Great doco on bottled water. The only issue is that they are strongly against privatisation. The problem with public water is that it is abused and wasted. If you own something you will naturally not waste or exploit it. Just look at public housing/public transport/public health/ etc. It is a limited resource and no government will protect it for the people long term as there are so many special interests who weasel their way in no matter what politicians say. Be sustainable and don’t rely on the government to protect water only individuals can protect this resource.
May is the month that sorts the gardeners out, and the month that heralds the completion of one of nature’s cycles; a time when autumn leaves crunch underfoot. Don’t burn off the leaves-this leads to major air pollution problems around city areas. Instead, use the leaves as surface mulch on garden beds, or compost them for later use. An easy method is to bung them all into a large garbage bag, and plonk them out of the way for a few months.
JOBS TO DO NOW
- If you love orchids, consider the miniature cymbidium orchids, which are the same as ordinary orchids but have smaller leaves and more petite flowers. All can be planted in partly shaded rockeries in orchid compost (never in straight soil). Orchids will be sending out their flower spikes now, so sprinkle some snail bait around. When using these, spread them out thinly and never in heaps as this may attract dogs; snail baits are poisonous to dogs and cats, so always scatter them sparingly and keep the packet locked out of your pets’ (and kids’) reach.
- Set the lawn mower up a notch to let the grass thicken for winter.
- Garden shrubs and trees can be moved from now until August, when bud burst occurs. Dig up as much of the roots as possible and water in with a solution of plant hormone growth stimulant (kelp) such as Plant Hormone after planting.
- Cut back chrysanthemums and lift dahlia bulbs.
- As the vegies finish and die off for winter, dig in plenty of manure and leave fallow or plant a green manure crop to improve the soil. Try ‘Clever Clover’, which is available from the CSIRO in Canberra.
- As winter approaches, ease off with the watering of indoor plants. Plants like to be kept a little drier in winter, as excess water chills their roots. Leave repotting and fertilising until spring, and keep plants away from heaters or airconditioning vents.
- Small (match head-sized), fluffy white blobs on plants indicates the presence of mealy bug. There is no effective longterm treatment for this pest and it is best to quickly get rid of affected plants before the pest spreads.
- It is really too late to plant tropical things like bougainvillea and frangipani unless you live in the tropics, but you can still sneak in winter-flowering jewels such as luculia, flowering quinces, camellias, hardenbergia and many grevilleas, as well as some violas, pansies, alyssum, Livingstone daisies, lobelia, English daisies, calendulas, dianthus, anemones, primulus, ranunculus, poppies, stocks, sweet peas, snapdragons, larkspurs, cornflowers, foxgloves and cinerarias.
- In the vegetable garden plant cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, radish and broad beans (not in tropical areas).
Reference: Donald Burke
We all drink/eat out of plastic bottles/containers at some stage but do the chemicals within the plastic leach into our food and water? Common sense would suggest that there would be some chemical leaching especially when the plastic is subjected to microwaves, strong acids/alkali or heat from dish washing but is this a concern?
A lot of plastic materials have recycling numbers imprinted into the plastic. For example most disposable water bottles are made from PET which is recycling number 1. This plastic if fine for single use but can decay allowing microbe contamination to grow which can be a health hazard. They should only be used for single use.
Since PET is meant to be single use we may turn to sports bottles which are commonly made of a harder plastic as they are designed for multiple use. These are commonly made from recycling number 7. Recycling number 7 contains a chemical called Bisphenol A. This chemical has been found to mimic hormones in our body. Bisphenol A has shown in rat studies to effect reproductive and fertility function. Pregnant or expecting mothers need to be particular aware of this problem as it could have similar effects in humans.
So what are you left to use? I recommend using glass where ever possible. It is easy to clean, won’t scratch and doesn’t have the potential problems of plastic. I would also keep away recycling numbers 3 and 6 as they also have other chemicals that maybe of concern.
This is the best time of year to plant trees and shrubs and to remove any straggly bushes and replace them with hardier varieties. Now that the weather is cooler, redesign your garden-put in a barbecue area or a sandpit for the kids. Citrus are the best home fruit by far, and with winter coming up are a useful source of Vitamin C to repel colds and flu. To improve drainage, remember that surface drains always work best; try to shed surface water by cunningly placed contours. In very dry areas such as Perth and inland zones. contours which collect water around the bases of trees and shrubs are a good idea (in any case, flat garden areas can often look dull and boring).
JOBS TO DO NOW
- Create a serene, meadow-like effect in your backyard by planting some bulbs now. Plant jonquils (although it is getting a little bit late for these), freesias, hyacinths, daffodils and in cooler areas tulips, all of which are available now.
- This is usually a bad time for insect pests but, before you start indiscriminately spraying chemicals, stop and think. Some spraying of serious infestations is common sense, but ask your nurseryperson for ‘safe’ chemicals such as pyrethrum and dipel. Where possible, control insects by nonchemical means such as hosing them off, squashing them or ignoring them. Winter grass is starting to germinate now. Learn to live with it if you can-it is nice and green, not prickly, and makes good budgie and canary food. Spray with Endothal if you must, but check that this is okay for your particular type of grass.
- Cyclamen are the classiest of all indoor flowering plants. However, some are sold in lightweight, almost pure peat potting mixes which cause the plant to collapse prematurely indoors. Only buy cyclamen in nice, gritty, heavy potting mixes. Cyclamen like cool nights and can be put outside at this time.
- Cut off straggly looking maidenhair ferns at ground level, fertilise with Nitrosol and leave them outside in a shady area for a few weeks. After this they will look lush, green and stunning.
TIME TO PLANT
- If you haven’t already, start planting your spring display of flowering annuals: violas, pansies, alyssum, Livingstone daisies, lobelia, English daisies, calendulas, dianthus, anemones, prirnulas, ranunculus, poppies, stocks, sweet peas, snapdragons, larkspurs, cornflowers, foxgloves and cinerarias (in the shade).
- You are also running out of time to get your spring bulbs in. Try some in pots. Hyacinths will grow in a jar on your windowsill.
- Vegetables to plant now include onions, cabbage, peas, snow peas, Chinese cabbage, lettuce, spinach and radishes.
Reference: Donald Burke
In February in many coastal areas of Australia, summer humidity sets in and everything rots out from under you. This is also the month of the year when the worst lawn problems appear. In some areas the dreaded armyworm marches across entire neighbourhoods; symptoms include the browning off of huge lawn areas almost overnight. On closer inspection. small, greyish caterpillars can be found in tunnels just below the soil surface. Often, flocks of galahs or even starlings are blamed for the damage, but in fact these birds help by eating the armyworms.
JOBS TO DO NOW
• In coastal areas, powdery mildew Will be on the increase. This causes a talc like coating on leaves and, later, dieback of roses, crepe myrtles, cucumbers, zucchinis, pumpkins, grapes, fuchsias and anything else that happens to be lying around. To control this problem, spray with Benlate(not organic). Organic option would be milk.
• This is the last month (in non-tropical areas) to plant warm climate plants such as hibiscus, bougainvillea and frangipani. Later planting may cause problems.
• Watch out for fruit fly in central and northern areas; to control, spray with Lebaycid or Chemspray Fruit Fly Kit. Organic option is netting or fruit fly lure.
• Take a look at your native shrubs-if they have finished flowering and look a little scruffy, prune lightly all over. This helps them to live longer, look better and flower more.
• To control severe infestations of armyworms, spray with Carbaryl(Organic use neem)-and keep the galahs away for a few days. Fungal diseases in lawns, which appear as small, often dead patches, can be sprayed with Daconil or Mancozeb(Use organic fungicide). Don’t overwater, as this helps diseases to spread. Black beetles rarely do much damage, but in severe cases and as a last resort use any of the lawn beetle chemicals that are available.
• Fertilise citrus trees. Citrus will bravely fruit until they exhaust themselves and the surrounding soil, leading to die-back, collar rot etc, so get some chook manure or citrus food. Apply the manure as a surface mulch 1cm (0.5”) thick to the width of the branches (but keep it back 10cm/4″ from the trunk) and water in well with a sprinkler. A light application of trace elements, particularly in sandy soil areas, will help to make the fruit taste sweeter and the tree itself to resist disease and insect attack.
• Keep weeds and lawns away from the trunks of citrus trees. As well as competing for food and water, grass and weeds can hide problems such as collar rot, which affect the citrus trunk at ground level.
• This is a good time to fertilise. For year round feeding use nine-month Osmocote, Nutricote or Selley’s spikes, and for a quick boost use Nitrosol or Fish Emulsion. Always water well when you apply fertiliser.
• Either don’t bother to feed African violets or use African violet food only, and don’t overwater.
TIME TO PLANT
• Wok enthusiasts can plant snow peas, sugar snap peas and Chinese cabbage, all of which are really worthwhile. Purists who need lots of exercise might consider growing potatoes. This is also the time for beans, peas, broccoli, carrots, beetroot, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower and tomatoes (in warmer areas).
• Flowering annuals to plant include violas, pansies, cinerarias and primulas.
Reference: Mr Don Burke
It ‘s usually too hot at this time of the year for much gardening-just bung some Zero or Roundup on the weeds and lower
yourself into the pool or banana lounge. For an easy care summer garden, mulch all the garden beds.
JOBS TO DO NOW
• Deep watering once a week with a garden sprinkler is essential if the eather is hot and dry. Pay particular attention to trees, which are often forgotten in dry weather.
• Fertilise the garden, especially roses, hibiscus and leaf vegetables- use any complete fertiliser with trace elements,
well-matured cow pats.
• Lightly prune fuchsias and roses, trim off any dead flowers and generally tidy them up. Hydrangeas can also be lightly
pruned if they have finished flowering cut back old flowering heads to a plump set of buds but leave non-flowering stems alone .
• Get the lawn mower serviced.
• Continue treatments on all plants for scale insects where necessary.
• Throw out all your old, sick or dying indoor plants and replace them with new ones. A good range of indoor plants
is available now; select one or two big plants rather than lots of tiny plant which look messy and require loads of maintenance.
• Give indoor plants an occasional stint outside in the rain, but be careful that they don’t sit in full sun as this will burn their leaves. Under a shade tree is a safe spot for them. Also, keep an eye on indoor plants that are outside as they are sitting targets for snails and slugs. Before you bring the pots back inside, check the rims thoroughly for snails that may be lurking around.
• Massive root damage can occur to trees and shrubs left unwatered at this time of year, so be sure to give the garden a
soaking with a sprinkler before you go on holidays.
• Indoor plants will survive unattended for weeks in self-watering pots such as or Water-well model.
• Indoor plants can be watered well then encolsed, pot and all, inside large, clear plastic bags and left in a cool, not too
brightly lit room.
• Pay on of your neighbour’s kids to come in to water all your plants, bring in the newspapers and feed the pets. Give them careful instructions about special plants and also give them a good idea about how long the hose needs to water thoroughly.
• Install a watering system. It’s a good way to save water and makes the task pf looking after your garden a bit easier, especially when you go away.
TIME TO PLANT
• Try planting a small area of annuals in strategic place in the garden-one or perhaps two colours will suffice. Slightly yellowish, older seedlings from the nursery may establish faster and better than lush, green, younger ones. Choose from petunias, marigolds, salvia, ageratum, delphiniums and poppies.
• Plant some vegetables-beans, beetroot, brussels sprouts (not in the tropics), broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, carrots, radishes, silver beet, sweet corn, spring onions and zucchini.
From Burke’s Backyard
What is organic farming? Organic farming can be described as an approach to agriculture where the main aims are to create holistic, nutritional, humane, environmentally and economically sustainable agricultural production systems. Maximum reliance is placed on farm renewable resources and the management of self regulating biological systems and interactions in order to provide exceptional levels of crop, livestock and human nutrition. Protection from pests/diseases, and an acceptable return to the human and other resources employed. Reliance on external inputs whether from chemical or organic is reduced as much as possible. In many European nations, organic agriculture is known as ecological agriculture. This reflects this reliance on ecosystem management rather than external inputs.
The objective of sustainability lies at the heart of organic farming. It is one of the major factors determining the acceptability or otherwise of specific production practices. The term ‘sustainable’ is used in its general sense to encompass not just conservation of non-renewable resources(soil, water, energy, minerals) but also issues of environmental, social and economic sustainability. The term ‘organic’ is best described as referring to the concept of the farm as an whole organism in which all the component parts – the soil minerals, insects, organic matter, microorganisms, plants, animals and man interact to create a workable and stable whole.
The key characteristics of organic farming are:
- Protecting the long term fertility of soils by increasing organic matter levels, encouraging soil microbe activity.
- Providing crop nutrients indirectly using relatively insoluble(natural) nutrient sources which are made available to the plant by soil microorganisms.
- Nitrogen is provided through the use of legumes and biological nitrogen fixation. I is also provided by recycling of organic materials incorporating crop residues and livestock manure.
- Weed, disease and pest control relying primarily on crop rotations, organic manuring, plant health, natural predators, bio-diversity, resistant varieties(conventional plant breeding) and only natural biological and chemical intervention.
- The management of livestock involved considering behavioural needs and animal welfare issues with respect to health, nutrition, housing, breeding and rearing.
- Careful attention to the impact of the farming system on the larger environment and the conservation of native wildlife and natural habitats also need to be considered.