Thursday, 31 January 2013

Herbs and Spice and all thing Nice

Spice it Up


Dill herb The earliest known record of dill as a medicinal herb was found in Egypt 5,000 years ago.
Gladiators were fed meals covered with dill because it was hoped that the herb would give them valour and courage.
There are traditional uses for dill the herb, what about the seed?
Did you know that Dill seeds were called “meetinghouse seeds” because they were chewed during long church services to keep members awake or kids quiet. The seeds were also chewed in order to freshen the breath and quiet noisy stomachs. I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from Herbies Spices
Dill likes to be planted in cool weather. In warm winter areas that don't experience a hard frost, you can plant dill in autumn or winter.
In cooler areas, plant dill a week or two before your last hard frost.
After the first sowing, plant again every 10 days or so if you need lots of dill for a continuous crop.
For balcony gardeners or gardeners with potted herb garden, when growing in pots, use a deep one  so the long tap root has somewhere to go.
Remember that you will eventually have a plant that is about a metre tall so you might want to stake your plant.
The seeds are used in pickling and can also improve the taste of roasts, stews and vegetables. Try grinding the seeds to use as a salt substitute. Both the flowering heads and seeds are used in flavoured vinegars and oils.
If you have a herb garden, send in a photo or drop us a line to. or write in to 2RRR po Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Vegetable Heroes:

  • Radishes! Raphanus sativus or Radish, a member of the Brassicaceae family.
  • There’s a lot to be said about the Radish, but some of it not complimentary. The word radish comes from the Latin word radix, meaning root. Fair enough.
  • Many think the radish first grew in Asia but it was certainly grown in Egypt in 2780 BCE. Egyptian writing reports that radishes were a common food in ancient Egypt before the pyramids were built.
  • Not only the Egyptians but also the Greeks raised and ate Radishes.
  • In Ancient Greece the radish was so revered that gold replicas were made and offered to the god Apollo, who it seems was a very busy god responsible for a number of things, including medicine and healing.
  • The first radishes that were grown were black.
  • It wasn’t until the 1700s that there were white varieties, and red radishes.
  • In France, Radishes would be served when you began a meal, to cleanse your palate and get it ready for the feast that came next.
  • You could even try that yourself at home!
  • Did you grow Radishes as a kid? I certainly did. They’re pretty easy to grow and as a youngster, you might’ve overwatered them. Then they became hollow inside. Hands up for that one!
  • Radishes can be grown all year round, in arid, tropical and subtropical areas In temperate and cool mountain zones, avoid trying to grow them in winter, they’ll slow down to practically a crawl if they grow at all.
  • The variety French Breakfast holds up and grows better than most early types in the summer heat as long as they’re watered regularly.
  • You can sow radishes now but to have radishes in winter you need to sow them towards the end of autumn. 
  • Seedlings take 1 or two weeks to appear.
  • They grow more slowly than spring sowing of radishes; but they grow much larger, remain crisp longer, and are usually more pungent at this time of year.
  • They also hold in the ground or store longer than spring varieties.
  • There are two things that radishes really nead-
  • (i)Radishes grow well in almost any soil that’s got the usual compost, and organics added to it before planting.(ii)R
  • adishes need plenty of water. Not enough water makes the radishes grow really slowly, also makes radishes taste a bit hot and peppery, and woody in texture.
  • Then again, too much water and they develop with a hole in the middle.
  • Radishes grow super fast! From seedling to harvest is usually about 25-30 days. That’s 3 1/2 -4weeks.
  • At the seedling stage you can add a liquid fertiliser once a week.
  • But one thing to note, at the growing stage, don’t add any more fertiliser when you’re watering otherwise you’ll get lots of leaf and hardly any radish.
  • Keep them watered and check them often. They will be ready to eat before you know it.
  • By checking your radishes often when they’re getting close to the size you want, they won’t speed past their best time to be picked, and certainly before heat, sponginess or seedstalks can begin to develop.
  • Q. Why do my radishes grow all tops with no root development?
  • A. There may be several reasons: seed planted too thickly and plants not thinned , weather too hot for the spring varieties that do best in cool temperatures (planted too late or unseasonable weather) and way too much shade.
  • Q. What causes my radishes to be too "hot"?
  • A. The "hotness" of radishes results from the length of time they have grown rather than from their size. The radishes either grew too slowly (not enough waterering) or are too old.
  • Why are radishes good for You?
  • Radishes are a very good source of fibre, vitamin C, folic acid and potassium, and a good source of riboflavin, vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, copper and manganese. Basically are vitamin pill in a compact package that’s crunchy.
  • Radishes are also mildly anti-inflammatory, so there you have it, lots of good reasons to start getting into those radishes now.

Design Elements:

with landscape designer Louise McDaid
We’ve been updating our garden over the last couple of weeks. Starting with flowers and flower colour, then changing or putting in some new foliage colour. Perhaps some grasses or cordylines with pink or red, like Cordyline “Electric Pink” with a muted pink shade really.That was last week. Today, we’re talking about what do you do if you just want to update your existing plants? Sounds like you don’t have to spend a penny, just put in some hard yards in the garden to give it a fresh look.

How about moving some plants when the weather’s cooler?
I always find moving plants is very satisfying, especially if you move them into the right location where they just suddenly look better. That’s a great way of updating your garden with existing plants.
Of course moving plants is best done in the cooler weather even if you do spray them with Stressguard. It’s just too hot right now.

But think about if your gardens need some of that type of adjustment like that, and make a note of where you would like the plants to go.

There should be plenty of ideas to get you started if you’re a beginner gardener, and some tips for those of you who’ve been doing it for a while.
The Helichrysum petiolare that Louise mentioned is commonly known as Licorice plant. Helichrysum comes in two colourways, the traditional grey green foliage of the species and the lime green foliage of Helichrysum petiolare “Limelight.” Easily clipped into a bun shape or grown as a low hedge.


Plant of the Week:

  • Do you buy seeds on impulse, never to put them in the ground?
  • Apparently research shows that at least half of seed buys buy seeds implusively.
  • Well, here’s some encouragement to get you sowing some flowers. Namely Granny’s Bonnet, Columbines or Aquilegia.
  • Belonging to the Ranunculaceae family.
  • It seems strange that two birds as different as the eagle (in Latin, aquila) and the dove (columbus) should both give their name to the same flower - the aquilegia, or columbine.
  • The petals are supposed to resemble the outspread wings of these birds, and the spurs their arched necks and heads.
  • There’s so many mouth-watering colours and cultivars to choose from.
  • Sizes vary from dwarf to normal sized flowers anywhere from 30cm to  70cm tall.
  • Apart from orange, the spectrum includes every other colour from white through to black.
  • Aquilegiaflowers are exotic looking, and quite complex shape –the flower has 5 petals with hooked spurs and 5 petal-like sepals. 
  • The petals are shaped like a  'horn ', and have nectary-producing glands deep inside the flower where only the longer-tongued bumble bees can reach. 
  • The leaves are maidenhair fern like, or tri-foliate or oval shaped, and a sort of mid to glaucous green.
  • Aquilegias lend themselves to cottagey or semi-wild settings.
  • They prefer dappled shade. They love deep, rich soil.
  • Most garden varieties don’t resent clay, but alpine types prefer well-drained loam.
  • When to sow Aquilegia in your district:
  • Sow seeds of Aquilegia from February to May in Tropical and Sub-tropical and Temperate areas, for cool temperate areas, wait until March then continue planting until May.
  • Before sowing the seeds, work in extra humus: old muck or garden compost is best.
  • Mulch with the same material.
  • There’s no need to fertilise if you add this compost etc before sowing seeds.
  • Keep this plant moist at all times. If you let Columbines dry out they’ll go dry brown and crispy.
  • There’s those that say, remove the seed heads to let the plant to continue flowering, and also seed set weakens any plant’s life.
  • If you’re doing this, cut out the old stems so you can get another lot of flowers.
  • I've never found auilegia to be weedy. They can self sow a little bit, but only if conditions are right, ie, moist soil, not overly sunny, or perhaps just morning sun only.
  • If you want lots of Columbines, save the seed and sow it fresh if you want more plants elsewhere.
  • In late winter you can lift and divide rootstocks of Columbines, and plant them out 30cm apart.




Sunday, 27 January 2013

Eat It with Flowers

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
Real World Gardener is funded by CBF, Community Broadcasting Foundation.
The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition.

Wildlife in Focus

with ecologist Sue Stevens
White-winged Chough's eye In Spanish, Chova De Alas Blancas, in Italian Gracchio Australiano Alibianche, in German Drosselkrähe.
What am I talking about? The White Winged Chough....

As Sue mentioned, white-winged choughs usually have four adults that are deployed to feed one young, because the beetle grubs they eat are so difficult to find. But they will also kidnap young from another family, enticing them away by spreading their wings like a toreador's cloak. The youngster is fed for the first season, then recruited into the feeding team in the next year. The result is a bigger "family", that can raise more young.
If you’ve seen this bird, perhaps in Callum Brae woodland around Canberra, or just around your neck of the woods, send in a photo, or mention where you’ve seen it, all info to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Vegetable Heroes:

  • Flowers belong to plants that have fruits and those that have vegetables. So can be classed as both, also because you can eat some flowers of both.
  • Edible flowers sounds like it could be good but is it?
  • Why would you eat flowers anyway?
  • Why are some of Australia’s top restaurants, demanding flowers of violas, fennel, coriander, peas, rocket and Borage?
  • Some explanation can be found from the history of edible flowers which can be traced back thousands of years.
  • Romans used edible flowers such as mallows, roses and violets in a lot of their dishes.
  • You’ve probably heard of and even eaten capers, but did you know capers (Capparis spinosa) are the flower buds of an Mediterranean evergreen shrub and have been used to flavour foods and sauces for over 2,000 years?
  • And believe it or not, but Dandelions were one of the bitter herbs referred to in the Old Testament of the bible.
  • Edible flowers such as daylilies and chrysanthemums have been used by the Chinese and Greeks for centuries.
  • In a fifteenth century book of recipes in a list of herbs considered necessary for the garden are borage flowers, daisies, violets to be used in soup, violets for sauce and gilly flowers (that’s clove pinks to you and me) for drinks."
  • Seems like eating flowers is nothing new.
  • Nobody says you should tuck into a plate of flowers, that would be too much.
  • If you suffer from hayfever, then give eating flowers a big miss as well.
  • Never eat flowers bought at a flower shop or nursery as these may have been treated with harmful chemical.
  • Another warning, not all flowers are edible, and some are poisonous if you can’t identify the flower, then don’t eat it.
  • Then there are some  that aren’t poisonous, but don’t taste nice.
  • Stick to the ones you can identify from the ones that are mentioned in this segment.
  • Which flowers are safe? Well, I’ll talk you through a number of flowers some you might know already.
  • Back to that question of why are restaurants adding flowers to their dishes?.. Is there something that you eat that’s a tad boring that needs an extra bit of zing and colour?
  • Ever thought of tossing Nasturtium and Calendula petals into a fresh garden salad, or top a parfait with a couple of violets or heartsease?
  • Everyone’s heard of stuffed zucchini flowers, and maybe Nasturtium flowers as well. They’re easy to identify. But what do they taste like?
  • Nasturtium flowers are sweet with a peppery flavour. Zucchini flowers taste sweet, with a honey nectar flavour.
  • What about any others?
  • Calendula or Pot Marigold tastes a bit like Saffron-spicy tangy and peppery.
  • Flowers of the herb Rocket are much less peppery than the leaves, but the propeller shaped flowers are delicate, so handle these carefully.
  • Violets and heartsease taste like sweet nectar and suit desert dishes.
  • Borage is another one that many people might know already-those bright blue flowers on the blue-green stalks with large leaves that are a bit rasp like to touch. Borage flowers tastes a little like mild cucumbers.
  • Pea flowers –guess what, they taste like peas.
  • What should you do when collecting the flowers and how do you use them in your dishes.
  • First of all, unless the flavour suits the dish, then there’s no point to adding the flower, so good chefs say. Take note all you budding Masterchefs.
  • Looking pretty isn’t enough, it has to enhance the food.
  • You might use pea flowers with other green flavours, and of course the flowers that taste of sweet nectar are used to lift the flavours of sweet dishes.
  • Those with peppery or spicey flavours go well in salads.
  • Pick your flowers just before you’re about to use them if at all possible.
  • Check them carefully for bugs, but don’t wash them, because the petals are fairly delicate.
  • Store them in the fridge in a plastic container covered with a damp paper towel while you’re preparing dinner, or lunch.
  • Just as you’re about to serve the meal, add the flowers as a final touch.
  • Sweet flowers can be combined with tea or frozen into ice cubes. Ground dried petals can be mixed into biscuit pastry or pancake batter for something different.
  • Some flowers in your vegetable garden you don’t want to pick because they’ll grow in veggies that you want. So just be selective.
  • There are others that you need to pick even if you’re not going to eat them because the leaves of these plants become bitter, these are -greens including spinach, kale, mustard, bok choi, broccoli, and lettuces, radish and for herbs, basil, coriander, thyme, and mint.
  • Why are edible flowers good for you?
  • The flowers contain a portion of the same nutrients that the plant they came from has. Simple as that.
  • Finally, remember if you’re not sure, to check with a reference book, your garden centre or nursery, before eating a flower to make sure it’s safe to eat.

Design Elements:

with Landscape Designer Louise McDaid
Updating your garden with foliage:
Do flowers play the starring role in your garden, while the greenery gets relegated to backstage?The greenery, or foliage if you like, are the mainstay of gardens and garden design because they’re there all year when the flowers fade. Think of the delicate fronds of ferns or the fountain like effects of many types of ornamental grasses. The leaves of these plants don’t just serve as a lovely background for flowers, because they have their own attraction. There are some really beautiful foliaged plants that could be used as a dominant feature alongside your flowers. Remember, foliage will carry your garden through all seasons, long after the flowers have faded away. If doesn’t hurt the pocket to update your garden in this series, because we’re not doing the crazy make-over.

There should be plenty of ideas to get you thinking about updating the foliage in your garden.

Plant of the Week:

Agastache Plants, Varieties and Species
Would you like a mass of flowers to lift your garden after all relentless days of heat? How about Agastache? Sounds terrible, but it should be as familiar as say Salvia or Geranium because it’s so useful in the garden. Each one has a scent of it’s own and is attractive to bees and butterflies.Most species of Agastache grow upright from 50cm to 2 metres tall. Plants known as Korean Mint and Licorice Mint are actually members of the Agastache family, so you might know them already.
They all grow easily in a sunny or part shaded position with an occasional watering but can tough it out in dry conditions.
Being in the mint family, the leaf tips of quite a few can be used in teas, and Sweet Hyssop flowers can be eaten as well.
Agastache are a must buy for the dry garden, a clump forming perennial growing from rhizomes. Agastache will grow to 1m +
If you grow herbs, a lot of different herbs, you probably already grow Hyssop which is one of the common names of Agastache.
Perhaps you have a herb garden and hadn’t considered this particular herb because you’ve never seen it in your local nursery. It’s a must have for the herb garden, and you can order it from many plant catalogues in Victoria and NSW.
In the Lamiaceae of mint family, most Agastache have serrated oval scented leaves.
Some you can use to make herbal teas.
Purple Candle Agastache flowers from late spring and mainly in summer with masses of bottlebrush like flowers that are attractive to bees butterflies beneficial insects and perhaps even birds.
The best thing about this perennial is that it adds colour to the summer garden which quite often has started to wind down in the colour stakes.
 A drought tolerant perennial plant that have great flowers, agastache are originally from the United States as well as some species from China, most garden species are from the US. Great plants for attracting bees, butterflies, beneficial insects and even birds, all love the tall flower spikes of Agastache.
Species and cultivars including A mexicana or Mexican Giant Hysop can be cut back after flowering to encourage a second flush of flowers.
Some of the best species and cultivars include : Agastache rugosa (Korean Mint), Agastache Foeniculum (Anise Hyssop) or Licorice Mint and Agastache aurantiacus or 'Apricot Humming Bird Mint'.
Flowering from mid summer through to autumn Agastache mexicana is attractive to birds and bees and is an easy to care for plant. A humus rich moist but well drained soil is best, however Agastache mexicana comes into its own during dry spells when it will happily keep going with very little water.
Lots of new cultivars are becoming available including
 Agastache “Orange”A fabulous summer flowering Agastache with masses of apricot/orange flowers with highly fragrant silver foliage with sweet mint smell.
'Coming early 2012' A fabulous summer flowering Agastache with masses of apricot/orange flowers with highly fragrant silver foliage with sweet mint smell.
Agastache ‘Salmon Pink’:-Flowering prolifically in late spring, summer and autumn.
Both of these flower in late spring, summer and autumn. Grow 1m high x 1m wide
These Agastache quickly develops into a full bush. Ideal for sunny borders, clustered in perennial borders or combination patio containers. Is frost and drought resistant, tolerates hot dry or wet summers. Attract bees and other beneficial insects to your garden with this plant.
**Agastache ‘Sweet Lili’A lovely new Agastache with masses of rose/pink flowers over the warmer months with a lovely sweet mint smell. SIZE:-1m high x 50cm wide
Has upright spikes of tubular, 2 lipped flowers.
The scented leaves may be used to make herbal tea. Flowers in late spring, summer and autumn.
Looks beautiful in a mixed perennial planting with Salvia 'African Sky' and Gaura 'So White' as they all flower at the same time, have similar growth habits and enjoy similar growing conditions.
All of these types of Agastache  just need you to  remove spent flowers, fertilise when planting and you can cut back in early spring.
The also like a full sun position and well drained soil
 Agastache ‘Blue Fortune’ Blue Fortune is a summer flowering perennial and a proven performer in gardens. It is easy to grow and drought tolerant after establishment. FLOWERING:-Masses of blue flower spires appear in Summer; Agastache' blue fortune' which will reach over 1m.x 50cm
Pruning:-Trim lightly after main flowering flush is finished for extended blooming. Cut back to approx 25cm in early spring to make way for new growth.
To sum up: In general Agastache like the same growing conditions; full to half day of sun, a lean (infertile soil) with fast drainage and not too much supplemental watering once established.
You can grow some varieties in pots-about 25-30cm in diameter.
Generally, these plants are very low care and flower without too much trouble.
Flowers won’t appear if the plants have been given too much nitrogen rich fertilizer or compost during the growing season. This causes lush, green growth with few flowers. Is it possible these plants were over fertilized?
Crowding are too much water doesn’t prevent flowering with these plants.
If you do grow Agastache and they haven’t flower for you, don’t cut down the stems of the non-bloomers; wait until mid-spring. Watch the plants carefully during the growing season. If they lack vigour and/or don’t set flowers by mid-summer, you may want to replace the plants with fresh plants or volunteer seedlings that will invariably show up in your garden next spring.

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Friday, 18 January 2013

Bring Joy to the Garden with Flowers

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.
Real World Gardener is funded by CBF, Community Broadcasting Foundation.
The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s edition.

Feature Interview

with Anthony Grassi, Events Coordiantor Frangipani Society of Australia.
Turn your garden into a tropical paradise with a selection of Frangipanis?  Why not? There are so many colours now to choose from.
Ever heard the saying "Perfumes are the feelings of flowers."  - Heinrich Heine, a garden lover.
We’re all familiar with the lovely creams, lemons and pinks, but new hybrids offer colour breakthroughs ranging from chartreuse, blue and purple to warm coral and burgundy as well as stunning combinations with colour veining through the flowers.
Listent to the interview for tips on care, maintenance and a new method of propagating called 'bag' striking.

The Frangipani Society of Australia (FSA) is a group of friendly people passionate about Plumeria spp (Frangipani). If you are interested in growing more varieties and species of Frangipani, or if you need advice on how to care for your Frangipani, join the FSA !
Membership entitles you to participate in the online email group, as well as receiving a quarterly newsletter full of interesting articles about Frangipani.

Vegetable Heroes:

  • Celeriac or Apium graveolens var rapaceum Celeriac has been described as the ugly duckling of vegetables, or just plain ugly, but if you don’t think of vegetables as pretty or ugly, don’t be put off by all that talk.
  • This vegetable is closely related to celery and is thought to have originated in the Mediterannean.
  • It was first recorded as a food plant in France in 1623, and was grown in most of Europe by the end of the 17th century.
  • Celeriac looks like it might be the root of something, but it actually is the swollen stem.
  • The usual size you see in the supermarket is roughly 10cm, a very pale brown, rough, almost acne’ed looking ball with lime green tops.
  • The green tops look a bit like celery, and the smell is similar but a bit stronger.
  • When to grow it?
  • In sub-tropical areas you can sow the seed in March, April and August.
  • In most other regions of Australia, you can sow the seed in Spring, Summer and Autumn, except for the tropics. It’s not really suited to that region. But should you be listening somewhere in tropical Qld, and have grown Celeriac, please drop us a line about your success.
  • Celeriac is best planted at soil temperatures between 8°C and 21°C.
  • Hot summers won’t suit this plant. Wait until this hot weather takes a break or  start the seeds off in punnets.
  • Tip:Celeriac seeds are a bit hard to germinate, but if you soak the seeds in a saucer of water with a splash of seaweed solution, this will help the germination rate.
  • Like a lot of members of the Celery family, Celeriac likes soil that has plenty of organic compost and manures, otherwise, it’ll bolt to seed.
  • If you start your Celeriac seed in punnets, you can control the moisture content of the mix more easily rather than in the garden bed. This is what I do with all my seeds at the height of summer.
  • Transplant when there’s at least 4 leaves.
  • Celeriac loves wet soil. You can’t water it too much, and a thick layer of mulch will help in keeping the soil moist.
  • If you don’t water it enough you might get hollow roots or the plant will bolt to seed.
  • Keep the weeds down as well because celeriac doesn’t compete well with weeds,  but don’t disturb its shallow roots.
  • As the root develops, snip off side roots and hill the soil over the developing root.
  • Side dressing periodically during the growing season with an organic fertilizer high in nitrogen, like chook poo, is also helpful, but don't overdo it, otherwise you’ll get lots of leaf, rather than  root, growth.
  • Celeriac is slow-growing, taking around seven months from seed to  maturity (that is, about four months from transplanting), although the root is edible at any earlier stage.
  • Likewise, some say celeriac is frost-tender, while others say a few light frosts won't bother it. I’m inclined to think that it helps its flavour.
  • I have heard that "celeriac increases in flavour after the first frost.
  • Also, some recommend drawing soil up around the stems in early autumn, to blanch them; others don't bother.
  • Apart from the long growing season, pests don’t seem to like Celeriac, so a bonus. No spraying needed.
  •  What do you do with this vegetable?
  •  Celeriac is most often eaten raw. A classic way of using it is to grate it or cut it into thin strips or cubes, and to serve it as a salad seasoned with a dressing. Celeriac can also be cooked, either on its own or together with other vegetables. 
  •  It makes a good puree mixed with potatoes, but best of all, it makes a non-starch substitute for potatoes. Celeriac mash anyone?

Design Elements

wuth Louise McDaid
Would you like a garden make-over but think, Nah, it’s too costly? There are other ways of making over your garden without all that expense that you see on those televised garden renovation shows every week.
Over the next few weeks, Design Elements will explain different ways of updating your garden without all that expense, sweat and hard labour. We’ll cover updating your garden in many different ways, including using existing plants, colour and shape of plants, and easy make-overs. Today, we’re starting with updating your garden using flower colour.
There should be plenty of ideas to get you started if you’re a beginner gardener, and some tips for those of you who’ve been doing it for a while.
"The world is a rose; smell it and pass it to your friends."
- Persian Proverb

Plant of the Week

with Sabina Fielding-smith

Shore Juniper / Juniperus conferta / 這杜松(ハイネズ) Shore juniper Juniperus horizontalis

Does part of your garden look like it never saw a plant? Perhaps it’s baked by too much sun or the soil in that spot resists improvement. Is a sloping site, where water is always running off and even weeds can’t get a foot hold?Here’s a plant, although not native, is as tough as old boots, even a cast iron plant and all those things which make it a reliable performer.
A lot of Juniper species, or ground covery type of conifers, are good to include into any type of garden even if you dislike conifers. Because of there low stature, not growing terribly tall, that fit into any garden where you need to fill a problem gap.
Shore juniper Juniperus horizontalis, as the name suggests is salt tolerant, and very hardy. It can also take moderate frosts and short periods of drought.
Shore juniper can grow anywhere in Australia.
Shore juniper isn’t fussy about soils, growing equally as well in sandy soils as in clay.
If you grow this plant, you don’t need to prune it as it’s self shaping.
If there are some branches that are sticking straight up spoiling the look of the plant, you can cut those off.
If you feel like giving it a prune to shorten it for whatever reason, don’t cut into old wood that’s not showing any signs of green growth.
Fertilise with any organic fertiliser in Spring, or a 9 month controlled release fertiliser. Shore juniper will grow on it’s own without any help though.
Being so hardy Shore juniper is suited to coastal gardens, as groundcover in shady areas, spill over plantings, rockeries pots and planters and as contrast planting for foliage and habit.
I thought I had to mention Juniperus sabina or Savin Juniper.
Not  quite a ground cover, but grows as a shrub to 2metres x 5 metres wide.
his conifer is dark green and only on one side of the branch, but there are cultivars in this range.
One called J. sabina “Arcadia grows to 60cm x 2m and has grey green leaves.
There’s also J sabina “Blue Rug” to 20cm by 3m wide. This has blue leaves that change to purplish grey in cold weather.
This is another tough range of Junipers that tolerate moderate frosts, short periods of drought, second line salt, so not right on the coast, and copes with acid or alkaline soil.
Also a slow grower.
For all these Junipers, even though they tolerate short periods of drought, if you want the best out of your plant, keep it watered during dry times.
All of these Junipers grow best in full sun but tolerate part shade quite well.
 The big tip is, if you’re expecting a heat wave, water all areas of your garden including any new plants that you put in last Spring and including those shady areas that also become quite dry in hot weather.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

All Things Shady

The Good Earth

Have you been able to give your garden enough water in this summer's heat?
Watering your garden isn’t wasteful if you do it in the cool of the evening or early in the morning.
Did you know that if it’s windy, just hand water the urgent cases of wilting. Using sprinklers that throw water high into the air on a windy day loses about 40% of the water.
Another tip is to keep the pressure low on sprinklers allowing the droplets to be bigger and not get evaporated so quickly.
What about your veggie bed? Veggies need daily watering in hot weather because if you don’t, lack of enough water can cause the bottom of tomatoes to turn black (blossom end rot), lettuce to turn bitter, and beans, zucchinis and other flowering crops to stop producing.
Has the summer heat turned the leaves of your vegetables brown and crispy? Has the sun baked the tomatoes on the vine? Have the beans turned up their toes and gone to god? All these things may have happened despite your efforts to supply plenty of water in the early morning or cool of the evening.

The hot midday sun is unforgiving and in a lot of areas in Australia, you might have even decided to give up growing veggies in the hottest months. Here’s an idea from the Permaculture Institute to help your summer garden. I'm talking with
with Penny Pyett, Permaculture Director-Sydney Institute.

If you thought that growing veggies in the shade was a silly idea, I hope this has changed your thinking to, “I’m going to give it a try.”
If you already grow veggies in the shade, drop us a line , we’d love to hear which veggies you tried in the shade and how they went. Send in a photo or drop us a line to. or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Vegetable Heroes;

  • What is Malabar Spinach? Ever heard of Ceylon spinach, Indian spinach, vine spinach, and Malabar nightshade?
  • The one we’re focussing on is the red stemmed version or Scientifically it’s Basella alba 'Rubra'.
  • Malabar or Climbing Spinach originates in India, and an extract of the fruits of the red stemmed version of -Basella alba ‘Rubra’, has been used for many centuries as a carmine dye for official seals and a natural form of rouge in cosmetics.
  • Malabar spinach is a vigorous vine and is in fact not related to true spinach (Spinacia oleracea) but grows large succulent heart shaped leaves that are said to be like spinach in taste.
  • The leaves are quite a bit more waxy to my way of thinking.
  • I would describe it as crunchy and juicy when raw.
  • The taste is slightly peppery with a bit of a citrusy flavour with hints of earthy spinach to it.
  • Some say, delicious to eat, and is just like real Spinach, perhaps a bit more “earthy.”
  • To my way of thinking it's an acquired taste.
  • The upside is that Malabar Spinach is easy to grow and  is much better suited for summer growing than Spinach itself.
  • When your lettuce and other salad greens are wilting, because Malabar spinach is a twining succulent (stores water in the leaves and stems), you’ll have plenty of greens for your salad.
  • If you’ve grown this plant before you would know that the plant seems to die down in winter then re-shoots again in late spring.
  • Straight species Malabar spinach has yellowish stems and green leaves and looks nice enough, but it's the red-stemmed cultivar 'Rubra' that really stands out. Red and green are opposites on the colour wheel and the combined effect is always a bit dramatic. The red veins in the leaves make it more so.
  • Malabar spinach can grow 2-3 metres or eight to ten feet tall and wide and has small white-tinged pink flowers in its leaf axils.
  • When the flowers are fertilised, small, attractive, single-seeded purple berries will grow.
  • The juice from the berries is so intensely purple that it puts beet juice to shame. A bit like Dianella berries I think.
  • It's used as a natural food colorant for agar (vegetable "gelatine") dishes, sweets, and pastries. Malabar spinach does best in warm, tropical areas, where it can easily grow a 10cm per day.
  •  This plant is not frost tolerant and in temperate areas doesn’t grow anywhere near as tall as in tropical areas.
  • In cool temperate districts, I would treat this plant as an annual, but yes you can grow it too!
  • Basella alba grows best a humus-rich, sandy loam in full sun but will produce larger juicier leaves if grown in partial shade..
  • It grows easily from seed that has been sown in situ or you can start it off in a punnet.
  • Saving seed is easy too: Simply dry the entire fruit and use it for planting the following year. Just make sure you store it dry in maybe a paper envelope.
  •  I had saved some seed, but there must’ve been some moisture in the jar because they had become all mouldy.
  • The red-stemmed cultivar of Malabar spinach comes true from seed.
  • Luckily, when I was renovating my veggie bed, I noticed quite a few small seedlings in one corner of it that looked like-in fact were seedlings of Malabar Spinach. I remember from last year that once it starts to take off it can grow about 30cm in a week!
  • When you have a plant in season, tip cuttings will root readily in water so you can give other members of your garden club or other friends some plants.
  • Use any style of plant support you like: poles, teepees, chain-link fencing—I’m growing it up a metal spiral, but I think it’s going to outgrow that real soon. Whoops!
  • Malabar spinach is insect and disease resistant, and that’s saying a lot; because at the moment, the grasshoppers are eating whopping big holes in my Kale and a bit of my spinach, but not touching the Malabar spinach.!
  • I am catching and squashing those hoppers!
  • Why is it good for you?
  • The succulent leaves and stem tips are rich in vitamins A and C and are a good source of iron and calcium. They may be eaten raw in salads, boiled, steamed, stir-fried, or added to soups, stews, tofu dishes, and curries. Or you can use them as a filling for quiche, omelets, or even a frittata!.
  • Since red-stemmed Malabar spinach can lose a lot of its red colour when cooked, perhaps it is best in raw dishes.
  • A great way to use it is to plant it thickly in pots in spring, and when it’s growth takes off, pick the young shoots off daily for stirfries & omelettes. Eventually it will get away from you by climbing or sprawling, but usually can be contained for a couple of months this way. The shoots are delicious & tender!

Design Elements:

with Louise McDaid, Landscape Designer
  • In November of 2012, Design Elements did a series on the Potted garden, and now we’re following that up with how to maintain your potted garden in tip top condition.
  • Watering your potplants is number one in keeping them looking healthy.But how often?
  • What to fertilise with? Should you you use organic fertilisers or stick to granular, controlled release prills?
  • How often do you need to re-pot?
  • What if the pot's too big?
  • All these questions are answered in the podcast.


 There should be plenty of ideas to get you started if you’re a beginner gardener, and some tips for those of you who’ve been doing it for a while.

Plant of the Week:

Dichondra spp

Does your garden slope in some places where it’s just impossible to mow? Do you have a shady patch under a tree where the lawn has never grown properly and mostly dies off each winter.Wouldn’t you prefer a nice green thatch of closely hugging groundcover that you never need to mow instead?
  • 20091213_5015 Dichondra repens - Kidney Weed
  • Dichondra repens has bright green small kidney shaped leaves and can grow in 80% shade so is used as a lawn substitute where no lawn wants to grow.
  • It has a tight hugging habit and is about 10cm high and 50cm wide, but not suitable for high traffic areas.
  • The first, Dichondra repens or Kidney weed is in the Convolvulaceae family, so might give you some idea of its colonising habit.
  • I once planting out some Convolvulacea in a contained garden bed, then decided it needed it wasn’t working.
  • Several days of pulling out the underground rhizomes, I vowed never to plant anything from this family again.
  • Dichondra repens is a small, prostrate, herbaceous plant native to New Zealand and many parts of Australia. It is commonly known as kidney weed in Australia and as Mercury Bay weed in New Zealand. Dichondra repens is found occasinally in forests, woodlands and grasslands, it also inhabits suburban lawns. The plant has a creeping habit, with roots forming at the nodes.
  • Dichondra repens will also grow in full sun, so if you have an area that gets shaded in winter and sun in summer, this plant could be a good option.
  • This particular Dicohondra is a pest in bushland, that’s why it’s called Kidney Weed.
  • Only grow this plant if you live away from a nature reserve or bush. It can also invade other parts of the garden where you don’t want it, and a suggestion might be to contain it with garden edging.
  • Dichondra repens will only take a light frost, otherwise is extremely hardy and will grow in all areas of Australia that don’t get a heavy frost.
  • In summary, Dichondra repens is good for difficult to mow areas where you don’t walk on it that much. Kidney weed, closely hugs the ground forming a dense mat and can take a lot of shade as well as full sun.
  • The second variety is Dichondra silver falls. Silver falls is a wonderful trailing plant that grows well in full sun. Dichondra argentea 'Silver Falls' is perfect in hanging baskets and potted gardens where it can be allowed to trail down over the side.
  • "Silver Falls"copes well in full sun and handles drier conditions than Dichondra repens.
  • Originally from dry areas from Mexico through to Texas as a hanging basket plant Silver Falls will cascade down for up to 2m in ideal conditions making it a spectacular curtain of silvery green leaves.
  • An excellent plant when allowed to trail over rock walls it is grown for the foliage although it does have small flowers.
  • Dividing and propagating:-Plants can be grown from seed or propagated by root division in early spring or early autumn. Sow seed in a seed raising mix in a tray, surface sow and tap down lightly to ensure good contact withe the soil. Water with a seaweed fertiliser and then keep moist until seed germinate, usually within 2 weeks. Transplant or 'pot up' after plants reach a reasonable size. Grow on until ready to plant out. Plants are a little slow at first so be patient, the long trailing silvery foliage of Dichondra 'silver falls' is well worth the wait.
  • Care is minimal, prune back in spring to keep in shape, these plants like a well drained position and a general purpose slow release fertiliser in spring.
  • A little extra water in summer in dry periods as needed, but don’t over water.
  • Dichondra repends or Kidney weed is readily available from all garden centres as is Dichondra, ‘Silver Falls.”
  • The big tip is, if you’re expecting a heat wave, water all areas of your garden including those shady areas that also become quite dry in hot weather.