Monday, 24 November 2014

Purple Trees, Green Beans and Yellow Fenugreek

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 Ian Hemphill from

FENUGREEK Trigonella foenum-graecum)

An annual plant in the pea or Fabaceae family .
Did you know that there are five main flavour attributes that you get in food?
Can you guess what they are other that sweet sour and bitter?
Well I’m not giving it away that quickly other than to say that this next spice is used to trick unsuspecting lovers of Maple syrup with a fake version, but the spice isn’t at all sweet.
But that’s not all about this quirky little seed that actually comes from the bean family.
Let’s find out more about the space they need….

If you want to grow your own fenugreek, the better bet is to get seed from a seed company rather than from the spice shop.
Culinary spices aren’t meant to germinate into the plant so they’re not test for germination, plus some of them are heat treated to remove surface bacteria.
Fenugreek is a very useful herb and spice. The leaves can be used used dried or fresh, the seeds of the spice can be used not only in cooking but as sprouts and microgreens.
Fenugreek as a plant is an annual bush about 60cm tall.
It's quick to germinate only taking 2-7 days.
You can plant in spring/ summer, to early autumn, in full sun, in well limed soil.
The soft leaves are three-lobed, and triangular in appearance, which is probably why you might come across it being called ‘trigonella’, which in Greek means three-angled.
If you have any questions about fenugreek, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


This weeks Vegetable Hero is the BEAN..or Phaseolus vulgaris latin for Common Bean.
Did you know that the Egyptians had temples dedicated to beans, worshipping them as a symbol of life? They must be good
Growing bean crops is essential in a veggie garden because beans, as well as other legumes, have nitrogen fixing nodules on their roots.
Yep, that’s right, the roots make nitrogen out of the air and deposit it into the soil. Lightning storms are even better for that reason.

Beans are probably native to ancient Peru cultivated 500 B.C.

Beans, either climbing or Dwarf Beans, are sometimes called French beans.

To grow beans you  need up to four months of warm weather.
In subtropical climates beans can be grown almost all year. For temperate and arid zones, mid-spring through to late summer are the best times to plant.
In colder districts, beans, don’t like the cold at all and they certainly don’t like frost.
You have until the end of summer, certainly you wouldn’t be expecting any cold snaps now.
Tropical districts, once again, need to wait until the winter months to sow beans.
Beans are best planted at soil temperatures between 16°C and 30°C. so planting them from now on is good..

Beans are easy to grow, and each year I teach hundreds of schoolchildren to sow bean seeds. Schoolkids just love to see those bean seeds grow  so it’s a great way to get your kids or grandkids started in the vegetable garden.
Sow seed about 2.5cm or  1-inch or depending on the size of the bean I guess.
Sow your beans, either climbing or  dwarf beans either in rows or just scatter so the seed are 5-10cm apart (don't worry about the odd ones which are closer).
Cover with soil, potting mix, or compost and firm down with the back of a spade or rake.
Grown this way the beans will mostly shade out competing weeds and 'self-mulch'.
In the summer months always keep your veggie patch well watered and watch for vegetable bugs and green caterpillars
By picking the beans regularly you'll get new flowers.
If you don't pick the beans everyday and let the beans get too big, flowering will slow right and your bean plant will stop producing new beans.
Tip: To have beans all summer long, plant more seed as soon as the previous planting starts to flower.
Protect against snails and slugs by laying down straw or sugar cane mulch and sprinkling coffee grounds around the edge of the veggie bed.
Slugs and snails will completely destroy newly sprouted beans.
Beans do poorly in very wet or humid tropical climates because they get bacterial and fungal diseases.
Pods won’t set at temperatures above 270 C.
They need well-drained soils with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0 and are sensitive to deficiencies or high levels of minerals in the soil.
Especially climbing beans, so make sure you spread some chook poo or cow manure before sowing seeds.
When growing green beans, keep the soil moist.
A good rule of thumb is to put a finger in the dirt and if the dirt is dry up to the first knuckle, then it needs about an inch of water.
Go easy on the fertiliser or you’ll get lots of leaves and no beans.
When picking your beans, pick times when your plants are dry.
Working with beans when the leaves are wet tends to spread any diseases.
When are beans ready pick I hear you ask?
Usually in about 10-12 weeks.
Pick them when they are about as thick as a pencil, smaller if you want a better, tender taste.

Why are they good for you?

Green Beans are a good source of vitamin C and also contain calcium, magnesium, zinc and Vitamin A. Beans provide a major source of soluble fibre,  and are also is a source of folate .
Some varieties of the dwarf  beans are
Brown Beauty-flat pods
Dwarf Snake Beans-ready in 11 weeks.
Windsor Delight has long pods of about 15cm.
Blue Lake Climbing, long pods again but they’re round this time.



with Louise McDaid, landscape designer.
Trees in Landscape Design-Medium Trees part 3
Did you know that in one year a hectare of mature trees can provide enough oxygen for 18 people?
Batsford Arboretum photo M Cannon
Trees cool the city by up to 6°C, by shading our homes and streets, breaking up urban “heat islands” and releasing water vapour into the air through their leaves.
This design series is all about trees and last week it was about small trees –that means those trees under 10 metres.
So what’s a medium tree and do we have enough trees?
Let’s continue with part 3 of the series on trees.

What can you do?
In a garden larger than a courtyard, or small urban space, there is a bit more leeway in how you use trees – you can of course still use small trees in places, but a medium sized tree will be more in keeping with the proportions of the site – a medium sized tree 10-12m is the most preferable for a regular size country town garden, the old quarter acre block.
It’s likely you might have more than one tree – if in a group they could be the same species for the effect of a copse or glade planting, but they could be positioned in different spots to serve different purposes – so think about why you want the trees, what is their main purpose

Stowe, England photo M Cannon
Would you have thought that by just planting three trees strategically around a single-family home, you can cut summer air conditioning needs by up to 50 percent?
Not only that, by reducing the energy demand for cooling our houses, we reduce carbon dioxide and other pollution emissions from power plants.


Jacaranda mimosifolia or JACARANDA
photo M Cannon

The blue jacaranda, or Jacaranda mimosifolia, is a type of deciduous tree that is grown in gardens all over the world for its beautiful and long-lasting purple flowers that often hang in long bunches.
Jacarandas are flowering simultaneously around Australia.
From Adelaide to Sydney, the purple flowers are filling our views, and carpeting our streets, and lawns.
Let’s find out about this plant.

Some people think Jacarandas are native because they’re grown so much in in Australia, but they’re native to South America.
The jacaranda can be found in virtually any part of the world where there isn’t the risk of prolonged frost, so they can withstand brief bouts with cold temperatures reaching around -60 Celsius. It's also a tough, drought-tolerant tree that can handle a variety of soils and growing conditions.

photo M Cannon

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