Sunday, 15 March 2015

Archangels on the Rooftop Gardening

 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, GM of
Probably one of the first pests that you’ll learn to identify is aphids.

aphids come in yellow, green, black and brown
Just by looking at how many there are, you’ll be left in no doubt that aphids are pests and not beneficial or good bugs.

In the warmer months they seem to get around in their hundreds and at this time of year, the good bugs will need a helping hand.

But not with something that will harm them.
Let’s find out how to control these pests.

Surprisingly, aphids can travel in on the wind.

Just in case you weren’t sure what an aphid looks like, Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects with long slender mouthparts that they use to pierce stems, leaves, and other softer plant parts to suck out fluids.

They have soft pear-shaped bodies with long legs and antennae and may be green, yellow, brown, red, or black depending on the species and the plants they feed on.

A few types of aphids have a waxy or woolly appearance because of a waxy white or grey secretion over their body surface.
Did you know that almost every plant has one or more types of aphid that occasionally feed on it?

lacewing larvae
ladybird larvae

Spend a bit of time getting to know the good bugs in your garden. Turn over leaves to check for ladybird and lacewing larvae.
Seems like Neem oil and botanical oils are the safest bet to use in your garden because it does the least harm to beneficial insects.
If you have any questions about aphids or a photo of a sick plant that you want diagnosed, send it in to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Cauliflower (Brassica oleracea, Botrytis group)
 Cauliflower is native to the Mediterranean and Middle East region, but did you know that it’s been grown as a crop from at least 600 BC?
 Cauliflower is related to broccoli, cabbage, kale, turnips, rutabagas, and
Brussels sprouts.
You might’ve heard cauliflower being called a cruciferous vegetable.
Why is Cauliflower called a cruciferous vegetable?
Because the flowers have four petals and look like a Greek cross.
Did you know that Cauliflower leaves are edible, but have a stronger taste than the florets?
Some of the first crop plantings in Australia way back in 1788 were cauliflowers on Norfolk Island.
How we know this is because a letter exists from Governor Arthur Phillip the (first governor appointed by the British,) to Sir Joseph Banks, telling him that ‘colly flowers’ had been growing at Sydney Cove for weeks.
They were also recorded as growing in a garden at The Rocks, Sydney, in 1803 with some being as large as 4.5 - 5.5kg.
They obviously liked their cauliflower in the early life of the colony.

Flower or Vegetable?
An interesting fact about Cauliflower is that it’s actually a flower that hasn’t fully developed yet.
Yes that’s right -  Cauliflower, is actually a flower growing from a plant.
In its early stages, it looks a bit like broccoli, its closest relative.
The difference is that broccoli opens outward to sprout bunches of green florets, but cauliflower forms a compact head of undeveloped white flower buds.
The cauliflower head itself is a sterile flowering structure whose buds are kept white by green leaves that cover the head, protecting the flower buds from the sunlight.
Because the leaves are covering the floral head and so keeping the sun out, the cauli stays white because the green or chlorophyll in the plant, doesn’t get a chance to develop.

When to Sow.
In Arid zones, plant direct into the garden from April until June, in cool temperate and temperate zones, February was the recommended time to sow seeds but you can sow seedlings until the end of May.
Cauliflower seedlings
If your district is sub-tropical, you might be able to squeeze in seed sowing if you do it straight after the show, otherwise, transplant seedlings until the end of June also.
There is one exception, a variety called Caulifower All Year Round-Hybrid.
This robust variety is available from your local nursery and is ready for harvest very early at 15 weeks.
It grows quite big with a tight curd, and tastes great.

Soil and Site for Cauliflower
All cauliflowers need a neutral or slightly alkaline soil to do well.
If the soil is too acidic, the plants won’t be able to access the trace elements they need, and may develop whiptail.
 On the other hand, soils which are too limey or chalky can lead to stunted and discoloured cauliflower.
If you’re at all unsure, whip out that pH test kit and give it a workout.
If you need to add lime to the soil because it’s too acidic, leave at least four weeks between liming and manuring. 
As with all brassicas, avoid using a plot on which a brassica crop was grown within the past two years. 
Cauliflowers will definitely suffer if they are grown on the same plot for two or more years in a row. 
Winter cauliflowers are much more tolerant of soil conditions, and will grow on most types of soil, as long as there is no water-logging. 
Because they grow slowly over a longer period of time, and have to face winter conditions, the one thing you want to avoid is fast growth.  
Go easy on the liquid food otherwise no heads will form.

If plenty of organic fertilisers have already been dug in, there is no need for additional fertilizers, before planting out winter cauliflowers.

Tips for Growing
Some tips are (i)they need a sheltered site, with some protection from winds. 
(ii)They do better in sun rather than in the shade.

So when do you pick your cauliflower?
A cauliflower is ready for cutting when the upper surface of the curd is fully exposed and the inner leaves no longer cover it. 
As usual in your veggie garden, cauliflowers are ready at the same time. 
Tie the leaves to prevent the cauliflower from yellowing.
If the weather is warm and you leave the cauliflowers in the ground once they have matured, the heads expand and start to yellow looking not that great.
Here’s a tip to not have to eat cauliflower everyday for a month, gather up the leaves and tie them together over the curd so that they cover it, using garden twine, an elastic band or raffia. 
It will also protect the winter ones from the frost.
Why is it good for you?
Cauliflower contains a high amount of vitamin C, and complex carbohydrates.
They’re a great source of dietary fibre and  a good provider of folate (one of the B vitamins)
Like cabbages cauliflowers contain substances called indoles which are responsible for the sulphur smell that can be released if they’re overcooked.
Today, thick cauliflower soups are popular in France and Eastern Europe. Sardinian cooks combine garlic, olive oil and capers with it to make zesty salads and hot dishes. In India, it's cooked with potato and onion to make a rich vegetable curry. Go on , plant some cauliflowers topday.


with Chris Owen, Landscape Designer.
Rooftop Gardens part1.
Modern building disguised at Alhambra Palace, Granada, Spain. photo M Cannon

You might find this hard to believe but in ancient Mesopotamia (4th millennium BC–600 BC) the citizens had plantings of trees and shrubs on aboveground terraces.
Also during Roman times - the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii, had an elevated terrace where plants were grown.
What’s more, a roof garden has also been discovered around an audience hall in Roman-Byzantine Caesarea.
So, for something completely different I’m starting a series on rooftop gardens
Let’s find out about them

Rooftop gardens_Alhambra Palace, Granada photo M Cannon

A roof garden is a garden on the roof of a building.
Besides the decorative benefit, roof plantings can give you food, temperature control, look great, provide habitats or corridors for wildlife, and in large scale it may even have ecological benefits.
Did you know that the practice of cultivating food on the rooftop of buildings is sometimes referred to as rooftop farming? Rooftop farming is usually done using green roof, hydroponics, aeroponics or air-dynaponics systems or container gardens.


with Jeremy Critchley from and Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal magazine.
Ever heard of summer snapdragons?
If you haven’t you’ll be surprised to know that there is such a plant that has flowers that look like small snapdragons. Not only that, they appear on a small bushy plant all summer long and into autumn, plus they’re scented.
Let’s find out about this plant.
PLAY: PLAY:Angelonia_11th March_2015
Did you know that Angelonias weren’t well known in the gardening scene until the late 1990s?
Luckily, breeders and plant development companies saw that they had great potential and started producing Angelonias that were shorter and heavy-flowering.
Angelonias are easy to grow and can stand hot days and humidity which normal snapdragons can’t.
Flowering: Summer, Late Summer.  

The biggest flowers for big visual impact, even from a distance!

Angelonia Archangel has the most generous blooms, vibrant colors, glossy dark green foliage with a robust, well-branched habit, delivering big Summer impact.

 Angelonia Archangel is not your average Angelonia, it has flowers that are three times larger than other varieties and thrives in extreme heat, humidity and drought.

An excellent container or bedding plant and creates a striking display for landscapes.
Worth a try.

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