Friday, 28 February 2014

Wrens, Garlands and Autumn

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


with ecologist Sue Stevens
Are you like many people from all over Australia when visiting botanic gardens, like to know what birds they can find there?
Pictures are one thing, but sometimes little birds, are quite cryptic.
You might hear their song, but spotting them is another matter.
It helps to know a few different calls in case you can’t at first spot the bird and RWG has been describing and playing the calls of different birds for over three years.
Listen to this…..

  • Just remember if you come across a habitat pocket, that is, an area of vegetation which is being used by small birds, it should be protected - even if it is 100% weeds.
  • It needs to be protected until alternative native plant habitat has been created and has been seen to be in use by the small birds for at least an entire year, including a breeding season.
  • Perhaps call the bushcare officer at your local council if your concerned.
If you have any questions about the white Browed Scrub Wren, why not drop us a line to.


This vegetable hero has never featured before, because it’s a bit of an unknown.
Chrysanthemum coronarium is the latin name for chrysanthemum greens.
Chrysanthemum is also known as edible chrysanthemeum or Garland Chrysanthemum.
What is it?

It’s an annual leaf vegetable that is used when young in Asian cuisine.

  • The flowers can also be seeped to make tea, in fact in Asian supermarkets you can buy the dried Chrysanthemum flowers in the tea section and make your own tea.
  • I’ve tried it, it’s quite a pleasant tasting tea.
Did you know that the chrysanthemum holds significant importance in Japanese culture?
Yes, apparently the chrysanthemum is seen as a symbol of long life and royalty.
The image of the chrysanthemum flower is used as Japan’s Imperial Seal. In fact, the highest order in Japan known as, the Supreme Order of the Chrysanthemum, and it’s the most distinguished honour a citizen of the county can receive.
Ever heard of National Chrysanthemum day at the Festival of Happiness? This is celebrated in Japan in autumn.
Chrysanthemum coronarium, is native to the Mediterranean and East Asia.
There’s also a variety growing in Crete where the species is called mantilida.
It’s also used in China where it’s called choy suey which became know as ”chop suey” by westerners.
Did you know that chop suey roughly translates into boiled leftovers?
Garland Chrysanthemum has a slightly mustardy flavour and a crispy texture, and an important ingredient in Chinese hot pot, Taiwanese oyster omelets and chop suey.
They can be stir-fried, parboiled, steamed and sautéed. Use raw or slightly wilted in salad preparations in lieu of dandelion greens, endive and kale.
In Korean, Cantonese and Japanese cuisines it’s often used to flavour soups, stews, hot pots (such as sukiyaki and nabeomono), stir-fries and casserole dishes. But the Japanese like this green the best.
Types of Chrysanthemum Greens.
There are a couple of types of Chrysanthemum greens, and the difference between them is the leaf-type.

So what do they look like?
The more deeply lobed, almost divided-leaf varieties are closer to the wild species, and tend to be easier to grow, but are strongly-flavoured. 
The broad-leaf varieties will be more work to grow (though really not difficult) and give you more succulent, delicious greens.
There’s also many “intermediate” varieties between these two groups that aim for highly producing, but still delicious foliage.
Occasionally you will find these delicious greens in Asian or maybe at the nurseries but even if you did, the choice of varieties would be low.
If you want to try these Chrysanthemum greens you need to buy the seeds and grow them yourself.
They’re actually available as seeds from major seed suppliers in Australia. as Shungiku as Microgreens
Growing from seed.
The best times of the year to grow Chrysanthemum greens in cool temperate and temperate districts in Australia is Spring through to Autumn.
Plants aren’t frost tolerant but can be grown in spring and autumn in arid zones.
In sub-tropical areas late autumn, winter and spring is better, and in tropical districts, wait until the dry season.
In warmer districts, or if planting in warmer months, once the heat starts to kick in you can’t keep plants from bolting.
Chrysanthemum greens are a quick crop, and sowing them every couple of weeks will give you a continuous fresh crop.
You can start off in small pots if you like, because do transplant much better than many greens.
Otherwise direct-seed them and thin after germination.
Chrysanthemum greens are great for balcony and patio gardens.
1 or 2 plants grown to maturity will give two people a regular supply of greens.
They are best grown in full sun though they can take a little shade.
Shaded plants tend to get elongated and thin-looking and don’t last as long into the warm season.
They also tend to have problems with insects.
These greens aren’t picky about soil, though the more rich the soil, the more bushy, succulent and happy the plants look.

  •  Water plants regularly, and feed occasionally with any balanced fertilizer like fish emulsion or kelp.
  • Compost or worm tea is a must for leafy greens as it is to almost any crop. Pinch off flowers when you see them develop.
  • Space out plants about 7-10 cm apart (depending on variety) if you want each plant to reach its full height which is around 10cm.
  • However, if you plant very close together, you can harvest as young greens by sheering off tops. This can be done successfully a few times but will need to be replanted after a few sheers (if you want to maintain good quality).
  • You Chrysanthemum greens should be ready in a little over 4 weeks!
What do they taste like and what do you do with Chrysanthemum greens?

  • Greens can be eaten fresh or stir-fried.
  • The taste is unique:, they have a nutty and slightly perfumey flavour.
HINT: When you cook them, cook them very lightly.
They can tend to become more bitter if overcooked, and their delicate flavour lost.
They can be quickly blanched or steamed but again, just slightly to retain their unique flavour.
Don’t forget the flowers are edible too.
ry floating a bunch on top of a winter stew, as a garnish. Very pretty.
Tip: Most often you see the divided leaf varieties, which are still delicious will last in the fridge moderately well.
You can propagate the tips by putting them in water and letting them grow roots.
Why is it good for you?
Chrysanthemum leaves are a nutritious green rich in fibre, Vitamins A and C, calcium and flavonoids.
The leaves are particularly high in potassium, having more potassium than even bananas.



with landscape designer Louise McDaid

The design series ‘green gardens started a couple of weeks ago, is about mainly using foliage in the design of your garden.

If you find flowers unrelieable or too short term in your garden, creating a garden that is constructed with different types, shapes and texture of foliage is a great way to provide year round interest.

You’ll never have to say, summer is boring because that’s when my garden hasn’t got much on show. Or whatever season you find that your garden’s lacking interest.
Today, landscape designer Louise, looks at autumn coloured foliage and how it fits into the green theme.
Let’s find out what this is all about.

Whether you live in a cool climate and have the luxury of trees changing colour in autumn, or in a warmer temperate or tropical climate.
The colours of autumn can either be used year round-that’s the yellows, golds, deep reds and burgundy colours, or by just using the turning foliage of deciduous trees.
Like an artists’ pallet, you can create your own tapestry of colour in the autumn garden.
It’ s only limited by your imagination.


Doryanthes excelsa

Plant of the week this week has a few common names.
Common names are often confusing especially if plants have different names in different states.
Also called Giant Lily, Flame Lily, Spear Lily, Illawarra lily, Gymea Lily.
But there’s no mistaking this plant once you see it, you’ll remember it no matter what name you choose to call it.

Doryanthes is the sole genus in the flowering plant family Doryanthaceae.
Of this genus there are only two species, D. excelsa and D. palmeri, both native to the coast of Eastern Australia.

Each plant grows from a thickened under­ground stem which is gradually pulled deeper and deeper into the ground by the roots con­tracting during periods of dry weather.
The leaves are up to 1m long and form a rosette which gradually expands as it matures.

The red-maroon flowers rise up out of the rosette around 2-3m high.
Best view from an upper storey window or from a distance.
The flower petals are amazingly thick, leather and quite chunky.
Flowering occurs from Spring to early Summer in temperate districts and from October to November in cool temperate climates such as Canberra.
The fruit is a woody capsule which splits open on ripening in Janu­ary or February from which brown, flattened and slightly winged seeds fly out.
Propagation is by division of established plants or from seed.

Seed will germinate readily within 2 months if only a year or two old and is best sown in autumn. However, plants grown from seed will not flower until about 8 years of age.

 Although the foliage is resistant to frost damage, the developing flowerbuds need protection in areas of heavy frost such as a hessian frame as used in the Australia National Botanic gardens.

The genus Doryanthes was first described in 1802 by the Portuguese priest, statesman, philosopher and botanist José Francisco Corrêa da Serra (1751–1823), a close friend of Joseph Banks.

Doryanthes or even Dory’s is probably just as easy to remember as Gymea Lily.
Did you know that honeyeaters love the nectar of the large flowers?
Besides that, Aboriginal people (in the Lake Macquarie district of NSW) used to  roast the stems, after chopping the stem off when it was about 40cm high and as thick as a person's arm?
They also roasted the roots which they made into a sort of cake to be eaten cold.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Chooks and the Tree of Life

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


with permaculture north members Margaret Mossakowska and Lucinda Coates.
Keeping chickens of any size in the backyard has lots of benefits and done properly will reward you and your garden in many ways for years to come.
Firstly they’ll reduce kitchen and food waste.
Fertilise your garden with composted chook poo, give you plenty of really
fresh eggs, and they make great household pets,
Listen to these tips…..
PLAY: Chooks_19th February_2014

  • Check with your local council for regulations and requirements for keeping domestic chickens (often referred to as 'poultry keeping on a small scale').
  • Follow your local council's poultry keeping guidelines for information specific to your area on raising, housing and feeding chickens at home. Look for factsheets on your council's website.
  • Find out which predators are common in your area (for example, foxes, feral cats, domestic dogs or snakes) and take this into consideration when designing and building your chook run.
  • Don't assume that urban or city areas are safe from foxes. If the risk is too great, having backyard chickens may not be a viable option.
If you have any questions about keeping chooks, why not drop us a line to. or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Florence Fennel Foeniculum vulgare dulce and var. azoricum
Florence Fennel?
Some might think that I’m promoting the roadside weed that is found all over Australia.
No, I’m talking about the culinary fennel.
That wild fennel was probably the Fennel  mentioned in the seed  inventory list brought out to Australia by the First Fleet in 1788.
Ancient Greeks believed that Fennel improved eyesight.

Fennel juice was used as an effective cure for defective vision, night blindness and cataract.
In medieval Europe, fennel and St John's wort were used together to ward off evil.

The Florence fennel (Foeniculum vulgare Azoricum Group;) is a cultivar group with a swollen leaf base that looks like a large bulb growing on top of the soil.

Fennel is a member of the Apiaceae family which  parsley, caraway, dill, cumin and anise.
Florence Fennel has a much milder aniseedy-like flavour, than wild Fennel and is more aromatic and sweeter.
Florence fennel plants are smaller than the wild type.
Have you seen these Fennel bulbs in the greengrocer and wonder how to use them?
Did you know that the swollen bulbs are eaten as a vegetable, both raw and cooked?
There are several cultivars of Florence fennel, and it's also known as several the Italian name finocchio
This plant is best in hot, dry climates but will grow in practically all climates of Australia.
Knowing when to sow the seeds is the key, although changing seasons seems like you can grow them at other times as well.


Timing is crucial: if sown too early, cold can cause bolting; if sown too late, plants won't fatten up before the winter
Now is ideal, when the temperature is stable, day length is consistent and there's at least 16 weeks for bulbs to develop.
In sub-tropical areas, you can plant or sow seeds from March until May, in temperate zones, from February until May, in cool temperate zones, you have from February until about mid- March, and for cold or mountain districts, it was February then not again until November/December unless you’ve had a warm autumn or you have a greenhouse or mini-greenhouse even.
Fennel seed is best planted at soil temperatures between 10°C and 25°C.  and as a general rule of thumb, soil temperatures are around a few degrees cooler than the current air temperature.

  • Florence Fennel is a perennial which can grow quite tall-to about 1 ½ metres-about 5 feet, so at the back of your garden bed so it doesn’t shade out the other veggies.
  • Because it grows so tall, the feathery leaves may need some support, particularly if you have windy days in your area.
  • The bulb grows only partially below ground, and mostly above ground so it suits those districts with heavy soils.
  • Otherwise, you can grow it in a pot-by itself.
  • Florence Fennel isn’t too fussy with soils as long as the veggie bed, or garden bed is well drained as has compost or decayed animal manure dug in.
  •  In cool temperate districts cut back the plant to about 10cm above the ground as winter draws nearer.
  • Fennel likes a well-drained soil, fertile from having been manured the previous year.
  • Florence Fennel seeds need to be planted 5cm deep, and unless you’ve got a lot of space, you don’t need more than 2 or 3 because they need spacing of about 50cm.
Never let soil dry out.
Fennel also hates being disturbed, so that if you weed to close you might send it into  shock, causing it to bolt to seed- feathery fronds and flowers, but no swollen stems.
Keep up the water during growth too to get a nice healthy swollen stem.
If roots become visible or plants seem unsteady, earth them up to stabilise them. This will help make bulbs white and tender and, later, exclude frost.
After about 6 weeks you can hill out the soil around the emerging bulb so that, like Celery, the base stays white and is more tender than if you allow the sunlight to turn it green.
Hilling up is just mound soil or mulch around the base of the plant. You can make sleeves out of newspapers or use bottomless milk cartons to keep the hilled soil from getting into the leaves of the Fennel plant but I think that’s a bit of overkill.
Your fennel will be ready in about 3-4 months after sowing.
If you only use a garden fork to loosen the roots and cut the bulb off about 2.5cm above the ground, you’ll get more feathery shoots growing up.
These shoots are celery/dill-flavoured that can be used as seasoning in the kitchen.
The bulb is best fresh (try it raw in salads) but it will also keep for several weeks in a cool, dry place.
You can get root cuttings from plants that have been lifted during spring, so any if you attend a garden club, ask if any members have this plant.
There are plenty of seed suppliers in Australia that have Florence Fennel Seeds.
Why is it good for you?
The fennel bulb is also an excellent source of Vitamin C, folate (Vitamin B), fibre and potassium. One cup of fennel provides 10.8 per cent of the daily fibre intake, 5.9 per cent of the daily folate and 10.3 per cent of the daily potassium.
 An advantage of growing Florence fennel are that it attracts parasitic wasps and very small Praying Mantises. It’s free of pests and looks great and the Fennel bulb is delicious baked, too. It's very commonly used in Mediterranean dishes. Definitely worth a try.


with landscape designer Louise McDaid

The design series ‘green gardens started a couple of weeks ago, and green as in the colour, and not any other meaning.
All the non-living things in your garden include not just rocks, but structures like pergolas, fences, gates, arbours, ponds, pots and so on.
Sure, you think it's easy, but how do you team these things with your garden well?
With a bit of advice and planning you can make your garden look great.
Today, landscape designer Louise, looks at man-made structures and how they fit into this green theme.

Part of your garden will probably have an outdoor area for playing, eating, sitting etc - either lawn of some description, deck or a paved area.
Lawn and a green garden can create a VERY green scene – try to use greens different to the lawn colour for plants that are beside it, otherwise it becomes a huge green mass – I like the texture of a strappy leaf plant next to a lawn rather than a small leaf plant used for little hedges – it’s a more interesting contrast.

Part of your garden will probably have an outdoor area for playing, eating, sitting etc - either lawn of some description, deck or a paved area.
Lawn and a green garden can create a VERY green scene – try to use greens different to the lawn colour for plants that are beside it, otherwise it becomes a huge green mass – I like the texture of a strappy leaf plant next to a lawn rather than a small leaf plant used for little hedges – it’s a more interesting contrast.
Other ground surface treatments such as gravel, permeable paving, pebbles, decomposed granite work really well with green schemes – think Mediterranean style gardens with gravel and brick and mostly green plants – it’s subtle, and breaks up the green attractively
Let’s find out what this is all about.


Green pots might sound too much, but if you make them glazed, the shininess adds an extra element to your garden.
Perhaps use a mulch of green glass for a really modern look, or artwork inspired by the colour green or with a green theme.
Artwork in the garden, of course, something to think about.
It’ s only limited by your imagination.



Boab tree-Adonsonia gregorii
Plant of the week this week has a few other names like
Tree of Life, Monkey bread tree, bottle tree and upside down tree.
Some of you might have been to visit or seen pictures of Gardens by the Bay in Singapore.
I reckon, those man made tall tree like structures look exactly like the Boab tree when it’s not in leaf.
What does it look like?
Small to large tree; trunk usually very broad, often grotesque; branches small, light; leaves compound; flowers large, showy; fruits rounded or sausage-like
Coming from Darwin/Katherine you will see the first trees as you approach the Victoria River and Gregory National Park.

Across the Kimberley, through Kununurra and all the way to Broome boabs are a common sight.

The Boab grows very slowly taking centuries to reach maturity.
At this time, it may be almost as wide as it is tall with a truly impressive girth of 20 metres and average height of 15 metres.

Some individual boab trees have been carbon dated to be 1500 years old, which makes them the oldest living beings in Australia, and puts them amongst the oldest in the world.

 Aboriginals used the giants as shelter, food and medicine. For the white settlers they served as easily recognisable land marks and meeting points, and not to forget as impromptu prison cells.

The huge trunk filled with soft fibrous wood enables the tree to store water in dry times and is a definite plus for life in tropical Australia.

The boab was appreciated by the Aborigines who blended the sap with water to make a tasty drink and who ate the seeds and the pithy material surrounding them.

How did boabs come to be in Australia?

Possibly when Australia was still linked to Africa and the other countries when it was part of Gondwana, 65 mya but unlikely to have survived 10,00 years of ice age.

Or a likely scenario is the seed drifted in the sea and landed on shore. Or was brought here by another civilisation.

Boab trees are deciduous, they drop all their leaves during the dry season. Since the dry season is the main tourist season most travellers only get to see the grey brown skeletons.
Where it grows:

As far as I know  Boab’s are very frost tender and really need a very warm growing season.

I have never seen one in NSW, but suspect that there could be a few grown successfully in the far north-eastern corner, along with many other tropical trees.
There are Boabs growing in Kings Park in Perth which is the same latitude as Sydney.

The Queensland bottle tree, however, can be grown in most parts of NSW and tolerates quite cold winters. There are some big old specimens in the Sydney Botanic Gardens, though that site is frost free.

As young trees, Boabs  are very sensitive to frost damage.
However, after reaching a height of 2m+, the trees suffer little to no frost damage (although their dormant season is much longer in colder areas).

The key to growing any species of boab is very-well-drained soil.
So why is it called tree of life?
Mature trees are often hollow. A perfect cosy space for anyone-person or animal, to live!
The bark and stem are used for making clothes. The leaves and vitamin-C rich fruits are eaten. Clefts of the large branches are used to store rainwater for people to use later.
Did you know in the Disney movie “”Lion King”, Rafiki and Simba often hung around the tree of life?

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Butterflies Are Free

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


with ecologist Sue Stevens
Do you think about what to plant for the birds and bees in your garden?

But do you then think about what to plant to attract butterflies? Have you ever visited a butterfly house when you’ve been holidaying somewhere and thought, wow, they look nice.
Well you can have butterflies come to your garden if you think about a few things first.

Butterflies aren’t just pretty, they’re useful in pollinating flowers.
But attracting butterflies isn’t something that’s left to chance.
You have to incorporate plants that serve the needs of all life stages of the butterfly.

The insects need places to lay eggs, food plants for their larvae (caterpillars), places to form chrysalides and nectar sources for adults.

The most important things is to stop using insecticides.
Even “benign” insecticides such as
Dipel which contains Bacillus thuringiensis are lethal to butterflies while they’re at the caterpillar stage.
Photographing butterflies is easier in the warm humid environment of a butterfly house. Try chasing a Blue Triangle or a Monarch butterfly in the cool of your garden with your camera. Very difficult.

If you have any questions about butterfly gardening, why not drop us a line to. or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644


Sweet Corn  or Zea mays var. saccharata  

Is there a fruit or vegetable you detest?
Maybe it’s the texture of it in your mouth you can’t stand, or the smell puts you off, especially when it’s being cooked.
I’m not talking allergy type of detest, but purely because, Nah… you just don’t like it.
You don’t order any food that even has a slight hint of it being there.
That’s my lot with corn.
Well, after four years of broadcasting, I’ve only mentioned sweetcorn once, and it’s time to look over why corn cob lovers want to hear.
So you might think I know nothing of corn growing, but no, from my years at Yates in technical advice, it seems that growing corn has it’s fair share of problems and I’ve heard and solved most of them.
Sweet Corn  or Zea mays var. saccharata  is a grass, native to the Americas.
Yep, a grass.
But wait, Corn is actually a vegetable, a grain, and a fruit.
It’s a vegetable because it’s harvested for eating; a grain because it’s a dry seed of a grass species; and a fruit because that’s the botanical definition. Corn (Zea mays) is sometimes called a vegetable grain.
Because a vegetable is defined as a plant cultivated for an edible part or parts such as roots, stems, leaves, flowers, or seeds/fruit, corn is a vegetable.
If you wanted to be very picky, all cereal grains could be called vegetables, but by convention we separate the cereal grains from the rest of the "vegetables" such as peas, lettuce, potatoes, cabbage

Corn has a long, long history.
Apparently tiny ears of corn have been discovered at ancient village sites on the Mexican plateau or the highlands of Guatemala.
Kernels dating back to 6600 BCE have also been found in caves in Mexico.
There’s even evident that in central Mexico, about 7000 years ago, sweetcorn was domesticated from wild grass.
From all this we can gather that corn’s been around quite a while.
Before you get too fired up, the fresh, or sweet corn, the kind we like to eat as corn on the cob, didn’t come about until the 1700s.
Along with wheat and rice, corn is one of the world’s major grain crops.
Would you have guessed that only 9 percent of all the corn grown is used to produce food for humans.
64% of all corn grown is used as feed for livestock.
Then there’s food manufacture which include corn meal and other food products such as cooking oils, margarine, and corn syrups and sweeteners (fructose) as breakfast cereals, flour.
But there’s also non-cooking uses such as dyes, paints, chemicals, Ethanol, a renewable fuel made from corn, has shown the possibility of becoming a major renewable fuel for the world’s automotive industry.

That’s just to name a few.
 Much of the corn now grown around the world is genetically modified for herbicide and/or pest resistance, so a good reason to grow it yourself.
Sweet corn belongs to the grass family. Poaceae
There are various different types of corn and some have been around longer than others.
By the way, Popcorn is made from a corn variety that dries on the stalk, while the corn we eat on the cob is referred to as sweet corn.
When to Plant-
You can plant sweetcorn all year round in tropical and subtropical climates, in spring and midsummer in temperate and arid zones and late spring to early summer in colder regions.
Before planting out your corn, soak the seeds in a shallow saucer of water overnight.
You can either sow the seeds directly into the garden, 25cm apart in short rows 50-60 cm apart, or in Seed trays.
Dig in some chook poo a couple of weeks before you plant the corn.
By sowing your corn seed directly into the garden you mightn’t always get a 100% germination rate; and you may have breaks in your rows.
Particularly if you’re growing the high sugar varieties.
Try growing your corn in seed trays or in punnets, then transplant the seedlings out into the garden, when they are 50 to 75mm tall. You will then have complete rows.
All grasses are wind pollinated-they have no nectar or odour to attract a physical pollinator, so sweetcorn needs to be planted closely for pollination.
Plant a hand span apart.
You could also try planting your corn in a circle sow your corn seeds and water them in (a good Soak).
Corn likes lots of compost, comfrey, old animal manures, liquid fertilisers and heaps of mulch (around the main stem of the plant) give them a good soak around the roots, every second day, depending on the weather conditions.
Something you need to know.
Corn plants have separate male and female flowering parts.
The corn plant consists of the tassel (male flowers) at the top of the plant and kernels (female flowers) on the cob.
Pollen grows on the tassels, or male parts of the corn plant.
It falls down onto the silks, or female parts of the plant. Each silk is connected to a kernel of corn inside each ear.
If pollen reaches the silk, it causes a corn kernel to grow.
If a silk doesn't receive pollen, the kernel stays small.
Don’t wet the tassels as they emerge.
If you have a small garden and are in need of space, you could also plant climbing beans and cucumbers in between the rows of corn, the beans and cucumbers will climb up the corm stems, making a temporary trellis. The seed for the beans and cucumbers need to be sown out at the same time as the corn.                   
Hints andTips
A good tip is, once the corncob has been pollinated (the corncob tassels have gone brown and you can feel the cob forming) cut the top flower off about a 10cm up from the cob.   Hopefully this will let the plant concentrate on feeding the cob, making it grow larger and sweeter.

Having a windy problem? Not you the corn.
 Build a post and rail fence out of bamboo  or tomato stakes by hammering them in 1.8 metres apart, around the perimeter and down the centre of the corn plot. When the plants are a 1 metre high, horizontally tie (with wire) a stake or bamboo stick on to the stakes, like a top rail on a fence.
As the corn grows, lift the horizontal rail higher; this will more than support your corn from strong winds.
There are a number of heirloom varieties of sweet corn and maizes with different shapes and sizes. There are golf ball shapes, bantam and lady-finger shapes. There are a large variety of colours; multi coloured, blue, red, white, purple and the typical golden yellows and not forgetting 'pop corn'.
Corncobs have been used in the manufacturing of nylon fibres and as a
source for producing degradable plastics. Ethanol, a renewable fuel made
from corn, has shown the possibility of becoming a major renewable fuel for the world’s automotive industry.

What’s the most asked question about growing sweet corn?
Q Poor germination and too few corncobs.

A: can be caused by a number of problems.
For example: 
 poor seed quality - if the seed is old or hasn't been dried or handled properly after harvest; 
  •  seed rots (Pythium and Rhizoctonia fungi); 
  •  planting into cool, wet soil, planting too deep and soil crusting.
  • Supersweet corn has lower vigour than normal sweet corn and needs  warmer soil to germinate, but  generally has poorer germination ability than normal sweet corn. 
  •  uneven plant stands can also be caused by soil crusting and insects, mainly cutworms and wireworms; 
  •  nematodes, particularly root lesion nematodes, are often associated with poor crop establishment and growth.
  •  Why is it good for you?As corn cobs mature they develop more starches and sweet corn is one of the few vegetables that is a good source of the kind of slowly digested carbohydrate that gives you long-lasting energy.
    Corn is an excellent source of dietary fibre
    They also contain vitamin C and niacin (one of the B group vitamins) and folate (one of the B group vitamins)
    Corn is a god source of potassium to help balance the body’s fluids if you eat salty foods.
    Lastly 100g corn kernels has 395kJ Corn is high in fibre.


    with landscape designer Louise McDaid

    Last week, RWG began a new series about the colour green in gardens, and as a colour, mostly gardeners overlook on how effectively it can be really used.
    Today texture, form and structure is on the menu for the green garden series.
    Let’s find out what this is all about.
    PLAY: Green_Gardens_pt2_12th Feb_2014
    Trees, and shrubs, evergreen bamboo, perennial flowers, annual flowers, and grasses form the structure of your garden, but within that structure, you can play with the texture or foliage or leaves of your plants.
    Each has a different impact-plants with large leaves, plants with fine or velvety foliage can all be arranged for a pleasing mix.
    It’ s only limited by your imagination.


    Californian Poppy is Escholtzia californica

    Would you’ve believed that when it was first described by a bunch of explorers, the Californian Poppy covered the hillsides in what’s now known as California?
    These guys were exploring the Pacific coastline of America, and of course, one of their names was used in the Botanical naming of the flower.
    As you did in those days when new things were being discovered all the time.

    Technically a perennial because this poppy seems to grow in the garden for many years.
    The best things is that they’re so easy to grow from seed that you could just broadcast them in a bed that’s already got perennials in it and let them pop up where they choose to.

    Eschscholzia californica (California poppy, golden poppy, California sunlight, cup of gold) is a species of flowering plant in the family Papaveraceae, native to the United States and Mexico, and the official state flower of California since 1890.
    This poppy was named by the German botanist Adelbert von Chamisso after the Baltic German botanist Johann Friedrich von Eschscholtz, his friend and colleague.
    Apparently they travelled together on Otto von Kotzebue’s scientific expedition to California and the greater Pacific in mid-1810s aboard the Russian ship Rurik.
    Being of American origin it’s a little strange that in the 1800s settlers introduced the plant in to Australia.
    Because this poppy is a self-seeder, it spread from gardens, and became naturalized by 1879
    What it looks like & how to grow it.
    The poppy is a perennial herb that grows up to 60 centimetres.
    Leaves grow from spreading lax stems with many blue-green segments that look similar to ancient ferns.
    Flowers are single and cup-shaped, with many stamens, four petals, and range in colour from a pale lemon, to a deep orange
    Californian poppy is drought-tolerant, self-seeding, and easy to grow in gardens.
    Plant in spring and summer to flower in summer and autumn.
    In some places it’s best grown as an annual, in full sun and sandy, well-drained, poor soil.
    The cultivars and different hybrids won’t don’t breed true on reseeding.
    Seeds are often sold as mixtures.
    Sow the seeds directly where they’re to grow and keep the soil moist.
    Very easily germinate.
    I’ve had the pale lemon variety growing in one garden bed for a couple of years now. It gets knocked back by really hot days, but seems to hang on and re-shoot from stem parts that have rooted rather than from seed.
    Probably why it hasn’t spread to any other part of the garden.
    TIP: cut some plants hard to the ground during mid-summer to get more flowers for the rest of summer.
    Mine has never set seed, but other varieties may. If you don’t want it to self seed, cut of the seed pods while they’re still green.
    Fast Fact:
    Did you know that the Californians of Spanish heritage believe this plant worships the sun because it closes up tightly at night and on cloudy days, so they call it dormidera, meaning ‘the drowsy one’.
    But I know that the plant has a very mild sedative affect and maybe that’s why it’s called ‘the drowsy one.’
    Design Elements:
    California poppy looks stunning with the purple of French lavender (Lavendula stoechas cvs) and Salvia ‘Dark Knight,’ or cerise-pink Geranium
    The finely divided foliage looks good with ornamental grasses such as Stipa, or Miscanthus and complements plants with grassy foliage such as Liriope or cordyline.
     Alternative to the Californian poppy
    For areas where the Californian poppy is considered too weedy with it’s self seeding habit, why not choose Golden Everlasting or Bracteantha bracteata, for bush gardens or native gardens.
    Yes, it’s only one golden colour, but it attracts the painted lady butterfly.