Sunday, 14 July 2013

Waxing Lyrical about Cinnamon

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
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
Real World Gardener is funded by the Community Broadcasting Foundation.

Spice It Up

with Ian Hemphill for

You probably have this spice in your kitchen spice shelf right now, You probably use it often in cakes, puddings and maybe even some casseroles and stews. The spice trade is the second oldest trade in the world, says Ian Hemphill from Herbies spices. But did you know that once again, you may not have the real deal that you thought you had.
Let’s find out a whole lot more about this spice.

Look out for true cinnamon or grow your own tree.
All you need to give the tree is a sunny to partially shaded position and a moderate supple of water throughout the year, but don’t over water.
Protect the tree from heavy frost and prolonged cool weather.
A cinnamon tree can survive short mild frost.

Some say only really for sub-tropical to tropical areas but we know better because there are Cinnamon trees growing in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens.
It might be a little cold in say, Armidale, but if you were going to try, you would choose a sheltered position, maybe near a north facing wall. It doesn't like heavy frost, so if you get bad frosts you’re probably just setting yourself up for disappointment.
If you’ve got any questions about where to get a Cinnamon tree, or growing Cinnamon, 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, we’d love to hear from you.

Where to get the Cinnamon Tree

The cinnamon tree, or Cinnamonum verrum is available by mail order from Daleys Nursery 36 Daley's Lane, Geneva via Kyogle NSW 2474  via mail or visit the website

Vegetable Heroes

Did you know that a Swiss botanist Gaspard Bauhin in 1620, found this vegetable growing wild in Sweden?
So yes, Swedes do come from Sweden, Swede vegetable that is.
Another interesting fact about this vegetable is it doesn’t seem to have a long history, well unless you consider dating back to the1600’s not long, which it isn’t compared to some vegetables.

Brassica napus variety (var.) napobrassica, sometimes referred to as Rutabaga, but never referred to as turnip.
Rutabaga is a corruption of the Swedish for turnip-cabbage.

  • Turnips and swedes are both members of the cabbage family and are closely related to each other - so close that it’s not surprising that their names are often confused. For instance, swedes are sometimes called Swedish turnips or swede-turnips.
  • How do you tell the difference between Turnips and Swedes?
  • For one, turnips are usually smaller than Swedes-about the size of a golf ball, with creamy white, smooth skin. 

Some turnips have a smooth, silky skin that’s coloured white, with a purple or reddish top. The flesh is white and has a peppery taste. (pictured right)
Swedes are a lot bigger, - roughly the size of a shoe. 
Its rough skin is creamy white and partly purple, with a distinctive 'collar'-that shows the multiple leaf scars.
The Swede also has a hint of yellow-orange inside the actual vegetable.(pictured below)
Here’s a bit of trivia for you from a very recent article in the English
Telegraph reporting on a poll on home accidents in the kitchen.

  • A survey found two-thirds of injuries in the kitchen come from preparing fresh vegetables like squash and turnip that are too difficult to cut.
  • Almost a quarter said pumpkins were the toughest vegetable to skin and chop while a fifth said swedes were the most dangerous.
  • Two in five participants said they had injured themselves trying to imitate TV chefs when slicing vegetables, the research found.
  • So it came as no surprise that root foods had topped a poll of the most dangerous vegetables.  Don’t let that deter you!
  • Another surprise is that Swede vegetable is a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. So how it came to be growing in the wild in Sweden is any bodies guess.
  • If you were a lover if Haggis you might already know that the Scottish call it "neeps" and serve it with haggis.
  • Swede us a full flavoured veggie with a savoury aftertaste. Under-rated as a vegetable, its smooth and creamy texture is a welcome surprise in your cooking.
How and when to grow Swedes.

  •  You might’ve guessed that the Swede is a winter vegetable.
  • You can sow Swedes from February until November it temperate and cool districts. April until August in arid zones, and only May to July in sub-tropical and tropical areas.
  • You might find some garden books suggesting not to sow Swedes at these times, but those books are probably written for northern hemisphere gardens. Seed suppliers also recommend the dates I’ve given.
  • Turnips are easy to grow but swedes are easier.
  • Sow the seeds of Swedes into any prepared soil, they’ll even grow in heavy soil as long as the water drains away fairly quickly.
  • As with carrots, don’t put in fresh compost or manures when you sow Swede seeds, or you’ll get the usual forking or hairy swedes!
  • Swedes need good levels of trace elements, add a dusting of these either from a packet, or as a seaweed spray if your soil is poor or sandy.
  • Without enough trace elements, your Swedes might be tasteless, bitter and brown inside.
  • TIP: Swedes resent transplanting, just like carrots, parsnips and turnips. Sow the seeds directly into the veggie bed.
  • Your Swedes will be ready in three to four months after planting.
  • But you can pick them at whatever size you like, small is good, as is larger. Doesn’t matter.
  • In cold areas, Swedes are best left in the ground and pulled out as you need them.
  • Otherwise, pick them and store them as you would potatoes.
Where do you get it?
Why is it good for you?
1/2 cup cooked swede is a serve, and is a good source of vitamin C and fibre, folate and potassium.
Swedes are quite filling but are low in kilojoules, with only 85kJ per 100g (2/3 cup).

Design Elements:

with Landscape Designer Louise McDaid

Last week I said that a natural garden is one where the weeds don’t take over.
Natural gardens aren't formal; instead they feature free-form plantings and soft edges. Pathways meander through the space, sitting spots appear unexpectedly and havens are provided for birds and animals.
Wildlife is also an important part of a natural garden.
Let’s look at what can go wrong and how to fix it by calling in the experts in part two of a natural garden….

Within our fences there is usually some sort of stable ecosystem in which plants, animals and pathogens coexist in a state of balance.

We upset this balance by using synthetic chemicals, planting a tree, putting in a pond or a veggie bed.
Lots of small steps can take us a long way towards helping garden wildlife.
Things like make a log shelter for our reptiles, building a pond to attract frogs, create a compost or start a worm far.
All these things , as well as plants, belong in a natural garden, although not as features.

Plant of the Week:

Geraldton Wax-Chamelaucium uncinatum

Do you want long lasting flowers for your vase that you can cut from your garden?  Do you want a plant with spectacular masses of white-pink-red flowers over winter to spring? I bet you do!

Geradlton Wax will grow well in zones that are arid, and semi-arid with summer rain or winter rain, in moist temperate zones with warm summers and in areas with winter rains and dry summers. Basically, Geraldton Wax grows everywhere in Australia except in tropical and sub-tropical areas.

Geraldton Wax is a medium to large shrub, typically 2-3 metres high in cultivation and of fairly open habit. The leaves are narrow, up to 40mm long and highly aromatic when crushed.
The flowers appear in late winter and may last well into summer.

The flowers remind me of large tea tree flowers and in fact there are some species of tea-tree that have similar foliage.

The flowering stems are sought as "fillers" which are useful for providing backing for single stemmed flowers such as roses, carnations and kangaroo paw.

A range of flower colours are available from white to pinks and purples.

Geraldton Wax is commercially grown for the cut flower industry and there is a nursery in Alice Springs where they grow early and late season flowering types.

That means if you wanted an extended season of flowering you could plant the different types in your flower border.
Some of the CVS mentioned that particular nursery in Alice Springs like Purple Pride, flowers in mid August ,CWA pink flowers early to mid September

Coming from Western Australia you would expect the this plant would like sandy well drained soils and you would be right. It grows it full sun and semi-shade.

If you don’t have those conditions you can grow Geraldton Wax in pots or raised garden beds, even rockeries.

Well-drained soils with a pH of 7 to 9 are preferred.
Being a native plant that has evolved over thousands of years in dry, and poorly fertile soil, Geraldton wax has low nutritional requirements.
Too much nitrogen at flowering time will  mean that you get lots of fresh tip growth beyond the flowers. This causes a reduction in flower quality and reduces the price received for the flowers.

TIP:When you first get your plant of Geraldton Wax, plant them out carefully as the roots break easily.
Powdery mildew might be a problem in more humid areas so make sure there’s plenty of air circulating around the plant.
Once established, plants will tolerate periods of extended dryness. The plants respond well to pruning back by about one third annually. Geraldton wax is one of Australia's most famous wildflowers and is widely used as a cut flower in Australia and overseas.

You can buy seed of Geraldton Wax from an Australian Native seed company.
I have seen them for sale in Botanic gardens shops around the country as well.
 If you’ve tried growing Geraldton wax before and had no success, why not try one of the hybrids, like Dancing Queen?
Wax flowers normally grow in poor pure sandy very well drained soil/dirt in windswept WA without any still, high humidity air around them. You could try making a high mound of very sandy poor loam, if available in your area and on the side of a windswept open area.
If you live in an area of high humidity, try using Phosphonic acid or Phos-acid, solution to give the plant resistance to root rot fungus.
If you have any questions about growing Geradlton Wax, or Wax Flowers write in and ask.

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