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Saturday, 25 March 2017

Wasps and All Things Citrus

PLANT DOCTOR

Pests of Citrus-Citrus Gall Wasp

If you though that all you had to contend with on Citrus, was the curling, silvery leaves, the Bronze-Orange stink bugs, the citrus scale on the trunk, then think again, because there's at least one more.
Citrus Gall Wasp-image Dept. of Ag. W.A.
This is a native pest of all citrus, which does include native citrus trees like finger limes, and now is the time when you can notice the damage that this pest has done to your tree. As in a other citrus pests, the damage is done by a tiny moth, about 2-3mm that usually comes out late in the evening and then promptly dies after a very short time.
The damage starts of green and then over time, turns to a grey-brown coloured lump.
The lifecyle of the wasp larvae is quite long, from when the wasp stings the branch and lays its eggs to when the wasp emerges, is about one year.
Initially, you may not notice the bumps, but from Autumn onwards, they are becoming much more noticeable on the citrus trees.

Let’s find out what can be done about this problem
I'm talking with Steve Falcioni, General Manager of www.ecoorganicgarden.com.au
Citrus Gall Wasp damage-image Dept. of Ag. W.A.


We certainly imported a few citrus pasts in the short time that white Australians have been here, but this pest is a native that mainly only attacked finger limes.
Originally only being found in Queensland and northern NSW, but with all the movement of plants from state to state, this pest can now be found as far south as Melbourne.
If you have any questions about Citrus Gall wasps, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

VEGETABLE HEROES

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.
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 , 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.
Bit a hint on planting that later.
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. 
A listener wrote in asking “How do I go about returning my massive clump of lemongrass to a manageable plant? Or should I dig it out & start off again with a new seedling & keep chopping at it to keep it under control right from the start or in a pot?”

It’s been said about lemongrass, that you need a whip and a chair to keep it under control because left to its own devices in the garden bed, lemongrass really isn't manageable.
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 contains Vitamin A. 
Cooking with Lemongrass
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.
AND THAT WAS OUR VEGETABLE HERO SEGMENT FOR TODAY!

DESIGN ELEMENTS

Autumn Gardening Series Part 1

Autumn gardening –is a favourite time for many gardeners around Australia because it’s a much milder time of year compared with the heat of Summer.
In some districts the leaves on deciduous trees are starting to change colours to Autumn buttery yellow tones, or flame red, other plants are putting on a new flush of growth and budding up for the last hurrah before the cold sets in.
Bodnant Garden, England photo M Cannon

During Summer, many of us stayed indoors under the fan or in the air-conditioning while the plants in the garden sweltered.
So, if you haven’t already gone out to assess your plants, you need to act soon
Let’s find out why. I'm talking with Glenice Buck consulting arborist and landscape designer from www.glenicebuckdesigns.com.au

Even though some of your plants were being attacked by various pests and diseases, the heat of Summer has meant it’s been too hot to spray with anything because of the risk of burning the leaves.
Also,Summer rains in some districts would’ve meant that the sprays would’ve been washed off anyway.
So over the next few months, seize the opportunity to follow Glenice’s autumn gardening plan.
Glenice says 
" I firstly weed out all beds then I look at what shrubs and perennials need cutting back or deadheading.  Sometime shrubs have grown out of shape or spread out too far across or over other plants prune these plants back into their own shape.  Give everything their own space.  If there are plants not looking healthy try and investigate reason why – it may have a pest or disease it may have dried out through summer."

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Native Holly
Alcornea ilicifolia

The holiday season is over but in case you thought you can improve on next year’s celebrations, what about planting something that is reminiscent of this time of year and it’s a native.
Not only that it good for little native birds because of it’s dense foliage.
Let’s find out about this plant.
I'm talking with the plant panel: Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal www.hortjournal.com.au and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner. www.thegreengallery.com.au



This plant would discourage intruders if you planted it under your bedroom window or along the front fence line.
Remembering of course that there are 17 plants called native holly in Australia so do ask for Alcornea ilicifolia.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Everlasting Flowers. Some Seeds and Fairy Wrens

WILDLIFE IN FOCUS

Red Backed Fairy Wren and Superb Fairy Wren, What's the Difference?

This little bird is the smallest of the wren species in Australia.
In fact it’s smaller than a sparrow and because it’s so small, that it’s called the Elfin wren.
Red Backed Fairy Wren
The males of course have all the colour being a glossy black with a scarlet patch, while the females are brown.
They can't be mistaken for a sparrow because they're smaller and have that characteristic pointing up tail, bouncing around like little ping pong balls.
Let’s find out what’s great about this bird.


Here's the difference.
The Red Backed Fairy Wren is smaller and shyer than the Superb Fairy Wren , but has a similar call.
Female Red Backed Fairy Wren, not red at all.
Most of us won’t see this Fairy Wren because Red-backed Fairy-wrens are essentially birds of Australia's north where they are mainly restricted to the more humid zones closer to the coast.
In eastern Australia they do extend south  all the way down the NSW north coast to near Newcastle and in W.A. south to Cape Keraudren, again along the coast.
Apparently they’re common around the outskirts of Brisbane and Darwin.
If you have any questions about Red Back Fairy Wrens, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

 VEGETABLE HEROES

Making Your Own Seed Tape, seed mats or discs is today’s topic.

Would you believe that it was only twenty-plus years ago, several seed companies started making and selling seed tapes - Seed tapes are strips of dissolving or quickly decomposing material that have imbedded seeds spaced at regular intervals.
They’re used to make dispersal and spacing of difficult-to-handle seeds .
The tapes also make it easier to make straight rows.
Planting seed tapes or mats is easy because the arranging of seeds is already done, or if you are making your own you can do it indoors.

Why have seed tapes?
Is it only for beginner gardeners?
Seed tape has several advantages.
No seed is wasted; the seeds are embedded into the paper tape one at a time and are perfectly spaced and ready to go into the garden.
This also means that no thinning is required.
They’re especially useful for tiny seeds which can be difficult to plant such as radish, carrot, lettuce or parsnip. 

Just about any seed can be put onto a seed tape, however, so if you wish to make one with larger seeds, there’s no stopping you!

Seed tapes also stabilise the seeds positions in the soil, keeping them in place even when they are hammered by heavy rains.
And, if you cover seed tapes with weed-free potting soil, the seeds can germinate with no aggravation from weeds.
Several seed companies in Australia sell a variety of seeded tapes that are incredibly easy to plant, or you can make your own.

That’s right, gardeners can make their own seed tapes!
Seed tapes are long and skinny, and intended to do a superior job of spacing seeds uniformly in the row.
They do this quite well, although some experienced gardeners have said that the seeds on most seed tapes are too close together.
This may be true for some crops, like radishes, but not for small, slow-sprouting carrots.

How to make this tape then?

You can use unbleached toilet paper to make my seed tape.
I think that paper towels or even newsprint would work as well, although I haven’t tried them.
Begin by mixing approximately 2 Tablespoons of white flour with 1 Tablespoon of water to make a thick paste.
This will act as the glue to hold the seed in place.
You don’t want this to be watery and thin because you want it to dry quickly so that the seed does not have a chance to absorb the water.
Unroll the toilet paper until you have about 1 metre of it are lying flat on the table in front of you.
Fold the toilet paper in half the long way, and then unfold.
You’ll be placing the seed in the middle of one half of the toilet paper (about 2.5 cm or 1″ from the edge of the toilet paper).
From the seed packet, figure out how far apart you need to space your seeds.
Don’t use the distance given on the packet for planting – use the distance that the packet suggests for thinning.
For carrots, I placed my seeds 5cm apart.
Use a ruler to guide you as you space seeds
If it helps, you can use a pen or marker to mark the spot on the toilet paper where the seed will go.
Now, dip a tooth pick, cotton bud or artists paint brush into the flour paste to get a small amount of paste on its tip.
Use this to pick up just one seed.
Sounds fiddly I know, but be determined. You can do it.
Using a ruler as a guide, place the seed onto the toilet paper at the proper distance apart for the seed you are working with.
When you’ve “embedded” all of the toilet paper, add a few dots of your flour paste every few cms near the edge of the toilet paper and fold the toilet paper back in half.
Rub gently to allow the paste to glue the two sides of toilet paper together.
Continue working in the same manner until you’ve used all your seeds, or until you’ve made as much seed tape as you need.
Be sure to leave the toilet paper spread out until the paste is completely dry. Write the name of the seed on one end of your seed tape, and then you can roll it up and store in a cool, dry spot until you’re ready to plant.
The faster it dries, the better, since you don’t want the wet glue to trigger germination (it shouldn’t be wet long enough for this, but better safe than sorry).
When dry, roll them up and store them in plastic bags, along with the seed packet, until it is time to plant.
Now your tape is ready to use!
I heard of other gardeners making their seed tape using paper towels and the flour and water glue.
Just make a paste of flour and water and spread a thin layer of it onto the paper towel. Then put the seeds on and a second layer of the towel.
Works great and the paper towels hold up just a little bit better than the toilet paper. You do have to make sure you dry it well after making it if you aren't going to plant immediately, but that usually just takes a day out in a dry place.
How To Use Seed Tape
Use your seed tape in long flower boxes, raised beds, or right in the garden.
All that you have to do is dig a trench the recommended depth for that seed, lay the tape down, cover with garden soil and water gently.
The paper biodegrades into the soil as the seeds germinate and grow.
For best results, be sure to keep the seed consistently moist.
AND THAT WAS OUR VEGETABLE HERO SEGMENT FOR TODAY!

THE GOOD EARTH

Preserving Summer Fruits

Do you have fruit trees in your garden?
Citrus are fruits so you probably answered yes to that.

So what do you do when the fruits all come ripe at once?
Jams and preserves and possibly pickles are the first things that come to mind for most people, but there are a lot more methods of preserving fruit to use later on in the year. Let’s find out about this preserving business.
I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska from www.mosshouse.com.au

I hope that’s inspired you to try several different methods of preserving your fruit.
We didn’t even cover making pasta sauce with all those tomatoes that you’re growing right now.
If you have any questions about preserving summer produce or have some information you’d like to share, why not email realworldgardener@gmail.com

PLANT OF THE WEEK

NEW Everlasting Daisies.

Bracteantha bracteata
Have you ever been to see the wildflowers in Western Australia?
It’s on my bucket list.
In the wild, these fast-growing annuals perform brilliantly under extreme conditions. They germinate with the first rains in winter and by late August are in full flower, adding bright colour to the otherwise harsh landscape of outback Australia.
But it’s one particular wildflower that we’re focussing on toda

Let’s find out about this plant.
I'm talking with the plant panel: Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal www.hortjournal.com.au and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner. www.thegreengallery.com.au



Everlasting Daisies at Wittunga Botanic Garden, Adelaide. photo M Cannon
Here’s a tip to keep those everlastings for longer in the vase.
The trick is to pick the flowers when they are young and just opening.  
Then hang upside down in a cool, dark room.
Once dried, the stems can be trimmed and they can be placed in vases or you can replace the stems with florists wire.
If you pick the flowers when they are fully open the petals will fold back towards the stem and the flowers will fall apart.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Orchids and Sweet Leaves.



SPICE IT UP

Vanilla Bean Orchid Vanilla planifolia
The plant that this next spice comes from originates in the highland forests of Mexico, so that gives you some idea of where it grows best.
Somewhere warm and humid.
But hey, don’t let that stop you from trying to grow it, after all it’s an orchid.
Let’s find out what’s great about this spice.
I'm talking with spice expert and owner of www.herbies.com.au Ian Hemphill
If you buy imitation vanilla essence then you’re buying a mixture made from synthetic substances which imitate the vanilla smell and flavour.
This often contains propylene glycol which is also found in automotive antifreeze!
It’s mass produced and relatively cheap but, of course, not in the same class as true vanilla extract.
Growing Vanilla planifolia
If you want to try to grow this orchid, you must be sure to get Vanilla planifolia-used to be called Vanilla fragrans.
The flowers are like a skinny Cattleya (that’s an orchid) flower and they’re yellow.
The plant usually doesn’t flower until it’s at least 3 metres tall and it can reach a size of 20 metres and more.
A friend of mine has the variegated one growing in his laundry that faces north.
Seems to be doing pretty well.
If you're in an area where you can grow this orchid and have it flower, then you'll have to pollinate it yourself to get the vanilla bean.
The only natural pollinator is the Melipone Bee which is native to Mexico and thought to be extinct.
Should your vanilla bean orchid produce a green bean, luck you, but this will have no vanilla flavour.
It takes many weeks of drying and sweating before the pod is ready to be used in cooking.
If you have any questions about growing Vanilla orchids, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

VEGETABLE HEROES

Stevia is the sugar plant
Stevia rebaudiana

Native to Paraguay and other tropical areas of the Americas, the stevia plant (Stevia rebaudiana) has leaves packed with super-sweet compounds that remain stable even after the leaves have been dried.

Stevia is a member of the chrysanthemum family and the Stevia leaves have been used to sweeten teas and other drinks throughout South America for centuries.

So why are Stevia leaves’ so sweet? Because the leaves contain something called steviol glycosides.
Steviol glycosoides are high intensity natural sweeteners, 200-300 times sweeter than sugar.
The leaves of the stevia plant contain many different steviol glycosides and each one varies in sweetness and aftertaste.

So what does Stevia plant look like?


Stevia is a small perennial shrub with lime green leaves that do best in a rich, loamy soil — the same kind that most of your plants in the garden like.

Stevia is evergreen in temperate, sub-tropical and tropical climates, but in cold and arid districts, it’ll lose its leaves in Autumn.
Stevia is native to semi-humid, sub-tropical climates where temperatures typically range from -6°C to 43°C.
Stevia tolerates mild frost, but heavy frosts will kill the roots of the plant.
Since the feeder roots tend to be quite near the surface add compost for extra nutrients if the soil in your area is sandy. 




TIP: Stevia plants also hate being water logged.

By the way, I’ve grow my stevia plant in a pot for several years now without any problems and it’s survived several bouts of dry hot summers and lack of watering during spells with a house sitter.
But, it really isn’t drought tolerant like a succulent or a cactus and won’t tolerate long term neglect.
During warm weather don’t forget to water it and if you’re going away for a few weeks put in a dripper system, otherwise you’ll lose your Stevia plant.

Stevia plants do best with fertilizers with a lower nitrogen content than the phosphorus or potassium content.
Which means the artificial fertiliser aren’t your best bet, but most organic fertilizers are because they release nitrogen slowly.
Stevia flowers


HINT: Stevia leaves have the most sweetness in autumn when temperatures are cooler and the days shorter.
Definitely the best time to pick those stevia leaves.
If your district is prone to frosts in Autumn, make sure you cover the Stevia plant for another few weeks’ growth and more sweetness.
How do you store Stevia leaves? If you Stevia plant is big enough, the easiest technique is to cut the branches off with secauteurs before stripping the leaves.
TIP:As an extra bonus, you might also want to clip off the stem tips and add them to your harvest, because they have as much stevio-side as do the leaves.
If you live in a mostly frost-free climate, your plants will probably cope with winter outside, as long as you don’t cut the branches too short (leaving about 10cms of stem at the base during pruning).
These plants do last a few years in temperate and warmer climates.
In cool temperate districts, it might be a good idea to take cuttings that you’ll use for next year’s crop.
Cuttings need to be rooted before planting, using either commercial rooting hormones or a natural base like honey.
Stevia seed is apparently very tricky to germinate, and the cutting method is your best option.

SO HOW DO YOU USE YOUR STEVIA LEAVES?

I should mention that the stevioside content is only 12% in the leaves you grow compared with the 80-90% that commercially extracted stevia has.
It’s still had a decent amount of sweetness all the same.

So you’ve picked the leaves now you need to dry them.

As with drying all herbs you can hang your bunch of leaves upside down in a warm dry place.
Otherwise, on a moderately warm day, your stevia crop can be quick dried in the full sun in about 12 hours. (Drying times longer than that will lower the stevioside content of the final product.)

If you have a home dehydrator use that instead.
Finally crush the leaves either by hand, in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle that you use for spices and herbs.
The dried leaves last indefinitely!
If you add two or three leaves added whole or powdered, that’s enough to sweeten a cup of tea or coffee.
HOT TIP: Another way is to make your own liquid stevia extract by adding a cup of warm water to 1/4 cup of fresh, finely-crushed stevia leaves. This mixture should set for 24 hours and then be refrigerated.

Why are they good for you?
Stevia is a natural sweetener that has zero calories and isn't metabolised by the body.
Stevia isn’t suitable for everything in cooking but you can use it to sweeten drinks, fruits, salad dressings, stewed fruit, yogurt and most creamy desserts.
The processed Stevia that you buy in the shops has been stripped of all the natural goodness that Stevia contains, so it’s better to grow your own Stevia.

AND THAT WAS OUR VEGETABLE HERO SEGMENT FOR TODAY!

DESIGN ELEMENTS

Summer Limb Drop

Most people would be wary of various species of Eucalypt trees, which can drop limbs without any warning.
But what about other trees that drop limbs?
Muogumarra Nature Reserve photo M Cannon
When the Summer’s are long and hot without much rainfall, trees are stressed.
How can you tell then if a tree is so stressed that a big branch is about to fall off?
I'm talking with Glenice Buck, Consulting Arborist and Landscape Designer of www.glenicebuckdesigns.com.au

Glenice noticed plenty of fallen branches in paddocks near where she lives in Young.
Unfortunately the answer to the question how can you tell when a tree is going to drop a healthy limb, and that is, you can’t tell at all if a tree limb is going to fall.
Perfectly good branches just seem to break off.
The trees are perfectly fine [on the outside] and the inside, they seem to be structurally sound - a lot of the trees that have dropped limbs, you could not pick that they were going to fall.
You would expect that trees that are structurally unsound, are more likely to drop limbs, but as a rule, the normal eucalypts that drop limbs like the red gums and a lot of our box trees, have been dropping limbs with no sign of structural damage at all.

If you have any questions about trees for Glenice, why not write in or ask for a fact sheet.

LIVING PLANET

What Went Wrong with My Worm Farm?

So you’ve now got a worm farm but you open the lid one morning and there’s a mass of short fat white wriggling things?
Too awful to contemplate so I'm not posting a picture of the maggots.
Instead, here's a photo of the nice worms that you should have in your worm farm.]


You’re of course horrified and think “How did they get there and why? "
So now let’s find out. '
I'm talking with Sophie Goulding, environment project officer with a local council.


You need to get rid of those wriggling things because they’re maggots and they're there because probably you put that dairy or meat product into the worm farm.
Perhaps you did it on purpose knowing that your chooks will really appreciate a feast of protein that those white maggoty things have plenty of.
But if you didn’t, you’re best bet is to remove the maggots and put them into a small bucket.
Leave them to fry in the sun before adding them back to the compost.
If you don't get rid of them they'll get rid of your worms and there goes your worm farm.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Food to Go and Dragon Wings


Facebook for Gardeners_Feature Interview

Facebook can definitely be for gardeners in this feature interview,
There are a lot of gardening groups around Australia but a lot of them exist in the virtual world.

Yes, they exist online and are waiting for you to join them.

Here’s a few reasons why….

I'm speaking with Chantelle Leenstra, garden designer and principal at Garden Atelier
One of the first groups Chantelle joined was called Plant Idents.  
Simple concept. 
You take a photo of a plant you don’t know the name of, and people respond with the name of the plant. 
It’s full of professional horticulturists as well as just people who love gardens but don’t do it professionally.
You can start joining other groups as well, like cactus and succulent groups, rare and unusual plant groups, and lots more. 
And then through these little discussions in these groups, you can form friendships with more and more garden lovers, and it will transform facebook for you, because won't see random rubbish any more on facebook, 

 You will be personalising facebook so it is all about things that you love.

Here are some groups for you to join.
Australian Garden Enthusiasts – because I love having a sticky beak into people’s gardens! Lots of people sharing pictures of their beautiful gardens.
All Horts – for professional horts + garden lovers. Members are focused in Britain so I get an insight into what’s going on over there.
Succulents and Cacti Collectors Australia 
Planet Begonia-all about Begonias of course.
Planet Tillandsia – all about air plants, you know that don’t need soil to grow like Spanish Moss, but there are heaps of really cool interesting Tillandsias too.

If you have a garden club that could do with some social media advice on how to get started, why not drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675 
You can catch up that segment by listening to the podcast www.realworldgardener.com

VEGETABLE HEROES

Easy Vegetables to Grow for Beginner Gardeners
Ever wondered what the 10 easiest to grow veggie are?
Today, we’re going to find out just that but first some basics.
For all the veggies recommended you will likely need around 25-30cm of soil.
If you’re not planting in your backyard, but say, a rooftop, the recommended mix is one of soil with peat moss, perlite and vermiculite.
Also, a lot of planting timing goes based on your climate zone, so be sure to look them up before you start.
One last thing, vegetables generally need a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight every day for the plants to thrive and produce well.
So what shall we start with?
Freckles lettuce

Greens to Go:
For first-time gardeners start by planting a bed of greens.
After just three weeks, your greens will be ready to harvest.
Go for spinach, arugula or rocket, mustard greens, mizuna or asian greens.
You can literally go out with a pair of scissors and snip of the leaves into a basket and two weeks later, that section you just harvested will have re-grown.
Growing your own greens also has health benefits. Lettuce can lose about half its nutrient value in just 48 hours after its been picked. 
Bok choy grows well in the spring sun, and in light shade during the summer heat. The best time to plant is early spring through midsummer and bok choy seeds should be planted eight to 10 inches apart, with about 1/4 inch of soil coverage. Once the plant reaches about three inches, you can start cutting small leaves for eating, or cut the entire head for a one-time harvest.
Kale, but you have to like Kale and not everyone does or knows what to do with it.
Leafy greens like kale are good for gardeners since they can grow all season long.
I know some people don’t get the whole kale craze, but it has the highest nutrient and protein density of any green.
photo M Cannon
If you are getting a salad and it’s coming 1,000 kilometres away, it’s basically just chlorophyll.
 Rainbow Chard is another green that's a colourful leafy addition to a garden and can reach up to 1 metre tall with bright red stems. 

Growing chard yourself is a good idea since this veggie is not known to ship well and finding it in good quality in a grocery store can be difficult.

Nasturtiums are easy:
Edible flowers like nasturium are a simple and tasty addition to a garden.
There are varieties of nasturtium that are deep dark red and there are varieties that are orange streaked with yellow. “A nasturtium tastes something like a floral version of arugula. It has this intense heat to it.

Herbs for everyone:
Every new gardener should start out with some simple herbs like basil, chives, coriander parsley, thyme and dill. They require very little space and can make all the difference in a meal.
Even if you take a little of your windowsill, that’s enough—grow some herbs.”
Herbs can be expensive to buy in the store, but they’re cheap and simple to grow.
 veggie high in antioxidants and vitamin A, and depending on the variety, it can add some color to your plate. Some bok choy varieties can have deep purple leaves.

Tomatoes for Beginners:

Cherry tomatoes photo M Cannon
Cherry Tomatoes are easy to grow, and cherry tomatoes are a good place to start. 
Regular tomatoes can be prone to pests and diseases which can be tricky for gardening newbies to navigate. 
Cherry tomatoes on the other hand are a tough and seem to be able to avoid all those problems that regular tomatoes get.  “

Cucumbers grow easily in warm times of the year and can be grown all year in tropical and sub-tropical climates.

Snap peas also grow easily. You want to be as vertical as you can when you’re growing in a small space. And peas fit that bill.

Carrots will always be a garden mainstay, and though root vegetables may seem more intimidating, new gardeners can find them worthwhile and easier than expected.
When sowing carrot seed remember to keep the soil moist. 
Seeds can take around three weeks to start to sprout.
Radish is another super easy one for beginner gardeners.
Grow them amongst your carrots as a companion plant, and they'll be gone well before the carrots are ready.

AND THAT WAS OUR VEGETABLE HERO SEGMENT FOR TODAY!

LIVING PLANET

Are you still wondering whether or not to start a worm farm?
Here’s some food for thought.
Worm farming allows us to recycle our food scraps and significantly reduce the amount of organic waste sent to landfill as part of our everyday rubbish.

By reducing organic waste to landfill we can reduce the potential for landfills
to create liquid ‘leachate’ which can pollute our streams, oceans and underground water, and reduce the production of methane gas which is a powerful greenhouse gas.
So now let’s find out what to put in them.

PLAY: Worm farms part 3_8th February 2017

I'm talking with Sophie Goulding, environment project officer with a local council. 

Place your worm farm in a shady spot and always check your worm farm after heavy rain to make sure that it hasn't flooded with water and is drowning your worms.
The worms don’t create the minerals out of thin air but change their form from insoluble to soluble by digesting them.
That’s reason enough to get into worm farming.

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Begonia Dragon Wings.
Red is the main colour of the flowers this week and boy does this plant stay in flower.
If you want constant colour but something different from Petunias , then go for this flowering plant that can flower almost all year round.
Let’s find out about this plant.
I'm talking with the plant panel were Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal www.hortjournal.com.au and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner. www.thegreengallery.com.au

For Begonias, the more light, the more brilliant the colour of the leaves.
Angel Wing Begonias will grow well under shade cloth, lattice, or in early morning/late afternoon sun.
They’ll burn if grown in direct mid-day sun.
Did you know that the flowers are edible, with a sweet tart taste?Jeremy also mentioned to NEW Begonia cultivars: Begonia "Big." and a variety of Begonia semperflorens called Doublet. 

Begonia Big  is said to take full sun, but we think it applies for northern hemisphere sun rather than the bleaching sun in Australia.
B. Doublet seems to be a cross between a bedding begonia and B. Dragon Wings and the flower colours comes in red, white, pink and rose. This one is cutting grown and quite tough, being able to withstand full sun, but will need time to adjust when you first bring it home from the nursery or garden centre.

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Fantastic Frangipani


Feature Interview

Frangipani Society of Australia
So many gardeners love the sight of flowering Frangipani's with their exotic scent, and colourful blooms.
Frangi's as they're known, can have a bewitching effect on the  collector, admirers and avid gardeners.

Sometimes if you weren't a collector but went to a Frangipani Show, you suddenly became one because there are so many colours and cultivars that you just have to have.
Not everyone can grow them though and there are some helpful tips that need to be followed.
I'm talking with Anthony Grassi, Coordinator of the Frangipani Society of Australia's shows.

Why isn't my Frangipani flowering?
Often a question asked and her'es the answer.
Frangipani's need 6 hours of full sunlight to initiate flowering.
However, if you have a tree that was grown from seed, then expect to wait a minimum of 3 years, and sometimes up to 10 years, before it starts to flowers.
Cutting grown frangipani's will flower in the first year, but not in the second because the tree is putting it's energy into establishing a strong root system.
Flowering will recommence in the 3rd year.
Fertilise when the claws first appear in Spring with a 6 months controlled release fertiliser and add granular sulphate of potash.
Sudden Impact for Roses is also a good alternative.

VEGETABLE HEROES

Which Foods Can You Re-Grow?
Have you ever wondered about re-growing food from the bits you cut off from veggies?

Instead of throwing those ends into the compost, or giving them to your chooks or worm farm, while all these things are good, you could be saving yourself some money by popping them into the veggie bed.
Here a just a few of the many that you can re-grow.

Let's start with the greens like lettuce, Bok Choy and cabbage are relatively easy to grow from scraps.
Place any leftover leaves in a bowl with just a bit of water in the bottom.
Keep the bowl somewhere that gets good sunlight and mist the leaves with water a couple of times each week.
After 3 or 4 days, you will notice roots beginning to appear along with new leaves. When this happens you can transplant your lettuce or cabbage in soil.

Celery
: to re-grow celery, cut off the base of your celery and lay it in a bowl with just a bit of warm water in the bottom.
Keep the bowl in direct sunlight as long as possible each day and after about a week, leaves should appear along the base.
When this happens, you can transplant your celery in soil and wait for it to grow to full length.

Lemongrass is a snap to grow.
After trimming the root that put it into a jar with enough water to cover it and leave it in the sunlight. 
After a couple of weeks, new leaves will shoot and you can plant those into your herb garden.

Gardeners the world over have probably tried growing Avocado from the seed just for fun.
All you need to do if you haven't tried this before is to wash the seed and use toothpicks to suspend it over water in a jar.
The water should come up enough to cover the bottom few centimetres of the seed.
Place your jar in a warm place but not in direct sunlight and remember to check the water every day and add more as needed.
It can take up to six weeks for the stem and roots to appear and once the stem reaches about 15 cm you will need to cut it down to 7 cm.
When leaves begin appearing, you can plant the seed in soil, remembering to leave about half of it above ground.
Of course there’s no guarantee that your resulting tree will have the same fruit as that of the seed.
Pot luck I guess.
Who knew that potatoes can be grown from potato peelings?
You need peelings that have eyes on them. 
Cut those peelings with at  least two or three eye, into 5 cm pieces. 
Dry them out overnight,then plant them about 10 cm deep in your veggie bed.
It helps if the eyes are facing up when planting.
In a few weeks your potato plant will begin to grow.

Sweet potatoes can be re-grown as well.

You just have to cut the sweet potato in half and suspend it using toothpicks above a jar or take-away of shallow water.
Roots will begin to appear in just a few days and sprouts will be seen on top of the potato around that same time.
Once those sprouts reach about 10cm or so in length, just twist them off and place them in a container of water.
When the roots from this container reach about 2-3 cm in length, you can plant them in soil.

Ginger or Turmeric root is very easy to grow and once you get started, you can keep your supply of ginger full.
Plant a spare piece of your ginger root in potting soil, making sure that the buds are facing up.
You’ll notice new shoots and new roots in a few weeks.
Let this grow for about a year before harvesting the roots.
Remember to save a piece of the rhizome so that you can replant it and grow more for the next time you need it.

Pineapple is easy.
It’s been mentioned before on Vegetable Heroes but you can grow your own pineapple even if you don’t live in the tropics.
You just cut the top off and insert a few toothpicks to hold it above a jar filled with water or pot it up into Bromeliad mix
If you’re growing it in water, remember to change the water every other day or so and keep the container filled so that it reaches just about the base.
You’ll notice roots in about a week or so and once they are formed you can transplant into potting soil. 
If you live in a cooler area, it is best to grow your pineapple indoors.

Who doesn’t know about re-growing garlic from scraps?

Sometimes the garlic sprouts a green shout while it’s still in the fridge.
Garlic is really easy to grow and can be done from just one clove.
When you buy garlic, you get several cloves so just pull one off and plant it with the roots facing down in potting soil.
Non-organic garlic has been sprayed with chemicals to stop it sprouting, to bleach it and to kill insects and plant matter.
However, if you do manage to see one sprout, Garlic likes plenty of direct sunlight so in warmer weather, in a sunny position during the day.
Once you notice that new shoots have established, cut the shoots back and your plant will produce a bulb.
You can take part of this new bulb and plant again.

Onions and Leeks
:If you want to re-grow onions or leeks, when you've cut the end off  make it at least 1 cm of onion. 
Put this piece in the veggie bed and cover lightly soil and keep in a sunny area. 

Growing from seed is sort of like re-growing scraps because the seeds are coming from the veggies your bought home with you.
If you like your pumpkins, you can save those seeds and plant them.
Just spread the seeds out in a sunny area outdoors and cover with soil. You can also plant an entire pumpkin. 
Of course many gardeners grow a number of hot peppers from the seeds that are leftover. 
Just collect the seeds from your habaneros, jalapenos or any other peppers that you have on hand.
Plant them in potting soil and keep in direct sunlight unless it is warm outside and then you can just plant them in your garden area.
Peppers grow relatively fast and don’t require a lot of care. Once you get a new crop, just save some of the seeds for replanting again.
Just be mindful of the growing season of peppers.
Pepper seeds are best planted in late Spring, or early Summer so they can grow in the warmest months of the year.
If you like tomatoes then become a seed saver and grow your own by saving those seeds of your favourite store bought tomato.
You just have to rinse the seeds and allow them to dry.
Plant in a good, rich potting soil until you notice growth coming in.
Allow the seedlings to get 5 cm high before transplanting them outdoors.
During cold weather you can grow your tomatoes indoors.

Of course many stone fruit and citrus can be grown from their seeds but in Australia, all citrus is grafted onto a hardier root stock so the one you grow yourself from seed won’t be as vigorous and the fruit could suffer as a result.
Mushrooms are good to go!
Unbelievable you can grow mushrooms from cuttings, although they are a bit more difficult than many other vegetables.
You’ll need a warm area with a lot of humidity and soil that is rich in nutrients.
It’s much better to grow your mushrooms in a pot as opposed to in the ground because you have a better shot at controlling the temperature and the humidity.
You just have to cut away the head of the mushroom and plant the stalk or stem in the soil.
Leave the very top exposed and this base will begin to grow a new head.

To regrow bulb fennel requires that you keep the roots intact.

You need about 2 ½ cm of the base of the fennel to get it to regrow.
Just place this base in a jar or bowl with about a cup of water and leave it in direct sunlight.
When the roots grow strong and you notice new green shoots coming up from the centre of the base, you can transplant into soil.

Re-grow, Basil and Coriander from a piece of stem about 5 -10cm high. 

Place this stem in a glass of water with the leaves well above the water line.
Leave the glass sitting in a bright area but not in direct sunlight. Roots should begin to form in a few days and when those roots reach 5cm long, you can transplant them in soil.
Re-grow a turnip for the top that you've just cut off when preparing to cook them.
Put this cut off piece into a jar of water.
You should notice new green tops growing in just a few days after you begin.
Just allow the root to continue growing until it’s ready to be transplanted in the ground. This works with many root vegetables such as beets, turnips and even parsnips.

AND THAT WAS OUR VEGETABLE HERO SEGMENT FOR TODAY!

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Burmese Honeysuckle: Lonicera hildebrandiana

If you like the colour golden yellow and you like perfume in the garden, consider planting one of the world’s most spectacular climbers.


The scent is to die for and it’ll knock your eyes out as well.
Yes, it’s a climber but you can let it scramble over the ground.
Let’s find out about this plant.
I'm talking with the plant panel Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal www.hortjournal.com.au and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner. www.thegreengallery.com.au


Burmese honeysuckle is a non-invasive version of honeysuckle but be warned it’s a climber on steroids.
Often said by Peter Nixon garden designer, " you might need a whip and a chair to keep this one under control."

What may entice you though is that its berries taste just like Gin and Tonic.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Having a Shearing Time with Flowers

TOOL TIME

Shears and Hedge Shears

Do you use a whipper snipper for just about every edging job in your garden?
Are you happy with the results?


Whether you are pruning a Knot  Garden or just a few shrubs you need to know what works best.
Knot Garden-Hatfield House photo M. Cannon
Whipper snippers aren’t so good for areas where you’ve got lots of low growing plants that have crept over your lawn.
If these plants get whippered snippered back, not only does it look ugly, but sometimes these plants don’t recover that well if ever.
The same with electric trimmers. They tend to tear the branches.
So what’s the alternative?
Hedge shears, Grass shears, Topiary shears. Straight blades or wavy blades.
Which is best to use for you?
Let’s find out about hedge and grass shears. I'm talking with Tony Mattson, General Manager of www.cutabovetools.com.au

The old saying goes "you get what you pay for" so by investing in quality tools, you’re likely to have less fatigue, fewer breakdowns and longer tool life.

When choosing the type of hedge shears you want, think about how much you'll use them, where you'll use them, who will be using them, and, of course, how much you can spend on them.Wavy and straight blades are interchangeable in their use.
The wavy blades hold the stem of what your cutting rather than pushing it out. 
Wavy blades are no harder to sharpen than straight blades, with various sharpening devices to accommodate them.
There's also no difference in weight between wavy and straight blades. 
The weight is mainly in the length of the handles.
Hedge shears should not be used to cut twigs or branches bigger than a ladies fingers.
Grass Shears



Bigger plant material than that, and the blades will be bowed out which is pretty hard to fix.
There’s no need to use your hedge shears to cut your lawn edges; for that your need grass shears or edging shears because these are perfect for lawn edges.

If you have any questions hedge shears, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675






VEGETABLE HEROES

Edible Flowers

Have you ever thought of eating the flowers of some of your plants but decided you didn’t know if they were safe?

Why would you eat flowers anyway? Did you know that flowers that are edible are featuring in some of Australia’s top restaurants, including those of violas, baby’s breath, fennel, coriander, peas, rocket and Borage?
Some explanation can be found from the history of edible flowers which can be traced back thousands of years.
Romans used edible flowers such as mallows, roses and violets in a lot of their dishes.
You’ve probably heard of and even eaten capers, but did you know capers (Capparis spinosa) are the flower buds of a Mediterranean evergreen shrub and have been used to flavour foods and sauces for over 2,000 years? 

Edible flowers such as daylilies and chrysanthemums have been used by the Chinese and Greeks for centuries.
In a fifteenth century book of recipes is a list of herbs considered necessary for the garden and include borage flowers, daisies, violets to be used in soup, violets for sauce and gilly flowers (that’s clove pinks to you and me) for drinks."

Seems like eating flowers is nothing new

Which Flowers?

Nobody says you should tuck into a plate of flowers, because that would be too much.
If you suffer from hayfever, then give eating flowers a big miss as well.
Never eat flowers bought at a flower shop or nursery as these may have been treated with harmful chemical
Another warning, not all flowers are edible, and some are poisonous if you can’t identify the flower, then don’t eat it.
Then there are some that aren’t poisonous, but don’t taste nice.
Stick to the ones you can identify from the ones that are mentioned in this segment.

Which flowers are safe?

Well, I’ll talk you through a number of flowers some you might know already.
Back to that question of why are restaurants adding flowers to their dishes?..
Is there something that you eat that’s a tad boring that needs an extra bit of zing and colour?
Ever thought of tossing Nasturtium and Calendula petals into a fresh garden salad, or top a parfait with a couple of violets or heartsease?
Everyone’s heard of stuffed zucchini flowers, and maybe Nasturtium flowers as well. They’re easy to identify.

But what do they taste like?
Nasturtium flowers are sweet with a peppery flavour.
Zucchini flowers taste sweet, with a honey nectar flavour.

What about any others?

Calendula or Pot Marigold tastes a bit like Saffron-spicy tangy and peppery.
Flowers of the herb Rocket are much less peppery than the leaves, but the propeller shaped flowers are delicate, so handle these carefully.

Violets and heartsease taste like sweet nectar and suit desert dishes.

Borage is another one that many people might know already-those bright blue flowers on the blue-green stalks with large leaves that are a bit rasp like to touch. Borage flowers tastes a little like mild cucumbers.
Borage flowers
Pea flowers –guess what, they taste like peas.
What should you do when collecting the flowers and how do you use them in your dishes?
First of all, unless the flavour suits the dish, then there’s no point to adding the flower, so good chefs say.
Take note all you budding Masterchefs.
Looking pretty isn’t enough, it has to enhance the food.
You might use pea flowers with other green flavours, and of course the flowers that taste of sweet nectar are used to lift the flavours of sweet dishes.
Those with peppery or spicey flavours go well in salads.
Less peppery than the leaves.
How to pick your flowers.
Pick your flowers just before you’re about to use them if at all possible.
Check them carefully for bugs, but don’t wash them, because the petals are fairly delicate.
Store them in the fridge in a plastic container covered with a damp paper towel while you’re preparing dinner, or lunch.
Just as you’re about to serve the meal, add the flowers as a final touch.
Sweet flowers can be combined with tea or frozen into ice cubes.
Ground dried petals can be mixed into biscuit pastry or pancake batter for something different.
Some flowers in your vegetable garden you don’t want to pick because they’ll grow into veggies that you want.
So just be selective.
There are others that you need to pick even if you’re not going to eat them because the leaves of these plants become bitter, these are greens including spinach, kale, mustard, bok choi, broccoli, and lettuces,radish and for herbs, basil, coriander, thyme, and mint.

Why are edible flowers good for you?
The flowers contain a portion of the same nutrients that the plant they came from has. Simple as that.
Finally, remember if you’re not sure, to check with a reference book, your garden centre or nursery, before eating a flower to make sure it’s safe to eat.

LIVING PLANET

How To Look After Your Worm Farm? Getting Started.

Still not convinced about worm farms?
Well did you know that in one worm, there is around 474, 075 million bacteria ?
These bacteria do an incredibly important job – mainly making minerals available to your plants.
From the reference “Earthworms in Australia’, by David Murphy,
When compared to the parent soil (the original soil), worm castings (the worm’s poo) have approximately:

7 times the available phosphorous: 6 times the available nitrogen
3 times the available magnesium: 2 times the available carbon
1.5 times the available calcium
So which worms go best in worm farms?
Let’s find out. I'm talking with Sophie Goulding, environment project officer with a local council.

Worms like to be kept moist and covered because they're Sensitive to light.
Keep your worm farm in a shady spot so that they don't overheat and on hot days, give them a sprinkle of water.
worms hate light.
The worms don’t create the minerals out of thin air but change their form from insoluble to soluble by digesting them.
That’s reason enough to get into worm farming.

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Crucifix Orchid.
Epidendrum ibaguense

For some people, orchid growing successfully eludes them but there’s a reason why.
Most supermarket chains sell the gorgeous and enticing moth orchid, but they’re not for beginners.
If you’ve failed with a moth orchid, (Phalaenopsis  spp.) you need to go for something tough and easy that you can practically throw onto the ground and it will grow.
Let’s find out about this plant.I'm talking with the plant panel- Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal www.hortjournal.com.au and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner. www.thegreengallery.com.au

Crucifix orchids are constantly in flower and don’t have any trouble clinging to rock, as their roots work their way into tiny crevices and cracks.
Epidendrum ibaguense

Crucifix orchids have tough, leathery leaves along reed-like stems, which can be up to 1.2m long. The clusters of starry flowers appear at the end of each stem and come in red, orange, yellow, purple, white and salmon.

This is the perfect orchid for beginners as they’re incredibly tough and can be grown in any free-draining mix in pots or the garden, or simply tucked into a rockery.



Saturday, 11 February 2017

Getting Gardening Under Control

PLANT DOCTOR

Organic Herbicides vs Inorganic Herbicides

Weed control can be the bane of gardeners’ lives if you have weeds that continually pop up year after year.
Wouldn’t you love to dispatch them quickly without harming the environment, good bugs and wildlife in your garden?

Synthetic herbicides have a greater potential to contaminate surface water so if in the past you’ve succumbed to using systemic herbicides, here’s a good reason why you should put that down and pick up something better.
Let’s find out about what’s new. I'm talking with  Steve Falcioni, General Manager of www.ecoorganicgarden.com.au


The sprays mentioned were those with (a) Acetic acid (vinergar) and salts. (b) Pine Oil based. (c)NEW, "Slasher" based on Nonanoic which is also called Pelargonic acid and occurs naturally as asters in the oil of Pelargoniums.
The advantage of "Slasher" is that it can be used on cloudy days and during winter. Acetic acid sprays rely on sunlight to burn or dessicate the plant you spray it on.
One thing to remember, these are knock down herbicides which doesn’t remain in the soil, so if new weeds come up, you’ll have to spray them again.
Systemic sprays are absorbed into the tissue of the plants like the roots, leaves and stems.
No systemic spray is organic and Glyphosate sprays have been proven to not bye "locked " by the soil and become naturalised. 
Glyphosate should not be sprayed near wanted plants whose root systems might be touching the root system of weed.
If you have any questions Nonanoic acid in weed control, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

VEGETABLE HEROES

Fungal Problems on Beans
In the warmest time of the year when the temperature keeps going higher and higher and the humidity is not far behind, some plants in the garden seem to go downhill.
Why?
The reason is the humidity escalates fungal problems in the garden even if you planted them the right distance apart and your chose strong varieties.
Today I’m talking about some problems with the common bean.
We all know our beans, Phaseolus vulgaris which belongs in the Fabaceae family.
We love our beans that either grow on bushes or vine-like climbing plants.
Depending on which variety you have, your bean flowers could be white, pink, lilac or purple and the bean pods can be8 – 20 cm long in any colour from green to yellow to black or purple.
Common beans are warm season crops so unless you’re in sub-tropical areas, you can’t really grow them all year round.

Bean Rust
Bean rust
Let’s start of the bean rust which is used by the fungus Uromyces appendiculatus and first appears as small pale spots (lesions), which become yellow with a small dark centre.
These spots get bigger and produce brick-red rust (summer) spores to spread the disease Infection is favoured by ten hours or more of dew or water remaining on the leaves overnight, with temperatures between 17 - 270 degrees C.

As soon as you see symptoms you need to spray with a fungicide containing copper or sulphur. 

Alternaria Leaf Spot
The next problem is called Alternaria Leaf spot or Alternaria alternata.
This fungal problems likes warm humid weather and starts of as small irregular brown lesions or dead patches on leaves which expand and turn grey-brown or dark brown with concentric zones
Alternaria Leaf Spot
As the older areas of lesions dry out and drop from leaves this causes what looks like a holey leaf or shot hole.
Then these dead patches or lesions join together to make large necrotic patches
Disease emergence favoured by high humidity and warm temperatures but plants grown in nitrogen and potassium deficient soils are more susceptible
The best way to manage this problem is to plant beans in fertile soil and use a foliar fungicide that’s registered for the problem. 

Anthracnose

Another common fungal problem in warm humid zones is Anthracnose or
Glomerella lindemuthiana.
This is a hard one to beat appearing straight away on the first emerging leaves and looks like small, dark brown to black lesions with oval or eye-shaped lesions on stems which turn sunken and brown with purple to red margin.
Stems may break if cankers are bad enough so that they weaken the stem while pods become dry and shrink above areas of visible symptoms.
Anthracnose on Beans
You might also see reddish brown spots on pods which become circular and sunken with rust coloured margin
Where does the disease come from?
Anthracnose can be transmitted through infected seed and the fungus can survive in crop debris in soil and reinfect crop the following season
If you’ve had anthracnose what you need to do next season is plant resistant varieties; use certified disease free seed and avoid sprinkler irrigation.

Instead, water plants at the base plus remove any bean plant material. 

Bacterial Blight
Lastly a look at something called Bacterial Blight or Xanthomonas campestris and can look like anthracnose to the untrained eye.
Bacterial blight looks like water-soaked spots on leaves which grow bigger and turn brown meaning a dead or necrotic spot on the leaf.
The spots may be surrounded by a zone of yellow discoloration.
Again, like anthracnose the spots join together and give the plant a burned appearance.
Leaves that die remain attached to the plant.
Bacterial Blight on Beans
This disease also shows up as circular, sunken, red-brown lesion on pods, which may ooze during humid conditions.
This disease can be introduced by contaminated seed, plus bacteria overwinters in crop debris.
Bacterial blight likes warm temperatures and the spread is greatest during humid, wet weather conditions. 

What can you do if you think you have this problem in your beans?
Plant only certified seed; plant resistant varieties; treat seeds with an appropriate antibiotic prior to planting to kill off bacteria; spray plants with an appropriate protective copper based fungicide as a preventative, before appearance of symptoms.

Rob's Beans  
Lastly, from an email, Rob says his bean plants were growing poorly, meaning they were stunted and not many beans.
When I asked Rob to test the pH of his soil, he was surprised to find that it was pH 5, so very acidic.
Now Rob has to apply garden lime or dolomite to bring the pH back to neutral which is around pH .
Just goes to show that you can manure your garden bed, add lots of compost and still have over time, quite acidic soil.
You can’t beat that pH test.

LIVING PLANET

Worm Farms Series Part 1-All About Worms
Quite a few people are still not sure about whether or not they should invest in a worm far.
Is it too much work, where do you put the worm farm, and will it attract vermin are some of the questions that emerge?
But you can get away from the fact that a worm farm is a fantastic way to minimise food waste by turning your organic kitchen waste into nutrient-rich fertiliser for your plants and soils.
So how do the worms do it?

Let’s find out. I'm talking with Sophie Goulding, environment project officer with a local council.


Worms don't have eyes, but have areas or spots on their skin which sense light.
B because worms dislike light, you need to keep them in a shady spot and covered.
Worms have up to 7 hearts but if you cut a worm in two, the back half will die and possibly the front half as well.
Worms start of as tiny eggs the size of a fertiliser prill.
Out of each egg, 5-7 worms will hatch out.
Keep your worm farm moist but not overly wet. worms don't like to dry out, but if your district experiences heavy rainfall, check the worm farm to make sure that your worms haven't drowned.
We’ll continue the series next week but just to remind you that compost is a soil conditioner but worm-improved compost is a slow release fertiliser and biostimulant as well.

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Peppercorn Tree Schinus molle var. Areira

Large trees provide lovely cool shade in the heat of summer and what’s not to love about a tree with drooping ferny leaves that keeps you cool?
You see these trees on rural properties lining the driveway leading to the home, but should they be grown at all?
Peppercorn Tree
Let’s find out about this plant. I'm talking with the plant panel: Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal www.hortjournal.com.au and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner. www.thegreengallery.com.au
The Peppercorn tree is evergreen and grows to about 10 metres.
Bear in mind that this tree spreads readily by seed; is invasive in a variety of habitats including grassland, woodland and riparian areas; and is regarded as an environmental weed in most Australian states.
The berries from the peppercorn tree have been dried and ground for use
as pepper, but are not the source of traditional pepper.

Peppercorn tree.


From Grow Me Instead choose an Acacia, or Eucalyptus torquata.