Friday, 22 May 2015

Daisies are Hip and Not Square


with Margaret Mossakowska from
Some people who have you believe that fermenting veggies is something new and trendy. They’re even calling it the “Art of Fermentation.”
Ingredients for fermenting
Before stoves and refrigerators, fermenting veggies allowed people to preserve food in a nutritional and safe way.
Think foods such as cheese, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchee, olives, salami, jerky and even bread. And think beverages such as wine and beer, not to mention coffee and hot chocolate. All of these — and many more — are examples of fermented foods.
Well, really, it’s been done for thousands of years and is just going through a revival.
But why? Let’s find out about fermenting…

Fermenting vegetables is the new ‘in’thing because it’s a “live food, because they contain “living bacteria,” that in turn helps digest other foods in the digestive tract.
Fermented foods have a natural tart flavour because the sugars and carbohydrates have been broken down and used up during fermentation.
In the case of vegetables, they’re more digestible than raw ones and just about any raw vegetable can be safely fermented at home, if done properly.
Kim Chee preserves
Why not start with cabbage, daikon radishes, turnips, parsnips, cucumbers, okra, string beans and green tomatoes, as they’re good candidates for fermentation.
Margaret's Kimchee recipe
Red cabbage
Black Spanish radish
Salt the grated  and finely sliced veggies first and leave overnight.
Next day, add slush made from onions garlic, chilli and ginger and pulverised in a food processer.
All you need to do now is put them in a crock or sterilised jars.
If you have any questions about fermenting vegetables from your garden, why not write in to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Sometimes I have unusual vegetables on this segment and this one’s pretty much unheard of by most gardeners.
'Celtuce' is a plant in the Lactuca (Lettuce) genus with a scientific name of Lactuca sativa var. asparagina.
The botanical name epithet for Celtuce (sativa) means 'having been cultivated'.
Celtuce is also known as Stem Lettuce, Asparagus Lettuce and Chinese Lettuce.
The name sound like it’s a cross between celery and lettuce but it’s just a variety of Lettuce grown for its romaine-like foliage and mainly for its thick, edible stem.
The stem grows 15 – 20cm  long and about 4 cm in diameter.
Celtuce can be cooked like broccoli and tastes like a cross between a mild summer squash and an artichoke.
growing celtuce
Some say the flavour is somewhat like a cucumber, yet different.
Sounds like you really need to make up your own mind on the taste.
Chinese, Stem or Asparagus Lettuce is a delicacy that’s made the menus of 5 star restaurants.
It could well be the new thing in vegetables.
Since it’s a cool weather crop, it should be planted from seed in Autumn, Winter, and early Spring, spaced at about 20cm in the row, and treated about like regular lettuce
Sow the seeds directly into the garden between in full sun. You should get around 80% germination rate.
Plant the seed ½ cm deep in rows about ½ a metre apart.
When plants are tall enough to use as leaf lettuce, thin them to about 20cm.
The outer leaves resemble loose leaf lettuce, but are a lighter green and can be used for salad.
If you pick the young leaves you can use them as lettuce.
These leaves are great eaten in salads at a young tender stage because as they get older, they become bitter and unpalatable rather quickly because of the formation of a milky sap.
Soon after the first outer leaves appear, a central stalk with tiny leaves at the top starts to elongate.
Allowed to grow, this flower stalk will reach 3-5cm in height.
 Tip: Keep the plant well watered.
It acts very much like regular lettuce bolting to seed.
The outer edges of the round stem contain the bitter milky sap.
When the stem is about 30 – 40 cm high, it should be cut off down into the leafy portion of the plant.
Before using be sure to peel the outer skin, and remove the portion containing the bitter sap.
What you’re left with is a soft, translucent green central core which is the edible part.
You can eat this fresh, sliced or diced into a salad.
In China, where it is grown in commercial quantities, the fleshy stem is cut into sections and cooked by broiling or stewing.
If you can grow lettuce then you can grow Celtuce successfully.
Many seed catalogues advertise seed for sale.
Celtuce grows better at higher temperatures than lettuce but the quality is better when grown during the cooler months.
Celtuce stems are ready when they measure around 2cm in diameter.
Chill the stems as soon as the leaves have been removed.
INTERESTING FACT: The celtuce - which is known as wosun in China, where it is a popular ingredient in many dishes - is a translucent green type of lettuce that can be sliced, roasted, pickled, pureed for sauces or used as a garnish, among many other uses.
Why is it good for you?
Celtuce is very low in Cholesterol.
Like most lettuce celtuce has no saturated fat; no sugar and is very high in calcium.
It’s very high in dietary fibre. High in iron. Very high in manganese.
It’s  also a good source of Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium.
Not to mention that the sap contains lactucarium, which from a couple of weeks ago in the winter lettuce segment, it was mentioned that it has a very mild sedative effect if you eat it with your evening meal.


with garden designer Peter Nixon
Starting from scratch garden series part 3 - Playing with plants
This series is all about starting a garden from scratch, in which case you now had done battle with the lawn or with a mass of weeds.
Alright now that you’ve decided to do something with that bare patch of lawn, you drawn a plan of the layout.
The next thing is think about what plants you might want to put into those beds.
Believe me, I know how hard it is to put off getting your first vegetables, herbs and other plants into the ground. 
Planting is fun

If you just start your garden with no substantial forethought, you’ll only end up wishing you had taken the time to really think out a few things. 
It’s  important to really consider what plants will work in your layout and purpose of your garden. 
Let’s find what plants you should start with..

Once you start digging your beds and establishing your paths, you won’t want to start over when you realize it would have been better if you’d just did it that other way.
For example if you want to grow veggies then long straight raised beds about a metre wide are easier to work with.
You’ll want your paths at least 1 ½ metres  wide so you can use a wheelbarrow or bucket or even just drag the hose around without creating havoc. 
Planting out your garden

Draw a basic overhead view and pencil in where you think things might go.
But if you're wanting a flower garden of some sort and if you’ve never had your own garden before, chances are you will be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of variety in the plant world.
Take your time, don’t just buy the plants that are available at your garden centre.
There are garden clubs and plant societies that hold annual plant shows.
These may have a whole lot of different and less available plants that you might like.
Not to mention garden catalogs.


with Jeremy Critchley of
 and Karen Smith, editor of
They look a lot like daisies and they are in the Asteraceae family, along with Shasta daisies and zinnia. But when these African daisies were first introduced to the market, they had colouring we weren't used to seeing. Many of their centre disks looked as though they were coloured with metallic paint.
Jeremy grows 63 different colour variations in his nursery. Just imagine. Some are shades of colours and others are bi-colours.
Let's find out some more

Botanical Bite
The daisy flower is not just a single flower but actually a cluster of much smaller flowers.
The "petals" or "sunrays" are individual strap-shaped sterile flowers called "ray florets", and the "central disk" is made of smaller circular shaped individual flowers called "disc florets"

Osteospermums are exceedingly drought tolerant and some varieties are self cleaning.
When they reach about 30 -40cm high they will become a bit leggy. At this stage give them a hard prune to about 10cm above the ground.

Osteospermum, or African daisies, and sometimes cape daisies.
Those of you who like marguerite daisies will love these daisies too.
There’s a Springstar range of cape daisies with names like Cardinal-a deep red, Magenta, Big Yellow, Cinnamon Orange Dark Pink and Kokoa-a dusky pink.
All of these have a white halo around the central disk.


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