Monday, 8 December 2014

Seaweed for Plants for a Day

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 from

Have you ever collected seaweed from the beach and placed it around your garden plants?
Did you wonder about washing of the salt first or put it straight on?
The benefits of seaweed on plants are plenty but seaweed is not regarded as a fertiliser because it has so little in the way of the big three nutrients-Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium.

You may even have heard seaweed extract being called a tonic for plants but what does that actually mean?
Let’s find out more about this potentially beneficial ingredient….

Collecting seaweed from the beach is not so easy these days because there's not much of it around anymore on some beaches.
So the best way to get seaweed on your garden is to buy seaweed extract.

Seaweed extract comes in either liquid or powder forms.Either way, using seaweed on a regular basis should be a routine in your garden maintenance program over summer.
If you plants have the odd yellowing leaf, seaweed solution will most likely help them.
Seaweed extract

  • stimulates strong healthy plant growth
  • encourages root development and minimises transplant shock
  • enhances plants ability to cope with various stresses including drought, salty soils and the cold
  Did you know that a lack of micronutrients in the soil rarely causes a deficiency in plants. Instead it’s because the soil is poorly drained, or the soil is cold, or has a pH that is too high or too low. In any case, the tonic of a seaweed spray can help the most.
TIP: If your using a hose on, hosing the leaves has little benefit-use a pressurised sprayer for this.
If you have any questions about seaweed solution or have some tips about using seaweed on your garden, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


This week’s Vegetable Hero is the mint-but not just any mint, it’s Vietnamese mint, Persicaria odorata.
Odorata simply means fragrant.
Summer is a great time to be growing mints of all kinds, but this one is particularly good.
And…..Vietnamese mint isn’t actually a mint, nor is it in the mint family-Lamiaceae but in a family called Polygonaceae-the same for buckwheat and rhubarb.
In botany, mint is the common name for any of the various herbaceous plants that have a botanical name starting with Mentha, in the mint family Lamiaceae.
These mints have wide-spreading, underground rhizomes; erect, square, branched stems; and pairs of oppositely arranged leaves; and small, tubular flowers arranged in clusters.
Only the members of Mentha are known as the "true mints."

In comes some other plants with fragrant leaves that also have the common name of mint.
Vietnamese mint is one of these. Not a true mint and again, not even in the mint family.

This so called mint is a herb that’s used a lot in Asian cuisine, and funnily enough, it grows easily, much like other mints.
The leaves are used fresh in salads, soups and stews.
In Singapore, the shredded leaf is an essential ingredient in laksa, a spicy soup.
Vietnamese Mint photo M Cannon
Here’s a funny fact-did you know that some Buddhist monks grow Vietnamese mint in their private gardens and eat it often as a helpful step in their celibate life.
Vietnamese mint has an essential oil called kesom oil.
This oil is used a lot in the processed food industry where it’s used in the form of a natural food essence.
The cosmetic industry also uses kesom oil.
So what does it look like?
It is a creeping herbaceous perennial that grows up to 30cm with a flavour that is a mix of pepper, mint and lemon.
The leaves are very narrow and angular looking and the stems are jointed much like wandering Jew which is now called Tradescantia.
The old genus name Poly­gonum (English: knot­weed) pointed to way the stem looked, - many joints linked together by slightly bent “knots” or “knees”
The top of the leaf is dark green, with chestnut-coloured dark rounded markings right across the leaf, and the underside is burgundy red.
When it flowers is has flat spikes of light lavender coloured flowers
In originates in Vietnam where it’s found in the wild in wet and boggy places.
Where it Grows
It can grow very well outside in summer in non-tropical parts of Australia.
Vietnamese mint prefers part-sun and well-drained soil.
For those areas with cool to cold winter, bring your Vietnamese mint indoors or under shelter as you would an indoor plant.
It grows very well in pots but is frost tender.
Tip: If you’re growing them in pots, once Vietnamese gets pot bound, it’ll stop producing leaves giving you a big hint to repot and divide it up.
Vietnamese mint rarely flowers outside the tropics, but it’s the leaves you want to use and not the flowers.
Vietnamese mint is normally fairly low maintenance and is easy to grow, as long as you give it a basic level of basic care.
All you need to do is keep it well watered and cut back to the ground when
leaves become tough to produce more fresh young leaves.
Vietnamese mint is a perennial plant that grows best in tropical and subtropical zones in warm and damp conditions.
In good conditions, it can grow up to 15 to 30 cm.
In winter or when the temperature is too high, it does wilt.
If you know someone with this plant ask for some cuttings from a mature clump.
These mints are so hardy! They will tolerate any soil conditions and even people stomping on them (by accident of course).
They don't need constant fertilising or watering but do like shading from the hottest part of the day.
Try planting Vietnamese mint if you'd like to attract butterflies and bees to your garden.
Cooking with Vietnamese Mint.
The fresh leaf is used typically in Vietnamese cooking and can be used in
place of Coriander in all Asian cooking, soups, salads and fish. It can also be dried.
Why are they good for you?
Vietnamese mint contains high levels of Beta-carotene and vitamin E:
Also has high levels of folic acid, iron and calcium.
Mint leaves also have useful healing properties.
Mints can freshen breath, soothe the stomach and reduce inflammation. Mint leaves are not as potent as concentrated mint oil, but they still have many of the same health benefits.


with Landscape Designer-ADRIAN SWAIN Refugium Adrian describes his show garden for this years Australian Garden Show as a low maintenance, living refuge which accommodates entertaining, relaxation and reflection. Large concrete slabs punctuated by recycled timbers and a recycled brick feature wall.Materials are complimented by interesting foliage types and a colour range of silver, purple and deep green. Mature trees anchor the plantscape and provide form and scale.Listen to Adrian describe his design ethic as well as the plant listing
Refugium photo M Cannon


Hemerocallis hybrids.

 with Karen Smith from
Would you like a perennial plant that’s easy care, and flowers all summer, year after year?
Not only that, its hardy, drought resistant, frost resistant, easy care, and low maintenance?
Sounds too good to be true, but with a few general tips on keeping it looking good, these plants can fill the lower parts of your borders or fill out those sunny spots that look bare.
With names like Adorable Perfection, Bali Watercolour, Boogie Woogie Blues and Dream Lover, what could I be talking about but daylilies?

Let’s find out about this plant.

Did you know a daylily is not a bulb?
It is a hardy perennial that can flower for 4 - 6 months.
Day lilies can be planted all year round and Daylilies are long flowering , even though each flower only lasts a day.
They can be planted all year round either in the ground or in pots.
Flowering commences October in the subtropics & mid to late November in VIC, NSW, TAS, SA & some areas of WA.  In many areas a re-bloom occurs in autumn.

All daylilies need is 5 to 7 hours of sun every day, lots of organic matter in the soil, a little water once a week, & a thick mulch of straw or hay. You can grow them in your perennial border, in pots on your patio, around the edges of ponds, on steep banks & even on the roadsides.

The new hybrids means the plant flowers for up to 6 months.
They can have tiny blooms, double blooms, huge single blooms, & fragrant blooms - and with good growing conditions, they can be pest & disease free. They are truly a wonderful perennial & are fast becoming one of the world’s most popular sun-loving flowering plants.

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