THE GOOD EARTH
Suppose someone said to you that there’s an easier way to garden than those annual veggies that you keep sowing and growing each year, what would you say?
Also suppose a new agricultural breakthrough promised more produce, a longer growing season and much less work would you want to know about it?
These claims aren’t some get quick rich scheme but does involve a bit of a change in the way we do our veggie but doesn’t replace it of course.
Nature’s ecosystems always include not only annual vegetables, but also perennials — edible roots, shoots, leaves, flowers and fruits that produce year after year. Besides fruit-bearing trees and shrubs, more than 100 species of perennial vegetables can grow well year after year in a spot in your garden.
Let’s find out what some of the they are? I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska and Lucinda Coates from www.permaculturenorth.org.au
Perennial vegetables are in addition to fruit and nut trees to a productive garden.
You can grow rhubarb, artichokes, asparagus, sorrel, garlic, banana, yacon-apple of the earth, strawberry, arrowroot, and Malabar spinach just to name few.
If you have any questions about perennial vegetables and where you can get them, drop us a line to firstname.lastname@example.org or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.
VEGETABLE HEROESNot just Spinach but Perpetual spinach or Beta vulgarisDid you know that Spinach and silverbeet seed was sent out from England in 1787 with the First Fleet but in the new colony they found spinach difficult to grow?
They found growing silverbeet much easier, which is why Silverbeet is sometimes called spinach in Australia, but true spinach has smaller leaves and a much sweeter, milder flavour.
That brings me to our hero today-perpetual spinach is neither perpetual or spinach.
Silverbeet 'Perpetual' or, Leaf Beet as it’s sometimes called is a very long-lasting leaf vegetable but unfortunately not 'perpetual'.
So what’s the difference between perpetual spinach and silverbeet?
Perpetual spinach or perpetual silverbeet, has smoother leaves than other silverbeet with narrower, greenish stems.
It’s tender with a taste more like English Spinach but it’s hardy and drought resistant.
This beginner-friendly plant is a cut-and-come-again crop that just keeps on giving.
The perfect plant for small but busy gardens.
HOW WHEN TO SOWIn all but the coldest districts, you can grow perpetual spinach for most of the year.
Also known as spinach beet, for a continuous supply of spinach, make several sowings throughout the year.
The bonus is that Perpetual spinach will continue on through to summer and autumn and possibly even into the following year.
Germination of spinach seeds can take anything between a week and 2 weeks.
Plant your seedlings / seeds around 7cm apart in rows about 30 apart.
For once a vegetable that grows well in partial to full sun.
Perpetual Spinach likes a moist but not waterlogged soil.
Using a mulch of straw or grass clippings can help to keep moisture and warmth in the soil plus add plenty of compost and the usual organic matter to so that your spinach will grow well.
Having a worm farm or compost bin really does help your veggie bed no end!
Perpetual Spinach doesn't like acidic soils, a good PH is around 6.3 -6.8. Add lime to the soil if you need to a few weeks before you put the seeds in.
Spinach like all leafy vegetables is what’s called a heavy feeder –ie, needs lots of Nitrogen to grow well.
If you haven’t already applied Blood and Bone or cow manures to the soil a month or two ago, your soil will run out of nutrients.
During the cooler months of winter, organic matter doesn’t break down that much and to get the needed Nitrogen, applying liquid fertilisers such as compost tea or fish emulsion often will be the best way to go
Another thing to remember is that Spinach grows on shallow roots, so don't dig vigorously around it. If you get weeds because you didn’t mulch, carefully hand remove them.
Water frequently to keep up with the fast growth of the plants.
In about 8-10 weeks, your Spinach plant has put on enough big leaves so you can pick them one by one like you might lettuce. The leaves will keep regrowing for quite a while. Otherwise pick the whole plant for Spinach pie etc. Make sure you wash spinach leaves well - soil is not tasty!
When you want to store Spinach in the fridge a tip to remember is that
Spinach is highly ethylene sensitive. To stop leaf yellowing don’t refrigerate with apples, or tomatoes.
TIP: Water liberally in dry periods. Unlike true spinach, spinach beet won't bolt when exposed to a full summer sun, but don't let plants flower as this will shorten your cropping season.
Picking off flowerheads encourages the plant to grow leaves, not flowers.
TIP:What might eat your perpetual spinach.
Possums or even rats may eat the seedlings, so either cover with nets or grow under other plants. Slugs and snails love young leaves, so set up a slug pub and organise a midnight watch if necessary.
TIP: Pick to eat and freeze, washed and dried leaves for cooking.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a veggie plot or it’s full up with other things like onions, broccoli, cabbages and the like because perpetual spinach's is a great veg for container growing on a sunny ledge: thin and pick as and when required.
A problem you might get in the cooler weather is Down Mildew. Downy mildew (Blue mold). What is downy mildew- fungal disease, shows up as slightly yellow or chlorotic lesions of irregular shape on the top surface of the leaves and purplish sporulation on the underside. To prevent it, space plants for good air circulation and, when you water, wet the ground around the plants not the foliage itself
Why should you grow your own Perpetual Spinach?
Because Spinach is best eaten fresh and it loses nutritional properties every day.
Putting it in the fridge slows the deterioration, but half of the major nutrients are lost by the eighth day after harvest.
Why is Spinach good for you?
The amount of iron in spinach comes way down the list after vitamins A and C, thiamin, potassium and folic acid (one of the B complex vitamins).
Dark green leafy vegetables, like spinach, contain carotenoids.
If you have any questions about growing spinach or any other vegetable write in or email me.
AND THAT WAS OUR VEGETABLE HERO SEGMENT
www.greenharvest.com.au and www.diggers.com.au
DESIGN ELEMENTSwith landscape designer Louise McDaid
Would you like a bunch of flowers in your house most weeks of the year, even every month would be good wouldn’t it?
Flowers can cost quite a bit but what if it didn’t cost that much at all?
How could we do that you ask, well it’s all from a cutting garden.
We love flowers in the garden, but they’re lovely to bring inside as well. I love cutting aromatic foliage – herbs and scented leaves that give off their smell when brushed – and flowers from shrubs where you cut some of the leaf with the flower. Camellias are lovely for this – japonicas rather than sasanqua which shatter and are best enjoyed as a petal carpet on the ground.
PLAY: Unusual Themes_cutting garden pt _5 16th July 2014
With a designated cutting bed, you can plant and cut without worry.
Select an inconspicuous location -- along a garage or in a back corner of your yard -- and be sure your cutting bed receives lots of sun and has some good soil that’s well-drained -- just like your other beds.
A cutting garden has plenty of planting freedom.
Its sole purpose is to produce flowers for you to cut, so don't worry about how it will look.
You can mix and match colours, textures, heights, and varieties. Plant all your favourites.
PLANT OF THE WEEKPINKS SPLASH RANGE
They say that polka dots never go
out of style, and the same could be said about pink flowers.
There is actually a pink splash plant that has polka dots on it-what a combination.
Pink flowers are used as a symbol of love and awareness.
Did you know that for decades, pink flowers have been used to decorate weddings as a symbol of love?
More recently, pink flowers have come to symbolize breast cancer awareness.
Or you could say thanks with pink flowers or just enjoy them yourself.
If you’re looking for that special plant for a special occasion, be it a birthday,
Easter, Mother’s Day, or an everyday gift – or you’re looking for a plant for
yourself why not go for a Pink Splash.
Every plant in the Pink Splash range will create a wow factor with their
striking colours and what’s more you can select a plant for colour in any
season – Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter – with most providing
colour over more than one, and it can grow in cool temperate as well as warm temperate regions.