Monday 26 June 2023

Mushrooms But Not As You Know Them


Scientific Name: Rungia klossii
Common name: Mushroom plant
Family: Acanthaceae
Origin: New Guinea

Rungia klossii is an evergreen Perennial growing to 0.6 m x 0.6 m at a medium rate.

Soils: Suitable for: light or sandy, medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. 

Habitat: Mushroom plant can grow in semi-shade  but not full sun in an Australian summer. It prefers dry or moist soil if grown in the ground otherwise growing in a pot is very successful.
Mushroom plant Photo: M Cannon

Description:The shiny mid green have a yellowish mid-rib. 
The elliptic leaves are arranged in pairs with adjacent pairs perpendicular to one another (decussate leaf arrangement mush like in a hydrangea).
Flowers: Blue flowers that appear in a cluster in ideal positions.

Harvesting: The Mushroom plant can be harvested all year round,  but the best is to harvest during the active growth period to provide a bushy growth.

Uses: In the kitchen it's used in salads, soups and wok dishes, a small cooking even increases the mushroom aroma.

Frosts: Low frosts are tolerated but lead to leaf loss. 

Fun fact: Higher in protein that actual mushrooms.

What is it exactly and why is it called mushroom plant.

Let's star with, how do you love your mushrooms?
In a risotto, sautéed with scrambled eggs, in soups or salads?
Perhaps you don’t like them at all.
Here’s a way to enjoy the taste without the texture and it’s all natural.
The leaves are somewhat stiff and lightly curled at the tip.
Yes, the leaves taste like mushrooms with a crispy texture and nothing more.  

So, let’s find out how and why, by listening to the podcast.

I am talking with Corinne Mossati, founder of the gourmantic garden.

Corinne's favourite use of the plant is finely chopped into salads for that burst of flavour.
Mushroom plant is a perennial that although it grows well in tropical and sub-tropical areas, it needs protection from frost in cooler climates.

The best way to grow it there is in a pot, which by the way, has served me well over the years.

If you have any feedback email or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Monday 6 February 2023

Bumper Crop of Bush Beans


Beans and More Beans

What is your favourite warm season vegetable or are there too many to choose from?
Top of the list for many a gardener is the humble bean, because in warm weather, they’re so easy to germinate.
In fact my bean crop was directly sown on a Monday and they were up by Thursday.
But how do you get a continuous crop of beans?

Corinne mentions bush beans, but we're not talking some sort of wild bean that grows on a bush, in fact bush beans is another name for dwarf beans.

More along the style of French beans such as butter beans or Cherokee Wax butter beans.
Scientifically beans are Phaselous vulgaris which covers just about every type of bean seed that you can buy.
Dwarf or bush beans grow into a small, bushy shape, usually 60cm tall or less and don't need staking.

This year I planted my bean seeds closer together than normal on using the premise that if we had a run of cloudy days and they started to climb, they would support each other.
This season we did have lots of cloudy rainy, days, they didn't start to climb, but did in fact support each other at around 50-60cm.
The only tricky part was needing to carefully pick your way through the thicket of bean foliage to harvest the beans without breaking any branchlets.

Let’s find out more about tips and tricks with bush bean planting by listening to the podcast.
I’m speaking with Corinne Mossati founder of

  • Sow another crop in 6 weeks time after the first crop then the big tip is after the first harvest, apply a side dressing of blood ‘n’ bone.
  • Beans should be ready to harvest as soon as 65 days or 9 weeks after planting

If you have any questions why not email us at or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Vietnamese Mint No Ordinary Mint


Is Vietnamese mint really a mint?

Scientific Name: Persicaria odorata

Common Name:Vietnamese mint

Family: Polygonaceae

True mints botanically speaking have wide spreading underground rhizomes with erect, square and branching stems.
The leaves are opposite each other on those square stems, with clusters of small tubular flowers.
Ture mints are also in the Lamiaceae family.

So what do we make of Vietnamese mint?
Perhaps you saw it in the herb section of the garden centre and mistook it to be just like any other mint.
Not exactly a real mint and it's also in the same family as rhubarb and buckwheat; the Polygonaceae family.
Traditionally, Vietnamese mint is used a lot in Asian cuisine. If you've ever had a laksa, you've probably eaten some Vietnamese mint.

What does it look like?
It looks similar but different to traditional mint, plus it's a creeping herbaceous perennial.
The leaves are very narrow and angular looking often with a chestnut-coloured rounded marking across the dark green leaf.
The flowers are quite different to min. Flowers are flat spikes of pale lavender if you're in a warm enough climate for it to flower.

Where and How to grow it.

  • It can grow very well outside in summer in non-tropical parts of Australia.
  • Vietnamese mint prefers part-sun and well-drained soil.
  • For those areas with cool to cold winter, bring your Vietnamese mint indoors or under shelter as you would an indoor plant.
  • It grows very well in pots but is frost tender.

Let’s find out how to use it in cooking by listening to the podcast.
I'm speaking with, Corinne Mossati
founder of the gourmantic garden website and blog.

Also sometimes called Vietnamese coriander and as Corinne mentioned you can make a dipping sauce or even try making pesto with it.

If you have any questions why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Sunday 30 October 2022

Ways to Eat Yacon or Peruvian Ground Pear


How to Grow and Use Yacon: Peruvian Ground Apple

Scientific Name: Smallanthus sonchifolius
Common Name: Yacon, Peruvian ground apple
Family: Asteraceae-same as daisies and sunflowers.
Plant Height & Width: 1.5m x 0.5m

If you look at the flowers they are like much smaller versions of sunflowers.
Here’s a tuber that tastes similar to a nashi pear, looks something like sweet potato on the outside, and the sugars from it aren’t absorbed by the body.
Not only that, the tubers contain a lot of juice, and the sugars that make it sweet is not absorbed by the body so you can't put on the kilos! How good is that?  

Then there’s the fact that it’s easy to grow, and has small flowers that resemble sunflowers and you just can’t buy it from the supermarket or fruit and veg store.

Yacon plant growing in Margaret's garden

How to Grow Yacon from Tubers?

Yacon has two types of tubers unlike ginger or turmeric.
  • The tubers that you plant are attached to the main stem and are much smaller and pinkish in colour. I planted mine in early September and October was the time that it sprouted in my Sydney garden.
  • If you were to receive some brown tubers that look like a brown sweet potato, that's what you eat and not what you plant. 
  • The edible tubers spread from the clump sideways meaning you need at least 1/2 metre  of space to produce sizeable clumps.
  • Can be planted in any district as they can withstand frost.

When to Harvest?

Yacon is a herbaceous perennial meaning it has a dormant period that starts when the leaves die down in late autumn. 

This is the time when the tubers are ready to harvest. Simply fork up the entire crop, and harvest the large brown tubers to eat fresh, and use the small reddish rhizomes at the top to replant for next year’s crop.

What Can You Do With Yacon?

Eat it of course but how,  is the thing so here are some of Margaret's tips.
  • Yacon is sweet and crunchy and is great eaten fresh.
  • Ever heard of Yacon chips? That's right you can make chips out of this tubber.
  • Just cut up into chip sizes and drizzle some oil over the top and bake in the oven.
  • Try using it in salads like Waldorf salad and wherever you would use fresh pears.
  • Use it in stir fries.
  • You can also juice it or cook down the juice to make syrup and use it as a sweetener.

Fun Tip from Margaret

  • Running short of toilet paper, try large soft fluffy leaves like those of the Yacon plant.
But there's more uses, have a listen to the podcast.
I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska of

If you have any feedback email or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Flowers Have Their Seasons


Seasonality of Flowers

Vegetables have their season when they’re available fresh and not just out of the cold room where they’ve been for 6 months or more.
What about flowers?
Many people forget that flowers have their seasons too, after all there are plenty of flowers available all year round.
Hellebores-a winter flower
 Why is that important? 
It's the same as for vegetables and fruit, if it's not the current season for the flowers, then they're most likely imported.
If I asked you what’s the best time of year to buy peonies would you know?
What about roses, is there a best time?
Have a look at the below suggestions to realise what is actually in season.  

Winter Flowers

Orchids, Vanda, Dendrobium, Cymbidium, Phaleanopsis, Hellebores. Jonquils, Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinths, Daphne (pictured.)

Spring Flowers

Peonies are an October flower. Roses, Ranunculus, Australian wildflowers-Waratahs, Ericas, Geraldton Wax; Cherry Blossoms, Magnolias

Summer Flowers

Roses, Sunflowers, Gerberas, Carnations, Stephanotis.

Autumn Flowers

Dahlias, Roses are continuing. Asiatic lilies are an exception as in Australia they are grown in glass houses and are available all year round.

I'm talking with Nadine Brown of

The scientific name for spring stars is Ipheion uniflorum, often marketed as Triteleia Stars Of Spring, rather confusingly.

Got to say one my favourite spring flowers.

If you have any feedback email or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Saturday 29 October 2022

Spice Up Your Meals with Furikake


Furikake: Japanese seasoning

Isn't it time you enlivened your tastes buds with something you've never tried before?

This next spice isn’t just one spice on it’s on but several spices or a blend of spices that are just right for Japanese food or any other food for that matter.

Furikake is a traditional Japanese seasoning that is sprinkled on cooked food.

In some ways like shichimi togarashi seasoning, furikake seasoning has not only toasted sesame seeds in it but also black sesame seeds that combine to give you a delectable nutty flavour.

But wait, will it have monosodium glutamate I hear you ask as so often spice blends in Asian cuisine do?

Well, here’s the thing, with 50 years of sourcing and mixing spice blends, Ian Hemphill is just the man to find a substitute for MSG without compromising the flavour of just such a spice blend

Fuikake also has the combination of  salt, nori flakes or nagi, to add that classic Japanese profile when it comes to flavour. Also orange peel, Sichuan pepper and Australian lemon myrtle.

Furikake goes well with rice, on top of eggs, seafood and on top of white or red meat.

Miso soup with furikake eggs. photo courtesy 

Let’s find out more bout this fabulous spice.

I'm talking with Ian Hempill, owner of

Ian has been a regular on RWG for many years but never has he admitted to carrying emergency spices in his pocket before.

Ian carries Furikake spice in his pocket in the off-chance he’s going to snack on some sushi.

How good is that? If you have any questions about spices why not email us at or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville

Wednesday 21 September 2022

Leaf Celery Better Than Celery


Leaf Celery

Scientific Name:Apium graveolens var. secalinum
Plant family: Apiaceae
Common Name: Parcel

A relatively uncommon or even unkown herb or vegetable. Parcel stems from the idea that it looks like parsley but tastes like celery.
  • Leaf celery is a biennial plant growing to 60cm in height.
Biennial simply means that leaf celery grows vegetatively during the first year and fruits (seeds) and dies  at the end of the second year.
Leaf celery could be classified as a herb because the leaves are used just as much as the stalks in cooking.

Personally I wouldn't be without my leaf celery because it's a great substitute for the harder to grow culinary celery. 
I use it for making sugo, the tradition Italian tomato base for a lot of traditional dishes such as lasagne and bolognese.

Sugo For Sure-How to Make it

Sugo is made by first finely chopping onion, celery and carrot that frying for a few minutes until softer. Then adding the garlic and tomatoes to make a tomato base for any Italian dish.
Leaf celery stalks in my garden

However, if you like munching on celery stalks, or using them in Waldorf salads, it's not a substitute in that instance. 

The stalks of leaf celery are much thinner and hollow and have a more pungent taste ( to my liking) that normal culinary celery.

This winter I have practically depleted my supply of leaf celery because of the number of soups, and slow cooked meals I have been preparing. It’s just a great flavouring herb.
Leaf celery in flower in my garden

Easy Peasy Celery Salt

Celery salt can also be made from the seeds. Simply let one plant go to flower and set seed. Then once dried in situ, collect the seeds and crush them.
  • Corinne suggests dehydrating the leaves to make celery leaf salt.
Corinne Mossati, founder of

  has further suggestions.
    • Chop the stems and leaves and make a compound celery butter.
We both recommend growing leaf celery as a cut and come again herb or vegetable and an alternative to the larger stalked celery.
Much easier to grow too.

So let’s find out more by listening to the podcast.

If you have any feedback email or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675