Thursday, 26 April 2012

Create Atmosphere in the Garden

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition.
NEW SEGMENT:Compost Capers:Real World Gardener is starting another new segment called compost Capers. Cameron Little from Sustainability Systems, will be joining me in the studio to talk about worm farming. Today’s segment is an introduction to worms.

Vegetable Heroes;Cauliflower , Brassica oleracea,
 In Arid zones, plant direct into the garden from April until June, in cool temperate and temperate zones, February was the recommended time to sow seeds but you can sow seedlings until the end of May. If your district is sub-tropical, you might be able to squeeze in seed sowing if you do it straight after the show, otherwise, transplant seedlings until the end of June also. There is one exception, a variety called Caulifower All Year Round-Hybrid. This variety is available from your local nursery shows excellent vigour to reach maturity very early at 15 weeks. It has a large size, tight curd, and excellent taste.
 Soil and Site for Cauliflower--       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. 
If you’re at all unsure, whip out that pH test kit and give it a workout. If you need to add lime to the soil because it’s too acidic, leave at least four weeks between liming and manuring.  As with all brassicas, avoid using a plot on which a brassica crop was grown within the past two years.  Cauliflowers will definitely suffer if they are grown on the same plot for two or more years in a row.    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.  Because they grow slowly over a longer period of time, and have to face winter conditions, 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, prior 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:what is atmosphere in the garden? Is it the right collection of plants or just putting the garden bench in the right place? Why don't some gardens have atmosphere? It's a bit of a mystery that garden designer Lesley Simpson and I try to solve.

Plant of the week: Heliotropeum arborescens, Cherry Pie:
Did you know that butterfly gardening is a popular hobby today? Your first step should be to find out which butterflies are in your area. You can do this by spending some time outdoors with your field guide to see which species are around. For example if you live around Adelaide go to
If you want to encourage butterflies to your garden you need to plant shrubbery with flowers that these insects enjoy, like in plant of the week.
Leaf colour varies from dark green with deep veins to the golden colour of H. arborescens “Aureum.” The flowers are terminal clusters (or cymes) of salverform or funnelform  in mauve blue deep purple, white and pale purple,
Large slightly domed heads of purplish flowers almost smother the deeply veined, deep green foliage are vanilla scented that’s more noticeable in the evening .
Some say it smells like baby talc.
You have to bend down and smell them during the heat of the day.
The flowers are very attractive to butterflies.
There are many cultivars, Cherry pie has a pale purple, Plum Pie, has a deeper purple with darker leaves, and Lord Roberts, the flowers aren’t as big as Plum Pie, but also has the darker leaves. There’s also a white flowering cherry pie, and one with golden-yellow leaves as well.
Fragrant vanilla scented flowers that send out waves of fragrance.
This is a frost tender shrub which flowers all year round in mild climates and has a spreading habit. Height : 80cm x 85cm.
Heliotropes prefer a position in the sun to partial shade and a well drained fertile soil.
It won’t do much good in sandy impoverished soil, so if that’s what you’ve got, beef it up with homemade compost.
Otherwise, grow it in a tub.
Tip prune the plants often to keep them bush, prune spent flowers as well and cut back foliage to retain bushiness.
I find that an occasional branch dies back for whatever reason, but the rest keeps on going.
 Protect from hot and cold winds and keep well mulched and watered in hot weather. Needs protection from frost.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

What is Permaculture and Where to Put That Sculpture?

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition.

NEW SEGMENT:The Good Earth:The Good Earth segment with Penny Pyett will feature about once a month. Penny Pyett is the director of the Sydney Institute of Permaculture  to find a group near your, or just put in permaculture groups  into your search engine . Listen here to the introduction.
Vegetable Heroes: Mustard Lettuce/Greens, -  Brassica juncea
The flowers of Mustard Lettuce are very attractive to beneficial insects. And Mustard Greens tolerate light frost.
In all districts you can sow Mustard Lettuce seeds in spring and autumn. 
Mustard is grown like lettuce. Although it’s more heat tolerant than lettuce, long hot summer days will force the plant to bolt (go to seed) so it’s better to sow it in Autumn in warmer districts.
One of the mustard plant facts is that it loves cold. I have some popping up around my garden at the moment, not too many to make them a nuisance but enough for me to not have to save the seeds.         The variety I have is Red Giant. 
Red Giant has deep purplish-red, large, Savoy leaves with white mid-ribs. I would say about 25 to 30cm long and about half as wide.
The thick leaves have a medium spicy flavour and are excellent for adding to sandwiches with ham or other meats. 
 Supposedly all Red mustard varieties prefer cool climates for growing with full sun and rich soil with temperatures below 200 C. but I’ve found that they can tolerate heat a lot more than they’re supposed to.  I’d recommend them for all temperate climates as well.
Frost is tolerable, but freezing temperatures will kill crops.
TIP: Where to get the seed? If you’re wondering where to get the seed varieties like Red Giant, or Ruby Streak and Golden streaks that have finely serrated leaves, you can easily get them from online suppliers,  
Available in herb section of garden centres and nurseries.
Keep up the water to your plants during dry periods. 
Leaves get tough and have a strong flavour during hot, dry weather.
You Mustard lettuce should be ready in around 4-5 weeks.
I’ve gotta say, my Mustard lettuce pretty much looks after itself. I’ve always got a couple coming up in the veggie bed, and this year, only a couple of others in other spots in the garden.
Mustard lettuce leaves can be eaten raw, or cooked. For salads pick the leaves when they’re still small and tender. 
Either pick individual leaves just as you would any cut and come again lettuce, or the entire plant.            If you want to collect Mustard seeds, do this when the plants begin to yellow. You want to leave them on the plants as long as possible, but before the pods burst open and spill their seeds. That’s why last year I had hundreds of the little seedlings all over my veggie bed.
By the way, beneficial insects like lacewings and Predatory wasps like the yellow flowers of mustard plants.

Design Elements: Gardens shouldn’t be just a pretty place or a collection of plants, because it’s not a museum for plants, but a living thing. Demonstrate your personal design style and artistic interest with a garden sculpture. Use it as a complement to your plantings and landscape design or you can even use a specific piece of garden art as a focal point as you design your landscape. Listen here to the podcast with garden designer Lesley Simpson.

Plant of the Week:Grevillea "Cherry Pie."  We all know the garden is a living thing but few gardeners don’t want a host of other living things that make up our garden ecosystem. The bugs, the lizards, the butterflies and bees, sometimes a mammal or two, and the birds.
If you want to encourage small birds to your garden you need to plant shrubbery with small flowers that these birds enjoy, like in plant of the week.
For more information go to
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Saturday, 14 April 2012

Artistic Garden from the Ground Up and Ethereal Pandoreas

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm, 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on
Design Elements: Art in the garden series is to inspire you to add finishing touches or maybe change your view of the garden. You may not have considered the ground as a canvass for art in the garden before, Listen to Lesley Simpson garden designer here.
Vegetable Hoeroes:Onions.  Or Allium cepa from the Alliaceae family that contain Garlic, Leeks Shallots and Chives. You won’t cry with these onions because today I’m going to focus on the “odourless” Onions that will grow in all parts of Australia. I should specify that these seeds are of the  brown mid-season Odourless Onion readily available from garden centres from one of two major seed suppliers.,. There is a Red Odourless globe onion that is a long day variety, only suitable for cooler districts.
 In temperate and arid climates you can sow the seeds of Odourless Onions from mid-Autumn to early Winter. The same goes for sub-tropical areas.
In cool temperate zones, sow the seeds late Autumn to winter.They love sunny well drained beds, especially when the bulbs mature in summer.
 If you’re observing crop rotation, and you were growing tomatoes in that bed, always lime your soil  a week or two before planting onions.
 Avoid applying manures and blood and bone to the beds in which you're about to grow your onions because they prefer alkaline soil. You can use spent mushroom compost instead of cow manure.      Onion seeds can be sown into seed raising mix into punnets. Or if you want to sow them directly into the garden, make it easy for yourself, mix the seed with some river sand-say one packet of seed to one cup of sand and sow it that way. Bit like sowing carrots!
 They can be transplanted to garden beds when the seedlings are around 8 cms tall.     
TIP:When planting out onion seedlings, instead of planting them sticking straight up, lay them down in a trench and move the soil back over their roots. In about 10 days they're standing up and growing along strongly.
In about 6 months the onions should be ready-tops will start to yellow and go dry. Pull them up whole-leaves and all, and then leave in a dry place for 3 weeks to cure. Should last a year if stored in a cool and dry place. After that they'll porbably start sprouting.
Plant of the Week: Pandorea Jasminoides "Lady Di", or White Bower of Beauty has white trumpet flowers with a yellow throat, are a striking feature of this hardy climbing native plant. It’s perfect for training along pergolas and around archways and has shiny dark green attractive leaves. This is a hardy plant in most areas and soils, accepting of mild frosts, so that’s down to -30C,  through to tropical zones.
Evergreen in frost-free areas; perennial if roots are protected during heavy freezes, when it will die back to the ground. 
The Bower of beauty is a vigorous climber that likes part shade but accepts full sun as well. This popular and well known variety is native to NSW and Queensland but is often seen growing all over Australia. It can be easily trained over fences and trellises forming a dense screen.
  Why grow one at all? Bird attracting- Suitable for hedge- - Fast growing
So attractive, I had a birds nest in it for the last two years.
Flowers mainly in Spring and Summer, then you get the long seed pods filled with winged seeds that germinate easily given the right conditions.

I’ve given away quite a few plants that have been grown from seed.

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Thursday, 5 April 2012

Art in Garden Design and Bandicoots that Toot!

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition.
Wildlife in Focus:Long Nosed Bandicoots. The reason that bandicoots dig holes in your lawn, is not because it’s being destructive, but because you’ve got grubs in your lawn and he’s getting rid of them for you. Think of the bandicoot as your pest controller. Yes, temporarily, you’ll have holes in your lawn, but you can fill them in with a bit of top dressing and the lawn will recover. Hear all about them with Kurtis Lindsay.
Vegetable Heroes: The answer to the question which vegetable has more vitamin C than an orange? Broccoli, Brassica oleracea var Italica .
  Broccoli heads are actually groups of buds that are almost ready to flower; each group of buds is called a floret.     Broccoli can be sown now in all but the hottest and coldest of climates, but does need a cool winter to get to maturity. Temperate and cool climates suit Broccoli best with a temperature range of 150C to 250C.  The ideal time for cool temperate districts has just past, but maybe you can squeeze a few seedlings in a see how you go. However  Autumn is ideal for arid, temperate and sub tropical districts.
Sow the seeds 1.5 cm deep directly into the garden or in punnets.
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. Although, growing in too much shade will reduce the size of the Broccoli head.
The ideal soil is reasonably heavy (not pure clay) which is rich in nutrients and has been well-dug.  A light soil can be improved by the addition of compost.
 Adding blood and bone to sandy or a heavier soil which is not too rich in nutrients will also help.
Pick broccoli heads when they are still compact, and before the buds loosen, open into flowers, or turn yellow. It will be about 70-90 days or 2 ½ -3 months, when your Broccoli will be ready if you plant it now.
Design Elements: Since the beginning of civilization, cultures have incorporated art into their outdoor environment for spiritual or religious reasons.
Today’s gardeners are no different, using fine art and funny stuff in the home landscape — think stone carvings, birdbaths, bottletrees, gazing globes and painted metal sculpture. What else? Hear Lesley Simpson garden designer discuss walls in Art in Garden Design series.

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Plant of the Week:Banksia spinulosa "Cherry Candles." Low growing sub-shrub to 50 cmm height. Phosphorous sensitive native, but nectar feeding bird attractant. Tall spikes of cherry red or ruby pollen presenters appear from late summer until winter.
Frost tolerance:  Medium , down to -30C. Will die in heavy frost. So grow it under taller shrubs to protect it from those types of frost.
For more information visit the breeders site  -
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