|ladybird in search of aphid pests. photo M Cannon|
Spring has well and truly sprung but what else is booming in your garden?
Just when you’re not really looking to closely, some of the pest bugs are multiplying on a grand scale and before you know it, you’re fabulous garden has become a supermarket for mini-intruders who aim to make a meal of your flowers and leaves.
Let’s find out how to stem this invasion in the garden.
I'm talking with Steve Falcioni, General Manager of www.ecoorganicgarden.com.au
PLAY: Spring Pest Watch_28th September 2016
|White wax scale on citrus.|
Scale are pretty much invisible because they're very tiny and because they have legs at this stage of their lifecycle, they're called crawlers.
So if you have had scale in the past on the plant year after year, then be pro-active and spray with botanical Eco Oil from eco organic garden's range.
It just goes to show that you can’t be complacent when it comes to gardening especially at the start of the warmer months.
You might think the cold weather knocked of most of your pests, but insects are resilient and they make up 60% of the world’s living things.
Did you know that there’s at least 6 million different species of insects in the world today and Australia has 220 thousand different species?
They are an amazingly diverse group of animals that have conquered almost every environment on earth and some of them benefit out gardens whilst others seem to enjoy them to our detriment.
If you have any questions about pests in your garden or have some information to share, drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.
VEGETABLE HEROESCucumbers or Cucumis sativus..
Cucumbers just love the hot weather, so they’ll germinate and grow quickly at this time of the year.
Cucumbers are a member of the gourd or cucurbita family and have been grown for 4000 years!
Did you know that Cucumbers were widely eaten throughout Asia and Europe by the 6th and 7th centuries A.D?
Did cucumber start off in India?
No-one’s really sure although some sources point to somewhere in the lower Himalayas where the ancestor of the cucumber was probably a plant with 7 pairs of chromosomes and small, very bitter fruit.
Some pretty famous people have been known to be fans of cucumbers, even cucumber pickles.
Apart from just eating cucumbers they were also widely used as a source of several medicinal remedies .
They treated everything from bad eyesight, scared mice, and cured scorpion bites
|Cucumbers photo M Cannon|
During summer special gardens were tended just for his vegetables, and in winter cucumber was grown on moveable bed frames that were moved to be exposed to the sun, or illuminated with the mirror-stones.
Cucumbers are the fastest and easiest of vegetables to grow so say some gardeners.
I would’ve thought radish, but maybe they’re a close second.
When is the best time to grow some cucumbers?
Cucumber plants do best in all types of temperate and tropical areas and generally need temperatures between 150-33°C.
Cucumbers are happiest when the average temperatures are around 210C
Sow the seeds of Cucumber in late Spring, say October and early Summer for cool temperate districts,
Spring and Summer for arid and temperate zones district
s, from August until March in sub-tropical areas.
Only the cooler months for tropical areas-so April until August unless you’re inland.
And where can you grow these delicious cucumbers?
You need to pick a sunny, well-drained spot, because Cucumbers are a subtropical plant, that needs full sun.
Cucumbers also want a decent amount of growing space in your garden.
If you’re short on space, try growing them up vertically on a trellis or even on some netting, perhaps a tomato trellis?
|Greenhouse cucumbers photo M Cannon|
So Which Cucumber Should You Grow?
The list is pretty long but you have to decide between regular and burpless varieties to begin with.
Then do you want slicing, or pickling cucumbers?
After that, heirloom or greenhouse varieties.
The burpless varieties don’t need peeling which is an added bonus and would be the way to go if cucumbers repeat on you.
Pickling Cucumbers are shorter, stouter, and have a rougher outer skin, as well as drier flesh that allows them to soak up more of the brine they’re pickled in.
Obviously cucumbers for slicing need to be straight.
The ones you see in the supermarket are regular English cucumbers, usually long thin with a dark green skin.
Great for slicing, and not suitable for pickling.
Let’s start with cucumber “Sweet and Striped” that can grow to a metre long but it will curl.
Japanese Climbing, is flavoursome and the fruits are good for eating fresh or pickling. This one’s burpless.
This cucumber is a pale almost limey green, it’s burpless with drier flesh so it can be stored up to one month.
Great for slicing or pickling.
'Lemon' is an apple type, heirloom variety, introduced in 1894.
The fruits are round, sweet and crisp with a thin yellow skin and white flesh.
It can be eaten like an apple and is easy to digest.
This cucumber is a good all-rounder because I can be used for salads, pickling and slicing.
For regular eating there’s Lebanese Cucumber 'Beit Alpha'
A Lebanese style of cucumber is thin-skinned, dark green, tender, and burpless.
This one can grow cucumber, up to 30 cm long.
If you pick it when it’s smaller, it has the best flavour whether pickled or fresh and is never bitter.
Lebanese cucumber vines bear early, are disease resistant and very productive
There’s also a number of dwarf varieties if you’d like to grow your cucumbers in pots.
Try Mini White- one of the most popular.
The 10cm long fruit and is best picked when young.
This one gives you lots of fruit per plant and it’s burpless
Or you could try Cucumber Little Potato which as the colour or a potato or Kiwi fruit, with a zesty lemon burpless inner flesh.
Then there’s Cucumber 'Spacemaster'
'Spacemaster' is a bush variety, 90 cm across; suitable for growing in containers. Fruit is slender, dark green, 17 - 22 cm long with a crisp, sweet flavour.
It’s supposed to be disease resistant.
Good for salads or pickles, if picked young.
You’ll need to go to a seed mail order place for some of those, or if you’re in Adelaide or Melbourne, go to the shop in the Botanic Gardens.
The best thing is that Cucumbers aren’t picky about soils.
Parthenocarpic Cucumbers What?
Did you know that you can grow a seedless variety that doesn’t need pollination?
In fact, pollination creates an inferior fruit so these are best grown in a closed environment such as a greenhouse.
This type of plant is called parthenocarpic which is just the name of a plant that can produce fruit without pollination.
So what’s a cucumber plant that needs pollination called?
Gynoecious varieties have mostly or only female flowers ― the flowers that produce fruit ― and typically are earlier and have higher yields.
And do you get this information from seed packets?
No because most of the seeds you can buy are monoecious cucumbers which as male and female flowers.
|Cucumber flowers photo M Cannon|
I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen that information on the back of a cucumber seed packet?
However, do you find your Cucumber seeds sometimes don’t germinate?
They’re big seeds but if you’re raising them in punnets and the seed raising mix dries out, then the seed most like has dried up as well;
And if you keep it too wet, then the seed rots.
If this keeps happening, try using another type of seed raising mix, or even some good quality potting mix and try again.
What cucumbers like is soil that’s well-draining and has a pH of around 6.5.
Add in plenty of organic compost and fertilisers like chook poo or cow manure.
I’ve seen an idea where you make mini mounds, wet the soil first and then drop in 4 -5 seeds into the top of each mound.
Mulch the mounds so they don’t dry out but not too much or you’ll be wondering why nothing is germinating, that’s because the seed has rotted away.
When your seeds have germinated, pick out the strongest couple and throw away the others so you don’t get overcrowding.
When your cucumber has gotten going, water it regularly at the base of the plant, that way the leaves stay dry and you lessen the chances of the leaves getting the white powdery stuff growing on them, powdery mildew disease.
Cucumbers should be ready at about 50-60 days and picking fruit often stimulates more to start growing. Some of you probably have realised that if you pick your cucumbers when they’re quite small, this is when they’re at their sweetest.
Twist the cucumbers off the plant or cut the stalk just above the cucumber tip.
They keep for 7-10 days in the fridge then the start to look like something that came from outer space…green and slimy
Why are they good for you?
Cucumbers have lots of Vitamins C but why you should eat them is because the silica in cucumber is an essential component of healthy connective tissue, you know, like muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bone.
Cucumbers have some dietary fibre and Cucumber juice is often recommended as a source of silica to improve the complexion and health of the skin, plus cucumber's high water content makes it naturally hydrating—a must for glowing skin.
So eat them quick in sandwiches, salads or juice them for healthy glowing skin!
THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY
This series is about garden styles which RWG has visited over the years with different designers.
Have you ever wondered what makes up a formal garden style?
|Palace of Versaille Garden photo M Cannon|
Perhaps you like neat lines and clipped edges without too much fuss and frippery?
Can you have a formal style in your garden and how hard is it to maintain?
All these questions are answered and more so let’s not wait any longer.
I'm talking with Landscape Designer and consulting arborist Glenice Buck
PLAY: Garden Styles_Formal garden_28th September 2016
A traditional formal garden is the most structured and rigid in their style.
Choose a plant for those hedges that suits your area then make borders with it.
Inside the borders grow anything from roses to peonies and voila’ instant formal style .
PLANT OF THE WEEKSydney Rock Orchid; Dendrobium speciosum
There’s many a garden that gets sucked into the vortex of admiration of orchid flowers.
|Sydney Rock Orchid photo M Cannon|
Not for this one and it’s one that you probably should have in your garden.
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
PLAY: Dendrobium_28th September_2016
The Sydney Rock Orchid or Dendrobium speciosum is one of the worlds’ most underrated and exciting of orchids.
This rock orchid has the largest display and most spectacular shows of mass blooming of any known orchid.
|Dendrobium speciosum photo M Cannon|
Attach it to trees with some wire or twine and the root system will eventually attach itself, although this takes up to two years.
Extraordinarily tough, hardy and drought tolerant it should be one of the best cultivated plants ever!
Avoid frosts, unaccustomed hot sun, too much shade (make sure you can see a shadow when placing hand above foliage) and temperatures above 360 C if possible. .
Give D. speciosum needs plenty of food in the form of fertiliser.
Not just a spray with something once or twice a year, but a continuous regime of well balanced fertilising