Saturday, 22 December 2018

A Bit of Forest Bathing, Preserving Violets ,Growing Pineapples and Making Succulent Arrangements

What’s on the show today?

Find out what "forest bathing" is all about with one of the few guides in this feature interview.Plenty of violet flower but what to do with them in the Good Earth segment,; how do pineapples really grow in Vegetable Heroes; succulent arrangements in Plant of the Week.

Feature Interview:

Forest Bathing with Louise Kiddell
Sounds like a skinny dip in the lake, but that couldn't be further from the truth. It's all about immersing yourself with nature and reconnecting. Not a bushwalk or a walk in the park, but an opportunity to slow down and allow nature to enter your body through all the senses.
Sound a bit far fetched?
Forest bathing
Just listen to this.
I'm talking with Louise Kiddell, a certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide, one of the few in Australia.
It all started in the 1980's in Japan called "Shinrin Yoku" which translates as "forest bathing."
This is what they say, 
"A nature connection walk is not a strenuous hike, or informative naturalist walk. Rather, it is an opportunity to slow down and allow nature to enter your body through all your senses.”
Think of it as another form of yoga.
Just as with yoga, you can practise it alone but it helps immensely if you start with a guided walk to get you onto the right path, so to speak.
Find out more on Louise's website


Sweet Violets and How to Preserve Them
Some flowers lend themselves easily to uses in the kitchen.
Some decorative but others quite edible.
You might not know that this species in particular , sweet violet (Viola odorata, Violaceae) is the principal medicinal and culinary species used in Europe.
But apart from the fragrant, albeit very small flowers, there’s quite a few other things you can do with them.
Viola odorata
I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska from
Let’s find out.

You can use the petals fresh in salads, just remove the other parts of the flower to avoid that bitter after taste. 
Making Frosted Petals
Frosted violets
Preserve the petals with gum Arabic or egg white.
Paint the flower petals with an artists brush and then dip it into something like caster sugar.
Dry them face up on paper and either use them straight away or store in a jar for up to 2-3 months.
You can also preserve the petals in honey. Preserving them this way will help with dry coughs and even asthma possibly.
Margaret's Recipe for Violet Petal Vinegar ( or any other petal) taken from 
3 parts petals (300g)
1 part sugar (100g)
10 parts water ( 1 litre)
Leave to ferment for a couple of months.
The sugar converts to acetic acid so it's not bad for you.
  • Put the petals in the bucket and cover with the prepared sweetened water
  • Close the lid tightly.
  • In the first month open and stir every day. The pressure will build up in the bucket (particularly in warm weather) and needs to be released. This is also why flexible vessel needs to be used – a glass jar can shatter under pressure.
  • For the next two months stir occasionally. You will see a film of yeast and bacterial blooms showing on the surface. This is normal and as the mixture becomes more acidic, these cultures will die.
  • After three months in the bucket, strain/filter the liquid into plastic bottles for storage and compost the solids.
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.


Pineapple or Ananas comosus from the Bromeliad family.
I wanted to talk about pineapples not many people are aware how they grow.
Would you have thought that the pineapple came from a tree, perhaps a palm tree?
Fiction or Fact?

  • Pineapple is native to South America and was given its English name because it looks like a pine cone.
  • Christopher Columbus brought this native of South America back to Europe and later on sailors brought the pineapple home to New England.
  • There is a tale that goes where a fresh pineapple was displayed on the porch meant that the sailor was home from foreign ports and ready to welcome visitors.
  • Did you know that in 1723 England, a huge "Pineapple stove" needed to grow the plants wasw built at the Chelsea Physic Garden.
  • The garden still exists today, but I never saw this Pineapple Stove when I was there a few years ago so I assume it’s gone.
Botanical Bite
Did you also know that the pineapple is a multiple fruit?
Pineapple has  about 150 fruitlets
This means they grow from a cluster of fertilized flowers that join together.
The fruitlets are also known as the eyes of the pineapple; that’s the rough spiny marking on the pineapple's surface and there are approximately 150 on each mature pineapple.
So why grow pineapple?
Firstly, the pineapple plant is one of the few tropical fruits that are really well suited to growing in pots, and that means you can grow pineapples indoors.
That also means that you can grow them anywhere in Australia, really.
Secondly, if you plant them in the right spot they need virtually no care whatsoever.
So what are the pineapple plants’ requirements?
  • The pineapple is like a lot of Bromeliads in appearance, with blue-green sword shaped stiff leaves.
  • In general, Pineapples are best suited to humid coastal districts in tropical and subtropical regions of northern and eastern Australia.
  • But in a warm, sunny, sheltered and frost free position, they will cope with cool nights for short periods.
  • Tip: One thing most Bromeliads don’t like is frost.
  • Remember that pineapple plants are bromeliads.
  • Like all Bromeliads, some can take sun and some prefer dappled shade.
  • Usually the hardness of the leaf will indicate which situation the Bromeliad you have likes.
  • We all know that the tops of pineapples are very stiff and prickly, so that gives you an indication that Ananas or the pineapple Bromeliad can take full sun, but surprisingly, it will grow in dappled shade as well.
  • And like a lot of Bromeliads, you don’t want to overwater your pineapple bromeliad, because you may cause it to rot.
  • Bromeliads don’t like soggy waterlogged soils but can get by on very little water except of course during extreme heat waves.
  • In that instance you may want to cover any Bromeliad you have with an old sheet to prevent leaf scorch.
How to grow Pineapples.
One way to grow your pineapple and this comes from Mick in north Queensland who says, that he has never actually bought a pineapple plant.
He just plants the top of a pineapple.
They don’t fruit usually in the next spring/summer but the one after, and some have taken an extra year.
Each plant will fruit once a year and then throw a pup, the mother will then die and a year later the pup will fruit.
That’s how Bromeliads grow.
Growing Pineapples in Tropical and Subtropical Climates
Another way to grow pineapple plants, more so for gardeners in tropical areas is if you know someone who grows pineapples you may also be able to buy some "suckers" or "slips" (little plantlets taken of a mature pineapple plant).
After the first fruit is produced, side shoots (called 'suckers' by commercial growers) are produced in the leaf axils of the main stem.
You can pull these off to propagate new plants or just let them stay on the parent plant and keep widening.
Paul says, that he also found (maybe coincidence) that ones in pots fruited quicker than ground but they would be nice and hot all the time.
Pineapple plants grow up to 1 ½ metres high and wide, pretty much like the Giant Bromeliad, Alcantarea.
If you’re growing the top of a pineapple make sure you remove all the fruit flesh. You should also remove all the small bottom leaves.
Just pick the lower leaves off so you have a bit of a stem to plant, then leave the pineapple top in the shade of your verandah to dry out for a week.
The same goes for suckers.
If there are very small or dead leaves at the bottom pull them off.
Planting your pineapple top:
  • There’s no need to bury the pineapple top in the ground.
  • Mix compost in with your soil before you plant the pineapple, and then mulch thickly around it.
  • Just make a small depression in the ground or in a pot and stick your little pineapple in that.
  • Push the soil back in and firm it around the base so the pineapple sits straight and doesn't fall over.
  • You can use a couple of small sticks each side to keep it upright until your plant grows some roots in about six weeks.
  • Mulch around the plant to stop it drying out too much.
  • If the soil is dry give it some water.

Tip: If you’re growing it in a pot, use orchid or bromeliad mix so it gets plenty of drainage.
Give the plant a good watering at least once a week and fertilise with weak compost or comfrey tea once a month.
A pinch of sulphate of potash around the base of the plant at the beginning of the second summer will help with flowering.
In Australia, the major growing regions include South East Queensland, particularly the Sunshine Coast hinterlands, Maryborough and Wide Bay area, the Yeppoon district, and all the way up to Mareeba and Mosman in Northern Queensland.
Why are they good for you?
Did you know that Pineapples are one of the healthiest fruits around?
Did you also know that…
Two slices (or 164 grams) of pineapple provides half of your daily fruit requirements
Pineapple is a great source of Vitamin C!
Just 100g of pineapple equals 98.6% of your Recommended Daily Intake (RDI*).
Pineapples are high in fibre, and low in calories, sodium, saturated fats and cholesterol.
Pineapples contain Bromelain  which is an enzyme known for its ability to break down proteins making it great for digestion.
They’re also a very good source of copper and a good source of vitamin B1, vitamin B6, dietary fibre, folate, and pantothenic acid.


Visiting Ivy Alley: How to Make Succulent Arrangements
Floral arrangements are something that ‘s widely known and practised but what about other types arrangements?
Could you have a living arrangement of plants that were brought inside for a little while then left outside to keep growing?
Would they outgrow their pot or could you find plants that don’t need to be moved?
Today, we’ve got the answer and this is like a living display but how and what plants should you use?
Let’s find out. I'm talking with Rachel Gleeson, horticulturist and owner of succulent and bonsai nursery, Ivy Alley.

PLAY: Intro to Ivy Alley_5th December_2018

Pick a couple or sculptural or architectural succulents and then fill in the spaces with spreading succulents such as sedums.

Rachel suggests Sedum “Green Mould” as a filler succulent and whatever takes you fancy, maybe Echeveria Topsy Turvy and another 1 or 2 architectural succulents to make your display.

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