TOOL TIMEHand watering is often necessary to top up natural rainfall or irrigation.
Except you’re sick of continually buying watering nozzles for your garden because they keep breaking down and just not working.
So you go down to the garden centre or big box store to see what is on offer because those cheap supermarket ones don’t seem to last.
There are three main types:(1)-hand held jet nozzle and (2) pattern or dial nozzle that can have up to 8 patterns that include jet, mist, shower and soaker.(3)watering wand or elongated nozzle.
So which one should you get and is it money well spent?
This next segment answers all those questions.
Let’s find out .I'm talking with Tony Mattson general manager of www.cutabovetools.com.au
It would seem the plastic watering nozzles are not an investment unless you want to buy one every few months.
Then you have to decide if you’re the sort of gardener that likes that dial with lots of different patterns or is quite happy with that sturdy jet nozzle that fans out to do the garden bed.
The blokes seems to go for the jet nozzle so they can hose down the path, wash the car and maybe fan out the water so it does a bit of the garden.
The ladies on the other hand prefer the dial type of nozzle with a variety of patterns.
Tony mentioned that often these nozzles clog up and either don't turn off or stop working properly because of either calcium build up or dirt.
Look for ones that you can clean out, such as pictured below from the Cut Above Tools RangeMade of sturdy metal, the back can be removed and cleaned out.
You can catch up that segment by listening to the podcast www.realworldgardener.com
If you have any questions about watering nozzles or have some advice to share, drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.
VEGETABLE HEROESThis weeks Vegetable Hero is ZUCCHINI or Cucurbita pepo.
Did you know that Archaeologists have traced their origins of squashes to Mexico, dating back from 7,000 to 5,500 BCE, ?
So What Do They Look Like?
It wasn’t that long ago I talked about zucchinis, but today it’s a zucchini with a difference.
Ever heard of Zucchini tromboncino?
If you’re a lover of zucchinis, you’ll love this one because it fruits for months.
Zucchini Tromboncino is an heirloom vegetable common throughout Italy.
It was developed in Liguria, in northern Italy and the Italians love the taste of its fruit.
So what does it look like?
For starters, the fruit has a very pale green skin which can also have faint white stripes.
The really nice thing about this variety is that all the seeds form in the bulbous part at the end.
That means you’ve got a whole long length of stem with no seeds.
Tromboncino is a highly vigorous, growing easily to a height and width of 1.5m and possibly more depending on where it is situated in the garden.
The good news is that it’s a vining plant, which means it can be trained up a trellis to make great use of vertical spaces and so the zucchini hangs straight.
Another reason to grow Tromboncino is this zucchini has an outstanding flavour and doesn't get too big if you turn your back too long.
Although this zucchini’s fruit can grow to a 1m long it’s best picked at 25cms long.
Regular zucchinis have a similar shape to cucumbers and can be dark or light green.
You can also get golden zucchinis that are a deep yellow or orange colour.
The best times to sow Zucchinis for those who haven’t this season are;
In temperate areas, from September through to January, in Cool temperate areas, you have been October and January, in arid areas, yes that’s you in Alice Springs and Broken Hill, you have a bigger window, September through to March, sub-tropical zones, August to February, but for tropical areas, now’s too hot.
Your Zucchini planting time is April to August.
Very different from the rest of Australia!
Having said all that Zucchinis are great for the beginner gardener because they are quick and easy to grow.
Prepare your soil with the usual digging in some compost or cow manure.
Zucchinis are light feeders so won’t need much more than an occasional feed with some liquid fish fertiliser.
Sow your zucchini seed where you want them to grow.
Mound up the soil about 30cm long by about and then make a indent up to your first knuckle, or even 7 cm deep, and drop in 3 seeds.
When they shoot up pick the strongest one and discard the others. It will get too crowed otherwise.
TIP: Planting your seeds deeply will make your plant more drought tolerant.
Just like cucumbers, zucchinis take up a lot of space so maybe try growing them vertically.
That way there’s also improved air circulation so the fungal problems are a lot less.
If you have heavy soil or only have a balcony garden, you could grow them in pot which would need to be about 30cm diameter.
TIP:The important tip with growing them vertically is have lots of soft ties, like old panty hose cut into strips, so you can tie up the stems as they grow.
That way they won’t flop all over the place and probably break their stems.
If you don't get many bees or pollinating insects around your way you might need to pollinate the zucchini flowers yourself.
Get a cotton wool bud and take some pollen from the male flower. Male flowers tend to be on the end of a long narrow stalk. Female flowers are a lot closer to the main stem and have a swelling behind the petals. Just like female flowers on pumpkins. Look inside the female flower. There should be a golden formation. Dab the male pollen all over this female part. Hopefully in a few weeks that swelling behind the female flower will grow into a zucchini.
|Zucchini leaves photo M Cannon|
Unless you’re watering the leaves this shouldn’t happen.
Powdery mildew grows on wet zucchini leaves or on any veggie leaves that are wet.
By watering where it’s needed most, the roots, not the leaves you shouldn’t get this problem.
In summer you'll need to keep your zucchini's water levels high,because they dehydrate very quickly on hot days so mulch them heavily (but remember to keep the mulch away from the main stem).
There are two main problems that gardeners have when growing zucchinis.
When the fruits are 5cm long, they rot and drop off.
This is a pollination problem.
You might have to pollinate them yourself.
Next year grow a whole lot of flowers nearby like Borage, nasturtiums or marigolds.
The second problem sounds like blossom end rot where fruit almost ready to harvest starts rotting from the top.
If this happens you need to add dolomite lime to the soil at the time of planting.
Too late this season. Otherwise it can be caused by irregular watering, that means, too much drying out in between waterings.
If your plants have many days of no water and then a glut of it, blossom end rot can develop, ruining the fruit.
By picking your Zucchinis regularly, usually when they’re about 20cm long; this helps the plant keep on cropping. If you let Zucchinis grow too big-like a metre long, they’re not much good as a vegetable to eat because they become too tough and contain mostly seeds.
The flowers are also edible - they can be used in salads, as garnish, and even fried.
Why is it good for us?
The zucchini vegetable is low in calories, about 15 calories per 100 g fresh zucchini.
1/2 cup of zucchini also contains 19% of the recommended daily amount of Manganese
As well as Zucchini containing large amounts of folate and potassium, the rind contains the nutrient beta-carotene, so to get the most out of your zucchini, you should also eat the rind.
If you want some unusual varieties, go online to buy the seeds of Goldfinger Hybrid, or Costata Romanesco-speckled with light coloured ribbing.
Storing Zucchini-Store zucchini fresh and unwashed in a cold dry place, like the fridge, for about 3-5 days.
After that they start to get soft and wrinkly, and nobody wants that. Makes you wonder about the zucchinis that you buy in supermarkets. How has their shelf life been increased? Better to grow you own.
THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY.
Contemporary Style Gardens part 2
Last week we explored what makes up a contemporary style of garden.
It’s probably not a style that too many gardeners are familiar with so today we’re going with a second part but in more detail about what you can plant in this style of garden.
|Contemporary Gardens photo M Cannon|
Let’s find out. I'm talking with Landscape Designer and consulting arborist Glenice Buck
Contemporary gardens are really just present day gardens that don’t hark back to historical designs.
The contemporary garden palette doesn’t have a collection of plants but just a limited palette of plants with repeat plantings.
Choose from architectural plants such as Draceanas, Cannas, Allocasias, NZ Flax, Mexican lilies and Yuccas.
Alcantarea imperialis- (Imperial Bromeliad) There are many different varieties of bromeliad, this is one of the larger growing species known for its grey green leaves. It will reach approximately one metre in height.
There is also a variety known as “Rubra” which has deep red leaves.
Dracaena marginata – One of the hardiest plants you could grow in your garden.
|Dragon's Blood Tree photo M Cannon|
Agave attenuata – A succulent leaved plant known for its silvery green rosettes of foliage and its drought tolerance. It will multiply easily and works well in mass plantings or as a potted specimen.
Cycad revoluta (Sago Palm) – Originating from Japan this species has palm like leaves which grow out in a radial pattern from the trunk forming a circular head of foliage. These leaves are spiky to touch.
PLANT OF THE WEEKMecican Lily Beschorneria yuccoides
Fitting right into the modern garden or providing a backdrop for the perennial or cottage garden, this plant is a true standout.
So let’s find out.
I'm talking with the plant panel -Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal www.hortjournal.com.au and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner. www.thegreengallery.com.au
Yes, who wouldn’t want contrasting grey-green foliage with a magnificent display of large, pink, bell shaped flower spikes held up high during Spring and Summer?
The Mexican Lily prefers full sun, but just as much success in a part shade position. Provided it is planted in a well-drained fertile soil and given room to grow.
Although one thing to be said for this plant is that it possess few of the annoying habits that spiky plants seem to possess, such as: Stabbing you.; Dying after flowering; Rotting in winter; Slow growth'