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.

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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 2 on Real World Gardener

October 5th, 2021

Therapeutic Horticulture part 2

The next part of my interview with specialist Cath Manuel,  is more about how anyone interested in this field can get started plus the actual benefits for participants.

  • Cath was asked what kind of activities she creates or devises?  
Cath uses basic gardening skills and/or tasks but the activity is very much person centred. 
For example, someone with  low confidence and low self-esteem who is unable to participate in a community garden, perhaps on the NDIS then simple tasks such as sowing seeds, simple propagating, growing crops and fruit, watering.
  • Corporate sponsorship for organisations is very important because it can provide materials such as plants, gloves, potting mix, and other garden related products.

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    photo M Cannon
Observations
Cath has seen a lot of successes over the years, one she mentions in particular is when she works with the 'Memory Support Unit' for dementia patients.
Patients within a few minutes of being in the garden, are suddenly transported to being the gardener they once were. They are happier, often start talking to others and communicating better.

Training-How to Get Started

There are two programs, one for individuals and one for those wishing to train in therapeutic horticulture.
Support is provided by Cath Manuel
 
Let’s find out more
I'm talking with Cath Manuel, Therapeutic Horticulture Specialist . Listen to the podcast.

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

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.
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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

Success with Coriander in the Kitchen Garden

September 18th, 2021

 THE KITCHEN GARDEN

SUCCESS WITH CORIANDER

Scientific name: Coriandrum sativum
I mentioned before that certain herbs that look alike and again I find myself talking about another herb that confuses people.
 
Australians refer to the seeds and leaf as coriander but in the northern hemisphere, the leaf is sometimes known as 'cilantro.'
Coriander is one of those herbs that people either love it or hate it.
Do you love it?
 
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Coriander leaves

Coriander is easy enough to grow but being in the carrot family,(Apiaceae) its green leafy tops can look not only like other herbs, but other vegetables!

  • My guest, Toni Salter in the podcast, calls it the 'primadonna' of herbs. 
There are many things it doesn't like and without a second glance, coriander will bolt to seed giving you not much leaf at all.
What causes it to bolt to seed?
  • Soil is too dry
  • Too little water at the right time.
  • Poor or impoverished soil.
  • Poor drainage in your herb garden.
  • Temperatures too warm for it's liking.
  • Temperatures too cold for it's liking
  • Transplanting-the worst sin.
Problems with germination?
Try soaking the seeds for a few hours in a shallow saucer of water.
  • TIP: Always sow the seeds directly into the position where it will grow.
Sow it into a container if you like, but keep it there.
Coriander loves rich fertile soil, much like your vegetables.
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Coriander seedlings

When to Sow in Australia

For sub-tropical and arid zones, you have August to September;
Temperate districts, sow the seeds from September until the end of November,
In cool temperate zones, October to November,

  • Sow your seeds about 1 cm deep, cover them and keep them moist.

Whether or not you sow them in rows, scatter them amongst your other veggies, or use them to grow as a shade plant for your lettuce, it really doesn’t matter.

Companion planting: plant coriander near your spinach to confuse the grasshoppers.
Let one or two plants go to seed. The flowers attract beneficial insects after which the coriander seeds can be harvested to use in cooking, once the seeds turn brown and crispy.
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Coriander seeds drying on plant
A must if you like Asian cooking and even though coriander looks like parsley, as soon as you smell it, you know what you’ve got.
 

Heaps of Coriander seeds are used in curries, tagines and many other Asian dishes.
In fact the whole herb, including the roots can be ground up to make a Thai Green Curry paste.

Let’s find out more
I'm talking with Toni Salter www.theveggielady.com.au
PLAY: Success with Coriander_8th September 2021

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

 

Winter Savoryvs Thyme in Spice it Up

September 18th, 2021

 SPICE IT UP   

 SAVORY VS THYME

Often there’s a couple of herbs that look alike and even have similar flavour profiles.

If you had them growing together in the herb garden, you may even confuse the two because of how closely they look to each other.

Thyme is the better known herb in Australia, which from the 1950's was commonly used in soups, stews, scones and casseroles.
For some reason, savory is not very well known in Australia, but it’s commonly used America and England.
In England, and America, it's quite popular and in the US, winter savory is a key ingredient in the stuffing for the 'Thanksgiving Turkey.'
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If you rubbed both herbs without knowing which was which, you would most likely think they both were the same herb.

  • Winter savory, unlike thyme, is not sold as a cut herb in the produce aisle of your supermarket.
  • Confusingly there is a 'summer savory' which tends to die off in winter and usually not come back.

Looking after both herbs

With their tiny leaves, both herbs are adapted to the dry regions of the mediterranean. 
Both herbs are in the mint (Lamiaceae) family, but unlike mint, don't  feel you need to give either thyme or winter savory heaps of water with the exception of the hottest days in Australia's summers.
  • I've never seen the seeds of savory being sold however if you have a pot of winter savory that's overgrown and become leggy, follow these tips to refresh it.
  • Dividing the roots  in spring, will rejuvenate the plant.
  • Start off by trimming about a third of any wrapped or circling roots.
  • Divide the root ball into thirds or quarters, making sure that each section has a healthy piece of root and stems with green leaves attached.
  • Remove one-third of the top growth, and trim away any dead or damaged stems and leaves.
  • Re-pot into new containers and gift some to your friends.

But can you substitute one for the other?

Thyme has the volatile oil: thymol which is a strong natural antiseptic.  
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Wild thyme growing amongst a rocky outcrop

You only need to use a small amount to get the flavour, and is a key ingredient in mixed herbs.

  • Did you know there are over 100 varieties of thyme?
  • The wild thyme of Provence is known for its strength of flavour. Think 'herbs de Provence' is a blend with this wild thyme.
The answer is yes, both herbs are interchangeable, but savoury is less pungent than thyme.
  • You will find winter savory, Satureja (sat-you-rea) montana, as a plant sold in most garden centres.
  • So time to get some of your own.

Let’s find out more by listening to the podcast.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from www.herbies.com.au

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
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
 
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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 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?
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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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