Sunday, 20 September 2015

Friendship Makes The Garden Go Round


In every garden lurks aphids, mealybugs, two spotted mites and other pests that prey on your vegetables and flowers.
What’s an organic gardener going to do ?
Is there someone to call? Certainly not ghostbusters!
Forget nasty expensive chemicals that do harm to our bees and the good bugs in our garden.
Because that’s the answer, enlist the help of the good bugs but you may need to call them up with some help.
Let’s find out.Q and A with Steve Falcioni from

Beneficial insects need food, water and shelter to come into your garden.
Different stages of their life cycle require different foods.
For example, the adult Hoverfly and Lacewing feed on pollen and nectar but the larvea feeds on pest insects.
If pest numbers are low, larvae will also feed on pollen and nectar to get them through the lean times.

Foods you should plant include plants from these families; Asteraceae or Daisy family, Apiaceae or Carrot family, Lamiaceae or Mint family.
The plant list includes all herbal plants and Mint, Lavender, Caraway Cosmos, Chrysanthemum, Alyssum, Queen Anne's Lace.
What these plants have in common is flower over a long period of time, the flower structure and a dense source food.
When you enlist the help of beneficial insects to your garden this is actually called biological control.
These insects are the natural enemies of garden pests and they can be an effective, non-toxic method for solving your garden pest problems.
Farmers used it in a system called integrated pest management or IPM.
Another reason to go natural and use beneficials, is that a greater number of insects are now showing resistance to chemical pesticides.
Funnily enough, no insects have shown immunity to being eaten
Plus, these insecticides have been shown to be harmful to bees as well as ourselves.
If you have any questions about identifying pests or beneficial insects, or have some information you’d like to share, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Ginger! Zingiber officianale
In the Zingiberaceae family along with Turmeric and cardamom.
Have you ever wondered about growing edible ginger?
For years I’ve wondered about growing the real deal ginger.
Of all the times I’ve bought the nobbly brown root, it’s never sprouted until now.
Probably because now I’ve bought organic ginger that’s not sprayed with stuff to prevent it from sprouting-some sort of growth retardant usually.
Now I’ve got two bits sprouting!
When to Plant
Before those of you in cooler climates get put off, I daresay, my own climate zone is a bit out of its range, but I’m growing it in a pot and so can you.
Indoors if we have to.
For those of you who don’t have a piece of sprouting ginger, mail order garden catalogues supply pieces of ginger that are sprouting between July and September usually.
Available from
If you’ve ever seen ginger in supermarkets, and all supermarkets have them, you’d know that it comes from the root of a plant that has lots of underground tubers with roots.
Are you thinking that bit of edible ginger is the root, technically it’s not, but most of us think of it as ginger root.
This usually means that the underground part grows quite a bit and is usually a rhizome. A creeping underground tuber.
Ginger has been around for at least 2000 years but mostly used in medicine rather than cooking.
Did you know that together with black pepper, ginger was one of the most commonly traded spices during the 13th and 14th centuries?
Ginger is native to south China, but it was Arabs who spread it around by carrying rhizomes on their voyages to East Africa to plant at coastal settlements and on Zanzibar.
Around the same time in England, ginger was much sought after, and one pound in weight of ginger was equivalent to the cost of a sheep.
So what is Ginger?
It’s a herbaceous perennial which grows annual stems about a 1.5 metres tall with narrow green leaves and insignificant greeny-yellow flowers.
The leaves are much narrower than Canna leaves, and look more like the leaves of bamboo.
Zingibar officianale or ginger is a tropical plant as you’d expect so it doesn’t like frost, waterlogged soil direct sun and high winds.
But if you’ve got a sheltered area, maybe on your back veranda, and rich moist soil, or some good stuff potting mix, you can get by growing ginger.
If you’ve also got warmer weather and high humidity you definitely can grow ginger.
From reading garden forums on the web, ginger does well in the ground in temperate climates as well.
For most of us, growing ginger will mean growing it in pots.
If you plonk it in cheap potting mix, don’t expect much.
If you’ve got water storage crystals in the mix, that’s good, but if you’ve added some coir, that’s even better, because what ginger needs, apart from free draining potting mix, is a mix that has some water holding capacity 
In other words, potting mix that doesn’t dry out too quickly.
If you’ve only got one sprouting rhizome, put it into a 20cm pot, if you have 3 put them in together into a large 35cm pot.
You can also add one part of good compost to two parts potting mix, and that’s going to add some nutrients as well.
For those gardens with tropical or sub-tropical climates you can put that piece of sprouting ginger straight into the garden after you dug in a spadeful of compost. That should be good enough.
Put in your piece of ginger about 5cm below the soil surface.
Remember, filtered sunlight not direct sun for the position.
For cooler climates, your ginger plant can take full sun because it won’t be as intense for the most part as in the tropics.
Near a north facing wall is ideal so the plant can get reflected heat.
If it gets too hot in summer, move the pot into semi-shade if you can.
Also, for cooler districts, move it inside at the first signs of cold weather and don’t water it too much.
The best planting time is late winter/early spring, but if you’ve got a piece sprouting now, don’t waste an opportunity to garden, put it in anyway.
Ginger grows quite slowly and doesn’t mind being a little bit root bound if it’s in a pot.
A good thing about Ginger is that it won’t overtake your garden, because, it’s slow growing and after all, you’re going to be digging it up every year to harvest the rhizomes for your cooking.
Looking after Ginger in hot weather.

Ginger grows to about one to 1 ½ metres and requires regular watering. Drying out will most likely set the plant back quite a bit, and even cark it.
To supply humidity for arid climates, you’ll have to get out there with the spray bottle and spray it when you think of it, hopefully every day.
For those growing ginger in the ground, and plenty of mulch to keep the ground moist.
Ginger growing in pots will need fortnight feeds of liquid fertiliser if you haven’t added any controlled release or organic slow release fertilisers to the mix before planting.
Now the most important question, when can you dig it up?
All books will say the best time to dig up your ginger plant is when all the long green leaves have died down, 8 – 10 months after you’ve planted it.
This is easy if you’ve been growing it in a pot, because you can tip the whole thing over and just pull it out.
For areas where ginger growing is out of it’s range, you might be best to leave it for a couple of years for the rhizome to build up in size before tipping it out.
Break up the rhizomes into smaller useable pieces and either store it in the freezer, or my tip is, put the pieces into some Chinese cooking wine or sherry in a resealable jar and place it in the fridge.
Doing it this way keeps it fresh for quite a few months.
Don’t forget to replant some rhizomes for your next years’ crop of ginger if you’ve been successful that is.
Why is Ginger Good for You?
Ginger is said to stimulate gastric juices, and provide warming and soothing effects for colds and coughs.
Ginger is an excellent natural remedy for nausea, motion sickness, morning sickness and general stomach upset due to its carminative effect that helps break up and expel intestinal gas.
Ginger tea has been recommended to alleviate nausea in chemotherapy patients mainly because its natural properties don’t interact in a negative way with other medications.
Ginger is a very good source of nutrients and essential vitamins.
It is also a good source of minerals, such as potassium, magnesium and copper.
Ginger also has Calcium Carbohydrate  Dietary Fiber  Iron  Magnesium and Manganese, but wait there’s more.
Potassium Protein Selenium Sodium Vitamin C, E and B6
Many thanks to tropical permaculture group for providing some of the growing information.


 with Landscape Designer Glenice Buck
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been taken on a journey to just outside a little hamlet called Germantown, about 2 hours drive from New York City.
photo Glenice Buck
photo Glenice Buck
 We’resurrounded by mountains in the distance, and so far, the Northern Hemisphere trees have been identified with the help of a local arborist, and some shrewd detective work on Glenice’s part.
Listen to the podcast to find out what happens in the final of this series.
  By now the veggie patch had been installed, a retaining wall and a new garden bed had been built.
Then it was buying the perennial plants; Rudibeckia, Hemerocallis, (Day Lilies), Mondardia ( Bee Balm), Agastache, Wormwood, Veronica, Salvias and Ornamental grasses.

photo Glenice Buck
photo Glenice Buck

The arborists will continue withy the selective clearing and maintenance.

Lastly, a native land steward will be employed to replant the native woodland in the south point of the garden.


Talking with the Plant Panel; Karen Smith editor of and Jeremy Critchley owner
Just imagine if you were looking at plants at a plant fair and you saw something that you were pretty sure had never been seen anywhere else before?
You certainly would have to know your plants, but that’s just what happened at a plant show in 2005 in Argentina.
It seems that (Friendship Sage) we must say thanks to Rolando Uria of the University of Buenos Aries for this very fine plant. Yes, at a plant fair, Rolando really know his Salvias and picked out that this plant was a truly unique hybrid sage.
Needless to say that it’s generated a great deal of excitement in the Salvia world.
The flowers are pretty showy so let’s find out what it is.

A medium size semi-shrubby perennial with fast growth in the warm seasons to reach 1.2m by at least as wide with glossy green deltoid shaped leaves that are textured in a way similar to Salvia guaranitica.

In Spring through to Autumn and the flowers or whorls of large rich royal purple flowers emerging from near black dark bracts.

Best grown in full to part sun along the coast or at least with protection from afternoon sun in warmer inland locations in a fast-draining soil with moderate to regular watering.
Ideal for pots or summer borders, this is a strong growing variety with stunningly beautiful flowers. Dark purple buds open to deep purple flowers with an almost black calyx. If you give it a light trim you’ll be rewarded with repeat flowering.
Salvia Amistad can take cold winters to -6 0 C, but because it’s always flowering, it’s worthwhile even if it only lasts the year.


  1. Thanks for this, some interesting insights. I had never considered that insecticide treated ginger (or presumably other plants) would be prevented from growing by the chemicals... of course it makes sense now I think about it!

  2. Thanks. Can you give me some detail tips for designing my garden ?

    1. You need to start off with a design plan. Check out the posts with Glenice Buck on this topic.

  3. Hi Marianne,

    extremelly informative article. I didn't know that ginger has so many health benefits, will share it with my readers. Thank you!