Real World Gardener Butterfly Gardening part 2

March 20th, 2021

Butterfly Gardening

 part 2:

So you've listened to part 1 where we talked about what plants butterflies prefer, and in particular, what type of plants the caterpillars of these butterflies like to eat.

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Butterfly House Blenheim Palace, England, photo M Cannon

  • But what else do butterflies like and what should you be wary of using in your garden if you want to keep those butterflies and bees coming to visit?

What do butterflies need to survive?

WATER: Butterflies are like bees, they don't like to land on a large body of water. They want to land where their mouthpieces can take up the water. A dish of water with a stone in it will provide their water needs.
SHADE: When they're eating or laying eggs, butterflies prefer semi-shade, one of the  reasons is that they camouflage themselves better.
FOOD FOR CATERPILLARS: Don't go overboard with worry about a few eaten leaves on your citrus,, or other plants because of the odd caterpillar here and there.  Remember, that caterpillar on your citrus or some other plant, may not be doing as much damage as you think. Not all caterpillars are as destructive as say the white cabbage moth caterpillar. Identify it first, then decide to leave it alone or feed it to the chooks.
  • DON'T USE PESTICIDES, THESE ARE HARMFUL TO ALL BUTTERFLIES

Remember, the butterfly lifecycle is quite short, a mere two weeks before they pupate.

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Butterflies pupating, butterfly house, Blenheim Palace, England. photo M Cannon
Let’s find out more
I'm talking with  Steve McGrane, horticulturist, ecological agriculturist and garden writer.
 
If you have any questions either for me or for Steve you can email us Realworldgardener@gmail.com or write in to 2rrr, PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.

 

Real World Gardener Butterfly Gardening part 1

March 20th, 2021

 BUTTERFLY GARDENING

Part 1: First Things First-what plants and how do they know which to land on?

Are you bemoaning the lack of butterflies in your garden?

Would you love to have more butterflies visit your garden, no matter how small or big it is?
Did you know that butterflies look for specific food plants or that they have a preferred temperature to flit about in?

The Monarch butterfly (pictured below)  was in my garden on buddleia bush 'Black Knight'  
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Steve mentions a good read  on the subject of butterflies is a book co-authored by Helen Schwencke, 

Create More Butterflies: a guide to 48 butterflies and their host-plants for south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales.
Some plant suggestions to get those winged beauties into your garden are:
  • Native senna cultivars are high on the list of plants that attract butterflies.
  • Blunt-leaf Senna there (Senna gaudichaudii), but there’s also the corky milk vine (Secamone elliptica) and emu foot, (Cullen tenax) a trailing native plea vine.
  • Think also about the native finger lime, great for container planting.
  • A lot of native butterflies will be drawn to your garden if you have the right flowers for them at the right time of the year.
The further you go south, the butterfly visits will be more seasonal.
  • Migrating butterflies are driven by the season's, wind direction and amount of rainfall.
Their preferred temperature range is between 23-27 degrees Centigrade.
How  do they find what they need?
 
The  antenna (mainly on males) is used to detect what food is available and if other male butterflies are present.
Females, however, can also use their feet. Chemoreceptors on their legs help them to choose their food plants.
 

Let’s find out more
I'm talking with  Steve McGrane, horticulturist, ecological agriculturist and garden writer.

Real World Gardener Tonka Beans in Spice it Up

March 19th, 2021

 SPICE IT UP

Tonka Bean

If you have thought that vanilla was a flavour all on its own, you would be wrong. Here is another bean that not only qualifies as a substitute for vanilla, but also for nutmeg.

Common Name: Tonka Bean, sometimes known as Brazilian teak.
Scientific NameDipteryx odorata
Family: Fabaceae
Fruit:The highly fragrant bean from a flowering tree in the pea family
Height: 25-30 metres. Grey outerbark with inner red wood.

Qualities: the presence of coumarin in the beans give the seed its odour or perfume.

Flavour: Marzipan like
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Like a lot of members of the pea family that are trees, tonka beans starts as a pod on a tree. 
The pod contains a single bean which is dried like so many other spices.
It’s used in the same dishes that you used vanilla or nutmeg for, like shortbread biscuits, custards, cream brulee' and so on.
 
To harvest the pods, they are picked when fully mature and have fallen to the ground.  Then they are broken open with a hammer to reveal a wrinkled oblong 2.5cm seed.
When this bean is cut in half lengthwise, it has a creamy white centre.
  • These beans are placed in the sun to dry, activating the enzymes within the bean.
  • But did you know this bean has been banned in America since 1954 because of the coumarin present? Coumarin is also present in cinnamon and that's not banned!

Tonka beans may be grated like nutmeg before adding to a recipe or soaked in warm water or milk to infuse the flavour.

  • Tonka is a strong spice, so only use in similar proportions to nutmeg.

I you wish to grow the tree yourself, it's a very pretty flowering tree suited to the tropics and sub-tropics. Not a tree for frost prone areas. The plant itself is not available for sale, but you can buy the seeds from overseas sellers.

 
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I am talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au
Let’s find out more

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

 

Real World Gardener Kangaroo Paws in Plant of the Week

March 19th, 2021

Kangaroo Paw: Anigozanthos spp

This next plant is the floral emblem of Western Australia where it has grown for millions of years.
The flowers, which bloom mostly in the spring and summer, are covered with a very thick, soft fuzz, making them look almost like velvet.
It’s also bird attracting and once a favourite of gardeners.

Common Name: Kangaroo Paw

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Scientific name: Anigozanthos flavidus
Family: Haemdoraceae
Flowers: spring and summer are main flowering times. Fine coloured hairs cover the flower giving it, its flower colour. Flowers are a distinct shape which can only be described as that of a kangaroo's paw! Cultivars known as 'Bush Gems" come in all colours of the rainbow.
Hardiness:Develop a blackening of the leaves in humid climates, known as inkspot disease. Cut it down to ankle height with clean secateurs to renew the growth if this occurs.
Uses: Mass planted in borders, in cottage gardens, native gardens, rockeries and containers.
Make sure you find a good colour form as it is great bird attracting garden plant that can be a feature at the back of beds.

Remove the dead flower stems and their associated foliage after flowering.

Let’s find out more
I am talking with Adrian O’Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert.

Real World Gardener Flannel Flowers in Plant of the Week

March 19th, 2021

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Flannel Flowers: Actinotus helianthi
Here’s one for the lover of all things flowers, this little sub-shrub is in flower for most of the year.
The flannel flower is one of the most recognisable Australian native flowers and Adrian says it's a very tactile plant because of the soft woolly feel of the grey-green foliage.
The creamy-white flowers occur in clusters, and the entire plant has a soft woolly feel because of soft white hairs.
Looking like a daisy, but it’s not in the daisy family, instead it’s in the same family as the carrot, dill, celery and parsley.

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Scientific name: Actinotus helianthi
Common name:Flannel Flowers

Family: Apiaceae
Flowers: a simple daisy flower flower with cream to white petals (bracts) tipped green. Flower size varies depending on soil conditions in which it grows but can be 3-8cm. Peak flower is Spring, with spot flowering throughout the year.
Leaves: Grey green and woolly to the touch because of the soft hairs.
Hardiness: tolerates light frost, dislikes wet feet. Avoid watering the leaves to prevent fungal problems. Grows naturally in sandstone country where soil is a bare couple of cms.
Maintenance: Tip pruning will give you more side branching and more flowers. Cut off spent flowers with snips or secateurs. Tidy up the plant by cutting off dead or yellowing foliage.
Height: up to 1.5m but in the natural habitat,  Adrian has only seen flannel flowers growing to only around 80 cm.
Flowering occurs mainly in spring to early summer (September to December) and is followed by fluffy seeds in a globular head.
But how did it get its strange name common name?
Botanists associated the flower to the soft woolly feel of er flannel.
Let’s find out more
I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert.

Real World Gardener Australian Paper Daisies in Plant of the Week

March 19th, 2021

Rhodanthe chlorocephala
Paper daisies
Some people call them paper daisies, some call them everlastings but as we say on Real World Gardener, don’t be fooled with common names because they are most often applied to an array of plants.
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Scientific name: Rhodanthe chlorocephala
Common name: pink & white everlasting
Family: Asteraceae
Flowers: from winter to spring, daisy like flowers 1-6cm in diameter, composed of white or pink papery bracts. Heads normally appear singly, but tip pruning will encourage branching to produce multiple flower heads.
Position: full sun in well drained, even sandy soils. easily propagated from seed. Best sown in late autumn or early winter.  If conditions are right, they will self-seed, otherwise collect the seed when the flowers turns into a fluffy head.Store the seed head in a paper bag until next season.

Whatever you call them, it’s something even beginner gardeners can grow to pretty up their patch.

Australia's version of meadow planting can be easily achieved with these paper daisies or
everlastings. All you need to do is scatter 1 gm of seeds per square metre and rake gently into the soil. The seeds will germinate in 7-10 days if kept moist. Expect a carpet of flowers as you would see in Western Australia.
Rhodanthe chlorocephala subspecies rosea is the most widely grown subspecies and is commonly known as “Pink and White Everlasting”, “Rosy Sunray”, “Pink Paper-daisy” and “Rosy Everlasting.”
The flowers can be dried like other native daisies and used in floral arrangements for months.

Let’s find out more, I'm talking with Adrian O’Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert.

Real World Gardener Billy Buttons are in Plant of the Week

March 19th, 2021

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Some plants you just love their flowers, some just have fabulous leaves, but here’s a plant, even though on the small side, packs a punch with bright golden flowers and grey leaves that would fit into any style garden.

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Scientific name:Craspedia globosus syn. Pycnosorus

Common name:Billy buttons, drumsticks.
Flowers:  golden-yellow tennis ball like spheres made up of tiny flowers on long stalks 80cm-100cm
Leaves: a rosette of grey green leaves above an underground rhizome.  
Interesting fact: Billy Buttons were part of the flower arrangement that were presented to medal winners of the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Hardiness: tolerates light frost and extended periods of dry weather. Don't like wet weet.
Billy Buttons are very famous for being very long lasting cut flowers, their bright yellow spherical flowers can be dried like other native daisies and used in floral arrangements for months.
 
In areas with high humidity, treat them as an annual as they will succumb to fungal problems. Easily grown from seed but use wildflower seed starter to break the dormancy of the seed. 
Let’s find out more
I'm talking with was Adrian O’Malley, horticulturist and native plant expert.

Real World Gardener Help with seedlings in Plant Doctor

February 26th, 2021

 PLANT DOCTOR    

What's Going On With My Seedlings?

People have been turning to gardening in droves this year, and for one reason or another, they’re into growing their own food.
A lot of new gardeners, though, are finding it difficult to either get those seeds to germinate, or keep those seedlings going.seedling.jpg

Here are some of the common problems:

  • Seeds germinate and grow for a while then die. Number 1 culprit is drying out.
    • Seedlings are for the most part growing in a shallow soil and all it takes is for a bit of warm weather, then unless you're there on the spot to water them, they shrivel up and die.
  • Seedlings growing in moist soil because you've somehow managed to keep them hydrated. If they keel over at this point, it's due to 'damping off.' The seedlings is attacked by fungal or bacterial infection, the end result of which is death of your seedlings.
  • Overwatering and poor airflow is another possibility.
  • Seaweed solution may help with overcoming this problem.
  • Watering with a tea with strong antimicrobial properties, such as strong chamomile or cinnamon tea may work as a preventative. 
  • Create a clean environment as possible by (a)sterilising your soil by placing it in the oven for 30 minutes at high temperatures and (b) wipe down pots and benches with a 10% solution of bleach. 
  • Seedlings just sitting with no growth for weeks are a sign of insufficient fertiliser. Water in a liquid fertiliser immediately and follow up as per dosage instructions. 
  • Although, one thing to watch out for:The seeds have germinated but mysteriously, the tops get chewed off. 
    I’m still wondering how the slug go into the closed mini-greenhouse and ate my basil seedlings.
Hopefully you’ll be inspired to get back into growing from seed and have all the information you need to get those seedlings going.

 So what help do they need? Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast.
I’m talking with Steve Falcioni from www.ecoorganicgarden.com.au

If you have any questions about seedlings, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write to 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Mulled Wine and Jelly in Spice It Up

February 25th, 2021

SPICE IT UP

Mulled Wine and Mulled Wine Jelly

Are you missing the Christmas spirit? In Australia it was mostly too hot around Christmas time to partake in mulled wine. Winter isn't that far away, and for some people, Christmas in July is a thing.

That would include mulled wine.
Right now though, you could make some mulled wine jelly to relive some of that Christmas cheer which just seems like a faded memory.

You may have heard of the spices that go to make mulled wine, a traditional drink in the northern hemisphere at that time of year.
But here in Australia, it’s too hot, so what else can we do with these spices?

Traditional mulled wine spices contain allspice berries (ground), cassia bark (Asia version of cinnamon), ginger, dried orange peel, and cloves.

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METHOD: Mulled Wine
In a saucepan 
POUR 1 bottle of red wine
ADD1 cup of brown sugar,
ADD 1 fresh lime
ADD 1 fresh quartered orange.
ADD2-3 tablespoons of mulling spices.
SIMMER gently for 30-40 minutes DO NOT BOIL
STRAIN: into a jug and serve while warm.
If you’re keen to experiment with your own recipe, then use real vanilla pods, cinnamon quills, fresh citrus and star anise at the very least.

Apart from mulled wine jelly, and mulled wine fizz, there’s also mulled wine glazed ham. So experiment away. Listen to the podcast to find out more.

I’m talking with Ian Hemphill from herb and spice expert from www.herbies.com.au
PLAY: Mulled wine jelly_9th December 2020
If you have any questions about spices in mulled wine spice mix, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write to 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Fermenting Vegetables part 2 in What’s Cooking

February 25th, 2021

FERMENTATION PART 2

Dry Fermentation Process: we're doing a cabbage.
The whole leaf on top of the shredded cabbage is the 'plug.'
Leave some headroom in the jar so the fermenting process doesn't bubble over.
The cabbage should start bubbling which is the fermentation process.

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LEAVE it out of the fridge but in a cool spot such as a tiled floor.
WAIT ten days then taste it. Before this time it doesn't taste very nice.
You can leave it longer if you like.
PROBLEMS:
White yeast growing on the surface needs to be removed otherwise it will spoil the flavour.
If you see mould, throw it out and start again.
Once you like the flavour, put it in the fridge, it will slow the fermenting process.
Let's find out more.
 

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