Saturday, 18 November 2017

Spring Cleaning Along That Great Garden Path Where You Grow Waratahs

What’s On The Show Today?

Spring cleaning made easy in Tool Time, how hot can you go in Vegetable Heroes; walking down the best path in Design Elements and NSW's emblem  in Talking Flowers.


High Reach Cleaning Made Easy
Do you Spring clean or have you put that task off for a little while?
You might think cleaning is a bit of a stretch for a gardening show, but the house is in the garden and it needs to be clean too.

Not to mention garden furniture and ornaments that could probably do with a clean.
You might be temped to get up on a chair or a ladder, but why become another statistic of falls in the home or garden?
Let's face it our reflexes may not be as good as they used to be?
Getting up on ladders to prune is bad enough but for cleaning it’s even worse, because you tend to wave your arms about a bit more vigorously
Let’s find out how to do it safely.…. 
I'm talking withTony Mattson from

The safest way to clean up high is to use a lightweight extension pole with your feet planted firmly on the ground.
Look for lightweight aluminium extension poles that extend from 2-6m, costing around $100.
This should reach the eaves on a two-storey house if the house is on level ground.
Taller than that you need a carbon fibre pole which is around $AUS400
Something to remember
If you are using a ladder you should always have 3 points of contact at any one time. 
Shoulders should be near the top of an extension ladder, but no higher.
If you’re carrying something then you’re in trouble.

If you have any questions about high reach cleaning either for me or Tony, why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


CHILLI - Chilli peppers or Capsicum annuum or C chinese. 

They come as red, green, orange or almost the brown colour of chocolate.
They can be pointy, round, small, club-like, long, thin, globular or tapered.

Their skins may be shiny, smooth or wrinkled and their walls may be thick or thin.

You guessed it - chillies!”

Have you ever witnessed someone, perhaps a fellow diner at a restaurant, gulping lots of water or waving their hand in front of their mouth because their mouth feels like it’s on fire?

Maybe you were that diner at an Indian restaurant.

Want to know the best way to get rid of the burning sensation?
The heat in chillies comes from the compound “capsaicin.

Capsaicin is hydrophobic, meaning it doesn't dissolve in water but readily dissolves in fats and oils. 
And this explains why, something with a lot of fat in it - like yogurt or milk - is going to dissolve the compound and wash it away, and not water. 

Ian Hemphill from Herbies Spices, recommends a spoonful of sugar to take the heat away. 

The chilli pepper comes from a pod-like berry of various species of the capsicum family found in Latin America.

Did you know that there are over 2000 different varieties of chillies most of which have some degree of pungency, hotness or fieriness.

TIP:The colour of chillies is no guide to their hotness 

All chillies begin life green and turn yellow or red as they ripen.

As a rule red fresh fruit are two or three times hotter than green fruit, and dried pods are up to ten times hotter than fresh pods.

Generally, the smaller chillies are the most pungent or hotter giving you the most burning sensation. 

Did you know that most of the heat is in the seeds and the membrane, so if it's your first time trying chillies, or you don't like too much heat, get rid of this part.
Soaking a chilli in vinegar also dilutes this effect.
If you then throw out the first lot of vinegar and soak the chillies again, you’ll further reduces the heat.
But wouldn’t you just use a milder chilli?

Now the burning question, how is hotness of the chilli measures. 

  • The unit of hotness is the SHU or Scoville Hotness Scale. 
  • Wilbur Scoville was an American chemist who devised a test based on repetitively diluting an extract of the pepper with sugar water until the heat was no longer detected. 
  • By the way, now testing is more carried out using accurate laboratory equipment, like a chromatograph, and equating 15 parts per million (PPM) of capsaicin with an increase of 1 on the Scoville scale. 
  • The heat comes from that same chemical compound called capsaicin which I’ve mentioned already,(the active ingredient in chillies), this intensifies as the chilli matures.. 
  • There is a theory that the heat in chillies caused by capsaicin was an adaptation to prevent animals from eating chillies so that birds, which are a better distributors for their seeds, can eat them. Birds don’t feel the heat of the chilli. 
How to Grow and When to Sow your chillies. 

Sowing chilli seeds can be done throughout the year in Tropical and sub-Tropical climates. Lucky guys.
Being a warm season plant the season is shorter in temperate climates only fruiting over the summer months and dying back in winter.
They’re totally not suitable in areas where frosts occur.
Perhaps try them in a pot and place it a very warm verandah because warm conditions over a five-month growing period are necessary for any good quality fruit.
Chillies need soil temperature of 15–30°C to germinate so if you’re in a cool temperate or even a temperate climate, start off your chilli seeds in a punnet or tray or pot using seed raising mix.
Chillies need a slightly warmer temperatures than tomatoes or cucumbers. For the best chillies in your town or suburb, temperatures for fruit setting are between 16°C and 21°C.
For good fruit development, night temperatures of 15–17°C and day temperatures of 24–30°C are best.
Make sure your Chilli plants are in a position that receives a good amount of light.
But chilli seeds can be tricky to germinate taking anything from 1 to 6 weeks so don’t give up.
To grow chillies well, add lots of high nitrogenous matter, like Nasturtium or comfrey leaves to the soil as well as compost and manures, so you won’t have to fertilise with chemical fertilisers.
There’s no special soil or potting mix that they need, just start to add a side dressing of fertilise when you see the flowers develop and don’t let them dry out too.

Protect your chilli plants from wind by tying them to supporting stakes.
There’s quite a few pests that like chilli plants like aphids and spider mites. Spraying with a horticultural or preferable a botanic oil to suffocate them, is the best solution.

The most common species of chilli peppers are: 

Capsicum annuum (common varieties such as bell peppers, paprika, rating of 2 out of 10,
jalapeƱos rating of 6)
Capsicum frutescens (includes cayenne and tabasco peppers having a rating of 8-9)
Capsicum chinense (includes the hottest peppers such as habaneros having a 10 out of 10 on the heat scale.
Capsicum pubescens (includes the Thai chilli with a rating of 9)
Capsicum baccatum (includes the South American aji peppers).

If you really like your chilli peppers and want to get the most heat out of your home grown plants, then you’ll need to start a worm farm and apply worm tea
or worm juice to your chillies. 
That’s according to Mark Peacock, a plant scientist from the University of Sydney, who in 2011 helped to cultivate the world's hottest chilli, the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T. 
Like all fertilisers, 'worm juice' is rich in nutrients like phosphorous and nitrogen, but what makes it particularly effective for bringing out the heat in chillies are the bodies of insects that have decomposed in the worm farm.
The insects in there are living and dying pretty rapidly, and bits of their shell will break down.
When you apply the juice to the plants' roots, the chilli plant responds as if it’s getting eaten by insects."
This in turn makes the plant produce more of their defensive compounds like capsaicin.

Why are they good for you? 

Don't include too many chillies in your diet if you're interested in: Weight gain.
Chillies contain more vitamin C than citrus fruits.
Also when you cook with chilli, it only loses one third of its vitamin C content so you don’t have to worry about eating them raw!
Chillies are also thought to help buffer pain from arthritis, and headaches
Chillies are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Copper, Manganese, Dietary Fibre, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate, Iron, Magnesium and Phosphorus.

One Chilli divided into a dinner for four doesn’t cut it though but you’ll get a small proportion.
Capsaicin in chillies will cause an unpleasant burning sensation to eyes and skin. Try to avoid handling them too much, wear gloves if possible, and be sure not to touch your face or eyes during preparation.
So happy chilli growing gardeners.

Creating a Great Garden Path

You probably do have a garden path, in but does that path work for you?
Is your path so dominant that you end up having a path with a garden rather than a garden with a path?
Perhaps your garden path doesn’t dominate but it just doesn’t work for one reason or another.
So what do you do?
Let’s find out. 
I'm talking with Peter Nixon, principle of Paradisus Garden Design

Peter mentioned a few variations on the garden path. 
Salt textured concrete is the favourite.
You can press large leaves into the concrete before it's completely dry and weigh the leaf down with a brick overnight.
The next day, peel off the leaf and you'll be left with an impression; not one that jumps out at you, but a subtle impression that you need to be almost on top of before you realise how marvellous the path really looks.
  If you want to know more or if you have any questions about garden paths, why not write in to


Telopea speciosissima

What does the botanical name mean?

Speciosissima is the superlative of the Latin adjective 'speciosus', meaning 'beautiful' or 'handsome'. Telopea means seen from afar.

Waratah (Telopea) is an Australian-endemic genus of five species of large shrubs or small trees, native to the southeastern parts of Australia (New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania). 
The one we see walking in the bush is the red flowering version and is also the NSW state emblem.
Grows to 3m tall. 
Can be tricky to keep alive in the garden.
If you've tried to grow a Waratah, make sure it has great drainage.

Dreamings about the Waratah focus upon the tragic consequences of lost love. 
Two Wonga pigeons live together in a rich, lush forest. One day the female bird notices her mate is no longer by her side, so she searches for him, calling out for him. She cannot find him, so in a panic she flies above the canopy of the forest where a hungry and ever-vigilant hawk sees her and, swooping down, grabs her and clutches her in his sharp talons. She manages to wriggle free and plummets down, finally falling onto a white Waratah blossom, her blood staining its petals to red. From then on, Waratahs are generally red; it is very rare to find one that is white.

I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini of

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Cinderella Pumpkin Plus Lavender Cakes and Carnations

What’s On The Show Today?
Choose the right cultivar for your cooking in Spice it Up, Cinderella will thank you for growing this one in Vegetable Heroes We’re talking touchy feely plants in design elements and a flower that royalty in Talking Flowers


Lavender in Cooking
Lavendula angustifolia
Lavender was first used in Herbs du Provence which is dried herbs used in slow cooked dishes. 
But the correct lavender to use in any cooking is important if you want the flavour to be pleasant and not reminiscent of camphor.
Lavandula angustifolia and Lavandula spica or the ones to use.
English Lavender
Commonly called English Lavender.
But did you know that so much of this plant is grown in France that they called it French Lavender rather than English Lavender.
The true French lavender is Lavandula dentata, which has serrated leaf margins and much larger almost woollier flowers. French lavender seems to flower for most of the year.
This one has a high camphor content which is unpleasant to taste. 
Lavandula angustifolia or English lavender has smooth sided leaves and a very slender flower and a long stalk.
Confusing if you want to use the correct plant’s flowers in cooking.
Let’s find out  more about Lavender in cooking.
I'm talking with Ian Hemphill from

For the lemon and Lavender cakes recipe go to this link Lavender and Lemon Cakes
Remember:The  Lavender we should use in cooking is English lavender or Lavandula angustifolia, has a smooth leaf and the flower head is on a skinny long stem.
Ian mentioned how Lavender bottles, a lost art. Just search the web on making instructions...there are plenty.
If you have any questions about which Lavender to use in cooking then why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675.


Pumpkins (Cucurbita spp.) (could be Cucurbita pepo, or Cucurbita maxima and so on) are members of the Cucurbitaceae family along with zucchini, gourd, squash, melons and cucumber.

Pumpkins are a little different from the other members of the Cucurbit family because Pumpkins are normally hard-shelled whereas the squashes have softer skin, but there are exceptions.

The name “pumpkin” originated from the Greek word, “pepon,” which means, “large melon

Did you know that technically pumpkin is a fruit, and has been in cultivation for more than 5,000 years?

So where did Cinderalla’s pumpkin come from?

In some countries you can get a pumpkin variety called Rouge Vie d' Etampes". roughly translated "Red Life of the Times which turn a deep red when they’re ready to eat.
Supposedly the illustrator for the Cinderella Fairytale used this variety of pumpkin for Cinderella's coach, so that today this pumpkin is better known as a "Cinderella".
They look just like the pumpkin that Cinderella's fairy godmother transformed into a carriage.

Pumpkin is considered an annual, and comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colours and patterns.

Pumpkins can weigh anywhere from 1–600kg. The largest pumpkin on record was grown in the USA, weighing 667kg.

Honestly, for those of us who have a compost heap, one of the most often things to grow out of the heap other than tomatoes, is the pumpkin.

Usually a Butternut or Queensland Blue.

Just as well that Pumpkins like compost heaps because the vines need fertile, compost-rich, well-drained soil in full sun, and are most easily grown as ground-cover plants.

There is a bush variety called Golden Nugget, that can be grown in a pot but all the rest grow way too big for pots.

Vines can be trained over frames provided they can support the weight of the heavy fruit.

When to sow:

Start early, with your pumpkin seed planting, because, before you know it, summer is here and you’ve run out of time to grow it to maturity.

In temperate zones, plant your pumpkin seeds from September until the end of December. Arid zones have from September until February, sub-tropical regions have between August and February, Cool temperate districts have between October and December, and in Tropical areas you can grow them all year round.

Growing Pumpkins 
Pumpkin seed needs a soil temperature of 20˚C for germination.
You can either sow them individually in 10cm pots and plant them out when the pots are filled with roots. 

Here’s a tip you’ve probably never heard of before.

Use Jiffy pots or pellets to limit the symptoms of transplant shock

Plant the seed with pointy end down, as this is where the roots start growing. This is not an issue when planting in the garden, but in small pots it becomes more important.

Or, sow seed or plant seedlings into mounds of rich compost, with lots and lots of chook poo, made over loosened soil.

The seeds are large so sow them about 2 cm deep.

Make sure you acclimatise your seedlings slowly to outdoor conditions before transplanting
Plants take 70–120 days to mature. That’s 10 -17 weeks or 2-4 months!

TIP: Pumpkins are shallow-rooted so they need regular watering in dry or windy weather.

It’s no good watering every other day in warm weather because your pumpkin will end up splitting.

Pinch out growing tips of those rambling stems to keep the plants in check, otherwise they may take over you whole backyard!

When I worked at Yates, getting those pumpkins to fertilise was the bane of quite a number of people’s veggie growing.

The complaint was lots of leaves and few flowers or that the embryo fruits and flowers fall off.

In fact, after Des wrote in that his pumpkin vine only had male flowers, I decided to include information about the flowers and fertilisation.

PUMPKIN FLOWERS and Fertilisation

  • Pumpkins produce short-lived male and female flowers that can close by mid-morning. Female flowers open above the swollen, distinctive embryo fruit and male flowers produce pollen. 
  • If the embryo fruit falls off, that usually means it didn’t get pollinated. 
  • Native and honey bees are normally able to complete pollination, but sometimes ants harvest pollen before this occurs. 
  • High temperatures can affect fruit formation over 30˚C, and here you may need to try hand pollination to improve fruit set. 
  • To hand pollinate, pick male flowers, remove the petals then dab pollen on the stigma of female flowers. 
  • Squeezing female flowers aids pollination in wet weather. 
  • Remember,, sometimes female flowers take two weeks or longer before they start appearing. 
  • This is because the pumpkin vine has to grow to a decent size where it can support fruit, before the female flowers appear. 
Jarrahdale Pumpking
Varieties of Pumpkin to Try:
There are as many different varieties of pumpkins as there are of tomatoes, except you can’t get the Cinderella pumpkin in Australia.
Golden Nugget is best for small gardens, for a medium sized pumpkin, try Hybrid Grey Crown or Queensland Blue.
Turk’s Turban is an exotic-looking pumpkin (although its flavour is a little dry).
You might prefer the stronger taste of Jarrahdale, from Western Australia.

For those who like something unusual, why not try Pumpkin Marina di Chioggia, with its thick knobbly grey-blue skin, and a rich deep yellow-orange inside. This one takes 100 days to maturity but keeps well. 

Pumpkin Galeux Deysines is another unusual pumpkin with whitish salmon-pink skin covered with peanut shell like warts. These warts are caused by the sugar in the skin as it ripens.
Don’t be put off by that, because the orange inside flesh, is sweet, and moist.

Harvesting and storing

Your pumpkin is ready to pick when it’s finished swelling which is when the vine is dying off, and they sound hollow when you tap on the shell.
This is when you remove them with as much of the stalk as possible.
Ripe pumpkins with unbroken skin store very well if kept in a cool, dry, well-ventilated space.
For the seed savers out there, seed can be saved one month after harvesting them.
Scoop seed from the flesh, wash, dry and store in a cool, dry spot away from sunlight.
To ensure seed-grown progeny comes true, save seed from one variety grown in isolation.

Why are they good for you?

The bright orange colour of pumpkin is a dead giveaway that pumpkin is loaded with the antioxidant, beta-carotene.
Beta-carotene is one of the plant carotenoids converted to vitamin A in the body.
They’re also a good source of vitamin C, with Queensland Blue coming top of the pumpkin class for this vitamin.
Pumpkins are a source of dietary fibre and supply (especially Golden nugget and Butternut) a good source of potassium.
One cup of cooked pumpkin has 2 g of protein, 3 g of dietary fibre.
Pumpkins are 90% water and a great for those watching their waistline
Why not make mashed pumpkin instead of mashed potato because Pumpkins don’t have a lot of carbs- just 12 g from 1 cup, but some of it is present as natural sugars, which is why they taste sweet.
Like Zucchini flowers, pumpkin flowers are also edible.



Creating Tactile and Sensory Gardens

For those gardens with just green leaves you need to zhoosh up the place with some touchy feely leaves.
So that when you walk along the garden path, you can brush your hand along the leaves of the plants for a nice intoxicating scent of just for the feel of the leaf;peculiar, sensational or otherwise.
But what else are gardens for?
Chelsea Flower Show photo M Cannon
Let’s find out. I'm talking with Peter Nixon, principle of Paradisus Garden Design

Peter mentioned these two mostly
Sinningia bullata is like a fibrous bowling ball.
Kalanchoe beharensis-(pictured right) Madagascar felt plant has contorted silver grey leaves that looks wicked.

The best place to get these succulents is at African Violet societies for the sinningia and Succulent societies for the Kalanchoe beharensis.

Let’s not forget the textured aromatic leaves of Pelargoniums.


There are a lot of meanings for the carnation flower and each one varies with the different colours.
The scientific name of the carnation is Dianthus caryophyllus.
This translated means the "flower of love" or "flower of the gods" and one of the oldest cultivated flowers in the world.
The carnation dates back to the Roman era.
Carnations take up food dye very well so that the green carnations you see people wearing on St Patrick's Day is dyed that colour.
Carnations are easily grown in the home garden preferring limey  or alkaline soil.
Home grown carnations have a stronger scent than those grown in greenhouses.

All the more reason to grow your own.
I'm talking with floral therapist Mercedes Sarmini of Flowers by Mercedes

Recorded on Facebook during broadcast of Real World Gardener on 1st November 2017

Saturday, 4 November 2017

Birds of Paradise, Therapy and Biodynamics

What's On The Show Today.
 A new segment called Backyard Biodynamics and what is it? Something to help you relax in Vegetable Heroes: speaking of relaxing We’re talking Therapeutic gardens in design elements and a  flower that signifies beauty and strength in Talking Flowers.


Introduction to Biodynamic Gardening.
Most of us have seen products like cheeses, wines, bread, flour, and many grains like lentils that are labelled biodynamic.
Jurlique Farm in Adelaide is a Biodynamic Farm
Biodynamic farms are all over Australia and have been here for nearly 100 years.
Like many people, you probably thought that it was just another way of saying organic, but even though it has organic principles it’s a different method of gardening or farming.
So, what does that mean exactly?
Let’s find out all about biodyamics for your garden.
I'm talking with Dianne Watkins, Principle of Biodynamics Sydney and she tells me, a keen gardener too.

According to Wikipedia the definition for Biodynamic agriculture is a that it’s a form of alternative agriculture very similar to organic farming, but it includes various esoteric concepts drawn from the ideas of Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925).
Initially developed in 1924, it was the first of the organic agriculture movements.
It treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks, emphasizing spiritual and mystical perspectives.
Dianne mention a couple of preparations; BD500 uses a meatball sized preparation which is mixed in 100 litres of water. Too much for the small garden but good for parks, community gardens and a neighbourhood gardens if you can get people to share.

For home gardeners the best solution is the Soil Activator, which is also mixed with water and flicked all over the garden.

If you have any questions about Biodynamic gardening then why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Growing Herb Valerian 
Valeriana officinalis

Some say the whole plant, except for the flower, has an unpleasant smelly sock odour. 
But then why were Valerian flower extracts were used as a perfume in the sixteenth century?

Did you know that, the smell was considered bad enough for the early Greeks to have named it Phu (Phew!).
Then again Valerian roots were used as a moth repellent in stored clothing during the Middle Ages.
Personally I don’t find it that unpleasant and think that the root or rhizome of the plant is what’s got that smelly odour.
If you’ve got a feline companion that likes the smell of the Catnip plant, then they’ll also like the smell of Valerian.
Cats apparently find the smell of dirty socks intoxicating, so if you are the crafty type and want to please your feline, make an herbal pillow out of Valerian, and your cat will provide you with hours of entertainment! 
So What Does it Look Like?

Valeriana officinalis, is a tall perennial that grows to about 1.5 metres and ,  has clusters of (usually) white flowers that attract butterflies and bees.

If you know that plant Cherry Pie, then you know what the flowers of Valerian look like-flattened heads that appear in Summer.
The leaves are serrated or toothed and mid-green on stems of about 30cm.

The root or rhizome is the part used in herbal medicine and that’s what has that strong smell and a fairly unpleasant taste.
You might already use Valerian to help you sleep at night so know that it has properties.

Valerian is an easy to grow plant Grow valerian in any moist, semi-shaded location. 
Valerian is a heavy nitrogen-feeder, so apply a liquid fertiliser every fortnight and add organic material to the soil.
Plants can be raised from seed planted in spring or by root division in Autumn.
If you’re growing Valerian as a medicinal herb, cut the flower stalk s as soon as they appear to direct more energy to the root
You dig up the roots in autumn for drying.
By taking off the flowers as soon as they appear will give you a larger mass of roots to use.
If you’re growing valerian as an ornamental, let the plant flower, as the flowers have a sweet, cherry pie fragrance, a trademark of the Heliotrope family.
If you’re growing Valerian by seed, I should point out that the germination rate is poor.
It has to be fresh seed and only press the seed onto the surface because they’re so fine.
Valerian can be grown anywhere in Australia and the seedlings are frost but not drought hardy.
You can also grow Valerian in a largish pot but keep up the watering because it grows quite tall.
I’ve never had Valerian self seeding in my garden-but mines growing in a pot and probably needs to be planted out.
Using Valerian.
 When taken in the proper dosage, Valerian can induce restful sleep without grogginess the next morning, unlike prescription drugs.
Valerian root is the part of the plant that is used for medicinal purposes.  After you’ve dug up your Valerian roots- wash, them quickly dry at 1200C degrees in the oven until brittle.
Keep an eye on this so you don't burn the roots. 
If you store the Valerian roots in an airtight container, the roots will keep indefinitely.
Valerian root has traditionally been used as a sedative and it is an ingredient in many medicines used for this purpose.
Fresh or dried valerian root can be used to make a calming tea, though most people find that it is necessary to add honey or other herbs to off-set the taste. The tea may be useful to treat insomnia, cramps and stress, but do not use for extended periods without a break, or if you are taking other sleep-inducing medications.
Ground valerian root can also be used to make a soothing bath.
The mineral rich leaves are a good additive to your compost and a spray made from the root is which is then sprayed onto the ground is supposed to attract earthworms.
Valerian is often used as a companion plant, especially in the vegetable garden.
Why is it good for you?
Valerian is a central nervous system relaxer, and has been used as a calming sleep aid for over 1,000 years. 
Commercially the root can be distilled into oils and ointments, or dried and used in teas or capsules.


What Makes An Therapeutic Garden?

Are you a relaxed gardener?
By that I mean, do you go out in the garden to take a break or are you always out there thinking of what needs to be done, what needs to be raked, mulched, weeded or pruned, even planted.
But what else are gardens for?
Therapeutic Garden Chelsea Flower Show 2013
Some gardens like this one in the photograph are designed to specifically show what it's like to have decreasing vision as experienced with macular degeneration.

Let’s find out what we could be doing instead in our gardens.

That was Peter Nixon, principle of Paradisus Garden Design.
Most gardeners would prefer to be busy in the garden, rather than think about how doing the weeding and growing plants affects the mind.
Have you ever noticed though that when you’re doing these tasks, you often forget about any worries that you’ve had? 

The background noise falls away and you can escape from other people's thoughts and judgments, so that within a garden there is, perhaps, more freedom to feel good about yourself.
It helps if you have a nice relaxing space in which you can sit, relax, contemplate or meditate.
Seating is so important in a therapeutic garden because it also lower you sight level and how you perceive your garden.


Bird of Paradise
Strelizia reginae
Native to South Africa but naturalised in other parts of the world such as Madagascar and Mexico.
The scientific name comes from Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.
She was married to King George III when the flower was first imported into Great Britain, so the royal gardener named it after her.It’s also more commonly called the crane flower in its native home.

Fun Fact
They are pollinated by sunbirds, which use the spathe as a perch when visiting the flowers. 
The weight of the bird when standing on the spathe opens it to release the pollen onto the bird's feet, which is then deposited on the next flower it visits.
Strelitzia lack natural insect pollinators in areas without sunbirds.
You can try to hand pollinate in order to try and get the plant to set seed.
This has proved largely unsuccessful and better methods of propagation is to try and prize a section of the leaf and rhizome for transplanting.
The plant as a whole does not successfully transplant either.
I'm talking with flower therapist Mercedes Sarmini.

Recorded live during Real World Gardener show, in the studios of 2rrr Sydney

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Grow the Flowers, Cut the Flowers

What’s On The Show Today?

Do we really need floristry tools in Tool Time? Not all beans are the same in Vegetable Heroes: Pincushions are go in Plant of the week, a flower that signifies beauty and strength in Talking Flowers.


Floristry Tools for the Home Gardener.
Do you love cutting flowers from your garden to bring inside?
Sure, why not especially if you have a flower garden.

But wait, are secateurs what we’re supposed to use to cut these flowers or is there something better?
Let’s find out all about which tools you could be using for your cut flowers….
I'm talking with Tony Mattson, general manager of

When it comes to florist cutting tools, there are a number of different tools for different jobs. 
Scissors are good for occasionally cutting flowers, but if you've got a few then you'll be better off with Snips.
Silver series 90mm snips from Cut Above Tools
Snips are good because you're only using your hand to close the snips onto the flower stem.
The spring in the snips returns them to the open position so you're not straining your hand as much.
Usually the blades of good quality snips are stronger than scissors too so your'e less likely to put them out of alignment if the stem is a little bit tougher than you expected.
Don't forget the role of secateurs in cutting those harder stems of Proteas, Waratahs, Camellias and Viburnums.
Using the right tool for the job is crucial to getting high quality arrangements.
The quality of these tools determines how much of the stem is left on your flower, how many thorns are left on a rose, and how neat your final packaging is cut.
If you have any questions about floristry tools, then why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


BEAN or Phaseolus vulgaris which is latin for the Common Bean.

Do you love your beans?
Did you know that beans have been an important part of the human diet for thousands of years?
Beans have been eaten by people for so long that they have worked their way in to everyday expressions.

Have you said
“He’s full of beans when you’re describing somebody with a lot of energy?”
Perhaps you wanted someone to spill the beans –tell you a secret or the truth?

Bean pods can be green, yellow, purple, or speckled with red; they can be flat, round and a yard long.

Beans are what’s called a legume in the Faboidea or the pea family.
Beans Make Their Own Nitrogen!

Growing beans is pretty easy and I would say essential in a veggie garden because beans, as well as other legumes, have nitrogen fixing nodules on their roots.
Yep, that’s right, the roots make nitrogen out of the air and deposit it into the soil.
Lightning storms are even better for that reason because they convert nitrogen into ammonium ions.
Bean varieties originated from different places or countries.

Green bean originated from Central and East Asia, North-eastern Africa and the Mediterranean.
Would you believe that beans are supposed to have been grown in ancient Peru from around 500 B.C?

Bean varieties such as green beans, French bean and long bean have been planted for their fruits or pods for vegetables in many regions in the world since 6,000 years ago

When to Sow Beans
  • Beans, either climbing or Dwarf Beans, are sometimes called Green beans are also called string beans and snap beans. 
  • To grow beans you need up to four months of warm weather. 
  • In subtropical climates beans can be grown almost all year. 
  • For temperate and arid zones, mid-spring through to late summer are the best times to plant. 
  • In colder districts, beans, don’t like the cold at all and they certainly don’t like frost. You have until the end of summer, certainly you wouldn’t be expecting any cold snaps now. 
  • Tropical districts, once again, need to wait until the winter months to sow beans.
String beans
  • Beans are best planted at soil temperatures between 16°C and 30°C so planting them from now on is ideal. 
  • Sow your bean seeds about 2.5cm deep or depending on the size of the bean I guess. 
  • Sow your beans, either climbing or dwarf beans either in rows or just scatter so the seed are 5-10cm apart (don't worry about the odd ones which are closer). 
  • Cover with soil, potting mix, or compost and firm down with the back of a spade or rake. 
  • Grown this way the beans will mostly shade out competing weeds and 'self-mulch'. 

An important fact about growing beans is that they need well-drained soils with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0 and are sensitive to deficiencies or high levels of minerals in the soil-especially climbing beans.

So make sure you spread some chook poo or cow manure before sowing your bean seeds.

TIP: When growing green beans, keep the soil moist.

A good rule of thumb is to put a finger in the dirt and if the dirt is dry up to the first knuckle, then it needs about an inch of water.

Keep your beans watered and watch for vegetable bugs and green caterpillars
Pods won’t set at temperatures above 27° C.
Why are my dwarf beans climbing? 
This is a question I get asked often.
  • The answer is like all vegies, beans need a sunny spot and dwarf varieties grow taller than expected due to environmental factors 
  • In fact, dwarf beans can have a peculiar reaction to insufficient sunlight: they can start to turn into climbers. 
  • That's because all beans were originally climbers and given half a chance, dwarf beans will head skywards, especially if they don’t think they’re getting enough sunlight. 
  • Another possible reason is that your soil is just too good and contains heaps of nitrogen which makes plants put on lots of vegetative growth. 
  • Just nip out the top growing point to begin with, at the height you would like your beans to be. 
Erect a sturdy trellis for your bean plants.
Fertilising Your Beans
Beans make their own Nitrogen so don’t use fertilisers that are high in this particular macro nutrient.
Use only those fertilisers where the N ( Nitrogen) in the NPK (Nitrogen:Phosphorus: Potassium) ratio is smaller compared to the other numbers.
This is usually somewhere on the back of packets.
For example Thrive Complete Fertiliser has a NPK ratio of 5: 7: 4 compared with say something like Cow Manure which contains about 3 percent nitrogen, 2 percent phosphorus, and 1 percent potassium (3-2-1NPK). 
TIP: Did you know that if you pick the beans as soon as they’re ready, you’ll get new flowers? 

If you neglect your bean plants and let your beans get large and stringy, flowering will slow right down and you probably won’t get any more beans from your plants.

Tip: To have beans all summer long, plant more seed as soon as the previous planting starts to flower.

Protect against snails and slugs by laying down straw or sugar cane mulch and sprinkling coffee grounds around the edge of the veggie bed.
Slugs and snails will completely destroy newly sprouted beans.
Beans do poorly in very wet or humid tropical climates because they get bacterial and fungal diseases.
Go easy on the fertiliser or you’ll get lots of leaves and no beans.
When picking your beans, pick times when your plants are dry.
Working with beans when the leaves are wet tends to spread any diseases.
When are beans ready pick I hear you ask? 
Usually in about 10-12 weeks.

TIP:Pick them when they are about as thick as a pencil, smaller if you want a better, tender taste. 
Why are they good for you? Green Beans are a good source of vitamin C and also contain calcium, magnesium, zinc and Vitamin A. But, the most important nutritional fact for beans is that they provide a major source of soluble fibre, wand we all need what that's good for.
Also is a source of folate .

Some varieties of the dwarf beans are Brown Beauty-flat pods
Dwarf Snake Beans-ready in 11 weeks.
Windsor Delight has long pods of about 15cm.
Blue Lake Climbing, long pods again but they’re round this time.
Dragons Tongue beans
Scarlet Runner Beans
Lazy Housewives Bean???



Pincushion Flower
Scabiosa columbaria hybrids
Have you ever wanted more butterflies to come into your garden?
Pincushion Flower
Well here’s a plant with plenty of nectar to get you started.
Nectar rich flowers isn’t all what butterflies need.
They need a flower that’s like a landing pad so they can have a bit of a rest while the sipping on the nectar. 
Let’s find out about this plant.
I'm talking with the plant panel: Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

Scabiosa or Pincushion flowers belong to the Honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae.
Easy to grow and spread.
As young plants they are a bit sensitive to over watering, but as mature plants, they can cope with frost and take some heat.
Pincushion flowers do best in full sun but well-drained soil is a must!
Those with heavy soils should grow these flowers in a raised bed. 
The flowers are on long stems of around 30 cm.
The foliage which is a pale green, makes a small mound around 20 cm

Jeremy recommends the Bliss Bomb series which have intense lavender blue flowers.

 You can also buy deep maroon pincushion flowers but they are harder to get.

Remember: if you try to grow them in clay soils, they won't last until the next season, preferring to grow in more free draining soils.

These plants can last for a few years in the garden before you need to replace them, much like Shasta daisies.

You can try cutting them back to increase their longevity.
The best thing is that these flowers are drought-tolerant, once they are established and will bloom from spring until the first frost.
Best of all they also make great cut flowers lasting for up to 10 days in the vase.
If you have any questions about growing Scabiosa or Pincushion flowers, why not write in to


Dendrobium or Singapore Orchid
Don't be confused because we're not talking about Australia's Dendrobium, but the ones that florists prefer.
These florists' orchids are also called Dendrobiums.
These orchids grow from a pseudobulb and are largely epiphytic or lithophytic, preferring high humidity to grow outdoors.
Keep in mind, these orchids don't like temperatures below 15 C

Native to Southeast Asia, the genus dendrobium is one of the largest of all orchid groups from the Orchidaceae family.
There are about 1,200 individual species, and they grow in a variety of climates, from hot, wet lowlands to high-altitude, colder mountains. 
Growers usually divide dendrobiums into groups based on their growing conditions.
I'm talking with flower therapist and florist Mercedes Sarmini of

Recorded live during the radio broadcast of Real World Gardener , all about Dendrobiums.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Poppies, Redbuds, and Lilies, But Also Acquaponics in the Mix

What’s On The Show Today?

What to do about pests that shred leaves in Plant Doctor, grow a stunning tree with flowers on its trunk in plant of the week, discover the world of aquaponics in the Good Earth and a flower that signifies remembrance in Talking Flowers.


Lily Caterpillar
The secret to controlling pests in the garden is to understand their life cycle, and watch for early signs of infestation so they can be stopped in their tracks before they become a problem.
The first sign of infestation this next plant pest is the skeletonising of leaves. 
In the adult stage the parent (lily moth) lays up to 100 eggs at a time on the tip of a leaf, and the growing (pest) caterpillars then work their way down to the base of the plant.
These voracious pests ( caterpillars) can destroy a clump of clivias or other lilies in record time.
Lily caterpillars are a native pest common along the east coast of Australia but can be seen in other regions. Generally a dark grey to black colour with yellow and white markings down the side.; about 5 cm long.

The adult moth is like your average brown moth with a wing span of around 5 cm and can lay up to 100 eggs at a time.
Let’s find out all about this pest.
I'm talking withSteve Falcioni, general manager of

The Lily caterpillar attacks clivea, crinums, hippeastrums, the spider lily (hymenocallis) and other plants in the lily family.
Young caterpillars skeletonise leaves while older ones can strip leaves or attack the crown of the plant. 
Very quickly plants are an ugly mess of caterpillars, droppings and collapsing plant foliage. Attacked foliage dies and leaves the plants looking very unsightly.
Lily Caterpillar, calagramma picta, pupate under mulch and then travel up the stems of many types of lilies, munching as they go - eating leaves, stems and flower buds.
Caterpillars pupate in leaf litter or the soil before emerging as adult moths to start the cycle again. There are several generations a year with the most damage noticed during the warmer months.
Look for the caterpillars on the underside as well as the tops of the leaves.
Damage caused by the lily caterpillar is severe and can result in plant death.
Plants which survive usually take a long time to recover.
If you have any questions about growing your own turmeric, then why not email us or write in to 2RRR PO Box 644 Gladesville NSW 1675


Introduction to Acquaponics.
What is it?
Put simply, Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture (raising fish) and hydroponics (the soil-less growing of plants) that grows fish and plants together in one integrated system. 
The fish waste provides an organic food source for the plants, and the plants naturally filter the water for the fish.
Start off with a fish tank, and buy your fingerlings ( baby fish) either Silver Perch or Barraminudi are a couple of excellent suggestions.
Attach plumbing to growing beds which contain a soilless medium such as Scoria, expanded clay balls ( Hydroton) even Perlite.
Each one has pros and cons for using it, for example, although Perlite is very light, it tends to wash away easily.
Water is reticulated ( circulated ) around the system so that the beds fill up with water constantly, then the water level drops as it's fed back into the fish tank.

The fish provide fish waste that feeds the plants.
The plants use this fish waste and filter out the water which is recycled back into the fish tank.
Robyn, says in here system of 5-6 growing beds, she never needs to flush out or replace the water other than to top it up due to evaporation.
There's more to it than that of course.
 Find out by listening to the podcast.
I'm talking with Robyn Rosenfeldt, editor of Pip Magazine.


Cercis chinensis " Avondale" 
Chinese Redbud.

Why this tree is so spectacular is that it has flowers not just at the end of the branches but all along the stems and trunk right down to the ground.
Masses of deep purple or deep rose-pink pea like flowers appear along the bare stems in late winter to early spring. 
The flowers are held close up and down the stem and right down to the bottom of the trunk.
A spectacular show of flowers that appear in large clusters.

Fruits are attractive bean like pot that's purple make a decorative feature in late Summer.
Flowers on the straight species are pink or milky white, and the leaves are a bit more rounded but still heart shaped.
Flowers last about 3 weeks.

Let’s find out about this plant.

I'm talking with 
the plant panel : Karen Smith, editor of Hort Journal and Jeremy Critchley, The Green Gallery wholesale nursery owner.

  • Cercis chinensis Avondale is very small for a tree being 3 x 2 metres, with spectacular flower and heart shaped leaves.
  • Does love a good water during dry spells but otherwise reasonably hardy.
  • All Cercis have a tap root so that's a no for transplanting and possibly for growing in pots too.


Poppies for Remembrance
Poppies were given the official title of Remembrance due them growing en masse in the fields where thousands of soldiers perished in WWI
Mercedes has an interesting anecdote about how you can make your dreams come true.
All you need to do is to whisper your dreams into your hand with the poppy seeds before sowing.
When the poppies grow and flower, your dreams shall come true. Let's hope.

Some of the most widely used grown types of Poppies include the Papaver somniferum ( only by licence because that's the Opium poppy), Papaver orientale, and Eschscholzia californica or Californian poppy.
I'm talking with Mercedes Sarmini from

Recorded live as the show went to air on Facebook live.