Saturday, 10 June 2017

Broccoli, Seaweed Tonics and All You Need to Know About Garden Paths


All About Seaweed Products
Is Seaweed Solution Good for Your Plants
Gardeners want healthy plants

Market research shows us that even though we think we would buy Australian products, we tend to purchase on price.
Does that apply to gardening?
Hopefully you would choose an wholly owned Australian company with only 65 employees, whose name is synonymous with the word seaweed.
Just like we say hoovering instead of vacuuming.
Let’s find out more..
I'm talking with Lisa Boyd, one of the Directors of Seasol and Robyn Stewart the new PR Manager of Seasol.

Lisa said that Seasol is 100% organic. 
Why is that?
Traditional fertilisers have Nitrogen (N) Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). Seaweed solution has only a very small amount of Potassium.However, seaweed solution can provide benefits that traditional fertilisers can't.
Brown Kelp washed up on the seashore
So what can seaweed solutions do:
  • They can be used all year round. 
  • They can be used to help plants recover from transplant shock.
  • Help plants get cope disease better.
  • Is taken up by the leaves and the roots of the plants.
Seasol is made from brown kelp that's washed up on the shores of King Island. The collection of kelp is strictly controlled because it provides habitat for the plovers.
Whether or not you use it just a few times or religiously every couple of weeks, the benefits of seaweed solution have been proven to benefit the plant and the soil it grows in If you have any questions about seaweed solutions, or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Do you know which vegetable has more vitamin C than an orange?

The answer is Broccoli, (Brassica oleracea var Italica or botrytis cymosa?)

Would you have guessed that Broccoli heads are actually groups of flower buds that are almost ready to flower?
Broccoli head is a bunch of florets photo M Cannon
Each group of buds is called a floret.
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.

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.


Because that type of Broccoli transports better?

Why grow your own is because, 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.

How to grow Broccoli?

Sow Sprouting Broccoli seeds 6mm deep, spacing plants 35cm apart.
Broccoli seeds take 7-10 days to emerge.

Broccoli seedlings can be unstable and fall over during heavy wind, to help then send out additional roots to anchor them better you can remove the cotyledons (the first two seed leaves) once the first set of true leaves are formed and cover up to this point in soil.
When to Sow
In temperate areas you should sow Broccoli seeds from mid-Summer until the end of August.

In really cold areas where Winter growing is impossible, try sowing the seed during Spring and growing broccoli as a warm season crop.

In the subtropics green looping caterpillars can be a major pest of broccoli so sow the seed from April to May to avoid their peak period of activity in Autumn.

Broccoli is not suited for growing in the tropics as it is too hot and humid, try growing Asian or other tropical greens instead.
Broccoli seedling
Fertilise your Broccoli

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.
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.

Fertiliser for your Broccoli

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.
Broccoli photo M Cannon
Broccoli types
Broccoli comes in many shapes and varieties but is grouped into five major strains: sprouting, broccolini, purple, Romanseco, and Chinese varieties.

Today, I’m concentrating on the sprouting variety.

Now you probably thought that was what those little shoots of Broccoli are called but you would be wrong.
Those little guys are called Broccolini.
If you plant the sprouting varieties, they can be continually harvested for up to 3 months.
Prepare the ground with plenty of well- rotted manure or compost.
Always pick the central head first, because this will encourage the prolific growth of side shoots.
Pick these shoots regularly and don’t allow it to flower, as this will stop production of new shoots.

Broccoli seeds are easy enough to get at supermarkets, garden centres and online seed suppliers of course.

Try these varieties
Broccoli green sprouting
An Italian variety, the blue-green head is followed by side shoots for up to 3 months. Harvest in 9 weeks from transplant

Broccoli purple sprouting.
The ultimate cut and come gain vegetable, this broccoli keeps on producing for months.
Not only is it delicious and full of antioxidants; it’s visually spectacular with its wondrous spires of deep purple florets.
You can start picking the shoots in as little as 10 weeks from transplant.

Broccoli 'Green Sprouting Calabrese'
Broccoli 'Green Sprouting Calabrese' is a sweet, mild and tender Italian heirloom broccoli which forms multiple heads.
Did you know that this variety was introduced into English speaking countries by Italian immigrants during the 1880's?
This variety will produce over a longer period of time than singular headed varieties, and is mild in flavour, sweet and tender in texture.
Time to maturity is 6-10 weeks .
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.

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), picking a piece 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.
TIP: If your Broccoli plants starts to flower it’ll going into seed production and you won’t get any more 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.


Up the Garden Path, Softly

Today’s garden challenge is for those gardeners that don’t want hard surface garden paths.

Concrete, brick or 
other types of paving for paths 
can be a bit harsh in areas 
where the garden is quite natural.
What do you opt for then?

Perhaps mulch?

Mulch decomposes rather quickly and you end up raking some up when you're trying to get rid of those leaves from branches that hang over the path.

Leaves that don't look attractive are usually from trees in the Proteaceae family, such as Madacdamia or Ivory Curl tree, 
because they're quite hard and take a long time to break down.

But there are other alternatives, although not necessarily ones that you can do yourself unless you're really handy with the compactor.

In this segment, garden designer Peter Nixon explores some softer alternatives.
Let’s find out…

Scampston Garden in England. photo M Cannon
That was Peter Nixon, garden designer and Peter’s not a fan of pebbles on paths.
Instead why not try a combo of bark chips and shell grit, or decomposed granite, perhaps lillydale topping and bark or woody mulch.
You would need to run the plate compactor over these surfaces to compact the path.
If you have any questions about what to do for your garden paths in your garden, or have some information to share, write in


Dombeya spectabilis 
Dombeya "Pink Ball."
If you like the idea of a flowering shrub with hydrangea sized flowers, but much taller than a hydrangea, then consider this next plant.

Let’s find out more…

The plant panel were Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.
Did you know that the main specialty of this tree is that it has a long flowering time which starts from April to August in some districts.

During this time even a 3 year old single plant will have around 5000 -12,000 flowers every day and each of them consists of around 40 – 70 petals filled with honey and pollen.
Perfect if you’re into keeping bees. If you have any questions about the Dombeyas, why not write in to 

Flower Fact:
The interesting thing is that as the flower opens, the edges of the petals are dusted with pollen functioning perhaps as a pollen presenter, which is somewhat unusual especially for the perianth.

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