Sunday, 24 November 2013

Looking for Birds in the Woods

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 the Community Broadcasting Foundation
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

Wildlife in Focus

with Consultant Ecologist Kurtis Lindsay
Do you still have plenty of birds visiting your local area?
Have you ever wondered where have all the birds gone?
Woodlands and grassland covers about three-quarters of the Australian continent. No surprises then that these areas provide habitat for the majority of Australian land bird species.
These habitats, especially temperate and tropical woodlands and grasslands, also provide much of the country's agricultural land, which has greatly modified them.
Who wins out?
Listen to this!

From the Department of Environment ,, about one-third of the major woodland type, eucalypt woodlands, and 80 per cent of temperate woodlands have been cleared (McIntyre et al 2002, Lindenmayer et al 2005).
Much of the remainder is thinned, degraded and deteriorating, and often in poorer country—steep, rocky, wet or with less fertile soils.
Little grassland has been formally cleared, but ploughing, grazing, introduced pastures and weeds, changed burning regimes, and other disturbances have caused major, widespread change.
It’s been shown that revegetation of woodlands has reversed the trend.
 Now it’s up to the private landholders to take action.
Why not look up Australian wildlife conservancy to see what they do?
If you have any questions about woodland birds, why not drop us a line by sending in your question to or by post to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675, and I’ll send you a copy of the Garden Guardians in return..

Vegetable Heroes

BOTANICAL NAME: Smallanthus sonchifolius (syn Polymnia sonchifolia)
Yacon is sometimes called, Peruvian ground apple, strawberry jicama, Bolivian sunroot, groundpear, pear of the earth.

Yacon is the name this vegetable mostly goes by is in the Daisy or Asteraceae family.
Yacon is native to Colombia and Ecuador and is a hardy, attractive herbaceous perennial from which you get quite a few tubers.
The plant grows to 1.5 to 3 m tall with dark green celery-like leaves.
When it flowers, you’ll have male and female daisy-like yellow to orange flowers that are pollinated by insects.
Each plant forms a underground clump of 4 to 20 fleshy large tuberous roots.
The plant itself is extremely hardy tolerating hot summers, drought and poor soils.
Yacon tubers look a bit like sweet potatoes, but they have a much sweeter taste and crunchy flesh.
The tubers can be eaten raw as a refreshing treat on their own, finely sliced and mixed into salads, boiled or baked, fried as chips or prepared as a pickle.
They are sweet, juicy and almost calorie free.
The main stem can also be used like celery.
The tubers taste like a cross between apple and watermelon, but with more sweetness.
Generally it’s a bit tricky describing the taste of a new food, but everyone agrees on the crunchiness.
As a member of the sunflower family, yacon can grow to 2 metres in height with small, daisy-like yellow flowers.
If you can grow Jerusalem artichokes or Parsnips, you can grow Yacon.

Normally you plant the crowns into large pots and wait
for shoots to start growing from each small tuber.
Yacon can be planted all year round in frost-free areas as it is day-length neutral.
It appears to be drought tolerant compared to other vegetable crops and so far, pest-free.
For cold areas of Australia the rhizomes can be started in styrofoam boxes in a greenhouse or on a warm verandah, usually in spring,and planted out when frost is past.
Split the crowns into individual shoots with their tubers attached and plant into smaller pots.
Yacon plants are quite sensitive to temperature, so plant them out when you would tomatoes.
Yacon actually produces two types of underground tubers, reddish rhizomes directly at the base of the stem, which can be eaten when young but are mainly used for propagation and the larger brown tubers, which are mainly eaten.
Prepare the soil by loosening well with a fork and working in compost.
To plant, cover a large rhizome which has several sprouts, with soil to a depth of 3 cm.  Space them 0.5m apart.
Mulch well because yacon will grow up through the mulch, just like potatoes.
Because this plant creates dense shade when it grows you probably won’t have to do any weeding. Bonus!
Yacon grows fast even in poor soils but crops best in rich, friable, well-drained soil.
So when do you pick this strange vegetable?
The plant takes 6 - 7 months to reach maturity.
You know when it’s ready when the top growth withers and dies back.
This is when you dig up the tuber.
They resemble dahlia or sweet potato tubers, on average weigh about 300 g but can weigh up to 2 kg.
The tubers continue to sweeten as the plant dies back so the main harvest should only take place once all the top growth is dead, usually by May. Don't leave it too long though, especially in areas that have mild winters, as the plant will start to shoot again as the weather warms up and the days get longer.
When harvesting, separate the reddish rhizomes from the tubers and wash off any soil, taking care not to break the skin.
The reddish rhizomes are kept out of the sun and covered with slightly damp sand, sawdust or cocopeat to stop them drying out and put aside for replanting in a dark, dry place.
These offsets are then replanted for the next season.
The plant needs to be dug carefully to avoid damage to the crisp tubers. After separation from the central stem undamaged tubers can be stored in a cool, dark and dry place with good air circulation for some months.
Why the tubers keep sweetening during storage is because of starch conversion.
You can put them in the sun for a couple of weeks to speed up the sweetening process.
There’s plenty of eating tips, too many to mention, but I’ll post them on the website. For those without a computer, write in to me and I’ll send you a fact sheet.


First remove the outer brown skin and inner white skin by peeling with a knife as the skin has a resinous taste.
Inside is amber coloured sweet crunchy flesh.
Like all tubers there are no seeds to remove, so it is quick and easy to prepare.
Chop the tuber into chunks and add it to green salads where they impart a great flavour and texture. I
When cut into long strips, they make an interesting addition to a plate of raw vegetable crudites for dipping into your favourite guacamole or cream cheese dip.
It can also be boiled, steamed or baked with other vegies. In cooking they stay sweet and slightly crisp.
If boiled 'in the jacket' the skin separates from the flesh and can be peeled off like a boiled egg.
Yacon can also be used in a dessert crumble or pie with apples, pears or choko.
In the Andes, they are grated and squeezed through a cloth to yield a sweet refreshing drink. The juice can also be boiled down to produce a syrup. In South America the juice is concentrated to form dark brown blocks of sugar called chancaca. The young stem can be used as a cooked vegetable.
Why is it good for you?
Nutritionally yacon is low in calories but it is said to be high in potassium.
 Yacon tubers store carbohydrate in the form of inulin, a type of fructose, which is a suitable food for type II diabetics.
Plants with the sugar inulin such as Jerusalem artichokes and yacon can be useful additions to diet of people with type II diabetes.

Design Elements

with Landscape Designer Louise McDaid

Last week, a new series was started on colour in garden design.
Colour theory and a range of different ways to use the colours were explained through using the colour wheel.

Main colour schemes used in gardens are complementary, split complementary, triadic/contrasting, harmonious and monochromatic.
But colour is a fickle thing, and many factors affect the appearance of the colour of your plants. Because this program goes Australia, you can imagine how the different light levels will affect colour in people’s gardens from Ballina in NSW to Kingston in South Australia.
Colour is affected by a number of factors such as (i) light-we need to consider the light levels in our gardens. (ii)distance-how far away is the garden from where you're looking at it?

For the best tips, listen to Louise explain how you can overcome the colour dilemma.

Let’s find out….

As Louise mentioned, there are some guidelines to using colour:
Receding colours – fade away or black out – cool colours such as blues, deep greens – they look further away – also grey, black (good for fences or other items you want to ‘disappear’ in the garden)
Luminous colours – appear closer – warm colours yellow, orange, red – they also lead the eye through a garden.
Colour changes should be graduated or sequenced to keep continuity.
Colour and textures are related – delicate pastel colours have a fine textural appearance,  while bright colours appear coarser.
If you have any questions about this week’s Design Elements, send it our email address, or just post it.

Plant of the Week;

Aniseed Myrtle Aneothola anisata syn. Backhousia anisata
These days, many Australian native plants are quite rare in the wild. This one’s no exception. Although the good news is that it’s relatively easy to get one from native nurseries.
Its name comes from the strong aniseed scented and flavoured leaves. The leaves are often used for flavouring desserts, sweet sauces and preserves. It also is popular as a scented savoury sauce or marinade for meats and sets a deep fragrant flavour to salad dressings.
This bush food is native to southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, but will grow as far south as Melbourne, Victoria.

Aniseed Myrtle will tolerate light frosts.

You can use the young leaves chopped in salads and as a flavouring in sauces for fish dishes. An excellent companion for lemon myrtle.

Aniseed Myrtile is a medium-sized to large tree with somewhat soft and corky bark; young branchlets.

Leaves lanceolate to elliptic, 5–12.5 cm long,  the margins are wavy and because of numerous oil glands large, numerous, the leaves have a distinct aniseed smell when crushed;

This stunning rainforest tree is both highly ornamental and a very desirable for its bushfood characteristics.

The tree can reach up to 45m in a rainforest environment but in people's gardens in will only grow to about8-10 m. Aniseed Myrtle is really is regarded as a small to medium tree in and is usually harvested as a hedge to 2-3 m in bushfood plantations.

This tree has a dense cover of fine lush green foliage throughout the year with white scented flowers in the spring. Flowers are white and staminous. Much like other plants in the Myrtaceae family.

The tree prefers regular watering and fertiliser to looks its best as a foliage feature plant.

It also likes protection from wind, otherwise in both situations, the margins of the leaves dry out and turn brown, making it look untidy.

If you've got plenty of water to give it, then grow it in full sun otherwise choose a part shade positions.
For the first few years at least, Aniseed Myrtle makes an excellent pot specimen particularly when regularly pruned to encourage fresh tip growth.
Under garden conditions this makes for an interesting small tree growing to about 8 metres.
It responds well to pruning like many of its "lilly-pilly' cousins and has potential for use as a very aromatic hedge plant.
New growth is pale which stands out well against the darker stems.
Growth in the garden may be slow at first but given some fertilizer and mulch it becomes well established after a couple of years. 


Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Longing for Tropical Fruit

Spice it Up

with Ian Hemphill
Have you ever thought about what part of a plant the clove comes from?
Is there such a thing as a clove tree or bush?
Or perhaps your thinking is more along the lines of where else can you use clove spices other than when making Christmas cake, Christmas pudding and Fruit Mince Pies? Oh, and of course in all things apple. Did you know dentists used to use oil of Cloves when putting in a filling in your tooth because of the strong antiseptic properties?
Listen to yet another amazing tale about the spice trade!

Did you catch that tip from Ian?
Next time you make that pasta sauce, add a pinch of ground cloves to add another great flavour.
Cloves contain Eugenol oil which is also found in Basil leaves, so they’ll certainly go great with all your pasta sauces.
You can also grow the Clove tree, Szygium aromaticum go to
If you have any questions about using cloves why not drop us a line by sending in your question to or by post to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675, and I’ll send you a copy of the Garden Guardians in return..

Vegetable Heroes: Silverbeet

SILVERBEET or Beta vulgaris is grown as a leaf vegetable in Australia.
Had you ever heard of the other names for Silverbeet?
What about Swiss Chard, Spinach, Perpetual Spinach, Strawberry Spinach, Seakale beet, Sicilian and Chilean Beet,Roman Kale, or Mangold?
Silverbeet, or Swiss Chard is a leafy relative of beetroot, another member of the Beta vulgaris species.
Swiss chard isn't native to Switzerland but actually comes from the coasts of Portugal, Spain and the Mediterranean islands.

Why Swiss Chard?  Is it because the Swiss grew it everywhere?
Not exactly. It’s named that way because a Swiss botanist Koch decided the scientific name of this plant in the 19th century.
Because of that, the common name has honoured Kochies' homeland.
Do you throw away your silver beet stems? Put it in the compost maybe?
Did you know that apart from the leaves of silverbeet that’s eaten like spinach, the stems may be cooked like celery?
I can tell you they’re pretty tasty.
The seedlings can also be served in salads.
Silverbeet is a little bit like (Spinacia oleracea L.),but silver beet has a larger, coarser, milder tasting leaf.
Silver beet’s also more tolerant of cold, heat, drought and disease.
Some of us have tried to grow Spinach in warmer weather, but you might as well give up, because Silver Beet beats it hands down.
Silver beet doesn’t easily go to seed during hot weather and doesn’t wilt quite as much as English Spinach.
The stems can be white, red, pink, orange or yellow. The leaves may be smooth or crinkled.
Leaf colours vary from light to dark green to deep red.
In general, the paler the leaf colour the milder the leaf flavour.

Where and When  to Grow:

Silverbeet grows in full sun or part shade.
Although it’s fairly wind hardy, strong winds can cause leaf damage in open sites.
If you want to grow Silverbeet in a pot, no problem at all.

For temperate districts, you can sow Silverbeet from September through to next May.
 Cool temperate districts, from September to March.
Sub-tropical areas and arid areas, you can sow Silverbeet all year round, and for tropical regions, only sow Silverbeet from April to July.


Growing Silverbeet

Silver beet can be direct sown or transplanted.
When you open the packet of seeds, you’ll see knobbly cluster seeds.
Each one of these clusters has two to six seeds in it..
The cluster seed is sown 1/2 cm deep in the soil or into seed trays for transplanting.
Then the usual thing-keep the soil moist until seedlings emerge, usually in about 10 days.
Thin them out when the silverbeets are 5cm high and use the thinned out seedlings in stir fries.
Silver beet needs plenty of nitrogen and water for the fast growth of large, well-shaped, not too tough leaves.
Commercial growers often add copious quantities of animal manures, composts or green manures.
That means, Alfalfa or lucerne is grown first to put lots of Nitrogen into the soil with their nitrogen fixing nodules.
Don’t use fresh animal manures because the animal manures need to be composted to avoid nitrogen drawn down and spoiling the silver beet leaves with food poisoning micro-organisms.
Applying some blood and bone fertiliser before sowing gives silver beet crops a good start, especially on sandy soils.
Did you realise that Silver beet leaves are 93% water?
Like a lot of our veggies, we need to keep up the water in hot weather to stop them from wilting.
Having said that, if your silverbeet has wilted, it will recover after watering.

If you’re using the sprinkler, early in the morning is best to avoid fungal problems on the leaves.
The one fungal disease I have noticed is called Cercospora leaf spot (Cercospora beticola Sacc.) and is the most common fungal disease.
It produces light grey spots with brown margins on the older leaves. These spots fall out and create holes in the leaves.
The disease is favoured by high temperatures (24° to 30°C), high humidity or long periods of leaf wetness.
Cercospora leaf spot comes from infected seed, diseased host crops or weeds growing near the silver beet.
If you do get this problem, don’t grow silverbeet in that spot for another 3 years.
Silverbeet can be cut and come again with multiple pickings.
The outer leaves are picked by pulling them down to 2.5 cm above the plant base, leaving the central leaves behind.
TIP: If you pull rather rather than cut the outer leaves, you won’t damage the inner leaves as much in later pickings.
Silverbeet is really fast growing and is ready in about 8 weeks and when the leaves are about the size of a ruler, ie, 30cm long.

Why is it good for you?
Like many leafy green vegetables, silverbeet has high levels of magnesium, calcium, vitamin K, iron, potassium, vitamin A –
Did you know that if you’re a smoker you should eat vitamin A, rich foods?
That’s because a carcinogen found in cigarette smoke induces Vitamin A deficiency.

Silverbeet should always be included in diets of vegans and vegetarians, who should always eat plenty green leafy vegetables. 
Happy silverbeet growing everyone!

Design Elements

with Louise McDaid, Landscape Designer,

So, you want a blue and white garden, or maybe purple and white?
Is colour important in garden design? But should you religiously stick to those two colours or should you use another colour? Let’s find out….
The colour wheel is great to remember when picking colours for your garden.
That’ll help getting a gaudy mix of colours that just doesn’t work.
If you have any questions about this week’s Design Elements, send it our email address, or just post it.

Plant of the Week

LONGAN TREE, Dimocarpus longan  or Euphoria longan.  Are you looking for something different to plant in your garden? Don’t just always go for the ornamental flowering types. What about something that you can add to ice-cream? From Adelaide to Perth, Cooktown to Warners Bay, growing some tropical fruit can be achieved Try this one.



If you can’t grow Lychees but would like to, then the Longan tree is for you.
The Longan is in the same family as the Lycee tree-Sapindaceae or soapberry family.
Longan trees are more adaptable than Lychee trees.
Longan trees tolerate some frost and drier and cooler conditions.
  1. Longans , are evergreen trees with lime green foliage.
  2. The flowers are in panicles at the ends of the branches with male and female flowers in the same panicle. No problem with pollination.
  3. For fruit set of longans and lychees, cold, wind or rain will interfere with pollination when in flower.
  4. Hot dry winds will affect the crop at any time and cause fruit drop.
  5. Always plant your tree in a sheltered area.
  6. In Australia, grow Longans and Lychees from cooktown to Grafton but they have been grown in Perth (a friend who grows them there) Adelaide and in parts of Victoria.
  7. Really, Longans and Lychees are too big to grow in a pot for more than a few years.
  8. In cooler areas, plant your tree under another larger tree, and in areas where the sun is blasting during summer, protect your tree from direct sun.
  9. In the natural environment, Longans and Lychees are understorey trees in rainforests where cloudy skies and high humidity are the norm.
My friend in Perth has built a shade cloth shelter on three sides of his trees.
Water your trees regularly and fertilise with a small amount every month in the growing season.
That means around 30g per month in the first year, 50g in the second until it starts to fruit.
Then keep it at that rate each month.
TIP: In cooler districts, leave out the autumn feed.
Good tip: not attacked by fruit fly.

 Thai varieties of Longans are considered the best according to Louis Glowinski, author of Fruit Tree Growing In Australia.
A close relative to the Lychee tree but much larger, stronger and more cold tolerant.
The fruit is deliciously sweet, bearing just after the lychee,  so for Lychee lovers this is a welcomed taste variation to look forward to.
A highly ornamental tree with beautiful green leaves and clusters of yellow flowers that have a wonderful scent.

If you want to buy a Longan tree,

Some have marcotted trees-- Marcotts are a kind of cutting that strikes while attached to the parent tree. Like air layering.
In some districts, you need to do a bit more work, like build a three sided shelter for the formative years of the tree.
Keeping it away from windy locations, by perhaps growing it underneath a larger canopy tree.
The upside is the fruit isn’t affected by fruit fly. How good is that?
Longan - Kohala Seedling originally from Hawaii
The early ripening fruit is really sweet.
Longan - Haew is a late maturing cultivar. The high quality fruit is medium to large in size with a rather small seed. Being a late fruiting cultivar it tends to bear in alternate years. Marcotted trees will commence bearing in 2 years.
Longan - Biew Kiew
This variety from Thailand is well suited to the sub tropics where it receives cooler winters. It is a heavy consistant cropper with good quality fruits that come off later in the season than the Kohala.  

Extra Notes from reader Jonathon.
I am currently growing 7 longan varieties in marginal climate (50km NE Adelaide). Here Biew Kiew and Haew do better than Kohala (longer growing season and more vigorous). By far my best performing and fruiting variety is Homestead. (Not able to source this variety so far - editor's note.) | from Jonathan - Gawler, SA 15-Dec-2006

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Going Native in 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 the Community Broadcasting Foundation
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


Living Planet

Are there any bees sleeping in your garden? These guys are sleeping n Glycine flowers.
According to Dr Tanya Latty - ARC Postdoctoral Fellow, Behaviour and Genetics of Social Insects Lab, School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney,  native bees are often found sleeping on spent flowers, mainly native flowers of spiky plants such as the spiky Epacris puchella.
If it’s not warm enough, these small bee won’t get out of bed until much later - if at all. They often pick flowers where the colour of the bee blends really well with, and it’s often the case that native bees are found sleeping on spent or dying flowers.
Dr Latty is involved with the Urban Bee Monitoring project which will address the knowledge gap of bee conservation by urban gardeners.
Listen now.
The project hopes to answer 4 crucial conservation questions:
1) Which Australian native bees are present in community gardens?
2) Which garden characteristics influence native bee abundance and diversity?
3) Which plant species are most attractive to bees?
The project will generate recommendations that can be used to design bee-friendly green spaces and also form the backbone of an ongoing bee monitoring and conservation initiative."
If you see native bees in your garden we would like to hear from you.
TIP: You can help native bees by bundling together 15 - 20 cm lengths of sticks with hollow stems such as Hydrangea stems. Tie them together and hang under trees.

To help you identify native bees check out
These cute little creatures are a wonderful reason to have some spiky habitat plants in your garden.
So in the cool of the morning or close to sunset wander around and look to see what is sleeping in your garden.

If you have any questions about native bees or building bee nest boxes, why not drop us a line. Or send in a photo to or by post to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Vegetable Heroes:

YES, those fruit that are at the some ranking as vegetable heroes,.
Would you have thought that the second most popular berry after Strawberries are Blueberries?
Blueberries are the fruit of a shrub that belongs to the heath family includes cranberries, azaleas and rhododendrons.
Did you know that Blueberries are one of the only natural foods that are truly blue in colour?
They’re sort of a bluey purple colour and have a waxy ‘bloom’ that protects the surface of the blueberry.
Blueberries grow in clusters and come in sizes from a pea to a small marble.
Blueberries are one of the only fruits native to North America, but it wasn’t until the early 1950’ that blueberries were first brought to Australia.
A couple of guys- Messrs Karel Kroon and Ralph Proctor from the Victorian Department of Agriculture tried to grow them but, Australia was out of luck there because these guys couldn’t get past the disease problems.
Twenty years later, the Victorian Department of Agriculture tried again. This time, a chap called David Jones carefully planted and tended to his blueberry seeds and eventually successfully grew several blueberry plants.
But, it wasn’t until the 1980’s that Blueberries were commercially available.
Where to Grow?
Blueberries like a sunny position but will also get by in some shade (but not too much, otherwise flowering might be effected.
The best time for planting bare rooted plants is between late autumn and spring. Bare rooted plants are less likely to suffer from transplant shock and generally take off better.
But you can't always be that organised and you can buy containerised blueberry plants all year-round.
What do they need?
Blueberries need moist soil, good drainage and lots of organic material.
Blueberries are acid loving plants that do best in soils with a pH between 4.5 to 5.5
If you can grow Camellias and Azaleas, you can grow Blueberries.

If you don’t have that pH you will have to add either elemental sulphur (where the pH is too alkaline) or lime / dolomite (where the pH is too acid). If the soil pH is higher the plants may show signs of iron deficiency.
 If that sounds too hard, grow you blueberry plant in a pot.

Tip:Very important when growing blueberries. they have a very fine fibrousy root system, just like Azaleas, and this root system needs a porous medium in which to grow, a bit like coarse sand from where they came from.
If you have poor drainage, then grow them in a raised bed or at the very least, on a mound of soil and use lots of mulch.
Use a mulch like pine bark mulch to prevent compaction of the soils underneath for the growth and establishment of a healthy root system.
Or again, like me, grow them in a pot, but grow a couple to increase pollination.

Which Type to Grow for My Region
All blueberries, like peaches, apricots, apples need a certain amount of chilling for fruit set. Gardeners in the know about chill factor will now know, that means a certain amount of hours below 70C.
For temperate areas which don’t get too cold in winter, we need to grow a variety which is low chill.
Cool Temperate Districts:
Gardeners in cool temperate areas can grow the low bush variety
Low bush variety-is a dwarf shrub that only grows to around 30-60 cm. The lowbush produces lots of small and flavoursome berries.
They love colder climates and need very low temperatures for the fertilised flowers to “set” and form berries.
They’re not are not grown in commercial quantities here.
The highbush variety, grows to 1.5–3 metres, has many different cultivars that are well suited to the Australian climate.
 In Victoria, Tasmania and Southern New South Wales, you are more likely to find the Northern Highbush, high chill variety for sale in your nursery.
Winter chilling  is quite high -(over 1000 hours below 2°C) but they can still able tolerate high summer temperatures.
The fruit of the Northern Highbush is harvested later in the season, from December to April

Temperate and Sub-Tropical districts.
For Northern NSW and Queensland, you need to grow a variety called Rabbiteye
The Rabbiteye is a low chill, late season variety that’s best at coping with warm and humid summers
Rabbiteyes can also cope with  dry conditions, making it right at home in Arid climates too.

And where does the name come from?
Supposedly during the ripening stage when the blueberry is pink, if you look closely you will notice the calyx appears to be little rabbit eyes looking right back at you.
IMPORTANT TIP: Blueberries fruit on the tips of the previous season’s growth.
 Some say let the shrub establish first.
That means, you must pluck off the flowers in spring so it doesn't set fruit, but the 3rd year you can let it flower.
If you let them establish for the first two years apparently the plants will last a lifetime!
But me, I ate them off the bush the first year, and ten years later the bush is still fruiting!

Pruning Specifics for the Really Keen! 
Once your Blueberry shrub is established new stems will come up and fruit for up to four years initially from the tip to down the whole branch.
From the third winter onwards, cut back old, dry stems every winter.
Cut them back either down to ground level or to a vigorous new shoot near the ground.
They first produce sideshoots from the base of the plant soon after flowering in spring. Then in early to midsummer, vigorous growths push up from the base of the bush.
Hard pruning in winter will encourage this renewed growth and result in larger, earlier fruit.
Generally a tough bush that needs constant picking of the ripe fruit or they’ll get too soft.
MISTY another tough evergreen variety.. It is an early fruiting variety, with light blue, medium to large fruit of excellent flavour.
GULF COAST: The bush is vigorous and upright, with moderate toughness. The fruit is medium to large blue with a medium colour. The fruit has a problem in that it holds the stems on many of the berries at harvest. The flavour of the fruit is medium.
There are others, and it’s likely you’ll have to get them mail order.
Blueberries are pest free apart from caterpillars and birds, and if you prune the shrub so its open in the middle it reduces fungal disease.
Selecting and Storing Blueberries
Pick or buy blueberries that are firm and have an even colour with a whitish bloom. Blueberries are another fruit that don’t ripen off the bush.
Blueberries should be eaten within a few days of picking or buying.
I tend to eat mine straight of the bush.
Ripe berries should be stored in a covered container in the fridge where they will keep for about 1 week.
Don't wash blueberries until right before eating as you will remove the bloom that protects the berries' skin from going bad.
If kept a room temperature for more than an hour, the berries will start to spoil.
Blueberries can be frozen.
Why are they good for you?
Blueberries have large amounts of anthocyanins,- antioxidant compounds that give blue, purple and red colour to fruit and vegetables.
Not sure what all the fuss is about? Antioxidants are very well known for their health benefits, especially their ability to reduce damage to our cells and Blueberries contain more antioxidants than most other fruits or vegetables
Blueberries are also a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, manganese and both soluble and insoluble fibre like pectin.
A cup of blueberries will give you 30% of your RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of Vitamin C.
Plus they’re low in calories.
If you think they’re too fussy to grow,  for the same price as a cup of coffee, treat yourself to a punnet of Blueberries, eat them straight out of the punnet (wash them of course) and enjoy the health benefits. Otherwise,

Happy BLUEBERRY growing everyone!

Design Elements

Maintaining Your Potted Garden with Louise McDaid Landscape Designer

How many pot plants have you got in your garden, patio or balcony?
Plants in pots are great when you don’t have the right conditions to grow plants that you really like or hanker after.
Sometimes you don’t have enough sun or shade in the garden, so they can be moved depending on the time of year.
Sometimes, we love our plants too much, and have just run out of room.
When’s the best time to repot them? What if they’re too heavy to life for re-potting, what do you do then?
Let’s find out….

Whether it’s cold and wet outside, blowing a gale or just too hot, a few beautiful plants and plant pots will mean it’s always summer, somewhere in your home.
Plants can create a feeling of peace, and caring for them helps us slow down and appreciatee the here and now.
If you have any questions about this week’s Design Elements, send it our email address, or just post it

Plant of the Week

Would you like a very showy climber, hanging vine or ground cover with masses of coral pink, orange to deep red flowers that start in Spring?
The flowers are spectacular because they fan out in a dense cluster against thick soft green foliage. Sound nice?
Kennedia coccinea or Coral Creeper

Kennedia... After John Kennedy, an English nurseryman
A very showy climber, hanging vine or ground cover with masses of coral pink, orange to deep red flowers in Spring on erect stems from which they fan out in a dense cluster against thick soft green foliage.
Coral Creeper is a vigorous, attractive and useful plant in a garden, courtyard or patio

Endemic to Western Australia this twining plant may be prostrate or can climb to over 3 m.
Flowers mainly in spring with clusters for up to 20 flowers in dense compact heads being yellow centred coral red with magenta edging on the lower petals. Flowering occurs in spring.

The flowers are of typical "pea" shape consisting of 4 petals; the "standard", the "keel" and two "wings".

The flowers are followed by flat seed pods 50 mm long.
Prefers a light to medium soil in an open shaded position, drought and frost resistant.
Drought tolerant but remember this isn't a cactus like plant, so on extended hot days don't forget to water it.
Having killed one or two young plants I'm pleased to report that what looked like a dead vine in a pot, after soaking, a couple of green shoots sprouted from dried lifeless twigs.

As Sabina says ( co-presenter for this segment) a bit of a Lazarus plant.
When established and in the right conditions Kennedia will grow vigorously in your garden
courtyard or patio.
If supported, it can climb to 2m on a slender, twining, rust-coloured stems and branches.
Also useful as a dense ground cover.

Fabulous in large, deep hanging baskets or elevated pots or tubs.

An excellent low-water-use ground-cover or container feature, the Coral Creeper produces bright pink pea-like flowers on horizontal stems.
Easy to grow and trouble-free, they are well-suited to planting in front of taller growing feature plants such as Kangaroo Paws.
 When to plant: All year round except in hottest or coldest weather.
How to grow: In warm areas at any time. In frost prone areas when danger of frost is over.
Flowering: Flowers from Spring to early Summer.
Soak in just boiled water overnight allowing water to cool.

For those wanting to grow Kennedia from seeds, they need to be pre-treated.
I recommend the use of Wildflower Seed Starter Granules for improved germination rates and speed. These granules provide chemicals normally found in bushfire smoke that stimulate native seed germination.
Leave overnight then drain and sow. Fill small pots with moist sandy soil and compress. Sow 2-3 seeds 6mm (¼in) deep into each pot. Keep moist. Cover with clear polythene – remove as soon as seeds start to germinate. Place in a warm shady position to germinate.

If no seed starter granules are available you can put seeds in a cup of hot water. and leave until cooled. 

Otherwise plants can be propagated by scarified seed or cuttings of semi-mature growth.

NOTE: This isn’t the weed called Coral Creeper in Qld which is Barleria repens (Coral Creeper) The weed species has shiny, dark green leaves, showy tubular pink-purple flowers that have five spreading lobes that mostly appear in late summer and autumn, and has sprawly growth habit. Very different.