Saturday, 30 March 2019

Borage, Ginger and Geraniums Make A Garden Great

Have you grown Borage? The Spice It Up segment will tell you how to use it. Growing ginger is easy in vegetable heroes, Modern garden styles in Design Elements old fashioned Geraniums in the Talking Flower segment.


Borage: Borago officinalis
Summer’s over but some plants keep going to mid-winter.
Regarded as a herb, this next plant is not available in the herb and spice section of your supermarket.
You can find it in the herb section of some garden centres possibly.
Borage leaves and flowers: photo M Cannon
Perhaps you’ve grown it for the bright blue flowers and not really taken much notice of how else you can use this herb.
Let’s find out.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill

Borage leaves are rather hairy and don't look appetising at all.
You may have never wondered about using the leaves in cooking before.
But now you know to eat the leaves of Borage. 
Just chop them finely into soups and sauces. 
Make a Borage and Potato soup
Ian recalls a soup his mother made that had potatoes, cauliflower and finely chopped Borage leaves.
  • Saute' a big handful of young finely chopped borage leaves in butter, add 500ml of light chicken stock and a peeled, chopped potato. Cook until potato is soft, then use a stick blender to blend until smooth. Adjust seasoning and serve with borage flowers.
Just delicious served cold on hot days.
  • Another tip is to freeze borage flowers in ice cubes. 
Then when served in drinks you have the beautiful and sweet borage flower any time you want.
Growing Borage:
The best time to sow though in many districts is Spring because it’s best planted at soil temperatures between 10°C and 25°C. 
The seeds germinate easily and once in your garden, will happily self sow.
But it's nor really weedy because the seedlings that emerge are quite soft and easy to pull out.
Borage seeds are also loved by chickens.
If you’ve never grown Borage before, now’s the time to start.
Not suitable for indoors but possibly OK in large pots as it’s a tall plant.
If you have any questions either for me or for Ian, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Ginger! Zingiber officianale
FAMILY: Zingiberaceae along with Turmeric and cardamom.
Have you ever wondered about growing edible ginger?
Ginger rhizome
For years I’ve wondered about growing the real deal ginger.
Of all the times I’ve bought the nobbly brown root, it’s never sprouted until now.
Probably because now I’ve bought organic ginger that’s not sprayed with stuff to prevent it from sprouting-some sort of growth retardant usually.
Now I’ve got two bits sprouting!
Before those of you in cooler climates get put off, I daresay, my own climate zone is a bit out of its range, but I’m growing it in a pot and so can you.
Indoors if we have to.
For those of you who don’t have a piece of sprouting ginger, mail order garden catalogues supply pieces of ginger that are sprouting between July and September usually. I’ll put links on my website and facebook.
  • Ginger root is actually a rhizome.

Ginger is native to south China, but it was the Arabs who spread it around the globe by carrying rhizomes on their voyages to East Africa to plant at coastal settlements and on Zanzibar.
So what is Ginger? What does it look like already?
It’s a herbaceous perennial which grows annual stems about a meter or 1 ½ m tall with narrow green leaves and insignificant greeny-yellow flowers.
The leaves are much narrower than Canna leaves, and look more like the leaves of bamboo.
They’re also a very dark green.
Zingibar officianale or ginger is a tropical plant as you’d expect so it doesn’t like frost, waterlogged soil direct sun and high winds.
But if you’ve got a sheltered area, maybe on your back veranda, and rich moist soil, or some good stuff potting mix, you can get by growing ginger.
If you’ve also got warmer weather and high humidity you definitely can grow ginger.
From reading garden forums on the web, ginger does well in the ground in temperate climates as well.
For most of us, growing ginger will mean growing it in pots.
  • If you’ve only got one sprouting rhizome, put it into a 20cm pot, if you have 3 put them in together into a large 35cm pot.

You can also add one part of good compost to two parts potting mix, and that’s going to add some nutrients as well.
For those gardens with tropical or sub-tropical climates you can put that piece of sprouting ginger straight into the garden after you dug in a spadeful of compost. 
That should be good enough.
Put in your piece of ginger about 5cm below the soil surface.

Remember, filtered sunlight not direct sun for the position.
For cooler climates, your ginger plant can take full sun because it won’t be as intense for the most part as in the tropics.
Near a north facing wall is ideal so the plant can get reflected heat.
If it gets too hot in summer, move the pot into semi-shade if you can.
Also, for cooler districts, move it inside at the first signs of cold weather and don’t water it too much.

  • The best planting time is late winter/early spring, but if you’ve got a piece sprouting now, don’t waste an opportunity to garden, put it in anyway.
  • Ginger grows quite slowly and doesn’t mind being a little bit root bound if it’s in a pot.
A good thing about Ginger is that it won’t overtake your garden, because, it’s slow growing and after all, you’re going to be digging it up every year to harvest the rhizomes for your cooking.
Drying out will most likely set the plant back quite a bit, and even cark it so in hot weather keep up the water supply.

  • To supply humidity for arid climates, you’ll have to get out there with the spray bottle and spray it when you think of it, hopefully every day.
For those growing ginger in the ground, add plenty of mulch to keep the ground moist.
Ginger growing in pots will need fortnight feeds of liquid fertiliser if you haven’t added any controlled release or organic slow release fertilisers to the mix before planting.
Now the most important question, when can you dig it up?
All books will say the best time to dig up your ginger plant is when all the long green leaves have died down, 8 – 10 months after you’ve planted it.
This is easy if you’ve been growing it in a pot, because you can tip the whole thing over and just pull it out.

  • For areas where ginger growing is out of its range, you might be best to leave it for a couple of years for the rhizome to build up in size before tipping it out.

Break up the rhizomes into smaller useable pieces and either store it in the freezer, or my tip is, put the pieces into some Chinese cooking wine or sherry in a resealable jar and place it in the fridge.
Doing it this way keeps it fresh for quite a few months.

Don’t forget to replant some rhizomes for your next years’ crop of ginger if you’ve been successful that is.
Why is Ginger Good for You?
Ginger is said to stimulate gastric juices, and provide warming and soothing effects for colds and coughs.
Ginger is an excellent natural remedy for nausea, motion sickness, morning sickness and general stomach upset due to its carminative effect that helps break up and expel intestinal gas.
Ginger tea has been recommended to alleviate nausea in chemotherapy patients mainly because its natural properties don’t interact in a negative way with other medications.
Ginger is a very good source of nutrients and essential vitamins.
It is also a good source of minerals, such as potassium, magnesium and copper.
Ginger also has Calcium Carbohydrate  Dietary Fibre  Iron Magnesium and Manganese, but wait there’s more.
Potassium Protein Selenium Sodium Vitamin C, E and B6
Many thanks to the tropical permaculture group for providing some of the growing information.


The Modern Garden Style
Modern garden style is not a new phenomena and is in fact nearly a hundred years old.
The word ‘modern’ gives us the wrong idea because modern is used to describe something that’s recent.
Perhaps the landscapers association or group should consider changing the style that it represents.
Any ideas?

Let’s find out what this style has to offer.

Perhaps you’ve inherited a modern garden with wide concrete paths and river pebbles in the garden beds.
Most likely though the modern house of post world war II is becoming a thing of the past.
Still the principles of the modern garden are useful, sticking to primary colours and architectural plants. 
In the photo Cycads provide the architectural plants and kangaroo paws add the primary colours.
If you have any questions either for me Danielle why not write in to


Geraniums: Pelargonium hybrids

Common geraniums belong to the genus Pelargonium(280 spp), while true geraniums belong to the genus Geranium. (422 species).
Family Geraniaceae.
The name geranium comes from a Greek work geranos, which basically means crane.
True Geraniums are called Cranesbills because of the shape of the fruit capsule?
Most geraniums are native to southern Africa, but some species originated in Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East

While both genera were originally classified as geraniums, in 1789 the two genus were separated.
These types of Geraniums are really Pelargoniums
Confused? The common name geranium is used to describe Pelargoniums and Geraniums.
Geranium flowers have five very similar petals, and are thus radially symmetrical (actinomorphic), whereas Pelargonium flowers have two upper petals which are different from the three lower petals, so the flowers have a single plane of symmetry.

When we think of Geraniums, window boxes, and potted gardens comes first to mind.
I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini from

Recording live during the broadcast of Real World Gardener radio show on 2RRR 88.5 fm Wednesdays at 5pm.

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