Wednesday, 13 May 2015

A Little Wild Scent of Lemon


with ecologist Kurtis Lindsay

In Australia native animals are “the property of the Crown”.
This means that no-one owns any native animals, they can’t be kept as pets and to do anything with them you have to be licensed by government departments.

However, there’s no protection from the government for most native animals-whether they’re injured or sick.
In some cases predation by foxes and dogs-feral and domestic have been decimating numbers of particular species of Australian native animals.
To counter this various not for profit organisations have stepped in to help out various animals and this is one such case.
Let’s find out about this rather large mammal.

Wombats have those backward facing pouches which only one other spices-the Diprotodon had as well.
The Diprotodon is of course extince and was the large known marsupial ever to have lived.
Although penalties exist for the illegal killing of wombats, sadly it’s been reported  by the Wombat Protection Society of Australia,( ) such killing occurs every night where on a farms they are shot, buried alive and gassed and on the highways of Australia vehicles indiscriminately drive directly at wombats without penalty.

The Wombat Awareness Organisation (WAO) is another non-profit organisation specialising in large scale rescue, rehabilitation and conservation of the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons).
The wombat awareness group, have less than a week to The Wombat Awareness Org is the only dedicated registered Southern Hairy Nosed Wombat charity. We have 11 days to raise funds, fit out a new home & save the 40 wombats in our care from homelessness.
If you have any questions about wombats or a photo of a wombat the visits your park or garden why no send it in or write in to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Well it’s TIME FOR VEGETABLE HERO  Winter Lettuce
LETTUCE or Lactuca sativa
You might think it too boring to be a hero, but did you know that the earliest mention of lettuce in history is a carving on an Egyptian temple? Lettuce was considered an aphrodisiac in Egypt.
On the other hand the Greeks used lettuce as a medicinal plant to induce sleep.
Lactuca sativa or lettuce is just everywhere and thought to have originated from the wild or prickly lettuce, found as a weed in the Mediterranean.Nothing beats the freshness of home grown lettuce. Just pick some leaves fresh when you need them.

The flavour of lettuce is lost in as little as 24 hours, and there's no way supermarket lettuce is only 24 hours old.
The Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is a temperate annual or biennial plant of the daisy family Asteraceae.. great in salads, tacos, hamburgers!
But here’s the thing not all kinds of lettuce are created alike! Hurrah, this is the time to be plant all those hearting lettuce like, Iceberg, and Butterhead, Cos or Romaine.
These varieties do best in the coolest months because the upper temperature limit to grow heading lettuces is 28°C so they’re not going to bolt to seed now.
Did you know that there are four main types of lettuce grown commercially in Australia and these are three of them?
In northern Victoria the main growing season for these types is May until October.

When to Grow LettuceA lot of people think lettuce is a summer crop but the best growing temperatures are a maximum of 25°C during day and 8°C during the night.
In cool districts, you’ve got until end of May, then again in September until the following May.
In arid areas you have from March until October, in sub- tropical and temperate areas, we’ve hit the jackpot because we can grow lettuce all year round.
How to Grow Lettuce
Lettuces taste best when they are grown as fast as possible and for that they need water and food.
Lettuces can be grown in light sandy soil to heavy clay types, as long as the soil is well drained.
Lettuce has shallow roots, so it dries out easily. You must keep up a steady supply of water because any set back will at least, make them tough and bitter, at worst it will cause them to bolt to seed straight away without making any leaves for you!
But at the cooler times of year, it’s not so much an issue.
So make sure they never get stressed (e.g. by forgetting to water them).
Any gardening book (all written for cooler climates) will tell you that full sun is essential.
Don't plant them in deep shade, like under a tree. They will just grow into pale, leggy things with few leaves on them.
To sow lettuce seed, either spread the seed very thinly along a row and cover lightly with soil, or sprinkle it over a bed and just water or rake it in. For all you balcony gardeners, any largish pot will do for 3 or 4 lettuce seedlings.
Lettuce seed is very fine so you'll get a few clumps. Thin them out, you know the drill.
If the weather is very dry and your soil sandy, you will need to water every couple of days.
 Stick your finger in the soil if not sure. Lettuces have a very shallow root system.
By the way, lettuce seed doesn't germinate that well at soil temperatures over 250C.  There should be no problems at this time of year.
Funnily enough, my self-sowing lettuce like Freckles and Mustard lettuce start appearing around the veggie bed around mid-April onwards.

Freckles lettuce

Once your lettuce seedlings start appearing start giving them side dressings of compost, worm tea and so on.
Lettuce that seems to be growing slowly, or are starting to show signs of going to seed even though you’ve watered them, is a sure sign that they’ve run out of food.
Did you prepare your veggie bed with enough compost? Of not there are plenty of organic type liquid fertilisers that you can add to your watering can and use on your leafy vegetables.
So why is it good for us?
Lettuce is very good for digestion and promotes good liver function.
Lettuce  has good levels of Vitamin C, beta-carotene and fibre.
Lettuce obviously won't lead to weight gain as many varieties have over 90% water and are extremely low in calories.
Lettuce contains the sedative LAC-TOO-CAREY-UM (lactucarium) which relaxes the nerves without affecting digestion.
So I’m going with the Greeks on this one-remember they used lettuce as a sedative, probably eating it with their evening meal.

As a general rule, the darker green the leaves, the more nutritious the salad green. For example, romaine or watercress have seven to eight times as much beta-carotene, and two to four times the calcium, and twice the amount of potassium as iceberg lettuce. By varying the greens in your salads, you can boost the nutritional content as well as vary the tastes and textures.  



Starting a garden from scratch series with landscape designer Peter Nixon.

Starting with a bare patch of grass.
This series that starts today is more for those people who most likely have a bit of a garden but would like more.
To start a garden you have to have some kind of impetus and
They’re faced with a patch of grass and have as yet not decided how to proceed to the next step.
Most people want an integrated garden space so the house and garden flow seamlessly from one area to another.
But you may have inherited a garden with large mature trees, so how do you put your stamp on the garden?
You may like listening to gardening shows and that’s certainly a start.
Let’s find out about the how to get going with your garden..

Look at your site and decide how you want to use it.
Yes, you can put old bikes, and other unwanted stuff in the backyard but it's not that relaxing to look at.
You can even add a touch of whimsy to an orchard.

You want a pleasant green space and you can start today by thinking about where you want some trees for shade and shrubs for flowers or just leaf colour.

Plant of the Week

Backhousia citriodora Lemon Scented Myrtle

If you’re not growing one of these trees in your garden, you’re missing out on some great bush tucker.
This tree has strongly aromatic leaves that can be used in teas, and cooking, such as in biscuits, in Asian cuisine and wherever you like generally.
Leaves from this tree can be used as a substitute for lemongrass in Asian cooking.

Not only that, this tree can put on a stunning show of flowers in late spring early summer.
Some councils even grow these as street trees.
They’ve been used for thousands of years by indigenous Australians for curing headaches and for repelling mosquitos and other insects.
Just rub the fresh leaves on your skin or you can buy insect repellent with a lemon scented myrtle base.
A sniff of the deliciously lemon scented leaves are also a great relief for mild headaches.
A few leaves steeped for 5 minutes in boiling water makes a delicious tea which is also good for the digestion.

Lemon myrtle in a dried powdered from can be used in baking cakes and biscuits.
One teaspoon of lemon scented myrtle to one cup of flour is recommended.
Backhousia citriodora is slightly frost-tender when young but can be grown outside in frosty areas provided it is planted in a sheltered position in semi-shade.

Did you know that several specimens are thriving in the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra in the Rainforest Gully where some protection is provided by the tree canopy and surrounding shrubbery.
Temperatures as low as -8ÂșC have been recorded in this section of the Gardensduring winter.

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