Saturday, 23 September 2017

Pruning Up High, Tubers to Eat and for Flowers

What’s On The Show Today?

There’s more to know in how to prune in high places, part 2 in Tool Time, tuberous roots that will propel you in Vegetable Heroes; continuing the series on mass planting with Garden Designer Peter Nixon in Design elements, and an Iris that signifies love in the new Talking Flowers segment


High Reach Pruning part 2
Now’s a good time of the year to do a bit of pruning, wherever you live in Australia.
Last week we talked to Tony Mattson, general Manager of Cut Above Tools on how to prune up high.
There was so much to say that we created a part two of high reach pruning.

Kifsgate, England photo M Cannon
So how do we prune this safely, and if possible, without getting up on a ladder?
Let’s find out….
I'm talking with Tony Mattson General Manager of 

Heavy Duty Gear Action Pruner can be attached to a 5m or 6m pole

Tony says using a straight ladder isn't too bad in that you can wedge the top two rungs into tree branches.
A better solution is to use platform ladders because it gives you space to walk along the platform and trim say a hedge before needing it to be moved.
Pol pruners are good for stems up to 35-40 mm in diameter.
For bigger stems thant 40 mm in diameter, you should be using a pruner with mechnical assistance.
Ratchet pruners and pole pruners with gears are the way to go.

Here are some things that you don't want when you’re selecting high reach pruning tools or pole pruners.

•Blades on pruners that separate when you try to cut a tough branch.
•Poles that bend too much.
•Telescopic poles that start to twist around each other as the friction lock wears out.
•Also, ropes on the outside of the pole are more likely to get tangled in small branches than chains.
Chains inside the pole are better; they will never get tangled up.I
If you have any questions about high reach pruning why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Jerusalem Artichokes.  Helianthus tuberosus.

There are other names for this vegetable, such as earth apple and sunchoke but here in Australia, we just call the Jerusalem artichokes as far as I can tell.

From the scientific name, would you’ve guessed that the sunflower, Helianthus annuus is in the same family.

It’s not only in the same family but a large part of the fun of growing this veggie is that it also grows sunflowers.
Here’s another surprise, this veggie originates in America and Canada.

That’s right, Jerusalem artichokes are native to North America, growing in the wild along the eastern seaboard from Georgia to Nova Scotia.

Did you know that the Jerusalem artichoke was titled 'best soup vegetable' in the 2002 Nice Festival for the Heritage of the French Cuisine?

So what do they look like when they’re growing? 

As with potatoes, the top part of the plant looks nothing like what you get underneath the ground.
The top part of the plant grows like a bushy sunflower plant. 

The gnarly tubers would remind you of ginger roots if you saw them.

Why grow them?

Because they’re going to surprise you how delicious they are.
They have a sweetness about them and they’re not starchy.
That’s because they don’t contain starch but the carbohydrate inulin which is component of the fructose molecule.
In fact, Tubers stored for any length of time will convert their inulin into its component fructose.
That explains why Jerusalem artichokes have an delicious sweet taste. 

Fructose by the way is about one and a half times sweeter than sucrose.
Definitely one for the sweet of tooth.

When and how do you grow Jerusalem artichokes?

  • In temperate climates plant the tubers between September to December –because the best time is when the soil temperature is between 8°C and 15°C 
  • For cool temperate districts buy the tubers now and plant them in November and December, 
  • In sub-Tropical climes, they’re best planted in Autumn-winter. You can plant them in tropical climates but they’re likely to rot off during the wet season. 
  • Lastly for arid districts you can grow them from April until October. 

Jerusalem artichoke will be ready to dig up in around 4-5 months.

Tubers, or chunks of tubers can be planted in full sun or in part shade.
The sunflowers will make their first appearance in late spring or early summer and look like little baby sunflowers.

For great tasting Jerusalem artichokes add some organic fertiliser during planting otherwise they’ll taste quite bland.
That being said, the plants themselves are not picky and will grow in just about any soil.
If you are going to grow Jerusalem Artichokes or sunchokes, make sure dig them up every year to prevent them from going taking over the garden. Otherwise confine them somehow with a border stop.

Roots can be dug in the autumn after the plant dies back.
Re-plant the tubers you don’t eat or at least save some to replant.

Once you taste them you’ll be tempted to eat them all.
As mentioned before, these tubers as with other members of the Daisy or Asteraceae (including the artichoke), store the carbohydrate inulin (not to be confused with insulin) instead of starch.

Warning: Some people have no problem digesting them but they are a minority.
Over 50 percent of their carbohydrate is in forms we don’t have enzymes to break down

Store them in a cool place that isn't too dry.
Wrapped in plastic in the fridge will do nicely.

TIP: They’ll get bitter if kept too long in storage so that’s why it’s best to leave them in the ground and dig them up as you need them.
You can continue digging them up from autumn right through to early spring in temperate districts anyway.

If you’re put off with the wind theory, let me tell you it’s a bit overstated.
But just in case you’re worried here are some steps that are supposed to alleviate the problem.
Windy Problem?
Put the tubers in the fridge for a month, then slice and boil in lots of water for 15 minutes, adding one tablespoon of lemon juice per 1 litre after 10 minutes, or right at the start if you want crisp tubers. Drain, slip off peel, and pat dry. Then use them as you would in recipes with pumpkins.

Actually the best way to eat them is to roast them in the oven with some olive oil for 40 minutes. Just yummy.

Why Is It Good For You?
Nutritionally, Jerusalem artichokes has very high potassium.
In fact jerusalem artichokes have six times the potassium of a banana.
They are also high in iron, and contain 10-12% of the US RDA of fibre, niacin, thiamine, phosphorus and copper.
For a half cup serve of Jerusalem artichokes you only get a tiny 57 calories, along with some1.5. gr. protein, 1.2 gr. fibre, 10.5 mg. calcium.
So if you like sunflowers, why not have an edible crop as well?


Mass Planting for a Tropical Garden part 1
Tropical gardens have a different regime of wet and dry compared to other climate zones in Australia.
The advantage is plants grow outside as if they’re in some huge greenhouse with perfect temperatures and irrigation or rainfall to make them grow like blazes.
But is the planting really all that different in tropical climates, and can we gardeners further south still grow these plants?

Let’s find out about in part 1 of mass planting in the tropics.

I'm talking with was Peter Nixon, landscape designer and Director of Paradisus garden design.

Peter mentioned the following plants:
Ground cover -  Canavalia rosea 

Tall Groundcovers:
Peperomia argyreia - Watermelon Peperomia  
Stroemanthe sanguinea tricolor
Hedichium arundelliana - Wavy Leaf Native Ginger

Costus woodsonii ‘French Kiss’
If you have any questions about mass planting with a tropical them why not email


Dutch Iris

Dutch Iris-not an iris at all.

One of the world’s most popular florist flowers because of its dramatic flowers with long straight stems that are easy to arrange and last a long time in bouquets.

Dutch iris, also known as Iris hollandica, which has orchid-like flowers with silky petals.
Flower colors range from pale blue and lemon through deep purple, bronze, rose and gold.
Did you know that the Dutch Iris never grew wild in the Netherlands?
Instead, it’s been refined over many years through hybridisation by Dutch growers.
Dutch iris are popular cut flowers because they are dramatic, easy to arrange and long-lasting. Unlike other types of iris that grow from thickened roots called rhizomes, Dutch iris grow from teardrop-shaped bulbs that are planted in the Autumn.

The iris's mythology dates back to Ancient Greece, when the goddess Iris, who personified the rainbow (the Greek word for iris), acted as the link between heaven and earth.

It's said that purple irises were planted over the graves of women to summon the goddess Iris to guide them in their journey to heaven.

Irises became linked to the French monarchy during the Middle Ages, eventually being recognized as their national symbol, the fleur-de-lis.I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of Flowers with Mercedes.

Dutch Iris like rich, well-drained soil is important and, while it is quite acceptable to leave the bulbs in the ground, there is a risk of disease.
Mine have never come up the following year.
Facebook live during the Real World Gardener radio broadcast.

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