Friday, 31 January 2014

Going Down to the Woods Today

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
Have you ever wondered what the process is when a developer comes along to build their mega shopping centre, or some-one wants to start up a mine somewhere?
What happens to all the birds and animals, shrubs and trees?
Believe it or not, there are people hired who get up to all sorts of methods to account for wildlife that might be on a threatened patch.
Let’s find out what exactly

Both the Conservation Act and The Threatened Species Act are used by ecologists when assessing land that might be developed to find targeted species.
Consulting ecologists may mark out a 50 x 50 metre plot and map every bit of vegetation and fauna in that area. They also set up night time cameras, Song-meters and Ana Bat to pick up micro-bats, songbirds, frogs and other animals.

Plenty of details from Kurtis as usual in that segment about his actual job. Kurtis is based in Mudgee, and as I mentioned, used to do the wildlife in focus segment as he’s an expert ornithologist as well.
Glad to see that Kurtis is taking care of some of our living things out their in the bush.

Vegetable Heroes

 BEETROOT is Beta vulgaris

Did you know that the soup that the Russians cooked for the Americans in the soyuz19 in 1975....was borscht, or beetroot soup? Of course!
Beta vulgaris or Beetroot, started life growing as wild seabeet, along coastlines from India to Britain and is the ancestor of all cultivated forms of beet. At first, only the leaves were eaten.
Did you also know that Beetroot was offered to Apollo in his temple at Delphi, where it was reckoned to be worth its own weight in silver?
Beetroot is in the top 10 most popular vegetables for growing in our gardens.
Who would’ve thought?
Beta vulgaris, commonly known as beet or beetroot, is a flowering plant species in the family Chenopodiaceae.
Growing Beetroot is fairly easy and Beetroot can be eaten fresh, stored and pickled so that can be enjoyed all year round.
When to Plant:
In cool temperate zones you can plant beets from September through to the end of April, in Arid areas, from February until December, or possibly the end of January and why not?
In temperate districts plant your seeds from July until April.
Tropical areas have to wait until March then you’ve got until June, and sub-tropical areas win the jackpot because they can sow beets all year round!
The seeds of beetroot are best planted at soil temperatures between 7°C and 25°C.
Did you know that that lumpy thing you get in your seed packet is not just one seed?
Beetroot  seeds are always made up of a seedball of several seeds.
For the best germination rate, soak that cluster of seeds, in water in a shallow saucer for around 24 hours before planting..
When the seedlings come up, if you don't thin them, you will get a number of rather pathetic little plants which don't grow to an edible size.
So how much space then?
If you can put a tennis ball between plants, then you’re set.
Don’t worry if your veggie garden is a bit shade because this is one of those veggies that isn’t too fussy about sun or shade.
 Beetroots can cope with anything from full sun to part shade and even do fairly well in dappled light under a deep rooted tree.
Don’t over manure or fertilise your soil, because too much nitrogen enhances leaf growth and not root growth – and whaddya want?
You want  root growth.
Another thing, beets don’t care much for thick/clay like soil. And don’t expect much if you just plonk them in any old soil that’s not seen fertiliser for a number of years.
Add lots of liquid fertilisers such as Fish emulsion but remember Seaweed stuff is not a fertiliser.
Grow them in an raised bed, tub, ezi-planter or yes you can grow beetroot in pots, but they need to be BIG pots, like at least 30cm diameter or those poly styrene jobbies from the green grocer.
Keep your beets well-watered because if they dry out, they’ll become woody and inedible inside.

Q. Karen writes in “Why are my beetroots splitting?”

ANSWER: Karen, you're letting your beetroot get too thirsty watering twice a day will help also don’t use too much fertilizer, forcing them to grow is not a good idea.
For  really tasty and tender beetroot, start pulling them out at golfball-size. That’s when they are around 3cm in diameter.
It makes sense to pick or dig up every alternate beet so that more space is left between the ones that are left in the ground. This will help them grow.
If you’ve tried growing beetroot and not had success - I think it could be too much nitrogen and not enough potassium. Try fertilizing with a fruit/flower type fertilizer or Potash, to get more potassium. Or maybe more patience - my beetroot take a long time for the root to grow.
When the size of beet reaches about 7.5 cm in diameter they should be definitely dug up after that they won’t be great to eat. Gently dig under the root with a trowel and lift the bulb out of the soil taking care not to damage the outer skin. The less the bulb is damaged the longer the beetroot can be stored for.

Why not try Burpees Golden-it’s supposed to be really sweet and doesn’t bleed like the red types because it’s gold
How about Beetroot Cylindra –not round but long, great for pickling because you can squish more into a jar, and hey, you can plant them closer together because they expand downwards and not outwards.
Finally, when you pick them, twist off the leaves.
Did you know that the leaves of Beetroots are edible? Steam them like spinach, or you could throw into compost.
Don’t leave the leaves on when storing.
Store them in the fridge or on a cool, dark shelf. They’ll normally keep for a few weeks when  young and fresh.
What’s good about Beetroot?
A cup of beetroot has about 31 calories; 8.5g of carbohydrate, 1.5g of dietary fibre.
Cooked beetroot is a great source of folate that can protect you against high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s and dementia. Why are they putting folate in bread? Eat a proper diet I say.
Are you looking for a hangover cure?
Beta cyanin, the pigment that gives beetroot its colour, is an antioxidant and could key to beating your hangover!
How so?  Beta cyanin speeds up detoxification in your liver, so your body can  turn the alcohol into a less harmful substance that your body can get rid of faster.

Beetroot is has a very low Glycemic Index which means it’s converted into sugars very slowly which helps to keep blood sugar levels stable.
Culinary hints - cooking and eating Beetroot
Apart from boiling whole for salads, beetroot roast well, cut in wedges.
They also make a tasty salad grated raw with carrot and a little fresh orange juice.
If you have any questions about growing beets or beetroot or any other vegetable, JUST EMAIL ME


Design Elements

with landscape designer Louise McDaid
Part 4 cool garden design-a woodland garden.
What do you picture when you think of a woodland garden?
Do you think of an English woodland with bluebells, English oaks, maples and other northern hemisphere trees? Or do you think of Australian woodland with Eucalypts, grass trees, or casuarinas, underplanted with hardenbergias and boronias and all manner of ferns like birds nest ferns?
Let’s find out what makes a cooling woodland garden in the last of the series on creating cool gardens….

Not only trees, shrubs and low ground covers, but seats ponds and even outdoor dining tables can be placed in your  very own woodland garden.
Even create a teddy bear’s picnic or fairy garden at the bottom for any littlies that might visit your garden. It’ s only limited by your imagination.

 Plant of the Week

Did you realise that ferns belong to a group of plants called featherplants or pteridophytes, along with club mosses and horsetails.
Featherplants are among the world’s most ancient plants, found as fossils in rocks 400 million years old.
Would you believe that there are now 10,000 species of fern living in damp, shady places around the world.
Ranging from tiny ferns with mossy leaves just 1 cm long to rare tropical tree ferns growing up to 25m tall.

Here’s a bit of trivia, Coal is made largely of fossilized featherplants of the Carboniferous Period 360 – 286 million years ago.
Coal is made from dead plants such as ferns. Over 200 million years ago, the ferns would have become buried underground and very gradually turned to cool under the immense pressure of the Earth.
Ferns produce an underground rhizome that produces fern fronds.
Fern leaves are called fronds. When new they are curled up like a shepherd’s crook, but they gradually uncurl over time.
Some ferns are edible.
Ferns look fragile but are tougher than you think.
For a low maintenance garden, choose ferns because all you have to do is cut off any dead fronds.
There’s many fern types for every climate in Australia.
Ferns are an ancient type of plant that evolved long before conifers and flowering plants. They even reproduce by means of spore rather than seed.
Their underground parts are rhizomes not roots and they have fronds not leaves.
Australia has 400 of the possible 10,000 fern species available worldwide.
In some areas, local ferns will colonise a part of your garden.
Bracken Fern and Maiden Hair fern (yes that’s a native) easily colonise a lot of gardens on the east coast of Australia.
If you live in a cool climate, there are a number of Australian native fern species which are relatively easy to grow outdoors in cool climate areas.


Ferns require good drainage and some form of protection, such as overhanging trees, shrubs, a garden wall, the wall of a house or shade cloth, is provided.
Where there are extremes of dry heat and cold, you need to create a shelter like a shade house that keeps the humidity that ferns need.
For those people living in Arid areas, also build a shade house for your ferns, where you can go into and relax away from the heat of the day.
When planning the site for a fern garden, easterly and southerly aspects are preferable. The majority of ferns grow best in filtered sunlight and although some will tolerate direct sunlight, they should not be subjected to it for long periods.
 Frost damage may occur to fronds, but it will not be as severe if regular watering is kept up throughout winter. Damage to foliage may also occur during long periods of dry heat and wind. Damaged fronds will not recover and should be removed.

Growing ferns indoors

They mainly need sufficient light, moisture and humidity.
Don’t grow in direct sunlight, very close to windows where they can be burnt or can dry out rapidly.
On the other hand, pale and spindly growth will result if there is not enough light.
A good quality potting mix should be used; one that will drain adequately but still retain sufficient moisture for the plants’ needs.
Lack of humidity caused by heaters drying the air in the house can be a problem to ferns.
Humidity may be increased by spraying the fronds daily with water or placing the pots on a tray of pebbles with water in the tray.
As the water evaporates it creates humidity around the plants.
Rough Maidenhair fern Adiantum hispidulum 
Recognizable by their fine black stems and frilly fan-shaped leaflets which are really small rhombicpinnules.
The Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum hispidulum) is very common in the Wet Tropics.
Found growing in moist open sites along river and track banks.
Maidenhair Fern is very popular for gardeners and is an ideal house plant.
The new fronds are a delicate pink colour.
Adiantum aethiopicum (common maidenhair) A dainty-looking fern which grows vigorously with a suckering habit. It quickly outgrows pots and is best planted in the ground in a moist, protected area. It tolerates full sun as long as it has plenty of water.
Asplenium bulbiferum (hen and chicken fern) These ferns usually produce an abundance of plantlets on the pinnae (leaflets). The plantlets grow slowly, and when large enough can be removed and allowed to root into a moist potting mix.

Fairies and Water Lilies

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 Andrew Patrick from the Cumberland Bird Observers Group
Last year Birds Australia conducted a poll Australia wide to find out what that most popular bird was state by state. The superb Fairy Wren topped the poll.
It was a very close race between the Superb Fairy-wren and the Australian Magpie with the final decision coming down to postal votes. The Hooded Plover made a late surge to take third place from the better known Rainbow Lorikeet and Laughing Kookaburra.
Let’s find out which one it was

Outside of breeding season, the male and the female suberb fairy wren look very much alike. So how can you spot the difference?
The feathers’ of the tail of the male fairy wren is a vivid deep blue and the female’s is brown, the beak of the male is black and the female’s is red.If you can see that well, good luck to you.

If you have any questions about fairy wrens, why not drop us a line to. or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Well it’s TIME FOR VEGETABLE HERO  are they Spring Onions or are they shallots?
Firstly spring onions are Allium fistulosum. are really like thick chives.
Did you know that all manner of onions were cultivated by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans?
There’s even a reference to spring onions in Chinese literature dating back over two thousand years.
Australians are often confused about what a shallot actually is, because we call them spring onions as well.
Elsewhere in the world the word ‘shallot’ is only used to describe a small bulb, growing much the same way as a garlic bulb, with mild, delicate flavour.
''True shallots (Allium cepa, aggregatum) are grown for their bulbs only. Unfortunately, spring onions are marketed as Shallots in NSW and are harvested
Is it because shallots have a mild flavour that they've been confused with spring onions, which is what they’re supposed to be called?
To onion lovers and growers here's where there’s a difference.
A spring onion or bunching onion has is one that’s got a hint of a bulb when it matures; and a true spring onion has a small bulb.
Spring Onions are a non-bulbing, perennial, spring onion.
Did you know that in Australia we also call Spring Onions, .Green Onions? In fact, I’ve never seen the term Green Onion in the greengrocer or supermarket, have you?
So now we know that Spring or Green onions have long, - up to 40cms long, hollow green, delicate stalks and small, very slender, white bulbs.
The bulb of a spring/green onion is really only slightly defined.
Spring or Green onions come out of the ground early in their lives... in fact you can sow them from very early spring until at least the end of march.
Usually you can pick them about 7 weeks later.
What’s good about spring onions is that they’re mild tasting because they haven’t been in the ground long enough to gain much pungency.
Spring onions can be used sliced or chopped raw in green salads or creamy salads like potato salad, pasta salads, or on top baked .

Where do spring onions grow?
They’re a versatile plant with tube-like hollow leaves; that grows from cold regions right through to hot, tropical areas.
Spring onions prefer a neutral to slightly alkaline soil and are extremely hardy and pest resistant.
Grow them in full sun.
All onions need an open sunny site, fertile soil that is free draining.
Raised garden beds are the best if you have clay soil.
You can sow Spring Onions anytime really in Australia, because unlike other onions, day length doesn’t affect their growth.
Plus, spring onions aren’t affected by frost.
Raising them in seed punnets or tray seems to work best, then transplant them when they’re several cms high or as half as thick as a pencil.
It’s normal to sow the seeds of spring onions closely, and because these onion seeds are planted densely they bunch together so that the bulbs have little chance of fully maturing and rounding completely out
When planting into the garden, dig lots of compost through the topsoil first and then use a dibbler to make holes 10cm apart.
Place a seedling in each hole and gently push the soil around the rootball. Water the seedlings very lightly but if they fall over, don’t worry as they will soon stand back up.
Keep your onions weed free.
Water them when dry weather is expected, otherwise ease back a bit.
In about 2 months, your spring onions should be ready to eat.
You can tell they’re ready because the leaves are standing tall, green and succulent
If you want to harvest an entire bulb, use a fork to dig around the plant to keep from damaging it accidentally.
You can also just use scissors to cut the leaves and use them as a garnish in salads or casseroles for flavour.
Spring Onions belong to the class known as bunching onions and have a mild, sweet flavour; the green shaft plus a few cm of the green leaves are eaten.
Spring Onions must be harvested when the stalks are still green and you eat the whole plant, except the hairy roots
TIP:There is never any hint of a bulb in a Spring Onion so you can't leave the plants in the ground for the tops to dry off — they will, but you won't be able to save any bulbs.
If you forget to pick your spring onions, and they’ve started to flower.

Let them keep flower and save the seeds.
The flowers are attractive to bees and other useful insects.
The seeds can also be sprouted.
You want to grow your own spring onions for freshness alone, because the ones you buy from the supermarket are only fresh for a handful of days.
For a dash of colour why not try Brilliant crimson spring onion red bulbs that are rich in antioxidants.
This one will grow into bulbs that can be used like shallots if left in the ground.

TIP:After you your spring onions from the ground, when preparing them in your kitchen, save the rooted bottoms and replant them.
Simply cut off the bottom inch (3 cm) of your green onions and plant them in damp soil, or keep them in a jar of water in a sunny spot.
You’ll a new lot of spring onions in a couple of weeks.

Why are the good for you?
Spring Onion is: Low in Saturated Fat, Sodium, and Cholesterol
High in Dietary Fibre, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, K, Folate, Calcium, Iron, Potassium, Manganese, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper. Whew!
If you have never tried growing onions before, why not give them a go this year? 
They are a very versatile, easy to grow vegetable that can be grown from seed most of the year.
Happy Spring Onion growing everyone!


with Landscape Designer Louise McDaid

Part 2 of Designing Cool Gardens Using Ferns.

Planting and maintaining trees and green life can reduce energy use.
Did you know that shade from trees to roofs and/or windows actually reduce indoor temperatures by a staggering 6–12°C in summer?
Did you also know that a single 8m tree strategically grown near a house to maximize wind breaking and shading effects can reduce annual heating a cooling costs by as much as 12%?
On hot days looking out onto a green garden is not only soothing, but having lots of different plants of different heights, helps cool things down.
Let’s find out some more ways of cooling the garden....

If you want a garden that is luxuriant with stunning foliage that offers a cooling effect, then ferns are the way to go.
Ferns are so adaptable, you can even find ferns in Central Australia in areas that are moist after a good rain.

If you have any questions about this week’s Design Elements, send it our email address, or just post it.


Whenever water lilies are in flower at various botanic gardens around the world, there’s no shortage of plant photographers. They’re snapping away at the stunning flowers that sit either on top of the water or higher up on long stalks.

Water lilies also have an important role in an aquatic ecosystem. The more aquatic plants you have in your pond, the less nutrients are available to feed algae. Plus they also shade the fish who without a shady spot to hide in during the heat of the day, might get sunburnt.

What type should you get?

Hardy Water lilies are native to cooler climates. Most hardy water lilies have been grown and bred from varieties that originated in the cooler parts of the Northern Hemisphere. They will survive severe frost provided that the rhizome's (the crown / root stocks) do not freeze. There are no hardy water lilies native to Australia.

Tropical Water lilies are native to tropical or semitropical climates.
Day flowering/Night flowering.

Tropical water lilies are or ponds in warmer climates, because their preference is for water temperatures above 24°C.
Tropical water lily flowers stand up to 30cm high, out of the pond water. Some of the flower colours range from pinks to reds, whites and yellows, purples and blues.
Most flower during the daytime but there are also night flowering tropical water lilies.
 Hardy waterlilies flower during the daytime and generally have their flowers floating on the water surface or only just above it.
Typically hardy water lilies start to flower at temperatures above 16-18°C.
Many of the darker coloured red-pink varieties can get petal burn at temperatures above 32°C, others that have been bred from colder climate varieties may even slow or stop flowering during hot summer months, as it becomes too hot for them.

The majority of waterlilies produce flowers 10-20cm wide. But there are also pygmy or miniature waterlilies varieties with flowers as small as 4cm wide.

For special water lilies that will grow in your climate just contact a water lily specialist


Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Cool Down with Frangipanis

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

Design Elements

part 3, designing a cooling garden with landscape designer Louise McDaid

As the summer temperatures beat all record around Australia, we’re looking to escape the heat preferably in the cool of the garden.
Think Pina Coladas, lying in a hammock under the waving leaves of some tropical plant. Or maybe a G & T and a garden bench next to the bubbling pond.
Whatever your scene, there’s always different options to increase the enjoyment in your garden to escape the heat.
Today, it’s all about foliage and flower colour for cool gardens.
Let’s find out ..

Cooling blues, and palest of hues, as Louise said, increase the feeling of coolness. Or what about minty green combinations? Green as a colour can be varied quite a bit in your garden.
If you have any questions this week’s Design elements, why not drop us a line to. or write in for a fact sheet to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675,


BOTANICAL NAME: Melothria scabra syn. pendula
Cucumber Mexican Sour Gherkin  (available from )

This heirloom micro-sized climbing cucumber tastes both sweet and sour, just like a gherkin without the work! The fruit is really quite different-about the size of large grapes so that’s why it’s called mouse melon, Mexican sour gherkin, Mexican miniature watermelon and Mexican sour cucumber.

So where do you think it come from?
Mexico but of course.
But in England they’re called Cucamelons.
Like cucumbers, gherkins need a rich soil that doesn’t dry out, and has a pH of above 6.5.
Seeds sprout quickly at soil temperatures of 20 degrees.
Mexican sour cucumber gherkins love to grow up a trellis or tepee, in fact they could be used as a seasonal screening plant.

When is the best time to grow some cucumbers?

Just like last week, the times for Gherkins, is the same as for Cucumbers.
Sow the seeds of Cucumber in late Spring and early Summer for cool temperate districts, spring and summer for arid and temperate zones districts, from August until March in sub-tropical areas.
Only the cooler months for tropical areas-so April until August unless you're inland.
And where can you grow these delicious cucumbers gherkin thingys?

Like all cucumbers choose a sunny well ventilated spot as they are prone to moulds and mildew in humid, still weather.
Most cucumbers want a decent amount of growing space in your garden.

These Mexican cucumber Gherkins need to grow up a trellis, and like last week, growing them this way would be a great way to avoid all the mildews and moulds that cucumbers are prone to in still humid weather.

That’s what would be normally said of cucumbers, but not these little guys, you can squeeze in one plant per 15 cm around a trellis without too much worry about those mildews.
Growing cucumber Gherkins
These cucumber gherkins are easier to grow than your regular cucumber. Not that growing cucumbers is all that hard.
They grow heaps of fruit but watch out in warmer areas as these may self seed.
Pick your Mexican sour cucumber gherkins often as soon as they're an edible size to encourage new flowers and fruit.
How do you eat these Mexican Gherkins?
The fruit can be eaten straight off the plant, or tossed into a salad, like a Greek salad with some virgin olive oil.
I think they would be just right for a quick snack with  cheese and biscuits and drinks of course.
In case you have trouble sourcing these Mexican gherkin cucumbers, I have some other varieties you might like to try.
How about Armenian cucumber? It’s an heirloom variety, that means you can save the seed,
Armenian cucumber is known as 'Yard Long Cucumber'.  It’s a light-green, ribbed, cylindrical fruit 20-60cm. 
It has a thin, soft skin, so no need for peeling. 
Grows best on a trellis. Plus it grows quickly.  This cucumber is actually a melon, but is grown & eaten like a cucumber and is ready to eat in 50-89 days

Can't get Mexican Sour Gherkin? Try these varieties instead.

West Indian Gherkin, or Cucumis anguria.   Another heirloom coming from Africa dating back prior to 1793.  
This one’s got small, oval shaped, green fruit 8x4cm.  best picked when still young and it does best in warmer weather.  You’ll get heaps of fruit in about.  55-70 days.  80 seeds.
Use it fresh in salads, soups, or pickled. 

Another unusual one is the African Horned cucumber ( Cucumis metalliferous. This unusual cucumber has unique Golden horned fruit growing to 10 cm. long. Green flesh has a taste of the tropics. Can be used as a dessert. A tip from the seed suppliers it that it may not fully mature in cold areas.
Why Are They Good For You?
Cucumbers or gherkins have lots of Vitamins C but why you should eat them is because the silica in cucumber is an essential component of healthy connective tissue, you know, like muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bone.
Cucumbers have some dietary fibre and Cucumber juice is often recommended as a source of silica to improve the complexion and health of the skin, plus cucumber's high water content makes it naturally hydrating-a must for glowing skin.

 Feature Interview

Here I am speaking with Events Coordinator, Anthony Grassi from the Frangipani Society of Australia.
Frangipanis are called Temple flowers and graveyard flowers in various countries because they grow there without any care. Much like some wild bush  roses grow in various graveyards around Australia.
Frangipanis originate in Central America and grow into a candelabra shaped tree of around 5-8 metres.
The flowers are whirled petals, five in number, but because the reproductive parts are deep inside the floral tube, it takes a very specialised pollinator to fertilise them.
Humming birds and hawk moths don't reside in Australia, so growers have to resort to using nylon fishing line to hand pollinate flowers.
Although some flowers have been known to set seed in tropical areas from pollinators unknown.
Anthony gives a bit of a rundown on grafting and caring for Frangi's as they're affectionately called by passionate members of the Frangipani society.

Listen to this.

If you want the most fragrant flower, go for the Classic White Frangipani, or Vera Cruz Rose, or Orange Glow. All other frangipanis do have fragrance to a varying degree in strength and a variety of perfume notes-from spice to vanilla.
TIP ON CUTTINGS:When planting a cutting of frangipanis, place the cutting in well drained mix, water in well, then only give a drizzle of water of very hot days. Otherwise leave them alone until next season, when you can re-pot them after they flower.
Fore more information of frangipani cultivation, visit society page, listed above.

Plant of the Week

Lilly Pillies have come in such a variety of sizes that it’s hard to know which one’s the best for you.
They can grow in all parts of Australia, offer fluffy flower heads, are brightly coloured fruits, are bird attracting, and once established take care of themselves.

Here’s some of the popular species-syzygium australe, syzygium luehmannii, syzygium cascade, syzygium paniculatum, syzygium smithii, syzygium jambos or 'Rose Apple' (Malabar Plum).
S. paniculatum or Magenta Cherry grows to around 15m.
Typically has creamy white flowers with beetroot purple berries in late summer to autumn.
New growth is pale bronze that turns green. Is affected by pysllid bug.
There’s a dwarf version of this one called Lillyput which is useful for hedging.
S. luehmanii or small Leafed Lilly Pilly grows to 6 x 3m. Some creamy white flowers and a red coloured berry in summer.
New growth on this one is pale pink which turns to red then ages to green. Not prone to pimple psyllid.
These lillypillies are one of the most popular in gardens because of the way they’ve been marketed. Neighbours Gone, and Hedge in a Hurry are a couple of names.
Those two are usually a variety of S. luehmanii.
This tree is usually free from pimple psyllid which most people know as the bumpy appearance on new leaves. Impossible to control.
Syzygium species of Lilly Pillys grow all around Australia as long as they don’t dry out.
Best part is they tolerate just about any soils-from clay to sandy soils.
They grow well in shady areas as some of them originate as understorey trees in rainforests.
They have attractive polystemonous (multiple stamens) creamy white flowers in late spring and summer followed by attractive red or purple berries.
All Lilly Pillys attract birdlife.

The downside is they’re not drought tolerant, so on hot dry days give them a good drink of water.

Only a couple of the Lilly Pilly’s were featured today, but there’s plenty more out there.
If you want a hedge, try for a variety that’s close to the hedge height that you want.
That saves you trying to rein in a tall growing plant that wants to shoot upwards and eventually gets a too big to control.
As a feature plant, you can’t go past, Magenta Cherry,

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Seasonal Gardens, Cooling Gardens

The Good Earth

Are you finding that it’s too hot to garden most days?
Or are a wise old owl, up at the crack of dawn,  getting things done in the garden. Maybe you’re waiting until early evening to do those gardening things.
Whichever it is, here’s some tips for what really needs doing in the summer garden.
Let’s find out what these important tasks are…I'm talking with representatives, Margaret Mossakowska and Lucinda Coates.
You don’t have to convert to permaculture, just take in a few suggestions to make your garden more efficient. After all, followers of permaculture got their ideas from somewhere else, like IPM or Integrated Pest Management, that is practised by many crop farmers and orchardists so they can reduce their reliance on pesticides.
If you have any questions about mulching, or IPM, why not drop us a line to. or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675, why not drop us a line by sending in your question to or by post to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Vegetable Heroes

THIS WEEK’S vegetable hero and its Cucumbers. or Cucumis sativus..
Cucumbers just love the hot weather, so they’ll germinate and grow quickly at this time of the year.
Cucumbers are a member of the gourd or cucurbita family and have been grown for 4000 years!
Cucumbers were widely eaten throughout Asia and Europe by the 6th and 7th centuries A.D
Did cucumber start off in India? No-one’s really sure.
Some pretty famous people have been known to be fans of cucumbers, even cucumber pickles.
Take, Julius Ceasar, he ate them everyday, Cleopatra, thought cucumber pickles help her skin complexion, and other pickle lovers included George Washington and Queen Elizabeth 1.
Would you have thought that Cucumbers are one of the world’s favourite vegetables?
I would’ve said the tomato, but there you go.
When is the best time to grow some cucumbers?
Cucumber plants do best in all types of temperate and tropical areas and generally need temperatures between 15-33°C. Cucumbers are happiest when the average temperatures are around 210C
For this reason, they are native to many regions of the world.
Sow the seeds of Cucumber in late Spring and early Summer for cool temperate districts, spring and summer for arid and temperate zones districts, from August until March in sub-tropical areas.
Only the cooler months for tropical areas-so April until August unless you’re inland.
And where can you grow these delicious cucumbers?
You need to pick a sunny, well-drained spot, because Cucumbers are a subtropical plant, that needs full sun.
Cucumbers also want a decent amount of growing space in your garden.
If you’re short on space, try growing them up vertically on a trellis or even on some netting, perhaps a tomato trellis?
In fact, growing up a trellis would be a great way to avoid all the mildews and moulds that cucumbers are prone to in still humid weather.
There’s also a number of dwarf varieties if you’d like to grow your cucumbers in pots.
Try Mini White- one of the most popular.
Grow it for yourself and see why.
The 10cm long fruit and is best picked when young. Gives you lots of fruit per plant and it’s burpless  Or you could try Cucumber Mini Muncher as well.
If you’re in Adelaide, go to the shop in the Botanic Gardens.
How to Grow Cucumbers
The best thing is that Cucumbers aren’t picky about soils.
As long as your soil is well-draining and has a pH of around 6.5.
Add in plenty of organic compost and fertilisers like chook poo or cow manure.
I’ve seen an idea where you make mini mounds, wet the soil first and then drop in 4 -5 seeds into the top of each mound.
Mulch the mounds so they don’t dry out but not too much or you’ll be wondering why nothing is germinating, that’s because the seed has rotted away.
When your seeds have germinated, pick out the strongest couple and throw away the others so you don’t get overcrowding.
Water regularly at the base of each plant – keeping leaves dry or you risk powdery mildew disease – and feed every couple of weeks with a soluble plant food.
Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that is spread by spores carried by the wind.
Look for white to grey fungal deposits on the leaves and stems of your cucumbers. As the mildew spreads, the leaves become brittle then start to die off.
There are some types of cucumbers that resist this disease for a time anyway.

You can also try a natural fungicide. 1 part whole milk to 10 parts water, and spray in the cool of the day.
Sudden wilt is a disease is caused by pythium fungus and causes the entire plant to die and wilt. Look for root rot. This disease usually happens in poor draining soil, so add organic compost to the soil before planting to improve drainage.
Growing your cucumbers in pots and raised beds, can help this problem.
Verticillium wilt, is a fungal disease called by the Verticillium fungus. Symptoms include wilting leaves and brown discoloration of the stems and roots. You’ll typically have to open the stem to see the problem. Eventually, this disease will cause the entire plant to wilt and die. This problem often lingers in the soil where tomatoes, potatoes, chillies, and other members of the nightshade family have been planted.
Crop rotation is important to avoid this disease. There’s no spray of any kind for this problem. Leave the garden bed empty for quite a few months before planting again.
Who out there hasn’t tried a cucumber that’s tasted bitter?
I’m sure some time in your life, that’s happened hasn’t it?
There’s seems to be a few theories for bitterness in cucumbers
One theory is that the bitterness is caused early in the plant’s development by terpenoid compounds that give a bitter flavour to the entire plant.
Usually the bitterness accumulates at the stem and below the surface of the skin of the cucumber.
According to this theory it’s a genetic problem.
Newer cucumber hybrids seem to have fewer problems with bitterness.
I’ve always thought it to be the result of Cucurbitacin.
Found in most cucumber plants, Cucurbitacin causes fruit to taste bitter.
Cucurbitacin levels increase when a plant is under stress, and can make the fruit taste really bitter.
The concentration of these compounds varies from plant to plant, fruit to fruit, and even within the individual fruit itself.
Did you know that the ability to taste detect bitterness or cucurbitacins also varies from person to person.
Even insects have varying preferences for cucurbitacins- the compounds attract cucumber beetles but repel other insects, such as aphids and spider mites.
Anyway, it proves that you shouldn’t stress out your cucumbers!

By the way, if you do get a bitter cucumber, peel it and cut of the ends by about 2.5cm, that’s where the bitterness concentrated.

Just like zucchinis, cucumbers have separate male and female flowers. Male flowers come out at first, but don’t worry too much because the female flowers will arrive soon after. Cucumbers should be ready at about 50-60 days and picking fruit often stimulates more to start growing. Some of you probably have realised that if you pick your cucumbers when they’re quite small, this is when they’re at their sweetest.
Twist the cucumbers off the plant or cut the stalk just above the cucumber tip.
They keep for 7-10 days in the fridge then the start to look like something that came from outer space…green and slimy
Why are they good for you?
Cucumbers have lots of Vitamins C but why you should eat them is because the silica in cucumber is an essential component of healthy connective tissue, you know, like muscles, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bone.
Cucumbers have some dietary fibre and Cucumber juice is often recommended as a source of silica to improve the complexion and health of the skin, plus cucumber's high water content makes it naturally hydrating—a must for glowing skin.
So eat them quick in sandwiches  salads or juice them for healthy glowing skin!

Happy CUCUMBER growing everyone!

 Design Elements

with Landscape Designer Louise McDaid
2013 was the hottest year on record and 2014 is tipped to be just as hot if not hotter. How can we cool off without it costing us too much?
The garden is the key and you need to plan a cool garden, not cool as in groovy or fab, but cool as in temperature.
Over the next four weeks, we’ll be discussing different ways and designs that you can incorporate into your garden to make it more cool.
Let’s start off with part 1….click on the link to

Lots of great suggestion that you can start with in your garden, whether it be planning a new pergola, adding a simple water bowl with a miniature water lily, or planting up some more trees.
Green has got to be the coolest garden colour but you need different greens so that when you look out into the garden it’s not uninteresting.
Next week, part 2 is this series will be about what flower colour or foliage colour constitutes a cool or cooling garden.

Plant of the Week-Poinsettias

Plants are clever things, and over the years adapt different ways to attract pollinators to compensate for lack of flower size, such as have a modified leaf that looks like part of the flower.
Quite a few plants do this and no-one knows why they evolved that way instead of growing bigger flowers.

Euphorbia pulcherrima or Poinsettia is a evergreen shrub or small tree, typically reaching a height of 0.6–4 metres.
It’s partly or completely deciduous in cold areas.


The coloured bracts—which are most often flaming red but can be orange, pale green, cream, pink, white or marbled—are often mistaken for flower petals because of their groupings and colours, but are actually modified  leaves.

The colours of the bracts are created through photoperiodism, meaning that they require darkness (12 hours at a time for at least 5 days in a row) to change colour.

At the same time, the plants need bright light during the day for the brightest colour.

For Christmas production in Australia, plants are kept in the dark with heavy curtains in glasshouses to get the right amount of darkness to colour up.

They’re also sprayed with a dwarfing compound to keep the small so they suit table decorations at Christmas time.

Of course as soon as people plant them in the ground, they shoot up to their natural height.
The flowers of the poinsettia are unassuming and do not attract pollinators. They are grouped within small yellow structures found in the centre of each leaf bunch, and are called cyathia.

The poinsettia is native to humid areas in southern Mexico

Just remember that Poinsettias are not frost-tolerant when choosing a site to plant out into the garden.
They will grow outdoors in temperate coastal climates.
Poinsettias are not poisonous. A study at Ohio State University showed that a small child would have to eat more than 500 leaves to have any harmful effect.
Plus poinsettia leaves have an awful taste. You might want to keep your pets from snacking on poinsettia leaves. Eating the leaves can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.