Friday, 16 October 2015

Life Is A Healthy Garden


Wouldn't you like a garden this this one; thriving, lush and disease free?
So nice you could hold a tea party.
Sometimes our garden plants go along for years then all of a sudden, they drop dead and we’re left wondering why?
The answer can lie in a number of different factors and a slip in hygiene practises in the garden sometimes has a role to play in the demise of your plant.
So what does that mean for us gardeners?
Let’s find out with Soil Scientist Penny Smith

Your soil is a living eco-system so don't go pouring anti-fungal drenches on your soil or you will end up with no micro-organisms.
Spray tools with methylated spirits and water solution
Hygiene practises in the garden is more than just keeping your garden tidy.
Pathogens can lie dormant for many years, just waiting for the right conditions.
Good garden hygiene, is sometimes referred to as “clean gardening practices”, will help to prevent the build up of pathogens and pests.
Make their life short in your garden by following best hygiene practises.
Secateurs can spread fungal problems, so clean tools between plants.
In fact after the jobs done, spray all the tools that you have used with a 70% methylated spirits and 30% water solution. Keep the solution in a labelled spray bottle where you keep your garden tools.
Disease-spreading organisms can, and will, be carried from plant to plant by using contaminated pots, trays, soil, tools and even our hands if proper precautions are not taken.
Pots, seed trays and propagating tools should be kept scrupulously clean on an ongoing basis.
Growing containers should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before each replanting. They can be scrubbed and cleaned using water and a natural detergent and then disinfected by soaking in a 10% bleach solution before being rinsed with clear water and allowed to dry.
Better yet, a quality garden disinfectant may be used for this purpose. Cutting and digging tools, including hands, should also be washed and disinfected after each use

If you have any questions about hygiene practises in the garden or have some information you’d like to share, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville
NSW 1675


Perilla (Perilla frutescens) also called Beefsteak plant, Chinese Basil and Purple Mint
Perilla belongs in the Mint or Lamiaceae family and originates in China and Central Asia.
Perilla has some amazing properties that will surprise you.

You’ll be amazed to hear that one of the components of the volatile oil extracted from perilla; Perilla-aldehyde, can be made into a sweetener, said to be 2000 times sweeter than sugar, with very low kilojoules. 
This sweetener has been used as a substitute for maple sugar or licorice in processed foods.
Not only that amazing fact but analysis of perilla’s anti-microbial properties, has shown it to have over one thousand times the strength of synthetic food preservatives.
Did you know that Perilla is grown as an oil seed crop from Japan to northern India?
The oil makes UP HALF the seed’s weight!

The oil is used not just used in cooking as you might use linseed oil, but it’s also got industrial applications such as in paint, printing, and paper manufacture. 
Perilla contains a natural red pigment called shisonin which is used in food processing as a colourant.
So what is Perilla then?
Perilla is a fast growing annual plant that grows to around 50cm to 1m tall.
Perilla comes in several varieties and the leaf size and shape look a lot like unpatterned coleus or large a leafed Basil plant.
There is also a frilly, purple-leafed variety that’s quite ornamental as well as being used in cooking.
If you saw the purple variety you might think that the leaves are a bit similar to Beefsteak plant or Iresine herbstii.
Perilla the plant itself has two lipped flowers in either white, pink or lavender-purple, that grow in the leaf axils and terminal spikes.
The plant has a very bushy canopy of opposit leaves forming on square stems, like all Mint family plants.
Leaves are oval shaped to 15cm long, and are aromatic with a fresh flavour similar to lemon and mint.
Perilla will grow from seed but needs cool conditions and light to germinate.
Before sowing, garden suppliers recommend that you place the perilla seeds into a bowl or glass that contains a couple of cm’s of water.
Soak the seeds overnight or for 12 hours.
Sprinkle the seed where it is to grow in autumn or in early to late spring’
Because Perilla is a herb, you could grow this in a tub or pot if you live in colder districts.
For growing Perilla pick a sunny and well-drained spot with some afternoon shade if the summers are hot.
Add plenty of organic material to the soil and keep it moist.
In temperate climates, the plant is self-sowing, but the seeds aren’t viable after long storage, and germination rates are low after a year.
However if you don’t want it to self-seed, cut off the flower spikes as they appear.
This will also increase the life of the plant.
There are a couple of companies that sell the seeds either listed under Salad Greens or Asian Vegetables.
 I have found two varieties that you can buy, under Salad Greens, there is Perilla Green Leaves and flower stalks eaten raw, or with tempura, leaves have a deep green colour and Perilla Red (Crispa) Leaves and flower stalks eaten raw, or with tempura, with a deep red colour and pleasing aroma.

Sow both of these in late spring.
If you can’t get the seed but have some at your local fruit and veg store, here’s a way to get some plants/
I found this on a blog. Maki says she grew her Chinese variety from cuttings from ones bought at an Asian grocers.
Just pop some in a glass of water and they should strike.
It was dead easy according to Maki so I'm pretty sure yours are going to go OK too.
How Do You Use It In Cooking?

Red perilla is used as a red or pink food colouring, for pickling fruit and vegetables, especially preserved ginger and pickled sour plums, and as a dried powder to be used as a side dish with rice, as an ingredient in cake mixes and as a flavouring in beverages. 

Green Perilla is used as a sweet-spicy flavouring for oriental dishes such as stirfries, with raw fish and sliced cucumber, in vegetable dishes, rice and soups and goes well with sweet potato.

The Japanese often eat the fresh leaves with sashimi (sliced raw fish) or cut them into thin strips in salads, spaghetti, and meat and fish dishes.
It is also used as a savoury herb in a variety of dishes, even as a pizza topping (initially it was used in place of basil)
The seeds of perilla are used to make oil, and to flavour foods, especially pickles and also on baked goods, like sesame seeds.
The flowerheads are also used as a condiment.

You may even be able to order in some Perilla herb from your garden centre, as they certainly sell small plants online.
A little hard to get I know, but sometimes, you can be lucky and you’ll be rewarded with this amazing plant.
Why is it good for you?
Perilla leaves are high in the minerals calcium, iron, and potassium, rich in fibre and riboflavin, and very high in vitamins A and C.
It has anti-inflammatory properties, and is thought to help preserve other foods.



This series on best fit gardening is coming up with solutions for those difficult situations in your garden that seem almost impossible to solve.
If you can't have a garden like this one because of the location and soil at your place.
Try for something that best fits the situation.

Areas that receive hot baking sun in summer and shade in winter will always prove a challenge and sometimes end up being a haven for weeds.
This week's challenge was an east facing clay bank between mature eucalypts with a Tradescantia problem
Yes, the weeds that seem to creep up on you when you’re not watching, almost overnight.
So what can be done if you want weed suppression?
Let’s find out by listening to the podcast with Garden Designer Peter Nixon.

Kalanchoe fedtchenkoi variegata
 Planting suggestions were:Kalanchoe fedtchenkoi variegate-Lavender Scallops, for sub-tropical to warm temperate districts.

Cyanotis foecunda-south African Pussy Ears for warm temperate to cool temperate.
Has striking silver foliage.
Cyanotis foecunda
Ceratostigma willmottianum-Willmotts Blue or Chinese Plumbago:For cool temperate areas.

Tradescantia is now the politically correct name for what we once called Wandering Jew.
It’s particularly good to get rid of this weed because it seems to harbor so many things that make our pets itch and us sneeze.
Spraying might seem the easy option, but those waxy leaves and stems seem impervious to weed killer.
Wear gloves and try and rake up as much as possible to get on top of it, then closely monitor the patch for any more outbreaks.


Teucrum fruiticans Germander

Members of the Teucrium genus that is featured today in plant of the week are commonly known as germanders.
There are hundreds of species, including herbs, shrubs or subshrubs.
They’re found all over the world but are most common in Mediterranean climates which might make you think that they are tough little plants.
You would be right.
Let’s find out about them with the plant panel, Karen Smith and Jeremy Critchley owner of
by listening to the podcast

The idea that Teucrium was named after the King of Troy sounds fantastic, but in reality it’s more likely that Linnaeus named the genus after a Dr. Teucer, a medical botanist.
The species Teucrium fruitcans grows to 1-8m x 1.8 m.
Ornamental, silvery foliage year round.
Deep, true blue flowers from autumn through to late spring.
Very hardy and dry tolerant shrub once established.

Suitable for clipping  and for hedging.
Prefers a full sun location in most soil types given good drainage. Withstands dry conditions well once established but should be watered deeply occasionally during extended periods of heat. A hard prune after flowering will encourage a dense habit. If hedging, lighter but more frequent prunes to shape is required.

Teucrium fruiticans "Silver Box" is a new release only growing to 0.8 m x 0.8 m.

Why it’s called Germander?
Taken from medieval Latin germandra, based on the Greek khamaidrus, literally ‘ground oak’, from khamai ‘on the ground’ and  drus ‘oak’ (because the leaves of some species were thought to look like those of the oak).

If you have any questions about growing Germander or Teucrium, why not write in to

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