Thursday, 20 December 2012

By The Sea with Samphire

Spice it Up


There’s more to herbs than you can imagine or never thought of asking. For example, have you ever wondered if a particular can be a herb and a spice? Perhaps not, but it’s the case for a lot of herbs, and this one is no exception.
Let’s find more .....with herb expert Ian Hemphill from

In cool temperate districts you can sow coriander in October to Dec, in temperate districts, August to November in temperate districts if you want to grow it in full sun, after that, do what permaculture devotees do, grow it in the semi-shade. As for sub-tropical and tropical areas, you can grow it anytime, except in the hottest part of the year, or grow it in the shade because the best time for you guys is in late April to July.
For arid districts, August and September are your best months.
That doesn’t mean you can’t try it at other times, but you might have to consider planting it in pots or semi-shade.

Vegetable Heroes

This weeks Vegetable Hero is Sea Fennel, Samphire or CRITHMUM maritimum. In the Family Apiaceae-that’s the same family as carrots.

It was Shakespeare, in the  Tragedy of King Lear. London. (Act IV, scene VI,) who referred to the collecting of this herb “Half-way down, Hangs one that gathers samphire; dreadful trade!" Meaning that people often lost their lives trying to collect Rock Samphire halfway down cliff faces.
Being a rare herb I was originally not going to mention this via the CRN, however, of late, Australian native herbs are making a resurgence in various retail outlets, from seed, to dried herbs and pickles.
In fact an Australia seed company on the Mornington peninsula in Victoria does sell seeds of Sea Fennel, although they call it Rock Samphire in their catalogue.
It grows in its native environment from rocks and shingle and on cliffs to rocky shores, and  is the last dry-land plant exposed to strong wind, salt, sea waves, drying sun... it survives extreme weather conditions.
Samphire grows to anywhere between 15 and 45cm in cultivation, depending on local conditions.
Being a halophyte, it can withstand very dry conditions as well, so there’s no reason why it can’t grow anywhere in Australia.
However, Rock Samphire can tolerate being always moist as well as drying out between waterings.
Rock Samphire is a muted blue or pale aqua- green edible plant which also grows on tidal marshes. Plants of Rock Samphire, will last you for many years in a pot or in the ground.
For those listeners with clayey soils, I would recommend growing them in pots at first, but seeing as they also grow in marsh land, you may be lucky if you tried it directly in the ground.
Rock Samphire or Sea Fennel is a succulent, smooth or glabrous, multi-branched herb, and woody at the base, naturally growing on rocks on the sea-shore and wettened by the salt spray.
You could say that stems of Sea Fennel are long, fleshy, -green, shining leaflets (being a succulent they’re full of aromatic juice) and lots of clusters or umbles of tiny, yellowish-green flowers, although the flowers aren’t a real feature.
The whole plant is aromatic and has a powerful scent. Some say it has a strong smell of furniture polish, but I think that’s a bit harsh and think it’s more like aniseed.
Sow seed in cold frame autumn or spring, lightly cover the seed, grow on in pots and plant out in the summer.
Prefers a dry well drained soil in full sun sheltered from cold winds, benefits from a salty soil.
Being a succulent, if you have success with growing Aloe vera, than good, Rock Samphire likes the same growing conditions.
Where do you get it? The Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney nursery have started propagating this plant-where I got mine from. Otherwise

Design Elements:

Research tells us that gardens are getting smaller. More true in cities that in the country, but perhaps we’re downsizing, or waiting for an opportunity for a place with a bigger garden.
Another possibility is that you’re downsizing the garden for whatever reason.
You’ll be wanting to know how to redefine your small garden then…listen here.

I hope that’s given you some idea to the way you can change your small garden, maybe  add new plants to your garden.

Plant of the Week:

Plant a Passionfruit or two- Passionfruit Panama Red, Panama Gold, Nellie Kelly and Banana passionfruit.

  • PASSIONFRUIT is a well known and loved vine in Australia. It is very ornamental in leaf and flower and will improve the appearance of fences, stark walls, tanks, etc
  • Almost every garden has space for one passionfruit vine, so try to find a suitable spot against a sunny fence or wall.
  •  Dig in some Dynamic Lifter pellets before planting,
  • Sprinkle soil with 0.5 kg dolomite lime, and mulch with an organic mulch once the vine’s in place.
  • All passionfruit like full sun and protection from wind.
  • You only need two wires along a north facing fence. One placed near the top of the fence and another one 50 cm lower.
  •  Train the young plant up a stake until it reaches the first wire, then allow two shoots to go out along the wire.
  •  Passionfruit are notoriously short lived, so it’s a good idea to plant a new vine in a different part of the garden every couple of years.
  • In colder areas you can grow the banana passionfruit which have a similar taste and pink flowers.
  • Regular water and fertiliser will increase vigour and crop size.
  •  In warm areas you will get fruit for most of the year. In temperate areas expect a crop summer and late autumn. In cold areas only summer.
  • All passionfruit are suitable for trellis, fence or pergola in most soil types. Also suitable for pots on a balcony.
  • (Passionfruit - Panama Gold vigorous and sweeter than the others.
  • Black Passionfruit - (Passiflora edulis) Will tolerate light frosts. Self pollinating.)
Problems with passionfruit;
The most common problem is "I get flowers but no fruit not even with hand pollination. "
The most common reasons for passionfruit vines having lots of flowers but no fruit are:-
1.      Lack of pollinators, i.e, bees.
2.      Temperatures too hot or cold during flowering.
3.      Long periods of overcast weather during flowering –vines in southern Victoria are prone to this problem.
4.      Growing in too much shade.
5.      Not enough water during flowering.
6.      Lack of Boron or other trace elements.
One other reason for a lack of fruit on grafted vines can sometimes be that the vigorous rootstock has sprouted and outgrown the scion without the grower realising. Check the leaves on your plant.
The understock has a palm shaped leaf, whereas the Nellie Kellie has an oval shaped leaf if you’re not sure about this.

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