Sunday, 29 March 2015

Hand Over Your Lupins

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 Curator Rouse Hill Historic House, Scott Hill

Rouse Hill Historic Home photo Louise Brooks

There’s no doubt that England, and quite a few countries in the European Union have very old historic gardens compared to Australian historic gardens.

Even so, Australia does have some important gardens that are in need of restoration or reconstruction to bring them back to their original condition.

Gardens are part of our history and give us a window into the past, and once lost are impossible to replace.
People tend to think of heritage gardens as being old, but they can be anything from a couple of decades old to centuries old.
Heritage value also doesn't rely on the person that lived there.
Some styles have heritage values, such as "gardenesque" which was from the 1830's to the end of the 19th century. "Gardenesque" embodied a particular planting style and sought to bring out botanic values of plants.

Let’s find out more about why have historic gardens and the issued in looking after them.

Historic garden restoration and maintenance is an important issue worldwide.

Rouse Hill Historic House photo Louise Brooks
The restoration of heritage gardens whether they be community or private gardens, can be looked at as cultural or community assets.
Some need to be restored and all require maintenance in a sensitive way that reflects their historical significance.
Inside these historic gardens there can exist trees of a great age, old-fashioned plants, rare specimens, paths, edging and seating.
If you have any questions about historic gardens or have a photo of a historic garden you want to share, send it in to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Lupinus albus
Lupins or Lupinus species.
Lupins belong in the pea or Fabaceae family.
This of course means that Lupins fix Nitrogen into the soil from the atmosphere.
You’ve probably heard of Russell Lupins , that perennial flowering plant for gardens, coming in a variety of colours and leaf shapes.
These aren’t exactly the same.
Did you know, seed from some perennial flowering Lupins are edible and have been used as a crop feed as well as food for humans? 
Ever heard of Lupin beans eaten together with Portuguese beer.?
That sounds like an interesting possibility doesn’t it?
This may surprise you but Lupins as a food have been used for thousands of years.
Lupin dishes were popular during the Roman Empire.
But they seemed to eat just about everything didn’t they?

Lupinus albus
People from native tribes in South and Native America used to soak Lupin beans in salt water before eating them.
These are grown even today as a Soy substitute.
Lupin flowers
Lupin flowers come in a rainbow of colours but not all have edible seed pods. But before you go snacking on the seed pods of these flowers, be warned, unless you’ve bought edible Lupin seeds, the other varieties of Lupins are TOXIC.
THESE Lupins contain Lupin alkaloids which can cause Lupin poisoning.
DPI Victoria says there are 2 types of Lupin; the narrow leaf species (Lupinus angustifolius-blue flower) and the larger seeded and broader leaf Lupinus albus, with a white flower.
Lupinus albus is grown mostly for human consumption, while the higher protein narrow leaf lupin, Lupinus angustifolius, is better as stock feed.
Yellow Lupins are also a new crop in W.A.

The Andean Lupin L. mutabilis, the Mediterranean Lupinus albus (white lupin), Lupinus angustifolius (blue lupin) and Lupinus hirsutus are only edible after soaking the seeds for some days in salted water.

So this is one of those times you need to know those latin names, or at least know that there are edible lupins and the non-edible, mainly for show Russell lupins.
An important note: the edible lupins are called sweet lupins because they contain smaller amounts of toxic alkaloids than the bitter ornamental lupin varieties.

Apparently there are newly bred varieties of sweet lupins that are grown widely in Germany; they lack any bitter taste and don’t need soaking in salt solution.
The seeds are used for different foods from vegan sausages to lupin-tofu or lupin flour.
Lupins are currently under widespread cultivation in Australia, Europe, Russia, and the Americas as a green manure, livestock fodder and grazing plant, and high protein additive for animal and human foods.
Here in Australia is we don’t grow lupins to eat because 95% of Lupins grown here are grown for stock feed.
How and when  to sow your Lupins.
Sow Lupin seeds need to be sown 3-4 cm deep.
Sowing deeper than 5 cm can lead to very poor germination.
Lupins prefer moderate temperatures and rainfall, they don’t like frost because most of your flowers will drop if frost is severe enough or ongoing. They like moderate temperatures; too many days over 30o C will also see flowers drop.
The best time to sow your lupin seeds in temperate areas is autumn and spring, in subtropical areas April-June.
Lupins will also grow in a cool climate, for example if you live in southern Victoria, then February to March is the best time.
Lupins also grow in Mediterranean climates and grow in districts with average temperatures under 320C
The Lupin plant loves well-watered areas and soil with slight acidity.
The plant grows best coarse, well-drained soil preferably with a pH between 6 and 7.
Lupins can also grow in any area that has loose, light-coloured fertile soil.
It is best to water Lupins for 10-20 minutes every day.
Lupins also need direct sunlight daily for at least four hours.
Here’s a surprise, Lupin roots can grow down to 2.5 metres.
 You can buy Lupinus alba as a mail order seed and this is used for a green manure crop from the following supplier

Lupinus alba adds nitrogen to your soil, and because of the long taproot, opens and aerates the soil
Another soil benefit is that Lupins accumulate phosphorus; and the flowers are attractive to bees and other beneficial insects.

Why are Lupins good for you?
Lupin flour used in bread products and pasta, is high in protein and is highly

nutritious for human body.
This is one of the main health benefits of Lupins.
Lupin seed has a low GI and makes us feel fuller for longer.
Apparently Lupin enhanced bread is available in some health food stores, and is said to reduce your hunger.
Lupin oil is edible oil extracted from Lupin seeds.
Because lupin seeds have the full range of essential amino acids and unlike soy, can be grown in more temperate to cool climates, lupins are becoming increasingly recognized as a cash crop alternative to soy.
So at this stage you can either grow the Lupins as a green manure crop, or a flowering perennial.
The flowers are considered a must for the cottage garden, combining perfectly with poppies, catmint and roses.
As far as growing Lupins as an edible crop, only commercial quantities are available to the crop farmer. But you never know, there could be a breakthrough soon, and we might be making our own Lupin enhanced bread in the not too distant future.


with Christopher Owen, Landscape Designer
Rooftop gardens can work and are something you might want to think about if you only got a small amount of land on which to garden.
But what plants survive on a rooftop garden? What climate factors will impact most on those plants that you choose?

Let’s find out some more
PLAY: Rooftop Gardens_pt3_25th March_ 2015
You might not know that Switzerland has recently passed a bylaw which states that new buildings must be designed to relocate the green space covered by the building's footprint to their roofs - even existing buildings -including historical buildings - must now green 20% of their rooftops. This has created an increased demand for research and material/product design.Green roofs are a huge investment, especially financially. But research shows that the benefits outweigh the cost. Not only do green roofs help to combat the urban heat island effect, they’re energy-efficient and can be quite useful, particularly if they include vegetable gardens and fruit trees.


 with Jeremy Critchley owner
and Karen Smith editor of

Brachyscome multifida is plant of the week.

Brachyscome or cut-leafed daisy, is a perennial plant found in the grassy understories of woodlands and open forests. Naturally found in the temperate areas of southern Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
Breeders are constantly finding new cultivars that suit that home garden better than the species variety found naturally.

If you heard the names Mauve delight, Radiant Magenta, Verassco Violet, and Jumbo Tricolour.
What could I be talking about other than a plant?
This time a native plant for our gardens but before you say, I’ve tried native plants and they just don’t work in my garden.
Yes, I’ve been there too, but with new varieties coming through all the time that have been bred specifically for home garden conditions, what’s the harm of trying those too?
Let’s find out about some more…..

Mauve Delight Brachyscome does take hard frosts and in fact if the plant shoots from underground, they seem to survive frosts, although the top part may get burnt off by the frost.
Its trailing habit makes it perfect for use in hanging baskets, containers or as a small area ground cover.

The Cut-Leafed Daisy grows best in a full sun position but can tolerate part shade and it grows on a range of soil types including heavy clays and light-sandy loams.

It doesn't need much extra watering, but in the drier months it would need a supplementary water.
The only problem Brachyscome get is if the leaves are consistently wet, powdery mildew can be a problem.

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