These are notes of a talk I heard as part of the Library’s Sustainability Program being run at a selection of BCC libraries.

Gerald Martin the Team Leader at the Mitchelton Library gave an introduction including mentioning the specialist collection on gardening and botanical topics at the Mt Coot-tha Library that is part of BCC’s normal circulating stock and can be requested to be sent to Mitchelton Library. He also had a trolley of items from the Mitchelton Library on sustainability topics for people to look at after the talk.

[url=]Jerry Colby-Williams[/url] is on the ABC’s Gardening Australia and has his own extensive orchard which I think is on 800 square metres.

To ask him a question email him. His email contact is on any page of his website at

Two references he recommends reading on orchards:
[ul][url=]ABC’s Organic Gardener Magazine[/url] from ABC Shops about $10
[url=]The Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia by Louis Glowinski[/url][/ul]

He also recommends the [url=]Sub-Tropical Fruit Club[/url] which meets monthly at Peace Hall in Albion.

Jerry grows organically and intensively.

He uses [b]glades[/b] – creating pools of sunlight then growing fruit trees around the glades.

In order to get enough land to grow your orchard (apart from your own block!) you could:
[ul]adopt somebody else’s fruit tree they don’t want to care for
trade something you have a lot of for something someone else has a lot of (he trades aloe vera bananas eggs)
borrow land from someone else (Jerry has borrowed State Rail land and they were most happy for him to grow a mulberry macadamia mango bunyas and edible bamboo
negotiate with BCC for permission to rip up the nature strip and grow things (he has)[/ul]

The real effort in a home orchard goes into three types of fruit:

Every week you have to do something to them: remove suckers water remove dead leaves remove bugs feed spray for mildew …

There are 7 types of bananas you are allowed to grow in a house-garden in QLD. [url=]Information on bananas for residential areas is available from the Department of Employment Economic Development and Innovation[/url] and permission to plant or move bananas from the [url=]Business Information Centre[/url] A banana licence does not allow transfer and penalties are stiff.

Dwarf Ducasse is the only type that is not very tall – useful to manage.

Jerry maintains banana palms in winter around a glade as a single stem.

Ripen bananas indoors. Cut a hand off the bunch to bring indoors to ripen.

Bats love banana sap in the banana skins and will scratch the skins making them less attractive.

Banana bags are available from produce stores.

Green bananas can be used like potato in cooking. Cut the ends off slit the skin and boil in salty water.

Fungicide: Powdery mildew – control with 1 part milk to 5 parts water. Spray on before there is too much mildew. It acts like an antibiotic. Re-apply after rain. Cucumbers figs melons are all very susceptible to mildew.

Green pawpaw can be used for [url=]Green Pawpaw Salad[/url] or peel and remove seeds and cook like potato.

Potassium (potash) is needed for flowers and fruit. It also helps with sweetness of fruit and thickens cell walls so they resist frost and encourages sap flow which reduces fruit drop.

Lemons – try salted as a condiment or make vinegar from them!

Allow 4 metres diameter for a fully mature lemon tree.

Dwarf lemon Lotsalemons is very popular. Could even grow in a polystyrene box but the box won’t last indefinitely.

Citrus are like spoilt brats! You have to keep an eye on them all year round. Jerry would choose to plant limes before lemons if space forced the choice because you can always substitute limes for lemons in any dish but limes cost more and are very tradeable. You should expect 3 crops a year from both if they are behaving right.

The [url=]citrus butterfly[/url](Orchard Swallowtail) caterpillar is one of the commonest causes of complaints but they never defoliate citrus don’t cause fruit loss and make a fabulous big brown butterfly. Jerry kicks them off Kaffir limes though.

Citrus bug (stink beetles) love nitrogen and they are sap suckers. They are a serious danger to eyes as they shoot out a spray which if it gets your eyes has very alarming results. Use safety goggles is you are collecting the bugs off your citrus. [I’ve had one spray my eyes and even with spectacles on it was awful. The spectacles saved me from temporary loss of sight and a lot of pain.] If there are lots on the citrus you can use a vacuum cleaner to suck them off but beware how you dispose of the bag!

[url=]Citrus gall wasp[/url] is a big problem. It is a tiny native wasp which is mandatory to control. If allowed to build up it destroys fruit. Look for little knobbles on young wood like arthritis. Prune off the galls especially in autumn. Burn or seal in plastic bags and put in rubbish bin. They hop from one back yard to another – don’t go far. Work with neighbours to control their’s too.

Citrus leaves going yellow are a sign of [b]iron deficiency[/b]. Buy iron chelates and apply 2 teaspoons in 4.5 litres of water around roots in spring summer and autumn. Keep applying as it gets leached through by QLD’s heavy summer rains.

Citrus like all day sun.

Feed citrus and roses little and often every 6 weeks except in July and August and also skip feeding them when they flower to avoid the nitrogen producing a lot of green leaves but no fruit.

Citrus will drop more fruit if they’re watered or fed erratically. Citrus should be watered twice a week in dry weather particularly when getting established. Brisbane doesn’t get enough water for trees and you do need to water them.

Citrus in pots eat and use their nutrients quickly.

Mangoes have surge years with abundant crops then rest for 1-3 years. You can make [url=]mango wine[/url] or vinegar. Mangoes are subject to [url=]anthracnose disease[/url] (a fungus which is bad in years with winter rain. It also affects avocadoes.)

Mangoes should be pruned to shape after harvesting fruit. Start pruning from 2metres high. Pinch the apical shoot out.

Thin grapes and grapefruit by about a third.

The gardener’s art is to maintain. Start slowley. Get more complicated and fancy as you go along.

Mulberries: black or white shartoot mulberries don’t have seeds so birds don’t spread them. To get a mulberry going takes 6 drinks. Feed twice a year and mulch.

Mulberries can be pollarded (cut back to shoulder height after harvest).

Jerry is very pleased with 2 species of edible bamboo he has planted. They provide shade and have reduced water demand because of this. His are [url=]Monastery bamboo[/url] and [url=]Oldham’s bamboo[/url]. Eat bamboo shoots before they develop hollows (about 9″ long – they should break off easily by hand.)

Strawberries grow well in polystyrene boxes.

Polystyrene boxes are also ideal for school gardens with 2/child. They can take them home during the holidays so they don’t get vandalised.

If you grow food for your diet you need to deal with nutritional deficiencies in the soil or you’ll end up nutritionally deficient yourself.

Import minerals into your block initially to get the balance right. Jerry invested $350 on a soil laboratory analysis then it took him 5 years to get his soil to standard. It was very low in iron phosphorus. Very acidic.

Soil improvement is only as good as the minute you stop. Rain leaching happens.

[b]Chook manure[/b] is an ideal source of phosphorus and the ideal complete fertiliser.
[b]Worm castings[/b] and [b]worm juice[/b] are great soil food.
[b]Dolomite[/b] is something to always have on hand to sweeten the soil.
[b]Iron chelates[/b] – always have it in Brisbane. All our soils are either radically or severely deficient in iron.
[b]Seasol[/b] (in 12 litre containers) – clip on applicator on hose and folifeed whole garden. It is the broadest spectrum fertiliser that exists – the A-Z of minerals including selenium and iodine. Seagrass is not seaweed. It is illegal to harvest seagrass on Moreton Bay and not nutritious although good mulch.
[b]Rock minerals/ rock dust[/b] – certain types are naturally more nutritious. Crusher dust. Buy the biggest bag you can because it is more economical. Apply every 3rd year. It takes 2-3 years to break down.
[b]Clay[/b] acts like a sponge for minerals and slowly releases them.