The Benefits of Soil
             

Steve Capeness

   
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Gardeners are constantly advised to add organic matter to their soils and there are few who would deny the many benefits that this simple advice imparts on soil quality and plant health.

The compost industry has responded and there are many types of commercial compost and mulches now available to farmers, hobbyists and avid home gardeners. Knowing the difference between organic matter and organic carbon will help you choose between mulch and quality compost that is appropriate for each purpose.

Simply put, mulch is essentially unprocessed organic matter and it serves an important purpose in covering, insulating, and shading the soil, improving water infiltration, reducing erosion and evaporation and controlling weeds.

 
From a 3 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Nine
 
 
The C:N ration can influence the heat of the compost and the end result quality.
 
Composts in various stages of humification. Front: fully composted feedlot manure. Middle: greenwaste in early thermophilic stages. Rear: greenwaste in final stages of maturation.
 
Composted bark in soil mixes is able to suppress root-rotting organisms in young nursery plantings.
 
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TarRagon
Tagetes lucida
             

Paul Plant

   
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Also: Mexican Tarragon, Mexican Mint Marigold, Texas Tarragon,
Spanish Tarragon.

Native to Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, this fragrant perennial marigold is also known as Sweet Marigold and Sweet Mace.

The traditional tarragon used in cooking (Artemisia dracunculus) prefers temperate climates, so it’s great to know that the Mexican Tarragon (Tagetes lucida) is a good substitute for warm climate gardens. While similar, this herb’s flavour is not quite the same. With hints of anise, it has become a popular addition to most edible and scented gardens.

 
From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Nine
 
 
TarRagon
Tagetes lucida
 
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Allherb Plectranthus amboinicus
             
Arno King
   
 

 

 

 

 

 

   

Probably the hardiest of all herbs for subtropical, tropical, equatorial and warm temperate areas is Allherb (Plectranthus amboinicus), also known as 5-in-1 Herb, Mother of Herbs, Queen of Herbs, 5 Season Herbs, Cuban Oregano, Indian Borage, Spanish Thyme and Country Borage.

This useful plant is widely grown in gardens across the country and throughout the world and it is even used for park and streetscape planting as a groundcover. Many people who have it in the garden do not even know what it is, and it is probably the plant I am most often asked to identify at various garden events. You may even have it growing in your own garden.

Other topics covered include:

  • Culinary uses
  • Medicinal uses
 
From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Nine
 
 
Plectranthus amboinicus ‘Variegatus’ has white margins to the leaves.
 
Plectranthus amboinicus ‘Well Sweep Wedgewood’ has quite beautifully variegated leaves.
 
Plectranthus amboinicus ‘Variegatus’.
 
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Pumpkin
             

Claire Bickle

 

   

‘Turkish Turban’, ‘Jack Be Little’, ‘Atlantic Giant’, ‘Waltham Butternut’ and ‘Kent’ (Jap) are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the number of named pumpkin cultivars available to the home gardener.

There are three main species of Pumpkin: Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita pepo and Cucurbita moschata and within these three species many named cultivars.

Culture
This vegetable is actually a fruit (with seeds on the inside) and originated in both Central and South America... more covered in article.

Pollination
When your Pumpkin vine starts to flower it will often produce male flowers first followed by both female and male flowers. Male flowers may also dominate during hot weather. Finally, pollination may be poor if bees are not present... more covered in article.

Other topics covered include:

  • Cultivars
  • Pest and disease
  • Other problems
  • Harvesting
  • Culinary uses

A recipe for Gluten Free Pumpkin Bread is also included!

 
From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Nine
 
 
Pumpkin
 
Pumpkin
 
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Pitaya – dragon fruit (hylocereus undatus & h. Polyrhizus)
             

Barbara Beerling

 

   

‘Do you want to make a statement on your pavlova? By using the exquisite colours of Pitaya, you will surely impress your guests.

Pitaya, commonly called Dragon Fruit, is a tropical cactus from the rainforests of Central South America. It is commercially grown from California through Mexico and as far south as Argentina; in addition to Vietnam, Israel and Australia.

Description
Pitaya is a three sided (sometimes 4 or 5) lobed and segmented, fleshy crawling cactus with aerial roots that cling to its support. The flowers that appear along the stems are large and perfumed, ivory white with yellow centres containing a large number of stamens. The spectacular flowers open in the evening and are finished by the early morning, lasting only one night.

Other topics covered include:

  • Fruit
  • Culture
  • Propagation
  • Pruning
  • Fertiliser
  • Pests and disease
  • Harvesting
  • and culinary use
 
From a 4 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Nine
 
 
White flesh of Hylocereus undatus.
 
Flowers open at night and may need to be hand pollinated.
 
An orchard showing how Pitaya are grown commerically.
 
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Cocoa/Cacao – chocolate (Theobroma cacao)
             

Paul Plant

   
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Besides coffee, the most desirable luxury food item would have to be chocolate. For many people chocolate is a mysterious temptation which often conjures up images of ancient Aztec civilisations pouring the bitter brown brew, the ‘liquid gold’, into cups to drink as a delicious aphrodisiac. At one time in history it was used as currency.

Native to the tropical regions of Mexico, Central and South America (Belize, Guatemala, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, Brazil, Colombia and Peru), it was not known to European nations until the 16th Century.

Other topics covered include:

  • Culture
  • Australian Cacao
 
From a 2 page Feature Article in Issue Thirty Nine
 
 
Pumpkin
 
Pumpkin
 
Pumpkin
 
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