Saturday, 12 August 2017

Weeding Lawns, Growing Radichio, Smelling Dianthus.


Weeding Lawns
Did you know that knee problems start with gardening on your knees for long periods of time?
But you don’t have to get down on your knees to do weeding these days if you’ve got the right tools.
Even weeding lawns is possible without spraying and kneeling.
So let’s find how to make that weeding job  in the lawn a little bit easier.
I'm talking with Tony Mattson General Manager of

The Weed Hoe (pictured right)  is exclusive to Cut Above Tools. 
Operation is by a foot pedal to lever out the weed and the two handles to take the weed out of the lawn or garden bed. 

Real World Gardener's Tip for Lawn Weed Control.

Get to know your grass type and the ideal cutting height for good health and strong growth.

When cut no lower than that height, and when cut before it gets too long, the grass will usually out-compete weeds as long as it’s also fertilized and watered properly.
If you have any questions about weeding tools why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Radicchio or Cichorium intybus

A little while ago I talked about growing chicory for either the edible root, or leaf.
Today, a plant with the same botanical name but looks more like red cabbage than it does the green leafed chicory plant.

So what’s the difference between red cabbage and radicchio?

Firstly ra-DEEK –e oo is spelt ra-DITCH ee-oo and is sometimes known as Italian chicory.
Red cabbage is more like green cabbage in flavour and is quite firm, but radicchio is more like a lettuce and is quite soft.
Red cabbage is purple when it’s raw and only turns red when you cook it.
Radicchio has a slightly bitter and spicy taste and is more a salad vegetable, although you can use it grilled and as a pizza topping.
The flavour mellows when it’s grilled by the way.

Even though radicchio has been around for a while it didn’t take off until the fifteenth century, in the Veneto and Trentino regions of Italy.

Did you know that the deep-red radicchio of today was engineered in 1860 by the Belgian agronomist Francesco Van den Borre?

He used a whitening technique which involved pre-forcing, or blanching to create the dark red, white-veined leaves: radicchio plants were taken from the ground and placed in water in darkened sheds, where lack of light and caused the plants to lose their green pigmentation.
Red Cabbage
Growing Radicchio
Radicchio is easy to grow and can be sown all year round, but it does best in spring and Autumn just about everywhere in gardens.
But to be more specific, here are some dates.
In temperate districts, you can sow indoors in August and outdoors from September until May.
For arid areas, you can sow outdoors all year round.
For Melbourne residents, sow indoors in August to September, or outdoors from September through to May.
For subtropical zones like Brisbane, sow outdoors from March until November.
In cool temperate zones, sow indoors in August or Mar-April and sow outdoors in September or April.

When is it ready?
Radicchio matures in approximately three months. 
While some gardeners start the seeds indoors for later transplanting, most simply sow the seeds directly into the garden bed. 
Popular varieties include Red Surprise and Verona Red

Radicchio likes fertile, well-drained soil in a mostly sunny location. 
With a garden fork, work some compost or soil conditioner into the top 20cm of soil.
Sprinkle the seeds in rows or just scatter them and cover lightly with some more soil.
The radicchio seeds should germinate in about a week.
When the seedlings are 3cm tall, thin them so that the plants are spaced 10 – 15cm apart.
You can do this by just cutting or snipping the plants at the soil level with a pair of scissors.
Radicchio matures in about 80 to 90 days or 2 ½ to 3 months.
As soon as the heads are compact and firm -about the size of a baseball, just cut the plant off at the soil level with a sharp knife.

When to Eat?
It's best to eat radicchio soon after harvesting it, but it’ll keep for as long as a week in the refrigerator.

For those living in cool temperate districts, raddichio can be made to stand through a very cold winter, and the head will regenerate if cut off carefully above ground level, so long as the plant is protected against severe frost.

TIP: If you put a light-excluding cover, for example, an inverted pot, during the last phase of growth, then you’ll get leaves with a more pronounced colour contrast, and at the same time you’ll be protecting against frost and cold winds. 

If the head is cut off completely just above the root, a small, new head will grow, especially if some frost protection is given.

You can do this a number of times.

Things that can go wrong
If you’re a bit haphazard with your watering, you’ll get a more bitter tasting leaf.
Bitter tasting leaves can also be the result of hot weather.
By planting radicchio in Autumn, the flavour is changed quite a bit by the onset of cold weather, because the colder weather, the mellower the flavour. Cold weather also starts the heading and reddening process in traditional varieties of radicchio.

Why is it good for you?
Radicchio is a rich source of dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals.
The bitterness in the radicchio is something called lactucopicrin –LAC-TOO-SIP-RIN (intybin),
Lactucopicrin is a good anti-malarial agent and has a sedative and analgesic (painkiller) effect.
Something to have with your evening meal to help you sleep.
Fresh radicchio leaves are also one of the best sources of vitamin K and they have moderate amounts of essential B-complex groups of vitamins such as folic acid, vitamin (B5, B6)- thiamin (vitamin B1),and niacin (B3).



Indoor Plants: Care and Maintenance
Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked about what plants you can grow indoors wherever you live in Australia.
Quite a few in fact can cope with all weather conditions for the far north of Australia to Tasmania.
Despite all your loving attention though, some plants can be susceptible to pest attack, or just like plain unhealthy, making you think you did something wrong.
Bad case of scale photo M CAnnon
Not necessarily true, so let’s find out about looking after indoor plants
That was Julia Levitt Director of
PLAY: Indoor plants-pests_2nd August 2017

Even the best plant owner will come across pests.
Too much light for this Bromeliad  causing leaf scorch photo M Cannon
·         If your plant is showing signs of:
o   Wilting
o   Loosing it’s leaves prematurely
o   Leaves turning yellow and patchy
o   Leaves have a black dusty look or are sticky
·         Look for one of these pests as they could be causing the aggravation: Fungus Gnats, Whiteflies, Mealy Bug, Aphids, Spider Mites, Scale and Thrips. 
The trick is to keep an eye on your plants and act quickly as soon as you see something wrong with your indoor plant.
Why are we having plants indoors again?
Apart from plants reducing carbon dioxide levels in your home, did you know that people with plants in their homes have less stress, and plants have been known to contribute to lower blood pressure? 


Dianthus "Jolt"

Do you like the colour pink in your garden?
Light pinks, dark pinks and every shade in between?
Then here’s a plant for you that’s been developed by plant breeders so that it flowers for six months and can take the heat better than ever before.
But first, let’s find out about this plant.

The plant panel were Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.
Dianthus Jolt, is seed grown but unfortunately there has been a world shortage of seed this year due to a virus in the parent stock. 
However, if you do manage to secure a plant from this series, you'll be rewarded with flowers for 6 months of the year on 40 - 50 cm stems; great for cut flowers.
Dianthus Jolt 
Did you know that the history of Dianthus dates back to over 2000 years, making it one of the oldest cultivated flower varieties?
Greeks and Romans revered the plant, using its flowers for art, decor, and to build their iconic garlands.
Sweet William, Pinks or just Dianthus, the one that was mentioned, Dianthus Jolt is the most heat tolerant that you can grow.


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