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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


Sunday, 7 August 2022

Drinks and Tricks with Horseradish

 KITCHEN GARDEN

Tricks with Horseradish

My father was a big fan of this vegetable or perhaps it should be called a herb?
He loved it grated on various meats, ‘clears out the sinuses' he always exclaimed.

Not too many gardeners are familiar with horseradish and even though it's a perennial vegetable that's easy to grow.
  • Perhaps because gardeners and others aren't too familiar with what you do with this, ahem root vegetable. 
  • Well that's right,  horseradish is actually classified as a root vegetable even though you can use it as a seasoning and in drinks.
In drinks I hear you exclaim, what is it?

Growing horseradish

  • Firstly, to grow horseradish, get yourself a crown or a plant from the herb section of your garden centre.
  • Planting in late winter is perfect.
  • Choose a sunny but permanent spot.
  • Dig in plenty of of well rotted manures and compost.
TIP: Horseradish can takeover a garden bed left unattended for a few months. 
Grow it in a very large pot or keep it in a spot where it can't spread too easily.

USES

If you're grating horseradish, it loses its pungency fairly quickly, you can store it by making a horseradish cream or in vinegar.
  • TIP: Corinne freezes the root in pieces. Then grate as needed.

Cocktails with horseradish.

If you’re into experimenting try grated horseradish in white sauce or in a savoury martini or even a bloody mary.
Infuse it in vodka to make a savoury gibson style martina.
Just flavor a cup of vodka with a small amount of grated horseradish for a few days to give it that extra kick.
For more details listen to the podcast.

I'm talking with Corinne Mossati founder of the gourmantic garden website 

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

Sunday, 10 July 2022

Sustainable Floristry Means Sustainable Cut Flowers

 TALKING FLOWERS

Sustainable Floristry

Have you ever thought about what happens to the tons of flowers that are sold around Australia for weddings, funerals, special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries? 
Hydrangea flowers for sale
Perhaps some of the lucky recipients might compost them when they're finished or at least throw in the in the green waste bin, but what of the others?
Did you know that approximately 10% of flowers that are sold in Australia are imported from overseas?

May not sound like much but do you know if the flowers you buy, are they imported or locally grown and does it matter?

A lot of flowers that are past their use by date end up in landfill, which I suppose means that they might decompose there but what of the mountains of wrapping, floral foam and other packing that the flowers come with?

According to the Sustainable Floristry Network "Excess packaging, plastic props, floral foam, and exotic blooms flown halfway around the globe are rationalised away because that’s what clients expect."

The next problem is that imported flowers are often sprayed with a glyphosate based chemical to prevent customers taking cuttings of the plant, before they arrive. then they are sprayed with the carcinogen methyl bromide, after entering Australia.

Imported flowers include Roses, Carnations, Orchids, Tropical Foliages and Chrysanthemums are these sourced from places like Kenya, Thailand, South Africa, China, New Zealand, Holland and Vietnam.

Nadine recommends that cut flowers should be bought when in season. Easily done by asking the florist where the flowers are from.

Marianne (radio host) speaks with 'Sustainable Floristry Network" ambassador and floral educator Nadine Brown of https://www.theivyinstitute.com.au/home about the meaning of sustainable floristry.
Listen to the podcast


So ask the question when you next buy flowers, are these flowers locally grown?
Check out the sustainable floristry website https://www.sustainablefloristry.org/
  

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


Sunday, 3 July 2022

Nematodes on Plants: Friend or Foe?

 PLANT DOCTOR

Nematodes part 1: the backstory

Did you know that there are 1,000,000 species of nematodes that have been identified? 
Galling from root knot nematode on tomato plant

Nematodes live in our environment and although microscopic, unsurprisingly, are related to earthworms 
  • The majority of nematodes aren't plant or crop destructors.
However, the few that attack the cell walls of plants can cause serious damage from which the plant/crop usually doesn't recover.
  • Then there's the problem of identifying what's going on with plants that are affected by nematodes.
  • Have you ever had plants that seem to wilt despite you watering them religiously? 

What they look like

Nematodes are a round worm but because they are unable to be seen by the naked eye, I would describe them as thread like with a large head and mouth.

Arm yourself with a hand held magnifying glass and have a look at the roots of plants that you suspect have been attacked by nematodes. You should be able to see them then.


Coffee tree nematode
 
If nematodes are on your plants the symptoms range from perhaps they’re just stunted and don’t seem to grow much, r like the coffee tree pictured, continually looks like it's wilting despite the watering it receives. Another symptom is yellowing of foliage.
Once the plant has been dug up, nodules on roots will be evident. However, other factors create nodules on roots as in nitrogen fixing plants such as plants in the Fabaceae family.

What could be the problem? Wilting symptoms can be attributed to a range of other factors.

So let’s find out by listening to the podcast


Your host  of Real World Gardener, Marianne is talking with Steve McGrane, agriculturist and horticulturist.

Part 2 is when  we tackle the many, many ways you have to control the bad nematode, namely root knot nematodes.

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

Nematodes pt 2

Root Knot Nematodes:Control

So if you have correctly identified that your plants are affected by root knot nematodes, what can be done about it? Remember, they look different to nitrogen fixing nodules on roots of plants.
tomato nematode

Controlling nematodes

1.Cultural Control by
  • rotating your plants-nematodes only survive 1 year in the soil.
2.Growing plants that help reduce nematode numbers
  • Asparagus, peanut plants, Corn, Garlic, marigolds.
3.Biofumigants such as green manure crops, especially
  •     Mustard plants release isothyocyanates.
4. Neem Oil drench

5. BeneficialNematodes
  • EcoGrow supply beneficial nematodes.  
6. Chytosan found in the shells of insects or animals like prawns.
  •  Steve recommends crushing some prawn shells into your compost: will also control other fungal problems.
Listen to the podcast to find out more.



Your host  of Real World Gardener, Marianne is talking with Steve McGrane, agriculturist and horticulturist.

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

Monday, 20 June 2022

Success with Germinating Native Seeds

 PLANT DOCTOR    

Germinating Native Seed

Australian plants have evolved over thousands of years to respond to a variety of climatic extremes, from fires, to droughts to floods as well as being grazed by native animals.

Wattle seeds need boiling water treatment
Such a long, long time  for plants to evolve as well as being isolated from the rest of the world has meant that a high diversity of flora abounds, so that it would be unusual to think that everything grows the same way.

Australian plants have developed various  adaptations so that the seeds of which can grow in the most suitable environment for that species of plant to survive. 
A suitable environment often means seeds don't germinate until a bushfire removes competing plants giving the seeds more access to sunlight and nutrients.
Then they only have a short window to germinate. 
The hard seed coat is therefore a protective layer that allows the seed to stay dormant for great lengths of time, even years before germination.

So how do plants keep germinating and what tricks have native seeds to keep them alive until conditions are right?

There are specific requirements for some seeds and in fact a wide range of native seeds require you, the gardener to break their dormancy before they germinate. Some are more difficult than others.

So what are some of the treatments to break native seed dormancy?

Boiling water or hot water treatment is recommended for hard-coated seeds such as Acacia (wattle)and Hardenbergia  species .
This involves boiling some water and waiting for a minute so it's just off the boil,  then soaking the seeds for a few to eight hours. The time varies depending on the seed.

Smoke chemical treatment or smoke treatment to break the dormancy of native seeds.
Wildflower seed starter granules or similar, are vermiculite or another bio material that contains the smoke chemicals from the burning of bush materials.
The way you use it is to sprinkle some on top of the potting mix after sowing the seeds, and on the first watering, the smoke chemicals are released over the seeds.

You can also put some of these seed starter granules in the soaking water of the seeds in the hot water treatment method.
  • Flannel flowers
    Not all seeds need smoke chemical treatment, but there's a few that benefit from using it, in fact are difficult to germinate without it. 
    • Sturt Desert peas comes to mind, also Dianella, Philotheca, Xanthorrhoea, Actinotus, Callistemon and Banksia.
As a general rule, sowing and smoking should be done when you would expect the seeds to germinate in nature.

Both these methods basically speeds up what often takes months or even years in nature to get seeds to germinate.

TIP: Be aware of the germination temperature that seeds need to germinate.

But what other tricks are there?
Steve talks about germinating Davidson plum seeds using the hot water treatment in the podcast.  

So let’s find out more.

PLAY: Germinating native seeds pt 2_20th May 2022

I'm talking with Steve McGrane, horticulturist and agriculturist.

I hope that’s given you some idea about perhaps why some of the native seeds are more difficult to germinate than regular seeds.

In fact not everything germinates the same way, and here lies the problem.

That’s why a bit of research into the seed type you’re trying to germinate goes a long way.

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

Pruning Native Plants with Success

PLANT DOCTOR

Pruning Native Plants

For some reason, many gardeners have been reluctant to prune their native plants, thinking that if they did, those plants might never recover or worse, just drop dead.

Then there’s the gardener that’s reluctant to prune something that they’ve just planted because after all, they paid good money for that plant, so why should I cut off the top third as soon as I plant it? 
Seems counter intuitive doesn’t it?

If we look back at when native gardens first started to be in vogue in the 70's, this might have been true of many of the cultivars that were grown back then.

Plus, there was the theory that native gardens should be somewhat wild and untamed, much like they are in the bush. 
Grevillea 'Lollipops' photo M Cannon
All this did was result in a messy looking 'wild' garden which fell out of favour rather quickly, although not quick enough for some.

Grevillea 'Superb' photo M Cannon
Fast forward to the 21st century, and by now, many native plants have been selectively bred or hybridised to produce much healthier, stronger native plants that not only can be pruned but should be pruned to look their best.

So how should we prune our native plants?

Steve and I are not saying that you need to clip everything into a ball to make it look like a formal garden.
Not at all, but you do need to clip plants to reign them in so you have some control over their growth.

General rule: Prune after flowering

A good tip for plants that have a specific flower time such as Golden Penda.
Plants that flower for most of the year like Grevillea 'Robyn Gordon' or 'Grevillea Ned Kelly,' or Peaches and Cream.  

In these cases, leave the flowers during the winter months when food is scarce for nectar feeders such as birds and possums. Prune off one-third of growth at the end of winter.

Steve's tip: As soon as you get your plant home, give it a light prune or even a tip prune depending on the size of the plants. Do this often, every 6 or so weeks to make the plant more bush.

Marianne's tip: Some plants respond to constant tip pruning and become more like a shrub than a tree with a straight bole of around 2 metres, for example, Ivory Curl tree or Buckinghamia celsissima.

It might seem risky, but if you only prune lightly, then you’ll be rewarded with a much better looking plant.

Some native plants respond to being pruned close to the ground such as Callistemon (although not too often), Melaleuca 'Claret Tops,' and Breynia cernua.
Look for varieties that suit hedging.

To find out more, listen to the podcast.
PLAY: Native pruning_22nd April 2022

I'm talking with Steve McGrane, Horticulturist and agriculturist.

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

Achieve Longer Lasting Flowers in the Vase

 TALKING FLOWERS

Tips For Longer Lasting Flowers in the Vase

Flowers are so uplifting and whilst they’re lovely in the garden, in the home, you’ve got them to enjoy for longer.
After all, you’re not watching your flowers that are in the garden for very long.
  • There are plenty of 'old wives tales', and just plain outright myths about  what to do to your flowers to make them last past 3 days in the vase. 
  • Ever heard of putting a copper penny in the vase water? Well it's sounds like it could work but in reality, it doesn't do anything for the flowers.
  • What about dissolving an aspirin in the water? That's sheer nonsense.
  • So how can you make the most of your cut flowers?
I'm talking with Nadine Brown, florist, floral designer and educator of www.wildflorastudio.com.au
who shares her tried and true tips from over thirty years of experience in the flower business.
  • Some of those tips you may have heard before on my Real World Gardener program and one of them is that flowers are ethylene sensitive.
  • That means flower sellers on the roadside are not just selling your flowers, but a whole bunch of ethylene laden flowers that have been covered by exhaust fumes. 
  • That also means that your fruit bowl of bananas, apples and pears are also emitting ethylene which hasten the demise of your precious flowers if they're nearby.


Nadine recommends that 
  • The best place to buy your flowers is from the grower or from a florist.
  • The next best tip is clean fresh water every couple of days is the next best thing for your flowers.  
    • If you recut the stems on an angle as you do that, then you're increasing the vase life of your flowers. Doing this under water prevents air bubbles from blocking any uptake or food or water too.
    • Filtered water isn't totally necessary.
  • Coming second those first tips is a spoonful of vodka!!

Is scalding the stems a myth or fact?

You probably have heard of scalding hydrangea stems by placing those woody stems in boiling hot water for 30 seconds to a minute, then straight into cold water.?
Perhaps you thought that was a bit of fuss over nothing?

The truth is this works for woody stems such as hydrangeas and roses, plus a few others like lavender and poppies. Not all flowers though.

Using boiling water or scalding, expels air bubbles or trapped air from the stems, which as before, blocks uptake of water and nutrients.

For more tips listen to the podcast and watch the tutorial that Nadine has generously provided on 'Care and Condition for your flowers.

The link for the Care and Conditioning tutorial is just one of over 50 tutorials in Nadine’s membership library,

https://vimeo.com/485281174/2ac20b9565

So let’s listen to the podcast.

PLAY: Tips for longer lasting flowers_10th June 2022
If you have any questions you can email us Realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.