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Thursday, 16 August 2012

Sensational Plants and Bath Sponges

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network. www.realworldgardener.com
The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on http://www.cpod.org.au/ , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition.

Design elements:

Mobile gardens have been used for centuries when vegetable gardeners would display their gardens in wheeled carts in front of Princes for special celebrations in the Ottoman empire.
In some cities, there is only one metre of green space allocated per person! We’re lucky to have lots of open space but in places like Instanbul, a landscape designer is coming up with the idea of virtual gardens . He’s anticipating that customers would look after their plants that would grow in real time, and have to water them, and prune them all from a laptop and small projector that are used to create garden holograms.
In a way, the latest mobile garden movement has sprung from this, but we in Australia, might have other reasons why we would want a mobile garden. Let’s find out more….

Vegetable Heroes:

How about growing your own bath sponge? How? Plant a Gourd.   Gourds, not Gawd but Gourds those funny shaped vegetables that provide more that just food. Lagenaria siceraria from the Cucurbitaceae family. They are so easy to grow, whether you are a gardener or a beginner, gourds have something to offer everyone. If you can grow pumpkins, then you can grow gourds. In tropical climates, they grow 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 in a shallow saucer, with a splash of seaweed solution added. Sow the seeds in mounds of well composted soil,  around 2 cm deep.   Growing luffa (Luffa cyclindrica)  requires a certain amount of patience. because it grows slower than most gourds. Luffa needs about 140 to 200 or more warm frost free days, depending on the location and variety grown. If you’re interested in growing loofah in Cool temperate areas, start the seeds off in pots, well before the last frost, that way you can extend your growing season. It needs lots of sun, warmth, water, good root nutrients, and a large strong trellis. Luffa can also be grown in pots as can all other Gourds, 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.          This also increases the number of Loofah fruits that you get off your vine. When the weather heats up, add layers of sugar cane mulch or something similar so the plant doesn’t dry out. Or you may lose your Gourd or in this case Loofah! Tip: Gourd plants don’t transplant that well, so either catch them at when they're still at the four leaf stage or 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. To keep them growing well, add a liquid feed of fish emulsion, or worm tea every three weeks. One problem you may get, and it’s the same with pumpkins is lack of fruit set. The separate male and female flowers may come out at the wrong time, or it’s cloudy, windy rainy when they come out, and that will mean the mainly bee pollinators won’t visit them. Try some hand pollination. That’ll work. 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. When to pick your loofah is the big question. If the skin feels loose like it will come off easily, then it's ready. The loofah gourd will also have changed from green to brown  or even yellow and feels a lot lighter.  The skin feels loose and thinner when they are ready to pick.   The bottom tip of the luffa pod can be broken off, then shake out the seeds before peeling. - Peel your loofah, give it a bit of a wash under the tap and let it dry in the sun. Loofahs can be kept for years as long as they’re dry and dust free. Mail order or online from: www.greenharvest.com.au

Plant of the Week:

Hakea laurina "Stockdale Sensation." For the last twenty years, Native plant enthusiast, Max Ewer, of Mt Gambier in South Australia, has been passionate about growing the Hakea genus on his property.
Hakea laurina flower. Photo:M Cannon
Back in 2002 Max freeholded 10 acres of land and planted out 600 Hakeas. Max now has an extensive collection which boasts hakea’s native to Cape York right through to Tasmania. Max is considered an expert in his field of breeding and growing Hakeas. Some websites for growing native plants make the claim that Hakeas are only available in their original form and no-one is hybridizing. That simply means that according to some, you get only get plants that originally grow in the wild, or bush, but no-one is crossing the pollen between varieties to get a better flowering plant. They couldn’t be further from the truth.   Hakea ‘Stockdale Sensation’ was named in honour of Max’s late wife. Hakea "Stockdale Sensation" has the same amazing flowers as the species, but more of them and is a more bushy plant from all acounts. H. "Stockdale Sensation," grows to 2-3m x 2m, is drought tolerant when established, and tolerant of most soil types as long as it's well draining. Like the species, H. "Stockdale Sensation", starts flowering in winter. For more information about where you can buy this plant, go to www.pma.com.au that should give you a list of nurseries and garden centres that might have this plant.

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