Sunday, 18 May 2014



with Permaculture North's Margaret Mossakowska
Do you or someone in your family preserve fruit using the bottling method?
Somewhere in the garage or shed there’s a row of preserved plums, peaches and nectarines?
Preserving is creating an environment to prevent bacteria growing, so usually preserving is with vinegar, or sugar and water.

But bottling isn’t the only method of preserving fruit.
So what else is there? For a start there's sauces, jams and relishes.
Ever heard of Plum Povidil?
Listen to this…..
Something for you to think about-
Preserving doesn’t improve the taste of fruit. So it’s best to preserve only sun ripened fruit with flavour.
Preserving green tasteless fruit is a waste of your time.
To preserve things whole you can use salt, eg salting lemons.
Did you know that you can use the flesh from preserved lemons to scrub your sinks?
Sure it's sticky, but then you wipe it off with a damp cloth. But the lemon juice cuts through grease and the salt acts like an abrasive.
Fruits that are higher in acid are better for preserving as they are far less likely to harbour clostridium botulinum, which is the bacteria that produces the botulinum toxin.Low acid fruit and most vegetables are at risk of contamination by this bacteria and therefore require different preserving systems than for high acid fruit.
Plums have lots of pectin which sets the jam.
A litmus test should be able to confirm the acidity if you’re at all concerned;
If you have any questions about the scale, or  even have a photo a problem on your plant, why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.



The mints belong to the genus Mentha in the family Lamiaceae which includes other plants with oil in their leaves such as basil, sage, rosemary, marjoram, lavender, pennyroyal and thyme.
Sometimes the history of the herb or vegetable of that I'm talking about is simply fascinating.
Mint is no exception.
Here’s a fabulous legend or myth from Roman times.
There was a nymph called, Minthe who was
Pluto's lover. When his wife Persephone found out, in a fit of rage she turned Minthe into a lowly plant, to be trod upon.
Pluto couldn’t undo the spell, but softened the spell by giving her a sweet scent which would perfume the air when her leaves were stepped upon.

In the 1700s mint was considered to be an important medicinal herb, appearing in remedies for everything from digestive disorders to headaches. Mint also began to make more appearances in foods and drinks.
Did you know that peppermint is usually the mint that’s used commercially in liqueurs, toothpastes, soaps and mouthwashes?
All mints are fairly low-growing plants, readily sending out runners, or stolons, which develop new roots and shoots at the nodes. Under good growing conditions, stems can reach up to a1 m in height.
The mints will grow in a wide range of climates and are pretty popular in home gardens all over Australia. \
Growing Mint from Seed
If you’re growing mint from seed, the best times vary all around Australia.
In temperate and sub-tropical zones-August to November, in Tropical Zones, it’s April to July,  in arid areas-June and July is best, and cool temperate, September  to December.
But who grows mint from seed these days?
It’s really quicker and easier if you just get a piece of the stolon and plonk into the ground.
If you leave in a frosty area, put your mint cutting into a pot under cover until all frost has finished for this year.
Growing Mints-What do they like?
In general mint likes a cool moist root run, yet plenty of filtered light, and they also likes a fairly constant environment.
We’re looking for a humus rich moist deep soil, but well drained, filtered light but not deep shade. A light soil, not a clay type.
Growing in a pot is fine as long as it’s a largish one, because mints like to have a little room, it’s a bit of a roaming plant so give it space.
Keep up the moisture-mint doesn’t like to dry out, so use a specialist terracotta and tub mix with some added water retention crystals.
Growing mint in warmer climates can cause problems,
Mint does require constant moisture, so in Queensland try growing mint in morning sun and shade from midday on.
Eau de Cologne Mint
A high water requirement means that soils must be deep and well drained while holding plenty of water.

Remember that in cooler areas mint will die back in winter, but will bounce back in spring. Generally not to many pests to worry about.

Mint can be propagated either cuttings or by seed.
You can grown new plants by digging up plants in late winter-early spring and dividing them into runners with roots, then replanting. This will prevent the plants from becoming root-bound and prone to disease, giving you strong, healthy plants for the new season.
Most of the time we are busy trying to just keep it tidy. It can take over your garden if your not care so, be like me, and grow it in a pot that you can sink in the garden bed.
Companion Planting
Planting mint near peas, cabbage or tomatoes will improve their health and flavour. Mint will attract hoverflies and predatory wasps to your garden.
Mint is also a favourite of earthworms.

The most common mint grown in home gardens is actually Spearmint (M. spicata).
Leaves are smooth, bright green and elongated with a pointed end. Flowers are a pink to lilac colour and grow in clusters on the ends of the stems.

chocolate Mint
The other common mints are eau-de-cologne mint (M. × piperita var. citrata) and apple mint (M. rotundifolia).
Peppermint (M. × piperita). This is a low-growing plant that has small, pointed, dark green leaves with a purplish tinge. Peppermint is the most commonly grown species for oil production.
But there are so many-ther’es chocolate mint, lavender mint, orange mint, basil mint …how about apple mint (M. rotundifolia).?
Very flavoursome with a strong apple taste and perfume. The leaves are light green, soft and downy, with a rounded shape.
Lemon Mint is good in drinks and used as a potpourri -mild mint and citrus aroma..
Eau-de-cologne (M. × piperita var. citrata). This mint has a very strong, sharp perfume. It has smooth green, oval-shaped leaves that are tinged with purple.
Moroccan Mint is used to make traditional mint teas -infuses better.
The main pests are slugs, snails aphids, loopers and leaf rollers. So watch out. Either had pick them off or go organic and pick up used coffee grounds from your local coffee shop, and spread it around your mint plants if you have this problem.

Why are mints good for us?

The menthol in peppermint soothes the lining of the digestive tract and a hot cup of herbal tea is an excellent way to settle your stomach after a big meal.
Did you know that if you want to increase the effectiveness of peppermint tea as a breath freshener, you can add a pinch of anise, caraway or cinnamon.
Mint is also a good remedy for gingivitis.
Peppermint is reputed to have the calming, sedative effect.
Mint contains Vitamin C and Vitamin A.

Mints in Cooking

Apple Mint

Chop up some leaves in a salad or use as a garnish on soups and stews.
Spice Up Your Vegetables: Put mint in water used to steam vegetables.
Minty rice: Toss whole mint leaves in cooked rice before serving.
Minty Salad Dressing: Make salad dressing with mint, lemon juice, vinegar and a light oil.

Spice up your tuna: Chop spearmint and mix with olive oil and use as a marinade for fresh tuna. Marinate 30 minutes, grill.



with landscape designer Jason Cornish

 Soils are the least glamorous of topics in gardening.
We’ve all heard about soil types a few weeks ago when Louise mentioned them, but why exactly do we have different soil types and can we really change the profile in our lifetime?
Why do we need to bother so much about soils?
Plants obtain most of their oxygen and carbon from the air by photosynthesis; and hydrogen is obtained, directly or indirectly, from the water in the soil.
These three elements together make up over 90 percent of fresh plant tissue.
However, plants cannot survive without the much smaller quantity of essential nutrients that they obtain from the soil, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulphur.
How do different soils come about? why do you have clay soil or sandy soil?
Soil composition is made of the parent material, air and water.
What happens if you have a type of soil that is luxurious loam with the right mix of water air and parent material?

Let’s find out what this is all about.
PLAY: Drainage_9thMay_2014
The characteristics of soil play a big part in the plant's ability to extract water and nutrients.
If plants are to grow to their full potential, the soil must provide a everything needed for plant growth.
The things that your soil is made from—your soil's composition—affect all of these aspects of plant growth. Knowing what soils are composed of will help you understand how soil affects plant growth.

PLANT OF THE WEEK:  Pistacia chinensis  - Chinese pistachio

Did you know that autumn colour is already in the leaf and it’s covered by the green which is chlorophyll during the growing season of the leaf.
Do you live in an area where deciduous trees give you great autumn colour?
Those turning leaves do give those brilliant, reds, yellows and oranges that make for a standout landscape that artists and photographers can’t resist.
Why not have a bit of this in your own backyard.
Q.Do you know why leaves change colour?
Leaves change colour because of certain pigments in them and as the tree approaches dormancy in cooler weather, the masking effect of the green part-or the chlorophyll starts to fade and the real colours come through.
Carotenoid pigments give leaves a more yellow or orange colour, glucose gives it more red as you might see in a Maple leaf, and anthocyanins give leaves a more purple-red colour.
Pistacia chinensis  - Chinese pistachio
Chinese pistachio is a small to medium deciduous tree with a rounded head and upright branching.
In the cashew family-Anacardiaceae, and is native to central and western China and Taiwan.
Chinese Pistacia has attractive fine pinnate foliage, dark green, almost lustrous, produces brilliant autumn colours of yellow, orange and scarlet.
Blue/red fruit following flowers.
The bark dark grey, has shallow furrows which reveal a salmon to orange inner bark.
Adapts to most soil types.
Formative pruning required developing central trunk.
height x width (m) 6-10 x 5-8:growth rate Moderate
flower colour Green, inconspicuous panicles. Dioecious with separate male and female plants. Followed by the fruit which is a small red drupe, turning blue when ripe, containing a single seed.
flowering time Summer
shade tolerance Mainly full sun
drought High drought tolerance grows satisfactorily with no obvious signs of stress in a
dry summer.


1 comment:

  1. I have apple mint, peppermint, and the common mint (probably spearmint I'm guessing), as well as Vietnamese mint, which is one of my favourites to just throw on the top of Asian food. I used to have chocolate mint but sadly (and unbelievably for a mint) it died. Mints are fantastic :-)