Thursday, 8 March 2012

Garden Connections and White Ibis

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm, 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition.
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Wildlife in Focus: Changes to their natural habitat cause birds to move to places where water and food are more predictable. As a result of changes to inland wetlands ibis are now part of the urban environment in NSW. In fact, White Ibis look quite elegant along creek and river beds, their natural habitat. Let’s find out more with ecologist Kurtis Lindsay.
Vegetable Heroes:Parsnip,Pastinaca sativa, a member of the Apiaceae family.
Seeds need to be sown from autumn to winter in sub-tropical areas, anywhere from mid-winter to mid-autumn for temperate areas and spring to summer in cold districts, around Australia.
  Seed doesn’t keep for long so check the use by date of your seed packets.
Best planted at soil temperatures between 6°C and 21°C.
Parsnip likes to be grown in deep sandy, loamy soil. After planting keep seeds moist - can cover with a wooden plank or mulch - until seeds germinate. Difficult to grow in summer as the seed dries out fast and won't germinate.
If you can grow carrots, you can grow parsnips. You need the same type of soil, friable, not sandy and not clayey. A pH of 6.5-7. Yes, do go out and buy that pH testing kit. If high school geography students can measure pH, so can you.
As with carrots, soil with stones or compacted soil will give you deformed and stunted turnips that not only look funny, but taste a bit that way as well.
Parsnips need to be started from seed. They resent. Germination takes up to 3 weeks. sp quite a long time.   Tip: Soak the seeds overnight in a shallow saucer. There’s no need to drown them.
Keep your parsnip seedlings growing strongly with regular watering and applications of liquid seaweed, liquid manure or compost tea.
Harvest in 17-20 weeks, that’s 4-5 months.
If you plants seeds in March, expect results in July sometime.
Parsnips have the best flavour if harvested after a frost or very cold weather.
The cold results in the starch in the roots being converted into sugars which give the parsnip its sweet taste. Use a spade to dig the parsnip out of the ground.
Design Elements:        Around the 6th century BC, Roman gardens were a place of peace and tranquillity, and used as a refuge. Back then, porticos were developed to connect the home with the outdoor to create outdoor living spaces. This month’s series is all about the connect between the home and garden, listen here to the first instalment with Lesley Simpson, garden designer.
Plant of the Week: Clerodendron splendens Flaming Glorybower,
seems to be a plant from old fashioned gardens. Certainly not that much available from large garden centres that deal in all things other than just plants.
The Flaming Glorybower is well behaved.
The Flaming Glorybower will climb by twinning up supports or by sending its branches out across the ground or over an embankment.  It has large, 18cm or 7 inch oval leaves when mature, that are arranged in opposite pairs. The branches will climb over top of themselves, forming a dense, course textured growth pattern. The individual flowers are red to scarlet. They are 3cm or 1 inch long, with many individual flowers forming a dense terminal cluster 12.5cm or 5 inches across. The densities of the flower balls give this plant a real "WOW!" affect when in full flower.
My plant has been flowering since December and is still flowering. There’s one growing on the wall of the nursery in the Botanic Gardens here in Sydney. A lot of people coming into the nursery want this plant when they see it, but no. The problem is every method conceivable has been tried by the nursery volunteers to propagate this vine-seed, cuttings of all types, but no luck.
I had it growing in the front garden when I move here-all I did was pull out a root sucker and replant in around the back. It did take off. I have it scrambling over a rocky outcrop and this year, with all the rain, it has been outperforming other plants.
Clerodendrum splendens is a rather easy plant to care for. It likes acidic soil, but will do well in almost any condition. Flaming Glorybower will take drought conditions well once it has established itself, and will require only an occasional watering. Prune it hard  or lightly, as you like because it responds well to shaping.
Full sun is the best for flowering, but it will also do well in bright light. You'll get less flowers in deep shade.. It will grow to a height of 4 to 5 metres if given a suitable support. The support must be rather substantial as the Flaming Glorybower will form a dense, heavy growth.
Flaming Glorybower is a tropical plant, and will be damaged if it is subjected to frost condition for any length of time. If the temperature doesn't get low enough to damage the roots, the plant will survive and recover.

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