Sunday, 22 February 2015

Hens and Chickens Amongst the Roses.

 REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
Real World Gardener is funded by the Community Broadcasting Foundation (CBF).
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 of
As flowers go, roses are probably the most popular garden plant and cut flower.
Who doesn’t like receiving a bunch of roses?

Rosa Cornelius photo M Cannon
As gardeners and horticulturalists go, growing roses can be problematic if you’re trying to grow them out of their comfort zone.
The wrong spot or climate can make some problems seem hard to eradicate.
Let’s find out how to treat this next problem in the rose garden.

The scale itself is 203mm big, roughly circular and off white in colour. Rose scale stands out against the brown stems and can get a complete covering of the stem.
If you’ve only got one rose in a pot, then scrubbing off the scale with soapy water is probably all you need to do but you may not get all the crawlers and the problem will persist.
Rose scale
Or if you find a stem that’s just covered with so much scale that it’s practically white-get out the scrubbing brush or just prune it off.
Certainly a good scrub can break through all the layers if it's badly infested but then treat with eco Oil.
Otherwise, applying horticultural oil based on botanical oil is the best treatment for rose scale because it does the least harm to beneficial insects.
Also botanically based oils can be sprayed onto plants at higher day temperatures- up to 350 C If you have any questions about scale or rose scale or a photo of a plant you want diagnosed, send it in to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


One you’ve probably not heard of and one I’ve not grown myself.
Scorzonera also known as Black Salsify and black oyster plant.
 Scorzonera hispanica
This is a perennial root veggie from the sunflower or daisy family-that’s Asteraceae.

As you would expect then black salsify or scorzonera has yellow daisy-like flowers.
You might be thinking that black salsify is a new vegetable that some plant breeder has come up with but no, it’s been around for a few hundred years.
Native to southern Europe it was sold in markets in Syria in the mid 1500’s.
An interesting fact is that the roots were once a popular, though ineffectual, treatment for bubonic plague.
Did you know that the world’s largest producers of black salsify are France, Belgium and the Netherlands, and even Germany? Yes, that’s today.
I found an article by one of Australia’s top chefs Steve Manfredi
He says
"There is a newish member of the winter vegetable brigade called salsify. The root vegetable has been grown in Australia for some years. The small crop has been mostly gobbled up by restaurants and ethnic fruit markets. Its flavour is similar to white asparagus and Jerusalem artichoke but it really has a taste all its own.
There is some confusion with the name here in Australia.
Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius) looks a lot like a hairy, creamy-brown carrot with leek-like leaves.
What is more commonly sold here as salsify is scorzonera (Scorzonera hispanica).
Though they are both members of the daisy family, scorzonera has black or dark brown skin and, rather than tapering like a carrot, it looks like a cane. While they are interchangeable in recipes, scorzonera is less bitter than salsify and more highly regarded, not to mention harder to pronounce."

What does it look like?
Scorzonera has long thin roots with chocolate coloured outer skin and a milky white inner flesh.
The skin you need to peel because it’s too tough to eat.
In the ground, the leaves don’t look anything like that of a carrot but more like a clump of grass.
So mark your veggie bed well where you plant it so you don’t mistake it for some grassy weed and pull it out.
For those lucky gardeners with good deep soil, you’ll be amazed to know that the tap root can grow up to a metre long.
Because it’s a perennial, if you leave it in the ground for two years, it’ll just get bigger.
In fact, you’ll probably end up doing this because they’re quite slow growing taking as much as 3-4 months.
Seeds are relatively easy to buy if you use mail order catalogues or online seed companies.

Sow your scorzonera seeds from spring right through to the end of summer.
Scorzonera seeds are a bit hard to germinate and take a long time, so don’t be too careful with the seeds because you can thin them out if they all come up.
As with carrots-use fresh seed because they don’t stay viable for long.
In fact, treat you black salsify seeds as you would carrots seeds-that is, plant them directly into the ground and use the same tricks that you did with carrots.
Like carrots and parsnips, scorzonera likes deep, loose soil.
Avoid adding manure as this causes the roots to fork.
Keep moist during the growing season.
You’ll get larger roots if you leave off harvesting until the second year. The roots are brittle, so dig them out carefully.

How do you eat black salsify?
Dig them up and scrub as best you can, then cook in their skins and peel. They have a savoury flavour that’s a little like artichoke hearts with a unique earthy flavour.
The roots are used in soups and mashed, while the leaves are eaten in salads.
You can also steam and eat the flower buds.
Steve Manfredi’s tips for cooking scorzonera are:
Preparing salsify is easy. First, peel and place immediately into acidulated water made by adding a little lemon juice or vinegar.
For soups it can be added raw in appropriate lengths.
If roasting or pan-frying, cook first in plenty of water for 10-15 minutes until tender.
If pureeing, cook a little longer so it's easily mashed.
Salsify is excellent with fish or shellfish, roast meats or in stews.
One thing that the top chef forgot to mention is that black salsify oozes a sticky white latex if you should break off a piece.
Wearing rubber gloves if you want to peel it before you boil it is recommended.
Otherwise cook it unpeeled.
Why Is It Good for You?
Black salsify has proteins, fats, asparagine, choline, laevulin, as well as minerals such as potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, and vitamins A, B1, E and high levels of vitamin C.
It also contains the glycoside inulin, also found in Jerusalem artichokes.



with landscape designer Jason Cornish
Whether you’re short on space in the garden or you have a wall or fence that could do with some greenery, vertical gardens could be the answer.
Or are they really all that they are cracked up to be-a panacea for gardens short on space?
Perhaps they are instead something that is a drain on the pocket, and out time to keep them looking good. We examnine the pitfalls in part 1 of a 2 part look at vertical gardens.
But just what is a vertical garden and how do you make one and what are the pitfalls?
Venlo, Netherlands photo M Cannon
Let’s find out in part 1 of this  2part look at vertical gardens.

Vertical gardens sound impressive and difficult, and some of us have been procrastinating months if not years about building one.
Jason doesn’t beat around the bush and over the next two weeks we’ll be going through ways you can build a vertical garden and the pros and cons of having one.


with Karen Smith from
Do you have enough ferns in your garden filling out the shady damp places?
Fernery, Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney. photo M Cannon
It’s amazing how some ferns spring up out of nowhere it places where you’d think it was impossible to grow ferns.
I have maiden hair ferns sprouting out of the bottom of a sandstone retaining wall and surviving without any care at all.
Hen and chicken fern, is another one that’s easy to grow and has an really interesting way of growing.
Let’s find out about this plant.

Asplenium bulbiferum, or Hen and Chicken fern,   is native to Australia and New Zealand.

In nature, native ferns usually are usually found growing in the damp, dim places that frogs would like to call home.
Asplenium bulbiferum-Hen and Chicken Fern
They will grow well outdoors in any shady area, as long as they have enough moisture and are protected from drying winds.
Use them as ground covers or accents in shady areas or along a north-facing wall or fence.


It's called a 'hen and chicken' fern because it grows small bulbils on the top of its fronds. 

Once these bulbils grow to about 5 cm (or are carrying three of four miniature fronds, they can be easily detached by pulling them off and planting them into small pots.).
If you don't pick them off, these  bulbils will fall off of the main plant and as long as the soil they land in is moist, they’ll develop a small root system and then start to grow on into a new ferns. 
In 3 to 6 months they will have developed a good sturdy root system and will be ready to pot on to the next size.

Much easier than propagating using the spore method.

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