Saturday, 29 June 2019

Protecting Peppy Plants and Stone Paths.

We’re going up the garden path in a new series in Design Elements; and today its in stone. How to protect those seedlings from cold weather in Vegetable Heroes plus plant that was discovered 65 years before botanists ever heard of it in Plant of the Week; and where do insects go in winter in the plant doctor segment.


Garden Path Series:Stone Paths

  • Garden paths are essential in anyone’s back or front yard but are you happy with your garden path or would you like one that is a bit less work to maintain?
  • Last week we mentioned the pros and cons of a gravel path which was the easiest to install and also the cheapest, but what about local stone in a path?
  • Local stone can be sandstone, granite, slate bluestone or even limestone.
  • But what do you need to do to make this path?

Let’s find out
  • I'm talking with Landscape Designer, and, Director of Urban Meadows Jason Cornish.

There’s a few things to think about when putting in a stone path, chiefly the minimum size of stone which will prevent any trip or twisting injury. 
You need to be able to stand on the stone without thinking you'll overbalance.
The stones should also be placed so that it fits your walking gait.
You can use any local stone from your area, sandstone, granite, bluestone etc, which can look very nice in an informal setting more so than a formal setting.
There are a few pitfalls with putting in gravel or decomposed granite between the stones, so not advised to have it leading to your front door.
If you have any questions either for me or for Jason, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Protecting Seedlings from Cold and Frost.
This week’s Vegetable Hero is about keeping your seedlings warm through the winter months.
  • Extreme cold can stunt or kill your vegies so today, I’m going to go through some ideas for you to try out to help keep your seedlings warm and cosy.

First Idea:
The first idea is pretty simple and could be just right for all your seedlings, although you may need to collect quite a few plastic 2L drink bottles.

The first thing you need to do is remove the label from the bottle and then cut it in half.
You can actually use both halves but put some holes in the bottom half to let heat or humidity from building up and cooking your seedlings.
Leave the top off on the other half.
Mini Greenhouses:
Mini-greenhouses are good for small seedlings as well.
They usually have a clear plastic top with vents over a plastic tray.

If you’re really keen, you can buy a heat pad that’s just for seedlings.
The heat pad needs to be on at least overnight and it should raise the temperature of the potting/seed raising mix a minimum of 5 degrees.
I found one that you can buy online from a company based in Dromana.
The specifications say that you can germinate seeds faster with this simple,
well-priced heating mat which creates a surface temperature of between 10-20c above the ambient room temperature.
There is no controller, so to adjust the soil temperature increase the spacing between the mat and the tray.
The mat measures just 52cm x 25cm, and can be used with any pot or tray size.
You can also use heat mats to help cuttings take root faster at other times of the year.
There are similar designs elsewhere online some of which you can buy as an extra, a handy thermostat.
Using Horticultural Fleece 
Another idea is to buy some horticultural fleece or nursery grade plastic, like the ones used for poly tunnels.

  • You’ll then have to make some supports from wire in the form of hoops, over which the plastic or fleece can rest.
  • The plastic or fleece will allow enough light to penetrate so that they’ll get their minimum hours of 6 hours sunlight a day.
  • You’ll probably have to remove the cover though for watering and fertilising purposes.

Polytunnels for the Really Cold Places
For those districts that get a lot of frost or have very cold winter, you may want to install a polytunnel.
Polytunnels are usually made of steel and in Australian there are three different varieties of covering: polythene, net, and fleece, creating perfect cover for your vegetable garden rows to keep heat in, and protect plants while they’re growing.

The polyethylene is UV-stabilised 150-micron forms a complete barrier, keeping in the humidity and warmth while protecting against frosts, harsh weather and some pests.
The other benefit is that not only any pests that are around are excluded, the season for cold sensitive crops is extended.
If you go the fleece option you can keep your plants toasty warm, even in cold, wet weather and get the advantages of the net and poly tunnels rolled into one. Standard: L300 W45 H30cm
One disadvantage with these is that the rain doesn’t penetrate so irrigation is required and pest and disease problems can build up quickly in the enclosed space.
  • A polytunnel should be easy for you to access, not too remote from your house, and have an adequate water supply available.
  • It’s best to build a polytunnel on level ground in a sunny but sheltered position. Leave yourself at least a metre around the outside of the polytunnel to make it easier to build and maintain.
  • Another tip is use a thermometer that indicates the maximum and minimum temperature so that you can track the changes in your polytunnel’s climate. Also make sure that doors, windows and vents are open as the weather warms up so that the polytunnel interior doesn’t over-heat.
  • Poly tunnels are also relatively inexpensive.


Pilea peperomioides: Pilea pep
This plant has a really interesting backstory.
  • It’s common name is Chinese Money plant or Friendship plant, but I think there’s a few plants around with those same common names.
So as I always say, you need to know the scientific name to avoid confusion if that’s the case.
Let’s find out.
I'm talking with Jeremy Critchley,

Pilea peperomioides or Pilea pip,as it’s called in Jeremy’s nursery, was discovered and grown years before scientists ever got a hold of it.
It never occurred to anyone, that it was a new species until a member of the public want to know it’s real name.
How good is that?
Easily grown indoors or on a warm verandah because it doesn’t like to be below 15 degrees C much
  • Hot Tip: healthy Pilea peperomioides plants produce baby plants both from their roots and their stems.
  • Keep it away from direct sunlight. 
  • Likes to be kept moist but not overly wet.
  • Although it can be kept outside in warmer regions, Pilea peperomioides is only suitable as a houseplant in most locations. It doesn’t appreciate temperatures below 10 °C and should be protected from sudden temperature swings.
  • Pilea peperomioides will produce little plantlets growing in the soil next to the mother plant a. Once these have grown to a size of around 5-7 cm they are large enough to separate.
  • Cut away the plantlet with a sharp, clean knife. They should already have their own root system and can simply be potted up.


Where Do Insects Go Over Winter?

Have you ever thought what happens to insects in winter?
In particular insect pests, we don’t see as many pests but come Spring, they seem to emerge in their hundreds from somewhere.
How are they managing to hang on, especially in those districts where temperatures fall below zero.
You’ll be surprised to find out the methods that insects use .
So let’s find out.
I'm talking with Steve Falcioni from

Is it really winter? Monarch Butterfly
Did you know that the shorted daylight lengths of Autumn trigger insects to enter something called diapause.
What’s that? 
Well, diapause (and also the definition of an evening spent watching TV) is "an inactive state of arrested development."
Diapause insects sees their metabolic rate drop to one tenth of what it is normally so it can use stored body fat to survive winter.
If you have any questions about insects, why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

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