Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Frog, the Ginger and the 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.

Living Planet NEW SEGMENT

with ecologist, Katie Oxenham
Frogs are under threat throughout the world and loss of habitat is one of the factors contributing to their demise. A frog pond is easy to construct, adds interest to your home garden and will provide a haven for the frog species in your area. You don’t have to worry about buying any frogs, because they’ll come calling….
Let’s find out more

A pond with flowering water plants can be a very attractive focal point in a garden. These plants never seem to have any problems don’t need much attention. Observing the lifecycle of frogs throughout the seasons provides added interest to your gardening. Frogs also help to control insect pests.
Locate your pond in a part sunny, part shady, but not directly under trees. Some trees or shrubs have poisonous leaves (Oleander, Bleeding Heart and pines for example).
If you place your pond so that it's visible from the house then you can enjoy the pond anytime of day or night.
Putting the pond in the back garden, a bit away from your own house and your neighbour's houses, if the croaking of frogs is too noisy for you.
A low garden lamp that is reflected in the water will not only add to your garden's appearance in the evenings but also attract insects for the frogs.
for more information about frogs, and
We’d love to see photos of any frogs or frog ponds that you have in your garden, just send it in to. or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675, and I’ll post a CD in return.

Vegetable Heroes:

Ginger! Zingibar officianale

  • Have you ever wondered about growing edible ginger?
  • For years I’ve wondered about growing the real deal ginger.
  • Of all the times I’ve bought the nobbly brown root, it’s never sprouted until now.
  • Probably because now I’ve bought organic ginger that’s not sprayed with stuff to prevent it from sprouting-some sort of growth retardant usually.
  • Now I’ve got two bits sprouting!
  • Before those of you in cooler climates get put off, I daresay, my own climate zone is a bit out of its range, but I’m growing it in a pot and so can you.
  • Indoors if we have to.
  • For those of you who don’t have a piece of sprouting ginger, mail order garden catalogues supply pieces of ginger that are sprouting between July and September usually. I’ll put links on my website and facebook.
  • If you’ve ever seen ginger in supermarkets, and all supermarkets have them, you’d know that it comes from the root of a plant that has lots of underground tubers with roots.
  • Are you thinking that bit of edible ginger is the root, technically it’s not, but most of us think of it as ginger root.
  • This usually means that the underground part grows quite a bit and is usually a rhizome. A creeping underground tuber.
  • Ginger has been around for at least 2000 years but mostly used in medicine rather than cooking.
  • Together with black pepper, ginger was one of the most commonly traded spices during the 13th and
  • During this time in England, ginger was sought after, and one pound in weight of ginger was equivalent to the cost of a sheep.
  • Zingibar officianale or ginger is a tropical plant as you’d expect so it doesn’t like frost, waterlogged soil direct sun and high winds.
  • But you’ve got a sheltered area, maybe on your back veranda, and rich moist soil, or some good stuff potting mix, you can get by growing ginger.
  • If you’ve also got warmer weather and high humidity you definitely can grow ginger.
  • From garden forums on the web, ginger does well in ground in temperate climates also.
  • For most of us, growing ginger will mean growing it in pots. If you plonk it in cheap potting mix, don’t expect much.
  • If you’ve got water storage crystals in the mix, that’s good, but if you’ve added some coir, that’s even better, because what ginger needs, apart from free draining potting mix, is mix that has some water holding capacity In other words, potting mix that doesn’t dry out too quickly.
  • If you’ve only got one sprouting rhizome, put it into a 20cm pot, if you have 3 put them in together into a large 35cm pot.

    • You can also add one part of good compost to two parts potting mix, and that’s going to add some nutrients as well.
    • For those gardens with tropical or sub-tropical climates you can put that piece of sprouting ginger straight into the garden after you dug in a spadeful of compost. That should be good enough.
    • Put in your piece of ginger about 5cm below the soil surface.
    • Remember, filtered sunlight not direct sun for the position.
    • For cooler climates, your ginger plant can take full sun because it won’t be as intense for the most part as in the tropics. Near a north facing wall is ideal so the plant can get reflected heat.
    • If it gets too hot in summer, move the pot into semi-shade if you can.
    • Also, for cooler districts, move it inside at the first signs of cold weather and don’t water it too much.
    • The best planting time is late winter/early spring, but if you’ve got a piece sprouting now, don’t waste an opportunity to garden, put it in anyway.
    • Ginger grows quite slowly and doesn’t mind being a little bit root bound if it’s in a pot.
    • Ginger won’t overtake your garden, because, it’s slow growing and after all, you’re going to be digging it up every year to harvest the rhizomes for your cooking.
    • Ginger grows to about one to 1 ½ metres and requires regular watering. Drying out will most likely set the plant back quite a bit, and even cark it.
    • To supply humidity for arid climates, you’ll have to get out there with the spray bottle and spray it when you think of it, hopefully every day.
    • For those growing ginger in the ground, and plenty of mulch to keep the ground moist.
    • Ginger growing in pots will need fortnight feeds of liquid fertiliser if you haven’t added any controlled release or organic slow release fertilisers to the mix before planting.
    • Now the most important question, when can you dig it up?
    • All books will say the best time to dig up your ginger plant is when all the long green leaves have died down, 8 – 10 months after you’ve planted it.
    • This is easy if you’ve been growing it in a pot, because you can tip the whole thing over and just pull it out.
    • For areas where ginger growing is out of it’s range, you might be best to leave it for a couple of years for the rhizome to build up in size before tipping it out.
    • Break up the rhizomes into smaller useable pieces and either store it in the freezer, or my tip is, put the pieces into some Chinese cooking wine or sherry in a resealable jar and place it in the fridge.
    • Doing it this way keeps it fresh for quite a few months.
    • Don’t forget to replant some rhizomes for your next years’ crop of ginger if you’ve been successful that is.
    • Why is Ginger Good for You?
    • Ginger is a very good source of nutrients and essential vitamins.
    • It is also a good source of minerals, such as potassium, magnesium and copper.
    • Many thanks to tropical permaculture group for providing some of the growing information.

    Design Elements

    with Landscape Designer, Louise McDaid
    Shady gardens can sometimes be problematic, especially if it’s dry shade.Under trees is another area that can give a lot of shade, and the roots take up all the soil, nutrients and water.If you’re tired of looking at that bare patch and wondering what to do about it, listen to this…

    Dry shade can be improved with Cliveas, Renga Renga Lilly or Arthropodium cirrhatum, and wet shade can grow a variety of ferns, even grass trees.
    Lots of choices for your shady area, including painting the fence a bright or white shade to lift the feel under that tree..

    Plant of the Week:

    Are you wary of planting gum trees into your garden? What if they turn into monsters, or are branch droppers?
    Not all are bad and a few years ago a range of flowering grafted Eucalypts hit the stores making us all want to buy one for the garden.
    Eucalyptus...from Greek, eu, well and calyptos, covered referring to the cap which covers the developing flowers. camaldulensis... after Camalduli, a district in Italy. Myrtaceae family
    Eucalyptus camaldulensis or river red gum, is a common and widespread tree along watercourses over much of mainland Australia.
     It is frequently a dominant component of riparian communities, and is an important species of the Murray-Darling catchment.
    • E. camaldulensis grows in areas where inundation is frequent, flowering late winter to mid-summer.
    • Red River Gum grows in full sun and tolerates moderate frost, drought, lime soil, boggy, damp soil, clay loam or sand.
    • E. camaldulensis has bark that’s smooth and white or greyish in colour except near the base of the trunk where it is often rough.
    • Leaves are "typical" of eucalypts being lance-shaped up to 250mm long and blue-grey.
    • The white flowers are seen mainly in late spring and summer and these are followed by small seed capsules about 60 mm diameter with protruding valves.
    • The timber is termite resistant and is used in many applications where contact with the ground is needed.
    • E.camaldulensis is a hardy tree but is probably too large for urban gardens, growing to 15-20 metres.
    • BUT you might like to try this one a new variety released by plant breeders Peter and Jennifer Ollerenshaw of Bywong Nursery.
    • Bywong Nursery is located 30kms north east of Canberra, near the old gold mining settlement of Bywong.
    • Here’s a novel new grafted specimen.Eucalyptus " Blue Veil," is a sport selected from a mature Eucalytpus camaldulensis.
    • 'Blue Veil' is an unusual grafted variety of Eucalyptus that only grows in a weeping fashion unless trained otherwise. 
    • Blue Veil has long flexible branches and attractive blue/green foliage. 
    • The supple nature of the young growth allows it to be trained to grow in many attractive forms.
    •  Plants can be grown at the top of high walls and allowed to hang down or branches may be espaliered against a fence or screen.
    • These are grafted plants and care should be taken to prevent any growth below the graft union.

    There’s now a Eucalyptus camuldulensis “Blue Veil” is available from the nursery and some local garden centres. If you’re interested in buying, contact the nursery direct,

    1 comment:

    1. Starting a garden is one of the most exciting but challenging task. Garden is also an attraction outside your house, and your neighbors will impress if you have a very beautiful garden.