Thursday, 13 February 2014

Butterflies Are Free

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


with ecologist Sue Stevens
Do you think about what to plant for the birds and bees in your garden?

But do you then think about what to plant to attract butterflies? Have you ever visited a butterfly house when you’ve been holidaying somewhere and thought, wow, they look nice.
Well you can have butterflies come to your garden if you think about a few things first.

Butterflies aren’t just pretty, they’re useful in pollinating flowers.
But attracting butterflies isn’t something that’s left to chance.
You have to incorporate plants that serve the needs of all life stages of the butterfly.

The insects need places to lay eggs, food plants for their larvae (caterpillars), places to form chrysalides and nectar sources for adults.

The most important things is to stop using insecticides.
Even “benign” insecticides such as
Dipel which contains Bacillus thuringiensis are lethal to butterflies while they’re at the caterpillar stage.
Photographing butterflies is easier in the warm humid environment of a butterfly house. Try chasing a Blue Triangle or a Monarch butterfly in the cool of your garden with your camera. Very difficult.

If you have any questions about butterfly gardening, why not drop us a line to. or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644


Sweet Corn  or Zea mays var. saccharata  

Is there a fruit or vegetable you detest?
Maybe it’s the texture of it in your mouth you can’t stand, or the smell puts you off, especially when it’s being cooked.
I’m not talking allergy type of detest, but purely because, Nah… you just don’t like it.
You don’t order any food that even has a slight hint of it being there.
That’s my lot with corn.
Well, after four years of broadcasting, I’ve only mentioned sweetcorn once, and it’s time to look over why corn cob lovers want to hear.
So you might think I know nothing of corn growing, but no, from my years at Yates in technical advice, it seems that growing corn has it’s fair share of problems and I’ve heard and solved most of them.
Sweet Corn  or Zea mays var. saccharata  is a grass, native to the Americas.
Yep, a grass.
But wait, Corn is actually a vegetable, a grain, and a fruit.
It’s a vegetable because it’s harvested for eating; a grain because it’s a dry seed of a grass species; and a fruit because that’s the botanical definition. Corn (Zea mays) is sometimes called a vegetable grain.
Because a vegetable is defined as a plant cultivated for an edible part or parts such as roots, stems, leaves, flowers, or seeds/fruit, corn is a vegetable.
If you wanted to be very picky, all cereal grains could be called vegetables, but by convention we separate the cereal grains from the rest of the "vegetables" such as peas, lettuce, potatoes, cabbage

Corn has a long, long history.
Apparently tiny ears of corn have been discovered at ancient village sites on the Mexican plateau or the highlands of Guatemala.
Kernels dating back to 6600 BCE have also been found in caves in Mexico.
There’s even evident that in central Mexico, about 7000 years ago, sweetcorn was domesticated from wild grass.
From all this we can gather that corn’s been around quite a while.
Before you get too fired up, the fresh, or sweet corn, the kind we like to eat as corn on the cob, didn’t come about until the 1700s.
Along with wheat and rice, corn is one of the world’s major grain crops.
Would you have guessed that only 9 percent of all the corn grown is used to produce food for humans.
64% of all corn grown is used as feed for livestock.
Then there’s food manufacture which include corn meal and other food products such as cooking oils, margarine, and corn syrups and sweeteners (fructose) as breakfast cereals, flour.
But there’s also non-cooking uses such as dyes, paints, chemicals, Ethanol, a renewable fuel made from corn, has shown the possibility of becoming a major renewable fuel for the world’s automotive industry.

That’s just to name a few.
 Much of the corn now grown around the world is genetically modified for herbicide and/or pest resistance, so a good reason to grow it yourself.
Sweet corn belongs to the grass family. Poaceae
There are various different types of corn and some have been around longer than others.
By the way, Popcorn is made from a corn variety that dries on the stalk, while the corn we eat on the cob is referred to as sweet corn.
When to Plant-
You can plant sweetcorn all year round in tropical and subtropical climates, in spring and midsummer in temperate and arid zones and late spring to early summer in colder regions.
Before planting out your corn, soak the seeds in a shallow saucer of water overnight.
You can either sow the seeds directly into the garden, 25cm apart in short rows 50-60 cm apart, or in Seed trays.
Dig in some chook poo a couple of weeks before you plant the corn.
By sowing your corn seed directly into the garden you mightn’t always get a 100% germination rate; and you may have breaks in your rows.
Particularly if you’re growing the high sugar varieties.
Try growing your corn in seed trays or in punnets, then transplant the seedlings out into the garden, when they are 50 to 75mm tall. You will then have complete rows.
All grasses are wind pollinated-they have no nectar or odour to attract a physical pollinator, so sweetcorn needs to be planted closely for pollination.
Plant a hand span apart.
You could also try planting your corn in a circle sow your corn seeds and water them in (a good Soak).
Corn likes lots of compost, comfrey, old animal manures, liquid fertilisers and heaps of mulch (around the main stem of the plant) give them a good soak around the roots, every second day, depending on the weather conditions.
Something you need to know.
Corn plants have separate male and female flowering parts.
The corn plant consists of the tassel (male flowers) at the top of the plant and kernels (female flowers) on the cob.
Pollen grows on the tassels, or male parts of the corn plant.
It falls down onto the silks, or female parts of the plant. Each silk is connected to a kernel of corn inside each ear.
If pollen reaches the silk, it causes a corn kernel to grow.
If a silk doesn't receive pollen, the kernel stays small.
Don’t wet the tassels as they emerge.
If you have a small garden and are in need of space, you could also plant climbing beans and cucumbers in between the rows of corn, the beans and cucumbers will climb up the corm stems, making a temporary trellis. The seed for the beans and cucumbers need to be sown out at the same time as the corn.                   
Hints andTips
A good tip is, once the corncob has been pollinated (the corncob tassels have gone brown and you can feel the cob forming) cut the top flower off about a 10cm up from the cob.   Hopefully this will let the plant concentrate on feeding the cob, making it grow larger and sweeter.

Having a windy problem? Not you the corn.
 Build a post and rail fence out of bamboo  or tomato stakes by hammering them in 1.8 metres apart, around the perimeter and down the centre of the corn plot. When the plants are a 1 metre high, horizontally tie (with wire) a stake or bamboo stick on to the stakes, like a top rail on a fence.
As the corn grows, lift the horizontal rail higher; this will more than support your corn from strong winds.
There are a number of heirloom varieties of sweet corn and maizes with different shapes and sizes. There are golf ball shapes, bantam and lady-finger shapes. There are a large variety of colours; multi coloured, blue, red, white, purple and the typical golden yellows and not forgetting 'pop corn'.
Corncobs have been used in the manufacturing of nylon fibres and as a
source for producing degradable plastics. Ethanol, a renewable fuel made
from corn, has shown the possibility of becoming a major renewable fuel for the world’s automotive industry.

What’s the most asked question about growing sweet corn?
Q Poor germination and too few corncobs.

A: can be caused by a number of problems.
For example: 
 poor seed quality - if the seed is old or hasn't been dried or handled properly after harvest; 
  •  seed rots (Pythium and Rhizoctonia fungi); 
  •  planting into cool, wet soil, planting too deep and soil crusting.
  • Supersweet corn has lower vigour than normal sweet corn and needs  warmer soil to germinate, but  generally has poorer germination ability than normal sweet corn. 
  •  uneven plant stands can also be caused by soil crusting and insects, mainly cutworms and wireworms; 
  •  nematodes, particularly root lesion nematodes, are often associated with poor crop establishment and growth.
  •  Why is it good for you?As corn cobs mature they develop more starches and sweet corn is one of the few vegetables that is a good source of the kind of slowly digested carbohydrate that gives you long-lasting energy.
    Corn is an excellent source of dietary fibre
    They also contain vitamin C and niacin (one of the B group vitamins) and folate (one of the B group vitamins)
    Corn is a god source of potassium to help balance the body’s fluids if you eat salty foods.
    Lastly 100g corn kernels has 395kJ Corn is high in fibre.


    with landscape designer Louise McDaid

    Last week, RWG began a new series about the colour green in gardens, and as a colour, mostly gardeners overlook on how effectively it can be really used.
    Today texture, form and structure is on the menu for the green garden series.
    Let’s find out what this is all about.
    PLAY: Green_Gardens_pt2_12th Feb_2014
    Trees, and shrubs, evergreen bamboo, perennial flowers, annual flowers, and grasses form the structure of your garden, but within that structure, you can play with the texture or foliage or leaves of your plants.
    Each has a different impact-plants with large leaves, plants with fine or velvety foliage can all be arranged for a pleasing mix.
    It’ s only limited by your imagination.


    Californian Poppy is Escholtzia californica

    Would you’ve believed that when it was first described by a bunch of explorers, the Californian Poppy covered the hillsides in what’s now known as California?
    These guys were exploring the Pacific coastline of America, and of course, one of their names was used in the Botanical naming of the flower.
    As you did in those days when new things were being discovered all the time.

    Technically a perennial because this poppy seems to grow in the garden for many years.
    The best things is that they’re so easy to grow from seed that you could just broadcast them in a bed that’s already got perennials in it and let them pop up where they choose to.

    Eschscholzia californica (California poppy, golden poppy, California sunlight, cup of gold) is a species of flowering plant in the family Papaveraceae, native to the United States and Mexico, and the official state flower of California since 1890.
    This poppy was named by the German botanist Adelbert von Chamisso after the Baltic German botanist Johann Friedrich von Eschscholtz, his friend and colleague.
    Apparently they travelled together on Otto von Kotzebue’s scientific expedition to California and the greater Pacific in mid-1810s aboard the Russian ship Rurik.
    Being of American origin it’s a little strange that in the 1800s settlers introduced the plant in to Australia.
    Because this poppy is a self-seeder, it spread from gardens, and became naturalized by 1879
    What it looks like & how to grow it.
    The poppy is a perennial herb that grows up to 60 centimetres.
    Leaves grow from spreading lax stems with many blue-green segments that look similar to ancient ferns.
    Flowers are single and cup-shaped, with many stamens, four petals, and range in colour from a pale lemon, to a deep orange
    Californian poppy is drought-tolerant, self-seeding, and easy to grow in gardens.
    Plant in spring and summer to flower in summer and autumn.
    In some places it’s best grown as an annual, in full sun and sandy, well-drained, poor soil.
    The cultivars and different hybrids won’t don’t breed true on reseeding.
    Seeds are often sold as mixtures.
    Sow the seeds directly where they’re to grow and keep the soil moist.
    Very easily germinate.
    I’ve had the pale lemon variety growing in one garden bed for a couple of years now. It gets knocked back by really hot days, but seems to hang on and re-shoot from stem parts that have rooted rather than from seed.
    Probably why it hasn’t spread to any other part of the garden.
    TIP: cut some plants hard to the ground during mid-summer to get more flowers for the rest of summer.
    Mine has never set seed, but other varieties may. If you don’t want it to self seed, cut of the seed pods while they’re still green.
    Fast Fact:
    Did you know that the Californians of Spanish heritage believe this plant worships the sun because it closes up tightly at night and on cloudy days, so they call it dormidera, meaning ‘the drowsy one’.
    But I know that the plant has a very mild sedative affect and maybe that’s why it’s called ‘the drowsy one.’
    Design Elements:
    California poppy looks stunning with the purple of French lavender (Lavendula stoechas cvs) and Salvia ‘Dark Knight,’ or cerise-pink Geranium
    The finely divided foliage looks good with ornamental grasses such as Stipa, or Miscanthus and complements plants with grassy foliage such as Liriope or cordyline.
     Alternative to the Californian poppy
    For areas where the Californian poppy is considered too weedy with it’s self seeding habit, why not choose Golden Everlasting or Bracteantha bracteata, for bush gardens or native gardens.
    Yes, it’s only one golden colour, but it attracts the painted lady butterfly.

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