Looking to grow your own food with edibles? We are a great place to start on your path to sustainability. At True Blue Garden Centre we have a great range of fruiting plants that will have you well on your way to growing a smorgasbord of deliciousness. From vegetable seeds and seedlings and lovely fresh herbs, to berries like Strawberries, Blueberries and Blackberries. Citrus like lemons and oranges, kumquats and pomelo and beautiful orchard
trees like apples, peaches and nectarines and cherries. We have specialty fruits like miracle fruit, dragon fruit, buddhas hand, and Jaboticaba.
Toowoomba’s climate with our fertile soil gives us the ability to grow a wide variety of plants and makes our gardens unique – hence we are “The Garden City” and the envy of many a gardener in Australia and worldwide. Many magazines, radio and television programs have information galore for the Tropical and Sub-Tropical areas but our climate here is more along the lines of Cool Temperate. So you will find some information you see, hear or read does not actually apply to our area.
For instance, planting citrus trees now is good in our area as they have a length of growing time to establish before the winter chills arrive. There are certain varieties on ‘trifolate’ rootstock which perform best in our area too. Always check with your local specialist nursery and their dedicated horticulturalists will steer you in the right direction.
Citrus Planting & Care
Choose a well drained sunny site protected from strong winds. Plant the citrus tree keeping the bud union 10-15cm above soil level and following the step by step instructions in last Saturday’s Toowoomba Telegraph. The largest proportion of roots on a healthy citrus tree are in the top 30cm of the soil within the drip line (the area under the tree canopy). Avoid digging this area, this is the area to apply fertiliser, water and mulch, keeping the mulch from resting directly on the tree trunk to help prevent collar rot.
Heavy pruning is not usually required. No shoots should be allowed to grow below those already established on the tree as these are usually from the rootstock and can take over if not removed. Cut out any dead wood and trim back water shoots by one third to half of their length. Heavy pruning can be used to revitalise an old established tree.
Pests and Diseases
Leaf Miner, Scale, Gall Wasps, Mites, Scab, Brown Rot, Melanose, Root and Collar Rot are the most likely culprits. If you are concerned with the health of your trees please trim some affected growth from the tree, place in a tied plastic bag or sealed container so you don’t spread the problem and take to your local nursery for identification and solutions.
One of the most important things about growing vegetables is to know their requirements for cold and warmth. Soil preparation is a very important step too. Some vegetables can be disappointing if they are planted out of season, and unfortunately some stores have seedlings on their shelves more suited to coastal areas than the Toowoomba climate. Here’s some information to help you, but if you’re not sure please ask the helpful horticulturists at your local independent nursery.
Most warm season vegetables like daytime temperatures of 20 degrees C or above. This group includes beans, capsicum, eggplant, sweet corn, sweet potato, tomato and vine crops like melons, cucumbers, pumpkins, zucchini, and squash. Some gardeners have lovely protected warm spots to grow a tomato or two in a corner with a warm north-facing wall or fence next to them, or you could build a small ‘hot-house’ to grow some summer vegies in winter.
A good idea is to plant successively every 4 weeks or so and then you will have an ongoing supply of the freshest, healthiest, and tastiest vegetables just outside your back door.
Trees and shrubs with large root systems will compete for moisture and plant nutrients as well as sunlight so avoid planting too close to them. A level site is best and easier to manage with rows running north-south. This way each plant in the row receives balanced and maximum sunlight. Healthy soil for vegetables should be loose and crumbly which absorbs and holds moisture and nutrients, and it should also drain easily.
Vegetables are often divided into three groups depending on the part of the plants we eat.
FRUIT & SEED VEGETABLES
LEAF and STEM VEGETABLES
ROOT and BULB VEGETABLES
All vegetables need to be grown quickly so plant nutrition is very important too. You don’t need different soils for different vegetables, however the grouping of your vegetables into fruit, leaf, and root plants gives you very good guidelines for fertiliser use.
Fruit and root crops need large quantities of phosphorus included in their fertiliser to promote the flower, fruit, seed and root development. Fertilisers high in nitrogen may produce too much leafy growth and reduce yields of fruits and seeds.
On the other hand, nitrogenous fertilisers are needed in greater quantities by leafy vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, lettuce, silver beet and spinach.
So as you can see, the fertiliser needs of vegetables are partly determined by the part of the plant we eat. There are fertilisers available which are specifically blended for the different needs of vegetable growing, as well as phosphorus separately.