Question of the
Can you eat the flowers on chives?
Judith of Toowoomba
Yes, you can eat the
flowers of chives - although many people may think they
look so lovely, it seems a shame to do so. The unopened
flower buds can be added to a stir fry or used as a
garnish. The individual flowers (separated from the
globular flower head) are great as a garnish, added to
dips and salads or cooked in an omelette or other egg
I have tiny ants on my gardenia
flowers. Do you have a solution - preferably organic?
Are you sure they are ants June?
you must also have scale or mealy bugs as ants are typically attracted
to these pests. You will need to control the ants (try chilli powder),
plus control the scale (oil sprays) and mealy bugs (difficult, but try
drenching with molasses - 2 tablespoons per litre water - each week). I
suspect that you have thrips (see image). Try an oil spray or pyrethrum.
Alternatively, if you are just picking the flowers for indoor use and
not that worried about a few bugs on the plant itself, plunge the cut
flowers in water and drown the thrips before arranging the blooms.
For more of
Annette's articles and other interesting stories on how to 'Live For
What an honour it is to be featured in Anne Vale's new
book, 'Influential Australian Garden People and Their
Stories'. Dr. Anne Vale is a historian, lecturer and
garden photographer. This latest book is a sequel to her
2003 award winning title, 'Exceptional Australian Garden
Makers'. I am enjoying reading about colleagues like
Jane Edmanson, Steven Ryan and Tim Entwistle. Other
Queenslanders featured include Arno King and Paul Plant.
Copies will soon be available at BCC libraries or you
can purchase copies online at
Oh no, it is the dreaded Dendrobium beetle! This is a
common pest of potted and shade house orchids, but as
you can see, will also attack orchids grown in tree
forks or other naturalistic settings. Beetles and their
larvae destroy new leaves and stems of orchids, so
control them if you can. Squash them by hand (like I did
this one) or try using any organic chewing insect
control (Spinosad, diatomaceous earth, molasses drenches
Mite Damage on Citrus
Take a close look at your citrus blooms (these are from a Minneola tangelo) and
you may observe some distorted flowers and developing fruit. These blooms have
been affected by bud mites (most likely Eriophyyes sheldoni). Sulphur or oil
sprays can be used as a preventative, but once flowers and young fruit have been
affected the damage is already done. Pick them off if you like. Fruit typically
still develops, but will be distorted.
Silver Leaf Desmodium - (Desmodium uncinatum)
Here is another introduced pasture legume that has
become a weed problem in gardens and bushland areas. It
grows incredibly quickly and flowers and seeds
prolifically. You will see it covering the soil and
growing up trees as a dense climber. The small, flat
seeds stick to your socks and clothing. You really are
best to remove it by hand. If you try to spray it with a
herbicide like glyphosate, the vine will die, but the
seeds will drop to the soil and before you know if you
will have another crop to contend with. If you have
grazing animals (sheep, goats, a cow), you could feed it
to them as it is high in nitrogen. Avoid putting it in
the compost as the seeds are problematic, but you can
soak it in water and use the nutrient enriched liquid as
a liquid fertiliser.
for the terrific Thai Pea Eggplant seeds you so generously gave away at the
recent Green Heart Fair in Carindale. I dutifully planted them with love and
care, and they have germinated. Horray!! Picture attached!!
now like to plant out into containers (on a balcony - NE facing, good sun).
Information about growing Pea Eggplant in pots is somewhat scant on the
internet... I have tried!! These are my questions.
(1) What pot size is
appropriate? I like the 95c, 9L buckets from Bunnings after I drill 6 holes in
the bottom. Would they be OK? One plant per pot?
(2) Also I like to plant a
couple in smaller pots, so I can give away to friends for them to repot at their
home. Do you think Pea Eggplant will still fruit OK after two re-pottings, from
seedling pot, to 600ml pot, to something permanent?
(3) Most of the seeds I
was able to plant separately, but in some cases there are 20-30 little plants
clumped together. Do you have any recommendations for techniques to separate out
the little seedlings?
Claire from Taringa
Well done on your
germination of the Thai pea eggplants. Pea eggplants (like all eggplants) need
as much sun as possible. One plant per 9L bucket should be fine. You have plenty
to give away so pot them into small containers for friends. You could also do
this with the ones you are keeping and gradually pot them up into the
bucket-sized containers. Separate the clumped seedlings by washing the roots in
some liquid seaweed (dilute according to directions). Overcrowded seedlings can
be separated and successfully repotted when they soil is washed off. Fertilize
your eggplants every week with liquid nutrients and be sure to add extra dry
fertilizer to the potting mix.
like Annette McFarlane to identify this tree which I have growing in my garden,
if possible, please?
Keith of Carina
Your mystery plant is the
Australian rainforest native known as the powder puff tree (Syzygium wilsonii).
It prefers a shaded position, is very slow growing and has a natural weeping
habit. It bears its stunning, signature crimson flowers massed with stamens
The cycad blue
butterfly has become an increasing problem for
gardeners over the past decade. This small butterfly lays eggs in the centre of
the plant, often prior to the emergence of the new fronds. The new fronds either
fail to emerge or are permanently ruined by the chewing of the slug-like larvae.
The presence of ants on cycads is often an indication of the presence of larvae
on the undersides of the fronds. Any organic products that control caterpillars
(including molasses and spinosad sprays)
will control this pest, but must be
applied before the larvae being to chew the new foliage. Correct timing is
essential. I prefer to cover the centre of each plant with a small section of
soft, green, mosquito netting, prior to frond emergence. Tuck it loosely over
the centre of the plant leaving room for the new fronds to gradually push it off
as they mature. Covering with ting keeps plants free of larvae and once the
fronds become hard they are immune to attack. If you are not prepared to go to
this effort consider an alternative plant. Zamia furfuracea (a close
relative of the cycad commonly known as the cardboard palm) is immune to attack
from the cycad blue butterfly.
Other articles of
When buying seeds
how the seed
My Top Ten:
cuisine, in fact you
have possibly eaten
dishes. If you have
pond or water
can grow kangkong....
Native Plants W/Shop
Lawns W/Shop Notes
Soil pH Plant List
Ask A Question
Poem by Annette
three citrus trees. But it seems only one has an infestation of stink bugs. I've
tried picking them off with a gloved hand and snipping of entire branches. Is
there anything I can spray? from Mary
To control adult stink bugs (or bronze orange bugs), spray with oil (a
plant-based oil or pure neem oil - note Eco-Neem is not registered for edibles) by
aiming the spray directly at the insect. Another option is to use an old vacuum
cleaner to dispatch them at arm's length. In future, it will help to recognize
the various stages of the lifecycle. It is likely that your tree was infested
several months ago. Control the eggs and immature stages by spraying each
season with oil. This will
also control scale, mites and aphids. Without treatment your stink bugs will
spread to all your trees next year.
more pest information....
popular with new gardeners is the no-dig or sheet mulch gardening technique.
In no-dig gardens, layers of organic material are built up on the top of the
soil, rather than dug into it. Lucerne is usually used as the main
component of the no-dig garden, but you can mix in other high nitrogen materials
such as grass clippings and sappy green prunings with animal manure
and compost. This will make the lucerne go
further. Straw, sugar cane or some other high
carbon material is used as a mulch on top of the garden.
No dig gardens can be built on top of the soil or any
surface, even concrete!
To build a no-dig garden 2m x 3m you will need:
bales of lucerne
One barrow of compost
One bale of straw/cane straw
Slash or mow any existing lawn or weeds. Water the
area well and spread some gypsum if your soil is heavy
clay. Lay down a thick layer of wet newspaper,
overlapping it well. Alternate thin layers of the
lucerne, compost and manure, watering as you go.
When you have a nice thick layer almost knee high and
all your nitrogen materials have been used up, spread
the straw/cane mulch over the top to form a mulch layer.
for at least two weeks before planting, re-wetting if
necessary. Covering the bed with plastic will ‘cook’ the
layers and help them to break down more quickly.
To plant the no-dig garden create small pockets within
the lucerne layer and fill with compost or potting mix.
Plant seeds or seedlings into the compost pockets,
drawing the straw mulch layer back in around the plants.
Leafy crops such as silverbeet, spinach and lettuce grow
well in no-dig gardens as do tomatoes, melons and
pumpkins. Avoid planting root crops in no-dig
gardens for several seasons until a good depth of
compost has accumulated.
Change a Life with a Loan
Interested in sustainability? Consider giving a no interest loan through
Kiva. By getting involved in micro-finance, you can help fund an
individual or group involved in the type of activity you believe
supports the planet.