Real World Gardener Dehydrating Tomatoes and Other Fruit in The Good Earth

May 29th, 2021

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.

 
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.

Real World Gardener Preserving Tomatoes part 1 on the Good Earth

May 29th, 2021

 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.

1-cherry%2Btomatoes.JPG

Fruit Fly?

If you have had tomatoes but they were affected by fruit fly, then use exclusion bags, or net the whole tomato bed.
  • 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.
IMG_2793_tomato_Black_Krim.JPG

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?
 

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

Real World Gardener Design Principles part 4 in Design Elements

May 27th, 2021

Design Principles part 4

Landscape Materials

Over the last few weeks, Garden Designer Glenice Buck has been outlining all those factors you need to consider when you’re doing a re-design no matter how big or small.
Hopefully you’ve at least drawn a mudmap of your garden or yard if there’s nothing in it.
Do this before you buy the plants.

  • But what are the options for say landscape materials?
  • There are clever ways to achieve looks of the real thing without spending the big bucks.
 
DSC_0540.JPG
 

Think locally to reduce transport costsThen there’s re-purposing material especially if it’s already in your garden or nearby.

 
What about fencing?
So many types of fencing
Timber 
Colourbond,
Wire fencing
Timber with horizontal rails.
Brick
 
Retaining walls
Reconstituted sandstone blocks
Drystone walls-especially if you have plenty of stone lying about on your property
Besser blocks that can be rendered or cap with sandstone fascias.
Timber- but this has a limited life and can be eaten out by termites.
Gabion walls-wire mesh that is filled with rocks.
Corten steel lengths edging as well as for retaining walls.
 
Steps: need to be structurally sound.
Natural stone: granite or Sandstone floaters.
Brick steps
Pieces of limestone or limestone tiles.
Concrete steps
 
Pathways
loose pebbles
paving: sandstone, granite, terracotta, brick, decomposed granite
I'm talking with  Glenice Buck of www.glenicebuckdesigns.com.au

That concludes are basic principles of garden design.

Real World Gardener Design Principles part 3 in Design Elements

May 27th, 2021

 DESIGN ELEMENTS

Design Principles part 3: Doing the design.

Do you have a particular favourite colour when it comes to plants or perhaps there are some colours that you just don’t want in your garden?

These are the sorts of things you need to think about when redesigning either all or some of your garden.

What to do next

  • Consider your colour pallette, what colours don't you like or do like?
  • Think about what plants your really want to include.
  • If you have an attachment to certain plants, think about using those as a guideline to what else you can plant.
  • Draw a scaled plan so you can work out the proportions of your gardens beds a bit better. A mudmap may be a good idea to start with but once you’ve decided on the plants you like, it’s time to think about drawing up a plan to scale so that you can be sure that all the plants you like will actually fit in. In some situations you may be able to get by with just the mud map.  
  • Think about design styles: Start collecting images of gardens that you like.
  •  
Cottage Garden Style

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A cottage garden is known for its flowering perennials with their soft, relaxed form and character. These gardens have a fairly informal style and are normally planted with flowering plants in muted and pastel colours. The plants tend to grow into each other, forming mounds and domes. 

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Formal Garden Style

This style of garden has the most structure and can be quite rigid in their style. The basis of a formal garden is symmetry, balance, tailored plantings, simplistic plant choice and a sense of majesty. The gardens and pathways tend to run in straight lines and form grid like patterns

 
I'm talking with Glenice Buck of www.glenicebuckdesigns.com.au

Real World Gardener Design Principles part 2 in Design Elements

May 27th, 2021

Design Principles part 2

Site Analysis
Are you all set to re-design your garden to give it a new lease of life?
  • Perhaps just one area needs re-doing.
  • Autumn is the best time to think about that but first there are a few basics to consider.

IMG20180725181338.jpg

 
Things to Consider
You first need to consider the factors that cannot be changed, these are:
climatic zone 
aspect
soil texture/type 
soil pH 
site hydrology or drainage 
the views into and out of the site 
water availability 
  • Having time to observe some of these factors can also work to your advantage as you can then see the difference in these elements through all the seasons.
  • The majority of gardening problems are caused by gardeners not understanding the climatic needs of their plants. It's important to note that Australia has a warmer climate than the countries of origin of most of our introduced plants. 

I'm talking with Glenice Buck of www.glenicebuckdesigns.com.au

Top tips:

  • Firstly, get to know your soil, the soil’s pH and how well does it drain, ie hydrology.
  • You can also look up soil texture test on the internet.
  • Consider water availability, particularly if you don’t have access to town water.
  • Then what views have you got and which need hiding.
Elements you can change.
  • Plants-move them if possible if they don't suit their location.
  • Look at lifespan of the existing trees or shrubs. Have they past their use by date? Have some sort of succession plan in place for these plants.
  • Decking or paving can be changed but think about re-using the material in the garden, or selling on a local buy, swap and sell, rather than throwing them into landfill.
Draw up a Mudmap
Now is the time to draw a rough map of you garden and house, including the boundary lines.
Mark structures that are going to stay, such as taps, clothesline, pathways, driveways.
Good to have this in your pocket to show to nursery staff to get ideas about plant quantities.
IMPORTANT: Mark out North on your map

Real World Gardener Design principles part 1 in Design Elements

May 27th, 2021

 DESIGN ELEMENTS

Design Principles part 1 an introduction 

Most people’s backyards are a square or rectangular affair, and if it’s flat, doesn’t offer much to the imagination.
Picture this, you walk out the back door and you see the whole yard or garden in one brief sweep.
What about being a bit more creative?

IMG20181102094002.jpg
Photo: M Cannon

Let’s find out how.

PLAY: Garden Design Principles pt 1_17th March 2021

That was Glenice Buck of www.glenicebuckdesigns.com.au

Glenice's top  tips

  1. Consider what you have already in the garden and work with it.
  2. Look at the geometry of the site and decide if you want to work with it.
  3. Create a sense of enclosure, even if it's only a small area in a corner so that you don't see the whole garden from the back door. 
    1. You could plant out something tall to hide part of the garden so it’s a sort of secret garden.
  4. Consider the scale and size of the structures in the garden, can they be changed?
  5. Mass planting creates uniformity and is good design-choose odd numbers, 3, 5 and so on.
  6. Use symmetry versus asymmetrical, which one should you choose?
  7. Use lines and curves-consider the two different shapes in your garden. You can have curves in a narrow garden. 
  8. Look at what foliage can bring to the garden; flowers are a bonus as they aren't always there.

Real World Gardener Marjoram vs Oregano in Spice it Up

May 27th, 2021

 SPICE IT UP

Oregano vs Marjoram: What's the Difference?

How well do you know your herbs?
You may have a herb garden so are pretty much used to telling the difference between one herb and another, but there are some herbs that look really similar.

  • Have you ever asked one of your household to go and get something like say sage leaves from your garden, and they came back with some catmint or something else?
  • Or perhaps you’ve planted one of these similar looking herbs and have forgotten which is which?
Can you tell which of the herbs pictured below is oregano and which is marjoram?
Oregano.jpg

marjoram.jpg

It’s time to have a closer look and write up a label.
Marjoram and oregano are very close relatives.
Even more confusing because the latin name for marjoram genus is Origanum
 
Scientific name: Oregano majorana
Common name: marjoram
Family: Lamiaceae or mint family
Scientific name: Oreganum vulgare
Common name: oregano
Family: Lamiaceae or mint family

How to tell the difference at a glance

  • Marjoram leaf will generally be a little bit smaller and rounder whereas the oregano leaf tends to be elongated and slightly larger..
  • Oregano leaf will be slightly fuzzy looking in appearance.
  • Oregano grows vigorously throughout the year and is considered a tough herb.
  • Marjoram is likely to die off in colder weather.
  • Marjoram has a milder flavour than oregano.
  • Oregano has a slightly peppery note to it.

Varieties of marjoram
Pot marjoram: Origanum onites

Winter  or wild marjoram: Origanum heraclesticum
 
Varieties of oregano.
Greek oregano: Origanum vulgare hirtum
Mexican oregano: Poliomentha longiflora 
Poliomentha is not to be confused with  another herb also called Mexican oregano and a member of the verbena family, namely, Lippia graveolens.
  • As always, common names will trap the unwary.
Let’s find out a bit more about these herbs and how they can be used in cooking.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au
PLAY: Oregano vs Marjoram_31st March 2021
If you have any questions about herbs, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR P.O. Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Real World Gardener Ants on Plants in Plant Doctor

May 20th, 2021

 PLANT DOCTOR

Ants on Plants

Ants in the house are a problem because they turn up in your pantry, in your cat and dog food that you’ve put out, or just hang around the kitchen bench.
Sometimes they’re in places like the bathroom, leaving you wondering what on earth are they doing there?
Ants in the garden are another matter, however, it's pretty common to see ants running up and down on your plants, and one or two shouldn't be a cause for concern.

Ant-on-plant-leaf.jpg

 

It's when the ants are present on your tree or shrub in large numbers that you should start to worry because they can signal other pest problems occurring on your tree, shrub or even seedlings.

Why Are Ants On Your plants in the First Place?

  • Whitefly, aphids, mites are all sap suckers.
  • It’s not just the presence of scale pests that ants are attracted to. These are all sap suckers and produce honey dew which ants like to farm. 
  • Juvenile scale which is the crawler stage, are very small and you may not notice them, although the ants will know that they are there.
aphids-farmed%2Bby%2Bants.jpg
Ants farming aphids

  • Sometimes it’s just the sweet nectar of the flowers that bring in the ants.
  • Ants can live in your containerised plants if the potting mix has become very dry or hydrophobic. The dry soil becomes a perfect medium for the ants to build a home in.
  • Watch to see what the ants are doing-going to the flowers only or running all over the plants.

Solution:

Horticultural or Neem oils can be sprayed to smother the aphids and controlling mealybug. Spring is the best time to control spray for scale, but you can still spray in summer. 
 

I'm talking with Steve Falcioni from www.ecoorganicgtarden.com.au

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

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