What plants should I select for my area?
A good place to start is to identify the plant species already growing on your property. They are obviously suited to your local conditions and you can simply keep adding to them. If you are working with an area that has no existing native vegetation then take a walk around your neighbourhood and see what’s growing on other properties or along the nearby road verges.
How do I get species identified?
You can always email me photos of the species and I will do my best to identify them for you. When taking photos it really helps if you can show me close up shots of the foliage, flowers, fruit, and even the trunk if it’s a tree. You can also bring samples to me at my stall at Mulgowie markets which is held on the first Saturday of each month between 8am and 11am. Alternatively, you could send samples to the Queensland Herbarium for identification. Their website explains how to go about doing that.
What is the best way to plant out the tubestock seedlings?
Dig a hole that is at least twice the depth and width of the tube. Make sure that the walls of the hole are loose to allow for root penetration. You can add soil additives such as aged manure, gypsum, compost or worm castings into the hole. If you do use soil additives, make sure that you mix them with the existing soil. Fill the hole with water and let it drain completely. Plant your seedlings at the same level that they are in the tube. Back fill the hole and water again to remove any air pockets in the soil. If planting on a steep slope or an area that drains very quickly, you can create a depression to plant each tube into that will hold water for longer, allowing it to reach the root ball. Apply mulch, (about 10cm deep) around the plants. Do not cover the plant stems with mulch or it may cause collar rot. Water in again.
Is a seaweed solution good for the plants?
Yes, it is. It is a very good tonic, (not a fertiliser), and if you soak the seedlings in a diluted solution of seaweed as per the product instructions, it will help them to cope with transplant shock. Seaweed solution has many benefits including thickening the plant cell walls thereby making the plants less susceptible to disease.
What should I fertilise my plants with?
Whatever organic products you add to your soil and the application of mulch at the time of planting I believe is enough.
Should I pot the seedlings into bigger pots before planting out?
No, it’s not necessary. Planting small is always the better way to go. The plants will adapt to your conditions more quickly. The only time I would transfer them into larger pots is if I needed to hold off on planting for a month or so and the plants were already full of roots in their tube. One thing I would avoid is planting small plants when frosts are likely. Even if they are considered to be frost tolerant, most species won’t cope with frost when small.
I have terrible soil. What should I do to amend it prior to planting out?
Having so called terrible soil is a common complaint. Remember that our native flora has been growing successfully in these soil types for a very long time. The plants don’t not need any royal treatment. The key is to select species that suit your soil type/s. Have a look at the ‘Lists’ page on this website for species selection. If ,however, you want to improve your soil, then here are a few ideas:
Clay soils tend to drain poorly, and if they dry out then it’s difficult to get the moisture back in. The good news is that they are generally high in nutrients, it’s just a matter of making those nutrients accessible to the plants. I would use products such as gypsum. Gypsum will turn those fine clay particles into larger conglomerate particles creating better drainage and aeration. It is pH neutral and is easy to apply, follow the directions on the bag and ensure you mix the gypsum with your soil. Other products that would help are manure and compost. Just make sure that any manure you use is well aged. Another option is to create raised mounds of soil to plant into. That will also assist in improving soil drainage.
Sandy soils drain very well, often too quickly, and they tend to be nutritionally poor, but if you visit the Lockyer National Park at Helidon Hills, which is pretty much all sandstone soil, you will see a wonderful range of species thriving. Organic additives such as manure, compost and worm castings will increase the humic content of the soil. I would also recommend mulching.
Should I add potting mix to the planting holes?
It’s not something I would recommend because eventually the roots of the plants will extend beyond the potting mix to the soil which may cause the plant to go into shock resulting in dieback or complete death.
Should I mulch around my newly planted seedlings?
Yes, mulch is a wonderful thing. It retains soil moisture, reduces weeds, and encourages microbial activity which will greatly benefit your plants, to name just a couple of benefits. As for what type of mulch to use, if you have access to a good amount of leaf/twig litter on your property, then I would use it. Otherwise use whatever is convenient, manageable and cost effective for you.