Sunday, 12 October 2014

Forbidden Treasures and Blueberries Bursting with Goodness


The spice that comes from a particular orchid native to Turkey and Persia, used to be sold at stalls in the streets of London, as a drink.
They called it Saloop or Salep.
It was even held in great repute in herbal medicine.
The best English Salep came from Oxfordshire, but the tubers were chiefly imported from the East. Before the war it was regularly sold by street merchants in Constantinople as a hot drink during the winter.
Now coffee has taken over. But wait, this spice, what happened to that?Let’s find out. I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from

Salep tubers
Most of the Orchids native England have tuberous roots full of a highly nutritious starch-like substance, called Bassorin, of a sweetish taste and with a faint, pong.

Salep Ice-Cream

In the East, Salep is mostly obtained from Orchis morio, which grows best in chalky soils, but according to some sources it can be made just as well from O. mascula, the Early Purple Orchis, O. maculata and O. latifolia, which are more common.
Ian says a cheat's way of obtaining a similar flavour is to use Mastic Tears.
Cheats Salep Drink
Crush a few Mastic tears into some warm milk-say 1 cup.
To this add 1 teaspoon of cornflour.
Simmer until it thickens then pour into a cup and add some cinnamon and crushed pistachio nuts on top.
If you have any questions about where to buy Salep don durama icecream or the drink, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Rocket or Arugula and scientifically Eruca sativa.
Arugula was cultivated by the Romans and for some time was thought to have aphrodisiac properties. In fact, around the 13th century, the Roman Catholic Church banned it from being grown in monastic gardens for this reason.
Arugula belongs to the Brassicaceae family along with Broccoli, Mustard greens, Kale and Cauliflower.
Did you know that the Romans grew and ate Arugula?
In fact the romans grew Arugula for both it's leaves and the seed.
The seed was used for flavouring oils. 
You might’ve heard Ian Hemphill from the spice It Up segment saying that most herbs were at some point used in aphrodisiac potions.
Rocket is no exception.
Rocket or Arugula seed has been used as an ingredient in aphrodisiac concoctions dating back to the first century, AD. (Cambridge World History of Food).
You won’t be surprised to know then that Arugula is native to the Mediterranean region.
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.
The reason being is that long days and warm temperatures initiate flowering in this plant so you can’t fight nature.
Rocket or Arugula pops up in unexpected places.

In temperate and arid districts, you can sow Arugula seeds from August until November.
In cool temperate areas you have from September right through to November, but sub-tropical districts can sow Arugula or Rocket seeds from March right through til November. Lucky them.
Not recommended for tropical areas.
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
Arugula prefers moist, fertile soil, pH 6.0-6.8 but will tolerate a wide pH range.
Arugula is best grown from seed and sow them a couple of weeks apart to have a continuous crop.
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: Soak seeds in tepid water with a splash of seaweed solution from Australia’s favourite seaweed company, for 6-8 hours before sowing.  . Seeds 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
Sow the seeds very shallow and keep the soil moist until seedlings emerge.
The plant grows to about 40cm high so thin out the seedlings so they’re 20cm apart.
Grow in full sun and water well.
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 grow your rocket in partial shade because even when temps are in the mid 20’s, it starts to droop and yes, become stressed.
If the leaves start looking a bit different-starting  to become feathery, this means the plant is about to flower.

Once the flowers appear, the growing season is over.

Arugula tolerates some frost.
HINT:Sow seeds  2-3 weeks so that not everything’s is ready at once.
At this time of year 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 through all the rain and that cold temperate zones have experienced this winter.
Wild Rocket growing in the vegetable bed.
Wild rocket has more narrow leaves and the flavour is quite mild.

You can buy two types of Rocket, the regular as well as Arugula Pronto, which has larger soft leaves and a mild flavour from  
Why is it good for you?
Rocket is rich source of certain phytochemicals.
Rocket is also a good source of folates, a 100g 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 Karen Smith editor of Hort Journal magazine.

Blueberries are the fruit of a shrub that belongs to the heath family includes cranberries, azaleas and rhododendrons.
They are sort of a bluey purple colour have a waxy ‘bloom’ that covers the surface serving as a protective coat.
Did you know that over half of Australia’s Blueberries are grown near Coffs Harbour?
Whenever this fruit is mentioned most people groan because they’d love to grow it but there’s been so many things that just don’t work for where you live.
There’s not enough winter chilling-not enough hours below 70C, or the soil’s just wrong-pH or to clayey or too sandy.

In comes a small naturally dwarfing plant that has heaps of fruit, and  that you can grow in a pot and move it around , or you can grow it in the garden.

Let’s find out about this plant.

Blueberry Burst has been bred in Australia.
It has large fruit size and you’re supposed to get lots of fruit.
The growers say it’s early in season to flower and early to fruit.
What’s really great about it is that it’s an evergreen, so won’t drop its leaves.
Some say that the fruit can be as large as a one dollar coin.
Harvest time is stated to be August September for a cooler Melbourne garden. This is early and we’ll be interested to see how local home gardeners go.

Blueberry Burst is available from or from Bunnings stores and garden centres.
Mark Dann from Plant Net recommends that you plant your Blueberry Burst into a pot.

However should you try growing your Blueberries in the ground-SOIL STRUCTURE / AERATION  are very important when growing blueberries.
Blueberries have a very fine fibrousy root system, just like Azaleas,  and this root system needs a porous medium in which to grow, a bit like coarse sand from where they came from.
Careful soil preparation is needed if you want to grow them in the ground., you have to make a mound of soil and use lots of mulch. Apparently, growers in the US, use heaps of pine bark mulch to prevent compaction of the soils underneath for the growth and establishment of a healthy root system.

No comments:

Post a Comment