Friday, 15 January 2016

Super Ferns and Super Fruit


Preserving Summer Fruits
Do you have fruit trees in your garden?

Preserved oranges. Photo: Margaret Mossakowska

Citrus are fruits so you probably answered yes to that.
So what do you do when the fruits all come ripe at once?
Jams and preserves and possibly pickles are the first things that come to mind for most people, but there are a lot more methods of preserving fruit to use later on in the year. Let’s find out about this preserving business.
I'm talking with Permaculture North President, Margaret Mossakowska.

I hope that’s inspired you to try several different methods of preserving your fruit.

Electric dryers are a very efficient way of drying fruit because they're quite enclosed and don't use nearly as much gas or electricity as your conventional oven.

You can dry anything, any produce literally, even carrots.

Drying as a good alternative to other methods of preserving except of course if you have a root cellar or under-house garage where the temperature is constant and cool.
In here you can store your veggies in sand.
We didn’t even cover making pasta sauce with all those tomatoes that you’re growing right now.

If you have any questions about preserving summer produce 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 weeks Vegetable Hero is ZUCCHINI or Cucurbita pepo.
Summer squashes, and winter squashes, are native to the Americas and belong to the family of curcurbita. 
Did you know that Archaeologists have traced their origins to Mexico, dating back from 7,000 to 5,500 BCE, when they were an important part of the diet which was mainly made up of maize, beans, and squashes. 
Ever wondered what a Courgette is?While Zucchini is the more common name in Australia, Italy,North America, and Germany, courgette is the name mostly used in the United Kingdom, Greece, New Zealand, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and South Africa.
So What Do They Look Like?
 Zucchini have a similar shape to cucumbers and can be dark or light green.
You can also get golden zucchinis that are a deep yellow or orange colour
The best times to sow Zucchinis for those who haven’t this season are;
In temperate areas, from September through to January, in Cool temperate areas, you have been October and January, in arid areas, yes that’s you in Alice Springs and Broken Hill, you have a bigger window, September through to March, sub-tropical zones, August to February, but for tropical areas, now’s too hot.
Your Zucchini planting time is April to August.
Very different from the rest of Australia!
Having said all that Zucchinis are great for the beginner gardener because they are quick and easy to grow.

Prepare your soil with the usual digging in some compost or cow manure.
Zucchinis are light feeders so won’t need much more than an occasional feed with some liquid fish fertiliser.
Sow your zucchini seed where you want them to grow.
TIP: Planting your seeds deeply will make your plant more drought tolerant.
Just like cucumbers, zucchinis take up a lot of space so maybe try growing them vertically.t
that way there’s also improved air circulation so the fungal problems are a lot less.
If you have heavy soil or only have a balcony garden, you could grow them in pot which would need to be about 30cm diameter.
TIP:The important tip with growing them vertically is have lots of soft ties, like old panty hose cut into strips, so you can tie up the stems as they grow.
That way they won’t flop all over the place and probably break their stems.
If you don't get many bees or pollinating insects around your way you might need to pollinate the zucchini flowers yourself

Fully grown zucchini leaves tend to look a motley silvery grey colour which looks like the fungal problem powdery mildew.
Unless you’re watering the leaves this shouldn’t happen.
Powdery mildew grows on wet zucchini leaves or on any veggie leaves that are wet.
By watering where it’s needed most, the roots, not the leaves you shouldn’t get this problem.
In summer you'll need to keep your zucchini's water levels high, because they dehydrate very quickly on hot days so mulch them heavily (but remember to keep the mulch away from the main stem).
Zucchini problems
There are two main problems that gardeners have when growing zucchinis.
when the fruits are 5cm long, they rot and drop off. This is a pollination problem.
You might have to pollinate them yourself.
Next year grow a whole lot of flowers nearby like Borage, nasturtiums or marigolds.
The second problem sounds like blossom end rot where fruit almost ready to harvest starts rotting from the top.
If this happens you need to add lime to the soil at the time of planting.

Too late this season. Otherwise it can be caused by irregular watering, that means, too much drying out in between waterings.
If your plants have many days of no water and then a glut of it, blossom end rot can develop, ruining the fruit.
By picking your Zucchinis regularly, usually when they’re about 20cm long; this helps the plant keep on cropping. If you let Zucchinis grow too big-like a metre long, they’re not much good as a vegetable to eat because they become too tough and contain mostly seeds.
The flowers are also edible - they can be used in salads, as garnish, and even fried.
Why is it good for us?
Zucchini and other Squashes
The zucchini vegetable is low in calories, about 15 calories per 100 g fresh zucchini.
1/2 cup of zucchini also contains 19% of the recommended daily amount of Manganese
As well as Zucchini containing large amounts of folate and potassium, the rind contains the nutrient beta-carotene, so to get the most out of your zucchini, you should also eat the rind.
If you want some unusual varieties, go online to buy the seeds of Goldfinger Hybrid, or Costata Romanesco-speckled with light coloured ribbing.
Storing Zucchini-Store zucchini fresh and unwashed in a cold dry place, like the fridge, for about 3-5 days.
After that they start to get soft and wrinkly, and nobody wants that. Makes you wonder about the zucchinis that you buy in supermarkets. How has their shelf life been increased? Better to grow you own.


Green as the Main Colour Scheme
Foliage colour leads this garden design.
Would you believe that not everyone likes flowers in the garden.
But colour just doesn’t colour from flowers, it also can come from, foliage, bark, pottery, furniture, fences and even artwork, but in the end it is all about colour.
So what kind of a garden is it with no flowers?
Let’s find out; I'm talking with English Garden Designer Lesley Simpson.

The easiest colour scheme to use is the one that uses only one colour and green as the main colour is very calming and refreshing.
Green doesn't need the addition of anything else to make it work and of course we're really talking about using different types of foliage colour in the garden scheme.
There's a huge range of foliage colour to choose from; the blue-greys of Eucalypts, silver foliage of Mediterranean plants to lime greens and variegated foliage.
When you get down to it, our gardens are really about colour and are meant to enhance our lives.
Perhaps also to make our homes look better from the street.


Staghorn Fern Platycerium superbum
Staghorn Fern
They make a nice plant for your balcony, verandah or just somewhere perhaps on a tree in the garden and are very easy to care for.
They can be grown year-round outdoors in areas protected from frost and freezing. In their natural habitat they can be seen growing high up in the crowns of trees.
Let’s find out some more by listening to the podcast.

Staghorn ferns are native to tropical central Africa including Madagascar, southeast Asia, the Pacific islands and Australia.
One species is native to the Andes mountains of Peru.
Platycerium superbum has greyish green fronds that lay flat over the root system which is attached to a support.
This fern has two distinct leaf forms.
Flattened sterile shield fronds protect the anchoring root structure and take up water and nutrients. This ‘nest’ frond is designed to collect falling leaves and insects and funnels it to the feeding roots.
This is the place gardeners usually throw in banana peels for the same reason.
Platycerium superbum

These give the fern a valuable source of potassium and calcium, nutrients required for the production of their large fronds.
It's from this frond that the fern attaches itself to the host tree.

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