Friday, 26 June 2020

Not Your Usual Mint Bushes


Prostanthera lasianthos and other species. Australian Mint Bush

It smells like mint but is it? The leaves are round or sometimes oval or even pointy. 
    Prostanthera ovalifolia
It’s even in the same family as common mint: Lamiaceae

Australia does have a wide variety of endemic mint bushes.

There are 90 species all of which originate somewhere in the bush,  but how well does it do in your garden?

I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, qualified horticulturist and native plant expert.

Prostanthera comes from the Greek for an appendage because inside the flowers are small spur-like appendages on the anthers.
These minty plants are bushy, evergreen shrubs, usually with strongly aromatic leaves.
Heaps of purple flowers covers the soft leaves all through spring and early summer, attracting butterflies and small insect-eating birds. 
did you know?
  • Mint bushes often wilt when they badly need a water, particular in the summer months.Because of this, they are excellent "indicator" plant for the rest of the garden.
Prostanthera lasianthos
Some of the varieties available are:
Prostanthera lasianthos is quick growing and in good conditions may reach 8-10 metres. Tolerates heavy shade as well as full sun.
P. ovalifolia has very aromatic foliage. Quick growing and spectacular in flower. Prune back by about one third to keep that bushy habit. Suitable for full sun or semi shade.
P. rotundifolia- Very aromatic foliage. Quick growing and spectacular in flower. Needs pruning back by about one third every year to keep a bushy habit. Can grow in sun or semi shade. 
The leaves are round while growing as a compact shrub that reaches a height of one and a half metres in our garden.  The flowers are over one centimetre wide and mauve to purple
Plant it along a pathway so you get the benefit of brushing past the fragrant leaves.

Good pot plant also. Feed with a good native fertiliser, watering in afterwards to avoid leaf or root burn.

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

Gardening in Isolation and Beyond and Starting Seeds


Australians are turning to gardening in droves during the pandemic but there are pitfalls for new gardeners.
Help is at hand of course, and there are ways to keep gardening evening when things return to normal and gardeners may have less time to devote to their plants.
Let’s find out all about what to do.
I'm talking with Josh Byrne, presenter for Gardening Australia TV presenterand environmental scientist.

I asked Josh these questions:-
Q1. What are the benefits of gardening? (it’s good to get another voice to mention these-often say it already on my radio show.)
A: Good fun, a great hobby that makes you feel good and great for mental health.
Q2. How much space do you really need to have a garden?
A:All depends on what you want to grow.
 All you need is a balcony with a bit of sun.
Urban block gardens can grow a fair percentage of the fruits and vegetables that you can consume.
Q3. Who are the new, novice and emerging gardeners of 2020?
A:People in the 25-35 age group, the millenials, who are spending more time at home.
Q4. What are some of the common mistakes this new band of gardeners might make?  (eg, choosing the wrong plant for the location, sowing seed in the wrong season-I noticed the one nursery chain had out summer seedlings only last week).
A: Novice gardeners might put a plant in the wrong spot, or buy annual vegetables, either seeds or seedlings for growing at the wrong time of year. Overwatering or underwatering might cause plant death early.
5. It’s easy to get disheartened after a couple of failures, for example seed raising, plants getting eaten by bugs. What’s your advice?
Josh suggests, read the back of the seed packet or the instructions on the plant label.
Ask horticulturists at your local garden centre. There is also plenty of gardening blogs and gardening websites that can help with your gardening question.
Q6. When things get back to more like they used to be, what are the tips/suggestions to keep on gardening?
Don't forget about your plants just because your routine gets back to normal. Keep going now that you have a taste for it. If you hit a bit of a snag, don't worry, keep going and not be disheartened.
Q7. Tell me about Plant Pals. How did it come about?
Greenlife Industry Australia, the peak body for the production, supply and retail of greenlife has launched Plant Pals, an initiative designed to connect new, novice and emerging gardeners with greenlife experts.Plant Pals is a new campaign to keep Australians engaged in gardening as life slowly returns to normal following COVID-19 lockdowns. It's really about making sure gardeners both new and old are getting plenty of support in their gardening journey. Linking gardeners with plant suppliers, expert advice, blogs and podcasts.  Click on the link PLANT PALS
Q8. For those who haven’t started gardening, how can we get them interested? (perhaps join a community garden?)
Perhaps join a community garden, because they're a great place to connect with other like people in the local community. Vist local parks and botanic gardens to get more exposure to plants in wonderful settings.

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


Seed Germination

It wouldn't be a vegetable hero without seeds to grow those vegetables.
  • Today a how to of getting those seeds to germinate?
  • You probably would know that all seeds have particular temperature ranges, and light requirements to germinate.
  • All seeds germinate when light, temperatures and moisture are close to what they prefer to survive.
This might mean that although you can germinate peas in Summer, they will struggle through the warm months to produce anything, and most likely will be devastated by insect pests and disease.
  • So know when the best time of year to sow your seeds by checking the information on the back of the packet.
Seeds also have different times when they still remain viable.
  • All seeds have a seed coat that varies in hardness. Some need a little help to germinate faster and you can do this yourself several ways.
  • The process of softening the seed coat is called scarification.

Seed Scarification
One way to do this is by shaking some seed in a jar with some coarse sandpaper or sand for a few minutes.
Commercially this is done in a large box lined with industrial diamonds.
But these seed companies process tonnes of seed every day.
The sand method might be used for fine seed that you can then pour into a row, sand and seed altogether, into the garden bed.
  • Another method is by soaking in water.
    Scarifying poinciana seeds on sandpaper

Some seeds need to be soaked in water first to help them germinate.
Sweet peas for example.
There are a few seeds that require darkness to germinate such as Pansies and Parsley. After you sow these seeds, you need to cover them with damp newspaper or a damp paper towel.
Check on them every few days because you need to remove the paper as soon as they’ve sprouted because that’s when you need to remove the paper or towel.
Most other seeds need light to germinate.
When I talk about planting in Vegetable Heroes, I mention how deep you should plant your seeds.
How Deep is The Seed and Why do this? 
Most seeds don’t need ‘instant’ access to light, they can germinate and push up through the soil by drawing from their own energy reserves.
  • Seeds have a food store for the embryo which emerges. 
  • If you plant your seeds too deep, the food store runs out before the plant reaches sunlight.
  • After that all green plant seedlings need access to light so that they can make their own food (through photosynthesis) and continue to grow.
  • The other problem is if you plant them too shallow, then they’ll dry out and die before they get anywhere.
Sounds tricky, but if you’re having trouble germinating one type of seed, it’s probably because one of the things I’ve mentioned isn’t just right.
Cucumber and lettuce seedlings

  • My tip if you’re having trouble, is to cover your seeds with a layer of vermiculite, and spray that with water to make sure it’s really wet.
  • ***Vermicullite  let’s in plenty of light in and I mostly get success with seeds that way. 
  • I also like to use a mini greenhouse for at least the first week if the weather’s not quite right for the seeds that I’m trying to grow.
When I used to work at Yates, I’d get calls about the seeds being of poor quality because the caller couldn’t germinate them.
That’s rare although it can happen.
I’ve got to say though, seed companies all do germination tests in their laboratories to make sure they get 90% germination rate, before they process and package them.
Otherwise they’re wasting their time and money.

  • In any case, if you buy a packet of seeds and can’t germinate them, you can ring up the company and they’ll send you a fresh pack.
Seeds Coated with Thiram?
Another question I was often asked about, was why are some seeds coated with a fungicide called Thiram? This usually makes the seed pink.

  • This is to prevent the seed from rotting when you put it into the ground. Sometimes seeds are prone to fungal attack and are treated that way because of that, or in some cases, the seed supplier doesn’t have a particular certification and the seed company then coats them.
  • Plants grown from this treated seed aren’t poisonous. The only thing that’s poisonous is that pink coating on the seed.
So what can you do if you’ve got some seed you’re having trouble with, or if you have some packets of out of date seed? Haven’t we all?
How about a Home test for Seed viability?

  • What you need is a sheet of paper towelling, clear plastic bag to fit or one of those plastic take away containers and spray bottle of water.
  • Spray paper towel so it’s completely moist but not dripping.
  • Add 10 seeds from your packet and space them out on one half of the paper towel. This is doing a seed sample. If 7 or 8 seeds sprout then you have 70 -80% germination rate. If you have only 3-4 seeds sprouting, that means a low germination rate. Either use more seeds to get what you want or not use them at all.
  • Take the other half  of the paper towel and fold over the seeds.
  • Spray towel again.
  • Put this in the take away container and close the lid.
  • Put this into a warm environment such as a cupboard or a desk drawer for about a week.
  • Check on it every 2-3 days to make sure that it remains moist.
  • After a few days, fresh seeds will have sprouted if the seeds are fresh.
Growing from seed is the cheapest and most rewarding way of growing plants.
Once you get the knack, you’ll be growing everything from flowers to vegetables.

Friday, 19 June 2020

Mistakes and Tips When Starting A Vegetable Garden


I would imagine, most listeners to this show would have a vegetable garden, but perhaps there’s also some new listeners new to gardening?
This next interview will take you through some of the most common mistakes that gardeners make when starting out and what to do to avoid them.
I'm talking with Toni Salter, the veggie lady.
I am talking with Toni Salter Toni Salter who is The Veggie Lady

  • Amount of sun: plants need the sun to photosynthesise in order to grow into healthy plants
Veggies will take 6 hours of sun to grow really well. Whether it's morning or afternoon sun doesn't matter so much.
In cities and built up areas, sun may be insufficient to grow all of the range of vegetables.
  • Less than 6 hours?
Stick with leafy crops such as celery, cabbage family-broccoli, kale, lettuce.
  • Inconsistent watering
Vegetables need to consume plenty of water because they're consuming a lot of nutrients as they are expanding lots of energy in growing.
Increase the amount of water holding capacity in your soil by adding compost, heaps and heaps of it.
Adding compost and worm castings will improve the structure of the soil which will also help with drainage.
  • Wrong Fertiliser?
Compost is king says Toni. The  compost helps the plants take up any nutrients that are in the soil.
Synthetic fertiliser can 'dump' in one load if temperatures increase above their optimum level.
  • The right fertiliser is dependant on the plants that you're growing.
Leafy crops like high nitrogen fertiliser such as pelleted chicken manure.
Tomatoes and other fruiting crops, especially beans and peas, won't do so well with producing fruit if you only add nitrogenous fertilisers.
Keep up the liquid feeding of your vegetable garden.
  • Planting in the Wrong Season?
Bear in mind there are different climatic zones in Australia so you need to look at the right climate for where you're living.
Why is your Basil dying at the end of Autumn? That's what it's meant to do.
Cool season planting: peas, cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, leeks lettuce,
Warm season planting: tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplants, okra, pumpkin, beans, lettuce, chillies, basil
  • Crop Rotation
Failing to observe crop rotation will mean a build up pests and disease that attack that crop.

I am talking with Toni Salter Toni Salter who is The Veggie Lady. She has a passion to see organic principles adopted by everyone, encouraging people everywhere to grow organic produce in their own backyard. As a qualified horticulturist, Toni has been teaching community education classes both privately, at her home, as well as through various community colleges and local councils around Sydney since 2003. Catch her on

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Edible Gardens From Crop Rotation and Companion Planting to Maintenance


Edible Gardens Series Part 3 and part 4 and 5

Part 3 is selecting and buying the seeds and plants.
Probably the most enjoyable part of the edible garden process.
So which seeds or plants and where to buy and what about crop rotation?
Let’s find out…
I'm talking with Glenice Buck, landscape designer and consulting arborist.

You don't have to go to a store, because every type of vegetable is available online, either as a seed, or seedlings.
You can buy advanced seedlings as an example, from a mail order company in Gippsland, Victoria if it‘s getting a bit late to sow or plant your winter crop. 
They call them speedings, because they’re at least a month ahead of where you would be if you started them from seeds.
Diggers seeds speeding collection
Seeds are of course much cheaper but they could be 6-8 weeks behind seedlings, especially cabbages and other brassicas which are quite slow growing.The other issue if you plant out winter crops too late, so that when they're maturing, the season is too warm. Warm weather can bring with it more fungal problems and a horde of insects to infest your crop.
  • Crop Rotation Is Important
Crop rotation is important of course so that you don't have a build of pests of diseases with a particular crop.
If you understand which group the vegetable your growing belongs to, then you can understand what to plant next once a certain crop is finished. Never grow the same crop more than once in the same bed.
curtesy Margaret Mossakowska
Fabacea or Legume family: peas, beans
Asteraceae or Daisy Family: Leafy crops: spinach, lettuces, chicory.
Solanaceae or Potato family:-tomatoes, cucumbers, eggplant, capsicum
Apiaceae or Carrot family-carrots, parsnip, parsley, dill, celeriac
Brassicaceae or Cabbage family: broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, radish
Amaranthaceae or beetroot family: beetroot, spinach, swiss chard
Cucurbitaceae or Marrow family-cucumber, zucchini, squash, marrow, melon

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

Edible Gardens part 4 Companion Planting
This series is about edible gardens from start to finish.
So far we’ve covered, site selection, soil preparation and selection of plants or seeds for your garden Part 4 is about companion planting,
So what is it?
.Let’s find out…
I'm talking Glenice Buck, landscape designer and consulting arborist.

If you’re dubious about companion planting at the very least, plant out some flowering annuals close to your veggie garden to attract pollinating insects.

Marigolds and alyssum attract not only pollinators but beneficial insects as well.

Some proven successful combinations of plant species are: 
  • Marigolds (Stinking Rogers) planted out in veggie beds will repel a number of bugs with their somewhat smelly foliage and are proven to kill nematodes in the soil.
  • Chives, thyme and catnip planted with roses will deter aphids and other typical rose diseases.
  • Basil works well with tomatoes by repelling flies and mosquitoes.
  • Dill, chervil and coriander growing in between carrots will help to deter insects.
  • Alternating leeks and carrots in rows will protect each other from insect attack. 
  • Beetroot, onions, silverbeet, lettuce, cabbage and dwarf beans all work in combination with each other to create a mini ecosystem and will battle through insect attack well together.
  • Chervil and coriander are good to plant amongst carrots.

Edible Gardens part 5

Ongoing Maintenance
So what’s on the list? Mulching, fertilising, pruning, weeding but what else?
I'm talking wiht Glenice Buck, landscape designer and consulting arborist.
.Let’s find out…

Top of the list is watering your garden, especially the veggie garden.
Glenice recommends hand watering so you can monitor the needs of the veggies.
Fertilising is not far behind as well as using seaweed liquid every 10 days to 2 weeks.
  • Once the plants are in and growing, you need to be aware of the soil moisture conditions. Autumn showers are always beneficial for the vegetable garden, there is nothing like rain to push along the garden. 
  • You will need to supplement this rain with hand watering. Whenever possible, I would encourage gardeners to water their vegetable garden by hand as you can assess the water needs of plants individually, however if this is not possible an irrigation system which is monitored regularly is fine but make sure in times of rain it is switched off. 
  • The biggest destroyer of vegetables through the winter months is over watering, which can cause fungal diseases.

 After the plantings have been in for about a week or so, I would recommend fortnightly applications of seaweed emulsions such as Eco – Seaweed from organic crop protectants. This is not a fertiliser as such, it is a root revitaliser that will help stimulate good plant health and condition along with many other benefits.

Applying fertiliser to the vegetable garden is best completed with a liquid fertiliser such as Eco amino– Gro, Yates Nature’s Way or Amgrow’s Harvest. This can be done once a fortnight or as per packet directions. You can also use your home-made compost tea on your veggies whilst they are growing.

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

Talking Australian Organics and Globe Artichokes


Australians are turning to organic products more and more but how can we be sure they are 100% organic other than perhaps the price difference.?

  • Australian Organic is the leading industry body responsible for ensuring organic standards in Australia remain in the hands of the industry. It represents organic products and retailers, and ensures products are authentically organic through its certified bud logo.
I'm talking with Niki Ford, CEO of leading industry body Australian OrganicLet’s find out …

Did you know?
  • Australian demand for certified organic products is skyrocketing with $1.93 billion dollars generated in domestic sales for 2018 across a wide range of products. The figure is up $256 million from domestic sales of $1.67 billion for 2017 with the total Australian organic industry now worth $2.6 billion and growing year on year.

Niki mentioned the value and ethics of organic products and the importance of certification standards.
It pays to read the label, but Australia should get in line with the rest of the world in adhering to better labelling for organic products in the global market, so that consumers when they buy organic, are assured that it truly is organic.. 
  • The body that owns Australia’s most respected and recognised organic logo, Biological Farmers of Australia, or BFA, has changed its name to Australian Organic.
If you have any questions of course, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Globe artichokes or Cynara ascolymus 
Family: Asteraceae or Daisy family
What a history this vegetable has!
  • There’s an Aegean legend about a girl called Cynara…who to cut a long story short got to be made into a goddess. However she was spotted returning to her earthly family whom she missed and for her troubles was turned into the plant we know as the artichoke or Cynara ascolymus. This legends originates about 370 BC.
  • Ancient Greeks and Romans considered artichokes a delicacy and as well as an aphrodisiac.
  • Artichokes, including leaves, were thought to be a diuretic, a breath freshener and even a deodorant.
  • Beginning about 800 A.D., North African Moors begin cultivating artichokes in the area of Granada, Spain.
  • It’s also known as the French artichoke and the crown artichoke, but is not related to the Jerusalem artichoke, which is actually a tuber.

Botanical Bite
The artichoke ‘vegetable’ is actually the flower head which is picked and eaten before it flowers.
Only the heart and the fleshy base of the leaves is edible.

  • The floral parts in the centre and base of the flower (the choke) must be removed before eating.

What does the plant look like?
Like a very very large grey leaved thistle plant, and up through the middle of the plant comes this big fat segmented looking flower bud.

This is the bit you eat before it turns into  flower.
When to grow you Globe artichoke
August until November for sub-tropical and temperate areas.
September through November in cool temperate areas and for Arid areas, June through to December.
The only district that misses out, are the Tropical areas that can only grow Globe Artichokes from April to July.

What Artichokes Need?

Artichokes need a bit of space to grow - a mature plant will end up about 1.5m high and across.
Because the plants are perennial and will stay in the same place in the garden for a number of years, pick a spot you don’t mind them being for a few years.
  • For cold districts, Globe Artichokes won’t put up with the really cold winters.For these gardeners, choose a cold hardy variety from your local garden centre and grow it as an annual.

They prefer an open, sunny spot in the garden, with well-drained soil, and of course add some compost and decomposed manure or fertiliser.
  • Artichokes can be planted from seed now, but it’s far easier to plant suckers.

A mature plant usually has a main stem and a number of lateral suckers.
If you know of someone with a plant ask them to separate sucker using a spade.
Trim back any woody leaves or roots and plant in a suitable place in mid-late winter.
Water plants well until they are established and protect them from frost and later on from heat stress when they’re still young.
  • Once mature, they’re fairly resilient.

Next autumn build up mulch around them, and cut stems back once the leaves go yellow.
Mature plants will appreciate a boost of fertiliser and mulch each spring.
When to harvest those globe artichokes.

Not in the first year, because that’s when you take off any flower heads so that the young plants have a chance to grow and produce leaves.
From the second year on, pick the artichokes (generally 10-12 heads) once they are swollen, but before the scales have started to open and turn brown on the tips.
When picking your artichoke, leave a few centimetres of stem.
Small buds can be picked early in the season and eaten whole.
Globe artichokes will get crown rot if the drainage isn’t any good, and give them a good rinse to get rid of any earwigs and other insects.
Why are they good for you?
Current research is showing benefits to the liver from cynarin, a compound found in the artichoke's leaves.
Silymarin is another compound found in artichokes that has powerful anitoxidant properties and may help the liver regenerate healthy tissue.
Artichokes are nutrient dense, so, for the 25 calories in a medium artichoke, you're getting 16 essential nutrients!
In addition to all these important minerals, artichokes are a good source of fibre (12% of the RDV), vitamin C (10% of the RDV), and folate (10% of the RDV).

Thursday, 11 June 2020

Perfumed Flowers and Orchids


Perfumed and Non-Perfumed Flowers

Why do some flowers have scent and others not?
It's all about pollination because scent is a signal that directs pollinators to a particular flower whose nectar and/or pollen is the reward.

Volatile oils are emitted from flowers can have either slight scent or strong scent depending on how far away the plant needs to attract its visitors.
  • Those plants that  are pollinated by bees and flies have sweet scents, whereas those pollinated by beetles have strong musty, spicy, or fruity odours.
Perfumers have never been able to exactly match perfumed their scents to the complex scents that flowers exude.
But floral volatile oils are essential in allowing insects to discriminate among plant species and even among individual flowers of a single species. 
For example, closely related plant species that rely on different types of insects for pollination produce different odours.
I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini from

Mercede's list of favourite perfumed flowers are:

Ms Carnation:Ms Rose
Mr Hyacinth:Ms Lavender
Mr Freesia: Ms Lilac
Mr Tuber Rose: Mr Lily of the Valley
Ms Stock: Ms Jasmine: Mr Belladonna Lily
Ms Bouvardia

Orchid Cut Flowers

Potted plants:
Like other orchid species, humidity is important for the best growth.
  •  a small tray of rocks or pebbles should be used for potted plants
Water should be added to keep the pebbles covered at all times.
 Damp soil is important during peak growing and blooming seasons.
A good orchid potting bark that retains some moisture should be used. 
  • Daily misting should be used to increase humidity.
  • Several hours of indirect light is best for live plants. Direct light can cause leaves and flowers to scorch on the edges. A warm windowsill with lots of indirect light can be the best spot.
  •  Fertilizers may be used to produce better blooms for many species.Care should be taken to avoid overusing fertilizers for potted plants.Overuse can lead to stunted plant growth or scorching of the leaves.
Cut Flowers
  • Dunk in a bucket of water for 15 minutes.
  • Cut the stem straight across
  • Mist the flowers daily with filtered or "burped water."

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of

Bringing Plants Back To Life and Purple Veggies


Can you bring a plant back to life? 
We all love our garden, but sometimes a hiccup in garden maintenance brings distastrous results.
Take this next scenario:
You've come home from a couple of week's holiday and found that your treasured Spathyphyllum sp. or peace lily seems to have melted over the sides of the pot. It was a hot summer and the house-sitter didn't think to water it. 
  • What can you do to revive your dying plant? 
Most people immediately assume that they should water it, but an extra dose of water can actually harm a plant that doesn’t need it. 
  • However, in this case, a good dunk in a bucket of water will remove most of the plant. There will be some dead leaves of course.
Out in the garden, there's a similar scenario, with small shrubs looking dried with burnt and scorched leaves.
They're not necessarily dead yet, so how can you tell?
The first thing to do is scratch the bark with your fingernail to see if there's some green underneath the outer layer.
If yes, then happy days, because with a bit of TLC, this plant will be brought back from the brink.
Also test if the limb or branchlet is still supple or snaps when you bend it.
If the stems are brittle, and brown inside when you cut it with a pair of secateurs, then the plant is dead and can’t be saved.
Dead branchlets on my buxus hedge
  • Perhaps your buxus hedge is only half dead. Trim back the dead stems and give it a good water, adding a seaweed drink to the watering can. That can revive the plants no end.
One last chance.
When the plant above ground is all dried up and dead looking, there is a chance that new growth will spring from the roots, depending on what it is of course. Australian natives are good at springing back to life if you cut them to about 5 cm above the ground.

Diagnose the Problem
You need to weigh up whether or not your giving it too much water, (one of the most common mistakes) or not enough water.
  • Has your peace lily got brown leaves that are dry around the edges or curled up? It's a sign of insufficient watering, so go water it!
Daphne with root rot
Root rot symptoms.
This is when the plants' leaves look wilted, yet the soil is moist around the roots. In fact probably too moist if it's been sitting in a pot of water.
More than likely, your plant has root rot and the only way to save it,(slight chance), is if your spray it with Yates Anti-Rot which contains phosacid. This will only work if you've caught it in time and the leaves are able to take up the phosacid and translocate it to the roots.
Another option is to replant it into drier soil, which is easier if it's in a pot in the first place.

Don't Fertilise Yet
Fertilising now will stress the plant further and possible cause root and leaf burn. Wait it out a couple of weeks to let the plant recover, then add a gentle fertiliser at half strength.

Burnt Leaves
Australia's hot summers can burn leaves of plants, particularly if the ground is very dry.
If it's in the ground and the leaves keep getting burnt every year, dig it up and move it to a shadier spot in the garden.
If it's in a pot, that's an easy fix to move to a better spot.
Bromeliad needed more shade.
Frost damage on plants looks similar to leaf burn from too much sun.
If you're expecting more frost because it's only the start of winter, invest in a some horticultural fleece, and throw it over the plant on frosty nights. Leave the burnt leaves for now, because they will protect the lower leaves that haven't been burnt.

I'm talking with Steve Falcioni from 


Today it’s about growing purple veggies.
  • What veggie can you think of that’s purple?

Did you say eggplants and then were a bit stumped?
What about purple carrots and beetroot?
Ok beetroot is sort of a reddish purple, but it can be considered purple, I’ll tell you why in a minute.
There’s also purple cauliflower and purple sweet potato not to mention purple chilli peppers.
Let’s not forget purple podded peas and purple king beans, red/purple mizuna, red Russian Kale, Red/purple cabbages. Need I go on?
So there are a few purple veggies out there.
  • Why should we grow purple veggies and why are they purple in the first place?

They’re purple is because purple vegetables contain pigments called anthocyanins, the same antioxidants found in red wine.
  • Think blueberries that are marketed as a superfood.

They also contain other health-promoting pigments such as betacyanins and carotenes.
Those anthocyanins and other pigments are good for our health.
  • Did you know though that anthocyanins are not the only cause of red colour in fruit and vegetables.Betacyanins, members of the betalain family, are distinct from anthocyanins and the two pigments are not found in the same plants together.
  • Beta-cyanins also have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which contribute to health.

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

In Arid zones, plant direct into the garden from April until June.
In cool temperate and temperate zones, February was the recommended time to sow seeds but you can sow seedlings until the end of May.
If your district is sub-tropical, transplant seedlings until the end of June also.
Purple caulie is a lovely coloured vegetable that contains all of the health properties of white cauliflower with the added bonus of extra anthocyanin (that lovely antioxidant that's so great for you!).
Just don't be surprised when it turns green once cooked. You can use purple cauliflower in any recipe that calls for cauliflower.
Purple Cabbage.
To sow cabbage, in temperate, sub-tropical and arid districts, March until June is the best time,  but temperate and sub tropical districts can have another go from August until November,
In cool temperate areas March until May is best then again in August.
Purple cabbages are not only lovely in colour, but extra good for you with more than double the amount polyphenols than green cabbage.
Purple Carrots.
Purple carrots  can grow year round in subtropical and arid climates.
In Temperate zones, you have from September through to May,.
In Cool temperate districts, September through to February, and in the tropics you can grow carrots from April to June.

Different-coloured carrots carry different health properties. The purple carrot specifically has 28 percent more of the antioxidant anthocyanin than orange carrots.
Eggplant seeds/seedlings can be planted in spring to autumn in tropical areas, spring to early summer in temperate zones and during late spring in cool climates.
This pretty, purple-skinned vegetable also contains some of the most potent antioxidants: phytonutrients found in the skin.
Eggplant is also a good source of iron, calcium and a host of other vitamins.
Purple Potatoes.
Purple Potatoes can be planted August to October, in temperate and sub-tropical districts.
Arid areas August until December is your best time.
In cool temperate zones,  September through to January.
These potatoes add more than four times the antioxidants in comparison to regular potatoes, according to reasearch, and score as high as kale and Brussels sprouts in antioxidants.
Purple potatoes were once considered the "food of the gods,
Why are they good for you?
Why grow them? Cabbages contain 90% water and are really low in kilojoules.
Also high in vitamin C, you need only eat 100g to get your daily requirement.
They also have dietary fibre, folate, potassium and help balance fluids when you’ve eaten too much sodium-salty foods.


Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Allergy and Cut Flowers


Allergy and Cut Flowers
Cut flowers bring surprise and admiration for the giver but if they trigger itchy eyes and runny noses, chances are you have an allergy to those particular flowers.
Pollen allergies can trigger hayfever type reactions so flowers with lots of pollen should be avoided.
But how to tell?

Botanical Bite

Only male flowers produce pollen. 
  •  Dioecious plants have either only male or either female flowers on any one individual plant. These plants rely on mainly the wind, rarely insects to carry pollen from a male plant to a female plant to reproduce.
    Sunflowers have high pollen count
  • Monoecious plants, contain both male and female flowers on the same plant, meaning that pollen must travel from flower to flower but not from plant to plant. Some monoecious plants contain male and female parts in the same flower. They’re often called “perfect flowers” and don't need any pollen to be transferred at all, as a single flower can reproduce on its own.

Top 10 allergy-heavy plants

The most obvious flowers and plants to steer away from are those that are wind pollinated. Believe it or not, grasses have flowers, but they're not so obvious or showy. All grass flowers are wind pollinated, these include your lawn grass.
  1. Baby's breath  (Gypsophila sp.) is popular in many florist bouquets and are planted in cottage gardens because they're easy to grow from seed. Although the flowers are small, they carry heaps of pollen of pollen. There are singles and doubles so opt for the double flowering types because they have less pollen. More petals equals less pollen, plus as the double flowers are hybrids they have a low level of pollen anyway. It also helps that all those petals prevent the pollen from flying off.
  2. Daisy Family-Asteraceae.  That includes white daises, pink daisies, yellow daisies, in fact any daisies. Daisies are very high in pollen count but even though they are not wind pollinated, allergy sufferers should avoid getting too close. Let the bees and other insects do the work.
  3. Dahlias-still in the daisy family, especially the single flowering dahlias.
  4. Sunflowers-(Helianthus anuum)still in the daisy family, but did you know you can buy seed for pollenless sunflowers?
  5. Gerberas-of course, still in the daisy family. One of the most showy of the Asteraceae family, but plenty of pollen.
  6. Chamomile-small daisy like flowers that look innocuous but have plenty of pollen, including the ones you pick to make chamomile tea.
  7. Amaranth (Amaranthus caudatus)-have flowers that are referred to as catkins with a high pollen count.
  8. Chrysanthemum-there are plenty of fully double chrysanthemums you could choose to lessen the impact of the high pollen count.
  9. Bottlebrush-(Callistemon sp.) although they're visited by bees and other insects for the nectar, they still have enough pollen to be blown about by the wind.
  10. Jasmine species-not only pollen but high fragrance can irritate allergy sufferers.
I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of
What to choose instead in your bouquet or vase for the home.
Begonia, cactus, clematis, columbine, crocus, daffodil and geranium are some of the most allergy-friendly plants and flowers. Hosta, hydrangea, iris, lily, periwinkle, rose, tulip, zinnia are also known for being good choices.