RTBG on Thursday 24 Sept- part 2 of 3

I signed into the Food Garden of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG) just as a newbie arrived and was introduced; one with whom I worked until we had a tea break. She and I were assigned to the tea ‘plantation’ where we had the job to remove the thousands of tiny Flick Weed (Cardamine hirsuta) plants that were thriving under each Camellia Sinensis bush.

I have seen this weed occasionally in my garden but until last Thursday had no idea about its propensity to multiply; guess I have been nipping it in the bud!

This month’s issue of the ABC’s Gardening Australia magazine contains a photo and information about the Flick Weed describing it as an ‘annoying little weed that pops up in all sorts of places and in any dampish, disturbed soil.’ It went on to say ‘One of the world’s most widespread weeds, this tiny plant from the cabbage family gets it common name from its habit of explosively shooting out ripe seeds. Consistent and committed hand weeding is the best form of control, ideally removing the plants before they develop white, four-petalled flowers.’

Our removal process was careful and therefore slow.  If you recognise this plant in your garden, pull it out and eat. Yes, I said eat. It has another common name: Bitter Cress. Therefore this ‘weed’ is a perfect green to add to your leafy salads, and will provide you with important nutrients. As this Wild Food UK website remarks ‘This plant tastes like cress crossed with rocket. Great for salads, salsa, pestos and anywhere you would use cress raw; cooking, unfortunately, seems to remove the flavour.’

At the end of a few hours, the soil was clear of Flick Weed (and hopefully no seeds had been dropped).

‘Cup-of-tea time’ said Coordinator Adam as he walked around the garden plots. We all moved to the gardening bench and he poured the tea. Last week fresh tea tips had been pinched from the tea bushes by Robyn and Janet and, since then, Adam had ‘processed’ these ready for us all to enjoy a cup of ‘home-grown’ green tea.

 A few years ago an aging aunt gave me her family heirloom silvered teapot; I found it was too large to use often. As a result, it languished in the back of a cupboard and the surface perpetually oxidised leaving an unpleasantly coloured tarnish. One day last year after a few of us had picked tea leaves in the Food Garden, I came home and cleaned that teapot then took it for use the following week. It has poured many cups of tea ever since. This week I noted it was losing some of its lustre, so home it has come, been detarnished and is ready for a sparkling service again next Thursday.

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