WILDLIFE IN FOCUSThe Welcome Swallow is a native bird that makes a mixture of twittering and soft warbling notes.
The Welcome Swallow belongs to the family of Passerines which are Australia's songbirds.
Easily spotted flying low around sport’s fields and open grassy areas, it’s probably one you seen but probably not seen it still for long enough to make out its markings.
What is this bird?
Let’s find out .I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons, Manager of www.birdsinbackyards.com.au
Welcome swallows belong to a group of songbirds and do have a lovely call if you ever hear them when they’re still.
They are mainly metallic blue black with a light grey chest but their characteristic feature is the lovely long forked tail, sometimes with spots.
They're on the wing the majority of the time catching their prey which is mainly insects.
They make mud nests on the sides of houses and buildings which can be a nuisance, however, they're only a short time in the nest, 2 - 3 weeks, so it's not that much of an inconvenience.
Remember that they are native and therefore a protected species.
Wait until the young swallows have fledged before removing the nest if it's in an awkward location.
The welcome swallow is found in most places of Australia and it’s only in Tasmania that they migrate across the Bass Strait for the winter.
Although there has been reports of young fledglings staying put in Tasmania for their first winter.
You can catch up that segment by listening to the podcast www.realworldgardener.com
If you have any questions about welcome swallows 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 HEROESIs there a fruit or vegetable you detest?
Maybe it’s the texture of it in your mouth you can’t stand, or the smell puts you off, especially when it’s being cooked.
I’m not talking allergy type of detest, but purely because, Nah… you just don’t like it.
You don’t order any food that even has a slight hint of it being there.
That’s my lot with corn.
Well, after seven years of broadcasting, I’ve only mentioned sweetcorn once, and it’s time to look over what corn cob lovers want to hear.
So you might think I know nothing of corn growing, but no, from my years at Yates in technical advice, it seems that growing corn has its fair share of problems and I’ve heard and solved most of them.
Sweet Corn or Zea mays var. saccharata is a grass, native to the Americas.
Yep, a grass.
But wait, Corn is actually a vegetable, a grain, and a fruit.
|Sweetcorn Honey & Cream|
Corn (Zea mays) is sometimes called a vegetable grain.
Did you know that a vegetable is defined as a plant cultivated for an edible part or parts such as roots, stems, leaves, flowers, or seeds/fruit, corn is a vegetable?
If you wanted to be very picky, all cereal grains could be called vegetables, but for some reason the cereal grains are separated from the rest of the "vegetables" such as peas, lettuce, potatoes, cabbage
Corn has a long, long history.
Apparently tiny ears of corn have been discovered at ancient village sites on the Mexican plateau or the highlands of Guatemala.
Kernels dating back to 6600 BCE have also been found in caves in Mexico.
There’s even evidence that in central Mexico, about 7000 years ago, sweetcorn was domesticated from wild grass.
However, the fresh, or sweet corn, the kind we like to eat as corn on the cob, didn’t come about until the 1700s.
Along with wheat and rice, corn is one of the world’s major grain crops.
Would you have guessed that only 9 percent of all the corn grown is used to produce food for humans?
64% of all corn grown is used as feed for livestock.
Then there’s food manufacture which include corn meal and other food products such as cooking oils, margarine, and corn syrups and sweeteners (fructose) and breakfast cereals, flour.
But there’s also non-cooking uses such as dyes, paints, chemicals, Ethanol, a renewable fuel made from corn, has shown the possibility of becoming a major renewable fuel for the world’s automotive industry.
That’s just to name a few.
Much of the corn now grown around the world is genetically modified for herbicide and/or pest resistance, so a good reason to grow it yourself.
Sweet corn belongs to the grass family. Poaceae
There are various different types of corn and some have been around longer than others.
By the way, Popcorn is made from a corn variety that dries on the stalk, while the corn we eat on the cob is referred to as sweet corn.
When to Plant-
You can plant sweetcorn all year round in tropical and subtropical climates, for temperate and arid zones, from September to the end of January, and for cool temperate districts, October to the end of January.
TIP: Before planting out your corn, soak the seeds in a shallow saucer of water overnight.
You can either sow the seeds directly into the garden, 25cm or a hand span apart in short rows 50-60 cm apart, or in seed trays.
Dig in some pelletized manure of some sort a couple of weeks before you plant the corn.
By sowing your corn seed directly into the garden you mightn’t always get a 100% germination rate; and you may have breaks in your rows, particularly if you’re growing the high sugar varieties.
Try growing your corn in seed trays or in punnets first, then transplant the seedlings out into the garden, when they are 50 to 75mm tall.
You’ll have complete rows then.
Corn being a grass has no nectar or odour to attract a physical pollinator.
In fact all grasses are wind pollinated, so sweetcorn needs to be planted closely for pollination.
You could also try planting your corn in a circle.
Something you need to know.
If you’ve experienced partially formed cobs or a low amount of cobs it’s most likely a pollination problem.
Corn plants have separate male and female flowering parts.
The male flowers or tassel are at the top of the plant and female flowers or silks form the kernels on the cob.
Pollen grows on these tassels.
It then falls down onto the silks, or female parts of the plant.
Each silk is connected to a kernel of corn inside each ear.
If pollen reaches the silk, it causes a corn kernel to grow.
If a silk doesn't receive pollen, the kernel stays small.
Tip: Don’t wet the tassels as they emerge.
If you have a small garden and are in need of space, you could also plant climbing beans and cucumbers in between the rows of corn, the beans and cucumbers will climb up the corm stems, making a temporary trellis.
The seed for the beans and cucumbers need to be sown out at the same time as the corn.
Hints and Tips.
A good tip is, once the corncob has been pollinated (the corncob tassels have gone brown and you can feel the cob forming) cut the top flower off about a 10cm up from the cob. Hopefully this will let the plant concentrate on feeding the cob, making it grow larger and sweeter.
Remember: Corn likes lots of compost, comfrey, old animal manures, liquid fertilisers and heaps of mulch (around the main stem of the plant) give them a good soak around the roots, every second day, depending on the weather conditions
What’s the most asked question about growing sweet corn?
Q Poor germination and too few corncobs.
Can be caused by a number of problems. For example:
poor seed quality - if the seed is old or hasn't been dried or handled properly after harvest;
seed rots (Pythium and Rhizoctonia fungi);
planting into cool, wet soil, planting too deep and soil crusting.
Supersweet corn has lower vigour than normal sweet corn and needs warmer soil to germinate, but generally has poorer germination ability than normal sweet corn.
Uneven plant stands can also be caused by soil crusting and insects, mainly cutworms and wireworms;
Nematodes, particularly root lesion nematodes, are often associated with poor crop establishment and growth.
Why is it good for you?
As corn cobs mature they develop more starches and sweet corn is one of the few vegetables that is a good source of the kind of slowly digested carbohydrate that gives you long-lasting energy.
Corn is an excellent source of dietary fibre vitamin C and niacin (one of the B group vitamins) and folate (one of the B group vitamins)
Corn is also good source of potassium to help balance the body’s fluids if you eat salty foods.
Lastly 100g corn kernels has 395kJ Corn is high in fibre.
THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY
With a plethora of gardening books being constantly published RWG has steered away from book reviews, until now that is.
This following feature interview is sort of a book review because I’m talking with the author and her ideas about why she wrote the book in the first place.Let’s find out what it’s all about.
I'm talking with Sophie Manolas, nutritionist and author of The Essential Edible Pharmacy.
Sophie’s aim was to quote from her book, “ to simplify the process of making the best dietary choices and to show you that whole foods in their own way, are superfoods.
Use it as bed time reading, a recipe book, or just advice on what nutrition you get from certain veggies, fruit or nuts.
But what you don’t get is how to exactly grow everything, there wasn’t enough room.
That’s where Vegetable Heroes fills the gap.
Maybe I need to write a gardening book.
PLANT OF THE WEEK
Black Bean Tree, Castanospermum australe
Not only do they come in large boat like pods, but nature has packed them in like large sardines, or perhaps rounds of cheese.
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
Not really for your garden because the tree is quite large growing to 15 + metres.
The roots are also water seeking and this tree should not be planted near drain pipes or buildings.