Sunday, 4 May 2014

Rocketing up the Scale

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 Steve Falcioni from
SCALE:This pest that attacks all manner of plants is tiny, really tiny, only 2-3mm long.
So, yes you’d need a good magnifying class to look at them.
The thing is, when they’re doing damage to your plant’s leaves and branches, they stay very still under a covering which is mostly impervious to anything that you spray on it.

Scale on Port Wine Magnolia
So what do you do? Listen to this…..
If you notice block stuff sticking to the leaves of your plants and ants going about their business as well, then you definitely have got some sort of scale happening.
Some scale insects (like soft scales) hatch from eggs, while others are born live.
They disperse to favourable sites on the leaf, settle down and start feeding. This dispersal stage is known as a ‘crawler’.
The juveniles then become sedentary, and start building their protective scale covers.
As we mentioned, targeting scale when they’re most vulnerable is the best method.
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.


Well it’s TIME FOR VEGETABLE HEROES Rocket or Arugula and scientifically Eruca sativa.
Arugula was cultivated by the Romans and for some time was thought to have aphrodisiac properties.
Did you know that, around the 13th century, the Roman Catholic Church banned rocket from being grown in monastic gardens for this reason?
ROCKET is native to the Mediterranean region and belongs to the Brassicaceae family along with Broccoli, Mustard greens, Kale and Cauliflower.

Like its namesake, rocket is a fast growing annual green, with a mild peppery tasting leaf; the taste depends on how well you grow it.

The leaves are 10 – 20 cm long, serrated edges and what’s called deeply lobed-that is, not a complete simple looking leaf.

At the end of the growing season, they send up long stems-up to a metre, with small yellow or white flowers, that attract all those good bugs.

Torpedo shaped seed pods grow after those flowers have finished which blast seeds all over your veggie bed, to grow more rocket.

The spicy leaves can be grown all year round but are best in cool weather. I’ve found that certain plants like Arugula or Rocket and Coriander just bolt to seed in summer and it’s pointless getting the varieties that are supposedly slow bolting, because they always bolt in temperate zones anyway.

So why do some plants bolt to seed so fast in warmer weather?
The reason is that long days and warm temperatures initiate flowering in these plants so you can’t fight nature.

When To Sow?
In sub tropical, temperate and arid districts, you can sow Arugula seeds from March until November, in cool temperate areas, it’s also March until November, except for the winter months unless you have a greenhouse or even a mini-greenhouse.
For tropical districts the advice is don’t bother, it’s just too hot for rocket.
For those of you that have a soil thermometer and actually use it, the soil temperatures for germination should be between  4°C - 14°C
Soil temperature is usually a few degrees less than outside air temperature as a general rule.
Sowing Your Rocket-Arugula is best grown from seed and sow them a couple of weeks apart to have a continuous crop.
Rocket prefers to grow in full.
Sow seeds  every 2-3 weeks so that not everything’s is ready at once.

Tip:Be brave let one or two plants go to seed so you have fresh seed for next season.
Rocket self-seeds readily, although seed is sometimes slow to germinate.

Tip: If you’re having trouble getting rocket seeds to germinate, first soak them in tepid water with a splash of seaweed solution from Australia’s favourite seaweed company, for 6-8 hours before sowing.
Seeds should germinate in 5-7 days.
Sow the seeds in the garden bed, or in pots or troughs as Arugula is shallow rooted like all salad vegetables.
Keep the soil moist until seedlings emerge.
The plant grows to about 40cm high so thin out the seedlings so they’re 20cm apart.
You might get fungal problems in warmer areas if the plants are closer, but for others, crowded rocket plants doesn’t seem to do much damage.

If you do get unseasonally warm days after sowing your rocket seeds, keep up the watering.
Evenly moist soil will help slow bolting and if you don’t want your Rocket or Arugula to be too spicy, then don’t let the plant come under stress.
In warmer areas, it is best grown during winter or in partial shade.
Rocket or Arugula prefers moist, fertile soil, pH 6.0-6.8 but will tolerate a wide pH range.

Leaves gradually alter in appearance, to become feathery, indicating that the plant is about to flower. Once the flowers appear, the growing season is over.
Arugula tolerates some frost.
Having said all that, rocket or Arugula is one of those plants that’s easy to grow so would suit your kids or gran kids if you’re trying to get them into gardening.
I’ve been growing the Wild Rocket in my garden and it seems to be hanging in quite well over the years, self seeding here there and everywhere.
Wild rocket has more narrow leaves and the flavour is quite mild.
Some varieties of rocket for you to try -two types of Rocket, the regular as well as Arugula Pronto, which has larger soft leaves and a mild flavour.
Why is it good for you?
Rocket is rich source of certain phytochemicals thought to be important in preventing cancer cell growth.
Rocket is also a good source of folates, a 100g contains 24% of the daily allowance. Rocket also contains good levels of Vitamin C as well as B complex and vitamin A.
That same 100g of Rocket will give you 90% of your Vitamin K. Vitamin K is linked to bone and brain health.
Lastly, rocket is great as a salad vegetable or why not try making rocket pesto? Something different.



with landscape designer Louise McDaid

Easy Make Overs-paint your terracotta pots.
photo Real World Gardener
Easy Make Overs for your garden
Do watch those garden makeovers on telly?
Seems like that’s what gardening is all about according to the TV executives.
Who could be interested in just plants?
But, just in case you want to do an easy on your pocket makeover on your own garden and by yourself –no team of trades people to work 12 hours a day, then here’s just the thing.
Let’s find out what this is all about.

Whether you choose to hire a landscape designer or do it yourself, garden makeovers are an excellent creative outlet.
In fact, gardening is an excellent creative outlet in general don’t you think?
Gardens, whether they’re made over or have just evolved over the years, turn a house into a home.


Zelkova serrata-Japanese Zelkova
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.
Zelkova serrata is native to Japan, Korea, eastern China and Taiwan.
Zelkova grows naturally in lowland forests with maple, beech and oak. 
Japanese Zelkova is deciduous growing to 18 metres high with a 15 metre spread.
Has some possibility as a substitute for the American (Ulmus americana) and English elm (Ulmus procera) because of its resistance to Dutch elm disease which has devastated the trees of the northern hemisphere.

For showy autumn colour - the green leaves turn yellow, copper, orange, or deep red to purplish-red. 
Young trees have smooth grey bark and as the tree ages, the bark peels to reveal orange or pink patches.
Zelkova can grow quite a large trunk of up to one metre or more in diameter. It has a moderate growth rate and likes a sunny exposure. Tolerates heat and strong winds. Moderately drought tolerant, though intolerant of waterlogged soils.

Wood from Zelkova serrata is very fine grained and highly valued in Japan. Wood from all species of Zelkova is used in cabinet making and inlay work.
Several distinctive cultivars have been developed including Z. serrata ‘Green Vase.’ A good tree for Australian gardens because of its fire retardant properties.
TIP:Transplants easily.
Zelkova is a funny name, but it’s in the list of Australia’s top ten trees according to the sponsor of last year’s winner of the Chelsea Flower Show.
The won the overall best garden with their Australian Garden entry.
If you have the room, this tree is hardy and moderately fast growing. Why not give it a try?

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