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Saturday, 30 April 2016

Berry Good Gardening

SPICE IT UP

Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citratus)

Is in the Poaceae family (grasses,) and was not only used  by the ancient Greeks and Romans but crops up in so many cuisines throughout the world.
Lemongrass has also been used in folk medicine and in Asian cooking.
Lemongrass is a herb, or grass really,that  has more attributes as an all round herb than you might’ve thought of.
In this segment, you’ll learn about not only the best ways to use it in the kitchen but some great tips and looking after it in the garden.
Let’s find out more about this herb. I'm talking with Ian Hemphill, from www.herbies.com.au

Lemongrass flavour is fairly gentle so you can’t go wrong in how much you use.

Lemongrass
Use only the bottom 15-20 cm and give it a bump with the back of a knife to easily peel off the outer layer.

Cut it very finely or either shave it finely or grate your lemongrass so you don’t get those hairs or fibres from the leaves so much when you’re eating the dish.

BIG TIP: Don't throw away the green leafy tops but tie them into knots to break up the citral structure and throw this bunch into cooking to infuse with a real lemony flavour.
Think of it as a substitute for lemon zest if you like for use in cooking.

When growing your own lemongrass, it's best if divided every few years because the centre of the clump doesn't seem to get enough water and nutrients and dies off.

If you have any questions about lemongrass or any other herb or have some information to share, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675



VEGETABLE HEROES

LEEKS Allium ampeloprasum var. Porrum
There’s nothing like a good long history that some vegetables seem to have and the Leek is no exception.
Thought to be native to Central Asia, leeks have been cultivated there and in Europe for thousands of years.
Did you know that Leeks were prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans because of their supposed beneficial effect upon the throat.
The Roman emperor Nero supposedly ate leeks everyday to make his voice stronger.
Another interesting fact that you might not know is that the leek became a Welsh emblem in 1536, and is still the national emblem of Wales.
Daffodil is the National flower.
Have you ever wonder why Welsh are such great singers?
Perhaps because they eat a lot of leeks, think Tom Jones.
Leeks, known scientifically as Allium ampeloprasum var. Porrum, are related to garlic, onions, shallots, and scallions.
Onions, celery, and carrots are very good companion plants for the leek.
Leeks, are a cool season crop and best of all they’re easy to grow.
You can grow leeks in hot summers, but you won’t get the same quality result as you will in a cool summer environment.
Leeks are usually grown from seed and are generally started off in punnets first then transplanted.
When to Sow
Sow the seeds of Leeks from Spring until the end of Autumn in cool temperate climates, and late summer and autumn in warm and tropical zones,  and in arid districts, seeds must be sown in February/early March and then you can transplant them in April and May.
I sowed some seed a several weeks ago and have already transplanted them into the veggie bed because they were a couple of inches-about 10cm high and were the thickness of a pencil.
TIP: By the way, the seeds germinated fine from an out of date packet.
Leeks will overwinter in cool temperate areas of Australia if properly mulched, but will generally not survive periods of extreme cold.
In case you don’t know what a leek is.
Leeks look like large fat spring onions, but have a very small bulb and a long white cylindrical stalk of layers  of white then green, tightly wrapped, flat leaves.
It goes without saying that good soil is the key to growing leeks.

Start off leeks in a punnet.
Leeks need nutrient rich, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. They’ll do well in almost any garden soil as long as it is well aerated and deep, about a spade’s depth is good.
Using some kind of dibble tool or the end of a rake handle to make a hole that's just deep enough to leave only the top inch of the seedling exposed.
Set the leek seedling into the hole and fill it loosely with soil.
 Space the leeks 10cm or a large hand span" apart, in rows at least 25cm  or from your wrist to your elbow apart.
Find something practical like that to do you estimates.
Some people think that when growing Leeks the aim is to blanch the stems while the plants are maturing.
To save your back if you want to blanch the stems, rather than digging a trench, just use mulch.
When they’re 4 weeks old in the veggie bed, use a thick mulch of sugar cane or something like that.
In another 4 weeks or when they reach about 24cm, do the same again, or you can use shredded newspaper.
The leeks will still grow as well if you don’t do any of this.
Some gardeners cut off the top portion of the leaves, about halfway up the plant, as the leeks are maturing.
This is supposed to bring on stalk growth, giving you a larger leek for the dinner table.
To be honest you can do all this, but if you don’t the leeks are just as tasty.
Make sure the plants get at least a couple of cm’s of water a week; otherwise the stems will be tough to eat.
Mulch to conserve moisture, and side-dress with manure tea once a month.
Begin harvesting leeks as soon as they're big enough to use.
Young, tender ones are good raw; once they reach the width of a paper roll, they're better cooked.
They usually take 16-18 weeks--4 ½ months. Quite a long time so explains why they are so expensive at the greengrocer, market or wherever you buy them.
At markets they’re usually $2 each.
To prepare Leeks cut them very thinly and sautee’ just as you would other members of the onion family.
 Like their allium cousins, onions and garlic, let leeks sit for at least 5 minutes after cutting and before cooking to enhance their health-promoting qualities.
Why are they good for you?
Tasty Leeks
 Leeks are a good source of dietary fibre also a top source of vitamin C
Leeks have a high concentration of the B vitamin folate
Leeks give you small amounts of other minerals and vitamins.
The green tops have some beta carotene which your body can make into vitamin A.
Like onions, they also have some sulphur compounds that scientists believe reduce your risk of some health problems.
Leeks are believed to be good for the throat.
Leeks are low in calories and fat-free. 100g of leek has just 125kJ.
AND THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY?

DESIGN ELEMENTS

In a lot of places in Australia, the days have begun to be cool down, so thinking of tropical plants for an area in the garden suddenly has become quite appealing.
Even if you live in an arid zone or cool temperate area, you can still achieve that tropical look with plants that grow well in your local district.
Paradisus Gardens photo Peter Nixon

Knowing how to arrange them is the key to achieving that tropical look, and around the entertainment area, it might be de rigour.
Let’s find out more. I'm talking with  Louise McDaid, Garden Designer.


Choose a dining setting that suits your lifestyle; perhaps a daybed? For the tropical look think of Wicker, Bamboo or Teak furniture fits into the Tropical theme.
The whole garden doesn’t have to be tropical.
You can use bold leaves and different types of foliage colour in any climate.
Create some shade with tall palms, such as Gold Cane or Lipstick Palm. For taller palms, try Bangalow or Kentia Palms.
Paradisus Gardens photo Peter Nixon

For the mid level think of Gingers, Cordylines, Canna lilies, Hibiscus and Birds of Paradise are some of the types of plants that you can choose from.
For the lowest level, pick from Bromeliads, ferns, and Calathea.
If you live in a cooler  or arid area, you might have a tropical theme within your garden style.
Somewhere in your garden where you like to sit and read or think, you can add a tropical touch here and there, with plants that are suited to the climate you live in.
There is a microclimate that suits those plants that were mentioned. You get the idea.

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Berrries: loganberry;Raspberry;Blackberry; Youngberry
Did you ever go out to collect wild blackberries when you were quite young and come home with scratches all over your arms and legs?
Youngberries photo M Cannon
Perhaps you were a bit more clever and carried a sheet of iron or a plank of wood that you plopped down into the middle of the patch to get the berries.
Nowadays you wouldn’t dream of doing that because blackberries out in the bush or nature reserve have probably been sprayed with weed spray.
So, what about growing your own?
Let’s find out which ones are so good.….I'm talking with the plant panel: Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal www.hortjournal.com.au  and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner. www.thegreengallery.com.au


The Berry Patch in a Pot™ Range features four great varieties of fruit that can be grown in any garden!
This includes Blackberries, Loganberries, Youngberries and Raspberries.
Berry flowers. photo M Cannon
Youngberry is a complex hybrid between three different species from the genus Rubus, the raspberries, blackberries, and dewberries of the rose family. The berries of the plant are eaten fresh or used to make juice, jam, etc.
Loganberries:Rubus x loganobaccus Loganberry.
The Loganberry is a modern variety of fruit that was developed from an accidental cross between a raspberry and a blackberry.
Loganberries have look a bit like blackberries, but are more red in colour.
The vines or canes of the Loganberry  don't grow like either the blackberry or raspberry.
They trail or grow upon the ground.

The best part is that these plants are ideal for pots and containers as well as for growing in the garden.
 

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