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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

Sunday, 27 September 2020

New Garden Hoses and Springtime Planting

 TOOL TIME 

Garden Hoses: New Hoses on the Market

Watering your garden by hand in the warmer months is usually a relaxing pleasure unless of course you’re fighting with a cranky hose.

Hoses don’t last forever, and when they start to show signs of wear, you may find yourself getting frustrated every time the hose kinks and stops the flow of water.
So what’s new in hoses if you need an update?
Some are made of vinyl, some are made of rubber, some have reinforcement, some are expanding, and others advertise as being kink free and even made of steel
Which one do you choose?
Let’s find out.

I'm talking with Tony Mattson, general manager of www.cutabovetools.com.au

Tony’s tip, is ‘buy what you can afford, and don’t just go for the cheapest.
  • You want it to last a minimum of 5 to 10 years
Hoses have a hard life out in the sun, or frost in some cases so don’t expect too much from your hose after 5-10 years.
  • Check the distance from the hose to the furthest point you want to water. Longer is not better because it's heavy to move around.
  • Consider how long should you have a hose. Tony says most people overestimate how much hose length that they need.
  • The diameter is 1/2 inch or 12.5mm. A nursery would traditionally use a 19mm diameter hose.
Materials of hoses: kink ratings are not connected to any standard. A bit of marketing goes into the rating most likely.
A totally kinking hose may be made totally of  rubber.
Then store it in loops not small circles.
  • When you first get a hose, lay it out in the sun to straighten it out.
It may just be time for a replacement.
If you have questions about hoses 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

Spring Planting

What vegetable plants, herbs and fruits will grow in your garden this Spring?
Have some or no idea?

It may just jog your memory to remind you to get started on one or two veggies that you had forgotten about.
  • In temperate areas the soil is still pretty cold.
For some of us the late frosts can pop up after a run of warm days and rain might be in scarce supply, depending on where you live.
  • There’s no rush to get summer crops in the ground.
If you’re desperate to get warm season crops in like tomatoes, your best bet is to start them indoors where they are protected or use a heated propagating mat/tray.
Be prepared to protect them on cold nights, and plant seedlings out in the open  when the risk of frost has passed.
  • The kind of veg you can grow in September is "shoulder" season stuff like spinach, peas, turnips, kale, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, Asian greens, mustard, silverbeet, carrots, beetroot and radishes.
  • Depending on where you are, you could also grow beans, rosella, eggplant, sweetcorn, sweet potato and zucchini.
  • It’s also a good time to plant herbs such as coriander, dill, mint, rosemary, thyme and parsley, and perennials such as rhubarb and globe artichokes.
  • And of course spring onions.They're the easiest onions to grow and are absolutely made for planting in September!

In arid and semi arid zones it's getting warm enough to plant early summer veggies such as bush and climbing beans, corn, tomatoes, tomatillos, basil, beetroot, silverbeet, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, parsnips and zucchini.
  • Hold off on capsicums, eggplants, and cucurbits like watermelons, cucumbers and pumpkins until next month.
  • The herbs you could sow are pretty much all types of herbs.
  • Watch out for fruit fly and control spray lawn weeds.
In the frost-free subtropics you can get stuck into planting heat lovers such as capsicums, eggplants, tomatillos, pumpkins, and watermelons.
  • You could also get in a fresh sowing of sweetcorn, basil and okra, along with perennials such as sweet potato, yam, taro, cape gooseberry, lemongrass and passionfruit.
  • These all need warm soil to germinate, and tend to grow well in the spring dry season with extra watering if needed.
  • It’s also a great time to plant citrus trees, guavas and other subtropical fruiting evergreens.
For the topics or sub-tropics, it’s a good time to sow some herbs too.
  • The herbs you could sow or  plant are  basil, chives, coriander, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, sage and thyme.
  • In the tropics, it’s a good time to get in a fresh sowing of sweetcorn, basil and okra, along with perennials such as sweet potato, yam, taro, cape gooseberry, lemongrass and passionfruit.
Cool Temperate& Southern Tablelands and Tasmania
  • Sow broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, beetroot, cucumber, leek, endive,  lettuce, silver beet, snow pea, spinach, strawberry, sweet corn, zucchini and tomato.
  • Traditionally, you don't plant your tomatoes in Tasmania until late October, but you can make an early start and hopefully get fruit by Christmas - if you give your plants a bit of protection."
  • "Don't use high-nitrogen fertilisers with tomatoes or you'll get lots of leaves and less fruit. Use compost and lower-nitrogen manures like sheep or cow.
  • HERBS – sow basil, chives, coriander, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, sage and thyme.
For those of you without a veggie garden, perhaps it’s time to start one now in a sunny spot.
If you are limited by space and are planting in pots, make sure you choose the sunniest part of your balcony or courtyard.

Begin your veggie garden by digging over the soil, then adding two kilograms of compost or cow manure per square metre and then mix in well.
  • By also adding two handfuls of dolomite every square metre, you’ll  prevent blossom end rot happening in tomatoes and will also add essential calcium to the soil.
  • Dig compost into the garden beds four weeks before planting any seedlings.
  • But that’s OK, because you can start your veggies off in punnets or trays first and they should be ready to plant out by then.
If you’re a bit forgetful and are handy with the mobile phone or ipad, you can actually download apps if you put in the words “garden planner.”
There’s a few available so just pick one that suits your area.
THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY

Peppers of All Sorts and Horned Melons

 SPICE IT UP

Black pepper, White Pepper: Peppers of All Sorts

Until recently, this next spice, black pepper, was one of the most traded in the world. 
We’re talking thousands of tonnes of black pepper, can you imagine? But why was that and how does this it grow?

On a tree, a shrub or is it an orchid?
Did you know that to get black peppercorns, the berries are harvested when they are green?
Let's find out more...
I’ve being talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au


The peppercorn that we know is 
Piper nigrum vine native to south India.

All peppercorns are harvested by hand.

Gardeners in the tropics and possibly sub tropics can grow this vine up a trellis or a tree outside in the garden.

Pepper is a jungle plant so that the roots need to remain cool,
The vine will fill a trellis in about three years. Berries that are picked when they're fat and green can be dried to make black pepper.

In the wild, or in plantations where they are allowed to grow up palm trees, the hermaphrodite pepper flowers  are pollinated by rain running down the catkin. This occurs during the monsoon

So if you want to grow one in your home garden, watering the flowers should mimic this.
Berries allowed to mature and turn red, can be peeled and inside is a seed.
This is actually white pepper.

VEGETABLE HEROES:

Horned Melon
Looking like something that dropped from outer space, today we’re growing a horned melon.
  • Scientifically, African Horned Melon is Cucumis metuliferus, but to us gardeners it’s horned melon or kiwano, also African horned cucumber or melon, jelly melon, hedged gourd.
  • Like other melons it’s an annual vine in the cucumber and melon family, Cucurbitaceae.
Why should you grow a horned melon?
Horned Melon Vine

  • For those who like to grow strangely different things this one’s is for you.Its fruit has horn-like spines, hence the name "horned melon".
  • The ripe fruit has yellow-orange skin and lime green, jelly-like flesh with a tart taste, and texture very close to that of a cucumber.In fact as its seeds are found throughout its flesh, not just within a seed cavity, it’s more like a cucumber than a melon.
  • The fruit's taste has been compared to a combination of cucumber and zucchini or a combination of banana, cucumber and lemon.
  • It is also said to taste like an unripe, watered-down banana.
  • A small amount of salt or sugar can dramatically change the flavour.
  • Some also eat the peel, which is very rich in vitamin C and dietary fibre.
Horned melon is native to Sub-Saharan Africa where it’s also a  traditional food plant in Africa.
And it’s one of the few sources of water during the dry season in the Kalahari Desert.
So How Do You Grow This Thing?


Growing a jelly melon plant is much like growing and caring for cucumbers
Plant the horned fruit seeds directly into the garden after all danger of frost has passed and temperatures are consistently above 12 C.
  • Optimum temperatures for germination are between(20-35 C.
  • Plant seeds at a depth of 1 ½ - 2 ½ cm, in groups of two or three seeds.
  • You can also start the seeds indoors, then plant the young melon plants in the garden when the seedlings have two true leaves and temperatures are consistently above 150C.Water the area immediately after planting, then keep the soil slightly moist, but never soggy.
  • Watch for the seeds to germinate in two to three weeks, depending on temperature. Be sure to provide a trellis for the vine to climb, or plant the seeds next to a sturdy fence.
Watering Advice:
Just like for cucumbers water your horned melon plants deeply, giving them at least 2-3 cms of water per week, then allow the soil to dry between waterings.
A single weekly watering is best, as shallow, light irrigation creates short roots and a weak, unhealthy plant.
Water at the base of the plant, if possible, as wetting the foliage places the plants at higher risk of disease such as powdery mildew.
Cut back on watering as the fruit ripens to improve the flavour of the fruit.
At this point, it’s best to water lightly and evenly, as excessive or sporadic watering may cause the melons to split.
When temperatures are consistently above 230-240 C., the horned melon plants will appreciate a few cms of organic mulch, which will conserve moisture and keep weeds in check.
  • The green-yellow skin turns a bright deep orange when ready to harvest, and the pulp resembles lime-green Jelly.
And there you have it.
Horned melon growing is that easy.
Give it a try and experience something different and exotic in the garden.
Why Is It Good For You?
The Horn melon consists of over 90% water and is rich in vitamin C.
It is also a source of iron and potassium and vitamin A.
Plus it only has 103 calories.
As for cooking with it, you can scoop out the inner fruit and toss it in fruit salads or use it as a colourful garnish.
Kiwano or Horned Melons are also excellent in exotic drinks.
 How about a minty gin-and-champagne horned melon or kiwano (it’s other name) cocktail!

Small Shrubs by two: Rock Thryptomene and Midgen Berry

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Thryptomene sp and Thryptomene saxicola F.C.Payne

There are some plants that can be forgiven for not doing much for most of the year, then, when they come into flower, they become the star of the garden.
In a way, they behave like a spring or summer bulbs, because they’re practically invisible until they pop out and flower their heads off.

So what is this Thryptomene which I have been alluding to?
Let’s find out more…
I'm talking with Adrian O’Mally, qualified horticulturist and native plant expert.
Rock thryptomene is as close to a common name as you'll get for this plant.
Growth is as for a sub-shrub 0.75 – 1.5m tall by 1 – 1.5 wide.

  • Adrian came across seven thryptomene planted along a bank with a south-east aspect.
  • They had grown leggy so to keep your shrub bushy, keep up the formative pruning in the early stages.
  • Doing this you will able to keep the shrub to 60cm in height.
Thryptomene is evergreen with a slightly weeping habit and  aromatic small leaves are small.
You may find it as a filler in bouquets because the tiny 5-petalled flowers blend well with larger flowers of any kind.
Thryptomene saxicola (pictured below)



Thryptomene paynei, then newly introduced to New Zealand was "raised by FC Payne of Adelaide".
F.C. Payne was the owner of "The Sanctuary" plant nursery in Ashton, in the Adelaide hills of South Australia who promoted the use of Australian native plants in local gardens.
By 1967 the cultivar had become a "garden favourite" in Australia and was featured in a gardening guide for native plants in The Australian Women's Weekly.

Bird and insect attracting plants always make a lovely addition to your garden.
Look out for the different cultivars of thryptomene in your nursery or big box store this spring, because there won’t be many, and they’ll be snapped up quick smart. If you have any questions about anything gardening, why not email us realworldgardener@gmail.com

PLANT OF THE WEEK 2

Scientific name:Austromyrtus dulcis
Common name: Midgen berry
Flowers: white with 5 petals, in spring and summer. Later in cooler districts.
Leaves: variable 9-30mm with noticeable oil glands. New growth is covered with silky hairs.
Site: part shade to full sun
Uses: bush tucker food



Cultivars: Austromyrtus  'Copper Tops." ( A hybrid between A. dulcis and A. tenuifolia.)
Here’s a shrub that has not only green leaves but berries that you can actually eat.

Let’s find out more…I'm talking with Adrian O’Mally, qualified horticulturist and native plant expert. 
The white berries have pale purple spots and a reputedly crunchy with a similar taste to blackberries.
I never found that thinking they were more pasty albeit sweet tasting. 
The preferred soil is will drained.
  • Midgen berry hedges is a great alternative to murraya hedges. Plant that closer together than the recommendation on the plant tag. Usually half the distance is best.
  • In it's native environment it may grow as a spreading shrub up to 2 m tall. Usually found in sandy soils in heath, scrub or open forests and occasionally on the margins of rainforests. 
  • In the home garden 40cm x 1.4m wide
  • Midgen berry copper tops has coppery coloured new growth.