Saturday, 15 December 2018

Stocks, Beans and Satin Bowerbirds

What’s on the show today?

Wildlife in Focus presents a bird that collects blue things with Dr Holly Parsons; a couple of weeks ago we explained how to deal with bean problems and today we’re growing them in Vegetable Heroes; a stroll into a very unusual nursery in Plant of the Week and all about scented stock flowers in Talking Flowers segment with Mercedes.


Satin Bower Bird
Listeners would probably have heard about the Satin Bowerbird with its glossy blue-back with a distinctly coloured eye.
You may not know though that it takes up to five years before the satin bower bird male develops that full glossy colour.
Satin Bowerbird
Before that it's an olive green.
 Satin bower bird is a medium sized bird, similar in weight to a magpie and has good colour vision especially into the blue and ultra-violet spectrum. So why does it prefer the colour blue to adorn the bower? Is the bower also a nest?
I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons from
Let’s find out .

Sorry for Tasmania and South Australia, because you guys are missing out on this rather unusual bird.
The male builds that bower, a parallel row of sticks in a north south axis but that’s not where the eggs get laid, it just all about attracting the female with collected blue objects and a bit of dancing. 
The female bowerbird gives the bower a good look through several times before making up her mind up whether or not she wants to pair up with the male.
The bower of the satin bowerbird.
The female bowerbird does the nest building which is made up of loose twigs some 30 metres above the ground.
Just remember to snip the blue bottle tops before you throw them into the bin. If you have any questions, either for me or for Holly, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Beans: Phaseolus vulgaris .
Do you love your beans?
Did you know that beans have been an important part of the human diet for thousands of years?

Bean pods can be green, yellow, purple, or speckled with red; they can be flat, round and a yard long.
Beans are a legume in the Faboidea or the pea family.
Clever Beans Have Nitrogen Fixing Nodules:
Growing beans is pretty easy and I would say essential in a veggie garden because beans, as well as other legumes, have nitrogen fixing nodules on their roots.
Yep, that’s right, the roots make nitrogen out of the air and deposit it into the soil.
Lightning storms are even better for that reason because they convert nitrogen into ammonium ions which is what plants need before they can take it up.
Bean varieties originated from different places or countries. 
  • Green bean originated from Central and East Asia, North-eastern Africa and the Mediterranean. 
  • Bean varieties such as green beans, French bean and long bean have been planted for their fruits or pods for vegetables in many regions in the world since 6,000 years ago
  • French beans appeared about 8,000 years coming from Latin American, Mexico, Peru and Colombia.  
  • The origin of the long bean was Southwest China.
  • Spanish explorers took the green bean back to Europe in the 16th century and introduced it there.
  • From there were spread to many other parts of the world by Spanish and Portuguese traders.
  • Did you know that the Egyptians had temples dedicated to beans, and worshipped them as a symbol of life?
  • They must be good.
Beans, either climbing or Dwarf Beans, are sometimes called Green beans are also called string beans and snap beans.

 To grow beans you need up to four months of warm weather.
  • In subtropical climates beans can be grown almost all year.
  • For temperate and arid zones, mid-spring through to late summer are the best times to plant.
  • In colder districts, beans, don’t like the cold at all and they certainly don’t like frost.
  • You have until the end of summer, certainly you wouldn’t be expecting any cold snaps now.
  • Tropical districts, once again, need to wait until the winter months to sow beans.
  • Beans are best planted at soil temperatures between 16°C and 30°C so planting them from now on is ideal.
How to Sow and Grow Your Beans
  •  Sow your bean seeds about 2.5cm deep or depending on the size of the bean I guess.
  • Sow your beans, either climbing or dwarf beans either in rows or just scatter so the seed are 5-10cm apart (don't worry about the odd ones which are closer).
  • Cover with soil, potting mix, or compost and firm down with the back of a spade or rake.
  • Grown this way the beans will mostly shade out competing weeds and 'self-mulch'.
  • An important fact about growing beans is that they need well-drained soils with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0 and are sensitive to deficiencies or high levels of minerals in the soil-especially climbing beans.
So make sure you spread some chook poo or cow manure before sowing your bean seeds.
How To Water Your Beans
When growing green beans, keep the soil moist.
A good rule of thumb is to put a finger in the dirt and if the dirt is dry up to the first knuckle, then it needs about an inch of water.
Keep your beans watered and watch for vegetable bugs and green caterpillars
Pods won’t set at temperatures above 270 C.
Lynn Woods Beans in Ulverstone Tasmania
Did you know that if you pick the beans as soon as they’re ready, you’ll get new flowers?
If you neglect your bean plants and let your beans get large and stringy, flowering will slow right down and you probably won’t get any more beans from your plants.
Tip: To have beans all summer long, plant more seed as soon as the previous planting starts to flower.
Protect against snails and slugs by laying down straw or sugar cane mulch and sprinkling coffee grounds around the edge of the veggie bed.
Slugs and snails will completely destroy newly sprouted beans.
Beans do poorly in very wet or humid tropical climates because they get bacterial and fungal diseases.
Go easy on the fertiliser or you’ll get lots of leaves and no beans.
When picking your beans, pick times when your plants are dry.
Working with beans when the leaves are wet tends to spread any diseases.
When are beans ready pick I hear you ask?
Usually in about 10-12 weeks.

Pick them when they are about as thick as a pencil, smaller if you want a better, tender taste.
Barry emailed to see his beans had a bad aftertaste, why was that?
If you leave them too long on the vine the chances are you’ll get that bitter aftertaste.
That usually means that they are over-ripe, or they've been on the shelf a while.
As they grow, the natural sugars in them convert to starch, which has a bitter taste.
 As soon as you pick them, the sugars start to convert to starch too.
It can take a week or more for it to be noticeable.
It will change the taste, but it doesn't make them unsafe to eat, just throw them in  a pot of home made chicken soup or whatever.
They taste pretty good that way.
Why are they good for you?
Green Beans are a good source of vitamin C and also contain calcium, magnesium, zinc and Vitamin A. But, the most important nutritional fact for beans is that they provide a major source of soluble fibre, which, when passing through the digestive tract grabs and traps bile that contains cholesterol, removing it from the body before it's absorbed.
Also is a source of folate .
Some varieties of the dwarf  beans are
Brown Beauty-flat pods
Dwarf Snake Beans-ready in 11 weeks.
Windsor Delight has long pods of about 15cm.
Blue Lake Climbing, long pods again but they’re round this time.


A visit to Ivy Alley Nursery
What kind of pots do you have in your garden?
Are they just plastic, or perhaps some concrete, terracotta, or even hanging baskets with coir peat liners?

Did you know, that before plastic pots, nursery people sold plants in either bare rooted, in terracotta pots, or "balled and burlapped" and intins?
Any old tin would do presumable as long as it had a drainage hole and was cleaned.
Pot plants at Ivy Alley
Today I’m about to take you on a fantastic journey with a nursery owner who goes beyond the plastic pot in her nursery.
I'm talking with Rachel Gleeson, horticulturist and owner of succulent and bonsai nursery, Ivy Alley.
Let’s find out.

Hopefully you’re inspired to use some unusual containers to pot up your plants.
Definitely take a leaf out of Rachel’s book.
Burlapping Plants:

Just a note about what I mention regarding burlapping a plant.
This involved digging a plant from a nursery bed, taking as much of the rootball as possible and wrapping it in hessian to keep the soil intact and help prevent moisture loss.

If you have any questions about potting up plants in different types of containers, why not write in to


All about Scented Stock Flowers: Matthiola incana
Stock flowers are members of the Brassicaceae family, so that's the same as broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts and cauliflowers.
  • Did you know that you can eat the flower?

Sow seeds of stocks into your garden beds or borders near where you will be able to enjoy the scent.
They prefer sandy, well drained soil that's has a neutral pH to slightly alkaline.
Plenty of added organic matter will help a lot to keep up the moisture in the soil.
What they also need is for you to mulch well to maintain that moisture and feed with a balanced fertiliser before flowering.
Stocks are a romantic looking flower suited for cottage gardens and definitely suit for the vase.
Stocks come in an array of colours: burgundy, lilac, pink, cream and now salmon.
  • Mercedes says Ms Stock (because it's grown from seed) needs to have the stems cut at an angle.
  • Re-cut the stems every second day and place in shallow water.
  • Ms Stock is highly ethylene sensitive and sensitive to heat.
  • Buy your flowers 3/4 budded.
I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of
Recorded live during the broadcast of Real World Gardener on 2rrr 88.5 fm in Sydney, Wednesdays 5pm.

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