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Sunday, 30 October 2022

Ways to Eat Yacon or Peruvian Ground Pear

 THE GOOD EARTH

How to Grow and Use Yacon: Peruvian Ground Apple

Scientific Name: Smallanthus sonchifolius
Common Name: Yacon, Peruvian ground apple
Family: Asteraceae-same as daisies and sunflowers.
Plant Height & Width: 1.5m x 0.5m

If you look at the flowers they are like much smaller versions of sunflowers.
Here’s a tuber that tastes similar to a nashi pear, looks something like sweet potato on the outside, and the sugars from it aren’t absorbed by the body.
Not only that, the tubers contain a lot of juice, and the sugars that make it sweet is not absorbed by the body so you can't put on the kilos! How good is that?  

Then there’s the fact that it’s easy to grow, and has small flowers that resemble sunflowers and you just can’t buy it from the supermarket or fruit and veg store.

Yacon plant growing in Margaret's garden

How to Grow Yacon from Tubers?

Yacon has two types of tubers unlike ginger or turmeric.
  • The tubers that you plant are attached to the main stem and are much smaller and pinkish in colour. I planted mine in early September and October was the time that it sprouted in my Sydney garden.
  • If you were to receive some brown tubers that look like a brown sweet potato, that's what you eat and not what you plant. 
  • The edible tubers spread from the clump sideways meaning you need at least 1/2 metre  of space to produce sizeable clumps.
  • Can be planted in any district as they can withstand frost.

When to Harvest?

Yacon is a herbaceous perennial meaning it has a dormant period that starts when the leaves die down in late autumn. 

This is the time when the tubers are ready to harvest. Simply fork up the entire crop, and harvest the large brown tubers to eat fresh, and use the small reddish rhizomes at the top to replant for next year’s crop.


What Can You Do With Yacon?

Eat it of course but how,  is the thing so here are some of Margaret's tips.
  • Yacon is sweet and crunchy and is great eaten fresh.
  • Ever heard of Yacon chips? That's right you can make chips out of this tubber.
  • Just cut up into chip sizes and drizzle some oil over the top and bake in the oven.
  • Try using it in salads like Waldorf salad and wherever you would use fresh pears.
  • Use it in stir fries.
  • You can also juice it or cook down the juice to make syrup and use it as a sweetener.

Fun Tip from Margaret

  • Running short of toilet paper, try large soft fluffy leaves like those of the Yacon plant.
But there's more uses, have a listen to the podcast.
I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska of www.mosshouse.com.au



If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Flowers Have Their Seasons

 TALKING FLOWERS

Seasonality of Flowers

Vegetables have their season when they’re available fresh and not just out of the cold room where they’ve been for 6 months or more.
What about flowers?
Many people forget that flowers have their seasons too, after all there are plenty of flowers available all year round.
Hellebores-a winter flower
 Why is that important? 
It's the same as for vegetables and fruit, if it's not the current season for the flowers, then they're most likely imported.
If I asked you what’s the best time of year to buy peonies would you know?
 
What about roses, is there a best time?
Have a look at the below suggestions to realise what is actually in season.  

Winter Flowers

Orchids, Vanda, Dendrobium, Cymbidium, Phaleanopsis, Hellebores. Jonquils, Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinths, Daphne (pictured.)

Spring Flowers

Peonies are an October flower. Roses, Ranunculus, Australian wildflowers-Waratahs, Ericas, Geraldton Wax; Cherry Blossoms, Magnolias

Summer Flowers

Roses, Sunflowers, Gerberas, Carnations, Stephanotis.

Autumn Flowers

Dahlias, Roses are continuing. Asiatic lilies are an exception as in Australia they are grown in glass houses and are available all year round.

I'm talking with Nadine Brown of https://www.theivyinstitute.com.au/



The scientific name for spring stars is Ipheion uniflorum, often marketed as Triteleia Stars Of Spring, rather confusingly.

Got to say one my favourite spring flowers.

If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Saturday, 29 October 2022

Spice Up Your Meals with Furikake

 SPICE IT UP

Furikake: Japanese seasoning

Isn't it time you enlivened your tastes buds with something you've never tried before?

This next spice isn’t just one spice on it’s on but several spices or a blend of spices that are just right for Japanese food or any other food for that matter.

Furikake is a traditional Japanese seasoning that is sprinkled on cooked food.

In some ways like shichimi togarashi seasoning, furikake seasoning has not only toasted sesame seeds in it but also black sesame seeds that combine to give you a delectable nutty flavour.

But wait, will it have monosodium glutamate I hear you ask as so often spice blends in Asian cuisine do?

Well, here’s the thing, with 50 years of sourcing and mixing spice blends, Ian Hemphill is just the man to find a substitute for MSG without compromising the flavour of just such a spice blend

Fuikake also has the combination of  salt, nori flakes or nagi, to add that classic Japanese profile when it comes to flavour. Also orange peel, Sichuan pepper and Australian lemon myrtle.

Furikake goes well with rice, on top of eggs, seafood and on top of white or red meat.


Miso soup with furikake eggs. photo courtesy www.herbies.com.au 

Let’s find out more bout this fabulous spice.

I'm talking with Ian Hempill, owner of www.herbies.com.au

Ian has been a regular on RWG for many years but never has he admitted to carrying emergency spices in his pocket before.

Ian carries Furikake spice in his pocket in the off-chance he’s going to snack on some sushi.

How good is that? If you have any questions about spices why not email us at realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Leaf Celery Better Than Celery

 KITCHEN GARDEN

Leaf Celery

Scientific Name:Apium graveolens var. secalinum
Plant family: Apiaceae
Common Name: Parcel

A relatively uncommon or even unkown herb or vegetable. Parcel stems from the idea that it looks like parsley but tastes like celery.
  • Leaf celery is a biennial plant growing to 60cm in height.
Biennial simply means that leaf celery grows vegetatively during the first year and fruits (seeds) and dies  at the end of the second year.
Leaf celery could be classified as a herb because the leaves are used just as much as the stalks in cooking.

Personally I wouldn't be without my leaf celery because it's a great substitute for the harder to grow culinary celery. 
I use it for making sugo, the tradition Italian tomato base for a lot of traditional dishes such as lasagne and bolognese.

Sugo For Sure-How to Make it

Sugo is made by first finely chopping onion, celery and carrot that frying for a few minutes until softer. Then adding the garlic and tomatoes to make a tomato base for any Italian dish.
Leaf celery stalks in my garden

However, if you like munching on celery stalks, or using them in Waldorf salads, it's not a substitute in that instance. 

The stalks of leaf celery are much thinner and hollow and have a more pungent taste ( to my liking) that normal culinary celery.

This winter I have practically depleted my supply of leaf celery because of the number of soups, and slow cooked meals I have been preparing. It’s just a great flavouring herb.
Leaf celery in flower in my garden

Easy Peasy Celery Salt

Celery salt can also be made from the seeds. Simply let one plant go to flower and set seed. Then once dried in situ, collect the seeds and crush them.
  • Corinne suggests dehydrating the leaves to make celery leaf salt.
Corinne Mossati, founder of  www.thegourmanticgarden.com

  has further suggestions.
    • Chop the stems and leaves and make a compound celery butter.
We both recommend growing leaf celery as a cut and come again herb or vegetable and an alternative to the larger stalked celery.
Much easier to grow too.

So let’s find out more by listening to the podcast.



If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Sunday, 4 September 2022

Spice It Up with the Right Cardamom

 SPICE IT UP

Know Your Cardamoms.

There are many budding chefs and cooks that use heaps of spices in their recipes going by the success of cooking shows on television.
Green and brown cardamom pods
Indian, Asian and Mexican cooking particularly calls for a wide selection of these different spices.

Some spices though come in a variety of  grades, colours and uses making it possible for the unsuspecting cook to make a blunder.
This may not necessarily result in a vast difference in the final flavour, but it can make your creation not as 'flavoursome' as it should be.
Brown Chinese Cardamom
Brown (black) Indian cardamom (right)

Would you say you ever used cardamom pods or cardamom?
Did you know that there are different coloured cardamoms?

Cardamom pods are one such spice that comes a variety of colours and suit different cuisines.

So if you think there’s just the one, you may have been doing your recipes and cooking a disservice.
  • So which one should you use?
Ian Hemphill says the default cardamom is the green cardamom pod. Inside are little black to brown seeds which is the important part of the pod.
There are a couple of other cardamoms. 

Brown cardamom-Indian and Chinese

  • The brown Indian cardamom is a much larger pod than the green cardamom by 4-5 times the size. This cardamom has a smoky aroma and is especially used in tandoori dishes.
  • Chinese cardamom is usually used whole.
White Cardamom-be careful that you are actually get the real deal white cardamom and not bleached old cardamoms.
Thai cardamom is the genuine white cardamom.
White cardamom is hard to source.
If you are cooking Thai dishes that call for this cardamom you may substitute green cardamom but half the quantity.

NOTE: Cardamom is also used in sweet dishes such as this cardamom scented rice pudding (pictured), cardamom cake and cardamom biscuits. Definitely use the sweet or green cardamom and not the brown cardamom!

* Ian’s big tip is never grind the pods and seeds together.*

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast.

PLAY: Know Your Cardamoms_12th August 2022

Marianne (host of Real World Gardener radio show) is Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au

Hopefully that’s set you on the right path to using the correct coloured cardamoms in your cooking.
If you have any questions you can email us Realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Choosing Fresh Flowers

 TALKING FLOWERS   

Tips on Choosing the Freshest Flowers

Do you regularly buy a bunch of fresh flowers to brighten up your home?
Do you find that no matter which ones you buy, you just can't seem to get them to last past a few days, but friends regularly boast about how their flowers last for over a week?

Sometimes I cringe when I see a bunch of flowers outside some supermarkets because I know what signs to look for that tell me whether or not they’re really fresh.

But could you tell how fresh a bunch of flowers are when you see them for sale?

Some of the top tips are

  • Keep your flowers away from the fresh bowl of fruit.
The reason is because fruit, particularly ripe bananas give off ethylene which hastens the demise of your fresh flowers.  If you think about it, placing a firm pear next to a banana in the fruit bowl, makes it soften up really quickly.
  • Feel the stems to see if they’re fresh and not slimy.
Slimy stems stems means they've been sitting around for more than a few day. If you can't feel the stems that cast a close eye on the actual petals and ask yourself, " are the petals showing any signs of curling or browning at the edges,?" If the answer is 'yes' then move onto the next bunch.
  • Avoid buying flowers from the roadside.
Roadside flowers have inhaled all those exhaust fumes and that's a speedy way to make them fade.


Don’t worry, Nadine Brown will tell us how lots more .



I'm talking with Nadine Brown floral educator of www.theivyinstitute.com.au
If you like buying fresh flowers you should listen to the podcast.

If you have any questions you can email us Realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Thursday, 11 August 2022

Drying Flowers Back In Vogue

TALKING FLOWERS

Dried Flowers and How To Do Them

Did you know that dried flowers are back in fashion?
Perhaps, like me you thought that never went out of fashion, but do you dry your own on do you buy dried flower arrangements?

No prizes for guessing that those brightly coloured flowers are actually bleached in vats of bleach first, then because all the pigmentation (chlorophyll) has been removed it is practically falling apart.

The next step, the foliage is plasticised and dyed. Not something you want to display in your home

The process behind these dyed flowers is incredibly toxic and is usually down outside Australia.

Dry Your Own.

Some Australia flowers dry naturally in full colour such as golden everlasting, Australian paper daisy (Rhodanthe chlorocephela) , Billy Buttons (Pycnosorus globosus).
Billy Buttons-dried by hanging upside down

Dried Rhodanthe sp.

Surprises

Did you know that you could even dry your dahlia flowers?
Choose the more tightly formed varieties with darker colours perform best. 

Some hardier flowers and foliage can be left to dry in the vase such as banksias, eucalypt foliage, and kangaroo paw.

HOW?

Hang upside down in a dark area with plenty of air flow so no mould or mildew develops.


I'm talking with florist and educator, Nadine Brown, florist educator and business mentor of the Ivy Institute 

Why not have a go and drying flowers from your garden?
PLAY: Drying flowers_29th July 2022
If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675