Saturday, 27 October 2018

Chillin with Chives, Perilla and Flowers Protea and Waratah

What’s on the show today?

Expert tips about Chives in Spice it Up with Ian Hemphill from herbies spices. Something a bit lemony and a bit minty that you can grow in Vegetable Heroes. What is the soil food web with editor of PIP magazine, Robyn Rosenfeldt from Pambula.
And, is there a difference to look after native Australian flower and South African flowers in the Talking Flowers segment with Mercedes.?


There’s no end of uses to his herb which is will loved by chefs.
What would a baked potato with sour cream be without it?
What would instant noodles and packet soups be without the freeze-dried version?
Something less than ordinary. 
But did you know there were two types?
Onion chives and garlic chives, but what's the difference?
Let’s find out what it is.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from

The leaves of onion chives are hollow and round, think "O" for onions. 
The leaves of garlic chives are flat.
Onion chives
You may not find them identified as such in your garden centre, but now you know what to look for.
Also, chives are one of the few herbs that dry quite effectively, but they are commercially freeze dried.
Freeze drying means the moisture is removed very rapidly by placing the chives in a special pressurised chamber. The water is taken from the chive leaves; the liquid goes straight to the gaseous state.
Ian says if you get good quality freeze dried chives, it’s very hard to tell the difference between that and the fresh ones!
Remember, when the chive clump gets to about 20cm, that’s the time to divide them up.
If you have any questions about chives, either for me or for Ian, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Perilla (Perilla frutescens) is also called Beefsteak plant, Chinese Basil and Purple Mint
Perilla is an annual herb that belongs in the Mint or Lamiaceae family and originates in China and Central Asia.
But did you know that Perilla has some amazing properties that will surprise you?
You’ll be amazed to hear that one of the components of the volatile oil extracted from perilla, Perilla-aldehyde, can be made into a sweetener, said to be 2000 times sweeter than sugar, with very low kilojoules.

This sweetener has been used as a substitute for maple sugar or licorice in processed foods.
Not only that amazing fact but analysis of perilla’s anti-microbial properties, has shown it to have over one thousand times the strength of synthetic food preservatives.
Did you know that Perilla is grown as an oil seed crop from Japan to northern India?
The oil makes up to 51% of the seed’s weight.
The oil is used not just used in cooking as you might use linseed oil, but it’s also got industrial applications such as in paint, printing, and paper manufacture.
Perilla contains a natural red pigment called shisonin which is used in food processing as a colourant.
So what is Perilla then?
Perilla is a fast growing annual plant that grows to around  50cm to 1m tall.
Perilla comes in several varieties and the leaf size and shape look a lot like unpatterned coleus or large a leafed Basil plant.
There is also a frilly, purple-leafed variety that’s quite ornamental as well as being used in cooking.

  • If you saw the purple variety you might think that the leaves are a bit similar to Beefsteak plant or Iresine herbstii.

  • Perilla the plant itself has two lipped flowers in either white, pink or lavender-purple, that grow in the leaf axils and terminal spikes.
  • The plant has a very bushy canopy of opposite leaves on square stems, like all Mint family plants.
  • Leaves are oval shaped to 15cm long, and are aromatic with a fresh flavour similar to lemon and mint.

Perilla flowers
Perilla will grow from seed but needs cool conditions and light to germinate.
Before sowing, garden suppliers recommend that you place the perilla seeds into a bowl or glass that contains a couple of cm’s of water.
Soak the seeds overnight or for 12 hours.
Sprinkle the seed where it is to grow in autumn or in early to late spring’
Because Perilla is a herb, you could grow this in a tub or pot if you live in colder districts.
For growing Perilla pick a sunny and well-drained spot with some afternoon shade if the summers are hot.
Add plenty of organic material to the soil and keep it moist.
In temperate climates, the plant is self-sowing, but the seeds aren’t viable after long storage, and germination rates are low after a year.
However if you don’t want it to self-seed, cut off the flower spikes as they appear.
This will also increase the life of the plant.
There are a couple of companies that sell the seeds either listed under Salad Greens or Asian Vegetables.
I have found two varieties that you can buy, under Salad Greens, there is Perilla Green  Leaves and flower stalks eaten raw, or with tempura, leaves have a deep green colour and Perilla Red (Crispa) Leaves and flower stalks eaten raw, or with tempura, with a deep red colour and pleasing aroma.
Sow both of these in late spring.
  • If you can’t get the seed but have some at your local fruit and veg store, here’s a way to get some plants.
  • I found this on a blog. Maki says she grew her Chinese variety from cuttings from ones bought at an Asian grocers.
  • Just pop some in a glass of water and they should strike. Easy peasy.
How Do You Use It In Cooking?
Apparently Perilla plants are usually divided into 'red' or 'green' categories because they have somewhat different uses.
Purple Perilla
Red/purple perilla is used as a red or pink food colouring, for pickling fruit and vegetables, especially preserved ginger and pickled sour plums, and as a dried powder to be used as a side dish with rice, as an ingredient in cake mixes and as a flavouring in beverages.
Green Perilla
Green Perilla is used as a sweet-spicy flavouring for oriental dishes such as stir-fries, with raw fish and sliced cucumber, in vegetable dishes, rice and soups and goes well with sweet potato.
The Japanese often eat the fresh leaves with sashimi (sliced raw fish) or cut them into thin strips in salads, spaghetti, and meat and fish dishes.
It is also used as a savoury herb in a variety of dishes, even as a pizza topping (initially it was used in place of basil)
The seeds of perilla are used to make oil, and to flavour foods, especially pickles.
 Seeds (called egoma) can be used on baked goods, like sesame seeds. The flowerheads are also used as a condiment.
You may even be able to order in some Perilla herb from your garden centre, as they certainly sell small plants online.
A little hard to get I know, but sometimes, you can be lucky and you’ll be rewarded with this amazing plant.
Why is it good for you?
Perilla leaves are high in the minerals calcium, iron, and potassium, rich in fibre and riboflavin, and very high in vitamins A and C.
Perilla has anti-inflammatory properties, and is thought to help preserve other foods.
That was your vegetable hero for today.


Australian Native Cut Flowers vs South African Native Cut Flowers
A lot of customers to florists shops ask for a bunch of Australian native flowers, then point to some King Proteas in the shop, saying, " yeah, some of those."
Of course they're surprised to learn that the King Protea is from South Africa.
Sure, Australia was once connected to Africa millions of years ago when it was still Gondwana, but there's no reason to be confused.
King Protea
The reason some people think that the King Protea is an Australian flowers is possibly because both the Proteas, Waratahs, Banksias, Grevilleas, Leucondendrons reside in the same family, namely Proteaceae, and
that causes confusion?
In any case, time to learn how to look after some of these hard stemmed flowers.
  • Never leave fresh flowers in a hot car.
  • Recut the stem ends neatly with sharp secateurs, removing the bottom 3 cm.
  • Prepare your vase or container: make sure it is clean.
  • Add fresh clean filtered water but NOT flower food to these flowers
  • Check every day, as your flowers can use a lot of water.
  • If cut-flower food is not used, change the water at least every second day.
  •  Do not display your flowers in areas that are exposed to full sun, draughts or high temperatures.
  • Keep as cool as possible without freezing.
I'm speaking with floral Therapist, Mercedes Sarmini.from

Video recorded during live broadcast of Real World Gardener show at 2RRR 88.5 fm in Sydney

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