Saturday, 30 July 2016

Parsley, Custard Apples and Festival Stars.


PARSLEY Petroselinum crispum/Petroselinum neapolitana
There's curly Parsley, flat leafed Parsley and even Hamburg Parsley which is grown in Europe for it's root, then cooked as a vegetable.
In the UK, a poisonous version of Parsley, Fool's Parsley, that looks like flat leaf Parsley grows wild, like a weed so curly Parsley is the favourite over there.
Flat leaved parsley. photo M Cannon

Parsley is used so much in the kitchen that it should be growing in everyone’s garden.
It’s in the same family as celery, carrots and cumin and has been used as a herb for over 2,000 years.
Interestingly this herb (Parsley) was used in ancient Rome as ingredient of salads, to eliminate effects of a hangover and as ornament in the form of garlands for the head.
What’s so interesting about it?
Let’s find out . I'm talking with Ian Hemphill herb expert, book author and owner of Herbies Spices.

Did you know that the taste of parsley depends on the type of soil and climate conditions?
Parsley is one the most popular spices in the world.
Parsley seeds take a long time to germinate and need darkness rather than light to get them going.
The dried version of Parsley is very similar to the fresh and can be easily substituted in cooking.
Other than that, parsley is used in the cosmetic industry for the preparation of soaps and body lotions that are especially good for dry skin.
Parsley can pop up in all sorts of places if you let it self-seed.

Parsley is also used in the pharmaceutical and medical industry. 
If you have any questions about Parsley or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


One couldn’t get further from a vegetable by talking about growing a custard apple.
But here it is.  
Annona atemoya is the scientific name of custard apples.
Did you know that Australian custard apple is unique in the world and is a hybrid of the sugar apple (Annona squamosa) and the cherimoya (Annona cherimola)?
Not only that but Australia is the largest commercial producer of custard apples?
 What Do They Look Like? 
Firstly it's absolutely nothing like an apple and nothing like custard, but the flesh is quite creamy and sweet
It has the appearance of a fat and soft choko but with more rounded bumps.
Inside they hold large, dark brown seeds and soft, white, supersweet flesh that’s great for a sweet tooth.
There are four main custard apple growing regions, all found on the east coast of Australia.
From North Queensland with the first fruit of the year ripe for the picking in late January/early February, down to Northern New South Wales is around May each year.
You can buy the commercial variety which are Pink Mammoth or African Pride. Both are sweet, juicy and full of flavour.
Pinks Mammoth is the larger of the two varieties. It can grow up to 3kg and has yellow-pink colouring between the ridges of the bumps when mature.
You can pull a Pinks Mammoth apart with your hands and then scoop out the flesh to enjoy.
African Pride is the smaller variety and is medium sized – usually between 500g-800g.
Both varieties have a full appearance when mature, and the skin will start to smooth out the bumps. They both turn from dark green to light green.
Custard apple African Pride from

Smaller Dwarf Custard Apple: Tropic Sun
Or you can grow smaller versions like dwarf custard apples called Tropic sun which is a small free fruiting tree suitable for home gardens.
Tropic sun has ripe fruit with a sweet creamy textured pulp with fewer seeds.
Pick the fruit when it’s firm and let it ripen at room temperature.
If you want to grow this tree, then plant it in a sunny well drained position protected from hot dry winds.
Custard apples don’t like frost so if you want to grow this one, grow it in a pot and move indoors over winter or cover the tree with fleece.
Mulch your tree and prune it in Spring to an open vase shape.
Fertilize well after fruit set with an organic fertilizer.
Tip: Regular watering commencing at flowering to harvest is important.
The Tropic Sun custard apple tree is best suited to warm tropical and sub-tropical regions along Australia’s eastern seaboard (e.g. from the Atherton Tablelands in far north Queensland down to Alstonville in northern New South Wales).
There’s another one called Geffner which is an Israeli cultivar.
Geffner has a good amount of fruit with exceptionally good flavour and is known to be self pollinating and sets fruit every year.
A very reliable tree that doesn’t need much maintenance for home gardens and can be grown in a pot.
Where to Plant Custard apples are best suited to sandy loam soils, but well-structured clay loams are suitable. Although the tree's main feeder roots are relatively shallow, at least 1 m of well-drained soil without heavy clay or rock is needed to avoid root rot and ensure good tree performance. Where the topsoil is less than 1 m deep, plant the trees on mounds.
Care of your custard Apple trees and Where do they grow best in Australia?
Frosts can kill or severely damage both young and bearing trees. Therefore, frost-free sites are essential.
Custard apples have soft brittle wood and are extremely susceptible to wind damage, especially when carrying a full crop.
Rubbing and exposure to drying winds also easily damages the fruit skin.
Warm, well-protected, frost-free sites in districts receiving a predominantly summer rainfall are the most suitable.
Custard apple fruit are susceptible to skin discolouration and splitting when prolonged temperatures below about 13°C are experienced during the later stages of fruit development.
To minimise this, choose a location that’s relatively warm, in the early winter.
Temperatures of 25°C to 28°C during flowering (October to February) are favourable for good fruit set. At temperatures above 28°C, custard apples produce more growth and fewer flowers, and drying of flower parts increases. For this reason, custard apples are not suitable for coastal tropical or hot inland areas.
For the novelty of growing a custard apple you can grow it from the seeds from fruit bought at the fruit and veg shop.
Just sow them like any other seed.
They take ages to germinate, like three months minimum up to 12 months.
There are a couple of ways to grow them from seeds
1st way is the paper towel method, with this method you put 2-3 seeds in the paper towel wet the towel then fold them and wrap them up with sandwich plastic bags then keep warm inside on window or somewhere else that’s warm.
2nd method is in small pots: plant a seed in the pot water it and cover the whole pot with clear plastic wrap and keep away from frost.. and in 2-3 weeks you will see sprouts come out.
You’ll most likely not get the custard apple tree that produced the fruit you’re getting the seed from, because they are a hybrid between what's commonly known as a Sugar apple and a Cherimoya.
But, you never know, you just might end up with the next world beater or something not quite so good or anything in between. It's good fun all the same.
How do You Eat Custard Apples? 

Custard Apples are only eaten when soft, and only the flesh is eaten.
To eat them just cut in them in half and scoop out the white flesh.
The Custard Apple should be moist with a pleasant sweet aroma.
Once ripe, custard apples can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
If the skin has gone purple or black, they have passed their best eating quality.
Why Are They Good For You? 
Even if you think you can’t grow a custard apple, there’s plenty of reasons why you might buy the fruit.
They’re delicious raw or you can bake them in muffins and teacakes.
Drinks and smoothies are another way custard apple is used along with syrups, jams and marmalade.
Custard apple sauce also pairs well with various meats.
Custard apples contain protein, fibre, minerals, vitamins, energy and very little fat. They are also an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, and potassium with some B2 and complex carbohydrates.


Climbing Plants for Cool Climate Gardens
Why is it that gardeners living in warm climates hanker after climbing plants that only really do well in cooler districts and those gardeners living in those frosty areas, want to grow climbing plants with big leaves and big flowers that belong in warmer regions of Australia?
 Sometimes we can’t help falling in love with some plants and the desire can be overwhelming. This week’s offerings are no exception. 
Clematis display at Chelsea Flower Show photo M Cannon

This week it’s about climbers that are suited for a cool temperate climate, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t grow them wherever you are. 
Let’s find out. I'm talking with Glenice Buck, Consulting Arborist and Landscape Designer.
Deciduous climbers work well in cooler climates of Australia.
The Clematis display at the Chelsea Flower show is so spectacular that you can’t help but want to grow them. 
Did you know that Clematis (KLEM-uh-tis) is a genus of flowering plants native to China and Japan belonging to the Ranunculus family? 
There are other plants that are also sometimes known as “Old Man’s Beard,” which in this case gets its name from the long fluffy seed heads that look like an old man’s beard.
 They are known to be vigorous growers, but there are a few shrubs that won’t grow more than 1 ½ metres. 
Some plants are deciduous, while others are evergreen.
Clematis normally has a soft papery type leaf.

The size of the flowers and leaves will vary amongst Cultivars.  The flowers are in a wide range of colours.  shades of lilac, pinks, purple, white…..amazing flowers. They do like a sheltered spot in full sun with roots in cool and well-mulched soil.

 Glenice also recommends, 
Ornamental Grape (Vitis vinifera) and
Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis and Wisteria floribunda)


NEW Gypsophilla paniculata"Festival Star."

This plant is in the same family as Carnations and is also known as chalk plant and soap root. 
Some (baby’s breath) of the species have edible roots, and the plants and roots are also grown for and used as a medical ingredient. 
Baby's breath.

Weird names aside the plant is very decorative and is used as a cut flower to give a delicate look in arrangements and bouquets. 
I'm talking with Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal  and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner. 

The scientific name of Baby’s breath – ‘Gypsophila’ – comes from the words ‘gypsos’ and ‘philos’, meaning ‘gypsum’ and ‘loving’ respectively in Greek.
Festival Star is a compact but sturdy baby's breath that is covered with dense sprays of small white flowers from late late Summer.
Gypsophila Festival Star

These herbaceous perennial plants bear tall, airy panicles covered with hundreds of tiny double white flowers, often blushed with pink. 
They form a dense mound growing 30 - 45 cm tall and 45 - to 60 cm wide and is great on the sunny, well-drained border. 

Cut back the faded flower stems before they set seed as plants have a tendency to lightly self-sow.
Baby’s breath is difficult to transplant because it has a deep tap root, so plant it where it won’t be disturbed.

What could be more gorgeous than a combination of Gypsophila and red roses in a vase?

In the garden you could combine it with balloon flowers, dwarf lilies and low growing sedum for a great floral combination.

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