WILDLIFE IN FOCUS
This bird happens to be Jacky Winter and is almost sparrow like in its appearance, weighing only 15 grams.
I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons from www.birdsinbackyards.org.au
Native to Australia, Jacky Winter is widespread in open woodland , preferring bare ground, rural towns and peri-urban areas.
Bird call recognition can be tricky, especially if there’s no chance of seeing the bird, but have no fear.
There are apps for your mobile phone which allows you to record the call and it will identify it for you.
There’s even one called Shazam.
If you have any questions for me or for Holly email us at email@example.com.Or
you can write in to 2RRR PO Box 644, Gladesville NSW 1675
- Did you know that Gourds have been around since 7000 BC and are thought to originate from Africa not far from the Sahara or even India?
- Here’s something you didn’t realise, Because seed can germinate after 7 months in seawater, it’s thought that the spread of this plant was from just floating around in the ocean.
- I couldn’t remember planting loofah and when the vine grew I noted the somewhat different yellow flower, almost like flowers of cucumbers but not.
- Then when this long green fruit grew, I thought, maybe I mistakenly planted zucchini.
- When quite a number of these fruits grew to about 30 cm long, I decided to try one. It was horrible, in fact more than horrible, yuk.
- Then a friend visited and pointed out that I was growing loofahs.
- Ah yes, now I remember.
- She said the only time to eat them was when they were really small because after that they become bitter. Got it.
- In tropical climates, they grow all year round, so those gardeners can have 2 crops of gourds every year.
- For the rest of Australia, it depends what part of Australia you live in, normally from Spring (mid September to early December) after the danger of frost has passed.
- In temperate climates, sow the seed when temperatures are around 200C to 300C.
- In colder climates this means waiting until summer weather has come.
- Once the fruits form it may take a long time to fully develop fibre and dry for harvest.
- Mine grew into winter then my friend said, bring them inside and dry them.
- If you’re interested in growing loofah in Cool temperate areas, start the seeds off in pots, well before the last frost, that way you can extend your growing season.
- It needs lots of sun, warmth, water, good root nutrients, and a large strong trellis.
- The vines will grow on the ground on a well drained weed-free flat surface but tend to produce curved loofahs.
- Luffa can also be grown in pots as can all other Gourds, but make them at least 30cm wide.
- It’s also a good idea to stop the plant growing when it reaches about 1.5m by pruning off the tip.
- This also increases the number of Loofah fruits that you get off your vine.
- Tip: Gourd plants don’t transplant that well, so either use one of those pots made from coco peat, or a jiffy pot, that can be planted into the soil, or plant them where you want them to grow.
When to pick your loofah is the big question.
The loofah gourd will also have changed from green to brown or even yellow and feels a lot lighter.
- In my case it was hanging on and staying green, so my friend said ,it’s
big enough, time to let it dry inside the house. If it feels like it can be peeled easily then it’s ready.
Peeling Your Loofah photo M. Cannon
- The bottom tip of the luffa pod can be broken off and many seeds can be shaken out before peeling. Seeds should be allowed to dry before storing so they don't get mouldy.
- Peel your loofah, give it a bit of a wash under the tap and let it dry in the sun.
- Loofahs can be kept for years as long as they’re dry and dust free.
- "Imagine!" being able to grow your own bath sponge!
- Yes, that’s right those expensive sponges used for exfoliating while bathing or showering-Luffa Cylcindrica?
PLANT OF THE WEEK
Some of these belong in the Alocasia family originating from a bulb or rhizome.
But will they grow in your district.
That was Jeremy Critchley www.thegreengallery.com.au
Jeremy mentioned these varieties of Alocasi to watch out for.
The latter has very dark green leaves with prominent veins, edged in white, while the back of the leaf is purple.
Slow growing but hates the cold.
Jeremy thinks that it looks a bit like an African mask.
Don’t be like me and forgot they die down in winter.
Luckily I didn’t throw it out.
DESIGN ELEMENTSIndoor Plants for Warm Climates
The most important elements required for healthy houseplants include light, water, temperature and humidity.
If any or all of these factors aren’t properly met, your houseplants will inevitably suffer.
You might be sweltering under the fans in the heat of a subtropical summer but what about your indoor plants?
So let’s find out more in this new series on indoor plants.
I'm talking with Julia Levitt, Landscape Designer and Director of www.sticksandstonesld.com.au
The good news is that tropical plants usually enjoy warmer conditions and don’t perform well once indoor temperatures fall below 13-16 C.
Plus they like a lot of humidity, that means at least 50%, but better at 70% or more.
Most of the tropical, ornamental indoor plants with attractive foliage & colourful leaf patterns are suitable for hot & humid climates.
For example Dieffenbachia or Dumb Cane, Dracaena, house ferns of many kinds, Tricolor plant, snake plant, Philodendron, Money plant, Syngonium etc