Saturday, 28 May 2016

Minty Spice and All Things Nice


Originally taken as a medicinal herb to treat stomach ache and chest pains, nowadays it’s mostly called upon for soothing indigestion to heartburn and the common cold to bad breath.
There are three common mints:
  1. Mentha viridis or common min has a rounded leaf and not as bright as
  2. Mentha spicata or spearmint which has a more elongated leaf. 
  3. Then there's Peppermint, Mentha x piperita, which is a cross between spearmint and watermint.
Mentha spicata
Not all mints are equal and if you want to add the best culinary type mint to your cooking then you need to pay attention to this next segment. Let’s find out what it is now. I'm talking with Not all mints are equal and if you want to add the best culinary type mint to your cooking then you need to pay attention to this next segment.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from

Not all mints are equal and if you want to add the best culinary type mint to your cooking then you need to pay attention to this next segment.
Herbies Spices sells dried mint which is imported from Turkey.
Peppermint wasn't known in the UK until the 1700's.
Peppermint is mostly used medicinally and in sweets or confectionary, but not in savoury cooking.
Apple mint is a less common mint but can be used in cooking. Apple mint flavour goes well with peas and in mint ice.
On the other hand Eau de Cologne mint is not suitable in any recipe.
Although mint is easy to grow, its roots, which are called "runners," are also incredibly invasive: they quickly grow, sprouting new leaves and new plants as they go.
Mint will overtake a flower bed or garden in no time if you're not careful
If you have any questions about Wollemi Pines or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Nasturtiums or Tropaeolum majus.
Did you know that Nasturtium plants were discovered in the jungles of Peru and Mexico in the 16th century?
The common name nasturtium comes from the Latin words for nose (nas), and tortum (twist), which is supposed to be because of a persons’ reaction when tasting the spicy, peppery leaves.
Renaissance botanists named it after watercress, (Nasturtium officinale in Latin) which has a similar taste.
And the second part of the latin name came about in the seventeen hundreds.
The Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus named them after the Latin word tropaeolum, meaning trophy.
Linnaeus compared the funnel shape of nasturtium’s flowers to battle helmets and its flat leaves to shields, which were traditionally hung on trees after an army was victorious.
The original plant would’ve been a small vine with orange-yellow flowers with dark red spots on the petals and shield-shaped leaves.
 According to Jesuit missionaries, the Incas used nasturtiums as a salad vegetable and as a medicinal herb.
Over the centuries as plants-men derived different colours and variegation on their leaves, there was a shift from Nasturtiums being thought of as a herb to more of an ornamental plant.
Monet used to let Nasturtiums ramble in one part of his garden in Giverny, France.
Why Grow Nasturtiums
Tropaeolum majus or Nasturtiums are easy to grow, edible, cheerful and they are great companion plants as well!
Nasturtiums help deter aphids, whiteflies, squash bugs, cucumber beetles and other pests.
Plant them with tomatoes, radishes, cabbage, broccoli, and under fruit trees.
They come in bright colour as well as soft tones-variegated leaves such as the Alaska series, or plain leaves-even dwarf varieties that grow to 50cm tall while others can be used as a vine, climbing 1 ½ metres or more!
Nasturtiums are often found in neglected or older gardens because they don’t need too much care once they get started.

Tropaeolum majus
So What Do Modern Day Nasturtiums Look Like?
Firstly, Nasturtiums are annual plants with rounded leaves like a water lily.
The flowers are an open funnel shape with a little claw or spur on the underside.
Save the seeds for ‘ron.
Autumn/early winter is still the time to plant Nasturtiums and to get a faster sprout soak your seeds (they are large and pretty hard) in some warm water overnight and then place directly in the garden or pots where you want to grow them.
Nasturtiums resent being transplanted so don’t buy the seedlings.
If you want to sow them in coco peat pots you can then plant the seedling, pot and all into the garden.
I've found the trick with nasturtiums is to keep them watered during the entire growing season.
Especially when they are in containers.
They love part sun or semi-shade, but they don't do well in drought-like conditions.
As long as you keep them watered and give them room for the air to circulate they give you lots of flowers.
The soil shouldn't be too rich because you will get more leaves than flowers.
Grow them in sandy and they will still thrive.
You can use wine barrel planters, window boxes or porch boxes too.
Pick the flowers often once they start coming, and you will have many more,
So why are nasturtiums a herb?
Because the entire plant is edible as long as you don’t use pesticides!  
Keep it organic and you’ll find this peppery plant is perfect for salads, herb vinegars, appetizers and garnishes.
Try mixing assorted greens such as romaine, radicchio, spinach and arugula or rocket with a handful of nasturtium blooms topped with your favourite dressing.
You can decorate cupcakes with Nasturtium flowers on top of the frosting for something really different!
Nasturtium vinegar is easy too, just add several flowers and some leaves to a jar with a clove of garlic.
Fill with vinegar and allow to sit for 4-5 weeks.
The leaves and flowers can be added to any salad, used as garnish, or chopped into pasta salads.
Did you know that the seeds were ground during World War II as a replacement for pepper and you can still do this. Wait for the seeds to dry-they are larger than peppercorns-and grind them in a grinder.
You can add this mixture with herbs to make a savoury herb salt as well.
 Store in tightly closed bottles.
The fresh seeds can be pickled as a type of substitution for capers, which are fairly expensive. You can find more recipes and uses for Nasturtiums on the internet. Try putting in the words “old fashioned living.”
So why are they good for you?
Nasturtiums were known to help prevent scurvy, since the leaves are rich in Vitamin C.
The leaves of Nasturtiums also contain iron and  have antibiotic properties which are more effective just before the plant flowers.
In traditional medicine an ointment is made from nasturtium flowers and used to treat skin conditions as well as hair loss.


SOIL pH series introduction

Chlorosis, or iron deficiency
This next topic isn’t all that glamourous but can mean that your garden plants won’t grow as well if you do nothing about it.
Plants will be stunted, or have deformed leaves, even yellowing leaves with green veins can be one of the outcomes.
You’ll often read or hear the recommendation to check soil pH, but what does that really mean?
Pity about the topic name but let’s find out in this introduction to soil pH.
I'm talking with Glenice Buck, Consulting Arborist and Landscape Designer.

Soil pH measures the alkalinity or acidity levels in the soil.
This ranges from '0' to ;14' on a pH scale, where pH 7 is considered neutral.
pH chart

Levels falling below 7 are acidic and those above 7 are considered alkaline.
Soil pH is important because it influences how easily plants can take up nutrients from the soil.
Did you know that plant roots absorb mineral nutrients such as nitrogen and iron when they are dissolved in water?
If the soil solution (the mixture of water and nutrients in the soil) is too acid or alkaline, some nutrients won’t dissolve easily, so they won’t be available for uptake by roots.
If you have any questions about measuring soil pH drop us a line to


Leptospermum laevigatum Foreshore

Leptospermum laevigatum Foreshore photo PMA
Some native plants can grow in next to nothing soil, on rocky outcrops, be battered by salt laden winds and receive almost no water, but still keep on growing.
These plants have developed tactics to keep surviving in such harsh conditions so when you transfer them to your garden, they’re practically low maintenance.
Let’s find out about this new low native shrubs. I'm talking with the plant panel: Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal  and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

2.5 year old tea tree hedge. photo PMA

Leptospermum laevigatum Foreshore, grows to only 50 cm in height and is of course a tea tree. A native alternative to box hedges and is perfect for low hedge planting because not only are the plants tough but you won’t have to keep pruning them every couple of weeks to keep them to size.

Once established it is reasonably dry tolerant requiring only occasional deep watering during
extended periods of heat.
Tea trees can be planted in most soil types that are well draining.
Best grown in full sun but will tolerate part shade.

Saturday, 21 May 2016



Wollemi pine photo Louise Brooks
WOLLEMI PINE Wollemia nobilis

The Wollemi pine is regarded as a Dinosaur plant because fossil evidence has dated it to have been around during the Jurassic period.

Way back in 1994, a chance discovery in the Wollemi National Park, by ranger David Noble and a couple of mates led to this tree being recognized as one of the rarest trees on the planet.

You can grow  buy a Wollemi pine for your home garden but need to know some expert tips as in the next segment.

Let’s find out what they are. Occasional reporter for Real World Gardener Louise Brooks is
That was Dr Cathy Offord, Research Scientist and The Australian Botanic Garden, Mt Annan.
She was speaking with occasional producer Louise Brooks.

PLAY: Wollemi Pine Garden care_11 May 2016 from 2006

Wollemi pine photo Louise Brooks
In the home garden, the Wollemi pine needs only 20% - 50% sunlight because that mimics the light level where they grow naturally.
Failure occur when Wollemi pines are grown in full sun.
Wollemi pines are the least heat tolerant of all the Araucariaceae family which includes Bunya pines and Hoop pines, disliking anything above 37 degrees centigrade.
They grow best on the south side of buildings and can be grown in a large pot.
Annually cut of the top of the Wollemi pine because they'll re-sprout.
Don't overwater or keep a saucer under the pot or container.
As for fertilising the good news is any general fertiliser will do as they haven't shown to be phosphorous sensitive.
Just remember that they have the potential to be large trees, growing to 35 metres in their natural setting, albeit very slow growing.
If you have any questions about Wollemi Pines or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Angelica archangelica or just Angelica

There are other varieties of angelica but only the one with the scientific name Angelica archangelica can be used in cooking.
 Doesn’t it sound a bit religious you say?
Why’s that?
Did you know that supposedly an angel presented an angelica plant to man as a cure for the plague, and 15th and 16th century herbalists recommended eating or chewing the roots as a cure for a number of diseases?
Apparently back then, they also believed that angelica would protect against witchcraft and evil spells.
Angelica is native to Europe, Asia and North America.
Although angelica is a biennial herb-growing the first year and flowering the second-it will keep growing for a few more years if you clip off the flower stems before they bloom.
So what does angelica look like?
There are a couple of different varieties.

Angelica photo M Cannon

One has yellowish green, feathery leaves that look tropical because of their large size which is about 0.7-1m long, and are divided into 3 leaflets with toothed edges.
This variety of Angelica has greenish white flowers that hang in umbrella like clusters at the ends of the stalks which are 1-1.5m tall, hollow, and stiff, so it's not really a plant for pots.
Another variety has by far the darkest of the Angelica's, with a rosette of near black delicately divided foliage.
During early Summer, dark flower stems carry broad umbels of purple buds, which open to soft pink.
How to grow it-Angelica likes moist, rich soil that is slightly acid, growing best in semi-shade.
Angelica can grow it most of Australia although doesn’t grow that well in hot humid climates.
Find a shady, sheltered spot for growing angelica - it likes moist soil, so keep it well watered - if you have a pond and can provide shelter, then it would do well there because it’s normally found near water in the wild.
Although that’s not really necessary.
Mine grows well on the south side of a garage-but then it spread to a nearby veggie bed, and seems to be OK there too.
Angelica grows easily from seed that is if you’re growing your own or know of someone that has some.
To get the flower seed-it’s just a matter of waiting after the flowers have died.
One seed head has about 100 seeds.
But you need to sow them within a few weeks after ripening or they lose their viability.
TIP: If you leave the seeds to ripen on the stems, will mean they’ll self- sow readily.
Then you can pick out the seedlings when they’re quite small and pass them on to friends.
Angelica is a hardy perennial and you need no more than one plant in a150cmsquare.
Either sow seeds in the late summer and thin to 15cm then in the second year to 60cm then to 150cm or buy plants in autumn or spring and set them a metre apart.

Angelica photo M. Cannon
If they self seed, then keep the strongest as replacement stock.
You also can propagate angelica from root cuttings.
It grows for four to five years as a rule, then it’ll die.
One thing to note, Angelica dies down completely in winter and re-shoots in spring, so remember where you last planted it.

Harvesting Angelica. How Do I Use It?

So now you’re growing Angelica and you’re wondering what do I do with this plant.
Firstly, it’s a reasonably attractive addition to any cottage or perennial garden, because the flowers and leaves are various shades of either green or purpleso they blend well with just about anything.
Depending on which variety you have of course.
But you can use it in the kitchen if you’re prepared to wait a year.
Plus, the candied angelica that you buy is not a patch on the real deal.
In the second year and onwards, you can cut the stalks for candying.
The books say do this in mid to late spring, whilst they are still young and green, but honestly, we’ve had such warm weather, that the Angelica I have in the garden is still green.
If you want to use the roots, then do it when the plant is still young in autumn or early winter or they may get woody
What Do You Do With It?
The roots, leaves, and stalks of angelica have a number of uses.
Young angelica stems can be candied and used to decorate cakes and pastries, and can also be jellied.
The leaves are used in herb pillows - it's said to have a calming effect - and the roots can be cooked with butter.
Chopped leaves may be added to fruit salads, fish dishes and cottage cheese in small amounts.
Add leaves to sour fruit such as rhubarb to neutralize acidity.
Boil the stems with jams to improve the jam’s flavour.
Remove the stems before canning or freezing. Young stems can be used as a substitute for celery.
You can also eat the boiled roots and stems like celery.
Commercially, the seeds and an oil made from the stems and roots are used as a flavouring in many liqueurs such as vermouth, chartreuse, and Benedictine, and the seeds also can be brewed into a tea.
So, all round it's a good value plant and there's a great deal of satisfaction to be had from producing something that most people only buy in shops or see in restaurants - candied angelica.
TIP To keep your Angelica growing in the garden you need to make sure it’s well watered and remove the stems before they flower as the angelica will die after flowering and setting seed.
You can keep one or two going longer to fill in the gap left by waiting for seedlings to mature by not allowing them to flower.
Why is it good for you?
After the bacterial theory was disproven in relation to the bubonic plaque of 1665 it was realized that Angelica had antibacterial properties. 
Some people apparently chew the dried root for its anti-viral properties.


Wildlife in Tropical Gardens
Would you think that tropical gardens are any good for wildlife?
Of course! Think Daintree and Kakadu for tropical and rainforest;

Lorikeets in Drunken Parrot tree or Schotia brachypetala  photo M Cannon

Australia has some of the oldest and largest tracts of rainforest in the world, and they are teeming with wildlife.
So how can you get that into your garden?
Let’s find out. I'm talking with Louise McDaid, Garden Designer.

Australia’s rainforests stretch across the country and cover every climatic type.

Daintree rainforest
From Queensland's Daintree Rainforest to Tasmania's cool temperate wilderness and to the Gondwanan rainforest near Byron Bay.
You'll also find dry rainforest pockets in Western Australia's Kimberley region and monsoon rainforest in Kakadu National Park.
Down in Victoria's Otway Ranges, exist lush fern gullies.
This lush landscape is home to species like cassowaries, parrots, pythons, possums, tree kangaroos, and primitive-looking reptiles, many of which live nowhere else in the world.
You may not attract these to your garden but you certainly will attract something from your local area.
So there’s no excuse for not having a tropical rainforest no matter what zone you live in.

If you have any questions about creating tropical gardens drop us a line to


This next plant is for the lovers of fragrance in the garden.
And if you love fragrance, you’re probably going to buy plants that aren’t supposed to do well in your district.
Plants like Luculia, or Lilac (Syringia vulgaris) which are for cool climates mostly.
There’s another much plant that has a reputation of keeling over without warning, but gardeners still want to grow if because of its high fragrance.
Now, there’s a new variety with flowers double or triple the size of the old species (Daphne odora) and hopefully, a bit more resistant to some of the problems that plagued the predecessor.
So, what so good about it?
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.

Daphne Perfume Princess
Daphne Perfume Princess is apparently no ordinary Daphne and should be on every plant collector’s list.
Not only are the flowers bigger than the species Daphne, but it flowers longer, can grow anywhere in Australia and it has the strongest fragrance of any Daphne.
A definite must have.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Garden Mums and Red Cheeky Birds


Gardens are a particular favourite of this medium sized nectar feeding wattlebird.

Red wattlebird
One of the second largest, weighing  of it’s type,110grams, these birds make a typical clucking sound not unlike that of chickens and have a yellow underbelly with red cheek patches.
The biggest wattlebird is the yellow wattlebird and only lives in Tasmania. The red wattlebird lives mostly in the southern areas of Australia, but that includes New South Wales except for inland.
You might see one or two around Brisbane as well.
Are they coming to visit your garden or neighbourhood?
Let’s find out ? I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons Manager of Birds in Backyards.

The red wattlebird is a mottled browny-white with little globs of red called 'wattles' below the cheek.
Red Wattlebird photo Birds in Backyards
Not named after it’s penchant for hanging around Wattle trees, but for the red flap or wattle on each side of its face, a bit like that of chickens and turkeys.
This bird also has a yellow belly and a reddish eye when it's mature.
FACT CHECK: Nectar is a large par of any honeyeaters diet and you might find information on the web that wattlebirds have a brush tipped tongue.
That’s not correct, but is as Holly said, just a fairly long tongue that’s good for slurping up the nectar with the aid of a long curved bill for probing the flowers.
If you have any questions about red wattlebirds or any other birds or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675



You may have eaten garden cress in the past or you may not have even come across it at all.
Garden cress (Lepidium sativum), is a member of the cabbage family. Brassicaceae
Cress is native to the Middle East and interestingly was grown in Persia as early as 400 BC
Did you know that there are several types of cress?
Garden Cress is also called broadleaf cress, has flat, bright green leaves to 10cm long and 5cm inches wide.
Garden cress, a biennial, is also called peppergrass, pepper cress, and mustard cress.
Golden-leafed broadleaf cress is sometimes called Australian cress.
Common Garden Cress
Garden cress is an annual that thrives in damp soil.
 Curly cress (Barbarea vernapraecox), also called, early winter cress, or Upland cress, has finely divided leaves something like parsley or chervil and thin, branching stems.
Curly cress is dark green and  also likes to grow in damp soil.
 Watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum) is a trailing annual usually grown in water.
Watercress as grown in England
You can grow watercress indoors in pots set in a tray of water or along the side of a stream or watercourse.
Curly Garden Cres
Who has a stream or creek running past their kitchen window?
This is what some English people might do to grow watercress
Watercress is a member of the Nasturtium family.
Today I’m focussing on garden cress.\
How Do You Grow Garden Cress?
Cress is a reseeding annual or biennial, which can be grown in shade or  semi shade.
In grows well in the cooler months.
“If you plant cress during the summer, the plants will shoot up flowers without making enough growth to harvest.”
If grown in dry soil and very hot weather, instead of being refreshing and tasty, it becomes unpleasant and bitter.
Its seeds are light - germinating, in about 2 to 4 days.
Northern Hemisphere information will tell you to sow seed in early spring or late summer through autumn.
Garden Cress seeds can be sown any time of the year, although plants will generally grow best in Autumn, Winter or Spring.
If you live in a warmer part of Australia and want to grow garden cress during the Summer try growing it indoor that way you’ll have cress all year round.

Cress is also suitable as a groundcover, and can also be grown year around or on a windowsill in pots, bowls, boxes, or flat plates where it will often produce a more mild and pleasing flavour
If you want, you could have a continual supply, if you sowed seed every eight days.
It’s a fact that the officers in the 1700’s coming over on the first fleet, grew cress on wet flannel as a source of Vitamin C
Soil is not that important, and sand, coir peat, and compost are all suitable.
Water your cress well; both seeds and plants should be kept moist.
Cress prefers a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.8. that’s slightly acid.
How To Sow
Scatter your garden cress seeds straight into the garden bed, raking in to about 3mm deep and firming down the soil lightly prior to watering in to retain moisture.  You can soaking Garden Cress seeds overnight before sowing to increase the number of seedlings you end up with. 
Once the seedlings have a few leaves you can thin them out, leave about 20cm between them to allow room for each plant to grow.
Where to Grow
Garden Cress prefers to grow in a sunny spot or in light shade for part of the day.  For warmer areas, Garden Cress will grow better in partial shade when grown during the hotter months of the year outdoors. 
As far as companion planting goes, “Cress is not suitable for growing among other plants as it contains a tiny amount of mustard oil that’s supposed to interfere with the growth of other plants.” this is called aelopathic, or aelopathy.
Growing without soil
Cress can actually be grown without soil, by using moist paper towels
To do this at home, just layer and wet two paper towels and set them on a plate. Sprinkle the cress seeds on the wet paper towels and place plate in a light window, preferably a north-facing window.

Check daily to make sure the paper towels are kept moist.
In about three days, the plants should be about 1.3cm high.
Continue to keep the paper moist and when they reach 10 -12 cm high″, trim your cress with scissors and enjoy!
If you’re growing cress outside, pick your cress when it’s still young; 10-15cm in height.
When mature, garden cress produces white or light-pink flowers, and small seed pods.
Cress is used raw and in sandwiches and salads with mixed greens. Cress is also good with cottage cheese and with eggs. It can be overpowering to other herbs, so it is generally used alone.
Garden cress is added to soups, sandwiches and salads for its tangy flavor.
Also eaten as sprouts, and the fresh or dried seed pods can be used as a peppery seasoning.
Cress is used raw and in sandwiches and salads with mixed greens. Cress is also good with cottage cheese and with eggs. It can be overpowering to other herbs, so it is generally used alone.
Why Is It Good For You?
Garden cress is an important source of iron, folic acid, calcium, vitamins C, E and A.. The seeds are high in calories and protein, whereas the leaves are an excellent source of vitamin A, C and folate.
Both the leaves and stems of cress can be eaten raw in salads or sandwiches, and are sometimes called cress sprouts. When buying cress, look for firm, evenly coloured, rich green leaves. Avoid cress with any signs of slime, wilting, or discoloration. If stored in plastic, it can last up to five days in the fridge. Another way to store cress is by putting the stems in a glass container with water and covering them, then put in the fridge until you need them.


Temperate regions like Tasmania and mountainous regions in Victoria and New South Wales.
Tropical-look cool climate rainforest.
 Montane rainforests are like tropical gardens in cool temperate areas, so it’s not such a stretch to consider planting or designing with the tropical look.
Let’s find out about tropical gardens for cool climates. I'm talking with Garden Designer Louise McDaid.

Montane rainforests have quite a lot of year-round rainfall, are mostly above 3,300 feet, or 1,000 metres but with a good amount of rainfall and mostly have a canopy layer but don’t have the year-round warmth and sunlight associated with tropical rainforests
It’s important to remember that windbreaks and creating microclimates will help establish large leaved plants that might not thrive or do that well to start off with. But with a bit of planning, I’m sure you can get that tropical look for your mountain garden. Close planting is the key, and layering.

If you have any questions about creating tropical gardens drop us a line to
All information will be posted on the website



Looking fantastic right now with their explosion of flowers that are so many, you can’t see the foliage.
This time the breeders haven’t held back with some of the variety names which include, Boulevard, Popcorn, Mars, Moulin Rouge and Clown.
Chrysanthemum multiflora

So, what about growing your own?
Let’s find out which ones are so good. I'm talking with  the plant panel were Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal  and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Chrysanthemum multiflora grows dense and can reach an average height of 40 - 80 cm and a spread of 40 - 80 cm.
The flowers  of Chrysanthemum multiflora are about half the size of regular or more commonly grown garden 'mums' but the number so many, that it makes for a dazzling display.
Chrysanthemum multiflora or Garden Mums are prolific bloomers and are easy to grow, hardy, and available in a huge range of colours. They have different type of flower and bloom season to fit every landscape need.
•Anemone: 1 or more rows of petals with a cushion-like centre.
•Pompom: Familiar globular shape
•Regular Incurve: Petals curve up and in, forming a sphere
•Single or daisy: Looks like its cousin, the daisy
•Spider: Long, curled petals droop down and give a spider-like look
Chrysanthemum multiflora
These are among the shorter, mounding varieties of mums generally grouped as ‘cushion’ mums.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Eat Flowers and Broccoli Not Beetles


Green Leaf Beetle Paropsides calypso

One of the most planted hedges these days is the Lilly Pilly hedge.
So what happens when you have heaps of the same plants?
Green Leaf Beetle photo Martin Lagerway
Not surprisingly, pests that like that particular plant will also multiply without the help of any production nursery.
We’ve already seen an explosion in the pimple psyillid that causes those little bumps in the leaves of Lilly Pillies, but now, enter another destructor.
Let’s find out more about this pest of Lilly Pillies.
I'm talking with Steve Falcioni, General Manager of eco organic garden.

The Green Leaf Beetle itself is 5mm long, bright green and shiny.
Not just a pest, but a native pest found originally in the north-east of New South Wales and that now has found an abundance of food in our gardens and has been known to defoliate a row of plants almost overnight.
Lilly Pilly Hedge

It firsts starts off as only the edges of the leaves being chewed out and in some cases progresses to the central mid-rib of the leaf.
Then when plants are inspected there’s no sign of what did the eating because the beetle has gone underground or perhaps even flown to another tasty Lilly Pilly hedge.
You can try inspecting your hedges for the juvenile or larvae of the Green Leaf Beetle that are pale green and glossy, 2 cm long and look similar to a stretched out curl grub.
overseas, Neem oil is registered for use on beetles, so from an organic perspective, this may prove worthwhile.
If you have any questions about the Green Leaf Beetle or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Broccoli, Brassica oleracea var Italica or botrytis cymosa?
The answer to the question which vegetable has more vitamin C than an orange? Broccoli of course.

Would you have guessed that Broccoli heads are actually groups of flower buds that are almost ready to flower?
Each group of buds is called a floret.
There’s some confusion as to where exactly name broccoli come

s from.
Some say it’s from the Latin word brachium, which means "arm" or "branch," other’s that it’s from the Italian word broccolo, which means "cabbage sprout."
Broccoli is of course in the Brassicaceae family of vegetables along with cauliflower, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, turnips and many of the Asian greens.
Did you know that most members of the Brassica Family, are related to a wild cabbage grown centuries ago?
Apparently Romans grew and loved to eat Broccoli way back in 23 to 79 BCE.
During the 8th century BCE, the Etruscans migrated from what is now Turkey to Italy, settling in Tuscany of course, and bringing with them their Broccoli seeds.
Why should you grow 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.
 Just keep an eye out for bugs during warmer months, but there’s plenty of organic ways of controlling them.
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.
Broccoli can be sown now in all but the hottest and coldest of climates, but does need a cool winter to get to maturity.
Temperate and cool climates suit Broccoli best with a temperature range of 150C to 250C. 
The ideal time for cool temperate districts has just past, but maybe you can squeeze a few seedlings in a see how you go.
However  Autumn is ideal for arid, temperate and sub tropical districts
Let me know if you successfully grow Broccoli during the warmer months in those districts.
Broccoli types
Broccoli comes in many shapes and varieties but is grouped into five major strains: sprouting, broccolini, purple, Romanseco, and Chinese varieties.

De Cicco Broccoli

Today, I’m concentrating on the common or garden variety which is actually the sprouting variety.

Try these varieties
Di Cicco is a classic Italian style broccoli which is deep green in colour and has a sweet flavour that might help to get kids into eating it.
Green Sprouting is a Calabrese style broccoli with bluish green coloured heads and a deep earthy taste.
Waltham 29 is a great all-rounder plus there’s purple sprouting Broccoli, which is well, purple and sprouting- attractive and tasty.
All of these varieties will provide months of continual harvest and can even be considered as a perennial plant if you can manage to deal with the influx of cabbage moths that come around as the weather warms up.
How to grow Broccoli?
Broccoli is not too choosy about the site it grows in but prefers to be in full sun, but 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 1 ½ cm 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.
When your Broccoli is growing always make sure that the beds are free from competitive weeds by hand weeding regularly.
Don’t plant or sow 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 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), leaving a stem 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.
Why is 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.
Great for preventing colds. Don’t underestimate the power of broccoli!


Tropical Coastal Gardens
Coastal Garden photo Peter Nixon

Tropical gardens seem to fit, hand in glove in coastal areas, because when we think of the beach, we might like to imagine that we’re in an exotic location with the lushness of a tropical oasis.
Think big leaves, colourful foliage and lots of flowers.
Let’s find out how to create this near the coast…I'm talking with Louise McDaid, Garden Designer.

Paradisus photo Peter Nixon

Coastal gardens are affected by salt laden winds and sandy, nutrient poor soils so it's not necessarily easy to get them to work. Salt laden winds cause leaf burn on plants.
So, it’s important to remember that windbreaks, either planted or built form, and creating microclimates will help establish large leaved plants that might not thrive or do that well to start off with, but with a bit of planning.
Windbreak plants suggestions: Acacia, Lagunaria patersonii or Norfolk Island Hibiscus, Sheoaks or Casuarinas, Callistemons or bottlebrush,Vitex and Metrosideros or NZ Christmas bush.
 I’m sure you can get that tropical look for your coastal garden.
Close planting is the key, and layering with different plants at different levels or plants of different heights.
If you have any questions about creating tropical gardens drop us a line to


Have you wondered about a sure fire way to add a touch of elegance, colour and flavour to your recipes, perhaps to impress your friends when they come over for dinner?
Perhaps you want just a fun way  to add a bit of whimsy to get little ones to eat their food?

Edible flowers photo M Cannon

Flowers belong to plants that have fruits and those that have vegetables. So can be classed as both, also because you can eat some flowers of both.
Edible flowers sounds like it could be good but is it?
Why would you eat flowers anyway and what flowers can you eat?
Let’s find out which ones are so good.…
I'm talking with the plant panel were Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal  and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Why are some of Australia’s top restaurants, demanding flowers of violas, fennel, coriander, peas, rocket and Borage?
Edible flowers have been in diets for thousands of years.
Did you know that Romans used edible flowers such as mallows, roses and violets in a lot of their dishes?
You’ve probably heard of and even eaten capers, but did you know capers (Capparis spinosa) are the flower buds of an Mediterranean evergreen shrub and have been used to flavour foods and sauces for over 2,000 years?

Don’t eat flowers from non-organic sources such as florists, supermarkets, nurseries, gardens, or roadsides as they may contain pesticide residue.
 Another tip is to add flowers gradually to your diet.
Edible flowers:
Some of the flowers we mentioned are calendula, roses and sunflowers ( for their petals) , violas, pansies, marigold, nasturtium, dianthus, freesia, stocks and cornflowers, daylilies, and chrysanthemums.
Most of the herb flowers are edible and may have the taste of the herb itself – chives, garlic, leeks , basil, rocket, borage, chervil, coriander, fennel, ginger, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, and thyme.
there are many more that haven't been mentioned.