Saturday, 9 June 2018

Dive into Garden History, Little Pea Shoots, and Medicinal Calendula

What’s On The Show Today?

What some directors of Botanic gardens got up to in the Garden History segment, grow something that’s super quick and super easy in Vegetable Heroes, and a plant that covers the ground in part shade, plus a flower for the medicinal garden in Talking Flowers.


William Guilfoyle
How’s your garden history knowledge?
You may have heard of Gertrude Jekyll, an Australian Garden Designer of some note, but have you heard of William Guillfoyle?
Melbourne Botanic Gardens' Volcano planting photo : Stuart Read
Possibly not, but this next segment is about to change all that.
Why are we talking about William Guillfoyle?
Because first and foremost, he had a lot to do with making Melbourne Botanic gardens the beautiful space it is today.
Let’s find out some history
I'm talking withStuart Read committee member of the Australian Garden History Society.

William Guillfoyle was not a botanist, but a horticulturalist, so had a different view of how a botanic garden should be presented to the public.
He came from a family of nurserymen/women and first worked in his parents' famous " Exotic" nursery in Double Bay.
Melbourne Botanic gardens volcano planting photo : Stuart Read
The Exotic nursery was one of the major nurseries in Sydney from the 1840's and imported thousands of Fuchsias, conifers, and ferns
. Plus it also had collections of Australian plants grown from seed collected on expeditions.
Guillfoyle was Director of Melbourne Botanic Gardens from 1873 - 1910
Plus, William was responsible for making available all those Jacaranda seedlings which now make Sydney and many regional centres so popular with Jacaranda tours in November.

If you have any questions either for me or Sotuart, you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Growing Small Stuff: Microgreens

Growing peas as microgreens, or shoots.
Peas are of course Pisum sativum scientifically speaking.

You might think that growing sprouts or shoots which have be re—branded as Microgreens is a relatively modern invention.
If you did, then you’d be wrong because medicinally and nutritionally, sprouts have a long history.

Did you know that Ancient Chinese physicians recognized and prescribed sprouts for curing many disorders over 5,000 years ago?

But though accounts of sprouting appear in the Bible in the Book of Daniel, it took centuries for the West to fully realize its nutrition merits.

In the 1700's, sailors were riddled by scurvy which is of course caused by a lack of Vitamin C.
Because of scurvy sailors suffered heavy casualties during their two to three year voyages.
From 1772-1775, Captain James Cook had his sailors eat limes, lemons and varieties of sprouts; which has heaps of Vitamin C.
These plus other fresh fruits and vegetables and a continuous program of growing and eating sprouts were credited with the breakthrough, thus solving the mariners' greatest casualty problem.

We obviously don’t have problems with scurvy now so why should we grow Pea Sprouts or Pea shoots as some people call them?

  • Pea sprouts/shoots or microgreens are great for small spaces – they grow fast, taste delicious and are rich in Vitamin C, A and protein. 
  • They’re easy to grow, they’re also perfect to try if you’re starting out. 
  • Seeing (and eating!) the fruits of your labour in just in two or three weeks is rewarding and motivating. 
  • Plus, pea shoots are a good choice for a shady spaces or to grow inside over winter – just sow a stray or two and keep near a bright window. 
So How Do You grow pea sprouts? 
The Water Method
  • Start with a tray that has a water reservoir and a sort of mesh or grate above it.
  • Fill the reservoir with water.
  • Place some moistened paper towel over the mesh or grate section.
  • Place your soaked pea seeds very close together; no more than a pea's distance apart.
  • Place near a sunny windowsill.
  • Keep the reservoir topped up.
  • Mist daily.
  • Sow your microgreen seeds.
  • In a few weeks you'll have microgreens sprouting everywhere.

The Soil Method
  • Firstly, soak the peas in water for 24 hours (dried peas sold for cooking will normally grow fine and are much cheaper than buying seed packets). 
  • Soaking the peas in water for 24 hours isn’t essential – but it helps to speed up the process of germination and they should double in size. 
  • Secondly, Select a container 6-9 cm deep. 
  • An old tray or Styrofoam box from a market stall will do fine – just make sure it has holes in the bottom to allow water to drain out. 
  • The trays sold in gardening stores for seed growing are about the right size, too. 
  • Next Fill your container with compost or potting mix, about1 cm deep to 1 ½ cm below the top. 
  • It’s always a good idea to use the best quality potting mix you can find – but having said that, pea shoots are pretty unfussy – and almost any mix seems to be OK. 
  • After that, water the mix then sow the seeds on top of it. 
  • If you want to use worm castings, never put more than 20% or 1/5 casting with the mix because you don’t want to burn your new shoots. 
  • You can sow them very closer together – I try to leave a gap the size of a pea between each seed. 
  • If you wanted to grow full sized pea plants, you’d sow the seeds further apart. 
  • But as we’re only growing shoots, we can get away with close spacing 
  • Cover with seed raising mix or potting mix– about the thickness of a pea. 
  • Then finally water the surface lightly again. 
  • TIP: if you’re using cheap potting mix, add some vermiculite to increase the water holding capacity and water your sprouts with a seaweed solution every time you water. 
  • That’s it! All you need to do now is keep soil is moist – check it everyday for the next 7 – 10 days using the thumb test. 
  • Use your thumb to press against the top of the soil. 
  • If your thumb comes off clean and dry, water the peas. 
  • If your thumb comes off even slightly moist or with a little soil, you’re good until tomorrow. 
  • Another test is to lift the tray. 
  • As you gain experience with growing sprouts and shoots in the container, you’ll get to know how heavy or light the tray is. 
  • Light trays means it probably needs water. 
  • If you are growing on a windowsill, or where there you have light coming in from just one side, you will want to rotate the trays so that the shoots will get sunlight more evenly. 
  • In two to three weeks (a bit longer in cold weather) your crop will have grown 7 – 10 cm tall. 

All you need to do now is pinch off each shoot just above the bottom leaves. Some of the pea shoots will regrow again giving you a second harvest.
You don’t have to eat them all at once but instead store harvested pea shoots or sprouts in resealable bags in the fridge until you are ready to eat.
TIP: don’t wash the pea shoots until ready to cook with them.
The extra water from washing will deteriorate the pea shoots faster.
Keep the shoots dry and the pea shoots should stay fresh for over 2 weeks!
If you find that there is moisture in the bag, take a single paper towel, and place it in the bag.

What next?
When the crop has finished, put the roots in your worm farm or compost heap if you have one. Worms seem to like them very much!

Why are they good for You?
Pea Shoots are a nutritious leaf with high levels of vitamin C and vitamin A.
A 50g bag of these tasty greens offers more than half of the RDA for vitamin C, a quarter of the RDA for vitamin A and significant amounts of folic acid plus Calcium, Iron and Phosphorus.
But wait there’s more, they also contain amino acids and they’re quick to prepare providing a tasty and convenient way to help people achieve their ‘5 serves of veg a day’ – especially as they are ideal partners for other vegetables whether served hot or as part of a mixed salad.


Ajuga reptans " Ruby Glow"
Carpet Bugle
Do you want a ground cover that suits shade, still flowers and provides plenty of colour?
William Turner, a 16th century physician and naturalist described it as ‘It is a blacke herbe and it groweth in shaddowy places and moyst groundes.’-
This can only be Ajuga reptans.
I'm talking with Jeremy Critchley owner of and Karen Smith editor of
Let’s find more about it

Not only does Carpet Bugle cope with shade but it copes with sun as long as it gets sufficient watering.
It's great as a weed suppressing ground cover because it tightly hugs the ground and creeps along very lightly to form a dense cover.
If you want extra plants, simply divide the plants in Autumn and either pot up straight away or place in another garden location.
Nobody knows why it’s really called Bugle flower , it’s one of botany’s mysterys.
If you have a question either for me or the plant panel why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Calendula officinalis: Pot Marigold
Calendula derives from the Latin calendas, 
The reason is possibly because the plant flowers every month even in winter where temperatures aren’t too low.
The petals are edible and can be used fresh in salads or dried and used to colour cheese or as a replacement for saffron.
A yellow dye has been extracted from the flowers
You can toss them into a salad or soup; the taste is tangy and the bright colour enhances food.
Growing Calendula
Sow direct or in pots after the last frost has passed.
Companion Planting
Calendula repels a number of bad nematodes in the soil, but may attract slugs. 
Plant with tomatoes and asparagus.
Where will it grow?
Calendula grows best when sown directly into the garden. It tolerates any type of soil and will grow in partial shade to full sun.

Calendulas will do well in almost any soil, and semi-shade as well.
Calendula takes well to pot culture, and is easily grown in a variety of pots and window boxes on a balcony or deck.
I'm talking with florist, Mercedes Sarmini of

Video record live during broadcast of Real World Gardener show on 2rrr 88.5 fm in Sydney, Wednesdays 5pm.

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