Saturday, 28 July 2018

Exploring the Senses in Gardening

What’s On The Show Today?

Part 2 of garden toolboxes in the tool time segment and it’s not what you think,; growing no ordinary mint in Vegetable Heroes, 5 senses gardening in Design Elements with landscape designer Chris Poulton, plus scented flowers in winter in plant of the week;


Tools for the Advanced and Mature Gardener

Over the years, gardeners accumulate quite a number of tools that they regard as essential and wouldn’t be without.
Last week we talked about what you might need if you were a beginner or slightly more advanced gardener.
Cut Above Tools
So now we’re going for tools with more oomph and powered by more than your muscle power.
The reason is that it’s the experienced and the mature gardener that’s getting a look in.
Let’s find out what the experts recommend.
I'm talking with Tony Mattson General Manager of
PLAY: Toolbox part 2-18th July 2018
What do you think, do you agree with Tony’s advanced gardener’s tool kit or would you have chosen something else? 

If you haven’t already, it’s probably time to buy a pair of ratchet secateurs (sek-a terrs) to add to your toolbox. Ratchet secateurs are great for pruning shrubs.
Mature gardeners might want gear action loppers
If you have any questions either for me or Tony, you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


No Ordinary Mint: Vietnamese Mint

Vietnamese mint, Persicaria odorata.
Any time is a great time to be growing mints of all kinds, but this one is particularly good.
And…..Vietnamese mint isn’t actually a mint, nor is it in the mint family-Lamiaceae but in a family called Polygonaceae which is the same for buckwheat and rhubarb.

Botanical Bite

In botany, mint is the common name for any of the various herbaceous plants that have a botanical name starting with Mentha, in the mint family Lamiaceae.
Flowers of Vietnamese Mint
These mints have wide-spreading, underground rhizomes; erect, square, branched stems; and pairs of oppositely arranged leaves; and small, tubular flowers arranged in clusters.
Only the members of Mentha are known as the "true mints," some plants in same family but aren’t true mints, use mint in their common name.
But one things for sure and that is the entire family is known as the mint family.
In comes some other plants with fragrant leaves that have the common name of mint associated.
Vietnamese mint is one of these. Not a true mint and again, not even in the mint family.
Odorata simply means fragrant which this plant is
This so called mint is a herb that’s used a lot in Asian cuisine, and funnily enough, it grows easily, much like other mints.
How to use Vietnamese mint and other interesting facts.

The leaves are used fresh in salads, soups and stews.
In Singapore, the shredded leaf is an essential ingredient in laksa, a spicy soup.
Here’s a funny fact-did you know that some Buddhist monks grow Vietnamese mint in their private gardens and eat it often as a helpful step in their celibate life?
Vietnamese mint has an essential oil called kesom oil.
This oil is used a lot in the processed food industry where it’s used in the form of a natural food essence.
The cosmetic industry also uses kesom oil.
So what does it look like?

It’s a creeping herbaceous perennial that grows up to 30cm with a flavour that is a mix of pepper, mint and lemon.
The leaves are very narrow and angular looking and the stems are jointed much like wandering Jew which is now called Tradescantia.
The old genus name Poly­gonum (English: knot­weed) pointed to way the stem looked, - many joints linked together by slightly bent “knots” or “knees”

The top of the leaf is dark green, with chestnut-coloured dark rounded markings right across the leaf, and the underside is burgundy red.
When it flowers is has flat spikes of light lavender coloured flowers, but I can’t say mine has ever flowered.
In originates in Vietnam where it’s found in the wild in wet and boggy places.

Where it Grows
It can grow very well outside in summer in non-tropical parts of Australia.
Vietnamese mint prefers part-sun and well-drained soil.
For those areas with cool to cold winter, bring your Vietnamese mint indoors or under shelter as you would an indoor plant.
It grows very well in pots but is frost tender.
Tip: If you’re growing them in pots, once Vietnamese gets pot bound, it’ll stop producing leaves giving you a big hint to repot and divide it up.
Vietnamese mint rarely flowers outside the tropics, but it’s the leaves you want to use and not the flowers.
Vietnamese mint is normally fairly low maintenance and is easy to grow, as long as you give it a basic level of basic care.
All you need to do is keep it well watered and cut back to the ground when
leaves become tough to produce more fresh young leaves.
Vietnamese mint is a perennial plant that grows best in tropical and subtropical zones in warm and damp conditions.
But all gardeners like a challenge even if it the growing conditions aren’t ideal.
In good conditions, it can grow up to 15 to 30 cm.
In summer or when the temperature is too high, it does wilt.
If you know someone with this plant ask for some cuttings from a mature clump.
These mints are so hardy!
They will tolerate any soil conditions and even people stomping on them (by accident of course, or chickens trying to dig the plant up).
They don't need constant fertilising or watering but do like shading from the hottest part of the day.
Try planting Vietnamese mint if you'd like to attract butterflies and bees to your garden for tropical gardens of course.
So what do you do with Vietnamese Mint.
The fresh leaf is used typically in Vietnamese cooking and can be used in
place of Coriander in all Asian cooking, soups, salads and fish.
It can also be dried.
Vietnamese Mint Lemonade
You can even make Vietnamese Mint lemonade.
Just place some sugar in the bottom of a large jug.
Add ice, 1 cup of lemon juice, then slices of lemon, a handful of mint and top up with about 2 litres of mineral water.
Very refreshing.

Why is it good for you?
 Vietnamese mint contains high levels of Beta-carotene and vitamin E:
Also has high levels of folic acid, iron and calcium.
Mint leaves also have useful healing properties.
Mints can freshen breath, soothe the stomach and reduce inflammation. Mint leaves are not as potent as concentrated mint oil, but they still have many of the same health benefits.


Introduction to 5 Sense Gardening

Have you ever thought about the five senses when you think about your garden?
Probably not, but the best way to enjoy your garden is to engage all the senses.
Today we are going to talk about these senses and how to recognise and use them on a daily basis in small and large gardens.

Touch, Smell, Sight, Hearing, Taste are of course the 5 sense, so how do we incorporate these into garden design so each particular sense is invigorated.
Let’s find out about what, why and how.
I'm talking with Chris Poulton, Convener for the Australian Institute of Horticulture, and experienced Horticultural Lecture and Consultant.

PLAY: Five Senses in Garden Design_18th July 2018

Most gardens just have visual appeal, but you’ll enjoy your garden more if there are other
If you have any questions about five senses gardening or have a suggestion either for me or for Chris why not write in or email me at


Luculia gratissima

The shrub featured this week is an old fashioned shrubs but with outstanding features.
And just like undersized potatoes or oversized apples, they who make decision in the big stores that sell plants, have decided that they won’t be available to the home gardener.
So if you’re looking for a winter flower shrub or small tree with masses of pink fragrant flowers, this one’s for you?
Luculia gratissima
Let’s find out more…
I'm talking with the plant panel: Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.
PLAY: Luculia_18th July 2018 (7th June_2017)

While the flowers make an impressive display, the leaves not so much.
The foliage shall we say get’s a little untidy, but gardeners grow it for the flowers not the leaves.
You can prune mature Luculias quite hard to tidy them up, should you be lucky enough to have one growing in your garden.

If you have a question either for me or the plant panel why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Trees, Cress and Garden Tools

What’s On The Show Today?

Toolboxes in the tool time segment and it’s not what you think,; growing an indoor green with heaps of vitamin C in Vegetable Heroes, spikey but long lasting flowers in plant of the week; plus the final in the 4 part series or trees in Design Elements with arboriculturalist and garden designer Glenice Buck.


Garden Toolboxes for the Beginner and Semi-Advanced Gardener
Over the years, gardeners accumulate quite a number of tools that they regard as essential and wouldn’t be without.

I’m not talking about anything that is powered, wither by petrol or electricity, but hand tools.
Quite often we even have several of the same too.
If you knew someone who was just starting out in gardening, what would you recommend they have as an essential part of their gardening tool kit?
Limit it to three and see how you go.
Let’s find out what the experts recommend.
I'm talking with Tony Mattson General Manager of
PLAY: Toolbox part 1-11th July 2018

What do you think, do you agree with Tony’s essential beginner’s tool kit or would you have chosen something else?

For the most part, I’m sure listeners would have said a pair of secateurs\ would be the bare minimum, but one pair of secateurs doesn’t make a kit, you need two more things.
What are yours? If you have any questions either for me or Tony, you can email us


 Cress Of All Kinds But Mainly Garden Cress
If we understood what the health benefits of the food we eat, both vegetables, root plants, tubers, grains etc not only would we be getting fed but also getting help to know why we should eat certain food, when and how to eat such food so as to obtain all the benefits attached to the food. 
Segue to a small plant that even though it’s smallish in nature it’s got very powerful abilities and that’s garden cress. 
You may have eaten garden cress in the past or you may not have even come across it at all. 
Garden cress (Lepidium sativum), is a member of the cabbage family. Brassicaceae 

Cress is native to the Middle East and interestingly was grown in Persia as early as 400 BC 
Did you know that there are several types of cress? 
Garden Cress is also called broadleaf cress, has flat, bright green leaves to 10cm long and 5cm wide. 
Garden cress, a biennial, is also called peppergrass, pepper cress, and mustard cress. 
Golden-leafed broadleaf cress is sometimes called Australian cress. 
Garden cress is an annual that does best in damp soil. 

Curly cress (Barbarea vernapraecox), also called, early winter cress, or Upland cress, has finely divided leaves something like parsley or chervil and thin, branching stems. 
Curly cress is dark green and also likes to grow in damp soil. 

Watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum) is a trailing annual usually grown in water. 
You can grow watercress indoors in pots set in a tray of water or along the side of a stream or watercourse. 
Who has a stream or creek running past their kitchen window? 

This is what some English people might do to grow watercress 
Watercress, by the way is a member of the Nasturtium family. 

Today I’m focussing on garden cress.

How Do You Grow Garden Cress? 
Cress is a reseeding annual or biennial, which can be grown in shade or semi shade. 
It’s featuring on Veg heroes now because it grows well in the cooler months. 
“If you plant cress during the summer, the plants will shoot up flowers without making enough growth to harvest.” 
If grown in dry soil and very hot weather, instead of being refreshing and tasty, it becomes unpleasant and bitter. 
Its seeds are light - germinating, in about 2 to 4 days. 
Northern Hemisphere information will tell you to sow seed in early spring or late summer through autumn. 
Garden Cress seeds can be sown any time of the year, although plants will generally grow best in Autumn, Winter or Spring. 
If you live in a warmer part of Australia and want to grow garden cress during the Summer try growing it indoors, that way you’ll have cress all year round. 
Cress is also suitable as a groundcover, and can also be grown year around or on a windowsill in pots, bowls, boxes, or flat plates where it will often produce a more mild and pleasing flavour .
If you want, you could have a continual supply, if you sowed seed every eight days. 
It’s a fact that the officers in the 1700’s coming over on the first fleet, grew cress on wet flannel as a source of Vitamin C .
Soil is not that important, and sand, coir peat, and compost are all suitable. 
Water your cress well; both seeds and plants should be kept moist. 
Cress prefers a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.8. that’s slightly acid. 

How To Sow 
Scatter your garden cress seeds straight into the garden bed, raking in to about 3mm deep and firming down the soil lightly prior to watering in to retain moisture. You can soaking Garden Cress seeds overnight before sowing to increase the number of seedlings you end up with. 
Once the seedlings have a few leaves you can thin them out, leave about 20cm between them to allow room for each plant to grow. 
Where to Grow 

Garden Cress prefers to grow in a sunny spot or in light shade for part of the day. For warmer areas, Garden Cress will grow better in partial shade when grown during the hotter months of the year outdoors. 
As far as companion planting goes, “Cress is not suitable for growing among other plants as it contains a tiny amount of mustard oil that’s supposed to interfere with the growth of other plants.” this is called aelopathic, or aelopathy. 

Growing without soil 
Cress can actually be grown without soil, by using moist paper towels 
To do this at home, just layer and wet two paper towels and set them on a plate. Sprinkle the cress seeds on the wet paper towels and place plate in a light window, preferably a north-facing window. Check daily to make sure the paper towels are kept moist. 
In about three days, the plants should be a bit over 1 cm high. 
Keep going with making the paper moist and when they reach 10 -12 cm high, trim your cress with scissors and enjoy! 
If you’re growing cress outside, pick your cress when it’s still young; 10-15cm in height. 
When mature, garden cress produces white or light-pink flowers, and small seed pods. 
In cooking Garden cress is added to soups, sandwiches and salads for its tangy flavour. 
It’s also eaten as sprouts, and the fresh or dried seed pods can be used as a peppery seasoning.

Why Is It Good For You? 
Garden cress is an important source of iron, folic acid, calcium, vitamins C, E and A. The seeds are high in calories and protein, whereas the leaves are an excellent source of vitamin A, C and folate. 
Both the leaves and stems of cress can be eaten raw in salads or sandwiches, and are sometimes called cress sprouts. 
When buying cress, look for firm, evenly coloured, rich green leaves. 
Avoid cress with any signs of slime, wilting, or discoloration. 
If stored in plastic, it can last up to five days in the fridge. 
Another way to store cress is by putting the stems in a glass container with water and covering them, then put in the fridge until you need them. 
Cress is used raw and in sandwiches and salads with mixed greens. 
Cress is also good with cottage cheese and with eggs. 
It can be overpowering to other herbs, so it is generally used alone. 

Banskia Spinulosa

This next plant is a native but is often overlooked because people go for the more colourful and show Grevilleas.
They may come in limited colourways, but their flowers are much more substantial and spectacular, particular if you have several cultivars planted or grouped together.
Banksia spinulosa
Plus they provide nectar for wildlife during the colder months of the year.
Let’s find out about them
I'm talking with Jeremy Critchley owner of and Karen Smith editor of
PLAY: Banksia spinulosa_11th July 2018

Banksia spinulosa isn’t slow growing at all and within a couple of years, if grown from seed, will have reached over one metre tall and wide, plus provide a least 8 flower spikes.

Banskia flower spikes you can either cut for the vase, or just leave on the bush for the native wildlife to enjoy.

As cut flowers, Banksias can last for months.

If you have a question either for me or the plant panel why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Preserving Trees: Why We Should

Today is the final in the series about the stewardship of trees.
On the menu is why we need to preserve our trees because in the long run, if you damage trees, you’re actually doing yourself a disservice.

Let’s find out about why we need to preserve trees. 
I'm talking with Glenice Buck, Arboriculture Consultant and Garden Designer.

PLAY: Tree Preservation/Management_9th December 2015

Did you know that three trees placed strategically around a single-family home can cut summer air conditioning needs by up to 50 percent?
Shade from trees slows water evaporation from thirsty lawns. Most newly planted trees need only 55 litres of water a week. 

As trees transpire, they increase atmospheric moisture.
If you have any questions about what arborists do, consulting or otherwise or have a suggestion either for me or for Glenice, why not write in or email me at

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Trees, Leaves and Frost

What’s On The Show Today?

Winter care of ornamentals in the Plant Doctor segment, growing a hardy herb in Vegetable Heroes, a groundcover whose leaves come in a plethora of colours in plant of the week; plus what does an arborist actually do? in the 4 part series or trees in Design Elements with arboriculturalist and garden designer Glenice Davies


Winter Care of Ornamental Plants
Ornamental plants are those whose leaves, flowers and fruits we don't eat.
Autumn is meant to gently acclimatise most plants to the cold.
What if Autumn is just an extension of Summer and then, whoosh, cold weather arrives all too soon and it's winter?
Snow damage on Eucalypts
That is one reason that during winter some of our trees and shrubs don’t look so healthy and gardeners start getting concerned that something is wrong with their particular plant.
Unsuspecting gardeners might even think that their plant is dying because the leaves have started dropping of, yet it’s supposed to be evergreen.
Could it be just a response to cold weather or is something untoward happening in the soil that is affecting the plant’s health?
Let’s find out.. 
I'm talking with was Steve Falcioni, General Manager of

The leaves can change colour due to the cold, and it may be just a normal reaction or because the plant can't access nutrients that it needs.
Frost Damagon Avocado. photo Dept of  Primary Industries W. A.
If you make a note in your garden diary that a particular plant did this or that in winter, you may discover that it’s quite normal during the cold months of the year. 
Seaweed extracts help plants reduce stress factors and one of them is coping with the cold.
Applying it regularly though is a must for this to be of benefit.
If you have any questions either for me or Steve, you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Lemon Grass
Lemon Grass or Cymbopogon citratus is in the Poaceae Family
Lemongrass is a perennial grass native to tropical southeast Asia.
You may have heard of lemongrass and even seen it sold in the fruit and veg section of the supermarket, but what you may not know is that there are two main types of lemongrass.
There’s East Indian, Cymbopogon flexuosus , and West Indian, Cymbopogon citratus.
East Indian lemongrass, also known as cochin or Malabar grass is native to India, while West Indian lemongrass is native to southern India and Ceylon.
Did you know that lemongrass is one of the most widely used traditional plants in South American folk medicine?
In India, it’s used as a medical herb and for perfumes, but not used as a spice; in the rest of tropical Asia (Sri Lanka and even more South East Asia), it’s an important culinary herb and spice.

What does it look like?

Lemon grass grows in a bushy like clumps to 1 m tall with long narrow pale green leaves.
The slender stalks are about 30cm long and are rough to the touch, especially the leaf blade edges which feel quite sharp.
The common name gives it away but lemongrass has a wonderful lemony scent and taste because of the citral that’s the aldehyde that gives it the lemon odour.

It can be easily propagated by division and when you pick the Lemon Grass to use in cooking or teas, cut off the bottom part leaving just the roots - put this piece into a glass of water and it will shoot very quickly.

You can then replant it and you’ll definitely always have Lemon Grass in your garden.

For companion plant aficionados, growing a clump of Lemon Grass in the vegetable garden has a good influence on all the plants around it and the vegetables will be much more flavoursome.

How To Grow Lemongrass
Lemongrass is adapted to hot wet summers and dry warm winters, is drought tolerant and will grow on a wide range of soils but prefers rich, moist loams.
It dislikes wet feet, but it does like regular watering in summer.
If it’s damaged by frost in cooler areas, the tops should not be cut until all danger of frost has passed.

How to control that lemongrass.

Cut back the old leaves in early Spring to strengthen the bush as well as tidy it up because invariably if it has dried out , there’ll be plenty of dead stalks which aren’t much good for cooking.
This helps to protect the centre of the plant from further cold damage.

You need a pretty big pot to contain it.
In a small pot, it gets too cramped too quickly and as I’ve discovered, get little green growth and lots of dead leaves.
You can divide the clump, but it will soon be just as massive as it is now.
It's jolly hard work digging it, and every single piece with roots on it will in no time flat be just as big as the parent.

TIP:So putting it in the vegetable garden will only work if you contain it in perhaps a bottomless pot.
The leaves can be picked at any time of the year and the stems can be used fresh or dried.

So why Is It Good For You?
Medicinally Lemon Grass can be drunk as a tea as can taken either hot or cold.
Iced Lemongrass is a mild sedative.
Try it for your insomnia, or when you are under stress, or even if you need help to calm a nervous or upset stomach.
The herb is also said to relieve headaches.
Lemon Grass tea in summer is not only extremely refreshing but it’s good for the skin as the oil ctains Vitamin A. 

How To Use Lemongrass
For an invigorating bath, add a few drops of Lemon Grass oil to your bathwater. Teenagers with skin problems will benefit by drinking the tea regularly and it will also give eyes a bright clear look as well.
For cooking use the stalks only and pick the thick, light green ones that feel firm and aren’t dried out and wilted.

Cut off the woody root tip of each stalk until the purplish-tinted rings begin to show and remove the loose, dry outer layer(s).

Also, if the top of the stalk is dry and fibrous cut this off too.
When using it in cooked dishes, bang it with a cleaver to bruise the membranes and release more flavour.
Put a handful of the leaves into the saucepan when steaming or simmering chicken or fish to give a delicate but delicious taste of lemon.
It can be used in many dishes as a substitute for lemon.
To store fresh lemon grass, wrap well in clingfilm and refrigerate
This will keep for up to three weeks. 


Heuchera species.
Gardening isn’t just about the flowers you know.

There are plants that have leaves in a kaleidoscope of colours with names like Pink Fizz, Champagne, Gumdrops, and Forever Purple.
Heuchera is also great for dry shade in places where root competition won't allow most plants to grow.
There’s got to be one that will inspire you to plant into your garden.

I'm talking with Jeremy Critchley owner of and Karen Smith editor of 
Let's find out about them

Heuchera's have a shallow root system and are perfect for greenwalls of any kind.
Jeremy mentioned that Heuchera loves cooler weather and the Autumn/Winter months is the time when the grow most of their Heuchera varieties.
These plants tolerate shady condtions and will cope with being an indoor plant for quite a few months.
Darker leafed varieties can cope with full sun, but it's best to try them on in a sunny location first before planting them into the ground.
In colder climates, to protect them from frost damage, lay a 2 cm layer of thick straw mulch around the plants. 
Heuchera's have a shallow root system and are also perfect for greenwalls of any kind.
If you have a question either for me or the plant panel why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


What Does an Arborist or Consultant Arborist Do?

This series is about arboriculture and managing trees.
Did you know that there was an Institute of Australian Consulting Arborists?
So what is a consulting arborist and can they cut down your trees if you want them too?
Let’s find out?

I'm talking with Consultant Arborist and Garden Designer Glenice Buck.

If you’ve been asked for an Arborist Report, a Tree Report or an Arboricultural Impact Assessment then a consulting arborist is the best person to call because they often prepare these reports for clients with respect to trees for a range of reasons.
And where do you find these consulting arborists? 
Look no further than the Accredited Members of the Institute of Australian Consulting Arboriculturists (IACA) ( ) provide written reports for their clients in the public and private sectors. IACA members do not undertake tree pruning or removal work.
The other organization is Arboriculture Australia which also lists consulting arborists.
photo Capel Manor College-Arborist Course.

And where do you find these consulting arborists?

Look no further than the Accredited Members of the Institute of Australian Consulting Arboriculturists (IACA) ( ) provide written reports for their clients in the public and private sectors. IACA members do not undertake tree pruning or removal work.
The other organization is Arboriculture Australia which also lists consulting arborists.

If you have any questions about what arborists do, consulting or otherwise or have a suggestion either for me or for Glenice, why not write in or email me at

Saturday, 7 July 2018

English Gardens, Trees, and Blue Tongues

What’s On The Show Today?

What makes an English landscape garden in the garden history segment, it’s really a flower head, but we eat it as a veggie in Vegetable Heroes,a shrub that’s native but looks exotic in plant of the week; plus tree selection in the 4 part series or trees in Design Elements with Arboricultural Consultant and garden designer Glenice Davies.


English Landscapes and How They Changed Australian Gardens.

Why did the first settlers try and emulate the English garden in such different conditions is easy enough to answer?
Stowe, England photo M. Cannon
They wanted a home away from home, much like peoples from other nations choosing to have quite different gardens.
In Today’s garden history segment we look at those first English influences and why they’re still relevant today.
I'm talking with Stuart Read, committee member of the National Garden History Society of Australia., which you can join or attend one of their meetings by the way.
Let’s find out..

PLAY: English Landscape Garden in Oz_27th June
David Jaques has written a book on English landscapes that Stuart recommends.
When Australia was being settled the "beautiful" or English "landscape" style was dominating garden design as it had started to do from the 1700's.
This was basically faked up landscapes that were intended to look like the real thing.
Funnily enough, 220 years later, they do look like the r"real thing," because the trees have grown into what the landscaper had intended.
Landscapers like Capability Brown started this revolution in garden design as seen in the photographs of Stowe, where he first started the trend.
Stowe, England, photo M Cannon
The most famous landscapers of that time were Capability Brown, along with Charles Bridgeman, William Kent, and later Humphrey Repton.
If you have any questions either for me or Stuart, you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Broccoli is Good For You Greg!Do you know someone who just won't eat Broccoli?
No reason, just can't come at this very green vegetable.
Here's some facts that might change their mind.

Ever wondered which vegetable has more vitamin C than an orange? 
Broccoli, Brassica oleracea var Italica or botrytis cymosa?

Would you have guessed that Broccoli heads are actually groups of flower buds that are almost ready to flower? 
Each group of buds is called a floret.

Broccoli is of course in the Brassicaceae family of vegetables along with cauliflower, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, turnips and many of the Asian greens.

Did you know that most members of the Brassica Family, are related to a wild cabbage grown centuries ago?

Why should you grow Broccoli if it’s available all year round in your supermarket?
  • Firstly, supermarket Broccoli has probably been sprayed for all manner of pests whether or not the pests visited the Broccoli plant. 
  • Secondly, supermarket Broccoli stems are pretty tough to eat, when they’re supposed to be tender. 
  • Why, because that type of Broccoli transports better? 
  • Homegrown Broccoli, especially the heirloom varieties, also re-shoot after you’ve cut off the central Broccoli stem. 
  • Plus, Broccoli is pretty easy to grow. 
  • Just keep an eye out for bugs during warmer months, but there’s plenty of organic ways of controlling them. 
  • Finally, to taste great, broccoli has to be properly cared for and must also be picked at the right time. 
  • If you just buy broccoli at the green grocer’s, the broccoli may look great but the taste may not be up to scratch. 
  • How so? They may have been picked before becoming fully-mature. 
  • Or they may have been picked at the right time but then stored too long 
  • With home-grown broccoli, you can also be sure how it has been grown: 
  • You know exactly where it has come from, what you used to grow and protect it, unlike those sold in supermarkets and even in farmer’s markets. 
  • In tropical districts plant out seedlings until the end of July. 
  • For sub-tropical districts you can plant all year round. 
  • In Temperate districts, it was the end of May, but maybe you can try anyway. 
  • In cool temperate districts 
  • Temperate and cool climates suit Broccoli best with a temperature range of 150C to 250C. 
  • The ideal time for cool temperate districts has just passed also so not until October, 
  • However for arid, districts, you have until the end of July. 

Broccoli types

Broccoli comes in many shapes and varieties but is grouped into five major strains: sprouting, broccolini, purple, Romanseco, and Chinese varieties.

Today, I’m concentrating on the common or garden variety which is actually the sprouting variety.
Now you probably thought that was what those little shoots of Broccoli are called but you would be wrong.
Those little guys are called Broccolini.
Broccoli seeds are easy enough to get at supermarkets, garden centres and online seed suppliers of course.

Try these broccoli varieties
Di Cicco is a classic Italian style broccoli which is deep green in colour and has a sweet flavour that might help to get kids into eating it.
Broccoli di Cicco
Green Sprouting is a Calabrese style broccoli with bluish green coloured heads and a deep earthy taste.
Waltham 29 is a great all-rounder plus there’s purple sprouting Broccoli, which is well, purple and sprouting- attractive and tasty.
All of these varieties will provide months of continual harvest and can even be considered as a perennial plant if you can manage to deal with the influx of cabbage moths that come around as the weather warms up.

How to grow Broccoli?
  • Broccoli is not too choosy about the site it grows in but prefers to be in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade with no problems. 
  • Growing in too much shade will reduce the size of the Broccoli head. 
  • The ideal soil is a reasonably heavy (not pure clay) which is rich in nutrients and has been well-dug. 
  • Like all brassicas, Broccoli needs a minimum soil pH of 6; but really prefers a pH of 7. Add lime if you need to raise the soil pH. 
Broccoli is what’s called a heavy feeder, so do add plenty of blood and bone, and decomposed manures by the bucket load before you start.
  • Sow your Broccoli seed about 1 ½ cm deep, and space the seedlings about 40cm apart so they don’t crowd each other. 
  • Once a fortnight feed your broccoli with a liquid fertilizer; seaweed, manure tea, nettle tea etc. 
  • When your Broccoli is growing always make sure that the beds are free from competitive weeds by hand weeding regularly. 
TIP:Don’t plant or sow Broccoli in your veggie bed if you’ve grown it before in the past 3 years.
You may get a disease called Club Root that causes you Broccoli plant to wilt regardless of how much water you give it.
Remember the acronym. LRLC-Legumes, root veg, leafy then Cucurbits, Brassicas.

When do you pick your Broccoli?
Harvest broccoli heads when they have reached maximum size, are still compact, and before the buds loosen, open into flowers, or turn yellow. It will be about 70-100 days or 2 ½ -4 months, when your Broccoli will be ready if you plant it now. 
Here's how you should cut the stems
  • Make a sloping cut (this allows water to run off), picking a piece that's about 10 cm long. 
  • That way you’ve left a reasonable amount of the plant intact to produce smaller side-shoots or "florets," which you can pick as well. 
Great for stir fries.
At this stage, don’t stop feeding and watering the remaining broccoli stem otherwise your plants will go to seed and you won’t get any side shoots.
TIP: If your Broccoli plants starts to flower it’ll going into seed production and you won’t get any more side shoots.

Why is Broccoli good for you?
Broccoli contains twice the vitamin C of an orange.
Did you know that just 100g of Broccoli has two day’s supply of vitamin C (don’t overcook or you’ll lose some).
Broccoli also a good source of dietary fibre, potassium, vitamin E, folate and beta carotene
Broccoli also contains magnesium and as much calcium as whole milk.
One cup of broccoli boosts the immune system with a large dose of beta-carotene.
Great for preventing colds. Don’t underestimate the power of broccoli!



Melastoma affine: Native Lasiandra: Blue Tongue

If you’re into your gardening and love the colour purple for flowers and perhaps fruits or foliage, then this little gem might surprise you.

The reason is that it’s native to Australia but looks just like it’s exotic cousin from South America.
Let’s find out about it.
I'm talking with Karen Smith editor of

Because this plant is indigenous to Australia, there are pollinators that can visit this plant successfully, unlike the Tibouchina which it resembles.
Here's how they do it.
Funnily enough, Melastoma produces no nectar - giving pollinators large amounts of pollen instead, which must be extracted through pores on the anthers.
The flowers are pollinated in the wild by carpenter bees - the Giant Carpenter Bee and the Metallic Green Carpenter Bee - they grab hold of the stamen (the bit that holds the pollen) and give it a good shake.
Introduced Honey Bees can't 'buzz pollinate' - they don't have the ability or technique to vibrate their wings while clasping the stamen.
So, they can only gather pollen if it has been already released onto the petals.

That’s why you’ll never see fruits on a Tibouchina but will, on a Native Lasiandra.
Worth getting for that reason alone.

If you have a question either for me or the plant panel why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Tree Selection
This series is about arboriculture and managing trees.
Perhaps some people are put off trees because they can drop heaps of leaves and sometimes a branch or two, or fall over in storms.
But there’s a reason for that.
"For the trees in a landscape to grow, thrive and survive the test of time, many factors need to be considered when you are choosing the trees for your garden. "

Westonbirt arboretum, England photo M/ Cannon
Probably something we already know, and that is trees are an essential part of our landscape and according to the CSIRO, trees will clean air and are the lungs of the planet. 
Let’s find out who to call? 
I'm talking to Arboriculture Consultant and Landscape Designer, Glenice Davies.

When choosing trees you need to consider what you want out of a tree?
  •  evergreen or deciduous?
  • shape and habit
  • how big will it grow?
  • size of the roots.
  • flowering and/or fruiting?
  • life span
  • what maintenance is involved?
Cloud pruned trees, England. photo M. Cannon
Research shows that people experience more deaths from heart disease and respiratory diseases in urban areas where the tree had been removed than from those urban areas where trees were still allowed to grow.
Still want to get rid of those trees?

If you have any questions about tree selection or have a suggestion why not write in or email me at

Saturday, 30 June 2018

Peas, Trees and Camellias

What’s On The Show Today?

Looking after Citrus trees in winter on the Plant Doctor segment, should you be really growing snow peas yet in Vegetable Heroes, and a shrub that’s everyone’s darling in winter in Plant of the Week, plus what does an arborist do in Design Elements with arboriculturalist and garden designer Glenice Buck or is it Glenice Davies now she’s married.


Citrus Winter Care
Are you wondering “what’s wrong with my citrus tree?” right now.
Perhaps the symptoms that you’re seeing now seem to happen every winter?
If that’s the case, then you’ll need to listen in closely to this next segment which is just about that.
Let’s find out.. I'm talking with Steve Falcioni, general manager of

Steve offered quite a range of things to do for your citrus tree.
Firstly though, you need to assess your tree to determine what’s going on with it.
The number 1 problem to look out for is scale.

Citrus scale ( white louse scale) will cover the stems, twigs and branches of your citrus tree in what looks like fine shredded coconut that has tuck fast.
To treat this problem spray with Eco Oil making sure all surfaces are covered well.
Spray again a week later as a follow up spray.
If it looks like nothing's happened try flicking off the scale with your finger. Live scale easily flicks off, whereas dead scale sticks fast.
If the scale problem is so bad that the oil spray doesn't seem to be working, then go for a lime-sulphur spray. Winter is the only time for this one on citrus.
Some districts that have warmer weather all year round need to hang a pheremone trap to control citrus leaf miner. 
The moth lays its eggs into the leaf where the larvae feed and finally tunnel out created leaf distortion and silvering.
One things for sure, and that is there’s no point in spreading granular citrus tree fertiliser around the tree in winter.
There is next to no if any, uptake of nutrients from the fertiliser because the tree isn’t in active growth, (unless you’re in subtropical areas) and the fertiliser won’t break down to release the nutrients because of the lack of microbial activity in the soil during winter.

If you have any questions either for me or Steve, you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Snow Peas: Pisum sativum var sacharatum

Today’s vegetable hero is in the family of veggies that is technically classed a fruit and that is the Pea family.
Snow peas and the similar sugar snap pea are part of a family with a long and exotic history.
  • Would you think that snow peas originate in Asia or even China because they’re used so much in Asian cooking? 
  • If you did you’d be wrong because in fact, snow peas originated in the Mediterranean, and were grown widely in England and Europe in the nineteenth century. 
So why are they called snow peas? 

  • Strangely they were first called English sugar peas.
  • But sometime later they began being called Snow peas-no-one really knows why except that they’re picked very early in the year, sometimes before the last frost, and are in fact very resistant to frost, snow, and cold weather. 
  • The Chinese adopted these peas into their own cuisine from the English, and they have been known as Chinese snow peas ever since. 
Have you ever eaten fresh snow peas raw as a snack?

Some people find them more tasty that way but they also lend themselves nicely to quick blanching, so that they stay crisp and green.
There’s nothing worse than soggy snow peas.
Snow peas may be added to Asian stir-fry dishes, soups, and pasta.
Because they need very little cooking time, add them towards the end of cooking so they remain crunchy and crisp.

Why Can You Eat The Pods Of Snow Peas?   
  • Snow peas are known as edible podded peas because they don’t have the same cross fibre in the wall of the pod as the common garden pea and can be eaten whole. 
  • The snow pea is Pisum sativum var. saccharatum. or (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon) is a distinct botanical cultivar or subspecies of garden peas 
  • The pod is pretty much flat and is eaten before the string develops and the peas start to swell. 
  • There are dwarf and vine varieties of Snow peas. 
  • The vine varieties produce tendrils, so they’re especially well-adapted for climbing wires or trellises. 
  • Snow peas have light green pods that follow purple or white, sweetly scented flowers which you can also eat. 
When to Plant
  • You plant Snow Peas from April until September in warm Temperate climates, April to July in sub-tropical areas, April to October in cool temperate districts and May to July in Arid zones 
  • Edible podded peas do best under cool, moist growing conditions. 
  • Winter is the best time to grow snow peas because they’re sensitive to heat, and temperatures above 30oC will cause them to grow poorly. 
  • Snow peas like day temperatures from 15o to 18oC average, with a maximum of 24oC and a minimum of 7oC, are ideal. 
Preparing the Soil
  • Before sowing your seed, it is best to incorporate into the soil garden lime/dolomite to sweeten the soil and potash to encourage flowering. 
  • Avoid applying a fertiliser that is high in nitrogen as this will encourage leafy growth at the expense of the flowers and subsequent fruit. 
  • The stems and foliage of Snow Peas mostly aren’t affected by frost, but will get some damage if a cold snap follows a period of warm weather. 
  • Having said that, did you know that the flowers are made sterile by frost and so are the pods -affected pods have a white, mottled skin. 
  • Snow Peas thrive on a wide range of soil types, as long as the soil is well drained with good depth. 
  • Because peas' feeder roots run shallow, mulch is essential to keep the soil around the roots moist and cool. 
  • When the seedlings are 5cm tall, apply a mulch of clean straw, chopped leaves, or compost. 
  • As the pea plants mature, you can add more mulch to keep them happy 
  • The ideal pH range is 5.8 to 6.8 (in water). 
Did you know that Peas and other legumes (even wattles) have symbiotic bacteria in their roots called rhizobia, that 'fix' nitrogen in the soil meaning that peas are capable of manufacturing their own nitrogen..
Peas then don’t need as much fertiliser as other vegies and are good to dig into the soil to concentrate available nitrogen for future crops.
I assume that they're still pretty hungry for other nutrients though - so a bit of fertiliser won't go astray.

Tip:Veggies need 6 hours of full sun every day, especially in winter.

Why are peas of any kind good for you?
1 cup or 10 raw snow peas is a serve, and is an excellent source of vitamin C, and a good source of niacin, folate (another of the B vitamins) and beta carotene. 

The lutein present in green peas helps reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts. 

Did you know that all peas with or without our pods, are among the best vegetable sources of dietary fibre. 

For all you vegetarians out there, you probably know that most vegetables are quite low in protein, but peas have good supplies. 

Green peas also provide zinc and all peas are a good source of potassium, especially edible-podded types. 



Camellia japonica 

Camellias originate in China and Japan and if you’ve never grown one, it’s time to start looking at those flowering in people’s gardens and in nursery and garden centres to choose one of your favourites.
Soon you will have a long list of favourites and find it difficult to narrow it down to just one or two.
I asked the plant panel this question, and let’s see what they came up with.
Camellia japonica Lovelight
I'm talking with Jeremy Critchley owner of and Karen Smith editor of

 Favourites mentioned are : Easter Morn; Lovelight, Mrs D. W. Descanso, Betty Cuthbert, Bob Hope.

Camellias prefer acidic soil so if you like to grow Azaleas and they’re successful in your garden, why not add a backdrop of Camellias or two. 
If you’re short on space, Camellias make good subjects for espalier too.
If you have a question either for me or the plant panel why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


ManagingTrees: Role of Arborist. Part 1
Trees have a valuable role to play in our immediate environment and also to our native wildlife.
A lot of gardeners really care for their trees when it comes to fertilizing and maintenance but when it comes to tree maintenance such as pruning, it’s not that straight forward.
So you have a tree that needs lopping or even a tree that you want cut down.
photo M Cannon
Who should you call?
Not Jo the lawnmower man or No Name Garden Maintenance.
You need to call a professional, but there is a distinct difference between these tree professionals and you need to know what they are?
This series is about arboriculture and managing trees.
Let’s find out who to call?

I'm talking with Glenice Davie, landscape designer.

People either love or hate trees, but trees have so many positive benefits.
Tree will clear air-they’re the lungs of the planet.
If you have any questions about tree maintenance or have a suggestion why not write in or email me

Saturday, 23 June 2018

Taties, Veggies, and Bottle Brushes

What’s On The Show Today?

We’re preparing for winter in the Good Earth segment, how to choose which potato to grow in Vegetable Heroes, and a shrub that’s everyone’s darling in winter in Plant of the Week, plus a couple of guys come into the studio talk about their favourite Australian plant .


Winter Gardening and Crop Rotation

How well do you know your plant families?
Did you know that you shouldn’t plant veggies from the same plant family in the same spot year after year?

That’s all part of crop rotation which means of course you need to know your plant families.
There’s good reasons for practising crop rotation, but what if you only have enough room for a couple of veggie garden beds, what does a gardener do?
Let’s find out.. I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska, director of and Permaculture North Course coordinator.

Soon you’ll be saying things like Brassicas, Solanacea, and Fabaceae with ease and know what veggies belong to these families.
If you don't have much room and only have one area for a veggie bed, you can still divide it into four sections and follow crop rotation.
Otherwise, planting in pots is an alternative especially for the Solanacea family; the recommendation being wait 5 years before replanting any veggie from this family.
Created by Margaret Mossakowska

Brassicas: cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi
Allium: shallots, onions,garlic,
Solanaceae: tomatoes, chillies, capsicums, potatoes
Fabaceae: beans peas, snow peas,
Margaret’s tip to fertilise your garden is to use your homemade compost. and add things like chook poo, or other organic fertilisers.
If you have any questions either for me or Margaret, you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Potatoes or Solanum tubersum

Chipped, fried, sautéed, boiled, baked or mashed, potatoes are one vegetable that we couldn’t be without.
Did you know that potatoes were the first vegetable to be grown in space?

Originally there were about 1,000 varieties, but over the years this number has been reduced to just a few hundred.

It’s always interesting to find out where our vegetables started and how they became popular.
Farmers in the Andes Mountains of South America first discovered the potato 7,000 years ago

The potato is a member of the nightshade or Solanaceae family and its leaves are poisonous.

Here’s something to think about when storing your potatoes.
A potato left too long in the light will begin to turn green.

The green skin contains a substance called solanine which can cause the potato to taste bitter and green potatoes can upset the stomach, so don’t try them.

How to grow potatoes

Always grow potatoes from Certified Seed Potatoes from reputable suppliers.
Yes it is possible to simply buy some from a specialist green grocer and keep them for seed, or use leftover potato peelings.

What’s wrong with that?
You run the risk of introducing diseases such as Potato Virus Y, Potato Blight or Potato cyst Nematode.
Potato blight by the way, cause the foliage to collapse and the tubers to rot.
If you use leftovers or buy from supermarkets or green grocers.
You might think it’s only a small risk, but once you get potato blight into your soil, it’s their forever.
No chemical will shift it.

When to plant
Potatoes can be planted now all over Australia, in temperate and sub-tropical districts, August to October is the best time, in arid areas August until December is your best time,
In cool temperate zones, September through to January is your best time so cooler areas have a bit of extra time to order some of the more unusual varieties before they grow in the ground.

So which potato to choose?

The first thing to think about is how you want to use your potatoes.
Different varieties have different amounts of starch, making the flesh of some break down into a fluffy texture while others retain a firmer, waxy texture.
Potatoes that are high in starch are great at absorbing liquids, causing the potato to break apart in cooking.
These types are great for baking, mashing or cutting into wedges.
Waxy potatoes contain less starch and hold together during cooking.
This makes them ideal for cooking in soups and stews, where you want the potatoes to retain their shape.
They’re also the ones to use in salads.
Here are some suggestion of the ones that are mostly available. 

Boil: Desire, Dutch cream, Golden delight, Kipfler, Nicola, Pontiac, Red Rascal, Sebago. Coliban is good for boiling, but breaks down if over-cooked. 

Mash: Chat, Coliban, Desiree, Golden delight, Pontiac, Sebago. Kipfler not recommended to mash. 

Bake: Chat, Coliban, Desiree, King Edward, Pontiac, Red Rascal. 

Roast: Chat, Coliban, Desiree, Golden delight, King Edward, Pontiac, Red Rascal, Sebago. 

Fry: Golden delight, Sebago, Coliban, Desiree. Kipfler and pontiac not recommended to fry. 

Steam: Chat, Coliban, Pontiac, Sebago. 

Salad: Desiree, Kipfler, Pontiac, Red Rascal, Sebago. Coliban not recommended for salad. 

All-purpose: King Edward, Nicola, Pink eye, Pontiac, Sebago.

Some unusual ones for you to try.
How about Cranberry Red?
Cranberry Red has red skin and red flesh, great in salads, for boiling and baking. 
These stay red, even after cooking.
Cranberry Red

Or what about Potato Sapphire that has purple skin and purple flesh?
Purple Sapphire I’m sure is sold also as Purple Congo, is perfect for mashing, boiling and roasting, and yes, it stays purple after cooking.

And for a good all rounder, try growing Royal Blue. Potato Royal Blue is oblong, with purple skin and dark yellow flesh.
If you’re buying through mail order or online, you have until the end of August to buy them. After that, they’re not available.

How to Grow
To grow your Potatoes-put seedling potatoes into a trench in as deep and rich a soil as you can get.
Altlernatively, grow seed potatoes by chitting them first.

That means to start them by leaving them on cardboard or egg cartons in a light position until they have produced short green sprouts. 

When you do plant them add plenty of compost and manures please. 
And as they grow pile the earth up around them.
  • You will need to hill the rows or potato container several times until the potatoes have flowered 
  • You need to do this to stop the greening of tubers and also protect them from potato moth. 
  • Also, hilling up the soil and mulch will give you more potatoes as they tend to form on roots near the surface. 
  • That means, as you pile up the soil, you get new roots, and more potatoes.... 
  • Chicken manure or blood and bone should be dug through the bed as potatoes need a lot of phosphorus but not too much nitrogen. Too much nitrogen will mean lots of leaves rather than potatoes. 
  • Keep the water up and but only water moderately as potatoes will rot in soil that is too wet. 
  • They can also get a fungus growing inside them if the soil’s too wet. 
  • When you cut them open, they’ll have grey patches inside which actually do taste mouldy. Euwwww! 
  • You can add fish emulsion and seaweed extract when you’re watering too.
Potatoes can also be grown in your black compost bin if you’re not using it for compost.
Plant the seed potatoes at the bottom, let them grow to about 50cm,( so with your ruler that’s almost 2 x ruler heights) then, over the top and add 8cm of soil, let them grow a little more, add some more soil, and so on, in the end a stack of potatoes.
Pick your potatoes when the vine has died down to the ground, that’s if you want the most potatoes, but they can be harvested from when the first baby potatoes are formed.
The lower leaves should be turning yellow – this happens about 3 to 4 weeks after flowering.
If you plan to store your potatoes, cut off the foliage and let the potatoes rest in the ground for 3-4 weeks to allow the skin to 'set', they keep longer this way. Store in a dark, cool, well ventilated spot.
For a great article on growing potatoes visit DPIW Tasmania

Why are potatoes good for you?

The potato is densely packed with nutrients. The Irish couldn’t be wrong could they?
A medium potato provides vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6 and trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc.
Potatoes are known as the foods people crave when they are stressed.
Why? because the carbs in potatoes (about 26%) help make space for tryptophan with a smooth passage into the brain.
This, in turn, boosts the serotonin level in the brain.
High serotonin levels help boost your mood and help you feel calm.
To preserve these nutrients it is important to peel the potato just prior to cooking and not leave them in a bowl of water.


Choosing a Focal Point

Today RWG’s garden designer Peter Nixon is taking a look at focal points in the garden.
Natal Flame Bush

Plumeria Pudica
At this time of year, when trees are looking bare, and perhaps there’s not much to look at in the garden, it’s a good time to assess what you have and what you could improve.

Focal points are some plant, whether it’s a tree or a shrub a water feature or a statue, that draws the eye and gives the garden some sense of design. 

How do you know what to choose, especially these days when we have smaller gardens?

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, Director of Paradisus Garden Design.
Let’s find out.
PLAY: Best Fit Gardening_Focal Points_28th October 2015

The small trees mentioned were Plumeria pudica-the evergreen Frangipani, Synadenium grantii rubra or red south African mild bush; Alberta magna-the Natal Flame Bush for cool temperate to warm temperate regions or don’t go past the double flowering Crabapple-Malus ionensis plena. 

If you have any questions about growing small trees for focal points or have a suggestion why not write in or email me


Callistemon x citrinus "Red Rocket"
Bottlebrush "Red Rocket"
Segment produced and presented by Lewis Beere and Hugh Mandalidis.

Callistemon Red Rocket has bright red new growth and only grows to 1.5 metres high and 1.5 metres wide.
Perfect for pots and low borders. Like all Callistemons, they suit sun or part shade and cope with all types of soils.
Once established, (give it at least a year), it will tolerate dry conditions and light frost.
Bottlebrushes are also not bothered by too many pests and diseases.

If you are after low maintenance then this is one of those plants.

Start of fertilising it with a slow release low phosphorus fertiliser to help first establish the plant. 

Although it can cope without too much fertiliser, if you want lush foliage, it's best to follow up with the occasional reapplication of fertiliser.

Mulching around the base of the plant will help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
Plant Breeder: Ian Shimmen.

Listen to Hugh and Lewi talk about Red Rocket Callistemon