Saturday, 17 June 2017

Easily Identify Egrets, Harvest Kale and Inhale Sweet Luculia


Little Egret

Egretta garzetta
Australia has plenty of water birds but do you think of our waterbirds as hanging around the seashore?
That’s probably true of a lot of water birds but others prefer inland areas where there’s plenty of water as in creeks, rivers and lakes.

Egretta garzetta
In fact some water birds like open areas with shallow fresh water while others go for coastal swamps, shallow seasonal meadows and marshes, stony rise lowlands and large saline lakes.
There's more than one Egret that lives in Australia, so how to tell which it is that you're looking at.
they look similar so it is quite confusing.
Which one is white with black legs?

Let’s find out more.. I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons, Manager of Birds in Backyards.

All Egrets tend to be white with long legs and a long beak.
The distinguishing features is that the Little Egret has a black bill with dark grey-black legs.
Both the Cattle Egret and the Little Egret get flumes on the back of their head when they're breeding.
The colour of the Cattle Egret's plumes are orangey-yellow, but the Little Egret's plumes are white.
Breeding plume of Little Egret
It's so important to retain Australia's wetlands.
Wetlands support a rich diversity of plants and animals including a large number of waterbirds that depend on them for food, shelter and breeding.
The Little Egret hunts for fish and other small water creatures in shallow water and may be found in the company of other wading birds, but rarely with others of its own species.
If you have any questions about the little egret, or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675



Did you know that Kale is the ancestor to cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and mustard and yes in the Brassica family?

This attractive edible originated in Asia Minor and the eastern Mediterranean region, where it’s been cultivated for over 4,000 years.

They are in effect, primitive cabbages that have been kept through thousands of years.
The Latin name Brassica oleracea variety acephala, the last term meaning "without a head.

Another interesting fact is that in nineteenth century Scotland kail was used as a generic term for 'dinner' and all kitchens featured a kail-pot for cooking.

I’ve seen this veggie grown in gardens in the cooler months but are people actually eating it?
Some gardeners would say that it’s mainly used for show in the garden, displacing other green decorations, thanks to the plant’s wilt resistance.

There are two types of Kale that you can grow in the garden.
Flowering kale, is closely related plant, but smaller in size with tight rosettes on the ground rather than upright, leafy growth.
Ornamental Kale
I’ve seen it used as a bedding plant.
Yes you can eat those too!

Second Type of Kale
The second type of Kale and the one I’m concentrating on today is a green leafy plant that is great added to or substituted for cabbage.

By the way, Kale doesn’t form a central head but rather grows upwards like a palm tree.

Leaves are narrow, crinkled, dark green, highly nutritious & will continue to grow even when covered with snow.

When To Plant Kale

Kale can be planted all year round in most districts but some people prefer to avoid the cabbage white butterfly and plant it in Autumn.
The best times for planting in Arid areas are from March until July, in temperate and sub-tropical climates have to the end of June.
Kale is grown from February to March in cool districts; also it’s apparently winter hardy and its flavour is improved by frost.
How does that work? Well a frost or even several frosts, will help break down starches into sugars making the Kale a whole lot sweeter.
The leaves take on a strong flavour if stored longer than two weeks in the fridge, so picking the leaves only as you need them.
By stripping the lower leaves from the base of the plant you will encourage new growth and get a much longer harvest.
Kale is easy to grow and a fast grower as well taking only 7-9 weeks from seed sowing until harvesting.

Kale likes soil temperatures of between 8°C and 30°C., full sun and a pH of between 6.0 and 7.0
How To Grow It

Sow Kale seeds direct into the garden or they don’t mind being transplanted so you can start them off in punnets if you like.

Sow the seeds about 1cm deep and 30cm or a ruler’s length apart.
Three or four seeds can be planted together and thinned out at the two leaf stage.
Look after young plants by watering during dry patches and keep weeded.

TIP: Tread around the base of the stem every so often to prevent the larger varieties swaying in the breeze.

During the winter months, apply liquid fertiliser from your worm farm or you can buy fish emulsion which is great too!
Remove yellowing leaves, "earth up" the stems and stake tall varieties if exposed Did you know that kale can handle exposed, slightly shady plots.

Kale – Is rarely bothered by the dreaded banes of the brassica family like snails and slugs so that’s a plus.

You can get any of the seed varieties from any garden shops.
When growing Kale use lots of compost and water regularly.
Kale is a cool weather crop and takes a full two months to reach harvest.

Important Note: If you’re growing the curly Kale you need to cut the first set of leaves .

That’s because Kale is a perennial crop and for it to grow new and bigger leaves when it reaches maturity, you need to harvest the leaves from the bottom.
If you pick the leaves this way, it will continue to grow bigger and curlier leaves.
If you pick from the top, the Kale will be stunted.
The second set of leaves will come out curly as in the packet.

So What Do You Do With Kale?
Eat the young leaves chopped in salads, grind the old leaves for juice or feed to chooks.
Tip: If you have chooks they prefer kale leaves to anything else!
Try these varieties-
Cook as you would cook cabbage - stewed, boiled, braised, blanched -but remember that kale takes a little longer to soften.

Hint:Tuscan kale is traditionally used in minestrone. 

Lacinato an Heirloom dating back prior to 1800 in Italy.
Also known as 'Black Cabbage', 'Tuscany' or 'Cavolo de Nero'., this old, rustic Italian variety is ready in 55 days( around 8 weeks)
Cavolo Nero
Red Russian, is another heirloom originating from Siberia.
This has red frilly, oak-shaped, bitter-free leaves with purple veins.
Another hardy variety and when you cook it the leaves deepen to dark green

There’s also Vates Blue Curled; this is a vigorous plant to 40cm high with heavily curled, blue-green leaves.
This one withstands really cold weather and the leaves won’t yellow from frost or heat.

You can also get traditional purple leafed curly kale.
This one works well in a container, as well as in the border.

Purple leafed kales like ‘Redbor’ or ‘Red Russian’ look great in flower beds as do green-leafed forms.

Why is it good for you?
Kale is actually near the top of the list in terms of nutritional value, Kale has heaps of antioxidants such as beta-carotene, large amounts of vitamins A, C and E, and heavy doses of calcium, potassium and Kale is particularly rich in iron.



Luculia gratissima
Without realizing, the shrubs featured this week and last week are old fashioned shrubs but with outstanding features. 
Luculia gratissima
And just like undersized potatoes or oversized apples, they who make decision in the big stores that sell plants, have decided that they won’t be available to the home gardener.
So if you’re looking for a winter flower shrub or small tree with masses of pink fragrant flowers, this one’s for you?
Let’s find out more… I'm talking with the plant panel :Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

If you get a whiff of gardenias one morning in late autumn, it probably means that someone nearby is growing Luculia (Luculia spp.). 
Although Luculia and gardenia are in the same family of plants and share the same delicate fragrance, the timing of their magnificent scented flowers is different.
Luculia is evergreen and grows to around 3 metres eventually.
While the flowers make an impressive display, the leaves not so much.
The foliage shall we say get’s a little untidy, but gardeners grow it for the flowers not the leaves. Pruning: Luculia flowers on new wood, so pruning is best done after flowering. 
You can prune mature Luculias quite hard to tidy them up, should you be lucky enough to have one growing in your garden.


Plant Blindness
Today I start a new segment presented and produced by someone new to Real World Gardener.
Liza completed this series as part of a project for the Community Radio Network, and as it was all about plants, the episodes were a perfect fit for this program.
So what is plant blindness? Is it a disease, a disorder or something else completely different?
You can hear the series here

Over the coming weeks, Liza will be presenting segments about different aspects of plants.
By the way, botanist-educators James Wandersee of Louisiana State University, in Baton Rouge, and Elizabeth Schussler of the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center, in Aiken, South Carolina introduced the term ‘plant blidness’ in 1998.
Roughly translating their definition reads like this,
“the inability to see or notice the plants in one's own environment, leading to the inability to recognize the importance of plants in the biosphere and in human affairs.”
So ‘plant blindness’ is really a thing as most people don’t pay attention to plants.

If you have any questions about plant blindness, have some information to share, write in

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