Friday, 21 August 2015

Go Sharp with Big Red Flowers


Talking about the Brown Treecreeper with Consulting Ecologist, Kurtis Lindsay.
A little while ago, you may have heard about a bird on this show that creeps up and down trees.

Image Chris Tzaros
The brown treecreeper, is the biggest treecreeper in Australia and is more arid adapted than its cousin.
About the size of a Pee Wee, the brown treecreeper has shades of brown with white flecks and paler eyebrows with a little black mask on its eyes almost like a zorro mask.
It also has hidden orange
Unlike the White throated treecreeper that always stays on the trees, the brown treecreeper can be found not only foraging in trees but also on the ground. They peck and probe for insects, mostly ants, amongst the litter, tussocks and fallen timber, and along trunks and lateral branches In fact up to 80% of the diet is comprised of ants.
Let’s find out more about this interesting bird

Some birds are opportunistic so that when they lose their habitat they can adapt to living amongst humans in big cities and towns.
Image-Chris Tzaros

Others are more shy and loss of habitat, fragmentation of woodland and forest remnants which isolates populations leads to local extinctions.
Also the ongoing degradation of habitat, particularly the loss of tree hollows and fallen timber from firewood collection and overgrazing is another major threat to these birds.
Fortunately, people are understanding the value of having trees on their property.
The critical factor thous is to leave fallen wood and trees as well.
Did you know that this treecreeper has an amazing diet?
Apart from ants making up 80% of the diet they also eat other invertebrates (including spiders, insects larvae, moths, beetles, flies, hemipteran bugs, cockroaches, termites and lacewings) making up the remaining percentage; Plus they like the nectar from Mugga Ironbark (Eucalyptus sideroxylon) and paperbarks, and sap from a eucalypt are also eaten, along with lizards and food scraps.
Young birds are fed ants, insect larvae, moths, craneflies, spiders and butterfly and moth larvae.
If you have any questions about Brown Tree Creepers, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


BOTANICAL NAME: Turmeric or Curcuma longa is a tropical rhizome that looks great in the garden and is a member of the ginger family.
Turmeric is native to India and has been around since 500 BCE where it’s an important part of Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurveda translates to “science of life.”
In India, inhaling fumes from burning turmeric is supposed to alleviate congestion, also turmeric juice aids with the healing of wounds and bruises, and turmeric paste was applied to all sorts of skin conditions – from smallpox and chicken pox to blemishes and shingles.
But it’s not only medicine where Turmeric gets its cachet.
In Hindu religion there’s a wedding day tradition in which a string, dyed yellow with turmeric paste, is tied around the bride’s neck by her groom. This necklace, indicates that the woman is married and capable of running a household.
You may have seen Buddhist monks with their saffron or yellowy coloured robes.
This is where the natural colouring properties of Turmeric comes in.
Not only is it used to colour Buddhist robes, but has been used to dye clothing and thread for centuries.
The whole plant is edible; the rhizome or roots are boiled, dried and ground up to produce turmeric powder, the leaves make a wrap for steamed fish, and even the flowers can be eaten as an exotically beautiful vegetable, like lettuce.
You probably didn’t realise that you’ve been eating Turmeric every day because it’s used as a food dye in mustard, margarine, chicken soup or just about anywhere else a golden colour is called for.
Sometimes sold as Hidden Ginger, you need to be aware that there are different kinds of hidden ginger, and only the rhizomes of Curcuma longa, Curcuma zedoaria and Curcuma aromatica should be grown as spices.
So why Grow it?
Did you know that if you make your own Turmeric powder from the rhizomes, it won’t be as bright as the processed store bought version?
Because the root can harbor mould and foodborne pathogens, turmeric is typically irradiated to kill pathogenic bacteria.
Irradiation also creates a brighter powder, but if you don’t want irradiated Turmeric, either buy organic powder of grow your own.
What does Turmeric plant look like?
The leaves are about a metre long, sheath like and a lime green. Much like the leaves of a Canna Lily.
The flowers are pure white and extend upwards on floral spikes, up to 20cm long. Suitable for picking too.
How to Grow Turmeric
Turmeric is a sub-tropical plant that needs temperatures of at least 200-300C to survive.
The plant will grow well in both tropical and temperate regions of Australia, but will die down in the temperate areas over winter and return the following year.
Turmeric is a rhizome so like Jerusalem Artichokes, and Ginger, you plant them in the soil when the rhizomes are dormant.
If the plant is stressed by drought or too much sun, the leaves will hang limp and develop burnt tips.
Plant turmeric in September or October, into a warm soil.
The rhizomes should be planted 5-7 cm deep.
It’s often planted on ridges, usually about 30-45 cm apart and with 15-30 cm between plants.This is between Autumn and Spring.
You might even find turmeric tubers growing at your greengrocers later in the year, otherwise you can order them online.
Turmeric won’t cope with cold conditions and if you live in districts where you receive frost or very cold temperatures, you can of course, grow it in a large pot in a sheltered location, either indoors or in a glasshouse.
Take it outside when the danger of frost has passed.
To grow Turmeric in the ground, it’ll handle anything you throw at it, re-sprouting from drought and coping with boggy soils.
Probably because where it naturally grows, the average rainfall is between 1000 and 2000mm a year.
Gardening books and magazines will tell you that it requires moist and well- drained soil, but it grows just as well in clay.
Turmeric can grow in full sun, but only if the soil remains constantly wet. Otherwise, grow it in dappled shade or at least have mid-day shade.
Your Turmeric will be ready in about 8 months because then the plant will be mature enough to harvest the root for food.
Usually when the leaves turn yellow and disappears, is the best time to dig the plant up and harvest the root
How to make turmeric powder Version 1
Break up your rhizome into small pieces and dry it under mesh but in full sun until it’s quite crisp. About 10 days.
If you have one of those dehydrator thingies, that’s even better.
Use a coffee mill or spice grinder. Sieve it and then grind it again so it’s quite fine. Store in airtight bottles.
It should last for 12 months.
Homemade Turmeric has a much better flavour
How to make turmeric powder Version 2-faster process
First clean the rhizomes thoroughly, then boil rhizomes for 45 min.
When they've cooled you can peel off the skins.
After that dry in shade for around a week.
When the turmeric is dry and crisp break up the rhizomes with a kitchen basher, like what you would use to tenderize meats.
Finally, grind the rhizomes using a mortar and pestle, or a food processor
Why are the good for you?
You don’t have to make the powder but instead use it as you would fresh ginger.
How about a fruit and veg Turmeric smoothie, or Turmeric pickle?
For sore throats, add 1 teaspoon of Tumeric to your favourite milk, and heat. Add some honey to sweeten. Drink this before retiring for bed.
If you had 1 ounce of 28 grams of Turmeric you would have 26% of your daily needs in manganese and 16% in iron.
It's also an excellent source of fibre, vitamin B6, potassium, and healthy amounts of vitamin C and magnesium.
But you don’t need to eat that much.
Even a small dose has health benefits such as an improved ability to digest fats, reducing gas and bloating, decreased congestion, and improved skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne. Believe it or not.


talking with Tony Mattson, General Manager of

Are you in the middle of winter pruning right now?
What’s the state of your gardening secateurs?
Do they open easily, are the blades sharp? You know they’re sharp if they make a clean cut through a plant’s stem without leaving a little tear behind.
Almost as if you only cut through part of the stem and then pulled off the remaining part.
If they’re not sharp, those cuts that you make on your plants will end up with bruising and tearing on the stems leading to dieback and fungal disease problems.
Listen to the podcast for all the tips.

You don't have to sharpen your secateurs and other gardening tools every day or every time you use them.
Sharpening takes off a bit of metal and reduces the blade.
Only sharpen your much loved secateurs when they don't cut cleanly anymore.
That can be best described when a piece of stem cuts only part way and the rest is torn.
It's worth remembering that these kind of cuts on plants are entry points for disease such as fungal dieback.
Oilstones are things of the past.
The better method is to use either a diamond stone or a tungsten-carbide stick.
For bypass secateurs, sharpen the outside of the blade. 
Start on the inside of the blade and go outwards when sharpening.
For anvil secateurs, sharpen both sides.
To quote a long time gardening presenter on Gippsland FM, the jobs not done until the tools are put away.


with Karen Smith  editor of and Jeremy Critchley, garden nursery owner
With so many amazing plants in garden centres today, it can be easy to forget some of the most obvious choices.
And if you’ve been to England or Europe over the warmer months you would see the most amazing hanging baskets of Geraniums flowering beautifully. With the recent geranium revival, it’s time to give the humble geranium a look with a fresh pair of eyes, especially some newer varieties that make the flowers of old seem small.
Let’s find out about these newer varieties and listen to the podcast.

Firstly let’s get out the way the confusion people in general have about Geraniums.
Geraniums most people see in hanging baskets, especially in Europe and the UK, are actually not Geraniums, they’re Pelargoniums.
Pelargonium is a genus of flowering plants which includes about 200 species of perennials, succulents, and shrubs, commonly known as geraniums
Confusingly, Geranium is the correct botanical name of a separate genus of related plants often called cranesbills
True geraniums are more fragile looking, and couldn’t cope with nearly as much sun in Australia, as these Pelargoniums.
Now for a bit of history.
Supposedly, the first species of Pelargonium known to be cultivated was P. triste, a native of South Africa.
Most species bred today originate from South Africa.
In 1631, the English gardener John Tradescant the elder bought seeds from Rene Morin in Paris and introduced the plant to England.
Did you know John Tradescant’s tomb is in Lambeth garden museum in London?
I went there in 2013.
He’s important because together with his son, he went plant collecting and bought back lots of plants that are used in gardens still today.
I’m not sure if the weed Tradescantia is his discovery.
The name Pelargonium was introduced by Johannes Burman in 1738, from the Greek, pelargós (stork), because the seed head looks like a stork's beak.
Pelargonium leaves are usually alternate, and palmately lobed or pinnate, often on long stalks, and sometimes with light or dark patterns.

Difference between Geraniums and Pelargoniums.

From the Geranium and Pelargonium society of WA
True Geraniums are known as Cranesbills, which refers to the shape of the seedpod.

Geranium Big Burgundy
five petals that are the same size and shape as each other;
ten fertile stamens;
seed pods with 'curls' that act like a catapult to hurl the ripened seeds away from the parent plant;
many thin stems attached to fibrous roots;
need of cool climates so most are difficult to grow in Perth's heat.
A pelargonium flower   Pelargoniums were so named because the seedpods resemble the beak of a stork. (Pelar means stork).
five petals, of which the upper two differ in shape and size from the lower three (more noticeable on the species or 'original') ;
ten stamens, but not all are fertile;
seed pods have a feathered end that enables them to float on the breeze to find a place to grow;
succulent, thick stems that hold moisture to enable them to withstand drought.
Geranium Big Pink

Geranium Big Red

Those big Geraniums of old are called Regal Geraniums and grew in many a country garden where they sometimes lined the long driveways alongside other old world shrubs.

They had a particular place and you either liked or hated them.
As with all Geraniums, old and new, they keep a lush appearance in some of the hottest, driest conditions, are elegant in pots and can be the mainstay of low-maintenance gardens.
These and are showy and hardy.

1 comment:

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    - Jackie