Sunday, 5 April 2015

Cutting and Designing Great Gardens



Do you know what type of secateurs you have?
What about the blades? What are they made of?
Bypass secateurs and snips
If you’re hands get tired easily when you use your secatuers, maybe they’re not right for you and you need to change either the size or type.
Let’s find out some more. I'm talking with general manager, Tony Mattson from

Choosing different handles for perfect grip
Just to remind you bypass secateurs have two blades and work like a pair of scissors with the blades passing each other to make the cut.
They are suitable for cutting delicate stems as the action is less likely to cause bruising to the stem.
Anvil secateurs have one blade which closes on to a flat surface. They are better for cutting hard woody stems as the blade is less likely to stick to the stem as it cuts.
Choosing the right blade.
Blades aren't made from 100% stainless steel for general gardening use.
Some nurseries to have all steel blades if they're being used to cut acidic plants like eggplants.
These quality blades need to be sharpened more regularly.

Good blades have 10% carbon in them so that they're not overly brittle but still hard and can be sharpened regularly.
Some blades are made from recycled metal.
Always ask what the blades are made of but cost is reflected in the quality of the blades and in fact the whole secateurs.
One other thing; don’t try to cut stems that are thicker than your thumb, that’s what loppers are for.
If you try and cut stems that are too thick you’ll damage the blade and your secateurs won’t last as long as they should.
If you have any questions about secateurs or any other garden tools or a photo of some tools that you want help with, send it in to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Brussel Sprouts are a member of the Brassicaceae family which also includes, cabbage, broccoli, kale and kohlrabi.
So why call a veggie Brussel sprouts?
Maybe because it was sold in Brussels' markets in the 1200's, or, maybe Brussels sprouts were named after the capital of Belgium where some say they were first cultivated.
Brussel sprouts are also one of the few vegetables to have started off in the northern Europe.
They were then introduced into France and England in the nineteenth century where they continue to be a popular food.
You probably know what a Brussels sprouts looks like - miniature heads of cabbage-about 2.5 to 4 cm. in diameter.
They taste a bit like cabbage, but slightly milder in flavour and denser in texture.
If you’ve ever grown Brussel sprouts, you’ll know that the sprouts grow like buds in a spiral along the side of long thick stalks of around 60 to 120 cm tall. They all don’t mature at once but take several weeks, starting from the lower to the upper part of the stalk.
Brussel Sprouts-will they propel you along? Well let’s see
Early stages of growth-Brussel sprouts

If you want to grow them well, there’s a few tips that you need to know about.
Firstly, when learning how to grow brussel sprouts they need a firm, fertile soil because the main cause of failure (blown buttons) is loose, infertile soil.
Those gardeners with a fairly heavy soil have an advantage over those of us with loose sandy soil.
If your soil is loose, then your sprouts will be tasteless, loose and open, and only you’re to blame and not the seed company.If you’ve got the room to follow crop rotation,  then you’ll be planting them where you last planted peas and beans.
If not, dig in a whole lot of compost and cow manure and leave it for a couple of weeks to mature.
AND, because compost, especially home- made compost can be on the acidic side, add some lime to your soil while you’re in the veggie bed.
That old saying “feed the soil not the plant”applies especially to Brussel Sprouts.
Tamp the soil down with the back of your garden rake to make it firm when the soil is dry.
When to Sow;
For temperate districts, February until May, for arid areas until the end of June, for cool temperate zones, until the end of April and for sub-tropical areas, April seems to the month for you.
Brussel sprout seedling
To grow sprouts, sow the seeds into seed trays or direct into the garden, or you can buy seedlings from a garden centre, organic markets and so on.
It’s cheaper of course to start from seed.
The seedlings are ready to transplant when they’re 10cm high.
You can get early and late cropping varieties.

TIP:Remember - firm planting helps to grow firm, tight brussels sprouts.
A better reason to start your seeds off in punnets is that when you transplant your seedlings from pots or seed beds, this encourages a stronger root system to be established in their permanent bed.Spacing is important-make it about 45 cm.
 Quite a distance but you can fill it with lettuce, endive and other quick growing crops.
Water the young plants in dry weather but unless you have a prolonged dry spell the mature plants shouldn’t need watering.
As the plants get taller make sure you support them so that the strong winds in winter don`t blow them over - tie them to stakes.
Mulch around the base of the plants with well rotted compost to feed the plants and conserve moisture.
If you do get Mealybugs, aphids, caterpillars and other grubs, use Derris Dust or a liquid concentrate ecoNeem.
When the brussels start looking like they’re ready you don’t have to pick them all at once becaus, the plant holds the mature buttons for many weeks without opening.
To eat Brussel Sprouts, you don`t want those ` sprouts that have had all their colour and crispness boiled out of them. Try dicing or grating your brussel sprouts raw and serve them up in a salad - go on, be brave!

Why are they good for you?
Brussels sprouts can provide you with some special cholesterol-lowering benefits if you use a steaming method when cooking them. Brussels are also a good source of vitamins A and C, iron, potassium and fibre.And finally, Brussel Sprouts should be kept cool at all times and eaten before the leaves discolour or they develop a strong smell.


with Glenice Buck landscape designer


Whether or not you already have a nice garden doesn’t mean it can’t be updated.
But does it mean you do the updating yourself or do you get in one of those professional landscape designers?
Let’s find how to start the design process.

Cottage gardens are part of any design process. photo M Cannon

You probably wouldn’t update your house without consulting a builder or architect, so updating your garden might be on the ‘to do’ list too.
Choosing someone to give you a “go to” or concept plan that will see your garden develop into the future sounds like a good idea.


with Jeremy Critchley owner
and Karen Smith, editor of
Why is rosemary used for remembrance?
Is it because the smell of rosemary is thought to improve the memory?
Greek scholars apparently wore rosemary in their hair to help them while they studied.
For Australians rosemary has a direct link with Gallipoli, where our troops fought in 1915, and here, rosemary can be found growing wild all over the peninsula.
Let’s find out about some more about this commemorative plant as well as tips on how to grow Rosmarinus officinalis or Rosemary

Find out more about the Avenue of Honors project
As early as 1584, rosemary has been used for remembrance and an emblem for particular occasions such as funerals and weddings or as a decoration for brides dating from 1601.

Gallipoli Rosemary is like every other rosemary -a tough evergreen shrub grown for aromatic foliage and pretty flowers.  
This variety is very compact  with pale blue flowers growing to 1m
Like all rosemarys, full sun is best, and they are also frost tolerant, suit coastal planting and windy positions. 

Rosemary plants will grow in any soil as long as it's well drained.
Landscape Ideas-Makes a great low hedge.
Propagation: Take small cuttings of 2-4cm and strip the lower third of leaves.
Dip in hormone rooting powder or gel and place  into potting mix around the edges of a small terracotta pot. Keep under cover for about six weeks. By then roots should have started to grow and may be ready for potting on.

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