Thursday, 26 January 2012

Seeing Red in the Garden

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm Sat. 12noon, 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on

For Community Radio Network Listerners this program aired on 28th January 2012
Wildlife in Focus:Mosquitofish were introduced by military and local councils to control mosquito populations in 1925.What went wrong? Hear the full interview with ecologist Kurtis Lindsay.
Vegetable Heroes:Tarragon, Artemisa dracunculus or specifically French Tarragon is a little used herb that does best in cool climates. Tarragon is from the daisy or Asteraceae family and it can be grown through Australia from seed  but usually is propagated from division or cuttings because the plant rarely sets seed.     The herb was then cooked and eaten as a vegetable.
In Sub-tropical and Cool districts you can do that in January, but temperate, arid or inland regions, we’ve missed the boat expect for buying some seedlings from the local markets. Although I must say, parts of Australia have had a cooler than average summer and we gardeners like to push the envelope anyway, so it’s worth growing some cuttings wherever you are.
 If you have a friend with some, cuttings or root division are done when soil temperatures between 10°C and 25°C
Tarragon likes full sun, a sheltered spot and excellent drainage. Don't ry and cram in into a small pot, because the root system is vigorous, and will strangle the plant in three years.
Tarragon dies off in winter in most areas of Australia, but will come back. If you live in a frost prone district, cover the pot with some mulch in winter. Alternatively you can bring it indoors.
Use Tarragon leaves at the end of cooking time or in cold dishes a few hours before serving so that the flavour permeates the sauce.
Chop the leaves very fine to extract the flavour for cream sauces and béarnaise sauce. Add to vinegar and steep for a few weeks to get the full flavour.
Design elements:Red may not be your cup of tea as a colour to use in the garden. But wait, there’s so many shades of red, there’s got to be at least one shade that would suit as an exclamation mark or to add drama to your garden. There are tricks to use the colour red that you may not have thought of, listen here to garden designer Lesley simpson, and host Marianne discuss red in the garden.

Plant of the Week:Noxious weed Cotoneaster spp.Plant of the week is an evergreen shrub or small tree with dark green oval leaves.  Berries occur in large numbers, which if you eat them will cause Gastroenteritis. For information on how to identify Cotoneasters go to this link
Some gardeners like to see berries that hang on trees as added colour in the garden, especially when flowers are a bit scarce. The drawback is that birds also like these berries and help the spread ot these unwanted plants into bushlands and open spaces.
What you should grow instead is perhaps one of the many varieties of Lilly Pilly, or the Diamond Leafed Pittosporum an Australian rainforest tree with orange berries. Auranticarpa rhombifolium grows in most districts of Australia. Plant flowering Crabapple or Malus hybrids for a similar look for colder districts.
But if you really want to feed the birds and look after the environment, you should be planting any number of Banksias-try B. Collina v spinulolsa for the biggest flower spikes on any Banksia.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Nothing But the Blues Garden

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm Sat. 12noon, 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on
For Community Radio Network Listeners, this episode will air on 4th February.
Design Elements: Blue's recessive quality serves as a beautiful blender for other colours and makes it appear warm or cool relative to its tint and plant companions.  Perhaps today’s colour is your favourite or maybe something you never considered before. Listen here to the podcast.

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Vegetable Heroes:Radishes  or Raphanus sativus. 
 Radishes grow in all climates and like to be in moist shady places, especially on hot summer days.     Plant them all year round in tropical and subtropical areas, in temperate zones they can be grown almost all year except winter, and in spring summer and autumn in colder districts. Radishes will take light frost.  Radishes are quick being ready 6-8 weeks after planting and because of that you can plant them among slower growing vegetables such as carrots.
 To sow seed, make a furrow about 6mm deep, lay down some chicken poo pellets or something similar, cover with a little soil and sprinkle in some radish seed. They also love a dose of potash.
 Fill the furrow with compost or seed raising mix and water in.
 Seedlings will appear in a couple of days but makes sure you thin them to 5cm apart otherwise your radish will have not much root and mostly leaf.
 Feed with a liquid fertiliser such as worm tea every week at the seedling stage.
Tip: As radish is one of the fastest growing vegetables, too much fertiliser causes the leaves to outgrow the root. Long leaves have no shelf life, just look in your local supermarket.
 Pick the radish when they are the size of a ten cent piece and leaves about four inches or 10cm long.
Pick up some seeds online from - and

Plant of the Week:The NSW Christmas Bush is widely farmed for the florist industry and exported overseas. This is totally different to the Victorian Christmas bush, Prostranthera lasianthos which is a mint bush. The only similarity is that they’re both native.
a.    Position: Mature NSW Christmas Bushes like full sun for most of the day with a few hours of slightly dappled light during summer afternoons or mornings.
b.    In cultivation the plant must have a well drained but moist position, in sun or semi shade.
c.    Annual feeding with a slow release native fertilizer is a good idea.
d.   If you have a plant that just sits and doesn’t appear to be doing much, especially at this time of year. Give it a boost with seaweed tonic to kick it along.
e.    Doesn’t tolerate hot weather after flowering if watering is inadequate.
f.     Prone to iron deficiency-have mentioned that they like slightly acidic soil. Care:Ceratopetalum gummiferum should be grown in well drained, sandy or sandy loam soils. For an abundance of flowers and optimum growth test soil pH and if required add Iron chelates or Sulphate of Iron according to the packet's directions to bring the pH down to 6.6.

Feature Interview:Marianne (host) talks to Anthony Grassi, events coordinator Frangipani Society of Australia.
Here the full interview here about Frangipani care, taking cuttings and grafting.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Diamond Pythons and Nepenthes

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm Sat. 12noon, 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on

Wildlife in Focus: Carpet Pythons get their names because their attractive patterns are supposed to look bit like some oriental carpets and not because they like to sleep on carpets. Listen heare to Kurtis Lindsay talk about Australia's Diamond Back Python.
Vegetable Heroes:      -LETTUCE or Lactuca sativa, The Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is a temperate annual or biennial plant of the daisy family Asteraceae.. great in salads, tacos, hamburgers!
  Growing Lettuce
  • Lettuce can be planted all year round in all areas of Australia. In summer, only plant the loose leaf types of lettuce and. Not all kinds of lettuce are created alike! Sorry, Iceberg is out, as is the other hearting lettuce varieties, like Butterhead . 
These varieties  ok in the coolest months. (The upper temperature limit to grow heading lettuces is 28°C)   It’s just too warm for the hearting types. 
 Lettuces taste best when they are grown as fast as possible and for that they need water and food.
 I had visitors recently who noticed that my seedlings had doubled in size in 3 days! That’s good going.
 •If you can’t find a position that provides dappled shade in the afternoon, try interplanting between taller plants that will not totally shade them like capsicums/peppers or eggplants, staked tomatoes. •The most heat tolerant kinds of lettuce are the open leafed varieties (Looseleaf). All the pretty fancy lettuces you see in the shops, the frilly and curly varieties, they are your lettuce varieties you need to grow. 
  •Darker lettuce absorbs more sunlight than lighter colours, so it will wilt sooner (but they are prettier). Choose light green over dark red.

  •The most heat resistant kinds of lettuce in my experience are the oakleaf varieties.

Design Elements:The well planned pink garden isn't just pretty, but is soft restful and easy on the eyes.Since the time of the early Romans to the days of Shakespeare, gardeners have considered pink to be the finest colour in the garden. Find out how to design a garden using Pink, with Lesley Simpson garden designer.

Plant of the Week: Nepenthese spp or Pitcher Plants.
May I start with saying I’m a novice Nepethe grower. I have one medium sized plant and a couple of very small plants which have yet to show signs of growing. For a year my bigger plant grew taller and taller and the pitchers dropped off completely. I had it hanging under the shade of Native Frangipani.
Friends of mine were also puzzling over the same thing. About 5-6 weeks ago I placed it in full sun and to my amazement, not having read the manual, I came out one day and there was a new pitcher. Woo Hoo.
 It took about a week to open its lid, but there it is.
There are two types, Troical lowland and Montane or Highland pitcher plants. Lowland species prefer hot temperatures, and highland species prefer warm temperatures. 
Nepenthes require high humidity.  Traps will not form properly, abort, or die back in low humidity.
Tropical Pitcher Plants prefer good air circulation and a light, well-drained, porous soil.  A soil mix of 1 parts perlite, 1 part orchid bark, and 1 part coco peat works well.  Pure live sphagnum moss or “orchid mix” is a good soil alternative.  Nepenthes are tolerant of a variety of soil mixes.  Keep the soil evenly moist and well drained.  Water with mineral-free water from overhead.  Nepenthes prefer a hanging pot or basket.  They like bright, full sun and high humidity. If you live in a dry area, hand misting every day is essential.
You pitcher plant is carnivorous and will feed itself.
Even indoors they will attract and capture an occasional fly or other insect.  Don't feed them meat or cheese.  This will likely rot and kill the trap. 

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Plum in Garden Design

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm Sat. 12noon, 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on

Design Elements: Perhaps today’s colour is your favourite or maybe something you never considered before. Listen here to Lesley Simpson Garden Designer and Marianne talk about Plum.

Vegetable Hoeroes:Basil or "Ocimum basilicum"     
Basil grows best in warm, tropical climates-but really can be grown anywhere in Australia at certain times of the year.  Spring and summer are the times to grow Basil in temperate, arid to semi-arid and cold districts.
In the tropics and sub-tropics spring was the time to sow Basil, but now you can grow it in part shade if you want to start a new batch.
Basil seed is tiny and can take several weeks to germinate.
 In the height of summer, four hours of sunlight is all that’s needed for Basil to grow.
Give your basil frequent doses of liquid manure throughout the growing season to keep up leaf production because the more you feed the plant the bigger the leaves become,  in fact underfed basil is less fragrant.
The more you pick your basil the more you need to feed it.
TIP:If you’re having trouble getting Basil seed to germinate, you know Basil strikes easily from soft tip  cuttings, -      Just take a tip cutting off any plant at any time of the year. Cut off all the leaves except for the tiny ones that are emerging at the top and stick the thing in a pot. Keep it in partial shade and keep it moist. Basil cuttings root very quickly. Once the little basil plant is actively growing again you can plant it out.
This is a good way of getting some of the more fancy varieties going, BECAUSE they seed they produce won’t be true to type.
Plant of the Week: You might be looking for a quick fix to plant next to your pool, or for that tropical look. But this palm ticks all the wrong boxes and you’ll be sorry you planted it when all the palm fronds and fruit start dropping all over your yard.

NOT To plant this one but suggest alternatives.
WHY WE NEED COCOS PALMS REMOVED AND HOW THEY AFFECT FLYING-FOXES AND OUR ENVIRONMENT.Flying-foxes are a keystone species for our Australian environment. Without the job that flying-foxes do in seed dispersal and pollination, our native forests will suffer loss of diversity and may not be able to survive future harmful effects of global warming.
Some of the ways that Cocos plants harm, the flying Foxes are
1.      By poisoning when seeds are eaten green in timesof hunger (September to January) Sticky fruits can cause severe constipation causing dehydration and death in young animals. Toes caught in flower sheath causing self- mutilation and death. Whole body or body parts caught in strappy leaves that are easily shredded by claws creating a “cocoon effect around the animal causing stress and death if not physically removed. Juvenile animals can get seeds caught behind their “dog like” canine teeth causing slow death from starvation. Premature wearing of teeth due to the hard seed –