Why are watermelons so wonderful?
Despite the popular belief that watermelon is just water and sugar, watermelon is actually a nutrient dense food. It provides high levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants and just a small number of calories.
Naturally, watermelons need space to grow, as a happy watermelon can grow really big!!! Have you seen Dirty Dancing?!
Watermelons need a sunny spot with at least six hours of sun a day. They need plenty of moisture and a rich soil. They love warm, frost-free climates, in fact, the warmer the better – making Australia a great place for these juicy fruits to thrive!
For watermelons, back-off with the nitrogen-rich fertilisers or you’ll get a very big vine with very few fruits. Qld Organics Organic Xtra is the perfect all-round fertiliser for your patch.
In temperate zones like Victoria you should sow seed in spring, however seeds won’t germinate when temperatures are below 15°C. In subtropical zones you can sow seed from September until January.
Sow seed your wonderful watermelon seeds in clumps of 4 or five. Let them germinate and then as the seedlings are growing well, pick out and discard the weakest plant and let the strongest one or two grow on. If you have no space problems and want to set up a real watermelon patch, sow clumps 5m apart.
Young plants need lots of water, but once fruit starts to mature it needs less water. When flowering starts, give plants a feed with Organic Xtra and keep on feeding every four weeks. Mulch the ground around plants to retain soil moisture.
Harvest in mid to late summer, about 12-16 weeks after planting seed.
Watermelons are ripe when they have grown to full size! When the underside of the melon changes colour from green to light yellow, it will be time! To test whether the watermelon is ripe and ready, tap it with your knuckles. When the fruit it ready it gives off a hollow sound.
How do they grow seedless watermelons?
Seedless watermelons, quite simply, develop fruit but no seeds because they are sterile. The sterility is caused by crossing plants that are incompatible genetically.
Have you seen white seeds in a “seedless” watermelon? These seeds are actually undeveloped seed coats and are edible, just like the seeds in our cool cucumbers!
Grow Cool Cucumbers
Cucumbers are such a versatile vegetable with so many uses – sliced, grated, in salads and soups. Even used as a beauty product to help tired eyes! Crispy, crunchy and so cool!
Plant seeds in a warm garden bed well prepared with manure and organic fertiliser – Qld Organics Blood & Bone is perfect! To plant seeds make a hole with your finger 1-2cm deep, 50cm apart and drop 4-5 seeds in each hole.
Cucumber should be planted in well-drained soil which receives sun for most of the day. Include some support such as lattice, or tepee structure. If you are growing in a raised garden bed, plant your cucumbers on the edge so they can trail down the sides.
Once each plant gets to the top of the support structure, pinch out the growing tips to encourage branching. Cucumbers will thrive in warm weather, and they will need plenty of food to keep them going.
Dress the soil with a good controlled release fertilizer such as Organic Xtra. Cucumbers may need a little helping hand using the provided support, so lift any scrambling vines and guide them to where they need to go.
Try to encourage Bees to your cucumber patch as they are essential in pollinating the female flowers which will ensure the development of fruit. Flowers are bright yellow and soft to touch, they closely resemble those of Pumpkin and Zucchini.
Pick your cucumbers as soon as they are ripe, usually around 15-20cm long depending on the variety. Fruit should be picked as soon as it is ripe this will encourage the plant to produce new fruit. Pickling cucumbers can be harvested when they are over 5cm in length.
TIP: Don’t wait until the cucumbers are supermarket size as they probably won’t taste as nice.
Australian Cucumber Varieties
Pick the right variety for your yard and climate, you will soon be as cool as a cucumber!
Continental – The longest and thinnest member of the cucumber family. Dark green in colour, the skin has shallow grooves running parallel from top to bottom.
Long White – Fast grower. White fruit to 18cm in length, with “apple” flavour.
Lebanese – Small cucumbers, similar in size to zucchini. They have dark green, tender skin with juicy flesh and small seeds.
Mini White – Produces an abundance of white, 10cm cucumbers.
Space Master – Nice and compact, won’t take over the garden!
The passionfruit vine is best grown from seed; however, it can be propagated from cuttings. It should be planted in full sun, a spot that gets at least 6 hours a day, with no trees or competitive roots. Passionfruit thrive in subtropical and temperate regions.
Soil for Passionfruit
Prepare light, fine, deep, well-dug soil with organic matter, Organic Xtra will be your passionfruit’s best friend, so dig it through your soil as you prepare. You can also add straw to retain warmth if you live in a cooler climate and scatter blood and bone around the hole.
Location for Growing Passionfruit
For passionfruit to thrive, provide a strong structure for the vine to climb on. An ideal spot to grow a vine is along a wire fence, across a balcony, or over a pergola. Also remember to give your vine space, one passionfruit can reach at least 2.5m across and several metres high, so bear that in mind if space is limited.
Passionfruit vines are heavy feeders and need plenty of water. If the soil is dry, fruits may shrivel and fall prematurely, so water frequently for short periods during dry times. Water is particularly vital when the vine is newly planted and when it’s flowering and forming fruit.
Although passionfruit do not require special pruning techniques to produce fruit, they are often pruned to control their size and spread, and to allow sunlight to filter through the vine to help ripen fruit. Pruned vines also produce strong new growth, that in turn produces fruit. Established vines that have fruited and are growing well can be carefully pruned in spring, before flowering, to remove excessive growth and to avoid the huge tangle of stems that develop naturally. Follow a stem along carefully before you cut it to ensure you’re not removing a major branch. Later in the year, excessive summer growth can be tied back onto the trellis or support, or simply cut off wayward branches.
Leave the vine to climb in its first year, then pinch out the top bud to encourage lots of side shoots. You can expect fruit about 18 months after planting. Pick the fruit when the skins start to wrinkle.
Passionfruit adds amazing flavour to juices, salads and desserts! Or simply slice and enjoy with a spoon!
Grow Delicious Sweetcorn
December and January are generally “go slow” months in the vegetable garden, given the extreme weather and the family commitments that many people have at this time of the year. However, if you have the time and there has been enough rain – delicious juicy sweetcorn’s are a great option.
Sweetcorn is a demanding crop nutritionally, so the soil needs to be very well-prepared and enriched to get a good crop. Hill the soil to improve drainage. Water soil well and let sit for a week before planting.
Dig over the soil to a spade’s depth and incorporate a wheel-barrow load of compost and/or well-rotted manure per square metre. Given the right planting conditions, this amazing veggie can soon become the giant in your patch!
Organic fertilisers are the best food for your Sweetcorn crop! Qld Organics blood and bone is a good choice for your sweetcorn. Topped up with a generous helping of Organic Xtra your Sweetcorn will be loving you this Christmas.
Sweetcorn needs plenty of sunshine to thrive – at least 6 hours a day, so make sure to plant in a sunny spot! Daytime temperatures need to be consistently above 15°C for successful planting. Strong winds can damage tall plants so be sure to also choose a protected spot.
Cobs are ready for harvesting about 3 weeks after flowering commences. The first sign of maturity is when the silks at the top of the cobs have turned brown. Peel back some of the protective husk and pierce a single kernel with your thumb nail. It should release a milky liquid. If it’s clear it needs more time. If there’s no liquid, the sugars have converted to starch, which means it’s over-ripe.
Tip: Sweetcorn can over-ripen quickly, so be sure to check cobs daily.
To harvest, twist cobs with a sharp movement downward to remove from plant. Corn cobs will store well in the fridge for a week or two ?
Australian Sweetcorn Varieties
Sweetcorn grown in Australia is broken up into two major types: normal and super sweet.
Super sweet differs from the traditional type of sweetcorn as they have a shrunken gene which produces twice the level of sugar and also reduces further the rate of sugar conversion to starch. The result is a very sweet cob and super sweets are now the major type of sweet corn sold in supermarkets.
The normal variety is the type of corn traditionally grown in the past such as Jubilee. It differs from maize by having genes which slow down the conversion of sugar into starch and characteristically has a creamy texture when ripe.
Grown your own sweetcorn and enjoy a juicy corn cob on the Aussie BBQ with butter, salt & pepper! Yum!
As a sub-tropical tree, the fig prefers a climate with warm to hot summers and cooler winters, so it is very suited to most areas of Australia.
Choose a sunny, warm spot to plant. North facing is ideal. Planting alongside a brick or stone structure provides protection from the elements as well as extra warmth.
Give your figs space. Figs are self-fertilising, how cool is that! Meaning you will only need one tree to get fruit. However, if you do plant more than one fig tree, space at least 3 metres apart. Fig trees will spread and provide thick shade, but BEWAE they also have tough roots that can damage sewer pipes and other underground systems.
The secret to a good fig is a rich, free-draining soil with a neutral pH. A good layer of straw mulch and plenty of organic matter will also give your tree a boost. Organic Xtra is perfect for figs ?
Don’t over-water or over-fertilise your figs. Fig trees do well in dry weather, and the fruit will be tastier if they are not over-watered. Using too much fertiliser can also lead to weaker fruit crops. Use Organic Xtra sparing and the trees will consume all the nutrients effectively. Water every couple of weeks if there is no rain. Tip: If your tree’s leaves begin to turn yellow, it probably needs more water!
Protect your fig tree from the cold. In cooler climates you can cover the base of the tree with leaves or hay, some people even wrap the branches with blankets, carpet padding or another warm protective layer. If your tree is in a container, bring it inside in frosty weather and wait until the ground is warm to move it back outside.
Your tree will be ready to bear fruit after approximately two years. You will know the figs are ready for harvest when they droop, soften and change colour completely. Figs will not ripen off the vine, so be sure to give them enough time before you pick!
Australian Fig Varieties
Pick the right variety for your yard and climate. A dwarf fig tree that you can grow in a container allows you to move the trees indoors for protection during the winter.
Black Genoa: Excellent flavour. A Large, conical, greenish purple skin and dark red, rich sweet flesh.
Brown Turkey: Large, conical, brown skin, pink sweet-flavoured flesh.
Preston Prolific: Very thick flesh, creamy white and juicy, with sweet flavour.
White Adriatic: A vigorous Fig variety, brown green skin over pink flesh with excellent sweet flavour.
White Genoa: Large, conical, yellow-green skin, red-pink sweet, mild flavoured flesh. Suits cooler areas.
Pumpkins do best when the seeds are planted directly in the ground. Pumpkins are very sensitive to the cold. Plant seeds in rows or “pumpkin hills”. With hills, the soil will warm more quickly, and the seeds will germinate faster. This also helps with drainage and pest control.
Pumpkins are BIG feeders. Regular treatments of manure or compost mixed with water will sustain good growth. Pumpkins love compost!
Fertilise on a regular basis. Use Organic Xtra in early plant growth. Fertilise when plants are about one foot tall, just before vines begin to run. Switch over to a fertiliser high in phosphorous just before the blooming period, Qld Organics Blood & Bone is perfect for this stage.
After a few pumpkins have formed, pinch the fuzzy ends off each vine. This will stop vine growth so that the plant’s energies are focused on the fruit.
Pruning the vines may help with space, as well as allow the plant’s energy to be concentrated on the remaining vines and fruit.
As the fruit develops, they should be turned (with great care not to hurt the vine or stem) to encourage an even shape.
A pumpkin is ripening when its skin turns a deep, solid colour (orange for most varieties).
When you thumb the pumpkin, the rind will feel hard and it will sound hollow. Press your nail into the pumpkin’s skin; if it resists puncture, it is ripe.
Pumpkins should be cured in the sun for about a week to toughen the skin and then stored in a cool, dry place.
If you get a lot of vines and flowers, but no pumpkins, you need more bees in your garden to pollinate the flowers. Grow some colourful flowers next to your pumpkin patch and you may get more bees and butterflies!
Don’t grow pumpkins in the same patch as tomatoes or potatoes – they don’t really like each other ?
You can buy potted avocado trees to plant from nurseries, which is a great way to get started. Position your tree in a bright, sunny spot. Make sure it is protected from strong wind. Avocados also struggle in salt-laden winds, so also be mindful of that.
Soil must be well-drained, rich, deep and friable with a pH of 6-7. You can measure the pH of your soil using simple kits you can purchase from your local hardware store or nursery.
How to plant
Dig your planting hole twice as wide as the root ball of the tree. Add Organic Xtra to the soil from the hole before backfilling. Don’t disturb the roots, and plant so the soil level is the same as it was in the pot.
Looking after your Avocado tree
You will need to water your avocado tree regularly, especially during summer, to produce more fruit. Mulch with a good quality organic mulch, keeping it clear from the trunk.
Feed young trees three times a year with a fertiliser with added nitrogen, Eco88s is perfect for this and your avocados will thank you for it. Feed mature trees yearly in spring with a fertiliser for flowers and fruit. Use Organic Xtra, add a dusting of a hundred grams per square metre equivalent of Qld Organics Natural Gypsum in the spring.
Quick rundown of some popular avocado varieties
WURTZ – Reaching 4-6m high, it produces medium fruit with dark-green skin.
HASS – Bears black-skinned fruit that stores on the tree for months. A tall spreading tree, this popular cultivar likes frost-free climates.
SHEPPARD – A small to medium pear-shaped fruit with thick, green skin that peels easily. The fruit has an excellent flavour, medium oil content and does not turn brown when cut
BACON – Upright and vigorous, it bears a medium fruit with light-green skin. Good for cool climates.
FUERTE – Suits cool climates and makes a great shade tree for a large garden. Bears small to medium green-skinned fruit.
When to harvest
Avocados don’t ripen until picked, so you don’t have to harvest them all at once. Wait until the first one falls to the ground, and put that in the cupboard, keep it for about a fortnight to ripen and it will be ready to eat. At that stage you know that you can harvest them from the tree.
Qld Organics has just returned from a trip to Vietnam to visit our exclusive distributor.
Time was spent visiting their factory and distribution centre in Ho Chi Minh City. We also made a trip into the Highlands between Buon Ma Thuot and Pleiku seeing how our organic fertilisers are being put to work in coffee and pepper plantations and visiting retail outlets stocking our products.
We then spent 3 days in the Mekong River Delta, Can Tho. Here we met distributors and discovered that large quantities of Organic Xtra and Organic Nitro Boost are being used on many fruit tree crops including Durian, Longans, Mangoes, Breadfruit and Dragon Fruit.
Although the main reason for being in Can Tho was to visit the Agricultural Expo and attend an event to which 300 distributors and customers had been invited to. This was a Signing Ceremony for an exclusive distribution with Qld Organics and Adelaide’s liquid fertiliser supplier Spraygro. The event included a new products launch for Organic Xtra and the Spraygro range.
It was fantastic to see the massive promotion of two great Australian brands in Vietnam.