Sunday, 10 August 2014

Leaves That Go Bump And Palms That Wine

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, GM for

Have you ever had this happen to you on some of your stone fruit trees?

What I’m talking about is when the new leaves appear in spring, they seem to be infected with something. They look thickened, curled and distorted, pale-green at first, but soon show red or purple colours.
Sometimes the whole leaf shows these symptoms and sometimes it’s only in patches on the leaves.
 Let’s find out what they need to do..

The disease occurs wherever peaches and nectarines are grown, and if not controlled can seriously weaken trees.

If you don’t treat leaf curl you might end up losing all the leaves on your tree, shoots could also dieback and your peaches, nectarines, apricots and even almonds could drop prematurely-they’ll probably show signs of the disease as well
If you have any questions about John Stanley’s interview, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


And you thought you knew everything there was to know about peas?

Peapods are botanically a fruit, since they contain seeds developed from the ovary of a (pea) flower.
Peas are considered to be a vegetable in cooking. Peas belong to the Fabaceae family, which means they fix Nitrogen from the air into their roots.
Today I’ll focus on the sugar snap peas Pisum sativum var. Macrocarpum-Compared to the most grown garden pea, snow peas and sugar snaps are sweet, crisp and have cross fibre in the wall of the pods.
You eat Sugar snaps –pod and all usually best before the peas start to swell.
Did you know that the Snap pea were developed by crossing an unusually thick podded garden pea with a snow pea. Snap peas produce oval to round pods.
Most snap pea varieties have strings in the pods, but these peel off easily. There are varieties that are resistant to powdery mildew disease. Several varieties of sugar snap peas are now available in Australia and they are either climbing, or dwarf types.
place the link on my website, or you can email me…

Both dwarf and field peas were part of the cargo of the First Fleet to Australia in 1788 and, on arrival at Sydney Cove, each convict and marine was given a weekly ration of three pints of ‘pease’.
By 1802 peas were growing in Port Jackson and Parramatta gardens.

Sowing Times

The best time to sow Peas, if you are living on the East Coast is from April until September from April until August in arid climates, from April and until July in sub-tropical districts and for cool zones, late winter until October.
On the Tablelands they should be sown after the last frosts.
Peas are best planted at soil temperatures between 8°C and 24°C.
Peas aren’t too fussy about the soil type, so just sow the seeds directly into the soil 15mm to 20mm deep (that’s about knuckle deep) and 75mm to 100mm apart (3'' to 4'').
Water in well and don't let them dry out.
I like to soak my Pea seeds over- night because this gets a better strike rate.
Some gardeners prefer to sow their seeds into tubs/punnets so they can keep a closer eye on them especially if there’s a possibility of a frost.
Once they have their second crop of leaves and no more frost, they can be transplanted out in the garden.

Companion Planting

If you like the idea of companion planting then don’t plant Peas  near Onions, Chives, Garlic.
TIP: Peas don’t like a lot of mulch or manure especially up against the stalk/stem, or being over-watered as they tend to rot off at the base of the stem,  and young plants will grow lanky and not produce a good crop of peas.
Wait until they have started flowering and then give them a good feed of liquid fertilizer at least once a fortnight.

Did you know that if you use a liquid fertilizer you’ll get a better result in a shorter time? Something to try this season.

Water your Peas in the mornings to avoid mildew and try to avoid overhead water late in the afternoon.
If you do have mildew, try spraying with a solution of whole MILK mixed with a couple of drops of detergent.
With dwarf Peas you will have one main crop, with a second lighter crop and some pickings in between for the pot.
Did you know that if you freeze your peas straight after picking you don’t lose any more nutritional value than if you just cooked them?

Pest Problems

If you have problems with something that’s eating your pea seedlings, a good idea is to place a bottomless container around the young seedlings to stop cut worm, or in my case possum, from nibbling the edges off the new shoots; this will also give the new plants some protection from the wind.
Even though dwarf Peas only grow about 300mm to 600mm high they still need some support.
They can be supported by either wire/mesh, string/twine, bamboo or you could try 15mm round plastic pipe, around 1.5m long (3'6'') pushed into the ground, say 75mm (3'') either end to create a hoop, from one side of the plant to the other, (criss cross).
Climbing Peas grow well over 2m high and produce steadily over a longer period. Pick regularly to keep plants vigorous and encourage a bigger crop.
They will need a good heavy-trellis or stakes.
You could make a Pea tepee?
The position of the trellis should be facing towards the midday sun, (towards the North in Australia).
After the Peas have stopped producing the trellis can also be used for growing cucumbers, pumpkins or tomatoes.

TIP: Before you start ripping the pea vines off the trellis cut the stems off at ground level; leave the roots in the ground as pea roots produce nitrogen nodules. They will break down and give your next seedlings a good kick start.

Some varieties for you to try from

Pea Sugarsnap 'Sugar Ann'  Sugar Ann is a bush pea to 60 cm high. It has succulent edible pale-green pods, 7.6 cm long. It is the sweetest of the sugarsnaps and very productive.
Pea Sugarsnap 'Cascadia'. A climbing pea to 110 cm, with thick, juicy, edible pale-green pods, 6 - 7 cm long; sweet and flavourful. It is very productive and resistant to powdery mildew.
You can also get stringless sugarsnap peas that are just named and sold as Sugarsnap-Climbing
Days to harvest: 58 – 65days for all of these types.
Why are they good for you?
Being low in calories, green peas are good for those who are trying to lose weight.
Green peas are rich in dietary fibre, have a high amount of iron and vitamin C, folic acid and vitamin B6
Peas also contain lutein that supposedly helps reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.


with Louise McDaid, Landscape Designer


This series came about because the question has been asked many times.
That being, why doesn’t xxx shrub, climber, tree grow in my place when it’s growing really well in my neighbour’s place or my relatives place down the road?
You can insert whichever problem plant you like. So to counteract that, over the next few weeks we’ll be discussing problems with climbers, shrubs, trees and just plants you like that don’t seem to thrive.
Let’s find out what this is all about.

Climbers that end up with foliage all at the top and nothing lower down
This scenario might be ok if you want it to run along the top of a wall or fence, but if it’s in a prominent position the bare stems might not be attractive

Stephanotis floribunda
Some common offenders are stephanotis, pandorea and clematis. Something like wisteria that does this can be a feature – the bare stems twining up a pillar or post, when the flowers are out you hardly notice the stems and when it’s not in flower they add a sculptural element

 It’s not unusual for a climber to do this – in the excitement of it growing and reaching upwards is so great that we mostly just let them go on their upward journey, impatient that they get as tall as they can as quickly as they can – and we usually give them lots of encouragement. This is our downfall!
Sometimes the problem is just not possible to be solved and you have to start again. In this case, most climbers grow fairly quickly and starting again isn’t such a big deal, plus it gives you the opportunity to try something new.



Butia capitata-Wine Palm

Palm trees fall into the category of love ‘em or hate ‘em.
They just don’t seem to fit into many garden designs mainly because of the types people have chosen to grow. Cocos palm is one that springs to mind because of its weed status and danger to wildlife. The seeds of Cocos Palms are highly poisonous to all birds and mammals, having a paralysing effect on them.
The poor animal or bird then falls out of the tree and often break their spines in doing so.
It’s time to get rid of Cocos palms and instead, if you really must have a palm tree, plant one that’s useful..

The wine palm is the  type of palm that prefers its surroundings to be dry if the temperature is cold, ideal for Adelaide. 
Also, make sure the soil has good draining capabilities. Clay soils can be used if the drainage is OK but the moisture content should be low.  In good growing conditions they may become top heavy and lean over while waiting for their root system to anchor the large trunk so you might need to prop it up.

The Butia or Jelly palm has large stalks of golden fruit in clusters. The fruit is green before it ripens, then turns golden, sometimes having a reddish tinge when ready to eat.

The fruits is the size of a cherry, with soft, tasty flesh surrounds a hard seed that looks like a miniature coconut.

Simply peel the flesh away and eat it, prepare a soft puree, or use Butia Palm fruit in jelly. The taste is delicious and starts out like apple and transforms into tropical like flavours similar to an apricot/banana mix. Although delicious when eaten fresh they are most often preserved due to their stringy fibrous flesh.

Jelly palm fruits are picked as they ripen. If you pick a whole bunch, they tend to ripen all at once. They keep in the fridge for around a week.

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