Saturday, 13 August 2016

Nature in Action and Beautiful Foliage


What happens when an ecologist from Australia, packs up and leaves to work in Namibia for a couple of years?
Namibia wildlife
Some of the wildlife found in Namibia are big cats, Cheetahs, Elephants, Zebras, and Giraffes.
Let’s find out.. I'm talking with Katie Oxenham, a Consulting ecologist who now lives in Sydney.
Katie's role in Namibia was conservancy and natural management support. She was employed by the Namibia Nature Foundation and worked with communities in the north of the country to manage natural resources such as the harvest of Devil's Claw. Devil's Claw is different to the Australian weed by the same name found in the Top End.

Help with how to sustainably harvest the Devil's Claw was important because it prevented the plant from becoming regionally extinct.
Katie also helped the indigenous population with entering into contracts with private companies of eco-tourist lodges whereby they would acquire jobs thus giving them a reason to conserve wildlife.
Namibia has unique landscapes and is home to a vast diversity of wildlife found nowhere else on Earth.
There are approximately 4,000 plant species, over 650 bird species and 80 large mammal species.Namibia is a pretty special place and a must see destination for tourists wanting to see African wildlife.
If you have any questions about Namibia or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Which vegetable has more vitamin C than an orange?
Broccoli, Brassica oleracea var Italica or botrytis cymosa?
Earlier this year I mentioned that Broccoli heads are actually groups of flower buds that are almost ready to flower?

Each group of buds is called a floret.
That’s still true, nothing’s changed.
Broccoli is of course in the Brassicaceae family of vegetables along with cauliflower, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, turnips and many of the Asian greens.
Just to remind you why should you grow any type of Broccoli if it’s available all year round in your supermarket?
Firstly, supermarket Broccoli has probably been sprayed for all manner of pests whether or not the pests visited the Broccoli plant.
Secondly, supermarket Broccoli stems are pretty tough to eat, when they’re supposed to be tender.
Why, because that type of Broccoli transports better?
Homegrown Broccoli, especially the heirloom varieties, also re-shoot after your cut of the central Broccoli stem.
Plus, Broccoli is pretty easy to grow.
Finally, to taste great, broccoli has to be properly cared for and must also be picked at the right time.
If you just buy broccoli at the green grocer’s, the broccoli may look great but the taste may not be up to scratch.
How so? They may have been picked before becoming fully-mature.
Or they may have been picked at the right time but then stored too long
With home-grown broccoli, you can also be sure how it has been grown:
You know exactly where it has come from, what you used to grow and protect it, unlike those sold in supermarkets and even in farmer’s markets.
Today’s Broccoli is the Romanesco broccoli or some call it roman cauliflower

You might think this lime green cauliflower come broccoli is a new invention but it’s been around since the 16th century.
The reason why broccoli is making an appearance in this segment is that even though it’s called Romanesco broccoli it’s much more crunchy than either broccoli or cauliflower.
The flavour is different as well, some say nutty even, while others say it tastes like a cross between broccoli and cauliflower.
That seems too hard to imagine.
To add to the confusion, apparently the French call it Romanesco cabbage and the English called it Italian asparagus.
So it’s a mixed up vegetable if you like but the most fascinating part of Romanesco is its appearance.
Much has been said about the mathematics of this spiral pattern, a lot of which is fairly complex.
Its spiralled buds form a natural approximation of a fractal, meaning each bud in the spiral is composed of a series of smaller buds.
You might’ve heard of the Fibonacci sequence?
The spirals follow the same logarithmic pattern.
Plus it’s a very attractive vegetable to be growing in the garden.
Where did it come from?
Romanesco is a unique Italian variety of broccoli with a yellowish-green dense head that forms an unusual spiral pattern.
How to grow Romanesco Broccoli?
Sow the seeds of Romanesco broccoli in from February July in arid zones, March through to August in sub-tropical areas, Spring and Autumn in temperate zones,
 And cor cooler regions, you’ll have to wait until October before sowing.
The plants need the same care as either Broccoli, or cauliflower and that is they’re not too choosy about the site they’re growing in but prefers to be in full sun, but also will tolerate partial shade with no problems.
Growing in too much shade will reduce the size of the Broccoli head.
The ideal soil is a reasonably heavy (not pure clay) which is rich in nutrients and has been well-dug.
Like all brassicas, Broccoli needs a minimum soil pH of 6; but really prefers a pH of 7.

Add lime if you need to raise the soil pH.
Broccoli is what’s called a heavy feeder, so do add plenty of blood and bone, and decomposed manures by the bucket load before you start.
Sow your Broccoli seed about 2 mm deep, and space the seedlings about 40cm apart so they don’t crowd each other.
Once a fortnight feed your broccoli with a liquid fertilizer; seaweed, manure tea, nettle tea etc.
Don’t plant or sow Romanesco Broccoli in your veggie bed if you’ve grown it before in the past 3 years.
You may get a disease called Club Root that causes you Broccoli plant to wilt regardless of how much water you give it.
Remember the acronym. LRLC-Legumes, root veg, leafy then Cucurbits, Brassicas.
Harvest broccoli heads when they have reached maximum size, are still compact, and before the buds loosen, open into flowers, or turn yellow.
It will be about 70-100 days or 2 ½ -4 months, when your Broccoli will be ready if you plant it now.
When do you pick your Romanesco Broccoli?
You’ve got to time it just right, and that’s when the cluster of tight buds in the central head is well formed and before the individual flowers start to open.
Make a sloping cut (this allows water to run off), picking a piece that's about 10 cm long.
That way you’ve left a reasonable amount of the plant intact to produce smaller sideshoots or "florets," which you can pick as well.
Great for stir fries.
At this stage, don’t stop feeding and watering the remaining broccoli stem otherwise your plants will go to seed and you won’t get any side shoots.
TIP: If your Broccoli plants starts to flower it’ll going into seed production and you won’t get any more side shoots.
Why is any type of Broccoli good for you?
Broccoli contains twice the vitamin C of an orange.
Did you know that just 100g of Broccoli has two day’s supply of vitamin C (don’t overcook  or you’ll lose some).
Broccoli also a good source of dietary fibre, potassium, vitamin E, folate and beta carotene
100g broccoli has 120kJ.
Broccoli also contains magnesium and as much calcium as whole milk.
One cup of broccoli boosts the immune system with a large dose of beta-carotene. 
Great for preventing colds. Don’t underestimate the power of broccoli!


Update Your Garden with Different Foliage.
Do flowers play the starring role in your garden, while the greenery gets relegated to backstage?

Foliage makes a garden. photo M Cannon
 The greenery, or foliage if you like, are the mainstay of gardens and garden design because they’re there all year when the flowers fade.
Think of the delicate fronds of ferns or the fountain like effects of many types of ornamental grasses. The leaves of these plants don’t just serve as a lovely background for flowers, because they have their own attraction. There are some really beautiful foliaged plants that could be used as a dominant feature alongside your flowers. Remember, foliage will carry your garden through all seasons, long after the flowers have faded away.
I'm talking with garden designer Louise McDaid.

Coloured leaves photo M Cannon
If doesn’t hurt the pocked to update your garden in this series, because we’re not doing the crazy make-over.
There should be plenty of ideas to get you thinking about updating the foliage in your garden.


Sandpaper Fig Ficus coronata
Bush tucker plants are one of the hot trends in horticulture and this one is no exception.
Ficus coronate Sandpaper Fig
What about a tree that has leaves the not only feel like sandpaper, but can be used for sandpapering surfaces.
Let’s find out more about this plant by listening to the podcast.
I'm talking with the plant panel, Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal  and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Ficus coronata is a food plant for the caterpillars of the Queensland butterfly the common- or purple moonbeam. One of many host plants for the larvae of the Common Crow (Euploea core).
Good jam fruit but fussy to prepare because of hairs on skin.
Suited to a shady position in gardens, or medium to brightly lit indoor spaces. Like all figs in garden situations, they attract birds such as species of silvereye and rainforest pigeon.
Of the 1,000 fig species, most are tropical and 70 per cent of the animal life in the rainforest depends on them.
They are a “keystone” species: no figs, no jungle. Birds, bats, monkeys, gibbons, insects – all run on figs.
They are sweet – which means they are high in energy – and the trees can fruit/flower several times a year.
Aboriginal Women: Would use the leaves to "sand" there feet and nails.
Men: Would use the leaves to do the fine sanding of important artefacts and weapons.

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