Sunday, 20 April 2014

Gardens Too Hot To Trot

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


with Ian Hemphill
Ever heard of native pepper? Maybe you’ve already used it in your cooking?
If you haven’t, you’re in for a surprise, not only can you grow your own native pepper almost anywhere, there’s also a surprising amount of recipes that you can use it in.
But be warned, information on the internet isn’t always right so you need to pay close attention to this…
Listen to this….

Native pepper-berry can be ground in a normal peppermill, but use it sparingly.
Native pepper is five times hotter than standard black peppercorns!
The strong flavour of native peppers goes will with lamb, game and any slow cooked dishes.
Pepper leaf has the same flavour as native pepper, but has the same strength as standard ground black pepper.
Use it in ground form and take in the smell of the Australian native bush. A wonderful aroma!

If you only want to grow the one native pepper tree, , check that it’s  Tasmannia lanceolata, the native pepperberry.
For those wanting the fruit, you need two trees to get the berries, but one tree will supply you with plenty of leaf that can be dried and ground to give you the same flavour as the berry itself. 

Who isn’t tempted by the native seasoning of pepperberries, bush tomatoes wattle seed, ground coriander seed, sweet paprika and lemon myrtle. Yum!
If you have any questions about the Native Pepperberry why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Curry Leaf Tree or Bergera koenigii used to be sold as Murraya koenigii,  and for the most part, because people are more familiar with that botanical name, the nursery industry is sticking to it and so shall I.
Murraya Koenigii grows very well in Australia.

The species name commemorates the botanist Johann Gerhard König.
Means king in German language.
Essentially just an aromatic Murraya species in the family:Rutaceae.
Common name: Curry leaf tree.
The leaves of this tree have a strong curry aroma, but they take on a whole different flavour in cooking. Mmmm!

But there are other shrubs called curry plant, so be careful, because the others aren’t the edible or cooking with variety.
Native to India and Sri Lanka, the curry leaf tree grows into a large shrub to small tree growing 4-6 m tall.

The leaves are similar in a smaller way to Murraya or Orange Jessamine being in the same genus.

Why wouldn’t you grow this bush with the highly aromatic leaves, and heads of flowers that are white, and fragrant appearing in Spring and Summer?

One thing to remember though is that after flowering, the plant produces small black, shiny berries that are edible, but their seeds are poisonous.

Where it likes to grow
Full sun or light shade is the ideal spot and all you need to do is fertilize with palm or citrus fertilizer to get plenty of leaves.
Curry leaf plants can be grown in large pots and also on the ground.
The type of soil doesn’t matter either.

I have one plant in large pot and it’s only about 1 metre in height.
I’ve got to say that it’s pretty slow growing so don’t worry too much about re-potting it.
They have a tendency to sucker when in the ground, so keeping it a pot if you’re worried about this is probably a good idea.

Full grown plants on the ground can survive frosty conditions, plus the curry leaf tree is hardy and drought tolerant once established.

Murraya koenigii or curry leaf tree grows anywhere from tropical areas to cool temperate districts.
A listener, Lesley, has written in to say that she has have several plants in the ground in Melbourne which are now nearly 2 ½ to 3 metres, and thriving.
She doesn’t even cover them during winter period!

Like the hedging variety of Murraya, pruning your curry leaf tree every year will make it more bushy so you’ll get more of those fragrant curry leaves.
Picking of the leaves for cooking is also a way of getting bushy growth.
If you want to propagate this plant, when you see the berries at the very tips of the branches turning black, is the time to propagate from seed.
By the way, in some sub-tropical districts this tree has spread into bushland because of birds eating the berries.
If you live in that district, prune off the berries before the birds get them.
They can be propagated from root suckers but the new plant will sucker even more if you do it this way.
TIP: The fruits are best picked when they are half ripe or when fully ripe ie, quite black.
The fruits should also never be allowed to dry, because the curry plant seeds in them lose their viability when they shrivel or dry up.
Peel the seed out of half ripe or fully ripe fruits by squeezing out the flesh before planting. The fruit around the seed may slow down germination.
Seeds are best planted quite shallowly in seed raising mix and germinate in about 10 days -they germinate best with warm soil 210 to 270 C

Use young leaves and crushed seeds in curries, soup stocks and sauces.
Spicy but not hot they can flavour vinegars and salad oils.
Used a lot in South Indian kitchens, curry leaves are generally sautéed in oil with mustard seeds and added to dhal, fresh coconut chutney or vegetable dishes.
Strip the leaves from their stalk before frying, and tearing and crushing them between  fingers releases more of their essential oils.

UNUSUAL TIP: do you worry about bad breath? You probably haven’t heard of this type of breath freshener before.
Did you know that the people of India grow the curry leaf tree, Murraya koenigii, not only to flavour traditional dishes but also known for treating bad breath.
What you do is put a few of the fresh leaves in the mouth and hold them there for several minutes and voila’-fresh breath.
I can’t say I’ve tried it though.
Why Are They Good For You?
Apparently scientists are studying the extract of the leaves as a natural medicine against high cholesterol and high blood sugar.
Curry leaves are also known to be good for your hair, for keeping it healthy and long.
You can buy the plant from the herb section of your local nursery or garden centre, some Asian supermarkets, the Botanic Gardens nursery and online from diggers.
But be careful that you’re not getting the curry leaf bush-Helichrysum italicum. This has a grey feathery leaf and can’t be used in cooking at all, even though it smells of curry when you brush past it.
Think of the king when buying your Curry tree plant-Murraya Koenigii!


with Louise McDaid, Landscape Designer

There are times of the year when it’s better for planting out new trees, shrubs and perennials.
Sometimes though, we just have to have something what we see in a nursery,garden centre, plant collector's fair or a friend gives us a plant or two.
So how does this plant cope?
Should you plant it out in the garden when it’s really hot?
Or should we wait and hope it survives in its pot until cooler weather?
Let’s find out what this is all about.
PLAY: Dry_Gardens_part3_16th April_2014
It’s a personal choice as to which plants get watered and which you hope will survive the hot dry conditions that some of us have experienced.
Established trees that are quite large might be alright but younger smaller trees and shrubs definitely will need a bit of assistance.
If you’ve got that specail plant still in a pot, now’s the time to put it into the garden because Autumn is the best time to plant out, and to move plants in the garden.

Australian Native Eucalypts

If you have any questions about this week’s any trees on your property, send it our email address, or just post it.


PLANT OF THE WEEK Pimenta dioica-Allspice Tree

What would you call a blend of cloves, juniper, pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg?
Would you believe this blend can grow as berries on a tree with clusters of white flowers  that open at the end of October.

Allspice, Jamaican Pepper, a small tree in the Myrtle family.  Red berries used in cooking. Need a male and female tree, otherwise grow it for the leaves only.

The cluster of flowers attract lots of bees and other insects and although each individual flower is very small and insignificant they have a very strong, perfume that fills that air.

There are both male and female allspice trees. The so-called male trees rarely bear fruit. There is no way to tell which is which before the time of fruiting.
Even buying two mightn’t get you both trees so three is recommended.
But if you have a chance to buy one, buy it, they smell incredibly good - the leaves that is!

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