Saturday, 24 June 2017

Fabo Beeswax Lunch Wraps to Make, and Desert Roses to Grow

Make Your Own Beeswax Wraps

Plastic is back in the media as being bad for the environment, so much so, that some countries have banned the use of plastic bags.
Why? Because it never breaks down, instead it turns into smaller and smaller particles which our wildlife consume. 

Some sea creatures mistake soft plastic bags floating in the ocean for jelly fish with dire consequences.
Soft plastics such as what you use for wrapping your sandwiches are just as much of a problem as the bags because, it doesn’t break down ever.
So what else can you wrap your sandwiches in other than putting it in a plastic container?

So let’s find out.I talk with Margaret Mossakowska, Director of and course coordinator for Permaculture North in Sydney.
You can spend the dollars and buy the ready-made beeswax wraps, or you can do it yourself quite cheaply.
Margaret's tip for lunchwraps.
You can buy beeswax from markets and bee-keepers associations.
What you'll need:
Densely woven cotton cloth-about the thickness of a man's business shirt or cotton bedsheet.
Cut them into squares 40cm x 40 cm.
Place the cotton squares between several lavers of greaseproof paper and sprinkle grated beeswax over the cloth.
Spray a couple of times with Jojoba oil for ease of spreading.
Place some butchers paper over the greaseproof paper and iron to heat up the wax so it's absorbed into the cloth.  Then it's ready to use, just mould it into shape for wrapping sandwiches or other food except meat and cheese.

So go on, kick the plastic habit and make some beeswax wraps yourself If you have any questions about beeswax wraps, or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675 


Rheum x hybridum

Rhubarb or botanically Rheum x hybridum.
The word rhubarb originates from Latin.
Do you think of Rhubarb as a fruit?

You wouldn’t be the lone ranger on that one, because we’re used to eating it mainly in deserts, such as Rhubarb and apple crumble, or Rhubarb and Apple pie or strudel.

But did you know that rhubarb is actually a close relative of garden sorrel, which means it’s a member of the vegetable family.

Different varieties of Rhubarb have different medicinal uses.

It wasn’t until the early 19th when Rhubarb became popular in food being used in desserts and wine.

Ever heard of Rhubarb mania? Yes there was a time before WWII when it was so popular that it was referred to rhubarb mania.

So what is Rhubarb?

Rhubarb-the vegetable used as a fruits, is an herbaceous perennial.

Herbaceous because it dies down in winter, perennial because it regrows from year to year.

Rhubarb has short, thick Rhizomes –the underground horizontal stem part of the plant.

The leaves are sort of triangular shaped and crinkly with small greenish flowers.

What we all like to eat is the long, thick (and tasty) petioles or stalks.

How do you prefer to eat your Rhubarb?

In sauces or pies, you can actually eat the stems raw in a salad or stewed.

Perhaps Rhubarb and ginger muffins or for something savory, how about rhubarb with pork or chicken with baked rhubarb?


Rhubarb crowns can be bought and planted in September if you live in, sub Tropical areas,

July to September-October if you’re in Temperate zones;
Young Rhubarb

August to November in cool temperate districts and for once, arid zones have hit the jackpot and can plant Rhubarb from July right through to February. Can’t get much better than that.

In temperate and cool climates the above ground parts of the plant completely withers away during the colder months, so don’t be alarmed, your plant hasn’t died it’s just dormant.

That’s why, you can buy the dormant crowns now and plant them.

Rhubarb can be grown in pots as long as the pot is large enough, say 30 cm wide.

In fact there’s a variety called Ruby Red Dwarf that’s perfect for potted gardening because it has short thick stems that are bright red.

IMPORTANT TIP: In case you think you can also eat the leaves-DON’T.
The leaves contain oxalic acid and are toxic.
There’s no safe method of using them in cooking at all.
A few vegetables have oxalic acid but in this case the concentrations of oxalic acid is way too high and it’s an organic poison and corrosive.
Other toxins may also exist.
Rhubarb is usually propagated by planting pieces or divisions of 'crowns' formed from the previous season.

Dividing Rhubarb for re-Planting

If you have a friend that grows rhubarb, ask them to make divisions by cutting down through the crown between the buds or 'eyes' leaving a piece of storage root material with each separate bud.

This is a good way to share your plant with friends.

Divide your Rhubarb in Autumn or winter when it’s dormant but here’s another tip- not before it’s at least five years old.

Rhubarb is a heavy feeder, that means needs lots of fertiliser during the growing season.

Use large amounts of organic matter like cow manure mulches applied in late autumn and work that mulch carefully into the soil around the crowns.

Tip:Use only aged manures, not something fresh from the paddock, or you will get fertiliser toxicity which will stop the plant from thriving and you might even risk losing your rhubarb plant.

During the active growing season you will also need a side-dress of fertiliser using some sort of complete fertiliser at three-monthly intervals do this also after you picked off some Rhubarb stalks for dinner as well.

You don’t have to dig up your rhubarb plant, as it’ll last for 10-15 years. So plant it in a place that’s permanent, otherwise choose the pot alternative.

The biggest question people have about rhubarb is why aren’t the stems red yet?

There’s good news and then there’s bad news.
The good news, stems stay green for the first few years on some cultivars, but they will eventually turn red. 

If you have bought a crown that claimed it would be red-stemmed and you’rs isn’t, there is a simple answer.
The soil is too acidic so add lime.
One of the main reasons for acidic soil around the rhubarb is when the leaves dye down and are left to decompose on the soil, they acidify it.

On others, especially those grown from seed, they will always be green and this is because seed grown rhubarb isn’t always reliably red, even if the seeds came from a red stemmed parent plant.

So the bad news for you is that these plants will always be green.
If you really want red stems, and I don’t advocate adding red food colouring to the cooking, either look out for a friend or neighbour with rhubarb that has red stems, and ask for a piece or order some red ones now.
You don’t have to be online, there’s nothing wrong with the post and all companies will be happy to post a catalogue to you free of charge.

There isn’t much that goes wrong with Rhubarb …although some districts may get mites in the leaves or borers in the stem.

Unless you are growing plants in really heavy clay, you won’t get crown rot either.

Some varieties for you to try-and I’ll bet you can’t decide which one-I’m still thinking.

Rhubarb-Big Boy and Mount Tamborine-originally from Queensland and almost never seen in the supermarket-they reckon that the large stems are too big for the shelves.

Rhubarb Cherry Red and Winter Wonder-grown by market gardeners in the Mornington Peninsula hinterland. Sometimes seen at farmers markets.

Why is Rhubarb a vegetable Hero?

The good news is that rhubarb is low in Saturated Fat and Sodium, and very low in Cholesterol.
It’s also a good source of Magnesium, and a very good source of Dietary Fibre, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Calcium, Potassium and Manganese.
So Apple and Rhubarb Crumble for you then?


Desert Rose
Adenium obesum

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been featuring old fashioned shrubs that have outstanding features, namely the flowers and the fragrance.
Today’s feature plant is no less outstanding, and is in fact desired by collector’s worldwide because of its unique characteristics.
A rose is a rose, except if it's a desert rose.
That doesn’t even include the flower, which is pretty special too.
Let’s find out more.
I talk with the plant panel :Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

PLAY: Adenium obesum_14th June_2017

 The NT (Darwin) News blog writes“Keen gardeners who are serious about Adeniums have impressive collections of different colours, leaf form and variegation, and search online for the more rare and unusual types.
Most people find them a fascinating plant, mainly for their unusual shape, bulbous caudex (fat base) and stunning flowers.
Similar to frangipanis, they are a succulent that is drought tolerant and can survive long periods without water.”
Too much water will cause them to rot, as it would for any succulent, and growing them in well-drained soil is essential.”
If you have any questions about the Desert Rose, why not write in to

Root of the Problem with Liza Harvey part 2 Plants and Tattoos.

Find the podcast here.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Easily Identify Egrets, Harvest Kale and Inhale Sweet Luculia


Little Egret

Egretta garzetta
Australia has plenty of water birds but do you think of our waterbirds as hanging around the seashore?
That’s probably true of a lot of water birds but others prefer inland areas where there’s plenty of water as in creeks, rivers and lakes.

Egretta garzetta
In fact some water birds like open areas with shallow fresh water while others go for coastal swamps, shallow seasonal meadows and marshes, stony rise lowlands and large saline lakes.
There's more than one Egret that lives in Australia, so how to tell which it is that you're looking at.
they look similar so it is quite confusing.
Which one is white with black legs?

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

All Egrets tend to be white with long legs and a long beak.
The distinguishing features is that the Little Egret has a black bill with dark grey-black legs.
Both the Cattle Egret and the Little Egret get flumes on the back of their head when they're breeding.
The colour of the Cattle Egret's plumes are orangey-yellow, but the Little Egret's plumes are white.
Breeding plume of Little Egret
It's so important to retain Australia's wetlands.
Wetlands support a rich diversity of plants and animals including a large number of waterbirds that depend on them for food, shelter and breeding.
The Little Egret hunts for fish and other small water creatures in shallow water and may be found in the company of other wading birds, but rarely with others of its own species.
If you have any questions about the little egret, or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675



Did you know that Kale is the ancestor to cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and mustard and yes in the Brassica family?

This attractive edible originated in Asia Minor and the eastern Mediterranean region, where it’s been cultivated for over 4,000 years.

They are in effect, primitive cabbages that have been kept through thousands of years.
The Latin name Brassica oleracea variety acephala, the last term meaning "without a head.

Another interesting fact is that in nineteenth century Scotland kail was used as a generic term for 'dinner' and all kitchens featured a kail-pot for cooking.

I’ve seen this veggie grown in gardens in the cooler months but are people actually eating it?
Some gardeners would say that it’s mainly used for show in the garden, displacing other green decorations, thanks to the plant’s wilt resistance.

There are two types of Kale that you can grow in the garden.
Flowering kale, is closely related plant, but smaller in size with tight rosettes on the ground rather than upright, leafy growth.
Ornamental Kale
I’ve seen it used as a bedding plant.
Yes you can eat those too!

Second Type of Kale
The second type of Kale and the one I’m concentrating on today is a green leafy plant that is great added to or substituted for cabbage.

By the way, Kale doesn’t form a central head but rather grows upwards like a palm tree.

Leaves are narrow, crinkled, dark green, highly nutritious & will continue to grow even when covered with snow.

When To Plant Kale

Kale can be planted all year round in most districts but some people prefer to avoid the cabbage white butterfly and plant it in Autumn.
The best times for planting in Arid areas are from March until July, in temperate and sub-tropical climates have to the end of June.
Kale is grown from February to March in cool districts; also it’s apparently winter hardy and its flavour is improved by frost.
How does that work? Well a frost or even several frosts, will help break down starches into sugars making the Kale a whole lot sweeter.
The leaves take on a strong flavour if stored longer than two weeks in the fridge, so picking the leaves only as you need them.
By stripping the lower leaves from the base of the plant you will encourage new growth and get a much longer harvest.
Kale is easy to grow and a fast grower as well taking only 7-9 weeks from seed sowing until harvesting.

Kale likes soil temperatures of between 8°C and 30°C., full sun and a pH of between 6.0 and 7.0
How To Grow It

Sow Kale seeds direct into the garden or they don’t mind being transplanted so you can start them off in punnets if you like.

Sow the seeds about 1cm deep and 30cm or a ruler’s length apart.
Three or four seeds can be planted together and thinned out at the two leaf stage.
Look after young plants by watering during dry patches and keep weeded.

TIP: Tread around the base of the stem every so often to prevent the larger varieties swaying in the breeze.

During the winter months, apply liquid fertiliser from your worm farm or you can buy fish emulsion which is great too!
Remove yellowing leaves, "earth up" the stems and stake tall varieties if exposed Did you know that kale can handle exposed, slightly shady plots.

Kale – Is rarely bothered by the dreaded banes of the brassica family like snails and slugs so that’s a plus.

You can get any of the seed varieties from any garden shops.
When growing Kale use lots of compost and water regularly.
Kale is a cool weather crop and takes a full two months to reach harvest.

Important Note: If you’re growing the curly Kale you need to cut the first set of leaves .

That’s because Kale is a perennial crop and for it to grow new and bigger leaves when it reaches maturity, you need to harvest the leaves from the bottom.
If you pick the leaves this way, it will continue to grow bigger and curlier leaves.
If you pick from the top, the Kale will be stunted.
The second set of leaves will come out curly as in the packet.

So What Do You Do With Kale?
Eat the young leaves chopped in salads, grind the old leaves for juice or feed to chooks.
Tip: If you have chooks they prefer kale leaves to anything else!
Try these varieties-
Cook as you would cook cabbage - stewed, boiled, braised, blanched -but remember that kale takes a little longer to soften.

Hint:Tuscan kale is traditionally used in minestrone. 

Lacinato an Heirloom dating back prior to 1800 in Italy.
Also known as 'Black Cabbage', 'Tuscany' or 'Cavolo de Nero'., this old, rustic Italian variety is ready in 55 days( around 8 weeks)
Cavolo Nero
Red Russian, is another heirloom originating from Siberia.
This has red frilly, oak-shaped, bitter-free leaves with purple veins.
Another hardy variety and when you cook it the leaves deepen to dark green

There’s also Vates Blue Curled; this is a vigorous plant to 40cm high with heavily curled, blue-green leaves.
This one withstands really cold weather and the leaves won’t yellow from frost or heat.

You can also get traditional purple leafed curly kale.
This one works well in a container, as well as in the border.

Purple leafed kales like ‘Redbor’ or ‘Red Russian’ look great in flower beds as do green-leafed forms.

Why is it good for you?
Kale is actually near the top of the list in terms of nutritional value, Kale has heaps of antioxidants such as beta-carotene, large amounts of vitamins A, C and E, and heavy doses of calcium, potassium and Kale is particularly rich in iron.



Luculia gratissima
Without realizing, the shrubs featured this week and last week are old fashioned shrubs but with outstanding features. 
Luculia gratissima
And just like undersized potatoes or oversized apples, they who make decision in the big stores that sell plants, have decided that they won’t be available to the home gardener.
So if you’re looking for a winter flower shrub or small tree with masses of pink fragrant flowers, this one’s for you?
Let’s find out more… I'm talking with the plant panel :Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

If you get a whiff of gardenias one morning in late autumn, it probably means that someone nearby is growing Luculia (Luculia spp.). 
Although Luculia and gardenia are in the same family of plants and share the same delicate fragrance, the timing of their magnificent scented flowers is different.
Luculia is evergreen and grows to around 3 metres eventually.
While the flowers make an impressive display, the leaves not so much.
The foliage shall we say get’s a little untidy, but gardeners grow it for the flowers not the leaves. Pruning: Luculia flowers on new wood, so pruning is best done after flowering. 
You can prune mature Luculias quite hard to tidy them up, should you be lucky enough to have one growing in your garden.


Plant Blindness
Today I start a new segment presented and produced by someone new to Real World Gardener.
Liza completed this series as part of a project for the Community Radio Network, and as it was all about plants, the episodes were a perfect fit for this program.
So what is plant blindness? Is it a disease, a disorder or something else completely different?
You can hear the series here

Over the coming weeks, Liza will be presenting segments about different aspects of plants.
By the way, botanist-educators James Wandersee of Louisiana State University, in Baton Rouge, and Elizabeth Schussler of the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center, in Aiken, South Carolina introduced the term ‘plant blidness’ in 1998.
Roughly translating their definition reads like this,
“the inability to see or notice the plants in one's own environment, leading to the inability to recognize the importance of plants in the biosphere and in human affairs.”
So ‘plant blindness’ is really a thing as most people don’t pay attention to plants.

If you have any questions about plant blindness, have some information to share, write in

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Broccoli, Seaweed Tonics and All You Need to Know About Garden Paths


All About Seaweed Products
Is Seaweed Solution Good for Your Plants
Gardeners want healthy plants

Market research shows us that even though we think we would buy Australian products, we tend to purchase on price.
Does that apply to gardening?
Hopefully you would choose an wholly owned Australian company with only 65 employees, whose name is synonymous with the word seaweed.
Just like we say hoovering instead of vacuuming.
Let’s find out more..
I'm talking with Lisa Boyd, one of the Directors of Seasol and Robyn Stewart the new PR Manager of Seasol.

Lisa said that Seasol is 100% organic. 
Why is that?
Traditional fertilisers have Nitrogen (N) Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). Seaweed solution has only a very small amount of Potassium.However, seaweed solution can provide benefits that traditional fertilisers can't.
Brown Kelp washed up on the seashore
So what can seaweed solutions do:
  • They can be used all year round. 
  • They can be used to help plants recover from transplant shock.
  • Help plants get cope disease better.
  • Is taken up by the leaves and the roots of the plants.
Seasol is made from brown kelp that's washed up on the shores of King Island. The collection of kelp is strictly controlled because it provides habitat for the plovers.
Whether or not you use it just a few times or religiously every couple of weeks, the benefits of seaweed solution have been proven to benefit the plant and the soil it grows in If you have any questions about seaweed solutions, or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Do you know which vegetable has more vitamin C than an orange?

The answer is Broccoli, (Brassica oleracea var Italica or botrytis cymosa?)

Would you have guessed that Broccoli heads are actually groups of flower buds that are almost ready to flower?
Broccoli head is a bunch of florets photo M Cannon
Each group of buds is called a floret.
Broccoli is of course in the Brassicaceae family of vegetables along with cauliflower, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, turnips and many of the Asian greens.

Did you know that most members of the Brassica Family, are related to a wild cabbage grown centuries ago?

Apparently Romans grew and loved to eat Broccoli way back in 23 to 79 BCE.

Why should you grow Broccoli if it’s available all year round in your supermarket?
Firstly, supermarket Broccoli has probably been sprayed for all manner of pests whether or not the pests visited the Broccoli plant.
Secondly, supermarket Broccoli stems are pretty tough to eat, when they’re supposed to be tender.


Because that type of Broccoli transports better?

Why grow your own is because, Broccoli is pretty easy to grow.

Just keep an eye out for bugs during warmer months, but there’s plenty of organic ways of controlling them.

Finally, to taste great, broccoli has to be properly cared for and must also be picked at the right time.

How to grow Broccoli?

Sow Sprouting Broccoli seeds 6mm deep, spacing plants 35cm apart.
Broccoli seeds take 7-10 days to emerge.

Broccoli seedlings can be unstable and fall over during heavy wind, to help then send out additional roots to anchor them better you can remove the cotyledons (the first two seed leaves) once the first set of true leaves are formed and cover up to this point in soil.
When to Sow
In temperate areas you should sow Broccoli seeds from mid-Summer until the end of August.

In really cold areas where Winter growing is impossible, try sowing the seed during Spring and growing broccoli as a warm season crop.

In the subtropics green looping caterpillars can be a major pest of broccoli so sow the seed from April to May to avoid their peak period of activity in Autumn.

Broccoli is not suited for growing in the tropics as it is too hot and humid, try growing Asian or other tropical greens instead.
Broccoli seedling
Fertilise your Broccoli

Once a fortnight feed your broccoli with a liquid fertilizer; seaweed, manure tea, nettle tea etc.
When your Broccoli is growing always make sure that the beds are free from competitive weeds by hand weeding regularly.

Don’t plant or sow Broccoli in your veggie bed if you’ve grown it before in the past 3 years.
You may get a disease called Club Root that causes you Broccoli plant to wilt regardless of how much water you give it.
Remember the acronym. LRLC-Legumes, root veg, leafy then Cucurbits, Brassicas.
Harvest broccoli heads when they have reached maximum size, are still compact, and before the buds loosen, open into flowers, or turn yellow.
Broccoli is not too choosy about the site it grows in but prefers to be in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade with no problems.
Growing in too much shade will reduce the size of the Broccoli head.
The ideal soil is a reasonably heavy (not pure clay) which is rich in nutrients and has been well-dug.

Fertiliser for your Broccoli

Broccoli is what’s called a heavy feeder, so do add plenty of blood and bone, and decomposed manures by the bucket load before you start.
Broccoli photo M Cannon
Broccoli types
Broccoli comes in many shapes and varieties but is grouped into five major strains: sprouting, broccolini, purple, Romanseco, and Chinese varieties.

Today, I’m concentrating on the sprouting variety.

Now you probably thought that was what those little shoots of Broccoli are called but you would be wrong.
Those little guys are called Broccolini.
If you plant the sprouting varieties, they can be continually harvested for up to 3 months.
Prepare the ground with plenty of well- rotted manure or compost.
Always pick the central head first, because this will encourage the prolific growth of side shoots.
Pick these shoots regularly and don’t allow it to flower, as this will stop production of new shoots.

Broccoli seeds are easy enough to get at supermarkets, garden centres and online seed suppliers of course.

Try these varieties
Broccoli green sprouting
An Italian variety, the blue-green head is followed by side shoots for up to 3 months. Harvest in 9 weeks from transplant

Broccoli purple sprouting.
The ultimate cut and come gain vegetable, this broccoli keeps on producing for months.
Not only is it delicious and full of antioxidants; it’s visually spectacular with its wondrous spires of deep purple florets.
You can start picking the shoots in as little as 10 weeks from transplant.

Broccoli 'Green Sprouting Calabrese'
Broccoli 'Green Sprouting Calabrese' is a sweet, mild and tender Italian heirloom broccoli which forms multiple heads.
Did you know that this variety was introduced into English speaking countries by Italian immigrants during the 1880's?
This variety will produce over a longer period of time than singular headed varieties, and is mild in flavour, sweet and tender in texture.
Time to maturity is 6-10 weeks .
All of these varieties will provide months of continual harvest and can even be considered as a perennial plant if you can manage to deal with the influx of cabbage moths that come around as the weather warms up.

When do you pick your Broccoli?
You’ve got to time it just right, and that’s when the cluster of tight buds in the central head is well formed and before the individual flowers start to open.
Make a sloping cut (this allows water to run off), picking a piece that's about 10 cm long.
That way you’ve left a reasonable amount of the plant intact to produce smaller sideshoots or "florets," which you can pick as well.
Great for stir fries.
At this stage, don’t stop feeding and watering the remaining broccoli stem otherwise your plants will go to seed and you won’t get any side shoots.
TIP: If your Broccoli plants starts to flower it’ll going into seed production and you won’t get any more side shoots.
Why is Broccoli good for you?
Broccoli contains twice the vitamin C of an orange.
Did you know that just 100g of Broccoli has two day’s supply of vitamin C (don’t overcook or you’ll lose some).
Broccoli also a good source of dietary fibre, potassium, vitamin E, folate and beta carotene
100g broccoli has 120kJ.
Broccoli also contains magnesium and as much calcium as whole milk.


Up the Garden Path, Softly

Today’s garden challenge is for those gardeners that don’t want hard surface garden paths.

Concrete, brick or 
other types of paving for paths 
can be a bit harsh in areas 
where the garden is quite natural.
What do you opt for then?

Perhaps mulch?

Mulch decomposes rather quickly and you end up raking some up when you're trying to get rid of those leaves from branches that hang over the path.

Leaves that don't look attractive are usually from trees in the Proteaceae family, such as Madacdamia or Ivory Curl tree, 
because they're quite hard and take a long time to break down.

But there are other alternatives, although not necessarily ones that you can do yourself unless you're really handy with the compactor.

In this segment, garden designer Peter Nixon explores some softer alternatives.
Let’s find out…

Scampston Garden in England. photo M Cannon
That was Peter Nixon, garden designer and Peter’s not a fan of pebbles on paths.
Instead why not try a combo of bark chips and shell grit, or decomposed granite, perhaps lillydale topping and bark or woody mulch.
You would need to run the plate compactor over these surfaces to compact the path.
If you have any questions about what to do for your garden paths in your garden, or have some information to share, write in


Dombeya spectabilis 
Dombeya "Pink Ball."
If you like the idea of a flowering shrub with hydrangea sized flowers, but much taller than a hydrangea, then consider this next plant.

Let’s find out more…

The plant panel were Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.
Did you know that the main specialty of this tree is that it has a long flowering time which starts from April to August in some districts.

During this time even a 3 year old single plant will have around 5000 -12,000 flowers every day and each of them consists of around 40 – 70 petals filled with honey and pollen.
Perfect if you’re into keeping bees. If you have any questions about the Dombeyas, why not write in to 

Flower Fact:
The interesting thing is that as the flower opens, the edges of the petals are dusted with pollen functioning perhaps as a pollen presenter, which is somewhat unusual especially for the perianth.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

What You Need to Know About Purple Vegetables, Apple Scab and Exotic Nerines


Black Spot on Apples; Apple Scab
We all love to eat perfect apples but if you grow apple trees, then watch out for this.
If you’ve ever grown roses you would’ve heard about the fungal disease called black spot that starts of as black blotches on the leaves.
The spots become bigger, in some cases joining up, the leaves turn yellow, and then drop off.
Sound familiar?
Well you’ll be surprised to learn that there is another type of black spot, don’t worry, it’s not on roses, but it appears on apple trees.
In fact this disease is a serious problem for apple orchardists.
Let’s find out more.. 
I'm talking with Steve Falcioni, General Manager of

Black spot on apples looks different than black spot on roses because there isn’t the typical yellowing of the leaves.
The spots are also more irregular than blackspot on roses.
The problem with this fungal disease is that it also spreads to the apples, especially in humid weather.
Spotting on fruit develops a corky layer which resembles a scab. If this happens on young fruit it can also cause cracking. On mature fruit it's still a problem with the appearance of corky scabs on the surface, affecting the re-sale value.
Apple Scab
One thing to note, if your tree has had it in the past, be a good neighbour and spray your plants to prevent further spread because it’s a major problem for orchadists.

If you have any questions apple scab or apple black spot. or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675 and I’ll send you a packet of seeds.



What veggie can you think of that’s purple?
Did you say eggplants and then were a bit stumped?

What about purple carrots and beetroot?

Ok beetroot is sort of a reddish purple, but it can be considered purple, I’ll tell you why in a minute.

There’s also purple cauliflower and purple sweet potato not to mention purple chilli peppers.

Let’s not forget purple podded peas and purple king beans, red/purple mizuna, red Russian Kale, Red/purple cabbages. Need I go on?

So there are a few purple veggies out there.

Why should we grow purple veggies and why are they purple in the first place?

They’re purple is because purple vegetables contain pigments called anthocyanins, the same antioxidants found in red wine.

Think blueberries that are marketed as a superfood.
They also contain other health-promoting pigments such as betacyanins and carotenes.
Those anthocyanins and other pigments are good for our health.

Did you know though that anthocyanins are not the only cause of red colour in fruit and vegetables?
Betacyanins, members of the betalain family, are distinct from anthocyanins and the two pigments are not found in the same plants together.
Betacyanins also have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which contribute to health.

Here are some growing information for some of these purple veggies.

Purple cauliflower

In Arid zones, plant direct into the garden from April until June.
In cool temperate and temperate zones, February was the recommended time to sow seeds but you can sow seedlings until the end of May.

If your district is sub-tropical, transplant seedlings until the end of June also.
Purple caulie is a lovely coloured vegetable that contains all of the health properties of white cauliflower with the added bonus of extra anthocyanin (that lovely antioxidant that's so great for you!).
Just don't be surprised when it turns green once cooked. You can use purple cauliflower in any recipe that calls for cauliflower.

Purple Cabbage.
To sow cabbage, in temperate, sub-tropical and arid districts, March until June is the best time, but temperate and sub tropical districts can have another go from August until November,
In cool temperate areas March until May is best then again in August.
Purple cabbages are not only lovely in colour, but extra good for you with more than double the amount polyphenols than green cabbage.

Purple Carrots.

Purple carrots can grow year round in subtropical and arid climates.

In Temperate zones, you have from September through to May,.
In Cool temperate districts, September through to February, and in the tropics you can grow carrots from April to June.
Different-coloured carrots carry different health properties. The purple carrot specifically has 28 percent more of the antioxidant anthocyanin than orange carrots.


Eggplant seeds/seedlings can be planted in spring to autumn in tropical areas, spring to early summer in temperate zones and during late spring in cool climates.
This pretty, purple-skinned vegetable also contains some of the most potent antioxidants: phytonutrients found in the skin.
Eggplant is also a good source of iron, calcium and a host of other vitamins.

Purple Potatoes.
Purple Potatoes can be planted August to October, in temperate and sub-tropical districts.
Arid areas August until December is your best time.
In cool temperate zones, September through to January.

These potatoes add more than four times the antioxidants in comparison to regular potatoes, according to reasearch, and score as high as kale and Brussels sprouts in antioxidants.
Purple potatoes were once considered the "food of the gods,

Always steam your vegetables , not boil them.
The steaming process preserves the vitamins and minerals, rather than leaching out a portion into the water as in the boiling method.


Floriade Venlo photo M Cannon
Green Walls
You may not have thought of the idea of having a green wall in your garden.
You might’ve thought that they were really expensive.

Some facts first about green walls.
Green walls can provide:
• aesthetic improvements
• protect the building they are attached to because they shield the the building or fence from the sun.
• reduce building heating and cooling costs due to increased insulation
• increased property value
• a place to grow food
• rain water run-off management and water filtering/pollution reduction
• habitat creation and increased biodiversity
• cooling effect
• cleaner air, with less pollutants

But did you also know that green walls suit any size garden, even if you have a large garden?
How do you achieve this?

Let’s find out? I'm talking with Peter Nixon from Paradisus garden design.

You can make your own green wall using recycled material or you can buy ready made ones from the big box stores that have garden supplies.
They’re fine too.
If you have any questions about green walls, why not contact Peter or email us here at


Nerines; Guernsey Lily (Nerine bowdenii)

Some garden writers describe this next plant as one of the most exotic of bulbs for the Autumn garden.
Although it’s a bulb, it looks nothing like the flowers of regular common bulbs such as daffodils or tulips.
Instead in belongs in the Amaryllis family, which includes agapanthus and alstroemeria. 
Let’s find out more… 
I'm talking with the plant panel :Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner. 

Did you know that exposure to cold temperatures can cause the flower heads to turn slightly blue?
If you like planting bulbs that you can set and forget, then Nerines are your thing.
Plant them with Cyclamens and Colchicums which are lower, as the stems of Nerine flowers are very tall, between 30 – 50 cms.

What Nerines Like
Nerines like a position in sun or part-shade.
Plant them in light, gritty, well-drained soil, with the neck of the bulb exposed.
Hardy to moderate frosts, even down to -15 C.
In cold areas, growing in pots is another option.
Water well during the growth period but keep dry when dormant.

Nerine varieties & flowering time:
Bowdenii: A softer, clear pink. Excellent colour for the Autumn garden. (Flowers April) Most frost tolerant. Can withstand -150 C
Gold `Nerine` (Which is actually a very closely related Lycoris): Flowers of golden, sunshine yellow. This variety is excellent for growing in warmer climates. 
In cool/cold climates, this variety likes a nice warm & sunny spot. Flowers Feb-March.
Fothergill Major: Brilliant tangerine with a golden sheen to each petal as if dusted with gold. Flowers Autumn (Feb-March)
Fothergill Minor: Brilliant florescent orange-red blooms that appear in March-April.
Note: In very cold climates (eg: Tasmania) plant the bulbs in a warm spot.. This is a new dwarf variety to only approximately 20cm- 25cm tall.
Salmonia: Salmon pink blooms. The many frilly petals (up to 30) make beautifully shaped umbels. Flowers April.
White: (Alba) Their Winter blooms appear whiter-than-white against the dull colours of Autumn. Flowers Autumn. (May)
Winter Cheer: The strong pink of these flowers which appear in in Winter do indeed add `Winter cheer` to the garden. Flowers June