Thursday, 7 March 2013

If Tom Jones Could Garden

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

Wildlife in Focus

with Sue Stevens.
Tete - Grey Teal - Anas gracilis
Are you in the habit of feeding wild or native ducks white bread? Did you know their diet is plant matter, insects, snails and crustaceans in the water. While white bread does its job of filling up the tummies of the ducks, geese, swans, and other birds seen around lakes, it doesn't do a good job of giving them any nutritional assistance. Birds quickly get full from the bread, so they can't eat anything else that may contain the nutritional value they need to breed and raise their young. But let’s find out about the duck with the unusual quack…
The Grey Teal is on the available list of game shooting.Despite thirteen years of drought that reduced water bird numbers dramatically, hunters have increase the numbers of birds killed and taken home from 270,000 in 2010 to over 600,000 in 2011.
Birds are often just wounded and left for dead, with shooting groups admitting that this amounts to one in four birds.
You can find out more information on the adverse affects of game shooting wild ducks at

Design Elements

with Landscape Design Louise McDaid.
Over the last few weeks, Design Elements has been dealing with garden design problems that are the most common. A couple of weeks ago we started with how to make a small garden seem bigger. A good tip was to slightly narrow a path at the far end of the garden, making the garden seem longer.
The following week we dealt with "how to make a long and thin rectangle of a garden seem wider." Using horizontal lines works wonders. Remember if you're trying on a dress or shirt with horizontal stripes, it's going to make you seem wider in the mirror?
Today, the garden or yard is just too big, in fact it’s a bit overwhelming and you just don’t know where to start.Let’s find out how to tackle this problem.

 Garden rooms are a great way to divide up the space into more manageable bits, and you don’t have to complete each garden room at once.
Why not try it some of these tips out if you have that type of garden?
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:

the walk through the supermarket - leeks Porree (Lauch)
  • There’s nothing like a good long history that some vegetables seem to have and the Leek is no exception. Probably originating somewhere in Asia, Leeks have been grown there and in Europe for thousands of years.
  • Leeks were prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans because of their supposed beneficial effect upon the throat.  In fact the Greeks and Romans seem to prize most vegetables, I'm thinking of the humble radish which was worth it's weight in silver at the time!
  • The Greek philosopher Aristotle, thought that the clear voice of the partridge was due to a diet of leeks, who would've thought that a partridge ate leeks?
  • Then there was the Roman emperor Nero who supposedly ate leeks everyday to make his voice stronger. did he eat Leeks while fiddling as Rome burned?
  • The leek has been a national Welsh emblem since 1536.
  • It’s because of leeks that the Welsh are such great singers perhaps because they eat a lot of them, think Tom Jones.
  •  Leeks, known scientifically as Allium ampeloprasum var. Porrum, are related to garlic, onions, shallots, and scallions.
  • Onions, celery, and carrots are very good companion plants for the leek.
  • Leeks, are a cool season crop.
  • I have grown Leeks over the summer and found that although they don't grow to the same thickness as winter leeks, they're just as tasty and tender as ever. 
  • Leeks are usually grown from seed and I always start them off in punnets first then transplant them when they're about 20cm tall and pencil thick.
  •  Thney're easy to grow, and using out of date packets of Leek seeds is no problem at all.
  • When to sow around Australia:
  • Sow the seeds of Leeks from Spring until the end of Autumn in cool temperate climates, and late summer and autumn in warm and tropical zones.
  • In arid districts, seeds must be sown in February/early March and then you can transplant them in April and May.
  • Leeks can be planted in the autumn, and will overwinter in temperate  areas because of relatively mild winters but don't like periods of extreme cold.
  • Most people should be familiar with what Leeks look like, long creamy cyclinders with a very small bulb . The cycliners are made up of layers  of white then green, tightly wrapped, flat leaves.
  • Good soil is the key to growing leeks, but realy they're not too fussy and do well in almost any garden soil as long as it is well aerated and deep, about a spade’s depth is good.
  • Aim for a  pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
  • When you're transplanting, use some kind of dibble tool or the end of a rake handle to make a hole that's just deep enough to leave only the top inch of the seedling exposed. Set the leek seedling into the hole and fill it loosely with soil.
  • Space the leeks 10cm  or a large hand span" apart, in rows about 20cm  or from your wrist to your elbow apart. Find something practical like that to do you estimates.
  • When you’re growing Leeks the aim is to blanch the stems while the plants are maturing. 
  • When they’re 4 weeks old in the veggie bed, use a thick mulch of sugar cane or  you can use shredded newspaper or something similar. In another 4 weeks or when they've grown a bit moredo the same again.
  • Never having done this next step, I'm not sure if it's good practise, but you could give it a try.
  • Cut off the top portion of the leaves, about halfway up the plant, as the leeks are maturing.
  • This is meant to encourage stalk growth, giving you a larger leek for the dinner table.
  • To be honest you can do all this, but if you don’t the leeks are just as tasty.
  • Make sure the plants get a good soaking at least oncea week; otherwise the stems will toughen. Mulch to conserve moisture, and side-dress with manure tea once a month.
  • Leeks are ready as soon as they're big enough to use.
  • They usually take 16-18 weeks--4 ½ months. Quite a long time so explains why they are so expensive at the greengrocer, market or wherever you buy them. At markets they’re usually $2 each.
  • To prepare Leeks cut them very thinly and sautee’ just as you would other members of the onion family.
  • Health experts suggest that like their allium cousins, onions and garlic, let leeks sit for at least 5 minutes after cutting and before cooking to enhance their health-promoting qualities.
  • Why are they good for you?
  • Leeks are a good source of dietary fibre also a top source of vitamin C.
  • Leeks have a high concentration of folate and also give you small amounts of other minerals and vitamins.
  • Leeks are believed to be good for the throat and best of all,Leeks are low in calories and fat-free. 100g of leek has just 125kJ.

Plant of the Week:

Correas are the native version of fuchsias, although not great for hanging baskets, they certainly fit into any style of garden with their hanging bell like flowers.
Lately there’s been so many additions with hybrids that we’re spoilt for choice.
Now there’s one to celeberate Canberra city.
Correas grow in all types of soil, and are flowering not until late spring.
Like exotic Fuchsias, well drained soil is the key.
The flowers, for 99% of the species and hybrids, are tubular/funnel form then splitting into 4 petals.spreading at the top as the flowers open.
Correas are tougher than Fuchsias, tolerating frost and flowering through the winter months. Best of all, Correas are bird attracting.
Correas do best in well drained soil with a slightly acid pH. If you're in Gippsland Victoria with heavy clay soils, then either large pots or raised beds are you only option.
Correas are prone to root rot in continually wet soils.
So many hybrids and cultivars to choose from, C. Ice Maiden’, C. Dusky Bells,C.white Tips,  Pink Lips, Pink Panther, Pink Pixie, Lemon Twist, Ivory Bells, Sky Belles, Katie Bells and now Canberra Bells.
These are mainly hybrid forms that have been crossed with species plants.
Hybrid Correas have a tendency to be more compact and heavy flowering than the wild species, which makes them a desirable gardening plant.
For example, Correa ‘Dusky Bells’ is drought and frost tolerant. It is great for a shaded environment. It prefers  shady situations rather than full sun. It also attracts birds to the gardens.  Flowers from March until September.

Correas are a great little shrub that can fill many a gap in the garden bed.
Now they come in more colours then ever before, and this new release should please everyone, especially Canberra listeners.
New release Correas are hybrid Correas that have a tendency to be more compact and heavy flowering than the wild species, which makes them a desirable gardening plant.
Many of the Correa species are pollinated by birds such as honey eaters as they normally has a lot of nectar.
Many of the correas flower over the winter months and their flowers can provide an important source of nectar to birds at this time.
The new release: • Stunning two-tone red and cream bell-like flowers is a hardy - dry and frost tolerant Australian native.
Canberra Bells Parentage: one of its parent plants is appropriately called Federation Belle, while the other is Correa Mannii. C. "Canberra Bells grows to 1 m x 1 m.

Canberra Bells will provide colour for autumn, tolerates part-shade but flowers best in full sun.

For all you Canberra listeners,Canberra Bells is the official plant commemorating the Centenary of Canberra and now, this hardy but attractive native shrub is available for purchase

Give them a try. Ask for the new varieties by name at your garden centre.

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