Sunday, 28 July 2013

Aphrodisiac's Guide to Gardening

Compost Capers

Improving your soil is so important for a healthy garden.
You might be lucky and already have great black soil, but for most gardeners we’re either battling sandy soil or heavy clay.
It’s true that sometimes you just can’t get enough of your own compost to make any difference unless, that is, you employ some willing helpers I am talking.with Cameron Little

Now you know that as earthworms burrow through the soil, they consume large quantities of soil and fresh or partially decomposed organic matter from the soil surface.
Earthworms their droppings or casts as they go about their business which is invaluable nutrients for your plants.
As earthworms travel up and down and through out the soil, they mix soil from the different soil layers with plant and animal debris from the soil surface.
This mixing helps to make more nutrients available for plant growth, and helps to create a better soil habitat for all soil organisms. I
f you’ve got any questions about worms, or worm farms, why not drop us a line. to or by post to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675,  or post them on Real World Gardeners facebook page, we’d love to hear from you.

Vegetable Heroes;

Asparagus or Asparagus officinalis is from the Liliaceae or lily Family.
Asparagus is a perennial plant that is native to the eastern Mediterranean and Asia Minor areas.
The name “asparagus” comes from the Greek language meaning “sprout” or “shoot.
It’s been around for at least 2,000 years.
In the 16th Century, asparagus gained popularity in France and England. 

Asparagus is often called the “Food of Kings” because King Louis XIV of France loved eating Asparagus so much that he ordered special greenhouses built so he could enjoy asparagus all year-round.
According to some, Asparagus is considered an Aphrodisiac, possibly because of its shape more than any other reason.
There have been asparagus recipes found in Arabian love manuals as far back as the 16th century, and experts say you need to eat it over three consecutive days to get the full effect. Heh Heh.
Did you know that Asparagus was so highly regarded in England that the thought of setting up a colony in Australia  without asparagus was unthinkable, so seed was included in the list of vegetables carried by Sirius, one of the ships of the First Fleet?
During the 1900"s asparagus appeared in many Australian seed catalogues.
What is Asparagus exactly?
The plant consists of a crown that is actually an underground stem from which asparagus spears shoots
The roots are called rhizomes (pronounced rye-zomes).
The spears, grow to about18-25cm long and 1.5-2cm wide, with many small, bumpy, triangular scales (called bracts) at the top of the stem.
Well you might be thinking where can I buy Asparagus to grow?
In fact, do I buy seed, or tubers or what?
I’m here to tell you all that. You can in fact buy Asparagus seed, including Purple Asparagus seed from online companies such as Green Harvest.
But now’s the time to buy something called Asparagus Crowns, and you can buy these from some supermarkets, farmers markets and from mail order and online.
 I bought two crowns some this week from my local market, they were the Mary Washington variety.
 In temperate and sub-tropical districts, plant Asparagus crowns from August right through to November.
When to Plant:
In cool temperate zones, you have from September until November, and unfortunately for arid zones, you had June, July, and will now have to wait until January.
This is one of the plants that don’t really belong in a vegetable patch, because the crowns last for many years, like rhubarb crowns, and need to be left in the one spot. Normally, your veggie patch gets a makeover every 6 months or so, -not that good for the crowns of these plants.
  • So find a sunny spot in the garden where you don’t mind some veggies growing there year after year.
  • Preferably with soil that’s been given some Dolomite and heaps and heaps of compost and complete plant food.
  • Plant you Asparagus crowns in furrows about 20 cm deep and 30 cm wide.
  • Place the crowns onto a small mound in the centre of the furrow, so that the roots point down at about 45°, spread the roots out carefully. Backfill with compost to a depth of 7.5 cm.
  • Space the plants 45cm apart, with 1.2 m between rows.
  • Fill in the trench gradually as growth progresses.  Doesn’t sound too hard does it?
  • In spring Asparagus will grow long and slender with soft fernlike foliage.  Don’t cut any spears in the first Spring, because this is when the crowns are developing.
  • Asparagus produces both male and female plants.  Female plants have small poisonous red berries and don’t produce as many edible shoots as male plants. 
  • During Autumn and Winter the tops will go yellow and brown off, cut off the old tops about 7.5 cm from the soil surface.
  • Try to keep the berries from falling on the ground, as they will germinate and choke the bed.
  • Apply a generous dressing of compost and well-rotted manure to feed the bed for its spring flush of growth.
  • Then top with a thick hay mulch.
  • The next Spring light cutting of spears can be done for the first month of the growing season, with normal cutting taking place each following year until late December. 
  • Don’t cut any more after late December so that plants have enough time to build up their growth reserves for winter. 
  • In the following years, mulch the beds thickly with compost and manure in late winter.  Remember patience in the early stages will help to get a life span of 15 years or even longer for your asparagus.
  • Spears are harvested in two ways which gives them a different colour. White asparagus is grown below the ground and not exposed to light. When harvested it is cut below the surface before being lifted out of the soil. If spears are allowed grow in sunlight they turn a green colour. 
  • For green, only hill about 10cm (4”) and allow the spear to grow 15cm (6”) above the soil, making sure to cut the spear just below ground level.  Green asparagus is recommended.
  • Asparagus is most delicious when the time between cutting and serving is kept to a minimum.
  • When you’re cutting the spears, do it carefully to avoid injuring the crown.  Farmers harvest by a rule-of-thumb, if the spears are thicker than a pencil cut them before the spears branch, usually at approx. 20 cm high, if they are skinnier, leave them to develop and feed the crown.

Why is it Good For You?

Asparagus is low in kilojoules, without fat or cholesterol, but has fibre.
Asparagus has B group vitamins  as well as folate.
A serve of asparagus has ¼ of your RDI of vitamin C.
Asparagus has potassium to help keep our blood pressure healthy.

Design Elements

with Landscape Designer Louise McDaid
On last week’s design elements we mentioned that we always have some parts of the year when there’s a bit of a hiatus-nothing much in flower in the garden, and we’re looking around for something the zhoosh it up, and make it more appealing.
We then talked about what exotics fitted the bill for all year round colour. Now it’s the turn of native plants..

Of course you don’t have to all native or all exotic because many plants fit into either category.
The trick is to put those plants together that like similar conditions, and have similar  or contrasting leaf shapes. So spiky leaved exotics with spikey leaved perennials, and little green leaves of exotics with little or similar shaped leaves of natives. Or go for that contrast.

Plant of the Week

Narrow spaces are fairly limited in what can grow there.
You’ve probably seen too many times when people squeeze Murrayas, Lilly Pilly’s and other large plants into borders or spaces of less than ½ a metre.
They then have to continually prune them back because they quickly outgrow their space.
This new release is narrow by nature but not boring.

How about a Banksia for those narrow spaces?

The flower heads are made up of hundreds (sometimes thousands) of tiny individual flowers grouped together in pairs. The colour of the flower heads usually ranges from yellow to red. Many species flower over autumn and winter and for this reason are great for the winter bird attracting garden.

The fruits of banksias (called follicles) are hard and woody and are often grouped together to resemble cones (which they are not ­ true cones are produced only by conifers).

The  flowers of Banksias have plenty of  nectar and pollen for a wide range of bird species-like honeyeaters and, as well as many insects.
Mammals like sugar gliders, and pygmy possums are also pollinators of Banskia flowers, being attracted to their musky odour that comes out in the evening.
Fruit also provide a seed source for cockatoos
General Growing Information:
Banksias usually grow best in well drained soils in a sunny position.
People are afraid to prune Banksias because they think of them as being a bit tricky.
If you’re not sure what type of Banksia you have, then only light pruning.
If you know your Banksia has a woody rootstock (lignotuber) then it can be heavily pruned.
Only low phosphorus fertilisers should be used if at all. I’d recommend Blood n Bone.

The parent plant Coastal Banksia or Banksia integrifolia var integrifolia grows very well in coastal areas and can tolerate salt spray.
Coastal Banksia is very adaptable to any soil-ie sandy and clay loams and any type of pH .

In Victoria, from Sale to Bairnsdale, Banksia integrifolia grows along the roadside  in the low-lying, swampy areas.
Plants are frost tolerant.


Banksia integrifolia Sentinel  is a selection of Banksia integrifolia, var Integrifolia
Grows to around 2metres x 1 metre.

Banksia integrifolia Sentinel, will also grow in moist soils, as long as waterlogging is not long-term.
Compacted and high-clay-fraction soils probably won't be suitable for reasonable growth.
Although some people would dispute that.
Coastal Banksia is a very tough plant can cope with short periods of dryness, moderate frosts, front line salt, saline soils, wind and some shade.

his plant has dark green very leathery stiff leaves with a silvery underside. And grows to about 10 metres eventually.
The pale limey green to yellow flowers open from autumn to winter.
The flowers are described as a dense cylindrical spike made up of many small individual flowers that are supposedly fragrant, but certainly rich in nectar.

TIP: Banksia integrifolia flowers occur on two year old wood.
So note down when you pruned your plant, otherwise you might end up missing out on flowers for years and be wondering why.

Not enough Banksias are planted in peoples gardens for whatever reason. But this one ticks all the boxes for size, shape and something for the birds, bees and small marsupials in your garden.Go on, plant a Banksia today.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Red Hot Garden Design


Head Gardener, Sydney Living Museums, Dave Grey talked to RWG about volunteer opportunities at two of the properties.

Six volunteer positions are on offer which presents a rare opportunity for locals to go behind the scenes and work in the idyllic sprawling gardens of Vaucluse House and at Rouse Hill House & Farm.
Garden volunteers will be given a range of benefits for their time including free entry to twelve Sydney Living Museums properties during the period of their service, as well as invitations to social outings and tours and talks at Sydney Living Museum properties.
Volunteers will meet on a Monday fortnightly from 9am-1pm over an initial period of six months (approximately eight hours a month). Orientation training is provided for all volunteers.

To read the full position description and access an application form please visit our website at and follow the links to Volunteering> Current Opportunities


Potatoes, Solanum tuberosum
It’s always interesting to find out where our vegetables started and how they became popular. And this is true of the humble potato.
Farmers in the Andes Mountains of South America first discovered the potato 7,000 years ago.
They had it to themselves until the mid-1500’s when the Spanish Conquistadors invaded Peru.
In Spain, when it did arrive, it was thought of food for the underclasses, or feeding hospital inmates.
Around 1780 the people of Ireland adopted the potato as a food crop because potatoes contain most of the vitamins you need to survive.
The potato is a member of the nightshade or Solanaceae family and its leaves are poisonous.
NOTE:A potato left too long in the light will begin to turn green.
The green skin contains a substance called solanine which can cause the potato to taste bitter and green potatoes can upset the stomach, so don’t try them.
TIP:Always grow potatoes from Certified Seed Potatoes from reputable suppliers.
Yes it is possible to simply buy some from a specialist green grocer and keep them for seed, or use leftover potato peelings.
What’s wrong with that? You run the risk of introducing diseases such as Potato Virus Y, Potato Blight or Potato cyst Nematode. If you use leftovers or buy from supermarkets or green grocers. You might think it’s only a small risk, but once you get potato blight into your soil, it’s their forever. No chemical will shift it.

When to Plant
Potatoes can be planted now all over Australia'
In temperate and sub-tropical districts, August to October is the best time.
Arid areas, August until December is your best time.
In cool temperate zones, you have from September through to January.
Cooler areas have a bit of extra time to order some of the more unusual varieties before they grow in the ground.
Choose a Variety?

How about Cranberry Red.
Cranberry Red has red skin and red flesh, great in salads, for boiling and baking. 
These stay red, even after cooking.
Or what Potato Sapphire that has purple skin and purple flesh

Purple Sapphire I’m sure is sold also as Purple Congo, is perfect for mashing, boiling and roasting, and yes, it stays purple after cooking.

Purple mash, Yum, and yes, I’ve cooked it.

And for a good all rounder, try growing Royal Blue.
Potato Royal Blue is oblong, with purple skin and dark yellow flesh.
If you’re buying through mail order or online, you have until the end of August to buy them. After that, they’re not available.
To grow your Potatoes-
  • Put seedling potatoes into a trench in as deep and rich a soil as you can get.
  • Plenty of compost and manures please.
  • And as they grow pile the earth up around them.
  • You will need to hill the rows or potato container several times until the potatoes have flowered .
  • You need to do this to stop the greening of tubers and also protect them from potato moth.
  • Also, hilling up the soil and mulch will give you more potatoes as they tend to form on roots near the surface.
  • That means, as you pile up the soil, you get new roots, and more potatoes....
  • Chicken manure or blood and bone should be dug through the bed as potatoes need a lot of phosphorus but not too much nitrogen.  Too much nitrogen will mean lots of leaves rather than potatoes.
  • Keep the water up and but only water moderately as potatoes will rot in soil that is too wet.
TIP:They can also get a fungus growing inside them if the soil’s too wet.

When you cut them open, they’ll have grey patches inside which actually do taste mouldy. Ewwww!
  • You can add fish emulsion and seaweed extract when you’re watering too.
  • Potatoes can also be grown in your black compost bin if you’re not using it for compost. Plant the seed potatoes at the bottom, let them grow to about 50cm,( so with your ruler that’s  almost 2 x ruler heights) then, over the top and add 8cm of soil, let them grow a little more, add some more soil, and so on, in the end a stack of potatoes.
  • Pick your potatoes when the vine has died down to the ground, that’s if you want the most potatoes, but they can be harvested from when the first baby potatoes are formed.  The lower leaves should be turning yellow – this happens about 3 to 4 weeks after flowering.
  • If you plan to store your potatoes, cut off the foliage and let the potatoes rest in the ground for 3-4 weeks to allow the skin to 'set', they keep longer this way. Store in a dark, cool, well ventilated spot. 
Roasting Potatoes include: Arran, Royal Blue, Cara, Celine, Desiree, Maxine, Picasso, Ruby Lou, Romano, King Edward, Kondor, Maris Piper, Stemster and Valor.

For Chip Potatoes try: Nadine, Kestrel, King Edward, Desiree, Kennebec.
For Boiling Potatoes try: Nadine, Dutch Cream Kestrel, Desiree, King Edward.
For Mashing Potatoes try: Kestrel, Nadine, King Edward, Tasmanian Pinkeye.
For Salad Potatoes try: Nicola, Tasmanian Pinkeye, Ponfine.
Why are potatoes good for you?
The potato is densely packed with nutrients. The Irish couldn’t be wrong could they?
A medium potato provides vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6 and trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc.
Potatoes are known as the foods people crave when they are stressed. 
Why? because the carbs in potatoes (about 26%) help make space for tryptophan and this, in turn, boosts the serotonin level in the brain.
High serotonin levels help boost your mood and help you feel calm.
To preserve these nutrients it is important to peel the potato just prior to cooking and not leave it exposed to the air or standing in water any longer than necessary.

 Design Elements

with Landscape designer, Louise McDaid
 I have a friend who for years has been trying to get the pink blue and white hyacinths to flower at the same time.
Each year she buys these bulbs and has attempted to plant them in pots at different times. But no, with repetitive stubbornness, these Hyacinths just refuse to comply, as if obeying some other higher order.
So what do you need to do to get other flowers to open at when you want them too? Here’s a bit of a hint….
I never can get my blue flowers to open up at the same time as the yellow flowers in the front garden. So to beat this conundrum, I’ve planted bushes with yellow foliage like Abelia, Frances Mason, and variegated Buxus to name a couple.
If you want a white garden, there’s plenty of plants with white in the leaves, that you could add. Then you need to pick something from each season that has a white flower whether annual or perennial, it doesn’t matter.
It could also be a tree like the Handkerchief tree, which is much admired in English gardens, but grows equally well in Australia.

Plant of the Week:

Kniphophia Species
Sometimes, plant of the week features something not because it’s in flower, but because it’s a good time of year to either order them, prune them or propagate them in a very easy way.
This plant is no exception. of  Kniphophia
Light up your garden with the many colours of torch lillies or Kniphofias.
They’re very tough plants that cope with neglect.
Start of your collection with Kniphofia “Princes Beatrix” Or Little Maid. You’ll be hooked on how easy they are to grow once you do.

Kniphofia-bare rooted perennials (to order this time of year.)

This is the time of year to buy bare rooted plants.
For those that aren’t familiar with buy a bare-rooted planted.
That means a plant with no soil, no potting mix nothing. Usually they’re dipped in something to prevent the roots from drying out too much and wrapped in some sphagnum moss or just newspaper. They’re much lighter to post, and establish a lot faster.
When Spring comes, they’ll take off like mad.
Bare rooted plants are not just for professionals or experienced gardeners.
They’re dead easy to plant out, and even kids can manage them.
Roses and fruit and nut trees have been traditionally sold as bare-rooted plants for many years.
Perhaps people are no longer aware that you can buy bare rooted perennial plants.
  • Why buy bare rooted perennials?
Because these days, a lot of nurseries and garden centres no longer offer the variety that they used to, and you can get a whole lot more interesting stuff from mail order catalogues and over the internet.
Today, we’re looking at bare rooted Kniphophias or Red Hot Pokers. Also called, torch lily, knofflers or poker plant, is a genus of flowering plants in the family Xanthorrhoeaceae, same family as Australia’s native grass trees.
The genus Kniphofia is named after the 16th century German professor, J.H.Kniphof.
These Kniphofias are native to Africa.
The common name though has not a lot to do with the colour, because the flowers come in so many colours these days.
There’s two types- ones that die down to the ground in winter-these are the Herbaceous species and hybrids have narrow, grass-like leaves 10–100 cm long.
Then there’s the evergreen species. These have slightly wider, strap-shaped leaves up to 1.5 m (5 ft) long.
All plants have spikes of upright, brightly coloured flowers well above the foliage, in shades of red, orange and yellow, often bicoloured.
The flowers have lots of nectar and are attractive to bees
With most perennial plants, the roots are fairly fibrous and withstand handling quite well too.
Kniphophias are versatile clumping plants  great in mixed garden beds, large pots, mass plantings and for architectural character.
 POSITION :-Full sun gardens
 MAINTENANCE :-Hardy with few problems and easy to grow. Tolerates windy coastal gardens, hot conditions and are frost hardy. Remove spent flower heads.
 FLOWERING seasons vary with individual varieties.
I’ve grown this one
Kniphofia ‘Princess Beatrix’
One tip about red hot pokers is that they don’t enjoy rich animal manure around their crowns so be careful.
Other than that they are pretty easy to grow given anything like reasonable soil and a sunny position.
Kniphofia ‘Princess Beatrix’ is an old variety with tender soft peachy apricot flowers during the warmer months. Although the flower stems make about 120cm in height it is a mistake to plant them in the back of a border crowded by other plants. 120cm x 80cm.
Another one I grow Kniphofia pauciflora 'Little Maid'
An attractive perennial grass suitable for full sun gardens forming a dense clump of strap-like leaves with ivory/pale lemon flowers during summer/autumn.
FLOWERING:-Ivory and pale lemon red hot poker flowers appear above the foliage in summer and autumn.
Grows to about75cm high x 50cm wide
Kniphofia ‘Strawberries and Cream’
This Kniphofia has coral-pink flowers when they open, turn to cream making for a charming effect. It flowers for many months from spring until late summer.
I cut the evergreen leaves down to about 15cm every winter to keep the plant tidy. 120cm tall by 80cm wide.
Kniphofia hybrid cultivar Dwarf Yellow Poker
is an evergreen perennial with a clumping habit. Striking yellow flower heads in summer. It has long narrow, arching foliage. Drought tolerant once established.  Prefers a full sun to part shade position.  Frost and wind tolerant. Suitable for pots and containers.
Grows 70cm high x 30cm wide.
Kniphofia uvaria
Red Hot Poker is an evergreen perennial with a clumping habit. An eye catching feature in any garden with vibrant burnt orange and yellow flowers in spring and summer. It has long narrow, arching foliage. Drought tolerant once established.  Prefers a full sun to part shade position.  Frost and wind tolerant. Suitable for pots and containers.
Grows 1.5m high x 90cm wide.
Both varieites are supplied as: Bare rooted plant
Suitable climate zones: Cool, Temperate, Arid, Semi-arid, Mild Tropical, Tropical Climate Guide)

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Waxing Lyrical about Cinnamon

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at 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. The new theme is sung by Harry Hughes from his album Songs of the Garden. You can hear samples of the album from the website
Real World Gardener is funded by the Community Broadcasting Foundation.

Spice It Up

with Ian Hemphill for

You probably have this spice in your kitchen spice shelf right now, You probably use it often in cakes, puddings and maybe even some casseroles and stews. The spice trade is the second oldest trade in the world, says Ian Hemphill from Herbies spices. But did you know that once again, you may not have the real deal that you thought you had.
Let’s find out a whole lot more about this spice.

Look out for true cinnamon or grow your own tree.
All you need to give the tree is a sunny to partially shaded position and a moderate supple of water throughout the year, but don’t over water.
Protect the tree from heavy frost and prolonged cool weather.
A cinnamon tree can survive short mild frost.

Some say only really for sub-tropical to tropical areas but we know better because there are Cinnamon trees growing in the Adelaide Botanic Gardens.
It might be a little cold in say, Armidale, but if you were going to try, you would choose a sheltered position, maybe near a north facing wall. It doesn't like heavy frost, so if you get bad frosts you’re probably just setting yourself up for disappointment.
If you’ve got any questions about where to get a Cinnamon tree, or growing Cinnamon, drop us a line. to or by post to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675,  or post them on Real World Gardeners facebook page, we’d love to hear from you.

Where to get the Cinnamon Tree

The cinnamon tree, or Cinnamonum verrum is available by mail order from Daleys Nursery 36 Daley's Lane, Geneva via Kyogle NSW 2474  via mail or visit the website

Vegetable Heroes

Did you know that a Swiss botanist Gaspard Bauhin in 1620, found this vegetable growing wild in Sweden?
So yes, Swedes do come from Sweden, Swede vegetable that is.
Another interesting fact about this vegetable is it doesn’t seem to have a long history, well unless you consider dating back to the1600’s not long, which it isn’t compared to some vegetables.

Brassica napus variety (var.) napobrassica, sometimes referred to as Rutabaga, but never referred to as turnip.
Rutabaga is a corruption of the Swedish for turnip-cabbage.

  • Turnips and swedes are both members of the cabbage family and are closely related to each other - so close that it’s not surprising that their names are often confused. For instance, swedes are sometimes called Swedish turnips or swede-turnips.
  • How do you tell the difference between Turnips and Swedes?
  • For one, turnips are usually smaller than Swedes-about the size of a golf ball, with creamy white, smooth skin. 

Some turnips have a smooth, silky skin that’s coloured white, with a purple or reddish top. The flesh is white and has a peppery taste. (pictured right)
Swedes are a lot bigger, - roughly the size of a shoe. 
Its rough skin is creamy white and partly purple, with a distinctive 'collar'-that shows the multiple leaf scars.
The Swede also has a hint of yellow-orange inside the actual vegetable.(pictured below)
Here’s a bit of trivia for you from a very recent article in the English
Telegraph reporting on a poll on home accidents in the kitchen.

  • A survey found two-thirds of injuries in the kitchen come from preparing fresh vegetables like squash and turnip that are too difficult to cut.
  • Almost a quarter said pumpkins were the toughest vegetable to skin and chop while a fifth said swedes were the most dangerous.
  • Two in five participants said they had injured themselves trying to imitate TV chefs when slicing vegetables, the research found.
  • So it came as no surprise that root foods had topped a poll of the most dangerous vegetables.  Don’t let that deter you!
  • Another surprise is that Swede vegetable is a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. So how it came to be growing in the wild in Sweden is any bodies guess.
  • If you were a lover if Haggis you might already know that the Scottish call it "neeps" and serve it with haggis.
  • Swede us a full flavoured veggie with a savoury aftertaste. Under-rated as a vegetable, its smooth and creamy texture is a welcome surprise in your cooking.
How and when to grow Swedes.

  •  You might’ve guessed that the Swede is a winter vegetable.
  • You can sow Swedes from February until November it temperate and cool districts. April until August in arid zones, and only May to July in sub-tropical and tropical areas.
  • You might find some garden books suggesting not to sow Swedes at these times, but those books are probably written for northern hemisphere gardens. Seed suppliers also recommend the dates I’ve given.
  • Turnips are easy to grow but swedes are easier.
  • Sow the seeds of Swedes into any prepared soil, they’ll even grow in heavy soil as long as the water drains away fairly quickly.
  • As with carrots, don’t put in fresh compost or manures when you sow Swede seeds, or you’ll get the usual forking or hairy swedes!
  • Swedes need good levels of trace elements, add a dusting of these either from a packet, or as a seaweed spray if your soil is poor or sandy.
  • Without enough trace elements, your Swedes might be tasteless, bitter and brown inside.
  • TIP: Swedes resent transplanting, just like carrots, parsnips and turnips. Sow the seeds directly into the veggie bed.
  • Your Swedes will be ready in three to four months after planting.
  • But you can pick them at whatever size you like, small is good, as is larger. Doesn’t matter.
  • In cold areas, Swedes are best left in the ground and pulled out as you need them.
  • Otherwise, pick them and store them as you would potatoes.
Where do you get it?
Why is it good for you?
1/2 cup cooked swede is a serve, and is a good source of vitamin C and fibre, folate and potassium.
Swedes are quite filling but are low in kilojoules, with only 85kJ per 100g (2/3 cup).

Design Elements:

with Landscape Designer Louise McDaid

Last week I said that a natural garden is one where the weeds don’t take over.
Natural gardens aren't formal; instead they feature free-form plantings and soft edges. Pathways meander through the space, sitting spots appear unexpectedly and havens are provided for birds and animals.
Wildlife is also an important part of a natural garden.
Let’s look at what can go wrong and how to fix it by calling in the experts in part two of a natural garden….

Within our fences there is usually some sort of stable ecosystem in which plants, animals and pathogens coexist in a state of balance.

We upset this balance by using synthetic chemicals, planting a tree, putting in a pond or a veggie bed.
Lots of small steps can take us a long way towards helping garden wildlife.
Things like make a log shelter for our reptiles, building a pond to attract frogs, create a compost or start a worm far.
All these things , as well as plants, belong in a natural garden, although not as features.

Plant of the Week:

Geraldton Wax-Chamelaucium uncinatum

Do you want long lasting flowers for your vase that you can cut from your garden?  Do you want a plant with spectacular masses of white-pink-red flowers over winter to spring? I bet you do!

Geradlton Wax will grow well in zones that are arid, and semi-arid with summer rain or winter rain, in moist temperate zones with warm summers and in areas with winter rains and dry summers. Basically, Geraldton Wax grows everywhere in Australia except in tropical and sub-tropical areas.

Geraldton Wax is a medium to large shrub, typically 2-3 metres high in cultivation and of fairly open habit. The leaves are narrow, up to 40mm long and highly aromatic when crushed.
The flowers appear in late winter and may last well into summer.

The flowers remind me of large tea tree flowers and in fact there are some species of tea-tree that have similar foliage.

The flowering stems are sought as "fillers" which are useful for providing backing for single stemmed flowers such as roses, carnations and kangaroo paw.

A range of flower colours are available from white to pinks and purples.

Geraldton Wax is commercially grown for the cut flower industry and there is a nursery in Alice Springs where they grow early and late season flowering types.

That means if you wanted an extended season of flowering you could plant the different types in your flower border.
Some of the CVS mentioned that particular nursery in Alice Springs like Purple Pride, flowers in mid August ,CWA pink flowers early to mid September

Coming from Western Australia you would expect the this plant would like sandy well drained soils and you would be right. It grows it full sun and semi-shade.

If you don’t have those conditions you can grow Geraldton Wax in pots or raised garden beds, even rockeries.

Well-drained soils with a pH of 7 to 9 are preferred.
Being a native plant that has evolved over thousands of years in dry, and poorly fertile soil, Geraldton wax has low nutritional requirements.
Too much nitrogen at flowering time will  mean that you get lots of fresh tip growth beyond the flowers. This causes a reduction in flower quality and reduces the price received for the flowers.

TIP:When you first get your plant of Geraldton Wax, plant them out carefully as the roots break easily.
Powdery mildew might be a problem in more humid areas so make sure there’s plenty of air circulating around the plant.
Once established, plants will tolerate periods of extended dryness. The plants respond well to pruning back by about one third annually. Geraldton wax is one of Australia's most famous wildflowers and is widely used as a cut flower in Australia and overseas.

You can buy seed of Geraldton Wax from an Australian Native seed company.
I have seen them for sale in Botanic gardens shops around the country as well.
 If you’ve tried growing Geraldton wax before and had no success, why not try one of the hybrids, like Dancing Queen?
Wax flowers normally grow in poor pure sandy very well drained soil/dirt in windswept WA without any still, high humidity air around them. You could try making a high mound of very sandy poor loam, if available in your area and on the side of a windswept open area.
If you live in an area of high humidity, try using Phosphonic acid or Phos-acid, solution to give the plant resistance to root rot fungus.
If you have any questions about growing Geradlton Wax, or Wax Flowers write in and ask.