TOOL TIMEDo you use a whipper snipper for just about every edging job in your garden?
Whipper snippers aren’t so good for areas where you’ve got lots of low growing plants that have crept over your lawn.
If these plants get whippered-snippered back, not only does it look ugly, but sometimes these plants do recover that well.
The same with electric trimmers. They tend to tear.
So what’s the alternative?
Hedge shears, Grass shears, Topiary shears.
Straight blades or wavy blades.
Which is best to use for you?
Let’s find out hedge and grass shears. I'm talking with Tony Mattson, General Manager of Cut Above Tools. www.cutabovetools.com.au
However, if you try and cut branches that are too big or hard for the shears, then you risk bending the blades or putting them out of alignment.
Try and work out what your purpose is and what you're trying to cut. You might need those long handled loppers for the tougher parts of the job.
Blades' length vary from 20 - 25 cm (8 - 10 inches,) any longer than that is not efficient.
By investing in quality tools, you’re likely to have less fatigue, fewer breakdowns and longer tool life.
When choosing the type of hedge shears you want, think about how much you'll use them, where you'll use them, who will be using them, and, of course, how much you can spend on them.
There’s no need to use your hedge shears to cut your lawn edges; for that your need grass shears or edging shears because these are perfect for lawn edges.
If you have any questions about hedge or grass shears, or have some information to share, drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675
VEGETABLE HEROESDo you like to try to grow new plants you’ve never heard of before in your garden?
Well here’s one for you, Cardamom (Elletaria Cardamomum) is a member of the Zingiberaceae or ginger family.
Cardamom has been long used for medicinal purposes and even today Cardamom is the world’s third most-valuable spice by weight (after saffron and vanilla).
Did you know that Cleopatra is said to have found the scent so enticing that she had the palace scented with cardamom smoke when Marc Anthony came to visit?
Ancient Greeks and Romans used cardamom in foods as well as for Medicines and perfumes.
In the New Testament which was largely written in Greek "amooman" appears in reference to the aromatic plant cardamom.
The word means blameless without reproach.
Around 200 years ago, most of the world's supply was sourced from wild plants found in rainforests of the Western Ghats in Southern India.
These wild plants covered the whole region which was named the Cardamom Hills, a name that remains to this day.
Cardamom seed is a staple seasoning in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines, in which it is used to flavour meat, vegetables, baked goods, coffee and other Cardamom is a perennial (means it won’t grow a trunk or turn into a tree) with tall simple canes or stems that grow out of rhizomes.
It’s native to the shady forests of India, Ceylon and Malaysia.
Today it is grown mainly on plantations in Guatemala and India
The tall plants, grown on these plantations in flower for eight or nine months of the year.
Each pod, or capsule, ripens slowly, but must be picked when it is three-quarters ripe.
After harvest, the pods are washed and dried and the colour of the pod depends on how it’d dried.
White pods have been dried for many days in the sun leaving them bleached.
Green pods have been dried for one day and night in a heated room.
The flower spikes produce white or pale green flowers that produce green pod capsules that contain 10 to 20 seeds.
These seeds are small black and sticky.
The best quality cardamom seeds are ripe, hard and dark brown in colour.
The seeds have to be hand picked which is why it’s one of the most expensive spices.
The pod itself is not the spice but the three seeds inside each pod, that are considered the spice.
If you go online to look how to grow Cardamom, you’ll find information that tells you that it’s difficult to grow.
I dare say this information is written by people in the America or England.
I beg to differ, it’s easy to grow in especially in temperate climates, although I haven’t seen any seed pods on mine or on the plant in the Sydney Botanic gardens. Maybe they’re both too young because it takes 4 years for plants growing in plantations to produces flowers and pods.
What does it look like?
Cardamom is a tough plant and drought tolerant as well if you grow
it in the right spot.
So-get a rhizome because the cardamom you buy from the spice section of your supermarket has been dried, and won’t ever germinate.
True to its original habitat, cardamom prefers humous rich soil, filtered light and room to grow.
You can grow it in a pot if you really must, but over summer it will get pot-bound, and refuse to flower, so you must keep dividing the plant and passing it out to friends (a great gift, by the way).
Even if your plant doesn’t flower you will have a huge supply of fragrant leaves, which is just as good to have as the spice.
From winter to middle of summer feed your plant with fish emulsion.
Cardamom doesn’t like chilly weather, so move your plant indoors in Autumn as soon as the temperature drops below 5 0 C.
It grows into quite a big plant so too big for a sunny windowsill, but a sunny spot indoors or on the verandah in cooler climates will work especially if you mist it
periodically, or shower it in the bathtub from time to time.
In the wild, cardamom gets a lot of rain; so a potted cardamom also needs plenty of moisture, but it won’t tolerate poor drainage, which can cause the rhizomes to rot.
Usually trouble free but if plants are too cold their leaves turn brown.
In that case move it to a warmer place, then cut off the brown leaves cut because they often regrow although this can take a long time.
Keep the plant fairly dry while it’s recovering.
If the leaves develop brown tips at any time (even if the plant is kept warm) it is a sign of overwatering.
By the way, Cardamom makes quite a dense clump, a bit like Strelitzia or Bird of Paradise plants.
You might find if it gets quite big, that it’s quite difficult to dig out if you no longer what the plant in that situation.
What do you do with it?
The long stalks are useful to tie the leaves together to make a neat parcel of food. The cardamom pods sold for cooking are picked when unripe so the seeds will not grow if you try to sow them
Cardamom seeds lose their flavor quickly when ground so buy them whole whenever possible.
Green pods are superior to white pods for flavour.
Green cardamom has a subtle to sweet fragrance.
Why is it good for you?
Cardamom helps digestion and helps if you’ve got stomach cramps.
It’s a good stimulant and beneficial for those suffering from flatulence and gas.
Cardamom also helps in cleansing the body as it has detoxifying properties.
It improves blood circulation , enhances appetite and provides relief from acidity in the stomach. It’s used in the cure of halitosis or bad breath.
If you are lucky enough to have access to a cardomom plant, the leaves also have a cinnamon fragrance and are ideal for wrapping small parcels of meat and rice for steaming.
These are best wrapped and steamed the day before you want to use them, then stored in the refrigerator over night and re-warmed up in a steamer just prior to serving. The mild cinnamon-pine flavour will permeate the contents adding a subtle aroma - perfect for coconut rice.
AND THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY?
Hard Surfaces for Outdoor Dining
|Formal outdoor settings photo M Cannon|
This garden series with Garden
Designer Peter Nixon, is all about garden challenges thrown at us mostly by
nature but also due to a situation in your garden that you might need to fix.
Today’s garden challenge is for those areas in your garden where you want to put outdoor dining table and chairs.
For your dining setting you'll probably have chairs and a table, but you don't want them to sink into the soil.
If you don't want formality because it will be at odds with your planting, then you need to consider the alternatives that will be outlined in the podcast.
Let’s find out. I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden designer www.peternixon.com.au
Peter suggested using salt textured concrete that’s really just concrete that’s finished with a different finish and doesn’t appear as a hard surface.
Informal setting for outdoor dining. photo M Cannon
Push the pebbles into the hard surface with a rubber mallet so they don’t become a trip hazard.
Then use edging material to create a channel around the edges and into that plant mini mondo grass.
If you have any questions about what hard surface to have in your garden, or have some information to share, write in email@example.com
PLANT OF THE WEEKNew Euphorbias:Euphorbia Diamond Frost
Euphorbia Stardust Pink Glitter and Euphorbia Stardust White Sparkle.
Some of you may know Euphorbias in the perennial border.
Did you know that the variation within this genus is amazing, some people might even say awesome.
From low-growing garden weeds called petty spurge to giant, cactus-like succulents.
|Euphorbia Diamond Frost|
Let’s find out …I'm talking with the Plant Panel; Karen Smith editor of Hort Journal magazine, and Jeremy Critchley wholesale nursery owner www.thegreengallery.com.au
The petals are actually small and dainty like baby’s breath, but there are so many of them that the leaves are scarcely visible.
These new delicate looking but tough, high impact Euphorbia plants flower every day of the year in warmer climates.
|Euphorbia Diamond Frost|
Heat and drought tolerant, a truly low maintenance plant.
Euphorbias all produce a mostly white latex which they oozes out of the stems when cut, and this sap is often toxic.
If you have any questions about growing Euphorbia white Stardust or Pink Stardust why not write in to firstname.lastname@example.org