Butcher birds getting out of rain overlooking vegetable garden

It is one thing to have to wear a raincoat or use an umbrella when going to the vegetable garden but sloshing through mud is definitely not fun and totally unnecessary when the right landscaping plan is implemented." 

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  Mark Valencia — Hi PC, another frog expert! I'm thinking I should do some reading on my backyard animals so I know what I'm photographing:) Where do I get the time to do my projects? I just string them out over many days (sometimes weeks) though I must say I was really happy to see the last shovel of gravel on my v......
  Phantomcomentator — Yep, its a Litoria Gracilenta alright! A very comprehensive account of path laying. I can't help but wonder, Mark, where you get the time to do all these things! Cheers, PC....
  Mark Valencia — Wow Elaine, you certainly know your frogs! A moaning call hey, I can relate to that as it's the sound I made this morning when I had to get up ...

Italian Tree Tomato Half

This is called the Italian Tree Tomato – one of the first heirloom tomatoes I ever grew, this tomato sure is a heavy weight contender as one of the best tomatoes in the world. As usual, I will summarise by giving the tomato variety a final rating score averaging my rating scores based on certain criteria.

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  Mark Valencia — Wonderful tips and thank you very much, Jack, for your input! ...
  Jack F. — Fruit averages (12-14ozs.)but only average productivity. Good disease resistance, especially late blight. Fun picking tomatoes over your head. They need something sturdy to climb on. I used goat manure, lime, 8-8-8 fertilizer with sulfur and manganese plus a tablespoon of Epsom salts in a DEEP hole......
  Mark Valencia — Hi Andrew, yes what you suggested (cutting back to last node) is what I would do and then mulch the plant heavily to protect from the cold. In spring, give it a good feed and hopefully you'll have another season of this tomato plant! Thanks for the question ......

What really is in fruit juices? Here's how much sugar, water, and calories some popular juices contain.

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  Pink — I dilute my juice too and find it hard to drink full strength anymore. A bit devastated about the pineapple juice though as it is my favourite. ...
  Mark Valencia — Good idea Gustoso I sometime water mine down too but I probably should always to it. I like your site Gustoso BTW http://gustoso.wordpress.com/ Thanks for dropping by ......
  Gustoso — I always dilute bought juice with half a glass of water....

Tamarillo Sliced Quarts

I'm always on the lookout for new fruit trees to plant in my garden. Here's how to grow tamarillos.

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  Mark Valencia — Sound wonderful! ...
  Claire — Love them. Scoop them out on to vanilla ice cream...
  Mark Valencia — Hi Shiffi and thanks for your question. Yes, tamarillos are indeed self-fertile so you can get by with just the one plant. Thank you!...

Raspberries Home Grown

Notice the checkout staff reducing? The supermarkets are about making huge profits and it helps the bottom line to reduce their staff to bare minimum – they know you'll wait, where else will you go? Your backyard...

Lettuce Mix Washed

A world without lettuce would be a world without caesar, Greek, French, or Italian salads for a start...

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  Mark Valencia — Thank you Jennifer for commenting! I had heard feeding lots of lettuce to chickens can make their poops running but I didn't know it could happen to humans LOL, I hope you have recovered Yes, lettuce will only get hit by lots of bugs if the plants are not giving enough care. If lettuce gets steady ......
  Jennifer — Never underestimate the power of lettuce. It is a powerful laxative, and is chock full of nutrients. I made the mistake of drinking 3 cup's worth of a bitter-tasting lettuce smoothie to help clear my guts last week. Let's just say my guts were well and truly cleared that night and the following day.......
  Mark — A world without lettuce means sandwich takeaway shops would need to use something else inexpensive to fill up that roll in an attempt to make it look big and good value......

Rotary Hoe Job Lage Area

This article is a review post/info on tillers also known as cultivators or rotary hoes. I detail what to look for if considering buying one, do you need a tiller, and my experience with the tiller I've got.  

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  Dave — Hi Mark, Did your machine come with an owners manual or anything? I've got a machine that's virtually identical except for the colour. Just wondering what sort of maintenance is recommended, oil grade for the engine, and I imagine the transmission& differential should be replaced at some point t......
  Mark Valencia — Hi Peter, I assume you've tried for parts from where you first purchased your tiller? Otherwise, I don't really know where your can buy parts from perhaps try any local mower place as the motor on your tiller is pretty common and should be able to be fixed... Sorry, I don't give out my number publ......
  Peter Clark — I have a Vanguard tiller with a 6.5Briggs and Stratton petrol motor. The forward and reverse cables have seized and I am unable to access parts. Can you please inform me as to where I could buy spares? I live near Maitland NSW so would prefer a local dealer. In reply could you provide your phone num......

Yellow Beefsteak

This tomato review on the Yellow Beefsteak– yella on the outside and yella on the inside.

Apple Tree Bird Netting

In this article we'll explore: actions we can take to protect our crops (besides netting) and are they effective; types of netting methods; and 10 things to consider when using netting. For most of us it's our local native wildlife stealing our bounty.

Black Russian Tomato on Vine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Black Russian tomato review seee how we rate it.

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  Mark Valencia — Great stuff Steve! Thanks for commenting ...
  steve thomas — my first time growing one of these plants . its jumped out of the ground down here on nsw south coast . cant wait to eat these beautiful looking tomatoes...
  Mark Valencia — Hi Theresa, thanks for commenting on our post! Just for the record, we monitor all our posts and "try" to keep them as current as possible so it doesn't matter when it was written we still like to hear feedback It's the stories like yours I love hearing - the connection to family through food garde......

Potato Plant

Turn 1kg of potatoes into 20kgs without divine intervention!

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  Mark Valencia — Hi Kate, I think straw recycled from the cook pen would be fine and is a really good idea. Yes, of course watch the raw stuff doesn't come into close contact with the plants. I would also add some compost into the straw mix (either purchased or homemade) because I find this helps add extra nutrients......
  Kate — Hi Mark, I've always wanted to grow potatoes in old tyres with the no dig method. Since we are about to move onto some semi acreage I can get back into growing some fruit and veg. Question re the no dig method, could you use the straw/hay/sawdust etc out of the chook pen? I know you have to watch th......
  Mark Valencia — Hi Tina, thanks heaps for your kind comments about the site we always "try" to keep the site current and interesting. With regards to your corn, I also find corn a challenging crop to grow but here are a few ideas that may help: grow the corn in blocks/squares about 30cm/12inches apart this helps wi......

This oblong tuber is a good source of vitamin A (one of the best) and is high in dietary fibre with versatility for cooking and medium term storage. Read on and see why you should grow it!

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  Mark Valencia — Hi Lily, 7kgs of sweet potato wow great stuff! Some good winter crops following sweet potato would be peas (both telegraph and snap) or any brassicas (cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower etc), and even onions. One day I'll have articles on all these veggies - just have to find the time Cheers, Mark......
  Lily — Hi Mark, My children and I dug up our sweet potatoes and they were glorious! We got seven kilograms. I have cleared the raised garden bed and are preparing for my next crop...probably not sweet potatoes... checking out your site for ideas... Talk soon Lily...
  Mark Valencia — Hi Fran, the black spots on your community garden's sweet potato could also be made by one of several fungi, which attack tubers. To answer your question about leaving the sweet potato vine as a ground cover or not, it depends on the "main" purpose for growing the sweet potato (food or ornamental). ......

What to plant in small spaces? Well, here's a few ideas!

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  Mark Valencia — Hi Frances! Yes I think milk cartons are a great idea as a frugal way to grow food plants in smaller areas. Most crops will be happy and there isn't many vegetables which require more than 20 - 30 cms of growing medium so you should be fine. Just make sure you keep the water up in smaller container......
  Frances — Thanks. I've moved from a moderate yard to a teeny tiny one. I got the trampoline set up and there was no room left! I knew when I bought the place I'd have to give up my patch. But as time goes on and I have to (gasp) buy my veges, and I can't on a whim go out foraging for dinner or snacks, have b......
  Mark Valencia — Hi Pink, thanks for the feedback. I've actually used "Birdies" raised beds. Mine are about 4 yrs old now and they show no signs of rust and are a very strong build (the accessories are a little too expensive though and I tend to make my own nets to go over them). If you place the raised bed anywhere......

It seems the trend in tasteless vegetables and fruit is becoming prevalent particularly in the major supermarket chains and there are reasons why blandness is the new era of retail fruit and veg.

I love tomatoes – I really do. This post is about tomatoes and is also one of my very first blog posts on the internet ever.

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  Mark Valencia — Hi Lily, this wet season around SEQLD has been awful! If you live in the subtropics you can almost give-up trying to grow large tomato varieties through summer it's just too humid, wet, and fungal. Now (coming into winter for the subtropics)is the time to get some large variety tomatoes going - try ......
  Lily — I wasn't so pleased when I read 'tomatoes are so easy to grow'. Is it the right time to plant seeds? (Mar/April)or should I wait until Spring? My plants always wilt (except for the prolific cherry tomato plant)and on average produce one tomato (yes you read right). If it's a good time to plant, I'll......

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