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November 2022

DOWN IN THE GARDEN: An Indoor Veggie Patch

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While it may seem a strange proposal to many of us, growing edibles as indoor plants is a great solution for those lacking an outdoor area. While a lot of time, resources and effort is currently put into ornamental houseplants, why not branch out and start growing plants indoors than not only add a green design element but are also good for your dinner plate?
Most plants need the same group of things to grow successfully and they are soil, water, food, air, light and warmth. Some may then need various forms of support, shelter and supervision. By supervision, I mean tending to your plant, giving it a prune, replant, additionalfood and water and of course, pest or disease management. Plants in their natural native environment do pretty well on their own but once we start growing them in areas they are not from, we start running into challenges that need to be addressed. When the area is outside, many plants can surprise us and adapt somewhat to their new homers and humans have become experts in breeding plants to fit into the environments we like to live in. Once you start asking plants to grow indoors, in our homes, that’s a whole new matter. The only plants that can do well are those that are used to higher humidity and low light and that usually means temperate rainforest plants and their friends. It does not include sun loving vegetables and herbs! There is no ignoring the needs of plants, they will just fail to thrive and then die but it’s not impossible to grow edibles inside, as long as you meet their needs. You can either create an environment from scratch yourself or use one of the commercial methods that are gaining popularity across the world.

Tiiun from LG is an advanced hydroponic (water growing based) system which is completely self-contained and looks like a small commercial glass walled fridge. The Tiiun (Korean for ‘to sprout’) has a weather control system that regulates temperature, light and moisture. Is there an app? You better believe it! Although this futuristic styled indoor garden can look after itself once set up for your individual plant needs, you can watch your plants grow from your smart phone and will be alerted when the unit needs the water refilled. Winning the USA 2022 Consumer Technology Association Innovation Award for design, technology and consumer benefit, the LG Tiiun will probably be brilliant for apartment living.

If you still like to get your hands somewhat dirty then ‘Kitchen Garden’ by Vegepod is for you. It’s a self-contained benchtop herb and vegetable garden that still uses soil. ‘Kitchen Garden’ has been designed to inspire home cooks, help fight the cost of living and thrive in even the most compact of dwellings. The fact that this system still uses soil as a medium and is open to the surrounding air is a plus for those looking for a closer to nature experience. Light is available via LEDs that are set within the Kitchen Garden unit.
Vegepod Director Simon explains, “No matter how much space you have, introducing a Vegepod Kitchen. Garden indoors will significantly enhance your life; your cooking repertoire and it’ll help the hip-pocket as the cost of living continues to soar. Kitchen Garden is also very user-friendly; simply fill it with the quality potting mix included in the box, plant your seeds or seedlings, water, turn on the UV spectrum LED lights and start growing your food.”
Creating one of these systems from scratch yourself is possible with a container, soil or growing medium, the right lighting and temperature and could be the answer for those wanting to grow edibles indoors for whatever reason or need. For those of us lucky enough to have an outdoor space, I have to admit, I still find the idea of growing herbs indoors as an alternative or compliment to ornamentals appealing and I’m tempted to give it a go myself.


YOUR GARDENS
Kerrie Anderson - Synergy Permaculture Central Coast, Edible Garden Trail
Typical of the older established properties of the time, when Kerrie bought her Holgate home 17 years ago it came with an established garden of mostly non edible trees and traditional garden plants. Although Kerrie didn’t know a lot about gardening to begin with, she took on intensive study of permaculture and organic techniques and since then she has been steadily implementing her own permaculture design. Creating this permaculture paradise inspired her with the realisation that this was her life’s work and lead Kerrie to ultimately share her skills with others. She now teaches these techniques as a much-respected Permaculture teacher privately and for various councils as well as at TAFE. Kerri’s garden features systems as well as plants that will interest and inspire those gardeners looking at a friendly and more sustainable way to garden and you have the opportunity to visit this brilliant working Permaculture example during the upcoming Central Coast Edible Garden Trail, 19th and 20th November.  To find out more:  https://www.facebook.com/CentralCoastEdibleGardenTrail
https://synergypermaculture.com.au

PLANT THIS WEEK
(late Spring Temperate areas) 
This week you can also plant the following: culinary herbs, beans, beetroot, blueberry, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, celery, chicory, cress, cucumber, eggplant, endive, leeks, lettuce, marrow, melons, mustard, okra, spring onions, parsnip, pumpkin, radish, rhubarb, rosella, salsify, shallots, silverbeet, squashes, sweet corn, sweet potato, tomato, zucchini, ageratum, alyssum, amaranths, aster, begonia (bedding), California poppy, coleus, cosmos, carnation, dianthus, gazania, gerbera, gypsophila, marigold, petunias, phlox, portulaca, lobelia, love-in-a-mist, lupin, nasturtium, nemesia, rudbeckia, salvia, snapdragons, sunflowers, vinca, zinnia

 

Cheralyn Darcey is a gardening author, community garden educator at swampcentralcoast.com.au and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM963, on air locally or download the app: communityradio.plus
Archived articles can be found on Cheralyn’s Blog:  www.florasphere.com Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com

 

 


DOWN IN THE GARDEN: Awesome Aquatic Plants

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Tucked in a corner of many garden centres is a section that most of us nod at as we pass, not really understanding what on earth we would do with the bunch of plants on display. It’s the Aquatic Plant section and for those of us with water features, they are not only a beautiful addition, but one that helps maintain the ecological balance of these areas of the garden. These plants help create a habitat for local wildlife like frogs and beneficial insects while keeping the water clean. Based on the way they grow, mostly on the area in an environment that their roots will take hold, aquatic plants are generally categorised as being floating, marginal, shallow, or deep water. When creating an aquatic plant garden, aim for a mix of these types and across species as this will further enhance not only the look but also the ecological balance of your water garden. Not all plants though are suitable for all types of water features. For example, a fast and powerful fountain won’t be right for delicate water lilies and just as soil type will guide your earth-bound plant selections, the depth of the water will also determine water plant choices. Some aquatic plants grow in soil along the margins or water areas while others are happy floating above the surface. Some need to be completely submerged and there are others that like to anchor themselves in the shallows. Here is a selection based on growing areas that may help you determine which aquatic wonders will work for your water feature designing.
Floating Plants. If you have a large pond these can look spectacular but be warned, most floating plants tend to multiply quickly and can take over and as such are considered invasive weeds. These include the pretty but pesky water hyacinth and but if you have fish in your pond then a floating plant like duck weed will be beneficial as it provides a food source for them while keeping the water clean. While water lilies (Nymphaea spp.) may seem like floating plants, they are not. These gorgeous beauties along with their friends the lotus (Nelumbo spp.)  are deep-water aquatics because while their foliage and flowers do rest upon the surface, their roots are embedded in the bottom of water ways. Deep water aquatic plants are those that need more than 30cm of water depth to grow successfully as their roots need to be kept cool and protected from the sun. Along with these deep-water plants are what is known as the deep-water oxygenators and this group will generally live submerged under the water, you probably already know them because these are usually as fish aquarium plants. Examples include Milfoils (Myriophyllum spp.) They work as their name suggests, they pump life-giving oxygen into the water. Marginal plants grow along the edges of water areas. Some are known as bog marginals and others are defined as shallow or deep marginals depending on the depth of the water they prefer. Louisiana Iris (Iris spp.) and Pickle Rush (Pontederia cordata).
The veggie gardeners amongst us are not left out either. There are plenty of delicious edible aquatic plants that you can grow including water chestnuts, water spinach, taro, Brahmi, water mint, water celery, water parsley, creeping jenny, and nardoo. All of these are excellent additions to Asian dishes, and they also make rather lovely and interesting teas and salads. If you are after Australian Native water plants then try this bunch: Fairy Lights (Scirpus Cernuus) is a shallow water plant that prefers shade and part sun. Water Ribbions (Triglochin procera) is a shade tolerant leafy plant that can grow fully submerged and has delightful, tufted flowers. Samphire (Tecticornia Pergranulata) is bog loving plant that is also edible. Golden Marshflower (Villarsia Reniformis) with its bright buttercup yellow flowers will grow in full sun to part shade in shallow waters.
To create a water feature there are many prefab shells on the market that make creating the areas for different levels easy but an organically created pond is not difficult. While you still may need to install a soft liner, depending on your area and soil, a pond can be made in just a few simple steps. Most are prepared for planting, after digging the desired shaped and sized hole, by adding layers of soil, sand and then gravel to the bottom. Follow this by tucking in pockets and ridges of soil along the sides. You can’t use potting mix that’s meant for terrestrial plants, instead use top-quality garden soil that is silt and clay free. There are also commercial water pots and baskets available for certain types of aquatic plants that make growing them in your ponds, fish havens and fountains much easier. Pests are generally not a problem for aquatics and feeding can be achieved with a slow-release fertiliser in early spring. This is also the best time for any replanting that you are planning.

YOUR GARDENS
Have you got a lovely, interesting, fun, quirky, important, or inspiring garden that I need to see? This is a call out for gardens and gardeners! I have been featuring local community gardens of late here on Down in the Garden, but I am also on the lookout for all sorts of Central Coast Gardens to visit and feature. I’m not looking for the best garden or the most spectacular garden, I’m on the hunt for all sorts of gardens and gardeners from beginners to gurus, from community gardens, commercial gardens, to cosy private pot plant collections. If you do have or know of a garden that you think we all need to know about, then please call me on 0408105864. 

 

PLANT THIS WEEK
(late Spring temperate areas)
This week you can also plant the following: culinary herbs, artichoke suckers, beans, beetroot, blueberry, capsicum, carrot, celery, chicory, chilli, cress, cucumber, eggplant, endive, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, marrow, melons, mustard, okra, spring onions, parsnip, potatoes (tubers), pumpkin, radish, raspberry, rhubarb, rosella, salsify, silverbeet, squashes, strawberry, sweet corn, sweet potato (shoots), tomato, zucchini, ageratum, alyssum, amaranths, aster, begonia (bedding), canna lily, coleus, cosmos, carnation, dianthus, everlasting daisy, gazania, gerbera, gypsophila, geranium, impatiens, marigold, petunias, portulaca, lobelia, love-in-a-mist, lupin, nasturtium, nemesia, sunflowers.

Cheralyn Darcey is a gardening author, community garden educator at swampcentralcoast.com.au and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM963, on air locally or download the app: communityradio.plus  Archived articles can be found on Cheralyn’s Blog:  www.florasphere.com Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com

 

 


Down in the Garden: Get the Tropical Look

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You may long for a lush jungle at your place but before you start buying palm trees and exotic humid- loving foliage, there is a right way to ensure your tropical dream success and ways to get the look while faking it. On the Central Coast we are in a temperate area and while some tropical plants can grow well in various pockets, many of these plants won’t survive or thrive in this cooler climate. A tropical plant is defined as one that is native to the areas around the world between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.

These plants are used to a temperature that remains above 18c, is humid and frost is unheard of. If you can provide such an environment, indoors or out, then you will end up with happy, healthy tropical plants that will grow to their full potential. Some of these northerners are a little adaptable and while you might not get the best from them, they can grow in temperate areas with a rich soil, increased humidity, and the right light.
Get the Look with Non-Tropical Plants Not every area will accommodate true tropical plants, but you can get the look with a few clever design tricks. Select plants that have darker foliage as this increases the perceived depth of your faux-tropical garden. The darker an area is, the more difficult it is the see where the garden ends. Increase volume by mass planting or grouping together pots of the same plants. This makes the viewer think they are looking at one big plant, not lots of small ones and subconsciously we tend to think of tropical plants as bigger even though that is not always the case.
Placing plants closer together helps but mind that your selection is suited for this as the increase in humidity will be great for real tropical plants but not so good for others. Too much humidity will increase the chance of fungal issues. Vines will also boost the jungle vibe of your tropical paradise and you can try the Australian Natives Wonga Wonga Vine (Pandorea pandoreus) and Bower of Beauty (Pandorea jasminoides).
Add in a few plants that have unusual and bright blossoms, like Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia regina) and any of the Bromeliads as nothing says tropical like these. Use pots that are deep emerald-green to extend the lushness of your tropical garden. Dark earthy colours will work as well. Rustic timber furniture and features will give a wild jungle feeling and you could try adding natural looking water features but instead of fast running fountains opt for slow trickling effects that will mimic the feeling and sounds of the rainforest. Bamboo can give you a tropical look and if you are hesitant about letting this plant into your garden, then try the delightfully jungle-looking and sounding Tiger grass (Thysanolaena maxima). Cordylines in their myriad of colours can also give your garden another layer of texture with their spear-like leaves. The good old Swiss Cheese Plant (Monstera deliciosa) is a temperate area plant that looks like it comes from the hot depths of the jungle but will be incredibly happy in Coast gardens.

YOUR GARDENS: EAST GOSFORD COMMUNITY GARDEN
Sitting on a busy corner in Gosford, it’s easy to zoom by without noticing that this green space is a vibrant community meeting place for locals who are growing herbs, fruits, and vegetables as well as friendships and connections with other initiatives and people across The Coast. Since its beginning in 2017, the garden has become a popular haven for locals and workers who enjoy the opportunity to sit among the trees and gardens created by the volunteers. Saturday mornings are always working bees at the garden, but many volunteers do extra days during the week as well. Everyone is welcome at the garden, whether to work or just to sit and chat and enjoy the morning tea that is provided free. Like all community gardens, no experience is needed, just show up. East Gosford can be visited at any time as it is an open garden but to meet the happy team you will need to pop into a working bee or an event. https://www.facebook.com/East-Gosford-Community-Garden A project of The Rotary Club of East Gosford Community Garden. One of our Rotarians, Vivienne Caroll brought the idea of this project to the Club to get the local community and Rotary working together. GC The gardens can be found within the Newman Memorial Gardens 10 -12 Wells Street East Gosford.

PLANT THIS WEEK
(Temperate gardens mid spring)
This week you can also plant the following: culinary herbs, artichoke suckers, beans, beetroot, blueberry, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, celery, cherry, chicory, chilli, cress, cucumber, eggplant, endive, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, marrow, melons, mustard, okra, spring onions, parsnip, potatoes (tubers), pumpkin, radish, raspberry, rhubarb, rosella, salsify, silverbeet, squashes, strawberry, sweet corn, sweet potato (shoots), tomato, zucchini, ageratum, alyssum, amaranths, aster, begonia (bedding), canna lily, coleus, cosmos, carnation, dianthus, everlasting daisy, gazania, gerbera, gypsophila, geranium, impatiens, marigold, petunias, portulaca, lobelia, love-in-a-mist, lupin, nasturtium, nemesia, sunflowers.


Cheralyn Darcey is a gardening author, community garden educator at swampcentralcoast.com.au and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM963, on air locally or download the app: communityradio.plus Archived articles can be found on Cheralyn’s Blog: www.florasphere.com Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com