Home' Northern Outlook : August 17th 2013 Contents 12 NORTHERN OUTLOOK, AUGUST 17, 2013
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Amaranth a great alternative
By VIRGIL EVETTS
This column is adapted from
the e-newsletter Get Growing
from New Zealand Gardener.
To subscribe to Get Growing
visit the NZ Gardener website
at nzgardener.co.nz, and click
on the Get Growing tab. To
subscribe to NZ Gardener
visit mags4gifts.co.nz or call
0800 mags 4 gifts.
HEDGING: Mulberries are reputed to make great hedges.
If you struggle to grow true
spinach, why not give callaloo
or leaf amaranth a bit of a
spin this season?
The tender young leaves can be
used just like spinach and have a
similar, if slightly more peppery
flavour. It's quite the looker too,
with gaudily splashed leaves and
pendulous, foxtail flower spikes.
The leaves are great wilted, drop-
ped into curries, or -- when young
and tender -- eaten raw in salads.
Callaloo is THE leafy green of
Caribbean cooking, and is enjoyed
both quickly cooked and simmered
long and slow in meat or fish-
based soups, stews and goat curry.
Sow amaranth seeds in trays now
and cosset the seedlings under
cover until the risk of late frosts
has passed. Kings Seeds has
several varieties to try.
EDIBLE HEDGES &
• Rosella or Jamaican Cocktail'
is a fast-growing, short-lived
hibiscus that's best treated as
A summer treat in warm spots,
the rosella (nothing to do with the
birds, by the way) grows to about
1.5m. Treat it as you would sweet
peppers and chillies, and watch
out for snails. Rosella seeds from
Kings Seeds germinate very
quickly (within a few days) if pre-
soaked for 24 hours in warm
water. Plant out in November, in
full sun, in compost-enriched soil.
Pinch out the growing tip when
the plants are about 40cm, to
encourage branching. Each
creamy yellow flower lasts barely
a day and is followed by a hard,
inedible berry set within a ruby-
red, and very edible fleshy calyx.
Fresh rosellas are super sour and
need sugar. Pick the fruit' (calyx)
within 10 days of flowering or it
will be tough and stringy.
Once separated from the hard
true fruit, rosellas can be cooked
to make a very passable cranberry
jelly or jam. They can also be
juiced, dried to make hibiscus tea,
or boiled in light syrup and
strained to make rosella coulis.
• Planting hedges? Why not
make them edible? Depending on
the height you're after and your
local climate, there are plenty of
• Feijoa hedges are great, but
have a habit of becoming leggy
and unproductive. However, the
recent arrival of the naturally
low-growing cultivar, Bambina',
should change this sorry trend.
These stout, easy-care shrubs
make fabulous low hedges and
produce lots of sweet, musky fruit.
• Olives are popular with land-
scapers trying to establish formal
please-buy-my-villa'' hedges, but
they eventually outgrow most
situations and rarely ever fruit.
• Mulberries are reputed to
make great hedges, and because
they fruit on new season's growth,
they should deliver the goods too.
Alternatively, you can let them
loose to grow into trees.
• Black mulberry, Morus nigra,
is the species by which all others
are measured. Look for the old-
timer, Queenie', or European
Black', which is a stellar new
import this season.
• White mulberry, Morus alba,
confusingly often tends to ripen to
dark red. However, you can try
Apricot Shahtoot' or the dwarf
• Red mulberry, Morus rubra, is
an American species and might be
the most overlooked of what is
already a neglected group. Its
fruit mature from fuzzy green
knots to pink, and eventually
black-red berries. Hicks Early' is
in the Incredible Edibles range.
BE MINDFUL OF THE
If you've been thinking about
trimming, pruning, or outright
obliterating any dense vegetation
around your place, act now.
Within the next few weeks, birds
will start building their nests in
them, and as a courtesy, they
should then be left well alone. It's
not just a courtesy though. When
rearing their young, many birds
dramatically increase their
appetites and will helpfully clear
your patch of any bugs and slugs
they can catch. Such efforts go a
long way when the garden is full
of vulnerable young seedlings.
Granted, many of the same
birds will also turn on your food
crops later in the season, but
them's the breaks.
Now's the time to look up and
admire the magical blooms of
magnolias and their close cousins,
michelias. There are magnolias to
suit just about every situation,
from shrubby Magnolia stellata to
scented port wine magnolias
(Michelia figo) for hedges. Many
magnolias mature into very large
trees, so do your research first.
Evergreen Magnolia grandiflora --
the one with the huge white
flowers and leaves favoured by
florists -- is best avoided, as it
grows into a monster and those
leathery leaves refuse to break
down in the compost.
My favourite is the diminutive
Michelia alba, for its lush foliage
and small, but intensely scented,
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