Saturday, 25 July 2020

Scientific Illustrations but Also Grow Romanesco Broccoli.

What is Scientific Illustration? 

Host of Real World Gardener radio show Marianne, speaks with Sydney Botanic Gardens Scientific Illustrator, Catherine Wardrop
Catherine Wardrop
 1.    Scientific illustration is one of many aspects of botanical research to aid plant identification and conservation at the Royal Botanic Garden Sydney.  How does it help?
2.    Why do botanists still use drawings instead of photographs?”
a.    Simply put, scientific illustrators create images of plants by referencing recent and historic herbarium collections. Catherine says "In my role, I use my artistic skill to translate the taxonomy, interpret microscopic botanical details, omit the unnecessary, document the essential and (hopefully) describe a species so well that it never has to be drawn again."
Prostanthera lasianthos
3.    What do you need to know about a species before you start drawing it?
  •        Any knowledge of plants helps.Catherine had studied 5 years at arts school completing        an undergrad and post grad studies in visual art. Post grad was in plant and wildlife        illustration.
4.    Is there a method when approaching botanical drawing?
  •     For a full plate which includes the habit of the plant, Catherine likes to do the microscope drawings first. It also involves a bit re-constructing. Scientific illustrator will include all parts of the life cycle of the plant.

7.    Which plant species have proved challenging to draw?
  •     When you start drawing a new species that has no previous illustrations or specimens. 
8.    How long have you been doing scientific illustration?
a.    Since 1998 Catherine has illustrated native, exotic and invasive weed species at RBG Sydney and the most recent examples of her work are to be seen accompanying botanical descriptions in online publications of Telopea and PlantNET.


Which vegetable has more vitamin C than an orange?
Broccoli, Brassica oleracea var Italica or botrytis cymosa?
Earlier this year I mentioned that Broccoli heads are actually groups of flower buds that are almost ready to flower?
  •     Each group of buds is called a floret.

That’s still true, nothing’s changed.
Broccoli is of course in the Brassicaceae family of vegetables along with cauliflower, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, turnips and many of the Asian greens.
Just to remind you why should you grow any type of 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 your cut of the central Broccoli stem. Plus, Broccoli is pretty easy to grow.
  •      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.

Today’s Broccoli is the Romanesco broccoli or some call it roman cauliflower
You might think this lime green cauliflower come broccoli is a new invention but it’s been around since the 16th century.
  •    The reason why broccoli is making an appearance in this segment is that even though it’s called Romanesco broccoli it’s much more crunchy than either broccoli or cauliflower.The flavour is different as well, some say nutty even, while others say it tastes like a cross between broccoli and cauliflower.That seems too hard to imagine.
  •      To add to the confusion, apparently the French call it Romanesco cabbage and the English called it Italian asparagus.

So it’s a mixed up vegetable if you like but the most fascinating part of Romanesco is its appearance.
Much has been said about the mathematics of this spiral pattern, a lot of which is fairly complex.
Its spiralled buds form a natural approximation of a fractal, meaning each bud in the spiral is composed of a series of smaller buds.
  •     You might’ve heard of the Fibonacci sequence?

The spirals follow the same logarithmic pattern.
Plus it’s a very attractive vegetable to be growing in the garden.

Where did it come from?
Romanesco is a unique Italian variety of broccoli with a yellowish-green dense head that forms an unusual spiral pattern.
How to grow Romanesco Broccoli?
Sow the seeds of Romanesco broccoli in from February July in arid zones, March through to August in sub-tropical areas, Spring and Autumn in temperate zones,
 And for cooler regions, you’ll have to wait until October before sowing.
  •    The plants need the same care as either Broccoli, or cauliflower and that is they’re not too choosy about the site they’re growing in but prefers to be in full sun, but also 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.
Sowing Broccoli Seed
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.
  •    TIP:Don’t plant or sow Romanesco 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.

Harvest broccoli heads when they have reached maximum size, are still compact, and before the buds loosen, open into flowers, or turn yellow.
Romanesco broccoli

  •     It will be about 70-100 days or 2 ½ -4 months, when your Broccoli will be ready if you plant it now.

When do you pick your Romanesco Broccoli?
You’ve got to time it just right, and that’s when the cluster of tight buds in the central head is well formed and before the individual flowers start to open.
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 sideshoots 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 any type of 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
100g broccoli has 120kJ.
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!

1 Potato 2 Potato and Hot Compost


Hot Compost

How many of you out there still do not have a composting system of some kind?
There’s no excuse, even if you only have a small balcony, everyone should be composting their kitchen scraps instead of it going to landfill.
  • You just need some space for your compost.
  • you could have compost bays, compost bins, or any structure that can hold up to 1 cubic metre of compost.
Compost bins at Margaret's House: Photo by Margaret Mossakowska
There’s so many systems out there to accommodate all kinds of limitations that you might have.
You can even make a compost heap without building or buying anything.
I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska from
Let’s find what to do .

Vermin: put Rapid mesh under you bins if you have rodents invading your compost.
Alternatively, put food scraps into a worm farm, and use you compost bins just for green waste.
Worm farm that is smelly:
  • Too many food scraps will make the worm farm smelly and anaerobic. Mainly nitrogen rich.
The way to fix it is to add more carbon rich material such as shredded newspaper, coffee chaff or straw.
note: coffee chaff is free by-product of coffee roasting, that is husks of coffee beans. You just need to ask.
Compost Bins/Bays
  • To make a hot compost you need to assemble at least 1 cubic metre of material in one go.
  • Wait for it to heat up to 55-60 C, usually after 2-3 days, then you can turn it.
  • Use a compost thermometer so the compost doesn't get over 60 C. This temperature is enough to kill weed seeds and insect eggs.
  • Commercial compost is biologically dead because it is heated to  more than 70 C.
  • Ratios are important: 4 buckets of carbon rich material to 1 bucket of green clippings/food scraps.
  • Molasses can be added to compost to innoculate it, or use comfrey, nettles, nasturtium soaked in a bucket of water.
Margaret now runs workshops that you can attend without leaving your home because they’re via Zoom, that’s on your computer.
If you have any questions, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Which Potato Shall You Grow?

Potatoes are scientifically Solanum tuberosum
  • Did you know that Potatoes are a vegetable that is one of the most energy-giving foods there is, because of the starch and carbohydrates in them? Farmers in the Andes Mountains of South America first discovered the potato 7,000 years ago
Captain William Bligh planted potatoes on Bruny Island, Tasmania in 1792. In Australia they are now the largest vegetable crop.
  • Other than eating ,potatoes are used to brew vodka and Potato starch is used in the food industry as a thickener and binder for soups and sauces and, in the textile industry as an adhesive, and for the manufacturing of papers and boards.
The potato is a member of the nightshade or Solanaceae family and its leaves are poisonous.
TIP Here’s something to think about when storing your potatoes.
  • A potato left too long in the light will begin to turn green.The green skin contains a substance called solanine which can cause the potato to taste bitter and green potatoes can upset the stomach, so don’t try them.
How to grow potatoes
  • Always grow potatoes from Certified Seed Potatoes from reputable suppliers.
If you use leftovers or buy from supermarkets or green grocers, you might think it’s only a small risk, but once you get potato blight into your soil, it’s their forever. 
No chemical will shift it.

When to plant
Potatoes can be planted now all over Australia, in temperate and sub-tropical districts, August to October is the best time, in arid areas August until December is your best time,
Cranberry Red Potato
In cool temperate zones, September through to January is your best time so cooler areas have a bit of extra time to order some of the more unusual varieties before they grow in the ground.
Some Varieties You May Want to Consider
How about Cranberry Red?
Cranberry Red has red skin and red flesh, great in salads, for boiling and baking.  These stay red, even after cooking.
Or what about Potato Sapphire that has purple skin and purple flesh?
Royal Blue Potato
Purple Sapphire I’m sure is sold also as Purple Congo, is perfect for mashing, boiling and roasting, and yes, it stays purple after cooking.
Purple mash, Yum, and yes, I’ve cooked it.
And for a good all rounder, try growing Royal Blue.
Potato Royal Blue is oblong, with purple skin and dark yellow flesh.
If you’re buying through mail order or online, you have until the end of August to buy them. After that, they’re not available.
But What do they really need?
  • They need lots of sunshine because the soil needs to be warm for them to grow their very best.
  • They also need loose soil that isn’t too wet or too dry. If the ground is too wet, the potatoes will rot in the ground.
  • Potatoes plants are started from the buds or ‘eyes’ of an existing potato. You can cut the potato into pieces and plant them with the bud or ‘eye’ facing up.
To grow your Potatoes-
Chicken manure or blood and bone should be dug through the bed as potatoes need a lot of phosphorus but not too much nitrogen.  Too much nitrogen will mean lots of leaves rather than potatoes.
Put seedling potatoes into a trench in as deep and rich a soil as you can get.
Plenty of compost and manures please.
And as they grow pile the earth up around them.
  • You will need to hill the rows or potato container several times until the potatoes have flowered. You need to do this to stop the greening of tubers and also protect them from potato moth. Also, hilling up the soil and mulch will give you more potatoes as they tend to form on roots near the surface. That means, as you pile up the soil, you get new roots, and more potatoes....
  • Keep the water up and but only water moderately as potatoes will rot in soil that is too wet. They can also get a fungus growing inside them if the soil’s too wet.When you cut them open, they’ll have grey patches inside which actually do taste mouldy. Euwwww!
  • You can add fish emulsion and seaweed extract when you’re watering too.

How To Grow Potatoes in You Black Compost Bin.
Potatoes can also be grown in your black compost bin if you’re not using it for compost.

  • Plant the seed potatoes at the bottom, let them grow to about 50cm,( so with your ruler that’s  almost 2 x ruler heights) then, over the top and add 8cm of soil, let them grow a little more, add some more soil, and so on, in the end a stack of potatoes.
  • Pick your potatoes when the vine has died down to the ground, that’s if you want the most potatoes, but they can be harvested from when the first baby potatoes are formed. 
  • The lower leaves should be turning yellow – this happens about 3 to 4 weeks after flowering.
If you plan to store your potatoes, cut off the foliage and let the potatoes rest in the ground for 3-4 weeks to allow the skin to 'set', they keep longer this way. Store in a dark, cool, well ventilated spot.
Roasting Potatoes include: Arran, Royal Blue, Cara, Celine, Desiree, Maxine, Picasso, Ruby Lou, Romano, King Edward, Kondor, Maris Piper, Stemster and Valor.
For Chip Potatoes try: Nadine, Kestrel, King Edward, Desiree, Kennebec.
For Boiling Potatoes try: Nadine, Dutch Cream Kestrel, Desiree, King Edward.
For Mashing Potatoes try: Kestrel, Nadine, King Edward, Tasmanian Pinkeye.
For Salad Potatoes try: Nicola, Tasmanian Pinkeye, Ponfine.
Harvesting Potatoes When The Vine Has Died Down
For something different try: Sapphire, with purple flesh it looks great mashed and roasted.
Another method for growing potatoes is underneath straw.  This no dig method is easy and will still provide you with a great crop.  First, prepare the growing area with a layer of manure, dampening it, and then covering it with a thick layer of wet newspaper.  Ensure that each piece of newspaper overlaps the next to stop weeds from getting through.  Put the seed potatoes on the newspaper 50cm apart and cover with a layer of straw.  Add cow manure and blood and bone over the straw.  After this add more straw, and repeat until the straw is 40cm deep.  Water it in well.  Because straw is organic, it will decompose so you will need to add more straw as it does so to prevent sunlight from reaching the potatoes.
Why are potatoes good for you?
The potato is densely packed with nutrients.
A medium potato provides vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6 and trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and zinc.
Potatoes are known as the foods people crave when they are stressed. 
Why? because the carbs in potatoes (about 26%) help make space for tryptophan, this, in turn, boosts the serotonin level in the brain.
High serotonin levels help boost your mood and help you feel calm.
To preserve these nutrients it is important to peel the potato just prior to cooking and not leave

Monday, 13 July 2020

Three Can Climb:Running Postman, Happy Wanderer and Snake Vine


Scientific Name:Kennedia rubicunda; 
Common name: Dusky Coral Pea, Running Postman
Family: Fabaceae
Etymology:Kennedia...after John Kennedy, an English nurseryman
rubicunda...referring to the colour of the flowers
: Spring with pea like flowers, that is, a standard of 4 petals, a keel and two wings.
Grows: 3m high x 3m wide
Suitable as a trellis climber or covering embankments. Bird attracting.
Kennedia rubicunda
This next plant is a climber as we have been taking about climbers for a couple of weeks.
It’s got these attractive scarlet to pink flowers but what else?
Let’s find out…
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, qualified horticulturist and native plant expert.

The running postman title is probably because of the red flowers that appear on this fairly vigorous vine or creeper.
Did you also know though that it’s a very useful medicinal plant to grow?
Apparently its leaves were bruised and drunk as a tincture when recovering from illness. Don’t know what sort of illness though.

Use it as a groundcover, for arches, teepees and vine supports. 
some will say that it's happy growing in a pot.  I can't be sure about that.
Dusky Coral Pea does best in full sun but will tolerate part shade. 
It needs to be protected from frosts.
There is another cultivar Kennedia nigricans that Adrian and Marianne mention. This has black and yellow coloured flowers. 
A cultivar known as Kennedia nigricans 'Minstrel' was registered with the Australian Cultivar Registration Authority by Goldup Nursery of Mount Evelyn, Victoria in September 1985. This cultivar was selected from a batch of seedlings in 1983 and has a pale colouration instead of the yellow, which appears almost white.


Scientific Name: Hardenbergia violacea
Common Name: Native Sarsparilla, Happy Wanderer
Family: Fabaceae

Grows:the species form grows to 6m. There are many other forms that grow only as a sub-shrub or smaller climber.
Etymology: Hardenbergia...after Franziska Countess von Hardenberg.
violacea...referring to the typical flower colour
"Happy Wanderer" (very vigorous, purple flowers)
"Pink Fizz" (pink flowers - climbing, not vigorous)
"Mini Haha" (compact, shrubby - purple flowers)
"Alba" (white flowers)
"Free 'n' Easy" (whitish flowers, vigorous climber)
"Blushing Princess" (shrubby - mauve-pink flowers)
"Purple Falls" (trailing - purple flowers, good for rockeries)
"Bushy Blue" (shrubby - blue-purple flowers).

If you love the colour purple in the garden you’ll love this next plant because it’s got it all.
It’s tough, it flowers for ages, and you don’t even have to do too much to look after it.
Let’s find out more...
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, qualified horticulturist and native plant expert.

There’s so many Hardenbergias to choose from that come in not just creepers or climbers, but small little shrubby things that spread a bit.

Some of the shrubby forms of Hardenbergia are very useful for mass plantings, rock gardens, retaining walls and banks for home gardens and larger landscapes.

There are some good shrubby forms on the market such as ‘Bushy Blue’, ‘Purple Spray’ and ‘Regent’ which can grow from 60cm tall (‘Bushy Blue’) to 1.5m tall (‘Regent’). ‘Mini Haha’ is a compact dwarf form but it is not as robust as other types.

There’s also ‘Meema’ will grow to approximately 450mm tall with a 2 metre spread which is ideal for outcompeting weeds and creating a ground cover with a shrubby appearance.


Common Name:Golden Guinea Flower: Snake vine
Latin Name: Hibbertia scandens
Family: Dilleniaceae
EtymologyHibbertia...after George Hibbert, a patron of botany; scandens.... "climbing", because of the climbing habit of the species.
Flowering:spring, summer but spot flowers throughout the year
Description: a scrambling climber or vine anywhere between 2 to 4 metres. Glossy mid green leaves with buttercup yellow flowers with prominent golden stamens.
Hibbertia scandens
What else?
Let’s find out…

That was Adrian O’Malley, qualified horticulturist and native plant expert.
Hibbertias are sometimes called Guinea Flowers because the flower shape and colour looks like the ancient Golden Guinea coin.
When Adrian has seen it in the bush, it's mostly in open forest or gullies. 
The flowers shape and colour is a dead give-away for the hibbertia species.
The "snakes" are the tendrils that twine themselves together and climb up.
Perfect specimen for sloping sites where it can scramble freely.
If you have any questions of course, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Sweet Morinda Can Climb


Sweet Morinda
You most probably know Australian climbing plants and would immediately think of Bower or Wonga wonga vine, either Pandorea jasminoides or Pandorea pandorana,
Very tropical looking climbers that suit all sorts of conditions around Australia.
But there’s some many more Australian native climbers that would suit our backyards and here’s one of them.
Common Name: Sweet Morinda
Scientific name: Gynochthodes jasminoides syn. Morinda jasminoides
Family: Rubiaceae
Habit: scrambling climber to 6m. Adrian uses it to screen some ugly buildings.
What's in a name?
Morinda    Latin morus = mulberry and indicus = indian (referring to it being like an Indian Mulberry)
jasminoides   From the plant being Jasmine-likeThis pant is a native creeper found in eucalypt and rainforests along the east coast, across to Western Australia.
You most probably know Australian climbing plants and would immediately think of Bower or Wonga wonga vine, either Pandorea jasminoides or Pandorea pandorana,
Very tropical looking climbers that suit all sorts of conditions around Australia.
But there’s some many more Australian native climbers that would suit our backyards and here’s one of them.
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, qualified horticulturist and native plant expert.
.Let’s find out…

Let’s just call it sweet Morinda or Morinda jasminoides.
Not overly floriferous but the flowers resemble those of jasmine with dense thick foliage that works well as a screen ugly buildings or scenery.

Flowers: Small clusters of 3-20 heads, but in Adrian's garden, it's not a prolific flowerer. There is some jasmine like scent but it's not overpowering. Mid spring to mid summer flowering.

Fruits: The main attraction some say because they're lumpy bright orange, 2cm in diameter.

Leaves: have an interesting bump in the centre called a "domatia."  
the bumps are a symbiotic relationship with an insect that lives in the pits.The mite-habitat pits are so large that they make conspicuous bumps on the upperside of the leaves, making the plant easy to identify when it's not flowering or fruiting.

Gouldian Finch and Growing Mushrooms


Common Name: Gouldian Finch
Scientific Name: Erytrura gouldiae
Named after renowned British ornothological artist John Gould.
This next bird is one of the prettiest Australian birds but it is endangered.
It’s very small and would fit into your hand weighing only 14 grams.
As with most birds of this type (finches, the Gouldian) it’s a quiet enough bird that peeps and sings a little.
They make a pleasant sound that is doubtful to wake you up or create a problem with neighbours, though it is persistent. 
I'm talking with Dr Holly Parsons of
.Let’s find out about it.

Gouldian finch are also known as Goulds, Lady Gouldian and rainbow finch in other parts of the world are Holly’s opinion, one of the most beautiful birds in Australia.
Most one known as a pet for aviaries. 
Beautifully coloured birds with a green back, purple chest and yellow side feathers, but
25% of the population has a red face, 74% have a black face and about 1% have a yellow face.
Young birds are surprisingly  dull brown coloured and become vibrantly coloured as they mature.
In the wild they are found along creek lines, and mangroves. 
Partially migratory, and usually quiet. 
Outside the breeding season, they move closer to the coast, but once breeding starts they move inland.
They nest in hollows in trees and termite mounds.
If you have any questions of course, why not email or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


What was grown in the Paris Catacombs before the Paris Metro?
The answer was of course mushrooms.
  • Not strictly a vegetable or a fruit, and not even a plant, but a fungi.

They also seem to have very different botanical or scientific name.
  • Button mushrooms are Agaricus bisporus, various oyster mushrooms belong to the genus Pleurotus and shitake mushrooms are Lentinula edodes.

Botanical Bite:
Did you know that the body of the mushroom is mycelium which is microscopic, lives underground, in wood or another food source?
It’s when this mycelium has stored enough nutrients to give fruits, that we get those mushrooms that we see and we like to eat.

A Bit of History
4,600 years ago, Egyptians believed that eating mushrooms gave you immortality so commoners weren’t allowed to eat mushrooms, only royalty.
How thing’s have changed?
In some countries like Russia, many people thought that eating mushrooms gave you super-human strength and help in finding lost objects.
Now there’s a combination?
Some say that Louis XIV of France was the first mushroom grower in Europe but it’s more likely that it was a French botanist named Merchant, who in 1678 showed to the Academie des Sciences how mushrooms could be grown in a controlled way by transplanting their mycelia. (filaments which spread through the soil underneath them like fine roots)."
Mittagong mushroom farm
  • Speaking of tunnels, the first mushrooms grown commercially in Australia were grown in disused railway tunnels in Sydney in the 1930’s. Later the mushrooms were grown in fields only covered with straw and hessian bags.

Listeners might remember buying mushrooms in cans from the supermarket because you couldn’t always get them fresh all year round like you can now.
Remember those cans of Champignons?
Today, Australians eat mostly fresh mushrooms because they’re available all year.
  • You can grow quite a lot more varieties at home, than just the plain white mushrooms. There’s White Button, Chestnut button, Swiss Brown, Pearl Oyster, Pink Oyster. Golden Oyster, and Shitake to name a few.

I have grown white button Mushrooms in the past, and having seen different varieties being grown in Europe so I thought I’d explore some other varieties that can also be grown at home.
Growing Mushrooms
You may already know that the standard white button kit comes in a cardboard box with compost and casing material that you have to wet and put on top of the compost in the box.
The same goes for Chestnut button mushrooms.
Then there’s grow bags available from some garden centres and large retail outlets that sell Mushroom grow bags.

Growing Mushrooms (Agaricus species) is easy if you stick to a few basic guidelines.
So how do you grow mushrooms from a kit?
  • Find somewhere indoors where there’s no wind or direct sunlight, better still if it’s a bit humid like your laundry.Some people may have a big enough bathroom to put the kit in there!
  • A good idea is to keep your mushroom kit off the ground and out of the way of the family pet.
  • It’s not a good idea to grow your mushrooms deep inside a cupboard or pantry because the air is pretty dry, plus if you can’t see them, you might forget about them.
  • The standard kits contain a casing with mushroom spores that you spread over your mushroom compost.

Start your kit.
  1. Open the box and remove the bag of dry peat moss called casing.
  2. Leave the large bag of compost inside the box. The compost may appear brown if newly inoculated with spawn, or if it is mature, it will look frosty white or mouldy, as the mushroom mycelium grows through it. If the compost is brown and newly inoculated, close the kit up and keep it at 18-22 degrees for 7-10 days, before adding the peat moss casing layer.
  3. You will notice that the bag of compost is not sealed closed this is to allow the mushroom fungus to breathe.
  4. If you do not plan on starting the kit immediately, simply fold the plastic bag back down on to itself and close up the box the way it was before you opened it. This kit is designed to be started immediately, a short delay of a week or two is OK, a delay of a month or more is to long and not a good idea. It may still grow, but fewer mushrooms will be produced the longer you wait.If you wish to delay, starting your kit for a few weeks, store the kit below in a cool as location as possible.

Set up your kit and applying the casing.
  • Inside the box is a small bag of dry peat moss mixed with a little lime, this is called casing. Casing is used as a covering to hold water and protect the mushroom mycelium growing in the compost.

Open large plastic bag.
  • Now spread the casing evenly over the entire surface of the compost.  Do not pack the casing down, leave it loose and fluffy.
  • The casing should cover all the compost, and be approximately 2cm deep. After applying the casing to the compost, mist or sprinkle the casing with an additional one-cup of water.
  • Wait about 5 minutes and then scratch or ruffle the entire surface of the peat moss to a depth of  2cm. A nail or fork can be used to ruffle the casing. The roughness of the casing creates a microclimate where the young mushrooms can form. This completes setting up your kit. It is a good idea to write the date you start your kit on the box and on these instructions for later reference.

Water & Maintenance.
Once you have placed your kit somewhere to grow, make sure you keep the surface of the casing moist. A moderate spray misting or sprinkling of water on the casing surface once a day is adequate.
  • Do not let the casing dry out, as it is very hard to remoisten it and mushrooms will not grow in dry casing. Keep your kit out of drafts and away from heat sources, which will dry out your kit.
  • Do not cover the top of the kit to prevent the kit from drying out, as this causes air circulation problems and high levels of carbon dioxide.High levels of carbon dioxide will prevent mushrooms from growing or produce long stringy undesirable mushrooms.

When are they ready?
A mushroom is mature and ready to be picked, when the thin veil covering the gills under the mushroom begins to tear open no matter what the size of that mushroom is.
Why are they good for You?
Even though they’re in the vegetable aisle in the supermarket, mushrooms could be in with meat, beans or grains.
That’s because mushrooms contain 3.3g of protein for every 100g of mushrooms. About three button or one flat mushroom.
Mushrooms are low in calories, fat-free, cholesterol-free and very low in sodium.
One serve of mushrooms has 20% of your RDI of some of the important B group vitamins, as well as selenium, nearly as much potassium as in a banana, and vitamin D.
Yes you heard right, they’re the only source of vitamin D in the produce aisle and one of the few non-fortified food sources.
Mushrooms are also valuable source of dietary fibre: a 100g serving of mushrooms contains more dietary fibre (2.5g) than 100g of celery (1.8g) or a slice of wholemeal bread (2.0g