Thursday, 27 October 2011

Save A Species-Cassowary

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm Sat. 12noon, 2RRR 88.5fm.
Wildlife in Focus: Besides being a keystone species in the Wet Tropics Rainforests, Cassowaries are  are an Icon of tourism in FNQ Being a keystone species means that they play an integral part in the maintenance of the forest ecosystem. Hear the complete interview with Marianne and Kurtis Lindsay.
To find more information on this bird and support their existence, go to

Vegetable Heroes: Pumpkins or Cucurbita moschata, C. pepo, C. maxima
"   Sow Pumpkins all year round in tropical and sub-tropical climates, for temperate zones, now is the ideal time and  for cool regions you will have to wait until December. But you can get the seeds started now in punnets in a mini green house.
"   Temperatures of 20oC to 35oC are ideal for growing Pumpkins.
"   Soil temperatures need to be above 16oC for seeds to germinate and it can take up to 14 days for plants to emerge at this temperature.
"  Pumpkins can be grown on a wide range of soil types. As roots can penetrate up to a metre deep, a well-drained soil  with a slightly acidic pH of about 6 – 6.5
"  Choose a sunny, sheltered spot in your garden.
"  Dig in about 100g or 2 handfuls of fertiliser beforehand.Sow a few seeds about 20mm deep .
"  Pumkpins suffer most from powdery mildew, that white coating on the leaves which eventually makes the leaf brittle followed by sudden death.
"  When your vine grows avoid watering the leaves at all costs. An organic spray for powdery mildew is 1 part full cream milk and 9 parts water. Another method is to spray a solution of seaweed on the leaves every week to prevent the mildew spores from taking hold.
"  If no fruit develops on your vine, a common problem it’s probably because of unsuitable weather conditions at the time of flowering-cloudy windy, rainy, or there were no insect pollinators around.
"  Try some of your own pollination. It may be your last chance to get that pumpkin.
"  The male flowers hare easy to detect, they have no bulge below the petals like the female flowers have.
"  Pumpkins are ready to pick in 3-4 months when the vine has died down leaving a hard dry stalk.
"  Cut the pumpkin off the vine leaving 2-3 cm of stalk so your pumpkin will keep longer." Store whole pumpkins for two or three months in a cool, dark place with good ventilation.
 Find unusual varieties at these online suppliers
Design Elements: part 4 in the "basic garden design" series, -   something to help you decide on what colour scheme for you magnificent garden? There’s no reason to poo poo the idea of a planned use of colour in any style of garden. Using colour deliberately can be fun. You haven’t thought of a colour scheme? Listen here to Lesley Simpson and Marianne discuss colour schemes.
Plant of the Week: Leptospermum scoparium, Tea Tree
a).  A usually compact shrub to 2 m high (often less) by 2 m wide. Leaves are variable in shape and size. They may be elliptical, broadly lanceolate or obovate and from 7 to 20 mm long. White flowers, occasionally tinged with pink and rarely red, 1 cm in diameter, occur in spring and early summer.
b). Distribution: NSW, Vic, Tas; also found in New Zealand.
c).  Leptospermum "Pink Cascade" is a cultivar that's very popular. It forms a small, weeping shrub.
d). L. Pink Pearl grows to 2m and is very drought tolerant.
e). L Scoparium Ruby Glow” is a compact, erect, evergreen shrub with  a refined appearance with neat, small dark red leaves, which by the way are fragrant when crushed. Perfect, double, burgundy-red flowers are produced in January and can be quite showy.
NEW RELEASE: Leptospermum 'Vertical Drop" is a very unusual plant. It's a woody native that grows down, not up. Vertical Drop also grows horizontally, and is very useful when planted over retaining wall. Can be grown on the coast, is drought and frost tolerant and takes fulls sun to part shade.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Amazing Corn!

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm Sat. 12noon, 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
Design Elements in today’s show,it's episode 3 in a four week series on garden design basics. Styles of gardens are just about taste. Other factors influence style, like the shape of your garden, or how much time you want to spend in your garden.Find out styles of gardens that suit you best.
VEGETABLE HEROES  Sweet Corn  or Zea mays var. saccharata is the answer to that question about what vegetable is used  in the manufacturing of nylon fibres and as a source for producing degradable plastics.
Much of the corn now grown around the world is genetically modified for herbicide and/or pest resistance, so a good reason to grow it yourself.
Sweet corn belongs to the grass family. Poaceae.
You can plant sweetcorn all year round in tropical and subtropical climates, in spring and midsummer in temperate zones and late spring to early summer in colder regions.
Before planting out your corn, soak the seeds in acontainer of water overnight. You can either sow the seeds directly into the garden, 25cm apart in short rows 50-60 cm apart, or in seed trays. 
Dig in some chook poo a couple of weeks before you plant the corn.
Corn needs to be planted closely for pollination. Plant a hand span apart. You could also try planting your corn in a circle sow your corn seeds and water them in (a good soak).
Hints andTips- A good tip is, once the corncob has been pollinated (the corncob tassels have gone brown and you can feel the cob forming) cut the top flower off about a 10cm up from the cob.   Hopefully this will let the plant concentrate on feeding the cob, making it grow larger and sweeter.
Poor germination and too few corncobs can be caused by a number of problems. For example:
- poor seed quality - if the seed is old or hasn't been dried or handled properly after harvest;
- seed rots (Pythium and Rhizoctonia fungi);
- planting into cool, wet soil, planting too deep and soil crusting.
Online companies that sell varieties of corn.
Plant of the Week: Crotons, Codiaeum variegatum  Family -    Euphorbiaceae-It is a native of the tropics from Java to Australia and the South Sea Islands, and because of the Crotons' susceptibility to cold injury, is restricted to the southern and warmer parts of australia for growing outdoors. Otherwise Crotons make a very decorative indoor plant in cooler climates.
Crotons develop their best leaf colors when planted in dappled sunlight all day. Plants placed in shade or semi-shade tend to develop a large amount of green color. Soil should be enriched with compost, muck, or coco peat, and the plants fertilized regularly with a general purpose fertilizer, preferable one that has an high acidic rating, such as an azalea fertilizer.
Croton plant varieties require heavy watering as well as high humidity. Misting the plant once or twice a week appears to to keep up with the Croton's humidity needs if you live in an area with low humidity levels. Keep the plants soil moist at all times.
If leaves begin to fall off or slope downward, you are probably not providing the plant with enough water. If the leaves edges become wilted, this may be an indication that you are over watering the plant. Try cutting down on how often you water and see if that improves the leaves appearance.           Overall, I have found that Croton's are a medium maintenance house plant. They can be touchy in terms of how much water they are given or not given.
One blogger writes “When I made the decision that I was going to make my garden a native/exotic mix, …. I wouldnt go overboard with colour. A sea of green highlighted by a few tastefully composed beds containing Cordylines and Crotons, with the Broms around a Poinciana rounding out the 'terrific threesome' of tropical gardens everywhere.

Make a comment or ask a question by email to the RWG team:

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Brain Fever Cuckoo

REAL WORLD GARDENER produced at 2RRR  Sydney, heard nationally across Australia on the Community Radio Network, Saturdays 10.04 EDT

Wildlife in Focus: Often regarded as shy and retiring, the channel billed cuckoo doesn’t make the cuckoo, cuckoo noise. Why not you might ask, find out by listening to the complete segment here.
Vegetable Heroes: Summer Broccoli, Brassica oleracea Cymosa group (syn. var. italica)-Calabrese, -  Broccoli heads are actually groups of buds that are almost ready to flower; each group of buds is called a floret.
To grow broccoli as a cool season crop you need to sow seeds now and until the end of November and plant out seedlings in late summer, except for subtropical and tropical areas, when you have to wait until February or March.
Some cultivars , such as the Calabrese or 'sprouting Broccoli."are adapted to spring and autumn planting only, but the best known variety, 'Shogun', can be planted year round. Broccoli being a leafy green vegetable needs a fertile soil and don't let the soil become dry. Add plenty of chook poo or other type of animal manure, add a handful of Potash as well. Add plenty of lime-pH 6.5 to 7.5 is the 'ideal' range.
ECO-Tip:Plants growing in Spring and Summer can end up with quite heavy green caterpillar infestation. This can be prevented by using light plastic netting to keep the butterflies out. You can buy this online.
You might like to try spraying Dipel or Spinosad based insecticide – it’s a bacteria mixed with water that kills the caterpillars but is safe for humans, pets etc. or another remedy is 2 Tablespoon of Molasses dissolved in 1 L of warm water and sprayed on. You can also try to remove the caterpillars from the leaves or brush off any eggs you can see.
The broccoli is ready to cut about 2½ months from transplanting in the summer and a bit over 3 months in winter.
The sprouting type of Broccolis is perhaps the oldest, and least known form of broccoli. Known as “green Sprouting Calabrese” in online catalogues.You can also get catalogs sent to you by ringing the number of the You can also get Broccoli Raab-another looser type of sprouting Broccoli at this web address.
Design Elements: Part 2 of the Basic Garden Design series, listen here how to go about drawing your garden design.

Plant of the Week: Yellow Tingle. Eucalyptus guilfoylei
The Tingle eucalypt trees are referred to as the Giants" or the giant yellow and red tingle trees which are only found in a particular area of Walpole and Nornalup in the Walpole Wilderness Area.
Yellow tingles are smaller, growing to thirty-five feet or more. The red tingles, however, reach almost eighty feet into the air! You can see images of the amazing treetop walk
The Yellow tingleTree, 5-40 m high, bark rough, short-fibred & crumbly. Fl. white/cream, Nov to Dec or Jan. Gravelly loam. Slopes & ridges. Yellow tingle is a medium to tall eucalypt, with height up to 35 m and diameter 1 m. This tree prefers an annual rainfall over 900mm per year, otherwise it will grow, but more poorly.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Fancy Fairy Fan Flowers

REALWORLD GARDENER  produced at 2RRR Sydney  and broadcast across Australia on the Community Radio Network, Saturdays, 10.04 EST

email your questions/feedback to
DESIGN ELEMENTS:Your garden might’ve been handed down from someone else when you bought the place. Maybe you just put plants in a free spot whenever you bought one back from a buying spree. Did you every think, what’s missing or how can I make it look better?  Listen here to Part 1 in the 4 part series of "garden design basics."
VEGETABLE HEROES: Horseradish  or Armoracia rusticana from the Brassicaceae family.-          Except for tropical regions, Spring is the time to get pieces of Horseradish root from either a friend, garden centre, or online nursery.
  Just simply dig a hole, about 1 ½ to 2 feet (50 - 60cm) deep – horseradish has extremely long tap roots. pop in the piece of Horsradish root, and back fill with a mixture of compost and the planting soil. 
If you want lots of Horseradish to make up the paste you can lay the roots of horseradish in a trench about 12 inches (30cm) apart and then cover with more soil. Firm in with your heel. 
It’s best in full sun particularly if you’re in a cold part of Australia.
If you’ve got damp soils, it’s no problem for horseradish because it grows vigorously. 
Keep well watered if it's not a damp spot.
It should be planted in a permanent position and not disturbed as new plants will grow from any broken roots ,but then this is the best way to propagate Horseradish, and give it to your friends.          ECO TIP: This deep rooted plant can be used in orchards to open up compacted soils and return nutrients to the surface of the soil.
By mid autumn if you were lucky enough to have planted it last year either in autumn OR spring, the roots should be ready to harvest-simply dig them up and preserve some pieces for next year's harvest.
Some places to get it online.  
Plant of the Week Fairy Fan Flower or scientifically, Scaevola aemula and S. albida.
With such pretty blue flowers, you'd think this plant would be rather fussy or delicate. Instead, this durable Australian native takes the heat without wilting and produces heaps of lavender-blue or white fan-like flowers all summer.
a.    Visited by butterflies and Honey Bees,   Scaevola or Fan Flower is the perfect groundcover. (Ramm Botanicals have released quite a few new ones, )
c.    Scaevola prefer a well-drained soil with little to no phosphate added. Like most Australian natives, scaevola is sensitive to phosphorous.
d.   Scaevola. aemula also requires well-drained sandy soil and a good sunny position.   It grows naturally along the coastline around Nambucca Heads to Coffs Harbour where I’ve seen it on bushwalks.
 Scaevola. albidus grows as far south in coastal areas of Victoria and Tasmania in a range of habitats, including clay soils. Scaevola albida varieties under the Dam Savers range are S. albida  which will grow in semi-shaded positions and is frost hardy. Mauve Carpet, grows in full sun, ground cover and hanging baskets. S. Super Clusters, flowers through to Autumn and is strictly for the garden. 
White carpet is a good choice if you’re looking for a low maintenance plant that receives irregular watering and is a good weed suppressor.
Feature Interview (not heard on CRN) Talking with Ruby Ride of the Bromeliad Society of Australia Check out meeting times of this society and others around Australia.
There's a Bromeliad for every corner of your garden.