Pages

Thursday, 8 October 2020

All About Australian Dendrobium Orchids

 PLANT OF THE WEEK

Dendrobiums sp. Episode 1

Scientific Name:Dendrobium speciosum
Common Name: Rock Orchid, Sydney Rock Orchid
Native Habitat: growing on granite cliff faces or boulders.
Plant type: Lithophyte
Description: consisting of pseudobulbs or canes that can be up to 45cm long. Large leathery leaves than can last up to 12 years on the plant. Flowering August to September.
Flowering:Arching racemes that can have up to 100 fragrant flowers per stem.
Climate zone: Outdoors in tropical to temperate climates, but shadehouses in colder areas.


Some gardeners think that growing orchids can be a bit tricky or only for the orchid afficionado. 
They may have experienced one or two failures that has tainted their perception of orchids for life.
But I think, give orchids another go, because there’s ones out there that are hard to kill.
This one’s no exception.
Let’s find out what it is.
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant expert and native orchid afficionado. 

One of the most spectacular Australian orchids and one of the easiest to grow.
  • When establishing your new orchid, you can attach it with coated wire or plastic rope to a tree, or boulder in your garden.
Adrian has his own orchid house in his backyard where he grows about 200 different types of orchids and yes, they are all types of Australian native orchids.
Be like Adrian, and grow some yourself.

Dendrobium sp. episode 2

Dendrobium hybrids

Australia has 50 native species of dendrobiums and dockrillias and most of these grow mainly somewhere along the east coast of Australia.
The ones that grow in Qld, in quite warm temperature to tropical areas, don’t grow so well further south and one might need a greenhouse to grow some of these.

But those that originate in Victoria or NSW don’t do so well in the tropics.
This is where hybrid dendrobiums of these native orchids come in
Let’s find out..
I'm talking to native plant expert and orchidophile, Adrian O’Malley 
 
Hybrid dendrobiums are numerous and as an example can be crosses of Dendrobium speciosum and Dendrobium kingianum.
This particular cross gives you Dendrobium x delicatum which can have either with or pink flowers and even perfume.
A famous one that Adrian mentioned is Dendrobium Hilda Poxon (pictured above).
This is a cross between Dendrobium speciosum x Dendrobium tetragonum

DENDROBIUMS Part 3

Cultivation and care

If you been listening to the series on dendrobium orchids you might now be wondering how best to look after them?
You might even be asking do I need a greenhouse or shadehouse like Adrian has for his 200 or so orchids, or can you grow just one or two without too much fuss somewhere in the garden?

Let’s find out..
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant and orchid expert. 


The three most important things for care of your dendrobiums are location, watering and fertilising.
Adrian’s tips is let them completely dry out in winter, but if temperatures are in the high 40’s, you may need to mist them several times a day. 
If they look pinched they need watering.
  • Fertilising
Adrian has an inline fertilising system which is attached to a hose but before the tap. He then places a rock mineral fertiliser in that inline system which leaches a very small amount into the water each time he waters the orchids.
Adrian also recommends using two types of additional fertilisers depending on the time of year.
Fertilisers high in potash to promote spring flowering, and fertilisers high in nitrogen to promote growth.
Tip: Add a handful of dolomite lime over the bark mix every couple of years to counteract the acidity of the media as it breaks down.
If you have any questions about Australian orchids, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write to 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Sunday, 27 September 2020

New Garden Hoses and Springtime Planting

 TOOL TIME 

Garden Hoses: New Hoses on the Market

Watering your garden by hand in the warmer months is usually a relaxing pleasure unless of course you’re fighting with a cranky hose.

Hoses don’t last forever, and when they start to show signs of wear, you may find yourself getting frustrated every time the hose kinks and stops the flow of water.
So what’s new in hoses if you need an update?
Some are made of vinyl, some are made of rubber, some have reinforcement, some are expanding, and others advertise as being kink free and even made of steel
Which one do you choose?
Let’s find out.

I'm talking with Tony Mattson, general manager of www.cutabovetools.com.au

Tony’s tip, is ‘buy what you can afford, and don’t just go for the cheapest.
  • You want it to last a minimum of 5 to 10 years
Hoses have a hard life out in the sun, or frost in some cases so don’t expect too much from your hose after 5-10 years.
  • Check the distance from the hose to the furthest point you want to water. Longer is not better because it's heavy to move around.
  • Consider how long should you have a hose. Tony says most people overestimate how much hose length that they need.
  • The diameter is 1/2 inch or 12.5mm. A nursery would traditionally use a 19mm diameter hose.
Materials of hoses: kink ratings are not connected to any standard. A bit of marketing goes into the rating most likely.
A totally kinking hose may be made totally of  rubber.
Then store it in loops not small circles.
  • When you first get a hose, lay it out in the sun to straighten it out.
It may just be time for a replacement.
If you have questions about hoses or have information to share, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write to 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


VEGETABLE HEROES

Spring Planting

What vegetable plants, herbs and fruits will grow in your garden this Spring?
Have some or no idea?

It may just jog your memory to remind you to get started on one or two veggies that you had forgotten about.
  • In temperate areas the soil is still pretty cold.
For some of us the late frosts can pop up after a run of warm days and rain might be in scarce supply, depending on where you live.
  • There’s no rush to get summer crops in the ground.
If you’re desperate to get warm season crops in like tomatoes, your best bet is to start them indoors where they are protected or use a heated propagating mat/tray.
Be prepared to protect them on cold nights, and plant seedlings out in the open  when the risk of frost has passed.
  • The kind of veg you can grow in September is "shoulder" season stuff like spinach, peas, turnips, kale, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, Asian greens, mustard, silverbeet, carrots, beetroot and radishes.
  • Depending on where you are, you could also grow beans, rosella, eggplant, sweetcorn, sweet potato and zucchini.
  • It’s also a good time to plant herbs such as coriander, dill, mint, rosemary, thyme and parsley, and perennials such as rhubarb and globe artichokes.
  • And of course spring onions.They're the easiest onions to grow and are absolutely made for planting in September!

In arid and semi arid zones it's getting warm enough to plant early summer veggies such as bush and climbing beans, corn, tomatoes, tomatillos, basil, beetroot, silverbeet, lettuce, potatoes, carrots, parsnips and zucchini.
  • Hold off on capsicums, eggplants, and cucurbits like watermelons, cucumbers and pumpkins until next month.
  • The herbs you could sow are pretty much all types of herbs.
  • Watch out for fruit fly and control spray lawn weeds.
In the frost-free subtropics you can get stuck into planting heat lovers such as capsicums, eggplants, tomatillos, pumpkins, and watermelons.
  • You could also get in a fresh sowing of sweetcorn, basil and okra, along with perennials such as sweet potato, yam, taro, cape gooseberry, lemongrass and passionfruit.
  • These all need warm soil to germinate, and tend to grow well in the spring dry season with extra watering if needed.
  • It’s also a great time to plant citrus trees, guavas and other subtropical fruiting evergreens.
For the topics or sub-tropics, it’s a good time to sow some herbs too.
  • The herbs you could sow or  plant are  basil, chives, coriander, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, sage and thyme.
  • In the tropics, it’s a good time to get in a fresh sowing of sweetcorn, basil and okra, along with perennials such as sweet potato, yam, taro, cape gooseberry, lemongrass and passionfruit.
Cool Temperate& Southern Tablelands and Tasmania
  • Sow broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, beetroot, cucumber, leek, endive,  lettuce, silver beet, snow pea, spinach, strawberry, sweet corn, zucchini and tomato.
  • Traditionally, you don't plant your tomatoes in Tasmania until late October, but you can make an early start and hopefully get fruit by Christmas - if you give your plants a bit of protection."
  • "Don't use high-nitrogen fertilisers with tomatoes or you'll get lots of leaves and less fruit. Use compost and lower-nitrogen manures like sheep or cow.
  • HERBS – sow basil, chives, coriander, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, sage and thyme.
For those of you without a veggie garden, perhaps it’s time to start one now in a sunny spot.
If you are limited by space and are planting in pots, make sure you choose the sunniest part of your balcony or courtyard.

Begin your veggie garden by digging over the soil, then adding two kilograms of compost or cow manure per square metre and then mix in well.
  • By also adding two handfuls of dolomite every square metre, you’ll  prevent blossom end rot happening in tomatoes and will also add essential calcium to the soil.
  • Dig compost into the garden beds four weeks before planting any seedlings.
  • But that’s OK, because you can start your veggies off in punnets or trays first and they should be ready to plant out by then.
If you’re a bit forgetful and are handy with the mobile phone or ipad, you can actually download apps if you put in the words “garden planner.”
There’s a few available so just pick one that suits your area.
THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY

Peppers of All Sorts and Horned Melons

 SPICE IT UP

Black pepper, White Pepper: Peppers of All Sorts

Until recently, this next spice, black pepper, was one of the most traded in the world. 
We’re talking thousands of tonnes of black pepper, can you imagine? But why was that and how does this it grow?

On a tree, a shrub or is it an orchid?
Did you know that to get black peppercorns, the berries are harvested when they are green?
Let's find out more...
I’ve being talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au


The peppercorn that we know is 
Piper nigrum vine native to south India.

All peppercorns are harvested by hand.

Gardeners in the tropics and possibly sub tropics can grow this vine up a trellis or a tree outside in the garden.

Pepper is a jungle plant so that the roots need to remain cool,
The vine will fill a trellis in about three years. Berries that are picked when they're fat and green can be dried to make black pepper.

In the wild, or in plantations where they are allowed to grow up palm trees, the hermaphrodite pepper flowers  are pollinated by rain running down the catkin. This occurs during the monsoon

So if you want to grow one in your home garden, watering the flowers should mimic this.
Berries allowed to mature and turn red, can be peeled and inside is a seed.
This is actually white pepper.

VEGETABLE HEROES:

Horned Melon
Looking like something that dropped from outer space, today we’re growing a horned melon.
  • Scientifically, African Horned Melon is Cucumis metuliferus, but to us gardeners it’s horned melon or kiwano, also African horned cucumber or melon, jelly melon, hedged gourd.
  • Like other melons it’s an annual vine in the cucumber and melon family, Cucurbitaceae.
Why should you grow a horned melon?
Horned Melon Vine

  • For those who like to grow strangely different things this one’s is for you.Its fruit has horn-like spines, hence the name "horned melon".
  • The ripe fruit has yellow-orange skin and lime green, jelly-like flesh with a tart taste, and texture very close to that of a cucumber.In fact as its seeds are found throughout its flesh, not just within a seed cavity, it’s more like a cucumber than a melon.
  • The fruit's taste has been compared to a combination of cucumber and zucchini or a combination of banana, cucumber and lemon.
  • It is also said to taste like an unripe, watered-down banana.
  • A small amount of salt or sugar can dramatically change the flavour.
  • Some also eat the peel, which is very rich in vitamin C and dietary fibre.
Horned melon is native to Sub-Saharan Africa where it’s also a  traditional food plant in Africa.
And it’s one of the few sources of water during the dry season in the Kalahari Desert.
So How Do You Grow This Thing?


Growing a jelly melon plant is much like growing and caring for cucumbers
Plant the horned fruit seeds directly into the garden after all danger of frost has passed and temperatures are consistently above 12 C.
  • Optimum temperatures for germination are between(20-35 C.
  • Plant seeds at a depth of 1 ½ - 2 ½ cm, in groups of two or three seeds.
  • You can also start the seeds indoors, then plant the young melon plants in the garden when the seedlings have two true leaves and temperatures are consistently above 150C.Water the area immediately after planting, then keep the soil slightly moist, but never soggy.
  • Watch for the seeds to germinate in two to three weeks, depending on temperature. Be sure to provide a trellis for the vine to climb, or plant the seeds next to a sturdy fence.
Watering Advice:
Just like for cucumbers water your horned melon plants deeply, giving them at least 2-3 cms of water per week, then allow the soil to dry between waterings.
A single weekly watering is best, as shallow, light irrigation creates short roots and a weak, unhealthy plant.
Water at the base of the plant, if possible, as wetting the foliage places the plants at higher risk of disease such as powdery mildew.
Cut back on watering as the fruit ripens to improve the flavour of the fruit.
At this point, it’s best to water lightly and evenly, as excessive or sporadic watering may cause the melons to split.
When temperatures are consistently above 230-240 C., the horned melon plants will appreciate a few cms of organic mulch, which will conserve moisture and keep weeds in check.
  • The green-yellow skin turns a bright deep orange when ready to harvest, and the pulp resembles lime-green Jelly.
And there you have it.
Horned melon growing is that easy.
Give it a try and experience something different and exotic in the garden.
Why Is It Good For You?
The Horn melon consists of over 90% water and is rich in vitamin C.
It is also a source of iron and potassium and vitamin A.
Plus it only has 103 calories.
As for cooking with it, you can scoop out the inner fruit and toss it in fruit salads or use it as a colourful garnish.
Kiwano or Horned Melons are also excellent in exotic drinks.
 How about a minty gin-and-champagne horned melon or kiwano (it’s other name) cocktail!

Small Shrubs by two: Rock Thryptomene and Midgen Berry

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Thryptomene sp and Thryptomene saxicola F.C.Payne

There are some plants that can be forgiven for not doing much for most of the year, then, when they come into flower, they become the star of the garden.
In a way, they behave like a spring or summer bulbs, because they’re practically invisible until they pop out and flower their heads off.

So what is this Thryptomene which I have been alluding to?
Let’s find out more…
I'm talking with Adrian O’Mally, qualified horticulturist and native plant expert.
Rock thryptomene is as close to a common name as you'll get for this plant.
Growth is as for a sub-shrub 0.75 – 1.5m tall by 1 – 1.5 wide.

  • Adrian came across seven thryptomene planted along a bank with a south-east aspect.
  • They had grown leggy so to keep your shrub bushy, keep up the formative pruning in the early stages.
  • Doing this you will able to keep the shrub to 60cm in height.
Thryptomene is evergreen with a slightly weeping habit and  aromatic small leaves are small.
You may find it as a filler in bouquets because the tiny 5-petalled flowers blend well with larger flowers of any kind.
Thryptomene saxicola (pictured below)



Thryptomene paynei, then newly introduced to New Zealand was "raised by FC Payne of Adelaide".
F.C. Payne was the owner of "The Sanctuary" plant nursery in Ashton, in the Adelaide hills of South Australia who promoted the use of Australian native plants in local gardens.
By 1967 the cultivar had become a "garden favourite" in Australia and was featured in a gardening guide for native plants in The Australian Women's Weekly.

Bird and insect attracting plants always make a lovely addition to your garden.
Look out for the different cultivars of thryptomene in your nursery or big box store this spring, because there won’t be many, and they’ll be snapped up quick smart. If you have any questions about anything gardening, why not email us realworldgardener@gmail.com

PLANT OF THE WEEK 2

Scientific name:Austromyrtus dulcis
Common name: Midgen berry
Flowers: white with 5 petals, in spring and summer. Later in cooler districts.
Leaves: variable 9-30mm with noticeable oil glands. New growth is covered with silky hairs.
Site: part shade to full sun
Uses: bush tucker food



Cultivars: Austromyrtus  'Copper Tops." ( A hybrid between A. dulcis and A. tenuifolia.)
Here’s a shrub that has not only green leaves but berries that you can actually eat.

Let’s find out more…I'm talking with Adrian O’Mally, qualified horticulturist and native plant expert. 
The white berries have pale purple spots and a reputedly crunchy with a similar taste to blackberries.
I never found that thinking they were more pasty albeit sweet tasting. 
The preferred soil is will drained.
  • Midgen berry hedges is a great alternative to murraya hedges. Plant that closer together than the recommendation on the plant tag. Usually half the distance is best.
  • In it's native environment it may grow as a spreading shrub up to 2 m tall. Usually found in sandy soils in heath, scrub or open forests and occasionally on the margins of rainforests. 
  • In the home garden 40cm x 1.4m wide
  • Midgen berry copper tops has coppery coloured new growth.

Friday, 18 September 2020

Rotate Your Crops And Grow Curry Leaves

 CROP ROTATION with The Veggie Lady

You may have heard of crop rotation but perhaps relegated it to the basket where moon planting and biodynamics reside.
But did you know that crop rotation isn’t something that gardeners should scoff at because of it’s importance in the life-cycle of plants and insects.


In fact it’s a really important strategy that organic gardeners use.
Let’s find out.. 
I'm talking with Toni Salter the veggie lady of www.theveggielady.com 



Toni only changes crops once every 12 months but uses a 4 bed rotation system. Changeover is usually spring.
Group 4 groups together so you're planting the same thing in the same place only every 4 years.
You can do it based on the plants families.
Toni likes to put it into whether it's a leaf crop, a flowering crop or a root crop.
  • This system divides per type of vegetable
Root crops-onions and garlic.
Leaf  and legumes together-leeks and spring onions, brassicas,
Flowering crops are split further into two beds

Bed 1 is tomato, capscium and chilli plants
Bed 2-cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkin and corn
Bed 3 root crops-carrots, parsnips, beetroot, onions and garlic
Bed 4 leafy crops-beans, lettuces.
  • Start with a 4 bed rotation.
  • That means you’re only planting the same thing in the same place every four years. 
  • So you will be growing four different types of crops in each garden bed. 
  • Toni divides it into leaf and legumes in one bed, then, flowering crops are split into two beds-tomato family in one, and all the rest into the other. 
  • Finally root crops like carrots, beetroots, onions and garlic. 
If you have questions for Toni about crop rotation or have information to share, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write

PO 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

VEGETABLE HEROES

Curry Tree

I was wandering through a fruit and veggie market and noticed they were selling curry leaves in a little packet for quite a few dollars.
So I thought I would let you know how easy it is to grow yourself.
  • Curry Leaf Tree or Bergera koenigii used to be callled Murraya koenigii, and for the most part, because people are more familiar with that botanical name, the nursery industry is sticking to it and so shall I.
You may not have realised that curry leaf tree, (Murraya Koenigii),grows very well in all of Australia.

What is a curry leaf tree really? 

Basically it’s just an aromatic Murraya species in the family Rutaceae.
Even when fresh, the leaves of this tree have a strong curry aroma, but they take on a whole different flavour in cooking. Mmmm!
  • Be careful though, because are other shrubs also called curry plant, and they aren’t the edible or cooking variety.
What Does It Look Like?

The Curry tree is native to India and Sri Lanka, and can grow into a large shrub to small tree growing 4-6 m tall. However, if you keep it in a pot, you can keep it reasonably small. e leaves are much like but in a smaller way to Murraya or Orange Jessamine being in the same genus. 
Why wouldn’t you grow this bush with the highly aromatic leaves, and heads of flowers that are white, and fragrant appearing in Spring and Summer?

One thing to remember though, is that after flowering, the plant produces small black, shiny berries that are edible, but their seeds are poisonous.

The second part of the botanical name or the species name takes its cue from the botanist Johann Gerhard König which translates to king in the German language. 

Where it likes to grow


Curry tree likes to grow in full sun or light shade and all you need to do is fertilize with palm or citrus fertilizer to get plenty of leaves. 

Curry leaf plants can be grown in large pots and also on the ground.

The type of soil doesn’t matter either.

I have one plant in large pot and it’s only about 1 metre in height. 

I’ve got to say that it’s pretty slow growing so don’t worry too much about re-potting it. 

They have a tendency to sucker when in the ground, so keeping it a pot if you’re worried about this, is probably a good idea.

For gardeners in cold climates you’ll be pleased to know that plants in the ground, when mature, can survive frosty conditions , plus the curry leaf tree is hardy and drought tolerant once established.

Where Can You Grow it?
  • Murraya koenigii or curry leaf tree grows anywhere from tropical areas to cool temperate districts.
  • A listener, Lesley, has written in to say that she has have several plants in the ground in Melbourne which are now nearly 2 ½ to 3 metres, and thriving. She doesn’t even cover them during winter period! 
Like the hedging variety of Murraya, pruning your curry leaf tree every year will make it more bushy so you’ll get more of those fragrant curry leaves. 
  • Picking of the leaves for cooking is also a way of getting bushy growth.
  • If you want to propagate this plant, when you see the berries at the very tips of the branches turning black, is the time to propagate from seed. 
  • By the way, in some sub-tropical districts this tree has spread into bushland because of birds eating the berries.If you live in those districts, prune off the berries before the birds get them. 
  • They can be propagated from root suckers but the new plant will sucker even more if you do it this way. 
TIP: For propagating the fruits are best picked when they are half ripe or when fully ripe ie, quite black. 
 

The fruits should also never be allowed to dry, because the curry plant seeds in them lose their viability when they shrivel or dry up.

Peel the seed out of half ripe or fully ripe fruits by squeezing out the flesh before planting.
The fruit around the seed may slow down germination.
Seeds are best planted quite shallowly in seed raising mix and germinate in about 10 days -they germinate best with warm soil 210 to 270 C

HOW TO USE CURRY LEAF 

Here’s how to use young leaves, throw them into curries, soup stocks and sauces. 
The leaves are spicy but not hot so they can flavour vinegars and salad oils.
Curry leaves are used a lot in South Indian kitchens, where the curry leaves are generally sautéed in oil with mustard seeds and added to dhal, fresh coconut chutney or vegetable dishes. 
I always strip the leaves from their stalk before frying, and sometimes tear and crush them between my fingers to release more of their essential oils.

Cooking them this way makes a tasty garnish for curries.

UNUSUAL TIP: do you worry about bad breath?
You probably haven’t heard of this type of breath freshener before.
Did you know that the people of India grow the curry leaf tree, Murraya koenigii, not only to flavour traditional dishes but also known for treating bad breath. 
What you do is put a few of the fresh leaves in the mouth and hold them there for several minutes and voila’-fresh breath.
I can’t say I’ve tried it though. 

Why Are They Good For You?

Apparently scientists are studying the extract of the leaves as a natural medicine against high cholesterol and high blood sugar.

Curry leaves are also known to be good for your hair, for keeping it healthy and long.
But be careful that you’re not getting the curry leaf bush-Helichrysum italicum.
This has a grey feathery leaf and can’t be used in cooking at all, even though it smells of curry when you brush past it.
Think of the king when buying your Curry tree plant-Murraya Koenigii! 
THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY

 

 



Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Building Habitat for Native Bees and Growing Custard Apples

THE GOOD EARTH

Building Habitat for Native Bees

This year, gardening has been taken up by many people who have never gardened before.
But that’s not all, worm farming, keeping chickens and bee-keeping have become more popular because people are spending more time at home.
You probably know there are honey bees and Australian native bees.
But which type of bees pollinate your crops better or is there no difference?
Let’s find out..
I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska of www.mosshouse.com.au 

Margaret suggests build habitat for the native bees because they are so much better at pollinating your flowers, in particular veggies in the tomato family, than honey bees. 

  • Building native bee habitat can be bricks made from clay, or wood and other materials.

Margaret's Clay Bricks Recipe

Mix clay with water then 2 or 3 parts of sand.
Margaret then pours the mix into moulds. One litre milk containers say from rice milk.
When dry she drills various size holes into these 'clay' bricks and places them strategically around the garden.


Most native bees are dormant or die during the Australian winters.
Flower are important from spring onwards.
Plant flowering trees with small flowers such as melaleucas or paperbarks.
  • Borage is also an excellent plant for bees because it has a high percentage of protein and sugar in the pollen and nectar.
  • Perennial basil is also fantastic for not only attracting bees but hover flies and other beneficial insects to the garden.
  • Why not also let some parsley or coriander go to seed.
  • Provide some water for the bees-not deep, and include some pebbles so the bees don't drown. Plant saucers are ideal for this purpose.
  If you have questions for Margaret about keeping native bees, or have information to share, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com

VEGETABLE HEROES

Custard Apples: Annona atemoya

One couldn’t get further from a vegetable by talking about growing a custard apple.
But here it is.

Annona atemoya is the scientific name of custard apples.
  • Did you know that Australian custard apple is unique in the world and is a hybrid of the sugar apple (Annona squamosa) and the cherimoya (Annona cherimola)?
  • Importantly, Australia is the largest commercial producer of custard apples? 

What Do They Look Like?

Firstly it's absolutely nothing like an apple and nothing like custard, but the flesh is quite creamy and sweet

What it looks like is a fat and soft choko but with more rounded bumps.

  • Inside there’s large, dark brown seeds and soft, white, supersweet flesh that’s great for a sweet tooth.

Buying your tree

  • You can buy the commercial variety which are Pink Mammoth or African Pride.
  • Both are sweet, juicy and full of flavour. 
  • Pinks Mammoth is the larger of the two varieties. It can grow up to 3kg and has yellow-pink colouring between the ridges of the bumps when mature. You can pull a Pink Mammoth apart with your hands and then eat it by just scooping out the flesh. 
  • African Pride is the smaller variety and is medium sized – usually between 500g-800g. 
Both varieties have a full appearance when mature, and the skin will start to smooth out the bumps. They both turn from dark green to light green.

  • Or you can grow smaller versions like dwarf custard apples called Tropic sun which is a small free fruiting tree suitable for home gardens.Tropic sun has ripe fruit with a sweet creamy textured pulp with fewer seeds. Pick the fruit when it’s firm and let it ripen at room temperature. 
  • The Tropic Sun custard apple tree is best suited to warm tropical and sub-tropical regions along Australia’s east coast (e.g. from the Atherton Tablelands in far north Queensland down to Alstonville in northern New South Wales). 
  • There’s another one called Geffner which is an Israeli cultivar. Geffner has a good amount of fruit with exceptionally good flavour and is known to be self pollinating, setting fruit every year. A very reliable tree that doesn’t need much maintenance for home gardens and can be grown in a pot. 
How to Grow
If you want to grow this tree, then plant it in a sunny well drained position but protected from hot dry winds.
This is because this tree has soft brittle wood that’s easily damaged by wind especially when it’s bearing fruit.
Custard apples don’t like frost because frosts can kill or severely damage even mature trees.
So if you want to grow this one, grow it in a pot and move indoors over winter or cover the tree with fleece.
Warm, well-protected, frost-free sites in districts receiving a predominantly summer rainfall are the most suitable.
Mulch your tree and prune it in Spring to an open vase shape.
Fertilize well after fruit set with an organic fertilizer.
Tip: Regular watering commencing at flowering to harvest is important.

Where to Plant
Custard apples are best suited to sandy loam soils, but well-structured clay loams are suitable. Although the tree's main feeder roots are relatively shallow, at least 1 m of well-drained soil without heavy clay or rock is needed to avoid root rot and ensure good tree performance. Where the topsoil is less than 1 m deep, plant the trees on mounds.

Care of your custard Apple trees and Where do they grow best in Australia?
Custard apple fruit are susceptible to skin discolouration and splitting when prolonged temperatures below about 13°C are experienced during the later stages of fruit development.
To minimise this, choose a location that’s relatively warm, in the early winter.
Temperatures of 25°C to 28°C during flowering (October to February) are favourable for good fruit set. At temperatures above 28°C, custard apples produce more growth and fewer flowers, and drying of flower parts increases. For this reason, custard apples are not suitable for coastal tropical or hot inland areas.

Here’s a great tip:
For the novelty of growing a custard apple you can grow it from the seeds from fruit bought at the fruit and veg shop.
  • Just sow them like any other seed. They take ages to germinate, like three months minimum up to 12 months. 
  • There are 2 ways to grow them from seeds 
  • 1st way is the paper towel method, with this method you put 2-3 seeds in the paper towel wet the towel then fold them and wrap them up with sandwich plastic bags then keep warm inside on window or somewhere else that’s warm. 
  • 2nd method is in plastic cups or small pots: plant a seed in the pot water it and cover the whole pot with clear plastic wrap and keep away from frost.. and in 2-3 weeks you will see sprouts come out. 
  • You’ll most likely not get the custard apple tree that produced the fruit you’re getting the seed from, because they are a hybrid between what's commonly known as a Sugar apple and a Cherimoya. But, you never know, you just might end up with the next world beater or something not quite so good or anything in between. It's good fun all the same. 
How do You Eat Custard Apples?
Custard Apples are only eaten when soft, and only the flesh is eaten.
To eat them just cut in them in half and scoop out the white flesh.
The Custard Apple should be moist with a pleasant sweet aroma.
Once ripe, custard apples can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
If the skin has gone purple or black, they have passed their best eating quality.
Why Are They Good For You?
Even if you think you can’t grow a custard apple, there’s plenty of reasons why you might buy the fruit.
They’re delicious raw or you can bake them in muffins and teacakes.
Drinks and smoothies are another way custard apple is used along with syrups, jams and marmalade.
Custard apple sauce also pairs well with various meats.
Custard apples contain protein, fibre, minerals, vitamins, energy and very little fat. They are also an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium, and potassium with some B2 and complex carbohydrates.

AND THAT WAS OUR VEGETABLE HERO SEGMENT FOR TODAY!




How To Choose The Right Pruning Tools and Grow Parsley

 TOOL TIME

Tips on Choosing Tools

You might think you have all the garden tools you need in your shed right now, but there’s always lighter, and more ergonomic garden tools that are being released on the market that might make your job a lot easier.
Here I am talking with Tony Mattson
 

Or you may be thinking of upgrading some of your pruning tools.
So how do you choose which one is best?
Let’s find out..
I'm talking with General Manager of www.cutabovetools.com.au

Checklist #1
Tony’s tip is “buy what you can afford, rather than going for just the cheapest.”
Another tip: if you do a lot of gardening, then buy something is a bit more heavy duty. 
But more heavy duty does not mean the bigger the better.
sometimes, all you need is something that fits snugly into your hand,  
  • Also ‘Try before you buy” is the mantra

Checklist point #2
Another point in the checklist is reach.
Two feet on the ground is better that going up a ladder when it comes to pruning.
Think about extendable poles for that extra reach.
Many pruning tool are now much lighter and holding those tools with extendable handles is much easier.
Checklist point #3
Are there spares available for the tools that you want to purchase?
Are the spares more expensive than the tool itself?
Checklist point #4
Warranty covers poor workmanship or poor assembly or poor parts that go into making the garden tool.
The warranty does not cover the chips or blunting you get from heavy pruning. Tony calls these consumables, like ordinary wear and tear on any piece of equipment.

If you have questions for Tony about pruning tools or have information to share, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write

 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

VEGETABLE HEROES

Parsley-Petroselinum crispum is, by far the most commonly mentioned herb in recipes all over the world.

  • Parsley’s name comes from two Greek words Petrose meaning rock; beause it grows on rocky cliffs and old stonewalls in the Mediterranean; and selenium an ancient name for celery-so one can think of it as “rock celery”.

We all know what Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) looks like.

That bright green, biennial herb that is very common in Middle Eastern, European, and Australian cooking.

  • Parsley comes in two forms, curly leaf and Italian or flat leaf.

Curly leaf parsley is often used as a garnish but many people think flat leaf parsley has a stronger flavour but I find it hard to tell the difference.

But did you know that scientific evidence shows that from chemical analysis, flat leaf parsley has much higher levels of essential oil, so it must be true?


A Bit of History

  • Did you also know that both types of Parsley were around and used by ancient Romans in the fourth century BC?
  • Something you might not have known is that the Ancient Greeks crowned winners of major sporting events with wreaths of parsley.
  • There’s an old wives’ tale that says you could bring about the demise of an enemy by plucking a sprig of parsley while speaking his (her?) name.
  • In Medieval times, revellers placed it on their tables and around their necks to absorb food odours.
  • Parsley has also used as a poison antidote.And was introduced into England from the Mediterranean, where it originally grew wild, in the 16th century and in The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, Peter Rabbit “ate some lettuce and some broad beans, then some radishes, and then, feeling rather sick, he went to look for some parsley.”

Growing Parsley.

Parsley seeds are slow to germinate.

I’ve heard that the reason for the slow and unreliable germination of parsley is that the seed goes nine times to the Devil and back before coming up.

The un-germinated seeds are the ones that the Devil keeps for himself.

  • Here’s a tip to help with germination- To give them a jump start try soaking them in water for 24 hours before planting. Parsley seeds should be planted in a shallow trench and covered over with a 1.2 cm layer of fine soil

I find Parsley sows itself if you let a couple of plants go to seed.
  • Another reason for letting it go to seed, especially for organic gardeners, is that the flowers of Parsley attract beneficial insects like parasitic wasps and predatory lacewings.
These are the bugs that eat the troublemaker bugs in the garden.


  • Parsley needs full sun, but will cope with a little shade. 

It likes well drained soil that’s got some organic matter like cow manure or garden compost mixed in with it.
It will grow in pots or containers, but because it has a large tap root when it matures, you’ll need to pull it out and start again every couple of years because it’ll have used up the potting mix by then.
Parsley may be cut from the stalks any time after the leaves are fully formed.
Cut the outside leaves and stems, but allow the inner stems to grow so that there is a continuous production of new leaves.

Why Is it Good for You?

Parsley has many health benefits.
It has dietary calcium, iron, riboflavin, thiamine, carotenes, ascorbic acid, and vitamin A.1 and vitamin C and folic acid.
It’s also good for blood pressure, the heart and stomach, and for pain relief. Arthritic aches and pains are supposed to be relieved by taking parsley.
Parsley is mildly laxative –but I haven’t found out how much of it you need to eat for this to work.
Make a hot poultice of Parsley to relieve insect bites and stings.
  • Parsley is a natural breath freshener.
If you chew on a few sprigs of Parsley it’s supposed to reduce the odour of garlic breath.This is thanks to parsley’s high chlorophyll levels.

AND THAT WAS OUR VEGETABLE HERO SEGMENT FOR TODAY!