Friday, 29 May 2020

Eremophila is a Surprising Plant


Scientific name: Eremophila sp. 
Common name: emu bush
Etymology: Their name is from the Greek 'eremos' meaning desert and 'philio' - love. 
Distribution: Australia especially Wetern Australia
Native Habitat:Grow where rainfall is sparse, adapted to dry habitats
Climate: Warm temperate, Mediterranean, Semi-arid, Arid

Here we go with one of those little heard of native plants that’s probably hard to track down.
But it’s the distinctive, but diverse flowers of these plants (eremophila) that are the real show-stoppers. 

Let’s find out more. I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant expert and horticulturist.

Adrian says don't expect them to last more than several years if growing them on the eastern, because of the high humidity.
The general species have grey leaves with purple flowers.
Grafted plants, although more expensive, last longer. Eremophila nivea is one example that's available as a grafted plant.
  • Tip: check out the Olive Pink garden in Alice Spring.
Eremophilas come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from ground covers to shrubs, to small trees and they can be found growing in the toughest of conditions.
They are drought resistant and tolerant of frost once established.
  • Some of the flowers are insect pollinated and others are pollinated by birds. It's apparent by the colour and shape of the flower. "The flat, purple or violet ones tend to be insect pollinated. Some flowers have little tracks on the inside which are like landing strips for the insects."
  • "The tubular flowers are more often bird-pollinated - their beaks delve into the long tubes for the nectar at the bottom. The pollen ends up on their heads and they move on to the next flower. Tubular flowers have a curious twist: they flare at the ends and split in such a way that they look like they are growing backwards on their stems.

E. bignoniflora grows well in Adelaide Botanic Gardens.

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Edible Gardens part 2 and Perpetual Spinach


Edible Gardens part 2
Soil preparation
Vegetable gardens can be any size or shape.
You can plant them out in purpose built raised beds, in pots, old fruit crates or even old corrugated iron tanks.
Most veggie gardens need a good friable soil with good water holding capacity.
This is the time to invest in a compost bin and worm farm.
But what else you need to do?
Let’s find out more…
I'm talking with Glenice Buck, landscape designer and consulting arborist.

In any garden for vegetables you need to be able to work the soil to a 200mm depth.
Many root vegetables, such as parsnips and carrots, need this amount of friable soil so their roots can grow straight.
Local councils usually run composting and worm farm workshops, where not only do you learn how to do it, but you can purchase the worm farm and compost bin and greatly reduced prices.
This is a great idea because you're recycling your vegetable scraps into something that you can use for the garden, instead of them going to landfill and contributing to greenhouse emissions.
The worm wee or worm "woo," as Glenice calls it is also very beneficial to your plants.
Simply dilute until it looks like weak tea before applying to your veggies.
If you don't have enough compost to fill that vegetable bed, you can buy in one of the many different brands available, either by the truckload or by the bag.
Don't be in a rush to start planting.
Spend the time to prepare the soil properly, even taking 6 months.
Glenice recommends a bucket of organic fertiliser per square metre. You can use anything from spent mushroom compost, cow manure, to pelletised chook poo.
Vegetables themselves are quite beautiful in their own right, so they would be a lovely addition to other ornamental plants.

If you have any questions of course, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Perpetual spinach or Beta vulgaris.
  • Did you know that Spinach and silverbeet seed was sent out from England in 1787 with the First Fleet but in the new colony they found spinach difficult to grow?They found growing silverbeet much easier, which is why Silverbeet is sometimes called spinach in Australia, but true spinach has smaller leaves and a much sweeter, milder flavour.
What's With Spinach Seed?
I was asked recently about why perpetual spinach seeds looked more like beetroot seeds?
You might be wondering the same thing at home.
Are you comparing the seeds that came out of the packet with the seeds that you have saved from a previous crop?
The reason I ask is that both spinach and beetroot seeds in seed packets are not just one seed but a clump of seeds
Saying that the perpetual leaf spinach is the same as beetroot seed, is correct because they are very similar.
  • Here’s the thing; Beetroot and chard are multigerm seeds, meaning that they are actually a cluster of three or four seeds in a corky shell.

Not Really Spinach?

Perpetual Spinach is not a spinach at all but actually a type of chard with short stems and large leaf blades; therefore each perpetual spinach seed is actually a dried cluster containing multiple individual seeds.
  • So then the question came, “ why is it called spinach then?”

Perpetual Spinach is called that simply because it looks like and tastes similar to real Spinach and so that name has become the norm since white settlement.
The scientific Name is Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris. Common Name: Silverbeet 'Perpetual Spinach',
Whereas, true spinach is Spinacia oleracea.

You might be surprised to learn that another name for chard is in fact ‘perpetual spinach.”
So what’s the difference between  Perpeutal Spinach and Chard?
  • Perpetual spinach or perpetual silverbeet, has smoother leaves than other silverbeet with narrower, greenish stems.
  • It’s tender with a taste more like English Spinach but it’s hardy and drought resistant.
  • This beginner-friendly plant is a cut-and-come-again crop that just keeps on giving.

The perfect plant for small but busy gardens
In all but the coldest districts, you can grow perpetual spinach for most of the year.
The bonus is that Perpetual spinach will continue on through to summer and autumn and possibly even into the following year.
  • 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.
Perpetual Spinach likes a moist but not waterlogged soil.
Using a mulch of straw or grass clippings can help to keep moisture and warmth in the soil plus add 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!
Perpetual 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
  • Another thing to remember is that Spinach grows on shallow roots, so don't dig vigorously around it. If you get weeds because you didn’t mulch, carefully hand remove them.
  • Water frequently to keep up with the fast growth of the plants.
  • In about 8-10 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!
TIP: 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.
TIP: Water liberally in dry periods. Unlike true spinach, spinach beet won't bolt when exposed to a full summer sun, but don't let plants flower as this will shorten your cropping season.
Picking off flowerheads encourages the plant to grow leaves, not flowers.
TIP:Possums or even rats may eat the seedlings, so either cover with nets or grow under other plants.
Slugs and snails love young leaves, so set up a slug pub and organise a midnight watch if necessary.
When your spinach leaves look big enough pick the younger leaves because they have a gentler flavour.
Doing this now also encourages further growth.
Even if you can't use the spinach in your own kitchen, keep picking!
Give it away if you have too much, just don't saddle the plant with overgrown leaves as this will inhibit its growth.
TIP: Pick to eat and freeze, washed and dried leaves for cooking.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a veggie plot or it’s full up with other things like onions, broccoli, cabbages and the like because Perpetual spinach's is a great veg for container growing on a sunny ledge: thin and pick as and when required.

Disease Problems

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 Perpetual Spinach?

  • If you love spinach pie and because Spinach is best eaten fresh and 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).
Dark green leafy vegetables, like spinach, contain carotenoids.
If you have any questions about growing spinach or any other vegetable write in or email me.

Thursday, 21 May 2020

Native Fuchsias and Make Those Flowers Last


Correa species
Plants with bell shaped flowers are pretty much sought after by gardeners because the flowers are unusual and add an extra dimension to the floral palette.
The good old fashioned fuchsia is however not easy for gardeners to grow in some districts so what can you do?
Correa alba
Turn to the native equivalent, which is much more hardy and suited to a variety of climates.
Let’s find out more.
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert.

Distribution: mainly eastern Australia
Flower: C. reflexa has the tips of the joined petals, turned back with eight stamens that stick out. May to November is the main flowering time with spot flowering in between.
Location: Light shade with moisture: suitable for under trees.
  • Notes: They may not last forever in your garden, but will brighten up the cooler months.
  • They like dry shade but do better with a bit of a drink, especially as they have fine shallow roots. Mulching with help retain moisture.
  • If they grow leggy, give them a light prune.
Adrian and I focussed on four species of correa:
  • Correa, reflexa,
  • Correa pulchella, wide colour range from pale red, pink and orange that flower in autumn and winter.
    Correa bauerlenii: Chef's cap Correa
  • Correa alba with whitish flowers and tomentose leaves
  • Correa bauerlenii.tends to be limey green scented flowers.


How to Make Your Flowers Last Longer.
I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini

Basics: Mercedes' definition of cut flowers to help you with how to treat them. 
Mercedes, classifies them not by their sexual reproduction organs by into two categories, seed grown or grown from a bulb, corm, rhizome or tuber.
  • Male Cut flowers: grow from a bulb, corm, rhizome or tuber.
  • Female cut flowers: grow from seed.
  • Male cut flowers: stems are cut straight across.
  • Female cut flowers: stems are cut on an angle.

How Much Water Do I Put into the Vase?

Mr Tulip: Mr Hyacinth: Orchids: shallow water only.
Miss Sunflower: Miss Gerbera: shallow water only.
  • Change the water daily-use only filtered water or water that has been standing for 4 hours.
Flower food:change the water on the third day. 
Not all cut flowers like flower food-anything native, woody stem cut flowers.
  • Mist your flowers daily for orchids with only filtered water.
  • Cut your flowers when early morning or evening when starch is at it's highest within the stem.

Edible Gardens and Garlic


Edible Garden series part 1

During the last month or more, seeds, and seedlings have been flying off the shelves.
Seed companies and nurseries, normally would expect that at the start of spring, but in these current times, people are turning to good old fashioned growing your own veggies.
That’s a good thing, but what should beginner and advanced gardeners really need to know to be successful.
Over the coming weeks, Glenice will be bringing to you a comprehensive guide to growing your own edible garden. Whether you have a large vegetable garden, a group of planters on a verandah or a few spaces within existing garden beds, you can at least grow some of your own food.
So how do you start?
Lynn Woods garden Ulverstone Tasmania.
Glenice says "Pick the spot that provides the most ideal conditions."
I'm talking with Glenice Buck, landscape designer and consulting arborist.

So if you haven’t started a veggie garden yet think on this.
According to “sustainability Victoria” they reckon that if you grow your own food you
· save money and supplement your household food supply
· save water – home grown food uses less water relative to the amount of food harvested
· reduce your shopping miles
· reduce packaging
· reduce food waste
· enjoy fresher, more nutritious and more delicious food
· know exactly what you're eating (e.g. no pesticides)
· get some exercise and reduce your stress levels.
 Top Tips
Finding the right spot for your edible plants can sometimes be a bit of trial and error, however in general most vegetables will require about six hours of good direct sunlight for them to crop well. There are a few exceptions to this rule but in general six hours is the key. You can modify nearly everything else in gardening but you can’t modify or increase the amount of sunshine an area will receive unless you get into grow lights etc which is a whole other topic.

Ideally if you are going to grow vegetables in the ground, in pots or planters, you will need to also have a fairly flat area with no great slopes. If you are going to construct your own above ground beds, you will have a little bit more flexibility as you can build the beds to adapt to a slope. The other issue to think about is that you will be spending a fair amount of time in this space, so you need to ask yourself:
Things to consider:

  •  Is it easy to bend over the beds and weed?
  • Is the ground surface cover easy to walk and stand on?
  • Can you access the areas easily with a wheel barrow?
  • You also need to ask yourself:
  • Can you get water in the area?
  • Is there a tap close by?
  • Do I need to get a longer hose?
  • Do I need another water tank?
If you have any questions of course, why not email or
or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Garlic-Allium sativum 
Garlic comes from the Onion family. Alliaceae
You might have guessed that in medieval times, hanging Garlic outside your door warded off vampires.

  • Not exactly in the same league as vampires but did you know that eating garlic helps keeps mosquitos away?

Where does Garlic come from?-a bit of history
Well it’s been around for so long that there’s only records of cultivated Allium longicupis  sometimes known as Wild Garlic, growing naturally in central Asia.

  • Did you know that garlic as a crop, was used in Ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt from at least 2000 BC.
You probably would be surprised to learn that it’s been found in Egyptian tombs as an ingredient used in embalming and as an offering to the gods.
The Greeks and Romans saw garlic as a food that would give strength so that workmen and soldiers would use it.

  • What about this for a sure fire hangover cure from Roman times- boil 16 bulbs (not cloves) of garlic in a bucket of wine, mmm lovely.
  • Later on people thought that hanging garlic bulbs on doors would check the spread of diseases such as smallpox.
I think this was mistaken for what the London College of Physicians really recommended during the great plague in 1665, which was to eat the garlic not hang it somewhere.
But then, Louis Pasteur demonstrated, in 1858, that garlic could kill infectious germs.
Garlic was used throughout World War I to treat battle wounds and to cure dysentery.
During World War II, garlic was known as "Russian penicillin" because it was so effective in treating wound infections when adequate antibiotics were not available.
Sow direct in garden where they are to grow.

  • Garlic grows best when the temperature is between 13º to 24ºC.
  • That’s why Garlic is traditionally planted in cold weather and harvested in summer ("plant on the shortest day, harvest on the longest").
You can plant Garlic bulbs now in all districts of Australia, including cool temperate.
For cool districts, you’re right on the edge of when you can plant, so don’t delay, plant today.

  • Garlic grows best on fertile, well-drained, loamy soils.

Any soil suitable for onions is good enough for Garlic.
As long as you give garlic a sunny position garlic is easy to grow.
 Soil pH should be in the range 5.5 to 7.0.

So you’ve bought your Garlic bulb, what do you do with it?

Do you plant it whole or what?

  • What you need to do first is separate them from the bulb, point upwards, deep enough to just cover each clove with soil.
  • When you plant the cloves, don't plant too deeply otherwise they will rot off.
  • TIP: Plant them so the tops of the bulbs are just below the surface and about 8 cm apart with the point end facing up.
  • Garlic usually takes about 17-25 weeks. 4-6 months to mature.
People always ask how do you know when my Garlic is ready?

  • You can tell because the leaves or stalks have flopped over and turned brown.
  • While your garlic is still growing, give it plenty of water, (especially in the coming spring).
  • Also fertilise, 2 or 3 times throughout the growing season.
  • Some young shoots can be cut off for a garnish or you can even pick the young garlic and eat the 'green' garlic leaves and all.
  • Reduce water at end of Spring (4 weeks prior to harvesting) that’s if you plant them right away.
  • If you're garlic has flowered, you've left it to long.
When they are ready to be dug up, ease bulbs out with a fork, careful not to damage bulbs because these won't store well or go a bit mouldy.
If you’ve got some good weather let them dry in the sun for a few days.
Otherwise hang to dry for 4 weeks in a warm place with good ventilation.

  • Store in a cool airy place. This will prevent the bulbs from rotting.

Garlic is a fairly tough and easy-growing plant.
I n better soil with regular watering you will get a better crop.
On poorer soil, and forgetting to water them, you will still get some garlic, only not quite so much.
TIP: Leave a garlic PLANT  to go to seed, and you will probably get plenty of self-sown plants the following year.

  • Cloves that haven’t been treated can be saved and planted in the garden.
Remember most garlic in supermarkets comes from China and has been sprayed with Methyl Bromide in quarantine.
Where to Buy
You can buy Garlic from online suppliers or from organic suppliers. Remember that garlic plants will grow to be 50 – 75cm  tall.
Like onions, there are early, mid season and late varieties available.
There are softneck and hardneck varieties.

  • Softnecks are the most common garlics grown, and are the ones found in supermarkets.
Softneck garlic usually doesn’t have a flowerhead and have a longer shelf life (up to 9 months).There’s one called “Italian White” that’s available online.
Monaro purple, and Rocambole- are Hardnecks variety and these do have flowerheads like onions, and usually bigger cloves.
They don’t have as good a shelf life as they're softnecks and prefer cooler winters.
Rocamboles have excellent flavour, glamorous red-purple skins and easily peeled, with a single circle of 6-12 plump cloves.

  • There’s also the extra large garlic called Elephant or Giant Russian garlic and has a milder flavour but is great for roasting.
This is actually a type of leek that you can get these from some markets that are around or from an online bulb company.
Why is it good for you?
There’s so much to be said about the health benefits of garlic. Garlic has been known to, ‘thin the blood’, much in the same way as fish oils.
It can help in lowering blood pressure and evidence is building in its use in lowering blood cholesterol levels.
If you eat only small amounts of garlic – like 1-2 cloves in the family dinner, you won’t get that many nutrients, but if you eat lots of garlic, like they do in Italy, Korea and China, where people there eat as much as eight to 12 cloves per day; then you’ll get  lots of dietary fibre, potassium, iron, zinc and vitamin C.
Garlic mushrooms anyone?
While that sounds like a lot of garlic, increasing the amount; you eat five or more cloves a day isn’t hard if you use it every time you cook.
Include it in soups, casseroles, even mashed potatoes.
You could also make a habit of snacking on garlicky dishes like hummus with vegetables.
TIP:Many home chefs mistakenly cook garlic immediately after crushing or chopping it, but to maximize the health benefits, you should crush the garlic at room temperature and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes. That triggers an enzyme reaction that boosts the healthy compounds in garlic.

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Fungus in The Veggie Garden Begone But Save Water


  • Dealing with Fungal Problems in the Vegetable Garden
So, you’re looking at your spinach and you see holes in the leaves, but they’re all uniform and perfectly formed, right?
What insect does that?
Or, are the stems or your Silverbeet have an ugly blackish brown stain down the middle of them?
Perhaps the leaves have got that rusty look, and definitely look some-one had a go with a blow torch?
Wait, have your cucumber leaves gone all white and crispy, then start turning brown and collapse in a heap in the veggie bed?
  • You probably have read or heard the advice that the most important things you can do to prevent fungal problems is to avoid overwatering, overhead watering and excessive fertilizing and keep your garden free of debris.

O.K. what about some of us that had all that rain?
  • Or you might’ve heard that you need to mulch well and avoid watering the leaves or splashing soil borne particles on the leaves.
One things for sure, you cannot water or fertilise away the problem.
  • Firstly what is this fungus thing anyway? 
Fungus are structures which produce spores.
Disease‑causing fungi penetrate the plant for food during their growth stage, then produce spores which can, in turn, produce new fungus.
The fungus feeds of your plants because not containing chlorophyll, it can’t make its own food.
Did you know that there are two main types of spores?
Short-lived spores which quickly produce new fungus to grow and spread through plants while there is plenty of food.

These spores allow a fungal disease to spread very quickly during the growing season.
Then there’s the  Long-lived spores which are very hardy and allow a
disease to carry over during periods of stress, for example when there is no food.
So what does fungus love?

Which fungus shall I start with.
  • How about powdery mildew?
A fungal disease around a lot in spring and autumn when days are warm and nights are cool.
Powdery mildew is a white or grayish powdery/mouldy growth that you see on the leaves and new shoots.
The leaves look deformed, and will always start to collapse, particularly on the cucurbit family, like Pumpkins, zucchini and cucumbers.
  • The leaves are never going to return to a normal appearance, so getting rid of them will help to stop the spreading of fungal spores.
Yes, that includes the ones that have fallen into a crumbled mess in the veggie bed.
The next fungal problem I’m going to mention appeared on my spinach this year. That is Fungal leaf spot.
Having said that, I’ve had several good months of harvesting spinach and silverbeet, so I can’t complain.
There are many types of leaf spot diseases that can affect beetroot, broad beans, carrots celery, peas, potatoes (early blight) silverbeet and tomatoes (targetspot).
Sometimes the leaf spots cause only slight damage, but other times they practically destroy the leaves of the plant in question.
How do I fix this?
Basically, if you’ve already got it, you can’t because as I mentioned, the leaves won’t return to normal, but you can stop the spread to other new leaves and other plants in the garden.
All of these above symptoms signal fungal problems in the garden, a lot of which can be fixed with physical things like improving air circulation around the plants.
You can also dig the problem leaves into the soil since sexual spores of the fungus won’t develop on buried leaves.

In all cases, fungal problems can be treated organically
You can try spraying with a good compost tea, or seaweed extract.
Or secondly, try spraying with bi-carbonate of soda (sodium bicarbonate) because it will also kill powdery mildew.
Facebook:To make mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 2 ½ tablespoons of vegetable oil with 4 litres of water.
TIP: The sodium in the baking soda will combine with chlorine in your water supply to form table salt (sodium chloride).
A better choice is potassium bicarbonate where the potassium becomes a plant nutrient.
This product is available from your garden centre or nursery and is also sold online.
I’ll put a link to the name on my website and facebook page.

Saving Water and Soil Wetters
The weather has started to cool especially in some districts, however, there are still others that are experiencing warm conditions.
Not far from many gardeners thoughts, are saving water.
For those on town water, the water bill may seem pretty high but if you’re relying on tank water, then water may need to be conserved ever so carefully.

In this next segment, Steve and I go through some water saving tactics, some old some new.
I'm talking with Steve Falcioni from
Let’s find out .

There are plenty of water saving tips that you could try if you're not doing that already.
  1. Wash your vegetables in a tub of water
  2. Run-off the cold water for your shower into a bucket or watering can
  3. Direct the water from your washing machine onto the garden.
  • Grey water is not regarded as sterile. You should not be storing grey water.
  • Not safe for edible plants.

How Wetting Agents Work?

Soils that have been dry for a long period or are low in organic matter may become water repellant.
When you water, it tends to run off or pool on the surface.
Why? soil particles develop waxy coating.
Wetting agents contain molecules that adhere to waxy particles and water at the same time.
When applied to the soil, the molecule grabs onto the soil particle that's coated in wax, so that when you water,  the water gets grabbed by the wetting agent so the water penetrates the soil.

If you have any questions of course, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Hoyas: Simply Stars of the Garden


Scientific name:Hoya species. 
Common name:Wax flower
Family: Apocynaceae

There are some plants that quietly go about their business without too much fuss making them a little unnoticed in your garden.
I have these two hoyas in the garden, which flower without fail, fuss or drama. 
Then they flower, and you wonder at how marvelous the flower is and most likely think about how little you did anything for that plant to make it flower so well. 
  • So why is it that they're not stars in the garden?
Hoya carnosa
 Let’s find out more.
I'm talking with Karen Smith editor of Hort Journal, and President of the Interior Plantscape Association.

You could best describe hoyas as evergreen perennial twining creepers or vines. 
They mostly possess adventitious roots, which simply means roots that grow aerially from their twining stems.
  • They have simple entire fleshy leaves in opposite pairs.
  • The leaf shape varies considerably, with one species having heart shaped leaves: Hoya kerrii.
  • being in the Apocynaceae family, their stems often exude a sticky substance.
In their natural habitat, they often grow epiphytically on trees; some grow terrestrially, or occasionally in rocky areas.
  • Most hoya don’t mind being a little rootbound, as they are used to growing epiphytically, so I don’t often repot my hoya.
Hoyas are marvellous plants, and believe it or not, there are hoya societies with avid collectors 
around Australia.

Bring them indoors or grow them outside, either under cover, under the shade of a tree, or if you’re in cold climate, in a green house.
Hoya pubicalyx

  • Easy to grow from cuttings-just need a node or two and a leaf to take root.
  • Some have chlorophyll in their stems and only need a node to take root.
Potting up your hoya
  • Should you ever feel the need, here'as a basic recipe.
  • 50% peat, 20% potting mix and 30% perlite. 
  • Or you could just use Scotts Osmocote Orchid Mix.

Huacatay and Turmeric: A Spicy Combination


Huacatay: Stinking Roger

Unless you’re a herb and spice expert, there’s bound to be a few spices that you’ve never heard of.
Perhaps Mace isn’t so well known, or asafetida, ajowan, nigella and salem or cubeb peppers.
But then a herb comes along that even stumps the guru that comes on the program, and it even turns out to be a weed.
So what can it be?
Let’s find out .
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from

Huacatay leaves are a little bit like cilantro or coriander.
The flavour profile is supposed to have notes of basil, spearmint, citrus with notes of tarragon,

  • Also used a lot in South American food going with pork and duck very well. A traditional dish made with potato and goat, called "Ocapa."

Good companion plant for other plants as its reputed to control nematodes.
Huacatay is not available for sale as a herb, but is one you would need to find as 'wild harvest.'
  • If you have stinking roger growing in your garden, then perhaps the dried leaf could be used in cooking, but I wouldn’t recommend harvesting anything along the roadside because it may have been sprayed with an insecticide.
  • Not only that, all the fallout from hundreds of cars passing the weed, shall we say, won’t be a good thing to want to eat no matter how many times you washed it. 
Ian says that he imagines that from 1 kilogram of fresh leaf you would get about 100grams of dried leaf.
If you have any questions of course, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Turmeric or Curcuma longa
Turmeric is one of those spices that I seem to keep mentioning in this segment over the years.
Is it because it’s easy to grow even in the cool subtropics?
  • Turmeric is a rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plant of the ginger family, Zingiberaceae. And it’s surprisingly easy to grow.

A Bit of History:
It‘s native to southwest India and has been grown in cultivation since 500 BCE where it’s an important part of AY-YURR-VEDDIC (Ayurvedic )medicine?
Ayurveda translates to “science of life.”
In India, inhaling fumes from burning turmeric is supposed to alleviate congestion, also turmeric juice was used to help with healing of wounds and bruises, and turmeric paste was applied to all sorts of skin conditions – from smallpox and chicken pox to blemishes and shingles.

You may have seen Buddhist monks with their saffron or yellowy coloured robes.
This is where the natural colouring properties of Turmeric comes in.
Not only is it used to colour Buddhist robes, but has been used to dye clothing and thread for centuries.
What does it look like?
Turmeric grows to about 1 metre in height, with alternating lime green leaves about a metre long; in other words quite big as you’d expect in a rainforest setting.
  • The flowers are pure white and extend upwards on floral spikes, up to 20cm long. Suitable for picking too.
  • The rhizomes have tough brown skin and deep orange flesh inners.

To get hold of some Turmeric rhizomes you need to go to an organic fruit and veg market where you can buy fresh turmeric roots throughout summer, and you may be able to use those to sprout a plant.
Otherwise, you’ll have to find a local nursery or online store that carries them.
Note: Sometimes it’s sold as hidden Ginger online but we aware that there are different kinds of hidden ginger, but only the rhizomes of Curcuma longa, Curcuma zedoaria and Curcuma aromatica should be grown as spices.

  • How To Sprout Turmeric Tubers
To get your rhizome to sprout just place it in a paper bag in a warmish spot in the kitchen, say by a window and you should see sprouts in a few days.
Once you have a fresh rhizome or root, all you need to do is plant it.
A large root will have several fingers to it.
You can cut these apart and start more than one plant if you like.
Another way to get it to sprout is to just bury the rhizome 5 cm deep into loose potting mix.
Turmeric fingers

If there are any knobs or buds on the root, turn it so they are facing upwards.
Keep it damp but not sopping wet or the root may rot.
In a month or so, you should see sprouts come up.

If you are going to grow turmeric outside, you can transplant it out in late autumn.
For indoor plants, you can do this anytime.
Turmeric is a rhizome so like Jerusalem Artichokes, and Ginger, you plant them in the soil when the rhizomes are dormant
Most books will tell you to plant your rhizome in Spring, but the first lot that I bought withered and shrivelled and it wasn’t until late December that I purchased another lot.
This time the rhizomes were fresher looking and sprouted in a couple of days using the paper bag method.
Margaret's Black Turmeric

These were then potted up and placed in a shady spot where all the young plants get put in my garden.
The plant had reached about 30 cm in height by the end of January.
Why grow Turmeric?
Even if you don’t ever make your own curry paste or even cook with Turmeric, the Turmeric plant is very lush and tropical looking.
The whole plant is edible; the roots are boiled, dried and ground up to produce turmeric powder, the leaves make a wrap for steamed fish, and even the flowers can be eaten as a vegetable, like lettuce.
For those that use Turmeric in cooking, did you know that if you make your own Turmeric powder from the rhizomes, it won’t be as bright as the processed store bought version?
Because the root can harbour mould and foodborne pathogens, turmeric is typically irradiated to kill pathogenic bacteria.
Irradiation also creates a brighter powder, but if you don’t want irradiated Turmeric, either buy organic powder or grow your own.
Where to grow it.
Unless you live in a tropical, sub-tropical or temperate zone  in Australia, the majority of people who are going to grow turmeric will have to do it indoors, and it does grow fine in pots.
In temperate regions your Turmeric will die down over winter and return the following year, and  in cold temperate zones unless your ground freezes over it may just pop up again in Spring.
Choose a pot that’s at least 30cm across and the same in depth to give your plants room to grow.
Water your potted turmeric regularly to keep the soil damp, and weekly feedings with mild or diluted fertilizer won’t go astray either.
If you’re growing it in the ground, only put it in full sun if the ground is constantly wet, otherwise shade in the middle of the day is best.
Turmeric will cope with drought and even boggy soils, probably because where it naturally grows, the average rainfall is between 1000 and 2000mm a year
If the plant is stressed by drought or too much sun, the leaves will hang
When to dig it up?
You’ll have to wait at least 8-10 months before you can dig it up.
When the leaves turn yellow and start to dry out that’s when your turmeric is ready to dig up.
You’ll have to dig up the whole plant and cut the rhizome away from the stem.
Margaret dries turmeric in front of her open fire.
You might be lucky and manage to dig up only a small part because storing it in the ground will keep it fresh the longest.
If you’re growing it in a pot, it’s pretty simple to turn the rhizome out, take what you want, and then put it all back.
So how else can you use Turmeric?
To store your Turmeric just keep the unpeeled roots in an air-tight container in a cool dark place and the rhizomes should last for up to 6 months.
To use fresh Turmeric in cooking, just slice them thinly or mince instead of using powder.
If you are used to cooking with dry and ground turmeric from the store, take care when using fresh. It’s much stronger in taste and you will only need a small amount to really add its peppery zest to a meal.
You don’t have to make the powder but instead use it as you would fresh ginger.
How about a fruit and veg Turmeric smoothie, or Turmeric pickle?
For sore throats, add 1 teaspoon of Turmeric to your favourite milk, and heat. Add some honey to sweeten.
Drink this before retiring for bed.
It's also an excellent source of fibre, vitamin B6, potassium, and healthy amounts of vitamin C and magnesium.
But you don’t need to eat that much.
Even a small dose has health benefits.