Thursday, 26 November 2015

Snail Trails and Leafy Outlooks On Beaut Bougainvilleas


Some pests in the garden love wet weather and seem to multiply overnight, munching their way through your vegie patch, herb garden and ornamental plants.
You know they’ve been there because of the silvery trails on garden paths and up the sides of pots.
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

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.
By far the best method is to attract native wildlife into your garden with dense planting, and places for lizards, and skinks to hide so that they can come out and devour those pesky snails.

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


Salty 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
The fresh sap of the Ice Plant was found to be a great remedy for all manner of skin complaints and could be added to baths or extracted and made into ointments and creams
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
For this reason it’s usually grown as an annual, sown in spring and used for summer bedding.
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.



Selection of Trees.
Continuing the series on the stewardship and management of trees.
Cloud Pruned Trees in Garden Design
This series is about arboriculture and managing trees.
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.

Deciduous or Evergreen?

All trees will have some leaf drop throughout the year however overall deciduous trees will require more leaf raking than evergreens. 

Do you need more sun in the area throughout winter but shade in the summer? Deciduous trees are perfect to act as natural sun umbrellas for summer shade and winter sun.

Evergreen trees may not have the definite seasonal leaf drop like deciduous trees but they will naturally drop smaller amounts of dead leaves throughout the year.

In times of high  or extreme temperatures or after a storm a large amount of leaf drop is likely to happen and you could be collecting several cubic metres of leaves.
Trees for a beautiful landscape.

There are many beautiful tree species which are valid additions to a garden but they may be short-lived. The expected life span of the tree will allow you to design and manage your garden appropriately.
Research shows that people experience more deaths from heart disease and respiratory diseases in urban areas where the tree had been removed than from those urban areas where trees were still allowed to grow


Bambino Bougainvilleas

Mrs Butt
Do you remember a Bougainvillea by the name of Mrs Butt? 
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
The actual flower of the plant is small and generally white, but each cluster of three flowers is surrounded by three or six papery bracts with bright colours gardeners and plant lovers  know and love about this plant, including pink, magenta, purple, red, orange, white, or yellow.
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 and Jeremey Critchley, owner of

Purr-fect Bougainvillea flowers
If you like the gaudy show stopping colours of Bougainvilleas but can’t have one of those big ones in your garden, then the next best option is one of those baby Boges.
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.

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