Saturday, 22 April 2017

Everything You Need to Know About Vertical Gardens, Dragon Fruit, and an Australian Songbird.


Olive Backed Oriole Oriolus sagittatus

What would you pick for the top songbird in Australia or perhaps just in your district?
Perhaps the Magpie, or Butcher bird, or for those who are a bit more savvy with bird identification and bird calls, would you pick the Figbird? Australia does make the top 40 songbirds in the world, but would you have picked this next one?
Olive Backed Oriole (Oriolus saggitatus) Picture of the Olive-backed Oriole has been licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution.

Did you know that not only does the Oriole like to live in woodlands and rainforests, but leafy urban areas that plenty of trees.
You may have heard the call and not realised what bird it the call belonged to.

Let’s find out.  I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons, Manager of Birds in Backyards.

As Holly mention, the Oriole is found along coastal and near inland strips in northern and eastern Australia from Broome WA, to the south-east of South Australia; plus around Adelaide.

These birds are really good at hiding themselves especially the fact that they can throw their calls and mimic other birds such as magpies.

All in all, making it a challenge to find them, but surprisingly they can be found in urban areas that are leafy and green.

Listen out for the "orry-orry-oriole" call, which is their genuine call.

If you have any questions about the Olive Backed Oriole or have some photos to share, why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Growing A Vertical Vegetable
Do you live in the city?
Are you confined to an apartment dwelling with little space for gardening?
Do you want to grow a vegetable garden, but feel you don’t have the room?
If so, then I have news for you!
While limited spaces of a city life can be frustrating for the urban gardener, growing a vegetable garden is anything but impossible.

In fact, with a little planning and imagination, vegetable gardens can be grown anywhere, regardless of space.

Have you ever considered growing a vertical vegetable garden?

You can easily produce the same amount of fresh vegetables without taking up excess space.

A vertical vegetable garden is easy to create.

You can create one using shelves, hanging baskets, or trellises.

The first step is to determine what the conditions are like in the area you wish to place the vegetable garden, such as on the balcony.

The amount of sunlight will be the greatest factor in determining which plants will thrive in your urban environment.

Shady Areas
For instance, if you live in an area surrounded by other buildings, balcony or patio may be shaded most of the time; therefore, you should choose your plants accordingly. 
Leafy vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, and greens do well with limited sunlight, making good choices for shady areas. 
As do sorrel, lemon balm and mints.

Part Sun, Part Shade
If you have half sun, half shade, then perhaps go for Lettuces, rocket, silverbeet, radishes, dwarf cabbages, chives, Basil and Parsley.

Full Sun

If you’ve got lots of sunshine, your selection of plants will be greater, as vegetables grow best in full sun.
Choices here can include: tomatoes peppers, rocket, sage,silverbeet, Malabar Spinach, potatoes, bens, carrots and radishes.

Even vine crops, such as squash, pumpkins, and cucumbers can be grown as long as the container is deep enough to accommodate them and proper staking is available.

How to grow them
Fill containers with coir peat and a suitable potting mix and possibly add some compost or pelletised manure.
Vertical Gardens from pallettes

Almost any vegetable that can be grown in a garden will also work well as a container-grown plant.

Nearly any type of container can be used for growing vegetable plants.

You can use just about any type of container to grow your veggies as long as they have drainage holes.

Since most vegetables can be easily grown in containers, shelves offer the benefit of growing numerous types of vegetables on each shelf as high up as you can reach or as space allows.

You can position the vertical vegetable garden so that all of the plants receive adequate amounts of sunlight at the same time.

Although any type of shelving may be used, the best type is the kind with slats.

This will allow better air circulation and during watering intervals, the excess water on the top shelves will trickle down to the bottom ones.

If shelves are not for you, containers can also be situated on tiers, forming a vertical appearance as well.

Alternatively, vegetables can also be grown in hanging baskets or along trellises. Hanging baskets can be placed on the balcony or on suitable hangers.
Vertical Gardens can be made from anything.
Numerous types of vegetables can be grown in hanging baskets, especially those with trailing characteristics.

Peppers and cherry tomatoes not only look good in hanging baskets, so do trailing plants, such as the sweet potato vine, but they also thrive nicely in them.

Keep them watered daily, however, since hanging baskets are more prone to drying out, especially during hot spells.

Trellises can be used for the support of trailing or vine crops.

A fence can also serve as a trellis for beans, peas, tomatoes and vine crops like squash and cucumbers.
Milk crates and plastic bottles for "el cheapo" vertical gardens.
Use a stepladder as a makeshift trellis to support vine-growing plants like pumpkins. The rungs of the ladder can be used to train the vines while placing the vegetables on its steps for further support – this also works well with tomato plants.

Be creative and find something that works for you and your unique situation.

Growing a vertical vegetable garden is the perfect way for urban gardeners and others to still enjoy a bountiful harvest of freshly grown vegetables without taking up their already limited space.

One last thing, you can build your own DIY indoor garden.

It’s called the Grow Room and was developed by 2 Danish architects.
The grow room is a free standing indoor garden.
It’s quite big because you can sit inside the structure.
The design is open source so you can download the plans for free and follow the 17 steps to build your own grow room.
All you need is plywood, some nails and a local wood cutter to bring this urban farm to life.
The link on my website.


Plectranthus ecklonii
Plants for Colour in Autumn in All Climate Zones Around Australia.

Are you thinking about annuals when it comes to choosing colour for Autumn?
Perhaps you have a tree with spectacular Autumn colour?
Camellia "Star Above Star"
Lavatera maritima
Whatever you decide, there’s always one more thing that you can add to bring in extra zing to your garden.

Let’s find out what’s the best colour for Autumn in your district.
I'm talking with Peter Nixon, Director of Paradisus Garden Design.

Don’t just think of showy flowers like annuals, but perennials whether sub-shrubs, small trees.
Don’t you just want to rush out and get Camellia Start Above Star which is not the normal variety of Camellia?
Peter of course mentioned quite a few choices for various climates around Australia.

  • Warm coastal zones-Plectranthus ecklonii, a sub-shrub.
  • Cooler Gardens-Camellia vernalis "Star Above Star.
  • Tropical gardens-Syzygium wilsonii, the Powder Puff Lilly Pilly.
  • Mediterranean climates-Lavatera maritima.


Dragon Fruit 
Hylocereus undadatus

Not every plant that gets featured in this segment is your typical perennial, whether it’s a shrub, bush or ground-cover.

From time to time, we like to delve into the unusual but ornamental and sometimes just downright functional and even edible.

Some fruits come from trees, think peaches, apples pears: 

Some from climbers, -passionfruit, raspberries, 

A a few others grow on cacti.

You might think of a prickly pear for cactus fruit, but today’s plant fits into the last category. 

Highly ornamental, edible, yet growing on a cactus.
Let’s find out about this plant.

I'm talking with he plant panel: Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Dragon fruit are considered super fruit, and their flowers are spectacular,so that’s reason enough to get planting one.
Sometimes the flower of this cactus if referred to as "Queen of the Night."
Dragon fruit flower
This title makes it seems that you have to out there with a torch to observe the brilliance and inhale the perfume. 
But as Karen points out, the flower often last well into daylight hours, so we can all breathe a sigh of relief.
Certainly it last long enough for moths or bats to come by and pollinate it so every gardener can enjoy the unusual fruit.

How to Grow a Plant to Make Lemon Tea Plus a Pecan Tree and All You Need to Grow Green Manure.


Lemon Verbena Alloysia citriodora (syn. Lippia citriodora)

This is a herb with a multitude of uses;
Lemon Verbena photo M Cannon

There are a few plants whose leaves are great in cooking, making herbal teas and when the leaves are dried, they’re good for a number of things including pot pourri.
So many uses for just one plant, let's find out more?
Let’s find out.

Ian's mum and dad had a grove of 12 Lemon Verbena trees that grew to 2 metres in height.
The leaves were harvested to make sleep pillows and pot pourri.
Lemon verbena pillows sound devine.
They ‘re made of dried leaves of Lavender (Lavandula vera is the best) to help you sleep, Rose petals for sweet dreams and Lemon Verbena, to help you wake refreshed.
Chopped finely, it makes a neat substitute for lemon zest.
Lemon Verbena Tea photo M Cannon
Try Lemon Verbena tea; it's very refreshing or make Panna Cotta infused with Lemon Verbena.
To prune your Lemon Verbena tree, just take of the top one-third of the tree.
When it re-shoots in Spring tip prune the branches regularly to keep it bushy.
If you have any questions about growing or using Lemon Verbena, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Growing Green Manure Crops
If you want to improve your soil structure and at the same time add nitrogen to the soil, consider a green manure crop in an overworked vegetable patch.

What are the benefits of green manure crops and why is it called green manure?

Green manure crops are called that because the crop or plants are not for eating but when they are nearly mature, and before they set seed, the oats, or wheat or whatever are slashed and then turned into the soil. This adds nutrients to the soil especially if you use legume type crops.


  1. They increase organic matter, earthworms and beneficial micro-organisms 
  2. Green manure crops increase the soil's available nitrogen and increase moisture retention 
  3. They stabilise the soil to prevent erosion 
  4. Green manure crops also bring deep minerals to the surface and break up hard clods in the soil structure. 
  5. The provide habitat, nectar and pollen for beneficial insects and reduce populations of pests 
  6. Improve water, root and air penetration in the soil 
  7. Smother weeds. 

The crops used for green manure tend to be a combination of:

•Legumes – These add nitrogen (critical for food crops) to the soil, such as cow pea, mung bean, woolly pod vetch, lablab, broad bean, fenugreek and soybean;

Grains and grasses - These add organic substance to the soil, such as millet, buckwheat and oats.
At this time of year, it’s called a cool season green manure crop.
Try faba or broad bean, field pea, oats and wheat.
This will improve your soil incredibly, and, for a bit of forward planning, you’ll find it well worth the effort.

How do you do this? I hear you ask, well here are the steps.

  1. Rake the garden smooth to prepare the seed bed. 
  2. Plant seeds that sprout and grow quickly for your green manure crop. Use what's popular in your area or choose from alfalfa, white clover or wheat or oats. 
  3. Or, recycle any kind of seeds for green manure - leftover flowers, outdated or extra veggies. You can add any out-of-date vegetable seeds you have left over from last season as well. Legumes like beans and peas are especially good, since they’ll fix nitrogen in the soil, but anything else you have will help. 
  4. Just scatter the seed around your garden bed, about two handfuls per square meter. Then lightly rake it over to get the seeds into the dirt, and water it in well. You may need to cover the bed with a net if the birds discover the free feast you’ve laid out for them. 
  5. Fertilize once with organic nitrogen if it seems slow to get growing. 
  6. Let the green manure crop grow 7-10 cm tall. Leave the green manure on the garden until it matures to control erosion and existing weeds in the bed - call it a cover crop. 
Don't let it seed – With legume crops, when the plant begins to seed after flowering, the nitrogen fixing potential of the crop becomes less because the nitrogen is partly used up in seed the forming process.
With grain/grass crops, they will seed without flowering so if you let them seed, you will have lots of seeds falling into the bed and this will make it hard for you to stop the seeds sprouting of the green manure crop instead o the one you want. 

What Next?Cutting it down – When it has reached a good height (half a metre) and is not seeding, cut it down to the ground.
If it is a small bed, use shears. If it is a large space, use a mower.
Place all the green matter back on the bed and it will cover the bed and the roots of all the plants will remain in the soil.
Leave the bed for about a month and don't dig up the crop, let it rot in the bed. 
It should not grow back because you haven’t let it seed.
What you’ll get is soil which is full of organic substance, life and minerals, ready to use and produce an excellent crop of food.
I find this method easier then digging it in which is what gardeners used to do.
That practise has been found to destroy soil structure too much and it’s a lot of hard work anyway.
Save your back by doing it this way.
Sweet Potato as Green Manure. photo M Cannon
Benefits of Green Manure Crops
  • Give the soil and its worms time to reap the benefits of green manure: nitrogen fertilizer and organic matter to nourish your soil. 
  • Use green manure crops in every unplanted vegetable, herb and flower bed. 
  • Plant also in compacted areas - such as under trees - and newly graded lots. Allow little roots to break up the soil, which will aerate and renew its structure, before you plant a new lawn. 
  • Take advantage of the natural power of peas and beans to take nitrogen from the air and hold it in their leaves. Turn vines and leaves under, after picking the vegetables, for another green manure crop. 
  • For a cheap alternative to buying the manure crops online, I’ve found this tip to be quite useful. 
  • This is the absolute simplest, cheapest and best thing is do. 
  • Just buy a bag of organic bird seed. Read the back of the packet and find one with the mix you want. 
  • The last lot I planted contained millet, sorghum, wheat, oats, barley, rye, corn and sunflowers. 
  • Bird seed will be chemical-free and fresh (since they don’t want to kill your pets!), and very cheap. It’s available at any supermarket. 
  • Go on, give it a try, the whole thing should only take up about 6-8 weeks and it’s the best way to improve your garden soil. 



Fashion Colour Trends for Your Garden!
But did you know that there is a colour trend for plants as well.
Green of course is part of that colour trend, but if you’re yet to pick a colour scheme, or don’t have one, or just want to change from year to year, you may well just want to follow the fashion trend in your garden.

Let’s find out this years trends.
I'm talking with Matt Leacey, Landscape Designer and Principal Director of Landscapes Landart.

Matt has an established career in the landscape design industry, and is the current President of the LNA Master Landscapers Association.

He also co-hosted Nine’s Garden Gurus and three seasons of Domestic Blitz.
Matt likes dark deep colours for outdoor structures, like walls, fencing, the house.
For plants he likes a lot of lush green foliage punctuated with silver foliage.


Pecan Tree Carya illinoinensis

Ever thought of having a productive tree in your garden besides that lemon tree that a lot of people seem to have?

You can have nice shade trees that also provide you with some food, whether it’s a cherry tree, peach or apple tree.
But do people ever think of planting this next tree?

Let’s find out about this plant.

I'm talking with the plant panel: Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, owner of the Green Gallery wholesale nursery

The pecan tree is a deciduous tree of the Hickory genus  and at full maturity, it will grow to around 30 metres with a spread of 12 m.
The gray trunk is shallowly furrowed and flat-ridged with upward branches forming an irregular, rounded crown. 
The tree has a narrow silhouette.
Pecan  varieties available are -Shoshonii, Desirable;Kiowa, Mohawk,Cape Fear, Pawnee.
Be warned: Pecans start fruiting after about 8 years so be prepared to wait although Pecans can live for up to 300 years.
On the plus side, unlike other nut varieties, Pecans only require 200 hours of chilling, that means hours less than 7 °C
Pecan tree with nuts photo M Cannon
Pecan trees can be purchased as bare rooted plants, that means plants without any soil, during the winter months when the tree is without leaf.

Possibly your local nursery may have one or you can mail order them from quite a few places on the internet.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Horseradish Sauce and Crepe Myrtles


Garden Jobs in Autumn-Don't Forget The Lawn.
This is the final in the final of the 4 part series on what jobs you should be doing in y
our garden during Autumn.
So don’t procrastinate, spend a bit of time each day to get through what seems to be rather a big workload that seems to be the gardener’s lot during this pleasant gardening season.
Let’s find out what preparation you need to do for your lawn .
Lawns need maintenance in Autumn photo M Cannon
I'm talking with Glenice Buck consulting arborist and landscape designer from

The big tip from Glenice was don’t cut your lawn back too hard so that it can replenish itself, because as the weather cools, growth on most plants has slowed down.
While you're at it, yo might as well do the lawn edges.
Then the next thing is to aerate the lawn with a garden fork or those weirdo sandaly things you can strap to your shoes that have spikes. A bit like golf shoes?
Finally, give the lawn some fertiliser, whatever you like really.

Lawns in W.A. photo M Cannon
There's even lawn fertiliser that claim don't need to be watered in.
If you have any questions about where to get Autumn gardening, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Horseradish BOTANICAL NAME: Armoracia rusticana syn. A. lapathifolia 

Horseradish is a member of the mustard family or Brassicaceae
Did you know that Germans still brew horseradish schnapps and some also add it to their beer?

Apparently the Egyptians knew about horseradish as far back as 1500 B.C.

And early Greeks used it as a rub for low back pain and as an aphrodisiac.

In the 1600s, Englishmen loved to eat their beef and oysters with horseradish.

But not only that, the loved it so much, that the English, grew it at inns and coach stations, to make cordials to revive exhausted travellers.

So Why grow Horseradish?
Gardeners grow horseradish for its thick, fleshy white roots.
Did you know that the bite and aroma of horseradish root is totally missing until it’s grated or ground?
That’s because as soon as the root cells are crushed, volatile oils known as isothiocyanate (ISO-THIGH-O SIGH-A-NATE) are released.
Vinegar stops this reaction and stabilizes the flavour.
Very similar to Wasabi really.

If you’re interested in making your own horseradish, and you don’t want it too hot and bitey, just add the vinegar straight away..

Growing Horseradish  is easy 

Horseradish is a perennial to 1.5m high above ground but below ground there is a parsnip like tapering, fleshy taproot to 60cm long and 5 cm thick.

The above ground parts look like lime green large rough textured leaves, 30-90 cm long, so that’s about 1-3 ruler lengths.

The edges of the leaves are extremely saw toothed, or serrated and as botanists and horticulturalists say, leaves with toothed margins.
Horseradish has white flowers in the middle of summer to mid-autumn.

Plant your horseradish in a permanent position and don’t disturb it because new plants will spring up from any broken roots and will quickly spread throughout the garden bed.
Horseradish can grow in most soils even damp soils and grows quite quickly.

TIP: This deep rooted plant can be used in orchards to open up compacted soils and return nutrients to the surface of the soil.
By far the easiest way to grow Horseradish is from root cuttings.

Now’s the time to get a piece from a friend or your friendly garden club members because Horseradish is propagated by root division in spring or autumn for harvest the following year.

If you know someone who has it in their garden, just one piece of root will start off for you.

Don't worry too much about soil or position, because it won’t although too much shade and it’ll die off.

Lay the roots of horseradish on this about 30cm apart and then cover with more soil.
down the soil.
Keep your horseradish well watered.

Next year by mid-autumn if you were lucky enough to have planted it last year either in autumn OR spring, the roots should be ready to harvest.

What to make with horseradish?
Use the larger roots to make horseradish sauce and store the smaller ones in sand for replanting next year.
You could plant some of the smaller shoots in pots – either give them away or sell them once they start showing signs of growth.
By digging up all the plants, you’ll prevent the horseradish from getting out of control and taking over your garden.
Horseradish sauces
Although I must say, in my garden it’s extremely well behaved.
I have found suggestions that sinking half of an old rubbish bin into the ground, with its bottom removed stops its spread.
Horseradish is very versatile – not just as a sauce with beef, but it goes well with smoked mackerel, sausages, ham, trout, eggs and avocado.
Why is horseradish good for you?
Horseradish is a natural antibiotic.
If you’re on a low salt diet, then horseradish is really useful as a seasoning.
Horseradish has only 2 calories a teaspoon, is low in sodium and provides dietary fibre.
Where do you get it? Well there’s an online company that has divisions, but they won’t be available until July. Otherwise, the herb section of most nurseries and garden centres do stock this plant.



Crepe Myrtle and Dwarf Crepe Myrtle
Lagerstroemia indica.

This tree might lose its leaves in Autumn, but for all those gardeners who don’t like deciduous trees, the bark is a feature in itself .
The flowers are spectacular and some councils or even neighbours have decided to plant these as street trees.
Crepe Myrtle
Let’s find out about this plant.
I'm talking with the plant panel - Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Jeremy’s dwarf cultivar that took 10 years in the making is still to be released.
But there are other dwarf cultivars around such as Crepe Myrtle Little Chief.
Colours of the flowers tend to be in the blue end of the spectrum from pale pink to deep crimson to purples and of course there’s the white colour.

Crepe myrtles flower in summer and autumn in panicles of crinkled flowers with a crepe-like texture

Karen mentioned that the crepe myrtle trees can be coppiced down to a stump about 1 and 1/2 metres of the ground each year, after they lose their leaves.
They will reshoot quite quickly in Spring to give you a fabulous display.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Black and Bloom Salvias with Beans That are Broad


Cubeb Pepper (Piper cubeba)

Once upon a time, real pepper was adulterated with this spice because it was thought of as perhaps not inferior, but certainly it was cheaper than pepper.
In fact, this pepper was banned by the Venetian Spice Traders!
Why was that?
Cubeb pepper (Piper cubeba) photo M Cannon
Now the tables are turned and there aren’t too many places where this spice grows and even less places where you can buy it.
Let’s find out what it’s all about.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill, Director of

Cubeb pepper grows as a vine with heart shaped leaves, mostly in the Indonesian Archipelago.

Interestingly, it's similar looking to pepper ixcept for that spiked tail.

Did you know that the spice blend Ras el Hanout has 20-30 different spices in it and Cubeb Pepper is one of them?
As Ian mentioned, don’t put cubeb pepper in the peppermill and use ¼ teaspoon of this pepper with 1 teaspoon of normal ground black pepper.
Great for those pepper steaks, slow cooked meals and with rich meats such as pork,duck game.
If you have any questions about where to get Cubeb pepper, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Growing Broad Beans (Vicia faba)

Broad beans are one of the easiest vegetables to grow in your veggie patch.
Vicia faba or BROAD BEANS or some people know it as the Faba bean.
Broad beans are native to North Africa and southwest Asia, but they were cultivated in other regions very early on as well.
Fossil evidence has been found of Broad Beans being grown at least 4500 BC.
Where Did the Term Bean Counters Come From?
Did you know that in the Roman Senate the beans were used to vote, white bean for yes and black bean for no? Maybe that’s where the term bean counters comes from?

Will the Real Bean Please Stand Up!
For a long while, when cooks and mistresses went to the markets for beans, they were buying only broad beans because they were “ ‘the bean’, for century after century”. Only after “scarlet runners, haricot, kidney and butter beans” turned up, did “a distinguishing adjective” become necessary. 

Broad beans have been in European cooking pots “since the Bronze Age, and dried, they were relied on “before Columbus went to America”, “for protein and stodge in the early spring” 

Looking different from other beans is their thing.
Although broad beans are from the Fabaceae family, they look different and grow differently to their bean cousins.
Broad beans grown into a large, upright, bushy plant up to about 1 ½ metre.
Most varieties have white flowers with black eyes, but some older varieties have red flowers that look nice, but don’t set pods nearly as much as the white flowering ones. 
Each pod is shiny green with very short fuzzy hair, and is roundish, and quite long with a pointy end.
Each Broad Bean pod also has a firm, pliable skin and contains 4-8 light green to white, rounded and kidney-shaped beans.
The beans are quite chunky, about 2cm and the pods can grow to as much as 50cm
The bean plants tend to be bushy, with square, hollow stems and without beany tendrils.

Like all beans, they fix atmospheric nitrogen and so, are also useful as a green manure.

TIP: Best of all, they are hardy, easy to grow.

When to Plant in Australia
Plant them in March to June in temperate and sub-tropical areas, April to July in arid areas, , and April and May, then August and September for cool temperate zones in Australia.

Broad beans prefer a sunny well-drained position in the garden. 
Broad beans can be grown in soils with high salinity, as well as in clay soil, so they're pretty adaptable.

As far as soil in the veggie bed goes, don’t put in too much of the chook poo or other rich manure as you'll only get leaf growth rather than flower (and bean) production and will make the plant more sensitive to frost and disease.

Direct planting into roughly prepared soil is the best way to grow Broad Beans.

Sow the seeds at a depth of 5-10cm, with 15-20cm between plants and 70cm or 2 ruler lengths between rows.

Your broad beans will start sprouting in about 2 weeks after sowing, but will be slower the later you sow towards winter.

Soaking seeds overnight in diluted liquid seaweed can speed up germination.

Water seeds well as soon as you've put them into the ground and, then, don't water them…MOST IMPORTANT until after germination, to prevent the seeds from rotting. Ok, YOU CAN'T DO MUCH ABOUT IT IF IT RAINS.

Broad beans will need to be staked or supported to stop the plant collapsing under the weight of the mature beans.
Beans and FrostIf your district experiences a bit of frost, flowers formed during frosty weather are probably not going to set pods.
Once spring arrives, pinch out the tips of the plants to encourage pod set.
Try to limit water stress as this will also affect pod set.
That means don't let them dry out!
In 3-5 months, depending on how cold the weather is, the beans will be ready.

Broad bean pods can be picked at several stages.

Firstly, they can be picked when small and can be snapped crisply in half.
In which case you can eat them like young green beans.
Secondly, if allowed to grow larger but the seeds are still soft, you don’t have to shell the bean seeds, but don’t eat the pods at this stage.
Finally, they can be grown until fully mature and the seeds have dried. 
In this last case the seeds are used as dried beans and are called Lima Beans.
Beans and Disease
Broad beans are prone to fungal attack - brown spots on stems and leaves - particularly if planted too closely together or if planted in soils too rich in nutrients.
Towards the end of the crop, rust - producing powdery spots on the leaves - can become a problem.
Plants with black tips may suffer from root rot, caused by poor drainage.
Get rid of those beans and put in a new lot.. 

How to Eat Your Broad Beans
Freshly shelled broad beans can be frozen, blanched and then frozen or stored in the fridge for about 5 days.
The fresh beans are eaten steamed or boiled.
As the beans mature it is better to remove their tough outer skins after cooking.
The leafy top shoots of the adult plants can be picked and steamed after flowering.


Beans are high in protein and carbohydrates, rich in vitamin C and are also a good source of vitamins A, B1 and B2. a good source of folate (one of the eight vitamins in the B group 
Beans also provide potassium and iron in facto 100g of beans has as much iron as a pork chop.
Broad beans are a good source of fibre
100g green beans have 120 kJ


What To Do In The Autumn Garden? Mulching

Do you mulch your garden? I hope you all answered, yes?
If you do what sort do you use?
Homemade mulch using an Hansa chipper. photo M Cannon
 Do you use black plastic, pebbles, gravel, scoria?
Paths needing mulching photo M Cannon
Or do you use pine bark fines, leaf mulch, or your own shredded green waste?
There’s quite a few to choose from and quite a few to steer away from.
Let’s find out why.
I', talking with Glenice Buck consulting arborist and landscape designer from

The reasons for mulching is to keep the soil moist when it’s hot, and to keep the soil warm when it’s dry, in other words, it’s keeping the soil temperature constant. 
Mulch keeps weeds at bay
Mulch is a good all round gardening task, but mulches free of viable weed seeds, such as leaves, good compost, and wood chips are best.


New Salvias-Salvia "Black and Bloom."

Plant breeders are always looking for new varieties of existing plants for qualities such as larger flowers, longer flowering, disease resistance, more compact and in some cases self-cleaning.
But if you’re looking for plants that flower all year round with the minimum of care, then listen in carefully to find out what are some new varieties of an long flowering compact perennial.
Let’s find out about this plant.
Salvia Black and Bloom and Salvia Black Knight photo M Cannon

I'm talking with the plant panel:Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Jeremy mentions two salvias:
Salvia Black and Bloom photo M Cannon
  • Victoria Blue-is an old school Salvia.
  • Salvia "Black and Bloom." supports The Foundation for Mental Health.
Black and Bloom is very vigorous and the flowers are a true blue and black.
This one self layers.
Many small growers grab anything they can call ‘new’ without knowing much about the plant. 
Some people love to put new names on salvias which causes terrible confusion for the gardener.
But whatever you call them, they are rugged plants which grow in just about anything from rubbly clay. friable perfect loam, providing they are well drained or even sandy soil.
So get to it and grab some of those new salvias.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

A Bit of Garden History and What To Do in The Autumn Garden


Introduction to the Garden History Society

Many people might consider that Australia is too young a country to have historic gardens.
I daresay that's true when compared with England where there are beautiful gardens as featured in this photo, which I took when visiting a few years ago.
photo M Cannon
However,, there is a Historic House Trust in Australia, and with them there are historic gardens.
Some of them have fallen to neglect and some have been restored or are in the process of being restored by members of the "Garden History Society."
So it would seem that there are indeed many historic houses in Australia, and there are plenty of early 20th century houses which would look so much nicer with a complimentary garden.
There are also hidden gems in our country which aren’t normally open to the public, so how can we see them.
Let’s find out what the "Garden History Society" is and how we can see hidden gems.
I'm talking with Stuart Read, Landscape Historian and member of the national management committee of the

There are branches around Australia of the Australian Garden History Society, but you don’t have to be a member to go along to one of their talks, activities or events.
If you have any questions about the History of Australian gardens, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Wasabi and Wasabi Rocket

Have you ever tried that dob of green paste that comes with Sushi and Sashimi?
Did you know that the green paste sold as Wasabi in the supermarket is actually horseradish that’s been dyed green.
Yes it’s still got that bite but’s it’s not Wasabi.
Wasabi is Wasabi japonica, and is a semi aquatic Brassica related to horse radish Armoracia rusticana.

You probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Wasabi grows wild in Japan.

In Japan, Wasabi evolved at the edges of mountain streams and has adapted to cope with low levels of light, low temperatures and high humidity.
Did you know that the Japanese consider wasabi a gourmet treat, and is used in everything from cheese and salad dressing to wine and even ice cream and toothpaste?

Wasabi is a herbaceous perennial plant with a thick knobbly rhizome only about 10-30cm long and about 2-5 cm thick.
The part you use is that thick rhizome that needs to be grated.
Wasabi’s bite is pretty powerful and you only need a ¼ of a teaspoon of the stuff to get steam coming out of your ears, water running out of your eyes, and the feeling that your nose is going to lift off into space.
Trying to buy the real thing is about as difficult as trying to buy hen’s teeth. Mainly because the real thing is frighteningly expensive and doesn’t keep for very long.

The ideal is to grow your own.
You can buy the rhizome to grow some of your own, from mail order catalogues or online.
Although Wasabi prefers a cool and shaded position, in moist soils, the variety Daruma will tolerate warmer conditions than most.
Daruma is supposed to have superior green colour, size and crisp taste, and produces a better quality stem (used extensively in salads) and generally has a more attractive appearance.
Traditionally, wasabi is best produced in clear, cool (120-150C) running water, with plenty of shade in the hot months.

Yes, I believe that it does well in Tasmania.

Wasabi is best planted from Autumn through to early summer.
The tip is to plant it in a cold damp area.
Think of a fernery in dense shade, 80% or more to protect from heat, then you’ve got the right growing conditions.
Generally, wasabi plants need about 18 months to 2 years before the rhizome matures to full size.
During this time, however, you can use the leaf and stem in salads and stir fries adding a delicious mild wasabi 'zing'

How to Grate Your Wasabi!

But wait, this is sounding a bit complicated plus even if you’re successful in growing a decent sized rhizome, you can’t just grate it any old way, no-o-o.
Grating according to Japanese tradition, has to be just right.

The wasabi cells need to be torn apart to set off a chemical reaction, which after a few moments rest, develops its wow flavour.
You need just that right type of very fine grater.
You can’t use a nutmeg grater because it’s too coarse and slices instead of grinding.
Plus, you have to hold the rhizome at 450 and use a circular motion with your Wasabi on their special grater.
The grater’s have a name-oroshigane. These Oroshigane graters have fine teeth on one side for Wasabi, and coarse on the other for ginger and daikon.

So what else can you grow that tastes like Wasabi?

Wasabi Rocket is a variety of Rocket that will pack a punch with a taste very similar to that of Wasabi.

Wasabi rocket grows much the same way as regular rocket except that it contains
sharp essential oils including mustard oils that create the pungent flavour.
An easy to grow salad crop, Wasabi Rocket should be planted into well worked soil in a sunny position.
The soil should always be kept moist but it’s quite hardy and quick growing.
You’ll be eating your wasabi rocket in as little as 2-3 weeks.
Even thoughWasabi Rocket prefers a full sun position it can be grown in a sunny to semi-shaded location in garden beds, tubs or window boxes.

Or you could just grow it in a pot on the kitchen windowsill.
The good thing for listeners around Australia is that Wasabi Rocket is frost hardy.
Why is it good for you?
Well apart from clearing out your sinuses, wasabi has a few health benefits too!
High in vitamin C, dietary fibre and potassium, with some Calcium and protein.
Wasabi and Wasabi rocket kills food borne bacteria and apparently is supposed to reduce blood pressure.
The leaves are tender and are ideal as a "sharp note" in a fresh salad. This Rocket also stimulates digestion, with rich dishes such as grilled meats.
Even the flowers are edible and can be used with the leaves in salads, sushi, sandwiches or pasta



Autumn Planting
I’m sure you’ve heard before that Autumn is one of the best times to get planting especially for native plants.
The reason is the roots will be able to put on some real growth before the winter months, and will be ready to get growing once Spring hits.

Autumn gardening photo M Cannon
Let’s find out what preparation you need to do.
I'm talking with Glenice Buck consulting arborist and landscape designer from

If you’ve already got some plants that are thriving in your garden, and you have spaces to fill, a good idea is to choose plants that are similar, or from the same family but perhaps with a different flower or foliage colour.

Yes the soil temperature is still warm enough to get good results with new plants and also get the plants in the ground and settled before the following summer months.
What are some tips for planting out new beds?
You need to remove all weeds and or grass from the area to be planted out – then you need to dig over the soil and see what the condition of the soil is – do you need to add more organic matter etc.

Glenice says "I always look at what plants I have growing in other areas of the garden – to see what I can lift an divide or if there is a plant not doing so well – if it would do better in the new bed. 
For species selection I also look at what has really thrived in the garden and try and pick either more of the same species – could be in a different colour or even something which is related to that plant."


If your district was lucky enough to have lots of rain over the last few weeks, that I hope your garden is exploding in colour and lush green growth.
My district has been deluged with rain with accompanying high humidity, so gardening isn't all that pleasant still.
photo M Cannon
Of course after all that rain, along with the longer days of the season, means the weeds will start sprouting with a vengeance
So what are some tips to watch out for if you plan to go gardening after heavy rain.
Let’s find out about this plant.
I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska of

Luckily, rain softens the soil, making weeding much easier on the hands and back. Tackle them now while they're seedlings to prevent them from taking over your garden.
Then spread some mulch.