Saturday, 20 August 2016

Paprika Spice and Soft Tree ferns


PAPRIKA Capsicum fruitescens.
Paprika is the most popular of spices and is found in many spice blends, especially for meat.
The Paprika fruit looks like a long and narrow chilli, but the Spanish variety is like a slightly squashed capsicum.
Paprika Red Banana
Alma Paprika

The top quality grades of Paprika are called "Noble Sweet" and these have the best flavour.

Without this spice Hungarian goulash, Spanish chorizos and Indian tandoori chicken just wouldn’t be the same.
Be warned, only use Paprika that's labelled Hungarian Sweet Paprika in your Goulash, otherwise the taste will be quite strong and unpleasant.
It's so famous in Hungary that there’s even a Paprika Museum in the town of Kaloscsa.
Let’s find out.. I'm talking with Ian Hemphill, owner of

That town in Hungary that Ian mentioned holds an annual Paprika festival every October.
Not only that, in the villages of Szeged and Kalosca, peppers are threaded onto long pieces of string and hung up to dry outside the houses and from garden fences.
Fun Fact:For those in the know, they can tell when the Paprika is the correct amount of dryness from the sound the dried Paprika makes when the wind rattles the peppers!
Cooking isn’t the only way Paprika is used.
Did you know some zoos use it mixed in with the feed to keep the bright pink hue of flamingoes!
If you have any questions about Paprika or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Globe artichokes or Cynara ascolymus belongs to the Thistle family.
What a history this vegetable has!
There’s an Aegean legend about a girl called Cynara…who to cut a long story short got to be made into a goddess.
However she was spotted returning to her earthly family whom she missed and for her troubles was turned into the plant we know as the artichoke or Cynara ascolymus.
This legends originates about 370 BC.
Ancient Greeks and Romans considered artichokes a delicacy and as well as an aphrodisiac.
Artichokes, including leaves, were thought to be a diuretic, a breath freshener and even a deodorant.
The globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) belongs to the thistle family.

It’s also known as the French artichoke and the crown artichoke, but is not related to the Jerusalem artichoke, which is actually a tuber.
The artichoke ‘vegetable’ is actually the flower head which is picked and eaten before it flowers.
Only the heart and the fleshy base of the leaves is edible.
The floral parts in the centre and base of the flower (the choke) must be removed before eating.
What does the plant look like?
Like a very very large grey leaved thistle plant, and up through the middle of the plant comes this big fat segmented looking flower bud.
This is the bit you eat before it turns into  flower.
When to grow you Globe artichoke
August until November for sub-tropical and temperate areas.
September through November in cool temperate areas and for Arid areas, June through to December.
The only district that misses out, are the Tropical areas that can only grow Globe Artichokes from April to July.
Artichokes need a bit of space to grow - a mature plant will end up about 1.5m high and across.
Because the plants are perennial and will stay in the same place in the garden for a number of years, pick a spot you don’t mind them being for a few years.
For cold districts, Globe Artichokes won’t put up with the really cold winters.

For these gardeners, choose a cold hardy variety from your local garden centre and grow it as an annual.
They prefer an open, sunny spot in the garden, with well-drained soil, and of course add some compost and decomposed manure or fertiliser.
Artichokes can be planted from seed now, but it’s far easier to plant suckers.
A mature plant usually has a main stem and a number of lateral suckers.
If you know of someone with a plant ask them to separate sucker using a spade.
Trim back any woody leaves or roots and plant in a suitable place in mid-late winter.
Water plants well until they are established and protect them from frost and later on from heat stress when they’re still young.
Once mature, they’re fairly resilient.
Next autumn build up mulch around them, and cut stems back once the leaves go yellow.
Mature plants will appreciate a boost of fertiliser and mulch each spring.
When to harvest those globe artichokes.
Not in the first year, because that’s when you take off any flower heads so that the young plants have a chance to grow and produce leaves.
From the second year on, pick the artichokes (generally 10-12 heads) once they are swollen, but before the scales have started to open and turn brown on the tips.

Globe artichoke flower
When picking your artichoke, leave a few centimetres of stem.
Small buds can be picked early in the season and eaten whole.
Globe artichokes will get crown rot if the drainage isn’t any good, and give them a good rinse to get rid of any earwigs and other insects.
Why are they good for you?
Current research is showing benefits to the liver from cynarin, a compound found in the artichoke's leaves.
Silymarin is another compound found in artichokes that has powerful anitoxidant properties and may help the liver regenerate healthy tissue.
Artichokes are nutrient dense, so, for the 25 calories in a medium artichoke, you're getting 16 essential nutrients!
In addition to all these important minerals, artichokes are a good source of fibre (12% of the RDV), vitamin C (10% of the RDV), and folate (10% of the RDV).


Updating your garden with existing plants.
That simply means, moving some plants around the garden to give it a new look.
We’ve been updating our garden over the last couple of weeks.
 Starting with flowers and flower colour, then changing or putting in some new foliage colour. Perhaps some grasses or cordylines with pink or red, like Cordyline “Electric Pink” with a muted pink shade really.That was last week.

Today, we’re talking about what do you do if you just want to update your existing plants?
Poinsettia can be easily moved. photo M Cannon
Sounds like you don’t have to spend a penny, just put in some hard yards in the garden to give it a fresh look.Let’s find out. I'm talking with garden designer Louise McDaid.
Japanese viburnum can be easily moved to update your garden. photo M Cannon

How about moving some plants during the cooler weather?
I always find moving plants is very satisfying, especially if you move them into the right location where they just suddenly look better.
That’s a great way of updating your garden with existing plants.
Cannas can be easily moved to update your garden. photo M Cannon
For those plants that can't be moved such as Salvias, cuttings can be  easily taken and the new plants planted somewhere else in the garden.
But think about it if your gardens need some of that type of adjustment like that, and make a note of where you would like the plants to go.
There should be plenty of ideas to get you started if you’re a beginner gardener, and some tips for those of you who’ve been doing it for a while.
The Helichrysum petiolare that Louise mentioned is commonly known as Licorice plant.
Helichrysum comes in two colourways, the traditional grey green foliage of the species and the lime green foliage of Helichrysum petiolare “Limelight.” Easily clipped into a bun shape or grown as a low hedge.


SOFT TREE FERN Dicksonia antartctica Dicksonia Antarctica is a statement tree which will create a dramatic sense to any garden.

Easily established and maintained, this evergreen tree is guaranteed to intensify your garden.
Let’s find out.
I'm talking with the plant panel, Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal 
and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Soft tree ferns live in moist areas with high water content in wet sclerophyll forests, along creek beds, in gullies and occasionally at high altitudes in cloud forests

Dicksonia tree ferns can grow up to 15m in height; it has large dark green roughly textured fronds in a spreading canopy of up to 6m in diameter.

They have an erect rhizome forming a trunk. They are very hairy at the base of the stipe. (trunk). The "trunk" of this fern is the decaying remains of earlier growth of the plant and forms a medium through which the roots grow
Fast Fact:

Did you know that the soft tree fern doesn’t reach maturity until it’s 23 years old?

A lot of places just name this tree fern but you mightn’t want the taller growing coin spot tree fern.
Look for Soft tree fern or Dicksonia Antarctica on the label.

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