WILDLIFE IN FOCUSWhite Throated Treecreeper
People have been fascinated by birds for centuries.
We look at them through binoculars and take photos of them with great big lenses. We even go around recording their sounds.
What have we observed?
We know that birds can fly, and that they can hop around on the ground and in tree branches.
They can even walk or waddle, swim, and dive.
But what about climbing a tree? How and why would they do that?
Let’s find out, talking with consulting ecologist Kurtis Lindsay
Have you ever seen a White-throated Treecreeper?
If you did, you’ll know why it is called a "treecreeper". Because it just does what its name suggests, creep up tree trunks, looking for insects and grubs to eat.
When it nears the top of the tree it flies down and starts again from near the bottom of the same or another tree.
Treecreepers have often been confused with woodpeckers, even though Australia doesn't have any of those.
The treecreepers bill is a lot softer than a woodpeckers' bill and they have short stiff tails that helps them to balance.
The white throated tree creeper prefers trees, mostly Eucalypts, that have flaking and peeling bark, such as ironbarks and stringybarks.
Some examples are Eucalyptus nicholi, Eucalyptus pilularis, Eucalyptus viminalis, Eucalyptus crebra.
They nest in hollows of trees, but if you want to encourage tree creepers into your garden, you can build nest boxes specific to tree creepers.
The white throated tree creeper is often seen in the Blue Mountains in native bush and in domestic gardens that are close to native bush.
If you have any questions about Tree creepers, or have a photo of one that visits your garden or nearby why not write in or send in a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.
Mugwort is the common name for Artemisia vulgaris, a perennial herb used since the Iron Age in medicine, cooking and brewing.
Who would’ve thought?
Other names for this herb that you might’ve heard are wild wormwood, and croneswood and felon herb.
Or perhaps you’ve never heard of it at all?
Mugwort has also been used from ancient times as a remedy against fatigue and to protect travellers against evil spirits and wild animals.
A traditional ingredient in the medieval witches formula for flying ointment.
Would that mean witches flying on broomsticks?
Did they mention it in Harry Potter?
In the European Middle Ages, mugwort was used to repel insects, especially moths, from gardens.
Would you have thought that Roman soldiers put mugwort in their sandals to protect their feet against fatigue?
Perhaps you could try putting some Mugwort into your dancing shoes, boots, or joggers to relieve aching feet or sore leg muscles?
Then there’s the use medicinally, especially in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean traditional medicine.
Mugwort is also used as an herb to flavour food.
The leaves and buds, are picked just before flowering and is used as a bitter flavouring agent to season fat, meat and fish.
The flowers and leaves are also used to make a herbal tea.
Did you know that mugwort has also been used to flavour beer before the introduction of or instead of hops?
Not only that, but it was also known as Sailor's Tobacco, because it was used when sailors ran out of tobacco at sea.
Mugwort grows easily in most of the temperate world and though it is classified as a weed in some places, its been planted in English herb gardens for hundreds of years.
Mugwort grows 1 -1 ½ metres tall with grey green toothed leaves that are hairy and white underneath, with reddish brown or small yellow flowers on woody stems and roots in late summer.
Seeds set easily so cut the dead flowers off if you don’t want the seeds to set.
Mugwort can grow almost everywhere in Australia because it’s not frost tender.
Plant it in full sun or part shade and Mugwort isn’t fussy about soil, growing I anything from light sandy soil, through to loam and even heavy clay soils, as long as they’re well drained.
Plants are longer lived, are more hardy and more aromatic when they’re grown in a poor dry sandy soil
Mugwort is an adaptable plant and can tolerate a huge pH range from and acidic 4.8 to a very alkaline 8.2
One thing to note, mugwort is mostly wind as well as insect pollinated so that if you’re allergic to pollens or have asthma, then this plant isn’t for you.
It provides food and habitat for many moths and butterflies and a compliment to other summer flowers.
To grow more plants, just keep the seeds from the previous years and sow them in late winter through to summer.
How to use
Mugwort is botanically related to tarragon and the leaves can be used fresh or cooked and have a slight bitter flavour that suits or goes best with fatty foods, such as in stuffing for roasted duck or turkey.
The dried leaves and buds can be made into a tea.
The fresh or the dried plant repels insects.
A weak tea made from the infused plant is a good all-purpose insecticide.
Just remember, these all-purpose insecticides don’t discriminate between good and bad bugs. It’ll kill them all.
|sprouting brown rice and mugwort tea|
The leaves are said to be a good digestion and appetite stimulant. The Romans didn’t have it wrong when they places leaves in their shoes to relieve tired aching feet.
Some European farmers feed it to their stock as an all wormer.
If you keep chooks, leaves from mugwort among others, is a great poultry tonic and laying stimulant as well as helping to prevent parasites in your chooks.
General poultry tonics and laying stimulants include:- garlic, onion, chickweed, dandelion, fennel, wormwood, rue, cress, marigold, mint, vervain, comfrey, borage, thyme, marjoram, sage, nasturtium, mugwort, gotu kola and parsley.
AND THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO SEGMENT FOR TODAY
SOIL SAVVYwith Horticultural Scientist Penny Smith
Here it is at last and for want of a better name we’re calling it Soil Savvy.
Together with horticultural scientist who specialises in soils, Penny Smith, RWG will be discussing all there is to know about potting mixes.
Covering everything from using the cheap mixes, how long do they last and even to mixing your own.
Today we’re discussing the need for potting mix versus garden soil, and what is it about potting mix that you really need to know.
Let’s get started.
How often do you repot your plants?
Never? Once in the last 5 years or every couple of years?
|Some potting mixes only consist of composted pine bark fines|
Growing plants in pots can be hit and miss if you forget to do this one thing and leave that plant coping with slumped potting mix for years on end.
Fertilising and pest control of your pot plants is only one part of the equation to keep those potted plants looking healthy.
Keeping a diary of what you did and when, is also a good idea if you’re saying to yourself, “ I can’t remember when I repotted those plants last?”
PLANT OF THE WEEK
Sabina Fielding Smith
Do you love scent in the garden?
Perhaps not the cloying scent of Jonquils or common Jasmine, but a more delicate scent that floats through the air.
Often the scented plants we crave don’t grow that well in our region, but that’s not stopped gardeners from trying.
We love to grow hard to find, difficult to grow plants that hold that alluring something.
Today’s plant, Daphne odora, or Daphne is of course scented and has a reputation.
Listen to the podcast
|Daphne eternal Fragrance|
Possibly the most strongly perfumed of the genus and the most commonly grown in Australia, mainly in the cooler, south-east.
As we mentioned, it grows best in fertile, slightly acid, peaty, well-drained soils.
Dahne grows in full sun or partial shade, and is hardy to −10 °C (14 °F), possibly lower.
The best advice seems to be: do not disturb the roots; provide fertile, well-drained soil, morning sun, shelter from afternoon heat and water; not too much and not too little! And, don’t feel too bad if it dies as you will be in very good company.