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

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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.
 
Banana%2Bflower%2Band%2Bfruit%2B2.jpg
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 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.

Real World Gardener La Niña and Changing Weather in the Kitchen Garden

March 20th, 2021

 THE KITCHEN GARDEN

La Niña and your produce garden

Torrential rain is lashing the east coast of Australia as a write this while the west coast of enjoys a hot spell. Without sounding too dramatic, we’re starting off the kitchen garden segment with a topic about how the changing weather patterns are affecting the vegetable garden. At the moment Australia is in the grip of La Niña, a complex weather pattern, that bought rain for much of summer and now is causing flooding in many areas.
Last year's summer was quite different with bushfires in most parts of Australia.

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Torrential rain driven by La Niña in my garden.

We’re not so much spruiking climate change, but really it’s more about what you the gardener can do to mitigate problems in the veggie patch because of climate events like La Niña.

This summer, the produce garden is seeing cooler temperatures during the day, increased humidity, and higher night temperatures because of the consistent cloud cover.

For those gardeners on clay soil, the soil is staying damp even during the drier periods. Veggies do not like their roots in constant water.

For those gardeners who haven't prepared their gardens for these events, they may find collar rot around citrus and other fungal problems in the kitchen garden.

The answer for clay soil in produce gardens is build raised beds. Not only does this improve drainage, but saves all that bending to ground level.

Powdery mildew is a problem with all gardens in humid weather, particularly when the crops are coming to their end of their production.

Toni recommends using a bi-carbonate spray to change the pH of the leaf surface so that the fungus cannot thrive. This is only a preventative measure. Once the mildew takes hold.

Bicarb soda recipe:
1/2 teaspoon of sodium bi-carbonate
450ml water
couple of drops of vegetable oil to help emulsify it.

Spray both leaf surfaces well until run-off. Re-apply after rain.

Other problems can be fruit not ripening such as tomatoes staying green because of the lack of sunny days.

Dwarf beans are all descended from climbing beans when they perceive low light levels they will begin throwing out tendrils and revert to climbing beans. This can be just a run of cloudy days or overshadowing by trees or a neighbouring building.

Let’s find out-I'm talking with Toni Salter, the Veggie Lady. www.theveggielady.com 

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.
 

Real World Gardener Vegetable Fermentation part 1 in What’s Cooking

February 25th, 2021

 THE ART OF VEGETABLE FERMENTATION

Have you ever wanted to ferment vegetables but thought it was a bit too hard?
Perhaps you’re an avid fermenter but need to know more.
In this new segment I find out that it’s actually easy to start fermenting.

Holly describes herself as an 'old fermenter.'

Sauerkraut_Jar.jpg
Jokes aside, what's the first thing you need to know before you start fermenting any vegetable.
Do you need high end equipment?
Let’s find out more.
 
Fermenting is a process that happens in the absence of air.
It turns out that a clip lock jar or a glass jar with a screw top lid would suffice. Or you can use a plastic jar.
NOTE: the lid needs to have a coating on it which most would have if they were on jars that were bought with food in them. These jars are perfect for re-purposing for fermenting.
Cabbages and other root vegetables are ideal for fermenting.
METHOD:
PICK a cabbage that is heavy for it's size, preferably an organic one.
Should be dense and tightly packet.
STRIP off outer leaves.
CUT the cabbage into four and cut the heart out of it.
SHRED your cabbage finely, Holly likes it between 3-5mm in width so it has some crunchy.
If your ferment comes out mushy then air has entered into the process.
ADD 20gms of fine ground sea-salt to every kilo of cabbage.
RUB sea salt into cabbage until it releases moisture-make sure it's vigorous , releasing plenty of liquid.
There should be enough liquid to completely submerge the cabbage in the jar.
STUFF into a jar and cover with the liquid.
PLACE one of the previously discarded whole leaves on top of the shredded cabbage in the jar.
I’m talking with Holly Davis, whole food chef, and educator.
PLAY: Fermentation Part 1_25th November 2020

Real World Gardener Save Water with Ollas in the Good Earth

October 30th, 2020

 THE GOOD EARTH

What About Ollas?

 

Gardeners already know how to save water in the garden because dry times can happen at any time of the year, not just summer.
Saving water in the garden could be anything from mulching to using drip irrigation and creating wicking beds.
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The whole idea is to make water last longer in your garden, whether it is from rain or using garden hoses.
Tip: Make sure your soil can absorb a lot water.

Check if it is water repellant (hydrophobic).
 
Add a lot of organic matter to improve the water holding capacity.
 If you're using dripper hoses, cover them with mulch so the eater doesn't evaporate rapidly.
But did you know that ollas have been used to irrigate gardens for thousands of years?
You might be now thinking what are ollas exactly?
Let’s find out.
I’ve am talking with Margaret Mossakowska sustainability educator at moss house of 
www.mosshouse.com.au
Ollas reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation, especially in hot dry climates.
The tip is, ollas are buried in the soil before you do your planting.
When planning your garden, know that water leaving the olla is approximately equal to the radius of the olla.
If you have a particularly large garden, you will need a larger olla or several small ollas spaced evenly.
If you have questions or have information to share, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write to 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

Real World Gardener Crop Rotation with the Veggie Lady

September 18th, 2020

 CROP ROTATION with The Veggie Lady

You may have heard of crop rotation but perhaps relegated it to the basket where moon planting and biodynamics reside.
But did you know that crop rotation isn’t something that gardeners should scoff at because of it’s importance in the life-cycle of plants and insects.

Crop-rotation.jpg

In fact it’s a really important strategy that organic gardeners use. 
Let’s find out.. 
I'm talking withToni Salter the veggie lady of www.theveggielady.com 
Toni only changes crops once every 12 months but uses a 4 bed rotation system. Changeover is usually spring.

Group 4 groups together so you're planting the same thing in the same place only every 4 years.
You can do it based on the plants families.
Toni likes to put it into whether it's a leaf crop, a flowering crop or a root crop.
  • This system divides per type of vegetable
Root crops-onions and garlic.
Leaf  and legumes together-leeks and spring onions, brassicas,
Flowering crops are split further into two beds
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Bed 1 is tomato, capscium and chilli plants
Bed 2-cucumbers, zucchini, pumpkin and corn
Bed 3 root crops-carrots, parsnips, beetroot, onions and garlic
Bed 4 leafy crops-beans, lettuces.
  • Start with a 4 bed rotation.
  • That means you’re only planting the same thing in the same place every four years. 
  • So you will be growing four different types of crops in each garden bed. 
  • Toni divides it into leaf and legumes in one bed, then, flowering crops are split into two beds-tomato family in one, and all the rest into the other. 
  • Finally root crops like carrots, beetroots, onions and garlic. 

If you have questions for Toni about crop rotation or have information to share, drop us a line to realworldgardener@gmail.com or write 

PO 2rrr PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675

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