Thursday, 20 June 2013

Yellow Robins in 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. The new theme is sung by Harry Hughes from his album Songs of the Garden. You can hear samples of the album from the website

Wildlife in Focus

with ecologist and bird expert, Kurtis Lindsay
Eastern Yellow Robin It’s a pity more birds don’t hang around for us to peer at and marvel at their birdsong and colouring, but maybe we should get up earlier.
You may have heard the sound before and wondered about what bird could’ve been making it. That’s if you’re up at the crack of dawn.
Let’s find out more...

Eastern Yellow Robins prefer an understorey canopy of tall shrubs with a canopy of small to large trees. Think of this as two layers in your garden.
Because these Robins look for insects all year round, insect attracting trees and shrubs are recommended as is stopping the use of pesticides.
Trees with stringy, fibrous or chunky bark provide good nooks and crannies for insects to hide in, and provide a meal for insect eating birds.
The sound of the Eastern Yellow Robin is bought to you curtesy of Bill Rankin and Tony Bayliss of the Wildlife Sound Recording Group  has kindly provided RWG with wildlife sound recordings for our 'Wildlife in Focus" episodes.
If you’ve seen an eastern yellow robin, send in a photo ,or drop us a line. to or by post to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675,  or post them on Real World Gardeners facebook page, and I’ll post a CD or some seeds, in return.


Vegetable Heroes:

There’s two types of Cumin that you can grow. Black cumin is in the Ranunculaceae family, while the other cumin, Cuminum cyminum is in the carrot and parsley family.
The type of cumin that’s sown at this time of year is actually Black cumin (Nigella sativa), also called fennel flower, nutmeg flower Roman coriander and black caraway.
Don’t confuse this with it’s cousin, Love in the Mist or Nigella damascena.
Because, black cumin, is related to the delicate-looking love-in-a-mist, it looks like Love in the Mist
They both have that fine light green ferny foliage.
Black cumin has similar flowers to Nigella except they’re white, while Love-in-the-Mist flowers are pale blue.
Black cumin also grows balloon capsules which dry on the bush but are larger, spicy and fruity seeds that were an important seasoning before black pepper was first brought to Europe.
Cumin and black cumin are temperate to subtropical annuals.
Both of these cumins you can get as packets of spice, one of them, the Cuminum cyminum, is often slow to germinate but once you get it growing, there’s no stopping them.
The black cumin is dead easy-even for beginner gardeners.
Cumin is grown for its aromatic and flavourful seeds.
Black Cumin has been grown for around 3,000 years.and is used for cooking, and extensively used in the Middle East, Turkey, and Western Asia.
Did You Know?- they found some Black cumin seeds in Tutenkamen’s tomb, although they’ve never worked out what they were there for?
The seeds have been traditionally used in the Middle East and Southeast Asian countries for treating a variety of illnesses.
In modern Marrakech, nigella seeds are sold in small bundles to be rubbed until warm, giving off an aroma which opens clogged sinuses in the way that eucalyptus or Vicks does.
Nestlé has filed a patent application covering use of Nigella sativa as an food allergy treatment
The aromatic seeds of Black Cumin are used in many Indian spice mixtures, as well as in bread.
Black Cumin seeds can be ground in a peppermill and used like pepper
Where to buy?
Mail order is probably the way to go for Black cumin or Nigella sativa
Available from and
Black Cumin is a hardy annual that grows to about 40cm, so you’ll have to sow it each year.
Being hardy it will survive close to or on freezing temperatures.
When to Sow:
Ideal temperature is 15-180C. and a rich, well-drained sandy loam, pH 4.5-8.3,and the sowing times is between Autumn and Spring.Drop two or three seeds at each planting site and cover with 3mm of soil. Water well with a gentle spray to settle the soil.
The seeds will germinate in two to three weeks; keep the soil moist but not soggy during germination.
Thin the emerging plants by pinching off all but the strongest seedlings.
You can also start the seeds off in punnets or trays if you like.
Cumin needs at least 4 months from seed to harvest and doesn’t tolerate long periods of dry heat.
Planting close together will help to support the heavy heads when they mature.
Prefers full sun and a sheltered position.
Collect seeds as soon as the ballon-shaped striped seeds pods have formad and are beginning to feel dry. They should be turning brown.
The black seeds are ground up and used like pepper as a spice.
Cumin requires full sun and a long growing season. It tolerates a fairly wide range of soil types, but will do best with well-drained, fertile soil.
Why is it good for you?
Like other spices, even though cumin has large percentage of iron, you’d have to eat and awful lot for it to be of any use as a dietary source.
Instead, think of the seeds as something useful for your cooking. Cumin is found even in some breads and cheeses.
Because it has a spicy, nutty flavour, black cumin can be sprinkled whole or ground up on food, and the oil can also be used on salads and other dishes
How about that coating for fish and meat called Dukkah? I’ll put that recipe up on the web, or send me a note and I’ll post a fact sheet.

Design Elements

with Garden Designer Lesley Simpson

Why do plants climb? Is it because most climbing plants originated from rainforests and needed to reach the light? That’s one theory.
Plus so many climbing plants have different ways of reaching the top.
They can be twining stems with tendrils like Mandevillas and Stephanotis, or scrambling like Banskia Roses, or have thorns like Bouganvillea.

Let’s review some of these climbers for your garden now…


Climbing plants are useful if you haven’t got much room in your garden because they add a vertical element to your garden and most of them don’t take up much room. Most need a support of some sort, and most are evergreen, so even if they’re not flowering, there’s some vertical interest with the leaves all year round.

Plant of the Week

Is Zygocactus really a cactus?
Where are the leaves and where are the stems?
It turns out yes, it’s a cactus and the stems are now the leaves?
Confused, …
Over thousands of years of plant adaptations to drier conditions, the stems of the Zygocactus or Schlumbergia, elongated while the leaves dropped off forever.
That meant the stems took over the function of food making or photosynthesis and developed pores or stomates for gas exchange.
But enough of science because for a splash of colour through Autumn and Winter, there’s a showy zygocactus for your garden. So many differed flower shapes and colours to choose from. From filly whites, pale yellows, deep purple and bright reds.Easy to look after and easier to propagate.Just don’t overwater them
Looking after your Zygocactus
You probably have known them as pale pink to pale orange coloured flowers, but these days you can get them in fantastic shades of cherry red, mauve and magenta. I prefer these brighter shades at this time of year, because it contrasts well with the darker winter sky.

Zygocactus are not desert dwellers, but epiphytic plants living high up in the canopy of rainforests. So they’re surviving on leaf litter and not getting full sun, but instead, dappled shade from the rainforest canopy.
Zygocacti like to stay evenly moist but not wet or soggy. When soil dries on top (but not all the way down), water thoroughly. Give them good air circulation and plenty of good, bright light. Outdoors, in mild weather, they like light shade or very filtered sunlight. They cannot tolerate frost.

Zygocactus respond to light feedings with diluted liquid fertilizer during spring and summer growing seasons. If you’re growing them indoors,use any good houseplant fertilizer or African Violet food every two to three weeks.
But I don’t think people of Sydney do that as they grow quite well outside. Give them a potassium food such as tomato food or something for flowers. Stop fertilizing in early March to allow buds to set. Do not transplant or move the plant once buds have set. Resume fertilizing after flowering.

Transplanting Zygos is dead easy, just don't disturb the roots.
Press the soil firmly around the plant.
As with all transplanting of potplants-DON'T bury the plant too deeply – use the same soil line that it presently has.
Leave a half inch space from the top of the pot to your soil line for watering.
Use a general potting mix but added loads of coarse sand, or perlite.. The epiphytic cacti prefer a soil that is slightly acidic.
If you can find a pre-packaged cactus soil mix, feel free to use it. If you should use unglazed terracotta pots, remember that they dry out faster and will need watering more often.


growing seedling.

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