Sunday, 8 June 2014

Hornbeams, and Desert Raisins

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 from Herbies Spices

Bush tomato-photo Ian Hemphill

Have you ever heard of a bush tomato?
If you haven’t, you wouldn’t be considered silly if you thought it was a version of those tomatoes that seem to spring up in your compost heap or throughout the garden wherever you deposited your compost.
But in fact, you couldn’t be further from the truth..well almost, because the bush tomato is still in the Solanaceae family like the regular tomato.

So what’s so different about it?

Let’s find out…..

Should you consider growing your own bush tomato, Solanum centrale is the botanical cultivar of the only type of bush tomato that you should use-the others are toxic.
The bush tomato looks like a very small slightly stunted grey-green chilli plant with a purple flower, very much like the flower of an eggplant.
photo Ian Hemphill
Bush tomatoes grow to about 30cm high and fruit for 4-5 years.
The tomatoes dry in the bush in their natural environment but I'm not sure that could be said of those plants grown in other areas.
Bush raisin, Akudjera, all those different names, and from the sounds of it, it’s a very versatile addition to sweet and savoury dishes-anzac biscuits, chicken dishes, and risottos to name just a few.
Like all Australian spices, the flavours are strong and should only be used in small amounts.

Akudura risotto-recipe curtesy Herbies Spices

2 tbsp. ground bush tomato

1tbsp boil water
1tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp wattleseed
1tbsp olive oil
1 small onion chopped
2 cloves garlic crushed
1 3/4 cups Arborio rice
1/2 cup white wine (dry)
5-6 cups vegetable stock
2-4 tbsp. cream
salt n pepper to taste,
shredded basil leaves, grated parmesan cheese


Soak akudjera in boiling water for 10-15 mins.
Drain, combine with wattle seed and tomato paste. Set aside.
Fry-onions until soft, add garlic for a further 2 mins.
Add rice - stir to coat grains.
Add wine, stir until evaporated.
Reduce heat and start adding stock 1 cup at a time, stirring until absorbed.
When ½ stock has been added added Akudjura mix.
Continue adding stock until rice is cooked.
Add cream and remove from heat.
Garnish with Basil and Parmesan. Serves 4



Today’s vegetable hero is in the family of veggies that is technically classed a fruit that is the Pea family.
Snow peas are of course in the pea or Fabaceae family.
Although traces of primitive pea varieties dating back to 5000BC have been found, the snow pea is a relatively new, and because they’re used a lot in Chinese cooking, we’ve assumed that they were developed in China.
Did you know that in fact, snow peas originated in the Mediterranean, and were grown widely in England and Europe in the nineteenth century?

So why are they called snow peas?
At first they were called English sugar peas or mange tout in France. (which means eat all) 
But sometime later they began being called Snow peas-no-one really knows why except that they’re picked in late winter, sometimes before last frost, and are in fact very resistant to frost, snow, and cold weather.
The Chinese adopted these peas into their own cuisine from the English, and they have been known as Chinese snow peas ever since. 
Their Mandarin name is ‘he lan do' or Holland pea.

Using Snow Peas in your cooking
Fresh snow peas may be eaten raw as a snack or used as a salad ingredient. They also lend themselves nicely to quick blanching, so that they stay crisp and green.

There’s nothing worse than soggy snow peas.
Snow peas may be added to Asian stir-fry dishes, soups, and pasta.
Because they need very little cooking time, add them towards the end of cooking so they remain crunchy and crisp.  
Apart from Garden Peas which are Pisum Sativum , there are two other strains of peas - the snow pea and the sugar snap pea.
These are known as edible podded peas because they don’t have the same cross fibre in the wall of the pod as the common garden pea and can be eaten whole.
The snow pea is Pisum sativum var. saccharatum. or (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon) is a distinct botanical cultivar or subspecies of garden peas.

The pod is pretty much flat and is eaten before the string develops and the peas start to swell.
There are dwarf and vine varieties of Snow peas.

Snow peas grow on leafy vines that produce tendrils, so they are especially well-adapted for climbing wires or trellises.
Snow peas have light green pods that follow purple or white, sweetly scented flowers.

When to Plant?

You plant Snow Peas from April until September in warm Temperate climates,.
April to July in sub-tropical areas,
April to October in cool temperate districts
May to July in Arid zones

Edible podded peas do best under cool, moist growing conditions.
The crop is sensitive to heat, and temperatures above 30oC will cause them to grow poorly.
Snow peas like day temperatures from 15o to 18oC average, with a maximum of 24oC and a minimum of 7oC, are ideal.

 But do you have trouble growing peas?

I know gardeners that do, they only seem to get one or two pods and the plant grows very weakly.
Try these hints:
Before sowing your seed, it is best to incorporate into the soil garden lime/dolomite to sweeten the soil and potash to encourage flowering.
 Did you know that Peas and other legumes (even wattles) have symbiotic bacteria in their roots called  rhizobia, that 'fix' nitrogen in the soil meaning that peas are capable of manufacturing their own nitrogen..
Peas then don’t need as much fertiliser as other vegies and are good to dig into the soil to concentrate available nitrogen for future crops.
Avoid applying a fertiliser that is high in nitrogen as this will encourage leafy growth at the expense of the flowers and subsequent fruit.

The stems and foliage of Snow Peas mostly aren’t affected by frost, but will get some damage if a cold snap follows a period of warm weather.
Having said that, flowers are made sterile by frost and so are the pods -affected pods have a white, mottled skin.
Snow Peas thrive on a wide range of soil types, as long as the soil is well drained with good depth.
Because peas' feeder roots run shallow, mulch is essential to keep the soil around the roots moist and cool.
When the seedlings are 5cm tall, apply a mulch of clean straw, chopped leaves, or compost.
As the pea plants mature, you can add more mulch to keep them happy
The ideal pH range is 5.8 to 6.8 (in water).
The main cultivars that you see in the supermarket or fruit and veggie shop will be Pisum satvium Oregan Giant” and “Oregan Sugar Pod.”
These have strong powdery mildew resistance and give lots of pod setting.

Why are peas of any kind good for you?
1 cup or 10 raw snow peas is a serve, and is an excellent source of vitamin C, and a good source of niacin (B3), folate (another of the B vitamins) and beta carotene (which the body converts to vitamin A).
The lutein present in green peas helps reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Did you know that all peas with or without our pods, are among the best vegetable sources of dietary fibre.
For all you vegetarians out there, you probably know that most vegetables are quite low in protein, but peas have good supplies.
Green peas also provide zinc and all peas are a good source of potassium, especially edible-podded types.

with landscape designer Louise McDaid

Raised Garden Beds-part 3 in Garden with Shallow and Rocky Soil series.

In this episode of design elements it really doesn’t matter if you don’t have shallow or rocky soils, because raised garden beds can apply to those gardens with other problem conditions.
Not all raised garden beds are alike and Louise has some great ideas.

Let’s find out what this is all about.

using soil that’s more ideally suited to the plants you really love.
And since you the gardener doesn’t walk on the raised beds, the soil doesn’t get  compacted and the roots have an easier time growing.
Plus one more advantage of raised beds is that close plant spacing and the use of compost can result in higher yields with raised beds in comparison to conventional row gardening.
The best thing about raised beds is being able to grow vegetables without having to bend over to tend.


Hornbeams Carpinus betulus

Would you believe that there’s a company in England that sells hedges on stilts? Yes there is and Instahedge they call themselves.
This is what they say “We have a range of Pleached Hornbeam, Beech, Lime and London Plane, to name but a few. These are beautiful trees that are trained on a tiered frame, with different girth sizes to give you young trees which are all ready to grow on the new frame or ones that are already full, the choice is your.” Sounds good doesn’t it, except they don’t ship to Australia of course.
So if you want a Hornbeam tree to start your own instahedge, what should you first know before you buy?

Hornbeam Hedge at Hidcote, England
Pleaching is a method of training trees to produce a narrow screen or hedge by tying in and interlacing flexible young shoots along a supporting framework. Use this technique to make walks, arbours, tunnels and arches. You train the whippy branches in summer and prune them in winter.
Difficult? Yes you better believe it.

Framework needed for pleaching

Carpinus betulus 'Fastigiata'

Other varieties-Pendula-weeping branches.

Purpurea-New growth reddish green, becoming green. Introduced before 1873


An excellent landscape tree, Carpinus betulus fastigiata - Upright Hornbeam Tree European Hornbeam is suitable for screening, hedging, pleaching due to its excellent response to pruning. For this reason, the  Carpinus betulus fastigiata - Upright Hornbeam Tree is perfect for hedging, with its narrow shape and stunning yellow autumn foliage.

 Height: 8 metres Width: 6 metres

 Growth rate: Slow to moderate.

Form: Pyramidal when young, gradually forming a rounded crown at maturity.

 Foliage: Carpinus betulus - Hornbeam Tree European Hornbeam has mid-green leaves.

 Flower:  Light yellow orange, long, thick feathery flowers

 Tolerances:  Carpinus betulus fastigiata - Upright Hornbeam Tree has a wide range of tolerances, including alkaline and acidic soils. Does best in well drained soils in full sun or part shade. Generally free of pest and disease problems. Grows in full sun to part shade



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