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Saturday, 14 September 2019

Mulch, Coriander and Snow Wood Trees

We’re talking mulches, why and what in the Plant Doctor segment, growing those leafy herbs that go great in Asian stirfries, in Vegetable Heroes, a native tree that has the flower and the fruits to impress in Plant of the Week and Indoor plants for cooler climates in Design Elements.

PLANT DOCTOR

Mulches,Mulches, Mulches
Here we are again, talking about mulches when you probably want to hear about something more interesting right? There’s a reason why gardeners keep talking about mulches, and that is, it’s an important part of gardening whether we like it r not.

And, there’s a right way and a wrong way to spread the mulch.
I'm talking with Steve Falcioni from www.ecoorganicgarden.com.au.
Let’s find out


Mulches are important, especially in areas that are drought affected or are experiencing water restrictions.
The mulch locks in soil moisture and keeps soil cool in warm weather.
Applying mulch can be a bit of a chore, but it's worth it in the long run.
The reverse is true in cold weather, where the mulch acts a sort of blanket and helps retain heat in the soil layer.
Mulch also acts as a barrier to weed seeds and helps with wind erosion.
Over the years the advice as to how much mulch to apply has changed.
Fine mulch shouldn’t be more than 1cm thick, but chunky mulches, can be around 5cm thick.
Remember of course, that organic mulches bring microbial life to your soil, whereas the inorganic, mostly chunky mulches are just a layer of protection.
TIP: Leave some space around the trunk of trees, as it may encourage fungal growth or collar rot if right up against the main trunk.
If you have any questions either for me or for Steve, you can email us Realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

VEGETABLE HEROES

Coriander:Coriandrum sativum  
You may have come across the term Cilantro in recipes and wonder what kind of herb that was.
Believe it or not, the names of Coriander and Cilantro are interchangeable to a degree.
Well it’s just a bit of a technical difference to confuse us poor gardeners.
  • Cilantro refers to the leaves of the plant and coriander refers to the seeds.
  • In Australia we call the leaves and the seeds coriander and some people even call it Chinese parsley.
  • So coriander leaf is nothing else but cilantro.
Love or Hate Coriander?
Coriander leaves
People either hate it or love Coriander because it does have a pungent citrus flavour to the leaves.
There’s even those that say it tastes like dead ants.
Would they have eaten dead ants? I think not.
Would you believe that the name coriander is derived from the Greek word koris, meaning bedbug, since the unripe seeds and leaves when crushed supposedly have a smell suggestive of a crushed bedbug?
Family
If you’ve ever let your Coriander go to flower, you may have noticed that it looks similar to the flowers on carrots.
That’s because coriander belongs in the Apiaceae or carrot family, along with Parsley, dill and of course carrots.
On the other hand, Coriander has been grown for over 3,000 years.
Did you know that about half a litre of coriander seeds were found in the tomb of Tutankhamen?
Because this plant doesn’t grow wild in Egypt, this suggests that coriander was grown in the gardens of ancient Egyptians.
The Chinese once believed it gave you immortality and in the Middle ages it was used as part of a love potions.
  • Coriander is an annual herb because it flowers, sets seed then dies in under a year.
So why should we grow Coriander?
Heaps of Coriander seeds are used in curries, tagines and many other Asian dishes.
In fact the whole herb, including the roots can be ground up to make Green Curry paste.
I just mash it up in a food processor when I make that paste. 

Now here’s a big tip:
Coriander seedlings
  • Always grow coriander from seed, sown in the exact spot you want it to grow as it absolutely HATES being transplanted.
  • Transplanting coriander stresses it so that it goes straight to seed and then it dies. And you never get any leaves at all!
  • Coriander gets a has a big taproot as it grows so growing it in a pot won’t work either, it’ll go straight to seed as well.,
TO GROW IT FROM SEED..
For sub-tropical and arid zones, you have August to September;
And in temperate districts, sow the seeds from September until the end of November,
In cool temperate zones, October to November,
  • Sow your seeds about 1 cm deep, cover them and keep them moist.
  • Coriander takes a couple of weeks to germinate, so go do it after my program.
  • Coriander grow fairly big, about 50 cm or 2 feet tall. 
  • You want about 5 cm between the plants if you grow it for the leaves.
Big Tip: Grasshoppers don’t like coriander, so plant it around the spinach to stop the grasshoppers eating holes in the leaves.
Coriander flowers attract beneficial insects
Leave a few plants to go to seed, yes, on purpose so you have a continuous supply.
When your plants are big enough, take the leaves off from the base of the plant.
Just make sure the plant is big enough to cope and leave some leaves on it so it can continue to grow.
As soon as that flower stalk appears, your coriander plant stops making more
leaves.
  • Just remember when coriander plants get stressed, or in hot weather, or once they reach a certain age, they stop making leaves and instead start growing a tall flower stalk.
  • Another reason as to why you should let some coriander plants go to flower, is that coriander flowers are an important food source for beneficial insects, especially little parasitic wasps and predatory flies.
TIP:To attract many beneficial insects you want lots and lots of coriander flowers why not sprinkle some coriander and parsley seeds through your other vegetables under your fruit trees and in any other place you can fit them.
Keep watering and feeding your coriander plants well, and wait for the flower to develop and set seeds.
In hot weather this may take as little as 4 - 6 weeks from when you first put the seed in the ground.
Fresh cilantro (coriander) should be stored in the refrigerator in a  a container or wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel.  
Use as early as possible since it loses flavour and nutrients quickly if kept for longer periods.
  • Harvesting coriander seed is not too hard. All you need to do is wait till the flower heads are dry. There will be enough seed for the kitchen and enough to plant out more in the garden.
Thai Green Curry Paste
50g coriander seed
25g cumin seed
1 whole blade mace
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
9 garlic cloves, chopped
9 shallots, chopped
15 coriander roots, chopped, plus a handful of coriander leaves
19 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
250g galangal, chopped
5 lemongrass stalks, outer leaves removed, inner stalk chopped
5 lime leaves, stalks removed and leaves chopped
100g shrimp paste
handful basil leaves
Method
Heat a dry frying pan and add the coriander and cumin seeds, mace and nutmeg. Roast until they begin to colour and release their aromas. Remove from the heat, then grind to a powder in a spice mill or blender.
 Put the garlic in a blender or pound using a pestle and mortar, then add the shallots, coriander roots, chillies, galangal, lemongrass and 2 tsp salt. Finally, add the lime leaves, shrimp paste, basil and the ground spices, then whizz or pound until you have a smooth paste.


Why Is It Good For You?
Coriander contains no cholesterol; but is rich in anti-oxidants and dietary fibre which help reduce LDL or "bad cholesterol" while increasing HDL or "good cholesterol" levels.
The herb is a good source of minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, and magnesium.
It’s also rich in many vital vitamins like folic-acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin- A, beta carotene, vitamin-C that are essential for optimum health. 
Coriander is one of the richest herbal sources for vitamin K
THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY

PLANT OF THE WEEK
Parachidendron pruinosum: Snow Wood Tree.
There are some plants, be it trees, shrubs, perennials or annuals, which don’t make it into the mainstream of plant shops, not even online.
Snow Wood fruits after opening.
Whether it’s because people aren’t aware of its existence or because it’s hard to propagate in large number, the fact remains, it’s just not out there.
But there are plenty of good reasons why you should grow a Snow Wood.
Let’s find out I'm talking with new contributor, to "plant of the week" segment,  Adrian O’Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert.

The fragrant flowers are pom-pom like heads, greenish-white or golden yellow and darkening with age.
Flowering time is October to January. The fruit pod matures from February to June .
Fruit pods are very attractive, twisting when they split open to reveal black shiny large seeds and look a bit like acacia fruit pods. 
Seeds are black, shiny and mostly flat, oval in shape. 
Germination tip:Scarification of the seeds helps germination, which is slow but fairly reliable.
Seen in Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney near the Moor building.
Pararchidendron pruinosum is an Australian rainforest tree naturally occuring from the Shoalhaven River in New South Wales to Herberton in north Queensland. 
Also found in New Guinea and Indonesia.
If you have any questions for me or for Adrian or would like some seeds of this tree, please write in to realworldgardener@gmail.com

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