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Wildlife in Focus
The Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus) is without doubt the best looking of the Kingfishers because of that aquamarine plumage.
Sacred Kingfishers are found throughout most of Australia (except in the arid central deserts) and can be found in in forests, mangroves and in trees along river courses. Their nest is a burrow either into a sandy bank or termite mound.
They are, as all kingfishers a predatory bird, feeding usually on small reptiles and insects (grasshoppers, beetles) fish and crustaceans. Let’s find out more about them…?
Keep a lookout for the Sacred Kingfisher. They are a watchful birds,perched high up in trees rather than the usual.
- Perilla (Perilla frutescens) also called Beefsteak plant, Chinese Basil and Purple Mint
- Perilla belongs in the Mint or Lamiaceae family and originates in China and Central Asia.
- If you saw the purple variety you might think that the leaves are a bit similar to Beefsteak plant or Iresine herbstii.
- Perilla is a bushy plant growing 50cm to 1 m tall. Oval leaves about 15cm long that are aromatic when crushed. You might think that it was a combination of lemon and mint.
- Perilla will grow from seed but needs cool conditions and light to germinate.
- Before sowing, garden suppliers recommend that you place the perilla seeds into a bowl or glass that contains about 1 inch of water.
- Soak the seeds overnight or for 12 hours.
- Sprinkle the seed where it is to grow in autumn or in early to late spring or early summer.
- Because Perilla is a herb, you could grow this in a tub or pot if you live in colder districts.
- For growing Perilla pick a sunny and well-drained spot with some afternoon shade if the summers are hot. Add plenty of organic material to the soil and keep it moist.
- In temperate climates, the plant is self-sowing, but the seeds aren’t viable after long storage, and germination rates are low after a year.
- However if you don’t want it to self-seed, cut off the flower spikes as they appear.
- This will also increase the life of the plant.
- Two varieties I have found lonline from www.greenharvest.com.au and www.edenseeds.com.au look under Salad Greens or Asian greens.
- Perilla Green Leaves and flower stalks, leaves have a deep green colour and Perilla Red (Crispa) Leaves and flower stalks , with a deep red colour and pleasing aroma. Sow both of these in late spring.
- Apparently Perilla plants are usually divided into 'red' or 'green' categories because they have somewhat different uses.
- In Japan, Perilla is often eat the fresh leaves with sashimi (sliced raw fish) or you can cut them into thin strips in salads, spaghetti, and meat and fish dishes. It is also used as a savoury herb in a variety of dishes, even as a pizza topping (initially it was used in place of basil)
- I found this on a blog. Maki says she grew her Chinese variety from cuttings from ones bought at an Asian grocers. It was dead easy according to Maki so I'm pretty sure yours are going to go OK too.
- You may even be able to order in some Perilla herb from your garden centre, as they certainly sell small plants online. www.herbcottage.com.au
- A little hard to get I know, but sometimes, you can be lucky and you’ll be rewarded with this amazing plant.
Design Elements:Living Walls and Vertical Gardens.
- Do you have a hedge in your garden? Is the right plant choice for the right situation? Hedges are so much more than growing alongside a fence. You can also have more than one row of hedges in your garden because they instantly add structure, or add bones to your garden layout.
- The months leading up to and including spring, early summer, are an excellent time for planting hedges, but a note for cooler districts,-allow of course for the passing of frost danger. Apart from providing a visual barrier around a property; a dense hedge can muffle traffic noise from a busy street or act as wind break. A spiky hedge will deter unwanted guests and that pesky neighbourhood dog that likes to dig up people's yards.
- Over the next two weeks, Design Elements will be talking about hedges, there was just so much to say. There’s so many things hedges can be, and next week, RWG continues the theme in part two of hedges in Design Elements.
The series on Living walls and vertical gardens, - great for small spaces, or even big spaces when we want to include an intimate or cosy part into our garden.
You can’t go wrong if you listen into Design Elements’ Living Walls and Vertical Garden Series.
Plant of the Week: Macadamia Nut Tree
|Macadamia tetraphylla H2. Nuts only just beginning to form.|
- They will grow and fruit as far south as Melbourne, so are extremely hardy. Macadamias produces masses of nuts once they get going, and you’ll have kilos of nuts to eat, use in cakes and biscuits, and even stir fries. How about Basil pesto with Macadamia nuts instead of pine nuts? I use them in this recipe all the time, and health wise, they’re better for you.
- Think of the creamy texture and delicious taste when you eat Macadamia nuts. You can have this all in your own backyard if you plant this new release, smaller version of the Macadamia treeThink about it, a Macadamia tree growing in your garden. Yes!
- I have a mature Macadamia tree- Macadamia tetraphylla H2. It’s a grafted tree and about 15 years old. Being grafted it will eventually get to 10 metres
- My tree didn’t start fruiting until it reached 6 years of age. Seed grown Macadamias take even longer, so be prepared to wait for your nuts.
- Boy o Boy, as my father used to say, does it fruit. I have kilos of the nuts every year. More on that later.
- By the way, M tetraphylla cultivar grows best in southern parts of Australia, and M. integrifolia in the northern parts. If grown from seed, they will be a big tree, about 15 metres.
- Macadamia trees have large glossy evergreen leaves, the margins or edges of which are wavy and spiny. Not unlike, but nowhere near as prickly as holly leaves.
- M. tetraphylla has pink flowers and M integrifolia has cream flowers. New growth is pale green on M integrifolia and pink on M tetraphylla.
- The flowers are very attracting, hanging down below the canopy in long narrow racemes, at least 15-20cm long.
- Bees and especially native bees are the best pollinators of this tree.
- After this, and it takes quite some time as you go further south of Brisbane, the nuts start to form, and should begin to drop around March.
- If the tree experiences water stress, the nuts will drop earlier, and they’ll be too small for doing anything with really. This gets worse as temperatures rise above 300C.
- Both types of Macadamias are pretty adaptable to most soils, and will tolerate part shade.
- When you start of a young tree, keep it well water, as they get more water stressed than Avocados and Citrus.
- As for the nuts, they have two shells, the outer green shell splits when ready to reveal the inner hard brown shell. You will need to buy a special device to crack them, or the trusty hammer on a rock with a hollow to rest the nut is OK too.
- A large dense shrub or small tree to 5 metres tall.
- Suited to cool temperate to tropical climates, in well drained moist humus-rich clay or loamy soils, neutral to acid pH.
- The breeders of this plant recommend that you feed with low phosphorus native fertilizer early spring or late summer.
- Macadamia trees grow more nuts if you fertilise them regularly even in maturity.
- However, I have always fed my tree with Citrus fertiliser with great results. In fact that is the recommendation in the Louis Glowinski book about growing fruit., called the Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia.