Friday, 14 September 2012

Bell Peppers and Allspice

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.

Spice It Up

with Ian Hemphill from
Chickoo or Sapota Fruit
The name Allspice is because the flavour makes you think that you’re tasting nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Did you know that the fruit and leaf oil are also used in men’s toiletries? Ever heard of “Old Spice, I used to buy that for my father for his birthday when I was going to school. Any men’s fragrance that contains the word ‘Spice’ apparently has some allspice oil in it.
You can buy this tree online from a Fruit Tree nursery in NSW that has just about every exotic tree around. Just remember it’s not drought or frost tolerant. They will also send you a mail order catalog for free if you ring or write to them
I’ll put the link to the nursery on my website. By Phone:  (02) 9034 4626 
By Fax: (02) 66 322 585 By Mail: P O Box 154, Kyogle NSW 2474
Allspice is mainly grown in Jamaica and for some reason, no-one has be able to successfully grow it much as a plantation crop, anywhere else. That’s a pity because the bark and leaves are very aromatic.
So what is Allspice exactly and why is it so difficult to grow? Let’s find out…

Vegetable Heroes:

  • This weeks Vegetable Hero is the Capsicum or botanically-Caspicum annuum or Bell Pepper if you’re from the Northern Hemisphere, and Pimento if you’re from Spain.
  • Also sometimes called Sweet pepper so as not to be confused with those ones that have lots of bite. Capsicum is also from the Solanaceae or Night shade family that also has tomatoes.  
  •  In Cool temperate districts, you have September and October to sow seeds of Capsium.
  • If you live in arid, sub-tropical and temperate zones around Australia, sow seeds only to the end of September because of the long lead up time before the capsicum is ready to eat.  After that time put in seedlings  until December. 
  • Arid zones however have the added bonus of planting direct into the garden from November until April. Also Sub-tropical areas can plant direct into the garden from December until February. So you guys win again.
  • If you’re planting into an existing vegetable garden I urge you to consider crop rotation.. you’ll be planting your capsicums where you last had lettuces, spinach, and parsley, in other words leafy vegetables.
  • The capsicum plant is a medium sized bush between ½ -1 metre tall. All capsicum seeds need higher temperatures than tomatoes to germinate-in the 230C to 280C range. Capsicum seeds can be difficult to germinateI suggest soaking them in a seaweed solution for a few hours. A saucer will do, you don't need to drown them , also  seedlings grow slowly. The other drawback is that it takes 11-13 weeks or  about 3 months from when you put in the seedlings to when the capsicum is ready to eat.
  • The colour can be green, red, yellow, orange and more rarely, white and purple or chocolate brown, depending on when you pick them. No matter what type of capsicum you grow they like it hot.  
  • Capsicum plants prefer moist but not wet soil. Water them regularly in the hot, dry summer. Add mulch around the peppers to keep down weeds, and to hold in the moisture. As the capsicums fruits start to grow, switch over to a fertilizer higher in Phosphorous and Potassium. Tip: Capsicums are self pollinators. Occasionally, they will cross pollinate from pollen carried by bees or other insects. If you save the seeds from the crop, there is the possibility of cross pollination if you plant hot chillies and sweet capsicums too close. Don't worry though, as it will not affect the fruit of this year's crop, but will show up in the genetics of the seeds, if you save them.
  • Pests:    Several insects enjoy your pepper plants. Spider mites and aphids are the most common. I've had this happen, and the capsicums grew anyway. You’ll know when these have been around because the leaves of the capsicum will become deformed. Generally that’s too late to spray with anything. However, there is a natural spray derived from potassium soap or Natrasoap from Yates. By the way, these plants just like tomatoes are favoured by the Qld fruit fly, so if you had that problem in your garden last year, you’ll need to  start putting up fruit fly lures to indicate if they’ve arrived in your garden yet. Then, if they have, there is a pheromone spray that is an organic control of fruit fly. Organic control is ecolure from

Design Elements:

with Louise McDaid from Eden Gardens.
You’ve decided to makeover your potted garden one way or another, now how do you put them together? Grouping the pots differently will give you a different look. Trying adding or subtracting just one or two pots to see if it looks better. Another tip, is to change the plant that’s in the pot altogether and next week the Potted Garden discusses different plants for different pots. You can’t go wrong if you listen into Design Elements’ Potted Garden Series. Find out more.....   Podcast Powered By Podbean


  Plant of the Week:

with Sabina Fielding-Smith Flannel Flowers 
  • Flannel Fowers-Actinotus helianthi. You'll see them now in bushland around Sydney. Actinotus helianthi "Federation Star" is NSW's floral emblem.
  • Flannel flowers Actinotus helianthi are shallow rooted plants with relatively brittle stems that need excellent drainage as well as protection from strong winds to avoid stem breakage. Keep them flowering all season with a tip prune.
  • Older leaves on lower areas of stems will naturally die off and stay attached to the plant during the cooler months of the year.
  • Flannel flowers can be grown in either full sun or partial shade and tolerate light frost once established. If you don't have good drainange and you want to grow these flowers considera  raised bed. For example, at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan, flannel flowers have been successfully grown in a mix of 40% coarse sand, 40% well composted pine bark and 20% loam. A moderately acid soil mix with a pH of 5.0 to 6.0 is the ideal.
  • Species of Actinotus are particularly sensitive to root disturbanceso don't be tempted to  tease out the roots during transplanting into the garden bed or large pot. Recommended plant spacing is 0.5 to 1.0 m.
  • In humid areas, as with all grey, hairy leaved plants, Botrytis or fungal rot, attacks the lower leaves. Keep plenty of air circulating around the plants and remove any dead or fungus affected leaves. Avoid wetting the leaves when watering. Fertiliser your flannel flowers with a liquid food for natives.

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