Saturday, 26 December 2015

Basil, Beans and Bridal Wreaths


Basil Ocimum basilicum

At one stage Greeks and Romans believed the most potent basil could only be grown if you sowed the seed while ranting and swearing. This custom is mirrored in the French language where semer le baslic (sowing basil) means to rant.
Well I hope you don’t have to swear and rant to get your Basil seeds to germinate, just have your pencils at the ready if you want to know how to grow, use and store Basil in the next segment.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from

If you live in arid or sub-tropical regions you can sow Basil in late august in a mini greenhouse or indoors, but otherwise everywhere else, for everyone else, October, right through to January is the best time to sow Basil seeds. Best planted at soil temperatures between 18°C and 35°C
For something different when not try sowing cinnamon Basil or Lemon Basil or even Holy Basil, that is the true sacred basil that is grown in houses, home gardens and near temples all over India.
To dry Basil the air needs to be as humid free as possible. If you're able to grow Basil in cooler weather:Spring or Autumn, you have a better change of drying your Basil without it going black first.
Another method is to layer the leaves in a jar filled with olive oil. The oil excludes air getting to the leaves and turning them black.

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


This week’s Vegetable Hero is the BEAN or Phaseolus vulgaris which is latin for the Common Bean.
Do you love your beans?
Did you know that beans have been an important part of the human diet for thousands of years?
Beans have been eaten by people for so long that they have worked their way in to everyday expressions.
Have you said "He’s full of beans when you’re describing somebody with a lot of energy? "
Perhaps you wanted someone to "spill the beans" –tell you a secret or the truth?
Bean pods can be green, yellow, purple, or speckled with red; they can be flat, round and a yard long.
Beans are what’s called a legume in the Faboidea or the pea family.
Growing beans is pretty easy and I would say essential in a veggie garden because beans, as well as other legumes, have nitrogen fixing nodules on their roots.
Yep, that’s right, the roots make nitrogen out of the air and deposit it into the soil.
Lightning storms are even better for that reason because they convert nitrogen into ammonium ions.
Would you believe that beans are supposed to have been grown in ancient Peru from around 500 B.C?
French beans appeared about 8,000 years ago with its origin from Latin American, Mexico, Peru and Colombia.

Green beans

Bean varieties such as green beans, French bean and long bean have been planted for their fruits or pods for vegetables in many regions in the world since 6,000 years ago
Spanish explorers took the green bean back to Europe in the 16th century and introduced it there.
From there were spread to many other parts of the world by Spanish and Portuguese traders.
Beans, either climbing or Dwarf Beans, are sometimes called Green beans are also called string beans and snap beans.

When to grow your beans
To grow beans you need up to four months of warm weather.
In subtropical climates beans can be grown almost all year.
For temperate and arid zones, mid-spring through to late summer are the best times to plant.
In colder districts, beans, don’t like the cold at all and they certainly don’t like frost. You have until the end of summer, certainly you wouldn’t be expecting any cold snaps now.
Tropical districts, once again, need to wait until the winter months to sow beans.
How to grow your beans
Beans are best planted at soil temperatures between 16°C and 30°C so planting them from now on is ideal. Beans are easy to grow, and each year I teach hundreds of schoolchildren to sow bean seeds.
Schoolkids just love to see those bean seeds grow so it’s a great way to get your kids or grankids started in the vegetable garden.
Sow your bean seeds about 2.5cm deep or depending on the size of the bean I guess.
Sow your beans, either climbing or dwarf beans either in rows or just scatter so the seed are 5-10cm apart (don't worry about the odd ones which are closer).
Cover with soil, potting mix, or compost and firm down with the back of a spade or rake.
Grown this way the beans will mostly shade out competing weeds and 'self-mulch'.
An important fact about growing beans is that they need well-drained soils with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0 and are sensitive to deficiencies or high levels of minerals in the soil-especially climbing beans.
So make sure you spread some chook poo or cow manure before sowing your bean seeds.
When growing green beans, keep the soil moist.
A good rule of thumb is to put a finger in the dirt and if the dirt is dry up to the first knuckle, then it needs about an inch of water.
Keep your beans watered and watch for vegetable bugs and green caterpillars
Pods won’t set at temperatures above 27 C.
Did you know that if you pick the beans as soon as they’re ready, you’ll get new flowers?
If you neglect your bean plants and let your beans get large and stringy, flowering will slow right down and you probably won’t get any more beans from your plants.
Tip: To have beans all summer long, plant more seed as soon as the previous planting starts to flower.

Beans do poorly in very wet or humid tropical climates because they get bacterial and fungal diseases.
Go easy on the fertiliser or you’ll get lots of leaves and no beans.
When picking your beans, pick times when your plants are dry.
Working with beans when the leaves are wet tends to spread any diseases.
When are beans ready pick I hear you ask?
Usually in about 10-12 weeks.
Pick them when they are about as thick as a pencil, smaller if you want a better, tender taste.


Why are they good for you?
Green Beans are a good source of vitamin C and also contain calcium, magnesium, zinc and Vitamin A. But, the most important nutritional fact for beans is that they provide a major source of soluble fibre, which, when passing through the digestive tract grabs and traps bile that contains cholesterol, removing it from the body before it's absorbed.
Also is a source of folate .
Some varieties of the dwarf beans are
Brown Beauty-flat pods Dwarf Snake Beans-ready in 11 weeks.
Windsor Delight has long pods of about 15cm.
Blue Lake Climbing, long pods again but they’re round this time.
That was your vegetable hero segment for today.


Colour schemes for gardeners.

Bodnant Garden. photo M. Cannon
Introducing a new series on Colour schemes in the garden over the next 4 weeks.
Colour is pretty much the most prominent factor in a garden design and often the first one considered.
Colour is what most gardeners are drawn to and for a lot of gardeners, the have distinct preferences for a certain colour.
Using Colour in the garden and making it look good desn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be easy or work the first time for you.
Good garden design involves knowing how to combine colours so that the final product will be one we like.
Let’s kick of the series, I'm talking with garden designer Lesley Simpson.
We know what we like when we see it.
Only practice and experimentation will develop your eye for colour and allow you to see the differences between colours.
 I hope the next four weeks of my Design Elements will help you with the colour palette in your garden.


Stephanotis floribunda, Bridal Wreath.

Stephanotis floribunda
Do you like fragrance in the garden?
 Have you a lot of plants with fragrance?
Along with fragrance in the garden, but for many years, the flowers have been used in bridal bouquets because they’re so lovely. Even though it prefers warmer climates gardeners in Europe love it so much that it’s sold as an indoor pot plant, even though it prefers to climb.
In fact it’s available there from florists climbing attractively over small frames in pots.
Also known as the Hawaiian Wedding Plant, this plant’s a must for the fragrant garden.
Let’s find out more about this plant.

Stephanotis looks lovely all year round and flowers more than once.
Did you know that the genus name-Stephanotis comes from the Greek words stephanos (crown) and otos (ear), supposedly because the flower tube looks like an ear canal surrounded by a crown of five ear-like lobes.
Stephanotis is in the dogbane and milkweed family whereas true jasmine (Jasminium officinale) is in the olive family.

If you have any questions about growing Stephanotis, or have some information to share why not write in to 

No comments:

Post a Comment