Monday, 4 June 2012

Strawberries and Little Wattle Birds

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.
Wildlife in Focus: The Little Wattlebird (Anthochaera chrysoptera) is one of four wattlebird species, all of which are endemic to Australia. The others are the red, yellow and western wattlebirds. The Little Wattlebird is also known as the brush wattlebird. Listen here to ecologist Sue Stevens talk about this bird.
Vegetable Heroes: Last week I talked about a vegetable that’s really a fruit and this week, well it’s not even a fruit  so what is it? Strawberries or Fragaria x ananassa.Strawberries are actually not berries or fruit at all, but enlarged ends of the plant's stamen. Sometimes called an accessory fruit or false fruit because some or all of the fruit doesn’t grow in the ovary but outside where the ovary is. In the Strawberries case it’s the stamen or the pollen producing male part of the flower that is usually yellow or orange, and reasonably fragile, like the insides of Daylillies, or if you know the of  the flowers of Eucalypts, they're made up of lots of stamens but no petals.       Strawberries love at least 6 hours of sun a day and will grow in most soils but strawberries prefer a sandy loam that is deep and contains very high amounts of organic matter.
Water well, especially when the young plants are establishing, and during dry spells. Strawberries prefer a moist environment. Avoiding overhead watering will reduce fungal disease; drip irrigation or a 'leaky pipe' is best.
I did see a different way of growing strawberries at the Floriade (in Venlo, Netherlands,) which might suit listeners. The above ground planters were made with weld mesh into a circle of diameter about 1 ½  to 2 metres, then lined with coconut fibre. You could use other materials to line them.    
Into this the soil was added then the strawberry plants. Mulched with straw of course. Not only did it look good but provides perfect drainage for the plants, and no bending down for the gardener.  
 For all sub-tropical, temperate and arid zones you can plant strawberries now, and for cool mountain districts, unless you have a greenhouse, you’ll have to wait until October. Arid and sub-tropical regions have the added bonus that you can sow strawberry seeds at this time of year as well. They are frost sensitive but a 10cm layer of mulch will be enough to protect the plants.
Nearly 3/4 of the strawberries roots are in the top 8cm of soil, so to prevent them drying out, mulch well with straw, hay, even your black plastic.
 To feed your strawberries, sprinkle a small handful of complete fertilizer (such as tomato food,  organic pellets, fish emulsion and any stuff which is high in potash) around each plant as it comes into first flower, and water well. Liquid seaweed fertilizer once a fortnight will not go astray either.
Strawberry plants, from autumn and winter plantings, should begin to flower in September, and the first crop of fruit should arrive a month later.
Design Elements:-       This series is all about Garden Design Problems. If you have any email or write in to 2RRR, PO Box 644, Gladesville 1675        Today the problems “My garden slopes very steeply? So pencils at the ready....!
Plant of the Week:New Release Roses
New release roses for 2012-Floribunda Rose 'THANK YOU ROSE'  and Rosa  Eyes for You .Hulthemia persica (syn Rosa persica)
This magnificent new floribunda has been named for Transplant Australia as a symbol of thanks and gratitude. It has a mauve colour with a delicate fragrance. The growth habit is similar to  'Iceberg'. Approx 1.2m tall. Decorated with awards at the 2011 National Trial Garden Awards including Silver Medal and Best Floribunda rose of the 2011 trials.Available from
Treloar Roses will donate $1.00 from the sale of each rose to Transplant Australia. For more information go to or phone             1800 827 757     
Second New Release rose mention on the program is 'Eyes For You' is from Brindabella Gardens. Roses do not often have 'eyes' but this one is a Hulthemia persica (syn Rosa persica)  Large pink flowers, deep rosey eyes, black-spot resistant and perfumed. The flower looks a little like a cross between an oriental poppy and peony, but much easier to grow than other of them.
Available from

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