Saturday, 28 May 2016

Minty Spice and All Things Nice


Originally taken as a medicinal herb to treat stomach ache and chest pains, nowadays it’s mostly called upon for soothing indigestion to heartburn and the common cold to bad breath.
There are three common mints:
  1. Mentha viridis or common min has a rounded leaf and not as bright as
  2. Mentha spicata or spearmint which has a more elongated leaf. 
  3. Then there's Peppermint, Mentha x piperita, which is a cross between spearmint and watermint.
Mentha spicata
Not all mints are equal and if you want to add the best culinary type mint to your cooking then you need to pay attention to this next segment. Let’s find out what it is now. I'm talking with Not all mints are equal and if you want to add the best culinary type mint to your cooking then you need to pay attention to this next segment.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from

Not all mints are equal and if you want to add the best culinary type mint to your cooking then you need to pay attention to this next segment.
Herbies Spices sells dried mint which is imported from Turkey.
Peppermint wasn't known in the UK until the 1700's.
Peppermint is mostly used medicinally and in sweets or confectionary, but not in savoury cooking.
Apple mint is a less common mint but can be used in cooking. Apple mint flavour goes well with peas and in mint ice.
On the other hand Eau de Cologne mint is not suitable in any recipe.
Although mint is easy to grow, its roots, which are called "runners," are also incredibly invasive: they quickly grow, sprouting new leaves and new plants as they go.
Mint will overtake a flower bed or garden in no time if you're not careful
If you have any questions about Wollemi Pines or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Nasturtiums or Tropaeolum majus.
Did you know that Nasturtium plants were discovered in the jungles of Peru and Mexico in the 16th century?
The common name nasturtium comes from the Latin words for nose (nas), and tortum (twist), which is supposed to be because of a persons’ reaction when tasting the spicy, peppery leaves.
Renaissance botanists named it after watercress, (Nasturtium officinale in Latin) which has a similar taste.
And the second part of the latin name came about in the seventeen hundreds.
The Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus named them after the Latin word tropaeolum, meaning trophy.
Linnaeus compared the funnel shape of nasturtium’s flowers to battle helmets and its flat leaves to shields, which were traditionally hung on trees after an army was victorious.
The original plant would’ve been a small vine with orange-yellow flowers with dark red spots on the petals and shield-shaped leaves.
 According to Jesuit missionaries, the Incas used nasturtiums as a salad vegetable and as a medicinal herb.
Over the centuries as plants-men derived different colours and variegation on their leaves, there was a shift from Nasturtiums being thought of as a herb to more of an ornamental plant.
Monet used to let Nasturtiums ramble in one part of his garden in Giverny, France.
Why Grow Nasturtiums
Tropaeolum majus or Nasturtiums are easy to grow, edible, cheerful and they are great companion plants as well!
Nasturtiums help deter aphids, whiteflies, squash bugs, cucumber beetles and other pests.
Plant them with tomatoes, radishes, cabbage, broccoli, and under fruit trees.
They come in bright colour as well as soft tones-variegated leaves such as the Alaska series, or plain leaves-even dwarf varieties that grow to 50cm tall while others can be used as a vine, climbing 1 ½ metres or more!
Nasturtiums are often found in neglected or older gardens because they don’t need too much care once they get started.

Tropaeolum majus
So What Do Modern Day Nasturtiums Look Like?
Firstly, Nasturtiums are annual plants with rounded leaves like a water lily.
The flowers are an open funnel shape with a little claw or spur on the underside.
Save the seeds for ‘ron.
Autumn/early winter is still the time to plant Nasturtiums and to get a faster sprout soak your seeds (they are large and pretty hard) in some warm water overnight and then place directly in the garden or pots where you want to grow them.
Nasturtiums resent being transplanted so don’t buy the seedlings.
If you want to sow them in coco peat pots you can then plant the seedling, pot and all into the garden.
I've found the trick with nasturtiums is to keep them watered during the entire growing season.
Especially when they are in containers.
They love part sun or semi-shade, but they don't do well in drought-like conditions.
As long as you keep them watered and give them room for the air to circulate they give you lots of flowers.
The soil shouldn't be too rich because you will get more leaves than flowers.
Grow them in sandy and they will still thrive.
You can use wine barrel planters, window boxes or porch boxes too.
Pick the flowers often once they start coming, and you will have many more,
So why are nasturtiums a herb?
Because the entire plant is edible as long as you don’t use pesticides!  
Keep it organic and you’ll find this peppery plant is perfect for salads, herb vinegars, appetizers and garnishes.
Try mixing assorted greens such as romaine, radicchio, spinach and arugula or rocket with a handful of nasturtium blooms topped with your favourite dressing.
You can decorate cupcakes with Nasturtium flowers on top of the frosting for something really different!
Nasturtium vinegar is easy too, just add several flowers and some leaves to a jar with a clove of garlic.
Fill with vinegar and allow to sit for 4-5 weeks.
The leaves and flowers can be added to any salad, used as garnish, or chopped into pasta salads.
Did you know that the seeds were ground during World War II as a replacement for pepper and you can still do this. Wait for the seeds to dry-they are larger than peppercorns-and grind them in a grinder.
You can add this mixture with herbs to make a savoury herb salt as well.
 Store in tightly closed bottles.
The fresh seeds can be pickled as a type of substitution for capers, which are fairly expensive. You can find more recipes and uses for Nasturtiums on the internet. Try putting in the words “old fashioned living.”
So why are they good for you?
Nasturtiums were known to help prevent scurvy, since the leaves are rich in Vitamin C.
The leaves of Nasturtiums also contain iron and  have antibiotic properties which are more effective just before the plant flowers.
In traditional medicine an ointment is made from nasturtium flowers and used to treat skin conditions as well as hair loss.


SOIL pH series introduction

Chlorosis, or iron deficiency
This next topic isn’t all that glamourous but can mean that your garden plants won’t grow as well if you do nothing about it.
Plants will be stunted, or have deformed leaves, even yellowing leaves with green veins can be one of the outcomes.
You’ll often read or hear the recommendation to check soil pH, but what does that really mean?
Pity about the topic name but let’s find out in this introduction to soil pH.
I'm talking with Glenice Buck, Consulting Arborist and Landscape Designer.

Soil pH measures the alkalinity or acidity levels in the soil.
This ranges from '0' to ;14' on a pH scale, where pH 7 is considered neutral.
pH chart

Levels falling below 7 are acidic and those above 7 are considered alkaline.
Soil pH is important because it influences how easily plants can take up nutrients from the soil.
Did you know that plant roots absorb mineral nutrients such as nitrogen and iron when they are dissolved in water?
If the soil solution (the mixture of water and nutrients in the soil) is too acid or alkaline, some nutrients won’t dissolve easily, so they won’t be available for uptake by roots.
If you have any questions about measuring soil pH drop us a line to


Leptospermum laevigatum Foreshore

Leptospermum laevigatum Foreshore photo PMA
Some native plants can grow in next to nothing soil, on rocky outcrops, be battered by salt laden winds and receive almost no water, but still keep on growing.
These plants have developed tactics to keep surviving in such harsh conditions so when you transfer them to your garden, they’re practically low maintenance.
Let’s find out about this new low native shrubs. I'm talking with the plant panel: Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal  and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

2.5 year old tea tree hedge. photo PMA

Leptospermum laevigatum Foreshore, grows to only 50 cm in height and is of course a tea tree. A native alternative to box hedges and is perfect for low hedge planting because not only are the plants tough but you won’t have to keep pruning them every couple of weeks to keep them to size.

Once established it is reasonably dry tolerant requiring only occasional deep watering during
extended periods of heat.
Tea trees can be planted in most soil types that are well draining.
Best grown in full sun but will tolerate part shade.

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