Monday, 1 July 2013

Pepper Tree Worms

Compost Capers

Does your council ask you to separate your rubbish and recycle everything you throw out? Probably not yet, but that day is coming soon.
In Wales, for example, councils no longer accept regular rubbish.
You have to sort it into many bins.
They even recycle your food scraps-raw and cooked that you must put into separate bins.
A good way to start is with home composts. Most people have home composts.
Home composting is the most environmentally-friendly way of dealing with kitchen and garden waste, plus it produces compost that can be used as an excellent soil improver.
Composting is useful in all gardens. Only in the very smallest gardens will it be difficult to find space for a compost heap and material to fill it. Owners of such smaller gardens could consider worm composting instead.
Let’s find out more about some friends of compost.I'm talking with worm farm expert Cameron Little

Composting is done all year, and you don’t have to stick to just one type of compost method.
Usually though, late summer to early winter is the peak time for making compost.

If you go away for any length of time, your worm farm will survive just nicely if you make sure it’s loaded up with food scraps.
Don’t just dump them on top,  incorporate them into the composted material that’s already there.As long as the water can drain away if it pours with rain, your worms won’t drown and you’ll come home ready made compost.
Better still, put your worm farm under an evergreen tree so it can’t get flooded.
For regular composts, aim for between 25 and 50 percent soft green materials (e.g. grass clippings, annual weeds, vegetable kitchen waste, or manure) to feed the micro-organisms.
The remainder should be woody brown material (e.g. prunings, wood chippings, paper, cardboard, straw or dead leaves).
The bacteria and micro-organisms that produce the compost function best when the balance of green and brown materials is correct.

If you’ve got any questions about composting or worm farms, drop us a line. by email or by post to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675,  or post them on Real World Gardeners facebook page, we’d love to hear from you.

Vegetable Heroes: Growing Your Own Pepper

Tasmannia lanceolata or Pepperberry.
The Tasmanian Mountain Pepper tree is an endemic shrub or small tree to Tasmania.
It’s in the Winteraceae family, sounds a bit cold, but that makes it a plant from ancient times.
Tasmannia – the first part of the tree’s name is after AW Jansen Tasman, a navigator, for whom the state of Tasmania was named;
Did you know that Mountain pepper was used as a colonial pepper substitute. These days you can get a variety of bushfood products containing pepperberry.
You might be wondering where you can use this pepperberry?
It can be added to curries, cheeses, and alcoholic drinks.
It’s even exported to Japan to flavour wasabi.
What do pepperberries taste like?
Sweet at first with a real peppery aftertaste.
This tree can be used as a feature small tree –growing to only 4-5 metres, or as a bush tucker plant.
Pepper berry trees have glossy green leaves with complimentary red stems and small waxy and creamy white flowers.
The flowers give way to dark peppery berries.
Something called Polygodial is the primary active compound in Tasmannia lanceolata, and is responsible for its peppery taste.
Polygodial is an active ingredient in Dorrigo Pepper, Mountain Pepper, Horopito, Canelo, Paracress and Water-pepper.
This stuff called Polygodial gives the berries their warm and pungent flavour.
Pepperberries will grow anywhere from sea level to alpine regions. Not surprisingly, they tolerate frosts and need moist soil. Being an understorey tree, all types of Pepper Berry trees prefer the protection of other trees and can grow in deep shade.
These trees grow best on well drained soil with good moisture retention and can even grow in quite heavy soil.
The drawback is the need lots of water both in summer and winter for healthy growth.
Being a primitive plant-that means the vascular system isn’t as good as modern day trees, so they grow slowly but will pick up a bit of speed if you give them a light application of general fertiliser in spring and early autumn.
Even though I’ve said they need soil that holds a bit of water, so not too sandy, Pepper Berries aren’t too fussy about what type of soil they grow in, but prefer cool to temperate conditions.
The Alpine regions of Victoria, Tasmania and NSW are ideal, however lower altitudes are also suitable as long as you can give them cool, shaded conditions.
You’ll need two trees though. Male and female trees are needed to produce the hot spicy glossy deep-purple (almost black) pea-sized Pepper Berries which grow in clusters at the base of new season's growth, but only on the female tree.
Dieocious (sexes on separate plants, one gender per individual)
Another variety, although I’m not sure how easy it is to get, is Tasmannia purpurascens.
Technically this tree is moneocious-both male and female flowers on the one tree.
Both the Berry and the leaf are edible - the Berry is an alternative to traditional pepper but much more versatile, nutritious and extremely high in anti-oxidants, while the leaf is used like curry leaves in cooking.
Can you grow Mountain Pepper berry from seeds? Yes, but you won’t know if you are getting a male or female tree for a few years. I’m still waiting, although I’ve only got one so will have to do something about that.
Where do you get it? and
Why is it good for you?
The leaf and berry are used as a dried spice mainly.
Dried Tasmannia lanceolata berries and leaves have strong antimicrobial activity against food spoilage organisms.
Tasmanian ripe pepper berries (black in colour) can be 10 times hotter then ordinary pepper.
Mountain pepper is considered as one of the world’s strongest anti-oxidant foods and a rich source of vitamin C.

Design Elements: Reviewing Trees 


What makes a tree a tree? Is it because it has a trunk? How high does it have to be before it’s a tree and not a shrub. After all, don’t we have tree Rhododendrons?Let’s review some of these trees for your garden now….Let’s find out about some of these now?

Trees reduce pollution, noise and provide shade, sometimes even mulch. Although I dare say some of you may be annoyed sometimes with the amount of leaves that fall on the ground.

Did you know that evergreen trees lose leaves all year and deciduous ones lose them all in one go? That might help you decide which one to plant next.
 Westonbirt arboretum (picture to the right)




Plant of the Week

Protea species.
To grow Proteas well you need an open, sunny position.
They do well in poor soils, and many don't mind salty, coastal areas.

But the humidity will knock them around. If you are north of Brisbane they will prefer the cooler drier regions. But they'll do really well most other places where the soil is well drained and it's not too frosty.


Some important tips to getting the best out of your Proteas.
  • Great drainage, so if you’ve got clay soil, forget it. All Proteas love a sandy loam or open soil.
  • Do test your soil pH as most Proteas need acidic soil with a pH below 6. That’s quite acidic.
  • Full sun with good air movement. Because they keel over with  humidity.

The more sun they more flowers for all Proteas.
P. Frosted Fire and P. Pink Ice. The last one has spectacular flowers fresh or dried. Probably the one you most see in floral displays.
 Full sun by the way, means around  4-6 hours of sunlight and not dappled sunlight.
  • Proteas  won’t grow on south facing walls.
  • Mulch your Proteas-use a natural mulch such as bark or straw or leaves.
  • Don’t disturb the plants roots when weeding.
  • Proteas are pretty tough once they're established. Water at least twice a week in the first summer, - daily when it's really hot. You can gradually reduce this as the plant becomes established.
  •  After the first year, plants labelled "drought resistant" don't need much attention at all. The rest should be watered weekly during dry periods.
  • Potted Proteas like a nice drink every day.
  • Generally it is not necessary to feed Proteas planted in the garden unless your conditions are extremely severe, like by the coast in vert sandy soil or in Perth.
  • Feed Proteas by adding compost and a slow release fertiliser suitable for natives, is a good idea. Proteas are best grown away from plants you need to feed regularly.
  • Proteas grown in pots will need feeding with a controlled release fertiliser with low phosphorus.
  • Proteas become untidy looking if you don’t at least prune off the flowers when they’ve finished. Removing flowering stems helps keep the bush compact and looking great. Always use sharp secateurs. With young bushes tip prune in spring and late summer. With mature plants prune immediately after flowering, usually leaving 10cm of healthy stem.
  • Varieties- King Pink Protea cynaroides. The King Protea has one of the largest flower heads in the protea family.

Problems with your Proteas

The most common problem that people might experience is

  • Why won't my Protea flower?
  • Some possible reasons:
  • It's too young - some take 3 years, the King up to 6 years.
  • It's in the shade - Proteas need sun all day to flower.
  • It's not had enough water during bud formation so buds die.
Why did my Protea die? Some possible reasons:
  • overwatering of mature plants.
  • unsuitable plant for the condition. 
  • presence of root rot fungi (treat with Phosacid, do not replant Proteas in this spot).
  • unsuitable soil; do not use mushroom compost or added fertiliser in the garden


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