Monday, 6 January 2014

Sage Advice 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 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

Spice it Up

with Ian Hemphill

Salvia officinalis.
Did you know that during the days of the Roman Empire, women made a strong tea of this herb to darken their hair.
If you’ve got a herb garden, you need to plant some because it’s useful in attracting important pollinators mainly bees, to your garden. 
Let’s find out what this important herb is…

Growing sage in the perennial border will add that grey colour to contrast with the purples and pinks In some regions Sage doesn’t last that long, because like Lavender, it detests humidity and hates really cold weather.
So, either treat it like an annual and either sow seeds every year or buy seedlings, or keep it in a pot.In the kitchen, the sage herb is great with flavour of meats and cheeses.
If you have any questions about growing sage or using sage in your cooking, why not drop us a line to. or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Vegetable Heroes:

Watermelon: Citrullus LanatusDid you know that there’s an Australian Melon Association?
Watermelons are thought  to have evolved from a Citron, which grew in the Kalahari desert in Africa.
Who would’ve thought that watermelon fruit can be seen in drawings in Egyptian hieroglyphics dating back 5,000 years.
Why? Because the Egyptians believed that by placing the Watermelons in the burial tombs of Kings, it would nourish the occupants in the afterlife.
From Egypt, watermelon spread via trading ships to other countries along the Mediterranean Sea and then to Europe by the Moors people during the13th century.
No surprises that watermelons belongs to the melon family and can be round, soccer ball-size or an elongated, egg shape with smooth, hard, thick, green or yellow skin or rind.
Some watermelons are strongly striped with dark green markings, and others are only faintly mottled dark green.
The colour of the inner cool, sweet and refreshing flesh varies from red to yellow.
Dark brown seeds are arranged around the centre.
What may be surprising to you is that the pale rind just beneath the hard skin, can be cooked and eaten like a vegetable.
In fact you can make rind pickles!

Sowing Watermelon
In temperate and subtropical districts plant out seeds or seedlings from September through to early January.
The same goes for Cool temperate districts, although December and January is better for seedlings rather than starting from seed.
In Arid areas, lucky you, you have from September through to March.
For tropical areas, another one you have to wait for the cooler months, April to July.
Growing Watermelon
Watermelon prefers to grow on new, fertile sandy-loam soils with a high humus content-that is, lots of compost and manures.
Plus they need lots of water and room.
The soil must be well drained.
Don’t try to grow watermelons in heavy soils.
Add Dolomite lime if your soil’s acidic because watermelons alkaline soils.
As with Zucchinis, that I talked about a couple of weeks ago, make a mound full of that good stuff, and plant three watermelon seeds about 5 cm deep.
They may be thinned out later.
Don’t bother with pots, because they germinate so easily.
Another thing, don’t bother with saving seeds from the melon you bought from the supermarket, it’ll be a hybrid and your seed grown plant will be quite different.
If you like saving seed, get an open pollinated variety of seed.
Like Pumpkins, Watermelon needs plenty of room to grow sending out long vines and the fruits are quite heavy.
Watermelons also have very shallow root system and they need lots of moisture.
The soil should never dry out, and mulch helps with that.
Luckily, Watermelons are self pollinating, so you only need one plant unless you are growing seedless melons which require a pollinator.
If you’re planning to grow your melons up a tepee unless you can work out a sling system using soft cloth or pantyhose, it’s probably better to grow them along the ground.
There are a few varieties of watermelon and I’m sure you’ve got your favourites.
The most popular is the Red Tiger –that’s a cylindrical melon with dark green skin and dark red, very sweet flesh. One of the few melons that have very few seeds.
Then there’s Viking- a medium to large, elongated melon.
Allsweet is large and oval-shaped.
My favourite is Sugar Baby, a small, round melon.
So how do you know when it’s ready?
Melons are ready to pick when the part in contact with the ground is turning yellow and the fruit sounds hollow when tapped.
Why Are They Good For You?
Watermelons are a good source of Vitamin A and C, the minerals potassium and iron.
Watermelons also contains high levels of lycopene a powerful antioxidant - lycopene is found only in small select group of fruits and vegetables. Watermelons are 90% water, that’s why they’re so refreshing.

Design Elements:

landscape designer Christopher Owen
This is the final week of designing with ornamental grasses.
We’ve covered the difference between ornamental grasses and strappy leaved plants, where to start with designing with these types of grasses and how they fit into various styles of gardens.
So today, we’re covering which grasses go best in pots to showcase them and which are best suited in drifts.
Also, Christopher talks about which landscape designers have embraced using grasses that you could follow up.
There are lots of reasons to use grasses, other than lawn grasses in your garden design.
Let’s find out some more of the….

Pennisetum advena Rubrum is one of the choices for featuring grasses in pots.
Either in a tall pot or a low wide pot.
Miscanthus variegata with the white stripe on the outside is another good choice.
Basically grasses that have bold colours in their leaves are best used for features in pots. More anonymous grasses do better in drifts in the garden.
A start at least into what can be done using grasses and there’s so many to choose from-native and non-native.
One of the best landscape architects and designers to look up Piet Oudulf, Wolfgang Oehme , and James van Sweden and Dan Pearson.

Plant of the Week

  Black flowers sound macabre and if you ever visit High Grove house in England, the home of Prince Charles, you might see the black and white garden. This garden has a back drop of weirdly sculptured Yew topiary and you might think, yep, macabre.
But. Black is a rare flower colour and if you’ve got an idea for combining colours, you might have a dramatic result.

Black Velvet Petunias have the same requirements as every other petunia and they don’t fade in the sun either.
Some other suggestions to get the most from these unusually coloured flowers is to put them together with dark foliage plants to create a mystery garden.
Or just mass them together in a single bed to make a bold statement.
Then again you could mix them with white-flowered or white-variegated foliage plants as a black and white theme.

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