COMMON PEOPLE #15

CALLUM CRINIS, WOLLONGONG NSW

A savour to all pricks out there, meet the boy-next-door Callum Crinis who collects, revives and trades in cacti. Callum runs a business called Cactus Talk, named by his friends because Callum just loves to talk about cacti. From his backyard greenhouse Callum grows an extensive collection with over 100 different varieties and is not afraid to share a few tips and tricks to keep your cacti happy and healthy.

 

WORDS BY ANNA HEYLIGERS - IMAGES BY ANNA HEYLIGERS

COMMON PEOPLE #15

CALLUM CRINIS, WOLLONGONG NSW

A savour to all pricks out there, meet the boy-next-door Callum Crinis who collects, revives and trades in cacti. Callum runs a business called Cactus Talk, named by his friends because Callum just loves to talk about cacti. From his backyard greenhouse Callum grows an extensive collection with over 100 different varieties and is not afraid to share a few tips and tricks to keep your cacti happy and healthy.

WORDS BY ANNA HEYLIGERS - IMAGES BY ANNA HEYLIGERS

 

 

YOUR BACKYARD GREENHOUSE IS IMPRESSIVE, TELL US MORE ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THERE?
 

This is where I grow my new stock, keep my ‘mother stock’ and bring some cacti back to life by putting them in the green house to promote growth and getting them really healthy and happy. 

I’ve kind of only just been getting into this now where I am growing my ‘mother stock’, so next Spring I can come through and take a heap of cuttings from that potting them up and selling them on.

If it’s a hot day you can really feel the heat in here (greenhouse), its next level humid and they just love it. You just whack a cactus in and as an example I see a cactus that was really pot bound and yellow where the roots were kind of dead, within a month the colour has come back and new growth just spitting out. It’s a good indication when you can see fresh pups coming out that its happy and healthy in the soil and environment.

 

SO YOU'VE BEEN COLLECTING AND GROWING CACTI SO YOU CAN PROPAGATE FROM WHICH MEANS YOU PROBABLY HAVE A REALLY UNUSUAL COLLECTION TO SELL THAN YOUR GARDEN VARIETY YOU CAN GET FROM BUNNINGS?
 

Yeah exactly. And that’s kind of what I wanted this year is go through all of my collection and take some cuttings from that. Previously I was just taking cuttings from common cacti, like this ‘column cactus or apple cactus’. Now with my mother stock I can propagate some really interesting varieties. 

 

WHEN YOU'RE PROPAGATING ARE YOU EVER WORRIED ABOUT CUTTING YOUR CACTI, I KNOW I WOULD BE DEVASTATED TO CUT AN ARM OFF OR LOB THE TOP OFF A CACTI?
 

Some of the cacti I have planted it into the soil bed, my mother stock I usually wait until I see a bit of growth on it then come along and cut it, or taken a cutting. And from that I now only a few months later I have 5 pups that have just come from that one cactus which is pretty impressive really. It’s kind of just similar to pruning, but it’s also promoting growth. The cactus goes into shock and into survival mode the way they do that and continue to grow is shoot more shoots and grow pups. 

I’m looking at it from a business stand point that’s kind of what I have to look at. I have my collection now, I have some really nice cacti in my collection that I haven’t cut and I never will cut. So now I’m happy with my collection I can experiment and start propagating.

 

YOUR BACKYARD GREENHOUSE IS IMPRESSIVE, TELL US MORE ABOUT WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THERE?
 

This is where I grow my new stock, keep my ‘mother stock’ and bring some cacti back to life by putting them in the green house to promote growth and getting them really healthy and happy. 

I’ve kind of only just been getting into this now where I am growing my ‘mother stock’, so next Spring I can come through and take a heap of cuttings from that potting them up and selling them on.

If it’s a hot day you can really feel the heat in here (greenhouse), its next level humid and they just love it. You just whack a cactus in and as an example I see a cactus that was really pot bound and yellow where the roots were kind of dead, within a month the colour has come back and new growth just spitting out. It’s a good indication when you can see fresh pups coming out that its happy and healthy in the soil and environment.

 

SO YOU'VE BEEN COLLECTING AND GROWING CACTI SO YOU CAN PROPAGATE FROM WHICH MEANS YOU PROBABLY HAVE A REALLY UNUSUAL COLLECTION TO SELL THAN YOUR GARDEN VARIETY YOU CAN GET FROM BUNNINGS?
 

Yeah exactly. And that’s kind of what I wanted this year is go through all of my collection and take some cuttings from that. Previously I was just taking cuttings from common cacti, like this ‘column cactus or apple cactus’. Now with my mother stock I can propagate some really interesting varieties. 

 

WHEN YOU'RE PROPAGATING ARE YOU EVER WORRIED ABOUT CUTTING YOUR CACTI, I KNOW I WOULD BE DEVASTATED TO CUT AN ARM OFF OR LOB THE TOP OFF A CACTI?
 

Some of the cacti I have planted it into the soil bed, my mother stock I usually wait until I see a bit of growth on it then come along and cut it, or taken a cutting. And from that I now only a few months later I have 5 pups that have just come from that one cactus which is pretty impressive really. It’s kind of just similar to pruning, but it’s also promoting growth. The cactus goes into shock and into survival mode the way they do that and continue to grow is shoot more shoots and grow pups. 

I’m looking at it from a business stand point that’s kind of what I have to look at. I have my collection now, I have some really nice cacti in my collection that I haven’t cut and I never will cut. So now I’m happy with my collection I can experiment and start propagating.

“Some of the cacti I have planted it into the soil bed, I usually wait until I see a bit of growth on it then come along and cut my mother stock. And from that I now only a few months later I have 5 pups that have just come from that one cactus which is pretty impressive really.”

“Some of the cacti I have planted it into the soil bed, I usually wait until I see a bit of growth on it then come along and cut my mother stock. And from that I now only a few months later I have 5 pups that have just come from that one cactus which is pretty impressive really.”

 

OUR AUDIENCE IS GOING TO WANT ME TO ASK ABOUT THIS... SO HOW DO YOU KILL A CACTUS - OR IN OTHER WORDS NOT KILL IT? HA!
 

I think a lot of it is over caring. Cacti do need care and they do need love but you kinda gotta know how much love, and I’m talking about watering. A lot of people think they are caring for the plant if they are watering it. Water is good and its nutrients and it’s a drink for them but these guys can go for months on end without water. Especially through winter. You could probably almost not water some varieties at all through winter. If the cacti are outside I just let mother nature tend to them. Whatever rain is coming down they cop it all, they can cop 2 weeks of rain and still be ok because I know the soil is really refined and I know it’s going to drain that rain water away. 

How much you water them is by how much light they are getting, if the cacti are living inside and still watering once a fortnight or once a month. The cacti in my garden beds are getting a fair bit of light and a fair bit of heat and I’m still only watering them once a fortnight. Whereas the ones in pots are a little bit different as they are shallower, and whatever water I’m giving them will drain away quickly, whereas these beds do hold it a bit more, same as with the garden beds actually outside. 

So that’s a huge factor, how much light they are getting, if they are in all day sun, all year round, especially summer then you water them once a week, but if they are in doors like a bathroom they just barely need any water at all.

I’ve had ones where they are dying and I’m like I don’t know what to do I’ve tried everything and I literally put it down the side of the house down the back of the shed and go whatever, I’m just going to leave you there to die and a lot of the time, 90% of the time it just comes back. So it’s like, you kind let mother nature do it. Whatever rain is coming down its going to collect that. It’ll adapt to its environment. They have amazing survival mechanisms so that they can adapt to whatever environment they are put into.

 

YOU MENTIONED BATHROOMS, YEAH BATHROOMS PROBABLY AREN'T GOOD FOR CACTI. DOES EVERYONE WANT TO PUT THEM IN THEIR BATHROOMS?
 

In their bathrooms, living rooms and it’s just like, ah man you’re not going to get the best out of it. I sold this cacti to a friend of mine about a year ago, it’s a San Pedro and super healthy when I sold it, they kept the cactus in a corner of the lounge room. I got a call the other week from my friend telling me to come and take a look at it, it’s got a bug called a mealy bug or scale which you commonly get for these column cactus when they don’t have enough light these bugs are kind of attracted to them. The cactus was screaming out for light, needs more sunlight being in the lounge room for a year was just torturous to it.

 

I GOT TOLD BY THE GUY ACROSS THE ROAD HE SAID THEY TRY AND GET TO THE LIGHT, STRETCH UP, AND THEN YOU PUT THEM OUTSIDE AND THEN THEY START TO GROW FAT AGAIN, AND THEN THE MIDDLE IS TOO WEAK TO HOLD THE TOP AND THEY FLOP OVER.
 

Yeah and that’s the thing, I have placed it in a spot first that gets about 2-3 hours of morning light, I couldn’t put it in full sun when I first got it and now I’ve noticed it’s kinda given me a bit of a signal that it’s happy in this soil and light it’s gotten a bit fatter. So now I’ll move it to a bit more light and slowly introduce it to a bit more, and then cut it. I won’t cut it until next Spring. Will just cut it to about half way down then repot the top and from there hopefully it will be healthy enough to continue growing.

San Pedro are a really nice cactus once they really get going. My brother has a 15-year-old San Pedro. It’s huge and has 3 or 4 off shoots coming off it. Its mature enough to have flowers, unlike other cacti that flower all the time San Pedro only flower once they are mature enough.

 

THESE ARE THE ONES YOU GET HIGH OFF HEY?
 

Yes this is a spineless San Pedro. The San Pedro is the Grandfather of medicine, and Oaxaca is the Grandmother of medicine. These guys have some very sacred qualities about them. I have a spiritual friend who comes over and she is drawn to these cacti she can pick them out and feel a connection.

 

OUR AUDIENCE IS GOING TO WANT ME TO ASK ABOUT THIS... SO HOW DO YOU KILL A CACTUS - OR IN OTHER WORDS NOT KILL IT? HA!
 

I think a lot of it is over caring. Cacti do need care and they do need love but you kinda gotta know how much love, and I’m talking about watering. A lot of people think they are caring for the plant if they are watering it. Water is good and its nutrients and it’s a drink for them but these guys can go for months on end without water. Especially through winter. You could probably almost not water some varieties at all through winter. If the cacti are outside I just let mother nature tend to them. Whatever rain is coming down they cop it all, they can cop 2 weeks of rain and still be ok because I know the soil is really refined and I know it’s going to drain that rain water away. 

How much you water them is by how much light they are getting, if the cacti are living inside and still watering once a fortnight or once a month. The cacti in my garden beds are getting a fair bit of light and a fair bit of heat and I’m still only watering them once a fortnight. Whereas the ones in pots are a little bit different as they are shallower, and whatever water I’m giving them will drain away quickly, whereas these beds do hold it a bit more, same as with the garden beds actually outside. 

So that’s a huge factor, how much light they are getting, if they are in all day sun, all year round, especially summer then you water them once a week, but if they are in doors like a bathroom they just barely need any water at all.

I’ve had ones where they are dying and I’m like I don’t know what to do I’ve tried everything and I literally put it down the side of the house down the back of the shed and go whatever, I’m just going to leave you there to die and a lot of the time, 90% of the time it just comes back. So it’s like, you kind let mother nature do it. Whatever rain is coming down its going to collect that. It’ll adapt to its environment. They have amazing survival mechanisms so that they can adapt to whatever environment they are put into.

 

YOU MENTIONED BATHROOMS, YEAH BATHROOMS PROBABLY AREN'T GOOD FOR CACTI. DOES EVERYONE WANT TO PUT THEM IN THEIR BATHROOMS?
 

In their bathrooms, living rooms and it’s just like, ah man you’re not going to get the best out of it. I sold this cacti to a friend of mine about a year ago, it’s a San Pedro and super healthy when I sold it, they kept the cactus in a corner of the lounge room. I got a call the other week from my friend telling me to come and take a look at it, it’s got a bug called a mealy bug or scale which you commonly get for these column cactus when they don’t have enough light these bugs are kind of attracted to them. The cactus was screaming out for light, needs more sunlight being in the lounge room for a year was just torturous to it.

 

I GOT TOLD BY THE GUY ACROSS THE ROAD HE SAID THEY TRY AND GET TO THE LIGHT, STRETCH UP, AND THEN YOU PUT THEM OUTSIDE AND THEN THEY START TO GROW FAT AGAIN, AND THEN THE MIDDLE IS TOO WEAK TO HOLD THE TOP AND THEY FLOP OVER.
 

Yeah and that’s the thing, I have placed it in a spot first that gets about 2-3 hours of morning light, I couldn’t put it in full sun when I first got it and now I’ve noticed it’s kinda given me a bit of a signal that it’s happy in this soil and light it’s gotten a bit fatter. So now I’ll move it to a bit more light and slowly introduce it to a bit more, and then cut it. I won’t cut it until next Spring. Will just cut it to about half way down then repot the top and from there hopefully it will be healthy enough to continue growing.

San Pedro are a really nice cactus once they really get going. My brother has a 15-year-old San Pedro. It’s huge and has 3 or 4 off shoots coming off it. Its mature enough to have flowers, unlike other cacti that flower all the time San Pedro only flower once they are mature enough.

 

THESE ARE THE ONES YOU GET HIGH OFF HEY?
 

Yes this is a spineless San Pedro. The San Pedro is the Grandfather of medicine, and Oaxaca is the Grandmother of medicine. These guys have some very sacred qualities about them. I have a spiritual friend who comes over and she is drawn to these cacti she can pick them out and feel a connection.

“Cacti do need care and they do need love but you kinda gotta know how much love, and I’m talking about watering. A lot of people think they are caring for the plant if they are watering it. Water is good and its nutrients and it’s a drink for them but these guys can go for months on end without water.”

“Cacti do need care and they do need love but you kinda gotta know how much love, and I’m talking about watering. A lot of people think they are caring for the plant if they are watering it. Water is good and its nutrients and it’s a drink for them but these guys can go for months on end without water.”

 
SO WHERE DO YOU SOURCE YOUR CACTI FROM?

I have a cactus farmer up in QLD that supplies me. He’s kind of on a big scale up there in what he is doing. He’s growing them all from seed himself, it’s pretty crazy. My cactus farmer also sources cacti from another guy out in Gilgandra who has one of the biggest cactus collections in Australia. He has over 1000 species that he’s grown from seed.

 

WOW, HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GROW ONE FROM SEED?

Umm, well these are called a Golden Barrel a low baring cactus meaning low to the ground and are in the barrel family. These can get up to a metre wide. So this is 16 months old, just to get that little guy, which is pretty crazy. They have a tiny little root system but these guys go huge, I have a few in my front garden and they are pretty phenomenal.

 

ANYWHERE ELSE YOU SOURCE FROM?

Anywhere really, like the other day I just knocked on the front door of a guy who had a giant cactus tree out the front of his house and was like hey, what are you doing with these, I’m a bit of a collector, got chatting to him and he let me take a few cuttings. This particular cacti was really weird the arms grew out and he kept hitting it when he cut the lawn so was happy to get rid of it. I’m not afraid to just knock on anyone’s door and get a bit chatty.

 

SOME PARTS OF YOUR YARD FEEL LIKE A BIT OF A CACTI HOSPITAL, TELL US MORE ABOUT THAT?

That’s what I love the most. I love bringing cacti back to life, I repot and put in some nice soil and enjoy watching the progression.

The soil mix is what makes a huge difference to reviving them, having the nutrients in the soil and also the way that the roots can drain. The soil mix you get from Bunnings or any kind of potting mix is not as refined as what the cactus like.

That’s why I’ve got some soil, sand and rock delivered here and from that I make my own mix adding worms, perlite, blood and bone and cow manure.

 

WHAT'S NEXT FOR CACTUS TALK?

I’m stocking my cacti in a few local stores like with Bec at The Salon, and Chris at Finbox and a couple at Noel & Gladys. I’m hoping soon to open my own space in Bulli I’m just working on it now. I’ve also enjoying supplying cacti for a few photoshoots and events so I wouldn’t mind exploring that more and any other collaborations that come up from time to time. 

Learn more about Callum here. 

 
SO WHERE DO YOU SOURCE YOUR CACTI FROM?

I have a cactus farmer up in QLD that supplies me. He’s kind of on a big scale up there in what he is doing. He’s growing them all from seed himself, it’s pretty crazy. My cactus farmer also sources cacti from another guy out in Gilgandra who has one of the biggest cactus collections in Australia. He has over 1000 species that he’s grown from seed.

 

WOW, HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GROW ONE FROM SEED?

Umm, well these are called a Golden Barrel a low baring cactus meaning low to the ground and are in the barrel family. These can get up to a metre wide. So this is 16 months old, just to get that little guy, which is pretty crazy. They have a tiny little root system but these guys go huge, I have a few in my front garden and they are pretty phenomenal.

 

ANYWHERE ELSE YOU SOURCE FROM?

Anywhere really, like the other day I just knocked on the front door of a guy who had a giant cactus tree out the front of his house and was like hey, what are you doing with these, I’m a bit of a collector, got chatting to him and he let me take a few cuttings. This particular cacti was really weird the arms grew out and he kept hitting it when he cut the lawn so was happy to get rid of it. I’m not afraid to just knock on anyone’s door and get a bit chatty.

 

SOME PARTS OF YOUR YARD FEEL LIKE A BIT OF A CACTI HOSPITAL, TELL US MORE ABOUT THAT?

That’s what I love the most. I love bringing cacti back to life, I repot and put in some nice soil and enjoy watching the progression.

The soil mix is what makes a huge difference to reviving them, having the nutrients in the soil and also the way that the roots can drain. The soil mix you get from Bunnings or any kind of potting mix is not as refined as what the cactus like.

That’s why I’ve got some soil, sand and rock delivered here and from that I make my own mix adding worms, perlite, blood and bone and cow manure.

 

WHAT'S NEXT FOR CACTUS TALK?

I’m stocking my cacti in a few local stores like with Bec at The Salon, and Chris at Finbox and a couple at Noel & Gladys. I’m hoping soon to open my own space in Bulli I’m just working on it now. I’ve also enjoying supplying cacti for a few photoshoots and events so I wouldn’t mind exploring that more and any other collaborations that come up from time to time. 

Learn more about Callum here. 

PREVIOUS ENTRY
 
COMMON PEOPLE #14
TANIA NGUYEN, WOLLONGONG NSW
 

Whether it’s the movement of the trees swaying or the colours of the sky at sunrise it’s the beauty of nature that inspires Tania Nguyen’s art with pressed flowers. Tania believes that nature brings her the gentle escape from a busy life that we all strive for and shares her therapeutic project with us through her workshops and art. 

PREVIOUS ENTRY

COMMON PEOPLE #14

TANIA NGUYEN, WOLLONGONG NSW

Whether it’s the movement of the trees swaying or the colours of the sky at sunrise it’s the beauty of nature that inspires Tania Nguyen’s art with pressed flowers. Tania believes that nature brings her the gentle escape from a busy life that we all strive for and shares her therapeutic project with us through her workshops and art.