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.
 
 
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  • 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

NZ Spinach is Plant of the Week

November 6th, 2021

PLANT OF THE WEEK Number 4

Scientific Name: Tetragonia tetragoniodes

Common Name:Warrigal Greens

Family: Aizoaceae

Native Habitat: fcoastal areas, sandy shorelines or inland rivers and salt marshes

Description:A ground cover that can act like a dune stabiliser.

Height-Width: 2 x 2 m

Flowering: tiny inconsipicuous flowers Spring and Summer

Fruiting:Juicy fruit produced in clusters.

Position: Full sun or part shade.

Attributes: Dry tolerant once established.

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

 

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Warrigal greens

These greens can be a spinach substitute, and although one of the names is NZ Spinach, here in Australia, we prefer to call them Warrigal greens.

High in oxalic acid so need to be blanched for 1 minute before using raw in salads.  

  • If you’re anywhere near a sandy beach, look out for NZ spinach growing somewhere not to far from the shoreline. 
  • Yet another bush tucker plant that should be grown more.

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

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.

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