Category Archive: Environment

The heathlands of Anglesea

It was a nature walk in search of the Rufous Bristlebird, an inconspicuous bird, but with a loud melodic call. The path took me towards Point Addis, a landmark some eight kilometres east of Anglesea, a little town on Victoria’s west coast.

The sign called it heathlands and raved about its masses of spring wildflowers – alas it was summer, and most of its flowers were long gone.

The rest of the sign, courtesy of the Great Ocean Road Coast Committee said:

“Coastal heathlands are classified as depleted in the Otway region as a result of land clearing for housing and agriculture.

Remnant areas such as this are further threatened by weed invasion and recreational pressures.

Heathland communities contain a vast array of indigenous plants including many rare orchids, and support a variety of native wildlife.”

It also told me that the tough wiry stems and prickly foliage of heathland communities provide protection, food and nesting sites for native wildlife.

These wildlife include the Southern Brown Bandicoot and the White Footed Dunnart – a small nocturnal carnivorous marsupial the size of a mouse. Along with the Rufous Bristlebird, these are all species of State or National significance.

I managed to see a lizard, a grasshopper and a very fast bird, whom was too fast for me to see if it was Rufous. It didn’t sound like him.

It was a rather desolate place this sort of plateau on the edge of crumbling cliffs by the side of the sea. Plants were arched from prevailing winds and must be regularly coated in salt laden spray. These impoverished soils and low summer rainfall contribute to a low growing or stunted landscape.What initially looked quite barren, suddenly was thriving. Sit there for a while, and you see that it is quite alive; and free.

Beyond the heathlands were some low growing gum trees and a rather steep hill. The climb rewarded me with this view to the west. It reminded me how lucky I was to have wandered through this little heathland on this very day; and still that Rufous Bristlebird, remains a mystery to me.

Ewood Raised Garden Beds

By James Wall

We have now set a few of these EWOOD garden beds up and I am becoming more impressed with the product every day.

Comes in many different sizes.


What is Ewood ?

The first tier.

Ewood is not actually wood. They are planks of extruded plastic that are made from recycled plastic that would normally go into landfill. This includes ink cartridge toners from printers and scraps from the manufacture of car parts. The outer plastic casings of old TV’s are also used.

As well as reducing landfill, ewood can be used instead of wood, which means we need to harvest less trees. It also does not rot, nor does it need to be painted and it is termite proof.

When making a raised garden bed out of Ewood, I could not believe how easy it is to set up. The first one I built was 2.4m x 1.2m and 400mm high –  and it took 45 minutes to build. That’s right 45 minutes, and all I needed was a cordless drill. That is because the raised garden beds come with bolts, and with pre-drilled holes that have a sort of steel thread in them. Gotta love that. Each level you build, stacks on top of each other with the corner lugs locking the system together with no bolts required. It is an ingenious design.

You make them a level at a time, and then stack them on top of each other.

The unique design also means you can fit the pieces in the boot of you car. Pieces are sold in sets of two, and being modular, you can have them in many different sizes.

Our 3 most popular sizes are:

2.4m x 1.2m x 400mm high

2m x 1m x 400mm high

1m x 1m x 400mm high

Ready to be filled with dirt.

Garden beds have a 20 year warranty, come in black only, but can be painted. They are a simple way to grow vegetables in a raised garden beds.

A square one.

Mmmm, now that I have built one, just need to fill it with the dirt. Going to use 50% sandy loam and 50% composted garden mix with some big chunky bits in it. That should work. Just gotta work out the most efficient way to put it in. Maybe its best to fill it with one tier, as you can still ramp the barrow in, but then add the other half may have to be done by shovel. Now where’s a couple of mates to help me ?

The corner stacking lug.

The amazing green lake.

By Justine Warren

Azolla pinnata close up

Azolla pinnata close up

Taking an early morning walk in the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne last Saturday I was looking forward to having a coffee next to the beautiful ornamental lake in the middle of the gardens.  Instead I was greeted with what more resembled the fairway of a golf course than the lake I was used to seeing.

After some light reading on the information signs helpfully placed along the banks of the lake, I soon discovered this was a native fern carpeting the lake called Azolla pinnata.  Warm weather, high nutrient run off and a stable water level has lead to the ferns success over Autumn.

Azolla pinnata

Normally this fern has popped up in the lake in small pockets but never before has it completely engulfed the lake to this extent before.  The floating fern has the capacity to double its coverage every 7 to 10 days so an attempt to remove it completely would be futile.

But fear not the ecosystem of the lake, underneath its green blanket, is doing just fine.  The staff at the gardens are monitoring the oxygen levels and the aquatic life seem unaffected.  The fern is expected to start retreating and turn pink then red as the weather continues to get colder and be gone by July.

Azolla pinnata

That's one green lake.

Water Restrictions Eased In Melbourne.

This morning, the state government lowered water restrictions to Stage 1 for residential and commercial gardens and lawns.

Obviously gardeners need to maintain their water saving strategies and set a good example for the community. With summer coming on, it is now a good time to consider mulching. Not only does it reduce evaporation by up to 40%, it also will eventually break down and add a great amount of nutriton to your soil.

Also look for products that assist the soils water holding capacity, like Saturaid.

With dams at over 65% full and home garden tanks overflowing, there hasn’t been a better time to garden in Melbourne in at leat 5 years. Enjoy, but be water wise. We should not forget the drought. Read more in todays The Age.

 Hand Watering

Gardens and lawns can be watered with the following methods at any time, on any day:

  • Trigger-nozzle fitted hose
  • Watering can
  • Bucket.

Watering Systems

Watering systems (manual, automatic, spray, and dripper) can be used to water gardens and lawns within the following rules:

1. Alternate watering days:

  • Even and no-numbered houses can water on even dates of the month
  • Odd numbered houses can water on odd dates of the month
  • Everyone can water on the 31st within the specified times

2. Restricted hours(on your designated alternate day) between:

  • 6-10am
  • 6-10pm

Car Washing

Cars may be washed at home with the following methods at any time, on any day:

  • High pressure cleaning unit
  • Hand held hose fitted with a trigger-nozzle
  • Watering can
  • Bucket

Gardenworld recycling plastic pots.

Ok, so the new year is here and at the moment the shocking floods in Qld are looking pretty scary on the TV. Maybe its time for some good news. For the last 6 months, we have been trialling a pot recycling pilot system in conjunction with Garden City Plastics and Polymer Processors.

Basically there are 2 stillages stored at our nursery. As customers bring there old pots back to us, we fill up the stillages. When they are full, we call Polymer Processors and they swap over another 2 empty stillages. In the video below you will then see the process that returns the product back to Garden City Plastics who then make new black plastic pot. Its that simple.

We tried leaving the stillages in the front carpark, but people started to take the pots out after hours. You may think this is good that someone uses them, but it is unfair to the recycler who pays for the stillages to be picked up or dropped off. If any landscapers would like to do large drop-offs, they can call us, and we will arrange for them to drop directly into the stillages, without charge.

Remember, there are many council depots who also are accepting pots, but make sure they are polypropolene with the number 5 on the base of them. Pots made of other material, including biodegradable pots like those made of potato starch do not suit this process and in fact are a nuisance when mixed with the plastic pots. Please also ensure that excess dirt is removed from the pots.

It appears that little plastic sticks you often get with plants and the labels that they hold, are also made of the same plastic, so these can be added with the pots.

So finally many down to earth nursery staff can feel a little more at ease in the knowledge that it is now financially viable to recycle the pots into new pots. Plastic is a great product for growing plants as it is reduces incidence of disease and provides excellent drainage. Lets hope the potting mix industry can now provide greener options for all the plastic bags we use.

This video below shows the processes taking place to ensure a true recycling process for plastic pots:

My family is making a worm farm – 1000 new pets !

There is something about making a worm farm. First thoughts are that it will be complicated and messy. Think about though, your pet dog makes more mess and you don’t have to take your worms for a walk.

The thing I enjoy about it is that my kids are enjoying the worm farm and are immensely proud to show it to their friends. It has created a safe, computer game free activity that father and children can participate in and enjoy together. The worm farm is $75 and the worms are $50. So for $125 which is a little more than the lastest video game for your gaming console, you will get the kids out of the house, and into the backyard.

Here’s how we did it:

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