Sunday, 28 April 2013

Whistle While You Garden

Wildlife in Focus

Whistling Kite

Whistling Kite
Imagine you’re looking up into the sky and you see a largish bird, gliding slowly, high in the sky. It flaps with slow wing-beats and when holds its wings horizontally, they’re bowed downwards at the tip. As it flies it sometimes makes a loud whistling call but it doesn’t twist its tail when manoeuvring.

Let’s find out more…I'm talking with Sue Stevens..

The Whistling Kite (Haliastur sphenurus) is a gingery brown colour and generally untidy or scruffy looking.
From the above image you can see that the head and underparts are light brown with pale streaks. Dark wings with pale wing linings. The Whistling Kite has a characteristic, long, rounded tail in flight and is plain sandy coloured with paler tips - other kites have straight or forked tails.
Looking at the Whistling Kite from below, the outer wing feathers are dark coloured and widely fingered. Outer wing rear feathers are pale in colour, inner wing rear feathers are darker brown. The Whistling Kite grows 50 to 60 centimetres long, wingspan 1.2 to 1.5 metres.
We’d love to about your sitings of the Whistling Kite, just send them or any photos in to. or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675,  or post them on Real World Gardeners facebook page, and I’ll post a CD in return.

Vegetable Heroes

Well it’s TIME FOR VEGETABLE HERO  a herb today, and it’s Savory, The Herb of Love
Winter savory (Satureja montana) is a perennial herb in the family Lamiaceae, native to warm temperate regions of southern Europe
How many times have you heard the phrase "a savory stew?" Savory is used in herb combinations, such as Herbes de Provence, a French combination of herbs used for seasoning.
Savory is an annual or perennial herb, Satureja hortenis, for Summer Savory, or Saturejo montana being for Winter Savory.
Winter savory is now little used in Australia, but for hundreds of years both winter and summer savory have been grown and used, virtually side by side.
Both have strong spicy flavour.
All Savory’s belong to the mint or Lamiaceae family. They have dark-green,narrow leaves for winter savory and light green narrow leaves for summer savory.
The savories  can be used fresh or  dried and crushed.
The history of savory goes back about 2000 years and they are one of the oldest culinary herbs.
The genus Satureja was is derived from the word satyr, the half-man, half-goat creature in mythology who owned the savories.
It has been associated with love potions for centuries.
Romans used savory as a medicinal and culinary herb long before they discovered pepper.
They used it as a medicinal herb for bee stings, and as an aphrodisiac.
I have an English friend who says she grew this herb back in England and used it often I her cooking, especially with chicken.
There are two distinct varieties of savory - summer and winter. Summer savory is most often used for healing. Summer savory is said to increase sex drive, while winter savory decreases it.
Make sure you get your savories right.

What does Summer Savory like. Well, it’s no different than growing Thyme, it likes full sun with well-draining soil.
Savory prefers to be planted in soil that's slightly alkaline.
Give it a side-dressing of compost or worm castings whenever possible. Summer savory is bushy and low-growing so it makes an excellent edging plant for a kitchen garden, herb bed, or vegetable garden.
Summer savory likes regular water. I have some growing in a strawberry pot so that it cascades out of one of the holes. It seems to like that spot better than the strawberries. As far as the soil in my container goes, well it’s just potting mix with soil wetter crystals added to it. So you see it's well-suited to container gardening, as well.
Summer Savory can be grown from seed sown in spring, but that’s if you can get the seed. Some say  these tiny plants resent being transplanted, but I’ve taken pieces from my stock plant and transplanted it into other containers no problems at all/
If you know of someone with this plant, now’s the time to take soft-stem cuttings of about 2-3 cm long and put them in some seed raising or propagating mix. You probably don’t even need to cover it, because, just like the herb Thyme, it strikes very easily.
Savory flowers in mid-January with white or pale pink 5mm flowers grouped in terminal spikes.
You can begin to take the leaves from your savory plant as soon as it reaches 13cm or about 6 inches in height.
Keeping the plant pruned means you’ll always have some.
 My plant dies down a bit in winter, but always regrows, so that’s a good reason to get some summer savory for your herb garden.
Tips For The Chef
Summer savory, Satureja hortensis, is a nice herb to use when you are cutting back on salt-it's flavour is mild, a little bit similar to thyme, but with it's own unique flavour.
To me, it has a slightly peppery flavour, but a piney fragrance when you crush it in your hand.
You can mince summer savory and combine with bread crumbs for coating fish or vegetables such as squash before sauteeing. Use it in potato dishes, tomato sauces, meatballs or vegetable juices. It's also great in egg dishes such as omelets and frittatas.
Savory is popular in teas, herbed butters, and flavoored vinegars. It complements beef soup and stews, chicken soup, eggs, green beans, peas, rutabagas, asparagus, onions, cabbage, and lentils. Use savory when cooking liver, fish and game.
Mince fresh summer savory leaves and combine with garlic, bay and lemon for a good marinade for fish.
Savory blends well with other herbs such as basil, bay leaf, marjoram, thyme and rosemary. It is said that the taste of savory brings all these herbs together in a unique taste that makes savory an Amalgamating herb.
Why is it good for you?
A tea made from summer savory is said to control a mild sore throat.
Rubbing a sprig of savory on an insect bite will bring instant relief. Savory herb is an excellent source of minerals and vitamins -. Its leaves and tender shoots are one of the richest sources of potasium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and selenium.

This herb also has dietary fibre. Who would believe?

Design Elements

with landscape designer Louise McDaid
This month, Design elements is still fixing your garden design problems that are based on soil conditions in your garden.
If you’ve ever parked around a tree and not thought much about it, think again, because you’re reducing the amount of oxygen in the soil through soil compaction.
Plants actually do need oxygenated soil to live and grow.
What do you do if you have heavy clay soil?Let’s find out how to garden with this particular soil profile in garden?

Clay soil might be hard to dig, but also dries into an impenetrable rock like substance eventually.
As we mentioned, there are a number of ways to improve the soil, or you can go with the flow and grow plants that appreciate that type of environment.
Of course if you want to grow carrots and parsnips,  or a plant that your really hanker for, buy or make one of those raised veggie gardens that stand about a metre or more above the soil.
Adding sand to clay soils doesn’t improve clay soils, it just makes sandy clay, and that’s just a bad combination.
As I said last week, there’s quite a few things you can do to improve clay soil profiles, but remember if you try and do it all at once it’ll overwhelm you and you’ll feel like giving up. Be like the tortoise, easy does it, and a bit at a time. Over time, you’ll manage the conditions and have a fabulous garden, guaranteed.

Plant of the Week:

Did you know that Acacia is actually Wattle? It’s just the scientific name.
If you’ve ever wanted a native garden that’s neat and tidy and just like something that English gardeners would envy, you can’t go past this new range of Wattles that are related to the River Wattle or Acacia cognata.
Easier to remember that Buddleja, just say Limelight Wattle, or Bower Beauty wattle, Curvaceous Wattle or Wattle Green Mist.
Plant a row of them in the ground or in matching pots.
 New Breed of ACACIAS!
There‘s now a new range of acacias bred by Australian native specialists Native Plant Wholesalers that fit the bill as compact native plants with fantastic garden performance.
All these compact Acacias fit the bit for mass plantings, or for garden tubs or large pots. The foliage provides year round interest and fits into native, exotic, oriental and tropical garden styles.
All of these Acacias grow in full sun to part shade, they have varying heights and will tolerate a range of soils as long as they’re well drained.
All of these are termed dry tolerant, that means they need occasional deep watering during long periods of heat.
Best part is they don’t require any pruning but will appreciate some native fertiliser each Spring.
a.         Acacia Bower Beauty a form of Acacia cognata grows to 1 x 1.2m Compact, with a tight compact but weeping habit. Easy to grow like all Acacias and is dry tolerant. Origin Mt Gambier. Tolerates a light frost. This one has bronze coloured new growth.
b.        Acacia Curvaceous-slightly smaller, growing to 7-cm x 1m. fine lime green foliage.
c.         Acacia Green Mist, 1.2 x 2 metres.soft lemon coloured flowers in Spring.
d.        Acacia limelight originates in Mt Gambier SA. And is a dwarf form of Acacia cognata.  Grows in full sun or part shade to 1,5m x 1 m. Lime green foliage, grows into a natural dome shape and is available as a grafted standard.
e.         You might want to team up these new bread Acacias with one from your region.
 I’ve chosen Acacia decora or Showy Wattle  or western Silver Wattle. This Acacia is a small to large shrub, often under 2 metres in height but sometimes to 5 metres. The leaves are really something referred to as phyllodes are lance-shaped, blue-green in colour, with a prominent mid-vein and minor branching veins. The yellow globular flowers are clustered both at the ends of the branches (terminal) and in the leaf or phyllode axils, making this one of the most showy of all wattles.
This is a hardy species which is tolerant of a wide range of conditions. It prefers well drained soils in light shade to full sun. A.decora is a worthwhile addition to gardens in many areas of Australia.

Possible problems with Acacias
There's been some suggestion that Acacia cognata doesn't do too well in some eastern states of Australia.
Possibly these Acacias are succumbing to Phytophthera that's widespread in Australian soils.
Symptoms of Phtophthera are random branch die-back over an extended period of up to two years.
Should any plant have branches that die back at random, rather than just a general dieback from the top down, and you suspect Phtophthera, treat with Ban Rot.

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