Hidden Talents of Nasturtiums on Real World Gardener

October 5th, 2021

 Nasturtiums 

with Corinne Mossati

Quite often we gardener have flowering plants in the garden but never think about bringing them into the kitchen to make something.
They may be just fillers or self-seeders, but in this case, the nasturtium, has so many extra uses other than ornamental, you’ll be inspired to do something.

Nasturtium_deep%2Bred.jpg

Germinating  Nasturtium Seeds.
Plant the seeds in moist well drained soil, keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged.
Corrine find it takes between 14-21 days.
 
Why not try the Alaska variety with variegated leaves, or 'Black Velvet' with deep red flowers and dark leaves.
The one pictured is growing in my garden, is 'Cherry Rose.'

Eating Nasturtiums-Corinnes'tips:

Leaves taste peppery and are great for adding with other greens to salads.
Why no try drying the leaves and grind them to a powder. 
When combined with salt you have a condiment to flavour food or crust the rim of your margeurita cocktail glass!
 
Nasturtium flowers are edible too.
Use them as you would zucchini flowers.
Nasturtium seeds are edible, often referred to as 'poor man's capers.'
Let’s find out more, listen to the podcast.
I'm speaking with Corinne Mossati, drinks writer and founder of The Gourmantic Garden: http://www.thegourmanticgarden.com
and Cocktails & Bars: http://www.cocktailsandbars.com

Her website tagline & hashtag “Grow It. Eat It. Drink It.” sums up Corinne’s garden and we look forward to more segments with Corinne.
If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Therapeutic Horticulture part 1 on Real World Gardener

October 5th, 2021

 GARDEN AS THERAPY

Therapeutic Horticulture

  • What makes a garden therapeutic? What is therapeutic gardening?
  • Are these two things connected or are they separate?

You would think that yes gardening is therapy, so doing a bit of gardening would amount to therapeutic horticulture but you would be wrong.

  • To understand therapeutic horticulture, you have to be across two areas:-health and well-being and horticulture. You can start from the health sector and then gain some qualifications in horticulture or vice versa..
  • Therapeutic horticulture then means using gardening as an activity to improve people's health and well being through the use of plants . 
  •  There are lots of courses that can assist you with training to be a therapeutic horticulturist.
  • The next step is to gain some hours through volunteering with an organisation, eg aged care, through NDIS, and disability sector.
  • It's also a good idea to join THA or Therapeutic Horticulture Australia https://tha.org.au.
IMG20181102095451%2B-%2BCopy.jpg
photo M Cannon
Let’s find out more
I'm talking with Cath Manuel, therapeutic horticulture specialist 
Cath Manuel is the founder of Soil to Supper website and a specialist in therapeutic horticulture and kitchen gardens. https://soiltosupper.com
If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Spotting Plant Deficiencies in Plant Doctor

September 8th, 2021

PLANT DEFICIENCIES:

Imagine this scenario, you’ve fertilised your garden with all the right stuff, having followed the manufacturer’s instructions to a ‘t.’

But still the plants look sickly, or perhaps a bit yellow, or they’re just not putting on any growth.
Does that sound familiar?

  • So what’s the problem?
The first thing you need to do is a pH test on your soil-there's no escaping it.
Why?
512px-Soil_pH_effect_on_nutrient_availability.svg.png

The soil pH will determine the availability pf different nutrients to your plants.

 
Let's look at an example
Looking at the chart on the right, it's immediately apparent that if your pH is higher than say pH7.5, then nutrients like iron start to taper off in their availability to the plant.
 
Then means your plant may start to show symptoms of iron deficiency.
In fact, after pH 7.5, other nutrients taper off in their availability, such as manganese, boron, and more importantly, one of the macro nutrients being potassium.

 

 
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Basic pH test kit

 

  • Recently%2BUpdated20.jpg

    Ideally the ideal pH range that gardeners should strive for is pH 6 - 7.5

  • This is the range that the major nutrients of NPK are available to the plant the most.
  • Some plants such as rhododenrons and azaleas like a like a low of pH6.
A pH testing kit is essential in any gardener’s shed. Consider testing your soil in different parts of the garden.
A good tip when taking soil samples from your soil is to get a sample from just below the surface for an accurate reading.
 
First signs of Nutrient Deficiencies: 
Nitrogen: new leaves are pale green and older leaves are yellow and start to dry up.
Phosphorus: purpling of the leaves, particularly along the lower leaves. New leaves are a bit stunted and deformed in severe cases.  A bit more rare.
Potassium: poor overall health; older leaves turn yellow then crisp up and die off. Often mistaken for dehydration.
 
Let’s find out more about  pH testing and plant deficiencies 
I'm talking with Kylie Last, horticulturist and TAFE teacher.
If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Plant Nutrition: What Plant Really Want in Plant Doctor

September 8th, 2021

 PLANT NUTRITION UNPACKED

Major Nutrients

Have you ever asked yourself "how do plants take up nutrients when you spread fertiliser around them on the ground or dilute it into liquid ?"

It's something that we gardeners do quite a lot of,  spreading fertiliser around that is, and probably don't give it a second thought until plants don't respond to all this nutrient load.
  • What went wrong? 
Firstly, the nutrients that you spread around are not directly taken up by the plants.
Nutrients have to be what's called 'made available' to the plants and to do this, the soil biota or the microorganisms have to do some work.
Water, soil and microbes are the three things that the plants need before plants can take these nutrients.
  • So What Are These Nutrients?

Macro Nutrients:   these are the highest rated nutrients that plants can’t do without.

  • Nitrogen:Phosphorus:Potassium or NPK: 

    HOM_5245.JPG
    A selection of fertilisers
  • Kylie's main mantra is NPK refers to shoots:roots;fruit
The component relates as Nitrogen, giving your plant nice healthy green leaves.
The P component: encourages healthy root systems.
The K or potassium component helps the fruits and flowers
 
Sure we can add compost, aged manures and liquid seaweed, but unless you’re sure of what’s in them nutrient wise, you may be under fertilising your plants.

Without the major nutrients, your plants may not grow and develop roots, stems leaves and flowers properly.

If you know what and how much to give your plants, the plants will be healthier and more productive.

Just remember to read the NPK amounts on the bag or packet of fertiliser.
Let’s find out more about what plants really need.
I'm talking with Kylie Last, horticulturist and TAFE teacher.
PLAY: Major Nutrients_21stJuly 2021

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

Winter Pruning of Figs in Plant Doctor

August 18th, 2021

 PLANT DOCTOR

Pruning Figs: 

Ficus carica is the edible fig that hails from the Mediterranean.

Fig trees aren’t quite as ubiquitous as citrus trees are in the produce garden but they are still a firm favourite.

What's not to like?
They are delicious to eat fresh and or dried, plus nothing beats home grown figs. 

There are a few different types: 

  • 'Black Genoa' is typically a large growing fig tree and not suitable for small back yards. This is a fast growing heavy cropping tree that produces large sweet purple skinned fruit. Good for inlan Australia but not so good on the far north coast.
  • White genoa-great for drying about half the size of black genoa: also grows well in cooler areas.
  • Brown Turkey  good for eating fresh, is a very hardy tree that does well in inland areas.
  • White Adriatic-a green skinned medium to large fruit.
  • Dwarf Brown Slow growing and compact this small tree can be kept at about 1 - 1.5 m in height. Great for small spaces and pots and smaller backyards
There’s a only few things you need to know when attending to those trees and believe it or not, winter time is one of those times.
In fact, winter time is the time you need to go out and take a look at your fig tree, assessing it for what to prune and what to leave
fig%2Bfruit.jpg
 
  • When you first get your fig tree, prune the tree by half; cut it back to 3 or 4 branches.
  • Prunings can be used to propagate more trees as the cuttings take root very easily.
TIP: figs like to grow in shallow soil which has been enriched with limestone. 
  • pH 8 is an ideal for figs, and you can do this by adding crusher dust to the soil. 
  • What is crusher dust?
  • Crusher dust is a blend of small crushed blue metal rocks and finer dust.
  • Either add it to your pot or to the soil.
  • Incidentally, crusher dust is a great medium for striking 'slow to take' cuttings.

Getting Down To Pruning

Steve’s tip is to prune new fig trees by half when you get them, but for older trees, prune one-third to one-half each year. 
  • We are looking for the new growth to supply the current season's fruit.  
  • Prune out any limbs that are less than 45 degrees to the trunk. Keep branches that are more or less at right angles to the main trunk.
  • Remove any branches or laterals that are less than half a metre from the ground.
  • If you need to, you can now bring it into shape but otherwise you have done your main pruning.

So let’s find out what more needs doing.
That was Steve McGrane, agriculturist and horticulturist.
PLAY: Pruning figs_7th July 2021
If you have any feedback email realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Growing Bananas part 2 in The Kitchen Garden

June 25th, 2021

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.
growing-bananas.jpg
  • 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.

I'm talking with Toni Salter https://theveggielady.com/growing-backyard-bananas/
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.

Real World Gardener Growing Bananas part 1 in Kitchen Garden

June 25th, 2021

KITCHEN GARDEN

Banana%2Bflower%2Band%2Bfruit%2B1.jpg

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 wrong and mulch it up for the garden.
 
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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.

Real World Gardener Two Best Banksias are Plant of the Week

June 11th, 2021

PLANT OF THE WEEK

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

Scientific Name: Banksia spinulosa

Common Name: Hairpin BanksiaBanksia%2Bspinulosa.jpg

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..Banksia%2Bericifolia.jpg

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.

 

Real World Gardener Ginger and Galangal in Spice it Up

June 11th, 2021

 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?
ginger%2Band%2Bgalangal.jpg

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. 
 
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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.

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.

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