Grow, Harvest, Eat Yacon on Real World Gardener

October 30th, 2022

 THE GOOD EARTH

How to Grow and Use Yacon: Peruvian Ground Apple

Scientific Name: Smallanthus sonchifolius

Common Name: Yacon, Peruvian ground apple

Family: Asteraceae-same as daisies and sunflowers.

Plant Height & Width: 1.5m x 0.5m

 

If you look at the flowers they are like much smaller versions of sunflowers.

Here’s a tuber that tastes similar to a nashi pear, looks something like sweet potato on the outside, and the sugars from it aren’t absorbed by the body.

Not only that, the tubers contain a lot of juice, and the sugars that make it sweet is not absorbed by the body so you can't put on the kilos! How good is that?  

Then there’s the fact that it’s easy to grow, and has small flowers that resemble sunflowers and you just can’t buy it from the supermarket or fruit and veg store.

 

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Yacon plant growing in Margaret's garden

How to Grow Yacon from Tubers?

Yacon has two types of tubers unlike ginger or turmeric.

  • The tubers that you plant are attached to the main stem and are much smaller and pinkish in colour. I planted mine in early September and October was the time that it sprouted in my Sydney garden.
  • If you were to receive some brown tubers that look like a brown sweet potato, that's what you eat and not what you plant. 
  • The edible tubers spread from the clump sideways meaning you need at least 1/2 metre  of space to produce sizeable clumps.
  • Can be planted in any district as they can withstand frost.

When to Harvest?

Yacon is a herbaceous perennial meaning it has a dormant period that starts when the leaves die down in late autumn. 

This is the time when the tubers are ready to harvest. Simply fork up the entire crop, and harvest the large brown tubers to eat fresh, and use the small reddish rhizomes at the top to replant for next year’s crop.

What Can You Do With Yacon?

Eat it of course but how,  is the thing so here are some of Margaret's tips.

  • Yacon is sweet and crunchy and is great eaten fresh.
  • Ever heard of Yacon chips? That's right you can make chips out of this tubber.
  • Just cut up into chip sizes and drizzle some oil over the top and bake in the oven.
  • Try using it in salads like Waldorf salad and wherever you would use fresh pears.
  • Use it in stir fries.
  • You can also juice it or cook down the juice to make syrup and use it as a sweetener.

Fun Tip from Margaret

  • Running short of toilet paper, try large soft fluffy leaves like those of the Yacon plant.

But there's more uses, have a listen to the podcast.

I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska of www.mosshouse.com.au

If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Flowers Have Their Seasons on Real World Gardener

October 30th, 2022

 TALKING FLOWERS

Seasonality of Flowers

Vegetables have their season when they’re available fresh and not just out of the cold room where they’ve been for 6 months or more.
What about flowers?
Many people forget that flowers have their seasons too, after all there are plenty of flowers available all year round.

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Hellebores-a winter flower
 Why is that important? 
It's the same as for vegetables and fruit, if it's not the current season for the flowers, then they're most likely imported.
If I asked you what’s the best time of year to buy peonies would you know?
 
What about roses, is there a best time?
Have a look at the below suggestions to realise what is actually in season.  

Winter Flowers

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Orchids, Vanda, Dendrobium, Cymbidium, Phaleanopsis, Hellebores. Jonquils, Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinths, Daphne (pictured.)

Spring Flowers

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Stephanotis

Peonies are an October flower. Roses, Ranunculus, Australian wildflowers-Waratahs, Ericas, Geraldton Wax; Cherry Blossoms, Magnolias

Summer Flowers

Roses, Sunflowers, Gerberas, Carnations, Stephanotis.

Autumn Flowers

Dahlias, Roses are continuing. Asiatic lilies are an exception as in Australia they are grown in glass houses and are available all year round.
I'm talking with Nadine Brown of https://www.theivyinstitute.com.au/
The scientific name for spring stars is Ipheion uniflorum, often marketed as Triteleia Stars Of Spring, rather confusingly.

Got to say one my favourite spring flowers.

If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Drying Flowers on Real World Gardener

August 11th, 2022

TALKING FLOWERS

Dried Flowers and How To Do Them

Did you know that dried flowers are back in fashion?
Perhaps, like me you thought that never went out of fashion, but do you dry your own on do you buy dried flower arrangements?
 
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No prizes for guessing that those brightly coloured flowers are actually bleached in vats of bleach first, then because all the pigmentation (chlorophyll) has been removed it is practically falling apart.

 
The next step, the foliage is plasticised and dyed. Not something you want to display in your home
 
The process behind these dyed flowers is incredibly toxic and is usually down outside Australia.

Dry Your Own.

Some Australia flowers dry naturally in full colour such as golden everlasting, Australian paper daisy (Rhodanthe chlorocephela) , Billy Buttons (Pycnosorus globosus).

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Billy Buttons-dried by hanging upside down
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Dried Rhodanthe sp.

Surprises

Did you know that you could even dry your dahlia flowers?
Choose the more tightly formed varieties with darker colours perform best. 
 
Some hardier flowers and foliage can be left to dry in the vase such as banksias, eucalypt foliage, and kangaroo paw.

HOW?

Hang upside down in a dark area with plenty of air flow so no mould or mildew develops.

I'm talking with florist and educator, Nadine Brown, florist educator and business mentor of the Ivy Institute

Why not have a go and drying flowers from your garden?

If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

What Is Sustainable Floristry in Real World Gardener

July 10th, 2022

 TALKING FLOWERS

Sustainable Floristry

Have you ever thought about what happens to the tons of flowers that are sold around Australia for weddings, funerals, special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries? 

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Hydrangea flowers for sale

Perhaps some of the lucky recipients might compost them when they're finished or at least throw in the in the green waste bin, but what of the others?

Did you know that approximately 10% of flowers that are sold in Australia are imported from overseas?

May not sound like much but do you know if the flowers you buy, are they imported or locally grown and does it matter?

 

A lot of flowers that are past their use by date end up in landfill, which I suppose means that they might decompose there but what of the mountains of wrapping, floral foam and other packing that the flowers come with?

 

According to the Sustainable Floristry Network "Excess packaging, plastic props, floral foam, and exotic blooms flown halfway around the globe are rationalised away because that’s what clients expect."

 

The next problem is that imported flowers are often sprayed with a glyphosate based chemical to prevent customers taking cuttings of the plant, before they arrive. then they are sprayed with the carcinogen methyl bromide, after entering Australia.

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Imported flowers include Roses, Carnations, Orchids, Tropical Foliages and Chrysanthemums are these sourced from places like Kenya, Thailand, South Africa, China, New Zealand, Holland and Vietnam.

Nadine recommends that cut flowers should be bought when in season. Easily done by asking the florist where the flowers are from.

Marianne (radio host) speaks with 'Sustainable Floristry Network" ambassador and floral educator Nadine Brown of https://www.theivyinstitute.com.au/home about the meaning of sustainable floristry.

So ask the question when you next buy flowers, are these flowers locally grown?

Check out the sustainable floristry website https://www.sustainablefloristry.org/

  
If you have any questions you can email us Realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

What are Root Knot Nematodes on Real World Gardener

July 3rd, 2022

 PLANT DOCTOR

Nematodes part 1: the backstory

Did you know that there are 1,000,000 species of nematodes that have been identified? 

Nematodes live in our environment and although microscopic, unsurprisingly, are related to earthworms 
  • The majority of nematodes aren't plant or crop destructors.
However, the few that attack the cell walls of plants can cause serious damage from which the plant/crop usually doesn't recover.
  • Then there's the problem of identifying what's going on with plants that are affected by nematodes.
  • Have you ever had plants that seem to wilt despite you watering them religiously? 

What they look like

Nematodes.jpg

Nematodes are a round worm but because they are unable to be seen by the naked eye, I would describe them as thread like with a large head and mouth.

Arm yourself with a magnifying glass and have a look at the roots of plants that you suspect have been attacked by nematodes. You should be able to see them then.

 
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Coffee tree nematode

 
If nematodes are on your plants the symptoms range from perhaps they’re just stunted and don’t seem to grow much, r like the coffee tree pictured, continually looks like it's wilting despite the watering it receives. Another symptom is yellowing of foliage.

Once the plant has been dug up, nodules on roots will be evident. However, other factors create nodules on roots as in nitrogen fixing plants such as plants in the Fabaceae family.
 
What could be the problem? Wilting symptoms can be attributed to a range of other factors.

So let’s find out by listening to the podcast

Your host  of Real World Gardener, Marianne is talking with Steve McGrane, agriculturist and horticulturist.

Next week we tackle the many, many ways you have to control the bad nematode, namely root knot nematodes.

If you have any questions you can email us Realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Success with Germinating Australian Native Seeds on Real World Gardener

June 20th, 2022

 PLANT DOCTOR    

Germinating Native Seed

Australian plants have evolved over thousands of years to respond to a variety of climatic extremes, from fires, to droughts to floods as well as being grazed by native animals.

 
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Wattle seeds need boiling water treatment

Such a long, long time  for plants to evolve as well as being isolated from the rest of the world has meant that a high diversity of flora abounds, so that it would be unusual to think that everything grows the same way.

Australian plants have developed various  adaptations so that the seeds of which can grow in the most suitable environment for that species of plant to survive. 

A suitable environment often means seeds don't germinate until a bushfire removes competing plants giving the seeds more access to sunlight and nutrients.
Then they only have a short window to germinate. 
The hard seed coat is therefore a protective layer that allows the seed to stay dormant for great lengths of time, even years before germination.
 
So how do plants keep germinating and what tricks have native seeds to keep them alive until conditions are right?
 
There are specific requirements for some seeds and in fact a wide range of native seeds require you, the gardener to break their dormancy before they germinate. Some are more difficult than others.

So what are some of the treatments to break native seed dormancy?

Boiling water or hot water treatment is recommended for hard-coated seeds such as Acacia (wattle)and Hardenbergia  species .
This involves boiling some water and waiting for a minute so it's just off the boil,  then soaking the seeds for a few to eight hours. The time varies depending on the seed.
 
Smoke chemical treatment or smoke treatment to break the dormancy of native seeds.
Seed-Starter-Granules.png

Wildflower seed starter granules or similar, are vermiculite or another bio material that contains the smoke chemicals from the burning of bush materials.

The way you use it is to sprinkle some on top of the potting mix after sowing the seeds, and on the first watering, the smoke chemicals are released over the seeds.
 
You can also put some of these seed starter granules in the soaking water of the seeds in the hot water treatment method.
  • Not all seeds need smoke chemical treatment, but there's a few that benefit from using it, in fact are difficult to germinate without it. 
    • Sturt Desert peas comes to mind, also Dianella, Philotheca, Xanthorrhoea, Actinotus, Callistemon and Banksia.
 
As a general rule, sowing and smoking should be done when you would expect the seeds to germinate in nature.
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Flannel flowers

 

Both these methods basically speeds up what often takes months or even years in nature to get seeds to germinate.
 
TIP: Be aware of the germination temperature that seeds need to germinate.
But what other tricks are there?
Steve talks about germinating Davidson plum seeds using the hot water treatment in the podcast.  

So let’s find out more.

I'm talking with Steve McGrane, horticulturist and agriculturist.
I hope that’s given you some idea about perhaps why some of the native seeds are more difficult to germinate than regular seeds.

In fact not everything germinates the same way, and here lies the problem.

That’s why a bit of research into the seed type you’re trying to germinate goes a long way.

If you have any questions you can email us Realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

How to Get Longer Lasting Flowers on Real World Gardener

June 20th, 2022

 TALKING FLOWERS

Tips For Longer Lasting Flowers in the Vase

Flowers are so uplifting and whilst they’re lovely in the garden, in the home, you’ve got them to enjoy for longer.
After all, you’re not watching your flowers that are in the garden for very long.

  • bouquet-white-rose-flowers-roses-lush-pink-celebration-bloom-birthday-bouquet.jpg

    There are plenty of 'old wives tales', and just plain outright myths about  what to do to your flowers to make them last past 3 days in the vase. 

  • Ever heard of putting a copper penny in the vase water? Well it's sounds like it could work but in reality, it doesn't do anything for the flowers.
  • What about dissolving an aspirin in the water? That's sheer nonsense.
  • So how can you make the most of your cut flowers?

I'm talking with Nadine Brown, florist, floral designer and educator of www.wildflorastudio.com.au

who shares her tried and true tips from over thirty years of experience in the flower business.
  • Some of those tips you may have heard before on my Real World Gardener program and one of them is that flowers are ethylene sensitive.
  • That means flower sellers on the roadside are not just selling your flowers, but a whole bunch of ethylene laden flowers that have been covered by exhaust fumes. 
  • That also means that your fruit bowl of bananas, apples and pears are also emitting ethylene which hasten the demise of your precious flowers if they're nearby.
1-Birthday%20flowers.jpg

 

Nadine recommends that 

  • The best place to buy your flowers is from the grower or from a florist.
  • The next best tip is clean fresh water every couple of days is the next best thing for your flowers.  
    • If you recut the stems on an angle as you do that, then you're increasing the vase life of your flowers. Doing this under water prevents air bubbles from blocking any uptake or food or water too.
    • Filtered water isn't totally necessary.
  • Coming second those first tips is a spoonful of vodka!!
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Is scalding the stems a myth or fact?

You probably have heard of scalding hydrangea stems by placing those woody stems in boiling hot water for 30 seconds to a minute, then straight into cold water.?
Perhaps you thought that was a bit of fuss over nothing?

The truth is this works for woody stems such as hydrangeas and roses, plus a few others like lavender and poppies. Not all flowers though.

Using boiling water or scalding, expels air bubbles or trapped air from the stems, which as before, blocks uptake of water and nutrients.

For more tips listen to the podcast and watch the tutorial that Nadine has generously provided on 'Care and Condition for your flowers.

The link for the Care and Conditioning tutorial is just one of over 50 tutorials in Nadine’s membership library,

https://vimeo.com/485281174/2ac20b9565

So let’s listen to the podcast.
If you have any questions you can email us Realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

More Slime Moulds part 2 in Plant Doctor

December 18th, 2021

Slime Moulds part 2

The podcast continues with the topic of slime mould but particularly, about the slime mould called phytophthora. 

Did you prick up your ears?
Yep, that’s the root rot known as phytophthora which gardeners dread.

Gardeners are often told that phytophthera, in particular Phytophthera cinnamomi,  is a fungi but it's actually a water mould. You may have even heard it called 'root rot.'

  • Phytophora is a particular slime mould that belongs to a group or Phyllum called Oomycota 
  • This group are moulds that can only move in water columns.

Phytophthora cinnamomi lives in the soil and in plant tissues, 

During drought or prolonged dry periods , the organisms become dormant chlamydospores which is just a resting spore of Ascomycota

When environmental conditions are suitable, the chlamydospores germinate, producing mycelia (or hyphae) and sporangia. 

The sporangia ripen and release zoospores, which infect plant roots by entering the root behind the root tip. 

This organism is very resistant to most chemicals that gardeners can throw at it and doesn't die with soil disturbance..

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Dieback of branches of whole shrubs or trees is often seen in the Australian bush.

Should you ever see branch dieback in your trees or shrubs or stem dieback in your tomatoes, it just may be due to a problem called root rot that is actually a slime mould. 

The best way Botanic gardens have dealt with it is by fencing off affected beds within the gardens so horticulturists and the public don't transfer the spores around the the gardens or indeed, back home to their own gardens.

Drainage was also improved in garden beds so that the organism wasn't able to stay 'live' or active.

Compost is also added to soil to improve the soil so the microorganisms can combat this slime mould.

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast.

I'm talking with Steve McGrane, horticulturist and agriculturist.

So know you know the facts and myths about Phytophthera and how to deal with it in your garden.

If you have any questions about slime mould or some feedback why not email us realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644

What Are Slime Moulds? part 1 of Plant Doctor

December 18th, 2021

 PLANT DOCTOR

Slime Mould: What Is It? 

Part 1

 

What do the words slime mould conjure up in your imagination?
Is it that black stuff growing in the grout and on the tiles in your bathroom?
Or is it that green stuff on your paths on the south side of the house?
You may be surprised to find that it’s neither one of those so where is it lurking?
There are a lot of other moulds that live in the garden some of which are very useful.

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Wolf Milk Slime mould

Slime moulds are in the kingdom:Protista.

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Did you know that slime moulds have a life cycle, and when you are able to observe them, is only part of their lifecycle?

They're usually brightly coloured -reds, vivid greens, yellow and purple. 

They can grow on grass, logs and pretty much anywhere where the environment is conducive.

Slime moulds are not very well known in Australia, but Tasmania has around 100 species of slime moulds one of which is called 'dog vomit.' 

Slime moulds are highly useful in that they break down materials, 80% of which is made available to plants.

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast.

I'm talking with Steve McGrane, horticulturist and agriculturist.

If you have any questions about slime mould or some feedback why not email us realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644

Grafting Techniques part 2 on The Good Earth

November 25th, 2021

GRAFTING TECHNIQUES Part 2

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Approach grafting is an alternative method for citrus.

In part 1 of grafting techniques Margaret Mossakowska and I talked about how growing from a tree such as an orange or lemon from seed isn’t all that successful unless you graft it onto hardy rootstock.

In this segment, we refresh some of those points and take you onto more grafting techniques.

There are many types of grafting that are available to be used, some more complex or more exacting than others.

My Take On Grafting

Cleft grafting I find is quite straight forward and easy to get right. 

I've tried grafting Camellia reticulata scions onto Camellia sasanqua rootstock with a 100% success rate.  Camellia reticulata has huge flowers, a feature I wanted growing in my garden.

Camellia 'Red Crystal' is a cross between C.reticulata ‘Crimson Robe’ and C. japonica ‘Wildfire,’ however, both are slow growing. and don't grow so fast in temperate Sydney.

I find this is a faster alternative, plus Camellia sasanquas are very hardy and less prone to root rot.

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Camellia 'Red Crystal'

 

  • Grafting citrus is essential in Australia because the table citrus that we love to eat are not native to Australia, and so are prone to many diseases. 

The grafted union in most cases needs to be above the ground. There is one exception and that is with lilacs(Syringia vulgaris.). Lilacs tend to sucker if grown on their own rootstock so they are grafted onto privet rootstocks.

 

Things to Watch Out For.

Once you've successfully grafted your desired planted, whether it's a citrus or camellia or some other favourite, there's still room for failure.
  • At first the graft union may seem all fine and dandy, but  if you see shoots from below the graft union, you may have a problem Houston.
  • Shoots from below the graft union could signal failure of the graft and the rootstock is trying to take over.
  • Keep on rubbing off these shoots and hopefully it's only a minor abberration.
  • If this persists, you may find the top part or scion is slowly dying, so time to start all over.
Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast. I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska of www.mosshouse.com.au
If you’ve never tried grafting, make sure you get the right tools before you start.

You’ll also need the correct root stock.

If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

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