Sunday, 22 November 2015

Cinderella's Passion About Gardening


Would you drink a shrub?
19th Century Kitchens
No, it’s not a plant that you have to liquidise but it’s a term to describe a type of drink that for some reason fell out of usage both here and in England, but remained in use in America.
Where does the drink shrub stem from?
We’re about to find out  by listening to the podcast. I'm talking with Jacquie Newling from Sydney Living Museums.

So wine was considered socially acceptable to drink but not spirits like whisky and brandy.
Wine grapes were planted in Australia as early as 1788
However, cider was being made in the colony as early as 1803.
Peach cider though was more common than apple cider, just because peaches were plentiful.
Fruit was left to ferment and some old properties in Australia still have a cider press.
Most of the soft drinks that you see today came from the recipes in the kitchens of the 1800's.
But if you belonged to the temperance movement you would be drinking various cordials, barley water and shrubs, but perhaps not the apple and peach ciders.
Amongst the cordials were elderberry cordials, and raspberry vinegar cordial.
To make Raspberry Vinegar cordial you step the raspberries in cider vinegar for a few day and then add enough sugar to temper the acidic flavour.
All that's left to do now is to bottle it and over 8 - 12 months the vinegar tempers quite a bit.
This was used as a cordial base for children's drinks.
If you have any questions about drinks from old or have some information you’d like to share, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Pumpkins (Cucurbita spp.) Cucurbita pepo, or Cucurbita maxima and so on, are members of the Cucurbitaceae family along with zucchini, gourd, squash, melons and cucumber.
Pumpkins are a little different from the other members of the Cucurbit family because Pumpkins are normally hard-shelled whereas the squashes have softer skin, but there are exceptions.

The name “pumpkin” originated from the Greek word, “pepon,” which means, “large melon

Did you know that technically pumpkin is a fruit, and has been in cultivation for more than 5,000 years?

Cinderella Pumpkin

So where did Cinderalla’s pumpkin come from?
In some countries you can get a pumpkin variety called "Rouge Vie d' Etampes". roughly translated "Red Life of the Times" which turn a deep red when they’re ready to eat.
Supposedly the illustrator for the Cinderella Fairytale used this variety of pumpkin for Cinderella's coach, so that today this pumpkin is better known as a "Cinderella".
They look just like the pumpkin that Cinderella's fairy godmother transformed into a carriage.
Seems like Halloween is catching on around the world, but it was the Irish that first carved turnips and swedes, lit them with embers and used them to ward off evil spirits.
Some say Americans chose Pumpkins because they were easier to carve!
Pumpkin is considered an annual, and comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colours and patterns.
Pumpkins can weigh anywhere from 1–600kg. The largest pumpkin on record was grown in the USA, weighing 667kg.
Honestly, for those of us who have a compost heap, one of the most often things to grow out of the heap other than tomatoes, is the pumpkin.
Usually a Butternut or Queensland Blue.
Just as well that Pumpkins like compost heaps because the vines need fertile, compost-rich, well-drained soil in full sun, and are most easily grown as ground-cover plants.
There is a bush variety called Golden Nugget, that can be grown in a pot but all the rest grow way too big for pots.
Vines can be trained over frames provided they can support the weight of the heavy fruit.
When to sow:
Start early, with your pumpkin seed planting, because, before you know it, summer is here and you’ve run out of time to grow it to maturity.
In temperate zones, plant your pumpkin seeds from September until the end of December. Arid zones have from September until February, sub-tropical regions have between August and February, Cool temperate districts have between October and December, and in Tropical areas you can grow them all year round.
Growing Pumpkins
Pumpkin seed needs a soil temperature of 20˚C for germination.
You can either sow them individually in 10cm pots and plant them out when the pots are filled with roots.
Or, sow seed or plant seedlings into mounds of rich compost, with lots and lots of chook poo, made over loosened soil.
The seeds are large so sow them about 1 cm deep.
Plants take 70–120 days to mature. That’s 10 -17 weeks or 2-4 months!
TIP: Pumpkins are shallow-rooted so they need regular watering in dry or windy weather.
It’s no good watering every other day in warm weather because your pumpkin will end up splitting.
Pinch out growing tips of those rambling stems to keep the plants in check, otherwise they may take over you whole backyard!

Fertilising Those Pumpkin Flowers

When I worked at Yates, getting those pumpkins to fertilise was the bane of quite a number of people’s veggie growing.
The complaint was lots of leaves and few flowers or that the embryo fruits and flowers fall off.
In fact, after Des wrote in that his pumpkin vine only had male flowers, I decided to include information about the flowers and fertilisation.
Pumpkins produce short-lived male and female flowers that can close by mid-morning. Female flowers open above the swollen, distinctive embryo fruit and male flowers produce pollen.
If the embryo fruit falls off, that usually means it didn’t get pollinated.

Native and honey bees are normally able to complete pollination, but sometimes ants harvest pollen before this occurs.
High temperatures can affect fruit formation over 30˚C, and here you may need to try hand pollination to improve fruit set.
To hand pollinate, pick male flowers, remove the petals then dab pollen on the stigma of female flowers.
Squeezing female flowers aids pollination in wet weather.
Remember,, sometimes female flowers take two weeks or longer before they start appearing.
This is because the pumpkin vine has to grow to a decent size where it can support fruit, before the female flowers appear.
Varieties of Pumpkin to Try:
There are as many different varieties of pumpkins as there are of tomatoes, except you can’t get the Cinderella pumpkin in Australia.
Golden Nugget is best for small gardens, for a medium sized pumpkin, try Hybrid Grey Crown or Queensland Blue.

Turk’s Turban is an exotic-looking pumpkin (although its flavour is a little dry).
You might prefer the stronger taste of Jarrahdale, from Western Australia.
For those who like something unusual, why not try Pumpkin Marina di Chioggia, with its thick knobbly grey-blue skin, and a rich deep yellow-orange inside. This one takes 100 days to maturity but keeps well.
Pumpkin Galeux Deysines is another unusual pumpkin with whitish salmon-pink skin covered with peanut shell like warts. These warts are caused by the sugar in the skin as it ripens.
Don’t be put off by that, because the orange inside flesh, is sweet, and moist.
Available from

Harvesting and storing
Your pumpkin is ready to pick when it’s finished swelling which is when the vine is dying off, and they sound hollow when you tap on the shell.
This is when you remove them with as much of the stalk as possible.
Ripe pumpkins with unbroken skin store very well if kept in a cool, dry, well-ventilated space.
For the seed savers out there, seed can be saved one month after harvesting them.
Scoop seed from the flesh, wash, dry and store in a cool, dry spot away from sunlight.
To ensure seed-grown progeny comes true, save seed from one variety grown in isolation.
Why are they good for you?
The bright orange colour of pumpkin is a dead giveaway that pumpkin is loaded with the antioxidant, beta-carotene.
Beta-carotene is one of the plant carotenoids converted to vitamin A in the body.
They’re also a good source of vitamin C, with Queensland Blue coming top of the pumpkin class for this vitamin.
Pumpkins are a source of dietary fibre and supply (especially Golden nugget and Butternut) a good source of potassium.
One cup of cooked pumpkin has 2 g of protein, 3 g of dietary fibre.
Pumpkins are 90% water and a great for those watching their waistline
Why not make mashed pumpkin instead of mashed potato because Pumpkins don’t have a lot of carbs- just 12 g from 1 cup, but some of it is present as natural sugars, which is why they taste sweet.
Like Zucchini flowers, pumpkin flowers are also edible.


Trees have a valuable role to play in our immediate environment and also to our native wildlife.
A lot of gardeners really care for their trees when it comes to fertilizing and maintenance but when it comes to tree maintenance such as pruning, it’s not that straight forward.
So you have a tree that needs lopping or even a tree that you want cut down.
Who should you call? Not Joe the lawnmower man or No Name Garden Maintenance.
You need to call a professional, but there is a distinct difference between these tree professionals and you need to know what they are?
This series is about arboriculture and managing trees.
Let’s find out who to call by listening to the podcast.Talking with Arboriculture Consultant and Landscape Designer Glenice Buck.

Want to know what exactly is the industry of Arboriculture?
 As a quick definition, Arboriculture involves the selection, planting and care of trees – an Arborist is somebody who maintains and or manages this process.  It is a very broad field which has many areas of specialization. 

-          Arborists may do the manual pruning and care on trees. 

-          Other arborists may do the specialised scientific studies and research for government departments, botanic gardens and CSIRO etc

-          There are the arborists who specialise in forestry, timber production and growing plantations. 

-          Then there are the consultant arborists who provide technical expertise in managing trees usually in an urban environment.  
People either love or hate trees, but trees have so many positive benefits.
Tree will clear air-they’re the lungs of the planet.
If you have any questions about tree maintenance or have a suggestion why not write in or email me at


PASSIONFRUIT Passiflora edulis
This next vining plant could almost be a vegetable hero, because even though it has fruit, technically pumpkins are a fruit as well.
The foliage is very tropical looking and the flowers are an artwork in themselves.
A botanical description of the flower goes something like this: A single, fragrant flower,5 cm wide, at each node on the new growth, 5 white petals and a fringelike corona of straight, white-tipped rays, rich purple at the base. It also has 5 stamens with large anthers, the ovary and triple-branched style forming a prominent central structure!On the downside, vine though almost has as many questions about it as does citrus trees and gardenias when it comes to talkback radio.
Let’s find out about them by listening to the podcast.. I'm talking with Karen Smith from and Jeremy Critchley owner of

Almost every garden has space for one passionfruit vine, so try to find a suitable spot against a sunny fence or wall. 
Passionfruit Splash is not a grafted variety so you won't get the suckering of other varieties. Passionfruit Splash is a heavy cropper and suitable for cold climates with minimal protection when still young.
Available from

Same things apply as with other Passionfruits.

 It’s frustrating though when your neighbour’s passionfruit vine is thriving and yours is doing poorly.
Worse still, you don’t have any fruit or they keep dropping when they’re still green.
Passionfruit can be like that, so make sure you’re adding plenty of potassium in the form of potash and keep up the watering.
One thing to remember is that Passionfruit vines don’t flower and fruit straightaway.
In the subtropics they may begin fruiting in six to 12 months from planting, but in most parts of temperate Australia it takes 18 months before flowering begins and fruit forms.

Dig in some organic chook poo pellets before planting,and also sprinkle the soil with 0.5 kg dolomite, and mulch with an organic mulch once the vine’s in place.
All passionfruit like full sun and protection from wind.
You only need two wires along a north facing fence. 
One placed near the top of the fence and another one 50 cm lower.

Passiflora coccinea( Red passion flower) is a fast-growing vine, with edible passion fruits.
Red Passion Flower is an evergreen, flowering vine from South America that climbs by tendrils like all passionfruit vines.
The flower of Passiflora coccinea is a spectacular scarlet to deep orange color and generally reaches a width of 7-10 cm.
Each unique flower lasts about one day appearing in the summer and early autumn. 
The evergreen leaves are obovate in shape and have doubly serrate margins. Fruits of Red Passion Flower are ovoid, orange or yellow in color, and are mottled green.

If you have any questions about growing passionfruit of any variety why not write in to

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