Saturday, 13 July 2019

Edging Around The Garden with Allspice and Potatoes and a Camellia Or Two

A spice that causes confusion in the Spice it Up segment; Something that grows in the dark in Vegetable Heroes the garden path is finished, now to edge it, in Design Elements; and what Camellias make a favourites’ list in Plant of the week.


Allspice: Pimento doica
Have you ever put the wrong ingredient into something you’ve cooked?

Perhaps it was just the wrong spice and the flavour wasn’t so good which left you wondering “what went wrong?”

Allspice can cause confusion, so let’s clear it up now.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from
 Now you know not to mix up Allspice with Mixed Spice or even pimento. Allspice is an individual spice whereas mixed spice is a combination of spices mainly for sweet dishes.
Pimento doica
  • The actual spice is a berry from the allspice tree.
  • Ian tried to grow it on the north coast of NSW but was unsuccessful. Winters were too cold.
  • You can try to grow it but I would recommend erecting a 3-sided shelter out of heavy-duty shade cloth, to surround the young tree.
Allspice has a fruity background note, but it has an aroma that is similar to Basil because both have the volatile oil eugenol present in them.
  • Basil is the tomato herb, and allspice is the tomato spice.
The leaf has an extract taken from it and used in an astringent called 'bay rum." It has nothing to do with the drink called rum, but is used after shaving in a barber shop.
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


Potatoes or Solanum tuberosum
Did you know that potatoes were the first vegetable to be grown in space?
The potato is a member of the nightshade or Solanaceae family and its leaves are poisonous.
  • Here’s something to think about when storing your potatoes.
  • A potato left too long in the light will begin to turn green.
  • The green skin contains a substance called solanine which can cause the potato to taste bitter and green potatoes can upset the stomach, so don’t try them.

How to grow potatoes
Always grow potatoes from Certified Seed Potatoes from reputable suppliers.
Yes it is possible to simply buy some from a specialist green grocer and keep them for seed, or use leftover potato peelings.
  • What’s wrong with that?
  • You run the risk of introducing diseases such as Potato Virus Y, Potato Blight or Potato cyst Nematode.
  • If you use leftovers or buy from supermarkets or green grocers.
  • You might think it’s only a small risk, but once you get potato blight into your soil, it’s their forever. No chemical will shift it.

When to plant
Potatoes can be planted now all over Australia, in temperate and sub-tropical districts, August to October is the best time, in arid areas August until December is your best time,
In cool temperate zones, September through to January is your best time so cooler areas have a bit of extra time to order some of the more unusual varieties before they grow in the ground.
  • How about Cranberry Red?
    Purple Congo potato
  • Cranberry Red has red skin and red flesh, great in salads, for boiling and baking.  These stay red, even after cooking.
  • Potato Sapphire that has purple skin and purple flesh? Purple Sapphire I’m sure is sold also as Purple Congo, is perfect for mashing, boiling and roasting, and yes, it stays purple after cooking.
  • Royal Blue. Potato Royal Blue is oblong, with purple skin and dark yellow flesh.

If you’re buying through mail order or online, you have until the end of August to buy them. After that, they’re not available.
How To Grow Your Potatoes?
  • To grow your Potatoes-put seedling potatoes into a trench in as deep and rich a soil as you can get.
  • Plenty of compost and manures please.
  • And as they grow pile the earth up around them.
  • You will need to hill the rows or potato container several times until the potatoes have flowered.
  • You need to do this to stop the greening of tubers and also protect them from potato moth.
  • Also, hilling up the soil and mulch will give you more potatoes as they tend to form on roots near the surface.
Hilling potatoes
  • That means, as you pile up the soil, you get new roots, and more potatoes....Chicken manure or blood and bone should be dug through the bed as potatoes need a lot of phosphorus but not too much nitrogen.  Too much nitrogen will mean lots of leaves rather than potatoes.
  • Keep the water up and but only water moderately as potatoes will rot in soil that is too wet.
  • They can also get a fungus growing inside them if the soil’s too wet. When you cut them open, they’ll have grey patches inside which actually do taste mouldy. Euwwww!
  • You can add fish emulsion and seaweed extract when you’re watering too.
  • Potatoes can also be grown in your black compost bin if you’re not using it for compost.
  • Plant the seed potatoes at the bottom, let them grow to about 50cm,( so with your ruler that’s  almost 2 x ruler heights) then, over the top and add 8cm of soil, let them grow a little more, add some more soil, and so on, in the end a stack of potatoes.
  • Pick your potatoes when the vine has died down to the ground, that’s if you want the most potatoes, but they can be harvested from when the first baby potatoes are formed. 

The lower leaves should be turning yellow – this happens about 3 to 4 weeks after flowering.
If you plan to store your potatoes, cut off the foliage and let the potatoes rest in the ground for 3-4 weeks to allow the skin to 'set', they keep longer this way. Store in a dark, cool, well ventilated spot.

Roasting Potatoes include: Arran, Royal Blue, Cara, Celine, Desiree, Maxine, Picasso, Ruby Lou, Romano, King Edward, Kondor, Maris Piper, Stemster and Valor.
For Chip Potatoes try: Nadine, Kestrel, King Edward, Desiree, Kennebec.
For Boiling Potatoes try: Nadine, Dutch Cream Kestrel, Desiree, King Edward.
For Mashing Potatoes try: Kestrel, Nadine, King Edward, Tasmanian Pinkeye.
For Salad Potatoes try: Nicola, Tasmanian Pinkeye, Ponfine.
Why are potatoes good for you? 😀
The potato is densely packed with nutrients. The Irish couldn’t be wrong could they?
A medium potato provides vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6 and trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc.
Potatoes are known as the foods people crave when they are stressed. 
Why? because the carbs in potatoes (about 26%) help make space for tryptophan with a smooth passage into the brain.
This, in turn, boosts the serotonin level in the brain.
High serotonin levels help boost your mood and help you feel calm.
To preserve these nutrients it is important to peel the potato just prior to cooking and not leave


Create a Garden Edge:
How do you create a garden edge for your lovely path that you created to keep those plants from growing into it?
There’s a few different ways it seems and some more labour intensive than others.
Let’s find out..
I'm talking with Landscape Designer, and, Director of Urban Meadows Jason Cornish.

Steel edges look great and are relatively easy to install. Some even interlock and have spikes that anchor them into the ground.
The cheap way is to use those second hand bricks left and dig a trench and put them straight in.
  • Of course there’s always a better way of doing that same job and that’s to lay down sand and mortar so that the bricks won’t move if your lawnmower knocks them.
Brick edging can look amateur if not done correctly.
If you have any questions for me or for Jason, write in to


Choosing Camellias
Are you a fan of camellias?
Perhaps you’ve never thought of growing them?
You may be surprised to learn that they are a plant that can put up with a lot of neglect and still manage to flower magnificently during winter.
Let’s find out what are some favourites.
I'm talking with Jeremy Critchley of and Karen Smith editor of

Camellia 'Lovelight'
Camellias mentioned:
Camellia japonica Lovelight: pure white with boss of yellow stamens.
Camellia japonica WH Davies Descanso: pale pink, anemonoflora type
Camellia Betty Cuthbert: Pink double
Camellia japonica Dona de Freitas de Magales-pale purple
 If you’re wanting to add to camellias in your garden, now’s the time to look around for ones you really like.
Don’t just settle for what’s in one nursery. Go online to see what else can be gotten for that extra special camellia.

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