Saturday, 10 November 2018

Mirror, Mirror in The Garden, No To Plastic and Ethylene with Cut Flowers

What’s on the show today?

Find out ways to reduce how much plastic you use in the Good Earth.; grow this calming herb in Vegetable Heroes; part 4 of ‘gardening in tight spaces in Design Elements, plus which flowers should not be placed near your fruit bowl in the Talking Flowers segment with Mercedes.


Plastic Free Living
You may be aware that plastic is bad for the environment but do you know exactly how?
Perhaps you’re already using drink bottles that are BPA free, but did you know that BPA is in all soft plastics?
  • The ocean may look calming and inviting, but did you know that any plastics that make it to the ocean breakdown into plastic microbeads?
  • These microbeads are ingested by plankton and in turn are eaten by fish.
  • It's even very likely that the fish you are about to eat contains plastic microbeads.
  • Let’s find out what we can use instead? 
I'm speaking with Margaret Mossakowska of 

Check out repair cafes, recycle stuff, don’t add to landfill. 
Margaret says, rethink what you are buying
Plastic pollution
Replace you worn out plastic containers with glass ones because cheeses, meats and any food that has more than 4% fats should be stored in glass. 
Why? because those plastic containers do contain BPA
One thirds of plastics are used for packaging such as food but you can avoid buying veggies that are wrapped in plastic, they don’t need it.
Bring your own container to get meat, fish, cheese etc.
Don’t take no for an answer, it’s not illegal.

If you have any questions, either for me or for Margaret, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Lemon Balm Melissa officinalis
Lemon balm is scientifically Melissa officinalis, but it’s also known as balm, common balm, or balm mint.
What is Lemon Balm?
Lemon balm, is a perennial herbaceous plant in the mint family; Lamiaceae, and is native to south-central Europe, and the Mediterranean region.

Did you know that Lemon Balm has been used for over 2,000 years?
Another fact is that Lemon balm has white flowers that attract bees, and because of that, the genus name is Melissa which is Greek for 'honey bee'.

You may not know that the ancient Greeks believed that if you put a few sprigs of lemon balm in an empty hive, it would attract a swarm of bees, or if you planted some lemon balm near a beehive, the bees would never go away.
Officinalis of course means used in medicine and in the 11th century a Persian physician and philosopher named Avicenna recommended the use of lemon balm in treating depression and melancholy.
Would you believe that according to the London Dispensary (1696) lemon balm in wine could even prevent baldness?
What does it look like?
It’s a fairly low to medium growing herb not growing more than 50 cm tall and being in the mint family, it has square stems.
You only need one plant because it spreads out quite a bit once it gets going, up to 1 ½ metres or more.
Lemon Balm Flower photo Jess Beehouse

Lemon balm leaves have a sweet lemon scent, and because it’s related to mint the leaves look very much like the leaves of common mint.
Those flowers that I mentioned show up during summer, and are full of nectar.
Interestingly although over 100 chemicals have been identified in Melissa officinalis, the main flavour comes from just two essential oils: oil of citral (neral and geranial), and citronellal, with a hint of linalool, geraniol and β-caryophyllene-oxide (1,90).
Why grow lemon Balm?
One reason to grow it is that sachets made with Lemon Balm and put under your pillow or near the bed are supposed to give you a refreshing, relaxing sleep.
Lemon balm seeds are fairly easy to germinate and need light and at least 20°C 
Seeds will germinate in 10 – 14 days and are best started off in a punnet.
TIP:The seeds don’t like being overly wet so after the first watering, let them alone but not completely dry out.
Lemon balm is probably one of the easiest herbs to grow and is ideal for beginners.
Lemon balm grows well in both sun and shade, soils of a wide pH, and either dry or damp conditions.
In the past I’ve said that lemon balm grows in clumps and doesn’t spread vegetatively like mint does, that is putting down roots where the stems touch the ground or through underground rhizomes, because it does.
It’s not as hard as mint to pull out though, but you have to keep on top of it as it will cover all your low growing plants and out compete other ground covers like native violets.
Where it grows
In cool temperate zones, the stems of the plant die off at the start of the winter, but shoot up again in spring.
Lemon balm doesn’t like temperatures much below 50 C so in cool temperate climates you may lose your plant unless you put some into a pot for replanting next Spring.
You could also just put some protective mulch over the spot when it dies down as long as you remember what you have growing there.
Lemon balm can also be propagated by dividing the rootstock in Spring or Autumn and planting straight into the ground after doing this.
How to use lemon balm?
The best time to pick leaves for drying is before it flowers.
Lemon Balm in Tea
  • However, you can pick leaves for use lots of ways from flavouring vinegars, teas, especially Earl Grey or Green Tea, marinades, dressings, jams and jellies, stuffings and sauces to using it chopped with fish and mushroom dishes or mixed fresh with soft cheeses.
  • Lemon balm complements many fruits, including honeydew, rockmelon, pineapple, apples and pears.
  • What about lemon balm with ginger in scones?
  • That’s the leaves, but the flowers can also be used as a garnish in fruit salads, drinks or with rice
  • Did you know that in the commercial food industry, lemon balm oil and extract are used to flavor alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks, confectionary, baked goods, gelatin, and puddings?
  • Lemon balm is also an ingredient in liqueurs like Benedictine and Chartreuse.

Why is it good for you?
Lemon balm tea is good for relieving mild headaches and possibly helping with memory as well.
The crushed leaves when rubbed on the skin can be used as an insect repellant.
Lemon balm also has anti-oxidant and calming or mild sedative properties.
There is also some link to memory or attention but further research is needed on that one.
If you have any questions about Lemon Balm, JUST EMAIL ME

Gardening in Tight Spaces part 4: Mirror, Mirror
The thing with small spaces is that you can take it all in with one glance and for some gardeners, it’s just a tad boring.
What are the tricks then that you can use to make your garden look bigger and so more interesting?
Let’s find out what it’s all about.
I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden designer and director of Paradisus garden design.
PLAY: Gardening in tight spaces part 4_24th October 2018

Mirror mirror on the wall, but wait it’s on the fence or behind some plants.
Yes, outdoor mirrors can make your small space look bigger but if you place it flat on the fence you may be just looking at a reflection of roof tiles.
Peter suggests you need to angle it somehow depending on whether or not your "step out' from the back door steps down, steps up or is completely flat.

Even though Peter says you need to use toughened glass, I’m an advocate for the found mirror.
Why not hang it up and if it wears out in 3 months, so be it, you’ll find another one.

If you have any questions about gardening in tight spaces or have a suggestion either for me or for Peter why not write in or email me at :


Ethylene and Cut Flowers

How many times have you placed some unripe fruit in a brown paper bag with say a banana or ripe apple?
Why are you doing this exactly?
Because the ethylene gas releases from the ripe fruit, speeds up the ripening process of the unripe fruit.
You don’t even have to place them in a paper bag because in the same fruit bowl, the process will happen, just a bit slower.
Guess what, flowers go off faster next to the fruit bowl.

We’ve mentioned it before in Talking Flowers, but some flowers are more sensitive than others don’t you know?

  • By the way, Ethylene molecules are small enough to migrate through plastic and cardboard, so just closing up the box of fruit in the fridge doesn’t contain the gas.
  • Did you know that Ethylene is a stress hormone and it is released in response to rough handling, dehydration, chill damage and disease ?
  • But where does it come from?
  • There's two ways: internally — in fruits, flowers and veggies as a stress response; and externally — from rotting green trash, car exhaust, air pollution, cigarette smoke, inefficient space heaters, propane forklifts and/or floor polishers.
  • Why I mention the forklifts, because maybe they’ve got them at flower markets?
I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini from
Recorded live during studio broadcast of Real World Gardener show at 2RRR 88.5 fm

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