Friday, 20 July 2012

Warblers and Mushrooms

 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.
Today I opened the show with some information about using tea and tea leaves on your garden.
Did you know that tea leaves contain some of the big three nutrients, N-P-K, as well as some trace elements? Tea also contains tannic acid, which is helpful if you're watering your plants with hard water.
A used teabag left in water overnight can be used to water ferns, hydrangeas, azaleas and other acid-loving plants.
Of course, you can also add tea leaves to your compost pile.

Wildlife in Focus:

Magpies with John Dengate.
Magpies are very opportunistic and will come around all the time if you start to feed them. Not a good thing to become reliant on you to feed them, so only occasionally feed them with bits of bacon rind, chopped up small, wild bird seed or as I do, save the curl grubs when I’m digging around in the compost or garden and put them in a shallow saucer in a little water so they drown. Maggie will find them.
Everyone would know what a Magpie looks like, but do you know how to tell the difference between a male and female Magpie? And are the Magpies in England and Europe the same as we have here? Let’s find out..

King Oyster Mushroom
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Vegetable Heroes:

Mushrooms or Agaricus species. The only natural source of vitamin D in the produce aisle of your supermarket!  100g of Mushrooms have more dietary fibre than the same weight of celery or a slice of wholemeal bread.
I have grown white button Mushrooms in the past, and having seen different varieties being grown in Europe, I snapped up a mushroom pack of King Oyster Mushrooms from the local markets. This is sold as a bag about…5cm round and 20 cm high. Your Oyster Mushroom grow bag has a cleaned straw and sawdust substrate that’s been pre-inoculated with your chosen variety of Mushroom spawn. What is mushroom spawn? It’s that white filamentous growth used for starting mushrooms. When you get your mushroom bag or kit this is what you need to do. Keep it in a dark place, it doesn’t have to be pitch dark, but under the bench in the garage is good, under the BBQ cover or a shady spot in the garden. But not in a cupboard or a box. You need fresh air around your mushroom kit. The preferred  temperature range is 10 - 26 degree. So if you have frosts in your area, consider putting it inside somewhere. Cut off the top of the bag leaving about 1cm of plastic around the edge. Spray clean water into the opening. Keep the mushroom sawdust mixture just damp with twice daily sprays. Some suggest spray once in the morning and once at night, but don’t let your mushroom kit dry out.          If your growing mushrooms are looking wet, that’s too wet, so cut down on the spraying. When the mushrooms are ready for picking, remove the entire clump or group of mushrooms by cutting at the bottom of the stem. This well then let the next cluster of mushrooms start to grow.          Now you need to cut the plastic around the top of the bag opening down to about 12mm or ½ an inch from the top of the mixture. Fold the plastic in over the top of the mixture. It won’t stay completely folded, but that’s alright.          Locate where the next group of mushrooms are starting to shoot from. Usually the area with most humidity on the top, (is where they’ll shoot from.) Lay the bag on its side with the new shoots at the top.  Once you notice your mushrooms begin to grow they’ll double in size every day. Remember: spray daily, around the growth of the mushrooms to keep the mixture damp but don’t waterlog. After the first crop, you should get crops further crops every week or so. These are called flushes. You should get 3-4 flushes of mushrooms over 6-8 weeks. If your bag has gone a couple of weeks without growing, the suppliers recommend that you stick it in the fridge for a few days and then put it back into your growing area. Keep up the spraying. Store your collected mushrooms in a brown paper bag in the fridge. After a month or two the sawdust mixture and straw substrate is spent and it’s time to get another lot. Find more info on

Design Elements:

Structure in the garden with hedges. Recently a friend of mine sent me some photos from English gardens she was visiting. The garden looked very cottagey, with blowsy perennials falling over everywhere, and disorder seemed to be the theme.  My eye couldn't focus on anything in the picture and I felt dissatisfied with the whole effect. Natural gardens that look good are hard to achieve and  I've got to say my preference is for a structured look with clipped Buxus or clipped Lilly Pilly. You still can have all the garden styles or themes in such a garden. Listen to garden designer Lesley Simpson discuss Structure with Hedges.

Plant of the Week.

This week it's a weed! Montbretia or  Crocosmia x crocosmia Some cottage garden plants have become environmental weeds because of their tenacity to multiply at full speed. This one, also commonly called Crocosmia, is definitely a no no, and if you’ve inherited it from a previous gardener, it’s probably time to rethink your planting and start pulling it out. I remember my elderly neighbour giving me some bulbs when I moved in twenty years ago. they grew easily and spread everywhere. I'm still pulling them out in different parts of the garden that I'm sure I never planted them in before. Montbretia has sword shaped pale green leaves that look similar to Gladioli leaves.  The flower spikes are thin and arching and not unlike other perennials with tubular flowers either in an orangey-red or yellow.
After the flowers die down the seed set along the stems forming a decorative spray and apparently were used in floral decorations by florists.
Below ground are coppery brown corms forming vertical chains with the oldes corm being buried deep below all the others. When you pull on the leaves, the contractile roots make sure that only one or two of the corms come away leaving the others behind to continue growing. They also spread horizontally growing bulblets on their rhizomes. The best way to get rid of the is digging with a spade or trowel rather than pulling on the leaves.

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