Thursday, 14 February 2013

Beet a Path with Flowers

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
Real World Gardener is funded by CBF, Community Broadcasting Foundation.
The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition.

Design Elements

Would you some easy make-overs for  your garden? Who wouldn’t?
You’ll find out several great tips with Landscape Designer, Louise McDaid
Have you decided to update your garden yet? What about drawing a rough plan over breakfast or lunch while you’re listening to the radio?
Or, plan a visit to your garden centre and cast your eye over what you can add to your garden? Garden centre visits are relaxing? Just looking at the plants soothes the soul I think.
There are some really easy make-overs if you haven’t decided quite what to do. Let’s hear them….

From painting the fence in that receding colour to making a potted garden, some good places to start. Not too expensive either.just takes a bit of your time but will give your garden an instant mini-make-over.
We’d love to see photos of any change you’ve done the garden, or perhaps just write in the details and send it in to. OR write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Vegetable Heroes:

Q: Which soup did the Russians cook for the Americans in the Soyuz19 in 1975?
Well the answer to that soup in space question-which soup did the Russians cook for the Americans in the soyuz19 in 1975....borscht, or beetroot soup of course!
Beta vulgaris or Beetroot, started life growing as wild seabeet, along coastlines from India to Britain and is the ancestor of all cultivated forms of beet. At first, only the leaves were eaten.
Growing Beetroot is fairly easy -
In cool temperate zones you can plant beets from September through to the end of April, in Arid areas, from February until December, in temperate districts from July until April,  Tropical areas from March until June, and again-sub-tropical areas win the jackpot because they can sow beets all year round!
The seeds of beetroot are best planted at soil temperatures between 7°C and 25°C.
The beetroot seeds are always made up of a seedball of several seeds.That cluster of seeds, you should really soak  in water in a shallow saucer for 24 hours before planting..
When the seedlings come up, if you don't thin them, you will get a number of rather pathetic little plants which don't grow to an edible size.
Yes you can grow beetroot in pots, but they need to be BIG pots, like at least 30cm diameter or those poly styrene jobbies from the green grocer.
Position-wise, beetroots aren’t overly fussy. They’ll tolerate full sun to part shade and even do fairly well in dappled light under a deep rooted tree.
What I have found is this: lightly manured / composted soil (too much nitrogen enhances leaf growth and not root growth - you want root growth). Loose / light soil because the root will struggle in thick/clay like soil.
Spacing between plants is good if you can put a tennis ball between plants.
Don’t expect much if you just plonk them in any old soil.
Keep well-watered and adding liquid fertilisers such as Fish emulsion.Remember Seaweed stuff is not a fertiliser.
Q:Why is my beetroot dry woody and inedible in the centre and Karen writes in “Why are my beetroots splitting?”
A: you are letting your beetroot get too thirsty.
Watering every day will help also don’t use too much fertilizer, forcing them to grow is not a good idea.
For  really tasty and tender beetroot, start pulling them out at golfball-size. That’s when they are around 3cm in diameter.
It makes sense to pick or dig up every alternate beet so that more space is left between the ones that are left in the ground. This will help them grow. 
If you’ve tried growing beetroot and not had success - I think it could be too much nitrogen and not enough potassium. Try fertilizing with a fruit/flower type fertilizer or Potash, to get more potassium. Or maybe more patience - my beetroot take a long time for the root to grow.
Finally, when you pick them, twist off the leaves.
Did you know that the leaves of Beetroots are edible? Steam them like spinach, or you could throw into compost.
Don’t leave the leaves on when storing.
What’s good about Beetroot?A cup of beetroot has about 31 calories; 8.5g of carbohydrate, 1.5g of dietary fibre, by the way this is soluble fibre that can help to reduce high blood cholesterol levels, Cooked beetroot is a great source of folate that can protect you against high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s and dementia. Why are they putting folate in bread? Eat a proper diet I say.
 Beta cyanin, the pigment that gives beetroot its colour, speeds up detoxification in your liver, so your body  can  turn the alcohol into a less harmful substance. To really kick the hangover why not do it with our Beetroot, sandwich or Beetroot Pancakes with Eggs?
Beets have an extremely low Glycemic Index which means it’s converted into sugars very slowly which helps to keep blood sugar levels stable.
Culinary hints - Apart from boiling whole for salads, beetroot roast well, cut in wedges.They also make a tasty salad grated raw with carrot and a little fresh orange juice.

Plant of the Week

Gaura cultivars: So many plants are called Butterfly Bush or Butterfly plants that it’s confusing to horticulturalists at your local garden centre, when trying to decipher what plant you really mean. Gracefulness
  • Instead ask for Gaura, because as summer is drawing to a close, and everything starts to look a bit dejected, the Gaura species of plant is just the kind of plant you need.
  • It’s fresh, pretty and airy, and it’s generally planted to add a touch of lightness to a border.
  • The straight species of Gaur is Gaura lindheimeri and is listed as an environmental weed in most states.
  • Cultivars are quite different and are recommended for gardens. Just look for Gaura followed by a name like "Pink Fantasy" or "May Farm", "So White" and "Siskyou Pink."these.
  • Most of these cultivars flower in spring, summer and autumn. Some grow to just over a metre high like "So White" others are about half that.
  • Gauras like full sun and tolerate dryness, heat and frost as well as coastal conditons.Gauras suit a butterfly garden because the flowers dance above long thin stems and actually attract those ephemeral beauties, the butterfly, into your garden.
  • Updating your garden with Gauras:Gauras look beautiful in perennial gardens and can be planted next to  'Salvia African Sky' and 'Agastache Sweet Lili' as they all flower at the same time, have similar growth habit and like similar growing conditions.
  • For foliage contrast plant with Pennisetum-Purple Fountain Grass Salivas,geraniums, Plectranthus (Mona lavender), statice (Limonium)
  • Pruning tip:Wait until you have to cut back something that’s finished flowering, then fill the gap with Gaura. It does need space. The perennial has various pink to white flowers clustering on its thin stems. They go on appearing for months and, best of all, they don’t need dead-heading.

The Good Earth

with Penny Pyett, Permaculture sydney Institute Director For balcony gardeners, sun and shade are major constraints that you just can’t change. Then there’s watering the plants, and what if it leaks to the neighbour down below?  Not to mention leaking all over the balcony.Potting mix is heavy too. How much can your balcony hold?Let’s find out how to go about a balcony garden… 

If permaculture interests you why not visit You may find a workshop or two to catch your interest or just sign up for the free newsletter.

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