Sunday, 21 June 2015

Purple Podded Peas and Woodland Flowers


with Ian Hemphill

Licorice flavours can come from a number of different spices.
This flavour is because of anethole being present in the herb or spice.
You may have heard of an Australian native tree, Aniseed myrtle that used to be Backhousia anisata and is now Aneothola anisata.
But we’re not talking about trees with leaves that have an aniseed flavour but two spices that you can use in your cooking if you like the flavour.

Star anise (left) Aniseed (right)

Let’s find out what the difference is.

Star anise is the dried whole ripe fruit of Illicium verum, an evergreen tree native to China.
Aniseed isn’t really a seed but the dried whole ripe fruit of Pimpinella anisum, a flowering plant native to the Mediterranean region and Southwest Asia.
Both are quite different and both get their licorice flavour from the anethole they contain.
The main difference is that star anise also contains safrole which gives a more distinct aroma to the spice.

It could be said that star anise has a deeper licorice like notes, with a greater depth of flavour than aniseed.
Aniseed has a clean anise flower profile.
Use aniseed with pork, duck and game meats.
Aniseed is also nice with veggies like carrots, butter and a sprinkle of aniseed.
Star anise is ubiquitous in Chinese cooking.
For example, Chinese Master stock consists of the following:
soy sauce, water, sugar, star anise, Chinese brown cardamom and black pepper.

Did you know though that the real liquorice plant is Glycyrrhiza glabra.
The root of the plant is used by first being pulped, then boiled, and the liquorice is then concentrated by evaporation.

The star anise tree can be bought from
Illicium verum or star anise tree can be grown as far south as Sydney, but it will be difficult to get this tree to fruit in that climate.
If you have any questions about star anise or aniseed, why not write in to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Peas (Purple Podded Dutch)
And you thought you knew everything there was to know about peas?
Did you know that peapods are botanically a fruit, since they contain seeds developed from the ovary of a (pea) flower.
However, peas are considered to be a vegetable in cooking.
Botanically peas are Pisum sativum and they belong to the Fabaceae family, which means they fix Nitrogen from the air into their roots.
You might be surprised to find that peas were common throughout ancient Europe as far back as the Neolithic Period and are as old and economically important as wheat and barley.
Peas have been found in ancient ruins dated at 8000 years old in the Middle East and in Turkey.
Not only that,  the oldest pea fossils were found in the “Spirit cave on the border of Thailand and Burma dated 9750 years old.
Back then, dried peas were an essential part of the diet because they could be stored for long periods and provided protein during the famine months of winter.
Did you realise that both dwarf and field peas were part of the cargo of the First Fleet to Australia in 1788 and, on arrival at Sydney Cove, each convict and marine was given a weekly ration of three pints of ‘pease’?
By 1802 we were growing peas in Port Jackson and Parramatta gardens.

Are you aware that there are three major types of peas?
Pisum sativum var. sativum, the common garden pea; Pisum sativum var. medullare, the “marrowfat” pea; and Pisum sativum var. saccharatum the sugarsnap pea.

When to Sow
The best time to sow Peas, if you are living on the East Coast is from April until September; from April until August in arid climates, from April and until July in sub-tropical districts and for cool temperate zones, late winter until October.
On the Tablelands they should be sown after the last frosts.
Peas are best planted at soil temperatures between 8°C and 24°C.

Purple Podded Dutch Peas
You probably didn’t think of planting any unusual peas this winter but ever thought of growing one of the most beautiful pea plants, called Purple Podded Dutch peas with its pretty pink flowers?

Purple Podded Peas from Amsterdam

When the flowers finish, grow these dark bluish-purple pods that hold bright green, plump peas.
Purple podded Dutch are also known as Capucinjer (CAP-YOU-SIGH-NER), peas, because they’re believed to have been grown by Capuchin monks in the 16th century.
They’re the best variety for drying and using in soups or for any recipe needing marrow fat peas.
Interestingly, in previous centuries peas were rarely eaten fresh.
Peas were dried to preserve them and to make it easier to transport the m. They were then used in stews and of course soups, including pea soup.
Peas (pictured right) were bought in Amsterdam and passed through customs after sought deliberation. Hence the scribbled writing on the top left hand corner.
Marrowfat peas
What are marrowfat peas you may ask?
Marrowfat peas are green mature peas that have been allowed to dry out naturally in the field, rather than be picked when they’re still young like the normal garden pea.
They taste better that way, and because the pea has a thin skin, they fall apart when cooked making their own gravy.
Did you know that these types of peas are used to make mushy peas and also the snack food wasabi peas.
In Holland nearly all the supermarkets carry jars of precooked capucijners, and everyone knows what they are.
On the vine, this variety reaches the dry soup stage in about 85-100 days. 
They’re also quite good when young as an edible podded pea but are a bit bland and too starchy for using as fresh shelled peas.
How to Sow and Grow Your Peas.
Sow the seeds directly into the soil around 2cm deep (or knuckle deep) and 8-10cm apart . Water in well and don't let them dry out.
I like to soak my pea seeds overnight so they germinate faster.
Some gardeners prefer to sow their seeds into tubs/punnets so they can keep a closer eye on them especially if there is a possibility of a frost.
Once they have their second crop of leaves and no more frost, they can be transplanted out in the garden.
Peas don’t seem to grow well near Onions, Chives, Garlic.
Peas don’t like a lot of mulch or manure especially up against the stalk/stem, or being over-watered as they tend to rot off at the base of the stem.
Don’t overfeed young plants or they will grow lanky and you won’t get a good crop of fruit.
Wait until they have started flowering and then give them a good feed of liquid fertilizer at least once a fortnight.
Use liquid fertilisers in winter because they act much faster during the colder months.
 By watering Peas in the mornings you’ll avoid powdery mildew.
Don’t overhead water late in the afternoon.
If you do have mildew, try spraying with MILK mixed with a couple of drops of detergent.
With dwarf Peas you will have one main crop, with a second lighter crop and some pickings in between for the pot.
Peas freeze well and, as long as you do that straight after picking them so they don’t lose more of their nutritional value than in if you just cooked them.
Dwarf Peas only grow about 30-60cm high and probably won’t need much support.
Climbing Peas grow well over 2m high and will definitely need some kind of trellis or other support.
The position of the trellis should be facing towards the midday sun, (towards the North).
Climbing peas produce much longer than the dwarf types.
Purple podded Dutch pea seeds are actually purple.
Pick regularly to keep plants vigorous and encourage a bigger crop.
After the Peas have stopped producing the trellis can also be used for growing cucumbers, pumpkins or tomatoes.
TIP: Before you start ripping the pea vines off the trellis cut the stems off at ground level; leave the roots in the ground as pea roots produce nitrogen nodules.
These roots will break down and give your next seedlings a good kick start.
Why are they good for you?
Being low in calories, green peas are good for those who are trying to lose weight.
Green peas are rich in dietary fibre, have a high amount of iron and vitamin C and B6 .
The lutein present in green peas helps reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and
Green peas, also help keep the energy levels steady.


with garden designer Lesley Simpson
This series is all about colour in the garden. Part 4-Cool colours in garden design.
Did you do art at school? You probably did and may even know about the colour wheel.

Cool colours with greys and pinks
This next segment is about using cool colours in garden design. Cool colours fall on the purple-blue-green side of the colour wheel and also include white, gray, and silver but not black.
Let’s find out about using cool colours in your garden.

Classic cool-colour combinations include blue and pink, a range of blues arranged in a monochromatic scheme, or purple and silver.

Pastel forms of traditionally warm colours such as yellow, salmon, and apricot also fit into a cool-theme garden plan.


 with Jeremy Critchley owner of and Karen Smith, editor of

Nemesias with fragrance. photo J Critchley

You mightn’t have heard about this next low growing winter flower perennial, Nemesia species, with names like Quince, Cruela, Clementine and Raspberry.
If not, then you’ve been limiting your flower border or hanging baskets to the same old winter plants, like pansies and primulas.
Let’s find out … more

Nemesia is in the snapdragon family.
Cool temperatures are fine for growing this plant and it’s frost tolerant once hardened off if you’re growing from seed.
Also daylength doesn’t affect flowering of the new varieties that can flower for many months of the year.
The new Nemesias are also more tolerant of sun and can survive the summer months.

They’re at their best when massed.

Nemesias prefer to be planted in a sunny position but can still flower in part shade, although somewhat less.

Nemesias are ideal for bedding plants, borders, cluster planting and containers.
The vibrant colours of golden yellow, sunset red, clear pink, golden orange and creamy white flowers will certainly light up the garden beds, not to mention the fragrance that can be apparent up to 20 metres away.

Give all your annuals and perennials a good feed every month to keep them flowering and looking their best.
Cut back if becoming a bit leggy.

Note: Nemesias that are available in seedling packs are seed grown Nemesias and are the annual variety.
Nemesias that are in the 6 inch pots are the newer hybrid varieties that will bloom for several years.

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