Sunday, 8 November 2015

Keep Calm and Gingerly Continue Gardening


Zingiber officinale or Ginger is in the Zingiberaceae family along with Turmeric, Cardamom and Kenchur.
All of these plants are grown from rhizomes that are harvested.
Ginger was used in Roman times as a food preservative and to help treat tummy upsets.
The Greeks would eat ginger wrapped in bread if they were feeling nauseas.
Eventually  Ginger was added to the bread dough creating that wonderful treat many around the globe love today -gingerbread.
Let’s find out more about ginger.
Talking with herb expert Ian Hemphill from

Fresh ginger can be found in the produce section of most supermarkets and fruit and veg stores.
Look for smooth skin with a fresh, spicy fragrance.
Tubers should be firm and feel heavy.
The biggest rhizomes usually mean they’re getting on a bit and mature rhizomes will be hotter and more fibrous that's because they've been left too long in the ground.
Avoid those with wrinkled flesh, as this is an indication of aged ginger past its prime.
Fresh ginger is sweeter and less fibrous.

Use your fresh ginger by peeling and scraping it first to get rid of the outer skin.
Ginger has a tangy flavour profile and is very versatile in cooking.
You can always have fresh ginger on hand by grating some and putting it in an ice cube tray with some water.
You can also preserve ginger by putting cutting pieces in a jar with some Chinese rice wine.
This will keep for a few months.
You can of course grow your own ginger from one of the rhizomes that have sprouted.

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


Melissa officinalis, known as lemon balm, balm, common balm, or balm mint, is a perennial herbaceous plant in the mint family; Lamiaceae, and is native to south-central Europe, and the Mediterranean region.
You may not be into scientific names but there are two subspecies of Lemon Balm; Melissa officinalis subsp.officinalis, is the common cultivated lemon balm; and Melissa officinalis subsp. altissima, naturalized in New Zealand and known as bush balm.
Apparently the scent of Melissa officinalis. subsp. altissima is sometimes described as fruity, herbal or powdery, but often doesn’t have any scent at all.
Lemon Balm has been used for over 2,000 years, but did you know that because these white flowers attract bees, that’s why the genus name is Melissa which is Greek for 'honey bee'.
In fact the ancient Greeks believed that if you put a few sprigs of lemon balm in an empty hive, it would attract a swarm of bees, or if you planted some lemon balm near a beehive, the bees would never go away.
Officinalis of course means used in medicine and in the 11th century a Persian physician and philosopher named Avicenna recommended the use of lemon balm in treating depression and melancholy.
Fun Facts:Would you believe that according to the London Dispensary (1696) lemon balm in wine could even prevent baldness?
What does it look like?
It’s a fairly low to medium growing herb not growing more than 70 cm tall and being in the mint family, it has square stems.
The leaves have a sweet lemon scent, and because it’s related to mint the leaves look a bit like the leaves of common mint.
During summer, this herb has small white flowers that are full of nectar.

 Interestingly although over 100 chemicals have been identified in Melissa officinalis, the main flavour comes from just two essential oils: oil of citral (neral and geranial), and citronellal.

Why grow lemon Balm?

One reason to grow it is that sachets made with Lemon Balm and put under your pillow or near the bed are supposed to give you a refreshing, relaxing sleep.
Lemon balm seeds are fairly easy to germinate and need light and at least 20°C
Seeds will germinate in 10 – 14 days and are best started off in a punnet.
TIP: The seeds don’t like being overly wet so after the first watering, let them alone but not completely dry out.
Lemon balm is probably one of the easiest herbs to grow and is ideal for beginners.
Lemon balm grows well in both sun and shade, soils of a wide pH, and either dry or damp conditions.
Lemon balm grows in clumps and doesn’t spread vegetatively like mint does, that is putting down roots where the stems touch the ground or through underground rhizomes, but only spreads by seed.
If you don’t want it to spread in your garden, then cut back the clump after flowering so that it doesn’t self-seed.
In mild temperate zones, the stems of the plant die off at the start of the winter, but shoot up again in spring.
Lemon balm doesn’t like temperatures much below 50 C so in cool temperate climates you may lose your plant unless you put some into a pot for replanting next Spring.
You could also just put some protective mulch over the spot when it dies down as long as you remember what you have growing there.
Lemon balm can also be propagated by dividing the rootstock in Spring or Autumn and planting straight into the ground after doing this.

How to use lemon balm?
The best time to pick leaves for drying is before it flowers.
However, you can pick leaves for use lots of ways from flavouring vinegars, teas, especially Early grey or green tea, marinades, dressings, jams and jellies, stuffings and sauces to using it chopped with fish and mushroom dishes or mixed fresh with soft cheeses.
Lemon balm complements many fruits, including honeydew, rockmelon, pineapple, apples and pears.
What about lemon balm with ginger in scones?
That’s the leaves, but the flowers can also be used as a garnish in fruit salads, drinks or with rice .
Did you know that in the commercial food industry, lemon balm oil and extract are used to flavor alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinkgs, confectionary, baked goods, gelatin, and puddings.
Lemon balm is also an ingredient in liqueurs like Benedictine and Chartreuse.
Why is it good for you?
Lemon balm tea is good for relieving mild headaches and possibly the memory as well.
The crushed leaves when rubbed on the skin can be used as an insect repellant.
Lemon balm also has anti-oxidant and calming or mild sedative properties.
There is also some link to memory or attention but further research is needed on that one.
If you have any questions about Lemon Balm, JUST EMAIL ME



Continuing with the series on best fit gardening.
Have you ever thought of using that unused space on a flat roof, if you have a flat roof that is?
You don't have to live in Spain to have a rooftop garden, nor just limit yourself to a line of potted plants.
Why not if you have decent access to your roof and it’s approved for pedestrian traffic (ie, the waterproof membrane is intact, sealed and fully protected).
The only obstacle to using it often comes down to simple lack of shade. Exposed to sun and wind, the area is not going to be inviting unless you can find a way to block out the elements.
Equally, you may have dead space over the top of your garages that could be revamped.
Let’s find out what you can plant up there. I'm talking with Garden Designer Peter Nixon from Paradisus.

PLAY: Best Fit Gardening_rooftop garden_4th November_2015
This is for a fairly exposed situation so that’s why Peter focused on xerophytic plants.
The planting suggestions were Aechmea recurvata Benrathii or falsa Tillandsia-this is a small growing Bromeliad.
Dykia brevifolia or pineapple dykia.
Alcantarea odorata or giant bromeliad and finally, Tillandsia secunda.
There’s also Crucifix orchids or Epidendrum species and other bromeliads such as Bilbergia pyramidalis and Aechmea recurvata.
If you have any questions about rooftop gardening or have a suggestion why not write in or email me at


Delphinium "Guardian"
 These mid-sized plants are the stars of the early summer border.
The plants form a low mound of deeply-cut green leaves, and have these amazing tall spikes of satiny flowers.

The original version have enormous  spikes of up to 2 1/2 metres and needed 'vernalisation."

But not D. Gaurdian which grows to around 1 metre tall with deep-blue petals and strong multi-branching stems that are great for cutting.

Let’s find out about them by listening to the podcast.

I'm talking with Karen Smith from and Jeremy Critchley owner of

Special Tips for Delphinium Plants
In the past, the 'old school' Delphiums required their roots to be kept cool, but not these new varieties because their foliage is quite large and as they're usually in the back of the flower border, or where the roots are shaded by other plants.
Removing faded spikes at the base will encourage repeat flowering spikes throughout Summer and into Autumn.
This new branching variety of Delphiums should flavour in your garden beds for at least several months.
When all flowering is finished, remove the last of the dead spikes and water them well after fertilising.

They main thing you have to watch out for in hot, humid
summer regions, is that plants are often attacked by mildew in mid-summer; to fix that just cut back the foliage quite hard to encourage fresh new growth.
In these regions plants don’t usually last more than 2 to 3 years.
Once established, they have low water and maintenance requirements although they will shutdown on days when temperatures are over 30 degrees C in attempt to cool themselves.
 If you have any questions about growing Delphiniums of any variety why not write in to

No comments:

Post a Comment