Friday, 31 October 2014

Spring Into Action and Eat Guava


Springs nearly over and you’ve probably pruned, weeded and mulched your garden but are some of your plants still looking overgrown and in need of attention?
photo M Cannon
There are still some jobs that need doing so
Let’s find out what they are….I'm talking with Permaculture North President, Margaret Mossakowska
PLAY: Spring Garden_29th _October_2014
Hydrophobic soil can be treated organically by incorporating coco peat, compost or growing green manures.
Green manures for the warmer months include millet, buckwheat, Lucerne and alfalfa.
You can use any seeds that have past their use by date and throw them into the ground.
Just chop them off as they grow and let them decompose on top of the soil.
For those areas where rain has been below average, don’t fertilise your trees and shrubs, just keep up the watering.
photo M Cannon
When you’re watering it’s a good idea to add seaweed solution-better still use it in a hose on and it’ll take much less time and effort.
Trees that are drought stressed will be prone to dropping limbs or even dropping dead, so a good watering with seaweed solution will help with the recovery.
When it comes to mulching-trees are need woody mulches that break down with fungi.
 Soft mulches, such as sugar cane, tea tree and pea straw are needed for veggie beds because they feed the soil as they break down.
For a natural soil wetter, try Agar Agar which comes in a powder form. Mix it in with the soil then wet it down.
If you have any questions what needs doing in the spring garden, drop us a line to


Valerian,or Valeriana Officinalis
 You’ll find this growing wild in marshy ground, along water courses and in fields of Europe, through northern Asia to China.
Valerian or garden Heliotrope, is sometimes  called 'garden valerian,' 'garden heliotrope' and 'all-heal.'
Valerian has been around for thousands of years ad was used as a medicinal herb since at least the time of ancient Greece and Rome.
Valerian is a perennial that fits in both the ornamental and medicinal herb garden.
Some say the whole plant, except for the flower, has an unpleasant smelly sock odour. 
But then why were Valerian flower extracts were used as a perfume in the sixteenth century?
Did you know that, the smell was considered bad enough for the early Greeks to have named it Phu (Phew!).
Then again Valerian roots were used as a moth repellent in stored clothing during the Middle Ages.
Personally I don’t find it that unpleasant and think that the root or rhizome of the plant is what’s got that smelly odour.
If you’ve got a feline companion that likes the smell of the Catnip plant, then they’ll also like the smell of Valerian.
So if you are the crafty type and want to please your feline, make an herbal pillow out of Valerian, and your cat will provide you with hours of entertainment! 
What Does it Look Like?
Valeriana officinalis, is a tall perennial that grows to about 1.5 metres and ,  has clusters of (usually) white flowers that attract butterflies and bees.
If you know that plant Cherry Pie, then you know what the flowers of Valerian look like-flattened heads that appear in Summer.
The leaves are serrated or toothed and mid-green on stems of about 30cm.
The root or rhizome is the part used in herbal medicine and that’s what has that strong smell and a fairly unpleasant taste.
You might already use Valerian to help you sleep at night so know that it has properties.
Valerian is an easy to grow plant Grow valerian in any moist, semi-shaded location. 
Valerian is a heavy nitrogen-feeder, so apply a liquid fertiliser every fortnight and add organic material to the soil.
Plants can be raised from seed planted in spring or by root division in Autumn.
If you’re growing Valerian as a medicinal herb, cut the flower stalks as soon as they appear to direct more energy to the root.
You dig up the roots in autumn for drying.

By taking off the flowers as soon as they appear will give you a larger mass of roots to use.
If you’re growing valerian as an ornamental, let the plant flower, as the flowers have a sweet, cherry pie fragrance, a trademark of the Heliotrope family.
If you’re growing Valerian by seed, I should point out that the

germination rate is poor.
It has to be fresh seed and only press the seed onto the surface because they’re so fine.
Valerian can be grown anywhere in Australia and the seedlings are frost but not drought hardy.
You can also grow Valerian in a largish pot but keep up the watering because it grows quite tall.
I’ve never had Valerian self seeding in my garden-but mines growing in a pot and probably needs to be planted out.
Using Valerian.
 When taken in the proper dosage, Valerian can induce restful sleep without grogginess the next morning, unlike prescription drugs.
Valerian root is the part of the plant that is used for medicinal purposes.  After you’ve dug up your Valerian roots- wash, them quickly dry at 1200C degrees in the oven until brittle.
Keep an eye on this so you don't burn the roots. 
If you store the Valerian roots in an airtight container, the roots will keep indefinitely.
Valerian root has traditionally been used as a sedative and it is an ingredient in many medicines used for this purpose.
Fresh or dried valerian root can be used to make a calming tea, though most people find that it is necessary to add honey or other herbs to off-set the taste. The tea may be useful to treat insomnia, cramps and stress, but do not use for extended periods without a break, or if you are taking other sleep-inducing medications.
Ground valerian root can also be used to make a soothing bath.
The mineral rich leaves are a good additive to your compost and a spray made from the root is which is then sprayed onto the ground is supposed to attract earthworms.
Valerian is often used as a companion plant, especially in the vegetable garden.
Why is it good for you?
Valerian is a central nervous system relaxer, and has been used as a calming sleep aid for over 1,000 years. 
Commercially the root can be distilled into oils and ointments, or dried and used in teas or capsules.


with landscape designer Brent Reid
photo M Cannon
My next guest has worked in the landscaping industry for 16 years, learning the ropes at Semken Landscaping whilst studying Horticulture at Burnley College and Holmesglen College.
After working with some of Melbourne (and Australia’s) best landscape designers at the Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show, Brent’s passion for landscape design was born, which led to designing gardens for TV shows.
This next garden called Connect-was designed with the family in mind.

Let’s find out what this is all about.

The garden has been designed to be a family garden. There is a central structure which connects the family where they can eat, relax and come together to enjoy quality time. There are two distinct area wither side of the central structure. The first side is a parent’s retreat with detailed plantings, a touch of lawn and some canopy trees sheltering a beautiful birdbath by Willie Wildlife. The second side to the garden is the kid’s area with secret hiding spots and a dedicated fruit, vegetable and herb garden joined by an open lawn for playing. The garden is partly enclosed by walls and hedging plants.


with Hort Journal Karen smith

Feijoa, Pineapple Guava
Acca Sellowiana syn Feijoa sellowiana
If you were told that the fruit of this tree the fruit has the taste and perfume of strawberry, pineapple, lemon, passionfruit and guava, would you buy it?
What if you were also told that he spectacular purple, pink and white flowers with a mass of red stamens have sweet delicious petals that make a superb ingredient in sweets and drinks., would you change your mind and want to grow it?

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

The feijoa is a slow-growing evergreen shrub that can reach 5m. high and 5metres wide.
The feijoa can tolerate partial shade and slight exposure to salt spray. They also make an excellent foundation planting, either singly or as a formal or informal hedge.
The fruits are about 2 to 8cm long and vary in shape from round to elongated pear shaped.
The waxy skin is dull blue-green to blue or grayish green and the skin texture varies from smooth to rough and pebbly and is 1.5cm thick. The fruit emits a strong long-lasting perfume, even before it is fully ripe.
Scoop out the flesh out put some on a fruit salad or in a smoothie.
The tiny edible seeds are embedded in a jellylike centre and you can make sweet drinks with the flowers.

Best of all the trees are very attractive and can be planted to form beautiful flowering and fruiting hedges, screens or windbreaks. They espalier well and can be trained as a small standard tree or a multi-trunked specimen.  They’re well suited to pot culture and even seedling trees will produce flowers and fruits after as little as three years.

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.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Plants Banks and Waratahs

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


by Louise Brooks with Manager/Curator Plant Bank The Australian Garden, Mt Annan John Siemon

Have you ever wonder what would happen if we lost a further 50% of living plants here in Australia?

Would they be gone forever or could they regrow themselves?
Plant Bank Mt Annan-photo Louise Brooks
I’m not being a doomsdaysayer, because the hard facts are, that 50% of the world’s plant species ARE  under threat of extinction?
It could happen through bushfire, mining, over-grazing, or drought.
So what kind of insurance to prevent this happening do we need?
What about a plant bank?
Let’s find out what that really is….

The Australian PlantBank is a science and research facility of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust and is located at the Australian Botanic Garden, Mount Annan.
Behind the glass windows are three vaults storing 100 million seeds in temperatures ranging between four to minus 20 degrees.

John Siemon, the PlantBank's is the project manager, of Plant Bank at Mt Annan.
Trays of small foil packets are carefully numbered and linked to other DNA related samples in the collection.
Inside the bunker a fifth of Australia's 25,000 plant species are represented, including 260 of NSW's rare and endangered species. An insurance policy, if you like, against possible extinction, allowing future scientists to bring back to life native plants for regrowth or medical research.

PlantBank houses thermal efficient seed storage vaults, climate controlled glasshouses, and state of the art laboratories.
Plant Bank Mt Annan-photo Louise Brooks
It houses the Trust's seedbank and research laboratories that specialise in horticultural research and conservation of Australian native plant species, particularly those from New South Wales.If you want to visit the Plant Bank-you can.Plus if you’re a bit tech savvy you can download the new mobile app that takes you behind-the-scenes.
Plant Bank Mt Annan-photo Louise Brooks

You can explore this exciting new conservation centre, including the laboratories and seed vault, the surrounding landscaped gardens and the nearby endangered Cumberland Plain Woodland. If you have any questions about Plant Banks, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


New Zealand Yams Oka or Oca

New Zealand Yams Oka or New Zealand yams
Scientifically it’s known as Oxalis tuberosa and it’s in the Oxalidaceae, the oxalis or wood sorrel family.
Did you know that New Zealand yams are considered the lost crop of the Incas and were introduced to Europe in 1830 as a competitor to the potato?
Did you also know that New Zealand yams were also introduced to New Zealand as early as 1860 and are grown commercially there?
New Zealand yams also grows very well in the UK and Ireland?

What does it look like?
Oxalis tuberosa (Oxalidaceae) is a perennial herbaceous plant that overwinters as underground stem tubers.
When New Zealand yams does grow it becomes a compact, bushy perennial plant with clover-like leaves to 20 - 30 cm high.
Being a tuberous plant it grows like potatoes but belonging to a completely different family to potato it’s unaffected by blight and other associated pest and disease problems that potatoes normally get.
New Zealand yams  have small edible tubers that look like stubby, wrinkled pinky-red carrots.
These tubers can then be boiled, roasted, stir fried, or even eaten raw in salads.
The tubers have a pleasant sweet/ tangy flavour,

NZ Yams-photo M Cannon


How to plant:
The recommended planting time is spring in cool areas and at the beginning of the wet season in warmer areas.
In temperate climates plant the tubers in October and November, in cool temperate districts, plant in November or after the last frost.
For sub-tropical areas-September to November, and for arid zones  it’s too hot now, wait until next August.
Store the best tubers for propagation for the next season in dry sand or sawdust, in a cool dark place.
For everyone, planting time is about now for New Zealand yams.
You can grow your New Zealand yams in sun but New Zealand yams are more shade tolerant, and in fact, will do better in partial shade.
All you have to do when planting New Zealand yams tubers is to cover the tubers with soil to a depth of 5 cm and space your plants 30 cm apart.
Ideally wait until tubers begin to shoot before planting.
You can speed this up by placing the tubers on a tray in a morning sun position.
New Zealand yams also grows well in styrofoam boxes, pots and planter bags.
You can start off by planting dormant tubers in a 12 cm pot, 8cm deep, in potting mix and transplant out once plants show active growth.
You need to feed the bed with fish emulsion, worm tea or some blood and bone sprinkled on the surface every couple of months.
One thing to remember is that at about 4 months, New Zealand yams plants should be hilled like potatoes to encourage tuber formation.
So when do you know to dig up your New Zealand yams tubers?
Just like with potatoes, the tubers are ready to eat when the foliage starts to die back.
New Zealand yams is resistant to low temperatures and thrives in moderately cool climates but freezing will kill the foliage. If the tubers are already established they’ll re-sprout.
On another note, temperatures above 28°C cause the plant to wilt.
Tubers start forming 4 months after planting and production peaks at 6 months.
Store the best tubers for propagation the next season in dry sand or sawdust, in a cool dark place.
Each 10cm tuber (always eat the big ones) should produce up to 30 edible tubers as long as a man`s middle finger- and a lot of smaller ones ideal for planting the following season.
Once again, just like potatoes, New Zealand yams grows in all types of soil and a wide range pH.
From some web bloggers I discovered that Charles grew New Zealand yams in Victoria for years and as you know they have many days over 40 degrees.
He says as long as you hill them up like spuds, they survive.
The downside is that frosts finished them off before they were ready so he got a lot of small immature tubers as a result.
Another blogger who lives in Brisbane  writes that he really loves New Zealand yams, but in order to grow it successfully in his area you need to 'reverse' the season.
While everyone else in Australia starts growing it from mid-Spring, he has to plant it mid-Autumn. Winter temperatures in frost-free areas of Queensland are ideal to grow New Zealand yams.
Buy it and store it until March.
The summer is simply too hot, humid and wet .
Once you successfully grow your crop, save some of it in the fridge every year for autumn planting.
New Zealand yams is more perishable than potatoes, but if properly handled can be stored at room temperature for some months.
They store pretty well in a plastic bag in the crisper of the fridge.
Cooking with New Zealand yams
Cook New Zealand yams as you would a potato i.e. New Zealand yams can be boiled, baked or fried.
In Mexico, New Zealand yams is commonly sprinkled with salt, lemon and hot pepper and eaten raw.
In the Andes, the tubers are placed in the sun for a few days, to sweeten them.
New Zealand yams leaves can be eaten as a sorrel substitute.



New Zealand yams is one of the highest vegetable sources of carbohydrate and energy. They are a good source of pro-vitamin A (beta carotene), and also contain potassium, vitamin B6 and small amounts of fibre.
Yellow-orange coloured varieties indicate the presence of carotenoids; whilst red skins and red specks in flesh indicate the presence of anthocyanins.


with garden designer Lesley Simpson

succulent Coral Garden-My Island Home. photo M Cannon

A couple of weeks ago I spoke to a guest Melbourne landscape designer, Phil Withers.
Phil had created a garden called My Island Home which had a coral reef bed made up of succulents.
It looked like the real deal-a coral reel made up of plants.
So keeping in that theme of creating things with succulents, it’s possible to create other types of themes using succulent plants.
Let’s find out what this is all about.

The ideas for using succulents to do another concept are endless.
What about a river bed of succulents? 
Ever thought of a fairy garden with succulents?
Or even a gnome’s garden?
Succulents in a bowl?

photo M Cannon
 There’s plenty of possibilities and on the up-side succulents are pretty drought tolerant and forgiving
 because succulents store water in their leave, stems and roots.  Because the roots of succulent plants are relatively shallow, a bowl or dish can look great. Just make sure that your pot has good drainage, or that you can put holes in it.
Just because they're drought hardy doesn't mean they like to bake in the midday sun.
Most succulents do best if they are in the direct sun for only a few hours a day. Many need protection from getting scorched in the mid-day sun, but almost all need some bright, indirect light. Succulents can actually suffer from sunburn!


What floral emblem do you have in your state?
Did you know that Telopea speciosissima or the waratah, was proclaimed the official floral emblem of New South Wales on 24 October 1962?
Waratahs grow to 3 metres tall and about 1.5 metres across. They have stiff, wedge-shaped and usually coarsely toothed, dark green, leathery leaves to 15 cm long.
Muogamurra Nature Reserve-photo M Cannon
The NSW species normally flowers red, but many produce pink or even white flowers. A rare white-flowering form, ‘Wirrimbirra White’, is occasionally available from specialist growers.
did you know that the large, pinky-red flowerheads are actually a lot of small flowers densely packed into conical about 15 cm across, and surrounded by a collar of large red, smooth bracts.
The ‘flower’ is in fact a conflorescence makes up to as many as 240 individual flowers. It flowers during spring, October to November.

It is a bird-attracting plant, providing large quantities of nectar for a variety of honeyeaters.

People want to know why Waratahs sometimes drop dead?

Sometimes the conditions just aren’t right and eventually your Waratah gives up the ghost.
What are those conditions?
Some say grow near a Banksia serrata is the key.
Others that you need to get some mycorrhizal fungi.
There are members of the Australian Society for Growing Plants that wouldn’t think much of that idea either.
But what everyone agrees on, never hard prune your waratah plant and watering is the key.
Plants bought from garden centres and nurseries are cutting grown and don’t have that deep water searching  tap root that Waratahs have growing in the wild.

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.