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.









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