Saturday, 18 June 2016

Clove Pinks Not Onions


Small or Dwarf Fruit Trees
Normally fruit trees grow to 8 - 10 metres in height, such as Avocado or Mango.
What do you do if you want to plant fruit trees in your garden but want ones that aren’t that big.
There’s usually dwarf varieties of the particular type that you want but how dwarf is dwarf really?
Is there another way to grow fruit trees without going dwarf?
Fruit trees can be espaliered photo M Cannon
Have you ever heard of fruit tree hedges?
Let’s find out what it is now. I'm talking with sustainability consultant and permaculture guru, Margaret Mossakowska of Moss House

You can plant your fruit trees closer together and prune them from a young age to have an open canopy so that they don't get diseases.
Trees that are too dense inside the canopy are prone to scale and fungal problems.

Meyer Lemon tree comes in a dwarf form.
The concept of a dwarf fruit tree is really fruit trees that are naturally occurring as a small tree but they still grow to 4 metres.
Unless of course they're grafted onto dwarfing stock.
Multi-grafted trees are a great way to get multiple fruit trees in one planting hole but you have to be on top of the pruning of each variety very early on or the strongest one will take over and the others will die.
The other alternative is to plant two of something into the one planting hole or if you have the time and inclination, espalier your fruit trees.
If you have any questions about growing fruit trees or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Onions.  Or allium cepa are from the Alliaceae family that contains Garlic, Leeks Shallots and Chives.
Most of these have corms or bulbs or underground stems with long thin leaves and clusters of varying numbers of flowers. (Encyclopaedia Britannica)
Did you know that onions were grown as a crop and eaten since prehistoric times?, Onions are even mentioned in first dynasty of ancient Egypt, circa 3200 BCE, and have appeared in tomb paintings, inscriptions and documents from that time on. Some paintings depict onions heaped onto a banquet table.
When to grow Onions?
In sub-tropical, cool temperate, warm temparate and arid climates you can plant them from April until August.
Onions are sensitive to the day length for formation of flowers, so it’s important to select the right variety (early – mid-season – late).
These varieties have different requirements in the length of daylight hours.

Early varieties are short day length onions, mid-season varieties are medium day length onions, and late varieties are long day length onions.
If planted out of season, onions may bolt to seed prematurely.
For example in temperate climates mid-season onions are sown in winter, growing through spring and harvested in summer. These include Sweet Red and Brown Spanish Onions.
They love sunny well drained beds, especially when the bulbs mature in summer.
So why Grow Onions?
Onions are a good companion plant.
Grown around the garden they repel pests.
They contain sulphur which is a strong disinfectant.
Did you know that onions were was used to heal gun shot wounds and during World War 1, sphagnum moss was soaked in the juice as a wound dressing.
How to Grow Onions with Success.
Remember to always lime your soil well a week or two before planting onions.
They love a sweet or alkaline soil.
I don’t really know why alkaline soils are called sweet.
Don't forget avoid applying manures and blood and bone to the beds in which you're about to grow your onions because they prefer alkaline soil.
You can use spent mushroom compost instead of cow manure.
Sowing seeds with Success
Onion seeds can be sown into seed raising mix into punnets.
 Or if you want to sow them directly into the garden, make it easy for yourself, mix the seed with some river sand-say one packet of seed to one cup of sand and sow it that way. Bit like sowing carrots!
They can be transplanted to garden beds when the seedlings are arond 3 inches (8 cms) tall.
According to the “Vegetable Patch” website, there is a secret to planting onion seedlings.
Instead of planting them sticking straight up, lay them down in a trench and move the soil back over their roots.
In about 10 days they're standing up and growing along strongly.
Some tips to keep your onions growing strongly is
1.   Hand weed around onions to avoid disturbing their roots and bulbs.
2.    Keep away from nitrogen based liquid fertilisers when your onions are maturing. Otherwise their efforts will go into their leaves instead of their bulb.
3 Regularly water your onions. Lack of water can delay growth or split the bulb.
Because of their strong taste pests generally leave onions alone.
When Do you Pick Your Onions?
Harvest onions (except spring onions) when the tops yellow and start drying.
This usually takes 6 months,so if you plant seedlings today, yours will be ready  in December.
Add a couple of weeks if your using seeds.
Pull the whole plant from the ground and leave it to dry in the sun.
Turn it every few days and avoid getting them wet (eg dew or rain).
Hang them in a cool dry place for around 3 weeks to cure.
If you store them in a cool dry place they should keep for a year.
This explains why you can buy onions all year round.
Eat the bulbs without a good dry skin first .
Why do we cry when we cut onions?
Onions contain complex sulphur compounds.
When you cut into an onion, two chemical reactions take place.
First, when a knife cuts through the cells of an onion, its enzymes release a strong odour.
Second, the onion releases allicin, a volatile sulfur gas that irritates the eyes and sends one rushing for a tissue.
Keeping Onions in the fridge can help with this problem.
To avoid a bitter flavour never, never buy onions that have begun to sprout greens from their stem portion.
This means they’re more than a year old.
If you see sprouts forming in your onions stored at home, simply snip them off and use the green part like chives, put the rest in the compost.
Why Are They Good For You?
Some health studies have shown raw onions to be effective in lowering overall cholesterol while raising HDLs, the good cholesterol.
Additionally, onions kill infectious bacteria, help to control blood sugar, aid in dissolving blood clots, and help to prevent cancer.
Perhaps we could do with eating some French Onion soup. Bon Appetit


Acid Soil pH and Acid Loving Plants
By now you know what your soil pH is and want to know what to grow in it without having to change it.
There’s quite a lot of plants that prefer either alkaline or acid soil, so today’s episode is concentrating on the acid loving plants.

Wisterias are acid loving plants. photo M Cannon
These plants are poor at obtaining iron – Iron is more widely available in an acid soil. The reason why these plants love acid soils is because they can obtain this iron under these conditions In an alkaline soil there will be an iron deficiency this can be identified by a yellowing of the leaves on the plant.
Quite a few gardeners would know about quite a few plants that are acid loving plants, like Azaleas, Camellias and Rhododendrons.
What about any others? Let’s find out. I'm talking with Glenice Buck, Consulting Arborist and Landscape Designer.

What if you want to grow some of these acid loving plants in more alkaline soil ?
A short term fix is by giving them more iron
Iron can be supplemented in the form of cheated iron, bought as a yellow powder.
Place a large spoonful into a watering can and water over the leaves and into the soil.
This type of iron as it soluble will be absorbed readily by the plant, however it is only a temporary solution and long-term remediation of the soil may be necessary.

Rhododendrons are acid loving plants. Photo M Cannon
Some acid loving plants are:
Coniferous shrubs and trees, Abelia ,citrus, azaleas and rhododendrons Ph4.5 -5.5

Magnolia, hydrangea,gardenias ,camellias, crepe myrtle, holly shrubs, calla lilies, wisteria, strawberries, ajuga and willows.
If you have any questions about measuring soil pH drop us a line to


Dianthus x plumaris "Regency."
Dianthus Regency.
A plant with low mounding grey leaves doesn’t sound too crash hot or enticing but what about perfumed flowers?
The flowerways come in singles, doubles, frilly, semi-doubles and flecked with colours mainly in the pink to red colourways and you can eat them as well.
Let’s find out what this group of plants is.
I'm talking with the plant panel :Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal  and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Dianthus or Clove Pinks have been around since the 14th Century.
Flowers may be single, double, or semi-double and may be all one colour, flecked, picoteed, or laced. 
The leaves of all Dianthus members are linear to lance-shaped and are often blue-gray or gray-green with a waxy bloom. 
All Dianthus like full sun and average, well-drained, unmulched soil, because their crowns tend to rot beneath it.

Dianthus Mojo
Propagate most perennials by cuttings, division, or layering.
Dianthus don't mind a bit of humus in the top soil layer, but don't like wet feet.
Clove pinks prefer a neutral to alkaline soil.
Dianthus or Pinks have fine root hairs that prefer to be in terracotta pots if not in the garden and because they’re quite small you can stuff in quite a few different colours and flower shapes in the many nooks and crannies in your garden.
If you have any questions about growing Dianthus regency, why not write in to

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