Sunday, 31 July 2011

Marching To The Beet

REALWORLD GARDENER 27th July 2011, 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney

Wildlife in Focus" Dusky Moorhen with Kurtis Lindsay. Some say it can't fly, othere say it looks like a chicken, but listen here to find out what this bird can really do.
Vegetable Heroes: Beta vulgaris or Beetroot.This is the time to plant our seeds or seedlings for warm and temperate areas of Australia, but colder areas need to wait until September,Best planted at soil temperatures between 7°C and 25°C.  You can grow beetroot in pots, but they need to be BIG pots, like at least 30cm diameter or those poly styrene jobbies from the green grocer.Position-wise, beetroots aren’t overly fussy. They’ll tolerate full sun to part shade and even do fairly well in dappled light under a deep rooted tree. Soak seeds in water in a shallow saucer for 24 hours before planting so that you can separate the seeds. Keep well-watered and adding liquid fertilisers such as Fish emulsion. Remember Seaweed stuff is not a fertiliser. Dry beetroot develop a woody and inedible core. For  really tasty and tender beetroot, start pulling them out at golfball-size. When they get to 7.5cm they get a but woody tasting.
Citrus Care: Now's the time to spray your citrus with Lime Sulfur to combat Citrus Louse Scale and knock off Bronze Orange Bug eggs while you'r at it. For product info your citrus to allow more air circulation into the centre of the tree if you have the scale problem. Remove and dead and twiggy growth.

Plant of the Week: Daphne odora and Daphne odora "Eternal Fragrance."
Before you couldn’t grow it in tropical gardens, only cool to cold climates.

There was this problem that daphnes’  leaves suddenly hanging down limply, and felt leathery and dry. Most often, this is also caused by over watering. About 20 years ago, there was a daphne virus, but you rarely get the virus in daphne. But the idea still hangs on that your Daphne will suddenly drop dead.
People think that daphne love to be moist all the time, but you should just water the daphne and let it dry out. Use mulch to keep the roots cool.
If daphnes are over or under watered, it causes them great stress and that's when insects like scale attack.   Then there is the location - Daphnes liked morning sun or an easterly-facing spot - anywhere that's got shade from the hot afternoon sun. Don't forget really good drainage is also important. ­So it all seemed a bit tricky.
'Eternal Fragrance' offers an extended flowering period - with the main flush in spring and continuous spot flowering throughout the year, particularly in the warmer months.
Buy online from

Saturday, 23 July 2011

It's Camellia Tea Time

Real World Gardener Wed 20th July 2011 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm

Feature Interview: RWG talks to Mike Barrett, executive member and president of the Weeds Society of NSW, about an upcoming seminar on "Environmental Weed, Current Policies and Practices. Wed, 27th July at Epping Club, 45-47 Rawson street Epping. Registration is preffered at or ring  or email Mike on 9875 3087 ;
Vegetable Hero: Camellia sinensis or Tea Camellia. Yes, that's right, grow you own tea in your backyard or on the balcony!
The China tea bush, or Camellia chinensis, produces small tea leaves and grows to about 1.6m. It is a very hardy, multi-stemmed but slow growing shrub.Get the history of tea here
You will have to keep it clipped to about a metre so you have plenty of new flushes of growth to pick from.
Camellias like acid soil, so for pots, add some coco peat into the potting mix.
To make  green tea •Pick the very youngest leaves and leaf buds.
•Blot the leaves dry, and let dry in the shade for a few hours.
•Steam the leaves (like you would vegetables) on your stove for about a minute.
•For a different flavour, try roasting them in a skillet for 2 minutes instead of steaming.
•Spread the leaves on a baking sheet and dry in the oven at 120 C for 20 minutes.•Store the dried tea leaves in an air-tight container.
To make black tea•Pick the very youngest leaves and leaf buds like before.
•Roll the leaves between your hands, and crush them until the leaves start to darken and turn red.
•Spread them out on a tray, and leave them in a cool location for 2-3 days.
•Dry them in the oven at 120 C (250F)  for about 20 minutes.•Store in an air-tight container.
Buy the Tea Camellia at Camellia specialist nurseries and at the Friends nursery at Royal Botani Gardens, Sydney.
Design Elements: Lesley Simspon, garden designer and Marianne (host) talk about Chelsea Flower Show 2011, and what else is there besides the major design awards. Listen to the podcast.

Plant of the Week: On the topic of Weeds, Purple Pea Bush or Polygala myrtifolia has mauve-purple, pea-shaped flowers produced throughout most of the year. Flowers develop two-celled flattened seed capsules that ripen from green to papery brown.
a)   Introduced as an ornamental and known to be naturalised in Victoria in 1886. Mainly naturalised in coastal areas where it is an increasing environmental problem. Biological control agents are being investigated for potential control of this weed.
b)  For more info, go to and
a)      ALTERNATIVES:  Geraldton Wax  Chamelaucium uncinatum cultivars
These small to medium sized native shrubs from Western Australia reach 1.5–2 m high with linear, narrow highly aromatic leaves up to 4 cm long. Small flowers occur profusely in spring through to summer and darken as they age. Recommended as a  cut flower, they can be picked in bud or at the full flowering stage. Colours available are:-white 'Alba'; purple 'Purple Pride' red to white 'Sweet Sixteen', and the double flowering pink 'Raspberry Ripple'.A highly

Sunday, 10 July 2011

One Potato, Two Potatoes, Three Potatoes, Four!

REAL WORLD GARDENER for 6th July 2011 2RRR 88.5fm
Feature Interview: Talking to Noel Plumb, Ryde Bush regeneration convener. Contact more info email
Vegetable Heroes:Potatoes like to grow in a deep rich soil, plant seedling potatoes in a trench and as they grow pile the earth up around them. You will need to hill the the rows or potato container several times until the potatoes have flowered to stop the greening of tubers and also protect them from potato moth. Doing this will give you more potatoes as they tend to form on roots near the surface, as you pile up the soil, you get new roots, , more potatoes.... Chicken manure or blood and bone should be dug through the bed as potatoes need a lot of phosphorus but not too much nitrogen.  Pick your potatoes when the vine has died down to the ground, that’s if you want the most potatoes, but they can be harvested from when the first baby potatoes are formed.  The lower leaves should be turning yellow – this happens about 3 to 4 weeks after flowering.  For more info on potatoe growing go to
Design Elements: Lesley Simpson, garden designer and Marianne (host) give an overview of the 2011 Chelsea Flower Show. Listen here.

Plant of the Week: Azalea spp.
a)      SITE and SOIL: Plant in an area of semi-shade - the dappled shade beneath open-branched trees is a favourite location. Azaleas will grow in more open situations, but they prefer morning sun, with protection from hot afternoon sun in summer. They like a mildly acidic, organically enriched soil (pH 5-6), so avoid applying lime or fresh manures. Before planting, feed soil with compost and aged manure to improve moisture retention. Don't plant azaleas in cement pots or near new brickwork as the lime from the pot or mortar can leach into the soil, making it alkaline.     
(b)Azaleas are surface-rooting plants, so they don't need very deep soil to thrive - about 30-40cm is adequate.  Make sure they have good drainage and the roots must be cool and moist.
In the sustainable garden, pick off the mushy brown blooms daily if you encounter the fungal disease -Petal Blight. Doing this will reduce the spread, and next year, you'll have less of a problem.
Trim off leaves affected by Azalea lace bug-that gives the leaves a mottled silvery look.

Friday, 1 July 2011

No Whisky In This Nightjar

Real World Gardener for 29th June 2011 on 2RRR 88.5fm

Wildlife In Focus: Kurtis Lindsay talks about the Tawny Frogmouth or Nightjar. Some might have mistaken this for an owl with its owl like features. Find out the difference between Nightjars and Owls by listening to the podcast.
Photo of Nightjar taken by David Little.
Vegetable Heroes go fruity with Washington Navels. The most popular fruit tree in the world. Citrus sinensis "Washington Navel."  Navels have a small immature fruit at the apex of the fruit giving it that tell tale Navel. The skin is very bright and easy to peel, the fruit is sweet and juicy, but doesn't keep.
Navels mature in winter, so if your tree has fruit in summer then it's a Valencia.
Orange trees need excellent drainage so dig a hole, twice the size of the pot, and fill with water. If the water doesn't drain away in 30 minutes, then select another another site or grow another type of tree.
Orange trees hate root competition of any kind. No lawn, undercover plants of anykind, just mulch, otherwise the tree will sulk and not flourish.
Fertilise with organic pellets and blood and bone.
Design Elements: Lesley Simspon, garden designer discusses with Marianne, (presenter)  the problem of " I wanted a natural garden but it went all pear shaped/" Listen here for the solution.

Plant of the Week: Sabina and Marianne talk about Artemesia sp. or wormwood. Artemsias are members of the Asteraceae family. That means the flowers are daisy like, even though fairly small.    Artemisa absinthum Lambrook Silver for all year round colour.‘ and Artemisia vulgaris or common wormwood makes a great grey foliaged hedge. 
 I grew up with a hedge of Artemisia vulgaris at the front of the house so I’m very familiar with the particular scent that common Wormwood gives off. When I got to high school I used to manually prune the hedge, and I don’t recall getting stiff and sore arms like I do now when I prune plants.   It is a tall herbaceous perennial plant growing 1–2 m (rarely 2.5 m) tall, with a woody root. The leaves are 5–20 cm long, dark green, pinnate, with dense white tomentose hairs on the underside.  It flowers from February to April. You can prune Wormwood quite hard, even back to the old wood and it reshoots.
Artemisa absinthum "Lambrook Silver " Grown for its silvery, fernlike, deeply cut and aromatic foliage. Cut off the insignificant flowerheads to encourage new leaves.  You can buy it online-