Real World Gardener NEW Basil in Spice It Up

December 27th, 2017


Herb: Basil

At one stage the Greeks and Romans believed the most potent basil could only be grown if you sowed the seed while ranting and swearing. basil-lots.jpg

This custom is mirrored in the French language where semer le baslic (sowing basil) means to rant.


Try crushing a Basil leaf and think of cloves.

It should surprise you that they have similar aromatic notes because they both contain the volatile oil, Eugenol.

This means that they complement each other.

Ian suggests sprinkling a pinch of cloves into your pasta dish along with the herb Basil for a different take.

Basil can be used fresh or dried in cooking.

Basil%2Bin%2Bpots.jpgDried Basil is sold as "rubbed leaves,' and has a slightly different flavour profile to fresh Basil.

The top notes are missing but that doesn't mean you shouldn't use it in coooking.

Dried Basil is used at the beginning of cooking so that the flavour can infuse, generally only taking around 10 minutes.

Growing Basil

If you live in arid or sub-tropical regions you can sow Basil in late august in a mini greenhouse or indoors, but otherwise you can sow right through to December which is the best time to sow Basil seeds. 

The seeds are best planted at soil temperatures between 18°C and 35°C

If your Basil starts to flower, pick the flowers off to prolong the life of your Basil plant.

For something different when not try sowing cinnamon Basil or Lemon Basil or even Holy Basil, that is the true sacred basil that is grown in houses, home gardens and near temples all over India.…



If you have any questions about Basil either for me or Ian, why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Real World Gardener Growing Water Chestnuts in The Good Earth

December 1st, 2017


water chestnuts photo Margaret Mossakowska


Growing water chestnuts in the home garden


Do you remember biting into something crunchy when you tried some Chinese food for the very first time, probably when you were very young.

Did you ever wonder what that crunchy sensation actually was?

If you were clever enough to find out that they were water chestnuts you might have also discovered that you could only get the canned variety.

But now we can grow them ourselves.

Let’s find out how

I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska, Director of Moss house


Water chestnut plants look very similar to reed rush.

You can grow water chestnuts in a waterproof pot, old laundry sink or bathtub in the home garden.

Allow for a depth of at least 20cm.

Like rice, water chestnuts need to be grown in a watery medium.

Margaret recommends flushing the pot with water every couple of weeks to get rid of mosquito wrigglers.

You can buy the corms from Diggers Seeds or Greenharvest

Harvest your chestnuts  by digging them up in June/;July Water chestnuts are just like the chestnuts that grow on trees in that they have shells which need to be peeled.


The good news is that you can grow them in cold climates if you have a nice warm or sheltered verandah.


Water chestnuts and turmeric plant. photo M. Moxxakowska

If you have any questions about water chestnuts either for me or Margaret, why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Real World Gardener Orris Root Iris is Spice it Up

September 7th, 2017



Orris Root: Iris germanica var Florentina


A little while ago on this show, in fact in the spice it up segment, featured the juniper berry as a major flavouring ingredient for Gin.

That is if you’re making your own Gin.

Today’s spice is something you would never think of being a spice let alone it being another one of the three major ingredients in Gin.

So what is it and what else can you use it for?

So let’s find out….I'm talking with Ian Hemphill owner of


PLAY :Orris Root_30th August_2017


So, how about the fact Juniper, Orris root and Coriander are the major ingredients in gin? Then you add all the other flavours, but Orris root is the one thing that brings all those flavours together because it's a fixative.



The rhizome is technically what's used in making Orris Root powder. 

The Iris rhizome is lifted, dried, sliced and then powdered.


If you were to inhale the smell of dried orris root you would be rewarded with a lovely scent of violets.


Unfortunately if you can't remember where you planted your orris root iris, than lifting and drying is the only way to identify it from all the other white irises you have in the garden.

Then there’s those pomander balls and real pot pourri.


Wouldn’t you like the real deal rather than coloured bits of bark?


Turns out though you might just have to make the pomander and real pot pourri yourself.


If you have any questions about Orris root powder why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675 


Real World Gardener Make Your Own Gin in Spice it Up

July 13th, 2017


Juniper Berries.

You probably missed it but 14th June was World Gin Day.

Why I mention this is because Australia is producing some of the best gin in the world.

You heard right, there’s a micro distillery industry that’s sprung up in Australia for making boutique gin.



But here’s the thing, it’s been said before on this show, you can make your own gin.

So let’s find out more.

I'm talking with  Ian Hemphill Owner of and author of The Herb and Spice bible.


PLAY: Juniper Berry 2_5th July 2017

Why everybody is falling in love with juniper today is because it's a thing to make your own gin.

Relatively a cinch but you need a good recipe.

You'll find one on Ian's site, just search for GINSPIRATION.

Australia's leading gin distilleries combine spices such as a cardamom, cinnamon and star anise with Australian oranges, Tasmanian Pepperberry leaf and lemon myrtle, a native Australian plant.

The juniper is still there but it is layered with a blend of modern Australian flavours, Southern European citrus and South East Asian spice, all of which makes it an entirely too drinkable gin.

Cooking with Juniper

Juniper berries go great in slow cooked casseroles and stews.

Juniper berries are also tasty when cooked with Salmon. Just place a few berries in with other herbs such as garlic, dill and add some lemon slices when baking or roasting whole salmon.


Juniper berries

If you have any questions about making your own gin, check out “ginspiration” or Ian’s webpage, or email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Real World Gardener Greengage Plums are Plant of the Week

June 30th, 2017



Greengage Plums


Today’s plant of the week is in the productive side of gardening.


If you like making preservers, jams and jellies, you might want to grow this heritage tree, whose fruit is unavailable in supermarkets or greengrocers.

Don’t know why, because it just has the most superior taste of all fruits of the same kind.

Let’s find out more…


Greengage plums-small and delicious.

I'm talking with Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal

Did you know that the first true greengage was bred in Moissac, France, from a green-fruited wild plum originally found in Asia Minor; that original greengage cultivar is known as the cultivar 'Reine Claude Verte'

Yalca fruit company write in their website that

“The Green Gage plum is an amazing eating experience – sweet and very richly flavoured but balanced with perfect amount of acidity.

Singled out by the author of the Australian Fruit Tree book, Louis Glowinski, as his favourite fruit overall (a big rave, given his book covers a fairly significant proportion of the fruit kingdom) but this is a great plum.”

Sounds delicious.

Anyone fancy an almond and greengage plum crumble?


Real World Gardener Selim Pepper in Spice it Up

June 30th, 2017



Xylopiaaethiopica-selim%2Bpepper.jpgSelim Pepper,  Xylopica ethiopica

Are you a bit of a kitchen whizz with a kitchen garden full of exotic herbs?

Or do you just rely on the same old staples of spices like, rosemary, oregano, parsley, sage, maybe some chilli pepper or paprika occasionally.

To be confident about using other spices you need to know a bit about them and sometimes, a bit of advice on how to use an unusual spice will give you the kick a long that you need to try something in that casserole or stew that you always make.

So let’s find out more about one such spice. 

I'm talking with Ian Hemphill, spice guru and owner of who has also written the Herb and Spice bible.


PLAY: Selim Pepper_14th June 2017


Selim pepper is also known as African pepper, Ethiopian pepper, Grains of Selim, Uda Pods, Guinea pepper, kimba pepper and Senegal pepper.


Not only is this spice hand picked but it’s possibly one of the rarest spices that Ian’s company has sourced for some time, so that in itself is something to want to try at least.

To use this spice crush the pods in a mortar and pestle then separate the fibrous bits out and use the remaining powder.


Xylopica ethiopica

You can just throw in the whole pods then remove them when cooking has finished.

Ian says the flavour won't be as strong if you do that.

Selim pepper is not as hot as Grains of Paradise and is good in long slow cooking as with the African Buka stew made with beef.

The plant is not grow in Australia and it's unlikely that your supermarket will have the spice, so you’ll have to order it online from Herbies Spices

If you have any questions about Selim Pepper, or have some information to share, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Real World Gardener Create an Outdoor Room in Design Elements

May 19th, 2017



Outdoor Rooms-Including the Kitchen Sink


Whatever you think an outdoor room is, it’s probably not going to have all the bells and whistles of the kitchen you have in your house.

But, say your outdoor eating space is best at the back of the yard or down a flight of stairs, what do you do then?





Australia is too sunny to always be eating indoors so you might think about doing a bit more than the good ole’ BBQ.

Let’s find out?


PLAY: Outdoor rooms_10th May 2017


That was Matt Leacy Principal Landscape Designer and Director of Landart Landscapes.


You may not want to go the whole hogg of fridge, dishwasher and fancy BBQ in your outdoor room, but I think the Pizza oven sounds like a great idea. 


Soon you’ll be making your own pizza dough, and buying a pizza peel, that’s one of those wooden or metal spatula type implements that puts your pizza into the pizza oven.

Whatever you do in your outdoor room, don’t forget the garden.


An outdoor room without a garden is just to droll to contemplate.

If you have any questions about outdoor rooms write in to


Real World Gardener Collecting Mushrooms in the Good Earth

May 5th, 2017



Mushroom picking sounds like a great idea, but around the world, people die from eating poisonous ones.

Not only do you need to know where to go but also how to tell which are poisonous and which are not.

Authorities recommend to only forage in the supermarket aisles or buy a mushroom kit and grow your own!


Saffron Milk Cup Mushroom

However, if you go out with a knowledgeable guide, you may be able to enjoy this pleasant past time without fear of keeling over.


Let’s find out.

I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska, Director of Moss House and Living Skills Coordinator of Permaculture North.

In Australia, cool climate pine forests are the best places.

State owned forests have public access and picnic tables for you to enjoy your mushrooms after picking them.

Forests need to be 10 - 20 years old so that the fungal networks have had time to re-establish after the intensive agriculture that's involved in starting forest plantations.


Slippery Jack Mushroom undersides.


Saffron Milk Cap mushrooms (pictured above) exude an orangey white sap when cut.

This sap oxygenates to a green colour, so it's not mouldy.

These are the easiest to identify. 


Slippery Jack Mushrooms (pictured here) don't have gills on the underside but more of a foam structure.

You can also find mushrooms where horses and cows are pastured. these are mostly button mushrooms and harder to identify.



TIP: Cut the mushrooms instead of pulling our digging them out. By doing this you're letting spores for future generations of mushrooms remain in the environment where they grow best.

WARNING: Only ever go collecting mushrooms with an experienced guide.
Do not rely on guide books for collecting mushrooms.
They’re very easy to misidentify.

Margaret says that when she takes people out foraging for mushrooms, that she asks them to tip out their collected mushrooms onto a blanket.

By doing this, Margaret can check each and everyone one of them to make sure that they’re not the poisonous ones.

If you have any questions about mushroom picking or have some advice or photos to share, why not drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Real World Gardener Pecan Trees in Plant of the Week

April 17th, 2017


Pecan Tree 

Carya illinoinensis

Ever thought of having a productive tree in your garden besides that lemon tree that a lot of people seem to have?

You can have nice shade trees that also provide you with some food, whether it’s a cherry tree, peach or apple tree.

But do people ever think of planting this next tree?

The plant panel were Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

The pecan tree is a deciduous tree of the Hickory genus  and at full maturity, it will grow to around 30 metres with a spread of 12 m.

The gray trunk is shallowly furrowed and flat-ridged with upward branches forming an irregular, rounded crown. 

The tree has a narrow silhouette.


Pecan tree with nuts photo M Cannon


Pecan  varieties available are -Shoshonii, Desirable;Kiowa, Mohawk,Cape Fear, Pawnee.

Be warned: Pecans start fruiting after about 8 years so be prepared to wait although Pecans can live for up to 300 years.

On the plus side, unlike other nut varieties, Pecans only require 200 hours of chilling, that means hours less than 7 °C

Pecan trees can be purchased as bare rooted plants, that means plants without any soil, during the winter months when the tree is without leaf.


Possibly your local nursery may have one or you can mail order them from quite a few places on the internet.


Real World Gardener Lemon Verbena in Spice it Up

April 17th, 2017

REAL WORLD GARDENER Wed. 5pm 2RRR 88.5fm Sydney, streaming live at  and Across Australia on the Community Radio Network.


The complete CRN edition of RWG is available on , just click on 2RRR to find this week’s


Lemon Verbena Alloysia citriodora (syn. Lippia citriodora)

This is a herb with a multitude of uses;


Lemon Verbena photo M Cannon


There are a few plants whose leaves are great in cooking, making herbal teas and when the leaves are dried, they’re good for a number of things including pot pourri.

So many uses for just one plant, let's find out more?


Ian's mum and dad had a grove of 12 Lemon Verbena trees that grew to 2 metres in height.

The leaves were harvested to make sleep pillows and pot pourri.

Lemon verbena pillows sound devine.

They ‘re made of dried leaves of Lavender (Lavandula vera is the best) to help you sleep, Rose petals for sweet dreams and Lemon Verbena, to help you wake refreshed.

Chopped finely, it makes a neat substitute for lemon zest.


Lemon Verbena Tea photo M Cannon

Try Lemon Verbena tea; it's very refreshing or make Panna Cotta infused with Lemon Verbena.

To prune your Lemon Verbena tree, just take of the top one-third of the tree.

When it re-shoots in Spring tip prune the branches regularly to keep it bushy.

If you have any questions about growing or using Lemon Verbena, drop us a line to or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


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