Sunday, 31 May 2015

Pelicans and Parsnips are Go


with Andrew Patrick from the Cumberland Bird Observers Group.

We’ve all seen seagulls flocking to food around beaches but there’s another bird which attracts lots of tourists, even as much as tens of thousands of families and locals when they’re being fed.
While the people are watching, they get an entertaining and educated commentary about the Pelicans, marine life and general information about the area.
Let’s find out this big bird.…

Australia's Pelican is one of eight species worldwide and of those, ours has the longest beak of any bird measuring up to 50cm.
A pelicans wingspan measures around two and a half metres enabling them to glide on the thermals in the atmosphere without exerting too much energy.
They've been know to reach altitudes of up to an incredible 3,000 metres.
When Pelicans breed, they can have up to 50,000 chicks in one colony and the calls they make can be heard up to one kilometre away!

One of the main objectives of the pelican feed  in popular resort areas, is to keep an eye on the pelican's medical conditions as many have hooks and lines tangles up in their gullets, wings and other parts of their body.
The feed is a chance for the co-ordinator to assess their well being. It's certainly an amusing show to come and see.
At least 1 or 2 birds a week are removed from the water and sometimes the outcome is bad for the injured birds but most times its just a simple extraction of a hook and they are on their way.
The Entrance has now been internationally recognised as 'The Pelican Capital of Australia' and we want you to be part of it. So when you visit us at The Entrance be sure to wander down to the pelican pavilion on the foreshore for an experience you will treasure.
If you have any questions about Pelicans from your garden, why not write in to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


I bet that when you purchase a parsnip in the supermarket, the person at the checkout won’t know what it is.
Did you know that in the Middle Ages, especially during Lent, Europeans favoured the parsnip because of its flavour, and ability to satisfy hunger through meatless fasting periods?
For centuries in Europe they were a ubiquitous and nutritious staple food. Something else you might not have realised is that sugar hasn’t been around all that long.
Before sugar was widely available parsnips were used to sweeten dishes such as cakes and jams and they were also used for making beer and wine.
Parsnips have been cultivated by the Germans for more than 200 years, along the banks of the Rhine.
But as the weather cools down, I’m starting to think of slow cooked meals that need flavouring type vegetables like carrots and parsnips.
Not Swedes, but those pointy cream coloured thing.
No, not Daikon or white radish either, that’s much larger.
What is Parsnip?
Pastinaca sativa, a member of the Apiaceae family-same as carrots, Parsley and Celeriac.
Seeds need to be sown from autumn to winter in sub-tropical areas, anywhere from mid-winter to mid-autumn for temperate areas and spring to summer in cold districts, around Australia.
Best planted at soil temperatures between 6°C and 21°C.
Parsnip likes to be grown in deep sandy, loamy soil. After planting keep seeds moist - can cover with a wooden plank or mulch - until seeds germinate. Don’t bother sowing parsnips in summer as the seed dries out fast and won't germinate
If you can grow carrots, you can grow parsnips.
You need the same type of soil, friable, not sandy and not clayey.
A pH of 6.5-7.
Yes, do go out and buy that pH testing kit. If high school geography students can measure pH, so can you.
As with carrots, soil with stones or compacted soil will give you deformed and stunted turnips that not only look funny, but taste a bit that way as well.
Parsnips need to be started from seed.
They resent being transplanted even more than Coriander.
They just won’t grow.
I haven’t seen Parsnip for sale in a punnet anyway.
Sow Parsnip seed in directly into the garden.
Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed.
Now I read this information on the back of the Parsnip seed packet, and wonder, are there gardeners out there with their micrometers measuring the width of the tiny seeds? 
Parsnip seeds are quite small, so I just give the soil a light covering of seed raising mix and hope for the best.
Parsnips prefer an open, loose soil and sow seed directly into shallow furrows.
Parsnips aren’t hungry crops, if you apply too much fertiliser with a high content of nitrogen, you’ll end up with forked roots
Germination rates of parsnip seed aren’t great so sow about 3 seeds per couple of cms and a few mm’s deep.
Germination is slow and can take up to 20 days.
Fresh seed is a major requirement because the viability of Parsnip is about 12 months.
If you have left over seed from the previous year, you may as well forget it so check the use by date of your seed packets.
Parsnip seed will take quite a few weeks to germinate, so  throw over some shade cloth over the seed bed to prevent the soil drying out,  and remove the material as the seed germinates.

Tip: Soak the seeds overnight in a shallow saucer. There’s no need to drown them.
When your seedlings have at least 4 leaves, thin them down so they are about 8cm apart.
If you’re planting in rows then space the rows about 50cm apart.
So are we out there with our rulers measuring judiciously 8 cm here, 50 cm there?

No matter which book you consult, you never get practical advice.
For me, four fingers across measures 7 cm, and that’s plenty good enough because with gardening gloves, I’ll get my 8cm spacing.
Keep your parsnip seedlings growing strongly with regular watering and applications of liquid seaweed, liquid manure or compost tea.
You can grow a crop of radish among your parsnips as these will germinate and mature quickly and will be harvested before the parsnips need the space.
Harvest in 17-20 weeks, that’s 4-5 months.
If you plants seeds in March, expect results in July sometime.
Parsnips have the best flavour if harvested after a frost or very cold weather.
The cold results in the starch in the roots being converted into sugars which give the parsnip its sweet taste. Use a spade to dig the parsnip out of the ground.
For something different, why not try parsley parsnip, a two-in-one veggie. The tops can be picked and used just like continental parsley and  you can cook the roots as you would parsnip.
Don't pick off too many leaves or the roots will be thin.
Why is it good for you and why grow this vegetable?
Did I mention that parsnip is a flavouring vegetable?
Parsnip has a sweet nut like flavour and Parsnip doesn’t keep that long.
So if it’s been in the greengrocer or supermarket shelf for more than a few days, than it’s probably tasteless, rubbery, and probably what put you off parsnip in the first place.
Nutritionally the parsnip is superior to the potato containing Vitamins C, E, K and B6.
It also contains Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, along with high quantities of potassium, which is an energy booster and good for the immune system
Plant lots and pick them young:


with garden designer Peter Nixon
This series is all about starting a garden from scratch, and today’s episodes not so much about choosing the right plants as about putting them in the right place. You’ve bought the plants, you’ve considered how big they will grow. Today we’re discussing plantings to make it clear to new visitors where the entrance to the house is among other planting problems.

Finding the front door-is it obvious?
Let’s find out more..

You can completely obscure the front door with a huge frangipani.
If you love frangipani’s but don’t have the room for Plumeria rubra, then opt for a smaller choice of frangipani, such as Plumeria pudica.
Then there’s the privacy issue to block out the neighbours.
Usually you need something that fits in a narrow space.
Climbing plants fits the bill but create strong support so that the fence is taking the weight of your planting.
Choose sturdy supports for your climbing plants.

Use something like Marine grade stainless steel grow cables of fairly high gauge for those heavy climbers and attach it to strong posts.


with Jeremy Critchley owner of
and Karen Smith, editor of

Not all ferns should be relegated to the bathroom. That's was a real 70's thing that still hangs around some of our memories now.
Are we still putting ferns in our bathrooms?  What about outdoors?

When you go into your garden do you feel relaxed or are you always thinking about what jobs you have to do next?
The job thing can sometimes overtake your pleasure in the garden.

Why not instead of concentrating on all those tasks, reward yourself with some new plants that are instantly appealing, don’t require much maintenance and help with the calmness and relaxation of the garden.
We're  talking about ferns , Boston ferns or Nephralepis exaltata.
Let’s find out some more about these ferns.

You can buy a Boston Fern from just about anywhere, plus it’s relatively cheap and is a great starter fern. They look a bit like the weed, the fishbone fern, but aren't known to be a problem in the garden.

There are now 20 different varieties to choose from, whereas back in the heyday of the 70's and 80's, there was only ever one type of boston fern.

The boston fern of today comes with a wide variety of foliage even crinkly foliage.
Maybe that's harking back to the 80's still and the crimped hair craze?

Any fern is great if you enjoy the lush green foliage and the feelings of peace and tranquility they seem to create.

It's also one of the top rated plants for removing air pollutants from the air and because of its almost large appetite for water it pumps out vast amounts of water vapour into the nearby air, increasing surrounding humidity.

Ferns like moist shady places indoors or out.

Mist spray them if they're indoors, but if you're growing your boston ferns outdoors, and they end up looking a bit burnt or straggly, give them a hard prune to rejuvenate them.

Ferns reproduce by spores so if you have the right conditions, you may have little fern offspring in various moist shady places in your garden.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Daisies are Hip and Not Square


with Margaret Mossakowska from
Some people who have you believe that fermenting veggies is something new and trendy. They’re even calling it the “Art of Fermentation.”
Ingredients for fermenting
Before stoves and refrigerators, fermenting veggies allowed people to preserve food in a nutritional and safe way.
Think foods such as cheese, yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchee, olives, salami, jerky and even bread. And think beverages such as wine and beer, not to mention coffee and hot chocolate. All of these — and many more — are examples of fermented foods.
Well, really, it’s been done for thousands of years and is just going through a revival.
But why? Let’s find out about fermenting…

Fermenting vegetables is the new ‘in’thing because it’s a “live food, because they contain “living bacteria,” that in turn helps digest other foods in the digestive tract.
Fermented foods have a natural tart flavour because the sugars and carbohydrates have been broken down and used up during fermentation.
In the case of vegetables, they’re more digestible than raw ones and just about any raw vegetable can be safely fermented at home, if done properly.
Kim Chee preserves
Why not start with cabbage, daikon radishes, turnips, parsnips, cucumbers, okra, string beans and green tomatoes, as they’re good candidates for fermentation.
Margaret's Kimchee recipe
Red cabbage
Black Spanish radish
Salt the grated  and finely sliced veggies first and leave overnight.
Next day, add slush made from onions garlic, chilli and ginger and pulverised in a food processer.
All you need to do now is put them in a crock or sterilised jars.
If you have any questions about fermenting vegetables from your garden, why not write in to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Sometimes I have unusual vegetables on this segment and this one’s pretty much unheard of by most gardeners.
'Celtuce' is a plant in the Lactuca (Lettuce) genus with a scientific name of Lactuca sativa var. asparagina.
The botanical name epithet for Celtuce (sativa) means 'having been cultivated'.
Celtuce is also known as Stem Lettuce, Asparagus Lettuce and Chinese Lettuce.
The name sound like it’s a cross between celery and lettuce but it’s just a variety of Lettuce grown for its romaine-like foliage and mainly for its thick, edible stem.
The stem grows 15 – 20cm  long and about 4 cm in diameter.
Celtuce can be cooked like broccoli and tastes like a cross between a mild summer squash and an artichoke.
growing celtuce
Some say the flavour is somewhat like a cucumber, yet different.
Sounds like you really need to make up your own mind on the taste.
Chinese, Stem or Asparagus Lettuce is a delicacy that’s made the menus of 5 star restaurants.
It could well be the new thing in vegetables.
Since it’s a cool weather crop, it should be planted from seed in Autumn, Winter, and early Spring, spaced at about 20cm in the row, and treated about like regular lettuce
Sow the seeds directly into the garden between in full sun. You should get around 80% germination rate.
Plant the seed ½ cm deep in rows about ½ a metre apart.
When plants are tall enough to use as leaf lettuce, thin them to about 20cm.
The outer leaves resemble loose leaf lettuce, but are a lighter green and can be used for salad.
If you pick the young leaves you can use them as lettuce.
These leaves are great eaten in salads at a young tender stage because as they get older, they become bitter and unpalatable rather quickly because of the formation of a milky sap.
Soon after the first outer leaves appear, a central stalk with tiny leaves at the top starts to elongate.
Allowed to grow, this flower stalk will reach 3-5cm in height.
 Tip: Keep the plant well watered.
It acts very much like regular lettuce bolting to seed.
The outer edges of the round stem contain the bitter milky sap.
When the stem is about 30 – 40 cm high, it should be cut off down into the leafy portion of the plant.
Before using be sure to peel the outer skin, and remove the portion containing the bitter sap.
What you’re left with is a soft, translucent green central core which is the edible part.
You can eat this fresh, sliced or diced into a salad.
In China, where it is grown in commercial quantities, the fleshy stem is cut into sections and cooked by broiling or stewing.
If you can grow lettuce then you can grow Celtuce successfully.
Many seed catalogues advertise seed for sale.
Celtuce grows better at higher temperatures than lettuce but the quality is better when grown during the cooler months.
Celtuce stems are ready when they measure around 2cm in diameter.
Chill the stems as soon as the leaves have been removed.
INTERESTING FACT: The celtuce - which is known as wosun in China, where it is a popular ingredient in many dishes - is a translucent green type of lettuce that can be sliced, roasted, pickled, pureed for sauces or used as a garnish, among many other uses.
Why is it good for you?
Celtuce is very low in Cholesterol.
Like most lettuce celtuce has no saturated fat; no sugar and is very high in calcium.
It’s very high in dietary fibre. High in iron. Very high in manganese.
It’s  also a good source of Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Folate, Magnesium, Potassium.
Not to mention that the sap contains lactucarium, which from a couple of weeks ago in the winter lettuce segment, it was mentioned that it has a very mild sedative effect if you eat it with your evening meal.


with garden designer Peter Nixon
Starting from scratch garden series part 3 - Playing with plants
This series is all about starting a garden from scratch, in which case you now had done battle with the lawn or with a mass of weeds.
Alright now that you’ve decided to do something with that bare patch of lawn, you drawn a plan of the layout.
The next thing is think about what plants you might want to put into those beds.
Believe me, I know how hard it is to put off getting your first vegetables, herbs and other plants into the ground. 
Planting is fun

If you just start your garden with no substantial forethought, you’ll only end up wishing you had taken the time to really think out a few things. 
It’s  important to really consider what plants will work in your layout and purpose of your garden. 
Let’s find what plants you should start with..

Once you start digging your beds and establishing your paths, you won’t want to start over when you realize it would have been better if you’d just did it that other way.
For example if you want to grow veggies then long straight raised beds about a metre wide are easier to work with.
You’ll want your paths at least 1 ½ metres  wide so you can use a wheelbarrow or bucket or even just drag the hose around without creating havoc. 
Planting out your garden

Draw a basic overhead view and pencil in where you think things might go.
But if you're wanting a flower garden of some sort and if you’ve never had your own garden before, chances are you will be overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of variety in the plant world.
Take your time, don’t just buy the plants that are available at your garden centre.
There are garden clubs and plant societies that hold annual plant shows.
These may have a whole lot of different and less available plants that you might like.
Not to mention garden catalogs.


with Jeremy Critchley of
 and Karen Smith, editor of
They look a lot like daisies and they are in the Asteraceae family, along with Shasta daisies and zinnia. But when these African daisies were first introduced to the market, they had colouring we weren't used to seeing. Many of their centre disks looked as though they were coloured with metallic paint.
Jeremy grows 63 different colour variations in his nursery. Just imagine. Some are shades of colours and others are bi-colours.
Let's find out some more

Botanical Bite
The daisy flower is not just a single flower but actually a cluster of much smaller flowers.
The "petals" or "sunrays" are individual strap-shaped sterile flowers called "ray florets", and the "central disk" is made of smaller circular shaped individual flowers called "disc florets"

Osteospermums are exceedingly drought tolerant and some varieties are self cleaning.
When they reach about 30 -40cm high they will become a bit leggy. At this stage give them a hard prune to about 10cm above the ground.

Osteospermum, or African daisies, and sometimes cape daisies.
Those of you who like marguerite daisies will love these daisies too.
There’s a Springstar range of cape daisies with names like Cardinal-a deep red, Magenta, Big Yellow, Cinnamon Orange Dark Pink and Kokoa-a dusky pink.
All of these have a white halo around the central disk.


Sunday, 17 May 2015

Fabulous Cake and Flamingo Flowers

Caraway Seed Cake


with Ian Hemphill from
This next spice is used to flavour a whole lot of food that we eat.
Think Havarti cheese, rye bread, sauerkraut and caraway seed cake in Britain.
What may surprise you is that the roots can be cooked as a vegetable like parsnips or carrots, and, the leaves are sometimes eaten as herbs, either raw, dried, or cooked, just like you would with parsley

Let’s find out about this spice…

Caraway plant
Caraway (Carum carvi), is also known as meridian fennel or Persian cumin, and is a biennial plant in the carrot or Apiaceae family.
It’s native to western Asia, Europe and Northern Africa.
Caraway is a spice that we should all be growing along with our parsley and chervil because it’s so versatile.
The plant looks like others in the carrot family, which includes parsley.
Caraway has those finely divided, feathery leaves with thread-like divisions, growing on 20–30 cm stems.
The main flower stem is 40–60 cm tall, with small white or pink flowers in umbels.
Did you know that Caraway seeds are actually meant to be called fruits? In fact they’re crescent-shaped achenes, around 2 mm long, with five pale ridges.
If you have any questions about growing caraway, or have some growing in your garden, send in a photo  or write in to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Caraway Seed Cake Recipe


  • 175g (6oz) butter, softened
  • 175g (6oz) caster sugar
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 250g (8oz) self-raising flour
  • 38g jar caraway seeds
  • 2tbsp milk
  • 1kg (2lb) loaf tin, buttered and lined with a strip of baking parchment
How To Bake
  • Tip all the ingredients into a bowl and beat until smooth. Spoon mixture into the loaf tin and level the surface.

  • Bake the cake in the centre of the oven 160°C (320°F, gas mark 3) for 45 mins-1 hr, or until the cake feels just firm to the touch in the centre, and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into cake.
  • Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10-15 mins.
  • Transfer it to a wire rack to cool completely.


    Vegetable Heroes

    You only need one which will give you so many chokos you will soon be sick of them. 
    Have you seen choko vines planted on chook pen fences, or a rusty tin shed in the backyard?
    They’re one of those chuck in the ground and forget plants until it comes time to eat the excess fruit.
    But are you eating it in apple pies? More on that later.
    Choko ready to plant
    Choko is a climbing plant Sechium edule  that belongs to the pumpkin, melon and cucumber or Cucurbitaceae family and is native to Mexico.  Chokoes were taken back to Europe by the Spanish explorers and from there were introduced to parts of Asia.
    An interesting fact about chokoes is that they’re also known as chayote, vegetable pear or mango squash.
    That’s because they sort of look like a rough pear and they’re certainly pear shaped. look a bit like a pear.
    Some varieties have spines, while others are spineless.
    Because the choko plant is a rampant climber, it can easily be grown on fences, trellises, over trees or frames allowing the fruit to hang down for easy picking.
    If you live in warmer climates and have trouble with powdery mildew on your zucchinis, then go for chokoes.
    They taste just as nice when picked not much bigger than a chicken egg.
    If you’ve never eaten a choko, it tastes like a very mild-flavoured squash and needs to be cooked for a longer time than other squash before serving.
    Some say it has a bland flavour, and unless you cook it with some strong tasting spices and herbs, you won’t get that much out of chokoes.
    Having said that, some people reckon that chokoes are used as filling in some fresh and frozen apple pies that can be bought in supermarkets.
    Mary has written in asking about how to grow chokoes because she found some chokoes that had sprouted on her kitchen bench the other week.
    The best time is spring and early summer, but because yours has already sprouted, why not plant it into a pot now and transfer it after winter.
    More on how to plant your choko later.
    Generally chokoes are planted in warmer months of the year.
    Best Time to Plant Chokoes
    In Subtropical districts, plant them out in October and November, in temperate zones, wait until December, in Arid regions, you’ve won  the jackpot because you can plant these for 6 months of the year from September through to February, and in tropical areas, you can plant them between April and July, and unfortunately for cool temperate districts, unless you really want to try them and have a hot north facing wall, chokoes aren’t recommended for your area, because chokoes are frost tender .
    Having said that, I found plenty of people as far south as Hobart, growing them in December against a north facing brick wall.
    So Chokos will grow as far south as Tasmania when given a sunny site sheltered from wind and frosts.
    If you’re having trouble getting them, a found a post from Chris who says he’ll send you the seeds for free as long as you pay the postage, Chris’s email is
    Just put chokoes in the subject line of your email.
    Here’s a quick method to make sure the vine takes off.
    Buy a couple of chokoes and keep them in a warm dark place for a few weeks, till they put out a runner, then put in a warm light place for a few weeks.
    By the time you’re ready to plant them they will have a strong runner maybe a foot or 2 long.
    Tip: crushed egg shells around the vine when planted in the ground is a good deterrent to snails and slugs.
    You often see ones already sprouted in shops.
    When you plant them, after any danger of frosts is over, plant the seed with the sprouted end pointing down a little to stop water getting into the fruit and rotting it.
     Plant the whole fruit - half in the soil and half out but wait till it starts sprouting (just store it with the potatoes till then)
    The choko can be grown in nearly all soil types but prefers rich, well-drained organic soils with plenty of compost or animal manure added annually.
    When grown in the tropics, the choko is virtually evergreen, but in cooler and even temperate climates like here in Sydney, it has one crop then dies down to the tuberous root system and sprouts again the following spring.
    Dig a hole and place the choko 10cm down with the sprouting end upwards
    By digging a largish hole you’re loosening all the soil in this area so the plant can send out roots easy making its growth faster,
    Chokos need full sun but plant it anywhere and it will find the Sun
    You might be interested to know that during the war, because Chokos were so easy to grow, they used them as fake stewed pears.
    When they’re halved and quartered, you can cook them with sugar and vanilla, served them with custard.
    Cooking with Chokoes
    To peel your chokoes, peel them under water to avoid the sticky substance sticking to your hands.
    Chokos are best when they are about the size of a small pear. The larger they grow the more pealing you will have to do and the starchier they get.
    Use them as fresh as possible because they lose moisture fairly readily.
    So are they making it into apple pies
    How about choko and chilli relish? Nope not that either.
    Vegetable industry group AusVeg, which tracks produce volumes, says choko volumes are so low that they can't be tracked.
    The smallest crop it follows is snake beans at 87 tonnes a year.
    The fact is apples are more plentiful and cheaper to buy than chokoes, apart from the fact that it would be illegal under labelling laws.
    By the way, they are used a lot in jam making commercially when they’re coloured pink with food colouring as they imitate many other fruits in volume and texture.
    Why is it good for you?
    Contains fibre and vitamin C.
    The edible parts of the choko have a lower fibre, protein and vitamin content than other plants, but the micronutrients and macronutrients supplied by the fruit are adequate.


    Starting your garden from scratch part 2- No Dig Gardening
    with landscape designer Peter Nixon.
    This series is all about starting a garden from scratch, in which case you might have to do battle with the lawn or with a mass of weeds.
    But even before that you need to know your soil..
    When plants aren't growing properly after you've supplied them with the correct amount of sunlight and water, and when you've ruled out pests, then the problem usually lies underground. But there are other ways to start a garden.
    Raised garden beds in background.

    then you're faced with that bare patch of lawn that you want to convert into a garden.
    Here is the no dig method a la Peter Nixon.
    First lay down some cardboard sheets of the area you want to convert to a garden.
    this should stop the lawn for growing because you are blocking out the sun.
    Next pile on many cubic metres of compost and cow manure.
    Then let it settle for about 3 months!
    Let’s find out why this is a good idea..
    If you’re battling a weedy patch in the garden, perhaps where there was lawn that was infested with weeds.
    Find out what those weeds are so you can  work out the best way to get rid of them without wasting money on chemicals that you mighn’t need.


    Anthurium species.
    with Jeremy Critchley, owner
    and Karen Smith, editor
    At the beginning of the program I mentioned the benefits of having one or three indoor plants.
    Anthurium adreanum White King
    This next plant can be planted indoors, but remember, indoor plants are just plants that can grow outside if you have the right conditions.
    So don’t be constrained to just keeping them in the house, balcony or verandah.
    Let’s find out …
    The brightly coloured heart shaped spathe or a waxy modified leaf and isn’t the flower.
    The bit that pokes out, or the spadix, contains the real tiny flowers.
    Anthuriums, don't like to be constantly wet, but don't let them dry out completely.
    They grow well in temperate areas outdoors, as well as in the tropics and sub tropics.
    Feed them with any organic fertiliser or controlled release prills for pot plants.
    Here are some varieties to get you going.Anthurium andreanum 'Amazing Queen'  has big orange flowers or spathes really.
    There’s also Black Queen with  an almost black spathe and White King with a white spathe.
    These all have been bred for massive flowering, clumping, disease resistance and cold tolerance down to 10 C.
    Anthurium Black Queen
    After a few years Anthuriums will form aerial roots, so that’s when you should think about repotting and dividing them.
    The best time to do this is in spring or autumn, when the weather is warm, but not hot.These aerial roots can be planted below the surface.But don’t let that put you off from buying one of the many hybrids that Jeremy mentioned.

    Wednesday, 13 May 2015

    A Little Wild Scent of Lemon


    with ecologist Kurtis Lindsay

    In Australia native animals are “the property of the Crown”.
    This means that no-one owns any native animals, they can’t be kept as pets and to do anything with them you have to be licensed by government departments.

    However, there’s no protection from the government for most native animals-whether they’re injured or sick.
    In some cases predation by foxes and dogs-feral and domestic have been decimating numbers of particular species of Australian native animals.
    To counter this various not for profit organisations have stepped in to help out various animals and this is one such case.
    Let’s find out about this rather large mammal.

    Wombats have those backward facing pouches which only one other spices-the Diprotodon had as well.
    The Diprotodon is of course extince and was the large known marsupial ever to have lived.
    Although penalties exist for the illegal killing of wombats, sadly it’s been reported  by the Wombat Protection Society of Australia,( ) such killing occurs every night where on a farms they are shot, buried alive and gassed and on the highways of Australia vehicles indiscriminately drive directly at wombats without penalty.

    The Wombat Awareness Organisation (WAO) is another non-profit organisation specialising in large scale rescue, rehabilitation and conservation of the Southern Hairy-nosed Wombat (Lasiorhinus latifrons).
    The wombat awareness group, have less than a week to The Wombat Awareness Org is the only dedicated registered Southern Hairy Nosed Wombat charity. We have 11 days to raise funds, fit out a new home & save the 40 wombats in our care from homelessness.
    If you have any questions about wombats or a photo of a wombat the visits your park or garden why no send it in or write in to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


    Well it’s TIME FOR VEGETABLE HERO  Winter Lettuce
    LETTUCE or Lactuca sativa
    You might think it too boring to be a hero, but did you know that the earliest mention of lettuce in history is a carving on an Egyptian temple? Lettuce was considered an aphrodisiac in Egypt.
    On the other hand the Greeks used lettuce as a medicinal plant to induce sleep.
    Lactuca sativa or lettuce is just everywhere and thought to have originated from the wild or prickly lettuce, found as a weed in the Mediterranean.Nothing beats the freshness of home grown lettuce. Just pick some leaves fresh when you need them.

    The flavour of lettuce is lost in as little as 24 hours, and there's no way supermarket lettuce is only 24 hours old.
    The Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is a temperate annual or biennial plant of the daisy family Asteraceae.. great in salads, tacos, hamburgers!
    But here’s the thing not all kinds of lettuce are created alike! Hurrah, this is the time to be plant all those hearting lettuce like, Iceberg, and Butterhead, Cos or Romaine.
    These varieties do best in the coolest months because the upper temperature limit to grow heading lettuces is 28°C so they’re not going to bolt to seed now.
    Did you know that there are four main types of lettuce grown commercially in Australia and these are three of them?
    In northern Victoria the main growing season for these types is May until October.

    When to Grow LettuceA lot of people think lettuce is a summer crop but the best growing temperatures are a maximum of 25°C during day and 8°C during the night.
    In cool districts, you’ve got until end of May, then again in September until the following May.
    In arid areas you have from March until October, in sub- tropical and temperate areas, we’ve hit the jackpot because we can grow lettuce all year round.
    How to Grow Lettuce
    Lettuces taste best when they are grown as fast as possible and for that they need water and food.
    Lettuces can be grown in light sandy soil to heavy clay types, as long as the soil is well drained.
    Lettuce has shallow roots, so it dries out easily. You must keep up a steady supply of water because any set back will at least, make them tough and bitter, at worst it will cause them to bolt to seed straight away without making any leaves for you!
    But at the cooler times of year, it’s not so much an issue.
    So make sure they never get stressed (e.g. by forgetting to water them).
    Any gardening book (all written for cooler climates) will tell you that full sun is essential.
    Don't plant them in deep shade, like under a tree. They will just grow into pale, leggy things with few leaves on them.
    To sow lettuce seed, either spread the seed very thinly along a row and cover lightly with soil, or sprinkle it over a bed and just water or rake it in. For all you balcony gardeners, any largish pot will do for 3 or 4 lettuce seedlings.
    Lettuce seed is very fine so you'll get a few clumps. Thin them out, you know the drill.
    If the weather is very dry and your soil sandy, you will need to water every couple of days.
     Stick your finger in the soil if not sure. Lettuces have a very shallow root system.
    By the way, lettuce seed doesn't germinate that well at soil temperatures over 250C.  There should be no problems at this time of year.
    Funnily enough, my self-sowing lettuce like Freckles and Mustard lettuce start appearing around the veggie bed around mid-April onwards.

    Freckles lettuce

    Once your lettuce seedlings start appearing start giving them side dressings of compost, worm tea and so on.
    Lettuce that seems to be growing slowly, or are starting to show signs of going to seed even though you’ve watered them, is a sure sign that they’ve run out of food.
    Did you prepare your veggie bed with enough compost? Of not there are plenty of organic type liquid fertilisers that you can add to your watering can and use on your leafy vegetables.
    So why is it good for us?
    Lettuce is very good for digestion and promotes good liver function.
    Lettuce  has good levels of Vitamin C, beta-carotene and fibre.
    Lettuce obviously won't lead to weight gain as many varieties have over 90% water and are extremely low in calories.
    Lettuce contains the sedative LAC-TOO-CAREY-UM (lactucarium) which relaxes the nerves without affecting digestion.
    So I’m going with the Greeks on this one-remember they used lettuce as a sedative, probably eating it with their evening meal.

    As a general rule, the darker green the leaves, the more nutritious the salad green. For example, romaine or watercress have seven to eight times as much beta-carotene, and two to four times the calcium, and twice the amount of potassium as iceberg lettuce. By varying the greens in your salads, you can boost the nutritional content as well as vary the tastes and textures.  



    Starting a garden from scratch series with landscape designer Peter Nixon.

    Starting with a bare patch of grass.
    This series that starts today is more for those people who most likely have a bit of a garden but would like more.
    To start a garden you have to have some kind of impetus and
    They’re faced with a patch of grass and have as yet not decided how to proceed to the next step.
    Most people want an integrated garden space so the house and garden flow seamlessly from one area to another.
    But you may have inherited a garden with large mature trees, so how do you put your stamp on the garden?
    You may like listening to gardening shows and that’s certainly a start.
    Let’s find out about the how to get going with your garden..

    Look at your site and decide how you want to use it.
    Yes, you can put old bikes, and other unwanted stuff in the backyard but it's not that relaxing to look at.
    You can even add a touch of whimsy to an orchard.

    You want a pleasant green space and you can start today by thinking about where you want some trees for shade and shrubs for flowers or just leaf colour.

    Plant of the Week

    Backhousia citriodora Lemon Scented Myrtle

    If you’re not growing one of these trees in your garden, you’re missing out on some great bush tucker.
    This tree has strongly aromatic leaves that can be used in teas, and cooking, such as in biscuits, in Asian cuisine and wherever you like generally.
    Leaves from this tree can be used as a substitute for lemongrass in Asian cooking.

    Not only that, this tree can put on a stunning show of flowers in late spring early summer.
    Some councils even grow these as street trees.
    They’ve been used for thousands of years by indigenous Australians for curing headaches and for repelling mosquitos and other insects.
    Just rub the fresh leaves on your skin or you can buy insect repellent with a lemon scented myrtle base.
    A sniff of the deliciously lemon scented leaves are also a great relief for mild headaches.
    A few leaves steeped for 5 minutes in boiling water makes a delicious tea which is also good for the digestion.

    Lemon myrtle in a dried powdered from can be used in baking cakes and biscuits.
    One teaspoon of lemon scented myrtle to one cup of flour is recommended.
    Backhousia citriodora is slightly frost-tender when young but can be grown outside in frosty areas provided it is planted in a sheltered position in semi-shade.

    Did you know that several specimens are thriving in the Australian National Botanic Gardens in Canberra in the Rainforest Gully where some protection is provided by the tree canopy and surrounding shrubbery.
    Temperatures as low as -8ÂșC have been recorded in this section of the Gardensduring winter.