Sunday, 31 May 2015

Pelicans and Parsnips are Go


with Andrew Patrick from the Cumberland Bird Observers Group.

We’ve all seen seagulls flocking to food around beaches but there’s another bird which attracts lots of tourists, even as much as tens of thousands of families and locals when they’re being fed.
While the people are watching, they get an entertaining and educated commentary about the Pelicans, marine life and general information about the area.
Let’s find out this big bird.…

Australia's Pelican is one of eight species worldwide and of those, ours has the longest beak of any bird measuring up to 50cm.
A pelicans wingspan measures around two and a half metres enabling them to glide on the thermals in the atmosphere without exerting too much energy.
They've been know to reach altitudes of up to an incredible 3,000 metres.
When Pelicans breed, they can have up to 50,000 chicks in one colony and the calls they make can be heard up to one kilometre away!

One of the main objectives of the pelican feed  in popular resort areas, is to keep an eye on the pelican's medical conditions as many have hooks and lines tangles up in their gullets, wings and other parts of their body.
The feed is a chance for the co-ordinator to assess their well being. It's certainly an amusing show to come and see.
At least 1 or 2 birds a week are removed from the water and sometimes the outcome is bad for the injured birds but most times its just a simple extraction of a hook and they are on their way.
The Entrance has now been internationally recognised as 'The Pelican Capital of Australia' and we want you to be part of it. So when you visit us at The Entrance be sure to wander down to the pelican pavilion on the foreshore for an experience you will treasure.
If you have any questions about Pelicans from your garden, why not write in to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


I bet that when you purchase a parsnip in the supermarket, the person at the checkout won’t know what it is.
Did you know that in the Middle Ages, especially during Lent, Europeans favoured the parsnip because of its flavour, and ability to satisfy hunger through meatless fasting periods?
For centuries in Europe they were a ubiquitous and nutritious staple food. Something else you might not have realised is that sugar hasn’t been around all that long.
Before sugar was widely available parsnips were used to sweeten dishes such as cakes and jams and they were also used for making beer and wine.
Parsnips have been cultivated by the Germans for more than 200 years, along the banks of the Rhine.
But as the weather cools down, I’m starting to think of slow cooked meals that need flavouring type vegetables like carrots and parsnips.
Not Swedes, but those pointy cream coloured thing.
No, not Daikon or white radish either, that’s much larger.
What is Parsnip?
Pastinaca sativa, a member of the Apiaceae family-same as carrots, Parsley and Celeriac.
Seeds need to be sown from autumn to winter in sub-tropical areas, anywhere from mid-winter to mid-autumn for temperate areas and spring to summer in cold districts, around Australia.
Best planted at soil temperatures between 6°C and 21°C.
Parsnip likes to be grown in deep sandy, loamy soil. After planting keep seeds moist - can cover with a wooden plank or mulch - until seeds germinate. Don’t bother sowing parsnips in summer as the seed dries out fast and won't germinate
If you can grow carrots, you can grow parsnips.
You need the same type of soil, friable, not sandy and not clayey.
A pH of 6.5-7.
Yes, do go out and buy that pH testing kit. If high school geography students can measure pH, so can you.
As with carrots, soil with stones or compacted soil will give you deformed and stunted turnips that not only look funny, but taste a bit that way as well.
Parsnips need to be started from seed.
They resent being transplanted even more than Coriander.
They just won’t grow.
I haven’t seen Parsnip for sale in a punnet anyway.
Sow Parsnip seed in directly into the garden.
Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed.
Now I read this information on the back of the Parsnip seed packet, and wonder, are there gardeners out there with their micrometers measuring the width of the tiny seeds? 
Parsnip seeds are quite small, so I just give the soil a light covering of seed raising mix and hope for the best.
Parsnips prefer an open, loose soil and sow seed directly into shallow furrows.
Parsnips aren’t hungry crops, if you apply too much fertiliser with a high content of nitrogen, you’ll end up with forked roots
Germination rates of parsnip seed aren’t great so sow about 3 seeds per couple of cms and a few mm’s deep.
Germination is slow and can take up to 20 days.
Fresh seed is a major requirement because the viability of Parsnip is about 12 months.
If you have left over seed from the previous year, you may as well forget it so check the use by date of your seed packets.
Parsnip seed will take quite a few weeks to germinate, so  throw over some shade cloth over the seed bed to prevent the soil drying out,  and remove the material as the seed germinates.

Tip: Soak the seeds overnight in a shallow saucer. There’s no need to drown them.
When your seedlings have at least 4 leaves, thin them down so they are about 8cm apart.
If you’re planting in rows then space the rows about 50cm apart.
So are we out there with our rulers measuring judiciously 8 cm here, 50 cm there?

No matter which book you consult, you never get practical advice.
For me, four fingers across measures 7 cm, and that’s plenty good enough because with gardening gloves, I’ll get my 8cm spacing.
Keep your parsnip seedlings growing strongly with regular watering and applications of liquid seaweed, liquid manure or compost tea.
You can grow a crop of radish among your parsnips as these will germinate and mature quickly and will be harvested before the parsnips need the space.
Harvest in 17-20 weeks, that’s 4-5 months.
If you plants seeds in March, expect results in July sometime.
Parsnips have the best flavour if harvested after a frost or very cold weather.
The cold results in the starch in the roots being converted into sugars which give the parsnip its sweet taste. Use a spade to dig the parsnip out of the ground.
For something different, why not try parsley parsnip, a two-in-one veggie. The tops can be picked and used just like continental parsley and  you can cook the roots as you would parsnip.
Don't pick off too many leaves or the roots will be thin.
Why is it good for you and why grow this vegetable?
Did I mention that parsnip is a flavouring vegetable?
Parsnip has a sweet nut like flavour and Parsnip doesn’t keep that long.
So if it’s been in the greengrocer or supermarket shelf for more than a few days, than it’s probably tasteless, rubbery, and probably what put you off parsnip in the first place.
Nutritionally the parsnip is superior to the potato containing Vitamins C, E, K and B6.
It also contains Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, along with high quantities of potassium, which is an energy booster and good for the immune system
Plant lots and pick them young:


with garden designer Peter Nixon
This series is all about starting a garden from scratch, and today’s episodes not so much about choosing the right plants as about putting them in the right place. You’ve bought the plants, you’ve considered how big they will grow. Today we’re discussing plantings to make it clear to new visitors where the entrance to the house is among other planting problems.

Finding the front door-is it obvious?
Let’s find out more..

You can completely obscure the front door with a huge frangipani.
If you love frangipani’s but don’t have the room for Plumeria rubra, then opt for a smaller choice of frangipani, such as Plumeria pudica.
Then there’s the privacy issue to block out the neighbours.
Usually you need something that fits in a narrow space.
Climbing plants fits the bill but create strong support so that the fence is taking the weight of your planting.
Choose sturdy supports for your climbing plants.

Use something like Marine grade stainless steel grow cables of fairly high gauge for those heavy climbers and attach it to strong posts.


with Jeremy Critchley owner of
and Karen Smith, editor of

Not all ferns should be relegated to the bathroom. That's was a real 70's thing that still hangs around some of our memories now.
Are we still putting ferns in our bathrooms?  What about outdoors?

When you go into your garden do you feel relaxed or are you always thinking about what jobs you have to do next?
The job thing can sometimes overtake your pleasure in the garden.

Why not instead of concentrating on all those tasks, reward yourself with some new plants that are instantly appealing, don’t require much maintenance and help with the calmness and relaxation of the garden.
We're  talking about ferns , Boston ferns or Nephralepis exaltata.
Let’s find out some more about these ferns.

You can buy a Boston Fern from just about anywhere, plus it’s relatively cheap and is a great starter fern. They look a bit like the weed, the fishbone fern, but aren't known to be a problem in the garden.

There are now 20 different varieties to choose from, whereas back in the heyday of the 70's and 80's, there was only ever one type of boston fern.

The boston fern of today comes with a wide variety of foliage even crinkly foliage.
Maybe that's harking back to the 80's still and the crimped hair craze?

Any fern is great if you enjoy the lush green foliage and the feelings of peace and tranquility they seem to create.

It's also one of the top rated plants for removing air pollutants from the air and because of its almost large appetite for water it pumps out vast amounts of water vapour into the nearby air, increasing surrounding humidity.

Ferns like moist shady places indoors or out.

Mist spray them if they're indoors, but if you're growing your boston ferns outdoors, and they end up looking a bit burnt or straggly, give them a hard prune to rejuvenate them.

Ferns reproduce by spores so if you have the right conditions, you may have little fern offspring in various moist shady places in your garden.

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