Saturday, 22 July 2017

Plants Indoors, Spinach,Magnolias But Don't Feed Wildlife


New Series on Indoor Plants: Part 1 Introduction
Did you know that NASA has carried out a Clean air Study to figure out which plants help to clean the air in our homes and offices?
These plants are best at cl
eaning the air to eliminate toxins.
Toxins like benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene.
So let’s find out more in this new series on indoor plants.
I'm talking with Julia Levitt, Landscape Designer and Director of

PLAY: Indoor plants intro_12th July 2017
Those chemicals that I mentioned are all common volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are emitted into the air in our homes by everyday items such as furniture, carpets and common household appliances as well as air fresheners, hair products and nail polish. Wow!
Indoor plants not only look attractive, brighten up gloomy areas and generally improve our moods, but they also have an added benefit of cleaning the air.
Are you looking for different plants to grow inside like cacti?
What conditions can they get by with?
Mini-cacti for indoor displays
Cacti need full sunlight so do consider where you put them if you want them to survive.
In fact, think about the light situation in your home before your buy any potted plants.
Remember you're adjusting the light level considerably the further the plant is from the window and by putting it on a plant stand.
Julia mentioned these plants that are "on trend" in magazines and other media.
Ficus lyrata-Fiddle Leaf Fig
Sanseveria "Moonshine"-Mother-in-laws Tongue.
Strelitzia nicholii-Bird of Paradise; this will grow very large so has a limited life inside the home.
Monsteria deliciosa-Swiss Cheese plant.
If you have any questions about indoor plants why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


English Spinach Spinacia oleracea

Spinach is also very sensitive to heat. Seeds will not germinate if temperatures are over 75° (24°C), and spinach bolts quickly once temperatures begin to climb in summer.
The best spinach to grow now is English Spinach not to be confused with Silverbeet or Chard.

Did you know that Spinach or Spinacia oleracea. Spinacia comes from the Latin word for spine and refers to the prickly seed coat.
The species name, oleracea, refers to a plant that is edible.

Did you try growing Spinach in Summer?

It was alright for a while then when the humidity got turned up the stalks went a funny grey colour, then the leaves turned a sort of greeny-brown.
Not that attractive or edible.
I had to pull them out, not a great experiment.
Where Did Spinach Come From?
Spinach originates from the Middle East, most likely Persia or modern-day Iran.
It was brought to Spain via the Moors somewhere between 800 AD and 1200 AD.
Did you know that Medieval artists extracted green pigment from spinach to use as an ink or paint?
Spinach seed was sent out from England in 1787 with the First Fleet but in the new colony they found it difficult to grow.

They grew silverbeet instead because it was much easier, which is why Silverbeet is sometimes called spinach in Australia, but true spinach has smaller leaves and a much sweeter, milder flavour.

When to Sow

Spinach is a cool-season crop that can withstand a hard frost or two, but turns to green goo when exposed to sub-freezing temperatures for any length of time.
When growing spinach in cold weather, choose varieties like ‘Bloomsdale’ or ‘Regiment’.
Cool temperate zones, you can plant spinach from March until September.
spinach seedlings
In temperate zones you had from February until the end of June, and in sub-tropical zones, from April until the end of July.

In Arid zones choose the winter months also.
These times are only a guide, and personally, I plant some vegetables and see how they go even though it might be a month or two out of their supposed best planting time.

So, I have some Spinach seedlings coming up in my garden right now, even though I’m in a temperate district.
Commercially Grown Spinach
In Australia, Spinach is grown commercially mostly in Tasmania and Victoria over the cooler months, as it’ll go to seed very quickly in hot summer weather.

The seeds will germinate in temperatures down to 7 degrees.
You can get good germination results if you use an unheated poly-tunnel or low level cloche, or a mini-greenhouse.
This is one crop that can withstand the very cold winter nights at sub-zero temperatures.
It seems that the little plants can be frosted and frozen overnight then thaw out and keep growing! Amazing.
Commercially grown spinach
Germination of spinach seeds can take anything between a week and 2 weeks.
Plant your seedlings / seeds around 7cm apart in rows about 30 apart.
For once a vegetable that grows well in partial to full sun.
What Spinach likes
Spinach likes a moist but not waterlogged soil and doesn’t like to be stressed by drying out or not having enough nutrients, even in the cold of winter.
Using a mulch of straw or grass clippings can help to keep moisture and warmth in the soil.
Plenty of compost and the usual organic matter to so that your spinach will grow well.
Having a worm farm or compost bin really does help your veggie bed no end!
Spinach doesn't like acidic soils, a good pH is around 6.3 -6.8.
Add lime to the soil if you need to a few weeks before you put the seeds in.
Spinach like all leafy vegetables is what’s called a heavy feeder –ie, needs lots of Nitrogen to grow well.
If you haven’t already applied Blood and Bone or cow manures to the soil a month or two ago, your soil will run out of nutrients.
During the cooler months of winter, organic matter doesn’t break down that much and to get the needed Nitrogen, applying liquid fertilisers such as compost tea or fish emulsion often will be the best way to go

In about 6-7 weeks, your Spinach plant has put on enough big leaves so you can pick them one by one like you might lettuce.
The leaves will keep regrowing for quite a while.
Otherwise pick the whole plant for Spinach pie etc. Make sure you wash spinach leaves well - soil is not tasty!

When you want to store Spinach in the fridge a tip to remember is that

Spinach is highly ethylene sensitive. To stop leaf yellowing don’t refrigerate with apples, or tomatoes.
Spinacia oleracea-Spinach
A problem you might get in the cooler weather is Down Mildew. Downy mildew (Blue mold). What is downy mildew- fungal disease, shows up as slightly yellow or chlorotic lesions of irregular shape on the top surface of the leaves and purplish sporulation on the underside. To prevent it, space plants for good air circulation and, when you water, wet the ground around the plants not the foliage itself

Why should you grow your own Spinach?

Because Spinach is best eaten fresh and because it loses nutritional properties every day.
Putting it in the fridge slows the deterioration, but half of the major nutrients are lost by the eighth day after harvest.

Why is Spinach good for you.
The amount of iron in spinach comes way down the list after vitamins A and C, thiamin, potassium and folic acid (one of the B complex vitamins).



Magnolia "Little Gem."
For those wanting the large flowers of the evergreen Bull Bay Magnolia but a much smaller plant, then don't go past this little gem, ahem, pun intended.
It has many of the attributes of its parent (magnolia bullbay) including large (20-30cm) white fragrant flowers, but it is a smaller, more compact plant growing 4 - 6 metres in height.
The flowering season is considered spring through to summer but will spot flower all year round in favourable, frost free climates.
Magnolia flowers have a lemony scent.
I'm talking with two young guys who have a love of gardening. Something seemingly rare these days when most gardeners are in the 50 + age range.
Introducing Hugh Mandelidis, an engineering student whose into gardening, and his friend Lewi Beere, presenter of Breaking Bands program on 2RRR.

Play: Interview
Available in Victoria, New South Wales, southern Queensland and Tasmania, but may be hard to find in other areas. Expect to pay from $25-$40 for plants in 200mm (8″) pots. 
Some listeners questions:
Q.My flowers are not opening and they are going brown, why, and how do I prevent this from happening again?
A.Often due to a lack of calcium which prevents uptake of potassium or simply a lack of potassium. Occasionally hot sun and frost can destroy flowers before they open.
Q.Do i need to add lime to my soil? or any other feed stuffs?
A.Lime tends to raise the ph of the soil which can damage the roots which prefer a slightly acidic soil. Soil that is free draining and rich in organics is usually all the little gem will need, barring any deficiencies or micro/macro nutrients. Slow release fertilisers tend to work better as foliage feeds have a low absorption rate through the leaves.
 Leaves burn in summer & go crisp. Not growing as expected


Why Not to Feed Wildlife.
It’s great to have all kinds of creatures visit your garden.
You put out those bIts of white bread for the maggies, or those seed bells for the cockatoos.
What’s wrong with that? Animals that expect to be fed by people can become aggressive, harassing people for food when they are hungry.

The Ibis at the local Botanic gardens, are an example often seen circling around visitors and inspecting their bags for food.Whatever your thoughts, Listen to this….
The NSW department of Environment and Heritage suggests that when you feed native animals you're giving them the wildlife equivalent of junk food.
See More About Not Feeding WildlifeA
When you feed native animals you're giving them the wildlife equivalent of junk food. Instead of eating a wide range of natural foods, they depend on processed seeds, bread and other foods that are not part of their natural diet. This can make them very sick.
Animals that expect to be fed by people can become aggressive, harassing people for food when they are hungry.
Finches feeding
Once the animals you're feeding know that you are a reliable source of food, they may converge on your home or campsite, potentially disrupting their migratory patterns and displacing other species. If wildlife flock to be near you, their newfound population density may encourage the spread of communicable diseases between them.
They may also lose their ability to forage for natural foods.
Think twice before you feed wild animals - a moment's pleasure for you may lead to the animal you feed becoming addicted to junk food.When kangaroos and wallabies become used to being hand-fed, they sometimes attack people in their quest for food.
Remember, they have sharp claws and a strong kick.
Another example is in Flinders Chase on Kangaroo Island where they’ve had to put up cages around the eating tables in the national park, so people can eat in peace.
If you have any questions about this Feeding Wildlife, send it our email address

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