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Saturday, 18 September 2021

Grow Coriander: The Primadonna of Herbs

 THE KITCHEN GARDEN

SUCCESS WITH CORIANDER

Scientific name: Coriandrum sativum
I mentioned before that certain herbs that look alike and again I find myself talking about another herb that confuses people.

Australians refer to the seeds and leaf as coriander but in the northern hemisphere, the leaf is sometimes known as 'cilantro.'
Coriander is one of those herbs that people either love it or hate it.
Do you love it?

Coriander leaves
Coriander is easy enough to grow but being in the carrot family,(Apiaceae) its green leafy tops can look not only like other herbs, but other vegetables!
  • My guest, Toni Salter in the podcast, calls it the 'primadonna' of herbs. 
There are many things it doesn't like and without a second glance, coriander will bolt to seed giving you not much leaf at all.
What causes it to bolt to seed?
  • Soil is too dry
  • Too little water at the right time.
  • Poor or impoverished soil.
  • Poor drainage in your herb garden.
  • Temperatures too warm for it's liking.
  • Temperatures too cold for it's liking
  • Transplanting-the worst sin.
Problems with germination?
Try soaking the seeds for a few hours in a shallow saucer of water.
  • TIP: Always sow the seeds directly into the position where it will grow.
Sow it into a container if you like, but keep it there.
Coriander loves rich fertile soil, much like your vegetables.

Coriander seedlings
When to Sow in Australia

For sub-tropical and arid zones, you have August to September;
Temperate districts, sow the seeds from September until the end of November,
In cool temperate zones, October to November,
  • Sow your seeds about 1 cm deep, cover them and keep them moist.
Whether or not you sow them in rows, scatter them amongst your other veggies, or use them to grow as a shade plant for your lettuce, it really doesn’t matter.

Companion planting: plant coriander near your spinach to confuse the grasshoppers.
Let one or two plants go to seed. The flowers attract beneficial insects after which the coriander seeds can be harvested to use in cooking, once the seeds turn brown and crispy.

Coriander seeds drying on plant
A must if you like Asian cooking and even though coriander looks like parsley, as soon as you smell it, you know what you’ve got.

Heaps of Coriander seeds are used in curries, tagines and many other Asian dishes.
In fact the whole herb, including the roots can be ground up to make a Thai Green Curry paste.

Let’s find out more
I'm talking with Toni Salter www.theveggielady.com.au


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


Winter Savory and Thyme: What's the Difference?

 SPICE IT UP   

 SAVORY VS THYME

Often there’s a couple of herbs that look alike and even have similar flavour profiles.

If you had them growing together in the herb garden, you may even confuse the two because of how closely they look to each other.
Thyme is the better known herb in Australia, which from the 1950's was commonly used in soups, stews, scones and casseroles.
For some reason, savory is not very well known in Australia, but it’s commonly used America and England.
In England, and America, it's quite popular and in the US, winter savory is a key ingredient in the stuffing for the 'Thanksgiving Turkey.'

If you rubbed both herbs without knowing which was which, you would most likely think they both were the same herb.
  • Winter savory, unlike thyme, is not sold as a cut herb in the produce aisle of your supermarket.
  • Confusingly there is a 'summer savory' which tends to die off in winter and usually not come back.
Looking after both herbs
With their tiny leaves, both herbs are adapted to the dry regions of the mediterranean. 
Both herbs are in the mint (Lamiaceae) family, but unlike mint, don't  feel you need to give either thyme or winter savory heaps of water with the exception of the hottest days in Australia's summers.
  • I've never seen the seeds of savory being sold however if you have a pot of winter savory that's overgrown and become leggy, follow these tips to refresh it.
  • Dividing the roots  in spring, will rejuvenate the plant.
  • Start off by trimming about a third of any wrapped or circling roots.
  • Divide the root ball into thirds or quarters, making sure that each section has a healthy piece of root and stems with green leaves attached.
  • Remove one-third of the top growth, and trim away any dead or damaged stems and leaves.
  • Re-pot into new containers and gift some to your friends.

But can you substitute one for the other?

Thyme has the volatile oil: thymol which is a strong natural antiseptic.  
Wild thyme growing amongst a rocky outcrop
You only need to use a small amount to get the flavour, and is a key ingredient in mixed herbs.
  • Did you know there are over 100 varieties of thyme?
  • The wild thyme of Provence is known for its strength of flavour. Think 'herbs de Provence' is a blend with this wild thyme.
The answer is yes, both herbs are interchangeable, but savoury is less pungent than thyme.
  • You will find winter savory, Satureja (sat-you-rea) montana, as a plant sold in most garden centres.
  • So time to get some of your own.
Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au


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

Fungus Gnats Begone

PLANT DOCTOR

FUNGUS GNATS

These tiny flying things can swarm around your indoor plants but other than annoyance, are they killing your plants?

Those tiny little flies that hang around your fruit bowl or indoor plants aren’t always that same thing. 
Sometimes they’re confused with fruit flies, or even ordinary house flies, but none of those two are correct. Inevitably they’re up to no good but how to tell them apart?
  • There are fungus gnats and fermentation flies.
    • they are attracted to different things.
  • Fermentation or vinegar flies tend to hang around the fruit bowl, especially if you've got overripe fruit because vinegar flies are attracted to sugars.
  • Fungus gnats are smaller, flitting around erratically: the adults of which are attracted to moisture.
    • the adults are doing much if anything to your plants other than laying lots of eggs, although there is evidence that they can transmit plant diseases.
    • The larvae can be the problem because the feed on the roots of your plants.

Fungus gnats -magnified heaps.

































  • Remember: Vinegar or fermentation flies are attracted to sugary treats, such as over-ripe fruits, whereas fungus gnats are attracted to moisture such as overly wet potting medium.
  • Greenhouses can also have an outbreak of fungus gnats.
Where do they come from?
Came with the plants you bought or from potting mix.

How to stop them?
  • Keep your soil medium a bit on the dry side.
  • Drench the potting mix with neem oil which will control the juvenile stages.
  • Make a sticky trap using vaseline to trap the adults.
  • Use a type of mulch the prevents the adult fungus gnats burrowing into the soil to lay the eggs.
  • Worst case, repot with fresh potting mix.
  • Greenhouse control can be with predatory insects.
Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast.
I'm talking with Steve Falcioni from www.ecoorganicgarden.com.au

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

Wednesday, 8 September 2021

Plant Nutrition Unpacked: Plant Nutrients and Deficiencies

 PLANT NUTRITION UNPACKED

Major Nutrients

Have you ever asked yourself "how do plants take up nutrients when you spread fertiliser around them on the ground or dilute it into liquid ?"
It's something that we gardeners do quite a lot of,  spreading fertiliser around that is, and probably don't give it a second thought until plants don't respond to all this nutrient load.
  • What went wrong? 
Firstly, the nutrients that you spread around are not directly taken up by the plants.
Nutrients have to be what's called 'made available' to the plants and to do this, the soil biota or the microorganisms have to do some work.
Water, soil and microbes are the three things that the plants need before plants can take these nutrients.
  • So What Are These Nutrients?
Macro Nutrients:   these are the highest rated nutrients that plants can’t do without.
  • Nitrogen:Phosphorus:Potassium or NPK: 
    A selection of fertilisers
  • Kylie's main mantra is NPK refers to shoots:roots;fruit
The N component relates as Nitrogen, giving your plant nice healthy green leaves.
The P component: encourages healthy root systems.
The K or potassium component helps the fruits and flowers

Sure we can add compost, aged manures and liquid seaweed, but unless you’re sure of what’s in them nutrient wise, you may be under fertilising your plants.

Without the major nutrients, your plants may not grow and develop roots, stems leaves and flowers properly.

If you know what and how much to give your plants, the plants will be healthier and more productive.

Just remember to read the NPK amounts on the bag or packet of fertiliser.
Let’s find out more about what plants really need.
I'm talking with Kylie Last, horticulturist and TAFE teacher.


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

PLANT DEFICIENCIES:

Imagine this scenario, you’ve fertilised your garden with all the right stuff, having followed the manufacturer’s instructions to a ‘t.’
But still the plants look sickly, or perhaps a bit yellow, or they’re just not putting on any growth.
Does that sound familiar?
  • So what’s the problem?
The first thing you need to do is a pH test on your soil-there's no escaping it.
Why?
The soil pH will determine the availability pf different nutrients to your plants.

Let's look at an example
Looking at the chart on the right, it's immediately apparent that if your pH is higher than say pH7.5, then nutrients like iron start to taper off in their availability to the plant.

Then means your plant may start to show symptoms of iron deficiency.
In fact, after pH 7.5, other nutrients taper off in their availability, such as manganese, boron, and more importantly, one of the macro nutrients being potassium.


Basic pH test kit
 
  • Ideally the ideal pH range that gardeners should strive for is pH 6 - 7.5
  • This is the range that the major nutrients of NPK are available to the plant the most.
  • Some plants such as rhododenrons and azaleas like a like a low of pH6.
A pH testing kit is essential in any gardener’s shed. Consider testing your soil in different parts of the garden.

A good tip when taking soil samples from your soil is to get a sample from just below the surface for an accurate reading.
 
First signs of Nutrient Deficiencies: 
Nitrogen: new leaves are pale green and older leaves are yellow and start to dry up.
Phosphorus: purpling of the leaves, particularly along the lower leaves. New leaves are a bit stunted and deformed in severe cases.  A bit more rare.
Potassium: poor overall health; older leaves turn yellow then crisp up and die off. Often mistaken for dehydration.

Let’s find out more about  pH testing and plant deficiencies 
I'm talking with Kylie Last, horticulturist and TAFE teacher.

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

Monday, 30 August 2021

Silver Leaves Shine Through in Plant of the Week

 PLANT OF THE WEEK

All About Australian Native Plants with Silver Leaves: A longish List

Plants with grey or silver leaves are adapted to a drier environment because the colour of the leaf better reflects the sun than green leaves regardless of the size of the leaf
This in turn means the plant uses less water for its functions. 
There's usually more to the story as is the case with eucalypt trees having a thick waxy coating that makes the leaves look silver or grey in the first place. This waxy coating is added protection from the sun's rays.
Eucalyptus perriniana
Mature leaves are often different from juvenile leaves not only in shape and size but orientation.
Mature eucalypt leaves hang vertically to reduce exposure to high levels of radiation and water loss. 
Silver leaves don’t just have to be about small shrubs and ground covers, there’s some beaut examples of silver leafed gums.

Plant nr 1:

 A Couple of Eucalypts with Silver Leaves.

  • Two great silver leafed  gums were our picks:Eucalyptus perriniana and Eucalyptus cinerea
Silver leaves can be so attractive in the garden, in the vase or just in the landscape.
The add texture and structure to a garden. But they also can brighten a dark spot in a garden where dark green would just disappear in the gloom.
Eucalyptus cinerea

Other fabulous silver leafed eucalypts
  • You could also try Eucalyptus pulverulenta, known as the Silver-leaved Mountain Gum.
  • There’s a dwarf form of this one called Baby Blue which only grows to 3m.
  • The Silver-leaved Mountain Gum is an unusual Eucalypt (especially for eastern Australia) because it hangs onto juvenile foliage into maturity. Plants rarely produce adult leaves.
Listen to the podcast to find out more
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant expert and officianado

Plant nr 2

Scientific name:Rhagodia spinescens

Common Name: Aussie flat bush; spiny saltbush
Family: Chenopodiaceae
Height: 0.5-1.5m  tall by 1.5-4metres wide.
Flowers:January -April, tiny cream panicles, fairly insignificant.

Conditions: frost and mildly drought tolerant, best suited for temperate and semi-arid regions.
Location: tolerant of soil types and will grow in full sun or dry shade.
Uses: prune to shape as a hedge or leave to make a groundcover. 

Quite a vigorous grower and hugs the ground so makes great habitat for native reptiles and small birds.

Ozbreed has a compact form makes a great ground cover and performs better if it is pruned annually or more often if a manicured look is desired.  30-50cm x 1m wide


Listen to the podcast to find out more
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant expert and officianado



Plant nr 3

Scientific Name: Westringia fruiticosa

Common Name: Coastal Rosemary
Family: Lamiaceae (mint family)
Leaves: green, with a covering of short hairs giving the plant a silvery tint . Leaves are up to 2 centimetres long, narrow and pointed and set closely in whorls around the stem.
Westringia 'Grey Box'
Flowers: Appear in my garden from September onwards with November seeing a main flush. Typical of flowers in the mint family either in white or pale mauve with a couple of reddish spots near the throat of the flowers. This is a bee guide for Aussie native bees.

Looks like rosemary but it isn't and Adrian regards it as the 'murraya' of the Aussie native plant world.
Tough as 'old boots' seen hugging the cliffs and down to beach level, either prostrate or several feet high depending on situation.
A useful garden plant that has been hybrised extensively.
Westringia "Aussie Box' and 'Grey Box' is a great alternative to box hedging.

TIP:Adrian recommends use mechanical shears instead of electric or battery operated shears for better results when pruning

Listen to the podcast to find out more
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant expert and officianado


Plant nr 4 
Scientific name Eryngium ovinum
Common Name: Blue Devil not the Sea Holly from norther Europe
Etymology: Eryngium refers to Sea Holly and ovinum refers to sheep-apparently sheep graze on these plants.
Family: Apiaceae-carrot family
Height/width: 60cm-1m by 60cm-1m
Description: Semi-evergreen perennial with green thistle-like foliage and unique feather-like blue cylindrical flowers during Summer. Dormant from Autumn through to late Winter. Long-lasting cut flower. Grows approx. 70cm tall x 40cm wide.
  • When heavily if flower, the plant, not just the flowers turn blue. "By mid summer the flowering stems extend to 60 cm and a mass of crowded bright blue flowers is produced with long, spiky bracts to 2.5 cm in globular, thistle-like heads on rigid branched stems. " (from anbg.gov.au)
In Adrian's temperate garden, the Blue Devil has not died down as it reputedly does in cooler climates. Grows in most soil conditions in full sun.

Listen to the podcast to find out more
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant expert and officianado

 Plant nr 5

Scientific name: Leptospermum lanigerum

Common Name: Woolly tea tree
Family: Myrtaceae
Etymologyleptos, meaning slender, and sperma, meaning seed.
lanigerum, is named using the Latin word for wool-bearing, describing the silky hairy leaves and hairy buds, shoots and young capsules.
Height: 3m by 3m wide

Location: any soil in sun and will tolerate heavy shade. Frost hardy to -7C
 Description: Dense shrub to small erect tree with persistent fibrous bark on larger stems, smaller stems shedding in stringy strips.
  • Not all tea trees have green leaves, and this one has pewter grey or silver tiny leaves with typical 5 petalled tea tree flowers.
  • May be limbed into a small tree. Light summer water though very drought adapted. Excellent background shrub or screen or large informal hedge. 
Takes well to pruning as the leaves are tiny and the more you prune the bush will become more dense. 

Listen to the podcast to find out more
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant expert and officianado

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Edna Walling and Bickleigh Vale: A Creation

 EDNA WALLING & BICKLEIGH VALE

Part 1 

Edna Walling was one of Australia’s most influential garden designers of the 20th century but I daresay, not too many people have heard of her.
Edna was Walling was born in 1896, in Yorkshire and grew up in the village of Bickleigh  Devon, England but came to Australia at 17 years of age.

Edna was influenced by her father and studied landscape design at Burnley Horticultural College in Melbourne. 
Walling was awarded her government certificate in horticulture in December 1917, and after some years jobbing as a gardener she commenced her own landscape design practice in the 1920s.
Her plans from the 1920s and 1930s show a strong architectural framework with 'low stone walls, wide pergolas and paths – always softened with a mantle of greenery'.

While doing some garden research I happened on one of her most famous creations called Bickleigh Vale in the Melbourne suburb of Mooroolbark in the foothills of the Dandenongs.
  • She just happened on some land while out bushwalking and convinced a bank manager to lend her money to buy the land and build her first house 'Sonning.'
Trisha Dixon: garden writer and photographer
Who better to talk about them is someone who has researched Edna Walling for the last 40 years.
I'll be talking with Trisha Dixon, garden author and photographer and sometime tour leader of gardens.

Trisha mentions that she found that actual village that this was modelled on, the real 'Bickleigh Vale ; in Devon, in England.
Listen to parts 1 & 2 of the podcast below. 

A quote from https://www.bickleighvalevillage.com.au/properties.html
 is this quote
 In the early 1920s Edna Walling acquired land at Mooroolbark where she built a house for herself - 'Sonning'. Here she lived and worked, establishing her nursery and gathering around her a group of like-minded people for whom she designed picturesque 'English' cottages and gardens. She named the area Bickleigh Vale village.
The houses and outbuildings that were designed or approved by Edna Walling in what she termed 'the English style' include her own home 'Sonning' which was rebuilt in 1936 following the destruction of 'Sonning I' in a fire,
Bickleigh Vale Village
Edna preferred common plants in her design, and although she had an extensive plant list.
Her plant list used very simple or understated species such as flowering crabapples, quinces, flowering plums.
 Edna followed Gertrude Jekyll's philosphy of understatement rather than having one feature tree to draw one's eye.

Have a listen to part 1, a bit of Edna’s history and a bit about Bickley Vale.
We’ll continue next with more about the actual village and also more about Edna’s vision in creating beautiful gardens.

Edna Walling and Bickleigh Vale part 2

Last week, I introduced you to Edna Walling was one of Australia’s most influential garden designers of the 20th century.

The people that live in the village of about 20 homes, are all in love with Edna's design principles.

In spring, the gardens are like fairlyland, with flowering wisterias, crabapples, flowering cherries, birches, hornbeams. hawthorns, plums, apricots, oaks and elms . 
"Edna Walling had a free and easy attitude to garden maintenance and she believed that every window of a house should have a view of the garden, to create the effect of bringing the garden into the house."

Edna Walling came to appreciate Australian flora more and more and started to incorporate many native species in her designs even early on.

I talk again with Trisha Dixon, garden author and photographer.
Let’s find out more

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



Thursday, 19 August 2021

What's The Difference: Dibbler and Planter or Garden Snips and Secateurs?

 TOOL TIME

What's the Difference?

Dibbler or dibber vs bulbs planter

Ever wondered if there’s a difference between two garden products, tools or ways of doing something? Tool time will look at some of these differences over the next few months.
  • Today, it’s about the difference between a tool that’s used to mainly plant bulbs.
  • Planting bulbs is a lot of fun, but can quickly turn into a chore if you have quite a few different bulbs that need to go into the garden.
  • Just imagine planting out the scene pictured, at Keukenhoff in the Netherlands.
  • Every type of bulb will have a preferred depth and spacing so to get it right you will need a special tool.
  • This is where those bulb planters of plant dibbers come in handy.
Dibbers are those carrot shaped bits of wood with a pointy end, that are used to poke holes in soil.
They will have graduated markings showing depth and sometimes have a metal tip.

Some come with a T-shaped handle, others just a rounded knob at the top.

Dibbers are great for quickly planting up lots of small bulbs, seeds and transplanting seedlings.

Bulb planters are mainly for bulbs, big ones and little ones, but especially big ones.

  • This is a heavy duty implement that acts much like an apple corer with either a short or long handle. Bulb planters have the ability to push through hard soil because of their serrated edge and also have a spring-loaded handle that dumps the ‘core’ of soil you pushed through. 
  • This also makes it a handy tool for digging out bulbous weeds such as oxalis and onion weed, and it can be used to planting small seedlings and tubestock, too.
  • Depth markings are along the side taking the guesswork out of planting.  

High quality carbon steel ones will keep their edges sharp and not get coated with rust if you are forgetful about cleaning your garden tools.

Let’s find out more: I'm talking with Tony Mattson, General Manager from www.cutabovetools.com.au

Garden Snips vs Secateurs

You would think that gardening tools would have all the same name pretty much all around the world.
What else would you call a spade ?
Perhaps a trowel may have a few different names, but what about secateurs and garden snips?
Are they the same thing?
  • Secateurs are sometimes called  pruning shears or hand pruners .
    My Toolkit: Felco No8 secateurs 

  • Secateurs can be bypass style, where the cutting blade passes a curved non-cutting 'anvil.'
  • Secateurs can also be anvil style where the cutting blade cuts into a 'anvil.'
  • Good quality secateurs will cut easily, feel comfortable to hold and spare parts are able to be purchased.
  • Secateurs are used for the  'green' wood on plants cutting easily up to the diameter of a person's fingers.
Garden snips ( bottom of picture) are closer in appearance to scissors, with two cutting blades. Unlike scissors, they have a spring to make repeated cutting of plant material easier.
  • Garden snips are best used for trimming off spent flowers on plants such as calibroachoa, petunias, and other annuals and perennials. Light trimming of soft 'green' plant material is OK as long as the stems or branches are not too thick. Garden snips don't have the cutting power of secateurs.
Let’s find out more
I'm talking with Tony Mattson, general manager of www.cutabovetools.com.au

Like me, a lot of gardeners would have both types of secateurs-anvil and bypass as well as a pair of snips.
After all, not everything can be pruned with the one tool.

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


































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































go for cheap and the bulb planter rusts, there’s no amount of elbow grease that will get it off. So give it a good clean and dry thoroughly after each time you use it.

If you have any questions or feedback for me or Tony about tools, why not write in to realworldgardener@gmail.com