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Saturday, 24 July 2021

Bulbs from South Africa for Dry and Moist Shade

  DESIGN ELEMENTS

Warm Bulbs What Are They?

Spring flowering bulbs like daffodils, tulips, freesias, bluebells, to name a few are all bulbs from the northern hemisphere. They do best in cool climates and once the main spring show is over, there's nothing left to excite.
  • It's time to changeup or simply extend the flowering season to what garden designer Peter Nixon terms 'warm bulbs.' 
  • These come from warmer climates such as South Africa and South America, therefore are more suited to a large part of eastern Australia-the 'cool sub trops.' (Cool sub-tropical).
  • The other benefits of these spectacular bulbs are that they flower much later and longer;  late spring into summer and even autumn.

Warm Bulbs part 4-Dry Shade and Moist shade

What kind of shade? NOT GLOOM!
  • Clivea nobilis photo M Cannon

    We are talking Cliveas, and not just Clivea miniata. 
Try the following Cliveas

 Clivea nobilis -umbel with many florets, starting in late winter; variable colours from pale orange to deep orange red with green tips.

Clivea gardenii-tubular and pendulous flowers; orange to red, however yellow and pink clones are also sometimes available to the plant collector.

Clivea caulescens-flowers pendulous and tubular; orange-red with green tips

Clivea robusta-pendulous flowers with green tips

Bright shade will keep them happy. Full sun will fade the dark green to a pale washed out green and at worst, will burn the leaves
  • Keep one thing in mind. Where the leaf union comes together, it has to be well above the soil otherwise the clivea will rot.
  • As the roots push the upwards, DON'T be tempted to cover up the root system with more soil. 
  • Leaf litter or a leaf mulch is fine, but these grow in high rainfall areas and require their root system to be not sitting in water.

Moist Shade: 

Eucaris amazonica, flowers in high summer, usually around February, with pure white flowers with a green cup centre, almost daffodil-like.

Listen to the podcast for more information

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden designer from Paradisus garden design. www.dgnblog.peternixon.com.auwww.paradisusgl.peternixon.com.au     

Instagram paradisus_sea_changer FB Paradisus Garden Design

If you have any questions or feedback for me or Peter about these bulbs, why not write in to realworldgardener@gmail.com or info@peternixon.com.au


Exotic Warm Bulbs from South America for a Northern Aspect

 DESIGN ELEMENTS

Warm Bulbs What Are They?

Spring flowering bulbs like daffodils, tulips, freesias, bluebells, to name a few are all bulbs from the northern hemisphere. They do best in cool climates and once the main spring show is over, there's nothing left to excite.
  • It's time to changeup or simply extend the flowering season to what garden designer Peter Nixon terms 'warm bulbs.' 
  • These come from warmer climates such as South Africa and South America, therefore are more suited to a large part of eastern Australia-the 'cool sub trops.' (Cool sub-tropical).
  • The other benefits of these spectacular bulbs are that they flower much later and longer;  late spring into summer and even autumn.
Thunia marshalliana photo P Nixon

Warm Bulbs part 3-Northern Aspect with Shelter

So what do you plant in your shady area perhaps under trees where there’s usually dry shade?
As long as it’s not gloomy, such as really dense shade.
These bulbs are not for the harsh western aspect of exposed to harsh winds.

Thunia marshalliana from northern Thailand. 
Expect to see a cycle where it dies down before fresh new leaves come through in spring, with flowers appearing in summer. 
The leaves remind me somewhat of a crucifix orchid in the shape and configuration. 
The flowers are a standout white with a slight fragrance and grow atop long arching canes.
You could grow these in a large hanging basket so you could see the flowers from below.
  • When in growth, apply plenty of orchid fertiliser.
  • Propagation is super easy; just like for the keikis (baby plantlets) at the ends of canes, and cut of and pot up.
Worsleya procera commonly known as the Red fox orchid  or  lavender hippeastrum.
Worsleya procera

One of the world's rarest bulbs originating from Rio de Janeiro.
Flowering can take  up to 7 years !
Leaves are deep green that have an unusual curvature giving them a sculptural look.

Listen to the podcast, it's rather long but very interesting.

Species Hippeastrum: Not your ordinary hippies!

Don't go past species Hippeastrum that originate for the most part, in south America.
  • All of course are in Amaryllidaceae family.
Hippeastrum papilio
You won't find much information about these hippeastrums in general so take note.
Some of these can grow as epiphytes in their natural environment!
  • In the ground, they need superb drainage but not under trees unless the canopy is quite high, say 2-3 metres above the bulb.
Start your collection with the Hippeastrum papilio or  green Hippeastrum calyptratum  or 
Hippeastrum psittacinum: The name means parrot like, referring to the brilliant coloring.  From Brazil, growing in full sun to partial shade.

Hippeastrum calyptratum
Hippeastrum psittacinum or parrot hippeastrum

Peter outlines quite a few of the species hippeastrums so have a listen to the podcast.
PLAY Bulbs for a northern aspect_7th July 2021

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden designer from Paradisus garden design. www.dgnblog.peternixon.com.auwww.paradisusgl.peternixon.com.au     

Instagram paradisus_sea_changer FB Paradisus Garden Design

If you have any questions or feedback for me or Peter about these bulbs, why not write in to realworldgardener@gmail.com or info@peternixon.com.au


Bulbs from South Africa and South America for A Long Flowering Season pt 1 & 2

 DESIGN ELEMENTS

Warm Bulbs What Are They?

Spring flowering bulbs like daffodils, tulips, freesias, bluebells, to name a few are all bulbs from the northern hemisphere. They do best in cool climates and once the main spring show is over, there's nothing left to excite.
  • It's time to changeup or simply extend the flowering season to what garden designer Peter Nixon terms 'warm bulbs.' 
  • These come from warmer climates such as South Africa and South America, therefore are more suited to a large part of eastern Australia-the 'cool sub trops.' (Cool sub-tropical).
  • Scadoxus multiflorus var. katarineae photo P. Nixon
    The other benefits of these spectacular bulbs are that they flower much later and longer;  late spring into summer and even autumn.
We're starting of this 4 part series with 'bulbs for bright semi-shade.'
  • The first group are Scadoxus species, some of which evergreen.
  • This group DO NOT like low light levels, and poor  drainage.
  • If growing under a tree, the canopy must be well above so the bulbs are not shaded.
  • Even morning sun would be good.
  • Bulbs are the size of an onion.
  • DO NOT bury the bulbs as you would a tulip are narcissus. The neck of these bulbs MUST be half-emerged.
Peter mentions these:
Scadoxus multiflorus var. katarinaea - Fireball Lily (but also grows in Southern Highlands equating to higher altitude South Africa). 


Scadoxus membranaceus -entirely staminate and surrounded with pale bracts.
Haemanthus albifloss
Scadoxus membranaceus photo P Nixon

I have some of these warm bulbs-namely two varieties of Haemanthus.
One flowers easily, and the other, I’ve yet to discover where it prefers to grow so it puts out the red paintbrush flower.

PLAY: Bulbs -bright semi-shade_16th June 2021

I'm talking with Peter Nixon, garden designer from Paradisus garden design. www.dgnblog.peternixon.com.auwww.paradisusgl.peternixon.com.au     

Instagram paradisus_sea_changer FB Paradisus Garden Design

If you have any questions or feedback for me or Peter about these bulbs, why not write in to realworldgardener@gmail.com or info@peternixon.com.au

Warm Bulbs pt. 2-Harsh Western Aspect 

Every garden has an aspect that’s hard to plant out because it’s either too shady or too harsh and dry or even spot that receives hot western sun .
Today I’m focusing on bulbs that can give you a long display in the warmer months but have evolved to withstand hot and dry months.

Haemanthus coccineus photo M Cannon
These bulbs originate where they are not exposed to very cold winters but have evolved to withstand hot dry conditions.

The bulbs in this group are in the Amaryllidaceae family which consists of mainly bulbs with long strappy leaves. The flowers are usually in an umbel-like cluster on a short or long scape.

Quite a few are known to have large showy flowers.
Haemanthus coccineus or 'blood lily likes an exposed location. 

It will refuse to flowers if in a shady, lush location. 
Don’t be like me and put the blood lily in too much shelter so the leaves grow long and the flower season trigger is missed.
  • A dead give-away is if the leaves are quite long and extended, then the bulb is in too much shade.
If you live in Adelaide, say a couple of streets back from the beach such as in Brighton, then expect your 'blood lily' to take off like mad. The low humidity and winter rains are a perfect climate for this bulb.
Pink blood lily photo P Nixon

You can also look for the interspecific hybrid of Haemanthus albifloss x H. coccineus
If you love the shape of tulip flowers, then plant a row of these bulbs which will flower summer to autumn.
Brunsvigia greagaria  photo P Nixon

Brunsvigia gregaria which has agapanthus like flower on steroids in a crimson coloured bloom.
Or even the combined genus of brunsvigia and amaryllis ending up with Amarygia.

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast with Peter Nixon


If you have any questions or feedback for me or Peter about these bulbs, why not write in to realworldgardener@gmail.com or info@peternixon.com.au

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Dahlias and Snails

 PLANT DOCTOR

What's Wrong With My Dahlias?

Dahlias are collectible in that once you start growing them, it's hard to not to want more every time you look at a plant catalogue.
If you want more proof, then look no further than the dahlia societies www.dahliasaustralia.org.au which exist in four states, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.


But dahlias need some looking after if you want perfect show quality blooms.
One horror is holes in leaves of your precious plants.
What could cause that?
One culprit could be caterpillars or grasshoppers.
Another is one of the worst marauders appear in just about every garden,  and every gardener wants them to be gone.
  • Snails is what I’m talking about, those slimy leaf munching pests that multiply rapidly and even climb shrubs and trees.
  • Did you know that inside a snail's mouth there is a file-like 'radula' that scrapes the leaves and flowers.
  • Snails are also hermaphrodite, meaning that after mating, each of them can go off and lay eggs, up to 100!
Snail Patrol or Control:
So, what do you do to try and reduce their numbers?

The big tip is to be vigilant and control their numbers before they outnumber your plants.

Copper sprays are good to control those small snails that have climbed up into the foliage.
Coffee sprays are also known to control snails.

General prevention or control-bit of a mixed bag as to their effectiveness.
  1. Classic beer trap
  2. Diatomaceous earth
  3. Ring of ash.
  4. Crushed eggshells
  • Thin copper tape is better to control snails climbing up into pots or into trees.
One thing we forgot to mention is that natural predators like ducks or blue tongue lizards are a great help.

You may not want ducks, but you can think about creating a blue tongue lizard friendly garden.
That’s in another segment.
Listen to the podcast.
I'm talking with Steve Falcioni of www.ecoorganicgarden.com.au





If you want more information about snails or have some feedback why not email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Friday, 25 June 2021

Lear Blowers and Vacs: Love 'Em or Hate Them

 TOOL TIME

Blower Vacs: Leaf Blowers: You Know You Hate them.

For many years I resisted buying a blower or blower vac because not only the noise emitted by these devices is deafening, but I felt that sweeping leaves would be more productive, not to mention quiet.

You can just imagine the 'swoosh, swoosh' of the rake as it sweeps up piles of leaves.  
But do you find raking leaves instead of blowing them therapeutic or just a chore?  

On the other hand and let’s face it, you’ve probably seen so many instances of people, not necessarily gardeners, just blowing their leaves out into the street so that there neighbours get the leaves with the next guest of wind.
That kind of behaviour has given leaf blowers a bad rap.
Sure you're exercising more than using an electrical or petrol driven device, but is it really the best way to use up your valuable time instead of the multitude of garden tasks?

Apart from the noise, is that all there is to leaf blowers and blower vacs?
Straight blowers can be hand held or back packs as seen by commercial operators.
  • Battery operated leaf blowers can be as light as 2.5kgs which makes them very light to use.
  • When buying a leaf blowers, consider how much air volume and air speed you might want for your purchase.
  • Perhaps you want a blower vac, that sucks up the leaves and gets mulched by the impeller inside the bag.
  • The leaves get chopped up, not always that finely, but still you get a reduction in the amount of leaf matter that gets sucked up.A good average amount of leaf reduction is 5 bags to 1 bag.
Well how things change.
I admit to having used a blower vac to vacuum up leaves on hard surfaces and to some extent in garden beds.

I love the fact that leaves are mulched up and can be put straight onto the compost pile.

PPE and Safety
To use blowers and blower vacs always use right protective:gear-ear muffs or ear plugs, and safety glasses, gloves, strong shoes, full length trousers or overalls and long sleeves.

Listen to the podcast

I'm talkingTony Mattson, general manager of www.cutabovetools.com.au
 
If you have any questions about blower vacs or have some feedback, why not write in to realworldgardener@gmail.com

Bountiful Bananas for Your Kitchen Garden

KITCHEN GARDEN

Banana Growing parts 1 & 2

Did you know that bananas are the world's largest herb. Have you ever wondered if it would be possible to grow your own bananas?
 You may have seen the plants for sale in a couple of plant catalogues and thought to give it a try, but never got around to it.
Would it help if I told you that a number of gardeners around Australia already do it and it’s surprisingly not that difficult.
  • I'm growing the sugar banana or "Musa 'Ducasse.' The flower is pictured here and yes, it's a big plant.
  • The trunk is actually layers of tissue that are wrapped like a swiss roll.
The key to fruiting is keeping the amount of stems or suckers down to a manageable number so the plant doesn't take over your garden.
 
A good number is three which includes the mother plant which has an active flowers on it, then one sucker, and a smaller sucker.
  • Get rid of all the others by chopping them to the ground.
Once the mother plant has finished flowering, it won't produce anymore, so cut the stem to the ground and mulch it up for the garden.

Banana 'Ducasse' growing in my garden photo M Cannon

NOTE: You have to buy banana plants from a QABN-Quality Approved Banana Nursery, that way you are buying a disease free plant.
You can't just take a sucker from somebody else's garden.

Bananas do like a lot of moisture so during periods of drought, the banana plant do not throw as many flowers.

The other suggestions which I thought was worth a try, is to bury some kitchen scraps in the ground near the main stem of your banana plant.

Have a listen to find out more.  


If you want more information about bananas why not email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Growing Bananas part 2

Harvesting your bananas

Now it's time to get down to the pointy end of growing bananas.
It is really easy to grow those banan plants so don't be discouraged.

  • You may remember that the banana plant is actually the world’s largest herb and the stem is known as false stem or pseudo stem because it consists of compact cluster of overlapping and spirally arranged leaf sheaths.
  • No bark, or cambium layer at all.

So what else is there to banana growing?

How much fertiliser?
To get your bananas ready for harvest, fertilise your banana plants well.
Fertilise well with a bucket of organic fertiliser around the base every month in the warmer months.
Or the permaculture way is to dig a pit right next to the trunk and put in fresh food scraps. Cover well so your chickens or rats and mice can't dig the scraps up.It does take quite a while, up to 6 months for the bananas to ripen after the fruits appear.
You can take down the whole bunch, but for the home gardener, that is too many bananas that will ripen at once.
  • Instead, take off a single hand at a time, and bring them into the kitchen to ripen.
  • Looking at the photo on the right, you can see that there are layers  or groups of bananas that make up the whole bunch.
  • Each layer can consist of up to 10 or more individual bananas or 'fingers' that are connected at the same point. This layer is called a 'hand.'
  • Several hands make up a banana bunch.
Fertilise well with a bucket of organic fertiliser around the base every month.
Or the permaculture way is to dig a pit right next to the trunk and put in fresh food scraps. Cover well so your chickens or rats and mice can't dig the scraps up.

The big tip is to be patient because it can take up to 6 months before your bananas become ripe.

The other tip is the whole bunch is harvested when the angles on the fruit have almost disappeared and the fruit is evenly filled.

You can also take off a hand of bananas and see if they ripen in your kitchen perhaps in a brown paper bag.
 
Have a listen to the podcast.



If you want more information about bananas why not email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Friday, 11 June 2021

This Month's Plants: Correas, Blue Hibiscus, Winter Grevilleas, and Two Beaut Banksias

 PLANT OF THE WEEK

Correa glabra and other correas.

Scientific name: Correa species- Correa Glabra, Correa reflexa, Correa alba, Correa nummularifolia
Common name: Native Fuchsia
Family: Rutaceae
Distribution: Mainly eastern Australia  from southeast South Australia, through Victoria to eastern New South Wales and continues into south-east Queensland; it includes eastern Tasmania and Kangaroo Island off South Australia.

Australia has many small shrubs that are equivalent to if not better than some northern hemisphere plants and this one is no exception.
Plant breeders love this plant so much that there are now many hybridised forms with bigger flowers or flowers on a plant that can take full sun.
  • Correa Canberra bells
    Did you know that there is a correa study group?
  • Or that Correas makes great small bird habitat and also are a food source for insects and small birds.
  • Correas are also great for those dry shady spots, so think about planting one soon.
Correas are generally easy to grow. 
  • Correa alba and C. glabra varieties are the hardiest withstanding heavy frost and severe droughts. Correa glabra varieties have fragrant leaves.
  • Correa lawrenceana is the largest of the correas. These need to be grown in the shade and do best in an understorey habitat.; attractive to birds for both nectar and nest sites and are ideally planted in a thicket.
  • Correa pulchella varieties produce the most beautiful coloured bells ranging from pale pink to deep orange to carmine. They need to be grown in part shade and watered regularly.
  • Correa reflexa varieties range in colour from green to deep red: these also need to be grown in a partly shaded position and watered regularly.
Correa reflexa nummularifolia
You need to know which species of correa you have so that you know their particular requirements.
  • Some of the more modern hybrids can take sun but others need morning sun and/or dappled all day shade.
To grow correa at its best, a light sandy soil with good drainage and a position protected from wind, with broken or morning sunlight, is desirable. 

Groups of three to five offer added protection and enhance visual appeal.



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

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Scientific name: Alyogyne heugeli
Common Name:Blue Hibiscus or Lilac Hibiscus
Family: Malvaceae
Flowering: late spring to summer
Position: Full sun to part shade.
Fertiliser; low phosphorus (P) or native fertiliser only.

As in all Hibiscus, the flowers open in the morning and last one day.  

A. huegilii is a prolific flowerer-lots of flowers from late spring until the end of summer.

I’ve seen it grown at the back of the border, amongst exotics like May Bush, Loropetalum, and in front of Princess Lillies, and I must say, I regret having pulled mine out because the flowers are really lovely.

This plant blends so well with any other plant on the planet.
  • The original A. heugelii needs to be pruned to promote lower growth and this one grows to about 2 ½ metres tall. 
  • Although, you can keep it down to 1 ½ metres because it sends out fast-growing shoots from old wood.
There are new select forms that are more compact and lower growing.
Alyogyne heugelii Karana-a medium shrub 1.5m by 1.5m wide
Alyogyne heugelii Misty-a medium shrub 1.5m by 1.5m wide; also frost tolerant.
Have a listen to the podcast.
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, qualified horticulturist and avid native plant expert.

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Winter flowering Grevilleas

Scientific Name: Grevilliea

Common Name: Grevillea

Family: Proteaceae

There’s a lot to choose from but before you run out to the nursery to buy up all the winter flowering ones for your garden. Let’s look at what conditions Grevilleas need to thrive.

Red soil is too heavy for many grevilleas. So if you live in Moree, you may not be able to grow many grevilleas  because of the heavy soil.

Grevilleas like air in the soil, so a light sandy soil is preferable,but you could easily just plant them on a bit of mound mixed with good compost and some light potting mix in it so they  can get established first..

Once they are older they don't seem to mind the heavier soil, but  drainage is a must.

G. superb. 1.5 x 1.5m. Red to yellow flowers, Yellow tips on the stamens. Tolerates frost to -30 C Bird attracting.

G. coconut ice 2 x 1.5m. Reddish pink flowers through out the year. Dense semi-spreading habit. Not like coconut ice confection atl all. Tolerates frost to -40 C

Grevillea Coconut Ice : photo M Cannon

G Honey Gem, an old favourite although rather big. 4 x3m Large leaves which are deeply lobed, dark green above silver reverse. The flowers cylindrical and bright orange which drip with sweet nectar. Bird attracting. Tolerates frost to -30 C

Grevillea 'Peaches and Cream' grows to 1.5m x2m. with cream flowers which change to pink as they age. Flowers all year.

Have a listen to the podcast.

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

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Banksia ericifolia and Banksia spinulosa: what's the difference?

Scientific Name: Banksia spinulosa
Common Name: Hairpin Banksia
Family: Proteaceae
Plant height: Mostly a multi-stemmed lignotuberous shrub. Varies greatly in height 1 -3 m
Position: Full sun, frost hardy including Canberra winter frosts.
Leaves:long and narrow, 3-8 cm long by 2-7 mm wide, and variably toothed. Leaf margins often recurved which is an adaptation to dry environments.

Flowering:The flower spikes range from 10-20 cm in length. A spike may contain hundreds or thousands of individual flowers, each of which consists of a tubular perianth made up of four united tepals, and one long wiry style.
Position: Prefers to grow in the open where it makes a nice rounded shrubs.
Shade makes it spindly.
Banksias are an import source of nectar during autumn and winter when flowers are scarce.


Scientific Name: Banksia ericifolia
Common Name: Heath Banksia
Family: Proteaceae
Plant height: Mostly a multi-stemmed shrub. Varies greatly in height 3 -6 m
Position: Full sun, frost hardy including Canberra winter frosts.

Leaves: The linear dark green leaves are small and narrow, 9–20 mm long and up to 1 mm wide, generally with two small teeth at the tips. 
The leaves are crowded and alternately arranged on the branches..
Flowers: cylindrical flower spikes are quite large at 4-6 cm wide and up to 30 cm long

Differences: Banksia ericifolia has much narrower leaves and is fire-sensitive in that it does not have a lignotuber for vegetative regeneration after bushfires. The species relies on seed for regeneration - seeds are retained in the cones for many years and are released by the heat of a fire.

Pruning:

People are afraid to prune Banksias because they think of them as being a bit tricky.
If you’re not sure what type of Banksia you have, then only light pruning.
If you know your Banksia has a woody rootstock (lignotuber) then it can be heavily pruned.
  •  Only low phosphorus fertilisers should be used if at all. I’d recommend Blood n Bone.
Here's an interesting tidbit: Historically B. ericifolia is supposed to be the first specimen collected by Sir Joseph Banks at Botany Bay in 1770. 
For some reason, Banks did not describe this new discovery however and it was left to Carl Linnaeus who later named the genus Banksia in honour of Banks in 1782.

Have a listen to the podcast.

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



Ginger and Galangal: What's the Difference? Plus Grow Broccoli

 GINGER AND GALANGAL

What's the difference?

Are you into Asian cooking?
Not with the pre-made pastes but starting from scratch.
Even if it’s just a stir fry, you may be wondering about two items you can buy in the supermarket.
Both are used in Asian cooking but one is a more reddish brown colour and the other a sort of light brown.
Both are rhizomes,and both are members of the Zingiberaceae family, so what’s the difference?



Galangal tends to get used in South East Asian cooking.
Galangal has a very different and somewhat stronger fragrance to ginger.
Centuries ago, powdered galangal was used as snuff!
  • There's two varieties of Galangal,
Greater galangal is used mainly in cooking.
Lesser galangal is used mainly for medicinal purposes.
Some alternative names for galangal is Laos powder, and Siamese ginger.
Ginger can be bought fresh as a brown rhizome, but it's also available in various preserved forms.
Candied ginger; ginger in syrup; pickled ginger (pink in colour); ginger powder is derived by slicing the ginger root, then drying it and pummeling it into a powder. 

Ian's Tips
  • If you often buy fresh ginger from the supermarket, or even grow your own, the best tip for peeling it is not with a knife or a vegetable peeler, but scraping it off with a spoon.
  • The other tip is to use a ceramic grater especially designed for grating ginger and not the skin off your fingers.
  • Fresh ginger should not be fibrous.
  • The longer the ginger stays in the ground, the hotter and more fibrous it gets.
  • What great tips from Ian!

Can you substitute galangal for ginger?

Use about half but do not use it in sweet cooking because it has more of a savoury flavour.

You can grow your own ginger even though it's a tropical rhizome. 
Growing it in a container in cooler climates is perfectly acceptable.

So let’s find out more.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au


If you want more information about any herb or spice, why not email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

VEGETABLE HEROES

Which vegetable has more vitamin C than an orange? 
  • Would you have guessed broccoli? Brassica oleracea var Italica or botrytis cymosa
Freshly picked from my garden photo M Cannon

  • Would you also have guessed that Broccoli heads are actually groups of flower buds that are almost ready to flower? Each group of buds is called a floret.
There’s some confusion as to where exactly name broccoli comes from.
Some say it’s from the Latin word brachium, which means "arm" or "branch," other’s that it’s from the Italian word broccolo, which means "cabbage sprout."

Broccoli is of course in the Brassicaceae family of vegetables along with cauliflower, cabbages, Brussels sprouts, turnips and many of the Asian greens.
Apparently Romans grew and loved to eat Broccoli way back in 23 to 79 BCE.

Why should you grow Broccoli if it’s available all year round in your supermarket?
Firstly, supermarket Broccoli has probably been sprayed for all manner of pests whether or not the pests visited the Broccoli plant.
Secondly, supermarket Broccoli stems are pretty tough to eat, when they’re supposed to be tender.
Why, because that type of Broccoli transports better?
But there’s another reason too.

  • Broccoli has had a resurgence in popularity – for its high vitamin content and anti-cancer agents. It’s a fast-growing and easy-to-grow crop, producing bluish-green heads.
Sprouting Broccoli Anyone?
The sprouting types – white or purple sprouting – are hardy and overwintered for harvest in spring, filling the gap between sprouts and spring cabbage.
  • Homegrown Broccoli, especially the heirloom varieties, also re-shoot after your cut of the central Broccoli stem.
When to Sow
  • Temperate and cool climates suit Broccoli best with a temperature range of 150C to 250C. 
How to grow Broccoli?

Sow Sprouting Broccoli seeds 6mm deep, spacing plants 35cm apart. 
Broccoli seeds take 7-10 days to emerge. 
  • Broccoli seedlings can be unstable and fall over during heavy wind, to help then send out additional roots to anchor them better you can remove the cotyledons (the first two seed leaves) once the first set of true leaves are formed and cover up to this point in soil. 
  • In temperate areas you should sow Broccoli seeds from mid-Summer until the end of August. 
  • Snail damage on young broccoli seedlings
    In really cold areas where winter growing is impossible, try sowing the seed during Spring and growing broccoli as a warm season crop. 
  • In the subtropics green looping caterpillars can be a major pest of broccoli so sow the seed from April to May to avoid their peak period of activity in Autumn. 
  • Broccoli is not suited for growing in the tropics as it is too hot and humid, try growing Asian or other tropical greens instead.
Fertilising your broccoli
Once a fortnight feed your broccoli with a liquid fertilizer; seaweed, manure tea, nettle tea etc.
When your Broccoli is growing always make sure that the beds are free from competitive weeds by hand weeding regularly.
TIP:
Don’t plant or sow Broccoli in your veggie bed if you’ve grown it before in the past 3 years.
You may get a disease called Club Root that causes you Broccoli plant to wilt regardless of how much water you give it.
  • Remember the acronym. LRLC-Legumes, root veg, leafy then Cucurbits, Brassicas.
Harvest broccoli heads when they have reached maximum size, are still compact, and before the buds loosen, open into flowers, or turn yellow.

Broccoli is not too choosy about the site it grows in but prefers to be in full sun, but will tolerate partial shade with no problems.
  • Growing in too much shade will reduce the size of the Broccoli head.
The ideal soil is a reasonably heavy (not pure clay) which is rich in nutrients and has been well-dug.
Like all brassicas, Broccoli needs a minimum soil pH of 6; but really prefers a pH of 7.
  • Add lime if you need to raise the soil pH.
  • Broccoli is what’s called a heavy feeder, so do add plenty of blood and bone, and decomposed manures by the bucket load before you start.
Broccoli types
Broccoli comes in many shapes and varieties but is grouped into five major strains: sprouting, broccolini, purple, Romanseco, and Chinese varieties.
Today, I’m concentrating on the sprouting variety.
  • Now you probably thought that was what those little shoots of Broccoli are called but you would be wrong.
  • Those little guys are called Broccolini.If you plant the sprouting varieties, they can be continually harvested for up to 3 months.
  • Prepare the ground with plenty of well- rotted manure or compost.
  • Always pick the central head first, because this will encourage the prolific growth of side shoots.
Pick these shoots regularly and don’t allow it to flower, as this will stop production of new shoots.
Broccoli di Cicco
Broccoli seeds are easy enough to get at supermarkets, garden centres and online seed suppliers of course.
Try these varieties
Broccoli green sprouting
An Italian variety, the blue-green head is followed by side shoots for up to 3 months. Harvest in 9 weeks from transplant
Broccoli purple sprouting.
The ultimate cut and come gain vegetable, this broccoli keeps on producing for months.
Not only is it delicious and full of antioxidants; it’s visually spectacular with its wondrous spires of deep purple florets.
You can start picking the shoots in as little as 10 weeks from transplant.
Broccoli 'Green Sprouting Calabrese'
Broccoli 'Green Sprouting Calabrese' is a sweet, mild and tender Italian heirloom broccoli which forms multiple heads.

Did you know that this variety was introduced into English speaking countries by Italian immigrants during the 1880's?
This variety will produce over a longer period of time than singular headed varieties, and is mild in flavour, sweet and tender in texture.
Time to maturity is 6-10 weeks .
All of these varieties will provide months of continual harvest and can even be considered as a perennial plant if you can manage to deal with the influx of cabbage moths that come around as the weather warms up.
When do you pick your 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 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! 
THAT WAS YOUR VEGETABLE HERO FOR TODAY

How to Design For Shady Gardens

DESIGN ELEMENTS

SHADY GARDENS PART 1

This shady garden series is not so much what makes the best shade trees, but what can grow in various types of shade, whether it’s a shady side passage, a shady balcony, or just a shady part of the garden.
Do you have some shade in your garden?
Perhaps it’s a really shady garden because of neighbouring trees or buildings, or perhaps your own trees have grown quite big and created a lot of shade.

Over the next four weeks, Steve and I will be discussing what plants do best in a variety of shady gardens, but today, why is shade in a garden so important?

Shady gardens will provide refuge from the heat in summer. Your garden may be basking in full winter sun right now, but in summer, you and some of your plants will want more shade for cooling.
The leaves take advantage of even the slightest of breezes providing some air movement.
Shade in gardens that is provided by trees has a much bigger cooling effect that say shade sails or umbrellas.
On a hot day, the shade under a mature tree can be up to 10 degrees cooler than the actual temperature but the trick is to find what grows under those shade trees. 
Alternatively, you may be able to lift the canopy so that more light reaches the lower levels or the understorey.
Let’s find out more? I'm talking with Steve McGrane, agriculturalist and horticulturist.

PLAY: Shady gardens intro_14th April 2021

SHADY GARDENS PART 2

Plants for Shade Under Trees

Shade trees are great, but what can you plant under them that can cope with the root competition and low levels of sunlight throughout the year.

You want something attractive of course and not just a bare area.
In one of my shady spots 

I've attached a birds nest fern (pictured) to the trunk of a silk oak (Grevillea robusta). 

In the same space are many cliveas, which is a bit of  a standout with evergreen foliage and available in more colours than just bright orange, pastel colours such as creams, yellows and white.
The cliveas are around the base of a macadamia tree.

Neomarica gracilis or walking iris, are another perfect suggestion.

Shade in gardens that is provided by trees has a much bigger cooling effect that say shade soils or umbrellas.
Other suggestions this time  for cool climate gardens are Huechera species.  

This shady garden series is not so much what makes the best shade trees, but what can grow in various types of shade, whether it’s a shady side passage, a shady balcony, or just a shady part of the garden.

Let’s find out more ? I'm talking with Steve McGrane, agriculturalist and horticulturist.

SHADY GARDENDS PART 3

Plants for a Shady Balcony, Porch or Verandah

This series is about what you can grow in a shady area around your house or garden.

Balconies or verandah’s look better with plants, but what if they’ve got shade for most or a good part of the day?
This situation is a bit of a challenge , Steve says he gets customers into his nursery that say they have shade in this situation but get some afternoon sun.
Golden can palm is a perfect example for such a situation, plus they provide a fantastic screen.
This palm then provides a microclimate for other containers underneath.

You don’t have to be limited by shade on your verandah or balcony, because there are quite a lot of choices.

Think about a particular look that you like such as a tropical big leafed look, then add a bamboo palm and the fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata).  

Pots or containers that are elevated are a good idea to take advantage of more indirect light.

My favourite right now are hoyas of all types, in fact I’ve started a collection of about 8 so far, with 6 in hanging pots. (pictured right.). The hanging baskets and pole assembly were from Aldi of all places.

Let’s find out what will grow there?
I'm talking with Steve McGrane, agriculturalist and horticulturist.

SHADY GARDENS Part 4

Plants for a Shady Side Passage

Often there's one side of the house which is quite neglected because it's cold and not much light gets there, and and as much as you've tried, no plants have survived.
It's time to re-look at that side passage, usually the south side of the house, and give it another red hot go.
Steve thinks these are 'little gems.'


Treated in the right way, this could be a turned into a special place.
One suggestion is stone flagging with border plants.
What about some narrow plants?
Viburnum Dense Fence and 
Nandina domestica or sacred bamboo.; there are many varieties of this old favourite.
Some trees will fit.
Blueberry ash , (Eleaocarpus reticulatus)
Steve likes the idea of Japanese maples, (Acer palmatum.) Being deciduous it can take the extra cold in winter especially if there's no light.

Let’s find more of what will grow there?
I'm talking with Steve McGrane, agriculturalist and horticulturist.

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Preserving Tomatoes and Other Fruits


 Preserving tomatoes part 1

Pretty much everyone, from beginner gardeners to the experienced, just love growing tomatoes.
It's easy to see why, they are so rewarding and easy to grow, practically jumping out of the ground as soon as you sow them.
Despite all the problems that can beset your tomato crop, we still grow them year after year, because nothing beats the taste of a home grown tomato.

Fruit Fly?

If you have had tomatoes but they were affected by fruit fly, then use exclusion bags, or net the whole tomato bed.
  • Black Krim photo M Mossakoska
    So you might be wondering, but what about pollination?
Tomatoes are mostly self-pollinated, so the pollen drops from the anthers to the tip of the pistil in each flower
Wind helps this to happen by vibrating the flowers, ensuring the pollen loosens and falls.
  • But if you've covered the bed with netting, it's still easy to pollinate the flowers.
Just whack the stems with a stick to release the pollen, or use an electric toothbrush into the flower to move the pollen from the stamens to the pistil.

So now you planted, fertilised and then harvested, what next?
There's been a bumper season of tomatoes but what do you do with them all?
Passata photo M Mossakowska

Tomato types and can they be preserved?

Salad tomatoes-not suitable for drying but can be made into passata.
Beefsteak tomatoes-large and fleshy, good for grilling, dehydrating and making passata. Margaret's favourite is Cherokee Purple.

Roma tomatoes-the most commonly used to make a sauce or passata.
Grape or cherry tomatoes- great if you don't want to bother with fruit fly exclusion netting. Not for drying, but eating fresh mainly. Good for beginner gardeners.

The was Margaret Mossakowska director of www.mosshouse.com.au and sometimes a guest on Gardening Australia TV

Preserving Tomatoes and Other Food Part 2

Last week on the good earth segment, we talked about which tomatoes are best for passata, and preserving.
Margaret's cut tomatoes for grilling. photo M Mossakoska
It's time to delve into the world of dehydrating not just your tomatoes, but apples and other abundant fruits in your garden.

Why Dehydrate?
But what about dried tomatoes?
Can you do that without buying one of those fancy air dryers?
  • Dehydrating food preserves most of the nutrients-only losing 3-5% of the nutrients and reduces the volume of your fruit. Dehydrating temperatures can be as low as 30 degrees.
  • Canning loses 60 - 80% of nutrients.
  • Grilling or making passata, also loses nutrients but not as much as in canning.

Sunlight is not the answer for dehydrating, because UV light affects the nutrients of food.,

The simplest method is to place the fruit on flyscreens or similar and place under shade, or as Margaret does, under a metal roof, perhaps a back porch.
http://Moss House - Skills for healthy living
Dehydrated apples. photo M. Mossakowska
  • The next choice is to use a commercial dehydrator.
Choice magazine has reviewed dehydrators.

The overall score is made up of: drying performance (60%) and ease of use (40%). You can see the whole article on the Choice Magazine website (you either pay subscription or pay just to view the article): https://www.choice.com.au/home-and-living/kitchen/benchtop-cooking/review-and-compare/food-dehydrators or get a copy at a local library for free.

The listed prices are higher than in most shops. Margaret has the Ezidri FD500 model brand new from an op-shop for $10! 

Margaret's Super tip for storing the dried fruits

It's often humid in our kitchen and pantries.
So the best idea, put the dried fruit and jar in the oven after cooking has finished, so the air inside the jar dries as well.
Store in smaller containers so every time you open it, you are letting air in.
Use special moisture absorbing sachets that contain silicon, or make your own sachets from organza material filled with dry rice grains.

Let's listen to the interview.



The was Margaret Mossakowska director of www.mosshouse.com.au and sometimes a guest on Gardening Australia TV

If you have any questions about preserving tomatoes drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.