Sunday, 26 October 2014

Happy Plants Make Happy Gardeners

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, general manager

Citrus Leaf Miner
There are some gardening questions that can’t be asked enough times.
Mainly because the questions are about plants that everyone seems to grow and so everyone seems to have the same problem.
So, on any gardening program or garden meeting, the same questions seem to pop up because we’re not all listening when the answers come around.
Here’s one of those questions answered, that come up regularly.
Let’s find out what that really is….

If you've got curly leaves on your citrus tree, have a closer look. Do you see any silver trails that in the leaves.
These curly leaves start off always as new leaves but if the problem comes around every year, you'll have a tree covered in distorted leaves.
That tiny moth that comes out at night likes to lay her eggs on the new leaves so that the larvae are able to tunnel their way out when they're ready.

You’ll probably never see the tiny moth that lays those eggs into your citrus leaves.
Unless you’re thinking about it –being pro-active because you’ve had the problem so many times, you probably haven’t sprayed yet.
Now is the time to spray those citrus leaves, and hang that citrus trap.
Or maybe, you’ve tried changing when and what with you fertilise your citrus trees.
Those citrus miner traps sound like a good start and easy to use to.
If you have any questions about citrus leaf miner, drop us a line to


This weeks Vegetable Hero is eggplants, aubergines to some and Solanum melongena to botanists.
Fruit? Yes, the eggplant is botanically a fruit, although the plant is used almost exclusively as a vegetable.
The eggplant is, or Solanum melongena, a member of the nightshade family together with tomato and potato.
Yes, we often want to tie the words “deadly” and “nightshade” together, and the reason for this is that the leaves and flowers of plants in the nightshade family are often poisonous.
So don’t forget that you can only use the “fruit” from the plant, which is the eggplant.

Eggplant flower-photo M Cannon
Did you know that the first eggplants to reach Europe during the Middle Ages were actually a are white species, with oval fruits that closely resemble a hen’s egg?

No surprise that they began calling it eggplant even when other colours became popular.
The eggplant was once known as the “love apple” in England because it was thought to possess aphrodisiac properties.
Glossy skin indicates readiness. photo M Cannon
Botanists in northern Europe dubbed the eggplant mala insana, or “mad apple,” because they thought that eating the fruit could result in insanity.
The eggplant is native to India and eastern Asia, and has been around for ages.
One of the oldest references to the fruit appears in a fifth-century Chinese book, which describes how fashionable Oriental ladies used a black dye made from eggplants to stain and polish their teeth.

A Basic Guide for Growing Eggplants
Eggplant is a short lived perennial plant that is usually grown as an annual. Eggplants grow best when the temperatures are at least 250C or above.
Eggplants or aubergines particularly resent frost and so far my plants from previous years never survive the cold and I have to start all over again.
Eggplant seeds/seedlings can be planted in spring to autumn in tropical areas, spring to early summer in temperate zones and during late spring in cool climates.
Eggplants have to have full sunlight or they simply won’t grow well.
Any spot that gets about six to eight hours of full sun (meaning no shady plants or structures nearby to block the sun) would do well.
Give your eggplants a reasonable amount of space-each eggplant seedling should be spaced a minimum of 40cms apart from one another.
You’ll probably have only room for a couple to see how you go..
Mix  some pelleted chicken manure, or blood’n bone and compost in with the soil before planting your eggplants.
The seedlings don’t need to be planted too far into the ground.
Just enough so that the soil covers the roots is fine.
After the seedlings have been transplanted, give them a little water and leave them to grow.
Don’t overwater your eggplants as they are susceptible to root rot.

Research the different types of eggplant before choosing the species you want to plant, as some of the larger varieties will require a stake to help lend support as they fruit.
Make sure to add a little mulch to the top of the soil to help keep moisture in the soil.
Good idea for areas that get quite warm or are prone to drought.
Ready for picking in about sixty days, you should notice the fruit popping up on your eggplants.
As eggplants are the tastiest when they are young, most people prefer to pick them when they are about one third of their potential size.
When you pick your eggplant fruit is really up to you. As soon as the “skin” of the fruit is glossy, it is typically ready to be picked.
If the skin has turned brown then you’ve waited too long to pick the fruit.
They come in many colours besides the  purple variety, there are white and yellow varieties, and a dwarf species whose fruits grow only three or four inches long.
Why not try ROSA BIANCA a vigorous Italian heirloom variety, heaps of fruit that are  rosy lavender and white heavy teardrop shaped fruit with a mild flavour.
Beautiful red-orange fruit, round to 7.5cm, lots of fruit in 65-85 days.
For cooler districts, why not try the funny sounding UDUMALAPET
Yellow-green teardrop shaped fruit with vibrant lavender stripes, best eaten small at 8cm.
A peculiar variety called the snake eggplant produces narrow, elongated fruits up to a foot in length with their ends curled up like a serpent’s tongue.
Why is it good for you?
Eggplant is a very good source of dietary fibre, potassium, manganese, copper and thiamin (vitamin B1). It is also a good source of vitamin B6, folate, magnesium and niacin. Eggplant also contains phytonutrients such as nasunin and chlorogenic acid.They are an excellent food to aid in weight loss, being low in calories and fat. Eggplant is a nutrient dense food, which will help you feel full, and there are only 20 calories in one cup in eggplants.      


with Lesley Simpson, garden designer.
Create a Rose Garden
photo M Cannon
What’s your favourite flower?
A better question is what’s your favourite flower that you can grow in your district?
Roses are probably up there as number one favourite flower but for a lot of places in Australia, they’re tricky to grow.
But, if you’ve developed the knack for growing roses, and you could grow a few more, why not create a special rose garden.
Let’s find out what this is all about.

There’s plenty of different ideas for creating rose gardens and this was just one of them.
After all what could be more romantic than roses in the garden-over an archway, adorning a pillar, climbing a lattice or just a row of roses.

Rosa Cornelia photo M Cannon

Rosa Stella Gray
If you love to smell the roses why not grow at least one in a pot if you haven’t got the right amount of sunlight or conditions in your garden?


with Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal magazine.
This plant is an oldie but a goodie in the houseplant industry.
The leaves come in lots if attractive colours and it’s just as indestructible as cast iron plant or Aspidistra.
Did you know that this plant has been grown in Europe-indoors of course, since about 1830?

Dracaena is a genus of forty species of subtropical, evergreen, woody plants grown for their narrow form and many varieties of coloured foliage.
The leaves are glossy and long-up to 150cm but only 10-15cm wide.
If you have a frost free climate, these plants can make your garden stand out from the rest by adding height and colour variety.

With those sort of credentials -let’s find out about this plant.

Some people confuse Dracaenas with palms but once you get to know them, you'll see that they're vastly different.
The stems are palm-like but will never get the width of girth of any palm.Happy plants are grown as thick canes that sprout from buds along the cane, making them look like a palm which is why they’re sometimes confused with palms.

You can grow them outdoors as a screen or they make good houseplants because they are tall and narrow, with controlled growth, and can withstand a fairly significant amount of abuse from casual indoor gardeners.

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