Fertilisers and Your Gardens | Branch Management

Fertilisers and your garden

Fertilisers and your Gardens?

Blood and bone is an organic fertiliser made from animal products which is abattoir waste. It is essentially what its name describes, usually with some added ingredients….

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Blood and bone is a good fertiliser for most plants as it is slow release. It adds humus (organic matter) to soils, which improves soil structure and encourages desirable microorganisms. Soils with good structure have improved aeration and water availability, where sandy soils dry out quickly, and clay soils retain water but have poorer aeration.

Following an application of Blood and Bone, it is advisable to mulch the garden bed. Organic mulch is best as it also adds humus as it decomposes. Mulching assists in stabilising soil moisture and temperature, and while non organic mulch such as pebbles have some positive effect, they do not improve soil as organic mulches do.

Mulches

The best types of organic mulches are those which decompose more quickly. These include leaf mulch, sugar cane and composted manures. The disadvantage of these is that they need to be topped up more often. Raw manures can burn roots due to their acidic/alkaline nature which is neutralised by composting.

Some organic mulches such as wood fines can bind together and create a layer around the plants which becomes impervious to air and water movement, thereby retarding plant growth. Fine mulches such as these should be mixed with coarser mulches such as sugar cane or leaf mulch if they are to be used.

Mushroom compost is another good mulch, however, it is usually strongly alkaline and is not suitable for acid loving plants such as Azaleas and Camellias. Chicken manure is also alkaline and is not suitable for acid loving plants.

The optimum depth for organic mulches is 75 – 100 mm. Less than this will not have the best effect, and more than this can impede air and water movement. Mulch too thick can allow fungal problems to become established.

As with the use of any garden product, always follow the directions on the label or seek professional advice. If you are sick of waiting for a tradie click here, we provide professional service all the time.

Parasite Plants

All organisms have evolved to differing mechanisms of survival. Parasites, both plant and animal, make use of a host’s resources to varying levels without returning anything beneficial to the host. This is in opposition to Symbiotic organisms (often fungi) which use some host’s resources while assisting the host to survive. Epiphytes are another type of plant which uses a host for mechanical support but takes no nutrients from that host. Birds Nest Ferns are an example of an Epiphyte, as they sit in tree forks and catch falling organic matter for nutrients and rainwater for moisture.

Mistletoe

One of the most common parasitic plants in Australia is commonly called Mistletoe. There are various genera and species; some are host specific, that is, they only infest one species of host.

There are varying levels of parasitism in plants. Some have their own leaves and utilise the host’s water and nutrients while photosynthesising themselves. Others feed off host sugars, producing no food of their own.

A host tree, if it is healthy, can support one or two infestations of Mistletoe, however, if the tree is under stress, and more infestations occur, it will eventually die.

Australian Mistletoes are usually spread by birds which eat the fruit, fly to another host and deposit the seed on a branch. These seeds have a sticky coating which is not destroyed by the bird’s digestive system and sticks to the branch when deposited.

Once it germinates, it begins to grow into the tissue of the host, combining almost completely with the host wood and utilising host nutrients and water.

Mistletoes cannot be pulled or pruned off a host branch; the whole [host] branch must be removed. Read more for a guide on pruning trees in winter.

Dodder

This is another parasitic plant which has a tangled stringy appearance and often covers entire shrubs if not controlled. Dodder infests Lucerne crops frequently, causing crop reduction and in some cases cattle poisoning.

Native Cherry

Native Cherry (Exocarpus cupressiformis) is a shrub or small tree to approximately 8 metres high and is an example of a root parasite, although it appears to not be detrimental to its host(s). This plant is native to NSW, and acquires nutrients from neighbouring tree roots when younger, but becomes more independent as it matures.

The fruit of Native Cherry is edible, although not palatable until mature.

References

Parsons, W.T. and Cuthbertson, E.G. (2000) Noxious Weeds of Australia 2nd ed. CSIRO publishing.

National Herbarium of New South Wales (2007) Cuscuta campestris. PlantNET – FLoraOnline.www.plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au (14/01/2008)

https://www.ten.org.au/common-native-cherry

To identify different species of trees an AQF5 Arborist is your go to person.  Our AQF5 Arborist has years of experience and knows his species.

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