Saturday, 8 April 2017

Black and Bloom Salvias with Beans That are Broad


Cubeb Pepper (Piper cubeba)

Once upon a time, real pepper was adulterated with this spice because it was thought of as perhaps not inferior, but certainly it was cheaper than pepper.
In fact, this pepper was banned by the Venetian Spice Traders!
Why was that?
Cubeb pepper (Piper cubeba) photo M Cannon
Now the tables are turned and there aren’t too many places where this spice grows and even less places where you can buy it.
Let’s find out what it’s all about.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill, Director of

Cubeb pepper grows as a vine with heart shaped leaves, mostly in the Indonesian Archipelago.

Interestingly, it's similar looking to pepper ixcept for that spiked tail.

Did you know that the spice blend Ras el Hanout has 20-30 different spices in it and Cubeb Pepper is one of them?
As Ian mentioned, don’t put cubeb pepper in the peppermill and use ¼ teaspoon of this pepper with 1 teaspoon of normal ground black pepper.
Great for those pepper steaks, slow cooked meals and with rich meats such as pork,duck game.
If you have any questions about where to get Cubeb pepper, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Growing Broad Beans (Vicia faba)

Broad beans are one of the easiest vegetables to grow in your veggie patch.
Vicia faba or BROAD BEANS or some people know it as the Faba bean.
Broad beans are native to North Africa and southwest Asia, but they were cultivated in other regions very early on as well.
Fossil evidence has been found of Broad Beans being grown at least 4500 BC.
Where Did the Term Bean Counters Come From?
Did you know that in the Roman Senate the beans were used to vote, white bean for yes and black bean for no? Maybe that’s where the term bean counters comes from?

Will the Real Bean Please Stand Up!
For a long while, when cooks and mistresses went to the markets for beans, they were buying only broad beans because they were “ ‘the bean’, for century after century”. Only after “scarlet runners, haricot, kidney and butter beans” turned up, did “a distinguishing adjective” become necessary. 

Broad beans have been in European cooking pots “since the Bronze Age, and dried, they were relied on “before Columbus went to America”, “for protein and stodge in the early spring” 

Looking different from other beans is their thing.
Although broad beans are from the Fabaceae family, they look different and grow differently to their bean cousins.
Broad beans grown into a large, upright, bushy plant up to about 1 ½ metre.
Most varieties have white flowers with black eyes, but some older varieties have red flowers that look nice, but don’t set pods nearly as much as the white flowering ones. 
Each pod is shiny green with very short fuzzy hair, and is roundish, and quite long with a pointy end.
Each Broad Bean pod also has a firm, pliable skin and contains 4-8 light green to white, rounded and kidney-shaped beans.
The beans are quite chunky, about 2cm and the pods can grow to as much as 50cm
The bean plants tend to be bushy, with square, hollow stems and without beany tendrils.

Like all beans, they fix atmospheric nitrogen and so, are also useful as a green manure.

TIP: Best of all, they are hardy, easy to grow.

When to Plant in Australia
Plant them in March to June in temperate and sub-tropical areas, April to July in arid areas, , and April and May, then August and September for cool temperate zones in Australia.

Broad beans prefer a sunny well-drained position in the garden. 
Broad beans can be grown in soils with high salinity, as well as in clay soil, so they're pretty adaptable.

As far as soil in the veggie bed goes, don’t put in too much of the chook poo or other rich manure as you'll only get leaf growth rather than flower (and bean) production and will make the plant more sensitive to frost and disease.

Direct planting into roughly prepared soil is the best way to grow Broad Beans.

Sow the seeds at a depth of 5-10cm, with 15-20cm between plants and 70cm or 2 ruler lengths between rows.

Your broad beans will start sprouting in about 2 weeks after sowing, but will be slower the later you sow towards winter.

Soaking seeds overnight in diluted liquid seaweed can speed up germination.

Water seeds well as soon as you've put them into the ground and, then, don't water them…MOST IMPORTANT until after germination, to prevent the seeds from rotting. Ok, YOU CAN'T DO MUCH ABOUT IT IF IT RAINS.

Broad beans will need to be staked or supported to stop the plant collapsing under the weight of the mature beans.
Beans and FrostIf your district experiences a bit of frost, flowers formed during frosty weather are probably not going to set pods.
Once spring arrives, pinch out the tips of the plants to encourage pod set.
Try to limit water stress as this will also affect pod set.
That means don't let them dry out!
In 3-5 months, depending on how cold the weather is, the beans will be ready.

Broad bean pods can be picked at several stages.

Firstly, they can be picked when small and can be snapped crisply in half.
In which case you can eat them like young green beans.
Secondly, if allowed to grow larger but the seeds are still soft, you don’t have to shell the bean seeds, but don’t eat the pods at this stage.
Finally, they can be grown until fully mature and the seeds have dried. 
In this last case the seeds are used as dried beans and are called Lima Beans.
Beans and Disease
Broad beans are prone to fungal attack - brown spots on stems and leaves - particularly if planted too closely together or if planted in soils too rich in nutrients.
Towards the end of the crop, rust - producing powdery spots on the leaves - can become a problem.
Plants with black tips may suffer from root rot, caused by poor drainage.
Get rid of those beans and put in a new lot.. 

How to Eat Your Broad Beans
Freshly shelled broad beans can be frozen, blanched and then frozen or stored in the fridge for about 5 days.
The fresh beans are eaten steamed or boiled.
As the beans mature it is better to remove their tough outer skins after cooking.
The leafy top shoots of the adult plants can be picked and steamed after flowering.


Beans are high in protein and carbohydrates, rich in vitamin C and are also a good source of vitamins A, B1 and B2. a good source of folate (one of the eight vitamins in the B group 
Beans also provide potassium and iron in facto 100g of beans has as much iron as a pork chop.
Broad beans are a good source of fibre
100g green beans have 120 kJ


What To Do In The Autumn Garden? Mulching

Do you mulch your garden? I hope you all answered, yes?
If you do what sort do you use?
Homemade mulch using an Hansa chipper. photo M Cannon
 Do you use black plastic, pebbles, gravel, scoria?
Paths needing mulching photo M Cannon
Or do you use pine bark fines, leaf mulch, or your own shredded green waste?
There’s quite a few to choose from and quite a few to steer away from.
Let’s find out why.
I', talking with Glenice Buck consulting arborist and landscape designer from

The reasons for mulching is to keep the soil moist when it’s hot, and to keep the soil warm when it’s dry, in other words, it’s keeping the soil temperature constant. 
Mulch keeps weeds at bay
Mulch is a good all round gardening task, but mulches free of viable weed seeds, such as leaves, good compost, and wood chips are best.


New Salvias-Salvia "Black and Bloom."

Plant breeders are always looking for new varieties of existing plants for qualities such as larger flowers, longer flowering, disease resistance, more compact and in some cases self-cleaning.
But if you’re looking for plants that flower all year round with the minimum of care, then listen in carefully to find out what are some new varieties of an long flowering compact perennial.
Let’s find out about this plant.
Salvia Black and Bloom and Salvia Black Knight photo M Cannon

I'm talking with the plant panel:Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Jeremy mentions two salvias:
Salvia Black and Bloom photo M Cannon
  • Victoria Blue-is an old school Salvia.
  • Salvia "Black and Bloom." supports The Foundation for Mental Health.
Black and Bloom is very vigorous and the flowers are a true blue and black.
This one self layers.
Many small growers grab anything they can call ‘new’ without knowing much about the plant. 
Some people love to put new names on salvias which causes terrible confusion for the gardener.
But whatever you call them, they are rugged plants which grow in just about anything from rubbly clay. friable perfect loam, providing they are well drained or even sandy soil.
So get to it and grab some of those new salvias.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing, black and bloom salvias are some of my favorite!