Forest Heart Turns 5!

Forest Heart Turns 5!

As the old saying goes “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it still make a sound?” This often causes one to pause and say either “of course it does” or the eyes of the listener to wander as this existentialist conundrum confounds and questions the very nature of reality!

My new version of this saying – in an age when we need to be planting trees in massive numbers, rather than waiting for them to fall (so as to achieve enlightenment), is  “If a tree seedling is planted in the field, grows to be part of a forest, sequesters carbon, becomes a source of life and biodiversity for the wider ecosystem, improves water filtration and quality in the landscape, and even looks pretty,  but then eventually dies and falls over, only to again sequesters carbon, becomes a source of life and biodiversity for the wider ecosystem, improve water filtration and quality in the landscape, does it actually matter if it makes a sound when it falls over?” My thoughts are no, not really… Planting, growing, making life is what really matters, that’s all really (I’m sure that quite possibly that there is something deep and meaningful in this, but I’m too much on the material plane to get that perhaps…)

So to focus on the practicalities of planting, let’s think of some good reasons we all need to be investing and planting and restoring vegetation. 1) As discussed last month you can plant your own fire wood (we are currently harvesting some 15-20m high flooded gums that we only planted 12 years ago! 2) In these turbulent and uncertain times there’s never been a better time to plant fruit trees to help grow your own food. 3) Although the weather is cool now, summer will eventually return with a vengeance and the more shade we can grow, will help ease the midsummer blues. 4) There’s also the very good reason of planting habitat for our local wildlife as their beauty and the ecological benefits they bring are considerable.

At Forest Heart we have the plants and knowledge to help you. We have a great range of local natives (for revegetation, timber, firewood, windbreaks), cultivar natives, fruit trees, mulches, fertilisers, pots, books etc…

This August, Forest Heart our retail nursery celebrates its 5th birthday! We are part of Brush Turkey Enterprises a family business operated by long term locals for 22 years and we’re as passionate as ever about small enterprises role in preserving our unique biodiversity and creating healthier lifestyles with great gardens, farms and natural areas. Thankyou Maleny for you support and we look forward to continuing to work with you all to help green your little bit of the world.

Dont Panic Just Plant It

Dont Panic Just Plant It

by Spencer Shaw, Forest Heart ecoNursery

As the Covid 19 lockdown restrictions ease and life returns to some degree of normality (for now) I’m heartened that many of us turned to our gardens (if we’re lucky enough to have them) for emotional and physical sustenance in these trying times that we find ourselves in. For me backyards and gardens are our own little bit of the natural world that we can for example – grow our own food, share with the local wildlife, preserve endangered species, enjoy the beauty of Australian native plants and last but not least gardening itself is good for us physically, mentally and spiritually.

For now, let’s focus on what an abundant garden you can be growing for yourself by growing your own bush foods, fruit trees, vegetables and herbs. Harvesting your own produce is fun, healthy and convenient. There’s nothing quite like popping out into the backyard to harvest some fresh produce. For example grab a fresh lime and add tang to a salad or fish. Harvest fresh from your trees the fruit of Blueberry, Grumichama, Jaboticaba, Pomegranate, Oranges, Mandarin, Lemons, Carambola, Figs, Pawpaw, Tamarillo, Avocado or Chocolate Sapote, to name just a few. Closer to ground level you could plant an ever-growing range of herbs and vegetable seedlings that we are now stocking at Forest Heart ecoNursery.

Back to bush Foods and the bounty of this land is considerable. Bush food must haves that you should plant in your yard include: Midyim (Austromyrtus dulcis) a great low growing shrub/groundcover with attractive weeping foliage and tasty white berries, fresh from the bush – kids love them; Lillypilly’s (Syzygium spp.) are edible all edible, if you are hungry enough, but from our local ones the Riberry S. Luehmannii, is not only bountiful, but tastes good raw and even glaced in a sugar syrup; Davidson Plums (Davidsonia spp.) although not strictly local, are spectacular foliage specimens with their large leaves and large beautiful looking plum like fruit. However they are a tad sour, but nothing that a few spoons of sugar can’t fix to make a great jam or syrup; Plum Pine (Podocarpus elatus) also produce a juicy succulent, plum like fruit with a pleasant pine taste and again, fantastic for jams and syrups. Native Tamarinds (Diploglottis spp. and Mischarytera lautereriana) are sour but tasty delights that make great syrups, cordials, jellies etc…Native herbs we stock include Native Celery (Apium prostratum), Pig Face (Carpobrotus glaucescens) , Native Mint (Mentha satureioides)  and Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum).

There’s never been a better time to plant out and manage your garden for food and for fun, so remember Don’t Panic, Just Plant It!

ps. check out our great range of vegetable seedlings available from .50c each for 4 or more!

Low Down in Your Garden

By Spencer Shaw

When it comes to re-establishing native vegetation we tend to concentrate on the planting of trees and shrubs and if we’re lucky maybe a few Lomandra. But to truly re-establish a diverse ecosystem we must help establish all the groundcovers too such as grasses, herbs, small shrubs and ferns. Groundcover plants are crucial in providing a safe home for ground based animals such as skinks, frogs, snakes, bush rats, antechinus and of course a whole host of insects (don’t say yuk, think of them as Bird Food!) Groundcover plants are also crucial in providing the food resources such as seed, fruit, leaf and tubers to everything from birds, butterflies and beetles right through to wallabies and kangaroos(if you’ve got a really backyard).  Groundcover plantings can be very rewarding for you if you love your native fauna because they can be very rich in the resources they provide and in effect act like a magnet for native fauna in your area!

Planting native groundcovers in your own backyard (as well as trees and shrubs) is often even easier than in a big revegetation projects because the small plants are vulnerable to weed competition and your input with mulch and weeding can be vital in establishing native groundcovers.  Control of groundcover weeds is crucial while establishing native groundcovers, for example lawn grasses such as couch, carpet grass and kikuyu need to be eliminated and subject to ongoing control through blanket mulching and or weeding.  Once well established though, native groundcovers can outcompete and shade out the weeds.

The great thing about many groundcovers is that they are easy to grow yourself by either directly transplanting around your garden or establishing in pots to plant later. Plants such as Native Plumbago ( Plumbago zeylanica), Native Violets (Viola banksii), Pennyroyal (Mentha sp.), Creeping Beard Grass (Oplismenus spp.) and Pollia (Pollia crispata) are just a few of our local native groundcovers that you can propagate easily through cuttings & runners. Native Grasses such as Kangaroo Grass (Themeda triandra), Barbed Wire Grass (Cymbopogon refractus), Native Sorghum (Sarga leiocladum) and Poa (Poa labilardieri) are easy to grow from seed or transplant as seedlings.  All the plants listed above are available through Forest Heart ecoNursery.

Our place is buzzing (or should that be tweeting) with a huge diversity of small birds at the moment including Red Brow Finch, New Holland Honey Eater, Golden Whistler, Red Backed fairy Wren, Lewin’s  Honey Eater, Whip Birds and many more. None of our plantings are much older than 11 years but the dense plantings of groundcovers and low shrubs near the house provide home and food for these little critters and so many more.

Beating the Heat

Beating the Heat

As I’m writing this, another searing hot and dry day rolls by, fires rage across the northern end of the Sunshine Coast and in the Hinterland and we cower in our air conditioned houses (for those of you that way inclined), on shady verandas and in pools. The thought of planting trees is perhaps as far from your mind, as is jogging up a volcano!

The hot dry weather is certainly having major effects on existing plantings and established native vegetation, let alone considering the undertaking of new revegetation or gardening work, but on a positive note use this time to remind you how important trees are not just for the wildlife but our own comfort in providing cool, shady retreats from the heat and moderating an increasingly warm dry environment.

One of the benefits of a long dry spell is that it keeps the weeds under control, so preparation for planting is a just that much easier. But when it comes to the actual planting what can you do to help your plants survive the heat?

Water is crucial to the survival of plants (sorry for such an obvious statement – bit of a no brainer really!) The key to survival is making sure your planted stock has access to moisture. You may notice that many of the plants in your revegetation projects (planted a few years ago) are still thriving in spite of the dry weather and that’s because their roots are deep in the soil and still have access to moisture. It’s mainly plants that have very shallow roots or are newly planted that are in danger of drying out and succumbing to heat stress.

Newly planted stock is especially vulnerable because they have just been taken from an environment where they were watered at least twice per day. Don’t plant stock in open conditions, that has just come out of a shade house, because in this heat it will be crisp and brown in no time at all. At the Brush Turkey Wholesale Nursery except for the shade loving plants all our revegetation and garden stock is grown in full sun to provide tough and resilient stock for planting.

Hot Weather Reveg Tips:

  • If you can’t water your stock at least once per week (1-2 litres per plant), then don’t plant and wait. Then plant when it’s raining or consistent rain (ideally at least 25mm per week) is predicted.
  • Pre-soak your tubestock in a bucket of water to make sure all air bubbles are expelled from the potting mix.
  • Dig a shallow swale on the lower slope of your planting, to help catch and hold water, make sure the top of the tubestock is covered with 10-20mm of soil.
  • My favourite new addition to planting is coir peat, this is used in a pre-moistened state and helps the soil hold additional moisture and gives your plants the reserves they need to survive.
  • Mulch, mulch, mulch!
  • Tree guards to provide shade and protection.
  • Ideally do all of the above.

And remember to keep planting for a cooler, greener future.

Coir Fibre / Peat is a great addittion to help improve soil moisture.

A Serious Threat to Our Fauna

A Serious Threat to Our Fauna

What is the most under-rated threat to Australia’s native wildlife? Sure, we know about foxes, cats, wild dogs, weeds, habitat fragmentation and even climate change … the list goes on and on, but a serious threat that we don’t consider for the significant threat that it is, is ourselves in a vehicle!

Just in the last month, 100’s of possums, bandicoots, wallabies and many more of our native wildlife’s lives have been cut short on the roads around the range, as our speedy convenience of getting from A to B meets the more easy going pace that the rest of nature follows, with often messy results…

Fortunately (not sure if that’s the right word) this level of carnage seems to only occur for a short period every year. Perhaps it’s because there’s tastier grass to be found on the roadside (late winter), perhaps it’s mating season and animals are travelling further and crossing more roads, perhaps it’s down to us driving a bit crazier in spring! A bit of speculation perhaps, but either way the result appears to be an increased death toll, as the weather warms up.

The problem for the driver like yourself is that the wildlife can appear to want to be hit… There you are, minding your own business, zooming along a picturesque country road and see a wallaby crossing the road, you may slow down a bit, but accelerate again as it jumps to leave the road. However at the last minute the wallaby hooks back across in front of you and hey presto, there’s a dint in your bumper and a dying wallaby on the road. Why? Put simply the dodge, weave and back track technique has worked well for the wallaby in evading predators for millions of years of evolution and worked perfectly fine against dingo (and before that the thylacine), however the speed , size and weight of our vehicles is something wild animals have little or no defence against.

The only way we can try and reduced the road carnage is through your awareness of where there may be wild animals on the roadside and also that they may irrationally jump out in front of you! I know there are some special individuals who swerve to hit animals on purpose, but for the rest of us, if we drive according to conditions and reduce our speed in bushland areas, we can try and reduce the road toll. However if you do hit an animal and it requires medical assistance, contact the Australia Zoo wildlife Hospital 1300 369 652.