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.

Phosphorus and Potassium Deficiency in Plants Solved

March 20th, 2022

Plant Nutrition Deficiencies:Phosporus and Potassium

We have talked bout the role nitrogen played in played health and what to look for if a plant was deficient in one of the major nutrients, being Nitrogen.
  • In fact there are three major nutrients which are classified as NPK ratio on the back of all fertilisers. So in this part of the blog, we carry on with the two other major or macro nutrients.

Let's look at phosphorus deficiency

Phosphorus is responsible for the development of flowers and fruits and roots.
  • Phosporus is known as a mobile nutrient which can move around the plant to where it's needed.
  • Phosphorus deficiency happens more often in cold weather or gardens receive high rainfall, or a combination of both.
  • Often affects heavily fruiting plants such as citrus.
  • N..B. native plants are highly sensitive to phosphorus, so avoid spreading phosphate fertilisers near these plants.
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First Symptoms: Older leaves become quite a dark green then develop a purplish tinge.
 
Tips will then dry off. Not to be confused with lack of watering especially in pot plants where leaves can also develop dry tips.
Overall growth is affected in the long term resulting in smaller leaves and stunted growth.
 
Quick Fix: Fertiliser high in phosphate either solid or liquid.
Long term fix: Blood  n' Bone and/or controlled release fertilisers. 

Let's look at potassium deficiency

Potassium is responsible for thickening of cell walls, and also responsible for plant growth. Potassium deficiency are more evident in flowering or ornamental plants. Potassium deficiency often is a pH issue in the soil.

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First Symptoms: Older leaves become brown and dry on the upper surface, with leaf edges puckering slightly. 
As the deficiency progresses, the leaves darken in colour between the veins.
Flower stalks become thin and spindly and may be quite short.
Fruits may fail to develop full colour and flavour.
 
Quick Fix: Fertiliser high in potassium either solid or liquid, such as sulphate of potash.
Long term fix: Blood  n' Bone and/or controlled release fertilisers. 
 
Listen to the podcast: I'm talking with Kylie Last horticulturist and tafe teacher.

I would recommend becoming familiar with the NPK ration on fertilisers, whether organic or not to see if you’re applying the right sort for your plants.

For example, fertilisers that promote flowering and fruiting have higher ratios of potassium than those that are just for general purpose fertilising.
If you have any questions you can email us Realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

Nitrogen Deficiency in Plants

March 19th, 2022

 PLANT HEALTH

Plant Nutrition Deficiencies: Macro Nutrient Nitrogen

The 'Plant health' segment was created for my radio show "Real World Gardener,' as a division of the 'Plant doctor' segment, because I felt that it’s important to focus on what can go wrong with plants that isn’t a pest or a disease.
In the following audio podcasts, you will hear about what to look for in plants that have deficiencies of one of the macro nutrients: Nitrogen:Phosphorus:Potassium; in other words NPK or the macro nutrients.

Gardeners can often see problems appearing first in the colour of the leaves, but this can also be followed closely by lack of vigour, stunted growth and general unthriftiness of the plant.
 
The key to diagnosing problems, however isn't just looking at the colour of the leaves but it's knowing your soil type and soil pH.
Yes, I know, we do go on about soil pH but that often underlies the reason behind your plants' problems.
The other underlying problem may be insufficient drainage which causes waterlogging of the soil.
 
That said, we  will assume that you soil pH is around 6.5 - 7 but your still seeing issues that are showing up in the leaves. So what next?

Macro Nutrient Nitrogen

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Nitrogen is one of the three big nutrients or macro nutrients that plants need.
Nitrogen is responsible for leaf growth and blossom formation.
 
First Symptoms: Oldest leaves start to appear pale first, yellowing at the leaf tips then eventually the whole leaf will turn yellow.
Quick Fix: Soluble fertiliser high in nitrogen. 
Results should appear in a few days.
Long term fix: Blood  n' Bone and/or controlled release fertilisers.
 
Nitrogen on it’s own can be useful for quick greening of lawns and leafy plants like ferns in pots when the potting mix is depleted of any nutrients.
Listen to the podcast: I'm talking with Kylie Last horticulturist and tafe teacher.

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

Brown Rot of Stone Fruit in Plant Doctor on Real World Gardener

February 25th, 2022

 PLANT DOCTOR

Brown Rot of Stone fruit

There’s plenty of cultivars of stone fruit trees that can fit into any size garden.

Trixie and Pixie dwarf nectarine and peach trees have been around for years.

“There’s even a nectarine tree classed as Super Dwarf called ‘ Peach Sunset” that is grafted onto super dwarfing rootstock to produce a more compact tree growing to around 1.5 m tall.
This Nectarine is self fertile so only one tree is needed.

  • But before we get too carried away, what are the cons for growing stone fruit?
  1. Is deciduous a con? Possibly, because stone fruit tree are deciduous so if you don't like the bare look in winter, stone fruit trees are not for you.
  2. Do you need two trees for fruit set? Not always so do your homework.
  3. Preventative spraying for peach leaf curl and  brown root of stone fruit may be needed.
Perhaps I'm preaching to the converted and you already grow stone fruit.
Also perhaps, like me, you've never had a delectable harvest stolen from under your nose due to a fungal disease.

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Imagine this, ripe luscious fruit that you pick and place in your fruit bowl. A day later, the same fruit has inexplicably in part turned a mushy brown, soon to be consumed completely by the fungus.
 
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Or you have bunches of fruit on your tree and some of the start dropping off or look like in the image, with a brown sunken fungal growth.

  • The bad news is, it's too late to do something about it now.
If you don’t want a repeat of those nasty surprise in your stone fruit, you have to be pro-active with preventative spraying in winter when the tree is leafless and dormant.
Spraying with sulphur at that time is a good go to all round spray.
You may even have to open the centre of established trees a bit more than usual to increase air flow.

Still, the fruit I ate off my trees this year were super delicious and well worth growing your own stone fruit trees.

 
For more tips listen to the podcast.
I'm talking with Steve Falcioni of www.ecoorganicgarden.com.au   
Let’s find out

PLAY: Brown rot of stone fruit_16thFebruary 2022That was Steve Falcioni from www.ecoorganicgarden.com.au
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 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

Grafting Ctirus a Technique in The Good Earth

November 25th, 2021

 THE GOOD EARTH

Grafting Techniques part 1 & 2

If you’ve ever grown a tree from it’s seed, such as an orange lemon or avocado, you probably were disappointed by the result. 
I daresay, that firstly, it took a long time for it to fruit, and when it did, it was nothing like the fruit that the seed came from. 
After all apart from the novelty factor of  being able to grow a tree from a tiny seed, the time involved isn't really worth the effort. So what to do instead?
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Lemon tree
  • Switch to grafting methods.
Grafting is a method that would vastly improve the result all round but the word itself sounds terrifying if not complicated! 
There is after all the possibility that you'll end up slicing of the tip of your finger with the super sharp budding knife, or at the very least drawn blood from the deep wound that resulted from a slip of the wrist. 
I confess to having done that.

 

Practice makes perfect and I would recommend wearing gloves before attempting to do any type of grafting.

So What is Grafting?

drawing%2Bscion_rootstock.jpgGrafting is a swag of techniques that involves having a root stock that is happily growing in the ground or in a pot, whose upper part you will cut off completely.
Next, you attach a scion, a piece of plant whose features you really like, such as fruit size and flavour.
  • The scion has to be a particular size and be related botanically speaking to the rootstock. That means you can't graft an apple onto citrus rootstock, because apples are in the family 'rosaceae' and citrus are in the plant family 'rutaceae.'
 
There are of course plenty of other reasons why you want to try your hand at grafting.
Some of these are to improve disease resistance such as for roses or fruit trees or dwarfing.
Dwarf  trees are the result of grafting a scion from a tree of full size fruit onto dwarfing root stock.
 
 
celft%2Bgraft%2Bw%2Bscion.jpg
  • Margaret describes cleft grafting where the scion's base is cut as a 'V' and inserted into the same length slit into the rootstock. The cambium (green wood) of each must be aligned.

TIP:If you’ve never tried grafting, make sure you get the right tools before you start.

You’ll also need the correct root stock.

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast. I'm talking with Margaret Mossakowska of www.mosshouse.com.au

 

Small Space Gardening in the Kitchen Garden

November 7th, 2021

SMALL SPACE GARDENING-COURTYARD STYLE

Modern day gardens are much smaller than they used to be.

Many gardeners and would be gardeners, hanker for a produce filled garden with as many different edibles  as befits their lifestyle.
If you you only have a small space such as a paved courtyard or even just a balcony, but don’t know what to do next, this next segment will spur you onto creating your own oasis, without digging up the stones or pavers. 

Be inspired

  • Corinne has managed to squeeze in over 200 plants into a small paved courtyard-that doesn't even include duplicates of plants.
  • A good start is with recycling crates from your local council, to give you an idea of what works for you. Alternatively, plant into lots of containers that can be moved around to follow the sun.Then venture into raised garden beds.
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Making the right choice

  • Before any planting, determine the movement of the sun in your small space and  and note down the hours of sunlight and shade in each part of your small space/courtyard.
  • Choose those edibles that like all day full sun for those spots that get 6 hours plus of sunlight such as tomatoes.
  • Leafy vegetables such as lettuce, rocket, Swiss chard and kale, don't mind a bit of shade throughout the day if your have only 3-4 hours of sunlight. 
  • If you only have morning sun then choose vegetables such as carrots, celery, and dwarf beans.
  • For those spots with morning shade and afternoon sun, the choice is climbing cucumbers, climbing peas and beans. 
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Soil prep is key for Corinne.

  • Cucumbers_growing_on_a_string_lattice_structure.jpg
    Grow cucumbers on a lattice made of string.

     The raised garden beds are made up with homemade compost, worm castings and bought in compost and other organic material.

Think of vertical spaces

  • Think about growing vines like cucumbers and zucchinis and even nasturtiums, vertically.

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

I'm talking with Corinne Mossati drinks writer and founder of the gourmantic garden website. 

Don’t be put off by lack of space you may have because no space is too small to have plants, even if it’s just herbs on the kitchen windowsill.

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

Appleberry is Plant of the Week

November 6th, 2021

PLANT OF THE WEEK Number 5

Scientific Name: Billardiera scandens

Common Name: Appleberry
Family: Pittosporaceae
Native Habitat: found mainly along the east coast in a variety of commnityes such as coastal heath and sclerophyll forest.
Description:A twining climber or groundcover.. Pale lance shaped green leaves have wavy margins.
Height-Width: 1.5 x3 m
Flowering: September to December. Pendulous bell-shaped flowers on branch tips, similar to correa flowers.
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Appleberry flowers. photo courtesy David Midgley
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Appleberry fruit
Fruiting: Oblong berries appear on the bush in summer while the plant continues to flower. At first green to purple that turn yellow when ripe. Taste is similar to green kiwi fruit. Size is similar to sultana grapes. (Those that are elongated having been treated with gibberelins.)
Position: Full sun or part shade. Will become more sparse in shade.
Attributes: Long flowering and fruiting period. Requires watering and regular pruning in cultivation.
  • Suitable for container growing. Regular tip pruning in this situation will result in a small shrubby plant.

Over the past few weeks I’ve been focussing on bush tucker plants, some of which you may not have heard of before.
The appleberry is no exception because even though it can be found in national parks, most people would walk by and not realise that it’s a bush tucker plant.

For Sydneysiders, it can be found in Lane Cove National Park.

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

I’m talking with Adrian O’Malley, native plant officianado and expert.

There are many bush tucker plant nurseries that supply these plants online and are able to post out to most areas of Australia.

If you have any questions or feedback or have some information to share, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675 and I’ll send you a packet of seeds.

Murnong Yam is Plant of the Week

November 6th, 2021

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PLANT OF THE WEEK Number 3

Scientific Name: Microseris Lanceolata

Common Name:Murnong Yam

Family:Asteraceae

 
Yam Daisy

Native Habitat: found in a wide range of habitats in Australia: these inlcude mallee, slerophyll and sub-alpine communities.

Description:-Strappy, linear green leaves above underground tubers that emerge after rain in Autumn.

Height-Width: 30cm x 30cm

Flowering: yellow daisy flowers in spring-autumn.

Fruiting:fluffy seedheads (known as achenes), similar to dandelion seedhead.

Position: Full sun and part shade. 

Attributes: Dry tolerant once established and can grow in sandy soil.

There are many bush tucker plants that are not that well known and this is another one of them.

  • Yam daisy plant can be hard to identify in the wild because it looks like a lot of other yellow daisy plants, including dandelions and flatweed, also called cats ears.
  • The main differences: flat weed has a rosette of hairy, wavy-edged leaves that sit flat on the ground, while murnong has upright lance-shaped leaves. 
  • Murnong flower stems have a curved, drooping top as the bud develops, then straighten as it opens, whereas flatweeds and dandelions are upright as the bud is forming. The white tubers are nutritious and sweet tasting They can be eaten raw or baked, mixed with other vegetables or turned into a paste for dessert.
  • It is possible to buy the seeds of yam daisy plant online.
  • To find out more listen to the podcast. I'm talking with Adrian O'Malley horticulturist

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