Sunday, 12 April 2015

Analyse These Sunny Flowers

 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
Lawn Armyworm
Blenheim Palace, England photo M Cannon
Did you know that the word for a patch of grass or managed grass space was called "lawn", from only about the 16th century, but not before?
Do you love your lawn but something seems to always attack it?
Sometimes it’s those pesky hard to get rid of weeds, like onion weed, creeping oxalis and nutgrass.
Or sometimes it’s strange round spots that are either yellow, or white or just brown bare patches that seem to appear overnight.
These bare patches are the first thing you'll notice with this particular lawn problem.
Let’s find out about looking after your lawn..

These caterpillars or lawn armyworm is different from fungal diseases of leaves because  bare one leaves bare patches and the latter leaves brown patches.
The lawn armyworm eats blades of grass right down to the roots and doesn't prefer any particular type of grass.
If you have these caterpillars they are a dull grey-green often with black markings on the sides of their bodies and about 4 1/2 cm long.
Looking out for the moth laying eggs seems to be out of the question unless you’re a night owl.

But there’s a pretty easy organic solution to control lawn armyworm as long as you act as soon as you soon your lawn dying back.
To test you lawn for lawn armyworm, throw on a bucket of soapy water at the places where the bare patches meet the still living grass.
If they're there, the armyworm will come up for air.
You can rake them up  but you may miss the new hatchlings. Alternatively, use the one treatment with Neem Oil.

Organic solutions are quick, easy and effective so there’s no need to reach for anything for anything more toxic.
If you have any questions about lawn armyworm or a photo of a lawn problem in your garden you want to share, send it in to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Radicchio or Cichorium intybus

A little while ago I talked about growing chicory for either the edible root, or leaf.
Today, a plant with the same botanical name but looks more like red cabbage than it does the green leafed chicory plant.

So what’s the difference between red cabbage and radicchio?
Firstly ra-DEEK –e  oo is spelt ra-DITCH ee-oo and is sometimes known as Italian chicory.
Red cabbage is more like green cabbage in flavour and is quite firm, but radicchio is more like a lettuce and is quite soft.
Red cabbage is purple when it’s raw and only turns red when you cook it.
Radicchio has a slightly bitter and spicy taste and is more a salad vegetable, although you can use it grilled and as a pizza topping.
The flavour mellows when it’s grilled by the way.
Even the radicchio has been around for a while it didn’t take off until the fifteenth century, in the Veneto and Trentino regions of Italy.
Did you know that the deep-red radicchio of today was engineered in 1860 by the Belgian agronomist Francesco Van den Borre?
He used a whitening technique which involved preforcing, or blanching to create the dark red, white-veined leaves: radicchio plants were taken from the ground and placed in water in darkened sheds, where lack of light and caused the plants to lose their green pigmentation.
Growing Radicchio
Radicchio is easy to grow and can be sown all year round, but it does best in spring and Autumn just about everywhere in gardens.
Radicchio likes frequent but not deep watering, the amount of water depends on your soil type.
If you’re a bit haphazard with your watering, you’ll get a more bitter tasting leaf.
By planting radicchio in Autumn, the flavour is changed quite a bit by the onset of cold weather, because the colder weather, the mellower the flavour. Cold weather also starts the heading and reddening process in traditional varieties of radicchio.
When is it ready?
While some gardeners start the seeds indoors for later transplanting, most simply sow the seeds directly into the garden bed.
Popular varieties include Red Surprise and Verona Red. Radicchio matures in approximately three months.
Radicchio likes fertile, well-drained soil in a mostly sunny location.
With a garden fork, work some compost or soil conditioner into the top 20cm of soil.
Sprinkle the seeds in rows or just scatter them and cover lightly with some more soil.
The radicchio seeds should germinate in about a week.
When the seedlings are 3cm tall, thin them so that the plants are spaced 10 – 15cm apart.
You can do this by just cutting or snipping the plants at the soil level with a pair of scissors.
Radicchio matures in about 80 to 90 days or 2 ½ to 3 months.
As soon as the heads are compact and firm -about the size of a baseball, just cut the plant off at the soil level with a sharp knife.
It's best to eat radicchio soon after harvesting it, but it’ll keep for as long as a week in the refrigerator.
For those living in cool temperate districts, raddichio can be made to stand through a very cold winter, and the head will regenerate if cut off carefully above ground level, so long as the plant is protected against severe frost.
TIP: If you put a light-excluding cover, for example, an inverted pot, during the last phase of growth, then you’ll get leaves with a more pronounced colour contrast, and at the same time you’ll be protecting against frost and cold winds.
If the head is cut off completely just above the root, a small, new head will grow, especially if some frost protection is given.
You can do this a number of times.
Why is it good for you?
Radicchio is a rich source of dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals.
The bitterness in the radicchio is something called lactucopicrin –LAC-TOO-SIP-RIN (intybin),
Lactucopicrin is a good anti-malarial agent and has a sedative and analgesic (painkiller) effect.
Something to have with your evening meal to help you sleep.
Fresh radicchio leaves are also one of the best sources of vitamin K and they have moderate amounts of essential B-complex groups of vitamins such as folic acid, vitamin (B5, B6)- thiamin (vitamin B1),and  niacin (B3).


with landscape designer Glenice Buck
If you were asked to analyse the site of your garden where would you start?
Would you simply make a list of all the greenery, or would you include the rocks, paths, and any ponds or ornaments?
Analysing your site photo M Cannon
 What about a site survey indicating the lay of the land, actual size of your block? Would you include that?
Without asking anymore questions
Let’s find out about the analysis of the design process.

An inventory and analysis of your yard is important for making design decisions and developing the best design for you.

photo M Cannon
The difference between an inventory and an analysis, is that the inventory is simply a list of all existing conditions, like plants, paths, ornaments etc, and the analysis is a judgment about the condition plus what you would like to achieve in your desired design.
In an analysis, natural features of the site are recorded such as soil type, sun exposure, climate, wind conditions, existing plants, slope, and elevation or grade changes.



WITH Jeremy Critchley owner and Karen Smith editor
A friend of mine was keen on planting New Guinea impatiens –the dark leaved ones with one flowers every year.
But over the last few years he found that the ones he bought, turned to mush because of a prevalent fungal disease that these plants became prone to.

The disease was downy mildew and for a few years, nurseries stopped stocking these plants because the disease had become such a problem.
It just wasn’t worth their while trying to grow plants that would always develop the disease.
Now there’s an alternative variety that looks the same, flowers much better and doesn’t have disease problems.
Let’s find out some more

As Karen mentioned, the old fashioned impatiens were Impatiens wallerana, but these sun hardy impatiens are Impatiens hawkeri- so a different species, but still impatiens.
SunPatiens provide three times as much coverage and colour as standard bedding plants in the same space, so you save money.
SunPatiens thrive in full sun and shade, so you don’t have to worry where to plant them.
A single planting provides three seasons of colour with NO maintenance besides regular watering.
SunPatiens are unaffected by Downy Mildew so are a natural choice for colour in shady areas
Strong roots develop fast so plants are quick to grow and fill in.
Strong, weather-tolerant plants hold up to wind and rain.

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