If the day warms up quite a bit the trails dry to leave this glistening effect which can be confusing if you don’t know what causes it.
|Predator of snails and slugs in your garden are worth having.|
Let’s find out how to deal with this problem. I'm talking with Steve Falcioni, general Manager www.ecoorganicgarden.com.au
There’s big snails, small snails, but generally no non- native snail is going to do any good to your garden.
Unless of course you have their predators living in your garden like an army of ducks, one or two blue tongue lizards or perhaps some larger skinks.
If you have none of the above, then you need to try another method of getting rid of them and it’s best to use something that’s safe for children and pets.
Snail pellets that contain Metaldehyde are poisonous to mammals, so does pose a threat to pets if used in the garden.
If pets ingest enough of it, it can be fatal; that is about a tablespoon's worth for your average dog and a teaspoon's worth for your cat.
Pet poisoning is usually due to the pet gaining access to the packet from say an unlocked garden shed, or from leaving piles of pellets rather than scattering them.
Pets are not always deterred from eating those pellets even with the addition of Bittrex, a bittering agent,so if in doubt, leave this one out.
Secondary poisoning to native wildlife is also possible from lizards, birds etc., consuming prey that have ingested the snail bait.
Sprinkling sawdust, lime, dolomite or coffee grounds around vulnerable plants is one way of controlling snails and slugs, but needs to be kept dry.
Not much use if you need to water your vegetables.
Snail traps consisting of beer are a good solution in the vegie garden.
|Bar-sided skinks love snails.|
If you have any questions about snails or have some information you’d like to share, why not email email@example.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.
VEGETABLE HEROESSalty Ice Plant or Mesembryanthemum crystallinumThis plant is a succulent that is native to Europe and Africa but has naturalised in the Southern parts of Australia, extending as far north as Exmouth on the Western Australian coast.
According to CSIRO Mesembryanthemum crystallinum is found on wide range of soil types, from well-drained sandy soils (including sand dunes), to loams and clays. It prefers acid, neutral or alkaline soils, but can tolerate nutritionally poor or saline soils.
“In the natural state, Salty Ice plant or M. crystallinum appears to be tied to climatic factors, and is most common in years of relatively high winter-spring rainfall.
Why should you grow this Salty Ice Plant?
As far as the home gardener goes this plant is rare and exclusive.
It’s highly ornamental, prostrate growth habit is great in a pot.
It’s very attractive and can withstand environmentally tough conditions, plus the glistening succulent leaves look like they are covered in frozen icy bumps.
M. crystallinum flowers from spring to early summer .
The Ice Plant has a tendency to go a pinkish or rosy-red colour in hot dry conditions and this, in itself, makes it an attractive plant.
|Salty Ice Plant Flowers|
Flowers open in the morning and close at night, and are insect pollinated
It’s not just another succulent that’s growing in your garden but you can use it in cooking.
In fact Salty Ice Plant is the ultimate salty garnish chefs use for fish dishes and to balance sweet flavours.
It’s A Very Different Plant
Botanically speaking it’s also quite novel because it seems to be able to switch between two modes of growing.
I need to mention here that your normal every day tree shrub or groundcover is what’s termed a C3 plant.
That means it needs sunlight to carry out photosynthesis which it converts to sugars, taking in carbon dioxide and giving off oxygen.
Salty Ice plant grows like this when conditions are good meaning there’s plenty of rainfall.
Another method that plants can grow by is called Crassulacean Acid Metabolism or CAM for short.
CAM plants shut their breath pores or stomata during the day but open them at night to take in CO2.
This CO2 is released inside the plant during the day and even though the breath pores are closed, it can carry out photosynthesis.
Plants that can do this are very drought tolerant and plants that can switch from one mode of photosynthesis to another are pretty exceptional.
Salty Ice plant switches to CAM metabolism in drought conditions or if the soil becomes saline for some reason.
Mesembryanthemum crystallinum accumulates salt throughout its life, from the roots to the shoots, with the highest concentration stored in epidermal bladder cells.
What are epidermal cells?
|photo provided by Professors Nose and Shimoda, Japan|
Epidermal cells are just below the leaf’s surface and it’s these bladder cells with the stored salt that give the leaves that glistening with ice crystals look.
The leaves of M. crystallinum are edible and the seeds can also be eaten.
The crushed leaves can be used as a soap substitute and has some medicinal uses (Plants For A Future - Species Database, 1997-2003).
Not surprisingly, Mesembryanthemum crystallinum is also used as a model in plant physiologic research (Bohnert and Cushman, 2000),
When to sow:
In all districts the best time to sow the seeds is in Spring.
Sow the seeds in punnets first only just covering the seed and put them in a plastic container, or in a mini-greenhouse.
When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out after the last expected frosts.
Seedlings are prone to damp off so should not be over watered and should be kept in a very sunny well-ventilated position
You can easily grow Salty Ice plant in any ordinary well-drained garden soil.
Salty Ice plant won’t grow in shade but can grows in soils that aren’t that fertile such as sandy soils.
It’s not very hardy in cool temperate climates and will be killed even by a light frost.
|Salty Ice plant|
Plants have few problems with pests or diseases though as I mentioned the young plants are prone to root rot and damping off unless given plenty of ventilation and dry growing conditions.
TIP: Leaves and stems - raw or cooked. They can be used as a spinach substitute. The leaves have an acid flavour, they are thick and very succulent with a slightly salty tang. They can also be pickled like cucumbers or used as a garnish.
Common ice-plant (Mesembryanthemum crystallinum) is a significant environmental weed in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, and an environmental weed in Tasmania and New South Wales.
So if you intend to grow it in your vegie or herb garden, make sure it doesn’t set seeds.
Why are they good for you?
The fresh sap of the Ice Plant is apparently a great remedy for all manner of skin complaints and could be added to baths or extracted and made into ointments and creams.
Juice extracted from the leaves are astringent and mildly antiseptic.
You can mix the juice with water and use it as a gargle to relieve laryngitis, sore throat and mouth infections.
AND THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY?
DESIGN ELEMENTSSelection of Trees.
Continuing the series on the stewardship and management of trees.
|Cloud Pruned Trees in Garden Design|
Perhaps some people are put off trees because they can drop heaps of leaves and sometimes a branch or two, or fall over in storms.
But there’s a reason for that.
For the trees in a landscape to grow, thrive and survive the test of time, many factors need to be considered when you are choosing the trees for your garden.
From the outset this plant selection is really the most important factor - To make this decision you need to think about a range of factors - tree size, habit, maintenance, deciduous or evergreen, flowers or fruit and lifespan.
Let’s find out which tree you should choose for your garden. I'm talking with arboriculture consultant and landscape designer, Glenice Buck. www.glenicebuckdesigns.com.au
|Trees for a beautiful landscape.|
PLANT OF THE WEEKBambino Bougainvilleas
This cultivar has been around a long time and belongs to the original species.
The original species of Bougainvillea vine comes from South America and can grow quite huge; in fact covering the side of a 3-storey building and over the years, growing a tree-trunk sized main stem.
|Bright Purple Bougainvillea flowers. photo. Margot Anderson|
Too big for balcony gardeners or courtyard gardens, there is an alternative for lovers of these show vines.
Let’s find out about them by listening to the podcast. I'm talking with Karen Smith editor of www.hortjournal.com.au and Jeremey Critchley, owner of www.thegreengallery.com.au
|Purr-fect Bougainvillea flowers|
Similar flowers but a much neater and more contained habit.
Bougainvilleas will drop their leaves in dry times or if they receive too much watering.
You need to experiment with what works best for your plant.
Prune off any suckering canes that come from the base to keep the natural shape of your Bougainvillea.
Did you know that Bambinos Boges came from an intensive breeding program by Jan and Peter Iredell of Bougainvillea Nursery in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia?
Over the last 40 years the Iredells have been collecting Bougainvillea cultivars from all over the world and through selective breeding they came up with the Bambino® family.
This just goes to show that Bouganvilleas are truly suited to most of Australia's climate.
These are the truest dwarf Bougainvilleas available.
The Bambino Boges will do well in container planting for many years to come but if you try to grow a large cane Bougainvillea in a pot, expect around a maximum of 6 years life before you need to purchase another one.