Choose Garden Tools When you buy equipment or materials for your garden, you usually get what you pay for. The things which do the job well and last are usually the more expensive choices. A good top of the range pair of secateurs, for example, should last 20 years or more, but a cheap pair may only last one or two years....(Excerpt from page) Click to read more
Colourful Hanging Baskets MASSED COLOUR BASKETS ARE IN VOGUE If the thought of hanging baskets brings back memories of macramé, woven cane and other folksy icons of the 70s, think again. Nowadays, the hanging baskets of Europe and North America are absolutely spectacular balls of colour. You might wonder how they achieve such stunning affects, until a closer look reveals that most are planted with a variety of different flowering plants....(Excerpt from page) Click to read more
Composting -Aerobic Method Aerobic composting is a faster and easier method, that gives good results, based on maintaining high oxygen levels (airflow) in the heap. When oxygen levels are higher; decomposition is potentially faster. The heap should be approx. 1 cubic metre....(Excerpt from page) Click to read more
Drainage Drainage can be tested easily by observing the way in which water moves through soil. Simply observing soil conditions where you wish to develop a garden, particularly after several days of wet weather, will give you a good idea of any potential drainage problems, such as boggy areas or high levels of surface runoff. ...(Excerpt from page) Click to read more
Establishing Plants in Hot Places PLANT ESTABLISHMENT METHODS The hardest part of growing plants is getting them through the first year. After that, they are usually quite well established and can tolerate harsher conditions with little ill-effect. Watch for the following when plants are young: ...(Excerpt from page) Click to read more
Gardening in Dry Tropics Soils can be dry for any one of several reasons: a/ The soil is sandy and doesn't retain water. b/ Rainfall is minimal. c/ Areas under the canopy of trees where rainwater doesn't penetrate to the ground underneath. This type of position often has two other problems ‑ these being shade and a dense mat of tree roots that penetrates the soil and competes with any plants you try to establish there. d/ Water is not absorbed easily. This could be for a number of reasons such as poor soil structure (eg: hard packed clays), the presence of quantities of rock, or water repellent soils such as some fine sands. e/ The soil is under the eaves of buildings....(Excerpt from page) Click to read more
General Gardening DISTANCE EDUCATION COURSES The following are our most popular distance education courses in General Gardening. Click on the course of interest for further details: For the serious Home Gardener: HOME GARDEN EXPERT COURSE Entry Level Courses for a career in Horticulture: HORTICULTURE I (More students have started a carteer in horticulture with this than anything else we offer, since 1979) ...(Excerpt from page) Click to read more
Growing Trees and Shrubs in Warm Places TREES & SHRUBS FOR WARM PLACES  When you grow plants in a Tropical, Sub Tropical or artificially heated environment, there are a lot of things that need to be approached in a different way. Many of our most magnificent gardens can be found in hot places. The range of plants available for such situations, provide a palette of unique textures, colours and shapes. The heat, and humidity in moister areas, encourages diversity of plant life. With the right approach, and careful selection of plants, a hot place can be turned into a very livable garden....(Excerpt from page) Click to read more
How to Prune Apple Trees In the past apples were trained into central leader shapes, having a central leader and evenly spaced out branches and stone fruit into vase shapes, however these days many people find the open vase shape easier to maintain and easier to harvest fruit. In the home orchard the tree will produce plenty of fruit whichever type you use. As Malus are often grafted or budded, care should be taken to remove suckers, especially those which emerge below the union. When fruiting, pruning is necessary to keep the tree open and prevent crowding. Branches may start drooping from the weight of the fruit. Cut the drooping part back to growth which is almost vertical. Most apples fruit from spurs which are three to four year old short stems. A few types bear fruit at the tips o...(Excerpt from page) Click to read more
Lawns in Warmer Places Nearly everyone loves a beautiful lawn, even non-gardeners. It's one of the first things most of us think about creating in a new garden, perhaps because it's one of the easiest and often cheapest way to quickly "finish off" a new home. Once the grass is down, it's much easier to keep mud and dust out of the house, it makes the property look much neater, and it's not so much of a hassle to let the children out to play, or to invite guests over for a visit....(Excerpt from page) Click to read more
Managing Slippery Surfaces With the coolness of winter, surfaces around the garden simply don’t dry out as fast. Paving can become slippery, and all types of surfaces can discolour and start to look ugly with the growth of moss and algae....(Excerpt from page) Click to read more
Potting Up HOW TO POT A PLANT If you leave a potted plant with the same growing medium for too long, the plant will begin to suffer. This principle is true of newly germinated seedlings as well as established container-grown plants. Likewise, potting up plants can lead to improved plant health or vigour....(Excerpt from page) Click to read more
Product Review New Book by John Mason - second edition just released John Mason, principal of the ACS Distance Education in Queensland, has recently had the second edition of his best selling book, Growing Australian Natives released. This book draws on a combined wealth of knowledge, and years of experience in growing Australian native plants. ...(Excerpt from page) Click to read more
Prune for Better Looking Plants Any amount of pruning causes some degree of stress to a plant. Ideally, plants of suitable growth and habit should be selected for the site in which they are to be grown but this is not always possible. Also, some people prefer their plants to have a more manicured appearance, perhaps to fit in with a formal garden style. It is important to remember that different plants have different levels of tolerance to hard pruning. With some plants, you can remove 50% of the foliage and this will result in improved vigour and health. With other types of plants, removing 50% of the foliage will cause death. Occasionally you may encounter a plant which has low tolerance to hard pruning that will survive a hard prune, but this is not typical. It is better to find out what are re...(Excerpt from page) Click to read more
Safety Gear Before starting any outdoor horticultural work, take time to equip yourself with the appropriate protective gear for the job....(Excerpt from page) Click to read more
Topiary and Espaliers Topiary is an old art form that involves training plants to grow into decorative and predetermined shapes....(Excerpt from page) Click to read more
Tropical Gardening SOILS & FERTILISERS Different plants like different types of soils....(Excerpt from page) Click to read more
Using Pesticides Safely You can minimize risks associated with pesticides by choosing what you use carefully, and using it properly. Pesticide is not a dirty word!  But before you spray any plants you really should know what you are dealing with and treat it accordingly. Some chemicals are very safe; but others require a mask, gloves and perhaps other protective clothing. Whatever you spray, don't do silly things like spraying into the wind and having the chemical blow back over you....(Excerpt from page) Click to read more
Warm Plants in Temperate Climates Tropical and Sub tropical Plants can be grown in temperate climates; but they need to be kept away from the extreme cold. There are many ways this might be done, depending upon how cold it gets, and how sensitive the particular plants are. Many people grow the plants indoors. Some use a greenhouse or shade house. Some simply find ways of protecting them for those periods of time when the temperature drops too low....(Excerpt from page) Click to read more
Watering Systems Water is becoming an increasingly scarce and costly resource. Hence a well planned garden with appropriately selected plants and an efficient watering system can play a major part in determining the size of the water bill. Designing and operating an effective watering system will be made easier by paying attention to the following when planning your garden....(Excerpt from page) Click to read more