Thursday, 28 March 2013

Solving Gardening Pest and Fungal Problems

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.

How’s your garden doing. Have the pests been taking over your garden because of the high the heat and humidity?
If you have a pest explosion in your garden, and you want to deal with it organically there’s a new horticultural oil out on the market that contains something called HIPPO

When plants are under pest attack they release organic volatiles into the air which act as SOS messages to beneficial insects. These volatiles are known as Herbivore Induced Plant Protection Volatiles/Odours (HIPPO).
Beneficial insects are ladybeetles, lacewings, hoverflies and parasitoids such as Parasitic Wasps are attracted this this odour.
You probably want to know what pests can you use this new oil on?
Pretty much the same pest you would use ordinary horticultural oil to control.
How about aphids, mites, whitefly, scale and citrus leafminer for a start?
If you’re wondering, like I did, is there enough food in the garden to keep the good bugs to hanging around?
Food is obviously the main factor for keeping beneficials in the garden and if there isn’t enough then they will fly off again.
You as a gardener can do is plant plenty of long flowering plants which product lots of nectar and pollen.  These act as backup food sources for many beneficials (or for certain stages of beneficials like adult hoverflies which need them). 

Anything in the daisy family is good, white alyssum (has more nectar than the coloured varieties), Lamiaceae or the mint family, and Carrot or Parsley or Apiaceae family.
One of the reasons I let my Parsley and Angelica, flower and set seed.
Queen Anne’s lace and Anise Hyssop is also in the carrot family.
Oh, and stop using those long acting systemic pesticides like Confidor. They kill off the good guys as well as the bad.

eco Oil  is 100% plant oils and is now enhanced with HIPPO. Available from garden centres and

Wildlife in Focus

with ecologist Sue Stevens
Did you know that Australia has native pigeons? Not all the pigeons you see come from oversees, nor do they congregate eating areas and create a mess on the pavement. Some pigeons, are extremely well behaved, and it turns out, are native to Australia.
Let’s find out about one that’s probably visited your area recently.

The crested pigeon is only one of two pigeons endemic to Australia with an erect crest. As Sue mentioned, it’s usually not far from water because it needs to drink each day. You’re likely to see it quite a bit in the urban environment, on reserves, golf courses, gardens, and sports grounds as well as pastoral areas. I’m sure I heard the whoo- whoo of the crested pigeon in my garden only yesterday, and sounding exactly like the call you heard. It took off with that familiar whistling sound before I got to see it.
We’d love to see photos of the crested pigeon or any birds you’ve got visiting your garden, just send them in to. or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675, and I’ll post a CD in return.

Vegetable Heroes

Do you have a problem with fungus in your garden?
So, you’re looking at your spinach and you see holes in the leaves, but they’re all uniform and perfectly formed, right?
What insect does that?
 Or, are the stems or your Silverbeet have an ugly blackish brown stain down the middle of them?
Perhaps the leaves have got that rusty look, and definitely look some-one had a go with a blow torch?
Wait, have your cucumber leaves gone all white and crispy, then start turning brown and collapse in a heap in the veggie bed?
You probably have read or heard the advice that the most important things you can do to prevent fungal problems is to avoid overwatering, overhead watering and excessive fertilizing and keep your garden free of debris.
O.K. what about some of us that had all that rain?
Or you might’ve heard that you need to mulch well and avoid watering the leaves or splashing soil borne particles on the leaves.
One things for sure, you can water or fertilise away the problem.
Firstly what is this fungus thing anyway?  Fungus are structures which produce spores. Diseasecausing fungi penetrate the plant for food during their growth stage, then produce spores which can, in turn, produce new fungus.
The fungus feeds of your plants because not containing chlorophyll, it can’t make it’s own food.
There are two main types of spores-
(a) Short-lived spores which quickly produce new fungus to grow and spread through plants while there is plenty of food. These spores allow a fungal disease to spread rapidly during the growing season.
(b)Long-lived spores which are very hardy and allow a disease to carry over during periods of stress, for example when there is no food.
So what does fungus love.
Which fungus shall I start with. How about powdery mildew?
A fungal disease around a lot in spring and autumn when days are warm and nights are cool.
Powdery mildew is a white or grayish powdery/mouldy growth that you see on the leaves and new shoots. The leaves look deformed, and will always start to collapse, particularly on the cucurbit family, live Pumpkin, and cucumbers.
The leaves are never going to return to a normal appearance, so getting rid of them will help to stop the spreading of fungal spores.
Yes, that includes the ones that have fallen into a crumbled mess in the veggie bed.
The next fungal problem I’m going to mention appeared on my spinach this year. That is Fungal leaf spot.
Having said that, I’ve had several good months of harvesting spinach and silverbeet, so I can’t complain.
  • There are many types of leaf spot diseases that can affect beetroot, broad beans, carrots celery, peas, potatoes (early blight) silverbeet and tomatoes (targetspot).
  • Sometimes the leaf spots cause only slight damage, but other times they practically destroy the leaves of the plant in question.

How Do I Fix This?
  • Basically, if you’ve already got it, you can’t because as I mentioned, the leaves won’t return to normal, but you can stop the spread to other new leaves and other plants in the garden.
  • All of these above symptoms signal fungal problems in the garden, a lot of which can be fixed with physical things like improving air circulation around the plants.
  • You can also dig the problem leaves into the soil since sexual spores of the fungus won’t develop on buried leaves.
  • In all cases, fungal problems can be treated organically
  • Spray with a good compost tea
  •  Or secondly, try spraying with bi-carbonate of soda (sodium bicarbonate) because it will also kill powdery mildew.
  • To make mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 2 ½ tablespoons of vegetable oil with 4 litres of water.
  • TIP: The sodium in the baking soda will combine with chlorine in your water supply to form table salt (sodium chloride). A better choice is potassium bicarbonate where the potassium becomes a plant nutrient.
  • eco fungicide  and eco Oil, are available from garden centres that stock organic pest and disease control. For stockists

Design Elements

with Landscape Designer Louise McDaid
This month, Design elements is still fixing your garden design problems, but we’re looking at the different amounts of light that you have in the garden.
To some gardeners this can be a problem because if you’ve got too much sun or not enough sun, you mightn’t be able to grow the plants that you like the best.
But all is not lost.
Let’s find out what can help if you have too much sun, particularly western sun, in your garden?

Western sun is very drying and as Louise said, the easiest thing to do is to plant a tree. Not only are you helping solve the problem in your garden, you’re also providing habitat for the birds, reptiles and insects to shelter on those hot, dry days. There’s been a lot of recorded bird and animal deaths over the last summer because of the heat, and this is the best thing that you as a gardener can do to help wildlife that visits your garden.
There were lots of excellent tips with Louise

Plant of the Week:


Plants indoors improve concentration, absorb carbon dioxide, and generally rest and relax you.Some indoor plants have been around for such a long time that you might’ve thought they were of no consequence.But these plants have survived for good reasons.

So if you’ve haven’t had any success with indoor plants, you’ve given up on African Violets,, the Peace Lilly keeps giving you yellow and brown leaves, or the Philodendron just up and went to God.
Now’s the time to bring that Apsidistra into the house, and clear the air.
All Aspidistra varieties come from Japan, Taiwan, China, Vietnam and the Eastern Himalayas. The variety elatior is the one most used in culture, once having been on many of the internal window sills of Europe.
Aspidistra is no ordinary indoor plant. In Victorian England it was a sign that you’d made it to the middle classes if you had one and George Orwell's novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying, featured it.

Aspidistra was also  immune to the effects of gas used for lighting in the Victorian era (other plants and flowers withered or yellowed), which might account for its popularity.

Aspidistra was the codename (inspired by the above song) of a very powerful British radio transmitter used for propaganda and deception purposes against Nazi Germany during World War II.

What is an Aspidistra?
Aspidistra are rhizomatous, evergreen perennials with upright, leathery, elliptic or lance-shaped leaves and inconspicuous brownish flowers borne on the rhizome
Aspidsitra elatior is the all over green leaved species that grows to 60cm, with glossy dark green, leathery, lance-shaped leaves and very tiny dull brownish-cream flowers usually at soil level in early summer.
How to grow Aspidistra:
Grow it part or full shade, in well-drained  moist soil.
It can take any pH and any type of soil if you have a climate to grow it outdoors.

Aspidistra suits patios, pots and is low maintenance.

If you want more of this plant just divide it up when it gets to a good size.
  • Apply diluted liquid fertilizer regularly in spring to autumn for the healthiest plants.
  • In gardens, shade is necessary.
  • Mulch when planting and fertilise with a slow release during the warmer months of the year.
  • It will do well as a shady foliage ground cover under trees where it thrives once established without watering except in extremely dry times.
  • Over-watering usually results in death.
  • Indoor plants if too dry can get mealybugs, scale insects and spider mite.
  • Treat with eco Oil.
  • There’s a NEW ASPIDISTRA  called Shooting Stars from for stockists.
  • If you want to improve your plant-life balance and have one of these for your desk in the office or at home, this is a carefree plant.
  • Aspidistra“shooting stars”.
  • Shooting Stars is new to commercial culture in the west but well known in Japan.
  • Shooting stars still has the green leaf but has distinctive white spots.
  • Cut foliage polishes up well and is long lived in floral arrangements.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

The Frog, the Ginger and the Garden

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.

Living Planet NEW SEGMENT

with ecologist, Katie Oxenham
Frogs are under threat throughout the world and loss of habitat is one of the factors contributing to their demise. A frog pond is easy to construct, adds interest to your home garden and will provide a haven for the frog species in your area. You don’t have to worry about buying any frogs, because they’ll come calling….
Let’s find out more

A pond with flowering water plants can be a very attractive focal point in a garden. These plants never seem to have any problems don’t need much attention. Observing the lifecycle of frogs throughout the seasons provides added interest to your gardening. Frogs also help to control insect pests.
Locate your pond in a part sunny, part shady, but not directly under trees. Some trees or shrubs have poisonous leaves (Oleander, Bleeding Heart and pines for example).
If you place your pond so that it's visible from the house then you can enjoy the pond anytime of day or night.
Putting the pond in the back garden, a bit away from your own house and your neighbour's houses, if the croaking of frogs is too noisy for you.
A low garden lamp that is reflected in the water will not only add to your garden's appearance in the evenings but also attract insects for the frogs.
for more information about frogs, and
We’d love to see photos of any frogs or frog ponds that you have in your garden, just send it in to. or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675, and I’ll post a CD in return.

Vegetable Heroes:

Ginger! Zingibar officianale

  • Have you ever wondered about growing edible ginger?
  • For years I’ve wondered about growing the real deal ginger.
  • Of all the times I’ve bought the nobbly brown root, it’s never sprouted until now.
  • Probably because now I’ve bought organic ginger that’s not sprayed with stuff to prevent it from sprouting-some sort of growth retardant usually.
  • Now I’ve got two bits sprouting!
  • Before those of you in cooler climates get put off, I daresay, my own climate zone is a bit out of its range, but I’m growing it in a pot and so can you.
  • Indoors if we have to.
  • For those of you who don’t have a piece of sprouting ginger, mail order garden catalogues supply pieces of ginger that are sprouting between July and September usually. I’ll put links on my website and facebook.
  • If you’ve ever seen ginger in supermarkets, and all supermarkets have them, you’d know that it comes from the root of a plant that has lots of underground tubers with roots.
  • Are you thinking that bit of edible ginger is the root, technically it’s not, but most of us think of it as ginger root.
  • This usually means that the underground part grows quite a bit and is usually a rhizome. A creeping underground tuber.
  • Ginger has been around for at least 2000 years but mostly used in medicine rather than cooking.
  • Together with black pepper, ginger was one of the most commonly traded spices during the 13th and
  • During this time in England, ginger was sought after, and one pound in weight of ginger was equivalent to the cost of a sheep.
  • Zingibar officianale or ginger is a tropical plant as you’d expect so it doesn’t like frost, waterlogged soil direct sun and high winds.
  • But you’ve got a sheltered area, maybe on your back veranda, and rich moist soil, or some good stuff potting mix, you can get by growing ginger.
  • If you’ve also got warmer weather and high humidity you definitely can grow ginger.
  • From garden forums on the web, ginger does well in ground in temperate climates also.
  • For most of us, growing ginger will mean growing it in pots. If you plonk it in cheap potting mix, don’t expect much.
  • If you’ve got water storage crystals in the mix, that’s good, but if you’ve added some coir, that’s even better, because what ginger needs, apart from free draining potting mix, is mix that has some water holding capacity In other words, potting mix that doesn’t dry out too quickly.
  • If you’ve only got one sprouting rhizome, put it into a 20cm pot, if you have 3 put them in together into a large 35cm pot.

    • You can also add one part of good compost to two parts potting mix, and that’s going to add some nutrients as well.
    • For those gardens with tropical or sub-tropical climates you can put that piece of sprouting ginger straight into the garden after you dug in a spadeful of compost. That should be good enough.
    • Put in your piece of ginger about 5cm below the soil surface.
    • Remember, filtered sunlight not direct sun for the position.
    • For cooler climates, your ginger plant can take full sun because it won’t be as intense for the most part as in the tropics. Near a north facing wall is ideal so the plant can get reflected heat.
    • If it gets too hot in summer, move the pot into semi-shade if you can.
    • Also, for cooler districts, move it inside at the first signs of cold weather and don’t water it too much.
    • The best planting time is late winter/early spring, but if you’ve got a piece sprouting now, don’t waste an opportunity to garden, put it in anyway.
    • Ginger grows quite slowly and doesn’t mind being a little bit root bound if it’s in a pot.
    • Ginger won’t overtake your garden, because, it’s slow growing and after all, you’re going to be digging it up every year to harvest the rhizomes for your cooking.
    • Ginger grows to about one to 1 ½ metres and requires regular watering. Drying out will most likely set the plant back quite a bit, and even cark it.
    • To supply humidity for arid climates, you’ll have to get out there with the spray bottle and spray it when you think of it, hopefully every day.
    • For those growing ginger in the ground, and plenty of mulch to keep the ground moist.
    • Ginger growing in pots will need fortnight feeds of liquid fertiliser if you haven’t added any controlled release or organic slow release fertilisers to the mix before planting.
    • Now the most important question, when can you dig it up?
    • All books will say the best time to dig up your ginger plant is when all the long green leaves have died down, 8 – 10 months after you’ve planted it.
    • This is easy if you’ve been growing it in a pot, because you can tip the whole thing over and just pull it out.
    • For areas where ginger growing is out of it’s range, you might be best to leave it for a couple of years for the rhizome to build up in size before tipping it out.
    • Break up the rhizomes into smaller useable pieces and either store it in the freezer, or my tip is, put the pieces into some Chinese cooking wine or sherry in a resealable jar and place it in the fridge.
    • Doing it this way keeps it fresh for quite a few months.
    • Don’t forget to replant some rhizomes for your next years’ crop of ginger if you’ve been successful that is.
    • Why is Ginger Good for You?
    • Ginger is a very good source of nutrients and essential vitamins.
    • It is also a good source of minerals, such as potassium, magnesium and copper.
    • Many thanks to tropical permaculture group for providing some of the growing information.

    Design Elements

    with Landscape Designer, Louise McDaid
    Shady gardens can sometimes be problematic, especially if it’s dry shade.Under trees is another area that can give a lot of shade, and the roots take up all the soil, nutrients and water.If you’re tired of looking at that bare patch and wondering what to do about it, listen to this…

    Dry shade can be improved with Cliveas, Renga Renga Lilly or Arthropodium cirrhatum, and wet shade can grow a variety of ferns, even grass trees.
    Lots of choices for your shady area, including painting the fence a bright or white shade to lift the feel under that tree..

    Plant of the Week:

    Are you wary of planting gum trees into your garden? What if they turn into monsters, or are branch droppers?
    Not all are bad and a few years ago a range of flowering grafted Eucalypts hit the stores making us all want to buy one for the garden.
    Eucalyptus...from Greek, eu, well and calyptos, covered referring to the cap which covers the developing flowers. camaldulensis... after Camalduli, a district in Italy. Myrtaceae family
    Eucalyptus camaldulensis or river red gum, is a common and widespread tree along watercourses over much of mainland Australia.
     It is frequently a dominant component of riparian communities, and is an important species of the Murray-Darling catchment.
    • E. camaldulensis grows in areas where inundation is frequent, flowering late winter to mid-summer.
    • Red River Gum grows in full sun and tolerates moderate frost, drought, lime soil, boggy, damp soil, clay loam or sand.
    • E. camaldulensis has bark that’s smooth and white or greyish in colour except near the base of the trunk where it is often rough.
    • Leaves are "typical" of eucalypts being lance-shaped up to 250mm long and blue-grey.
    • The white flowers are seen mainly in late spring and summer and these are followed by small seed capsules about 60 mm diameter with protruding valves.
    • The timber is termite resistant and is used in many applications where contact with the ground is needed.
    • E.camaldulensis is a hardy tree but is probably too large for urban gardens, growing to 15-20 metres.
    • BUT you might like to try this one a new variety released by plant breeders Peter and Jennifer Ollerenshaw of Bywong Nursery.
    • Bywong Nursery is located 30kms north east of Canberra, near the old gold mining settlement of Bywong.
    • Here’s a novel new grafted specimen.Eucalyptus " Blue Veil," is a sport selected from a mature Eucalytpus camaldulensis.
    • 'Blue Veil' is an unusual grafted variety of Eucalyptus that only grows in a weeping fashion unless trained otherwise. 
    • Blue Veil has long flexible branches and attractive blue/green foliage. 
    • The supple nature of the young growth allows it to be trained to grow in many attractive forms.
    •  Plants can be grown at the top of high walls and allowed to hang down or branches may be espaliered against a fence or screen.
    • These are grafted plants and care should be taken to prevent any growth below the graft union.

    There’s now a Eucalyptus camuldulensis “Blue Veil” is available from the nursery and some local garden centres. If you’re interested in buying, contact the nursery direct,

    Friday, 15 March 2013

    Amalgamating Herbs and Spices What!

    Spice it Up

    Amalgamating Spices

    Do you just use Parsley, Sage and Thyme in your cooking? Maybe a bayleaf in the winter months? What about all the other herbs? What do you use Coriander for, or Tarragon? Can you use them together or will you spoil the dinner?  L
    Let’s find out how to mix up our herbs and spices without getting into trouble.
    I'm talking with Ian Hemphill form

    Ian Hemphill's motto is, "there are no herbs you can’t try in your cooking."
    Just remember, most fresh herbs are added in the last five minutes of cooking, otherwise they lose their flavour, and most dried herbs are added at the start.
    We’d love to see photos of any unusual herbs you’ve got growing in your garden, just send it in to. or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675, and I’ll post a CD in return.

    Vegetable Heroes:

    Chicory! Cichorium intybus

    There are actually two types and uses of Cichorium intybus, both of which I consider a vegetable. There’s the leafy type and the one where the tap root is used more.
    But let’s begin with some interesting facts.
    Chicory comes from the daisy or Asteraceae family, and like dandelion, chicory has been grown since ancient times as a pot herb.
    Chicory originated somewhere in Europe probably in the Mediterranean region (where the plant is native).
    The variety Cichorium intybus var sativum. was used in coffee substitutes and additives where the roots were baked and ground.
    Chicory as a coffee substitute was used during the Great Depression in the 1930s and during World War II in Continental Europe.
    If you’ve ever drunk a coffee substitute, like Caro, then you’ve drunk roasted chicory root.
    Some beer brewers use roasted chicory to add flavour to stouts.
    The principle ingredients of chicory root are two polysaccharide, inulin and fructose.
    When roasted, inulin is converted to oxymethylfurfurol, a compound with a coffee-like aroma.
    Did you know that the first person to grow and process chicory in Australasia was Edwin William Trent (1839 - 1883).
    Eddy or Edwin, operated a steam coffee mill in Nelson in New Zealand, and later moved to Christchurch where he established the first steam coffee mill in Australasia in1863.
    Coke fired furnaces in kilns produced hot drying air to pass up through the chicory roots which had been cut into small cubes and laid on floors of perforated tiles through which the hot air passed.
    The steaming chicory had to be turned every two hours and five tons of green root were needed to produce one ton of kiln-dried root.
    After the drying process was over, the chicory was taken to where the roasting and grinding was done and the chicory blended with expensive coffee imported from the West Indies, South America and Africa to make the coffee and chicory essence.
    Did you also know that Chicory, or Cichorium intybus, was cultivated on Phillip Island for nearly 100 years from the 1870s?
    If you’ve visited Philip Island you’ll see some unusual small brick towers dotted about the island.
    These are chicory kilns, once used in drying chicory dock – a parsnip-like underground root of the Chicory plant that was grown widely in Phillip Island’s rich volcanic soil.
    Are you thinking, I’m not going to bother drying and roasting the chicory root, what on earth do I need to grow this ahem, vegetable?
    Well, have you heard of radicchio? Maybe you’ve even eaten it?
    Common chicory includes chicory types such as radicchio, puntarelle, and Belgian endive.
    Radicchio and Chicory
    Yes, radicchio, with its slightly bitter taste, is the young fresh tops of the Chicory plant.
    You can buy seeds of Chicory “Red Dandelion: this plant has red stems with deeply cut frilly deep green leaves. As a microgreen or ‘baby leaf’ this variety adds great flavour to salads and it is a colourful addition to any mesclun mix. As a cooked green it is one of the few red leafy vegetables that retains the crimson colour when cooked.
    Chicory ‘Red Palla Rossa’ syn. radicchio is a small heading chicory, 8 - 10 cm across .The bright red, very tight heads have prominent white midribs. It has a slightly bitter, tart taste. As a ‘baby leaf’ they add great flavour to salads. It is one of the few red leafy vegetables that retains the red colour when cooked.
    There’s also the coffee chicory plant or Chicory Coffee 'Magdeburg' which also has the same botanical name of Cichorium intybus.
    Chicory plant
    These varieties are available from
    Also, chicory is available from

    This Coffee  Chicory is also a frost  hardy plant but with a long taproot. topped by a a whorl of oblong, broadly toothed, milky-sapped leaves.
    The flowers are on top of 1 ½ metre tall,  zig-zagging flowering stems with a few sparsely placed leaves and lots of sky-blue to purple flowers.
    Flowering is in spring and summer and the 50 cent-sized flowers open at the beginning of the day but close as the heat becomes intense.
    Coffee Chicory plants flower for several months and the flower looks quite a lot like a purply-blue dandelion flower.
    Like dandelion, the seeds are spread by wind. Also, like dandelion, the leaves are concentrated in a whorl, just above the soil surface.
    Roots can be dried, roasted and ground for a coffee substitute. Leaves and young roots can be cooked as vegetables.
    This coffee Chicory is a hardy vegetable and frost tolerant. It is a useful cool season crop to add interest to winter salads.
    To grow the leafy Chicory,
    Sub-tropical areas, April to June is the time to sow;
    Temperate areas March until May;
     Arid areas June to August, and Cool temperate districts, sow late summer to mid-autumn.
    In all cases sow directly where they are to grow.
    So to grow Chicory prefers you need a well drained, deep soil.
    Chicory will also grow on heavier soils as long as they’re not likely to get waterlogged for extended periods.
    If you’re wondering where to buy the seeds of coffee chicory, there are some stores that sell them if they carry an Italian seed line otherwise online seed suppliers do so as well.
    Are you wondering if Chicory is just as weedy as Dandelions?
    It’s unlikely to become a weed since plants tend be short lived.
    Until the 1960s, before instant coffee was invented, coffee and chicory essence was a popular alternative to using roasted coffee beans.
    Do you remember that thick black liquid with a very distinctive attractive aroma and sold in squarish bottles with a blue label?
    It was often drunk with sweetened condensed milk. I remember my dad drinking this before heading to work in the morning.
    Why is Chicory, or Cichoricum intybus good for you?
    Drinking Chicory teas on a regular basis helps to rid your system of excess water and uric acid build-up, without depleting potassium and other minerals.
    One of the major functions of chicory is to increase the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
    Chicory is good for digestion, the circulatory system and the blood.

     Design Elements

    with Landscape Designer Louise McDaid
    Is you’re garden a thing of envy from all who pass by, or are there elements in your garden that are, well, boring?
    Are there too many or too few plants in the garden?
    Is it all just same shade of green?
    Sometimes changing your garden can create something that when you look at your kitchen window, you can say, “Yeah, that’s relaxing, I’m just going out for a little look.”
    Let’s find out what can help up put in the wow factor into our garden?
    Did you know that there’s a town called Boring in Oregan USA? 
    What's more, the local garden centre is called Boring Square Garden Centre?
    I hope you haven’t got that problem.
    So even if you’re garden isn’t all the boring, you can still revamp some part of the garden to make it more fun to be in.T
    here were lots of excellent tips with Louise then and you can hear that segment again to refresh your ideas.

    Plant of theWeek:

    New Varieties of Tibouchina!
    If you’ve never considered particular plants, was it because you’re climate was just a bit too cold for or your soil type the wrong type?
    The old name Lassiandra or Tibouchina has been for that shrub with those dazzling purple flowers, and you could only grow it if you had the right soil and the right climate.
    But wait, now, if you got the wrong soil and the wrong climate, there’s a cultivar just for you.
    There’s a Tibouchina now meet every garden need. 
    NEW VARIETIES RELEASED AS FANTASY FLOWERS. All are hybrids developed by Terry Keogh, a Brisbane nurseryman.
    All these hybrids are grown in full sun or part shade, on moist well drained soils nad generally don’t need any pruning.
    T. Groovy Baby, 60 x 80cm with large purple flowers, dense and compact. Cold tolerant as far south as Melbourne and even Hobart. Don’t let this plant dry out when experienced extended periods of heat.
    T. Allure, 1 x 2 m, full sun/part shade, large lilac flowers in autumn and Spring, grows into a neat dome shape, not cold tolerant.
    T. Peace Baby, only 60cm x 80cm  with large white flowers. Compact, will grow in in tropical and cool temperate zones as far south as Hobart. Great in pots.

    T. Illusion-2.5ms 2.5m, with multi-coloured flowers. and suits all climactic zones. Protect from heavy frosts.
    T. Imagine.mid sized at 1.5 x 1.5m, purple flowers with a white eye, flowering the most in Autumn and Spring. Protect from heavy frosts.

    Lovely Tibouchinas are a perfect addition to the garden that's aspires to plants with soft green velvety leaves.
    Plant them in a sensory garden.
    A well clother Tibouchina in flower is always spectacular, and the flowers last for weeks.
    For a design element, team the lower growing varieties with low Bromeliad species such as Neoregelias, and sprinkle some Euphorbia :Diamond Frost" amongst the mix.

    Some say the larger shrubs or small trees tend to be brittle in windy areas, but I would say they're similar to the branch strength of Angel Trumpets, or Brugmansia species.
    My  recent experience has been that winds over 100kmph will caused branches to be broken off the tree, but otherwise they've managed to hang in there during smaller wind gusts.
    Prune Tibouchinas as soon after flowering as you can muster, usually around Autumn. Otherwise the longer you delay it, the more likelihood that you’ll be pruning off flowering wood.
     If you can grow Azaleas, Rhododendrons, and Camellias, you can now grow these new Tibouchinas.
    Also, if your plants develop yellow leaves, it could be leaf burn from too alkaline soil or your plant has dried out too much.
    There’s now a Tibouchina for every climate range in Australia.

    Thursday, 7 March 2013

    If Tom Jones Could Garden

    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 Sue Stevens.
    Tete - Grey Teal - Anas gracilis
    Are you in the habit of feeding wild or native ducks white bread? Did you know their diet is plant matter, insects, snails and crustaceans in the water. While white bread does its job of filling up the tummies of the ducks, geese, swans, and other birds seen around lakes, it doesn't do a good job of giving them any nutritional assistance. Birds quickly get full from the bread, so they can't eat anything else that may contain the nutritional value they need to breed and raise their young. But let’s find out about the duck with the unusual quack…
    The Grey Teal is on the available list of game shooting.Despite thirteen years of drought that reduced water bird numbers dramatically, hunters have increase the numbers of birds killed and taken home from 270,000 in 2010 to over 600,000 in 2011.
    Birds are often just wounded and left for dead, with shooting groups admitting that this amounts to one in four birds.
    You can find out more information on the adverse affects of game shooting wild ducks at

    Design Elements

    with Landscape Design Louise McDaid.
    Over the last few weeks, Design Elements has been dealing with garden design problems that are the most common. A couple of weeks ago we started with how to make a small garden seem bigger. A good tip was to slightly narrow a path at the far end of the garden, making the garden seem longer.
    The following week we dealt with "how to make a long and thin rectangle of a garden seem wider." Using horizontal lines works wonders. Remember if you're trying on a dress or shirt with horizontal stripes, it's going to make you seem wider in the mirror?
    Today, the garden or yard is just too big, in fact it’s a bit overwhelming and you just don’t know where to start.Let’s find out how to tackle this problem.

     Garden rooms are a great way to divide up the space into more manageable bits, and you don’t have to complete each garden room at once.
    Why not try it some of these tips out if you have that type of garden?
    We’d love to see photos of any change you’ve done the garden, or perhaps just write in the details and send it in to. or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

    Vegetable Heroes:

    the walk through the supermarket - leeks Porree (Lauch)
    • There’s nothing like a good long history that some vegetables seem to have and the Leek is no exception. Probably originating somewhere in Asia, Leeks have been grown there and in Europe for thousands of years.
    • Leeks were prized by the ancient Greeks and Romans because of their supposed beneficial effect upon the throat.  In fact the Greeks and Romans seem to prize most vegetables, I'm thinking of the humble radish which was worth it's weight in silver at the time!
    • The Greek philosopher Aristotle, thought that the clear voice of the partridge was due to a diet of leeks, who would've thought that a partridge ate leeks?
    • Then there was the Roman emperor Nero who supposedly ate leeks everyday to make his voice stronger. did he eat Leeks while fiddling as Rome burned?
    • The leek has been a national Welsh emblem since 1536.
    • It’s because of leeks that the Welsh are such great singers perhaps because they eat a lot of them, think Tom Jones.
    •  Leeks, known scientifically as Allium ampeloprasum var. Porrum, are related to garlic, onions, shallots, and scallions.
    • Onions, celery, and carrots are very good companion plants for the leek.
    • Leeks, are a cool season crop.
    • I have grown Leeks over the summer and found that although they don't grow to the same thickness as winter leeks, they're just as tasty and tender as ever. 
    • Leeks are usually grown from seed and I always start them off in punnets first then transplant them when they're about 20cm tall and pencil thick.
    •  Thney're easy to grow, and using out of date packets of Leek seeds is no problem at all.
    • When to sow around Australia:
    • Sow the seeds of Leeks from Spring until the end of Autumn in cool temperate climates, and late summer and autumn in warm and tropical zones.
    • In arid districts, seeds must be sown in February/early March and then you can transplant them in April and May.
    • Leeks can be planted in the autumn, and will overwinter in temperate  areas because of relatively mild winters but don't like periods of extreme cold.
    • Most people should be familiar with what Leeks look like, long creamy cyclinders with a very small bulb . The cycliners are made up of layers  of white then green, tightly wrapped, flat leaves.
    • Good soil is the key to growing leeks, but realy they're not too fussy and do well in almost any garden soil as long as it is well aerated and deep, about a spade’s depth is good.
    • Aim for a  pH between 6.0 and 7.0.
    • When you're transplanting, use some kind of dibble tool or the end of a rake handle to make a hole that's just deep enough to leave only the top inch of the seedling exposed. Set the leek seedling into the hole and fill it loosely with soil.
    • Space the leeks 10cm  or a large hand span" apart, in rows about 20cm  or from your wrist to your elbow apart. Find something practical like that to do you estimates.
    • When you’re growing Leeks the aim is to blanch the stems while the plants are maturing. 
    • When they’re 4 weeks old in the veggie bed, use a thick mulch of sugar cane or  you can use shredded newspaper or something similar. In another 4 weeks or when they've grown a bit moredo the same again.
    • Never having done this next step, I'm not sure if it's good practise, but you could give it a try.
    • Cut off the top portion of the leaves, about halfway up the plant, as the leeks are maturing.
    • This is meant to encourage stalk growth, giving you a larger leek for the dinner table.
    • To be honest you can do all this, but if you don’t the leeks are just as tasty.
    • Make sure the plants get a good soaking at least oncea week; otherwise the stems will toughen. Mulch to conserve moisture, and side-dress with manure tea once a month.
    • Leeks are ready as soon as they're big enough to use.
    • They usually take 16-18 weeks--4 ½ months. Quite a long time so explains why they are so expensive at the greengrocer, market or wherever you buy them. At markets they’re usually $2 each.
    • To prepare Leeks cut them very thinly and sautee’ just as you would other members of the onion family.
    • Health experts suggest that like their allium cousins, onions and garlic, let leeks sit for at least 5 minutes after cutting and before cooking to enhance their health-promoting qualities.
    • Why are they good for you?
    • Leeks are a good source of dietary fibre also a top source of vitamin C.
    • Leeks have a high concentration of folate and also give you small amounts of other minerals and vitamins.
    • Leeks are believed to be good for the throat and best of all,Leeks are low in calories and fat-free. 100g of leek has just 125kJ.

    Plant of the Week:

    Correas are the native version of fuchsias, although not great for hanging baskets, they certainly fit into any style of garden with their hanging bell like flowers.
    Lately there’s been so many additions with hybrids that we’re spoilt for choice.
    Now there’s one to celeberate Canberra city.
    Correas grow in all types of soil, and are flowering not until late spring.
    Like exotic Fuchsias, well drained soil is the key.
    The flowers, for 99% of the species and hybrids, are tubular/funnel form then splitting into 4 petals.spreading at the top as the flowers open.
    Correas are tougher than Fuchsias, tolerating frost and flowering through the winter months. Best of all, Correas are bird attracting.
    Correas do best in well drained soil with a slightly acid pH. If you're in Gippsland Victoria with heavy clay soils, then either large pots or raised beds are you only option.
    Correas are prone to root rot in continually wet soils.
    So many hybrids and cultivars to choose from, C. Ice Maiden’, C. Dusky Bells,C.white Tips,  Pink Lips, Pink Panther, Pink Pixie, Lemon Twist, Ivory Bells, Sky Belles, Katie Bells and now Canberra Bells.
    These are mainly hybrid forms that have been crossed with species plants.
    Hybrid Correas have a tendency to be more compact and heavy flowering than the wild species, which makes them a desirable gardening plant.
    For example, Correa ‘Dusky Bells’ is drought and frost tolerant. It is great for a shaded environment. It prefers  shady situations rather than full sun. It also attracts birds to the gardens.  Flowers from March until September.

    Correas are a great little shrub that can fill many a gap in the garden bed.
    Now they come in more colours then ever before, and this new release should please everyone, especially Canberra listeners.
    New release Correas are hybrid Correas that have a tendency to be more compact and heavy flowering than the wild species, which makes them a desirable gardening plant.
    Many of the Correa species are pollinated by birds such as honey eaters as they normally has a lot of nectar.
    Many of the correas flower over the winter months and their flowers can provide an important source of nectar to birds at this time.
    The new release: • Stunning two-tone red and cream bell-like flowers is a hardy - dry and frost tolerant Australian native.
    Canberra Bells Parentage: one of its parent plants is appropriately called Federation Belle, while the other is Correa Mannii. C. "Canberra Bells grows to 1 m x 1 m.

    Canberra Bells will provide colour for autumn, tolerates part-shade but flowers best in full sun.

    For all you Canberra listeners,Canberra Bells is the official plant commemorating the Centenary of Canberra and now, this hardy but attractive native shrub is available for purchase

    Give them a try. Ask for the new varieties by name at your garden centre.