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Saturday, 25 May 2019

Rosemary, Old Fashioned Shrubs and Beeswax Wraps

The show started with the herbalist segment of plant of the week, Simone is talking about the ‘dew of the sea.” growing a crop that’s good for the soil but not for eating in vegetable heroes, the new series on old fashioned shrubs for every region in Australia continues in Design Elements and how to use less plastic in the lunchbox with these beeswax wraps in the Good Earth.

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Herbal: Rosmarinus officinalis: Rosemary
Dew of the sea, what can that be?
Not a rhyme but a riddle about which herb that grows by the coast, and is used by herbalists and naturopaths.
Rosemary flowers
With a pretty little flower either white, pink or blue and needle like leaves, this herb grows easily and has a minty-sage or pine like flavour.
No surprises that it belongs to the mint family. ( Lamiaceae).
Let’s find out more. I'm talking with Simone Jeffries, herbalist and naturopath. www.simonejeffriesnaturopath.com.au

The herb rosemary, is pretty hardy in any climate zone and most soils.
One thing it detests is wet feet being a herb originating from the Mediterranean.
Rosemary leaves contain many essential components and strictly speaking, the distilled oil isn't a real oil because it contains no fat.
The main chemical components of rosemary oil include a-pinene, borneol, b-pinene, camphor, bornyl acetate, camphene, 1,8-cineole, and limonene.
Rosemary is regarded as a memory herb, probably because it helps your blood to circulate.
Good for tension headaches and energises you if you drink it as a tea
Steep a large bunch in hot water for 10 minutes in this case.
In Cooking:
Use it scones and orange cake or saute rosemary and fresh mushrooms with some butter. 
In stuffing for chicken, combine rosemary with thyme and sage with either rice or breadcrumbs. Delicious!

If you have any questions either for me or for Simone drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

VEGETABLE HEROES

Green Manure Crops for Winter
  • If you want to improve your soil structure and at the same time add nitrogen to the soil, consider a green manure crop in an overworked vegetable patch.
What are the benefits of green manure crops and why is it called  green manure?
  • Green manure crops are called that because the crop or plants are not for eating but when they are nearly mature, and before they set seed, the oats, or wheat or whatever are slashed and then turned into the soil.  This adds nutrients to the soil especially if you use legume type crops.
Why?
Field peas
They increase organic matter, earthworms and beneficial micro-organisms
Green manure crops increase the soil's available nitrogen and increase moisture retention
They stabilise the soil to prevent erosion
Green manure crops also bring deep minerals to the surface and break up hard clods in the soil structure.
The provide habitat, nectar and pollen for beneficial insects and reduce populations of pests
Improve water, root and air penetration in the soil
Smother weeds.
The crops used for green manure tend to be a combination of:
  • Legumes – These add nitrogen (critical for food crops) to the soil, such as cow pea, mung bean, woolly pod vetch, lablab, broad bean, fenugreek and soybean;
  • Grains and grasses - These add organic substance to the soil, such as millet, buckwheat and oats.
At this time of year, it’s called a cool season green manure crop.
Try faba bean, field pea, oats and wheat.
  • This will improve your soil incredibly, and, for a bit of forward planning, you’ll find it well worth the effort.
How do you do this? I hear you ask, well here are the steps.
Avena sativa, Oats
  • Rake the garden smooth to prepare the seed bed.
  • Plant seeds that sprout and grow quickly for your green manure crop. Use what's popular in your area or choose from alfalfa, white clover or wheat or oats.
  • Or, recycle any kind of seeds for green manure - leftover flowers, outdated or extra veggies. You can add any out-of-date vegetable seeds you have left over from last season as well. Legumes like beans and peas are especially good, since they’ll fix nitrogen in the soil, but anything else you have will help.
  • Just scatter the seed around your garden bed, about two handfuls per square meter. Then lightly rake it over to get the seeds into the dirt, and water it in well. You may need to cover the bed with a net if the birds discover the free feast you’ve laid out for them.
  • Fertilize once with organic nitrogen if it seems slow to get growing.
  • Let the green manure crop grow 7-10 cm tall. Leave the green manure on the garden until it matures to control erosion and existing weeds in the bed - call it a cover crop. 
  • Don't let it seed – With legume crops, when the plant begins to seed after flowering, the nitrogen fixing potential of the crop becomes less because  the nitrogen is partly used up in seed the forming process.
  • With grain/grass crops, they will seed without flowering so if you let them seed, you will have lots of seeds falling into the bed and this will make it hard for you to stop the seeds sprouting of the green manure crop instead o the one you want.
  • Cutting it down – When it has reached a good height (half a metre) and is not seeding, cut it down to the ground.
  • If it is a small bed, use shears. If it is a large space, use a mower.
    Wheat
  • Place all the green matter back on the bed and it will cover the bed and the roots of all the plants will remain in the soil.
  • Leave the bed for about a month and don't dig up the crop, let it rot in the bed. It should not grow back because you haven’t let it seed.

What you’ll get is soil which is full of organic substance, life and minerals, ready to use and produce an excellent crop of food.
  • Cover the newly dug bed with a blanket of organic mulch until planting time.
  • Use green manure crops in every unplanted vegetable, herb and flower bed.
  • Plant also in compacted areas - such as under trees - and newly graded lots. 
  • Allow little roots to break up the soil, which will aerate and renew its structure, before you plant a new lawn.
Take advantage of the natural power of peas and beans to take nitrogen from the air and hold it in their leaves.
Turn vines and leaves under, after picking the vegetables, for another green manure crop.
For a cheap alternative to buying the manure crops online, I’ve found this tip to be quite useful.
This is the absolute simplest, cheapest and best thing is do.
Bird seed
Just buy a bag of organic bird seed. Read the back of the packet and find one with the mix you want.
The last lot I planted contained millet, sorghum, wheat, oats, barley, rye, corn and sunflowers.
Bird seed will be chemical-free and fresh (since they don’t want to kill your pets!), and very cheap. It’s available at any supermarket.
Go on, give it a try, the whole thing should only take up about 6-8 weeks and it’s the best way to improve your garden soil.

DESIGN ELEMENTS

Old Fashioned Shrubs for Cool Sub-tropical part 2
This series is all about what were those old fashioned shrubs that you may have some of in your garden.
Last week was part 1 of cool sub-tropics which is a zoning not mentioned before by any gardening book I know.
Leopard plant
 
Peter has added this zoning to cover parts of the east coast that are warm and humid but not as warm and humid as say Cairns or Townsville.
Let’s find out what old fashioned shrubs suit cool temperate areas.
I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden Designer & project Manager from Paradisus Garden design.

Cool sub-tropics is not a zone you would normally think of but there it is.
Peter mentioned plants for shade:
Barleria cristata
Gerberas; 
Barleria cristata -Lavendar lace
Lobelia laxiflora 1.2m height with orange/yellow flowers;
 Ruellia mackoyana-groundcover

Plants for semi-shade:
Farfugia japonicum aureomaculatum-Leopard plant
Plectranthus ecklonii and P. grandis with blue flowers

If you have any questions for Peter or for me, you know what to do..

THE GOOD EARTH

 Beeswax wraps.
Plastic is back in the media as being bad for the environment, so much so, that some countries have banned the use of plastic bags.
Soft plastics such as what you use for wrapping your sandwiches are just as much of a problem as the bags because, it doesn’t break down ever.
So what else can you wrap your sandwiches in other than putting it in a plastic container?
So let’s find out.
Beeswax wraps for food storage
I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska, Director of www.mosshouse.com.au and course coordinator for Permaculture North in Sydney.

You can spend the dollars and buy the ready-made beeswax wraps, or you can do it yourself quite cheaply. 
How to Make Beeswax wraps
12g Beeswax
40 x 40 cm piece of cotton. Quilting cotton density.
Jojoba oil in a spray bottle.
So go on, kick the plastic habit and make some beeswax wraps yourself

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