Pages

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Lemon Verbena In All Its Deliciousness

 KITCHEN GARDEN  

LEMON VERBENA

Did you think that herbs were just for making tea?

Maybe not, but some herbs have endless uses, and this week I’m featuring the herb lemon verbena (Aloysia citriodora) that’s larger than you would expect to find in a herb garden so probably could fit into the back of a border but in a sunny location.
Lemon verbena photo M Cannon
  • How would I describe the scent of lemon verbena?
I would say that lemon verbena has a bright, slightly sweet flavour with a strong hint of lemon.
The strong lemon scent of this herb is far less overpowering than the lemon flavor and fragrance of lemon balm, lemon thyme, lemon mint, and lemongrass.

What does it look like?

Lemon verbena is a vigorous growing deciduous shrub to 3 metres tall by 3 metres wide. 
The leaves are a lime green and lanceolate, and flowers appear in late spring until the end of summer almost. 
The flowers are white, quite small and appear in a panicle.
  • My plant is quite an old plant that I prune each winter to about 1 metre off the ground.

How to use lemon verbena?

  • As a flavouring in kombucha
  • Add leaves to a sorbet or ice-cream when making
  • Poach stone fruit in a sugar syrup with lemon verbena leaves
  • Infuse lemon verbena leaves in olive oil or vinegar-250 ml of olive oil with 6 leaves or to taste
  • Fish en papiotte with lemon verbena leaves

Corinne's Top Tip: 

Why not try  a gin and sonic with muddled lemon verbena. Made with half soda water and half tonic so less calories. 

Listen to the podcast.
Marianne is talking  Corinne Mossati, founder of   http://www.thegourmanticgarden.com
You can also follow Corinne for more delightful ideas on Instagram or subscribe to updates  http://www.thegourmanticgarden.com/subscribe/


Mixed Spice and All Things Nice

 SPICE IT UP

MIXED SPICE

The name 'mixed spice,' sounds 'oldie worldie' to me because it's not something that comes up in too many recipes these days. 
Perhaps if your flicking through an old  Woman's Weekly recipe book, or the cookbook you used at school in home economics class, you might find it in the cakes and buns section.

What is mixed spice?

Mixed Spice is a sweet spice blend and is used in a variety of cakes, puddings, pies, breads and buns, biscuits, pancakes, cupcakes, gingerbreads, and even fruit salads.

Mixed spice has actually the following ground spices.

  • Cinnamon-two types, Sri Lankan cinnamon and cassia cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Ginger-to add brightness and freshness
  • Cloves-a very small amount.
  • Allspice-a spice all on its own which is actually a berry.
  • Coriander seeds, ground of course. Coriander is an amalgamating spice.

But what do you use if you can find it on the supermarket shelves?
Melting Moment biscuits

Mixed spice quick alternative:
  • Cinnamon 1 tablespoon
  • Nutmeg     1 teaspoon
  • Ginger       1 teaspoon
  • Cloves       1/2 cloves
  • Coriander  2 teaspoons


Marianne is talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au

With the predominant flavor of cinnamon, it also makes a nice change to substitute this spice blend for anything calling for cinnamon for an added flavour boost.

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

Sunday, 20 March 2022

Macro Nutrient Deficiencies: Symptoms and Fixes

 PLANT HEALTH

Plant Nutrition Deficiencies: Macro Nutrient Nitrogen

The 'Plant health' segment was created for my radio show "Real World Gardener,' as a division of the 'Plant doctor' segment, because I felt that it’s important to focus on what can go wrong with plants that isn’t a pest or a disease.
In the following audio podcasts, you will hear about what to look for in plants that have deficiencies of one of the macro nutrients: Nitrogen:Phosphorus:Potassium; in other words NPK or the macro nutrients.


Gardeners can often see problems appearing first in the colour of the leaves, but this can also be followed closely by lack of vigour, stunted growth and general unthriftiness of the plant.

The key to diagnosing problems, however isn't just looking at the colour of the leaves but it's knowing your soil type and soil pH.
Yes, I know, we do go on about soil pH but that often underlies the reason behind your plants' problems.
The other underlying problem may be insufficient drainage which causes waterlogging of the soil.

That said, we  will assume that you soil pH is around 6.5 - 7 but your still seeing issues that are showing up in the leaves. So what next?

Macro Nutrient Nitrogen

Nitrogen is one of the three big nutrients or macro nutrients that plants need.

Nitrogen is responsible for leaf growth and blossom formation.

First Symptoms: Oldest leaves start to appear pale first, yellowing at the leaf tips then eventually the whole leaf will turn yellow.
Quick Fix: Soluble fertiliser high in nitrogen. 
Results should appear in a few days.
Long term fix: Blood  n' Bone and/or controlled release fertilisers.

Nitrogen on it’s own can be useful for quick greening of lawns and leafy plants like ferns in pots when the potting mix is depleted of any nutrients.
Listen to the podcast: I'm talking with Kylie Last horticulturist and tafe teacher.


Plant Nutrition Deficiencies:Phosporus and Potassium

We have talked bout the role nitrogen played in played health and what to look for if a plant was deficient in one of the major nutrients, being Nitrogen.
  • In fact there are three major nutrients which are classified as NPK ratio on the back of all fertilisers. So in this part of the blog, we carry on with the two other major or macro nutrients.

Let's look at phosphorus deficiency

Phosphorus is responsible for the development of flowers and fruits and roots.
  • Phosporus is known as a mobile nutrient which can move around the plant to where it's needed.
  • Phosphorus deficiency happens more often in cold weather or gardens receive high rainfall, or a combination of both.
  • Often affects heavily fruiting plants such as citrus.
  • N..B. native plants are highly sensitive to phosphorus, so avoid spreading phosphate fertilisers near these plants.

First Symptoms: Older leaves become quite a dark green then develop a purplish tinge.
 
Tips will then dry off. Not to be confused with lack of watering especially in pot plants where leaves can also develop dry tips.
Overall growth is affected in the long term resulting in smaller leaves and stunted growth.

Quick Fix: Fertiliser high in phosphate either solid or liquid.
Long term fix: Blood  n' Bone and/or controlled release fertilisers. 

Let's look at potassium deficiency

Potassium is responsible for thickening of cell walls, and also responsible for plant growth. Potassium deficiency are more evident in flowering or ornamental plants. Potassium deficiency often is a pH issue in the soil.

First Symptoms: Older leaves become brown and dry on the upper surface, with leaf edges puckering slightly. 
As the deficiency progresses, the leaves darken in colour between the veins.
Flower stalks become thin and spindly and may be quite short.
Fruits may fail to develop full colour and flavour.

Quick Fix: Fertiliser high in potassium either solid or liquid, such as sulphate of potash.
Long term fix: Blood  n' Bone and/or controlled release fertilisers. 

Listen to the podcast: I'm talking with Kylie Last horticulturist and tafe teacher.



I would recommend becoming familiar with the NPK ration on fertilisers, whether organic or not to see if you’re applying the right sort for your plants.

For example, fertilisers that promote flowering and fruiting have higher ratios of potassium than those that are just for general purpose fertilising.
If you have any questions you can email us Realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Thursday, 3 March 2022

Lacto Fermentation: Quick 'n Easy Guide

 KITCHEN GARDEN

LACTO-FERMENTATION

There are several ways to preserve food, these include freezing, drying, pickling and fermenting.
You may think that fermented foods are a recent trend, but in fact, fermenting food has been carried out for thousands of years.
Fermenting food is one way of preserving your ample supply of produce that's growing in your garden.
There are a few ways to ferment foods but lacto-fermentation is one of the easiest.
  • The term lacto-fermentation is a scary one and belies how simple it really is. It's unbelievably quick and easy.
    Lacto fermented radish

So what is it?

Firstly the term wasn't derived for having to use milk in the process.
Lacto refers to the lactobacillus bacteria that does all the breaking down of the food.
Did you know that all vegetables are covered in the various strains of the good bacteria lactobacillus?
It does involve lactic acid in the process which is a good thing because lactic acid is a natural preservative.
  • What about the bad bacteria?
No problem, the brine that you submerge your vegetables in kill them off, while the lactobacillus survives to do the preserving work.
Using the correct salt to water ratio in your brine will ensure the safety of your lacto-fermentation.

How do you do it?

You can lacto-ferment most produce in yur garden.
 Beans, carrots, beetroot, and Corinne's favourite is using stalks of chard, nasturtium seeds.
You need salt but not iodised or table salt. Table salt will make the ferment go bad because of it's additives.
  • Use high quality sea-salt.
  • Photo: Corinne Mossati of Gourmantic Garden
    Non-chlorinated water, and no fluoride so will need to be filtered water.
  • Kilner jar or a glass jar with a lid.
  • Weights to submerge your ferment.
  • BASIC RULE: Brine solution is 2-3% salt.  
  • 2% brine:1 litre of water needs 20 grams of salt: 
Step by Step
  1. Collect your dry ingredients and add them to a dry sterile fermentation jar.
  2. Pour in the brine solution to cover the vegetables.
  3. Add a ceramic weight on top to keep the vegetables below the liquid.
  4. Burp the jar daily: this releases the gas.
  5. It will take 2-3 weeks during the summer months.
  6. Once it's ready, place it in the fridge to slow the ferment process.

Are you a chilli aficionado?

Perhaps you’re growing the world’s hottest chilli, Carolina Reaper or the second hottest, Ghost chilli?
But did you know that Carolina Reaper chilli is 200x hotter than a Jalapeno pepper?
But what do you do with all those chillies other than freeze them?
  • Why not make a chilli lacto-fermeneted sauce?
Follow the above steps then once you think the chillies are done, drain the brine and add other flavouring ingredients.
Blitz in a food processor.

To find out more, listen to the podcast.

I'm talking with Corinne Mossati, founder of the http://www.thegourmanticgarden.com website.

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

Friday, 25 February 2022

Stone Fruit and Brown Rot Solutions

 PLANT DOCTOR

Brown Rot of Stone fruit

There’s plenty of cultivars of stone fruit trees that can fit into any size garden.

Trixie and Pixie dwarf nectarine and peach trees have been around for years.

“There’s even a nectarine tree classed as Super Dwarf called ‘ Peach Sunset” that is grafted onto super dwarfing rootstock to produce a more compact tree growing to around 1.5 m tall.
This Nectarine is self fertile so only one tree is needed.

  • But before we get too carried away, what are the cons for growing stone fruit?

  1. Is deciduous a con? Possibly, because stone fruit tree are deciduous so if you don't like the bare look in winter, stone fruit trees are not for you.
  2. Do you need two trees for fruit set? Not always so do your homework.
  3. Preventative spraying for peach leaf curl and  brown root of stone fruit may be needed.
Perhaps I'm preaching to the converted and you already grow stone fruit.
Also perhaps, like me, you've never had a delectable harvest stolen from under your nose due to a fungal disease.

Imagine this, ripe luscious fruit that you pick and place in your fruit bowl. A day later, the same fruit has inexplicably in part turned a mushy brown, soon to be consumed completely by the fungus.

Or you have bunches of fruit on your tree and some of the start dropping off or look like in the image, with a brown sunken fungal growth.
  • The bad news is, it's too late to do something about it now.
If you don’t want a repeat of those nasty surprise in your stone fruit, you have to be pro-active with preventative spraying in winter when the tree is leafless and dormant.
Spraying with sulphur at that time is a good go to all round spray.

You may even have to open the centre of established trees a bit more than usual to increase air flow.

Still, the fruit I ate off my trees this year were super delicious and well worth growing your own stone fruit trees.

For more tips listen to the podcast.
I'm talking with Steve Falcioni of www.ecoorganicgarden.com.au   
Let’s find out

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

Friday, 24 December 2021

Rose Geraniums Are Drinks' Stars

KITCHEN GARDEN

Rose Geranium 

Scientific name: Pelargonium graveolens

Family: Geraniaceae

Rose geranium leaves (photo Corinne Mossati)

 

Recentaly I talked with Corinne Mossati on Real World Gardener radio show, about rose geraniums.

Personally I’m a fan of scented plants whether it’s the flowers or the leaves.
I just love to inhale their perfume either by sniffing the flowers or touching the leaves.

This next plant, the rose geranium, is not just your ordinary scented geranium because of its many uses.

Sure you can get by just inhaling the perfume after crushing the leaves but why not think about it’s culinary uses, especially in festive drinks. 

First let's talk about the plant.

Rose geraniums are quick growing especially in the warmest months of the year.

Expect this to be a small bush of 1-2-1.5meters with leaves that are soft to the touch, slight hairy and deeply incised as pictured on the right. 

Rose geraniums grow best in full sun but can tolerate part shade. Also frost and drought tolerant.

Rose Geranium spritzer (photo Corinne Mossati)

Keep pruning the leaves to make your rose geranium plant into a tidy compact form, otherwise it will tend to flop over and sprawl a bit.

Don't throw away the cuttings or prunings as all geraniums root easily and quickly. 

Just cut a piece or stem of about 5cm long, first removing the bottom two-thirds of leaves. Pop this piece into seed raising mix in a small pot or you can even place cuttings in water.

Rooted cuttings soon grow into plants that make great gifts to give to friends.

But don't waste those leaves, because what better way to use them, than making a rose geranium syrup to pour over ice-cream or a rose geranium spritzer.

Start off with making a rose geranium syrup.

All you need is 1 cup of sugar, 1 cup of water and 1 cup of chopped rose geranium leaves.

I'm talking with Corinne Mossati, founder and editor of Gourmantic Garden and Cocktails and Bars  Corinne has provided the links to the recipes below.

Rose Geranium Syrup recipe http://www.cocktailsandbars.com/rose-geranium-syrup-recipe/

Rose Geranium Spritzer http://www.cocktailsandbars.com/rose-geranium-spritzer/

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



Indian Cooking Class in Spice It Up

 SPICE IT UP

Indian Cooking Class

Forget those jar sauces and ready- made pastes that you can buy in supermarkets.
If you want a real curry, you’ll need to make it yourself but aren’t they complicated?

Well they can be but that’s why you need an Indian cooking class.
  • Ian's spice kit is named after Christine Manfield's new cookbook called 'Indian Cooking Class.'

If you're a bit daunted by Indian recipes then would be chefs would find this very useful.
In this segment Ian takes us through what some of the most often used spices are in Indian cooking and why they are so important to Indian cuisine. 

Some of these are:

Ajowan seed

Methi or Fenugreek leaves.

Panch phora- a spice blend

Chaat masala is a spice blend containing cumin, black salt, fennel seed, amchur or green mango powder, and garam masala-(fennel,caraway, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and pepper) and Asafeotida..

Gunpowder spice blend.

  • I have now tried the 'butter chicken recipe twice for this book and give a 5 star rating. As good as if not better than restaurant butter chicken.
You start off making a roux with chick pea powder and canola oil

Then marinate chicken pieces in a spice blend that is made from a ginger/garlic paste, kashmiri chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala, sea salt flakes, methi, and cardamom ground. Add the spices to yoghurt and coat the chicken, then marinate for at least 4 hours.

Butter Chicken-photos M Cannopn

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast

I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au

Well now you know what some of those weird sounding spices are that are used in Indian curries.

You don’t have to buy the book and the spice kit, but it’s a way to kickstart your armchair journey to the spices and curries of India.

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