Sunday, 27 July 2014

Get Loopers, Grow Veggie Scraps, Smell Boronias

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 Steve Falcioni from

The caterpillar stage of various moths, and butterflies eat the leaves and flowers of your plants non-stop and can destroy your crops almost overnight.eaten by this pest.

Somehow they’ve eluded being caught because they blend in so well with the colour of the leaves.

Loopers are very tenuous-the Basil leaves on the left were washed and dunked in water, yet these loopers managed to stick on.
The only alternative was to go over every single leaf to see how many there where!

The not so friendly garden looper.
Let’s find out what you can do about them.
Keep the garden free of weeds, check susceptible plants for garden looper eggs and crush them before they hatch.
They’re quite small so look very carefully.
Check the undersides of leaves for young looper larvae.
Hand pick and destroy them by dropping the caterpillars in soapy water.
You can net your veggie bed with fine netting to stop the moths laying their eggs.
For a rather yukky remedy you can try Cabbage looper soup spray.Larvae are susceptible to a virus that kills them.
And infected caterpillars will look yellow or white, and swollen.
Blend these sick caterpillars with water and spray it on plants to infect other larvae.
Best thing to apply is Dipel which contains Bacillus thuringensis when larvae are young.
If you have any questions about garden loopers why don’t you drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Growing veggies from scraps!
Who knew that you can re-grow celery, spring onions and a whole bunch of veggies from their scraps?
That’s right leeks, lemongrass, bok choy, cabbage, potatoes, garlic and ginger, -all these plus more.
There’s there are heaps of different foods that will re- grow from the scrap pieces that you’d normally throw out or put into your compost bin.
 Here’s howLet’s start with Celery, yes celery, it’s quite simple: just stand the base of the celery bunch in a small dish of water for a week or so until new leaves appear in the centre.
The leaves will be yellow at first, and once they really emerge and turn green, you can plant the celery in the ground or in a pot.
How about re-growing Leeks, Shallots Spring Onions and Fennel?You can either use the white root end of a vegetable that you’ve already cut, or buy a handful of new vegetables to use specifically for growing.
Simply place the white root end in a glass jar with a little water, and leave it in a sunny position. I keep mine in the kitchen window.
The green leafy part of the plant will continue to shoot. When it’s time to cook, just snip off what you need from the green growth and leave the white root end in water to keep growing.
Freshen up the water each week or you’ll have a regular supply of leeks shallots and spring onions.
As for Lemongrass
Lemongrass grows just like any other grass.
Same thing to re-grow it, place the root end (after you’ve cut the rest off) in a glass jar with a little water, and leave it in a sunny position.
Within a week or so, new growth will start to appear.
Transplant your lemongrass into a pot and leave it in a sunny outdoor position. You can harvest your lemongrass when the stalks reach around a foot tall – just cut off what you need and leave the plant to keep growing.

What about Bok Choi, Romaine Lettuce & Cabbage?

Just like leeks, these vegetables will re-grow from the white root end.
Cut the stalks off as you normally would, and place the root end in a shallow bowl of water – enough to cover the roots but not the top of your cutting.
Put your leek celery or bok choy in a sunny spot, spraying occasionally with water to keep the top moist.
After a few days, you should start to see roots and new leaves appear.
After a couple of weeks or so, transplant it into soil with just the leaves showing above the level of the soil.
The plant will continue to grow, and within a few weeks it will sprout a whole new head.

TIP:If you don’t like the idea of have jars cluttering up your windowsill with bits of veggies stuck in them you can plant your cutting directly into soil (without starting the process in water)
But you will need to keep the soil very moist for the first week until the new shoots start to appear.

If you like Asian cooking you’ll like to grow your own Ginger.
Ginger is very easy to re-grow. Simply plant a spare piece of ginger rhizome (the thick knobbly bit you cook with) in potting soil with the newest (ie. smallest) buds facing upward.
Ginger prefers filtered, not direct, sun in a warm moist environment.
Before long it will start to grow new shoots and roots.
Once the plant is established and you’re ready to harvest, pull up the whole plant, roots and all.
Remove a piece of the rhizome, and re-plant it to repeat the process.
Of course if you’re not in the right climatic zone, you will have to grow this one indoors for a bit before putting it outside.
For those gardeners in cool temperate areas, Ginger makes a very attractive indoor-plant, so if you don’t use a lot of ginger in your cooking you can still enjoy the lovely plant in between harvests.

We all probably know about re-growing potatoes.
Re-growing potatoes is a great way to avoid waste, as you can re-grow potatoes from any old potato that has ‘eyes’ growing on it.
Pick a potato that has robust eyes, and cut it into pieces around 5cm square, making sure that each piece has at least one or two eyes.
Leave the cut pieces to sit at room temperature for a day or two, which allows the cut areas to dry and callous over.
This prevents the potato piece from rotting after you plant it, so that the new shoots get the maximum nutrition from each potato piece.
Potato plants need a high-nutrient environment, so make sure you’ve added compost to your soil before you plant them.
Plant your potato pieces around 20cm deep with the eye facing upward, and cover it with around 10cm of soil, leaving the other 10cm empty.
As your potato grows and more roots appear, add more compost/potting mix or soil, depending on whether you’re growing your potatoes in a grow bag, in the ground or in a compost bin.
If your plant really takes off, mound more soil around the base of the plant to help support its growth.
Garlic is another easy one that I’m sure a lot of gardeners have tried already.
Garlic quite often sprouts in the fridge even so of course you can re-grow a plant from just a single clove.
Just plant it, root-end down, in a warm position with plenty of direct sunlight. The garlic will root itself and produce new shoots.
Once established, cut back the shoots and the plant will put all its energy into producing a tasty big garlic bulb.
And like ginger, you can repeat the process with your new bulb.

ONIONS are one of the easiest vegetables to grow from scraps too.
Just cut off the root end of your onion, leaving about 1-2 cms of onion on the roots. This needs to go into a sunny spot in the garden  then cover the top with soil. Keep the soil moist.
Onions prefer a warm sunny environment, so if you live in a colder climate, keep them in pots and move them indoors during frostier months.
As you use your home-grown onions, keep re-planting the root ends you cut off, and you’ll may never need to buy onions again.
TIP: One thing to note-if you try this with root veggies say a carrot, a plant that re-grows from planting a carrot top will NOT produce edible carrots, only a new carrot plant.
The vegetable itself is a taproot which can’t re-grow once it has been removed from the plant.
Lastly, one for the mushroom officionado.

Mushrooms can re-grow from their stalks but they’re one of the more difficult vegies to re-grow. Mushrooms like darkness, warmth and humidity and nutrient-rich soil.
This time you need a mix of soil and compost in a pot (not in the ground) so your re-growth is portable and you can control the temperature of your mushroom.
Gardeners have reported the most success with a warm filtered light during the day and a cool temperature at night.
Just remove the head of the mushroom and plant the stalk in the soil, leaving just the top exposed.
In the right conditions, the base will grow a whole new head. Apparently  you’ll know fairly quickly if your mushroom has taken to the soil as it’ll either start to grow or start to rot in the first few days.


with landscape designer Jason Cornish

Have you got a pool that you don’t use any more?
The kids have grown up and it’s just sitting there looking a bit green.

You might need more space that the unwanted pool is taking up.

Pools cost quite a bit to put it in so what happens when they become just one big drain on the pocket?

Filling them in is an option, but that’ll be quite expensive too.
So what else can you do with that pool, even with a budget in mind?

Let’s find out what this is all about.

Something to think about if you don’t want that pool anymore. Besides the unused pool is probably acting like a pond anyway, but you can make it into a more environmentally friendly ecosystem what will attract dragonflies and even small birds if you plant sedges along the edges.
Apart from the environmental benefits, you'll be using less chemicals-good for your hip pocket and the planet.
Less power usage if you don't want or need a pump in the pond.
You can still swim in the pool if you like and the conversion is reversible.
Pool conversions are more practical than just filling in the hole and you have something aesthetic too.


Muogaumurra nature reserve

Boronias are small shrubs that grow all over Australia.
Those Boronias that grow naturally on the eastern states are much more longer longer than there exotic cousins from Western Australia.
But regardless of where they come from, Boronias put on a perfumed show that’s hard to resist.
Most highly perfumed and most prized Boronias are from WA and most of the plants you come across at regular retail nurseries are propagated from cuttings.


The fragrance of flowers is thought to be mostly to attract insects, birds and animals to pollinate the flowers. This may attract a range of pollinators or only one e.g. Red clover which is only pollinated by bees. Boronias - Boronia megastigma varieties (The brown Boronia), and B. serrulata have very fragrant flowers. B. 'Sunset Serenade' and B. denticulata have aromatic foliage. Tips for growing Boronia
     Most important-excellent drainage, so sandy soil or raised beds.
  Don’t let the plant dry out but don’t overwater it, especially in humid weather because this plant and many other Australian plants are prone to getting root rot fungus that loves moist warm soil.
Protect the roots from soil temperature variations-either by planting in an easterly or north easterly aspect or under an open canopy tree, like a gum tree, and protect from winds. Mulching is paramount, and the stones theory might work too.
  Prune-yes Australian plants need pruning in the home garden. Don’t be afraid.  For Boronias prune when they are growing strongly, especially the flowers. Put them in a vase.
Fertilise Boronias in Autumn, not Spring, otherwise you won’t get many flowers and just green growth. Use organic fertilisers or some controlled release ferts-the ones with coated small balls.
Lastly, as soon as you buy your plant, think about taking cuttings-from February to April-take firm new growth, that happened after flowering.
They should strike in 6 weeks if you put them in a mini-greenhouse.

Some cultivars
·        'Harlequin' - red and yellow striped flowers
·        'Heaven Scent'- compact cultivar with brown flowers
·        'Jack Macguire's Red' - red flowering form
·        'Lutea' - yellow flowering form
·        'Royale' - dwarf form
·        Other hybrid boronias are grown simply for their attractive flowers, rather than their perfume, including ‘Purple Jared’ (brilliant purple flowers), ‘Aussie Rose’ (rose pink flowers) and ‘Lipstick’ (lollypop pink flowers).

·        Climate: Boronias are at their best in the cooler areas of southern Western Australia, the Dandenongs and Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Tasmania and the Blue Mountains of New South Wales.

Try growing from seed. Try grafting if you’re an advanced gardener. Use Correa as root stock.

Specialist native nurseries graft Boronia megastigma on to root stock of eastern Boronia species, that tend to produce much stronger root systems when grown from cuttings.

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