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Saturday, 5 May 2018

A Bit of Garden History and Flowers of the Night Sky

What’s On The Show Today?

Is that a pest or disease or not in Plant Doctor?Find out which veggie was discovered by accident in Vegetable Heroes, and flowers that last almost all year in Plant of the Week; Lastly, Give our garden tools a good clean in the Tool Time segment.

PLANT DOCTOR

Plant Viruses Uncovered
If your plants look unhealthy but there’s no sign of pests or disease, then chances are the plant has a virus.
Rose Mosaic Virus
On the other hand if you have some unusual patterns on your rose and camellias leaves, these don’t harm the plant and are fine to leave alone. 
Viruses that effect edible plants are a different problem all together. 
Let’s find out about this problem. 
I'm talking with Steve Falcioni General Manager of www.ecoorganicgarden.com.au 

Steve mentioned the "tomato spotted wilt virus" which as the name suggests, affects tomatoes, but it also affects 500 other plants!
The Cucumber mosaic virus affects all members of the Cucurbit family, where the rose mosaic virus only affects members of Rosaceae.
How virus's in plants are spread?
`Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus on Basil Leaves
Sap suckers are the usual vectors of viruses in the garden; these include aphids, leaf hoppers, thrips and whitefly are good examples.
Weeds can also harbor these sap suckers so it’s important to keep on top of the weeding.
The weeds can also have viruses in their tissue.
Also don’t forget to disinfect your garden tools after pruning particular plants and buy plants that are certified virus free.
If you have any questions either for me or Steve you can email us Realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

VEGETABLE HEROES

Endive : Cichorium endivia

Endive-the bitter version of lettuce or is it?
Endive is leaf vegetable belonging to the daisy or Asteraceae family, like all lettuces really.
Because it’s in the daisy family ,should your Endive bolt to seed, or you let a few go to flower, you’ll attract beneficial insects to your garden that’ll control your pest population.
Endive is a green leafy plant that looks a lot like frizzy and crinkly lettuce with a slightly bitter taste
Curly Leafed Endive
Did you know that Endive is a cool weather green, because like hearting lettuce, it bolts to seed in warm weather? 

Traditionally lettuce is eaten raw but Endive can be cooked or used raw in salads.

A bit of history

Belgian endive was first produced in 1830, by accident.
The story goes that Jan Lammers, a Brussels farmer, stored chicory roots in his cellar, intending to dry and roast them for coffee (a common practice in 19th century Europe). 
But when Lammers returned to his farm after serving in the Belgian War of Independence, he found that the roots, had sprouted small, white leaves.
Lammers took a taste and found the leaves to be tender, moist and crunchy.

There are two main varieties of cultivated endive:
Frisée or Curly endive, (var crispum) and Escarole or broad leaved endive. (var latifolia.)
Curly Endive has narrow, curly outer twisted leaves that are firm and bitter to taste. The outside leaves are dark green, while the core can be yellow or white.
It is sometimes called chicory in the United States and is called chicorée frisée in French.  
Broad Leafed Endive
Broad-leaf Endive consists of a bunch of thick broad leaves that are coarse and slightly tough in texture.
This type of Endive is eaten like other greens, sauteed, chopped into soups and stews, or as part of a green salad.

Belgian Endive or Witloof Chicory is really quite different to the other types of endive, with a narrow, lightly packed pointed head that looks like a spearhead.
Witloof as I’ve seen it called, ranges in colour from pale yellowish-green to white.
The Real Chicory
But whatever type of Endive you grow, you’ll find that’s it’s dead easy, like a lot of lettuce type vegetables.

If you grow Endive yourself you’ll save money because it tends to be the more expensive of the greens in the supermarket or greengrocer.

When to Grow

  • Are you asking when shall I put in the seeds of Endive ? 
  • For Tropical, sub-tropical and Arid areas, sow your endive seeds from April to July, 
  • In temperate zones, March until May, then again in early Spring, and in cool temperate districts you had March, possibly still try in April, but unless you have a greenhouse of some sort, wait until September, October. 
  • Endive is best planted at soil temperatures between 15°C and 25°C. and should be ready to pick in 10-11 weeks. 
  • Endive seeds are very fine but try and spread the seeds as thinly as possible directly into the garden. 
  • Cover the seeds with a very fine layer of loose soil or seed raising mix. 
  • Water lightly, and keep soil moist. 
  • Thin plants to 15cm apart, in rows 45cm apart. 
  • Tip: Some people sprinkle the seeds on top of a fine soil, and just water them in. 
  • You can start endive in punnets or trays just as you would for heading lettuce and transplant later if you want to. 
  • If you’re doing the punnet thing, spray them daily with a fine mist of water until the seeds germinate, transplanting them about 20 - 30 cm apart 
    Endive seedlings
Like other greens, endive tastes best when it grows quickly and steadily.
Make sure it gets enough water and fertilizer.

Now here’s the tip on reducing the bitterness.

  • Endive has a slightly bitter taste which can add zing to a salad bowl but if you’re not into bitter tasting lettuce, you can take out the bitterness by blanching. 
  • Not in boiling water, but out in the garden. 
  • Blanching is a technique used in vegetable growing. 
  • Young shoots of a plant are covered to exclude light, so that they don’t produce as much chlorophyll, which is that green stuff in leaves. 
  • The result is leaves that are paler in colour. 
  • Blanched vegetables have a more delicate flavour and texture than unblanched vegetables. 
  • You can also blanch your Endive by tying the leaves together when a rosette begins to form or cover with a large pot for about 3 weeks. 
  • Tip: An easy way to blanch your endive is to cut off the top and bottom of a milk carton and pop it over your Endive plant 1-3 weeks before they are ready. That should be about 7 weeks after you sowed the seeds, so put a note in your diary. 
  • That way, the stems will be whitish and not so bitter. 
Why is it good for you?
Endive is rich in many vitamins and minerals, especially in folate and vitamins A and K, and is high in fibre. Endive is low in saturated fat and cholesterol, a great addition to your weight loss program.

THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY
Petunia Hot Lips

PLANT OF THE WEEK

 Petunias: New Varieties
Some gardener, myself included, have tended to think that these next flowers are mainly for Summer, and get replaced with the likes of Pansies, Sweet Peas and others for the cooler months.
These plants are often sold as potted flower colour, but you can start them off as seed, although be warned, the seed is as fine as dust.
Now there’s heaps of new varieties that are worth trying and will flower for longer.
Let’s find out about them.
I'm talking with Karen Smith, editor of www.hortjournal.com.au and Jeremy Critchley owner of www.thegreengallery.com.au

Petunia Hot Lips, Potuna and Night Sky are all perennial petunias and ones to watch out for.
Perennial Petunias have the advantage of lasting a few years in the garden as opposed to their annual counterparts.
Interestingly Jeremy mentioned that even though these plants are propagated by tissue culture; in other words are clones, they sometimes change colour on the same bench.
Petunia Hot lips flowers sometimes changes to all white or all maroon, whereas Petunia Night sky sometimes loses its stars! But the stars do come back.
 
Petunia Night Sky
They have excellent cold tolerance, are renowned for being tough with weatherproof blooms.
If you have a question either for me or the plant panel, why not drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

TOOL TIME

Cleaning Gardening Tools: A Refresher
What do you do at the end of a few hours’ worth or even a day’s worth of gardening?
Do you remember to put the tools away?
More importantly do you give your tools a wipe down to remove all the gum and gunk after pruning?
We gardeners sometimes overstretch ourselves when we’re out in the garden and some of those finishing tasks get neglected.
By-pass secateurs needing a good clean
Let’s see how we can fix all that on tool time. 
I'm talking with Tony Mattson, General Manager of www.cutabovetools.com.au

Tool time covered sharpening secateurs in a previous segment and you can hear the podcast of that segment by putting in sharpening secateurs in the search bar on www.realworldgardener.com
Are you surprised about steel wool not being so good to use on the blades of your pruning tools?
Encouraging rust to grow is not what we want at all so those soft brass brushes are the ticket for giving your secateurs a good clean.
Now that they’re nice and sharp let’s resolve to keep them nice and clean each time we use those pruning tools.
Then we coat the blades with some sort of machine oil based, such as sewing machine oil or even some olive oil.
The silicone based oils dry without leaving a coating so are not that protective of your gardening tools.
Apologies to all those conscientious gardeners, who have the energy to religiously clean first and then put their pruning tools away at the end of the day.
If you have any questions about cleaning or sharpening your garden tools, when not write in or email me atwww.realworldgardener.com

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