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Friday, 26 February 2021

How to Grow Healthy Seedlings and Patty Pan Squash

 PLANT DOCTOR    

What's Going On With My Seedlings?

People have been turning to gardening in droves this year, and for one reason or another, they’re into growing their own food.
A lot of new gardeners, though, are finding it difficult to either get those seeds to germinate, or keep those seedlings going.

Here are some of the common problems:
  • Seeds germinate and grow for a while then die. Number 1 culprit is drying out.
    • Seedlings are for the most part growing in a shallow soil and all it takes is for a bit of warm weather, then unless you're there on the spot to water them, they shrivel up and die.
  • Seedlings growing in moist soil because you've somehow managed to keep them hydrated. If they keel over at this point, it's due to 'damping off.' The seedlings is attacked by fungal or bacterial infection, the end result of which is death of your seedlings.
  • Overwatering and poor airflow is another possibility.
  • Seaweed solution may help with overcoming this problem.
  • Watering with a tea with strong antimicrobial properties, such as strong chamomile or cinnamon tea may work as a preventative. 
  • Create a clean environment as possible by (a)sterilising your soil by placing it in the oven for 30 minutes at high temperatures and (b) wipe down pots and benches with a 10% solution of bleach. 
  • Seedlings just sitting with no growth for weeks are a sign of insufficient fertiliser. Water in a liquid fertiliser immediately and follow up as per dosage instructions. 
  • Although, one thing to watch out for:The seeds have germinated but mysteriously, the tops get chewed off. 
    I’m still wondering how the slug go into the closed mini-greenhouse and ate my basil seedlings.
Hopefully you’ll be inspired to get back into growing from seed and have all the information you need to get those seedlings going.

 So what help do they need? 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 questions about seedlings, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write to 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


VEGETABLE HEROES

Summer Button Squash is the yellow or green saucer shaped members of the Cucurbit family that includes pumpkins, melons and zucchinis. Cucurbita pepo.
If you don’t like the taste and texture of Button Squash, some even call patty pan squash, maybe you need to buy a different variety to zhuszh up your taste buds.

A Bit of History
Did you know that squash comes from a native American word which means eaten raw or uncooked?
No surprises that archaeologists have traced squash origins to Mexico, dating back from 7,000 to 5,500 BC.

  • In terms of nutrients, button squash give bananas a run for their money.

Button squash are small veggies that look a bit like space ships with scalloped edges. 
It’s a twining vine with large, broad, spiny, lobed leaves and an angled, prickly green stem.
Squash grow to between 3 and 5cm in size, and the vines like to spread out, but will follow a trellis if they’re tied to one. 

  • Seeds can be planted individually into small holes or planted on small mounds, three to five to a mound. If you’re doing the mound method, when the seeds sprout, pinch off the weakest vines until only the strongest one is left. It’s better to pinch off the weak vines, as pulling them will disturb the roots of the strong one.
  • Like a lot of vining veggies, they take up a lot of space, but one squash plant can produce a lot of squash. Unless you’re feeding an army only plant one or two mounds of squash then.

Flowers on Squash, where are they?

Squash have male and female flowers that bees, flies, wasp or other creatures must pollinate it. Only after fertilisation, grow those little buttons.

If you got male and female flowers but not too many squash, plant plenty of flowers alongside your squash otherwise you’ll end up having to hand pollinate using an artist’s paintbrush.
Mostly gardeners start to worry when they see only male flower.
It is perfectly normal for the males to arrive first, and, they do so in big numbers.
A week or so goes by without any ladies appearing, and you are beginning to think there's a problem.

  • The female flowers usually arrive 10-14 days after you spot the first male. (Sometimes it takes a little longer than this).Once the ladies appear, there’ll only be a few at a time.
  • The male flowers greatly out-number the female flowers.
  • It’s fairly uncommon for females flowers to arrive first but does occasionally happen.

Fertilising your squash
Squash are, like most vegetables, heavy feeders and need lots of fertilizer and water.

  • Don’t over fertilize with chook poo pellets or you’ll have big plants and no squash.
  • The vining types of squash need the extra space and will invade even more space if allowed, so carefull planning may be needed.
  • Water requirements are high and you really need to be on top of keeping up the watering for your button squash during hot weather and when fruit is filling out. If you don’t,  you’re very likely get shedding of flowers and partly formed fruit.
  • Button squash grows very quickly and will start producing us in about 8 weeks.

Harvesting
Pick your button squash carefully by cutting them from the vine through their stem.
  • Did you know that button squash need to be harvested often even commercially  because of their very soft skin and so they’re very labour intensive to grow?
  • Picking should be done regularly, at least every day as the fruit develops.
  • If you leave your squash on the plants too long they’ll stop growing new ones altogether.
  • Picking your Summer squash at about 2 ½- 3 cms in size is when they’re at their most tasty.
If you plant an open pollinated type, (doesn’t have hybrid in its name) you can let one or two squash grow out until they are completely ripe and save the seeds from them at the end of the season.
Some varieties from various online seed suppliers.
There’s a French heirloom variety Squash Jaune Et Verte especially for those of you who are not convinced about the merits of growing squash. 
Picked young, the flesh is sweet and buttery and the skin cooks to lime green. Compact variety producing scallop shaped fruit over a long period. 
Takes 7 weeks from seed to harvest.
New Gippsland Seeds-Golden Ruffles Hybrid is a Yellow Button Squash- High quality button squash capable of tremendous yields. Fruit gold, often with a green end spot. Tasty and popular.
Eden seeds_EARLY WHITE BUSH SCALLOPED Known pre 1722
Greenish-white skin, with lots of round flat fruit on a bushy plant. Best when picked young. 46-60 days.
GREEN TINT

Scalloped patty pan squash, pale green, harvest 7.5cm—10cm, fine texture, medium sized bush, very productive over a long period, popular traditional variety for home gardens. 47-56 days.
Seeds per packet: 17
Why are they good for you?
Summer squash is very low in calories and high in fibre.
Button squash is rich in beta-carotene an excellent source of vitamin C, folic acid and calcium.
One cup of summer squash has nearly as much potassium as a banana!
They also contain the valuable mineral nutrient phosphorus.
Button squash are vitamin C
The darker skinned squash supply some beta carotene.
Did I say they were low in calories?
100g of squash has just between 85 and 105kJ.

THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY



Thursday, 25 February 2021

Enjoy Mulled Wine Jelly and Grow Cut and Come Again Celery

SPICE IT UP

Mulled Wine and Mulled Wine Jelly

Are you missing the Christmas spirit? In Australia it was mostly too hot around Christmas time to partake in mulled wine. Winter isn't that far away, and for some people, Christmas in July is a thing.
That would include mulled wine.
Right now though, you could make some mulled wine jelly to relive some of that Christmas cheer which just seems like a faded memory.

You may have heard of the spices that go to make mulled wine, a traditional drink in the northern hemisphere at that time of year.
But here in Australia, it’s too hot, so what else can we do with these spices?

Traditional mulled wine spices contain allspice berries (ground), cassia bark (Asia version of cinnamon), ginger, dried orange peel, and cloves.

METHOD: Mulled Wine
In a saucepan 
POUR 1 bottle of red wine
ADD1 cup of brown sugar,
ADD 1 fresh lime
ADD 1 fresh quartered orange.
ADD2-3 tablespoons of mulling spices.
SIMMER gently for 30-40 minutes DO NOT BOIL
STRAIN: into a jug and serve while warm.
If you’re keen to experiment with your own recipe, then use real vanilla pods, cinnamon quills, fresh citrus and star anise at the very least.

Apart from mulled wine jelly, and mulled wine fizz, there’s also mulled wine glazed ham. So experiment away. Listen to the podcast to find out more.
I’m talking with Ian Hemphill from herb and spice expert from www.herbies.com.au

If you have any questions about spices in mulled wine spice mix, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write to 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

VEGETABLE HEROES

Today’s vegetable hero is -Celery Leaf , Leaf Celery or Chinese Celery. Leaf celery is also called Cutting Celery, Parcel, Smallage, Zwolsche Krul, and German celery.
  • Celery Leaf is botanically-(Apium graveolens var. secalinum).
Leaf celery sounds like it’s all leaf, but that’s not the case.Yes there’s a lot of leaves, but they’re on top of long, albeit thinner stalks.
  • Leaf celery is a more primitive form of familiar supermarket celery but it’s a great cut-and-come-again veggie.If you cut or harvest leaf celery plants often, it will constantly send up new stalks.
  • The stalks are hollow, crisp, and packed with flavour, cutting celery is an essential veggie at our house.
In colder zones, if you can nurse year-old plants through winter, they will send up a huge flush of stems in early summer, followed by lots of flowers and seeds.
  • The ground seeds make a great seasoning for dozens of dishes.
As a true biennial,  cutting celery is happy to produce zillions of seeds at the end of summer here in Australia.
  • If you’re an occasional celery user who find that the bunch of celery that you buy from the supermarket turns brown and mushy before you finish it, then you may want to try growing this alternative.The best thing is the stalks aren’t bunched closely together.
  • So if you just want one or two stalks of celery to flavour your soups or Bolognese sauce, then just go out into the garden and cut two stalks.
Celery Leaf tastes similar but slightly better than regular stalk celery!
I would say it tastes a little stronger than stalk celery or celeriac.

A Bit of Hsitory
Did you know that leaf Celery has been around for a long time and was in fact used by the ancient Romans as a medicinal herb.
Supposedly, Celery seed has been used for around 3000 years as a seasoning for food.
Did you also know that crushed celery seeds are steam distilled to make celery oil?
This oil is used for flavouring sauces, meats, liqueurs, perfumes, cosmetics and soaps.
 
Some gardeners have run out of room in their veggie bed already-full of tomatoes, Basil and whatnot.
Never fear, Leaf Celery will grow in large pots because it’s a compact plant that grows to 45-60cm in height.
  • If you live in a cool temperate district, container veggies can be moved under cover during winter.
  • Leaf Celery is a darker green with thin stalks and leaves that look like a cross between the Italian Parsley and the Curley Parsley.
  • Celery leaf is perfect for container gardens because it’s a cut and come again plant and is great used as a herb in stews, dressings and salads.
When to plant:
In cool temperate districts, Spring and Summer are your sowing times, in temperate and sub-tropical zones, you have from Spring right through to Autumn, 
Arid areas, the only time you can’t really sow it is in summer, and tropical districts win the jackpot, because they can sow it all year round.

How to grow:
From putting the seed into the ground or pot, it’ll take around 2-3 months.
Like most veggies, Leaf Celery needs full sun but can do alright in part shade in soil that’s not too dry.
You can start them off in punnets if you like because they don’t mind being transplanted.
  • Keep in mind, Leaf Celery isn’t frost tolerant.
Sow the very fine seeds thinly, and only 5mm (1/4”) deep.
Be careful not to cover the fine seeds too much because they need light to germinate.
For fine seeds I tend to use a light cover of vermiculite which I then mist to make moist.
  • They can be slow to germinate taking up to 21 days at 100C-180C, so be patient.
  • In warmer areas, seedlings should emerge in 1-2 weeks.
Once the seeds have germinated it’s a good idea to thin them out around 30cm (12”) apart.
TIP: number 1: Don’t let them dry out.
  • TIP: number 2:-If you believe in companion planting, then leaf Celery is supposed to be an insect repellent for cabbage white butterfly.Try planting some around your Brassicas like Broccoli, Cauli, and Cabbage.
TIP: number 3 and now for the Celery Seed.
If you leave your Celery leaf over winter, the plant will bolt to seed in Spring.
What can you do with that?
Apart from replanting fresh seed, the seeds are actually edible.
  • Ever heard of Celery salt?
What you can also do is grind it up in your mortar and pestle with a little sea salt. Better than from the supermarket shelf.
Plus you can enjoy the dainty white umbels of flowers.
After a couple of months, pick leaves as you need them to put in soups, stews, stocks and sauces.
A few eaves go well in salads with a strong blue cheese or some or cured meats.
  • How else to use leaf celery?
Packed with flavour and fibre, it's best to thinly slice cutting celery crosswise or diagonally.
A sharp knife makes quick work of slicing and dicing any type of garden celery.
Use it as you would regular celery, eat it raw or cooked in long slow cooked meals, or as flavouring in sauces.
Why is it good for you?
The leaves are brimming with five times more magnesium and calcium than the stalks. They're also a rich source of vitamin C and antioxidant’
The good thing is Leaf Celery is low in carbs, and has even a small amount of fibre.

THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY




The Art of Fermentation: Just a Cabbage

 THE ART OF VEGETABLE FERMENTATION

Have you ever wanted to ferment vegetables but thought it was a bit too hard?
Perhaps you’re an avid fermenter but need to know more.
In this new segment I find out that it’s actually easy to start fermenting.
Holly describes herself as an 'old fermenter.'

Jokes aside, what's the first thing you need to know before you start fermenting any vegetable.
Do you need high end equipment?

Fermenting is a process that happens in the absence of air.
It turns out that a clip lock jar or a glass jar with a screw top lid would suffice. Or you can use a plastic jar.
NOTE: the lid needs to have a coating on it which most would have if they were on jars that were bought with food in them. These jars are perfect for re-purposing for fermenting.
Cabbages and other root vegetables are ideal for fermenting.
METHOD:
PICK a cabbage that is heavy for it's size, preferably an organic one.
Should be dense and tightly packet.
STRIP off outer leaves.
CUT the cabbage into four and cut the heart out of it.
SHRED your cabbage finely, Holly likes it between 3-5mm in width so it has some crunchy.
If your ferment comes out mushy then air has entered into the process.
ADD 20gms of fine ground sea-salt to every kilo of cabbage.
RUB sea salt into cabbage until it releases moisture-make sure it's vigorous , releasing plenty of liquid.
There should be enough liquid to completely submerge the cabbage in the jar.
STUFF into a jar and cover with the liquid.
PLACE one of the previously discarded whole leaves on top of the shredded cabbage in the jar.
I’m talking with Holly Davis, whole food chef, and educator.
Let's find out more

FERMENTATION PART 2

Dry Fermentation Process: we're doing a cabbage.
The whole leaf on top of the shredded cabbage is the 'plug.'
Leave some headroom in the jar so the fermenting process doesn't bubble over.
The cabbage should start bubbling which is the fermentation process.

LEAVE it out of the fridge but in a cool spot such as a tiled floor.
WAIT ten days then taste it. Before this time it doesn't taste very nice.
You can leave it longer if you like.
PROBLEMS:
White yeast growing on the surface needs to be removed otherwise it will spoil the flavour.
If you see mould, throw it out and start again.
Once you like the flavour, put it in the fridge, it will slow the fermenting process.
Let's find out more.  

Thursday, 31 December 2020

Splendid Native Trees: Blueberry Ash: Willow Myrtle: Albany Woolly Bush: Ivory Curl Tree

 PLANT OF THE WEEK : 

Blueberry Ash

Common Name:Blueberry Ash
Scientific name: Eleaocarpus reticulatus
Family:Elaeocarpacea
Etymology:Elaeocarpus - From the Greek elaia meaning 'olive' and karpos meaning 'fruit';
reticulatus - Latin word meaning 'net-like' referring to the leaf venation.
Tree Height: 6-15m (various cultivars Prima Donna 8-10m)
Flowering:April - October
Origin: Australian rainforests along the east coast.

This is a beautiful tree with sculptural leathery leaves that show off a 'bloom' much like you see on some eucalypt leaves. 
Leaves are medium sized (12cm) with a drip tip apex and serrated edges. 
Starting off as mid to dark green the leaves age to a bright red which contrasts well, being opposite on the colour wheel.
The flowers are also quite a feature resembling clutches of lily of the valley flowers in either pink or cream all over the tree.

The fruits are small blue berries, hence the common name. The fruits are liked by many birds including currawongs, parrots, cockatoos and native pigeons.
Fruits can persist on the tree until the next flowering.

Although the height can grow to 15m you can keep it to as small a height as you would like even 2-3m if preferred.
  • Adrian says they shed foliage 12 months of the years so don't plant them near your gutters.
  • Not frost tolerant so if you really love the look of this tree, plant it near a north facing wall to give it protection from frost.
I'm talking with Adrian O'Malley, native plant expert.

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Scientific Name:Agonis Flexuosa
Common Name: Willow Myrtle/ Peppermint Willow (pictured)
Family: Myrtaceae
Etymology: derived from the Greek word agonos, translated as "without angles," in reference to the drooping branches of some species
flexuous means "bending" or "curvy," referring to the way the branches arch gracefully.
Another fairly spectacular tree when in flower which although small, there are heaps of them.
Origins: Native to Western Australia
Height: to 10 metres
Flowering: Late spring-branches are covered in fragrant tiny white flowers.
There are various cultivars available such as Agonis 'After Dark" (pictured) and Agonis 'Jervis Bay, Agonis 'variegata' and Agonis 'Burgundy.'
Also there is a dwarf form Agonis "Nana.'
The burgundy or dark foliage is a superb contrast to all that green you may have in the garden.
Soil preference is sandy to medium soil, but not clay soils.     
This one's not frost tolerant.
Adrian says you would grow it for the attractive foliage and attracting furrowed bark.
I'm talking with native plant expert Adrian O'Malley


PLANT OF THE WEEK

Scientific Name:Adenanthos sericeus 
Common Name: Albany Woolly Bush
Family: Proteaceae
Etymology: latin sericeus ("silky"), in reference to the very soft foliage. Common name-after a town where it grows indigenously 4.5hrs drive south of Busselton
Height: species grows to 5 metres tall but numerous cultivars are much smaller.
Flowers: insignificant but do appear late winter to early spring.
Many people either grow it themselves or buy an Albany Woolly Bush around Christmas time because it really suits this idea because the. grey-green leaves give it a colour that almost ‘hints’ at being snow covered.

Cultivars:
Adenanthos 'Silver Lining' a groundcover 40cm in height with 1.5m spread
Adenanthos 'Platinum' 1.5m height
Adenanthos 'Silver Streak' grows to 2m
One of the best Christmas trees yet because of the soft furry foliage that you just can't help touching it. 
  • The woolly bush is susceptible to phytophthera which can result in the plant dropping dead, seemingly overnight. Particularly if your district has summer humidity.
  • The leaves are needle like but not stiff like you would see on a pine tree.
  • Makes a perfect living Christmas tree and suitable to be kept in a container in between. This is my one that is nearly two years old. One thing to watch, when hanging tree ornaments on it, because the branches are quite supple, the tree has this kind of spreading look when you finished decorating it.
I'm talking with native plant expert, Adrian O'Malley
 

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Scientific Name: Bickinghamia celsissima
Common Name: Ivory Curl Tree
Family: Proteaceae
Etymology:Buckinghamia....after Richard Grenville, Duke of Buckingham.
celsissima....from Latin celsus, high or lofty, a reference to the habit of the plant in the wild.
Origins: Rainforests of Queensland.
Height: grows to 30 m in natural environment, but 7-8 metres in the home garden. Often used as a street tree.
Flowering: Summer to late Autumn, depending on the location, when the entire crown can be almost entirely covered with spectacular and large (30cm )  racemes of pendant white to cream sweetly perfumed flowers. Often covered in bees happily taking in the nectar and pollen.

pendant white to cream sweetly perfumed flowers. Often covered in bees happily taking in the nectar and pollen.
Fruit: Wooden follicles that contain several seeds. Fresh seed germinates fairly easily, producing plants that can flower within three years. 
Foliage: Glossy large limey green leaves are an attractive feature in themselves. New growth is bronze tipped.
  • You will find that it can be grown throughout most of Australia, including as far south as Melbourne. However Buckinghamia celsissima doesn't do well in Canberra, because it hates frosts, and it won't flower in the humidity and heavy rains of the northern tropics.
  • If left to it's own devices it will go straight up like a telegraph pole and you will miss the spectacle of the flowers.
  • Tip pruning judiciously will give you a shrub as in the picture where the flowers can be observed at close quarters.
  • It can be pruned reasonably hard, but be warned, it will recover slowly.
I'm talking with native plant expert Adrian O'Malley

Saturday, 31 October 2020

Waraburra Nura Garden In Conversation with Alice McAuliffe

 Warraburra Nura Native Garden

In Conversation with Alice McAuliffe Creative Producer

You may not know of garden in on the 6th floor of a building that you the public can visit.

From the website, “Waraburra Nura is a public medicinal plant garden at the University of Technoly (UTS) Sydney, developed by UTS ART in partnership with Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research (JIIER). Established in 2018, the garden is located on level 6 of the UTS Tower. 
'Nura' is a local word meaning country or the place that you are from.


Let’s find out more.

I’ve being talking with Alice McAuliffe who is a creative producer .
  • Alice recalled that Waraburra Nura didn't start so much as a garden but as a way of creating a third dimension for artworks by various aboriginal and torres strait islander artists.
  • Alice put forward a proposal the idea to put in a few boxes with plants initially but the idea grew.
  • The process to create the garden involved designer Nicole Monk. Garden boxes were sent up from Melbourne.
  • Garden soil had to be light so that the weight would not be too heavy for the balcony plus a possible 100 people. Aunty Fran Bodkin  (Dharawal Senior and botanist) advised that the soil should contain pumice.
  • Plants were chosen because they had medicinal properties, and together created associations which increased their medicinal properties.
This garden is open to the public on weekdays during student hours 
'About the garden' section on the website states that “Waraburra Nura (Happy Wanderer’s Place) is a space for visitors to connect to Country in an urban environment. The garden utilises combination planting, an Indigenous agricultural practice which enhances the rich medicinal value of each plant.

All of the plants in Waraburra Nura are native to Wa’ran (Sydney) and have been cultivated by Darug, D’harawal and Gadigal peoples for generations.

If you have any questions about Waraburra Nura, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write to 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675



Friday, 30 October 2020

Ollas Save Water in the Garden and Grow Green Tomatoes

 THE GOOD EARTH

What About Ollas?

Gardeners already know how to save water in the garden because dry times can happen at any time of the year, not just summer.
Saving water in the garden could be anything from mulching to using drip irrigation and creating wicking beds.
The whole idea is to make water last longer in your garden, whether it is from rain or using garden hoses.
Tip: Make sure your soil can absorb a lot water.
Check if it is water repellant (hydrophobic).

Add a lot of organic matter to improve the water holding capacity.
 If you're using dripper hoses, cover them with mulch so the eater doesn't evaporate rapidly.

But did you know that ollas have been used to irrigate gardens for thousands of years?
You might be now thinking what are ollas exactly?
Let’s find out.
I’ve amtalking with Margaret Mossakowska sustainability educator at moss house of 


Ollas reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation, especially in hot dry climates.
The tip is, ollas are buried in the soil before you do your planting.
When planning your garden, know that water leaving the olla is approximately equal to the radius of the olla.
If you have a particularly large garden, you will need a larger olla or several small ollas spaced evenly.
If you have questions or have information to share, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write to 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

VEGETABLE HEROES

Green Tomatoes even when ripe
This segment won’t be complete without mentioning tomatoes at least once every year, because there’s always so much to be said about them.
  • Tomatoes, are Lycopersicon esculentum.Being in the Solanaceae family, they’re related to eggplants, capsicums, chillies and potatoes.
  • Tomatoes are botanically a fruit, or to be even more accurate a berry, because they are pulpy and have edible seeds.Other botanical fruits that we call vegetables include squash, cucumbers, green beans, corn kernels, eggplants, and peppers.
In Australia, tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables, with potatoes being no.1
A Bit of History
The tomato is native to South and Central America, and the first tomato was thought to bear a yellow fruit and grown by the Aztecs.
  • Did you know that it’s thought that people were growing crops of tomatoes at least around 500 BC? 
  • In the mid 1500’s, tomatoes were only grown amongst flowers in Italy.They certainly weren’t eaten. How things change.
  • As late as the 18th century, physicians thought tomatoes caused appendicitis, and stomach cancer from tomato skins sticking to the lining of your stomach.
  • Europeans then refused to eat tomatoes because they were thought to be poisonous, and no-one was volunteering to be the first.

We like to grow our own tomatoes because store bought tomatoes have little taste? But why have store bought tomatoes become tasteless?

In the mid 20th century breeders discovered a tomato that ripened evenly.
So it was  then cross-bred  with just about every tomato variety, to produce attractive red fruit without the typical green ring surrounding the stem on uncross-bred varieties.
Before this hybridisation, tomatoes were able to produce more sugar during the process of ripening and were sweeter and tastier.
Usually, tomatoes turn red when ripe, but some varieties stay green.
These are the ones that we will concentrate on.

But how do you tell when green tomatoes are ripe?

The colour green will change from a very bright green to a greeny-yellow tinge.

  • It’s a subtle change but once you’ve seen it you’ll know that it’s a reasonable difference.
  • If you’re still not sure how to tell if a green tomato is ripe and not just an unripe fruit,  close your eyes and feel it; if it's soft, it's ripe.
Some varieties for you to try are Green Zebra. Here's a photo of these being held by my friend Steve.
Green Zebra produces lots of tomatoes, about 5 cm’s round that ripen to a beautiful amber gold with dark green zebra-like stripes over the amber background.
Inside, the flesh is a beautiful, sparkling green.
When those stripes appear, then you know the tomato is ripe.

Aunty Ruby’s Green, is a luscious green big  sweet beefsteak type.
Great for slicing.
A gorgeous green-when-ripe colour, and is said to be the very best tasting green.
For the novice gardener this one you might need to tell by feel if it’s ripe though.
Another favourite is Green Grape.
This one has an olive green skin, but is very sweet with a hint of lemon zest.
It even won the tomato taste test at the Botanic Gardens in Sydney. A very compact plant ready to eat fruit in 10 – 12 weeks.
When to Grow Tomatoes?
There’s a tomato for every type of climatic condition and generally they’re a warm season fruit even though we call them vegetables.
In temperate climates you can plant them until December, hopefully some of you started them in early September to get the jump on fruit flies.
 In sub-tropical and tropical areas, this week it’s your turn to win, and yes, you can plant tomatoes all year round.
In cool temperate districts you have from October until December, and in Arid areas from August until March, so nearly all year.

What Do Tomatoes Like?

  • Tomatoes prefer full sun but if you live in very hot climates, you’ll get sun scald on your tomatoes, so afternoon shade of some sort is essential. Growing tomatoes has to be in full sun at least 6 hours.
  • Tomato seeds can be planted into the ground as soon as the soil temperature reaches 200C.
TIP:When you plant your seedling, this is about the only plant I know that you pile the soil higher than it was in the pot-that way, it grows extra roots to support the plant.

  • At the same time, put in a tomato stake of some kind and sprinkle some Dolomite around the plant.
ANOTHER  good tip is to put some hydrated or fluffed up water crystals in the bottom of the planting hole, especially if in your district it’s very hot during the day, that it’s sometimes hard to keep the water up to them.
  • Ever seen black bottoms on tomatoes? That's blossom end rot
They actually need lots of water to prevent this problem (“blossom end” rot), when they get a black bottom. Which also means a lack of Calcium. 

Spacing Your Tomatoes
  • Don’t crowd your tomato plants because they need good air circulation around them so that fungal diseases don’t take hold.
  • When your tomato plant has four trusses (or branches of flowers) nip out top of the plant.By this stage you should have plenty of fruits forming that need to grow and ripen.You could do this mainly because you want the plant to put all its energy into producing larger fruits.Plus you don’t want it growing taller than you tomato stake and flopping all over the place.
  • Keep the soil moist by regular watering and using a mulch of some kind.
  • Once the flowers have formed, you need to feed weekly with tomato fertiliser or a general fertiliser but add a side dressing of sulphate of potash.
  • Irregular watering or drying out of the soil or compost in very hot weather can result in the fruits splitting. The inside grows faster than the skin, splits and unless eaten quickly, disease very quickly enters the damaged area and the tomato disposed of.

HINT: tomato plants will only set fruit if the temperatures don’t drop below 210C.
  • Did you know that a tomato picked at first sign of colour and ripened at room temperature will be just as tasty as one left to fully mature on the vine?
VERY IMPORTANT: 
Prune off the lower leaves to allow more light, improve air-circulation and prevent the build-up of diseases.
For some listeners, fruit fly will be a problem.
There are lures and preventative organic sprays that contain Spinosad.
 I intend to trail fruit fly exclusion bags. As soon as the fruits appear, on they go.
WHY ARE THEY GOOD FOR YOU?
First the good news, there have been studies done which show that eating tomatoes lowers the risk of some cancers. Possibly because of the chemical lycopene that is found in tomatoes and makes them red.
Cooked tomatoes are even better because the cell walls get broken down releasing something called carotinoids. Eating tomatoes with a small amount of fat, like some olive oil in a salad, allows the lycopene part to absorb better.
Tomatoes are highly nutritious and sweet because of natural sugars – sucrose and fructose.
If you ate only one tomato a day, you would get 40% of you daily requirements of Vitamin C and 20% of Vitamin A.
Now the bad news….there is anecdotal evidence that something called glykoalkaloids contribute to arthritis symptoms.
THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY

Thursday, 8 October 2020

All About Australian Dendrobium and Dockrillia Orchids

 PLANT OF THE WEEK

Dendrobiums sp. Episode 1

Scientific Name:Dendrobium speciosum
Common Name: Rock Orchid, Sydney Rock Orchid
Native Habitat: growing on granite cliff faces or boulders.
Plant type: Lithophyte
Description: consisting of pseudobulbs or canes that can be up to 45cm long. Large leathery leaves than can last up to 12 years on the plant. Flowering August to September.
Flowering:Arching racemes that can have up to 100 fragrant flowers per stem.
Climate zone: Outdoors in tropical to temperate climates, but shadehouses in colder areas.


Some gardeners think that growing orchids can be a bit tricky or only for the orchid afficionado. 
They may have experienced one or two failures that has tainted their perception of orchids for life.
But I think, give orchids another go, because there’s ones out there that are hard to kill.
This one’s no exception.
Let’s find out what it is.
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant expert and native orchid afficionado. 

One of the most spectacular Australian orchids and one of the easiest to grow.
  • When establishing your new orchid, you can attach it with coated wire or plastic rope to a tree, or boulder in your garden.
Adrian has his own orchid house in his backyard where he grows about 200 different types of orchids and yes, they are all types of Australian native orchids.
Be like Adrian, and grow some yourself.

Dendrobium sp. episode 2

Dendrobium hybrids

Australia has 50 native species of dendrobiums and dockrillias and most of these grow mainly somewhere along the east coast of Australia.
The ones that grow in Qld, in quite warm temperature to tropical areas, don’t grow so well further south and one might need a greenhouse to grow some of these.

But those that originate in Victoria or NSW don’t do so well in the tropics.
This is where hybrid dendrobiums of these native orchids come in
Let’s find out..
I'm talking to native plant expert and orchidophile, Adrian O’Malley 
 
Hybrid dendrobiums are numerous and as an example can be crosses of Dendrobium speciosum and Dendrobium kingianum.
This particular cross gives you Dendrobium x delicatum which can have either with or pink flowers and even perfume.
A famous one that Adrian mentioned is Dendrobium Hilda Poxon (pictured above).
This is a cross between Dendrobium speciosum x Dendrobium tetragonum

DENDROBIUMS Part 3

Cultivation and care

If you been listening to the series on dendrobium orchids you might now be wondering how best to look after them?
You might even be asking do I need a greenhouse or shadehouse like Adrian has for his 200 or so orchids, or can you grow just one or two without too much fuss somewhere in the garden?

Let’s find out..
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant and orchid expert. 


The three most important things for care of your dendrobiums are location, watering and fertilising.
Adrian’s tips is let them completely dry out in winter, but if temperatures are in the high 40’s, you may need to mist them several times a day. 
If they look pinched they need watering.
  • Fertilising
Adrian has an inline fertilising system which is attached to a hose but before the tap. He then places a rock mineral fertiliser in that inline system which leaches a very small amount into the water each time he waters the orchids.
Adrian also recommends using two types of additional fertilisers depending on the time of year.
Fertilisers high in potash to promote spring flowering, and fertilisers high in nitrogen to promote growth.
Tip: Add a handful of dolomite lime over the bark mix every couple of years to counteract the acidity of the media as it breaks down.
If you have any questions about Australian orchids, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write to 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

DOCKRILLIAS EP 4

I’m sad to say this is the final in the series about native orchids.
If by now your interest in growing native orchids hasn’t been piqued, I would be very surprised.
Like most avid gardeners, as soon as someone in the know starts spouting information about a particular plant that has fabulous attributes, you will want one.
So it is with dockrillias.?


Let’s find out more.
I’m talking with Adrian O’Malley, horticulturist and orchidophile 

  • Adrian mentioned a primary hybrid between dockrillia schoenina x dockrillia teretifolia.
The most commonly available dockrillias are:
Dockrillia teretifolia, 
Dockrillia fairfaxii, 
Dockrillia linguiformis, 
Dockrillia cucumerina,
Dockrillia striolata, 
Dockrillia. pugioniformis, which are all cool-growing orchids.

Dockrillia rigida and Dockrillia calamiformis, grow in tropical Australia, but do well in intermediate conditions, that is somewhere between tropical and cool. 

If you have any questions about native orchids, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write to 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675