Friday, 23 October 2015

Let's Go Go Gardening


Turmeric: Curcuma longa
 In yet another example of what’s in the supermarket spice shelf is not what it’s cracked up to be, you’ll find out that there’s two types of this (Turmeric) spice.
One is best for pickling or making pickles with, the other is the better one for flavouring your cooking.
When commercially harvesting or 'lifting' Turmeric, the rhizome is boiled to stop it from sprouting; to even out the colour, because naturally, the colour is concentrated in the centre and a lot paler towards the edges; and to gelatinise the starches within it.

Even more interesting is that you can actually grow this spice yourself.

Let’s find out. Talking with herb expert Ian Hemphill from

Turmeric is a tropical rhizome but can grow in cooler climates as long is you give it protection from frost.
Sometimes referred to as Indian Saffron, but there's no real similarity with the flavour.

Madras Turmeric and Allepeppy turmeric were the two different types that Ian mentioned.
Madras is for colouring food such as when making pickles and Allepeppy is the more aromatic turmeric that you use in cooking dishes such as Dahl, or curries or wherever the recipe calls for Turmeric.
If you manage to get some rhizomes of Turmeric, spring is the time to plant them in the ground about 7 – 10 cm deep.
Use the Turmeric root fresh by grating it into your dishes that call for Turmeric.
If you have any questions about Turmeric or have some information you’d like to share, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Olives Olea europaea
Well, it’s not a vegetable, perhaps more a fruit, and that is Olives.
The olive tree is a symbol of joy, peace and happiness.
Did you know that the Mediterranean diet which includes plenty of olives and olive oil has long been known as one of the healthiest?

Another interesting fact is that residents of Crete in the Mediterranean have the highest consumption of olive oil per person in the world but Australia is second; the Cretians though have the lowest rate of death from heart related diseases in the world which we can’t say about our diet yet.
Would you have guessed that growing olives dates back 5,000 years and that olive trees can live up to 2,000 years?
Olive trees can look good in any garden with their silver grey-green leaves.
Some people have mistakenly bought ornamental olive trees thinking that they will also fruit, but that’s not the case.
These ornamental olives have darker green leaves and only produce pea sized fruit which isn’t much good.

The good news is that true olives can grow right from Queensland through to Tasmania and across to South Australia.
Not only that, olives can grow with neglect and start producing fruit again with a bit of care plus they make excellent wind breaks and great for gardeners with black thumbs.

 What Do Olive Trees Really Like?
We have to remember that the olive originated in the Mediterranean region and will grow well in areas of Australia with a similar climate—cool/cold winters and hot summers.
Even though olives are evergreen trees, the traditional olive varieties need a cool winter so they can rest to prepare for their main shooting.
Many mature olive trees will survive and crop well even in the very cold areas of Australia.
Some varieties will also fruit well in 'no frost' areas as long as the winters are cool enough;
Winter chilling is needed; winter temperatures fluctuating between
1.5°C and 18°C and summers long and warm enough to ripen the fruit.

Having said that, the olive industry in Australia has been doing research into what olives do well in warm winters and wet summers.
Some of these are warm winter varieties include: Arbequina, Arecuzzo, Barnea, Del Morocco, Koroneiki, Manzanillo and Picual.

Tip: If you already have an olive tree and experienced very few olives; hot, dry winds or rain at pollination time in late spring can reduce fruit set..
Olives will grow in most soil types as long as they are well-drained and have a subsoil pH range of 6.5–8.5.

The olive three’s worst enemy is too much water.

 If your soil holds too much water when there’s been a lot of rain, then you need to improve the drainage or raise the bed that your olive tree is growing in.

 When it comes to fertilising, olive trees have similar needs to Australian eucalypts except for the fact that they’re not phosphorous sensitive.
Traditionally all you need to use to fertilise your olive trees are well rotted manures and mulches; anything else and you risk over fertilising your trees.

 Problems with Olive trees.
Lots of rain at harvest-time, can reduce oil content due to the higher water content in the fruit.
The most common pest is black scale, which also affects citrus.
Olive lace bug (not to be confused with beneficial lace wings) can also be a problem.
All of these pests can be controlled, but they should be positively identified . If you’re not sure what’s attacking your tree, take a piece of the affected branch to your local garden centre.
Don’t go off spraying willy nilly with one of those broadspectrum insecticides that kill beneficial insects as well..
The main fungal problem is peacock spot, which results in leaf fall and poor fruit set:
It’s more common in humid areas.
You need to prune to allow enough air flow through the leaves to help keep it under control.
Copper sprays can be used for (any both of these) fungal diseases.
Olives are also harmed by some soil-borne pathogens such as phytophthora, verticillium and nematodes common to other fruit trees.
If that still doesn’t put you off growing them, here’s part of what you have to do to preserve olives.

Harvesting Olives
In about February - March, some of the fruit begins to turn from plain green to purplish black.
so from then on it will be fairly safe to pick the green olives for pickling
If you have ever tried to eat an olive straight from the tree, you will know what I mean - it's VERY bitter and VERY hard.

If you use the method I’m going to talk about, you’ll end up with wonderful sweet olives and you can add all sorts of herb combinations to create your own special marinated olives. 

•Make a slit in each olive or crack each one open carefully with a wooden mallet. THAT’S RIGHT, EACH AND EVERY SINGLE ONE!

This bruising, pricking or cutting will allow the water and salt to penetrate the fruit, drawing out the bitterness and also preserving it
•Put the olives in a large bowl or bucket and cover with water with ½ cup of coarse salt for every 10 cups of water. Place a plate over the top to keep the olives submerged.
 •Change the water daily for about 10 -12 days to extract the bitterness and make the olives "sweet".
Test an olive to see if all the bitterness is gone. Ugghhh, yes you have to.
 •After 14 days, drain the olives and place in a solution of cooled down brine; 1 cup of salt for every 10 cups of water that has been boiled together first.
Then all that’s left is bottling the olives in brine topped up with 1 cm of olive oil.
There are other recipes involving wood ash.
By the way, olives will keep for years in the freezer.
Why are they good for you?
Olives are nutritious and rich in mineral content as sodium, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus and iodine.
Olives provide essential vitamins and amino acids.
Olives contain oleic acid, which has beneficial properties to protect the heart.
And just in case these benefits weren’t enough, they are also a great aphrodisiac.


Continuing with the series on best fit gardening.
Today we’re looking at lawn solutions when you can't have a lawn like this one.

Do you have a bare patch of lawn where no matter how many times you replace it with turf, it just refuses to grow?
Perhaps it gets too much shade in winter for the grass to survive or there’s root competition from the lovely shade giving tree?
Wouldn’t you like a grass alternative that Bambi would love to lie on to have a sleep?
Sounds too good to be true but there are solutions to the problem.
Let’s find out. I'm talking with garden designer Peter Nixon of

Zoysia tenuifolia

Peter mentioned these  lawn alternatives:
Mini mondo (Ophiopogon japonicas nana), Dichondra, ( Zoysia tenuifolia) or Korean Temple grass.
Just a little note about Zoysia tenuifolia: Zoysia tenuifolia is very different from all other Zoysia grasses.
Often referred to by different names including No-Mow Grass, Min Mow and Petting Grass, Zoysia tenuifolia is more of an ornamental style of grass and not suitable for use as a general lawn.
Instead it has a very fine bright green leaf, and if left to grow without lawn mowing I’ll develop a clumping characteristic where it will naturally raise higher in areas, but will never grow high like other grasses can.


Covering more than 900 species, Salvia is the largest genus in the mint family (Laminaceae.)
You don’t need to know much to grow these next plants because they’re pretty simple and easy to grow.
Not only that, they’re hardy and frost tolerant, plus they flower for months and months.
If a bit snaps off, you can stick it into the ground and grow a whole new plant, it’s that easy.

Let’s find out about them. I'm talking with the plant panel: Karen Smith editor of and Jeremy Critchley owner of

  Large or small, grown as annuals or perennials, it creates an impact.
And there is a salvia for every climate in Australia.

This is what the breeder said about Salvia Go Go.
GoGos bring according to Kientzler a multitude of bright flower spikes all summer long, and quickly develop into quite impressive specimens – up to 120 cm in height and width, emanating an aura of luminescence and all-season splendour.
“Spectacular in large, decorative containers, either in full sun or partial shade.”

Salvias vary in height from about 30cm high,  to large shrubs that are up to 3m tall and wide.
Flowers are arranged in spires and come in hues of blue, purple, cerise, red, pink, white, yellow and orange. Most are at their best from spring to early winter, but there are salvias that flower almost year-round if you want that sort of thing not to mention the ones with scented leaves like pineapple sage, fruit salad sage, or just plain culinary sage.
Team up your Salvias with some silver leaved plants, some Diascias (dutchman’s britches) or Angelonia, all of which have been featured in this segment.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Life Is A Healthy Garden


Wouldn't you like a garden this this one; thriving, lush and disease free?
So nice you could hold a tea party.
Sometimes our garden plants go along for years then all of a sudden, they drop dead and we’re left wondering why?
The answer can lie in a number of different factors and a slip in hygiene practises in the garden sometimes has a role to play in the demise of your plant.
So what does that mean for us gardeners?
Let’s find out with Soil Scientist Penny Smith

Your soil is a living eco-system so don't go pouring anti-fungal drenches on your soil or you will end up with no micro-organisms.
Spray tools with methylated spirits and water solution
Hygiene practises in the garden is more than just keeping your garden tidy.
Pathogens can lie dormant for many years, just waiting for the right conditions.
Good garden hygiene, is sometimes referred to as “clean gardening practices”, will help to prevent the build up of pathogens and pests.
Make their life short in your garden by following best hygiene practises.
Secateurs can spread fungal problems, so clean tools between plants.
In fact after the jobs done, spray all the tools that you have used with a 70% methylated spirits and 30% water solution. Keep the solution in a labelled spray bottle where you keep your garden tools.
Disease-spreading organisms can, and will, be carried from plant to plant by using contaminated pots, trays, soil, tools and even our hands if proper precautions are not taken.
Pots, seed trays and propagating tools should be kept scrupulously clean on an ongoing basis.
Growing containers should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before each replanting. They can be scrubbed and cleaned using water and a natural detergent and then disinfected by soaking in a 10% bleach solution before being rinsed with clear water and allowed to dry.
Better yet, a quality garden disinfectant may be used for this purpose. Cutting and digging tools, including hands, should also be washed and disinfected after each use

If you have any questions about hygiene practises in the garden or have some information you’d like to share, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville
NSW 1675


Perilla (Perilla frutescens) also called Beefsteak plant, Chinese Basil and Purple Mint
Perilla belongs in the Mint or Lamiaceae family and originates in China and Central Asia.
Perilla has some amazing properties that will surprise you.

You’ll be amazed to hear that one of the components of the volatile oil extracted from perilla; Perilla-aldehyde, can be made into a sweetener, said to be 2000 times sweeter than sugar, with very low kilojoules. 
This sweetener has been used as a substitute for maple sugar or licorice in processed foods.
Not only that amazing fact but analysis of perilla’s anti-microbial properties, has shown it to have over one thousand times the strength of synthetic food preservatives.
Did you know that Perilla is grown as an oil seed crop from Japan to northern India?
The oil makes UP HALF the seed’s weight!

The oil is used not just used in cooking as you might use linseed oil, but it’s also got industrial applications such as in paint, printing, and paper manufacture. 
Perilla contains a natural red pigment called shisonin which is used in food processing as a colourant.
So what is Perilla then?
Perilla is a fast growing annual plant that grows to around 50cm to 1m tall.
Perilla comes in several varieties and the leaf size and shape look a lot like unpatterned coleus or large a leafed Basil plant.
There is also a frilly, purple-leafed variety that’s quite ornamental as well as being used in cooking.
If you saw the purple variety you might think that the leaves are a bit similar to Beefsteak plant or Iresine herbstii.
Perilla the plant itself has two lipped flowers in either white, pink or lavender-purple, that grow in the leaf axils and terminal spikes.
The plant has a very bushy canopy of opposit leaves forming on square stems, like all Mint family plants.
Leaves are oval shaped to 15cm long, and are aromatic with a fresh flavour similar to lemon and mint.
Perilla will grow from seed but needs cool conditions and light to germinate.
Before sowing, garden suppliers recommend that you place the perilla seeds into a bowl or glass that contains a couple of cm’s of water.
Soak the seeds overnight or for 12 hours.
Sprinkle the seed where it is to grow in autumn or in early to late spring’
Because Perilla is a herb, you could grow this in a tub or pot if you live in colder districts.
For growing Perilla pick a sunny and well-drained spot with some afternoon shade if the summers are hot.
Add plenty of organic material to the soil and keep it moist.
In temperate climates, the plant is self-sowing, but the seeds aren’t viable after long storage, and germination rates are low after a year.
However if you don’t want it to self-seed, cut off the flower spikes as they appear.
This will also increase the life of the plant.
There are a couple of companies that sell the seeds either listed under Salad Greens or Asian Vegetables.
 I have found two varieties that you can buy, under Salad Greens, there is Perilla Green Leaves and flower stalks eaten raw, or with tempura, leaves have a deep green colour and Perilla Red (Crispa) Leaves and flower stalks eaten raw, or with tempura, with a deep red colour and pleasing aroma.

Sow both of these in late spring.
If you can’t get the seed but have some at your local fruit and veg store, here’s a way to get some plants/
I found this on a blog. Maki says she grew her Chinese variety from cuttings from ones bought at an Asian grocers.
Just pop some in a glass of water and they should strike.
It was dead easy according to Maki so I'm pretty sure yours are going to go OK too.
How Do You Use It In Cooking?

Red perilla is used as a red or pink food colouring, for pickling fruit and vegetables, especially preserved ginger and pickled sour plums, and as a dried powder to be used as a side dish with rice, as an ingredient in cake mixes and as a flavouring in beverages. 

Green Perilla is used as a sweet-spicy flavouring for oriental dishes such as stirfries, with raw fish and sliced cucumber, in vegetable dishes, rice and soups and goes well with sweet potato.

The Japanese often eat the fresh leaves with sashimi (sliced raw fish) or cut them into thin strips in salads, spaghetti, and meat and fish dishes.
It is also used as a savoury herb in a variety of dishes, even as a pizza topping (initially it was used in place of basil)
The seeds of perilla are used to make oil, and to flavour foods, especially pickles and also on baked goods, like sesame seeds.
The flowerheads are also used as a condiment.

You may even be able to order in some Perilla herb from your garden centre, as they certainly sell small plants online.
A little hard to get I know, but sometimes, you can be lucky and you’ll be rewarded with this amazing plant.
Why is it good for you?
Perilla leaves are high in the minerals calcium, iron, and potassium, rich in fibre and riboflavin, and very high in vitamins A and C.
It has anti-inflammatory properties, and is thought to help preserve other foods.



This series on best fit gardening is coming up with solutions for those difficult situations in your garden that seem almost impossible to solve.
If you can't have a garden like this one because of the location and soil at your place.
Try for something that best fits the situation.

Areas that receive hot baking sun in summer and shade in winter will always prove a challenge and sometimes end up being a haven for weeds.
This week's challenge was an east facing clay bank between mature eucalypts with a Tradescantia problem
Yes, the weeds that seem to creep up on you when you’re not watching, almost overnight.
So what can be done if you want weed suppression?
Let’s find out by listening to the podcast with Garden Designer Peter Nixon.

Kalanchoe fedtchenkoi variegata
 Planting suggestions were:Kalanchoe fedtchenkoi variegate-Lavender Scallops, for sub-tropical to warm temperate districts.

Cyanotis foecunda-south African Pussy Ears for warm temperate to cool temperate.
Has striking silver foliage.
Cyanotis foecunda
Ceratostigma willmottianum-Willmotts Blue or Chinese Plumbago:For cool temperate areas.

Tradescantia is now the politically correct name for what we once called Wandering Jew.
It’s particularly good to get rid of this weed because it seems to harbor so many things that make our pets itch and us sneeze.
Spraying might seem the easy option, but those waxy leaves and stems seem impervious to weed killer.
Wear gloves and try and rake up as much as possible to get on top of it, then closely monitor the patch for any more outbreaks.


Teucrum fruiticans Germander

Members of the Teucrium genus that is featured today in plant of the week are commonly known as germanders.
There are hundreds of species, including herbs, shrubs or subshrubs.
They’re found all over the world but are most common in Mediterranean climates which might make you think that they are tough little plants.
You would be right.
Let’s find out about them with the plant panel, Karen Smith and Jeremy Critchley owner of
by listening to the podcast

The idea that Teucrium was named after the King of Troy sounds fantastic, but in reality it’s more likely that Linnaeus named the genus after a Dr. Teucer, a medical botanist.
The species Teucrium fruitcans grows to 1-8m x 1.8 m.
Ornamental, silvery foliage year round.
Deep, true blue flowers from autumn through to late spring.
Very hardy and dry tolerant shrub once established.

Suitable for clipping  and for hedging.
Prefers a full sun location in most soil types given good drainage. Withstands dry conditions well once established but should be watered deeply occasionally during extended periods of heat. A hard prune after flowering will encourage a dense habit. If hedging, lighter but more frequent prunes to shape is required.

Teucrium fruiticans "Silver Box" is a new release only growing to 0.8 m x 0.8 m.

Why it’s called Germander?
Taken from medieval Latin germandra, based on the Greek khamaidrus, literally ‘ground oak’, from khamai ‘on the ground’ and  drus ‘oak’ (because the leaves of some species were thought to look like those of the oak).

If you have any questions about growing Germander or Teucrium, why not write in to

Friday, 9 October 2015

Ring a Ding Dong and Roses


We love our roses don’t we?

What’s not to like?
Just inhale the perfume, and feast your eyes on the shape and form of the flower and the whole gorgeousness of a bunch of roses.

On the other hand, there’s the thorns on most, the pruning and the dreaded diseases that they get if they’re not in the right environment.

So what can we do about the most common problem on roses?

Talking with eco Organic Garden General Manager, Steve Falcioni.
Listen to the podcast to find out more.

Black spots have a soft edge and initially they're just black about the size of a pea.
As the fungus progresses the leaf yellows and then drops off.
symptoms show up 3 to 10 days later of mild temperatures of around 24 degrees Centigrade and high humidity.
Usually black spot starts on the lower leaves and works its way up,
Sometimes it can defoliate the whole bush.
Even though you've sprayed your roses in winter to control fungal problems, fungal spores blow in on the wind from somewhere else.
Some of the cultural controls they you need to do before spraying are:-make sure your rose has 6 hours of direct sunlight and logs of good air movement.
Winter pruning should have opened up the bush as a way of reducing the humidity issue.
Also rose are heavy feeders so make sure your roses are well fed.
I hope this peaks your interest in getting out there and spraying those roses with whatever method of control you choose.
Starting early is a good way to get a jump on those fungal diseases before the weather warms up and the humidity increases.
Organic sprays include whole cream milk, but is only effective if sprayed on sunny days.
Bi-carb soda and horticultural oil.
Potassium bicarbonate sold as eco Carb fro,
Potassium bicarbonate changes the osmotic pressure on the leaf causing any fungal spores to burst.
While you’re out there, why not pick some roses for inside the house.
If you have any questions about your rose bushes or have some information you’d like to share, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Lentils, Lens culinaris

Lentils are a type of bean that first grew in South-West Asia.
They’ve been around for thousands of years and were already a farming crop in 10,000BC.

 Another interesting fact is that as you’d expect, about a quarter of the worldwide production of lentils is from India, mostly for it’s own domestic market but Canada is the largest export producer of lentils in the world?
Why should you grow them?
Not only are they easy to grow, but lentils are also easy to store for later on.
It might be a fun thing to do just to see how they grow, and like all legumes, they’ll add nitrogen to your soil.
But on the upside, lentils have a lot of protein and they’re easy to cook just by boiling them in water to make either soup or Dahl for a fairly short time.
Perhaps serve up some fish or chicken on a bed of lentils as they do in fancy restaurants?
Lentil flour is used to make pappadams or added to cereal flour to make breads, cakes and baby foods.
You can also eat the immature pods and sprouted seeds as a vegetable.
What are Lentils?
Lentils are a hardy annual; they are a member of the pea family.
Lentils grow on low bushes from 25 - 40cm tall.

The lentil has small whitish to light purple pea-like flowers.

The pods are small, broad, flat and contain one or two flat, lens-shaped seed that are green or yellow to orange, red or brown.

You’ll need to plant 4 -8 plants for each member of the family.
Growing Lentils-.
Did you know that dried lentils can also be sprouted by soaking in water for one day and then keeping them moist for several days?

 Sow lentils in spring as early as 2 weeks before the average last frost
Plant lentils in full sun in a loose, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. They will grow in poor soil however which is good news for those gardeners with sandy soil.
You can also sow your lentils into a pot if you don’t have a big garden.
Tip: Lentils hate waterlogging.
Lentils grow best in a fairly neutral soil with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5.
Add some compost to the soil before sowing also helps.
Lentils can be started indoors before transplanting to the garden; and lentil seeds will germinate in 10 days at 20° C.
Plant lentil seeds 5 – 10 cm deep, spaced 2 cm apart. 

Keep lentils evenly moist, but on the upside, Lentils are more drought tolerant than other beans. 

Don’t water lentils once the pods have begun to dry.
Side dress lentils with compost tea when plants are 10 cm tall and again at flowering.
When Are They Ready?
Lentils need around 11 to 15 weeks or around 3 months to come to harvest.
Lentils are normally used like dry beans or peas.
For dried seeds, pick your lentil pods when they have matured and hardened. You can tell this when the lowest pods on the plant start to turn light brown and when you give the pod a light shake, it gives off a rattle.
Tip: Leave lentils unshelled until you are ready to use them.

You can buy lentils as seed for Microgreens and for sprouting so these could be used for sowing in your vegetable garden or in a pot.

Why Is it Good for You?

In a 100 g serving, raw lentils provide 353 calories and a rich source of many essential nutrients, particularly dietary fibre and protein.
Micronutrients in high content include folate, thiamin, phosphorus and iron

Lentils have the second-highest level of protein of any legume, after soybeans.
Red (or pink) lentils contain a lower concentration of fibre than green lentils


Manettia bicolour
Senecio mikanoides
Talking with Garden Designer Peter Nixon from Paradisus

Last week we started a series on best fit planting for various scenarios in many people’s gardens.
Best fit planting means that your being careful with your selection of plant so that it actually lasts in that spot.

Unless of course you decide you don’t like it, but otherwise, if you choose for the conditions that it’s going to grow in, then your plant should thrive.
The first scenario was how to hide a boundary fence in a narrow passageway at one side of the house.
After all, if you’re looking out the window at that fence, it’s not that attractive.
Much better to have some sort of green plant giving off a sense of peace and tranquillity than a brown either paling or Colourbond fence.
Listen to the podcast to hear more about this topic.

Stephanotis floribunda
Peter mentioned Senecio mikanoides and Manettia bicolour as two possible climbing plants for the narrow passageway.

Other climbing plant suggestions apart from the Meuhlenbeckia, are Star Jasmine, Hoya carnosa, Mandevilla Aloha series and Pandorea Snow Bells and Stephanotis floribunda.

These are all evergreen and should fit that narrow passageway as well.

If you have any questions about hiding the boundary fence or have a suggestion why not write in or email me at


The exotic Fuchsia plant has very attractive delicate flowers and perhaps the native version isn’t quite so showy.

On the plus side, native fuchsias or Correas are much more hardy and won’t die on you after a season or two because you’ve either overwatered or underwatered it.

Correa baeuerlenii

Correa belongs to the family Rutaceae, along with Australian native plants, Boronia and Philotheca.

The name Correa is taken from José Francisco Correa de Serra, a Portuguese botanist.
They are mainly prostrate to small or medium shrubs, growing to a height of plus or minus approximately 2 metres as a general guide with a similar spread.
Karen recommends Correa baeuerlenii, Chef's Hat Correa and Correa glabra for hardy garden situations.
Correa Ring a Ding is one of the latest cultivars to be released.
Talking with Hort journal editor Karen Smith and nursery owner Jeremy Critchley

Coreas can be grown in most soil types in sun or part shade.
Correa Ring a Ding
Good drainage is important however, and raised beds are suggested for heavy soil conditions.
Once established, plants flower from early autumn to late spring.

Most plants could sprawl but giving it a light prune can give you  a more compact shape.
However, correas can be hard pruned but I prefer a little and often.
The more your lightly prune the more flower you will get.

Flowers have four petals usually fused into a pendulous bell.
Eventually this flower can split at its end point and reflex adding to variety and intrigue.
Six to eight stamens can extend a little beyond the calyx tube with pollen-presenters most evident.

If you have any questions about growing Correas, why not write in to

Friday, 2 October 2015

The Early Days of Gardening and Electric Blue Hues


Imagine if you didn’t have a stove, fridge, or not too many shops to buy your groceries or bread.
What would you do?
That’s what life was like for the early colonists of Australia.

Elizabeth Farm
Rouse Hill Historic House
Growing your own veg, and being self-sufficient, would’ve been a priority wouldn’t it?
Did you know that Garden Island, now a navy base, was named for the kitchen garden established there by the crew of the Sirius?
Perhaps you would work out to make Damper but could your make your own bread?
What rising agent would you use?
Let’s find out. Talking with Gastronomer Jacquie Newling from Sydney Living Museums.

You might have thought that it cooking with ‘bush foods’ or ‘bush tucker’ was something new that chefs in classy restaurants are keen to try.
But no, early colonists embraced native produce, adapting local ingredients to their tastes and cooking techniques.
Also, early colonists were given a weekly ration of 5.5 Kg of flour.Certainly enough to make a stand 600g loaf of bread.Colonists could make their own either ‘hearth’ or damper-style bread, either in hot ashes or in a Dutch oven, or take their flour to the public bake-house.
Many householders settled for ‘soda’ bread, using bi-carbonate of soda as the rising agent, and added buttermilk for extra flavour because baking soda was available at least from the 1820s,
f you have any questions life in the early 1800’s, or have some information you’d like to share, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Parsley-Petroselinum crispum is, by far the most commonly mentioned herb in recipes all over the world.
Parsley’s name comes from two Greek words Petrose meaning rock; beause it grows on rocky cliffs and old stonewalls in the Mediterranean; and selenium an ancient name for celery-so one can think of it as “rock celery”.
We all know what Parsley (Petroselinum crispum) looks like.
That bright green, biennial herb that is very common in Middle Eastern, European, and Australian cooking.
Parsley comes in two forms, curly leaf and Italian or flat leaf.
Curly leaf parsley is often used as a garnish but many people think flat leaf parsley has a stronger flavour but I find it hard to tell the difference.
However, scientific evidence shows that from chemical analysis, flat leaf parsley has much higher levels of essential oil, so it must be true.

Myths and Legends?
Did you know that both types of Parsley were around and used by ancient Romans in the fourth century BC?
Something you might not have known is that the Ancient Greeks crowned winners of major sporting events with wreaths of parsley.
There’s an old wives’ tale that says you could bring about the demise of an enemy by plucking a sprig of parsley while speaking his (her?) name.

In Medieval times revellers placed it on their tables and around their necks to absorb food odours.
It was also used as a poison antidote.
Parsley was introduced into England from the Mediterranean, where it originally grew wild, in the 16th century and in The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter, Peter Rabbit “ate some lettuce and some broad beans, then some radishes, and then, feeling rather sick, he went to look for some parsley.”

Growing Parsley

Parsley seeds are slow to germinate.
I’ve heard that the reason for the slow and unreliable germination of parsley is that the seed goes nine times to the Devil and back before coming up.
The un-germinated seeds are the ones that the Devil keeps for himself.
Here’s a tip to help with germination- To give them a jump start try soaking them in water for 24 hours before planting. Parsley seeds should be planted in a shallow trench and covered over with a 1.2 cm layer of fine soil.
I find Parsley sows itself if you let a couple of plants go to seed.

Another reason for letting it go to seed, especially for organic gardeners, is that the flowers of Parsley attract beneficial insects like parasitic wasps and predatory lacewings.
These are the bugs that eat the troublemaker bugs in the garden.
Parsley needs full sun, but will cope with a little shade.
It likes well drained soil that’s got some organic matter like cow manure or garden compost mixed in with it.
It will grow in pots or containers, but because it has a large tap root when it matures, you’ll need to pull it out and start again every couple of years because it’ll have used up the potting mix by then.
Parsley may be cut from the stalks any time after the leaves are fully formed.
Cut the outside leaves and stems, but allow the inner stems to grow so that there is a continuous production of new leaves.
Why Is it Good for You?
Parsley has many health benefits.
It has dietary calcium, iron, riboflavin, thiamine, carotenes, ascorbic acid, and vitamin A.1 and vitamin C and folic acid.
It’s also good for blood pressure, the heart and stomach, and for pain relief. Arthritic aches and pains are supposed to be relieved by taking parsley.
Parsley is mildly laxative –but I haven’t found out how much of it you need to eat for this to work.
Make a hot poultice of Parsley to relieve insect bites and stings.
Parsley is a natural breath freshener.
If you chew on a few sprigs of Parsley it’s supposed to reduce the odour of garlic breath.
This is thanks to parsley’s high chlorophyll levels.


How do you hide that Boundary Fence when there’s not much room to plant anything?
Plus, you’ve got to stop the neighbours from peering into your house from the second storey.
Questions like that are being asked all over the country and we’ll try to solve that and other problems in this series of Best Fit Gardening.
Talking with Garden Designer Peter Nixon. Let's find out more....
Peter's suggestions are Pavonia coccinea "Shooting Star', a sub-tropical free standing, scarlet flowering evergreen shrub growing to 2.4m.For a warm temperate bamboo, Peter's choice is Drepanostachus falcatum or Blue Bamboo non-invasive clump forming growing to 3m with feathery foliage and ultra fine stems or culms.
Blue Bamboo

Pavonia coccinea Shooting Star
There are many types of Bamboo that fit into small spaces and only spread 1 ½ metres.There’s also many different heights, some only grow to 3 or 4 metres, some to 6 metres and some reach for the sky at 8 plus metres.

For cooler climates, don't go past Magnolia " Kay Paris" -ginger flock backed ornamental leaves, lemon scented large white flowering and growing to 4 metres high and 1 metre wide if left untrimmed.for cool climates you could also choose Choisya ternata or Mexican Orange Blossom.

If you have any questions about hiding the boundary fence or have a suggestion why not write in or email me 


Talking with the Plant Panel; Karen Smith editor of and Jeremy Critchley owner
Do you love blue flowers? If so you’ll love this next plant,

Lobelia usually sold as an attractive annual herb but there are new varieties that are biennial or even perennial.
Lobelia it’s an easy-to-grow, carefree plant that prefers cooler climates but grows all through the summertime.
Butterfly like blue flowers smother the plant for many months.
Flower colour is the brightest of brilliant blue.
It flowers so much it will be still going right through until the first frost.
Did I mention that the flowers are really, really blue so let’s find out what it is…

Lobelia species are native to North America, South America and Southern Africa There are many selections of Lobelia erinus grown in gardens around the world and growing lobelia is an asset to the garden.
Lobelia erinus from which Lucia Dark Blue is bred and selected is South African in origin.
'Lucia' Dark Blue

Location is the key to success with Lobelias.
They need a well draining garden bed or container in full sun to part shade for some of the day.
Keep the soils evenly moist and mulch to conserve moisture and keep the soil cooler.
Once plants are established a regular but diluted liquid feeding programme every two weeks or so is beneficial.
Insect pests and other diseases are not a serious problem.
A light prune when plants are beginning to look a bit sad together with an application of a balanced fertilizer will promote new growth and another crop of flowers.