Bark is the big indicator

When viewing different eucalypts such as Messmate and Candlebark the obvious difference in large trees is the type of bark they have.

This is one way of classifying different species in the field as Eucalyptus bark is so distinctive.

Mugga Ironbark has a deep black, rough, thick, furrowed bark whereas Forest Red Gum has a smooth bark with a mottled appearance.

Eucalyptus obliqua or Messmate has a pale brown fibrous bark and is often classified as a stringybark.

The bark of the Candlebark is generally smooth and white, with unshaded limbs often turning red or orange in the summer.

The trunk of the tree often has a ragged base where the old layers of bark have not fallen away, giving the appearance of a stubby candle, and the tree its name.

The bark of the trunk is also often cut with horizontal marks made by a burrowing beetle.

Other groups of Eucalypts can be classified as:

Bloodwoods: where bark is rough and held in distinct small flakes.

Box: Usually thin and short fibroid, the dead bark is retained on the tree. It can be broken with the hand into thick flakes or plates.

Scribbly: A smooth type bark that carries insect trails or ‘scribbles’ caused by insect larva.

Ribbon: The bark is partly shed in ribbons, usually held in the crown of the tree.

Smooth: The dead bark is shed annually in various stages during the year to leave a smooth surface. The trunk can be all one colour or may have a mottled appearance.

TASTY TREAT

Strawberry plants can be planted out now, ready for the production of fruits in October and November.

Compost or aged poultry manure should be dug into the garden bed.

Strawberry plants can be purchased in pots or punnets. These plants will be guaranteed to be free of virus diseases.

Runners (long, thin shoots that are produced from parent plants) may also be used.

The new plants should be spaced about 30cm apart. An application of mulch will help in preventing weeds from growing near the plants. It will also keep the fruit clean.

As the plants grow they will eventually produce flowers.

At this stage of the plant’s growth an application of a liquid fertiliser, such as Nitrosol, should be made every few weeks.

Strawberry plants will continue to be at their most productive for about three years.

After this time, new plants should replace the old plants, being planted out in autumn.

Strawberries can be grown in pots or hanging baskets, provided moisture and feeding is maintained.

SUPER CITRUS

A citrus tree is one of the most useful fruit trees that can be included in the average garden.

Lemons are generally the most popular choice, although the new Australian finger limes may also be considered.

Different varieties of lemons, oranges, grapefruit and cumquats are available, according to individual needs and growing conditions.

For example, ruby grapefruit are particularly useful when making marmalade.

Double-grafted citrus trees, where two different varieties are growing on the one tree, are now available.

These include combinations such as: “Washington Navel” orange and “Meyer” lemon; “Washington Navel” orange and “Tahiti” lime; and “Meyer” lemon and “Tahiti” lime.

Double-grafted citrus trees are ideal for many gardens as they require much less space.

Selecting one of the increasing numbers of dwarf citrus varieties is also a good way in which to save space, while still being able to enjoy the freshly-picked fruits.

Dwarf citrus trees are the same as the more traditional bigger growing trees except that the plant material has been grafted on to under stock that will only grow to a metre or two in height.

The lemon variety “Lots a lemon” is an example of this and will grow successfully in a pot on a balcony or in a courtyard, provided the plant receives several hours of sunlight each day.

Cumquat varieties also make good tub specimens.

A good quality potting mix should be used when planting citrus trees into pots.

Citrus trees are usually purchased in tubs or pots, making transplantation relatively easy.

A position with good drainage is essential.

Soil that has a heavy clay base and drains slowly may require plants to be grown in large pots or to have a raised bed constructed.

Well-rotted manures and compost should be dug into the soil prior to planting time. Grass and weeds should be removed from the general area.

The hole that is dug for the new tree should be large enough for the new root ball to fit into it comfortably.

It is important that the hole is not so large that the trunk of the plant will be below the soil of surface of the surrounding soil.

The original soil surface in the pot should still be visible after planting. This may require some adjustment of the depth by adding soil to the bottom of the hole.

If a plant is placed below the surface of the soil it will soon be subject to collar rot of the main trunk.

Once the tree has been placed in the soil, the soil should be well watered with a seaweed solution.

A layer of organic mulch can then be placed over the new soil, ensuring that it is kept away from the trunk of the tree.

geoffh.gardening@gmail.com

Maitland and District Garden Club

PLANT NOW, BENEFIT LATER: If you want a feed of tasty strawberries in October and November, they should be planted out now.

PLANT NOW, BENEFIT LATER: If you want a feed of tasty strawberries in October and November, they should be planted out now.