Monday, 30 May 2011

I Musk Lorikeet

Real World Gardener for 25th May 2011 2RRR 88.5fm
Wildlife in Focus: Kurtis Lindsay talks to Marianne about the Musk Lorikeet. Just when you though a Lorikeet was a Lorikeet. Hear the podcast.

Vegetable Hero: Broad Beans-Vicia faba. What to do with those Broad Bean seeds?
 Direct planting into roughly prepared soil is the best way to grow BB.     Sow the seeds 5-10cm deep, that’s about the width of my small hand if I include the thumb, with 15-20cm between plants and 70cm or 2 ruler lengths between rows.      Your beans should be poking their heads through the soil in about 10-14 days after sowing, but will be slower the later you sow towards winter. Here’s a good tip:Soaking seeds overnight in diluted liquid seaweed can speed this up….germination.        Water seeds well as soon as you’ve put them into the ground and , then, don’t water them…MOST IMPORTANT   until after germination, to prevent the seeds from rotting. Ok, YOU CAN’T DO MUCH ABOUT IT IF IT RAINS.          Broad beans will need to be staked or supported to stop the plant collapsing under the weight of the mature beans.For those few parts of Australia that get frost, flowers formed during frosty weather are probably not going to set pods. Once spring arrives, pinch out the tips of the plants to encourage pod set.  Try to limit water stress as this will also affect pod set. That means don’t let them dry out!     Your beans should be ready in about 90 - 160 days-that’s 3-5 months, depending on how cold the weather is.  Pick the pods when the seeds are looking about the right size but not   hard. If left too long on the plant, beans are likely to be dry and less tasty.    Dig in the roots and leaves after harvest to add nitrogen to the soil.      Remember I mentioned that spacing the beans further apart is important? Well here’s why Broad beans are prone to fungal attack - brown spots on stems and leaves - particularly if planted too closely together or if planted in soils too rich in nutrients such as straight compost and manure.      Don’t grow broad beans in the same spot two years running as it can cause a build up of diseases in the soil.

Design Elements: Steeply sloping garden. A repeat from last week.

Plant of the Week:Proteas an favourite cut flower is great for water wise gardens. For all cultivation on these plants see

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Royal Wedding Memories with Sweet Williams

Real World Gardener on Community Radio 2RRR.
How about a plant that commemorates William and Kate’s wedding? Now that’s novel.
Feature Interview: Talking to Peter Maish, arboriculturalist and tree preservation officer with a local council. Peter talks about problems with trees and what you can do about them. Listen Here.

Vegetable Heroes: Cauliflowers, Brassica oleracea.   All cauliflowers need a neutral or slightly alkaline soil to do well. If the soil is too acidic, the plants won’t be able to access the trace elements they need, and may develop whiptail.  On the other hand, soils which are too limey or chalky can lead to stunted and discoloured cauliflower. Winter cauliflowers are much more tolerant of soil conditions, and will grow on most types of soil, as long as there is no water-logging.  Ease off on the liquid fertilisers with high Nitrogen, because Caulis grow slowly over a longer period of time, and the one thing you want to avoid is lush, rapid and therefore vulnerable growth.  If plenty of organic ferts have been dug in, there is no need for additional fertilizers, before to planting out winter cauliflowers. They need a sheltered site, with some protection from winds.  They do better in sun rather than in the shade.  A cauliflower is ready for cutting when the upper surface of the curd is fully exposed and the inner leaves no longer cover it.  As usual in your  veggie garden, cauliflowers are ready at the same time.  If the weather is warm and you leave the cauliflowers in the ground once they have matured, the heads expand and they become discoloured and less appealing. To avoid this lift some early, they will be quite edible.      Here’s a tip to not have to eat cauliflower everyday for a month, gather up the leaves and tie them together over the curd so that they cover it, using garden twine, an elastic band or raffia.  It will also protect the winter ones from the frost.
Design Elements:Even though Lesley and I talk about this garden problem in Sydney, around the country, there are plenty of places with exactly the same problem, and the solutions we suggest apply just as much to a garden in Hobart, as it would to a garden in Cairns.So what is today’s  Garden Design Problem well it is “I have a steeply sloping garden.”What to do? ” Listen here.

Plant of the Week:Today it’s about Sweet Willams.  Why not plant some of these aptly named plants to commemorate the wedding of William and Kate. I couldn’t have thought of anything more apt. There’s no point buying  commemorate mugs, plates etc, too many people will buy those and you’d probably have to live to 200 to gain any value. So, a sustainable alternative that will make you smile is Sweet Williams or Dianthus. This could be the plant you’re looking for.
a)   Dianthus plants are sun lovers and prefer average, well-drained soil. They appreciate a bit of humus in the top soil layer, but they will not survive long in a damp, highly fertile muck. Do not use mulch around pinks because their crowns tend to rot beneath it.
b)   Whetman Pinks have been the main grower and distributor of scented Pinks in the UK since 1936. And now they’re being propagated in Australia from UK stock plants, so virus free. 
c)    Two types that I know of from that range are d)Candy Floss:  Sugar pink and beautifully perfumed.  Approx flowering height 28cm (11"). A great variety for patio planters where you can enjoy the perfume on warm summer evenings.
d)Coconut Sundae:  Coconut Sundae is a beautiful white sport of Raspberry Sundae and produces a mass of perfumed flowers with a maroon eye.  It is really eye-catching.   Flowering height approx 20cm (8"). 

Saturday, 14 May 2011

When Is A Plover Not A Plover?

Real World Gardener for Wed 11th May 2011. Community Radio 2RRR 88.5fm.
Congratulations to the Habitat Nertwork  who have won an Honorable mention for Urban Landcare and also a joint 1st for the Innovation Award - through Sydney Metropolitan Catchment Management Authority! Well done to all in the Habitat Network & Bev Debrincat
Wildlife in Focus: Masked Lapwing or Vanellus miles. Listen to the podcast here.
For more information on the Masked Lapwing go to call of the Masked Lapwing was provided by Bill Rankin of the Australian Wildlife Sound Recording Group Listen here:

Vegetable Heroes: Grow a green manure crop.The steps are as follows- 
  1. Rake the garden smooth to prepare the seed bed.    Plant seeds that sprout and grow quickly for your green manure crop. 
  2. Recycle any kind of seeds for green manure - leftover flowers, outdated or extra veggies. You can add any out-of-date vegetable seeds you have left over from last season as well.  Just scatter the seed around your garden bed, about two handfuls per square meter.
  3. Lightly rake it over to get the seeds into the dirt, and water it in well. You may need to cover the bed with a net if the birds discover the free feast you’ve laid out for them.  
  4. Let the green manure crop grow 7-10 cm tall. Leave the green manure on the garden until it matures to control erosion and existing weeds in the bed - call it a cover crop.   Don't let it seed  With legume crops, when the plant begins to seed after flowering, the nitrogen fixing potential of the crop becomes less because  the nitrogen is partly used up in seed the forming process. With grain/grass crops, the flowers are insignificant and usually a light brown and difficult to notice. If you don't catch them in time, you will have lots of seeds falling into the bed and this will make it hard for you to stop the seeds sprouting of the green manure crop instead o the one you want.  
  5. When it has reached a good height (half a metre) and is not seeding, cut it down to the ground. If it is a small bed, use shears. If it is a large space, use a mower. Place all the green matter back on the bed and it will cover the bed and the roots of all the plants will remain in the soil. Leave the bed for about a month and don't dig up the crop, let it rot in the bed. It should not grow back because you haven’t let it seed.    I find this method easier then digging it in which is what gardeners used to do. That practise has been found to destroy soil structure too much and it’s a lot of hard work anyway. Save your back by doing it this way or you can use a digging fork to turn the plants and their roots completely into the soil.   
  6. Give the soil and the worms time to do their work. The green manure adds nitrogen and  also adds organic matter to improve your soil. Plant also in compacted areas - such as under trees - and newly graded lots. Allow little roots to break up the soil, which will aerate and renew its structure.
  7. For a cheap alternative trive bird seed that you buy from the supermarket. It should contain oats, wheat, barley, sunflower and many other seeds.
  8. for green manure seeds.
Design Elements: Lesley and I, will be talk about the problem of
“I have an awkwardly shaped shaded area between the house and fence where grass won't grow properly, and the second problem is have an awkwardly sized and shaped bit of the garden which receives some light.”What to do?  Listen here to the podcast.
Plant of the Week: Cotoneaster is a declared weed. Find facts and information on growing cotoneaster and some of the most common varieties. and look up the Grow Me Instead booklet.  These plants have become widespread weeds in bushland and farming land. Prostrate forms sold as ground covers or rockery plants do not appear to be invasive.  Gardeners often choose trees and shrubs with showy persisten berries for winter colour in their gardens when flowers are scarce. Unfortunately these berries often attract birds and small mammals that spread the seeds of these unwanted plants into bushland and open spaces. By eating the berries of course. If you really want to feed the birds and look after the environment, you should be planting any number of Banksias-try B. Collina v spinulolsa for the biggest flower spikes on any Banksia.