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Ground Rules

Saturdays 7.30am | TV ONE

Fact sheet 2004 - Ep 6

Throughout the show Lynda showed you some really easy ways to introduce fire into your garden.

BBQ's supplied by:

BBQ Factory Penrose
8 Station Rd
Tel: 09 579 7276
(suppliers of Brazier - Retail Price $100)

Living Flame Limited
343 Church St
Tel: 09 622 1148
(suppliers of Outdoor Stone Gas Brazier Stainless Steel Burner priced from $2200
Outdoor Stainless Steel Cook ON Fireplace priced from $4980 for the 1200mm model and $5580 for the 1500mm model. Brushed Stainless Steel Flare from $890)

Broady's NZ Ltd
46A Sir William Avenue
East Tamaki
Tel:  09 274 0658
(suppliers of Garden Oven - Retail Price - $1995.00)

Construction Machinery Ltd
15 Farnham Street
Tel: 09 377 6677
(suppliers of Aussie Heatwave - Retail Price $1638.00, Legs $67.75, Fireplace Grill $261.00)

The basics of compost

Richard showed us the importance of maintaining healthy soil through composting.  Composting also is a way of recycling organic vegetable waste from your kitchen and garden thereby reducing the amount of rubbish going to landfills.   The first thing you need is the right bin.

When you have limited space you have to think about the most efficient way of composting. There are many bins you can buy on the market. Amongst these are some small compact plastic bins. These have a lid and doors at the bottom to access your compost. They take up very little room.  These are available from most hardware stores.   

But you don't necessarily need a bin. If the pile is at least 3 by 3 by 3 feet, it will have enough mass to decompose in just a pile without a bin. This does however have to be covered with polythene with bricks to hold the plastic down. Some gardeners buy or build their own compost bins (like these -example there wooden one) because they keep the pile neat.

Don't use huge bins because every couple of weeks you need to fork over the pile to mix it and it will be too cumbersome to rotate.

General rules of composting:

  • Don't put in big sticks-all the material should be no bigger than 5-10cm long. If you have a pile, chop them up with a sharp spade. Make the layers no more than about 10cm deep otherwise they'll form into mats, which will prevent aeration.
  • The mixture should be kept warm and damp - but cover it to stop the rain washing through it and making it too wet
  • The pile should be aerated (put holes in polythene to make sure the bin has holes) 
  •  It will need to be turned, or mixed, every week or so.

What to use:

  • Carbon-rich "brown" materials, like leaves, straw, dead flowers from your garden and shredded newspaper.
  • Nitrogen-rich "green" materials, like grass clippings, plant-based kitchen waste (vegetable peelings and fruit rinds)
  • A shovelful or two of garden soil.
  • Compost agent to speed up the operation if you choose.

Carbon & Nitrogen materials to use:

Autumn leaves, grass clippings, hedge trimmings, straw, untreated sawdust, ashes (wood only and untreated wood), food scraps, vegetables peelings, tea leaves, tree pruning, pine needles, seaweed, animal manure, eggshells, newspaper.

Don't put in meat scraps-it's too hard to rot them down and it might attract rats. And DON'T put in diseased plant material or persistent weeds such as oxalis or weed seeds-the heat in the pile won't kill those things.

Here's what to do:

If you can, build the whole pile at once. That way it will breakdown more rapidly. You can keep all the materials separately then build the pile.

1. Start with a layer of coarse dry "brown" materials. Start by spreading a 10cm I thick layer of coarse, dry brown stuff, like wood chips, dried leaves, sawdust, or straw. 

2. Add a layer of moist "green" materials, such as grass cuttings, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, teabags, eggshells, dead flowers, or prunings from your garden.

3. Keep adding layers, alternating "green" & "brown" materials with a layer of soil and manure.

4. Every three or four layers add a layer of soil and you can add a sprinkling of compost boosters such as this compost maker which is a mixture of rock phosphate, lime gypsum, blood and bone and vegetable meal and helps to speed up the heating process.

5. Sprinkle each layer with water to dampen the pile.

6. Every couple of weeks, use a garden fork to turn the pile. Keep the pile moist, but not soggy. When you first turn the pile, you may see steam rising from it. This is a sign that the pile is heating up as a result of the materials in it decomposing. If you turn the pile every couple weeks and keep it moist, you will see earthworms throughout the pile and the centre of the pile turning into black, crumbly, sweet-smelling soil.

How long does it take to make compost?

After 2-3 months, the compost will be ready to use in your garden. Your compost is ready when it is dark and crumbly and looks like soil.

How to keep vermin out of compost:

Keep the lid on the bin. Every time that you add food scraps - cover them with a handful of dirt.   

If it smells, it needs more aeration, or may be too wet. Turn it over and mix in more coarse material.

Top 5 sub-tropical plants

1. Caryota gigas Thai mountain giant fishtail palm
The Thai mountain giant fishtail palm is a fast grower, requiring a bit of space, as it can reach heights to at least 20 metres.

2. Hibiscus 'Psyche'
Hibiscus 'Psyche' is a tall vigorous shrub which produces masses of small scarlet flowers almost year round.

3. Calliandra haematocephala Powderpuff bush
For attracting birds to the sub-tropical garden, try the powderpuff bush with its bright pompom like flowers and ferny foliage.

4. Scadoxus multiflorus ssp. katherinae Fire ball lily
The stunning flowers of the Fire ball lily make a colourful display in the summer months, it's great in shade or pots .

5. Clivia miniata var. citrina
This Clivia offers all year round appeal with dark green foliage and yellow flowers, followed by a display of creamy yellow berries.

Russell Fransham Subtropical Nursery
Clements Road
Matapouri Bay, RD3
Ph: 09 434 3980

Clivia and Scadoxus multiflorus available from
Rainbow Park Nurseries
Tel: 09 294 8771

Beautiful backyard: Waikari

This week's Beautiful backard was in Waikari, North Canterbury. Plants seen in this garden were:

Acer palmatum Dissectum 'Crimson Queen', Epimedium sulthureum versicolour, Cordyline australis New Zealand cabbage tree.

This garden is open to the public by advanced appointment only; entrance is $30.00 per person, and allow a minimum of 2 to 3 hours for visiting. 

Email: or

Top 5 architectural plants

1. Aloe plicatilis Fan Aloe
The distinctive shape of the Fan Aloe's bold foliage is a perfect choice for dramatic impact; it requires lots of sun and little care.

2. Yucca elephantipes  Yucca
Grown in or outdoors, this popular Yucca's sword like leaves and thick branching trunk are perfect for the modern garden.

3. Sansevieria trifasciata Mother-in-law's-tongue
The upright, rigid sword-like leaves of the Mother-in-law's tongue, provide a striking vertical accent along a garden wall.

4. Dracaena draco Dragon tree
The Dragon tree needs a warm sunny spot and well drained soil. Give it lots of space to show off it's long, lance-shaped leaves.

5. Agave attenuata
For a plant with strong structure, Agave attenuata forms a perfect rosette of soft, fleshy leaves, providing a great focal point in the garden.

These Architectural  plants can be found at plant stores and nurseries nationwide including:

AWA Nursery
Mahana Road, RD1
Ph 09 411 8712 

Shoppers' guide: Gifts for gardeners

The Rollenz from $158 available by mail order
Freephone 0508 ROLLENZ / 0508 765 5369

Don watering can $49.90 available from ZINC
100 Hurstmere Road
Tel: 09 489 9462
Bonsai Potato priced from $12.95 available at Real Groovy Records
Tel: 09 302 3940
Designer Garden Gnomes  $149 available from ZINC
100 Hurstmere Road, Takapuna
Tel: 09 489 9462

Gubba Overboots from $14 available from all good garden centres
Or Tel: 09 915 9250 for stockists
Ceramic Footbath Priced $150 available from The Garden Party
Tel: 09 378 7799
Campbell Tools from $40 each and Gift Packs from $60 available from Living & Giving stores throughout New Zealand
Or by mail order
Tel: 04 476 6110

Rain gauge $35 available from The Garden Party
Tel: 09 378 7799

Glass butterfly feeders from $19.95 Available from all good garden stores
Or call Sarah Gordon: 027 661 2662
Email: for stockists   

Gubba Trug from $28 available from all good garden centres
Tel: 09 915 9250 for stockists
Plant doctor

This week the Plant Doctor was on treating the citrus disease Verrucosis.

  • Most NZ back yards have a lemon tree, and unfortunately, most of our back yard lemon trees have verrucosis.
  • A fungal disease, (also known as citrus scab), verrucosis affects the leaves, twigs and fruit of lemons and several other citrus varieties.
  • The symptoms of verrucosis are most obvious on the fruit itself. 
  • The interior of the fruit remains undamaged, but verrucosis needs to be controlled as the twig damage caused adversely affects the structure of the tree, and eventually causes it to become unproductive.
  • Lemons with verrucosis are often very large as the disease causes some fruit fall, therefore the remaining lemons have all tree's energy directed towards them, thus becoming larger than they would otherwise have become.  
  • First signs of infection on the leaves are small rounded areas, raised on one leaf surface and indented on another.  Brownish, greyish or pinkish scabs develop on the protuberances.  The leaf may be distorted if many scabs occur close together.
  • Verrucosis is spread through spores, which are produced on the scabs and are spread by wind-driven rain and insects.  Cool and damp weather are the perfect conditions for the disease to develop.


  • If your citrus tree has verrucosis, the only way to eradicate it is by spraying with a Copper Oxychloride fungicide.
  • The copper oxychloride won't get rid of the disease overnight, so you'll need to spray regularly, (once every 3-4 weeks), until the disease symptoms disappear.  
  • Spray at a dilution of 15grms of Copper Oxychloride to 5 litres water
  • It is recommended to wear long gloves, mask, goggles when spraying.
  • To be safe, wait 14 days before eating fruit that's been sprayed with the Copper oxychloride spray.
  • To give your citrus the best chance of recovery, make sure your affected tree is well watered and well fed. 

Nutrient deficiency

If your lemon tree has yellow leaves, chances are it has a nutrient deficiency.

  • Citrus trees with this problem need fertilising with a specific citrus fertiliser that replenishes nutrients such as Sequestron.
  • Citrus grown in containers are particularly susceptible to nutrient deficiencies as the soil's nutrients are more quickly leached out due to the frequent watering that container plants require.  
  • For both container and in-ground trees, water thoroughly, feed around the drip line, and water thoroughly again.

General citrus tree care

NZ citrus trees are generally pretty hardy. Here are some basic tips about keeping your citrus healthy.


  • Citrus like warm, sunny situations, with some shelter from winds. 
  • They need well-drained soil and do not like waterlogged sites.


  • Citrus trees are gross feeders, (meaning they need a lot of feed) and require being fed regularly (every 3 months), with a slow release citrus fertiliser, like Burnett's Gold Citrus food.
  • Citrus in containers should be fed with a slow release citrus fertiliser every 6 weeks.
  • Water the tree well before fertilising, applying the fertiliser around the drip line of the tree.  Water in the fertiliser well.