Saturday, 22 April 2017

How to Grow a Plant to Make Lemon Tea Plus a Pecan Tree and All You Need to Grow Green Manure.


Lemon Verbena Alloysia citriodora (syn. Lippia citriodora)

This is a herb with a multitude of uses;
Lemon Verbena photo M Cannon

There are a few plants whose leaves are great in cooking, making herbal teas and when the leaves are dried, they’re good for a number of things including pot pourri.
So many uses for just one plant, let's find out more?
Let’s find out.

Ian's mum and dad had a grove of 12 Lemon Verbena trees that grew to 2 metres in height.
The leaves were harvested to make sleep pillows and pot pourri.
Lemon verbena pillows sound devine.
They ‘re made of dried leaves of Lavender (Lavandula vera is the best) to help you sleep, Rose petals for sweet dreams and Lemon Verbena, to help you wake refreshed.
Chopped finely, it makes a neat substitute for lemon zest.
Lemon Verbena Tea photo M Cannon
Try Lemon Verbena tea; it's very refreshing or make Panna Cotta infused with Lemon Verbena.
To prune your Lemon Verbena tree, just take of the top one-third of the tree.
When it re-shoots in Spring tip prune the branches regularly to keep it bushy.
If you have any questions about growing or using Lemon Verbena, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Growing Green Manure Crops
If you want to improve your soil structure and at the same time add nitrogen to the soil, consider a green manure crop in an overworked vegetable patch.

What are the benefits of green manure crops and why is it called green manure?

Green manure crops are called that because the crop or plants are not for eating but when they are nearly mature, and before they set seed, the oats, or wheat or whatever are slashed and then turned into the soil. This adds nutrients to the soil especially if you use legume type crops.


  1. They increase organic matter, earthworms and beneficial micro-organisms 
  2. Green manure crops increase the soil's available nitrogen and increase moisture retention 
  3. They stabilise the soil to prevent erosion 
  4. Green manure crops also bring deep minerals to the surface and break up hard clods in the soil structure. 
  5. The provide habitat, nectar and pollen for beneficial insects and reduce populations of pests 
  6. Improve water, root and air penetration in the soil 
  7. Smother weeds. 

The crops used for green manure tend to be a combination of:

•Legumes – These add nitrogen (critical for food crops) to the soil, such as cow pea, mung bean, woolly pod vetch, lablab, broad bean, fenugreek and soybean;

Grains and grasses - These add organic substance to the soil, such as millet, buckwheat and oats.
At this time of year, it’s called a cool season green manure crop.
Try faba or broad bean, field pea, oats and wheat.
This will improve your soil incredibly, and, for a bit of forward planning, you’ll find it well worth the effort.

How do you do this? I hear you ask, well here are the steps.

  1. Rake the garden smooth to prepare the seed bed. 
  2. Plant seeds that sprout and grow quickly for your green manure crop. Use what's popular in your area or choose from alfalfa, white clover or wheat or oats. 
  3. Or, recycle any kind of seeds for green manure - leftover flowers, outdated or extra veggies. You can add any out-of-date vegetable seeds you have left over from last season as well. Legumes like beans and peas are especially good, since they’ll fix nitrogen in the soil, but anything else you have will help. 
  4. Just scatter the seed around your garden bed, about two handfuls per square meter. Then lightly rake it over to get the seeds into the dirt, and water it in well. You may need to cover the bed with a net if the birds discover the free feast you’ve laid out for them. 
  5. Fertilize once with organic nitrogen if it seems slow to get growing. 
  6. Let the green manure crop grow 7-10 cm tall. Leave the green manure on the garden until it matures to control erosion and existing weeds in the bed - call it a cover crop. 
Don't let it seed – With legume crops, when the plant begins to seed after flowering, the nitrogen fixing potential of the crop becomes less because the nitrogen is partly used up in seed the forming process.
With grain/grass crops, they will seed without flowering so if you let them seed, you will have lots of seeds falling into the bed and this will make it hard for you to stop the seeds sprouting of the green manure crop instead o the one you want. 

What Next?Cutting it down – When it has reached a good height (half a metre) and is not seeding, cut it down to the ground.
If it is a small bed, use shears. If it is a large space, use a mower.
Place all the green matter back on the bed and it will cover the bed and the roots of all the plants will remain in the soil.
Leave the bed for about a month and don't dig up the crop, let it rot in the bed. 
It should not grow back because you haven’t let it seed.
What you’ll get is soil which is full of organic substance, life and minerals, ready to use and produce an excellent crop of food.
I find this method easier then digging it in which is what gardeners used to do.
That practise has been found to destroy soil structure too much and it’s a lot of hard work anyway.
Save your back by doing it this way.
Sweet Potato as Green Manure. photo M Cannon
Benefits of Green Manure Crops
  • Give the soil and its worms time to reap the benefits of green manure: nitrogen fertilizer and organic matter to nourish your soil. 
  • Use green manure crops in every unplanted vegetable, herb and flower bed. 
  • Plant also in compacted areas - such as under trees - and newly graded lots. Allow little roots to break up the soil, which will aerate and renew its structure, before you plant a new lawn. 
  • Take advantage of the natural power of peas and beans to take nitrogen from the air and hold it in their leaves. Turn vines and leaves under, after picking the vegetables, for another green manure crop. 
  • For a cheap alternative to buying the manure crops online, I’ve found this tip to be quite useful. 
  • This is the absolute simplest, cheapest and best thing is do. 
  • Just buy a bag of organic bird seed. Read the back of the packet and find one with the mix you want. 
  • The last lot I planted contained millet, sorghum, wheat, oats, barley, rye, corn and sunflowers. 
  • Bird seed will be chemical-free and fresh (since they don’t want to kill your pets!), and very cheap. It’s available at any supermarket. 
  • Go on, give it a try, the whole thing should only take up about 6-8 weeks and it’s the best way to improve your garden soil. 



Fashion Colour Trends for Your Garden!
But did you know that there is a colour trend for plants as well.
Green of course is part of that colour trend, but if you’re yet to pick a colour scheme, or don’t have one, or just want to change from year to year, you may well just want to follow the fashion trend in your garden.

Let’s find out this years trends.
I'm talking with Matt Leacey, Landscape Designer and Principal Director of Landscapes Landart.

Matt has an established career in the landscape design industry, and is the current President of the LNA Master Landscapers Association.

He also co-hosted Nine’s Garden Gurus and three seasons of Domestic Blitz.
Matt likes dark deep colours for outdoor structures, like walls, fencing, the house.
For plants he likes a lot of lush green foliage punctuated with silver foliage.


Pecan Tree Carya illinoinensis

Ever thought of having a productive tree in your garden besides that lemon tree that a lot of people seem to have?

You can have nice shade trees that also provide you with some food, whether it’s a cherry tree, peach or apple tree.
But do people ever think of planting this next tree?

Let’s find out about this plant.

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

The pecan tree is a deciduous tree of the Hickory genus  and at full maturity, it will grow to around 30 metres with a spread of 12 m.
The gray trunk is shallowly furrowed and flat-ridged with upward branches forming an irregular, rounded crown. 
The tree has a narrow silhouette.
Pecan  varieties available are -Shoshonii, Desirable;Kiowa, Mohawk,Cape Fear, Pawnee.
Be warned: Pecans start fruiting after about 8 years so be prepared to wait although Pecans can live for up to 300 years.
On the plus side, unlike other nut varieties, Pecans only require 200 hours of chilling, that means hours less than 7 °C
Pecan tree with nuts photo M Cannon
Pecan trees can be purchased as bare rooted plants, that means plants without any soil, during the winter months when the tree is without leaf.

Possibly your local nursery may have one or you can mail order them from quite a few places on the internet.

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