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Friday, 11 June 2021

This Month's Plants: Correas, Blue Hibiscus, Winter Grevilleas, and Two Beaut Banksias

 PLANT OF THE WEEK

Correa glabra and other correas.

Scientific name: Correa species- Correa Glabra, Correa reflexa, Correa alba, Correa nummularifolia
Common name: Native Fuchsia
Family: Rutaceae
Distribution: Mainly eastern Australia  from southeast South Australia, through Victoria to eastern New South Wales and continues into south-east Queensland; it includes eastern Tasmania and Kangaroo Island off South Australia.

Australia has many small shrubs that are equivalent to if not better than some northern hemisphere plants and this one is no exception.
Plant breeders love this plant so much that there are now many hybridised forms with bigger flowers or flowers on a plant that can take full sun.
  • Correa Canberra bells
    Did you know that there is a correa study group?
  • Or that Correas makes great small bird habitat and also are a food source for insects and small birds.
  • Correas are also great for those dry shady spots, so think about planting one soon.
Correas are generally easy to grow. 
  • Correa alba and C. glabra varieties are the hardiest withstanding heavy frost and severe droughts. Correa glabra varieties have fragrant leaves.
  • Correa lawrenceana is the largest of the correas. These need to be grown in the shade and do best in an understorey habitat.; attractive to birds for both nectar and nest sites and are ideally planted in a thicket.
  • Correa pulchella varieties produce the most beautiful coloured bells ranging from pale pink to deep orange to carmine. They need to be grown in part shade and watered regularly.
  • Correa reflexa varieties range in colour from green to deep red: these also need to be grown in a partly shaded position and watered regularly.
Correa reflexa nummularifolia
You need to know which species of correa you have so that you know their particular requirements.
  • Some of the more modern hybrids can take sun but others need morning sun and/or dappled all day shade.
To grow correa at its best, a light sandy soil with good drainage and a position protected from wind, with broken or morning sunlight, is desirable. 

Groups of three to five offer added protection and enhance visual appeal.



I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, qualified horticulturist and avid native plant expert.

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Scientific name: Alyogyne heugeli
Common Name:Blue Hibiscus or Lilac Hibiscus
Family: Malvaceae
Flowering: late spring to summer
Position: Full sun to part shade.
Fertiliser; low phosphorus (P) or native fertiliser only.

As in all Hibiscus, the flowers open in the morning and last one day.  

A. huegilii is a prolific flowerer-lots of flowers from late spring until the end of summer.

I’ve seen it grown at the back of the border, amongst exotics like May Bush, Loropetalum, and in front of Princess Lillies, and I must say, I regret having pulled mine out because the flowers are really lovely.

This plant blends so well with any other plant on the planet.
  • The original A. heugelii needs to be pruned to promote lower growth and this one grows to about 2 ½ metres tall. 
  • Although, you can keep it down to 1 ½ metres because it sends out fast-growing shoots from old wood.
There are new select forms that are more compact and lower growing.
Alyogyne heugelii Karana-a medium shrub 1.5m by 1.5m wide
Alyogyne heugelii Misty-a medium shrub 1.5m by 1.5m wide; also frost tolerant.
Have a listen to the podcast.
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, qualified horticulturist and avid native plant expert.

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Winter flowering Grevilleas

Scientific Name: Grevilliea

Common Name: Grevillea

Family: Proteaceae

There’s a lot to choose from but before you run out to the nursery to buy up all the winter flowering ones for your garden. Let’s look at what conditions Grevilleas need to thrive.

Red soil is too heavy for many grevilleas. So if you live in Moree, you may not be able to grow many grevilleas  because of the heavy soil.

Grevilleas like air in the soil, so a light sandy soil is preferable,but you could easily just plant them on a bit of mound mixed with good compost and some light potting mix in it so they  can get established first..

Once they are older they don't seem to mind the heavier soil, but  drainage is a must.

G. superb. 1.5 x 1.5m. Red to yellow flowers, Yellow tips on the stamens. Tolerates frost to -30 C Bird attracting.

G. coconut ice 2 x 1.5m. Reddish pink flowers through out the year. Dense semi-spreading habit. Not like coconut ice confection atl all. Tolerates frost to -40 C

Grevillea Coconut Ice : photo M Cannon

G Honey Gem, an old favourite although rather big. 4 x3m Large leaves which are deeply lobed, dark green above silver reverse. The flowers cylindrical and bright orange which drip with sweet nectar. Bird attracting. Tolerates frost to -30 C

Grevillea 'Peaches and Cream' grows to 1.5m x2m. with cream flowers which change to pink as they age. Flowers all year.

Have a listen to the podcast.

I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, qualified horticulturist and avid native plant expert.

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Banksia ericifolia and Banksia spinulosa: what's the difference?

Scientific Name: Banksia spinulosa
Common Name: Hairpin Banksia
Family: Proteaceae
Plant height: Mostly a multi-stemmed lignotuberous shrub. Varies greatly in height 1 -3 m
Position: Full sun, frost hardy including Canberra winter frosts.
Leaves:long and narrow, 3-8 cm long by 2-7 mm wide, and variably toothed. Leaf margins often recurved which is an adaptation to dry environments.

Flowering:The flower spikes range from 10-20 cm in length. A spike may contain hundreds or thousands of individual flowers, each of which consists of a tubular perianth made up of four united tepals, and one long wiry style.
Position: Prefers to grow in the open where it makes a nice rounded shrubs.
Shade makes it spindly.
Banksias are an import source of nectar during autumn and winter when flowers are scarce.


Scientific Name: Banksia ericifolia
Common Name: Heath Banksia
Family: Proteaceae
Plant height: Mostly a multi-stemmed shrub. Varies greatly in height 3 -6 m
Position: Full sun, frost hardy including Canberra winter frosts.

Leaves: The linear dark green leaves are small and narrow, 9–20 mm long and up to 1 mm wide, generally with two small teeth at the tips. 
The leaves are crowded and alternately arranged on the branches..
Flowers: cylindrical flower spikes are quite large at 4-6 cm wide and up to 30 cm long

Differences: Banksia ericifolia has much narrower leaves and is fire-sensitive in that it does not have a lignotuber for vegetative regeneration after bushfires. The species relies on seed for regeneration - seeds are retained in the cones for many years and are released by the heat of a fire.

Pruning:

People are afraid to prune Banksias because they think of them as being a bit tricky.
If you’re not sure what type of Banksia you have, then only light pruning.
If you know your Banksia has a woody rootstock (lignotuber) then it can be heavily pruned.
  •  Only low phosphorus fertilisers should be used if at all. I’d recommend Blood n Bone.
Here's an interesting tidbit: Historically B. ericifolia is supposed to be the first specimen collected by Sir Joseph Banks at Botany Bay in 1770. 
For some reason, Banks did not describe this new discovery however and it was left to Carl Linnaeus who later named the genus Banksia in honour of Banks in 1782.

Have a listen to the podcast.

I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, qualified horticulturist and avid native plant expert.



Ginger and Galangal: What's the Difference? Plus Grow Broccoli

 GINGER AND GALANGAL

What's the difference?

Are you into Asian cooking?
Not with the pre-made pastes but starting from scratch.
Even if it’s just a stir fry, you may be wondering about two items you can buy in the supermarket.
Both are used in Asian cooking but one is a more reddish brown colour and the other a sort of light brown.
Both are rhizomes,and both are members of the Zingiberaceae family, so what’s the difference?



Galangal tends to get used in South East Asian cooking.
Galangal has a very different and somewhat stronger fragrance to ginger.
Centuries ago, powdered galangal was used as snuff!
  • There's two varieties of Galangal,
Greater galangal is used mainly in cooking.
Lesser galangal is used mainly for medicinal purposes.
Some alternative names for galangal is Laos powder, and Siamese ginger.
Ginger can be bought fresh as a brown rhizome, but it's also available in various preserved forms.
Candied ginger; ginger in syrup; pickled ginger (pink in colour); ginger powder is derived by slicing the ginger root, then drying it and pummeling it into a powder. 

Ian's Tips
  • If you often buy fresh ginger from the supermarket, or even grow your own, the best tip for peeling it is not with a knife or a vegetable peeler, but scraping it off with a spoon.
  • The other tip is to use a ceramic grater especially designed for grating ginger and not the skin off your fingers.
  • Fresh ginger should not be fibrous.
  • The longer the ginger stays in the ground, the hotter and more fibrous it gets.
  • What great tips from Ian!

Can you substitute galangal for ginger?

Use about half but do not use it in sweet cooking because it has more of a savoury flavour.

You can grow your own ginger even though it's a tropical rhizome. 
Growing it in a container in cooler climates is perfectly acceptable.

So let’s find out more.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au


If you want more information about any herb or spice, why not email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

VEGETABLE HEROES

Which vegetable has more vitamin C than an orange? 
  • Would you have guessed broccoli? Brassica oleracea var Italica or botrytis cymosa
Freshly picked from my garden photo M Cannon

  • Would you also have guessed that Broccoli heads are actually groups of flower buds that are almost ready to flower? Each group of buds is called a floret.
There’s some confusion as to where exactly name broccoli comes from.
Some say it’s from the Latin word brachium, which means "arm" or "branch," other’s that it’s from the Italian word broccolo, which means "cabbage sprout."

Broccoli is of course in the Brassicaceae family of vegetables along with cauliflower, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, turnips and many of the Asian greens.
Apparently Romans grew and loved to eat Broccoli way back in 23 to 79 BCE.

Why should you grow Broccoli if it’s available all year round in your supermarket?
Firstly, supermarket Broccoli has probably been sprayed for all manner of pests whether or not the pests visited the Broccoli plant.
Secondly, supermarket Broccoli stems are pretty tough to eat, when they’re supposed to be tender.
Why, because that type of Broccoli transports better?
But there’s another reason too.

  • Broccoli has had a resurgence in popularity – for its high vitamin content and anti-cancer agents. It’s a fast-growing and easy-to-grow crop, producing bluish-green heads.
Sprouting Broccoli Anyone?
The sprouting types – white or purple sprouting – are hardy and overwintered for harvest in spring, filling the gap between sprouts and spring cabbage.
  • Homegrown Broccoli, especially the heirloom varieties, also re-shoot after your cut of the central Broccoli stem.
When to Sow
  • Temperate and cool climates suit Broccoli best with a temperature range of 150C to 250C. 
How to grow Broccoli?

Sow Sprouting Broccoli seeds 6mm deep, spacing plants 35cm apart. 
Broccoli seeds take 7-10 days to emerge. 
  • Broccoli seedlings can be unstable and fall over during heavy wind, to help then send out additional roots to anchor them better you can remove the cotyledons (the first two seed leaves) once the first set of true leaves are formed and cover up to this point in soil. 
  • In temperate areas you should sow Broccoli seeds from mid-Summer until the end of August. 
  • Snail damage on young broccoli seedlings
    In really cold areas where winter growing is impossible, try sowing the seed during Spring and growing broccoli as a warm season crop. 
  • In the subtropics green looping caterpillars can be a major pest of broccoli so sow the seed from April to May to avoid their peak period of activity in Autumn. 
  • Broccoli is not suited for growing in the tropics as it is too hot and humid, try growing Asian or other tropical greens instead.
Fertilising your broccoli
Once a fortnight feed your broccoli with a liquid fertilizer; seaweed, manure tea, nettle tea etc.
When your Broccoli is growing always make sure that the beds are free from competitive weeds by hand weeding regularly.
TIP:
Don’t plant or sow Broccoli in your veggie bed if you’ve grown it before in the past 3 years.
You may get a disease called Club Root that causes you Broccoli plant to wilt regardless of how much water you give it.
  • Remember the acronym. LRLC-Legumes, root veg, leafy then Cucurbits, Brassicas.
Harvest broccoli heads when they have reached maximum size, are still compact, and before the buds loosen, open into flowers, or turn yellow.

Broccoli is not too choosy about the site it grows in but prefers to be in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade with no problems.
  • Growing in too much shade will reduce the size of the Broccoli head.
The ideal soil is a reasonably heavy (not pure clay) which is rich in nutrients and has been well-dug.
Like all brassicas, Broccoli needs a minimum soil pH of 6; but really prefers a pH of 7.
  • Add lime if you need to raise the soil pH.
  • Broccoli is what’s called a heavy feeder, so do add plenty of blood and bone, and decomposed manures by the bucket load before you start.
Broccoli types
Broccoli comes in many shapes and varieties but is grouped into five major strains: sprouting, broccolini, purple, Romanseco, and Chinese varieties.
Today, I’m concentrating on the sprouting variety.
  • Now you probably thought that was what those little shoots of Broccoli are called but you would be wrong.
  • Those little guys are called Broccolini.If you plant the sprouting varieties, they can be continually harvested for up to 3 months.
  • Prepare the ground with plenty of well- rotted manure or compost.
  • Always pick the central head first, because this will encourage the prolific growth of side shoots.
Pick these shoots regularly and don’t allow it to flower, as this will stop production of new shoots.
Broccoli di Cicco
Broccoli seeds are easy enough to get at supermarkets, garden centres and online seed suppliers of course.
Try these varieties
Broccoli green sprouting
An Italian variety, the blue-green head is followed by side shoots for up to 3 months. Harvest in 9 weeks from transplant
Broccoli purple sprouting.
The ultimate cut and come gain vegetable, this broccoli keeps on producing for months.
Not only is it delicious and full of antioxidants; it’s visually spectacular with its wondrous spires of deep purple florets.
You can start picking the shoots in as little as 10 weeks from transplant.
Broccoli 'Green Sprouting Calabrese'
Broccoli 'Green Sprouting Calabrese' is a sweet, mild and tender Italian heirloom broccoli which forms multiple heads.

Did you know that this variety was introduced into English speaking countries by Italian immigrants during the 1880's?
This variety will produce over a longer period of time than singular headed varieties, and is mild in flavour, sweet and tender in texture.
Time to maturity is 6-10 weeks .
All of these varieties will provide months of continual harvest and can even be considered as a perennial plant if you can manage to deal with the influx of cabbage moths that come around as the weather warms up.
When do you pick your Broccoli?
You’ve got to time it just right, and that’s when the cluster of tight buds in the central head is well formed and before the individual flowers start to open.
Make a sloping cut (this allows water to run off), picking a piece that's about 10 cm long.
That way you’ve left a reasonable amount of the plant intact to produce smaller sideshoots or "florets," which you can pick as well.
Great for stir fries.
At this stage, don’t stop feeding and watering the remaining broccoli stem otherwise your plants will go to seed and you won’t get any side shoots.
TIP: If your Broccoli plants starts to flower it’ll going into seed production and you won’t get any more side shoots.
Why is Broccoli good for you?
Broccoli contains twice the vitamin C of an orange.
Did you know that just 100g of Broccoli has two day’s supply of vitamin C (don’t overcook  or you’ll lose some).
Broccoli also a good source of dietary fibre, potassium, vitamin E, folate and beta carotene
100g broccoli has 120kJ.
Broccoli also contains magnesium and as much calcium as whole milk.
One cup of broccoli boosts the immune system with a large dose of beta-carotene. 
Great for preventing colds. Don’t underestimate the power of broccoli! 
THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY

How to Design For Shady Gardens

DESIGN ELEMENTS

SHADY GARDENS PART 1

This shady garden series is not so much what makes the best shade trees, but what can grow in various types of shade, whether it’s a shady side passage, a shady balcony, or just a shady part of the garden.
Do you have some shade in your garden?
Perhaps it’s a really shady garden because of neighbouring trees or buildings, or perhaps your own trees have grown quite big and created a lot of shade.

Over the next four weeks, Steve and I will be discussing what plants do best in a variety of shady gardens, but today, why is shade in a garden so important?

Shady gardens will provide refuge from the heat in summer. Your garden may be basking in full winter sun right now, but in summer, you and some of your plants will want more shade for cooling.
The leaves take advantage of even the slightest of breezes providing some air movement.
Shade in gardens that is provided by trees has a much bigger cooling effect that say shade sails or umbrellas.
On a hot day, the shade under a mature tree can be up to 10 degrees cooler than the actual temperature but the trick is to find what grows under those shade trees. 
Alternatively, you may be able to lift the canopy so that more light reaches the lower levels or the understorey.
Let’s find out more? I'm talking with Steve McGrane, agriculturalist and horticulturist.

PLAY: Shady gardens intro_14th April 2021

SHADY GARDENS PART 2

Plants for Shade Under Trees

Shade trees are great, but what can you plant under them that can cope with the root competition and low levels of sunlight throughout the year.

You want something attractive of course and not just a bare area.
In one of my shady spots 

I've attached a birds nest fern (pictured) to the trunk of a silk oak (Grevillea robusta). 

In the same space are many cliveas, which is a bit of  a standout with evergreen foliage and available in more colours than just bright orange, pastel colours such as creams, yellows and white.
The cliveas are around the base of a macadamia tree.

Neomarica gracilis or walking iris, are another perfect suggestion.

Shade in gardens that is provided by trees has a much bigger cooling effect that say shade soils or umbrellas.
Other suggestions this time  for cool climate gardens are Huechera species.  

This shady garden series is not so much what makes the best shade trees, but what can grow in various types of shade, whether it’s a shady side passage, a shady balcony, or just a shady part of the garden.

Let’s find out more ? I'm talking with Steve McGrane, agriculturalist and horticulturist.

SHADY GARDENDS PART 3

Plants for a Shady Balcony, Porch or Verandah

This series is about what you can grow in a shady area around your house or garden.

Balconies or verandah’s look better with plants, but what if they’ve got shade for most or a good part of the day?
This situation is a bit of a challenge , Steve says he gets customers into his nursery that say they have shade in this situation but get some afternoon sun.
Golden can palm is a perfect example for such a situation, plus they provide a fantastic screen.
This palm then provides a microclimate for other containers underneath.

You don’t have to be limited by shade on your verandah or balcony, because there are quite a lot of choices.

Think about a particular look that you like such as a tropical big leafed look, then add a bamboo palm and the fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata).  

Pots or containers that are elevated are a good idea to take advantage of more indirect light.

My favourite right now are hoyas of all types, in fact I’ve started a collection of about 8 so far, with 6 in hanging pots. (pictured right.). The hanging baskets and pole assembly were from Aldi of all places.

Let’s find out what will grow there?
I'm talking with Steve McGrane, agriculturalist and horticulturist.

SHADY GARDENS Part 4

Plants for a Shady Side Passage

Often there's one side of the house which is quite neglected because it's cold and not much light gets there, and and as much as you've tried, no plants have survived.
It's time to re-look at that side passage, usually the south side of the house, and give it another red hot go.
Steve thinks these are 'little gems.'


Treated in the right way, this could be a turned into a special place.
One suggestion is stone flagging with border plants.
What about some narrow plants?
Viburnum Dense Fence and 
Nandina domestica or sacred bamboo.; there are many varieties of this old favourite.
Some trees will fit.
Blueberry ash , (Eleaocarpus reticulatus)
Steve likes the idea of Japanese maples, (Acer palmatum.) Being deciduous it can take the extra cold in winter especially if there's no light.

Let’s find more of what will grow there?
I'm talking with Steve McGrane, agriculturalist and horticulturist.

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Preserving Tomatoes and Other Fruits


 Preserving tomatoes part 1

Pretty much everyone, from beginner gardeners to the experienced, just love growing tomatoes.
It's easy to see why, they are so rewarding and easy to grow, practically jumping out of the ground as soon as you sow them.
Despite all the problems that can beset your tomato crop, we still grow them year after year, because nothing beats the taste of a home grown tomato.

Fruit Fly?

If you have had tomatoes but they were affected by fruit fly, then use exclusion bags, or net the whole tomato bed.
  • Black Krim photo M Mossakoska
    So you might be wondering, but what about pollination?
Tomatoes are mostly self-pollinated, so the pollen drops from the anthers to the tip of the pistil in each flower
Wind helps this to happen by vibrating the flowers, ensuring the pollen loosens and falls.
  • But if you've covered the bed with netting, it's still easy to pollinate the flowers.
Just whack the stems with a stick to release the pollen, or use an electric toothbrush into the flower to move the pollen from the stamens to the pistil.

So now you planted, fertilised and then harvested, what next?
There's been a bumper season of tomatoes but what do you do with them all?
Passata photo M Mossakowska

Tomato types and can they be preserved?

Salad tomatoes-not suitable for drying but can be made into passata.
Beefsteak tomatoes-large and fleshy, good for grilling, dehydrating and making passata. Margaret's favourite is Cherokee Purple.

Roma tomatoes-the most commonly used to make a sauce or passata.
Grape or cherry tomatoes- great if you don't want to bother with fruit fly exclusion netting. Not for drying, but eating fresh mainly. Good for beginner gardeners.

The was Margaret Mossakowska director of www.mosshouse.com.au and sometimes a guest on Gardening Australia TV

Preserving Tomatoes and Other Food Part 2

Last week on the good earth segment, we talked about which tomatoes are best for passata, and preserving.
Margaret's cut tomatoes for grilling. photo M Mossakoska
It's time to delve into the world of dehydrating not just your tomatoes, but apples and other abundant fruits in your garden.

Why Dehydrate?
But what about dried tomatoes?
Can you do that without buying one of those fancy air dryers?
  • Dehydrating food preserves most of the nutrients-only losing 3-5% of the nutrients and reduces the volume of your fruit. Dehydrating temperatures can be as low as 30 degrees.
  • Canning loses 60 - 80% of nutrients.
  • Grilling or making passata, also loses nutrients but not as much as in canning.

Sunlight is not the answer for dehydrating, because UV light affects the nutrients of food.,

The simplest method is to place the fruit on flyscreens or similar and place under shade, or as Margaret does, under a metal roof, perhaps a back porch.
http://Moss House - Skills for healthy living
Dehydrated apples. photo M. Mossakowska
  • The next choice is to use a commercial dehydrator.
Choice magazine has reviewed dehydrators.

The overall score is made up of: drying performance (60%) and ease of use (40%). You can see the whole article on the Choice Magazine website (you either pay subscription or pay just to view the article): https://www.choice.com.au/home-and-living/kitchen/benchtop-cooking/review-and-compare/food-dehydrators or get a copy at a local library for free.

The listed prices are higher than in most shops. Margaret has the Ezidri FD500 model brand new from an op-shop for $10! 

Margaret's Super tip for storing the dried fruits

It's often humid in our kitchen and pantries.
So the best idea, put the dried fruit and jar in the oven after cooking has finished, so the air inside the jar dries as well.
Store in smaller containers so every time you open it, you are letting air in.
Use special moisture absorbing sachets that contain silicon, or make your own sachets from organza material filled with dry rice grains.

Let's listen to the interview.



The was Margaret Mossakowska director of www.mosshouse.com.au and sometimes a guest on Gardening Australia TV

If you have any questions about preserving tomatoes drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Design Principles: Doing the Design and Landscape Materials

 DESIGN ELEMENTS

Design Principles part 3: Doing the design.

Do you have a particular favourite colour when it comes to plants or perhaps there are some colours that you just don’t want in your garden?

These are the sorts of things you need to think about when redesigning either all or some of your garden.

What to do next

  • Consider your colour pallette, what colours don't you like or do like?
  • Think about what plants your really want to include.
  • If you have an attachment to certain plants, think about using those as a guideline to what else you can plant.
  • Draw a scaled plan so you can work out the proportions of your gardens beds a bit better. A mudmap may be a good idea to start with but once you’ve decided on the plants you like, it’s time to think about drawing up a plan to scale so that you can be sure that all the plants you like will actually fit in. In some situations you may be able to get by with just the mud map.  
  • Think about design styles: Start collecting images of gardens that you like.
Cottage Garden Style

A cottage garden is known for its flowering perennials with their soft, relaxed form and character. These gardens have a fairly informal style and are normally planted with flowering plants in muted and pastel colours. The plants tend to grow into each other, forming mounds and domes. 



Formal Garden Style
This style of garden has the most structure and can be quite rigid in their style. The basis of a formal garden is symmetry, balance, tailored plantings, simplistic plant choice and a sense of majesty. The gardens and pathways tend to run in straight lines and form grid like patterns

I'm talking with Glenice Buck of www.glenicebuckdesigns.com.au



Design Principles part 4

Landscape Materials

Over the last few weeks, Garden Designer Glenice Buck has been outlining all those factors you need to consider when you’re doing a re-design no matter how big or small.
Hopefully you’ve at least drawn a mudmap of your garden or yard if there’s nothing in it.
Do this before you buy the plants.
  • But what are the options for say landscape materials?
  • There are clever ways to achieve looks of the real thing without spending the big bucks.


Think locally to reduce transport costsThen there’s re-purposing material especially if it’s already in your garden or nearby.

What about fencing?
So many types of fencing
Timber 
Colourbond,
Wire fencing
Timber with horizontal rails.
Brick

Retaining walls
Reconstituted sandstone blocks
Drystone walls-especially if you have plenty of stone lying about on your property
Besser blocks that can be rendered or cap with sandstone fascias.
Timber- but this has a limited life and can be eaten out by termites.
Gabion walls-wire mesh that is filled with rocks.
Corten steel lengths edging as well as for retaining walls.

Steps: need to be structurally sound.
Natural stone: granite or Sandstone floaters.
Brick steps
Pieces of limestone or limestone tiles.
Concrete steps

Pathways
loose pebbles
paving: sandstone, granite, terracotta, brick, decomposed granite

I'm talking with  Glenice Buck of www.glenicebuckdesigns.com.au


That concludes the series on design principles

Garden Design Principles Where to Start and Site Analysis

 DESIGN ELEMENTS

Design Principles part 1 an introduction 

Most people’s backyards are a square or rectangular affair, and if it’s flat, doesn’t offer much to the imagination.
Picture this, you walk out the back door and you see the whole yard or garden in one brief sweep.
What about being a bit more creative?
Photo: M Cannon
Let’s find out how.


I'm talking with Glenice Buck of www.glenicebuckdesigns.com.au

Glenice's top  tips

  1. Consider what you have already in the garden and work with it.
  2. Look at the geometry of the site and decide if you want to work with it.
  3. Create a sense of enclosure, even if it's only a small area in a corner so that you don't see the whole garden from the back door. 
    1. You could plant out something tall to hide part of the garden so it’s a sort of secret garden.
  4. Consider the scale and size of the structures in the garden, can they be changed?
  5. Mass planting creates uniformity and is good design-choose odd numbers, 3, 5 and so on.
  6. Use symmetry versus asymmetrical, which one should you choose?
  7. Use lines and curves-consider the two different shapes in your garden. You can have curves in a narrow garden. 
  8. Look at what foliage can bring to the garden; flowers are a bonus as they aren't always there.

Design Principles part 2

Site Analysis
Are you all set to re-design your garden to give it a new lease of life?
  • Perhaps just one area needs re-doing.
  • Autumn is the best time to think about that but first there are a few basics to consider.

Things to Consider
You first need to consider the factors that cannot be changed, these are:
climatic zone 
aspect
soil texture/type 
soil pH 
site hydrology or drainage 
the views into and out of the site 
water availability 
  • Having time to observe some of these factors can also work to your advantage as you can then see the difference in these elements through all the seasons.
  • The majority of gardening problems are caused by gardeners not understanding the climatic needs of their plants. It's important to note that Australia has a warmer climate than the countries of origin of most of our introduced plants. 
I'm talking with Glenice Buck of www.glenicebuckdesigns.com.au


Top tips:
  • Firstly, get to know your soil, the soil’s pH and how well does it drain, ie hydrology.
  • You can also look up soil texture test on the internet.
  • Consider water availability, particularly if you don’t have access to town water.
  • Then what views have you got and which need hiding.
Elements you can change.
  • Plants-move them if possible if they don't suit their location.
  • Look at lifespan of the existing trees or shrubs. Have they past their use by date? Have some sort of succession plan in place for these plants.
  • Decking or paving can be changed but think about re-using the material in the garden, or selling on a local buy, swap and sell, rather than throwing them into landfill.
Draw up a Mudmap
Now is the time to draw a rough map of you garden and house, including the boundary lines.
Mark structures that are going to stay, such as taps, clothesline, pathways, driveways.
Good to have this in your pocket to show to nursery staff to get ideas about plant quantities.
IMPORTANT: Mark out North on your map

Oregano and Marjoram: What's the Difference? Plus Grow Leeks

 SPICE IT UP

Oregano vs Marjoram: What's the Difference?

How well do you know your herbs?
You may have a herb garden so are pretty much used to telling the difference between one herb and another, but there are some herbs that look really similar.
  • Have you ever asked one of your household to go and get something like say sage leaves from your garden, and they came back with some catmint or something else?
  • Or perhaps you’ve planted one of these similar looking herbs and have forgotten which is which?
Can you tell which of the herbs pictured below is oregano and which is marjoram?

It’s time to have a closer look and write up a label.
Marjoram and oregano are very close relatives.
Even more confusing because the latin name for marjoram genus is Origanum

Scientific name: Oregano majorana
Common name: marjoram
Family: Lamiaceae or mint family
Scientific name: Oreganum vulgare
Common name: oregano
Family: Lamiaceae or mint family

How to tell the difference at a glance

  • Marjoram leaf will generally be a little bit smaller and rounder whereas the oregano leaf tends to be elongated and slightly larger..
  • Oregano leaf will be slightly fuzzy looking in appearance.
  • Oregano grows vigorously throughout the year and is considered a tought herb.
  • Marjoram is likely to die off in colder weather.
  • Marjoram has a milder flavour than oregano.
  • Oregano has a slightly peppery note to it.
Varieties of marjoram
Pot marjoram: Origanum onites
Winter  or wild marjoram: Origanum heraclesticum

Varieties of oregano.
Greek oregano: Origanum vulgare hirtum
Mexican oregano: Poliomentha longiflora 
Poliomentha is not to be confused with  another herb also called Mexican oregano and a member of the verbena family, namely, Lippia graveolens.
  • As always, common names will trap the unwary.
Let’s find out a bit more about these herbs and how they can be used in cooking.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au

If you have any questions about herbs, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

VEGETABLE HEROES

Leeks: Allium ampeloprasum var. Porrum
There’s nothing like a good long history that some vegetables seem to have and the Leek is no exception.
Leeks are supposed to be native to Central Asia, and have been cultivated there and in Europe for thousands of years.
  • Did you know that Leeks were prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans because of their supposed beneficial effect upon the throat.
  • The Greek philosopher Aristotle thought that the clear voice of the partridge was due to a diet of leeks, while the Roman emperor Nero supposedly ate leeks everyday to make his voice stronger.
  • Another interesting fact that you might not know is that the leek became a Welsh emblem in 1536, and is still the national emblem of Wales. Daffodil is the National flower.
  • Have you ever wondered why Welsh are such great singers?Perhaps because they eat a lot of leeks, think Tom Jones.
Leeks, known scientifically as Allium ampeloprasum var. Porrum, are related to garlic, onions, shallots, and scallions.
  • Onions, celery, and carrots are very good companion plants for the leek.
Leeks, are a cool season crop and best of all they’re easy to grow.
  • You can grow leeks in hot summers, but you won’t get the same quality result as you will in a cool summer environment.
I know I’ve tried and they were a thinner weaker version of the winter leek.
Leeks are usually grown from seed and are generally started off in punnets first then transplanted.
When to Sow
Sow the seeds of Leeks from Spring until the end of Autumn in cool temperate climates, and late summer and autumn in warm and tropical zones, and in arid districts, seeds must be sown in February/early March and then you can transplant them in April and May. 
I sowed some seed a several weeks ago and have already transplanted them into the veggie bed because they were a couple of inches-about 10cm high and were the thickness of a pencil.
TIP: By the way, the seeds germinated fine from an out of date packet.
Leeks will overwinter in cool temperate areas of Australia if properly mulched, but will generally not survive periods of extreme cold.
In case you don’t know what a leek is.
Leeks look like large fat spring onions, but have a very small bulb and a long white cylindrical stalk of layers of white then green, tightly wrapped, flat leaves.
  • It goes without saying that good soil is the key to growing leeks.
  • Leeks need nutrient rich, well-drained soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
  • They’ll do well in almost any garden soil as long as it is well aerated and deep, about a spade’s depth is good. Using some kind of dibble tool or stick to make a hole that's just deep enough to leave only the top inch of the seedling exposed.
  • Set the leek seedling into the hole and fill it loosely with soil.
  • Space the leeks 10cm or a large hand span" apart, in rows at least 25cm  or from your wrist to your elbow apart. Find something practical like that to do you estimates.
Some people think that when growing Leeks the aim is to blanch the stems while the plants are maturing.
To save your back if you want to blanch the stems, rather than digging a trench, just use mulch.
When they’re 4 weeks old in the veggie bed, use a thick mulch of sugar cane or something like that.
In another 4 weeks or when they reach about 24cm, do the same again, or you can use shredded newspaper.
The leeks will still grow as well if you don’t do any of this.
Some gardeners cut off the top portion of the leaves, about halfway up the plant, as the leeks are maturing.
This is supposed to bring on stalk growth, giving you a larger leek for the dinner table.
  • To be honest you can do all this, but if you don’t the leeks are just as tasty.
Make sure the plants get at least a couple of cm’s of water a week; otherwise the stems will be tough to eat.
Mulch to conserve moisture, and side-dress with manure tea once a month.
Begin harvesting leeks as soon as they're big enough to use.
Young, tender ones are good raw; once they reach the width of a paper roll, they're better cooked.
They usually take 16-18 weeks--4 ½ months.
Quite a long time so explains why they are so expensive at the greengrocer, market or wherever you buy them.
To prepare Leeks cut them very thinly and sautee’ just as you would other members of the onion family.
 Like their allium cousins, onions and garlic, let leeks sit for at least 5 minutes after cutting and before cooking to enhance their health-promoting qualities.
Why are they good for you?
Good source of dietary fibre also a top source of vitamin C
Leeks have a high concentration of the B vitamin folate
Leeks give you small amounts of other minerals and vitamins.
Like onions, they also have some sulphur compounds that scientists believe reduce your risk of some health problems.
Leeks are believed to be good for the throat.
Leeks are low in calories and fat-free. 100g of leek has just 125kJ.
AND THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY