Saturday, 29 July 2017

Keeping Goats and Growing Tropicals and Aloe Vera


Indoor Plant Series part 2
Phaelenopsis orchid
Indoor plants for warm climates.
So you live in a climate that's warm all year round.

Does that mean you need to grow anything indoors?

True, you can grow almost anything indoors in tropical and subtropical climates, as well as outdoors too. 

All you need to remember ks that the most important elements required for healthy houseplants include light, water, temperature and humidity.

If any or all of these factors aren’t properly met, your houseplants will inevitably suffer.

You might be sweltering under the fans in the heat of a subtropical summer but what about your indoor plants?

Can they cope or is this the climate where they thrive the best?

So let’s find out more in this new series on indoor plants.

I'm talking with Julia Levitt, Landscape Designer and Director of

The good news is that tropical plants usually enjoy warmer conditions and don’t perform well once indoor temperatures fall below 130-160C.
Indoor plants
Plus they like a lot of humidity, that means at least 50%, but better at 70% or more.
Most of the tropical, ornamental indoor plants with attractive foliage & colourful leaf patterns are suitable for hot & humid climates.
For example Dieffenbachia or Dumb Cane, Dracaena, house ferns of many kinds, Tricolor plant, snake plant, Philodendron, Money plant, Syngonium etc

If you have any questions about indoor plants why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


 Aloe vera 
The botanical name of Aloe vera is Aloe barbadensis Miller. 
It belongs to the Ass-fodd-elacey (Asphodelaceae) family which has a subgroup (Liliaceae) whose members are also the lily plants as well as onions and garlic.
Did you know that people used Aloe vera at least 6,000 years ago in Egypt?

Known as the “plant of immortality,” Aloe vera was depicted on stone carvings and was presented as a burial gift to deceased pharaohs.

So where did the name come from?
Aloe vera derives from the Arabic word “Alloeh” meaning “shining bitter substance,” while “vera” in Latin means “true.”

Did you know that the word Aloe in Sanskrit means Goddess?

Not surprisingly, because of aloe’s well-known healing properties for the skin, aloe is one of the primary compounds used in the cosmetic industry.
There are even Aloe vera drinks that you can buy, or you can use the juice straight from the plant.
Aloe leaves contain a clear gel that is often used as a topical ointment.

The yellow sap that oozes from the base of the leaf when it is cut is called bitter aloes.

This bitter sap when dried is called latex and contains contains Ann-Thrak-Quinn-Owns (anthraquinones), used quite a lot in medicines that act as a strong laxative.

Be warned though, don’t feel you can make your own oral medicines from Aloe and I’m not recommending that you drink the gel straight from the leaf either unlike a vlogger that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago.

The reason is because not only is aloe vera juice pungent to taste, but there’s no scientific evidence that drinking the juice does anything.

On the other hand, Aloe plants improve air quality, and when grown in pots inside the house, help remove toxins from the atmosphere.

So what is Aloe vera?
Aloe vera isn’t a cactus but a low growing spreading, xerophytic, succulent.

It grows mainly in the dry regions of Africa, the Arabian peninsula and nearby islands such as the Canary Islands and Madagascar.

Not to be confused with other ornamental Aloes, Aloe vera has triangular light green fleshy leaves with serrated edges, but also with elongated pale creamy white spots on the leaves.

The Aloe plant is grown in warm tropical areas and because the leaves consist of 95% water, they’re extremely frost tender.

However the root can survive freezing air temperatures, so long as the ground is not frozen and the root destroyed.

On the other hand, Aloe vera doesn’t grow all that big and can be easily moved indoors in colder climates if outside temperatures are less than 5°C.

Place it near a sunny windowsill and it will survive for a few weeks or a couple of months if it needs to.

On the upside, for those gardeners living in warm climates, Aloe vera can cope with temperatures in the high 30’s and can even withstand severe drought.

Don’t water during the winter months if your plant is able to grow outdoors because it’s practically dormant.

Aloe vera tolerates either full or partial sun for at least 8 – 10 hours a day, but will require a little more frequent watering in full sun.

If you’re area receives a lot of rain, you may find that the plant turns to mush so move it under cover.

During the summer months, the soil should be completely soaked, but then be allowed to dry again before re-watering.

If you’re growing your Aloe vera in a pot, because Aloes have a shallow, spreading root system, when it‘s time to repot, choose a wide container, rather than a deep one.

Always use planters or containers with a drainage hole, or put a 3-4 cm layer of gravel in the bottom of the pot so it receives sufficient drainage. Use a good commercial potting mix with extra perlite, charcoal, or coarse sand added.
Or you could use a packaged 'cacti mix' soil.

Fertilising is only necessary once a year in spring but use only half strength. Aloe plants have relatively short roots and heavy leaves, so it’s best to move your plant to a heavier pot when they become top-heavy and tip over.
Aloe vera produces pups that can be re-potted
If Aloe vera runs out of space for its roots to grow, it may start to produce "pups" that can be moved to their own pot .
New Aloe Vera plants are grown by removing these offsets which are produced around the base of mature plants, when they are about 5 - 7cm tall (or larger). They can also be grown from seed.

Has your Aloe vera ever flowered?
Keeping an Aloe vera plant at home is one of the easiest ways to get the freshest and most concentrated gel.
If the leaves start getting burnt on hot days, you ‘ll definitely need to move your plant to a location with light shade.
If the leaves are growing flat and low, that means the need more sunlight. Aloe vera leaves should grow upward or outward at an angle, toward the sunlight.
Growing low to the ground or growing flat outward, is an indication that the plant is probably not receiving enough sun.

Move it to a sunnier area.
If it’s indoors, consider keeping it outdoors during daylight hours.
If the leaves turn yellow or fall apart, stop watering.
Yellowed or "melting" leaves are suffering due to excess water.
Stop watering altogether for the next week (or two weeks during the dormant season), and water less often after that.
You can remove the discoloured leaves from the plant without doing any damage.
Remember, water it only when the soil has become dry.
Using aloe vera gel, that’s the inner portion of the leaf, topically is OK straight from the leaf.

TIP: To use the gel, break off a leaf and cut it lengthwise to expose the inner layer.
Aloe vera gel
Scoop the gel out and apply generously to the area needing treatment. Discard whatever gel is not used immediately, as it will degenerate quickly.

Why is it good for you?
Aloe Vera contains many vitamins including A, C, E, folic acid, choline, B1, B2, B3 (niacin), B6. Aloe Vera is also one of the few plants that contains vitamin B12.
Soothes and heals sunburns because it contains cooling properties similar to menthol.
Takes the sting or itch out of insect bites.
Use it on those joints that have osteoarthritis.
Aloe gel has not been shown to prevent burns from radiation therapy. AND WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY


Keeping Goats with Robyn Rosenfeldt editor of PIP permaculture magazine
Have you ever kept a sheep goat or pig in your backyard in suburbia?
Sounds a bit far fetched but I do remember see a couple of sheep keeping the lawn down in the front yard of near where I used to live which was only 8km from the CBD.
So what questions should you ask yourself about goat keeping and why would you want to anyway?
What are the benefits?
First why keep a goat or two in suburbia?
How much space do you need for say 2 goats?
Do You Want to Keep Goats So That You Will Never Have to Mow Your Lawn?
If so, think again. Goats will eat your rosebushes clean, carefully devouring every single leaf and flower. However, they’re not going to mow your lawn.
They’ll nibble at grass here and there in a sort of unorganized fashion, creating a look very similar to Rod Stewart’s hairstyle.
How much work is involved? Ie milking, feeding, building a goat pen?
Do goats make good pets?
Do I need to exercise my goat and take my goats for a walk?

What information does the prospective goat buyer need before getting their first goat?

I'm talking with Robyn Rosenfeldt, editor of PIP magazine  to answer all these questions and more.



If you’ve ever been to an international flower show in the northern hemisphere, chances are you turn green with envy when you see how easily these flowers can be grown.

These are tall plants that hover above most other flowering annuals you have in the garden but breeders have gone to the trouble of creating a sort of intergeneric hybrid that flowers for several months instead of several weeks. 

Of course the flowers are magnificent, so let’s find out what it is.

PLAY: Digiplexis digitalis_19th July 2017

I'm talking with Karen Smith editor of  Hort Journal Magazine

Unlike standard foxgloves, which produce a single terminal spike, ‘Illumination Flame’ will develop several flower spikes simultaneously.

To get more flower spikes and a more bushy plant, just pinch or tip prune the stems.

Plant breeders also recommend because it’s a vigorous tall plant, that if you do want to grow it in a pot, choose a fairly big one.

If you have any questions about this Foxgloves or foxxies as some like to call them, email us

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Plants Indoors, Spinach,Magnolias But Don't Feed Wildlife


New Series on Indoor Plants: Part 1 Introduction
Did you know that NASA has carried out a Clean air Study to figure out which plants help to clean the air in our homes and offices?
These plants are best at cl
eaning the air to eliminate toxins.
Toxins like benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene.
So let’s find out more in this new series on indoor plants.
I'm talking with Julia Levitt, Landscape Designer and Director of

PLAY: Indoor plants intro_12th July 2017
Those chemicals that I mentioned are all common volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are emitted into the air in our homes by everyday items such as furniture, carpets and common household appliances as well as air fresheners, hair products and nail polish. Wow!
Indoor plants not only look attractive, brighten up gloomy areas and generally improve our moods, but they also have an added benefit of cleaning the air.
Are you looking for different plants to grow inside like cacti?
What conditions can they get by with?
Mini-cacti for indoor displays
Cacti need full sunlight so do consider where you put them if you want them to survive.
In fact, think about the light situation in your home before your buy any potted plants.
Remember you're adjusting the light level considerably the further the plant is from the window and by putting it on a plant stand.
Julia mentioned these plants that are "on trend" in magazines and other media.
Ficus lyrata-Fiddle Leaf Fig
Sanseveria "Moonshine"-Mother-in-laws Tongue.
Strelitzia nicholii-Bird of Paradise; this will grow very large so has a limited life inside the home.
Monsteria deliciosa-Swiss Cheese plant.
If you have any questions about indoor plants why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


English Spinach Spinacia oleracea

Spinach is also very sensitive to heat. Seeds will not germinate if temperatures are over 75° (24°C), and spinach bolts quickly once temperatures begin to climb in summer.
The best spinach to grow now is English Spinach not to be confused with Silverbeet or Chard.

Did you know that Spinach or Spinacia oleracea. Spinacia comes from the Latin word for spine and refers to the prickly seed coat.
The species name, oleracea, refers to a plant that is edible.

Did you try growing Spinach in Summer?

It was alright for a while then when the humidity got turned up the stalks went a funny grey colour, then the leaves turned a sort of greeny-brown.
Not that attractive or edible.
I had to pull them out, not a great experiment.
Where Did Spinach Come From?
Spinach originates from the Middle East, most likely Persia or modern-day Iran.
It was brought to Spain via the Moors somewhere between 800 AD and 1200 AD.
Did you know that Medieval artists extracted green pigment from spinach to use as an ink or paint?
Spinach seed was sent out from England in 1787 with the First Fleet but in the new colony they found it difficult to grow.

They grew silverbeet instead because it was much easier, which is why Silverbeet is sometimes called spinach in Australia, but true spinach has smaller leaves and a much sweeter, milder flavour.

When to Sow

Spinach is a cool-season crop that can withstand a hard frost or two, but turns to green goo when exposed to sub-freezing temperatures for any length of time.
When growing spinach in cold weather, choose varieties like ‘Bloomsdale’ or ‘Regiment’.
Cool temperate zones, you can plant spinach from March until September.
spinach seedlings
In temperate zones you had from February until the end of June, and in sub-tropical zones, from April until the end of July.

In Arid zones choose the winter months also.
These times are only a guide, and personally, I plant some vegetables and see how they go even though it might be a month or two out of their supposed best planting time.

So, I have some Spinach seedlings coming up in my garden right now, even though I’m in a temperate district.
Commercially Grown Spinach
In Australia, Spinach is grown commercially mostly in Tasmania and Victoria over the cooler months, as it’ll go to seed very quickly in hot summer weather.

The seeds will germinate in temperatures down to 7 degrees.
You can get good germination results if you use an unheated poly-tunnel or low level cloche, or a mini-greenhouse.
This is one crop that can withstand the very cold winter nights at sub-zero temperatures.
It seems that the little plants can be frosted and frozen overnight then thaw out and keep growing! Amazing.
Commercially grown spinach
Germination of spinach seeds can take anything between a week and 2 weeks.
Plant your seedlings / seeds around 7cm apart in rows about 30 apart.
For once a vegetable that grows well in partial to full sun.
What Spinach likes
Spinach likes a moist but not waterlogged soil and doesn’t like to be stressed by drying out or not having enough nutrients, even in the cold of winter.
Using a mulch of straw or grass clippings can help to keep moisture and warmth in the soil.
Plenty of compost and the usual organic matter to so that your spinach will grow well.
Having a worm farm or compost bin really does help your veggie bed no end!
Spinach doesn't like acidic soils, a good pH is around 6.3 -6.8.
Add lime to the soil if you need to a few weeks before you put the seeds in.
Spinach like all leafy vegetables is what’s called a heavy feeder –ie, needs lots of Nitrogen to grow well.
If you haven’t already applied Blood and Bone or cow manures to the soil a month or two ago, your soil will run out of nutrients.
During the cooler months of winter, organic matter doesn’t break down that much and to get the needed Nitrogen, applying liquid fertilisers such as compost tea or fish emulsion often will be the best way to go

In about 6-7 weeks, your Spinach plant has put on enough big leaves so you can pick them one by one like you might lettuce.
The leaves will keep regrowing for quite a while.
Otherwise pick the whole plant for Spinach pie etc. Make sure you wash spinach leaves well - soil is not tasty!

When you want to store Spinach in the fridge a tip to remember is that

Spinach is highly ethylene sensitive. To stop leaf yellowing don’t refrigerate with apples, or tomatoes.
Spinacia oleracea-Spinach
A problem you might get in the cooler weather is Down Mildew. Downy mildew (Blue mold). What is downy mildew- fungal disease, shows up as slightly yellow or chlorotic lesions of irregular shape on the top surface of the leaves and purplish sporulation on the underside. To prevent it, space plants for good air circulation and, when you water, wet the ground around the plants not the foliage itself

Why should you grow your own Spinach?

Because Spinach is best eaten fresh and because it loses nutritional properties every day.
Putting it in the fridge slows the deterioration, but half of the major nutrients are lost by the eighth day after harvest.

Why is Spinach good for you.
The amount of iron in spinach comes way down the list after vitamins A and C, thiamin, potassium and folic acid (one of the B complex vitamins).



Magnolia "Little Gem."
For those wanting the large flowers of the evergreen Bull Bay Magnolia but a much smaller plant, then don't go past this little gem, ahem, pun intended.
It has many of the attributes of its parent (magnolia bullbay) including large (20-30cm) white fragrant flowers, but it is a smaller, more compact plant growing 4 - 6 metres in height.
The flowering season is considered spring through to summer but will spot flower all year round in favourable, frost free climates.
Magnolia flowers have a lemony scent.
I'm talking with two young guys who have a love of gardening. Something seemingly rare these days when most gardeners are in the 50 + age range.
Introducing Hugh Mandelidis, an engineering student whose into gardening, and his friend Lewi Beere, presenter of Breaking Bands program on 2RRR.

Play: Interview
Available in Victoria, New South Wales, southern Queensland and Tasmania, but may be hard to find in other areas. Expect to pay from $25-$40 for plants in 200mm (8″) pots. 
Some listeners questions:
Q.My flowers are not opening and they are going brown, why, and how do I prevent this from happening again?
A.Often due to a lack of calcium which prevents uptake of potassium or simply a lack of potassium. Occasionally hot sun and frost can destroy flowers before they open.
Q.Do i need to add lime to my soil? or any other feed stuffs?
A.Lime tends to raise the ph of the soil which can damage the roots which prefer a slightly acidic soil. Soil that is free draining and rich in organics is usually all the little gem will need, barring any deficiencies or micro/macro nutrients. Slow release fertilisers tend to work better as foliage feeds have a low absorption rate through the leaves.
 Leaves burn in summer & go crisp. Not growing as expected


Why Not to Feed Wildlife.
It’s great to have all kinds of creatures visit your garden.
You put out those bIts of white bread for the maggies, or those seed bells for the cockatoos.
What’s wrong with that? Animals that expect to be fed by people can become aggressive, harassing people for food when they are hungry.

The Ibis at the local Botanic gardens, are an example often seen circling around visitors and inspecting their bags for food.Whatever your thoughts, Listen to this….
The NSW department of Environment and Heritage suggests that when you feed native animals you're giving them the wildlife equivalent of junk food.
See More About Not Feeding WildlifeA
When you feed native animals you're giving them the wildlife equivalent of junk food. Instead of eating a wide range of natural foods, they depend on processed seeds, bread and other foods that are not part of their natural diet. This can make them very sick.
Animals that expect to be fed by people can become aggressive, harassing people for food when they are hungry.
Finches feeding
Once the animals you're feeding know that you are a reliable source of food, they may converge on your home or campsite, potentially disrupting their migratory patterns and displacing other species. If wildlife flock to be near you, their newfound population density may encourage the spread of communicable diseases between them.
They may also lose their ability to forage for natural foods.
Think twice before you feed wild animals - a moment's pleasure for you may lead to the animal you feed becoming addicted to junk food.When kangaroos and wallabies become used to being hand-fed, they sometimes attack people in their quest for food.
Remember, they have sharp claws and a strong kick.
Another example is in Flinders Chase on Kangaroo Island where they’ve had to put up cages around the eating tables in the national park, so people can eat in peace.
If you have any questions about this Feeding Wildlife, send it our email address

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Make Your Own Gin, Eat Peas and Grow a Silver Lining


Juniper Berries.

You probably missed it but 14th June was World Gin Day.
Why I mention this is because Australia is producing some of the best gin in the world.
You heard right, there’s a micro distillery industry that’s sprung up in Australia for making boutique gin.

But here’s the thing, it’s been said before on this show, you can make your own gin.
So let’s find out more.
I'm talking with  Ian Hemphill Owner of and author of The Herb and Spice bible.

Why everybody is falling in love with juniper today is because it's a thing to make your own gin.
Relatively a cinch but you need a good recipe.
You'll find one on Ian's site, just search for GINSPIRATION.
Australia's leading gin distilleries combine spices such as a cardamom, cinnamon and star anise with Australian oranges, Tasmanian Pepperberry leaf and lemon myrtle, a native Australian plant.
The juniper is still there but it is layered with a blend of modern Australian flavours, Southern European citrus and South East Asian spice, all of which makes it an entirely too drinkable gin.
Cooking with Juniper
Juniper berries go great in slow cooked casseroles and stews.
Juniper berries are also tasty when cooked with Salmon. Just place a few berries in with other herbs such as garlic, dill and add some lemon slices when baking or roasting whole salmon.
Juniper berries
If you have any questions about making your own gin, check out “ginspiration” or Ian’s webpage, or email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Pisum sativum

"I eats my peas with honey, I’ve done so all me life, it makes my peas taste funny, but it keeps them on me knife. "
Ever heard that one? 
Yes, my father used to say that everytime we harvested peas from our garden.
Peapods are botanically a fruit, since they contain seeds developed from the ovary of a (pea) flower.

But as always, cooks don’t stick to Science and peas are considered to be a vegetable in cooking.

Peas or Pisum sativum, belong to the Fabaceae family, which means they fix Nitrogen from the air into their roots.

And you thought you knew everything there was to know about peas?

We all know what Peas look like- but did you know that Peas have been found in ancient ruins dated at 8000 years old in the Middle East and in Turkey?

And, the oldest pea fossils were found in the “Spirit cave on the border of Thailand and Burma dated 9750 years old.

Peas were common throughout ancient Europe as far back as the Neolithic Period and are as old and important as wheat and barley.

In these ancient times dried peas were an essential part of the diet because they could be stored for long periods and provided protein during the famine months of winter. No fridges then, remember!

The Greeks and Romans loved them and many varieties were traded in the Trojan Market in ancient Rome.

Did you know that both dwarf and field peas were part of the cargo of the First Fleet to Australia in 1788 and, on arrival at Sydney Cove, each convict and marine was given a weekly ration of three pints of ‘pease’.

By 1802 Peas were growing in Port Jackson and in Paramatta gardens.

When to Sow
The best time to sow Peas, if you are living on the East Coast is from April until September;

In arid climates from April until August.
In sub-tropical districts, from April and until July and for cool zones, late winter until October. On the Tablelands they should be sown after the last frosts.
Peas are best planted at soil temperatures between 8°C and 24°C.

Sow the seeds directly into the soil 15mm to 20mm deep (knuckle deep) and 75mm to 100mm apart . Water in well and don't let them dry out.

I like to soak my Pea seeds overnight.
This helps achieve a better strike
Some gardeners prefer to sow their seeds into tubs/punnets so they can keep a closer eye on them especially if there is a possibility of a frost.
Once they have their second crop of leaves and no more frost, they can be transplanted out in the garden.

Pea don’t seem to grow well near Onions, Chives, Garlic.

Peas don’t like a lot of mulch or manure especially up against the stalk/stem, or being over-watered as they tend to rot off at the base of the stem.
Don’t over-feed young plants or they’ll grow lanky and you won’t get too many pea pods.
Wait until they’ve started flowering and then give them a good feed of liquid fertilizer at least once a fortnight.

I prefer to feed my plants with liquid fertilisers in winter because in the cold weather, plants can use liquid fertilisers, easier and faster than the granular type.

TIP: Water your Peas in the mornings to avoid mildew.
Don’t overhead water late in the afternoon.
If you do have mildew, try spraying with a MILK spray mixed with a couple of drops of detergent.
With dwarf Peas you will have one main crop, with a second lighter crop and some pickings in between for the pot.
Peas freeze well and, providing they are processed immediately after picking, lose no more of their nutritional value than in just cooking them.

Chewing pests
If you’re bothered with snails and slugs, a good idea is to place a bottomless container around the young seedlings to stop the pests, or in my case the dragon lizard, from cutting/biting the tops off the new shoots; this will also give the new plants some protection from the wind.

How big do they grow?
Dwarf Peas only grow about 300mm to 600mm high but they will require some support.
You can use pretty much anything from wire/mesh, string and bamboo.

Climbing Peas grow to about 2m and crop for quite a long time.
If you pick them regularly, your pea plants will grow like mad and you’ll get a bigger crop.

They will need a good heavy-trellis or stakes. The position of the trellis should be facing towards the midday sun, (towards the North).

After the Peas have stopped producing the trellis can also be used for growing cucumbers, pumpkins or tomatoes.

Before you start ripping the pea vines off the trellis cut the stems off at ground level; leave the roots in the ground as pea roots produce nitrogen nodules.

These roots will break down and give your next seedlings a good kick start.

Why are they good for you?

Being low in calories, green peas are good for those who are trying to lose weight.
Green peas are rich in dietary fibre, may potentially lower cholesterol.

Peas have a high amount of iron and vitamin C to help strengthen the immune system.
The lutein present in green peas helps reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Green peas slow down the appearance of glucose in the blood and thus, help keep the energy levels steady.
Green peas have been found to aid energy production, nerve function and carbohydrate metabolism.
Green peas provide the body with those nutrients that are important for maintaining bone health.
The folic acid and vitamin B6 in green peas are good for promoting the


Albany Woolly Bush
Adenanthos sericeus
Are you a fan of Western Australian plants?
They grow so many wildflowers, banksias, and Eucalypts with huge inflorescences or inflo’s as those in the now like to call them.
But how do they do in other parts of Australia, particular if they’re grey and fluffy and have been used mostly as a Christmas tree?
Albany woolly bush flowers

Let’s find out …I'm talking with Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal a

 The greyness and upright growth of the Albany woolly bush makes it look sort of snow covered making it the perfect choice if you want a real Australian Christmas tree.


Adenanthos Silver lining (40 cm x 1.5 m) is a very attractive native ground cover with fine, silvery grey foliage that is both soft in appearance and to touch,
'Silver Lining' is a low water user, thriving in dry conditions.
Adenanthos Silver Lining image supplied by Plants Management Australia
All Adenanthos are particularly well suited to coastal zones as long as you proived them with well drained or sandy soils.
Susceptible to borers and dieback (Phytophthora)
Woolly bush is best suited to dry summers rather than humid climates.
Some growers suggest that plants need rocks for anchorage in windy sites.
Fertilise with low P 1.6%


Plant Blindness with Liza Harvey
click on the link to listen to the segment

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Forget Brown Rot and Plant Swedes and NEW Sacred Bamboo


 Brown Rot of Stone Fruit
This fungal disease can appear on a lot of plants including veggies and a lot of fruits, but today Plant Doctor is concentrating on stone fruit.
Before you tune out, you might discover that some fruit that you purchase might have this problem.
This segment explains why that piece of fruit that’s sitting innocently in your fruit bowl can suddenly go off.
So let’s find out more about this problem and what to do about it. 

That was Steve Falcioni, General Manager of
The first signs can be the blossoms of your peach or nectarine trees turning brown and falling off prematurely.
You may not notice this happening in the first season, but if your trees have been infected. you will notice brown patches on your fruit that eventually cause the whole fruit to rot.
 You may not have any blossoms on your stone fruit trees, but there are still things that you can be doing as preventative measures for Brown Rot.
If this has happened then next season what you need to do is then to observe your blossoms when they appear to see if they’re dying prematurely.
Of course if you’ve had this problem before you need to spray as a precaution. Sprays with copper or sulphur in them work well as do eco Fungicide that contains potassium bi-carbonate.
Brown rot of stone fruit can leave mummified fruit stuck to the branches.
These are all barrier sprays and need to followed up regularly through the growing season.
If you have any questions about Brown rot of stone fruit, or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Swedes are from Sweden

Why is it that when you go to the vegie section in supermarkets where I live anyway, there are only a handful of limp Parsnips and soft swedes? Does that mean people don’t use these vegetables anymore?
Aren’t the putting them in the roasting pan or using them to flavour soups?
Swedes are vegetables
All that aside, did you know that a Swiss botanist Gaspard Bauhin in 1620, found this vegetable growing wild in Swedes?
So yes, Swedes do come from Sweden, Swede the vegetable that is.
Another interesting fact about this vegetable is it doesn’t seem to have a long history, well unless you consider dating back to the1600’s not long, which it isn’t compared to some vegetables.
It may be a surprise to you that it’s been recorded as growing in Royal Garden not much later after it was discovered, in 1669.
Brassica napus variety (var.) napobrassica, sometimes referred to as Rutabaga, but never referred to as turnip.
Rutabaga is a corruption of the Scottish for red bag.
There’s another surprise. 
If any listeners know why the Scots called it a red bag, let me know.
Turnips and swedes are both members of the cabbage family and are closely related to each other - so close that it’s not surprising that their names are often confused. 
Turnip is not a Swede

For instance, swedes are sometimes called Swedish turnips or swede-turnips.

How do you tell the difference between Turnips and Swedes?

For one, turnips are usually smaller than Swedes-about the size of a golf ball, with creamy white, smooth skin.
Some turnips have a smooth, silky skin that’s coloured white, with a purple or reddish top.
The flesh is white and has a peppery taste

Swedes showing leaf scars

Swedes are a lot bigger, - roughly the size of a shoe.
Its rough skin is creamy white and partly purple, with a distinctive 'collar'-that shows the multiple leaf scars.
The Swede also has a hint of yellow-orange inside the actual vegetable.
Here’s a bit of trivia for you from a very recent article in the English
The Most Dangerous Vegetables
Telegraph reporting on a poll on home accidents in the kitchen.
A survey found two-thirds of injuries in the kitchen come from preparing fresh vegetables like squash and turnip that are too difficult to cut.
Almost a quarter said pumpkins were the toughest vegetable to skin and chop while a fifth said swedes were the most dangerous.
Two in five participants said they had injured themselves trying to imitate TV chefs when slicing vegetables, the research found.
So it came as no surprise that root foods had topped a poll of the most dangerous vegetables. Don’t let that deter you!
Another surprise is that Swede vegetable is a cross between a turnip and a cabbage. So how it came to be growing in the wild in Sweden is anybody's guess.
If you were a lover if Haggis you might already know that the Scottish call it "neeps" and serve it with haggis.
Swede us a full flavoured veggie with a savoury aftertaste.
Under-rated as a vegetable, its smooth and creamy texture is a welcome surprise in your cooking.
How and when to grow Swedes.
You might’ve guessed that the Swede is a winter vegetable.
You can sow Swedes from February until November it temperate and cool districts.
In arid zones, you have April until August, and in sub-tropical and tropical areas, only May to July
You might find some garden books suggesting not to sow Swedes at these times, but those books are probably written for northern hemisphere gardens.
Seed suppliers also recommend the dates I’ve given.
How to Grow Swedes
Turnips are easy to grow but swedes are easier.
Sow the seeds of Swedes into any prepared soil, they’ll even grow in heavy soil as long as the water drains away fairly quickly.
As with carrots, don’t put in fresh compost or manures when you sow Swede seeds, or you’ll get the usual forking or hairy swedes!
Swedes need good levels of trace elements, add a dusting of these either from a packet, or as a seaweed spray if your soil is poor or sandy.
Without enough trace elements, your Swedes might be tasteless, bitter and brown inside.
TIP: Swedes resent transplanting, just like carrots, parsnips and turnips.
Sow the seeds directly into the veggie bed.
Your Swedes will be ready in three to four months after planting.
But you can pick them at whatever size you like, small is good, as is larger. Doesn’t matter.
In cold areas, Swedes are best left in the ground and pulled out as you need them.
Otherwise, pick them and store them as you would potatoes.
Where do you get it?
Cooking with Swedes
If you’re buying swedes from the fruit and veg grocer or supermarket, pick the smaller ones if you want the sweeter taste.
Cut them into chunks and steam them, but don’t overcook them because they tend to disintegrate.
How about making swede chips, why not?
Steam them and mash them or cut them into tiny pieces and put them in Cornish pasties.
Roast swedes are pretty tasty too.

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Why is it good for you?
1/2 cup cooked swede is a serve, and is a good source of vitamin C and fibre, folate and potassium. 
Swedes are quite filling but are low in kilojoules, with only 85kJ per 100g (2/3 cup).


Sacred Bamboo
Nandina domestica varieties, not for plant snobs.
Nandina Lemlim image supplied by Plants Management Australia
Are you a plant snob or know someone who is a plant snob?
By that I mean refuses to plant anything that’s commonly sold.
Someone who can’t imagine planting out star jasmine or murraya because it’s “oh so yesterday” and why would you want that rather than some rare species of plant that no-one else has.
The trouble is it’s the way those common plants are used that turn us off rather than
Let’s find out more…I'm talking with Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal 

Nandina Blush image supplied

The varieties we mentioned were Nandina were Obsession with new red growth, Nandina Blush staying red in Autumn and Winter.
In the winter months, Blush™ Nandina turns vivid red all over. It is 20% smaller than Nandina domestica ‘Nana’, Size: 60-70cm high x 60-70cm wide, a perfect height for fences, borders or hedging.

Image suppled Plants Management Australia
Nandina Lemon Lime a new evergreen,  with no red at all and looking more like a low bush bamboo plant. So compact that you never need to trim it.

If you have any questions about the new varieties of nandina, why not write in to If you have any questions about the new varieties of nandina, why not write in to If you have any questions about the new varieties of nandina, why not write in to If you have any questions about the new varieties of nandina, why not write in to

Feature interview with Liza Harvey.

Click on the link to hear Plant music

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Delicious Plums, Crispy Lettuce and Rarest of Peppers


Selim Pepper,  Xylopica ethiopica

Are you a bit of a kitchen whizz with a kitchen garden full of exotic herbs?
Or do you just rely on the same old staples of spices like, rosemary, oregano, parsley, sage, maybe some chilli pepper or paprika occasionally.
To be confident about using other spices you need to know a bit about them and sometimes, a bit of advice on how to use an unusual spice will give you the kick a long that you need to try something in that casserole or stew that you always make.
So let’s find out more about one such spice. 
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill, spice guru and owner of who has also written the Herb and Spice bible.

Selim pepper is also known as African pepper, Ethiopian pepper, Grains of Selim, Uda Pods, Guinea pepper, kimba pepper and Senegal pepper.

Not only is this spice hand picked but it’s possibly one of the rarest spices that Ian’s company has sourced for some time, so that in itself is something to want to try at least.
To use this spice crush the pods in a mortar and pestle then separate the fibrous bits out and use the remaining powder.
Xylopica ethiopica
You can just throw in the whole pods then remove them when cooking has finished.
Ian says the flavour won't be as strong if you do that.
Selim pepper is not as hot as Grains of Paradise and is good in long slow cooking as with the African Buka stew made with beef.
The plant is not grow in Australia and it's unlikely that your supermarket will have the spice, so you’ll have to order it online from Herbies Spices
If you have any questions about Selim Pepper, or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


WINTER LETTUCE or Lactuca sativa 

You might think it too boring to be a hero, but did you know that the earliest mention of lettuce in history is a carving on an Egyptian temple? Lettuce was considered an aphrodisiac in Egypt.

On the other hand the Greeks used lettuce as a medicinal plant to induce sleep.

Lactuca sativa or lettuce is just everywhere and thought to have originated from the wild or prickly lettuce, found as a weed in the Mediterranean.

Did You Know?
The flavour of lettuce is lost in as little as 24 hours, and there's no way supermarket lettuce is only 24 hours old.

The Lettuce (Lactuca sativa) is a temperate annual or biennial plant of the daisy family Asteraceae.. great in salads, tacos, hamburgers!

But here’s the thing not all kinds of lettuce are created alike!

Iceberg, Cos, and Butterhead are Winter Lettuce
This is the time to be plant all those hearting lettuce like, Iceberg, and Butterhead, Cos or Romaine.
Iceberg lettuce

These varieties do best in the coolest months because the upper temperature limit to grow heading lettuces is 25°C so they’re not going to bolt to seed now.

Did you know that there are four main types of lettuce grown commercially in Australia and these are three of them?
In northern Victoria the main growing season for these types is May until October.
Butterhead lettuce
When to Grow Lettuce
A lot of people think lettuce is a summer crop but the best growing temperatures are a maximum of 25°C during day and 8°C during the night.
In cool districts, you’ve got until end of May, then again in September until the following May.
In arid areas you have from March until October, in sub- tropical and temperate areas, we’ve hit the jackpot because we can grow lettuce all year round.
Lettuces taste best when they are grown as fast as possible and for that they need water and food.
Lettuce has shallow roots, so it dries out easily. You must keep up a steady supply of water because any set back will at least, make them tough and bitter, at worst it will cause them to bolt to seed straight away without making any leaves for you!
But at the cooler times of year, it’s not so much an issue.
Iceberg lettuce seedlings
Where to Plant
Don't plant them in deep shade, like under a tree. They will just grow into pale, leggy things with few leaves on them.
Sowing Lettuce
To sow lettuce seed, either spread the seed very thinly along a row and cover lightly with soil, or sprinkle it over a bed and just water or rake it in. For all you balcony gardeners, any largish pot will do for 3 or 4 lettuce seedlings.
Cos lettuce seedlings
Lettuce seed is very fine so you'll get a few clumps. Thin them out, you know the drill.
If the weather is very dry and your soil sandy, you will need to water every couple of days.
Stick your finger in the soil if not sure. Lettuces have a very shallow root system.
By the way, lettuce seed doesn't germinate that well at soil temperatures over 250C. There should be no problems at this time of year.

Once your lettuce seedlings start appearing start giving them side dressings of compost, worm tea and so on.
Lettuce that seems to be growing slowly, or are starting to show signs of going to seed even though you’ve watered them, is a sure sign that they’ve run out of food.
Did you prepare your veggie bed with enough compost? Of not there are plenty of organic type liquid fertilisers that you can add to your watering can and use on your leafy vegetables.

So why is it good for you?

Lettuce is very good for digestion and promotes good liver function.
Lettuce has good levels of Vitamin C, beta-carotene and fibre.
Lettuce obviously won't lead to weight gain as many varieties have over 90% water and are extremely low in calories.
Lettuce contains the sedative LAC-TOO-CAREY-UM (lactucarium) which relaxes the nerves without affecting digestion.
So I’m going with the Greeks on this one-remember they used lettuce as a sedative, probably eating it with their evening meal.
As a general rule, the darker green the leaves, the more nutritious the salad green. For example, romaine or watercress have seven to eight times as much beta-carotene, and two to four times the calcium, and twice the amount of potassium as iceberg lettuce. By varying the greens in your salads, you can boost the nutritional content as well as vary the tastes and textures.


Greengage Plums

Today’s plant of the week is in the productive side of gardening.

If you like making preservers, jams and jellies, you might want to grow this heritage tree, whose fruit is unavailable in supermarkets or greengrocers.
Don’t know why, because it just has the most superior taste of all fruits of the same kind.
Let’s find out more…I'm talking with Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal

Greengage plums-small and delicious.
Did you know that the first true greengage was bred in Moissac, France, from a green-fruited wild plum originally found in Asia Minor; that original greengage cultivar is known as the cultivar 'Reine Claude Verte'
Yalca fruit company write in their website that
“The Green Gage plum is an amazing eating experience – sweet and very richly flavoured but balanced with perfect amount of acidity.
Singled out by the author of the Australian Fruit Tree book, Louis Glowinski, as his favourite fruit overall (a big rave, given his book covers a fairly significant proportion of the fruit kingdom) but this is a great plum.”
Sounds delicious.
Anyone fancy an almond and greengage plum crumble?


Continuing the series on "plant blindness' by Liza Harvey.