Friday, 9 September 2011

"Aw My Gourd" Said The Honeyeater!


Wildlife in Focus:Yellow Faced Honey Eater.Lichenostomus chrysops  Sound of the Yellow Faced Honeyeater is provided with thanks to Tony Baylis of the Australian Wildlife Sound Recording Group. Listen to ecologist, Kurtis Lindsay talk about the habitat and features of this beautiful bird.

Vegetable Heroes: Gourds those funny shaped vegetables that provide more that just food. Lagenaria siceraria  or Gourd spp. from the Cucurbitaceae family.    In tropical climates, the vine grows all year round, so those gardeners can have 2 crops of gourds every year. For the rest of Australia, it depends what part of Australia you live in, normally from Spring (mid September to early December) after the danger of frost has passed.  In temperate climates, sow the seed when temperatures are around 200C to 300C. In colder climates this means waiting until summer weather has come.
  To grow Gourds, soak the seeds overnight in lukewarm water.
   Sow the seeds in mounds of well composted soil about 30cm ( a ruler length) apart.  The seeds should be planted around 2 cm deep.     Add some organic pellets of fertiliser to the planting hole.
   You can grow Gourds in pots, but make them at least 30cm wide. It’s also a good idea to stop the plant growing when it reaches about 1.5 m by pruning off the tip.
 Tip: Gourd plants don’t transplant that well, so either use one of those pots made from coco peat, or a jiffy pot, that can be planted into the soil, or plant them where you want them to grow.    
 One problem you may get, and it’s the same with pumpkins is lack of fruit set.    Hand pollination is a very simple procedure. It simply involves shaking or tapping pollen from the male flower (that you have picked) over the female flower. You can pollinate several female flowers with just one male flower.
  It’s very easy to tell male from female flowers as the female flower will have the small gourd shape below the flower, and the male flower grows on a stem without the ball shape below the flower. Vines will start fruiting after 3 months, but take 2-6 months to dry, depending on the thickness of the skin.
You can eat the flesh when the fruit is young, otherwise they taste bitter. Good in curries and stews.

Design Elements: Dramatic Plants. You need a focal point in your garden but you don't want statues or ponds, you prefer plants. Then listen here to Lesley Simspon (garden designer)and Marianne, talk about dramatic plants that might just fit the bill.

Plant of the Week: Smooth Barked Apple -Angophora hispida, something for the birds, a native small tree that sometimes gets confused with being a Eucalypt. This tree will suit all size gardens, growing to 6m.
a)      Angophoras are related to Eucalypts because they’re in the Myrtaceae family. What are the similiarities? Both have leaves that look like gum leaves.
b)      A lot of eucalypt or gum trees, the leaves go through up to 4 different stages. This means size shape and colour can change as the leaf grows older. In Angophoras, the juvenile stage, which is usually a rounded leaf, remains on the tree throughout its life. Where on older eucalypts, it’s extremely unusual to still see this young stage in the older part of the canopy.
c)      Young leaves on Eucalypt trees grow opposite each other on the stem and as they get older, they alternate, ie, leaf then stalk, then another leaf on the other side of the stalk and so on. Angophora leaves stay opposite each other on the stalk for the life of the tree.
d)     The other main difference is the capsules or gumnuts of both trees. In Angophoras, the gumnuts will always have ribbed sides to the capsules also they don’t have a bud cap/ Imagine the gumnut babies of May Gibbs,. The angophora gumnut babies wouldn’t have the hats.
e)      A similarity is that gum trees and Angophoras have lignotubers, although not all Eucalypts have this. E. grandis doesn’t. this means, that if you chopped the tree down, it would regrow from the underground part.
f)       A. hispida grows in the Sydney sandstone area, in open woodlands. It tolerates a wide variety of soils, and will tolerate some coastal exposure. Like the other Angophoras, it will not tolerate frost until over 1.5m in height.
g)      In the landscape, you can recognise A. hispida by its extremely hairy young stems and new reddy/purpley foliage.
h)      The trunk has flaky, grey to grey-brown strips of bark that can be found throughout the tree.

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