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

Leaf Celery in the Kitchen Garden

September 21st, 2022

 KITCHEN GARDEN

Leaf Celery

Scientific Name:Apium graveolens var. secalinum

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Plant family: Apiaceae
Common Name: Parcel
 
A relatively uncommon or even unkown herb or vegetable. Parcel stems from the idea that it looks like parsley but tastes like celery.
  • Leaf celery is a biennial plant growing to 60cm in height.
Biennial simply means that leaf celery grows vegetatively during the first year and fruits (seeds) and dies  at the end of the second year.
Leaf celery could be classified as a herb because the leaves are used just as much as the stalks in cooking.
 
Personally I wouldn't be without my leaf celery because it's a great substitute for the harder to grow culinary celery. 
I use it for making sugo, the tradition Italian tomato base for a lot of traditional dishes such as lasagne and bolognese.

Sugo For Sure-How to Make it

Sugo is made by first finely chopping onion, celery and carrot that frying for a few minutes until softer. 

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Then adding the garlic and tomatoes to make a tomato base for any Italian dish.

However, if you like munching on celery stalks, or using them in Waldorf salads, it's not a substitute in that instance. 
The stalks of leaf celery are much thinner and hollow and have a more pungent taste ( to my liking) that normal culinary celery.

This winter I have practically depleted my supply of leaf celery because of the number of soups, and slow co
oked meals I have been preparing. It’s just a great flavouring herb.

Leaf celery stalks in my garden (pictured right)

 

Easy Peasy Celery Salt

Celery salt can also be made from the seeds. Simply let one plant go to flower and set seed. Then once dried in situ, collect the seeds and crush them.
  • Corinne suggests dehydrating the leaves to make celery leaf salt.
  • 1-IMG20201209120456.jpgChop the stems and leaves and make a compound celery butter.

We both recommend growing leaf celery as a cut and come again herb or vegetable and an alternative to the larger stalked celery.
Much easier to grow too.

Corinne Mossati, founder of www.thegourmanticgarden.com has further suggestions.
So let’s find out more by listening to the podcast.

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

Choosing the Freshest Flowers on Real World Gardener

September 4th, 2022

 TALKING FLOWERS   

Tips on Choosing the Freshest Flowers

Do you regularly buy a bunch of fresh flowers to brighten up your home?

Do you find that no matter which ones you buy, you just can't seem to get them to last past a few days, but friends regularly boast about how their flowers last for over a week?
Sometimes I cringe when I see a bunch of flowers outside some supermarkets because I know what signs to look for that tell me whether or not they’re really fresh.

But could you tell how fresh a bunch of flowers are when you see them for sale?

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Some of the top tips are

  • Keep your flowers away from the fresh bowl of fruit.
The reason is because fruit, particularly ripe bananas give off ethylene which hastens the demise of your fresh flowers.  If you think about it, placing a firm pear next to a banana in the fruit bowl, makes it soften up really quickly.
  • Feel the stems to see if they’re fresh and not slimy.

Slimy stems stems means they've been sitting around for more than a few day. If you can't feel the stems that cast a close eye on the actual petals and ask yourself, " are the petals showing any signs of curling or browning at the edges,?" If the answer is 'yes' then move onto the next bunch.

  • Avoid buying flowers from the roadside.

Roadside flowers have inhaled all those exhaust fumes and that's a speedy way to make them fade.

 
Don’t worry, Nadine Brown will tell us how lots more .

I'm talking with Nadine Brown floral educator of www.theivyinstitute.com.au
If you like buying fresh flowers you should 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.

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

Drinks and tricks with Horseradish on Real World Gardener

August 7th, 2022

 KITCHEN GARDEN

Tricks with Horseradish

My father was a big fan of this vegetable or perhaps it should be called a herb?
He loved it grated on various meats, ‘clears out the sinuses' he always exclaimed.

Not too many gardeners are familiar with horseradish and even though it's a perennial vegetable that's easy to grow.

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  • Perhaps because gardeners and others aren't too familiar with what you do with this, ahem root vegetable. 
  • Well that's right,  horseradish is actually classified as a root vegetable even though you can use it as a seasoning and in drinks.

In drinks I hear you exclaim, what is it?

Growing horseradish

  • Firstly, to grow horseradish, get yourself a crown or a plant from the herb section of your garden centre.
  • Planting in late winter is perfect.
  • Choose a sunny but permanent spot.
  • Dig in plenty of of well rotted manures and compost.
TIP: Horseradish can takeover a garden bed left unattended for a few months. 
Grow it in a very large pot or keep it in a spot where it can't spread too easily.

USES

If you're grating horseradish, it loses its pungency fairly quickly, you can store it by making a horseradish cream or in vinegar.
  • TIP: Corinne freezes the root in pieces. Then grate as needed.

Cocktails with horseradish.

Vodka%20martini.jpg
If you’re into experimenting try grated horseradish in white sauce or in a savoury martini or even a bloody mary.
Infuse it in vodka to make a savoury gibson style martina.
Just flavor a cup of vodka with a small amount of grated horseradish for a few days to give it that extra kick.
For more details listen to the podcast.

I'm talking with Corinne Mossati founder of the gourmantic garden website 

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.

plant-flower-petal-tulip-green-red.jpg
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.

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.

Pruning Australian Native Plants on Real World Gardener

June 20th, 2022

PLANT DOCTOR

Pruning Native Plants

For some reason, many gardeners have been reluctant to prune their native plants, thinking that if they did, those plants might never recover or worse, just drop dead.

 
Then there’s the gardener that’s reluctant to prune something that they’ve just planted because after all, they paid good money for that plant, so why should I cut off the top third as soon as I plant it? 
Seems counter intuitive doesn’t it?

If we look back at when native gardens first started to be in vogue in the 70's, this might have been true of many of the cultivars that were grown back then.

 
Plus, there was the theory that native gardens should be somewhat wild and untamed, much like they are in the bush. 

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Grevillea 'Lollipops' photo M Cannon
All this did was result in a messy looking 'wild' garden which fell out of favour rather quickly, although not quick enough for some.
 
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Grevillea 'Superb' photo M Cannon

Fast forward to the 21st century, and by now, many native plants have been selectively bred or hybridised to produce much healthier, stronger native plants that not only can be pruned but should be pruned to look their best.

So how should we prune our native plants?

Steve and I are not saying that you need to clip everything into a ball to make it look like a formal garden.

Not at all, but you do need to clip plants to reign them in so you have some control over their growth.

General rule: Prune after flowering

A good tip for plants that have a specific flower time such as Golden Penda.
Plants that flower for most of the year like Grevillea 'Robyn Gordon' or 'Grevillea Ned Kelly,' or Peaches and Cream.  
 
In these cases, leave the flowers during the winter months when food is scarce for nectar feeders such as birds and possums. Prune off one-third of growth at the end of winter.
 
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Steve's tip: As soon as you get your plant home, give it a light prune or even a tip prune depending on the size of the plants. Do this often, every 6 or so weeks to make the plant more bush.

 
Marianne's tip: Some plants respond to constant tip pruning and become more like a shrub than a tree with a straight bole of around 2 metres, for example, Ivory Curl tree or Buckinghamia celsissima.
It might seem risky, but if you only prune lightly, then you’ll be rewarded with a much better looking plant.
 
Some native plants respond to being pruned close to the ground such as Callistemon (although not too often), Melaleuca 'Claret Tops,' and Breynia cernua.
Look for varieties that suit hedging.
 
To find out more, listen to the podcast.
I'm talking with Steve McGrane, Horticulturist and agriculturist.

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.

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