Monday, 15 September 2014

Petals in the Edible Garden

 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


Petal Blight on Azalea "Jennifer Susan"

 with general manager of Steve Falcioni
Petal Blight.
Do you ever find it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between a fungal disease and insect damage?
Like what causes some leaves to distort and curl  either on roses, citrus and edible crops like capsicums.
But there’s no mistaking what’s behind this next problem because of the tell-tale signs on the flowers.
Let’s find out what can be done about this problem.
Petals turn mushy before becoming papery and clinging to the bush
Don't let the flowers that have dropped from your camellia just lay there or the ones the cling to your azalea bushes in a brown mushy clum stay stuck to the bush. Pick them up or pick them off. Azaleas and Camellias especially are prone to the fungal disease petal blight.
By cleaning up around the plant you can prevent the spread of the disease.
If you have any questions or photos petal blight, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Jerusalem Artichokes.  Are Helianthus tuberosus.
There are other names for this vegetable, such as earth apple and sunchoke but here in Australia, we just call the Jerusalem artichokes as far as I can tell.
From the scientific name, would you’ve guessed that the sunflower Helianthus annuus is in the same family.
It’s not only in the same family but a large part of the fun of growing this veggie is the sunflowers it produces.
 Here’s another surprise, this veggie originates in America and Canada.
That’s right, Jerusalem artichokes are native to North America, having grow in the wild along the eastern seaboard from Georgia to Nova Scotia.
There is a theory that when Jerusalem artichokes arrived in Italy sometime before 1633, the Italian word for sunflower, "girasole" which means "turning to the sun," was somehow later corrupted into the word "Jerusalem."
Did you know that the Jerusalem artichoke was titled 'best soup vegetable' in the 2002 Nice Festival for the Heritage of the French Cuisine?
So what do they look like when they’re growing?
As with potatoes, the top part of the plant bears no resemblance to what you get underneath the ground.
The top part of the plant grows like a bushy sunflower plant.
Jerusalem artichokes
The gnarly tubers would remind you of ginger roots if you saw them.
Why grow them?
Because they’re going to surprise you how delicious they are.
They have a sweetness about them and they’re not starchy. That’s because they don’t contain starch but the carbohydrate inulin which is component of the fructose molecule.
In fact, Tubers stored for any length of time will convert their inulin into its component fructose. That explains why Jerusalem artichokes have an delicious sweet taste. Fructose by the way is about one and a half times sweeter than sucrose.
Definitely one for the sweet of tooth.
When and how do you grow Jerusalem artichokes?
In temperate climates plant the tubers between September to December –because the best time is when the soil temperature is between 8°C and 15°C
For cool temperate districts buy the tubers now and plant them in November and December,
In sub-Tropical climes, they’re best planted in Autumn-winter. You can plant them in tropical climates but they’re likely to rot off during the wet season.
Lastly for arid districts you can grow them from April until October.
Jerusalem Artichokes grow more quickly than the Chinese, unrelated artichokes taking 15-20 weeks to be ready.
 That’s around 4-5 months.
As I mentioned the edible tubers are gnarly and uneven, vaguely resembling ginger root, with a crisp texture when raw.
Tubers, or chunks of tubers can be planted in full sun or in part shade.
 In a row or higgledy piggledy.
The ones in part shade will have flowers that are a lot shorter than the ones in the sun, but they’ll be taller than you and you’ll probably have to stand on tiptoe to reach the flowers in the part sun plants.
The sunflowers will make their first appearance in late spring or early summer and look like little baby sunflowers.
For great tasting Jerusalem artichokes add some organic fertiliser during planting otherwise they’ll taste quite bland.
That being said, the plants themselves are not picky and will grow in just about any soil.
If you are going to grow Jerusalem Artichokes or sunchokes, make sure dig them up every year to prevent them from going taking over the garden. Otherwise confine them somehow with a border stop.
Roots can be dug in the autumn after the plant dies back.
Re-plant the tubers you don’t eat or at least save some to replant.
Once you taste them you’ll be tempted to eat them all.
As mentioned before, these tubers as with other members of the Daisy or Asteraceae (including the artichoke), store the carbohydrate inulin (not to be confused with insulin) instead of starch.
Warning: Some people have no problem digesting them but they are a minority.
Over 50 percent of their carbohydrate is in forms we don’t have enzymes to break down
Some people say that wind will be with you as long as they are eaten. If you have a family they may threaten to leave home if you ever eat them again.
How about buying some and trying them out before you commit to a lifetime of long solitary walks in the countryside after meals?
Store them in a cool place that isn't too dry.
Wrapped in plastic in the fridge will do nicely.
TIP: They’ll get bitter if kept too long in storage so that’s why it’s best to leave them in the ground and dig them up as you need them.
You can continue digging them up from autumn right through to early spring in temperate districts anyway.
If you’re put off with the wind theory, let me tell you it’s a bit overstated. But just in case you’re worried here are some steps that are supposed to alleviate the problem.
Put the tubers in the fridge for a month, then slice and boil in lots of water for 15 minutes, adding one tablespoon of lemon juice per 1 litre after 10 minutes, or right at the start if you want crisp tubers. Drain, slip off peel, and pat dry. Then use them as you would in recipes with pumpkins.
Actually the best way to eat them is to roast them in the oven with some olive oil for 40 minutes. Just yummy.
Why Is It Good For You?
Nutritionally, the sunchoke's has very high potassium. It has six times the potassium of a banana.
They are also high in iron, and contain 10-12% of the recommended daily intake of fibre, niacin, thiamine, phosphorus and copper.
For a half cup serve of Jerusalem artichokes you only get a tiny 57 calories, along with some1.5. gr. protein, 1.2 gram. fibre, 10.5 mg. calcium.
So if you like sunflowers, why not have an edible crop as well?


Spring Pruning with landscape designer Jason Cornish

Buxus hedge
It seems like every time the weather warms up, gardeners and non-gardeners start jumping around the garden and pruning everything in sight willy nilly.
What’s going on with that?
Sure some of the garden needs to be pruned but are you sure you’re pruning the right shrub the right way at the right time of year?
Not all plants do well with a top and tail or short back and sides.
Pruning a buxus hedge is pretty straightforward and yes, this one's definitely one for the short back and sides, or clipping to any shape you like.

On the other hand, have you even got a tree, or shrub that you said’ never seen that ever flower?

Well there may be a good reason for that and it’s got nothing to do with soil, fertilising or watering.
Knowing what plant you've got can be tricky if you've moved into a home with an established garden.
The best thing is to find out what through your local garden centre or nursery.
Second to that, find out when it's flowering season is and commence pruning after that.
Sounds logical but sometimes gets overlooked in the rush to tidy up the garden for Spring.

Let’s find out about spring pruning

Unlike Europe where you see Spiraea or May bushes growing everywhere by the roadside, maybe here in Australia we’re not growing too many May bushes anymore.

I could be wrong, and it would be a pity if it were true, because they have lovely flowers.

But short back and sides for this type of plant isn’t the right way to prune it.

Spiraeas, are a vase shaped plant that needs old canes pruned back to the ground to allow new canes to push through. these can ne headed by a 10% after flowering finishes in Spring.
If you missed the details email or write in and I send you a fact sheet



Hardenbergia violaceae, Native Sarsparilla
First of all, sarsaparilla, the drink featured in Western movies, was made from the roots of plants in the Genus Smilax.  Sarsparilla-the real thing that is, is also considered a medicinal plant with many different uses like flavouring root beer. Smilax spp. Are native to Central and South America and don’t have any real connection with our Australian native,
Hardenbergia violacea is usually a climbing plant whose branches twist around the stems of other plants. It is moderately vigorous but rarely covers other plants so extensively as to cause damage. Shrubby forms are available without any climbing tendency such as Hardenbergia volaceae "Flat White" and "Carpet Royale."
The leaves are dark, glossy green with prominent veins and are 75-100 mm in length.

The flowers, show up in late winter and spring, are usually violet in colour but pink, white and other colours are sometimes found. The flowers are the typical "pea" shape. 
The tough leaves can be narrow-oblong to almost heart shaped.
Did you know that apparently the leaves can be boiled to make a slightly sweet tea





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