Saturday, 9 November 2019

Living Path Edges and Scrub Apple Trees

 Continuing the blog for Real World Gardener:part 4 of lawn alternatives-plants that create living path edges in Design elements and smaller relative of the giant Angophora in plant of the week.


Living Path Edges.
Lirope Stripey White 
Continuing the series on lawn alternatives but this time we’re throwing in those plants that will suit
growing along a path like a living edge.

What do you have growing along your path?

Perhaps you have terracotta or brick borders or maybe even a steel edge.
But what about a living path edge?
Plants that are suitable for path edges are necessarily a lot of hard work.
They can soften a path and make it look that much greener.
We’re not going to walk on them so what can grow along the path?
Let’s find out.
I'm talking with Glenice Buck from

The top picks for living path edges were
Santolina chamaecyparissus-very hardy and self-shaping.
Alternanthera Little Ruby
-not for frosty areas.
Liriope muscari variegated such as Glenice’s favourite called 'Stripey White' growing to a max of 20cm in height.
Teucrium fruiticans or Germander.
Repeat flowering dwarf agapanthus with white flowers called Bingo. Lookout for it in your nursery.
Agapnathus Bingo White: photo curtesy
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Angophora hispida: Dwarf Apple

Here’s a much smaller relative of one of Australia’s native giant trees, Angophora costata.
The genus name is the same but this tree fits into a small garden and with the profusion of flowers in summer that will attract all manner of bees and nectar feeding birds.
  • How do angophoras differ from eucalypts?
Angophoras have leaves that are opposite always, but in eucalypts and corymbias, the leaves are for the most part alternate except for juvenile leaves.
The seed capsules of angophoras have ribbing on the outside.
Angophora hispida flower
 Let’s find out why we should grow it. I'm talking with Adrian O'Malley, native plant expert and horticulturist.

Angophora hispida has an extremely small distribution but worth growing because of the many features. Growing naturally in heath and open woodland as a smallish gnarly looking tree, however it will grow in a variety of soil types including clay.
  • Height is a maximum of 6m.
Plus,if it grows in Orange in central west NSW, one of the coldest places in the state where it generally snows in winter, it will cope with frost. 
Protection from frost is only need when the tree is still young.
The tree's habit is a single trunk but if you prune right down to the ground, it will resprout from a lignotuber with multiple trunks.
If you have any questions either for me or Adrian, why not write in to

Bee Keeping and Cucumbers

We start with a two part segment on bee-keeping, being cool as a cucumber in Vegetable Heroes; part 4 of lawn alternatives-plants that create living path edges in Design elements and smaller relative of the giant Angophora in plant of the week.


Thinking about keeping bees but didn’t know where to start?
Is keeping bees a lot of hard work?
Marianne & John Scott
Are you wondering why keep them in the first place?
Well there’s the pollination of flowers, both ornamental and on vegetables in your garden as well as neighbouring gardens, plus the reward of honey by the kilo, not to mention the hive byproduct of beeswax.
Let’s find out about things you need to know about keeping bees in part 1 of this 2 part segment.
I'm talking with John Scot from
Langstroth Hive: Image-CSIRO
NOTE:  If you are keen on keeping bees, then you must register with the Department of Primary Industries.
  • A hive is made up of a bottom board, a box and a lid. When you expand a put another box on top, this box is called a 'super.'

    What type of hives are out there?

Flow Hive
Langstroth: the traditional hive with wooden frames.
  • There are two sizes, an 8 or 10 frame box.
  • Each frame has hexagonal wax moulds that the bees can then use to build their own comb on top of. 
Flow HiveThe bees fill the honey cells and cap them off. When you insert the Flow Key and turn it,  the hone cells are split so that honey flows into the trough, through a tube and into your jar.

We all know what honey is but did you know that that bees make it by gathering nectar from plants and processing it in their stomachs?
They keep the honey in cells, adding an enzyme to ripen it.
It's stored as a food reserve for the colony in winter but, since they make more than they need, beekeepers can collect the surplus.
If you have any questions for me or for John, why not write in to or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


  • Everything you wanted to know about Cucumbers or Cucumis sativus..

Cucumbers just love the hot weather, so they’ll germinate and grow quickly at this time of the year.
Cucumbers are a member of the gourd or cucurbita family and have been grown for 4000 years!
Did cucumber start off in India?
No-one’s really sure although some sources point to somewhere in the lower Himalayas where the ancestor of the cucumber was probably a plant with 7 pairs of chromosomes and small, very bitter fruit.
According to legend, in Ancient Rome during the short reign of Emperor Tiberius (14 – 16 AD) he demanded to eat cucumber on every day of the year.
During summer special gardens were tended just for his vegetables, and in winter cucumber was grown on moveable bed frames that were moved to be exposed to the sun, or illuminated with the mirror-stones.

  • Cucumbers are the fastest and easiest of vegetables to grow so say some gardeners. I would’ve thought radish, but maybe they’re a close second.

When is the best time to grow some cucumbers?
  • Cucumber plants do best in all types of temperate and tropical areas and generally need temperatures between 15°-33°C.but are happiest when the average temperatures are around 21°C
  • Cool temperate districts: sow the seeds of Cucumber in late Spring, say October and early Summer 
  •  Arid and temperate zones: spring and summer 
  • Sub-tropical areas,from August until March in 
  • Only the cooler months for tropical areas-so April until August unless you’re inland.

And where can you grow these delicious cucumbers?
You need to pick a sunny, well-drained spot, because Cucumbers are a subtropical plant, that needs full sun.
Cucumbers also want a decent amount of growing space in your garden.
If you’re short on space, try growing them up vertically on a trellis or even on some netting, perhaps a tomato trellis?
In fact, growing up a trellis would be a great way to avoid all the mildews and moulds that cucumbers are prone to in still humid weather.
So Which Cucumber Should You Grow?
The list is pretty long but you have to decide between regular and burpless varieties to begin with.
Then do you want slicing, or pickling cucumbers?
After that, heirloom or greenhouse varieties.
The burpless varieties don’t need peeling which is an added bonus and would be the way to go if cucumbers repeat on you.
Pickling Cucumbers are shorter, stouter, and have a rougher outer skin, as well as drier flesh that allows them to soak up more of the brine they’re pickled in.
Obviously cucumbers for slicing need to be straight.
The ones you see in the supermarket are regular English cucumbers, usually long thin with a dark green skin.
Cucumbers-probably lemon
Great for slicing, and not suitable for pickling.
Let’s start with cucumber “Sweet and Striped” that can grow to a metre long but it will curl.
Armenian cucumber?
This cucumber is a pale almost limey green, it’s burpless with drier flesh so it can be stored up to one month.
Great for slicing or pickling.
My favourite is Cucumber 'Lemon'
'Lemon' is an apple type, heirloom variety, introduced in 1894.
The fruits are round, sweet and crisp with a thin yellow skin and white flesh.
It can be eaten like an apple and is easy to digest.
This cucumber is a good all-rounder because I can be used for salads, pickling and slicing.
For regular eating there’s Lebanese Cucumber 'Beit Alpha'
A Lebanese style of cucumber is thin-skinned, dark green, tender, and burpless.
This one can grow cucumber, up to 30 cm long.
If you pick it when it’s smaller, it has the best flavour whether pickled or fresh and is never bitter.
Lebanese cucumber vines bear early, are disease resistant and very productive
There’s also a number of dwarf varieties if you’d like to grow your cucumbers in pots.
Try Mini White- one of the most popular.
The 10cm long fruit and is best picked when young.
This one gives you lots of fruit per plant and it’s burpless 
Or you could try Cucumber Little Potato which as the colour or a potato or Kiwi fruit, with a zesty lemon burpless inner flesh.
Then there’s Cucumber 'Spacemaster'
'Spacemaster' is a bush variety, 90 cm across; suitable for growing in containers. Fruit is slender, dark green, 17 - 22 cm long with a crisp, sweet flavour.
It’s supposed to be disease resistant.
Good for salads or pickles, if picked young.
You’ll need to go to a seed mail order place for some of those, or if you’re in Adelaide or Melbourne, go to the shop in the Botanic Gardens.
The best thing is that Cucumbers aren’t picky about soils.
Parthenocarpic Cucumbers What?
  • Did you know that you can grow a seedless variety that doesn’t need pollination?In fact, pollination creates an inferior fruit so these are best grown in a closed environment such as a greenhouse.
  • This type of plant is called parthenocarpic which is just the name of a plant that can produce fruit without pollination.
  • So what’s a cucumber plant that needs pollination called? Gynoecious.
  • Gynoecious varieties have mostly or only female flowers ― the flowers that produce fruit ― and typically are earlier and have higher yields.

And do you get this information from seed packets?
No because most of the seeds you can buy are monoecious cucumbers that have male and female flowers.
  • In a monoecious cucumber ( nongynoecious cucumber) plant, the first 10–20 flowers are male and for every female flower 10–20 male flowers are produced.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen that information on the back of a cucumber seed packet?

Why has my cucumbers not got fruit?

  • For most cucurbit family plants, the humidity and temperature has to be within a fairly close range for pollination to occur, even with hand methods.
  • If the humidity is too high, the pollen sticks together, if too low, the pollen will not fertilize.
However, do you find your Cucumber seeds sometimes don’t germinate?
  • They’re big seeds but if you’re raising them in punnets and the seed raising mix dries out, then the seed most like has dried up as well; And if you keep it too wet, then the seed rots.
  • If this keeps happening, try using another type of seed raising mix, or even some good quality potting mix and try again.
  • What cucumbers like is soil that’s well-draining and has a pH of around 6.5.
  • Add in plenty of organic compost and fertilisers like chook poo or cow manure.
When your cucumber has gotten going, water it regularly at the base of the plant, that way the leaves stay dry and you lessen the chances of the leaves getting the white powdery stuff growing on them, powdery mildew disease.
Powdery mildew on cucumber leaf
  • Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that is spread by spores carried by the wind.
  • Look for white to grey fungal deposits on the leaves and stems of your cucumbers. As the mildew spreads, the leaves become brittle then start to die off.
  • There are some types of cucumbers that resist this disease for a time anyway.
  • You can also try a natural fungicide. 1 part whole milk to 10 parts water, and spray in the cool of the day.
Don’t forget to feed your cucumber plants every couple of weeks with a soluble plant food.
There’s so many now on the market, an some come with seaweed added into them as well.
Disease no 2.
  • Sudden wilt is a disease is caused by pythium fungus and causes the entire plant to die and wilt. Look for root rot. This disease usually happens in poor draining soil, so add organic compost to the soil before planting to improve drainage.
  • Growing your cucumbers in pots and raised beds, can help this problem.
Disease No.3 
  • Verticillium wilt, is a fungal disease called by the Verticillium fungus. Symptoms include wilting leaves and brown discoloration of the stems and roots. You’ll typically have to open the stem to see the problem. Eventually, this disease will cause the entire plant to wilt and die. This problem often lingers in the soil where tomatoes, potatoes, chillies, and other members of the nightshade family have been planted.
Crop rotation is important to avoid this disease. There’s no spray of any kind for this problem. Leave the garden bed empty for quite a few months before planting again.
Commercially grown cucumbers avoid diseases with vertical trellising.

Who out there hasn’t tried a cucumber that’s tasted bitter?

I’m sure some time in your life, that’s happened hasn’t it?
One theory is that the bitterness is caused early in the plant’s development by terpenoid compounds that give a bitter flavour to the entire plant.
Usually the bitterness accumulates at the stem and below the surface of the skin of the cucumber.
According to this theory it’s a genetic problem.
Newer cucumber hybrids seem to have fewer problems with bitterness.
  • I’ve always thought it to be the result of Cucurbitacin. Found in most cucumber plants, Cucurbitacin causes fruit to taste bitter.
  • Cucurbitacin levels increase when a plant is under stress, and can make the fruit taste really bitter. 
  • The concentration of these compounds varies from plant to plant, fruit to fruit, and even within the individual fruit itself.
  • Did you know that the ability to taste detect bitterness or cucurbitacins also varies from person to person.
  • Even insects have varying preferences for cucurbitacins- the compounds attract cucumber beetles but repel other insects, such as aphids and spider mites.

Anyway, it proves that you shouldn’t stress out your cucumbers!
  • By the way, if you do get a bitter cucumber, peel it and cut of the ends by about 2.5cm, that’s where the bitterness concentrated.
Just like zucchinis, cucumbers have separate male and female flowers. Male flowers come out at first, but don’t worry too much because the female flowers will arrive soon after. Cucumbers should be ready at about 50-60 days and picking fruit often stimulates more to start growing. Some of you probably have realised that if you pick your cucumbers when they’re quite small, this is when they’re at their sweetest.
Twist the cucumbers off the plant or cut the stalk just above the cucumber tip.
They keep for 7-10 days in the fridge then the start to look like something that came from outer space…green and slimy
Why are they good for you?
Cucumbers have lots of Vitamins C but why you should eat them is because the silica in cucumber is an essential component of healthy connective tissue, you know, like muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bone.
Cucumbers have some dietary fibre and Cucumber juice is often recommended as a source of silica to improve the complexion and health of the skin, plus cucumber's high water content makes it naturally hydrating—a must for glowing skin.
So eat them quick in sandwiches, salads or juice them for healthy glowing skin!
Happy CUCUMBER growing everyone!

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Plant Fibres, Edamame and Lawn Substitutes

Growing plant fibres in the good earth segment, growing a different sort of bean in Vegetable Heroes; part 3 of lawn alternatives-plants for high traffic areas in Design elements and edible flowers in the talking flowers segment.


Luffa or loofah grows on a vine
Growing Plant Fibres
  • Did you know that there are lots of plants that may be used to produce plant fibre and many fibre plants are grown as field crops to make paper, cloth, and rope? 
  • But how easy is it to grow plant fibres? 
  • In this segment, you will find out that it's not only easy to grow these plants, but the fibre they produces is a sustainable source of products that you can use around the home.
Let’s find out what this is all about all about. 
I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska from

These fibre plants are useful and easy to grow.
If you want a more sustainable bathroom sponge that you use, it can be grown in your garden.
Use the luffa for washing your dishes too.
After the luffa is finished with, throw it in the compost bin where it will break down; after all it's a plant fibre.
Growing luffa is dead easy, easy as long as you don’t confuse if for a cucumber or zucchini vine.
Don’t be like me, make sure you label the spot where you put those seeds in the veggie bed.
Cotton plant
Then there’s the cotton bush which has pretty hibiscus type flowers.
Easy to grow and easy to harvest the cotton.
You just need to remove the large black seeds before you using it.
If you have any questions for me or for Margaret, why not write in to or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Edamame beans: Glycine max.
Family: Fabaceae
Did you know that Soy Beans are an ancient crop?
In fact soy beans were first domesticated by Chinese farmers around 1100 BC and by the first century AD, soybeans were grown in Japan and many other countries.
  • Ever though of where soy sauce comes from?Yep, soy beans.
  • Here’s a fun fact; Henry Ford is known for producing automobiles but did you know that he once made a car with plastic bodywork made from soybeans?

Are you wondering “aren’t soybeans more of a commercial crop, so why would I want to grow soybeans.?”
Yes it’s true, soybean crops are grown for their oil production, but we can eat the beans just the same.
  • The bushy, green soybean plant is a legume related to peas, groundnuts (peanuts) and alfalfa.
Growing soybeans as a green manure crop will benefit the soil because the plant will add lots of nitrogen to the soil.
  • Today, though, we’re growing green soybeans or Edamame soybeans.
  • Edamame soybeans are different varieties than the types grown as a dry field crop for making tofu, soybean oil or other soy products.
  • Edamame varieties are harvested while they are still green, before the pods dry, much like shelling peas.
So what’s the difference between soybean and edamame soybeans?
The difference between soybeans and edamame is in the level of maturity when the beans are harvested.

Soybeans are mature, while edamame are picked while the beans are still young and soft.
How To Grow
Edamame does well in many different soil types, but make sure the spot is well drained with plenty of mature compost worked in.
Soybeans are a warm-season crop, so plant the seeds when it's time to transplant tomatoes, or when the soil temperature is at least 16 C degrees.
Choose a sunny spot, and add some organic fertiliser into the soil before planting.
Sow eight to 10 seeds for every 30cm in the row, at a depth of 2 – 2 ½ cms. Edamame plants can get rather bushy, so space your rows at least 1 ½ m apart.

Can I Grow Them In A Pot?
Soybeans don’t grow very high and usually don’t need staking or support .
In fact they grow from ½ - 1 metre tall so this makes them ideal for growing them in all sorts of containers.Great to grow if you don’t have much space in your backyard.
When to Pick them?
You can pick the fuzzy lime green pods when they feel well filled with seeds, but are still bright green.

They should be more than 5 cm long at this stage.
Store them in the fridge or you can blanch them whole or shelled then freeze them.
Most varieties produce all at once so unless you’re going to cook them all at once, I suggest you stagger the planting every few weeks.
One Thing to Note:

Edamame Is Poisonous When Raw.

Although a lot of plants are definitely safe to eat even when they’re raw, soybeans specifically the edamame variety isn’t one of them.
How to Eat Edamame
Boil the pods in salted water, about five to six minutes until tender.
Or, steam your edamame by placing a couple of cm of water in a pot and bringing it to the boil.
Place the edamame in a steam basket or colander and cover the pot for five to ten minutes.
Once cooled enough, raise the edamame pod to your lips, squeeze the bean out of its pod, and pop it directly into the mouth!

That’s the Japanese way of eating them.
Enjoy as a healthy snack.
Or, add shelled and cooked edamame to salads, rice, pasta, and other dishes; it adds flavour, a bright green colour, and low-fat protein.
Why are they good for you?
Edamame is a gluten-free and low calorie bean that contains no amount of cholesterol and is an excellent source of vitamins protein, iron and calcium.
It’s the only vegetable that contains all nine essential amino acids.


Lawn Alternatives for Low Foot Traffic Areas
Continuing the series on lawn alternatives but this time we’re throwing in those plants that will only take light foot traffic, rather than say constantly walking on the area or playing cricket or football.
So what sort of plant alternatives are there for low foot traffic areas in part shade or hot spots in your garden?
Let’s find out. I'm talking with Glenice Buck from

For hotspots: Sedum acre as a lawn alternative.
  • The three top picks for lawn alternatives in low traffic areas with some shade are Corsican mint, (Mentha requieni) Chamomile nobilis or lawn chamomile.
  • For hot spots choose creeping thyme, (Thymus serpyllum) or Stonecrop, (Sedum acre.) 
For all the latest news - Follow Glenice on Facebook or Instagram
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Saturday, 26 October 2019

Avenues of Trees, Gardens of Rocket and Lawn Alternatives

Marianne talks to Stuart Read from the Australian Garden History Society about Avenues of honour and what they mean in Garden  history segment, growing rocket really fast in Vegetable Heroes;part 2 of lawn alternatives-plants for high traffic areas in Design elements with landscape designer Glenice Buck of and the birdsnest fern but not as you know it  in Plant of the Week.

Garden History

Avenues of Honour
How do Australians remember the fallen or returned from wars?
Is it just built structures such as memorials or is there another way such as an avenue of honour?
In this garden history segment you will discover that there a many other ways to remember those who served in wars, and that these commemorations shall we say, are not confined to capital cities.
Let’s find out what avenues of honour are all about.

I'm talking with Stuart Read, a member of the National Committee of the Australian Garden History Society.
Avenues of honour were usually trees, but sometimes shrubs.
They were to remember service men and women also nurses who did not return from various wars.
In Australia, there are hundreds of these avenues, particularly in Victoria, but other states also.
Smaller populations in country towns felt that loss more than in bigger cities with figures indicating that 1 in 6 never returned from war.
Often they were on main arterial roads leading into town  or in the main town park or showground.
The "Avenue of Honour," in Ballarat is the longest, measuring 23 miles.
It was started by the girls of the town's textile factory, EL Lucas & Co. in remembrance of husbands and boyfriends that never returned from war.
The first 1000 trees were planted on June 3, 1917 and the last 4000 trees on August 16, 1919.
Trees were often exotic, beeches, oaks and elms at first but later native trees were used.
Roma, in Queensland has an avenue of bottle trees, (Brachychiton rupestris.)
You can search for avenues of honour through just type in what you’re looking for in the search box.
Or and click on the advocacy tab or just search avenues, the list will pop up.
If you have any questions for me or for Stuart, why not write in to or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Vegetable Heroes

Rocket or Arugula and scientifically Eruca sativa.
One of the first people to grow rocket or Arugula were the Romans.
  • Did you know that the romans grew Arugula for both it's leaves and the seed. The seed was used for flavouring oils and for some time they thought rocket had aphrodisiac properties.
  • You might’ve heard Ian Hemphill from the spice It Up segment saying that most herbs were at some point used in aphrodisiac potions. Rocket is no exception.

Rocket or Arugula seed has been used as an ingredient in aphrodisiac concoctions dating back to the first century, AD. (Cambridge World History of Food).
  • In fact, around the 13th century, the Roman Catholic Church banned it from being grown in monastic gardens for this reason.

Arugula belongs to the Brassicaceae family along with Broccoli, Mustard greens, Kale and Cauliflower.
You won’t be surprised to know then that rocket - Arugula is native to the Mediterranean region.
  • The spicy leaves can be grown all year round but are best in cool weather.
  • I’ve found that certain plants like Arugula or Rocket and Coriander just bolt to seed in summer and it’s pointless getting the varieties that are supposedly slow bolting, because they always bolt in temperate zones anyway.
  • The reason being is that long days and warm temperatures initiate flowering in this plant so you can’t fight nature.

When to sow
  • In temperate and arid districts, you can sow Arugula seeds from August until November,
  • in cool temperate areas you have from September right through to November,
  • sub-tropical districts can sow Arugula or Rocket seeds from March right through til November. Lucky them.
  • Not recommended for tropical areas.
  • For those of you that have a soil thermometer and actually use it, the soil temperatures for germination should be between  4°C 14°C
What Rocket Likes
Arugula prefers moist, fertile soil, pH 6.0-6.8 but will tolerate a wide pH range.
Arugula is best grown from seed and sow them a couple of weeks apart to have a continuous crop.
  • Tip: be brave let one or two plants go to seed so you have fresh seed for next season.

Rocket self-seeds readily, although seed is sometimes slow to germinate. Tip: Soak seeds in tepid water with a splash of seaweed solution from Australia’s favourite seaweed company, for 6-8 hours before sowing. 
  • Seeds germinate in 5-7 days.

Sow the seeds in the garden bed, or in pots or troughs as Arugula is shallow rooted like all salad vegetables
Sow the seeds very shallow and keep the soil moist until seedlings emerge.
The plant grows to about 40cm high so thin out the seedlings so they’re 20cm apart.
Grow in full sun and water well.
Evenly moist soil will help slow bolting and if you don’t want your Rocket or Arugula to be too spicy, then don’t let the plant come under stress.
In warmer areas, grow your rocket in partial shade because even when temps are in the mid 20’s, it starts to droop and yes, become stressed.
If the leaves start looking a bit different-starting to become feathery, this means the plant is about to flower.
Once the flowers appear, the growing season is over.
Rocket-Arugula tolerates some frost.

  • Having said all that, at this time of year rocket or Arugula is one of those plants that’s easy to grow so would suit your kids or gran kids if you’re trying to get them into gardening.
  • Wild rocket has more narrow leaves and the flavour is quite mild.

From  you can buy two types of Rocket, the regular as well as Arugula Pronto, which has larger soft leaves and a mild flavour.
Why is it good for you?
Why is rocket or Arugula good for you?
Rocket is rich source of certain phytochemicals thought to be important in preventing cancer cell growth.
Rocket is also a good source of folates, a 100g contains 24% of the daily allowance. Rocket also contains good levels of Vitamin C as well as B complex and vitamin A.
That same 100g of Rocket will give you 90% of your Vitamin K. Vitamin K is linked to bone and brain health.
Lastly, rocket is great as a salad vegetable or why not try making rocket pest? Something different.


Mini mondo grass: photo Ozbreed
Lawn Alternatives for High Foot Traffic Areas.
So you’ve decided that you no longer want a lawn, but what will you walk on?
Greenery is better than paving because it’s more cooling in summer but of course needs more care.
I must say though, paving, or large concreted areas do have their fair share of maintenance as well. You can get weeds coming up in cracks, then the pavers or concrete get the dirty aged look so needs to be cleaned off with a high pressure water cleaner.
Not good in times of water restrictions.
But can you grow a waterwise plant alternative for high foot traffic areas?
I'm talking with Glenice Buck from
Pratia peduculata as lawn alternative

Let’s find out.

  • The three top picks for lawn alternatives in high traffic areas are 
  • mini mondo grass
  • trailing pratia (Pratia pedunculata)
  • Dichondra repens.
  • A close 4th is native violet(Viola banksia).
For all the latest news - Follow Glenice on Facebook or Instagram
Facebook : www.facebook/glenicebuckdesigns
Instagram: Glenice_Buck_Designs
Or Subscribe to my monthly Garden Greetings Newsletter:

If you have any questions for me or for Glenice, please write in to

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Holly Leaves, Asian Greens, and Watching Citrus

Host Marianne and Steve from are talking about citrus and things to watch out for in Plant Doctor growing an Asian greens in Vegetable Heroes; holly leaves can be native in Plant of the Week plus which flowers are ethylene sensitive in Talking Flowers


NEW Citrus Watch
Citrus trees have their fair share of pests of diseases and control is better if it’s done proactively.
Certain times of the year are crucial in beginning your control program, but don’t worry, it’s not too daunting.

Let’s find out what needs doing
I'm talking with Steve Falcioni of

There are several types of pests
Sap Sucking Pests: control with botanical oils such as eco Oil
  • mites, 
    Fruit flies sting the fruit leaving a telltale black spot on the outside.
  • aphids,
  • scale, 
  • bronze orange bug- need to control at green nymph stage when the bugs measure only a few millimetres. Once they start to colour up, oils will not control them. 
  • neem oil is registered for control of bronze-orange bugs on ornamental citrus.
Chewing Pests; caterpillars: control with Dipel
Queensland fruitfly: control with pheremone lures, spinosad based pesticides and/or exclusion netting.
Mediterranean fruitfly (found in W.A.) control with spinosad based pesticide and/or exclusion netting.
Timing is the key for pests and diseases because they have a lifecycle which tells us when the pest is most vulnerable or when the diseases is most likely to strike.
This is a good indicator of when control is most effective.
After all, you don’t want to waste your time, energy and money using a product that won’t work as well as it should because it’s the wrong timing.
If you have any questions for me or for Steve, why not write in to or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Asian greens.
  • Did you know that Asian greens are all a distant relative of Broccoli, Cabbage and Cauliflower?
  • Asian Greens have been grown in China since the 5th century however, it wasn’t until the 
  • 18th century when Asian greens made their way into Europe after seeds were sent.
  • As for Australia, wasn’t until Chinese migrants, who arrived during the 1850’s Gold Rush, brought their traditional vegetables with them.
  • When the gold petered out, many Chinese became market gardeners growing the pak choi family and other leafy green vegetables.Chinese market gardens still exist around the capital cities today.
    Tatsoi, Mustard Greens, Mizuna
Many Different Names for Asian Greens.
To some people because there are many different types, have many names which may even have different spellings depending where they come from. Names include Chinese White Cabbage, Chinese Chard, Chinese Mustard Cabbage,  bok choy, pak choy paak tsoi, choy sum  - as I said confusing!
  • These are all non-heading forms of Chinese cabbage with thick white crisp leaf stalks and veins and shiny smooth broad or wide dark green leaves that create a loose cluster.

They all tend to have smooth edges to the leaves.
There are also those cultivars that have pale green stems instead of white, and the leaves are paler green in colour.
Pak choy and bok choy are basically the same plant.
“Bok Choy has a white stem, and pak choy has a green stem.
Choy sum, is also known as the Chinese silverbeet.
Confusing names aside, when to grow them?
Asian greens-can be grown basically anywhere in Australia.
The main commercial crops are Gympie, the Sunshine Coast, Windsor in Sydney, and the Metropolitan area in Melbourne.
Sometimes Asian Greens go to seed too quickly.
  • The right climate and timing is very important and this depends on where you are.
  • If you are battling against your Asian greens-Pak Choi, Bok Choy bolting to seed the reason is plant bolts to seed early because they want to reproduce.
  • If your soil is a bit too sandy, which has high silica content, then this will lead to early bolting.
  • So keep topping up your organic matter in the soil and your harvest should be fine.
  • This normally is a good indicator that the soil is out of balance, ie there needs to be more organic matter in the soil.
    Bok Choy
  • For example in sub-tropical areas, Asian greens can be planted in most months of the year, but April, May and September to November are best.
  • In temperate areas of Australia-remember temperate is from around Sydney down to Tasmania but only includes the coastal areas-here you can sow the seeds now and shouldn’t have the bolting to seed problem.
  • Asian greens all love full sun, except in parts of Australia with very hot summers.In these hot spots, part shade is fine, so consider using some other plants, like beans and sweet corn, as ‘living shade’. Or erect a shade tent.
  • How To Sow
  •  Before sowing seed work in a plenty of compost and blood and bone. You should also add some Potash because Asian greens like not only lots of Nitrogen but lots of Potassium.
  • The seeds for Asian greens are very small so don’t bury them too deep. Just make a small impression in the soil about 5mm deep.
  • Sprinkle them in the row and  lightly cover them with soil.
  •  Asian greens also like lots of magnesium and because magnesium helps germination, put about half a teaspoon of Epsom salts, into two litres of water. Give it a good shake around and then water the seeds with that mixture.They will come up in about a week.
  • In six weeks, you’ll be harvesting your Asian greens.
Choy Sum Stalks
Pull them out of the ground then remove the root ball and trim it with a knife. Wash them to remove the sand and the greens are ready to cook.
Asian greens tend to attract insects, which love to eat them. “Aphids, cluster grubs, diamond back moth.
Everything will have a chew on them but it doesn’t matter because even if you’ve got a hole in the leaf, it makes no difference to the cooking or flavour and once these leaves wilt down, you won’t even see the hole.
Why are Asian Greens good for you?
In many Asian cultures, people believe that food should be their medicine.
Bok choy would be a good choice as we’re an excellent source of vitamin C
• Asian greens contain dietary fibre as well as some iron, calcium and folate.
• Also a good source of beta carotene which your body can make into vitamin A. Your eyes need vitamin A.


Holly Leaved Fuchsia:Graptophyllum ilicifolium
There are those gardeners who think that native plants look straggly or messy and won’t plant them in the garden. 
No mixing up of plants for them.
Perhaps the holly leaved fuchsia will have them changing their minds because it looks more like something from the northern hemisphere.
A medium shrub 3-5m high found in fairly dry rainforest areas or along creek bank.
Actually occurring only in a small pocket west of Mackay in Queensland.
Moderately fast grower in warm climates, but slower in cool temperate areas.
WatchLet’s find out more. I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert.

PLAY: Holly Leaved Fuchsia_9th October_2019
Graptophyllum ilicifolium, or holly leaved fuchsia is quite unusual, and may just suit your garden.
Leaves look like those of a holly bush so very useful for Christmas decorations perhaps?
The flowers are fuchsia like, but obviously this plant is tougher than your regular fuchsia because of the tougher leaves.
The flowers appear in spring and summer along the stems.
Graptophyllum ilicifolium: holly leaved fuchsia
If you have any questions for me or for Adrian, please write in to

Saturday, 12 October 2019

Ground Cherries, Persian Roses, No More Lawns and Easy Gardening

Battery operated line trimmers
We’re talking the new wave of battery operated tools in part 2 of this segment in Tool Time growing an unusual berry in Vegetable Heroes, starting a new series on lawn alternatives in design elements, plus bloomin' Ranunculus flowers in Talking Flowers.


Battery Operated Garden Tools part 2
Last week, part 1 of the topic of battery operated garden tools was aired because there was so much to be said about them.
This week, it’s part 2 with a brief summary of what points that were touched on in part 1.
So, the new wave of garden tools are battery operated.
Let’s get into the topic
I'm talking with Tony Mattson, general manager of

Batteries for garden tools can be purchased as 3, 4, 5, and 6 Amp Hours.
How long the battery lasts depends on which garden equipment you are using and how much load you will be putting on that particular piece of equipment.
It's advisable to buy two batteries at the initial purchase so that one can be charging while you are using the other.
Typically, recharging batteries takes between 30 - 45 minutes.
TIP: batteries aren't interchangeable between brands.
Battery operated lawnmowers don't leave a tread.
Make your brand selection based on the range of equipment that meets your needs.
Battery powered tools are easier to start, lighter, have no petrol smell, and best of all are much quieter and cheaper to run.
If you're wondering whether or not a battery operated lawnmower will cut through buffalo or kikuyu lawns. Tony says, no problem at all, and no tread marks on the lawn because the lawnmower is so much lighter.
If you have any questions for me or for Tony, why not write in to or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Cape Gooseberry: Physalis peruviana syn. P. edulis  also sometimes called the ground cherry.
  • Cape goosebrerries can be grown in all parts of Australia, although they do best in temperate and subtropical areas, however, we can grow them elsewhere with a bit more care.
Did you know that Cape Gooseberries are thought to have originated in Peru and were one of the few fresh fruits of the early settlers in New South Wales?
So What Does It Look Like?
Cape gooseberry
  • The plant is a straggling bush up to one metre tall with yellow fruits inside a brown papery envelope.
  • It’s a short lived perennial  and can tolerate some frost so growing it further south shouldn’t be a problem.
  • In colder climates treat the cape gooseberry as an annual, much like you would tomatoes.
The cape gooseberry is related to tomatillo, and husk tomato, in fact, all in the genus Physalis.
TIP:Don’t confuse the Cape Gooseberry, Physalis peruviana with an entirely different species referred to as Gooseberry bush. Ribes uva-ursi
The Gooseberry bush will produce very sweet, tart berries, but the cape gooseberry is quite different- and nice!
  • Cape Gooseberries taste like tiny cherry tomatoes .
    Cape gooseberries are surrounded by a husk

The best thing is that Cape Gooseberry is very easy to grow and as the fruit are popular with birds and plants can be easily spread around the garden.
The berry is the size of a cherry tomato,1-2 cm in size and is very aromatic and full of tiny seeds.
How you know that the berries are ripe is when they turn a golden orange and drop to the ground.
When to Sow
  • The time to sow Cape Gooseberry seed in every region except Tropical is now until December.
  • For Tropical zones, March through to August is the time to sow seeds.
  • If you sow the seeds in Spring and/or Summer you’ll get an Autumn harvest.
  • They’re not fussy about soil types and even do very well in poor soils and in pots.
  • The preference thous is for sandy to gravely loam.
  • They need lots of water throughout the growing year, except towards fruit-ripening time.
How to sow the seeds
Sow seed at the usual depth rule-3x the diameter of the seed.
Best planted at soil temperatures between 10°C and 25°C
Space plants: 50 cm apart if you want to go into production otherwise just try one plant first because they do produce quite a few fruits.
Harvest in 3-4 months or 14-16 weeks.
To get the most fruit from your cape gooseberries, they need to be in a sunny place as long as there is no risk of frost.
  • Water them regularly and, when they grow flowers, feed them every two weeks with a tomato food.
  • Cape gooseberry plants get the same pests as what you’d get in your area from the common tomato. No surprises there.
  • So it would be a good idea to plant them amongst your flower border where they will grow quite happily and confuse the nasties at the same time.

How Do You Eat Cape Gooseberries.
Cape gooseberry once extracted from its husk, can be eaten raw tasting bit like ordinary tomatoes maybe a bit more zingy.

They can be added to salads, desserts and cooked dishes, they are delicious stewed with other fruit, especially apples.
They also go well in savoury dishes with meat or seafood,  as a flavouring, and in jams and jellies.
They can also be dried and eaten much like raisins or other small dried fruit.
Cape gooseberries contain large amounts of pectin, and are therefore suitable for jams and pies
Grab some cape gooseberry seeds from online seed suppliers, sprinkle a packet over your garden & go nuts!
The variety Golden Nugget grows to 1m
Why are cape gooseberries good for You?
Apart from their taste, Physalis is a good source of nutrients, minerals, vitamins.
Vitamins A, C & B, high in protein and rich in iron.
Put some berries in the bottom of a cup and mash them with a
wooden spoon.
Add some water into the cup. The mashed fruit should float, and the seeds will sink to the bottom.
Strain off the mash and water and dry out the seeds on clean tissue paper.
Sow the seeds thinly on the surface and cover them lightly with more compost.
Put the pot in a see-through plastic food bag/mini greenhouse and
tie the end up. This is to keep all the moisture in so the pips don’t
dry out.
 The seeds will germinate in a few days, so you will need to check them every day.
If the compost looks dry, give it a little water. When the seeds have
sprouted, remove the plastic bag and put the pot on a sunny
windowsill. Once the seedlings have four or five leaves, they will
need to be potted up in separate pots, using the same compost.
Repot your plants as they grow.


Lawn alternatives: considerations
Do you have places in the garden where your lawn just will not grow?
Perhaps it's in a shady part where moss seems to appear in winter instead of green lawn.
Or is it under or near trees where the tree root competition is too much and the lawn is patchy?
Then again, you may be just tired of the constant mowing during the warmer months of the year and want to swap mowing for low maintenance lawn alternatives.
So what are the considerations?
Let's find out.I'm talking with Glenice Buck, landscaper and consulting arborist with 

Lush lawns need lots of maintenance such as watering, fertilising and mowing.
If you live in a region that experiences periods of intense heat and drought, this type of lawn may not be possible to maintain. 
Add caption
Looking at brown lawn is not that much fun so exploring other options that need less frequent irrigation is a good alternative.
Unless you make the right lawn alternative choice, you may be swapping the mowing for the weeding.
Over the coming weeks, Glenice will talk about what lawn alternatives suit high foot traffic and low foot traffic areas.


Family:Ranunculaceae also includes anemones, clematis, delphiniums, nigella and hellebores.
Grow from claw-like tuber or corms but now referred to as thickened rhizomes.
Growing tips:
These plants are very hardy and will grow in a wide range of conditions.
If you missed planting them out in autumn for a spring show, treat yourself with a bunch of ranunculus from your favourite florist.
Mercedes Tips:
  • Cut the stems straight across before placing them in a vase.
  • Place them in water that has been filtered or standing for 4 hours so that all the chlorine has evaporated off.
  • Throw in a few ice cubes to perk up your ranunculus flowers
  • Flowers have a vase life of 8 - 10 days.

As they prefer to have their roots kept cool and moist, plant Ranunculus species in a sunny or partly shaded position with moist well-drained soil.
Don’t like clay soils.
I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini florist, and floral therapist.
This video was recorded live during the broadcast of Real World Gardener radio show in Sydney.