Saturday, 19 May 2018

Chrysantheumums, Naughty White Birds and Perfumed Climbers

What’s On The Show Today?

Pesky white birds in Wildlife in Focus; what’s the difference between spinach and chard in. in Vegetable Heroes, and plants the hide the fence and climb in design elements; Lastly, beautiful flowers in Talking Flowers.


Little Corella
Some people love them some people hate these mostly white birds that arrive in huge numbers.
They're one of those birds that like to skid to rooves of silos, or swing around telegraph wires or the blades of a windmill.

  • When you see them in flight they do look like a few other similar birds.
  • Can you tell the difference between a Little Corella, and a Sulphur Crested Cockatoo?
  • Let’s find out about these naughty birds. 

I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons Manager of

The Corellas are still a biggish bird, measuring around 42cm long and weighing just under 500 grams.
The distinction is the long beak and the pale pink section between the eye and the beak called the "laws."
The also have a bluey coloured eye ring.
The West Australian newspaper writes
“White corellas will soon outnumber seagulls and will be one of the State's most serious animal pests, causing damage to homes and many businesses, according to wildlife experts.
Department of Environment and Conservation chief zoologist Peter Mawson said the rapidly expanding numbers of the Eastern States native, introduced in WA after pets were released into the wild, more than doubled in the Perth area each year and would continue to do so.”

Rather dramatic and perhaps overstated.
The beak is the dead giveaway if you’re looking up at a flock.
If you have any questions either for me or Holly, you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Perpetual Spinach
Beta vulgaris supbs. vulgaris

Not just Spinach but Perpetual spinach
Did you know that Spinach and silverbeet seed was sent out from England in 1787 with the First Fleet but in the new colony they found spinach difficult to grow?

They found growing silverbeet much easier, which is why Silverbeet is sometimes called spinach in Australia, but true spinach has smaller leaves and a much sweeter, milder flavour.

I was asked recently about why perpetual spinach seeds looked more like beetroot seeds?

  • You might be wondering the same thing at home. 
  • The reason I ask is that both spinach and beetroot seeds in seed packets are not just one seed but a clump of seeds 
  • Saying that the perpetual leaf spinach is the same as beetroot seed, is correct because they are very similar. 
  • Here’s the thing; Beetroot and chard are multigerm seeds, meaning that they are actually a cluster of three or four seeds in a corky shell. 
  • Perpetual Spinach is not a spinach at all but actually a type of chard with short stems and large leaf blades; therefore each perpetual spinach seed is actually a dried cluster containing multiple individual seeds. 
  • So then the question came, “ why is it called spinach then?” 
  • Perpetual Spinach is called that simply because it looks like and tastes similar to real Spinach and so that name has become the norm since white settlement. 
  • The scientific Name is Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris. Common Name: Silverbeet 'Perpetual Spinach', 
  • Whereas, true spinach is Spinacia oleracea. 
  • spinach seeds
  • You might be surprised to learn that another name for chard is in fact ‘perpetual spinach.” 

So what’s the difference between Perpeutal Spinach and Chard?

Perpetual spinach or perpetual silverbeet, has smoother leaves than other silverbeet with narrower, greenish stems.
It’s tender with a taste more like English Spinach but it’s hardy and drought resistant.
This beginner-friendly plant is a cut-and-come-again crop that just keeps on giving.
The perfect plant for small but busy gardens
Perpetual Spinach
In all but the coldest districts, you can grow perpetual spinach for most of the year.
The bonus is that Perpetual spinach will continue on through to summer and autumn and possibly even into the following year.
Germination of spinach seeds can take anything between a week and 2 weeks.
Plant your seedlings/seeds around 7cm apart in rows about 30 cm apart.
For once a vegetable that grows well in partial to full sun.
Spinach seedlings
Perpetual Spinach likes a moist but not waterlogged soil.
  • Using a mulch of straw or grass clippings can help to keep moisture and warmth in the soil plus add 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! 
  • Perpetual 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 
  • Another thing to remember is that Spinach grows on shallow roots, so don't dig vigorously around it. 
  • If you get weeds because you didn’t mulch, carefully hand remove them. 
  • Water frequently to keep up with the fast growth of the plants. 
In about 8-10 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. 

TIP: 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.

TIP: Water liberally in dry periods. Unlike true spinach, spinach beet won't bolt when exposed to a full summer sun, but don't let plants flower as this will shorten your cropping season.
Picking off flowerheads encourages the plant to grow leaves, not flowers.

TIP:Possums or even rats may eat the seedlings, so either cover with nets or grow under other plants.
Slugs and snails love young leaves, so set up a slug pub and organise a midnight watch if necessary.

Even if you can't use the spinach in your own kitchen, keep picking!
Give it away if you have too much, just don't saddle the plant with overgrown leaves as this will inhibit its growth.

TIP: Pick to eat and freeze, washed and dried leaves for cooking.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a veggie plot or it’s full up with other things like onions, broccoli, cabbages and the like because Perpetual spinach's is a great veg for container growing on a sunny ledge: thin and pick as and when required.

Why should you grow your own Perpetual Spinach?
Because Spinach is best eaten fresh and 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).
Dark green leafy vegetables, like spinach, contain carotenoids.
If you have any questions about growing spinach or any other vegetable write in or email me. 


Stephanotis floribunda photo M Cannon
Useful and Beautiful Climbers to Hide That Fence.

  • Anything you can do to hide that fence in your garden has an expansive effect on your garden and who wouldn’t want their garden not to look bigger.

  • I can’t hear people saying “ My garden looks too big.”

  • They say instead, “ I’ve only got a small garden” then give out a sigh of lost hope.

  • The Stephanotis pictured is growing happily in a tall pot.

  • Let’s find out about them.

I'm talking with Peter Nixon  Garden Designer and Director of Paradisus Garden Design.

Peter mentioned

  • Dalechampia dioscoreifolia or the Costa Rican Bow Tie vine. 
  • Hibiscus geraniodes, with mauve flowers. 
  • Manettia bicolour or cigar vine and Manettia cordifolia John Ellerslee. 
  • Also for the perfume garden Stephanotis floribunda.
Both of these will suit the smaller garden, but don’t let that stop you planting it in a larger garden.
If you have a question either for me or Peter, why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Greek prefix "chrys-" meaning golden (its original colour) and "-anthemion," meaning flower,
Chrysanthemum flower is one of the most popular flower in the world, next only to Rose.
Chrysanthemum flowers photo M Cannon
 There are 10 different flower types which are defined by the way in which the ray and disk florets are arranged.
Pom pom, Anemone (a-nem-mon-ee), spider, single. Semi-doubles,
intermediate curve, irregular incurve-giant flowers, reflex-florets curve downwards, decorative, spoon, quill, Bush, exotic.
Chrysanthemum flowers photo M Cannon
Botanical Bite
Chrysanthemum flowers are composed of many individual flowers (florets), each one capable of producing a seed.
The disk florets are in the centre of the bloom head, and the ray florets are on the perimeter. 
The ray florets are considered imperfect flowers, as they only possess the female productive organs, while the disk florets are considered perfect flowers, as they possess both male and female reproductive organs.

I'm speaking with florist Mercedes Sarmini of

This video was recorded live during the broadcast of Real World Gardener radio program on 2rrr 88.5 fm Sydney

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