Saturday, 22 September 2018

Sparrows, Beans and Edible Flowers

What’s on the show today?

Dr Holly Parsons talks about a bird that seems to have disappeared in Widlife in Focus, growing soybeans that you can eat straight of the vine in Vegetable Heroes. Five senses-today’s it’s all about sight in Design Elements and all about edible flowers in the Talking Flowers segment with Mercedes.


Common House Sparrow

Did you know that the House Sparrow is actually a finch?
But when was the last time you saw a house sparrow?
Can’t remember or do you have plenty in your district?

Funny how there were plenty of house sparrows around and then suddenly you realise, yeah, I haven’t seen one or even heard one for years.”
Maybe that’s a good thing?
Let’s find out .
I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons from

The male House Sparrow has a black face, and black throat that extends down the chest during the mating season. Otherwise, Sparrows are a combination of black, grey and brown; easily missed.
Sparrows eat seeds, insects, fruit, berries and food scraps, which is quite a flexible diet.
Yet, Sparrows have seen a worldwide decline in the last decade.
In fact House sparrow numbers have declined so dramatically in recent years that the species is now included on the Birds of Conservation Concern Red List.
House Sparrow in the former nest of a House Martin
A recent study in open-access journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution found that compared to sparrows living in the country, urban-dwelling sparrows showed clear signs of stress linked to the toxic effects of air pollution and an unhealthy diet.
Maybe one factor. Another is competition for habitat and nesting sites; changes in the amount of insects when they're feeding their young.
If you have any questions about house sparrows either for me or for Holly why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Soybeans: Edamame Soybeans.

Did you know that Soy Beans are an ancient crop?
In fact soy beans were first domesticated by Chinese farmers around 1100 BC and by the first century AD, soybeans were grown in Japan and many other countries.

Ever though of where soy sauce comes from?
Yep, soy beans.

Are you wondering “aren’t soybeans more of a commercial crop, so why would I want to grow soybeans.?”
Yes it’s true, soybean crops are grown for their oil production, but we can eat the beans just the same.

The bushy, green soybean plant is a legume related to peas, groundnuts (peanuts) and alfalfa.
Growing soybeans as a green manure crop will benefit the soil because the plant will add lots of nitrogen to the soil.
Not enough gardeners realise that growing a green manure crop  benefits that are really amazing.

  • In fact in the early 1900’s, American cotton grows were advised to “rotate” their crops in a three-year plan so that peanuts, soybeans, sweet potatoes or other plants would add nitrogen and minerals to the soil for two seasons, and then the third year farmers planted cotton. 
  • To the surprise of many farmers, this produced a far better cotton crop than they had seen for many years! 
Today, though, we’re growing green soybeans or Edamame soybeans.
  • Edamame soybeans are different varieties than the types grown as a dry field crop for making tofu, soybean oil or other soy products. 
  • Edamame varieties are harvested while they are still green, before the pods dry, much like shelling peas. 
  • So what’s the difference between soybean and edamame soybeans? 
  • The difference between soybeans and edamame is in the level of maturity when the beans are harvested. 
  • Soybeans are mature, while edamame are picked while the beans are still young and soft. 
How To Grow

  • Edamame does well in many different soil types, but make sure the spot is well drained with plenty of mature compost worked in. 
  • Soybeans are a warm-season crop, so plant the seeds when it's time to transplant tomatoes, or when the soil temperature is at least 16 C degrees. 
  • Choose a sunny spot, and add some organic fertiliser into the soil before planting. 
  • Sow eight to 10 seeds for every 30cm in the row, at a depth of 2 – 2 ½ cms. Edamame plants can get rather bushy, so space your rows at least 1 ½ m apart. 
  • All soybeans, including edamame, are legumes that host beneficial nitrogen-fixing bacteria on their roots. 
  • To take advantage of this natural nitrogen production, you can dust your seeds before planting with a bacterial innoculant for soybeans (available from most seed catalogues that offer edamame.) 
Can I Grow Them In A Pot? `

Soybeans don’t grow very high and usually don’t need staking or support .
In fact they grow from ½ - 1 metre tall so this makes them ideal for growing them in all sorts of containers.
Great to grow if you don’t have much space in your backyard.

When to Pick them?
You can pick the fuzzy lime green pods when they feel well filled with seeds, but are still bright green.

They should be more than 5 cm long at this stage.
Store them in the fridge or you can blanch them whole or shelled then freeze them.
Most varieties produce all at once so unless you’re going to cook them all at once, I suggest you stagger the planting every few weeks.

One Thing to Note:Edamame Is Poisonous When Raw. 

Although a lot of plants are definitely safe to eat even when they’re raw, soybeans specifically the edamame variety isn’t one of them.

How to Eat Edamame
  • Boil the pods in salted water, about five to six minutes until tender. 
  • Or, steam your edamame by placing a couple of cm of water in a pot and bringing it to the boil. 
  • Place the edamame in a steam basket or colander and cover the pot for five to ten minutes. 
  • Once cooled enough, raise the edamame pod to your lips, squeeze the bean out of its pod, and pop it directly into the mouth! 
  • That’s the Japanese way of eating them. 
  • Enjoy as a healthy snack. 
  • Or, add shelled and cooked edamame to salads, rice, pasta, and other dishes; it adds flavour, a bright green colour, and low-fat protein. 
Why are they good for you?

Edamame is a gluten-free and low calorie bean that contains no amount of cholesterol and is an excellent source of vitamins protein, iron and calcium.
It’s the only vegetable that contains all nine essential amino acids.


Five Senses Gardening: Sight in Garden Design.

Gardeners tend to busy themselves with tasks that need doing in the garden, often forgetting to revel in the sight that their garden is providing.
Taking stock of what’s in flower is important not only for the feel good moment it brings, but helps us to relax and really enjoy our environment.
The Seeability Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show in 2008: How Macular Degeneration Affects Vision:
What can we do when designing a garden for the sense of sight.
Let’s find out about what, why and how.
I'm talking with Chris Poulton, Sydney Convenor for the Australian Institute of Horticulture and an experienced horticultural lecturer and consultant.

Take Chris’s suggestion and carry around with you the colour chart or colour wheel, so that when you’re buying a new plant, it fits in with what you want your garden to really feel and look like.

If you have any questions about five senses gardening or have a suggestion either for me or for Chris why not write in or email me at


Edible Flowers

Why Eat Flowers: Did you know that Romans used edible flowers such as mallows, roses and violets in a lot of their dishes?

You’ve probably heard of and even eaten capers, but did you know capers (Capparis spinosa) are the flower buds of a Mediterranean evergreen shrub and have been used to flavour foods and sauces for over 2,000 years?
Edible flowers such as daylilies and chrysanthemums have been used by the Chinese and Greeks for centuries.
Which Flowers?
  • Nobody says you should tuck into a plate of flowers, because that would be too much. 
  • If you suffer from hayfever, then give eating flowers a big miss as well. 
  • Never eat flowers bought at a flower shop or nursery as these may have been treated with harmful chemical 
  • Another warning, not all flowers are edible, and some are poisonous if you can’t identify the flower, then don’t eat it.
Which Flowers Are Safe?
Ms Calendula
Ms Carnation
Ms Clover  
Ms Cornflower
Ms Dandelions
Ms English Daisy
Mr Gladioli
Ms Hibiscus
Ms Honeysuckle
Ms Lilac
Ms Marigold
Ms Nasturtiums
Ms Pansy
Mr & Mrs. Peony
Ms Queen’s Ann Lace
Ms Rose
Ms Geraniums
Ms Snapdragon
Mr Tulip (petals)
Ms Sunflower
Ms Violets
Ms Poppy (seeds)
Ms Chrysanthemum
Ms Borage

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini.from
Recorded live during studio broadcast of Real World Gardener Wednesday 5pm for 2rrr 88.5 fm Sydney

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