Thursday, 26 September 2013

See and Grow Your Own Coffee Bean 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 the 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 Consulting Ecologist, Kurtis Lindsay

What do you know about Lizards, skinks, and geckos?
Where do they live, what do they eat?
Do they hibernate or live in warm climates only?
Are reptiles nocturnal or diurnal?
Are they good to have in the garden? How does one attract them to the garden?
Well you might not have this particular reptile in your neighbourhood, but a recent guest presenter sure knows all about them.
Listen to this segment about the Broad Tailed Gecko....

To attract reptiles to your garden, you need a small pile of sticks, stones, concrete or terracotta pipes in a corner somewhere in the garden.
Your reptiles can scurry away from predators into this pile, that doesn’t have to be huge. Plus, they need some stones to bask on when it’s sunny.
Much better that they’re out in the garden then in an aquarium as a pet.
If you have any questions about a lizard you want identified, why not drop us a line. Or send in a photo to or by post to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675, and I’ll send you a copy of the Garden Guardians in return..

Vegetable Heroes

  •  Grow Your Own Coffee, and do you need 43 beans for every cup of coffee?
  • Coffee beans grow on the Coffea Arabica tree.
  • Coffee belongs in the Rubiaceae family along with Gardenia, Coprosma or looking glass plant, and Rothmannia globosa and Ixora.
  • Coffea arabica is just one type of Coffea originally indigenous to the mountains of the southwestern highlands of Ethiopia.
  • Did you know that because this type of coffee,-Arabica has less caffeine, which gives off a bitter taste, this is the better tasting coffee?
  • Legend has it that a 9th-century Ethiopian goat-herder, named Kaldi, noticing his goats became more energetic when they ate the bright red berries of a certain bush, chewed on the fruit himself.
  • He took them to a nearby monastery where the monks discovered that the burnt beans, when mixed with water, made a drink that gave them energy.
  • Did you know that coffee as a drink wasn’t really known for centuries.
  • Instead, as the pulp of the coffee cherry was sweet, it was first eaten alone or with the seeds (beans).
  • In some places, the green unroasted coffee beans were ground up and mixed with animal fat. Yum!
  • This mixture was then pressed into small lumps and was used by travellers’ for energy.
  • Did you know that Coffee trees were grown in Australia for coffee production in the early 1880’s?
  • Coffee growers here weren’t too bad at it, with arabica beans grown on the far north coast of NSW winning awards in Paris and Rome in the mid 1880’s.
  • Because of the particular micro climatic conditions, Australian arabica coffee is lower in caffeine and is highly regarded for its sweetness and medium body.
  • As there are no serious pests or diseases needing any harmful pesticides, growing your own coffee would be one the most naturally produced coffees of the world.
Coffea Arabica is a beautiful tree with glossy green leaves, and jasmine scented white flowers that appear all along the stems.
It grows to around 5m, but it can be easily kept to under 2m, as they do in coffee plantations.
Then the decorative fruits grow along these same stems, first green then red then turning brown.
Inside each fruit, is 2 coffee beans, that look a bit like raw peanuts, in colour and shape.

So, do you have a micro climate to grow coffee?

  • Depends on what you’re prepared to do.
  • Coffee dislikes temperatures above 300C and below 70C.
  • It’ll affect tree health, berry quality and growth rate.
  • The optimum range is from 150 to 240C
  • Sounds like cool temperate districts might get away with it, except for one thing.
  • Coffee doesn’t like frost, especially lower than -20C.
  • Coffee can certainly grow in a pot, so you could wheel it into a sheltered position for winter months.
  • If you’ve got a greenhouse even better.
  • Almost any type of reasonably good soil is O.K. except waterlogged soil and really sandy soils.
  • One other thing, coffee likes acid soils around pH 6.
  • The next thing, it has to rain at the right time of year.
  • That’s the months in winter-spring.
  • Coffee is like Murraya in that flowering is controlled by rainfall and as little as 8mm will force a new flowering and fruit-set in spring and early summer.
  • After the spring rainfall, there’s a long time over which the berries will ripen. May to November is the norm.
  • Coffee needs a complete fertiliser, like what you’d use on your citrus trees before planting.
  • Late spring is the perfect time to plant your coffee tree.
  • Six weeks after planting apply 100g per tree, and keep doing that every 6 weeks during the warmer months.
  • For country areas, you can buy coffee trees via mail order or online from a nursery in northern NSW.
  • You should get your first crop of coffee beans in about 3 years.
  • Coffee is very tolerant of dry conditions, but if you want a good crop of coffee beans regular watering is needed.
  • When is the coffee bean ready I hear your ask?
  • Only pick the red berries as the green berries downgrade the quality of the final result.
  • Berries don’t ripen evenly, so you’ll have to pick them every couple of weeks, or do what they do in Brazil.
  • Coffee is left on the tree until almost all of the berries have coloured and shrivelled.
  • Then the berries are easily removed in one go.
  • Some say this method doesn’t give you the best coffee.
  • Now, you have to remove the pulp surround the coffee beans-a bit laborious here.
  • The bean is then fermented to remove the sticky mucilage.
  • Like tomato seeds when taking them from a ripe tomato, soak the coffee in water for a few days until bubbles start to appear.
  • When the beans fell gritty, they’re ready for washing.
  • Now, comes the drying-up to 7 days.
  • To tell when they’re ready, the bean has to crack between the teeth.
  • This is called the parchment stage.
  • But wait, there’s more!
  • Yes, you never thought it was going to be this involved.
  • But here it is-the parchment  and silver skin have to be removed, leaving the green bean.
  • That’s the bean you have to roast.
Good luck.
Before you go, whose going to do that?
Volunteer guides at the Botanic gardens have successfully grown and made their own coffee.
Why is it good for you?
Coffee contains quite a few vitamins and minerals.
B5,2 and B3 and B1 in order of percentage.
Coffee also has potassium and manganese.
But if you’re into anti-oxidants, then coffee is your best bet to get the most.
In fact, coffee is the biggest source of antioxidants in the western diet, outranking both fruits and vegetables combined.

Design Elements

with Landscape Designer, Louise McDaid

Do you know of someone, perhaps a relative, whose sight is being affected?
The SeeAbility Garden at this year’s Chelsea Flower show was designed to raise awareness of eye health and the effects of sight loss.
Four different sight conditions were represented conceptually through distinctive planting and hard landscaping.
What an inspirational garden.
In the first part of this two part segment, Louise talks about how the sculptures represented different aspects of vision loss.
In themselves, these sculptures were lovely to look at and Louise explains how you could construct something similar for your own garden.
Listen to this…. 

The seeability garden represents various eye conditions that seriously affect sight.
If you want to see more of the garden other than the photos that I’ll put up on my website, go to
Move your mouse over the garden image on the website to see how it might look if you had an eye condition, and find an explanation on the eye condition below it.
If you have any questions about this week’s Design Elements, send it our email address, or just post it.

Plant of the Week

Geranium Big Pink and Big Red.


Firstly let’s get out the way the confusion people in general have about Geraniums.

Geraniums most people see in hanging baskets, especially in Europe and the UK, are actually not Geraniums, they’re Pelargoniums.

Pelargonium is a genus of flowering plants which includes about 200 species of perennials, succulents, and shrubs, commonly known as geraniums
Confusingly, Geranium is the correct botanical name of a separate genus of related plants sometimes called cranesbills
True geraniums are more fragile looking, and couldn’t cope with nearly as much sun in Australia, as these Pelargoniums.
The name Pelargonium was introduced by Johannes Burman in 1738, from the Greek, pelargós (stork), because the seed head looks like a stork's beak.
Pelargonium leaves are usually alternate, and palmately lobed or pinnate, often on long stalks, and sometimes with light or dark patterns.

  • Do you remember the scientific plant names, or are you one for hanging onto common names, like Butterfly bush, honeysuckle, blue sage.
  • All of these names can mean a number of different plants.
  • But what if the nursery industry has decided that one plant’s common name should be its scientific name, and to hell with those botanists.
  • Well, I’m not so sure, because it can be confusing, even if it’s got big, really big flowers.
  • Big flowers, any flowers, on a plant sell well.
  • Why not? Indeed, it’s like buying a posy that lasts for months.
  • So really a Pelargonium but called a Geranium. Why not treat yourself to a big flowered one? Go on.


Difference between Geraniums and Pelargoniums.

 Geraniums have:

     five petals that are the same size and shape as each other;

     ten fertile stamens;

     seed pods with 'curls' that act like a catapult to hurl the ripened seeds away from the parent plant;
     many thin stems attached to fibrous roots;
     need of cool climates so most are difficult to grow in extreme heat.
 Pelargoniums have:
     five petals, of which the upper two differ in shape and size from the lower three (more noticeable on the species or 'original') ;
     ten stamens, but not all are fertile;
     seed pods have a feathered end that enables them to float on the breeze to find a place to grow;
     succulent, thick stems that hold moisture to enable them to withstand drought.
  • The erect stems bear five-petaled flowers in umbel-like clusters called pseudoumbels.
  • The flower has a single symmetry plane (zygomorphic), which distinguishes it from the Geranium flower, which has radial symmetry (actinomorphic).
  • The leaves of Pelargonium peltatum, Ivy-leaved Geranium, have a thick cuticle better adapting them for drought tolerance. 
Pelargoniums don’t cope with frost but if you give them a sheltered position to overwinter, they’ll give an odd flower or two during that colder time. I remember going to piano lessons where the driveway was lined with Pelargoniums. The smell from rain on Pelargonium leaves is very distinctive, and not altogether unpleasant.
All Pelargoniums can grow in Cool, Temperate, Arid, Semi-arid areas.

Pelagonium x hortorum 'Calliope Dark Red'Extra large bright red semi double blooms from spring to autumn. Heat and drought tolerant.This pelargonium is an ivy-zonal hybrid cross, combining vigorous growing with a spreading, mounding habit that performs well in baskets and large pots or as a spreading plant in the garden / landscape.  Suitable for full sun or part shade.Grows 30-40cm high by 35-35cm wide.

BIG PINKCalliope Geranium Neon pink flowers.Mounded semi double, semi trailing habit. Blooms spring summer and autumn.Plant in well drained soil.
Adequate watering is required until established.
Apply a slow release fertiliser in spring. Remove spent flowers to encourage new blooms. Prune to maintain shape in autumn.


Thursday, 19 September 2013

White Plumes, and Southern Stars

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 the 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 Sue Stevens

Last week, sue gave us some great tips for bird watching. Getting a bit more out of it than the occasional glimpse, then wondering what it was that you saw.
Did you ever see a bird when you were small that doesn't appear in your garden these days?
Perhaps it visited your Camellia bushes, Fuchsias and other exotic plants because it was mainly a nectar feeder. Today’s bird is found over much of mainland Australia, and was once known as a "Greenie."

Click here to Listen to this episode

If you see an olive bird with yellow cheeks and a white neck plume and a curved black bill, then it’s probably the White Plumed Honeyeater.
If you’re able to take a photo you might see that it’s throat, breast and underparts are all grey.
The juvenile white plumed honeyeater has orange base of bill and is paler-looking with no plume. 
Not all of these honey-eaters are alike when it comes to their spread across Australia.
 The one found in Western Australia has a fawn back with bright yellow face and underparts,
another one in western Queensland, the Northern Territory and South Australia is paler overall

What all these slightly different birds like is an open forest or woodland, especially near the plants along a stream and along inland watercourses.
This probably explains why you don't see it so much in dense urban centres.
The white Plumed Honeyeater’s favourite tree is the River Red gum. Not just for the nectar but for the insects as well.
If you have any questions about a bird you want identified, why not drop us a line. Or send in a photo to or by post to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675, and I’ll send you a copy of the Garden Guardians in return..

Vegetable Heroes


The answer to the question which vegetable has more vitamin C than an orange? Broccoli, Brassica oleracea var Italica  which is the same name as for Cauliflower!

Would you have guessed that Broccoli heads are actually groups of flower buds that are almost ready to flower?

That's probably the most amazing fact of all, and when I was teaching a group of year 2 students the facts of flowers come before vegetables, they couldn't believe it!


Broccoli is of course in the Brassicaceae family of vegetables along with cauliflower, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, turnips and many of the Asian greens.

·     Did you know that most members of the Brassica Family, are related to a wild cabbage grown centuries ago?
Apparently Romans grew and loved to eat Broccoli way back in 23 to 79 BCE.
·         During the 8th century BCE, the Etruscans migrated from what is now Turkey to Italy, settling in Tuscany of course, and bringing with them their Broccoli seeds.
Why should you grow Broccoli if it’s available all year round in your supermarket?
  • Firstly, supermarket Broccoli has probably been sprayed for all manner of pests whether or not the pests visited the Broccoli plant.
  • Secondly, supermarket Broccoli stems are pretty tough to eat, when they’re supposed to be tender. Why? Because the Broccoli transports better plus, they may have been picked before becoming fully-mature or they 've been picked at the right time but then stored too long.
  • Homegrown Broccoli, especially the heirloom varieties, also re-shoot after your cut of the central Broccoli stem.
  • Plus, Broccoli is pretty easy to grow.
  •  Just keep an eye out for bugs during warmer months, but there’s plenty of organic ways of controlling them.
  • Finally, because you'll care for it and pick it at the right time it'll taste a whole lot better than your supermarket Broccoli. 
  • With home-grown broccoli, you can also be sure how it has been grown:

When to Sow

  • Summer Broccoli can be sown all over Australia except for the hottest of regions.
  • Temperatures that suit Broccoli best range from 150C to 250C
  • In temperate districts, you have from September to November, and cool temperate climates from October until December,
  • Autumn is really the best time for arid, tropical and sub-tropical districts, but there’s no reason why you can’t grow it there
  • Let me know if you successfully grow Broccoli during the warmer months in those districts.
  • Broccoli comes in many shapes and varieties but is grouped into five major strains: sprouting, broccolini, purple, Romanseco, and Chinese varieties.
  • Today, I’m concentrating on the common or garden variety which is actually the sprouting variety.
  • Now you probably thought that was what those little shoots of Broccoli are called but you would be wrong. Those little guys are called Broccolini. Apparently in the UK, they called those large heads of Broccoli, Calabrese!
  • Broccoli seeds are easy enough to get at supermarkets, garden centres and online seed suppliers of course.
  • Try these varieties
  • Di Cicco is a classic Italian style broccoli which is deep green in colour and has a sweet flavour that might help to get kids into eating it.
  • Green Sprouting has bluish green coloured heads and a deep earthy taste.
  • Waltham 29 is a great all-rounder plus there’s purple sprouting Broccoli, which is well, purple and sprouting- attractive and tasty.
  • All of these varieties will provide months of continual harvest and can even be considered as a perennial plant if you can manage to deal with the influx of cabbage moths that come around as the weather warms up.

How to grow Broccoli?

  • Broccoli is not too choosy about the site it grows in but prefers to be in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade with no problems.
  • Growing in too much shade will reduce the size of the Broccoli head.
  • The ideal soil is a reasonably heavy (not pure clay) which is rich in nutrients and has been well-dug.
  • Like all brassicas, Broccoli needs a minimum soil pH of 6; but really prefers a pH of 7.
  • Add lime if you need to raise the soil pH.
  • Broccoli is what’s called a heavy feeder, so do add plenty of blood and bone, and decomposed manures by the bucket load before you start.
  • Sow your Broccoli seed about 1 ½ cm deep, and space the seedlings about 40cm apart so they don’t crowd each other.
  • Once a fortnight feed your broccoli with a liquid fertilizer; seaweed, manure tea, nettle tea etc.
  • When your Broccoli is growing always make sure that the beds are free from competitive weeds by hand weeding regularly.
  • TIP:
  • Don’t plant or sow Broccoli in your veggie bed if you’ve grown it before in the past 3 years.
  • You may get a disease called Club Root that causes you Broccoli plant to wilt regardless of how much water you give it.
  • Remember the acronym. LRLC-Legumes, root veg, leafy then Cucurbits, Brassicas.
  • Harvest broccoli heads when they have reached maximum size, are still compact, and before the buds loosen, open into flowers, or turn yellow. It will be about 70-100 days or 2 ½ -4 months, when your Broccoli will be ready if you plant it now.

When do you pick your Broccoli?

  • You’ve got to time it just right, and that’s when the cluster of tight buds in the central head is well formed and before the individual flowers start to open.
  • Make a sloping cut (this allows water to run off), picking a piece that's about 10 cm long.
  • That way you’ve left a reasonable amount of the plant intact to produce smaller side-shoots or "florets," which you can pick as well.
  • At this stage, don’t stop feeding and watering the remaining broccoli stem otherwise your plants will go to seed and you won’t get any side shoots.
  • TIP: If your Broccoli plants starts to flower it’ll going into seed production and you won’t get any more side shoots.
  • Why is Broccoli good for you?
  • Broccoli contains twice the vitamin C of an orange.
  • Did you know that just 100g of Broccoli has two day’s supply of vitamin C (don’t overcook  or you’ll lose some).
  • Broccoli also a good source of dietary fibre, potassium, vitamin E, folate and beta carotene
  • 100g broccoli has 120kJ.
  • Broccoli also contains magnesium and as much calcium as whole milk!

Design Elements

with Landscape Designer Louise McDaid

According to the Telegraph in the UK, Piet Oudulf is the most influential garden designer of the past 25 years.
Not just one of them, but THE one!
The article goes on to say that Piet has redefined what’s meant by the term ‘Naturalism” in planting.
Naturalism’s the exact opposite of clipped hedges and neat structured rows of planting.
Prior to Piet’s designs, Naturalism also tended to mean looking a bit wild, in the way of a wild meadow that you might come across somewhere in the UK.
Not terribly wild by Australian standards.
Then there was a bit of envy by the writer, because, somehow, Piet Oudolf’s garden remained intact and according to his design years later.
No wonder the owner of Scampston Manor employed him to restore their garden which had been in the family for 900 years.
What an inspirational garden.

Click here to…
Listen to this episode  

Naturalistic planting can be appealing, and look quite tidy, if not hard to photograph.

Just  follow the type of plants that Piet Oudulf recommends, and also the ones that Louise suggested to substitute, because we can’t get them all here in Australia.
The key is using long-lived clump-forming perennials which didn’t spread around by aggressive rooting or seeding and so retain their form as distinct groups.
Plants like Achilleas, Alliums, grasses, Helenium, Molinia, Sanguisorba and Astilbe.

Because there are no trees to speak of except right at the edges of the garden, the conditions of sun and shade won't change over time and  the scheme might last almost in perpetuity with a bit of maintenance.
If you have any questions about this week’s Design Elements, send it to or just post it to 2RRR, PO Box 644, Gladesville, NSW, 1675

Plant of the Week

Rhodanthe anthemoides "Southern Stars"
Plants that are commonly called straw flowers or everlasting, are native to Australia.
There are a few around so if you want a particular type of strawflower, you really need to know it’s botanical or scientific name, or even part of it.
Strawflowers were Helichrysum bracteatum, then Bracteantha bracteata and now are called Xerochrysum bracteatum
Did you know that for some reason, this Australian native was propagated and developed in Germany in the 1850’s.
Then again, it’s got nothing to do with this paper daisy that’s plant of the week.

Take a leaf out of Phillip Johnsons’ book-winner of the gold medal at the Chelsea Flower Show 2013! See Australian Perennial Growers.

Rhodanthe anthemoides, commonly known as Paper Daisy, is a perennial species of the daisy family Asteraceae.

It’s endemic to Australia.
Did you know that the daisy flower isn’t just one flower?

The flower of the daisy consists of a collection of small one seeded, stalk-less flowers (disc florets).
Surrounding the disc florets is a ring of what looks like petals,  (ray florets); their main purpose is to attract insect pollinators.

This bushy mounding groundcover, 30cm x 80cm, has narrow, grey-green, mildly chamomile scented leaves.
Some call it Chamomile Sunray. Can’t say I’ve ever heard it called that.
Rhodanthe surely must signal what is to come after the cool months of winter, because in late winter to late spring it produces heaps of, crimson buds which open into, star-shaped, white papery flowers.
Plants have multiple stems rising from the base which reach up to 40 cm high and spread to 60 cm wide.
The leaves are about 10 mm long and 0.5 to 2 mm in width.
A central cluster of pale yellow flowers is surrounded by petal-like white, papery bracts. These appear between September and February in the species native range.
These are followed by small dry achenes that have silky hairs.

 The species occurs in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and rarely in Tasmania. Where paper daisies like to grow naturally is in mountainous regions growing in sandy soil.

For your home garden, try and imitate these natural conditions-well drained soil, perhaps on an embankment, or in a rockeriy.
They grow equally well in pots and baskets in Australian native mix.

If you need to fertilise, use a suitable controlled-release native fertiliser during the warmer months and prune back lightly in late summer to promote new growth and retain a neat, compact shape.
All R. anthemoides do best in a rich well-drained soil with light shade during the hottest part of the day. Trim off old growth when new shoots show in autumn.

An excellent small plant for planting in containers or rockery gardens.

Recent release:Rhodanthe Southern Stars

For a hardy winter plant you can’t go past Rhodanthe Southern Stars,  because of its masses of white paper daisy like flowers with bright yellow centres from late winter to spring.
It is frost, drought and heat tolerant not to mention easy to grow!
Grows to 20-30cm high x 40-60cm wide
You could use it as a ground cover in perennial borders, mass planting or container gardens.
For the cooler areas of Australia, take note, this plant is frost, drought and heat tolerant.
Like all paper daisies, plants this one in full sun into awell drained soil

For Floral Arrangements

Pick the flowers just before the buds burst open,  and depending upon the stem thickness they can be either-bunched and hung upside down in a cool, dry, airy room away from direct sunlight.

The stem can be cut 1cm. below the flower head and thin florist wire inserted up the stem into the base of the flower. Leave to dry upright in a cool dry airy room away from direct sunlight.

Paper daisies cut and dry well and are excellent for small posies and informal dried flower arrangements.

When dried, they retain their colour and shape indefinitely.
Straw flowers of all kinds have less moisture than other flowers and are easy to dry.
Just ask for Paper daisy, Southern Stars might get you the plant that you

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Bird Watching 101

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 the 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 Sue Stevens.
Have you wondered what is that bird, that you’ve just spotted in your garden or on your daily walk?
Birds are active, and energetic and you need practise to develop a quick eye that helps you with identification.
The obstacles are many—the light may be dim, you could have the sun in your eyes, or the bird may dive into a bush.
So to stand the best chance of landing a name for a bird, you'll want to know what to look for—what matters most and how to spend your precious viewing time.
But is that all there is to it?

Click here to
Listen to this episode
Identifying a bird can be quite difficult if not a bit of a challenge and now you have a bit more to go on.
Next time you spot an unknown bird, keep a close eye on it, because you’ll need to absorb some of its details like markings, what it sounded like, size and what it was feeding on, what shape was its bill, colour of its eyes.
If you have a camera handy or your mobile phone camera if it’s close, that’s good, otherwise jot down the details on a notepad.
Then consult your handy bird field guide of Australia.
If you have any questions about a bird you want identified, why not drop us a line. Or send in a photo to or by post to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675, and I’ll send you a copy of the Garden Guardians in return..

Vegetable Heroes:

Cinderella thought that the best way to travel to a ball was in one. They also make great scones or candle holders.
Pumpkins of course!
In some countries you can get a pumpkin variety called Rouge Vif d' Etampes". roughly translated "Red Life of the Times.
 As they grow and mature, these particular pumpkins become a very deep red.
Rumour has it that the illustrator for the Cinderella Fairytale used this variety of pumpkin for Cinderella's coach, so that today this pumpkin is better known as a "Cinderella".
The fact is that they look just like the pumpkin that Cinderella's fairy godmother transformed into a carriage.

Pumpkins (Cucurbita spp.)  (could be Cucurbita pepo, or C maxima and so on)are members of the Cucurbitaceae family along with zucchini, gourd, squash, melons and cucumber.
The name “pumpkin” originated from the Greek word, “pepon,” which means, “large melon
Technically a fruit, pumpkins have been in cultivation for more than 5,000 years.
Seems like Halloween is catching on around the world,  but it was the Irish that first carved turnips and swedes, lit them with embers and used them to ward off evil spirits.
Some say Americans chose Pumpkins because they were easier to carve!
  • Pumpkin is considered an annual, and comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colours and patterns.
  •   Pumpkins are slightly different from other in the same family.
  • For instance, Pumpkins are normally hard-skinned, but squashes and zucchinis, have softer skin, but there are exceptions.
  • Honestly, for those of us who have a compost heap, one of the most often things to grow out of the heap other than tomatoes, is the pumpkin. Usually a Butternut or Queensland Blue.
  • Just as well that Pumpkins like compost heaps because the vines need fertile, compost-rich, well-drained soil in full sun, and are most easily grown as ground-cover plants.
  • There is a bush variety called Golden Nugget, that can be grown in a pot but all the rest grow way too big for pots.
  • Vines can be trained over frames provided they can support the weight of the heavy fruit.
  • Start early, with your pumpkin seed planting, because, before you know it, summer is here and you’ve run out of time to grow it to maturity.

When to Sow

  • In temperate zones, plant your pumpkin seeds from September until the end of December.
  • Arid zones have from September until February.
  • Sub-tropical regions have between August and February.
  • Cool temperate districts have between October and December.
  • Tropical areas you can grow them all year round.


There are as many different varieties of pumpkins as there are of tomatoes, except you can’t get the Cinderella pumpkin in Australia.
Golden Nugget is best for small gardens, for a medium sized pumpkin, try Hybrid Grey Crown or Queensland Blue.
Turk’s Turban is an exotic-looking pumpkin (although its flavour is a little dry).
You might prefer the stronger taste of Jarrahdale, from Western Australia.
For those who like something unusual, why not try Pumpkin Marina di Chioggia, with its thick knobbly grey-blue skin, and a rich deep yellow-orange inside.  This one takes 100 days to maturity but keeps well.
Pumpkin Galeux Deysines is another unusual pumpkin with whitish salmon-pink skin covered with peanut shell like warts. These warts are caused by the sugar in the skin as it ripens.
Don’t be put off by that, because the orange inside flesh, is sweet, and moist.
Available from

Pumpkin seed needs a soil temperature of 20˚C for germination.
You can either sow them individually in 10cm pots and plant them out when the pots are filled with roots.
Or, sow seed or plant seedlings into mounds of rich compost, with lots and lots of chook poo, made over loosened soil.
The seeds are large so sow them about 1 cm deep.
Plants take 70–120 days to mature. That’s 10 17 weeks or 2-4 months!
Looking After Your Pumpkins-
  • Pumpkins are shallow-rooted so they need regular watering in dry or windy weather.
  • It’s not good watering every other day in warm weather because your pumpkin will end up splitting.
  • Pinch out growing tips of those rambling stems to keep the plants in check, otherwise they may take over you whole backyard!

HOT TIP: Pollination and Fertilisation of Pumpkin flowers.
    When I worked at Yates, getting those pumpkins to fertilise was the bane of quite a number of people’s veggie growing.
  • The complaint was lots of leaves and few flowers or that the embryo fruits and flowers fall off.
  • Pumpkins produce short-lived male and female flowers that can close by mid-morning. Female flowers open above the swollen, distinctive embryo fruit and male flowers produce pollen.
  • If the embryo fruit falls off, that usually means it didn’t get pollinated.
  • Native and honey bees are normally able to complete pollination, but sometimes ants harvest pollen before this occurs.
  • High temperatures can affect fruit formation over 30˚C, and here you may need to try hand pollination to improve fruit set.
  • To hand pollinate, pick male flowers, remove the petals then dab pollen on the stigma of female flowers.
  • Squeezing female flowers aids pollination in wet weather.
  • Remember,, sometimes female flowers take two weeks or longer before they start appearing.
  • This is because the pumpkin vine has to grow to a decent size where it can support fruit, before the female flowers appear.

Harvesting and storing

Your pumpkin is ready to pick when it’s finished swelling which is when the vine is dying off,  and they sound hollow when you tap on the shell.
This is when you remove them with as much of the stalk as possible. Ripe pumpkins with unbroken skin store very well if kept in a cool, dry, well-ventilated space.
For the seed savers out there, seed can be saved one month after harvesting them.
Scoop seed from the flesh, wash, dry and store in a cool, dry spot away from sunlight.
To ensure seed-grown progeny comes true, save seed from one variety grown in isolation.

Why are they good for you?

The bright orange colour of pumpkin is a dead giveaway that pumpkin is loaded with the antioxidant, beta-carotene.
They’re also a good source of vitamin C, with Queensland Blue coming top of the pumpkin class for this vitamin.
Pumpkins are a source of dietary fibre and supply (especially Golden nugget and Butternut) a good source of potassium.
One cup of cooked pumpkin has 2 g of protein, 3 g of dietary fibre.
Pumpkins are 90% water and a great for those watching their waist-line
Why not make mashed pumpkin instead of mashed potato because Pumpkins don’t have a lot of carbs- just 12 g from 1 cup, but some of it is present as natural sugars, which is why they  taste sweet.
Like Zucchini flowers, pumpkin flowers are also edible.
Try some  seeds from these guys as well.
Happy Pumpkin growing everyone!

Design Elements

with Landscape Designer, Louise McDaid
Have you ever travelled a long way to see some great gardens?
Just by chance have you stumbled on one of the world’s best for that particular style?
Seeing lots of gardens up close and personal is something we gardeners like to do and should do.
Plus you learn so much about planting styles that you can reflect on and adapt to your own garden.
Here is one such inspirational garden, the Japanese Garden within Tatton Park in Cheshire, England.

CLICK HERE TO Listen to this episode
This Japanese inspirational garden doesn’t sound too hard to emulate does it?
Some rocks, some maples of different colours and leaf shapes, a tea house, and a bit of clipped Buxus or Azaleas, and hey presto, transformation!
If you have any questions about this week’s Design Elements, send it our email address, or just post it.

Plant of the Week:

 When I worked for Yates, I was often asked why Gerbera seed was so expensive, or Rudbeckia seed?
The reason was that some seed has to be hand collected and hand packed because it’s too large and irregular for seed packing machines.
Another reason is that seed is hard to come by of a particular species, or perhaps that year, it was contaminated by weevils, or the seed grower’s crop experienced fungal problems and failed.
Whatever the reason, the plant that’s featured today isn’t sold by seed anyway, because it’s a new release and a fantastic variety of Gerbera.
Florist Holland, a Gerbera breeding company started the breeding program over ten years ago.
How to grow Garvinea
Garvineas are Gerberas but smaller and branch more on the one plant.
They cope with light frosts, grow in full sun and part shade positions.
One plant grows 30 – 40 cm high but spreads out to 40 or 50 cm.
That’s something your other Gerberas never did!
These Garvinea Gerberas flower all the way through Spring, until next Autumn.
And if you’re wondering will they grow in my district, how about this?
Plants will thrive in temperatures from -5º to +35ºC
Garvinea prefer good drainage but can grow in most soils except permanently boggy. Before planting make sure you have added some good quality compost which will help retain moisture during dry periods.  A surface mulch will also help to conserve moisture. If the leaves have drooped at the end of a dry day give them some water and they quickly stand up.
Regular applications of fertiliser during their growing period will promote strong healthy plants.
To encourage flowering regularly deadhead the flowers by breaking them off at the base.  The blooms can also be brought inside and put in your favourite vase for some home grown colour and they are very long lasting.
Garvineas make beautiful cut flowers. Only don't cut the flowers off, give them a gentle twist and fold so that the stem breaks off right down at the growing point at the base of the plant. Pick the flowers often it encourages fresh growth and prevents the spent flowers getting tatty.
Colours-G. Sylvan, white, yellow centre, G Fleurie, crimson, with crimson red centre, G. Lisa, Deep pink or cerise pink with golden centre, G Cindy-bright red, with yellow centre, G, orangina is orange, G. Sunny is yellow, G. Pam is light pink. And G. Nikki is palest pink.
It’s always fun to try something new and buy a plant that you don’t know much about.
Can’t wait to get my hands on some Garvinea Gerberas as I’m sure some of you are too.
If you have any questions about Garvina, drop us a line.