Saturday, 23 December 2017

Delphiniums,Gerberas, Basil and Mini Vegetables

What’s On The Show Today?

What herb goes with tomatoes or cloves in Design Elements, not sprouts but still mini, in Vegetable Heroes, a new take on an old variety of flowers in plant of the week and once used to scare away scorpions in Talking Flowers?


Herb: Basil
At one stage the Greeks and Romans believed the most potent basil could only be grown if you sowed the seed while ranting and swearing. 
This custom is mirrored in the French language where semer le baslic (sowing basil) means to rant.
Well I hope you don’t have to swear and rant to get your Basil seeds to germinate, just have your pencils at the ready if you want to know how to grow, use and store. 

Try crushing a Basil leaf and think of cloves.
It should surprise you that they have similar aromatic notes because they both contain the volatile oil, Eugenol.
This means that they complement each other.
Ian suggests sprinkling a pinch of cloves into your pasta dish along with the herb Basil for a different take.
Basil can be used fresh or dried in cooking.
Dried Basil is sold as "rubbed leaves,' and has a slightly different flavour profile to fresh Basil.
The top notes are missing but that doesn't mean you shouldn't use it in coooking.
Dried Basil is used at the beginning of cooking so that the flavour can infuse, generally only taking around 10 minutes.
Growing Basil
If you live in arid or sub-tropical regions you can sow Basil in late august in a mini greenhouse or indoors, but otherwise you can sow right through to December which is the best time to sow Basil seeds.
The seeds are best planted at soil temperatures between 18°C and 35°C
If your Basil starts to flower, pick the flowers off to prolong the life of your Basil plant.
For something different when not try sowing cinnamon Basil or Lemon Basil or even Holy Basil, that is the true sacred basil that is grown in houses, home gardens and near temples all over India.…

If you have any questions about Basil either for me or Ian, why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675



Microgreens are very young edible greens from vegetables, herbs or other plants.

It has to be said, growing microgreens is the speediest way to growing leafy greens because you’ll be cutting them in 1-2 weeks.
Plus, they add packets of flavour to salads of larger leaves and the best part, it couldn’t be any easier.
You can grow them indoors all year round, you don’t even need a sunny windowsill.

Microgreens even though they’re really small have intense flavours but not as strong it would’ve been if the plant was left to grow to full size.

Usually I start talking about the history of the vegetable or fruit at this point.
There’s not much history at all about micro greens.
Maybe they started off as a fad in the 1990’s who knows?

They seem to be catching on more and more, because you can get seeds marketed as micro greens from major chain stores that have a gardening section.
How about greens, like all types of lettuce, Basil, Beets, Coriander and Kale that are harvested with scissors when they’re really, really, small?

So what’s the difference between microgreens and sprouts?

Microgreens are not at all like sprouts, but grown in a similar way and picked or more correctly, cut at a later stage of growth.
Sprouts are only the germinated seed, root stem and underdeveloped leaves.
So what is a microgreen? 
  • Microgreens are the mini-versions of the much larger green vegetable. 
  • Sprouts are also grown entirely in water and not actually planted. 
  • Microgreens are mostly planted in soil or a soil alternative like sphagnum moss, or coco peat. 
  • Although you can grow your microgreens on a special tray with water underneath. 
  • Plus you grow microgreens in light conditions with plenty of air circulation and not in a jar. 

You might be wondering why you’d want that?
What’s wrong with growing salad vegetables in the garden?
This might be more for the busy gardener who’s run out of space or time available to grow a full garden of vegetables.

So how do you grow Micro greens?
There are a couple of ways to grow Microgreens.
The first method is to grow your greens in soil like organic, potting mix, cocopeat, vermiculite, sieved compost or worm castings.
Use seedling trays or boxes and fill the tray with your selected soil mix 2 - 3 cm deep and moisten the mix.
Soak the seed overnight then sprinkle the seeds evenly on top of the mix and gently pat them down; then cover with 0.5 cm of mix.
Cover the tray with a lid or another inverted tray to help keep the seeds moist until they sprout.
Then water often using a sprayer.
Adding diluted organic nutrients e.g. kelp or compost tea to the sprayer will improve the nutrient levels in the microgreens.
Microgreens are usually harvested when there are four or more leaves. Cut the shoots just above ground level with scissors.

TIP:Many types of vegetable seeds as micro greens and will regrow and can be cut several times.
Afterwards the tray contents can be added to the compost heap.

The second way of growing your microgreens is using something called a Growing Tray.
This tray holds a reservoir of water and has holes in it so the plants can grow their roots down into the water.
You don’t even need soil, just a spray bottle of water and the seeds.
But you do need to remember to spray the seed, 2-3 times a day until the roots develop, then keep water reservoir topped up with fresh water until harvest a couple weeks later!
You can buy them in stores or via mail order and online.

  • Microgreens seed packet range includes 5 mixed packets, each containing 3 varieties typical to a regional cuisine: 
  • Flavours of the Mediterranean - Basil Italian Mix, Rocket and Sunflower 
  • Flavours of France - Sorrel, Chervil and Sunflower 
  • Flavours of Western Europe - Cress, Amaranth Red Garnet and Pea Morgan 
  • Favours of Eastern Europe - Kale Pink, Cabbage Red and Pea Morgan 
  • Flavours of the Orient - Mustard Ruby Streaks, Garland Chrysanthemum and Coriander 

TIP: One thing to keep in mind, the seeds used to grow microgreens are the same seeds that are used for full sized herbs, vegetables and greens.

So, If you want to use up that packet of Cabbage, Celery, Chard, Chervil, Coriander, Cress, Fennel, Kale, Mustard, Parsley, Radish and Sorrel, rather than throwing it out. Grow the seeds as microgreens.

TIP:Never use parsnips for micro greens as seedlings they’re apparently poisonous!

Coriander seed takes longer to germinate than other micro greens – up to three weeks.
Coriander takes longer because partly due to the tough outer coating of the seeds, preventing water from penetrating.
You need to break the seed coat to give it a hurry up by crush the seeds lightly then soak overnight to speed up germination and improve success.

Why are they good for You?

Just because they’re mini greens doesn’t mean they have a high concentration of nutrients or even a miracle food. No such luck.
So they have proportionally smaller amounts of the same nutrients that the full sized vegetable that they would’ve been has.
They are eaten as thin, delicate plants - as miniature variations on salad greens and herbs. They provide texture and colour when used as garnish, or exciting flavours when used as part of salad mixes.


Gerbera Garvinea
When I worked for a large seed and gardening supply company, I was often asked why Gerbera seed was so expensive, or Rudbeckia seed?
The reason was that some seed has to be hand collected and hand packed because it’s too large and irregular for seed packing machines.

Another reason is that seed is hard to come by of a particular species, or perhaps that year, it was contaminated by weevils, or the seed grower’s crop experienced fungal problems and failed.
Whatever the reason, the plant that’s featured today isn’t sold by seed anyway, because it’s a relatively new release and a fantastic variety of flower (Gerbera.)
I'm talking with the plant panel, Jeremy Critchley of and Karen Smith, editor of
Listen to this.

Florist Holland, a Gerbera breeding company started the breeding program over ten years ago.
Their aim was to improve the plant and it seems that they’ve done a marvellous job because Garvineas are winning awards around the world.

This new variety of Gerbera is nothing like the old school Gerbera, with it's multiple stems and long flowering period.
It’s always fun to try something new and buy a plant that you don’t know much about.
Can’t wait to get my hands on some Garvinea Gerberas as I’m sure some of you are too.
If you have any questions about Garvinea, or Jeremy or Karen why not write in to


In the Buttercup or Ranunculaceae, Delphiniums are also called Larkspur.
The delphinium name is derived from the Greek word for dolphin.
If you pick a single bloom from the tall spike on the plant, you’ll notice it looks like a leaping dolphin from the side.
The Delphinium flower’s message is protect yourself from the dangers of life so nothing stands in the way of your success.
If you want to grow your own Delphiniums, here are some tips.
Propagation Seeds – like to be chilled in-ground before germinating.
Root division (cutting root ball)
Mercedes has some zany tips for keeping the Delphinium stalks hydrated from when you buy them to when you pop them into the vase.
Tip 1: Fill the hollow stalks with water, then plug them up with cotton wool.
I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of

Recorded live during the broadcast of Real World Gardener 13th December

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