Saturday, 23 March 2019

Cucumber Family, Possums, Federation Gardens and Hypericum

We’re focusing on fungal diseases that lurk in the veggie patch in Plant Doctor, are there solutions for deterring possums in vegetable heroes, a new series on garden styles in Design Elements and today is what makes the Federation style and what is Hypericum in the Talking Flower segment.


Fungal Problems of Cucurbits: Cucumbers, Zucchini, Squash, Pumpkin, Watermelons and Rockmelons.
You might think that it’s only hot and humid weather that brings out this particular fungus to the fore.
But no, not only is this fungal problem not host specific, but it can blight your plants, both edible and ornamental during a wide temperature range.
Why is that? You might ask.
Powdery Mildew on Cucumber Leaves
Let’s find out
I'm talking with Steve Falcioni from

Powdery mildew is the main fungal disease affecting cucurbits. It looks like a white coating over the leaves and stems of the plants.
Powdery mildew has an effective temperature range of 10 – 30 C and can attack just about everything in the vegetable garden as well as your annual flowers or perennials such as Dahlias. 
Preventative spraying is best if you have it year after year especially as spores can germinate in some districts all year round.
There’s plenty of preventative treatments, some homemade, others commercial. 
  • Full cream milk works best in sunny weather. Bi-carbonate of soda works reasonably well.
  • Sulphur can be used but it will burn the plants on hot days and also kill off any beneficial insects.
The best solution is Potassium bi-carbonate which is sold as eco-fungicide.
 Under a microscope, potassium bi-carbonate affectively kills off the fungus in 5 minutes.
  • You may find that rotating your choice of treatment gives you the best results with this fungal problem.
If you have any questions either for me or for Steve, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Possum Deterrents

This weeks it’s “Is that a possum eating my plants?”
I thought this segment could be about what people thought worked in their garden to deter possums.
Are you plagued with larger critters making a meal out of your vegetable garden, roses, ornamental shrubs, the list is endless?

  • Perhaps you’ve tried hanging some blood and bone in old stockings around your plant in the belief that possums hate the smell?
  • Maybe you tried mothballs instead of the blood and bone.
Ringtail Possum
Colleen says “ The most effective thing I did find was mothballs, I made up little bags out of netting and put five in each then pinned them everywhere.”

  • What about sensor spotlights? Did you try that?
Gardens don’t even have to be big because courtyards aren’t immune either, especially if you’re growing strawberry plants, and other delicious veggies.
Some suggest decoy plants, and then there’s the ultimate netted off area.
One listener writes,

  • I have battled with possums eating our eight ornamental grape vines that cover our pergolas the last two years.
  • Since our last dog passed away. I have tried everything, and I mean everything.
  • Some things work for a couple of days, some not at all.
  • I have now completely netted them in the hope that they will be able to stand a fighting chance of getting some leaves this year.
  • The possums are not interested in the leaves once they are older only when they are new shoots.
  • My question is though are there any really prolific vines, suitable to grow on a sturdy fence that possums absolutely love.
  • I have decided that possibly the best thing to do is plant something that would entice them to not even come near the house.
  • I have three of our forty acres fenced and gardened, so could put it a fair distance away from the house.
I know snail vines grow crazy, but I don’t know if possums like them. Not Really
My husband wouldn’t allow wisteria, we have had a really bad experience with one in the past.
I am located around Moruya south coast NSW, we can get a few pretty harsh frosts in winter, had a couple of -3 this year but I could plant in a fairly protected area also.
Banksia roses are a good suggestion here.
Plastic Rings
The best suggestion was to instead have big plastic rings/“tubes” around the legs on the pergola and the vine verticals so they can’t climb up.
It’s the only thing that has allowed some leaves to grow on the vine.
 Has to be incredibly tight though. 
If there's a little gap  would squeeze through.
Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney use this method to protect their trees that resident possums like to eat the leaves of.

  • We tried supersonic antipest devices. Absolutely no effect.
  • There are sprays which claim they keep the possums off, that work for a few days but as soon as there’s rain or dew, they have to be re-applied.
  • There are those who leave out food.
Denise says she leaves a plate of food out for them. She buys buy cheap fruit an vegs for my lot and a slice of stale biscuits and bread, , they love it and leave my plants alone, they love watermelon but not rockmelon.
She goes on to say “i have 7 coming and going ,never have they eaten any of my plants, they know where i put food out, i never had them not eat what i put out only the rockmelon.
You would think one would out of 7, and some are 3rd generation coming ,
We have possum boxes out also in trees,
Ringtail Possum and Possum Box

They eat my bird seed, chook food and cat food dry if i forget it out on balcony.
Denise always leaves water out also, the ringtails eat the berries on lilly pilly but she hardly sees them they are so quiet.
  • Leaving the best suggestion to last is from Mo in Batemans Bay, she writes
  •  “I want to share with you a fantastic night pest deterrent - mainly possums but it may work also with rats.
  • We tried many other deterrents for 2 years with little to no success.
  • There are so many poor products and they don't live up to the hype.!
  • We've had a serious issue with possums and as we live adjacent to bush, catching them is unrealistic as new families just move right in!
  • I came to the conclusion that the alternating flashing of SOLAR string Christmas lights would probably be very annoying to the lovely little protected critters : as they are nocturnal and shun lights!
  • And to their delight, it IS !
  • They cost nothing to run, being SOLAR!
  • Each string is 20m long. They sell them for around $20.

Charge each solar panel up as directed first before turning on to the combination setting (7 sequences include 'waves, slow-go, chasing/flashing. slow fade, twinkle flash, and steady on')
Great hisses of disapproval from our possum terrorists for a few nights and since, nothing !!
A good 12 weeks later and my roses are growing again and climbers have started to recover.
We tied the lights along the top rails of a fenced off garden designed first to just keep out the wallabies. (Little did we know then about the possums!)
We had landscapers cut 3 terraces into our very steep block at the rear, connected by wide steps.
If fence tops are not applicable to you, solar lights could be strung across tops of stakes, or just through the affected areas of your garden.
Our garden has 100's of roses, and includes an orchard, vegetable and edibles. All are now thriving !
We use LYTWORX LED 8 function solar lights. Rectangular box. Order them in if they are out? Bunnings was our source.

Federation Style Gardens.
Federation architecture is the architectural style in Australia that was mostly seen from around 1890 to 1915.
Most listeners would know that the name refers to the Federation of Australia on 1 January 1901, when the Australian colonies collectively became the Commonwealth of Australia.

Gardens used to be much bigger than they are today and during the evolution of the Federation garden, there were probably more plants available to buy than there are today.
Let’s find out what this style has to offer.
I'm talking with Danielle Collier from Artistic Horticulture.

Federation architecture embraced Australiana themes and of course the verandah.
Features might include stylised images of the waratah, flannel flower or Queensland Firewheel tree.
Popular Federation Garden plants were:
  • Aspidistra Agapanthus, Buxus hedges, Fruit trees, Hellebores, Hydrangeas, Ivy,
  • Palms, Pelargoniums, Quince, Roses, Succulents and cactiWisteria.
  • Gardens also included themes such as succulent, cacti or orchid gardens.
In the garden also there was a change from evergreen to deciduous trees such as jacaranda, flowering plum and peppercorn.
If you have any questions either for me Danielle why not write in to


 Hypericum perforatum: St John's Wort

Hypericum, is derived from a Greek word meaning "over an apparition."
 Did you know that the Anglo-Saxon word "wort" means "medicinal herb." ?

Common St. John's Worts are a creeping rhizome that spread quickly.
Grow to 1 metre high with translucent leaves. Small oil glands are present in leaves, making them appear perforated.,
  • Hypericum berries are used as a filler in cut flower arrangements to add contrast. Be sure to ask for some if they take your fancy.
  • Ms Hypericum is a waterholic because of the woody stem, so make sure the water stays topped up in the vase.
  • Lasts for up to 8 days in the vase.
  • The entire plant, particularly its round black seeds gives off a slight turpentine-like odour.
This flower is often associated with cheerfulness and inspiration. 
Hypericum may also be given to those starting new paths in their life.

I'm talking with florist Mercedes Sarmini from flowers

 Recorded live during broadcast of Real World Gardener on 13th March 2019

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