don’t be in a hurry to destroy bugs.  Wait and see, tolerate a little damage, and nature will often work it out for you!

• Chemical-free pest control:

o Snails and slugs: use short lengths of poly pipe banded with copper tape around newly-emerging seedlings

o Birds: use exclusion net bags or waxed paper bags or flywire sleeves to protect fruit.  (Not perfect, as our native birds are very smart!)

o White cabbage butterflies: Buy or make imitation white butterflies to place amongst brassicas.  The real butterflies will not lay eggs on plants that appear to be already occupied.

o Scented plants can be grown near vulnerable plants so that pests are less likely to find them: sages (especially purple salvia officinalis and pineapple sage, salvia elegans), artemisia, rosemary, scented pelargoniums, dogbane (plectranthus ornatus), bronze fennel, lavenders, tree marigold, thymes, alliums, lemon grass, lemon verbena, bayleaves, winter savory.  Many of these can also be made into sprays and have other uses such as in pot pourri, as teas, embrocations, etc.

o Beware! Not all pest sprays on sale as ‘organic’ or ‘natural’ are suitable. Pyrethroid sprays are not. Even some sprays derived from plant-based pyrethrins may have toxic additives. Penny recommended ‘ Yates Nature’s Way Citrus and Ornamental Spray’.

o Further assistance: Renaissance Herbs is a wholesale nursery which can give information about retail plant supply. Eco-Organic is a useful supplier of organic pest control

2018 Autumn Flower Show

The Autumn Flower Show is to take place this coming Monday. Attached is a copy of the Flower Show Categories just in case you have not received a copy.  The show will be judged by the popular vote of members.  Don’t forget to collect you 17 red dots and 1 gold dot as you enter the Club House.

Entries will only be received between 6:30Pm and 7:15PM, the only exceptions will be for Stewards assisting in the staging of the show.  There will be an area set aside on the veranda  outside the pro shop which is on the opposite side of the building to the usual main entrance.  Access can be obtained either up the rear steps or along the front veranda leading to the rear.  It is highly recommended that you carry out as much preparation prior to your arrival as space is limited.

There will be a trading table and the last lot of books will be available for sale.

Schedule

1. One exhibition bloom, truss or spike

2. One container of cut Flowers any number of stems, all of one type.

3. One container of flowers from tree, shrub or creeper all of one type – any number of stem, colour variation allowed

4. One container of mixed flowers, any number of stems

5. One container of dahlias, any number of stems, variety and colour variation allowed

6. One container of roses, any number of stems, variety and colour variation allowed

7. One rose

8. One container of autumn foliage any number of stems maximum size 75cm in any direction.

9. One container of fuchsia, any number of stems

10. One Fern, maximum bench space allowed 50cm x 50cm

11. One pot plant (no ferns)

12. One floral arrangement using fresh Flowers (Can be wired and use accessories – Floral Art).

13. Collection of succulents and/or cacti – at least three varieties or types. Maximum container size 50cm x 50cm

14. Floral design in a saucer

15. Bits & pieces in a coffee mug

16. Exhibit of Produce, one type, single or multiple pieces.  Maximum bench space allowed 50cm x 50cm.

17. Collection of produce using fruit, vegetables and/or nuts –at least three different types of produce. Maximum bench space allowed 75cm x 75cm.

Notice of Meeting 19 March 2018

Our speakers for the meeting next Monday at the Warburton Golf Club, will be speaking on weed identification and control of weeds in this area.  You are invited to bring along any weed samples that you may want help in identifying.  Especially if you can combine this with a photo of the weed in situ. This identification process could be the most valuable part of the presentation.

So get out in the garden and dig up you most vexing weeds (if they are surviving the drought)  and bring them along.

PS Bring a neighbour that has made positive comments about your garden. They just may like to be a part of our club.