Saturday, 28 July 2018

Exploring the Senses in Gardening

What’s On The Show Today?

Part 2 of garden toolboxes in the tool time segment and it’s not what you think,; growing no ordinary mint in Vegetable Heroes, 5 senses gardening in Design Elements with landscape designer Chris Poulton, plus scented flowers in winter in plant of the week;


Tools for the Advanced and Mature Gardener
Over the years, gardeners accumulate quite a number of tools that they regard as essential and wouldn’t be without.
Last week we talked about what you might need if you were a beginner or slightly more advanced gardener.
Cut Above Tools
So now we’re going for tools with more oomph and powered by more than your muscle power.
The reason is that it’s the experienced and the mature gardener that’s getting a look in.
Let’s find out what the experts recommend.
I'm talking with Tony Mattson General Manager of

What do you think, do you agree with Tony’s advanced gardener’s tool kit or would you have chosen something else?

If you haven’t already, it’s probably time to buy a pair of ratchet secateurs (sek-a terrs) to add to your toolbox. Ratchet secateurs are great for pruning shrubs.
Mature gardeners might want gear action loppers
If you have any questions either for me or Tony, you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


No Ordinary Mint: Vietnamese Mint

Vietnamese mint, Persicaria odorata.
Any time is a great time to be growing mints of all kinds, but this one is particularly good.
And…..Vietnamese mint isn’t actually a mint, nor is it in the mint family-Lamiaceae but in a family called Polygonaceae which is the same for buckwheat and rhubarb.

Botanical Bite

In botany, mint is the common name for any of the various herbaceous plants that have a botanical name starting with Mentha, in the mint family Lamiaceae.
Flowers of Vietnamese Mint
These mints have wide-spreading, underground rhizomes; erect, square, branched stems; and pairs of oppositely arranged leaves; and small, tubular flowers arranged in clusters.
Only the members of Mentha are known as the "true mints," some plants in same family but aren’t true mints, use mint in their common name.
But one things for sure and that is the entire family is known as the mint family.
In comes some other plants with fragrant leaves that have the common name of mint associated.
Vietnamese mint is one of these. Not a true mint and again, not even in the mint family.
Odorata simply means fragrant which this plant is
This so called mint is a herb that’s used a lot in Asian cuisine, and funnily enough, it grows easily, much like other mints.
How to use Vietnamese mint and other interesting facts.

The leaves are used fresh in salads, soups and stews.
In Singapore, the shredded leaf is an essential ingredient in laksa, a spicy soup.
Here’s a funny fact-did you know that some Buddhist monks grow Vietnamese mint in their private gardens and eat it often as a helpful step in their celibate life?
Vietnamese mint has an essential oil called kesom oil.
This oil is used a lot in the processed food industry where it’s used in the form of a natural food essence.
The cosmetic industry also uses kesom oil.
So what does it look like?

It’s a creeping herbaceous perennial that grows up to 30cm with a flavour that is a mix of pepper, mint and lemon.
The leaves are very narrow and angular looking and the stems are jointed much like wandering Jew which is now called Tradescantia.
The old genus name Poly­gonum (English: knot­weed) pointed to way the stem looked, - many joints linked together by slightly bent “knots” or “knees”

The top of the leaf is dark green, with chestnut-coloured dark rounded markings right across the leaf, and the underside is burgundy red.
When it flowers is has flat spikes of light lavender coloured flowers, but I can’t say mine has ever flowered.
In originates in Vietnam where it’s found in the wild in wet and boggy places.

Where it Grows
It can grow very well outside in summer in non-tropical parts of Australia.
Vietnamese mint prefers part-sun and well-drained soil.
For those areas with cool to cold winter, bring your Vietnamese mint indoors or under shelter as you would an indoor plant.
It grows very well in pots but is frost tender.
Tip: If you’re growing them in pots, once Vietnamese gets pot bound, it’ll stop producing leaves giving you a big hint to repot and divide it up.
Vietnamese mint rarely flowers outside the tropics, but it’s the leaves you want to use and not the flowers.
Vietnamese mint is normally fairly low maintenance and is easy to grow, as long as you give it a basic level of basic care.
All you need to do is keep it well watered and cut back to the ground when
leaves become tough to produce more fresh young leaves.
Vietnamese mint is a perennial plant that grows best in tropical and subtropical zones in warm and damp conditions.
But all gardeners like a challenge even if it the growing conditions aren’t ideal.
In good conditions, it can grow up to 15 to 30 cm.
In summer or when the temperature is too high, it does wilt.
If you know someone with this plant ask for some cuttings from a mature clump.
These mints are so hardy!
They will tolerate any soil conditions and even people stomping on them (by accident of course, or chickens trying to dig the plant up).
They don't need constant fertilising or watering but do like shading from the hottest part of the day.
Try planting Vietnamese mint if you'd like to attract butterflies and bees to your garden for tropical gardens of course.
So what do you do with Vietnamese Mint.
The fresh leaf is used typically in Vietnamese cooking and can be used in
place of Coriander in all Asian cooking, soups, salads and fish.
It can also be dried.
Vietnamese Mint Lemonade
You can even make Vietnamese Mint lemonade.
Just place some sugar in the bottom of a large jug.
Add ice, 1 cup of lemon juice, then slices of lemon, a handful of mint and top up with about 2 litres of mineral water.
Very refreshing.

Why is it good for you?
 Vietnamese mint contains high levels of Beta-carotene and vitamin E:
Also has high levels of folic acid, iron and calcium.
Mint leaves also have useful healing properties.
Mints can freshen breath, soothe the stomach and reduce inflammation. Mint leaves are not as potent as concentrated mint oil, but they still have many of the same health benefits.


Introduction to 5 Sense Gardening

Have you ever thought about the five senses when you think about your garden?
Probably not, but the best way to enjoy your garden is to engage all the senses.
Today we are going to talk about these senses and how to recognise and use them on a daily basis in small and large gardens.

Touch, Smell, Sight, Hearing, Taste are of course the 5 sense, so how do we incorporate these into garden design so each particular sense is invigorated.
Let’s find out about what, why and how.
I'm talking with Chris Poulton, Convener for the Australian Institute of Horticulture, and experienced Horticultural Lecture and Consultant.

Most gardens just have visual appeal, but you’ll enjoy your garden more if there are other
If you have any questions about five senses gardening or have a suggestion either for me or for Chris why not write in or email me at


Luculia gratissima

The shrub featured this week is an old fashioned shrubs but with outstanding features.
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?
Luculia gratissima
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.

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.
You can prune mature Luculias quite hard to tidy them up, should you be lucky enough to have one growing in your garden.

If you have a question either for me or the plant panel why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Trees, Cress and Garden Tools

What’s On The Show Today?

Toolboxes in the tool time segment and it’s not what you think,; growing an indoor green with heaps of vitamin C in Vegetable Heroes, spikey but long lasting flowers in plant of the week; plus the final in the 4 part series or trees in Design Elements with arboriculturalist and garden designer Glenice Buck.


Garden Toolboxes for the Beginner and Semi-Advanced Gardener
Over the years, gardeners accumulate quite a number of tools that they regard as essential and wouldn’t be without.

I’m not talking about anything that is powered, wither by petrol or electricity, but hand tools.
Quite often we even have several of the same too.
If you knew someone who was just starting out in gardening, what would you recommend they have as an essential part of their gardening tool kit?
Limit it to three and see how you go.
Let’s find out what the experts recommend.
 I'm talking with Tony Mattson General Manager of

What do you think, do you agree with Tony’s essential beginner’s tool kit or would you have chosen something else?

For the most part, I’m sure listeners would have said a pair of secateurs\ would be the bare minimum, but one pair of secateurs doesn’t make a kit, you need two more things.
What are yours? If you have any questions either for me or Tony, you can email us


 Cress Of All Kinds But Mainly Garden Cress
If we understood what the health benefits of the food we eat, both vegetables, root plants, tubers, grains etc not only would we be getting fed but also getting help to know why we should eat certain food, when and how to eat such food so as to obtain all the benefits attached to the food. 
Segue to a small plant that even though it’s smallish in nature it’s got very powerful abilities and that’s garden cress. 
You may have eaten garden cress in the past or you may not have even come across it at all. 
Garden cress (Lepidium sativum), is a member of the cabbage family. Brassicaceae 

Cress is native to the Middle East and interestingly was grown in Persia as early as 400 BC 
Did you know that there are several types of cress? 
Garden Cress is also called broadleaf cress, has flat, bright green leaves to 10cm long and 5cm wide. 
Garden cress, a biennial, is also called peppergrass, pepper cress, and mustard cress. 
Golden-leafed broadleaf cress is sometimes called Australian cress. 
Garden cress is an annual that does best in damp soil. 

Curly cress (Barbarea vernapraecox), also called, early winter cress, or Upland cress, has finely divided leaves something like parsley or chervil and thin, branching stems. 
Curly cress is dark green and also likes to grow in damp soil. 

Watercress (Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum) is a trailing annual usually grown in water. 
You can grow watercress indoors in pots set in a tray of water or along the side of a stream or watercourse. 
Who has a stream or creek running past their kitchen window? 

This is what some English people might do to grow watercress 
Watercress, by the way is a member of the Nasturtium family. 

Today I’m focussing on garden cress.

How Do You Grow Garden Cress? 
Cress is a reseeding annual or biennial, which can be grown in shade or semi shade. 
It’s featuring on Veg heroes now because it grows well in the cooler months. 
“If you plant cress during the summer, the plants will shoot up flowers without making enough growth to harvest.” 
If grown in dry soil and very hot weather, instead of being refreshing and tasty, it becomes unpleasant and bitter.
Its seeds are light - germinating, in about 2 to 4 days. 
Northern Hemisphere information will tell you to sow seed in early spring or late summer through autumn. 
Garden Cress seeds can be sown any time of the year, although plants will generally grow best in Autumn, Winter or Spring. 
If you live in a warmer part of Australia and want to grow garden cress during the Summer try growing it indoors, that way you’ll have cress all year round. 
Cress is also suitable as a groundcover, and can also be grown year around or on a windowsill in pots, bowls, boxes, or flat plates where it will often produce a more mild and pleasing flavour .
If you want, you could have a continual supply, if you sowed seed every eight days. 
It’s a fact that the officers in the 1700’s coming over on the first fleet, grew cress on wet flannel as a source of Vitamin C .
Soil is not that important, and sand, coir peat, and compost are all suitable. 
Water your cress well; both seeds and plants should be kept moist. 
Cress prefers a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.8. that’s slightly acid. 

How To Sow 
Scatter your garden cress seeds straight into the garden bed, raking in to about 3mm deep and firming down the soil lightly prior to watering in to retain moisture. You can soaking Garden Cress seeds overnight before sowing to increase the number of seedlings you end up with. 
Once the seedlings have a few leaves you can thin them out, leave about 20cm between them to allow room for each plant to grow. 
Where to Grow 

Garden Cress prefers to grow in a sunny spot or in light shade for part of the day. For warmer areas, Garden Cress will grow better in partial shade when grown during the hotter months of the year outdoors.
As far as companion planting goes, “Cress is not suitable for growing among other plants as it contains a tiny amount of mustard oil that’s supposed to interfere with the growth of other plants.” this is called aelopathic, or aelopathy. 

Growing without soil 
Cress can actually be grown without soil, by using moist paper towels 
To do this at home, just layer and wet two paper towels and set them on a plate. Sprinkle the cress seeds on the wet paper towels and place plate in a light window, preferably a north-facing window. Check daily to make sure the paper towels are kept moist. 
In about three days, the plants should be a bit over 1 cm high. 
Keep going with making the paper moist and when they reach 10 -12 cm high, trim your cress with scissors and enjoy! 
If you’re growing cress outside, pick your cress when it’s still young; 10-15cm in height. 
When mature, garden cress produces white or light-pink flowers, and small seed pods. 
In cooking Garden cress is added to soups, sandwiches and salads for its tangy flavour. 
It’s also eaten as sprouts, and the fresh or dried seed pods can be used as a peppery seasoning.

Why Is It Good For You? 
Garden cress is an important source of iron, folic acid, calcium, vitamins C, E and A. The seeds are high in calories and protein, whereas the leaves are an excellent source of vitamin A, C and folate. 
Both the leaves and stems of cress can be eaten raw in salads or sandwiches, and are sometimes called cress sprouts. 
When buying cress, look for firm, evenly coloured, rich green leaves. 
Avoid cress with any signs of slime, wilting, or discoloration. 
If stored in plastic, it can last up to five days in the fridge. 
Another way to store cress is by putting the stems in a glass container with water and covering them, then put in the fridge until you need them. 
Cress is used raw and in sandwiches and salads with mixed greens. 
Cress is also good with cottage cheese and with eggs. 
It can be overpowering to other herbs, so it is generally used alone. 

Banskia Spinulosa

This next plant is a native but is often overlooked because people go for the more colourful and show Grevilleas.
They may come in limited colourways, but their flowers are much more substantial and spectacular, particular if you have several cultivars planted or grouped together.
Banksia spinulosa
Plus they provide nectar for wildlife during the colder months of the year.
Let’s find out about them
I'm talking with Jeremy Critchley owner of and Karen Smith editor of

Banksia spinulosa isn’t slow growing at all and within a couple of years, if grown from seed, will have reached over one metre tall and wide, plus provide a least 8 flower spikes.

Banskia flower spikes you can either cut for the vase, or just leave on the bush for the native wildlife to enjoy.

As cut flowers, Banksias can last for months.

If you have a question either for me or the plant panel why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Preserving Trees: Why We Should

Today is the final in the series about the stewardship of trees.
On the menu is why we need to preserve our trees because in the long run, if you damage trees, you’re actually doing yourself a disservice.

Let’s find out about why we need to preserve trees.
I'm talking with Glenice Buck, Arboriculture Consultant and Garden Designer.

Did you know that three trees placed strategically around a single-family home can cut summer air conditioning needs by up to 50 percent?
Shade from trees slows water evaporation from thirsty lawns. Most newly planted trees need only 55 litres of water a week. 

As trees transpire, they increase atmospheric moisture.
If you have any questions about what arborists do, consulting or otherwise or have a suggestion either for me or for Glenice, why not write in or email me at

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Trees, Leaves and Frost

What’s On The Show Today?

Winter care of ornamentals in the Plant Doctor segment, growing a hardy herb in Vegetable Heroes, a groundcover whose leaves come in a plethora of colours in plant of the week; plus what does an arborist actually do? in the 4 part series or trees in Design Elements with arboriculturalist and garden designer Glenice Davies


Winter Care of Ornamental Plants
Ornamental plants are those whose leaves, flowers and fruits we don't eat.
Autumn is meant to gently acclimatise most plants to the cold.
What if Autumn is just an extension of Summer and then, whoosh, cold weather arrives all too soon and it's winter?
Snow damage on Eucalypts
That is one reason that during winter some of our trees and shrubs don’t look so healthy and gardeners start getting concerned that something is wrong with their particular plant.
Unsuspecting gardeners might even think that their plant is dying because the leaves have started dropping of, yet it’s supposed to be evergreen.
Could it be just a response to cold weather or is something untoward happening in the soil that is affecting the plant’s health?
Let’s find out.. 
I'm talking with was Steve Falcioni, General Manager of

The leaves can change colour due to the cold, and it may be just a normal reaction or because the plant can't access nutrients that it needs.
Frost Damagon Avocado. photo Dept of  Primary Industries W. A.
If you make a note in your garden diary that a particular plant did this or that in winter, you may discover that it’s quite normal during the cold months of the year. 
Seaweed extracts help plants reduce stress factors and one of them is coping with the cold.
Applying it regularly though is a must for this to be of benefit.
If you have any questions either for me or Steve, you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Lemon Grass
Lemon Grass or Cymbopogon citratus is in the Poaceae Family
Lemongrass is a perennial grass native to tropical southeast Asia.
You may have heard of lemongrass and even seen it sold in the fruit and veg section of the supermarket, but what you may not know is that there are two main types of lemongrass.
There’s East Indian, Cymbopogon flexuosus , and West Indian, Cymbopogon citratus.
East Indian lemongrass, also known as cochin or Malabar grass is native to India, while West Indian lemongrass is native to southern India and Ceylon.
Did you know that lemongrass is one of the most widely used traditional plants in South American folk medicine?
In India, it’s used as a medical herb and for perfumes, but not used as a spice; in the rest of tropical Asia (Sri Lanka and even more South East Asia), it’s an important culinary herb and spice.

What does it look like?

Lemon grass grows in a bushy like clumps to 1 m tall with long narrow pale green leaves.
The slender stalks are about 30cm long and are rough to the touch, especially the leaf blade edges which feel quite sharp.
The common name gives it away but lemongrass has a wonderful lemony scent and taste because of the citral that’s the aldehyde that gives it the lemon odour.

It can be easily propagated by division and when you pick the Lemon Grass to use in cooking or teas, cut off the bottom part leaving just the roots - put this piece into a glass of water and it will shoot very quickly.

You can then replant it and you’ll definitely always have Lemon Grass in your garden.

For companion plant aficionados, growing a clump of Lemon Grass in the vegetable garden has a good influence on all the plants around it and the vegetables will be much more flavoursome.

How To Grow Lemongrass
Lemongrass is adapted to hot wet summers and dry warm winters, is drought tolerant and will grow on a wide range of soils but prefers rich, moist loams.
It dislikes wet feet, but it does like regular watering in summer.
If it’s damaged by frost in cooler areas, the tops should not be cut until all danger of frost has passed.

How to control that lemongrass.

Cut back the old leaves in early Spring to strengthen the bush as well as tidy it up because invariably if it has dried out , there’ll be plenty of dead stalks which aren’t much good for cooking.
This helps to protect the centre of the plant from further cold damage.

You need a pretty big pot to contain it.
In a small pot, it gets too cramped too quickly and as I’ve discovered, get little green growth and lots of dead leaves.
You can divide the clump, but it will soon be just as massive as it is now.
It's jolly hard work digging it, and every single piece with roots on it will in no time flat be just as big as the parent.

TIP:So putting it in the vegetable garden will only work if you contain it in perhaps a bottomless pot.
The leaves can be picked at any time of the year and the stems can be used fresh or dried.

So why Is It Good For You?
Medicinally Lemon Grass can be drunk as a tea as can taken either hot or cold.
Iced Lemongrass is a mild sedative.
Try it for your insomnia, or when you are under stress, or even if you need help to calm a nervous or upset stomach.
The herb is also said to relieve headaches.
Lemon Grass tea in summer is not only extremely refreshing but it’s good for the skin as the oil ctains Vitamin A. 

How To Use Lemongrass
For an invigorating bath, add a few drops of Lemon Grass oil to your bathwater. Teenagers with skin problems will benefit by drinking the tea regularly and it will also give eyes a bright clear look as well.
For cooking use the stalks only and pick the thick, light green ones that feel firm and aren’t dried out and wilted.

Cut off the woody root tip of each stalk until the purplish-tinted rings begin to show and remove the loose, dry outer layer(s).

Also, if the top of the stalk is dry and fibrous cut this off too.
When using it in cooked dishes, bang it with a cleaver to bruise the membranes and release more flavour.
Put a handful of the leaves into the saucepan when steaming or simmering chicken or fish to give a delicate but delicious taste of lemon.
It can be used in many dishes as a substitute for lemon.
To store fresh lemon grass, wrap well in clingfilm and refrigerate
This will keep for up to three weeks. 


Heuchera species.
Gardening isn’t just about the flowers you know.

There are plants that have leaves in a kaleidoscope of colours with names like Pink Fizz, Champagne, Gumdrops, and Forever Purple.
Heuchera is also great for dry shade in places where root competition won't allow most plants to grow.
There’s got to be one that will inspire you to plant into your garden.

I'm talking with Jeremy Critchley owner of and Karen Smith editor of 
Let's find out about them

Heuchera's have a shallow root system and are perfect for greenwalls of any kind.
Jeremy mentioned that Heuchera loves cooler weather and the Autumn/Winter months is the time when the grow most of their Heuchera varieties.
These plants tolerate shady condtions and will cope with being an indoor plant for quite a few months.
Darker leafed varieties can cope with full sun, but it's best to try them on in a sunny location first before planting them into the ground.
In colder climates, to protect them from frost damage, lay a 2 cm layer of thick straw mulch around the plants. 
Heuchera's have a shallow root system and are also perfect for greenwalls of any kind.
If you have a question either for me or the plant panel why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


What Does an Arborist or Consultant Arborist Do?

This series is about arboriculture and managing trees.
Did you know that there was an Institute of Australian Consulting Arborists?
So what is a consulting arborist and can they cut down your trees if you want them too?
Let’s find out?

I'm talking with Consultant Arborist and Garden Designer Glenice Buck.

If you’ve been asked for an Arborist Report, a Tree Report or an Arboricultural Impact Assessment then a consulting arborist is the best person to call because they often prepare these reports for clients with respect to trees for a range of reasons.
And where do you find these consulting arborists? 
Look no further than the Accredited Members of the Institute of Australian Consulting Arboriculturists (IACA) ( ) provide written reports for their clients in the public and private sectors. IACA members do not undertake tree pruning or removal work.
The other organization is Arboriculture Australia which also lists consulting arborists.
photo Capel Manor College-Arborist Course.

And where do you find these consulting arborists?

Look no further than the Accredited Members of the Institute of Australian Consulting Arboriculturists (IACA) ( ) provide written reports for their clients in the public and private sectors. IACA members do not undertake tree pruning or removal work.
The other organization is Arboriculture Australia which also lists consulting arborists.

If you have any questions about what arborists do, consulting or otherwise or have a suggestion either for me or for Glenice, why not write in or email me at

Saturday, 7 July 2018

English Gardens, Trees, and Blue Tongues

What’s On The Show Today?

What makes an English landscape garden in the garden history segment, it’s really a flower head, but we eat it as a veggie in Vegetable Heroes,a shrub that’s native but looks exotic in plant of the week; plus tree selection in the 4 part series or trees in Design Elements with Arboricultural Consultant and garden designer Glenice Davies.


English Landscapes and How They Changed Australian Gardens.

Why did the first settlers try and emulate the English garden in such different conditions is easy enough to answer?
Stowe, England photo M. Cannon
They wanted a home away from home, much like peoples from other nations choosing to have quite different gardens.
In Today’s garden history segment we look at those first English influences and why they’re still relevant today.
I'm talking with Stuart Read, committee member of the National Garden History Society of Australia., which you can join or attend one of their meetings by the way.
Let’s find out..

PLAY: English Landscape Garden in Oz_27th June
David Jaques has written a book on English landscapes that Stuart recommends.
When Australia was being settled the "beautiful" or English "landscape" style was dominating garden design as it had started to do from the 1700's.
This was basically faked up landscapes that were intended to look like the real thing.
Funnily enough, 220 years later, they do look like the r"real thing," because the trees have grown into what the landscaper had intended.
Landscapers like Capability Brown started this revolution in garden design as seen in the photographs of Stowe, where he first started the trend.
Stowe, England, photo M Cannon
The most famous landscapers of that time were Capability Brown, along with Charles Bridgeman, William Kent, and later Humphrey Repton.
If you have any questions either for me or Stuart, you can email us or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Broccoli is Good For You Greg!Do you know someone who just won't eat Broccoli?
No reason, just can't come at this very green vegetable.
Here's some facts that might change their mind.

Ever wondered which vegetable has more vitamin C than an orange? 
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? 
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?

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. 
  • Why, because that type of Broccoli transports better? 
  • Homegrown Broccoli, especially the heirloom varieties, also re-shoot after you’ve cut off the central Broccoli stem. 
  • Plus, 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. 
  • If you just buy broccoli at the green grocer’s, the broccoli may look great but the taste may not be up to scratch. 
  • How so? They may have been picked before becoming fully-mature. 
  • Or they may have been picked at the right time but then stored too long 
  • With home-grown broccoli, you can also be sure how it has been grown: 
  • You know exactly where it has come from, what you used to grow and protect it, unlike those sold in supermarkets and even in farmer’s markets. 
  • In tropical districts plant out seedlings until the end of July. 
  • For sub-tropical districts you can plant all year round. 
  • In Temperate districts, it was the end of May, but maybe you can try anyway. 
  • In cool temperate districts 
  • Temperate and cool climates suit Broccoli best with a temperature range of 150C to 250C. 
  • The ideal time for cool temperate districts has just passed also so not until October, 
  • However for arid, districts, you have until the end of July. 

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 common or garden variety which is actually 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.
Broccoli seeds are easy enough to get at supermarkets, garden centres and online seed suppliers of course.

Try these broccoli varieties
Di Cicco is a classic Italian style broccoli which is deep green in colour and has a sweet flavour that might help to get kids into eating it.
Broccoli di Cicco
Green Sprouting is a Calabrese style broccoli with bluish green coloured heads and a deep earthy taste.
Waltham 29 is a great all-rounder plus there’s purple sprouting Broccoli, which is well, purple and sprouting- attractive and tasty.
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.

How to grow Broccoli?
  • 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. 
  • Like all brassicas, Broccoli needs a minimum soil pH of 6; but really prefers a pH of 7. Add lime if you need to raise the soil pH. 
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.
  • Sow your Broccoli seed about 1 ½ cm deep, and space the seedlings about 40cm apart so they don’t crowd each other. 
  • 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. 
TIP: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.

When do you pick your Broccoli?
Harvest broccoli heads when they have reached maximum size, are still compact, and before the buds loosen, open into flowers, or turn yellow. It will be about 70-100 days or 2 ½ -4 months, when your Broccoli will be ready if you plant it now. 
Here's how you should cut the stems
  • 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 side-shoots 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
Broccoli also contains magnesium and as much calcium as whole milk.
One cup of broccoli boosts the immune system with a large dose of beta-carotene.
Great for preventing colds. Don’t underestimate the power of broccoli!



Melastoma affine: Native Lasiandra: Blue Tongue

If you’re into your gardening and love the colour purple for flowers and perhaps fruits or foliage, then this little gem might surprise you.

The reason is that it’s native to Australia but looks just like it’s exotic cousin from South America.
Let’s find out about it.
I'm talking with Karen Smith editor of

Because this plant is indigenous to Australia, there are pollinators that can visit this plant successfully, unlike the Tibouchina which it resembles.
Here's how they do it.
Funnily enough, Melastoma produces no nectar - giving pollinators large amounts of pollen instead, which must be extracted through pores on the anthers.
The flowers are pollinated in the wild by carpenter bees - the Giant Carpenter Bee and the Metallic Green Carpenter Bee - they grab hold of the stamen (the bit that holds the pollen) and give it a good shake.
Introduced Honey Bees can't 'buzz pollinate' - they don't have the ability or technique to vibrate their wings while clasping the stamen.
So, they can only gather pollen if it has been already released onto the petals.

That’s why you’ll never see fruits on a Tibouchina but will, on a Native Lasiandra.
Worth getting for that reason alone.

If you have a question either for me or the plant panel why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Tree Selection
This series is about arboriculture and managing trees.
Perhaps some people are put off trees because they can drop heaps of leaves and sometimes a branch or two, or fall over in storms.
But there’s a reason for that.
"For the trees in a landscape to grow, thrive and survive the test of time, many factors need to be considered when you are choosing the trees for your garden. "

Westonbirt arboretum, England photo M/ Cannon
Probably something we already know, and that is trees are an essential part of our landscape and according to the CSIRO, trees will clean air and are the lungs of the planet. 
Let’s find out who to call? 
I'm talking to Arboriculture Consultant and Landscape Designer, Glenice Davies.

When choosing trees you need to consider what you want out of a tree?
  •  evergreen or deciduous?
  • shape and habit
  • how big will it grow?
  • size of the roots.
  • flowering and/or fruiting?
  • life span
  • what maintenance is involved?
Cloud pruned trees, England. photo M. Cannon
Research shows that people experience more deaths from heart disease and respiratory diseases in urban areas where the tree had been removed than from those urban areas where trees were still allowed to grow.
Still want to get rid of those trees?

If you have any questions about tree selection or have a suggestion why not write in or email me at