Thursday, 4 November 2010

Connecting with a Historical Past

Real World Gardener Wed 5pm, Sat 12noon 2RRR 88.5fm
Feature Interview: Talking with Hazel King, Horticlturalist, AIH member, accredited garden judge. Hazel was the daughter of the Head gardener of Yaralla, the home od the late Dame Edith Walker, in West Concord. A magnificent garden with 27 gardeners on the estate to provide the owners and those living on the estate with fresh produce and flowers for the table. Hazel King was also the judge for the Ryde Spring garden competition this year.Find more information on Yaralla at
Vegetable Heroes:Tomato, Lycospericon esculentum, Family Solanaceae.       In the 18th century Carl Linnaeus created binomial nomenclature to name species, was keeping in mind that people thought tomatoes were poisonous because they came from the Nightshade family.     So Linnaeus gave them the scientific name of Lycopersicon esculentum, which literally means, "edible wolf peach". Old German folklore claimed that witches used plants of the nightshade family to evoke werewolves, a practice known as lycanthropy. The common German name for tomatoes translates to "wolf peach", and was avoided for obvious reasons. Growing your tomatoes:      
  1. Growing tomatoes has to be in full sun at least 6 hours.  
  2. When you plant your seedling, this is about the only plant I know that you pile the soil higher than it was in the pot. That way, it grows extra roots to support the plant.    At the same time, put in a tomato stake of some kind and sprinkle some Dolomite around the plant. The Dolomite-Calcium Magnesium Carbonate is to prevent that blackening of the bottom of the tomato called blossom end rot.   
  3.  A good tip is to put some hydrated water crystals in the bottom of the planting hole. Sydney gets so hot during the day, that it’s sometimes hard to keep the water up to them. They actually need lots of water, as well as Calcuim, to prevent a problem called “blossom end” rot, when they get a black bottom.     
  4. Mulch with Hay, lucerne tea tree or some home made compost, which will break down over the next few weeks.   
  5.  As soon as your tomato gets the first yellow flower, you need to start fortnightly feeds with a liquid tomato food. Cow Manure is not enough…it doesn’t have anywhere near the right amount of Potassium. That’s needed to bring on the flowers and fruit..     
  6.  Now when you get to four trusses (or branches of flowers) nip out top of the plant. By this stage you should have plenty of fruits forming that need to grow and ripen.    You need to do this mainly because you want the plant to put all its energy into the fruits. And…you don’t want it growing taller than you tomato stake and flopping all over the place.      
  7. Keep the soil moist by regular watering and using a mulch of some kind. Feed weekly with tomato fertiliser.  Irregular watering or drying out of the soil or compost in very hot weather can result in the fruits splitting. The inside grows faster than the skin, splits and unless eaten quickly, disease very quickly enters the damaged area and the tomato disposed of.      If you ate only one tomato a day, you would get 40% of you daily requirements of Vitamin C and 20% of Vitamin A. Don't forget to email you garden question or tip to
Design Elements: Redefining spaces-Today, Lesley and I discuss redefining the outdoor living room.
Listen to the podcast.
 Plant of the Week: Beaumontia grandiflora, Herald Trumpet Vine. Family, Apocynaceae. Beaumontia is a climbing vine that can be very vigorous. The foliage is semi-evergreen. The leaves are glossy green on the upper surface and dark green and hairy underneath. They measure more than 20 cm long and have prominent venation. The woody trunk and branches act like wires to enable the plant to grow in height. The plant produces oblong green fruits from the end of summer through autumn. After the flowering season, the plant may lose a few leaves or the leaves go a purple shade on their tips as a response to cold in temperate regions.  In sub-tropical and tropical areas  it is evergreen.
Under 15°C, the plant will not flower so you probably can’t grow it if you live in the Blue Mountains.. The plant grows ideally in a heated veranda or hot glasshouse. Beaumontia grandiflora demands a lot of light and humidity.
Soil must be rich and well-drained. Beaumontia does best in light, but do not place it under a direct sun.  Keep soil moist for best results.When we propagate from the vine, we have to wear gloves to avoid getting the milky sap all over us. It’s relatively easy to grow from cuttings, but you do need a green house with bottom heat and misting. Semi hard wood cuttings work best with nodes close together. If you don't have a green house, put the cuttings in a peat:sand mixture and cover with a plastic bag. Using a wire frame around the cuttings to prefent them touching the plastic.
These plants are available from the Sydney Botanic Gardens, Growing Friends'nursery. Opening times:M-F, 11.30-2pm.
What's On: Sunday 7 November from 
On10:00am – 12:30pm there’s a Gladesville Hospital and Priory Walk led by Peter Colthorpe, chair of Friends of Gladesville Hospital. Meet at The Priory,
2 Salter St.
, Gladesville. By donation for repairs to The Priory. Bookings and enquiries 0434 673 101
Also on Sunday 7 November the city of Ryde has free tours of Brush Farm House at 11 and 1.30. these tours chronicle the social and architectural history of the house. Brush Farm is at
19 Lawson St
, Eastwood. Bookings essential on 9952 8222.