Saturday, 27 May 2017

Cabbages Cure Hangovers and What Makes an Australian Garden?


The Australian Garden Idea

Australians love to travel, more so now than ever before.
Often in our travels we love to see other gardens, whether in passing or on purpose.
We might fall in love with a particular plant of group of plants or we might want to copy a particular style.
In the early days of Australia, a lot of gardens were influenced by gardens overseas, particularly England and Europe, but more recently the influence has shifted to Asian gardens like Bali or Polynesia.
Australian Garden entry Chelsea Flower
Show photo M Cannon
So then you have to ask the question, what makes an Australian garden?
Let’s find out.. I'm talking with Stuart Read, Landscape Historian and on the National Management Committee of the Australian Garden History Society.

Australia’s amount of sunlight, type of soil and drier climate has meant that we’ve had to adapt garden design so that it can survive.
Stuart says Australians want to produce the look, but what that is, we're not quite sure of.
Does a garden have to have Australian plants to be an Australian garden? Possibly.
Australian Garden entry Chelsea Flower
Show photo M Cannon
However many European plants blend in quite well, and these days, Plant Breeders in Europe are growing new or different forms of Australian plants and shipping them back to Australia.
Minimalism has been in vogue for the last twenty years in Australia, however, Stuart points out that it was actually started in the mid 17th Century by Georgian gardens.
Of course gardens in Tasmania and Victoria can emulate the English garden reasonably easily, to the envy of northern gardeners.

If you have any questions what makes an Australian garden or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675 and I’ll send you a packet of seeds.


Cabbages and Mini Cabbages 
Brassica oleracea capitata
Cabbages are in the Brassica family along with Brussel sprouts. Caulis and Broccoli.

Did you know that the cabbage has been grown as a vegetable for more than 4,000 years?
Cabbage is native to the Mediterranean and when it was first grown, it looked more like a leafy kale and didn’t have much head at all..

Hangover Cure
The ancient Romans loved it, and used it for several purposes.
A clever roman named Cato (no not the Peter Sellers' man servant in the Pink Panther movies) , but the Roman Cato, said that eating cabbage soaked in vinegar hangover before going out for an evening of heavy drinking, prevented you from getting; but if you did get a hangover then the remedy was simply more cabbage.

It’s no surprise that the explorers of the 17th and 18th centuries carried cabbage in their ship's stores for their crews to eat, and the high Vitamin C content helped stave off the scurvy that was so common among sailors.

It was also useful for binding wounds to prevent gangrene and that was because of the sulphur content in the cabbage.

Why Cabbage ?

We’re talking about cabbage now because it grows well in cool climates, produces a large harvest, and stores well during winter.
But I don’t want to talk about any old cabbage, but mini cabbages.

What are dwarf of mini vegetables?

Did you know that the trend to grow dwarf or mini veggies started in the 1980’s?
You might think that mini veggies are just like the normal variety but you pick them earlier.
But no.
There are genuine dwarf varieties of a lot of vegetables.

Ever heard of Baby avocado, baby artichokes and even baby beets? There’s heaps more.
Today of course it’s the mini cabbage.

We’re growing this mini cabbage because it’s the fastest growing cabbage to eat and takes up much less room.

Did you know? That if Mini Cabbage is stored in ideal conditions (-1 to 2 °C with a humidity of 90–100 percent); Mini Cabbage will remain edible for up to Six months.

How to grow cabbage 
To sow cabbage, in temperate, sub-tropical and arid districts, March until June is the best time;

Temperate and sub tropical districts can have another go from August until November,

March until May is best then August in cool temperate areas.

Cabbages do best in a reasonably firm soil, so leave it for several months between digging and planting.

Why firm soil?
So they don’t fall over when they grow those heavy heads.

Like all brassica varieties dig in plenty of well- rotted manure or compost in the autumn - don't dig in the manure close to planting time.

So if you haven’t done it this autumn, don’t worry, throw on some general purpose garden fertiliser and leave for a week.
Pick a reasonably sunny spot for the site where you are growing cabbages.

TIP: If you can, use a site where peas and beans (Legumes) where grown the recently, and if you dug in manure or compost for them then no worries, don’t do anything else.

By the way, don't dig up those pea and bean roots as they contain lots of useful nitrogen that plants require.
You can either sow seed or put in some seedlings but either way, only put them 7.5cm  apart so they won’t grow thin and spindly.

Cabbage seed needs temperatures between 15-24 deg C to germinate, so now’s a good time.

Seeds take about 6 days to germinate and only 35 – 45 days or around 7 weeks before they’re ready for picking.

TIP: it can’t be said often enough but if you’re planting out seedlings you need to make sure that you firm the soil with your hands or trowel around the seedling because firm planting helps grow firm tight cabbage heads.

If you plant them now they’ll mature when it’s still cool and you’ll have the firmest best tasting cabbages.

Stagger the planting so you don’t have 12 mature cabbages at once.

When your first seedlings are about as tall as your hand, plant the next lot.

I’ve been told that transplanting cabbage seedlings helps them to grow strong roots , so if you are starting from seed, sow them in a punnet.

Pest Patrol

Now the next problem is pest patrol-possums, aphids and white cabbage butterfly.
Try some veggie netting-a very fine mesh that you can throw over your cabbages, or put cut off plastic drink bottles over the seedlings.
Another idea is to cut out white plastic butterflies from the bottoms of ice-cream containers.
hang those around your cabbage plants.
White cabbage butterflies are supposed to be territorial and hopefully will fly away thinking that you cabbage patch is already taken.

Ragged holes in cabbage leaves, means caterpillars
To treat those caterpillars, there’s the organic Dipel and another product that contains an organic ingredient Spinosad.  Yates Success. Also ecoNeem.
Both very safe.

Don’t forget to feed your Cabbages with liquid fertiliser when they’re small

Pick your cabbages when they’re still firm and they’ll stay that way for months in cool weather.

Why are they good for you?

Why grow them? Cabbages contain 90% water and are really low in kilojoules.

Also high in vitamin C, you need only eat 100g to get your daily requirement.
They also have dietary fibre, folate, potassium and help balance fluids when you’ve eaten too much sodium-salty foods.


Pool Fence Aesethics

It may seem odd to talk about pools right now as we head into winter, but it’s probably a good time to think about the aesthetics of the pool.
If you don’t have a pool you may be wondering what this is all about?

Surely the pool is just that, a pool that sticks out like a sore thumb in the garden.
If that’s the case though, then you’re missing something, and there are ways to make the backyard pool look aesthetically pleasing.
How do you achieve this?

Let’s find out? i'm talking with Matt Leacy Principal Director from Landart Landscapes.

Making the pool fence disappear seems to be the thing to do so that you focus more on the garden and the pool.

Rather than a piecemeal approach, consider hiring a designer to make your pool look like part of the landscape.
If you have any questions about pool aesthetics, contact Matt or email us here at


Lewisia "Elise"

Did you know that the plants we call succulents include sempervivums, sedums, aloes, kalanchoes, echeverias and other fleshy-leaved species?
You mightn’t know what all these genera look like, but generally, you would thing that succulents are those plants with thick, juicy leaves, like Aloe Vera, or Hen and Chicken plant or maybe even Donkeys Tails and Jellybeans.
Jeremy holding a Lewisia "Elise"
This next succulent though you may not have heard of.
Not only is it tough but it has lots of pretty flowers.
I'm talking with the plant panel : Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Succulents are plants that have evolved in some of the toughest growing conditions on earth, and a lot are actually at their best when grown in hot sun and poor soil. 

Lewsia is a succulent plant that is low growing with cupped leaves.
The pretty starry flowers occur on multi-branched stems and are about the size of a 10 cent piece (Australian). The flower colours are various shades of oranges, yellows and pink and some with a striped effect.
Lewsia resents too much water, and watering from overhead will lead to fungal rots and eventual death.
Watering from the bottom, if plants are in pots is the best method for this succulent and possibly a lot of other succulents.
The original Lewisa species required some cold weather before flowering, but this variety is bred to flower in warmer conditions.
Succulents are plants that have evolved in some of the toughest growing conditions on earth, and a lot are actually at their best when grown in hot sun and poor soil.Not all though, so don’t be fooled into thinking that they need to grow in desert like conditions.
They’re not cacti so don’t walk away and never water them.
If you have any questions about the Lewisia Elise, why not write in to

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