Thursday, 4 October 2012

Fairy Martins Like Living Walls

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

with ecologist Sue Stevens
Fairy Martin
  • Swallows and Martins in the Hirundinadae family, build mud nests close to overhead shelter in locations that are protected from both the weather and predators.. Mud nesting species aren’t seen that much in areas of high humidity, which causes the mud nests to crumble.
  • Many cave, bank and cliff dwelling species of swallow nest in large colonies. Building mud nests is family affair with the male and female sharing the tunnel the excavation as well.
  • Fairy Martins are shier than other types of swallows and will not nest close to humans.
  • You might be lucky, like Sue, and see a Fairy Martin nest attached op the underside of bridges, other manmade objects such as pipes, buildings, the and in culvert, so keep a lookout.
  • The Fairy Martin, sometimes known as the bottle swallow, is hard to spot because it flies around so fast catching insects. Even the call can be easily confused with other small birds. So what does it get up to? Let’s find out…

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Vegetable Heroes

Tomatoes or Lycospericon esculentum. Being in the Solanaceae family, they’re related to eggplants,capsicums, chillies and potatoes. Tomatoes are botanically a fruit, or to be even more accurate a berry, because they are pulpy and have edible seeds.
Other botanical fruits classified as vegetables include squash, cucumbers, green beans, corn kernels, eggplants, and peppers.
There’s a tomato for every type of climatic condition and generally they’re a warm season fruit even though we call them vegetables.
In temperate climates you can plant them until December, hopefully some of you started them in early September to get the jump on fruit flies.
 In sub-tropical and tropical areas, this week it’s your turn to win, and yes, you can plant tomatoes all year round.
In cool temperate districts you have from October until December, and in Arid areas from August until March, so nearly all year.
Tomatoes prefer full sun but if you live in very hot climates, you’ll get sun scald on your tomatoes, so afternoon shade of some sort is essential.
Growing tomatoes has to be in full sun at least 6 hours.

Tomatoes for Everyone
  • For cool districts I recommend that you start your tomatoes off in punnets of some kind and place this in a plastic bag or mini-greenhouse.
  • Before your transplant your seedlings from the seed tray, and this applies to all seedlings, you need to harden them off.
  • That means taking them out of a protected environment and putting them into 50% shade for a few days.
  • TIP:When you plant your seedling, this is about the only plant I know that you pile the soil higher than it was in the pot-that way, it grows extra roots to support the plant.
  • At the same time, put in a tomato stake of some kind and sprinkle some Dolomite around the plant.
  • ANOTHER  good tip is to put some hydrated or fluffed up water crystals in the bottom of the planting hole, especially if in your district it’s very hot during the day, that it’s sometimes hard to keep the water up to them.
  • They actually need lots of water to prevent a problem called “blossom end” rot, when they get a black bottom. Which also means a lack of Calcium. But you put on the Dolomite didn’t you?
  • Don’t crowd your tomato plants because they need good air circulation around them so that fungal diseases don’t take hold.
  • When your tomato plant has four trusses (or branches of flowers) nip out top of the plant. By this stage you should have plenty of fruits forming that need to grow and ripen.
  • You need to do this mainly because you want the plant to put all its energy into these potentially succulent fruits. And…you don’t want it growing taller than you tomato stake and flopping all over the place.
  • Keep the soil moist by regular watering and using a mulch of some kind.
  • Once the flowers have formed, you need to feed weekly with tomato fertiliser or a general fertiliser but add a side dressing of sulphate of potash.
  • Irregular watering or drying out of the soil or compost in very hot weather can result in the fruits splitting. The inside grows faster than the skin, splits and unless eaten quickly, disease very quickly enters the damaged area and the tomato disposed of.
  • Tomato feed is very high in potash. Be careful not to overfeed as this can lock up other elements in the soil / compost that the plants require.
  • HINT: tomato plants will only set fruit if the temperatures don’t drop below 210C.
  • Did you know that a tomato picked at first sign of colour and ripened at room temperature will be just as tasty as one left to fully mature on the vine?
Pleaching Ulmus at Floriade, Netherlands 2012
Reference:Tomatoes for Everyone by Allen Gilbert

Design Elements:

with Landscape Designer Louise McDaid
Have you ever thought of having a vertical garden? It’s one way to grow more plants that’s for sure.
Which one is right for you? Over the next 5 weeks, Design Elements will be covering Five different Living Walls and Vertical gardens.
If you’ve never thought of this concept, then you’re in for a surprise. Let’s begin the series.

Did you know that Vertical gardens on an external wall of your home, acts as an excellent natural insulator, making the temperature inside several degrees lower. In fact, a room with a vertical garden can be 7 to 10 degrees cooler than a room without one!
You can’t go wrong if you listen into Design Elements’ Living Walls and Vertical Garden Series.

Plant of the Week

with horticulturalist Sabina Fielding-Smith
Wattles are part of Australia’s bushland and gardens, and along with Gum trees, bottlebrushes and grevilleas, form part of our landscape.
Here’s a couple of unusual wattles that might peak your interest into adding them to your collection of plants.
Acacia leprosa "Scarlet Blaze"
Red Wattle has turned out to be quite drought tolerant, requiring only occasional deep watering once established. It is relatively easy to grow as long as it doesn't get overwatered, which we have a tendency to do with rare plants.
The Red Wattle also prefers a well-drained, moist soil in full sun to dappled shade. From personal experience, the ones planted in full sun grew faster and flowering was delightfully abundant.
Did you know that Acacia Scarlet Blaze was selected as Victoria’s Centenary of Federation floral emblem?
However, Plant Management Australia, who have the rights to propagate Acacia Scarlet Blaze, say on their website that “Although currently commercially available to home gardeners, the degree of difficulty in propagation has kept numbers limited with availability set to increase for future years.”
red wattle

Acacia cognata UY2“Mop Top.” Called River Wattle
Grows 90cm x 150cm. Great as a feature plant in pots and rockeries.
A low mounding dense shrub with aromatic foliage,
This wattle has plum-coloured new growth, and bright yellow perfumed flowers in spring,
Grows in cool temperate to sub-tropical climates. Drought tolerant once established.
Fertilise with a low phosphorus fertiliser, ie, <3% P
Grows in full sun to part shade and is fast growing like a lot of Acacias.
No need to prune-self-shaping.
Sydney Wildflower Nursery (NSW)Website:



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