Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Container Gardening: Pests, Fruit, Herbs and Flowers

That Guilty Feeling Pleasure
On the weekend, I went nuts shopping at Bunnings Warehouse and Eden Gardens. I bought so much that I'm feeling slightly guilty. As usual, the dilemma was: flowers vs fruits vs herbs.

Why am I feeling guilty? I'm *supposed* to be saving up a deposit/down payment. Maybe it was the stress of rushing to eight open houses on Saturday that brought on the need to unwind by shopping for pots and plants. One thing leads to another...if you buy plants, you'll need to buy pots and if you buy pots first, then you want to buy plants to fill up the pot ^.^

I spent roughly $400 on gardening plants and items on the weekend and if I had saved up that $400 to use as a deposit/downpayment on my future mortgage, it would have saved me paying $5,400 in interest. Insane isn't it!! Although the pleasure of living in the here and now would have dissipated somewhat if I applied that theory to everything.

For what I spent on the snowboarding trip to NZ recently, used as a deposit/down payment, that would have saved my poor future-self from paying $54,000 in mortgage interest. But since it can't be guaranteed that I'll live to a ripe old age, I think I should enjoy myself along the way :)

Making That Humble Dollar Work

How did I arrive at that scenario? I'll illustrate using a simple example.

Scenario One: IF I borrowed $300k @ 9% for 30 years (Interest rates were at 9.8% in 2008 so it's not farfetched to think that rates may increase to those levels in the future):

a) If I deposited $1 against the mortgage in the first month, total interest paid is $568,975.67
b) If I didn't deposit $1 in the first month, total interest paid is $568,989.51
So that single dollar paid into the mortgage in the first month would have saved me from paying a total of $1 principle + $13.84 interest, a total saving of $14.84

Scenario Two: IF I borrowed $400k @ 9% for 30 years:

a) If I deposited $1 against the mortgage in the first month, total interest paid is $758,643.63
b) If I didn't deposit $1 in the first month, total interest paid is $758, 656.77
So that single dollar paid into the mortgage in the first month would have saved me from paying a total of $1 principle + $13.14 interest, a total saving of $14.14

Who cares huh? Look at what I bought :)

* $25 Yates Blood & Bone Fertiliser: Will be using this alternately with Dynamic Lifter. The horticulturalist advised me to apply Dynamic Lifter which is a slow release fertiliser. In two or three months, sprinkle with Blood & Bone. Two to three months later, Dynamic Lifter again and repeat cycle. We also have Thrive which is supposed to be good when plants are fruiting or flowering. Thrive is supposed to treat the plant while Dynamic Lifter + Blood and Bone are soil conditioners and treat the soil.

* $16 Nootka Raspberry Plants: Two small plants. It will be my first time planting Raspberries and I'll be potting them up. I read that Raspberry plants have canes (the branch/leafy bits) that grow vigorously with vigorous roots that spread. So the horticulturalist advised that for container gardens, you must use a ceramic glazed pot or else the roots will eventually be strong enough to break your pots or grow through the cracks in your terracotta pots. The roots also need to be kept cool so the pot needs to be deeper rather than wider. The plants don't fruit in the first year but will fruit in the second year. After the second year fruit, you're supposed to cut the canes down to the soil level while pruning the one year old canes. Advice on the internet is consistent and advises that one year old canes are a lighter green whereas the two year old ones are a darker colour. Alternate with the fertiliser method above when they start growing again. It's going to be exciting because I don't know anyone else who grows their own raspberries.

* $24 Dahlia bulbs: I bought three Dahlia bulbs/rhizomes. Suddenly I've been madly buying bulbs. Normally bulbs scare me because I'm not the type to dig them out when they die down and then I can't bear the thought of them rotting in the ground if I don't. Some will hibernate very well without being dug out. Anyway, I'm hoping my Dahlias will spread and I can eventually share some bulbs with family and friends. I've been growing the following that should eventually multiply: Tulips, Dahlias, Daffodils, Dutch Irises, Lillies

* $2.50 Sunflower Dwarf Sensation seeds: As long as I stay away from extreme hybrids, the flowers and herbs should go to seed and enable me to plant next year from seed harvested. To grow anything from seed, you really need the fruit or flower to ripen and shrivel on the plant until it looks dry or browned and then you collect the seeds and store them in a jar in a dry place. Soak overnight before planting or sowing them in the following year.

* $15.79 Yates Insecticide/Natrasoap: My poor plants have been suffering from a batch of Aphid attacks and trying more natural homemade/organic insecticide recipes didn't work so I bought a bottle of insecticide to try and banish the pesky aphids from destroying the plants. Clean, dry eggshells that I've crushed are helping to keep snails at bay. Crushed eggshells are an awesome, natural snail and slug repellant and they also provide calcium to the plants.

* $23 Wild Irises: These grow in clumps and the leaves don't die down leaving you with a bare looking pot. Wild Irises do require transplanting/splitting when the clumps are too large for pots or garden areas.

* $27 Americana Geraniums: Beautiful fuschia blooms in clumps on taller stems. I'm going to try and do some geranium cuttings when the plant matures somewhat.

* $13 Seasol Concentrate: 1 capful to 9 litres of water. Seasol is made from seaweed and is considered a 'tonic' to help stressed plants. Stressed plants? Yep you read it right - plants get stressed when they're transplanted, split, re-potted, suffer from heat waves or haven't been watered for several weeks because you've been away on holiday. The Eden Garden horticulturalist advised to mix, apply and wait two weeks prior to using any other fertiliser.

* $189 for two 47cmx53cm Primo Glazed Ceramic Pots: For the raspberries I bought - see above

* $64.95 for one 45cmx34cm Forest Green Primo Glazed Ceramic Pot: For the Wild Irises I bought - see above

Ceramic glazed pots just ain't cheap in Australia. Sigh.

Spring Time: Plant Fruit Trees, Herbs and Seedlings

It's five days into Spring if you live in the Southern Hemisphere. Now is the best time to start planting all those herbs and flowers. To start applying fertiliser. The Eden Garden horticulturalist told me that my plants may have yellowed somewhat due to our cold winter but Spring should see them starting to absorb more nutrients now that the soil will warm up and certain plants break out of their dormancy.

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