Saturday, 6 July 2019

Walking the Path With Winter Roses and Healthy Root Crops

We’re going up the garden path in a new series in Design Elements; and today its segmented stone paths. Something milder than garlic in Vegetable Heroes plus what root crops give a bumper harvest in the Good Earth Segment and a winter Rose in Talking Flowers.


Segmented Stone Paths: Garden Paths part 3
It would seem that our garden path is taking forever to finish, or maybe that it’s just so long we’re still walking on it.
So far, this series has covered gravel and paths made out of local stone, but this week it’s just a bit different.

What is segmented stone? Is that paving? 
I'm talking with Landscape Designer, and, Director of Urban Meadows Jason Cornish.
Let’s find out..

Segmented paving is pavers laid in a pattern. Councils use them in footpaths because if they need digging up to get to various services, they're easier to dig up than concrete footpaths.
If you’re thinking about doing it yourself, Jason’s tip is keeping the pavers level is the way to get a professional finish. 
Plus, it’s reasonably hard to do all the work yourself, the excavation, laying the sand bed, compacting the sand, then connecting all the pavers. 
For do it yourselfers:
  • First you need to excavate to the depth of the paver, plus sand and road base, say 100-120mm.
  • Second, use a compactor on the sand to level it off and make it a hard base.
  • For the cheats way of no cutting, choose pavers that fit the width of the path exactly. Otherwise you'll need to cut the pavers.
  • Fill in the joints with either sand or sand and mortar together.
  • The latter stops the weeds making for a happy gardener.
If you have any questions either for me or for Jason, drop us a line to or write in 


Allium var aggregatum: Shallots
Are you a fan of Garlic or is it a bit strong for your palette?
Not too fussed on garlic breath either?
 That’s why today, I’m talking about the true shallot, some say eschallot, but what are they really?
  • Shallots are Allium var aggregatum or the Aggregatum group.
They used to be classified in the onion in the Alliaceae family but now it’s in the Amaryllidaceae or lily family.
Shallots are for those of you that don’t like the taste of onions or garlic, if that’s the case, this could be the vegetable for you.
  • There seems to be confusion as to what a shallot really looks like?
What we Australians have traditionally called a shallot is in reality a scallion or spring onion.
"Shallot" is a corruption of the French "echalote" which is a small gourmet onion with papery skin which grows in garlic-like clusters and has a flavour combining garlic and onion.
So that means we treat scallions and spring onions here as "shallots".
  • How do they look different from spring onions or leeks.
Unlike onions or leeks, shallots are made up of cloves – similar to garlic cloves.
  • So why grow them?
First of all, growing shallots in your garden is very easy and Shallots may be harvested green for use in salads, or dried for use as a flavouring.
You can even use them as a green vegetable, by pulling the stems when they’re about 6 mm in diameter.
The outer skin is peeled off and the roots trimmed before washing to use in the kitchen.
When shallots are being grown for the mature bunches of cloves, which have a more delicate flavour than onions, they are left until their tops dry off.
The bunches of mature cloves should be pulled before the tops become  too dry and papery.
True Shallots grow in small, tight clusters so that when you break one open there may be two or three bunched together at the root. They have a brown skin and remind me of a giant garlic clove in shape only.
Shallots won't make you cry.
  • Unlike garlic and onions, shallots don’t have that strong sulphuric aroma and irritating fumes.
They’re easy to grow, mature faster and  require less space than onions and garlic.
To get the most from these tasty plants in the garden, it may help to practice some important tips for growing shallots.
The best way how to grow shallots is in loose, well-drained soil you’ve where you’ve added organic matter.
They also prefer those parts of your garden that receive full sun.
When to Plant?
Shallot seedlings
In temperate and sub-tropical climates you can plant them almost all year from February to September.
In cool temperate climates you have all year except for June and July, and also for arid climates you can only grow them between September and February.
So wait until then, although I saw a post from Arthur the mad gardener who says he lives in an arid part of Australia and he planted his shallots in May.
Shallots are normally grown from small starter shallots or sets (immature bulbs) that you can either buy from a catalogue, online or your local garden centre right now in fact.
Plant shallots sets about 2cm deep with the tips slightly protruding from the soil’s surface. Space shallots about 20cm or eight inches apart to prevent overcrowding.
  • If you do use starter bulbs think carefully about when you intend to plant them.
  • Seed shallots are living things, not dried seeds in a packet, and need to be bought just before planting time.
If you have trouble buying shallots or don’t have access to the internet, most supermarkets have shallots but they’ve have been sprayed with a chemical to stop them sprouting.
However, I’ve read about this trick that might start you off.
  • Buy a shallot from the supermarket, place it in a small container, then put in 5mm of water with a little liquid fertiliser or seaweed extract.
  • Leave for three or four days but check the base for signs of roots.
  • If all goes well separate and plant.

TIP: Once you get shallots growing in your garden, you have them forever by just saving out a small part of each year's crop as next year's starters.
  1. Some tips for growing shallots –give them a good watering once you’ve planted them but ease off the watering as they mature, unless your district has been overly dry.
  2. In the middle of Spring, you can if you want to, remove some soil around your shallots to expose the bulbs –that speeds up ripening because they develop better on top of the ground.
  3. Having said that, add a light layer of mulch to retain moisture while keeping weeds to a minimum.
  4. If you want well-defined cloves of shallot, feed plants often.This is where worm or compost tea come to the fore, because in cooler weather, liquid fertilisers are the only ones that actually do any good for your plants.

Planting in winter means that they should be ready around springtime
  • When the bulbs are about a 1cm around and the leaves are starting to yellow, that’s the time to lift your shallot bulbs.
  • Shake off any soil dry them out in a warm dry area for a week before storing them in a cool dry place.
Why are the good for you?
Shallots can be easily digested and contain 6 times more phenolics than the lowest-ranked onion, the Vidalia. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, dietary fibre and folic acid and also contain calcium, iron and protein in large quantities.

Shallots contain anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory properties. Apart from all that, their mild flavour makes them a must in the best of kitchens. Happy shallot growing everyone.
With their mild onion and garlic flavour, shallots are considered an essential ingredient for flavouring nearly any dish.
That was your vegetable hero segment for today


Harvesting Root Crops
There are plenty of shall we say, perennial root crops that go dormant in winter in temperate and cool climates, but need to be in a spot where they remain for several years.
These plants are economical to grow because they’re pretty easy and give you a bumper crop from just one plant.
Turmeric plant photo Margaret Mossakowska
 Although these vegetables hail from tropical countries, because they die down in winter, you can grow them anywhere.
Pictured is an easy to grow tumeric plant, tumeric tubers and the cut tubers before drying
Let’s find out.
I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska of

Turmeric tubers photo Margaret Mossakowska
Margaret suggested, turmeric, ginger, yacon, sweet potato, horseradish and comfrey as some of her best root crops.
These can be grown in the coolest parts of Australia because they become dormant during the winter months.
The general rule of thumb is to harvest them when the leaves turn yellow.
If you have any questions for Margaret or for me, you know what to do.


Winter Roses: Helleborus orientalis, Helleborus niger, Helleborus x hybridus
Family: Ranunculaceae along with buttercups and ranunculus.
The common name is winter rose or Lenten rose because if flowers in winter. Looks rose-like don't you think?
Floral meaning: Floral Meaning: said to provide protection and a vase of hellebore, brought into 
a room will drive away an unpleasant atmosphere and replace it with tranquility.
  • ·         Hellebores grow best in part shade, with moist but well-drained soils. They will, however, tolerate most soils as long as not waterlogged.
  • ·         Slow to get established, and can be left alone for years.
  • ·         Don’t like being disturbed as this sets them back.
  • ·         If you do want to divide, or need to transplant, autumn is best. 
  • ·         Dig the whole plant, wash off soil, then divide with a sharp knife between growth buds.  Leave at least 3 buds on each division.  
  • Mercedes' Tip: · Make excellent cut flowers, that last up to 5 days. To extend their shelf life, plunging the stems, up to their necks in boiling water, before placing them in a vase.
I'm speaking with Mercedes Sarmini, floral therapist of
Video was recorded live during broadcast of Real World Gardener radio program on 2rrr 88.5 fm

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