Saturday, 23 June 2018

Taties, Veggies, and Bottle Brushes

What’s On The Show Today?

We’re preparing for winter in the Good Earth segment, how to choose which potato to grow in Vegetable Heroes, and a shrub that’s everyone’s darling in winter in Plant of the Week, plus a couple of guys come into the studio talk about their favourite Australian plant .


Winter Gardening and Crop Rotation

How well do you know your plant families?
Did you know that you shouldn’t plant veggies from the same plant family in the same spot year after year?

That’s all part of crop rotation which means of course you need to know your plant families.
There’s good reasons for practising crop rotation, but what if you only have enough room for a couple of veggie garden beds, what does a gardener do?
Let’s find out.. I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska, director of and Permaculture North Course coordinator.

Soon you’ll be saying things like Brassicas, Solanacea, and Fabaceae with ease and know what veggies belong to these families.
If you don't have much room and only have one area for a veggie bed, you can still divide it into four sections and follow crop rotation.
Otherwise, planting in pots is an alternative especially for the Solanacea family; the recommendation being wait 5 years before replanting any veggie from this family.
Created by Margaret Mossakowska

Brassicas: cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kohlrabi
Allium: shallots, onions,garlic,
Solanaceae: tomatoes, chillies, capsicums, potatoes
Fabaceae: beans peas, snow peas,
Margaret’s tip to fertilise your garden is to use your homemade compost. and add things like chook poo, or other organic fertilisers.
If you have any questions either for me or Margaret, you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Potatoes or Solanum tubersum

Chipped, fried, sautéed, boiled, baked or mashed, potatoes are one vegetable that we couldn’t be without.
Did you know that potatoes were the first vegetable to be grown in space?

Originally there were about 1,000 varieties, but over the years this number has been reduced to just a few hundred.

It’s always interesting to find out where our vegetables started and how they became popular.
Farmers in the Andes Mountains of South America first discovered the potato 7,000 years ago

The potato is a member of the nightshade or Solanaceae family and its leaves are poisonous.

Here’s something to think about when storing your potatoes.
A potato left too long in the light will begin to turn green.

The green skin contains a substance called solanine which can cause the potato to taste bitter and green potatoes can upset the stomach, so don’t try them.

How to grow potatoes

Always grow potatoes from Certified Seed Potatoes from reputable suppliers.
Yes it is possible to simply buy some from a specialist green grocer and keep them for seed, or use leftover potato peelings.

What’s wrong with that?
You run the risk of introducing diseases such as Potato Virus Y, Potato Blight or Potato cyst Nematode.
Potato blight by the way, cause the foliage to collapse and the tubers to rot.
If you use leftovers or buy from supermarkets or green grocers.
You might think it’s only a small risk, but once you get potato blight into your soil, it’s their forever.
No chemical will shift it.

When to plant
Potatoes can be planted now all over Australia, in temperate and sub-tropical districts, August to October is the best time, in arid areas August until December is your best time,
In cool temperate zones, September through to January is your best time so cooler areas have a bit of extra time to order some of the more unusual varieties before they grow in the ground.

So which potato to choose?

The first thing to think about is how you want to use your potatoes.
Different varieties have different amounts of starch, making the flesh of some break down into a fluffy texture while others retain a firmer, waxy texture.
Potatoes that are high in starch are great at absorbing liquids, causing the potato to break apart in cooking.
These types are great for baking, mashing or cutting into wedges.
Waxy potatoes contain less starch and hold together during cooking.
This makes them ideal for cooking in soups and stews, where you want the potatoes to retain their shape.
They’re also the ones to use in salads.
Here are some suggestion of the ones that are mostly available. 

Boil: Desire, Dutch cream, Golden delight, Kipfler, Nicola, Pontiac, Red Rascal, Sebago. Coliban is good for boiling, but breaks down if over-cooked. 

Mash: Chat, Coliban, Desiree, Golden delight, Pontiac, Sebago. Kipfler not recommended to mash. 

Bake: Chat, Coliban, Desiree, King Edward, Pontiac, Red Rascal. 

Roast: Chat, Coliban, Desiree, Golden delight, King Edward, Pontiac, Red Rascal, Sebago. 

Fry: Golden delight, Sebago, Coliban, Desiree. Kipfler and pontiac not recommended to fry. 

Steam: Chat, Coliban, Pontiac, Sebago. 

Salad: Desiree, Kipfler, Pontiac, Red Rascal, Sebago. Coliban not recommended for salad. 

All-purpose: King Edward, Nicola, Pink eye, Pontiac, Sebago.

Some unusual ones for you to try.
How about Cranberry Red?
Cranberry Red has red skin and red flesh, great in salads, for boiling and baking. 
These stay red, even after cooking.
Cranberry Red

Or what about Potato Sapphire that has purple skin and purple flesh?
Purple Sapphire I’m sure is sold also as Purple Congo, is perfect for mashing, boiling and roasting, and yes, it stays purple after cooking.

And for a good all rounder, try growing Royal Blue. Potato Royal Blue is oblong, with purple skin and dark yellow flesh.
If you’re buying through mail order or online, you have until the end of August to buy them. After that, they’re not available.

How to Grow
To grow your Potatoes-put seedling potatoes into a trench in as deep and rich a soil as you can get.
Altlernatively, grow seed potatoes by chitting them first.

That means to start them by leaving them on cardboard or egg cartons in a light position until they have produced short green sprouts. 

When you do plant them add plenty of compost and manures please. 
And as they grow pile the earth up around them.
  • You will need to hill the rows or potato container several times until the potatoes have flowered 
  • You need to do this to stop the greening of tubers and also protect them from potato moth. 
  • Also, hilling up the soil and mulch will give you more potatoes as they tend to form on roots near the surface. 
  • That means, as you pile up the soil, you get new roots, and more potatoes.... 
  • Chicken manure or blood and bone should be dug through the bed as potatoes need a lot of phosphorus but not too much nitrogen. Too much nitrogen will mean lots of leaves rather than potatoes. 
  • Keep the water up and but only water moderately as potatoes will rot in soil that is too wet. 
  • They can also get a fungus growing inside them if the soil’s too wet. 
  • When you cut them open, they’ll have grey patches inside which actually do taste mouldy. Euwwww! 
  • You can add fish emulsion and seaweed extract when you’re watering too.
Potatoes can also be grown in your black compost bin if you’re not using it for compost.
Plant the seed potatoes at the bottom, let them grow to about 50cm,( so with your ruler that’s almost 2 x ruler heights) then, over the top and add 8cm of soil, let them grow a little more, add some more soil, and so on, in the end a stack of potatoes.
Pick your potatoes when the vine has died down to the ground, that’s if you want the most potatoes, but they can be harvested from when the first baby potatoes are formed.
The lower leaves should be turning yellow – this happens about 3 to 4 weeks after flowering.
If you plan to store your potatoes, cut off the foliage and let the potatoes rest in the ground for 3-4 weeks to allow the skin to 'set', they keep longer this way. Store in a dark, cool, well ventilated spot.
For a great article on growing potatoes visit DPIW Tasmania

Why are potatoes good for you?

The potato is densely packed with nutrients. The Irish couldn’t be wrong could they?
A medium potato provides vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6 and trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc.
Potatoes are known as the foods people crave when they are stressed.
Why? because the carbs in potatoes (about 26%) help make space for tryptophan with a smooth passage into the brain.
This, in turn, boosts the serotonin level in the brain.
High serotonin levels help boost your mood and help you feel calm.
To preserve these nutrients it is important to peel the potato just prior to cooking and not leave them in a bowl of water.


Choosing a Focal Point

Today RWG’s garden designer Peter Nixon is taking a look at focal points in the garden.
Natal Flame Bush

Plumeria Pudica
At this time of year, when trees are looking bare, and perhaps there’s not much to look at in the garden, it’s a good time to assess what you have and what you could improve.

Focal points are some plant, whether it’s a tree or a shrub a water feature or a statue, that draws the eye and gives the garden some sense of design. 

How do you know what to choose, especially these days when we have smaller gardens?

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, Director of Paradisus Garden Design.
Let’s find out.
PLAY: Best Fit Gardening_Focal Points_28th October 2015

The small trees mentioned were Plumeria pudica-the evergreen Frangipani, Synadenium grantii rubra or red south African mild bush; Alberta magna-the Natal Flame Bush for cool temperate to warm temperate regions or don’t go past the double flowering Crabapple-Malus ionensis plena. 

If you have any questions about growing small trees for focal points or have a suggestion why not write in or email me


Callistemon x citrinus "Red Rocket"
Bottlebrush "Red Rocket"
Segment produced and presented by Lewis Beere and Hugh Mandalidis.

Callistemon Red Rocket has bright red new growth and only grows to 1.5 metres high and 1.5 metres wide.
Perfect for pots and low borders. Like all Callistemons, they suit sun or part shade and cope with all types of soils.
Once established, (give it at least a year), it will tolerate dry conditions and light frost.
Bottlebrushes are also not bothered by too many pests and diseases.

If you are after low maintenance then this is one of those plants.

Start of fertilising it with a slow release low phosphorus fertiliser to help first establish the plant. 

Although it can cope without too much fertiliser, if you want lush foliage, it's best to follow up with the occasional reapplication of fertiliser.

Mulching around the base of the plant will help retain moisture and suppress weeds.
Plant Breeder: Ian Shimmen.

Listen to Hugh and Lewi talk about Red Rocket Callistemon

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