Friday, 30 November 2012

Yellow Rumped Thornbills Go with Purple Carrots

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm in Sydney and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network
NEW: streaming live
The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition.
Garden Diary:Are you preparing your garden for warmer weather?
Because tropical gardens have featured in design elements over the last few weeks, now’s a timely reminder to fertilise heliconias, gingers, hibiscus, cordylines and other tropical foliage plants such as Dieffenbachia and Crotons.
Move sun sensitive potted plants into shaded areas before their leaves burn, and spray leaves with an anti-transpirant in the early morning.
If you are expecting a bit of a scorcher, I know some gardeners that throw an old sheet over plants that can’t be moved, because they scorch easily.
Hydrangeas are one of these.
If you haven’t planted out some flowers for the festive season, now’s the time to throw in the seeds of Balsam, Californian Poppy, Marigolds, Petunias, (except for sub-tropical and tropical areas). Sunflowers, Torenias and Zinnias.
On the vegetable front, you could be sowing all manner of carrots, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, marrow, melons, rhubarb crowns (except for the tropics), sweetcorn , sweet potato, (except for cool climate gardens), tomatoes and zucchini. That’s just to name a few.

Wildlife in Focus

with ecologist Sue Stevens.
Diminutive, active ,fast ,confident, these words are used to describe the Yellow Rumped Thornbill.
They eat mainly insects and spiders, and occasionally small seeds. Sometimes YellowRrumped Thornbills forage in trees and shrubs, but they are mainly considered to be terrestrial as long as there’s  some tree cover nearby, and they often hang around parties of other small birds when feeding.
Let’s find out more…

Yellow-rumped Thornbill
Although there is evidence for declining numbers in some major cities as a result of urban development, Yellow Rumped Thornbills have mostly adapted to suburban environments and may be common in parks and gardens.
Luckily for us, they have also adapted to agricultural lands, especially where there is remnant native vegetation.
Foxes and feral cats probably catch and eat them, dogs also attack them and poisoning from insecticide ingestion has been recorded in vegetable gardens.
If you suspect that your cat is catching native wildlife you can help by installing a cat run or enclosure.
Dogs should be kept on a lead when walking through nature reserve areas.
They’re also hit on the road fairly regularly. If you live in an urban area, consider using public transport or riding a bike when possible to reduce the chances of road kill.

If you have photo of  a Yellow Rumped Thornbill visiting your garden or nearby park, send  in ,a photo and I’ll put it up on Facebook because we’d love to hear from you. or write in to 2RRR po Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Vegetable Heroes

Today it’s Carrots but not just any carrots, I’m going to talk about purple carrots.
The carrot you buy in the supermarket or veggie shop is botanically Daucus carota, subsp. sativus. Carrots can grow year round in subtropical and arid climates.
In Temperate zones, you have from September through to May, in Cool temperate districts, September through to February, and in the tropics you can really only grow carrots from April to June.
Carrots prefer full sun but can grow in partial shade.
They also prefer deep sandy soil with plenty of water.
If you have heavy clay loam, and want to grow carrots, you could grow them in a half wine barrel, or raised garden bed. Otherwise, they’ll be stunted and fairly small.
If you’ve grown carrots and they were stunted, grew two or three legs, and just didn’t look right, that’s because they ran into stones, sticks or freshly manured soil.
Another reason for misshapen carrots is if you’ve sown them first in punnets and then transplanted them.
Carrots hate being transplanted and won’t grow properly for you.
In a 4 bed rotation system carrots are grown with onions, garlic, parsnips, leeks and other root crops. So let’s go through the acronym-LRLC. Legumes, Root crops, Leafy and cucurbits and tomatoes.
Ideally you should grow Carrots where you’ve grown legumes-beans and peas before.
The simplest way to sow carrots is to mix a packet of   seed with once cup of  river sand, pouring the contents into seed drills or just broadcasting them.
Cover the seed with finely sieved compost. Not too thick or they won’t germinate.
The sand makes germination easier; but because sand drains so quickly you need to make sure the carrot seedlings don't dry out at this crucial stage.
Carrots have one of the longest germination times of all vegetables; often taking over 3 weeks, but hopefully for you it will only be 4-7 days.
You can help germination, by adding a packet of radishes.
Radishes will pop up in 4-5 days, and help break the surface crust of the soil. The radishes will be gone in a few weeks so no problems with overcrowding there.
Thin the carrot seedlings out when they're about 5cms (2 inches) tall, and have 4 little leaves.
Carrots need that space so they can grow the root without pushing onto other carrots, otherwise they will also be stunted.
If you’ve grown carrots before and found that the roots were cracked that’s a sign of overwatering.
Ease back on the watering this year.
Carrots usually need 4-5 months to grow to their full size.
Pick your carrots as you need them. Thinned out carrots are great baby carrots for stir-fry meals.
Seeds of purple carrots can be purchased online from these suppliers.  www.

Design Elements

with Louise McDaid, Landscape Designer
Rainforests are found throughout the world, not only in tropical regions, but also in temperate regions like Tasmania and mountainous regions in Victoria and New South Wales.
Montane rainforests are like tropical gardens in cool temperate areas, so it’s not such a stretch to consider planting or designing with the tropical look.
Montane rainforests have quite a lot of year-round rainfall, are mostly above 1,000 metres and mostly have a canopy layer but don’t have the year-round warmth and sunlight associated with tropical rainforests
I always say that it’s important to remember that windbreaks and creating microclimates will help establish large leaved plants that might not thrive or do that well to start off with. But with a bit of planning, I’m sure you can get that tropical look for your mountain garden. Close planting is the key, and layering.
Let's find out more....

Plant of the Week

Callitris spp;

Callitris could be grown in preference to exotic conifers. They are faster growing and drought resistant. The leaves are more lacey looking that pine trees, but the overall effect is similar.

What do Callitris look like? Glaucous green foliage.  The leaves are scale-like, 2-6 mm long and 0.5 mm broad, arranged in decussate whorls of three on very slender shoots 0.7-1 mm diameter.
They're not true pines but they are conifers.
Some callitris forests survive, however, on annual rainfalls as low as 200 millimetres, including in a small area of desert in Western Australia. They occur on a wide range of soil types, but most commonly on nutrient-poor soils with sandy or loamy surface layers and a clay loam at depth.
Callitris has mycorrhiza – mutually beneficial associations between fungi and plant roots – that enhances the plant’s uptake of nutrients, especially phosphorus, from nutrient-poor soils and gives the fungi access to carbohydrates from the tree’s roots.
Examples of Callitris species you can grown in your garden:
Callitris oblonga is a tall shrub or small tree that will reach a height of five metres. The branches are dense and the foliage dark green. Female cones are clustered together, longer than broad and up to 24 millimetres in diameter.
Callitris oblonga is an attractive shrub that could be grown as a “stand alone” specimen or part of an informal hedge. The dense foliage provides safe nesting sites for small native birds. The species is classified as a rare plant. Coastal cypress pine forest (Callitris columellaris, also called white cypress pine grows to 20m) occurs in a fragmented distribution along the coast in northeastern New South Wales, where it has been proposed for endangered ecological community listing. 
Has been extensively used in building construction fencing telegraph poles. Complete resistance to termite attack and high resistance to fungal decay.
There are a lot of Australian native birds that don’t build nests. Instead they look for tree hollows which are in short supply. We can temporarily ease that shortage by building next boxes, but then we need tall trees to put them in. Why not plant this next tree, so that you’re future proofing the next generatins of cockatoos, kites and owls.

To find out about building different nest boxes, go to Birdlife Australia website at
Also don’t forget that you can still help the Powerful Owl Project.
Letting Birds in Backyards know  if you see or hear a Powerful Owl in your area. You can either fill in a survey at
 or email David Bain and Rod Kavanagh at
to report your sighting; you can send us photos or recordings of their calls if you are unsure.


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