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grow naturally, eat fresh, live sustainably JANUARY/FEBRUARY

JENNIFER STACKHOUSE

CLAIRE BICKLE 5 edible water plants Perennial herbs for the heat

Clever crops: aloe vera & ylang ylang Ornamentals: waterlilies Vegies: gherkin, leek, silver beet & swede

MEGG MILLER Climate change concerns for chooks

MELISSA KING Heritage watermelons New-release beauties HOW TO: Make a tiered container herb garden

Vol. 7 8 No. 6 5 MAR/APR JAN/FEB 2018 2017 AUS $7.95* NZ $7.90 (Both incl. GST)

TIME TO PLANT

pomegranate

FABIAN CAPOMOLLA Cauliflower profile

Vertical gardens | Mountain pepper | Mulberry treehouse


Active 8 the microbes in your garden!

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With her naked neck, she will cope better with extreme heat

grow naturally, eat fresh, live sustainably

Editor Kerry Boyne Designer Jessica Roberts Contributors Carrol Baker, Claire Bickle, Fabian Capomolla, Jo Immig, Melissa King, Megg Miller, Chris Stafford, Jennifer Stackhouse, Sandra Tuszynska National Advertising Manager Miriam Keen Ph: (02) 9887 0604 | Fax: (02) 9878 5553 Mob: 0414 969 693 Email: mkeen@universalmagazines.com.au Advertising Production Co-ordinator William West Cover Photo Getty Images

THIS ISSUE

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Turning to hotter issues, at the time of writing we had experienced the warmest winter since records began, along with a long period of no rain and an early start to bushfire season. Because of the lead time in print publishing, I’m guessing we’re in the middle of another hot, hot summer, too — happy to be wrong on that! It’s not just us who suffer from the changing weather. Imagine how it is for our feathered and furry friends, who mostly rely on us to make their living conditions bearable. Megg Miller looks at the concerns for chickens and the actions we might have to take very soon, if not now, to address them. You may not think this chicken is very pretty, but because of the genetic makeup that bestows on her a naked neck, she will cope better with extreme heat than a glossy Australorp or an elegant Wyandotte. Carrol Baker covers vertical gardens as well as an inspirational young grower, plus Jo Immig visits a new organic farm and cooking school. Sandra Tuszynska introduces a couple who have planted a mulberry treehouse — these sorts of structures are referred to as biotecture. We’ll follow up in a year or so to see how it has progressed. Until autumn, Happy gardening and cooking!

Chairman/CEO Prema Perera Publisher Janice Williams Chief Financial Officer Vicky Mahadeva Associate Publisher Emma Perera Finance & Administration Manager James Perera Creative Director Kate Podger Editorial & Production Manager Anastasia Casey Marketing & Acquisitions Manager Chelsea Peters Subscription enquiries: 1300 303 414 Circulation enquiries to our Sydney head office: (02) 9805 0399 Good Organic Gardening Vol. 8 No. 5 is published by Universal Magazines, Unit 5, 6–8 Byfield Street, North Ryde NSW 2113. Phone: (02) 9805 0399, Fax: (02) 9805 0714. Melbourne office: Suite 4, Level 1, 150 Albert Road, South Melbourne Vic 3025. Phone: (03) 9694 6444, Fax: (03) 9699 7890. Printed by KHL Printing Co Pte Ltd, Singapore. Retail distribution: Gordon and Gotch. UK Distributor: KLM Partnership, Phone: +44 019 9244 7544. Singapore & Malaysia Distributor: Carkit (F.E.) Pte Ltd, 1 Charlton Lane, #01-02, Singapore 539631, Phone: +65 6282 1960, Fax: +65 6382 3021, Website: www.carkitfe.com. This magazine may have some content that is advertorial or promotional in nature. This book is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission. Enquiries should be addressed to the publishers. The publishers believe all the information supplied in this book to be correct at the time of printing. They are not, however, in a position to make a guarantee to this effect and accept no liability in the event of any information proving inaccurate. Prices, addresses and phone numbers were, after investigation and to the best of our knowledge and belief, up to date at the time of printing, but the shifting sands of time may change them in some cases. It is not possible for the publishers to ensure that advertisements which appear in this publication comply with the Trade Practices Act, 1974. The responsibility must therefore be on the person, company or advertising agency submitting the advertisements for publication. While every endeavour has been made to ensure complete accuracy, the publishers cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. This magazine is printed on paper produced in a mill which meets Certified Environmental Management System ISO4001 since 1995 and EMAS since 1996. Please pass on or recycle this magazine. ISSN 1837-9206 Copyright © Universal Magazines MMXVII ACN 003 026 944 universalmagazines.com.au

Kerry

GAP Gardens

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ack in my uni years when I was studying fine arts, I loved the early 20th-century impressionists, chief among them that French master of colour and light, Claude Monet. So when Jennifer Stackhouse suggested waterlilies as her ornamentals feature for this issue, I went trawling through Monet’s many waterlily paintings. How he must have loved his lily ponds in his Giverny gardens to have captured them in the changing light over and over. Waterlilies certainly are exquisite and their foliage is almost as graceful as the flowers themselves. Still around the pond, Claire Bickle continues her showcase of edible water plants and does a roundup of her perennial herb picks for the heat. Speaking of herbs, we have a great DIY project especially for those who have limited space for a herb garden. This is a tiered version in a container, a sort of mini herb spiral. In our crop features, Melissa King covers the heirloom varieties of that summer favourite, watermelon, as well as echinacea and pomegranate (every backyard should have one). Meanwhile, Jennifer looks at gherkin, leek, silverbeet and swede, plus clever crops aloe vera and ylang ylang, while guest contributor and gardening author Fabian Capomolla profiles cauliflower. Fabian’s new book, Gardening Food the Italian Way, is lively and beautifully illustrated.

infoGOG@universalmagazines.com.au We are a member of

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MONARCH BUTTERFLY | GARDEN LIFE

THE HAPPY WANDERER

COMMON NAME: MONARCH BUTTERFLY, WANDERER BUTTERFLY SCIENTIFIC NAME: DANAUS PLEXIPPUS, FAMILY NYMPHALIDAE Besides Australia, the monarch has been found as far afield as Bermuda, Hawaii and the Pacific islands, New Zealand and PNG, the Canary Islands, the Mediterranean and even (as an “accidental migrant”) the UK. Now scientists have discovered that the tiny butterflies use a sophisticated biological clock combined with the sun’s position to find their way more than 3000km across North America, from their winter roosts in central Mexico to their summer breeding grounds as far north as Canada. But here’s the kicker: at the end of summer, four or five generations later, the insects fly south again yet their navigational ability is so accurate they find their way back to the very same trees in Mexico used by their great, great grandparents the winter before.

Bigstock, iNaturalist

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onarch butterflies appear in large numbers during summer in the urban areas of eastern Australia, South Australia and southwest Western Australia, but are not native to this country. Known to be very strong fliers, they migrated extensively from North America, where they range from Mexico, California and the Gulf states all the way to the Canadian border. The first Australian sighting was recorded in Sydney in 1871 and the species became established with the introduction of its food plants, including poisonous milkweed. In the cooler months, like their American counterparts, the butterflies overwinter in their thousands in vast clusters until September, when they begin to mate and disperse to occupy their full summer range once more.

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CO C ON N TEN T ENTS TS REGULARS

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EDITOR’S NOTE A quick roundup of what’s in the issue

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GARDEN LIFE The monarch butterfly

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THE GRAPEVINE Jo Immig reports on issues of interest to all of us

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WHAT’S HOT Melissa King profiles some stunning-looking plants for your seasonal garden

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MOON CALENDAR A basic guide to planting by the moon phases

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PLANT NOW What to plant in late high summer that’s right for your climate zone

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THINGS TO DO Jennifer Stackhouse goes over what’s what in your plot right now

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IN SEASON The seasonal delights you’re likely to find in shops and gardens in high summer

93 BOOKS

New books for gardeners and cooks

96 PICK OF THE CROP

Products and services from our advertisers

PLANTS

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CLEVER CROPS Two useful plants from Jennifer: soothing aloe vera and fragrant ylang ylang PLANT PROFILE Gardener and author Fabian Capomolla profiles a challenging long-time brassica favourite: cauliflower

page 44 22 POWER PLANT

Mountain pepper is one of those highly nutritious natives that has excellent culinary appeal

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FAMILY HEIRLOOMS Melissa King profiles the best varieties of luscious heritage watermelons

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TIME TO PLANT For the backyard herb patch: efficacious echinacea; in the vegie bed: tasty gherkin, leek, silverbeet, swede; for the orchard: anitioxidant-rich, delicious pomegranate, by Jennifer & Melissa


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ORNAMENTALS Jennifer profiles the flower that inspired one of the world’s great artists: the enchanting waterlily

58 EDIBLE AQUATIC PLANTS II Claire Bickle continues her showcase of edible water babies: water chestnut, taro, arrowhead, wasabia, swamp pepper

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PERENNIAL HERBS Claire lines up her favourite high summer perennial herb plants

32 AARON BROCKEN

Growing food just comes naturally to this selfsufficient small farmer

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ZENKO & JANINE VUKELIC This couple’s fledgling mulberry tree house is in the early stages of a biotecture prototype

82 FEATHERED FRIENDS

Megg Miller describes how climate change will alter our approach to keeping chickens

PEOPLE

28 BHAVANA ORGANIC FARM & COOKING SCHOOL Located in the Byron hinterland, this organic enterprise is taking off

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ANIMALS

FOOD

88 GARDEN TO TABLE

Five simple recipes from Super Green Simple and Lean, by Sally Obermeder & Maha Koraiem

PLOT PROJECTS, PLANNING & MAINTENANCE

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POTTED TIERED HERB GARDEN If you’ve dreamt of a herb spiral but don’t have the room, try this potted version, which is ideal for decks and patios

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VERTICAL GARDENS Space-saving vertical gardens don’t only save space, they can clean the air and act as green living works of art, too

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SHORT SHOOTS Innovative and creative ideas for your garden, from Chris Stafford

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THE GRAPEVINE | NEWS

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Grapevine ENVIRONMENTAL NEWS AND UPDATES COMPILED BY JO IMMIG

Concerns over pesticides have been kept secret

JO IMMIG Jo is an environmental scientist, photographer and writer. She has worked in the environment movement for decades and is coordinator of the National Toxics Network, an organisation dedicated to creating a toxicfree future. She has written many articles for magazines and is the author of two books: Toxic Playground and Safer Solutions.

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The Poison Papers is a recently published digital trove of information dating back to the 1920s. It reveals the secret concerns of the chemical industry and regulators about the hazards of pesticides and other chemicals, as well as their efforts to conceal those concerns over many years. The papers were largely collected by author and activist Carol Van Strum and have been collated and published by the Bioscience Resource Project and the Centre for Media and Democracy. The collection is searchable. According to the publishers, the documents reveal a culture of secrecy and collusion between regulators and the chemical industry, particularly in relation to deadly dioxin pollution associated with the pulp and paper mill industry, and the use of the herbicide Agent Orange. They also reveal deception in relation to falsified safety studies on numerous chemicals. The Poison Papers comprise over 20,000 documents obtained from Federal agencies and chemical manufacturers via open records, requests and public-interest litigation from sources such as the USEPA, the USDA Forest

Service, Department of Defense and chemical manufacturers, including Monsanto, DuPont and Union Carbide. The chemicals most often referred to in the documents include herbicides and pesticides (such as 2,4-D, Dicamba, Permethrin, Atrazine and Agent Orange), dioxins and PCBs. Some of these chemicals are among the most toxic and persistent chemicals ever manufactured. Except for PCBs, almost every chemical discussed in The Poison Papers is still manufactured and sold today, either as products or as product contaminants. poisonpapers.org

WEBSITE SHARES INDIGENOUS WEATHER KNOWLEDGE The Indigenous Weather Knowledge website is a joint partnership between the Bureau of Meteorology, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission and Monash University’s Centre for Indigenous Studies. Unlike the simplified European seasonal calendar, the meteorological view of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is one of enormous climate diversity across geographically and ecologically distinct regions.

Bigstock

THE POISON PAPERS — CULTURE OF SECRECY REVEALED


NEWS | THE GRAPEVINE Through oral story-telling and ceremony, this intricate and precious information has passed from generation to generation. The Bibulmun people of southwest Western Australia talk of “in the nyitting times” which translates to “the icy-cold times, long, long ago” and is a record of the Ice Age, which arrived in Australia approximately 20,000 years ago and lasted for some 5000 years.

Some of the knowledge is observational and records how plants and animals react to the weather and environment around them, while other observations record seasonal expectations. For instance, the flowering of the boo’kerrikin (Acacia decurrens) is an indication for the D’harawal people of an end to the cold, windy weather and the beginning of the gentle spring rains. To the Wardaman people, the appearance of march flies in September or October indicates the end of the dry season. Through the Indigenous Weather Knowledge website, the bureau is working with communities that wish to record and share valuable seasonal and environmental information and traditional knowledge. bom.gov.au/iwk/

DEFORMITIES IN BABOONS AND CHIMPANZEES CAUSED BY PESTICIDES In the northern part of Kibale National Park in western Uganda, researchers have found an increasing number of chimpanzees and baboons with facial deformities, including cleft lips and reduced nostrils, as well as limb deformities and reproductive problems. Industrial tea plantations surround the northern section of the park known as Sebitoli, where wildlife live in close proximity

to humans and their activities. The chimpanzees and baboons are known to raid crops (mostly maize) in the neighbouring gardens. The researchers found the frequent use of at least eight pesticides in the region, including glyphosate, cypermethrin, profenofos, mancozeb, metalaxyl, dimethoate, chlorpyrifos and 2,4-D. Chemical analysis of samples collected from 2014 to 2016 showed that mean levels of pesticides in fresh maize stems and seeds, soils, and river sediments in the vicinity of the chimpanzee territory exceeded recommended limits. Excess levels were found for total DDT and its metabolite DDE, and for chlorpyrifos in fresh maize seeds and in fish from Sebitoli. Imidacloprid was also detected in coated maize seeds planted at the edge the forest and in fish samples from the Sebitoli area, while no pesticides were detected in fish caught from central park areas. Some of the pesticides identified are thyroid hormone disruptors, so the researchers postulate high levels of pesticide use in the Sebitoli area may contribute to facial deformities and other defects in chimpanzees and baboons through this endocrine (hormone) pathway. Source: Krief et al (2017) ‘Agricultural expansion as risk to endangered wildlife: Pesticide exposure in wild chimpanzees and baboons displaying facial dysplasia’, Science of the Total Environment.

Young baboon

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THE SEASONAL GARDEN | WITH MELISSA KING

W hat’s hot R IGHT NOW

PRESENTING SOME STUNNING-LOOKING PLANTS THAT WILL MAKE EXCELLENT ADDITIONS TO YOUR GARDEN AT THIS TIME OF YEAR ALLIUM ‘PINK PEPPER’ The plant: In flower, this is one show-stopping little plant. Unlike many of the taller-growing alliums, ‘Pink Pepper’ blooms for a long time, with masses of large globe-shaped, baby-pink flowers from spring to summer. Even out of flower it forms neat mounds of strappy foliage. Growing: To get the best result, grow ‘Pink Pepper’ in a sunny position in moist, welldrained soil. In colder areas foliage may disappear through winter but pop up again in spring, so clear away any old foliage to make way for fresh new growth. Give a boost with a dose of controlled-release fertiliser in spring to promote a spectacular display of flowers. Design: With its petite habit and masses of blooms, ‘Pink Pepper’ makes an ideal edging or border plant, or tuck it into the front of the flower border for a cheery splash of colour. pga.com.au

MELISSA KING Melissa is a horticulturist, TV presenter and writer. She has been a regular on Gardening Australia, Melbourne Weekender, Garden Angels and The Circle. She currently appears on The Garden Gurus and has launched an online show, The Gardenettes. She has written for top magazines and newspapers and is author of the book, Garden Feast.

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SCAEVOLA KINGS PARK SERIES The plant: Among native ground-covering shrubs, scaevolas are the shining stars and now there are two new varieties to get excited about — ‘Kings Park Midnight’ and ‘Kings Park Moonlight’ — bred at Perth’s spectacular Kings Park Botanic Garden. The aptly named Midnight boasts masses of large deep-purple, fan-shaped flowers and the equally captivating Moonlight boasts an abundance of gorgeous clear-white blooms, both of which contrast beautifully against the mid-green foliage. They are strong, quick growers up to 25cm tall and 1m wide.

Growing: For best results, grow them in full sun with good drainage and trim plants back after flowering to encourage fresh new growth. Give plants a boost in early spring with native plant food to promote an abundance of blooms. Design: Plants are smothered in clusters of richly coloured flowers through spring and summer, so grow them among other flowers in the native or cottage garden for a splash of warm-season colour, or make a feature of them in decorative pots and hanging baskets. The thick evergreen foliage of these hardy plants makes a wonderful living mulch. ramm.com.au


WITH MELISSA KING | THE SEASONAL GARDEN FRANK’S PEA The plant: Grow this pea in your garden and you’ll have a little slice of Australian history. Long-time member of the Diggers Club, May Barnes, from Capertee, NSW, is the source of these delectable peas, which are a family heirloom. They were brought to Australia from England in 1853 by May’s great grandparents, Charles and Martha Franks, who settled in Palmers Oakey, NSW. Since then the pea has been passed down from generation to generation, not just because it’s a family treasure but because it’s a genuinely beautiful and abundant pea. Frank’s Pea is a profuse bloomer, with spectacular mauve and maroon blooms so pretty they rival the display of a sweet pea. The succulent pod swells prior to the pea fully developing inside, so they make a delectable snap pea, or allow them to develop fully and you’ve got an equally delicious shelling pea. Growing: Sow the seeds into a sunny, well-prepared garden bed in autumn for a delicious cool-season crop. Pick regularly to encourage more pods and you could be harvesting gardenfresh peas for more than a month. You can expect up to 250g worth of pods per plant. Plants also have good resistance to powdery mildew. Design: Plants reach heights of up to 180cm, so grow them up a decorative trellis or wigwam for a pretty, edible display. They are equally beautiful in the kitchen or flower garden. diggers.com.au

CAREX ‘FEATHER FALLS’ The plant: When I come across a plant that’s unique, looks good in every season and stands up to the toughest conditions, I can’t help but pay attention. The aptly named Carex ‘Feather Falls’ forms decorative clumps of dramatic twotoned, cream and green foliage, which cascades to the ground. In spring it has the bonus of attractive feathery flower stems. Growing: It’s an easy-care beauty that looks great all year round with little maintenance. There is no pruning required; just give it a dose of controlled-release fertiliser twice a year

in spring and autumn and off it goes. It’s remarkably droughttolerant and, once established, requires little water. In fact, the only thing it will hate you for is wet, waterlogged feet. It’s a great choice for coastal areas, too. Design: Plants grow to just 30cm tall and 50cm wide, so it makes a stunning evergreen garden border or edging plant. Grow alongside deep-green or burgundy-leafed plants to create some wonderful contrast. Carex ‘Feather Falls’ also makes a striking potted feature in a sunny courtyard setting. pga.com.au

Image courtesy of Plants Management Australia

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CLEVER CROP | ALOE VERA

SOOTHING SUCCULENT WHEN SKIN IS BURNT OR IRRITATED, THE COOLING GEL FROM THIS PLANT’S SPIKY LEAVES COMES TO THE RESCUE

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frosts. As the leaves are spiky, keep plants away from pathways. Remove any weeds as soon as they are seen, as weeding among spiky plants like aloes is always tricky and requires protective gloves.

MEDICINAL VALUE Many medicinal claims are made for aloe vera, which has also found its way into commercial cosmetics, shampoos, sunburn salves and even tissues. Despite the long association between aloe vera and herbal medicine, particularly as a treatment for burns, there is little scientific evidence that backs up traditional claims for easing the severity of burns, removing stretch marks in skin or fighting disease. Nonetheless, the gel that flows straight from the leaf is cool and can lessen the pain of sunburn and minor burns.

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To apply, just break off a leaf and snap it in half to release the cooling sap. It shouldn’t be relied on alone to treat burns, however. Where possible, apply cool water to reduce burning and always seek medical attention for bad burns.

THE LEAVES OF OLDER PLANTS CONTAIN MORE GEL AND ARE BEST SELECTED WHEN THE SAP IS REQUIRED.

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GROWING TIPS Aloe vera grows well in pots in a coarse potting mix (look for one blended for cactus and succulents) or a well-drained garden bed. In cold areas, move pots into a sheltered spot to protect the plants from

Common name: Aloe vera Botanical name: Aloe vera (syn. A. barbadensis) Family: Liliaceae (lily family) Aspect and soil: Full sun to light shade; well-drained soil Best climate: All Habit: Small spiky suc culent Propagation: Offsets (also called pups) Difficulty: Easy

1 Flower spikes of yellow bells 2 The soothing gel of aloe vera

Bigstock, iNaturalist

Words Jennifer Stackhouse loe vera is a small succulent with spiky grey-green leaves. It originated in northern Africa and has naturalised through much of Africa and around the Mediterranean. It’s very easy to grow as it readily produces “pups”, or small offsets. Just one plant can quickly lead to having many plants to share. Individual plants grow to around 60cm tall and wide. The narrow, thick, serrated leaves are green to grey-green, often with white mottling. In summer, the plants have flower spikes of yellow bells. While it’s easy to grow, that’s not the reason aloe vera has been so successful at conquering the world. It’s the cooling gel inside the thick leaves that makes aloe vera appealing and has led to its spread around the globe. It’s used to treat burns, including sunburn. The leaves of older plants contain more gel and are best selected when the sap is required. Its ease of propagation and its perceived medicinal benefits have seen it cultivated for centuries. It can be bought at most garden centres but also makes a frequent appearance at fetes and markets. If a friend has a plant, ask for a piece to grow.

Aloe vera label


CLEVER CROP | YLANG YLANG

FRAGRANT FLOWERS A KEY INGREDIENT IN THE FAMED FRENCH PERFUME CHANEL NO 5, YLANG YLANG IS A WARM-CLIMATE FLOWERING TREE

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THE FLOWERS’ FRAGRANCE IS INTENSE AND IS CARRIED BY THE WIND, ESPECIALLY BY A BALMY, TROPICAL EVENING BREEZE. 16 | Good Organic Gardening

really needs a warm tropical climate for growth. It doesn’t like temperatures below 15°C (although trees can cope with occasional lower temperatures). Well grown in a sunny spot, it forms a handsome, round-headed green tree with a straight, grey trunk and slightly drooping branches. Fully grown it reaches 10m or more but it can be grown in a large pot for several years. There is a compact variety known as dwarf ylang ylang (Cananga odorata var. fruticosa) that grows as a shrub around 2m tall. It’s a better choice for growing longer term in a container or small space.

DID YOU KNOW? In Madagascar you can enjoy ylang ylang-flavoured ice-cream!

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Common name: Ylang ylang, cananga Botanical name: Canan ga odorata Family: Annonaceae (cu stard apple family) Aspect and soil: Full sun to light shade; well-drained soi l Best climate: Subtrop ical to tropical Habit: Evergreen tree Propagation: Seed, cut ting, potted plants Difficulty: Easy

MEDICINAL VALUE A fragrant essential oil is derived from distilling ylang ylang flowers. As well as a perfume ingredient and aromatherapy oil, it’s valued for its antiseptic properties. The flowers are used as a herbal remedy for malaria and fever. The flowers are also considered to be an aphrodisiac. The leaves have healing properties, too.

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1 An essential ingredient in the famous perfume 2 Fragrant ylang ylang petals

Bigstock

Words Jennifer Stackhouse he bewitching scented oil we know as ylang ylang (pronounced ee-lang ee-lang) is derived from the very fragrant flowers of a tropical tree. The flowers have long, slender, streamer-like petals and smell like a cross between tropical fruit and jasmine. The curious flowers change colour as they age. The blooms start life coloured yellowy green but gradually darken to orange. In the tropics ylang ylang may be in flower all year, but in cooler zones the flowers are more likely seen in autumn. Ylang ylang is one of the floral scents used to create the famous Chanel No 5 perfume. It was combined with jasmine and rose. The flowers’ fragrance is intense and is carried by the wind, especially by a balmy, tropical evening breeze. The scent is at its most intense at night and the flowers are pollinated by night-flying insects such as moths. It’s found throughout the tropics, but the tree is native to Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. This is a plant that

YYlang ylang label


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PLANT PROFILE | CAULIFLOWER

Heads up SURE, THEY’RE TRICKY TO GROW, BUT IF YOU LIKE A LITTLE CHALLENGE, RAISING CAULIFLOWERS IS WORTH THE EFFORT

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CAULIFLOWER | PLANT PROFILE Words & photos Fabian Capomolla he oldest record of cauliflower dates back to the sixth century BCE. A member of the cabbage family, the word “cauliflower” comes from the Latin caulis, meaning “cabbage”, and floris, meaning “flower”. They are grown for their thick, undeveloped flowers and flower stalks, not for their leaves. Of all the brassicas, cauliflower is the most difficult to grow, which is why it tends to be more expensive at the greengrocer. Aim for at least six hours of full sun each day for your cauliflower — though the more the better, really.

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PROPAGATION Prepare the patch by digging organic matter through the soil, which should be rich, moist and freely draining with a

pH of 6–6.5 (the yield will be reduced if the soil pH is below 6). Grow cauliflower from seedlings bought at your local nursery if you have a small vegie patch, as the plants need a lot of space. If you want to grow your own from seed, sow the seeds in seedling trays at the start of summer for transplanting into the patch six weeks later.

WATERING Because cauliflower is a winter crop, most of the irrigation will be supplied by Mother Nature. However, if dry weather occurs, water every 10 days and apply enough to thoroughly wet the root zone. Keep the soil moist but not soaked. Cauliflower plants must never be water stressed, especially as young plants, or they will bolt to seed and not form a dense flower.

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MULCHING Mulch helps soil retain moisture, controls weeds and regulates soil temperatures. If you choose not to mulch, you will have to hoe the weeds. Cauliflowers have shallow roots, so be careful not to damage the roots if you do.

FEEDING Cauliflowers do best in very fertile soil. Work the soil with well-rotted animal manure or compost before planting. Once the plants are growing well, apply seaweed extract every couple of weeks.

Cauliflower labe

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Common n ame: Caulifl ower Botanical n ame: Brass ica oleraceae va r. botrytis Family: Bra ssicaceae Aspect and soil: Sun; d eep, welldrained soil Best climat e: All, but g row in the cooler part of the year Habit: Bien nial vegetab le grown as an annual Propagatio n: Seed, se edling Difficulty: Difficult

1 A truly colourful array 3 Cover the head of the cauliflower with its leaves to keep it white

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iStock

WHEN THE CAULIFLOWER HEAD CAN BE EASILY SEEN, IT IS READY TO BLANCH. THIS PROCESS PREVENTS SUNLIGHT FROM REACHING THE HEAD...

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PLANT PROFILE | CAULIFLOWER

LOOK OUT FOR CATERPILLARS ON THE LEAVES, OR THE HOLES AND DROPPINGS THEY LEAVE BEHIND. BLANCHING

PESTS AND PROBLEMS

When the cauliflower head can be easily seen, it is ready to blanch. This process prevents sunlight from reaching the head, keeping it nice and white rather than letting it become a yellowish green. Tie or peg the outer leaves over the head to protect it from the sunlight. The head should be ready to harvest a couple of weeks after blanching.

As the plant grows, remove any old leaves that have started to turn yellow and put them in the compost.

Caterpillars are notorious pests on brassicas and cabbage white moths are the main offenders. Look out for caterpillars on the leaves, or the holes and droppings they leave behind (see box, opposite page, for tips on how to control this pest). Slugs can be a problem, chewing through seedlings and mature plant leaves alike, particularly during wet seasons, and aphids also cause havoc for brassica crops. Try planting marigolds, or other plants from the Tagetes genus, among the crop as a repellent.

POLLINATION

HARVESTING AND STORAGE

Cauliflower requires cross-pollination if you want to save seeds. Its small yellow flowers are pollinated by insects.

Start harvesting when the heads are firm; once the florets start to separate, it is too late, though they are still edible.

PRUNING

Harvest when the heads are firm

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CanStockPhoto

Pick the caterpillars off by hand or contol with organic methods, see box, opposite


CAULIFLOWER | PLANT PROFILE Cauliflower heads can be stored in the fridge for two weeks or more. Recommended variety ‘Di Sicilia Violetto’ is a purple variety that is easy to grow. Not only is it tasty, but it also looks good.

Extracted from Growing Food The Italian Way by Fabian Capomolla, published by Plum, available from bookstores and online at thehungrygardener.com.au

Fabian in the garden. Image supplied from Growing Food The Italian Way by Fabian Capomolla, published by Plum, available now, Photographer: Mark Roper, Location: The Farm Yarra Valley

HOW TO CONTROL CATERPILLARS • Pick the caterpillars off the plants (it’s worth wearing gloves if you don’t know what type of caterpillar it is) and drown them in a bucket of soapy water; or if you have chickens, provide them as an after-dinner snack — the chooks will love you for it. Caterpillars are soft-bodied and therefore a favourite treat for birds and small mammals. • Use a product called Bt, or Bacillus thuringiensis. Bt is also referred to as Dipel. It is an organic insecticidal bacterium that kills only caterpillars and is safe to use on edibles. It takes about 24 hours to have an effect but works a treat. • Use a garlic or soap spray. • Barbarea vulgaris, also known as winter cress, and Barbarea verna, or land cress, both contain a natural chemical called glucosinolate that acts as a toxin. Apparently the white cabbage moth will go crazy for it and lay its eggs all over it. When the young caterpillars hatch and eat it they will keel over. • I think the best organic method of control is covering the patch or crops of susceptible vegies with very fine netting. This stops the butterflies and moths from landing on the plants to lay their eggs. The downside is that the netting can limit access for other insects, which is a problem if there are plants in the patch that require pollination. If this is the case you can hand-pollinate.

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POWER PLANT | MOUNTAIN PEPPER

HERE’S AN APPEALING NATIVE THAT WILL FILL A SHADY CORNER AND REWARD WITH PUNGENT LEAVES AND PIQUANT BERRIES TO SPICE UP YOUR COOKING Words Kerry Boyne his intriguing native spice was first introduced to me on a long-ago visit to Tasmania, where it’s proudly touted as a Tassie specialty. In fact, it’s also native to Victoria and parts of NSW, particularly highland and mountainous areas. I found the dried berries a bit addictive for both their flavour and unusual mouth feel. You sometimes wonder what brave soul was the first to taste an unknown plant. This one was first described, at least, by 18th-century French botanist and explorer Jean Louis Marie Poiret and given its current name in 1969 by English botanist A.C. Smith. It was formerly known as Drimys lanceolata. Its relatives were known and used medicinally centuries earlier. It’s an attractive plant with its smooth, dark-green, lance-shaped leaves, red to black berries and distinctive red stems. You may find a couple of these large shrubs/small trees useful just as a windbreak, but why not reap the culinary and medicinal rewards as well?

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HEALTH BENEFITS Indigenous Australians have long used this plant — and others from the same family — for medicinal purposes. The berries were crushed and made into a paste to be applied to skin abrasions and infections, including in the mouth, while the bark was boiled to make a digestive remedy. It was also used in the early colony for treating scurvy and as a pepper substitute on food. The polyglodial in the leaves and berries, a compound that gives them their spicy heat, is strongly antiinflammatory and has significant antibacterial and antifungal properties attributed to it. The berries are also very high in antioxidants — triple the levels in blueberries, it’s claimed.

USING Both the leaves and berries contain the hot-tasting polyglodials. The leaves can be dried and ground to be used as flavouring in sauces, marinades and casseroles, or you can throw in whole

Mountain pepper label

Common name: Mount ain pepper, native pepper, Tasmania n pepper, pepperberry Botanical name: Tasma nnia lanceolata Family: Winteraceae Aspect and soil: Part shade; slightly acidic, moist, well-drain ed soil Climate: Cool to tempe rate Habit: Tall evergreen shr ub to small tree Propagation: Seed, see dlings, cuttings Difficulty: Easy

dried leaves to impart a peppery flavour. Small creamy white flowers appear from September to January, depending on location. The berries follow in March to May. They are about the size of peas and are shiny, dark red, turning black when ripe. They are mild-tasting at first, even a little sweet and fruity; then the peppery pungency hits, followed by a slight sensation of numbness — a bit similar to the effect of Sechuan pepper. The leathery leaves have a subtler flavour than the berries and the berries will bleed some pink colour into anything you add them to. Dried and ground, they are great simply used in place of peppercorns — try them on fish and chips with lemon myrtle for a real bushfood flavour hit.

Bigstock, CSIRO, Ron CC

SOU THERN GEM


1 GROWING As a cool- to temperate-climate rainforest understorey plant growing to about 5m (bigger in its natural habitat), mountain pepper likes part shade, so it’s a handy one for that corner that doesn’t support a lot of food plants. It will grow in full sun, though, as long as the soil is moist but well-draining. Mulch well to keep the moisture in. It’s pretty hardy and will tolerate cold winters and wind and a range of soils. It has separate male and female plants, which may be distinguished by the flowers — the female flowers are smaller. You’ll need both for fertile berries produced by the female plant. If you want to keep it compact, it responds well to pruning, even hedging. It also grows well in pots — but start it off in a large pot so you don’t have to transplant later, as it’s not keen on being disturbed. Prepare soil with compost and manure; feed in early spring and autumn. Native birds, particularly Tasmania’s green rosellas and black currawongs, love the berries and spread the plants in the wild by depositing the seeds.

MOUNTAIN PEPPER | POWER PLANT

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1 Dried Leaves 2 Mountain pepper is an attractive plant 3 Green rosellas love the berries

Seagold is a Soluble Seaweed Extract made from fresh Seaweed (alga), such as Ascophyllum Nodosum, Sargassum and Laminarials, which are rich in micronutrient and natural hormones. Seagold is a natural, non-toxic, harmless and non-polluting soil conditioner which improves quality in all crops by strengthening the cell walls and boosting the plants natural resistance to disease and adverse conditions. It promotes the

DID YOU KNOW? T. lanceolata was introduced into Cornwall, UK, and became known as Cornish pepperleaf. These days, extract of the plant is exported to Japan to add flavour to wasabi and chewing gum.

development of vigorous root systems for the plant to access nutrients and water which ultimately lead to increased yield. Improved quality is readily evident in bolder foliage, improved skin colour and texture, higher suger content and longer shelf life. Additional applications can be made immediately prior to or following stress periods such as frost and drought. Available in 150g, 1kg, 5kg and 20kg sizes.

For more information call 0410 335 633 or email admin@seagold.com.au | www.seagold.com.au Good Organic Gardening | 23


FAMILY HEIRLOOMS | WATERMELON

Summer sweetness NOTHING SAYS SUMMER LIKE AN ICE-COLD SLICE OF WATERMELON OR A GLASS OF THE CHILLED JUICE

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WATERMELON | FAMILY HEIRLOOMS Words Melissa King n a hot summer’s day, a chilled slice of watermelon is right up there with an ice-cold glass of lemonade. Oh-so refreshing! Watermelons are mostly water, so munching your way through a few slices is a pleasant way to hydrate, but did you know that this sweet, succulent fruit is also soaked with nutrients, antioxidants and amino acids? You can crunch on it, eat it by the spoonful as sorbet, slurp it in an ice-cold cocktail or even serve it up in a savoury salad or appetiser. In the garden, watermelon is a bit of a space hog, with sprawling vines that need room, but there are more compact-

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‘Sugar Baby’ is an heirloom favourite

growing varieties you can grow, like ‘Sugar Baby’. It’s an heirloom favourite that’s been around since the 1950s. The small, round watermelons have darkgreen skin, super-sweet red flesh and fit perfectly into the “icebox”. The vines are more compact, too, so it won’t take over the garden. ‘Crimson Sweet’ is another classic beauty: pretty to look at and sweet to taste, with big light-green melons with dark-green stripes, super-sweet crimsonred flesh and small dark seeds. If you can spare a few metres of garden space, it’s a great one to grow. Beyond the typical red watermelon, look out for ‘Mountain Sweet Yellow’ watermelons with big, elongated

Watermelons are very easy to grow

Wattermelon label

Bigstock

Common name: Water melon Botanical name: Citrul lus lanatus Group: Fruiting vine Requires: Long, warm summer; lots of sunshine and wa ter Dislikes: Drying out Suitable for: Vegie be ds, paddocks Habit: Annual Needs: Soil that is ric h and friable; regular water Propagation: Seed, see dling Difficulty: Easy

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FAMILY HEIRLOOMS | WATERMELON

YOU CAN CRUNCH ON IT, EAT IT BY THE SPOONFUL AS SORBET, SLURP IT IN AN ICE-COLD COCKTAIL OR EVEN SERVE IT UP IN A SAVOURY SALAD OR APPETISER.

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fruit and unusual orange-yellow flesh with a sweet honey flavour that’s to die for in summer. It’s wonderfully productive too, and fruits around 14 weeks from sowing. ‘Sweet Siberian’ is another heirloom type with sugary-tasting, succulent apricot-coloured flesh, which brings drama to a summer fruit salad or cocktail. This Russian variety is tried and true, dating back to the late 1800s, and as a bonus grows well in cooler areas. ‘Cream of Saskatchewan’ is another old heirloom with Russian roots that

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was introduced to Saskatchewan by Russian immigrants. The round, striped fruit is grown for its unique champagnecoloured flesh and wonderfully sweet flavour. The rind is thin and the skin splits easily, so it’s best devoured fresh from garden to table. Another good choice if you live in a colder zone. If different is what tickles your fancy, then you’ll love the ‘Golden Midget’ watermelon. As the name suggests, the fruit is petite by watermelon standards — weighing just 1.3kg on average — and the rind turns a lovely golden-yellow colour

when ripe. The golden skin is a great contrast to the sweet salmon-coloured flesh. It’s a winner with the kids, with big seeds that are easy to spit out. If you grow the aptly named watermelon ‘Moon and Stars’ it’s the distinctive skin that takes centre stage. The large, dark-green, oval-shaped fruit and foliage are speckled with small and large golden patches and spots, which resemble the moon and stars. It’s certainly a talking point in the garden and deliciously sweet, with both red and yellow-fleshed varieties available.

Bigstock, Shutterstock

1 The taste of summer 2 Make sorbet with it 3 ‘Mountain Sweet Yellow’ 4 Drink it


GROWING Watermelons need a long growing season and warm soil for the seeds to grow in, so planting is best done during spring (after the risk of frost has passed) and summer in most areas. Watermelon seeds can be sown directly, so choose a warm, sunny spot and prepare the area ďŹ rst with plenty of compost and organic matter to nourish the soil and improve drainage. The vines need plenty of room to grow, so plant seeds on raised mounds 1–2m apart. When vines begin to ramble, I like to pinch out the growing tip to encourage side branching and more compact growth. Keep vines well watered and fed throughout the growing season, but ease off on the water as the melons start to mature to intensify the sweetness of the fruit. Most watermelons are ready to pick and eat when the stem of the fruit is dry and brown and the underside of the melon has changed colour. When you are munching through the fruit, just be sure to put a few seeds aside from ripe heirloom varieties to plant again next season.

INTERESTING FACT It’s hard to imagine that a fruit so hydrating could have its origins in the Kalahari Desert of Africa, but botanists have found wild ancestors of the watermelon growing there.


GARDENING FOLK | BHAVANA ORGANIC FARM & COOKING SCHOOL

COOKING WELCOME TO A PICTURESQUE ORGANIC FARM AND COOKING SCHOOL IN THE BEAUTIFUL BYRON BAY HINTERLAND 28 | Good Organic Gardening


BHAVANA ORGANIC FARM & COOKING SCHOOL| GARDENING FOLK Words & photos Jo Immig agic happens when people come together with a shared dream and the courage to embrace change. And so it is with friends Jo Rushton, Susie Cameron and Greta Smith, who’ve combined forces as co-creators of Bhavana Organic Farm & Cooking School, located in the picturesque hinterland of Byron Bay, NSW. I was lucky enough to join them for their practice run and grand opening. Greta and her family first acquired the 125-acre property at Brooklet as a holiday home and working macadamia plantation, but a family health crisis was the impetus for change from their hectic city life. Once they moved to the

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property permanently, they began its transformation into a working organic farm, furthering their journey towards a more relaxed and healthful lifestyle. “Although the challenges have been immense, the joy and beauty I find in everyday life living in the Byron hinterland surpasses any doubts I may have had,” says Greta. “Farm life is pure bliss. Everywhere nature plays a role in grounding you, from the chickens to the organic garden and even the wicked storms.” Greta never imagined she’d find herself squatting among rows of vegetables, hand weeding. Her decision to study organic farming was a crucial step in gaining the knowledge and experience to

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develop and manage her own gardens. “It was a huge learning curve and the daily experience reminds me of the fragility of life as a farmer,” she says. Bhavana is a Sanskrit word meaning “spiritual cultivation” and is the motivation at the heart of this enterprise. The cooking school, under the direction of chef Jo Rushton, together with Susie Cameron’s seamless organisation, provides a nurturing and relaxing experience, while also educating and inspiring people in the fundamentals of nutrition and wellbeing. You can’t help but relax when you arrive, as hens waddle up to greet

BHAVANA IS A SANSKRIT WORD MEANING “SPIRITUAL CULTIVATION” AND IS THE MOTIVATION AT THE HEART OF THIS ENTERPRISE.

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1 Bhavana Cooking School 2 Red cabbage for fermenting 3 Resident chook Opposite page Jo (left) and Greta

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GARDENING FOLK | BHAVANA ORGANIC FARM & COOKING SCHOOL

1 1 Gluten-free pumpkin and almond bread 2 Fantastic fennel 3 Fermented vegetables 4 The table’s set for cooking-school lunch 5 Tasty organic heirloom carrots

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you and a freshly brewed organic herbal tea is served while you settle in. The meticulously renovated dairy bails provide the perfect setting for the cooking school with its stunning views over the rolling green hills and valleys for which the region is famed. Future plans for accommodation and extended workshops will also allow guests to have an immersive experience.

THE COOKING SCHOOL Readers of Good Organic Gardening may remember Jo Rushton’s regular contributions as the organic chef who provided delicious recipes over several

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years. Jo is also a life coach with a wealth of knowledge about healthy living and nutrition that she’s gained from firsthand experience. “Overcoming my own gut issues led me down a path studying under many amazing holistic health practitioners. I’ve learnt about the multi-disciplinary nature of the body-mind relationship and what’s required to facilitate healing from the inside out,” says Jo. “My early years as a chef gave me the practical skills to combine this knowledge and enables me to help and guide others on their health journey.” As we settled into the comfy couches,


BHAVANA ORGANIC FARM & COOKING SCHOOL| GARDENING FOLK Jo gave an informative presentation about the fundamentals of the digestive system and the importance of maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, a hot topic these days with the knowledge that 80 per cent of the immune system resides in the gut. “Soil is Mother Earth’s digestive system, so if it’s healthy, then that’s the basis of our own good digestion and health,” she says. With the importance of healthy soil in mind, we headed off to Greta’s organic garden and harvested bursting-with-life

vegetables for the day’s recipes. Then, aprons donned, we got started on the preparation, chopping and grating of vegetables, with lots of chatting and laughter among the group. Throughout the day, Jo’s well-planned recipes and gentle instruction eased us into cooking a range of simple, everyday foods that help heal the gut and stimulate digestion, providing the essential nutrition we need. Nourishing broths were made, glutenand dairy-free loaves of delicious bread baked, and vegetables fermented in jars

to take home. We baked chicken infused with lemon and garlic and prepared winter-greens; for sweets, a gluten-free rhubarb and apple crumble. Cooking the feast culminated in a languid alfresco lunch in the gentle afternoon sun, with those stunning views. We shared stories and enjoyed organic wine. As the sun slowly slipped behind the hills, we gathered around the fire pit for dessert and farewells. For more information, visit bhavanacookingschool.com

COOKING THE FEAST CULMINATED IN A LANGUID ALFRESCO LUNCH IN THE GENTLE AFTERNOON SUN, WITH THOSE STUNNING VIEWS. WE SHARED STORIES AND ENJOYED ORGANIC WINE.

Lunch is served — the empty chair is mine

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GARDENING FOLK | AARON BROCKEN

FIELDS OF GROWING FOOD JUST COMES NATURALLY TO THIS SELFSUFFICIENT SMALL FARMER

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AARON BROCKEN | GARDENING FOLK

1 An emerald forest — Mother Nature at her best 2 Cooking outdoors is all part of Aaron’s lifestyle 3 Aaron’s organic produce is chockfull of goodness and flavour

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3 Words Carrol Baker Photos Rebecca Leaver & Nick McKinlay he sound of wine glasses clinking together amid the soft laughter of friends gathered together in the sunshine to share a gourmet feast probably isn’t something you’d expect in a working orchard. Organic farmer Aaron Brocken recently hosted a mouth-watering lunch and farm tour to celebrate the end of the harvest season and to showcase the connection between fresh food and farming. Aaron lives and works on two properties in the rich fertile Bilpin district — he was born on one of the farms 30 years ago — and resides self-sufficiently in a tepee. “Almost all the food I eat is grown within two degrees of direct contact and I barter with the local organic shop for my food,” he says.

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SHARING KNOWLEDGE Aaron’s farming philosophy is about building a strong sense of community. It’s the exchange of knowledge and taking pride in what you grow, and it’s sharing the fruits of honest labour with family and friends. It reaches far beyond the semantics of field to fork, or paddock to plate. It’s also driven by a desire to raise awareness in an industry that, Aaron says, has seen a rapid and worrying decline in his local area in just a few short decades.

AARON USES RAISED GARDEN BEDS AT 10-20CM TO CAPTURE THE SUNLIGHT AND INCREASE DRAINAGE, WITH HOT COMPOST FOR A NUTRIENT BOOST. “Over 90 per cent of our local farms have gone out of business in the past 25 years,” he says. With many farmers selling up and cashing out to developers, Aaron’s bucking the trend by encouraging others to work the land and he’s establishing his farm as a “living museum” with heritage varieties.

FROM TRAVELLER TO FARMER Life as a farmer really began in earnest for Aaron just three years ago. After leaving school, he spent eight years travelling to far-flung exotic places, his wanderlust taking him sailing halfway around the world. He has lived in Mexico, India and Greece. While traversing

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GARDENING FOLK | AARON BROCKEN

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1 From field to fork, Aaron relishes growing fresh and flavoursome food 2 Freshly picked from the orchard to create delicious canapes 3 A bountiful harvest

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Notice nature. Look at the patterns, observe and work with the rhythms of the natural world. I also do biological illustrations, drawing plants as they start to change throughout the year. Enjoy not just growing food, but food culture. Understand how food expresses itself through flavour. The food in a specific area will be influenced by not only the natural environment but, over the years, the culture of the people using it, developing it in a certain way. Do yoga or stretches every day in the garden. It connects you to the natural world. In the garden, don’t rush what you do; enjoy the process. Share knowledge. In current mainstream farming systems, farmers are secretive about farming practices because they compete. I believe in sharing with other growers: techniques, implements, and bulk buying with other farmers so we all pay less. Listen to older farmers and gardeners and don’t discount the practices of others who might do things differently. For example, just because people use chemicals, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing to learn from them.

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the globe, Aaron witnessed farming practices in different cultures, which planted a seed in his consciousness, and when his journey finally took him back to his roots, that seed began to grow. “I could see in India that farmers were passionate about their food systems and they were being taken from them. It showed me how it can become corporatised,” he says. Aaron was also intrigued by Italian farming methods. “There is a lot of emphasis on localised and culturally specific food. Travel from one village to another and there’s different pastas,

wines, sauces and tomatoes,” he says. Aaron’s father Eric is an ardent advocate of organic gardening. Eric’s partner, Karen, is a horticultural therapist and avid gardener. “When I was young, dad certified organic farms with NASAA (The National Association for Sustainable Agriculture) and I’d travel out west with him,” he says. “Growing food for us really is just part of life.”

WORKING SIDE BY SIDE Aaron also pays homage to the local community, friends and neighbours who’ve offered support and guidance


AARON BROCKEN | GARDENING FOLK along the way, including 75-year-old farmer, Phil. His family came to Australia from Italy with nothing but a pocketful of smuggled fig seeds and a heartfelt desire to work the land. Aaron pitches in with some of the labour-intensive work for Phil, whose farm adjoins Aaron’s leased land, and Phil repays him with cuttings, seeds and knowledge about traditional farming. “There’s also John, who owns the blueberry farm at Mt Tomah. I lease a couple of acres from him and he’s shown me so much about grafting, weeding, machines and netting,” says Aaron, who is also assisted by agriculture students and WWOOFers (Willing Workers on Organic Farms), who help a few times a year. As well as selling and bartering food, Aaron’s developing other aspects of Harvest Farms. “How it works is through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) model,” he explains. “People sign up for the full season in advance, which ensures the farm has the funds for the upcoming season.”

FRENCH FUSION Aaron is currently experimenting with relay crop farming and French biointensive growing techniques. The French concept evolved before the Second World War, explains Aaron. “The French needed to grow more food on less land, and there was an abundance of horse poo fertiliser,” he says. This method also keeps weeds out and moisture in, creating its own little microclimate — and means it’s less work for the farmer in tending the crops. To deal with pests, he uses exclusion netting, crop rotation and introduced predatory bugs like lacewings, along with Dipel, a biological control. Aaron uses raised garden beds at 10–20cm to capture the sunlight and increase drainage, with hot compost for a nutrient boost. “Once it’s 60–68 degrees, that’s the optimal time for microbes to breed,” he explains. “We run the compost for 12–18 days, turning it every three days.” Harvest Farms is a one-stop farmer’s

market with two acres of vegetable crops and nuts, including broccoli, kohlrabi cabbage, cauliflower, capsicum, eggplant and tomatoes as well as chestnuts, hazelnuts and walnuts. There’s also 10 acres of reclaimed fruit plants, including blueberries, raspberries, peaches, plums and apples. Ask this young farmer why he loves life on the land and his answer is simple and heartfelt. “It just feels right to me.”

There is always work to be done

The mountains provide a majestic backdrop

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GARDENING FOLK | ZENKO & JANINE VUKELIC

THE M ULBERRY HAVE YOU EVER SEEN A HOUSE MADE OF LIVING TREES BEFORE? NEITHER HAVE WE, BUT HERE ARE THE EARLY STAGES OF A BIOTECTURE PROTOTYPE 36 | Good Organic Gardening


ZENKO & JANINE VUKELIC | GARDENING FOLK Words & photos Sandra Tuszynska enko and Janine Vukelic are the first people in Australia to be experimenting with growing their home from mulberry trees. Biotecture is not a new concept — rather, it’s a common practice in north-east India, where living bridges grown from aerial roots of rubber trees have been supporting river crossings for hundreds of years, becoming stronger and larger with time. Some tree species grow by the natural process of inosculation. This is when the branches and roots grow into each other,

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becoming one (it’s biologically similar to grafting). Another example is a strangler fig naturally forming a netlike weave by growing into itself. This behaviour can be encouraged by a process called pleaching: manually interlacing the branches of inosculating tree species. A friend of Zenko and Janine, Chris Piper, co-founder of Queensland-based Carbon Capture Construction, designs and grows living structures. He helped the couple come to the decision to grow their own house with the aim of becoming fully sustainable. When trained across a support

WHEN TRAINED ACROSS A SUPPORT STRUCTURE, MULBERRY TREES CAN EVENTUALLY GROW INTO A LIVING TREE HOUSE THAT CAN POTENTIALLY LIVE FOR 800 YEARS OR MORE!

structure, mulberry trees can eventually grow into a living tree house that can potentially live for 800 years or more! About 300 mulberry trees have been planted around Zenko and Janine’s house. “Mulberries are just so versatile,” says Zenko. “Not only are they easy to grow, providing excellent shade in summer yet allowing the house to heat up in winter, but they are also abundant fruiters. Our intention was always to increase the biodiversity of the bare block of land, and the mulberries provide a plentiful source of food and shelter for small birds, which have significantly increased in number since the trees have been planted.” The mulberries are being trained by Chris and Zenko using the process of pleaching to eventually grow

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3 1 Coffee beans 2 Mulberries nine months after planting back in April, 2016 3 Eggplants are in abundance 4 Friendly chooks Opposite page Zenko

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GARDENING FOLK | ZENKO & JANINE VUKELIC into one solid wall encasing the entire house, forming one central trunk above the roof and growing out as one giant tree. “This probably won’t happen in my lifetime, but the potential is there,” explains Zenko. The tunnel-shaped house and support structure for the mulberries is built from recycled street-lamp posts and covered with a poly-membrane. Shade cloth suspended on a number of wires secured to some posts allows the mulberries to climb and keeps them off the polymembrane, while providing shade and protection from UV rays. “The house can be deconstructed and re-erected elsewhere and all the materials can be reused or recycled,” says Zenko. Insulated and finished off

Mulberries just pruned

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with timber on the inside, it provides a very comfortable living space. Adjacent to the dwelling is a 100,000L aquiculture pond, which Zenko will plant out with edible aquatic species such as water chestnut. “It’s also great back-up water storage in case of a fire or drought and it’s much less expensive than buying a tank,” he explains.

WHAT GROWS AROUND THE MULBERRY HOUSE “My father was a keen gardener who grew lots of fruit trees,” says Zenko, explaining his aspiration to do the same for his family. “Tree-ripened apricots are like heaven — they are so unbelievably good! They are very difficult to buy, though.” The former naturopath, is

convinced that having access to freshly, organically grown food is a human necessity. “There is nothing like the joy of eating out of your own garden,” he adds. The couple chose the two-acre property on one of Tingoora’s hills in the South Burnett for good reason. “Our specific location and orientation mean that frosts are unlikely,” says Zenko. With 23 already-established mango trees, the plot is something of a mango lover’s paradise. Since moving there four years ago, Zenko has planted at least 30 fruit trees, including ice-cream bean, carob, pecan, macadamia, avocado, sunburst cherry, tropical apple and pear, loquat, black sapote, grumichama, jaboticaba, banana, lemon, lemonade, orange and papaya. There are also some moringa trees, which have superfood properties (see Good Organic Gardening 8.2 Jul/ Aug 2017 for more on moringa), and a neem tree with antiseptic, antiparasitic and anti-inflammatory values. He has also planted a variety of native flowering trees to provide pollen for birds and insects. Zenko buys organic compost from a local business, adds cow and pig manure and ensures the soil does not dry out to keep the microbes alive and healthy. Besides eggs, the chooks provide manure for liquid fertiliser and Zenko also makes his own compost to feed the soil microbes, ensuring the best nutrition for his plants and family. The property’s septic system is set up to separate the solids from the liquid, which overflows into a reed bed containing papyrus grass and native reeds, filtering the liquid waste. The filtered fluid gravity-feeds into a tank and is then pumped into an absorption trench, watering the soil down-slope. Zenko grows a variety of vegies and herbs, including cos and butter lettuce, spinach, bok choy, cabbage, coriander, basil, celery and eggplant. “Initially, kikuyu grass would take over my raised garden beds, so I experimented by first creating a cardboard and mulch layer between the soil and the garden bed, but the grass came through as soon as the cardboard decomposed. Now, I use a thick weed-mat to keep the grass from coming through the garden.” Tomatoes self-seed and pumpkin grows from the compost. “When we first moved in, we planted some sweet


ZENKO & JANINE VUKELIC | GARDENING FOLK

1 Yummy oranges 2 The well-tended gardens 3 Zenko picking ice-cream beans

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2 TREE-RIPENED APRICOTS ARE LIKE HEAVEN THEY ARE SO UNBELIEVABLY GOOD! THEY ARE VERY DIFFICULT TO BUY, THOUGH. potatoes and now they just keep coming back,” says Zenko. Geranium flowers provide bright colours around the house, too. “They grow easily, make a great groundcover and suppress the kikuyu,” he adds. On the road side of the property, vetiver grass filters the dust and acts as a screen when fully grown. Zenko and his family enjoy their small piece of paradise. The couple

are a great example of what can be achieved and how we can use nature to help simplify our lives. It seems that this exemplary first-of-its-kind project will lead the way in sustainable housing solutions. Just imagine — future generations living within selfmaintaining tree homes that we have planted for them? It’s every child’s dream come true!

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The life in your garden soil is what feeds the plants, so feed the microbes with compost and manure and keep up the moisture content. Plant an abundance of fruit trees to feed the visiting hungry wildlife and increase biodiversity in your garden. If you have grass, brush-cut around newly planted trees for the first few years; the grass and other mulch will feed the trees and help retain moisture around them. Use a weed mat to prevent persistent grass from getting into your raised garden beds. When growing cuttings, ensure you don’t overwater them as they will rot. The key is to find the right moisture balance.

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MOON PLANTING | JANUARY/FEBRUARY

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PLANTING JANUARY 2018 Mid-summer is a time of growth and productivity, but you may need to protect your new plants with some shade and give them plenty of water if the weather is dry. MON

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 New moon  First quarter

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When the moon is waxing from new moon to full moon, it is increasing light and drawing sap flow upwards. During the waning from full moon back to new moon, light decreases and sap is drawn downwards. This movement of sap flow has an influence on how well new plants will grow. There are four phases, each lasting seven to eight days. Sowing, planting and taking cuttings should not be done in the 12 hours before and after each phase. If you want to work in the garden at that time, carry out general tasks and improve your soil for planting. FRUITING ANNUALS Sow or plant annuals grown for their fruits or seeds. This is best done during the first quarter phase between first quarter and full moon, when sap is being drawn upwards.

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FEBRUARY 2018 This month there will be a definite focus on starting off your cooler-season crops from seed and keeping them under cover until it’s time to plant out in the garden. MON

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ROOT CROPS Sow or plant crops that produce below the ground, and also perennials. This is best done between full moon and last quarter when sap flow is being drawn downwards. LEAFY GREENS Sow or plant crops that are grown for their foliage. This is best done during the new moon phase between new moon and first quarter when sap is being drawn upwards. AVOID PLANTING The last quarter phase is not a good period for sowing or planting, so is best used to improve soil, weed, make compost and do other general chores.

28 Times are Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST). Add one hour during daylight saving. WA, SA & NT will need to adjust.

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VEGETABLES | PLANT NOW

TIME

PLANT

DEPENDING ON YOUR CLIMATE ZONE, THERE’S STILL PLENTY TO PLANT IN THE HOT AND HUMID MONTHS OF HIGH SUMMER NDS C O O L & H IG H LA

JANUARY

FEBRUARY

Basil, beans (dwarf), beetroot, burdock, cabbage, carrot, celeriac, celery, chives, collards, French tarragon, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, marrow, mustard greens, oregano, parsley, radish, salsify, shallots (eschalots), silverbeet, squash, sweet corn, turnip, zucchini

Beetroot, broccoli, burdock, carrot, cauliflower, chives, collards, fennel, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard greens, onion, oregano, parsley, radish, salsify, shallots (eschalots), silverbeet, swede, turnip

Amaranth, asparagus pea, beans (climbing, runner beans, dwarf), beetroot, burdock, carrot, chives, cucumber, eggplant, kohlrabi, lettuce, marrow, mustard greens, okra, radish, rosella, salsify, silverbeet, sunflower, swede, sweet corn, turnip, zucchini

Amaranth, beans (dwarf), beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, burdock, carrot, cauliflower, chives, collards, cucumber, endive, fennel, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard greens, onion, radish, rosella, salsify, silverbeet, swede, turnip

Amaranth, asparagus pea, basil, beans (climbing, runner, dwarf), beetroot, burdock, cape gooseberry, capsicum, chives, cucumber, eggplant, leek, lettuce, marrow, mustard greens, okra, oregano, pumpkin, radish, rockmelon, rosella, salsify, silverbeet, squash, sunflower, swede, sweet corn, tomato, turnip, watermelon, zucchini

Amaranth, asparagus pea, beans (climbing, runner, dwarf), beetroot, broccoli, burdock, cape gooseberry, capsicum, carrot, chillies, cucumber, eggplant, leek, lettuce, mustard greens, okra, onion, oregano, parsley, pumpkin, radish, rosella, salsify, silverbeet, squash, sunflower, swede, sweet corn, turnip, zucchini

Mustard greens, sweet corn, sweet potato

Mustard greens, sweet corn, sweet potato

Amaranth, asparagus, asparagus pea, beans (climbing, runner, dwarf), borage, Brussels sprouts, burdock, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, chives, cucumber, daikon, eggplant, marrow, pumpkin, radish, rhubarb, salsify, shallots (eschalots), silverbeet, spinach, squash, sunflower, sweet corn, tomato, zucchini

Amaranth, asparagus pea, beans (dwarf), beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, burdock, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, cauliflower, chives, cucumber, daikon, kohlrabi, leeks, marrow, onion, pumpkin, radish, rhubarb, salsify, shallots (eschalots), silverbeet, spinach, squash, sunflower, swede, tomato, turnip, zucchini

T E M PE R AT E

S U B T R O PI C AL

T R O PI C AL

AR ID

These maps are simplified versions adapted from climate maps by the Bureau of Meteorology and are only a rough guide. Microclimates can be formed anywhere. Good Organic Gardening | 41


TIME TO PLANT | ECHINACEA

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C ON E OF COLOUR WHETHER YOU WANT TO USE IT MEDICINALLY OR NOT, ECHINACEA IS AN ATTRACTIVE ADDITION TO ANY GARDEN

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DID YOU KNOW? The name “echinacea” comes from the Greek word echinos, meaning hedgehog, because of the spiny cone you find on most flowers. The common name “cone flower” comes from the way the flower petals tend to droop or fall away from the cone-shaped centre.

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you grow it for its medicinal value or simply because it’s an attractive, easy-togrow plant, it’s guaranteed to be a showy addition to your garden. Echinacea blooms over a long period, from summer right through to autumn, producing masses of striking daisy-like flowers with a prominent cone. It also shines in both fresh and dried floral arrangements. And, as a further string to its bow, it’s a magnet for beneficial insects such as bees and butterflies. Most named forms are purple or pink flowering like the magnificent Echinacea ‘Magnus Superior’, which boasts masses of dark carmine pink flowers through summer and autumn. But recent plant developments have also seen the introduction of yellow, white and nearred flowering varieties, which add more colour and interest to an already exciting plant. Echinacea is the perfect choice for providing a splash of late-perennial colour to the garden. You can plant it

Common name: Echina cea, cone flower Botanical name: Echina cea purpurea Family: Asteraceae Aspect and soil: Full sun Climate: Most Habit: Herbaceous perenn ial Propagation: Seed, divisio n, cutting Difficulty: Easy

en masse for dramatic impact or allow it to mingle with other late-season flowers in the cottage border.

GROWING For best results, grow it in full sun and incorporate plenty of compost and organic matter into the soil before planting. Originating from the prairies of eastern and central North America, echinacea is a no-fuss plant that needs

Bigstock

Words Melissa King ention the name purple cone flower to most people and you’re likely to get a blank look, but if you talk about echinacea you will probably get instant recognition. It’s a little unusual, I guess, for the scientific name to be more prominent, but that’s due mostly to its recognition as a medicinal herb. Whatever you call it, echinacea is a plant that ticks all the boxes. Whether

Echinacea label


ECHINACEA | TIME TO PLANT

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little maintenance and, once established, little water. It’s a herbaceous perennial, so the foliage will die back in winter in cold areas but pop back up again happily in spring.

MEDICINAL HISTORY

1 A magnet for beneficial insects 2 Vibrant colour in the garden

Indigenous Americans are said to have used this versatile plant for various medicinal purposes, including treating insect bites, toothaches and stomach cramps. Today it’s used mostly for its immune-boosting properties.

Did you know? In Australia we put over 30 Million Plastic toothbrushes (1000 tonnes) into landfill each year. The plastic they are made from will not break down in your lifetime nor in the lifetime of your children. The Environmental Toothbrush TM is a simple solution to help save our planet. Made from bamboo, they are biodegradable and environmentally sustainable. Available in Adult Soft, Adult Medium and Child Soft

A better way to do the washing! We all know that laundry detergents are toxic, for us and for the environment. But, did you know that Soap Nuts will do an outstanding job cleaning your washing with no need for fabric softeners or other additives? Or use them as soap for personal use, or an outstanding general cleanser. Say goodbye to those skin allergies caused by your detergents! From 100g to 1kg

Good Organic Gardening | 43


TIME TO PLANT | GHERKIN

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IN A PICKLE

REALLY JUST SMALL CUCUMBERS, GHERKINS ARE A STAPLE FOR PICKLING Words Jennifer Stackhouse f you’re looking at that jar of gherkins and wondering what they are so you can grow your own, stop wondering and read on. A gherkin is just a small cucumber and is grown in the same way cucumbers are grown. The traditional cucumber produces a long, dark-green fruit, but gherkin

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varieties are small and may have hairy skins. Great in salads or for preserving, an easy-to-grow variety to look out for is ‘Gherkin Pickling’. In warm climates, sow seeds from spring to summer. In cool zones, plant out gherkin seedlings in mid summer. In subtropical and tropical zones, gherkins can be grown throughout the year.

Gherkin label

Common name: Gherkin Botanical name: Cucum is satavis Family: Cucurbitaceae (cu cumber family) Aspect and soil: Sun to light afternoon shade (warm climates only); well-drained soil Best climate: All Habit: Annual vine, 2m tall Propagation: Sow seed or plant seedlings in spring and summer Difficulty: Easy

Pick gherkins when small

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Like cucumbers, gherkins grow on a sprawling vine, but they can be grown in any-sized vegetable garden or even in a large container by training the vine onto tall stakes, a tepee or along a trellis. Growing gherkins off the ground also keeps the fruit clear of the soil and reduces damage by pests or diseases. In cool climates with a short growing season, managing the size of the vine is important to achieve any crop. Rather than allow the vine to grow as high and

Bigstock, Shutterstock

WHERE TO GROW


GHERKIN | TIME TO PLANT

1 1 West Indian gherkin 2 Cucamelon 3 On the vine

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MEXICAN SOUR AND OTHER GHERKINS This grape-sized gherkin is better known in Australian gardens as a mouse melon or cucamelon. Its botanic name is Melothoria scabra. It is a cucumber relative, not a melon, and grows readily in warm climates, producing fruit over many months that can be eaten fresh or preserved as a pickle. The West Indian gherkin (Cucumis anguria) is a species of cucumber that looks like it dropped from outer space. It has a spiky skin and a seedy interior. It can be cooked, eaten fresh or pickled.

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GHERKINS ARE USUALLY TROUBLE-FREE, PARTICULARLY WHEN GROWN WITH REGULAR WATER AND LIQUID FEEDING. wide as it wants, tip-prune it after it produces six or so nodes. Alternatively, grow the vine in a warm, sunny but sheltered spot such as a glasshouse. Although the vines need full sun in mild climates, in very hot areas they can be given shelter from the scorching afternoon sun. This reduces sun scald and water stress.

Bigstock, Shutterstock, David Schering CC

GETTING STARTED Gherkins grow from large seeds direct sown into a garden bed, or a large container if you prefer, as the weather warms in spring or early summer. If temperatures are cooler, start seeds off in punnets and move them into the garden or a larger pot as they grow. In the subtropics and tropics, gherkins can be grown year round. In a garden bed, space plants or direct sow seeds 12mm deep and 40cm apart, placing them beside a 2m-high stake or trellis. Sow into moist soil.

In a container, sow one vine per pot or, if the space is larger and they are to be trained up a tepee structure, plant one seed at the base of each leg of the tepee. Encourage the young plants to climb onto the stake or climbing frame. Expect the seeds to germinate in around 6–10 days. As the plants grow, keep them well watered, watering the roots rather than the foliage as wet foliage may encourage fungal diseases. These vines are heavy feeders, so add plenty of compost and rotted manure to the soil before planting. Adding mulch around the base of the plant helps to keep the roots cool and the soil moist. Liquid-feed fortnightly to encourage strong growth. Gherkins are usually trouble-free, particularly when grown with regular water and liquid feeding. Mildew, a fungal disease, often attacks plants at the end of the growing season. Where this occurs remove the vine as it begins to die back.

HARVESTING, STORING AND PRESERVING Pick the fruit while it is small (around 5cm long) and use it to pickle whole. Gherkins can also be sliced and preserved as homemade bread and butter cucumbers. It’s important to pick the fruit while it’s small as it grows rapidly into a large seedy cucumber. As the fruit matures it can also become bitter and the skin becomes tough. Look for fruit 8–10 weeks from planting out seedlings.

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TIME TO PLANT | LEEK Words Jennifer Stackhouse ith cultivar names like ‘Welsh Wonder’, ‘Colossal’ and ‘Unique’, leeks are staking their claim as large, robust and striking vegetables. The bit that’s eaten is the white part of the lower stem (above the root and below the tough green leaf tops). While rigid and usually called a stem or stalk, it isn’t a true stem but is made up of leaf bases tightly overlapping. Although part of the onion family, leeks don’t form bulbs. Like onions, leeks are cool-season crops which grow best in the temperature range of 13°C–24°C. Leeks are a must-have ingredient to make warming bowls of leek and potato soup and are an alternative to onions. In cool and temperate areas, seed is sown from late summer to early autumn. Seedlings are planted through autumn and winter. In tropical zones, leeks are a dry-season crop, sown in April. Transplant seedlings into the vegetable garden when they are large enough to handle (around 12cm high). Seedlings can be planted during autumn and early winter.

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TA L L AND TEN DER

THIS EDIBLE ALLIUM ADDS A SWEET ONIONY FLAVOUR TO A RANGE OF DISHES

HOW TO GROW To develop the tender white “stalks”, seedlings are planted into trenches or individual holes around 15–20cm deep. Just cover the roots so the plants are stable. As the seedlings grow, earth up soil around the stem. This blanches the stem so it’s white or light green in colour and tender. Watering will also wash soil in around the stem. Leeks grow best in full sun with welldrained soil. With less light they’ll be

Leek label

Common name: Leek

Family: Alliaceae Aspect and soil: Full sun; regular moisture Climate: All Habit: Annual bulb Propagation: Seed, seedling Difficulty: Easy

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Bigstock

Botanical name: Allium ampeloprasum Porrum Group (syn. A. pourrum)


LEEK | TIME TO PLANT

1 1 Cool-season growing avoids bolting to flower 2 Leek roots 3 Leek field 4 Leek

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LEEKS ARE A MUST-HAVE INGREDIENT TO MAKE WARMING BOWLS OF LEEK AND POTATO SOUP AND ARE A USEFUL ALTERNATIVE TO ONIONS. spindly and may be prone to pests such as aphids. Well grown, they have few pest or disease problems but protect from snails and slugs with organic or homemade snail bait. Water regularly (more frequently in hot weather) and liquid-feed every two weeks to encourage fast growth and plump leeks. Water-stressed leeks can bolt to flower. Leeks are generally trouble-free but may be attacked by onion thrips, which cause white flecking on the leaves. Diseases are kept in check by removing weeds and maintaining good spacing between plants.

HARVEST AND STORAGE Where you have leeks in the garden, simply harvest the stems as needed. Plants are ready to harvest when they are 2–2.5cm thick or around 12 weeks from transplanting seedlings. After harvest, wash thoroughly then chop off the roots and tough leaf tops. Next, wash the stalks clean of soil and they’re ready to chop. Washing carefully is important as leeks can be gritty if soil has worked its way between the leaf sheaths. To remove any dirt, remove the tough outer leaves and make vertical cuts in the stalk, then wash well.

If you harvest too much, or have bought leeks from the supermarket or greengrocer, simply wrap them well in clingwrap and store them in the crisper of the fridge where they’ll keep for several weeks. Leeks are usually sliced finely and sautéed before being added to soups, stews or pies. This slow cooking softens them and helps develop the sweet flavour. The tougher leaf tops can be added to stocks for an oniony flavour. Leeks are rich in vitamins A and C.

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TIME TO PLANT | POMEGRANATE

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RED GE MS Words Melissa King he pomegranate is among the oldest cultivated fruits, originating from Persia, Afghanistan and surrounding areas. The fruit is striking to look at hanging on the tree, but even more beautiful when you cut it open to reveal the fleshy jewel-like seeds inside. In fact, the name “pomegranate” translates to “seeded apple” and the fruit is seen as a symbol of hope and abundance in many cultures. Rumour even has it that the apple that tempted Eve in the garden of Eden was a pomegranate. The pomegranate is one small tree with a lot to offer: glossy green leaves,

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DID YOU KNOW? Although the name pomegranate means “seeded apple”, the fruit is technically a leathery-skinned berry.

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attractive autumn foliage colour, pretty red-orange flowers and colourful fruit that is both decorative and delicious — and brings that something special to your cooking. Pomegranates are also members of the exclusive antioxidant-rich superfood group and are wonderfully rich in vitamin C. Pomegranate plants have popped up in gardens over many years, but it’s only comparatively recently that the fruit has leapt into prominence, with its sweet-tart and juicy seeds — often called arils — leading the charge. Maybe it’s the influence of the mass of cooking shows on television, but these days we seem to know a lot more about how to use the seeds to enhance a salad or add flavour and interest to a variety of dishes. In fact, the versatile pomegranate can be used to add zing to juices, salads, sweets and mixed drinks and is an essential ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking.

Pomegranate label

Common name: Pomegr anate Botanical name: Punica granatum Group: Shrub to small tre e Requires: Full sun; well-d rained soil Dislikes: Poor drainage Suitable for: Orchards, hedges, containers Habit: Deciduous to sem ideciduous Needs: Long, warm gro wing season Propagation: Seed, suc kers, tip cutting Difficulty: Easy

VARIETIES Keep an eye out for delicious-named varieties that you can grow at home, like ‘Wonderful’ with stunning deep-red fruit and juicy, sweet, fragrant seeds; ‘Gulosha Azerbaijani’ with luscious deep-red seeds that explode in your mouth; ‘Gulosha Rosavaya’ (Russia with Love) with picture-perfect light-pink fruit; or ‘Ben Hur’, an Australian-bred variety with fruit the size of cricket balls.

Bigstock

THIS MIDDLE EASTERN FAVOURITE DOES WELL IN AUSTRALIAN GARDENS AND HAS BECOME POPULAR IN OUR COOKING


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www.holmanindustries.com.au

GROWING CONDITIONS Pomegranates are easy to grow and seem to adapt well to Australian conditions. Grow them in a warm, sunny spot and pay some attention to watering in spring to aid fruit setting. Pomegranates are both frost- and drought-tolerant. Prune lightly in winter to keep plants nice and bushy.

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Module pre-assambled Ready to Grow

One panel with fresh herbs

Living wall of herbs and flowers

Vertical Gardening

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Discover the endless possibilities 1 Vibrant redorange owers 2 An attractive small tree 3 Pomegranate livens up a salad

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Create a stunning living wall with the HOLMAN Vertical Planting Kit. This simple to install modular system comes complete with inbuilt adjustable drippers watering each pot so you can have an edible wall of herbs all year around.

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TIME TO PLANT | SILVERBEET

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VEGIE PATCH

YEA R-ROUND GRE ENS FOR LEAFY GREENS AT ANY TIME OF THE YEAR, ALWAYS HAVE THIS NUTRITIOUS, EASY-GROW PLANT IN YOUR BACKYARD VEGIE PATCH

Words Jennifer Stackhouse ever be without a few plants of silverbeet in the garden. This long-lasting and easy-to-grow leafy vegetable will ensure there’s always something green and nutritious to harvest for dinner. Silverbeet is often called spinach, but its large puckered leaves and stiff stems are more robust than the delicate leaves of true or English spinach. The two plants are closely related and both are part of a large group of vegetables in the amaranth family, which also includes beetroot. Although often considered a secondrate vegetable as the leaves are not as fine or as delicately flavoured as English spinach, silverbeet is more tolerant of warm weather than its tender relative. English spinach grows best while the weather is cool, but silverbeet grows happily year-round. As well as the green, leafy silverbeet,

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Silverbeet label

there are also varieties with colourful stalks known as rainbow chard. These forms have ruby-red, yellow, orange or white stalks. The colour often spills into the leaf veins.

BEST CLIMATE Silverbeet grows year-round in all climates and is cold- and heat-tolerant, a legacy of its Mediterranean heritage. It’s a longlasting and highly productive vegetable. Although silverbeet grows all year, the best time to sow seeds to start new plants is during spring and summer. In warm zones, seeds can be planted at any time of the year.

GETTING STARTED Producing strong leafy stems means starting with well-prepared soil. Before direct sowing seed or planting seedlings in the vegie patch, prepare the soil by digging it over thoroughly. Remove rocks and clods (hard lumps of dirt) to ensure

Common name: Silverb eet, spinach, Swiss chard Botanical name: Beta vul garis Family: Amaranthaceae (amaranth family) Aspect and soil: Full sun to light shade; well-drained soil Best climate: All Habit: Perennial grown as an annual Propagation: Seed, seedlin g Difficulty: Easy

the roots can easily penetrate the soil and produce lots of leaves. Silverbeet prefers a neutral to slightly alkaline soil, so dig in lime to acidic soils (this is best done in autumn). With the soil prepared, sow the seed in shallow rows about 2cm deep and 20-30cm apart, pressing the seed firmly into the soil and lightly covering it. Keep


SILVERBEET | TIME TO PLANT the soil moist for the 10–14 days it can take for the seedlings to appear. Select the strongest seedling and either transplant the thinnings (the plants that are removed) or eat them in a salad. Silverbeet can also be sown into a seedling punnet or seed tray and allowed to grow until the seedlings are around 3–5cm high and ready to be planted into the garden. When planting seedlings, soak the punnet thoroughly to make it easier to gently separate each plant. They can then be planted out about 20–30cm apart. This allows each plant room to grow a good-sized bunch of leaves. To produce silverbeet in a container, choose a pot that’s 20–30cm across and grow one plant per pot. There are very few problems encountered when growing silverbeet, but watch out for snails and slugs. If there are holes in the leaves, search for the culprits among the leaves or at the base of the clump and remove

any that are found. In warm climates, grasshoppers may also chew the leaves. Any fine, regularly shaped holes in the leaves are likely to be caused by a leaf fungus. Generally, this problem can be dealt with effectively by removing damaged leaves and applying a seaweed solution and liquid fertiliser to encourage strong regrowth.

HARVEST, STORAGE AND COOKING Silverbeet generally takes around 8–12 weeks from sowing until the plant is large enough to start harvesting the leaves. Seedlings can be ready to harvest in five weeks. This is a cut-and-come-again plant. Pick leaves from the outside of the clump, cutting them close at the plant base. Leave at least four or five young leaves to keep the plant growing, but harvest leaves regularly. With regular watering and fortnightly liquid feeding, leaves keep on growing,

providing greens over many months. Use a liquid fertiliser that’s high in nitrogen for an abundance of tender leaves. If the plant starts to send out a flowering stem, remove it quickly as the plant will stop producing new leaves and concentrate its energies on flowering. Excess silverbeet leaves can be stored dry and well wrapped in plastic for a week or more in the crisper section of the fridge. Clean gently to remove any dirt or grit from the stems or leaves. To eat, steam finely chopped stems and leaves. They can be used in any recipe that calls for spinach, such as spinach quiche or spanakopita. The stems are often cooked separately and served with white sauce. Silverbeet isn’t just an easy green vegetable. It has high levels of vitamins A, K and C, and is high in potassium, iron, zinc and manganese.

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AS WELL AS THE GREEN, LEAFY SILVERBEET, THERE ARE ALSO VARIETIES WITH COLOURFUL STALKS KNOWN AS RAINBOW CHARD.

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DID YOU KNOW?

Kerry Boyne

Portugal’s national dish, caldo verde, is a green soup made with silverbeet.

1 Red-stemmed Swiss chard 2Yellow-stemmed Swiss chard

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TIME TO PLANT | SWEDE Words Jennifer Stackhouse wedes and turnips are closely related but, while turnips have become a sexy and hip vegetable, swedes are still languishing on the “old-fashioned vegie” shelf. Many people consider them little better than pig food. Swedes are a lumpy looking root vegetable that’s usually creamy yellow with a purple top. It has a deep, earthy flavour. Its positive features are that it’s easy to grow and stores well. It’s also versatile as it can be added to soups or casseroles, or served by itself mashed or steamed. ‘American Purple Top’ is an heirloom variety with a long pedigree that dates back to 1871. ‘Champion Purple Top’ is a variety that’s commonly available.

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FAST G ROWER THOUGH CONSIDERED AN OLDFASHIONED VEGIE, THIS CLOSE COUSIN OF THE TURNIP REAPS QUICK REWARDS

GETTING STARTED If you want to try this generous root vegetable and you live in a cold zone, late winter and into spring is a great time to get planting. For other areas, sow swede seed during summer and autumn so the plants grow through the cooler months. Before planting, work a little complete fertiliser into the soil and ensure the soil is free of clods. Start swede from seed, which is sown directly where it is to grow. Sow the seed in rows to make weeding and management of the crop easier, and space the rows 20–30cm apart. Swede seed is fine. Sow it at about 6mm deep into lightly moist soil. The ideal way to make a planting furrow for swede and other fine seeds is to lay a rake or other long-handled tool across the prepared bed and gently push it into the soil. After scattering the seeds along the shallow furrow, lightly cover them with

Common name: Swede , turnip swede, rutabaga Botanical name: Brassic a rapa Family: Brassicaceae (ca bbage family) Aspect and soil: Sun; we ll-drained soil Best climate: Cool, Medite rranean, temperate, subtropical Habit: Annual root vegeta ble Propagation: Seed Difficulty: Easy

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Bigstock, Jeevan Jose CC, Forest & Kim Star CC

Swede label


SWEDE | TIME TO PLANT soil, vermiculite or seed-raising mix, then water gently. Try to sow the seed thinly as it’s likely the seedlings will require thinning as they grow. The small seedlings begin emerging from the soil in around 6–10 days. Once they are large enough to handle, thin the seedlings to allow about 10cm between each plant. Select the largest and strongest seedlings to grow.

TROUBLESHOOTING If the plants are kept well watered, weed free and liquid-fed occasionally, little should go wrong. As these vegies are members of the brassica family they will, however, be attacked by the caterpillars of the cabbage white butterfly. These caterpillars feed on the foliage, not the developing swede, so they won’t harm the main crop. Control caterpillars by regularly searching for them among the green leaves. Squash any you find or throw them to the chooks for a nutritious snack. Safe controls include Dipel (based on Bacillus thuringiensis) and products containing the biological insecticide Spinetoram (derived from a natural bacteria).

such a large root vegetable, swedes grow surprisingly fast. Plants can be ready to add to the cooking pot in 85–90 days. To extend the crop, make additional sowings every four weeks. Swedes keep well in the ground but left too long become coarse and woody. Harvest when they are around the size of a small orange. Harvesting alternate swedes leaves space for those still in the ground to grow. Once the swede is pulled from the ground, shake it free of soil and remove the top by twisting or cutting off the leaves, leaving about 2cm of stalk. Swedes keep well in a cool, dark spot (such as a cellar or cool pantry) but keep best in the refrigerator where they can last for 8–10 weeks.

Swedes can be served boiled and mashed as well as steamed, sauteed and roasted. Make excess into chutney or pickles. Swedes are high in vitamin C but this important vitamin can be lost during cooking. Steaming until just tender reduces the loss of nutrients.

AVAILABILITY Swede seeds are available from garden centres but for special varieties, check online vegetable specialists. Here are some examples: ‘Tasmanian Butter’ swede is available from Southern Harvest (southernharvest.com.au), while Diggers Club (diggers.com.au) has ‘Laurentian’ and Eden Seeds (edenseeds.com.au) ‘Champion Purple Top’.

FOR SUCH A LARGE ROOT VEGETABLE, SWEDES GROW SURPRISINGLY FAST. PLANTS CAN BE READY TO ADD TO THE COOKING POT IN 85-90 DAYS.

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HARVESTING AND STORING The young green leaves from each plant can be added to salads or steamed. For

SWEDE CROSS Some of the weirdest vegetables are hybrids between different species. With the current popularity of kale, how about growing a swede kale? This vegetable has the bulbous stem of a swede or turnip and is topped with edible kale leaves. This hybrid brassica is often grown as a forage crop but if you grow both vegetables and let them flower and harvest seed, you may discover you’ve created your own hybrid.

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1 Swedes are quite easy to grow and store well 2&3 The versatile swede can be cooked in all the same ways potato can

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ORNAMENTAL | WATERLILIES

Star of the pond THESE PRETTY, ICONIC FLOWERS THAT CALL THE POND HOME INSPIRED ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS ARTISTS

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WATERLILIES | ORNAMENTAL Words Jennifer Stackhouse he Impressionist artist Claude Monet made waterlilies famous as garden plants. He grew hardy waterlilies in the large ponds in his garden at Giverny in France and carefully managed the plants to achieve an appealing balance between the clumps of lilies and the open stretches of water. Waterlilies in different lights and conditions became the subject of many of Monet’s paintings. Monet’s inspirational water garden can still be seen growing as he painted it. The garden is open from April to October (see giverny.org). Water in the form of a pond is a

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vital element in an organic garden as it creates habitat for beneficial insects as well as attracting birds, frogs and reptiles. Part of creating a natural habitatt in and around a pond is to plant the o margins with water plants. There are also plants that can be grown in the pond to shade the water surface and help add oxygen to the water. One of the prettiestt of these is the waterlily. As well as producing beautiful starshaped flowers, the lily’s floating leaves (known as lily pads) offer shelter for small fish and other aquatic animals. As there are waterlilies from many climatic zones there’s a lily for every garden. Tropical waterlilies

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Waterlily label

Common name: Water lily Botanical name: Nymp haea spp. and hybrid cultivars Family: Nymphaceae (waterlily family) Aspect and soil: Full sun ; rich soil in pots or soil in water Best climate: All Habit: Perennial Propagation: Dividing rhizomes, potted plants Difficulty: Medium

1 Waterlily ‘Hardy White’ 2 The blue Australian waterlily 3 By Claude Monet

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WATER QUALITY CHECK Don’t expect crystal-clear water in a pond as it’s a growing environment full of micro-organisms. An easy way to assess water quality is to check whether your hand is visible in the water at 20cm depth. If it is, the water quality is good.

Bigstock, Sue Tapping

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Good Organic Gardening | 55


ORNAMENTAL | WATERLILIES such as the blue Australian waterlily (Nymphaea gigantea) grow well in the tropical north. For cool zones, select forms of the European or hardy waterlily (N. alba) with blue, pink, white or yellow flowers and small, round leaves.

WATER DEPTH Waterlilies are sold as dormant rhizomes in late winter and spring, but summer is a good time to purchase them in flower in garden centres or from waterplant specialists. To be able to select the best lily for your water feature, know the size and

depth of the pond. Large waterlilies need more than 30cm water depth to grow and do best in a pond with a water surface of at least a square metre. Miniature waterlilies, however, can grow in shallower water, needing only to be submerged 15–20cm below the water surface. A small water garden featuring a miniature waterlily can be grown in a large container such as a ceramic pot on a balcony or roof garden.

GET GROWING Waterlilies are often found growing in shallow watercourses. In an earth-lined

1 The red-tinged foliage matures to green 2 The star-shaped flowers are stunning 3 Waterlilies can become invasive 4 The broad leaves give shelter to small fish

dam, waterlilies can be planted into the natural soil, but the easiest way to grow them in a lined garden pond is to plant them in mesh baskets or squat pots filled with a soil mix made up with one part garden soil (a clay loam is ideal) and three parts well-rotted manure. Don’t use potting mix or compost that can float out of the pot when it’s placed in the water. Position the waterlily rhizome in the container so its “nose” (growing tip) is just at the top of the soil. The surface of the pot is then generally topped with a layer of gravel to deter fish from disturbing the soil.

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Some waterlilies are fragrant. There are night-fragrant varieties that open in the evening to perfume the air. There are also some day-opening varieties that are scented.

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Bigstock

DID YOU KNOW?


WATERLILIES | ORNAMENTAL

The lotus stands proud of the water

AS WELL AS PRODUCING BEAUTIFUL STARSHAPED FLOWERS, THE LILY’S FLOATING LEAVES (KNOWN AS LILY PADS) OFFER SHELTER FOR SMALL FISH AND OTHER AQUATIC ANIMALS. Waterlily growers recommend adding extra fertiliser to the waterlily pot for lilies growing in large ponds. Use a slowrelease fertiliser tablet to avoid adding too much fertiliser to the pond, which can lead to unwanted algal growth. Water the container before it’s placed in the pond. Do this by dunking the pot or basket in a bucket of water until all the air bubbles are released. To position the basket at the correct depth for the type of waterlily that’s being grown, place it on a stack of bricks in the pond. As a guide, miniature waterlilies should be placed so the top of the pot is 15–20cm below the water. Large lilies can be set 20–30cm below the water surface. To grow more waterlilies, divide and repot existing clumps in spring as growth

resumes. Plants that are in flower can be placed in a pond at any time.

FLOWERING Waterlilies flower from mid spring to early autumn and most open during the day but close at night. To get the best from waterlilies, grow them in the sunniest part of the pond. Waterlilies tolerate full sun to part shade (four to five hours a day in summer) but flower best with more sun. They are slow to open on dull days or in heavily shaded parts of the pond. Waterlilies prefer still water so don’t grow well under a splashing fountain or in running water.

ORGANIC CARE As healthy ponds are full of insects, fish, frogs and micro-organisms, it’s crucial

LOTUS While waterlily flowers and leaves float on the water surface, lotus (Nymphaea lotus) flowers stand proud of the water surrounded by large wavy-edged leaves. Lotuses have large white or pink flowers with a distinctive pepper-pot-style centre, which matures as seeds develop. Lotuses orginated in Egypt and grow best in warm to tropical climates where they flower from spring to summer.

to manage them organically. One of the most important tasks is to regularly remove excess leaves and rotting plants, which can overload nutrient levels in a pond. Nutrients from surrounding gardens and lawns may also wash into the pond and encourage the growth of algae in the water. While waterlilies are robust plants, they may attract aphids. The easiest way to control these is to hose them off or drown them in the pond water.

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WEEKEND GARDENING | EDIBLE AQUATIC PLANTS II

m o r e WAT E R B A B I E S CONTINUING WITH OUR PICK OF EDIBLE WATER PLANTS TO ADD TO A PRODUCTIVE POND

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TARO, COLOCASIA ESCULENTA ‘BUN LONG’ & COLOCASIA GIGANTEA ‘BAC HAR’ Habitat and cultivation: Taro, depending on variety and selection, is grown in the subtropics and tropics for its edible root crop, leaves and stems. It can be grown in either full sun or semi-shade as a wetland crop or a dry land crop, but irrigation must be kept up to it when grown in the latter conditions. Taro prefers a wet or waterlogged situation but there are some varieties that have been specifically bred to prefer more free-draining soils that are just moist, not wet. Keeping your taro in drier growing conditions would also be preferable when attempting to grow it in cooler climate zones. Applications of potassium during the growing season

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will ensure bumper tuber crops. Taros have beautiful, big, light-green heart-shaped leaves that are supported by long, fleshy stems that can grow up to 1.5m tall. Colocasia esculenta ‘Bun Long’ and ‘Chinese’ dasheen types are grown for their bountiful root crops and are an important food staple in the Pacific region. ‘Bun Long’ is an excellent-eating taro that grows well in the tropics. The ‘Chinese’ cultivar will grow quite well in a more subtropical location. The tubers mature in around 9–12 months. An indicator that it’s time to harvest is when the foliage yellows and starts to die down. The tubers can then be lifted and prepared for eating. They will not store for more than a month. So if you’re not ready to eat them all, it’s best to leave some in the ground until you are. Colocasia gigantea ‘Bac Ha’, or Celery Stem Taro, is grown for its prolific edible leaves and stems. These stems and leaves MUST BE COOKED before eating. Uses: Taro ‘Bun Long’ and dasheen types are grown for their superior tubers, which are peeled and baked, boiled, mashed or steamed. They make fantastic chips, too.

You cannot eat the tuber raw as tubers contain calcium oxalate crystals, which can be an oral irritant. Gigantea, commonly called ‘Bac Ha’, ‘Tahitian Spinach’ or ‘Celery Stem Taro’, is grown for its edible young leaves and stems. It can be used as a spinach substitute or added to soups, casseroles and so forth. Remember, the stems and leaves need to be very well cooked before eating — they are NEVER eaten raw. They provide nutrients such as protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, potassium and vitamins A, B and C.

WATER CHESTNUTS, ELEOCHARIS DULCIS Habit and cultivation: These supernutritious, delicious corms come from underneath a rush-like plant that grows to around 1m. They are not completely aquatic, preferring to be grown on pond edges or in swampy conditions. I’ve found bathtubs to be a great option to deliver the correct level of soil and water flooding, which is needed for good growing and harvesting requirements. Water chestnuts require ample depth

Bigstock, Wallis Creek Watergarden

Words Claire Bickle ast issue, we were only just getting started — wetting your appetite, so to speak — with our showcase of aquatic and bog plants that are edible and easily grown, in even the smallest of spaces. Here’s another top five to add to the collection.


EDIBLE AQUATIC PLANTS II | WEEKEND GARDENING

Left Taro 1 Freshly harvested taro and ready to eat or use in cooking

2 Water chestnut is a

rush-like plant

3 Water chestnuts peeled

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WATER CHESTNUTS ARE HIGH IN VITAMIN B AND CAN BE EATEN RAW OR COOKED. THEY ARE COMMONLY USED IN JAPANESE, CHINESE AND OTHER ASIAN CUISINES

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of soil (30cm+) so the roots and corms have space to grow and develop. On a larger scale, dams can be adjusted to have a big wide shelf just below water level to accommodate your water chestnuts. Don’t overcrowd the plants, as this will reduce the overall yield at harvest time. They initially need to be grown in a compost-rich soil at around two corms per square metre. Once they have started to grow, the foliage needs to reach around 10cm in height before needing to be flooded with water to a depth of 10cm. This level of water coverage is needed for the entire growing season, which is around seven

months, and keep in mind that the growing period needs to be frost-free. When autumn arrives, your water chestnut plants will start to brown off and die down. That’s the time to drain your bathtub or vessel and leave the corms in place to harden off and mature for about a month. Then harvest and refrigerate as they are until you prepare them for consumption and/or replant the following spring. If you live in a cooler region, water chestnuts can be grown in a glasshouse to provide protection from frosts. Originating in South East Asia, with a smaller-growing species endemic to

the tropical wetlands of Australia, water chestnut likes warmer conditions. Uses: Water chestnuts are high in vitamin B and can be eaten raw or cooked. They are commonly used in Japanese, Chinese and other Asian cuisines. Preparation involves washing, peeling and scrubbing the corms well. They can be used whole or thinly sliced and added to stir-fries, soups, curries, casseroles and more. Once you have processed them, they will keep in the fridge for several weeks or, if you prefer, they can be frozen. Note: If you freeze your chestnuts they can’t be replanted as they won’t shoot after freezing.

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WEEKEND GARDENING | EDIBLE AQUATIC PLANTS II

Right Grating releases its zing cool-climate semi-perennial

Below Wasabi is a

Habit and cultivation: This is a trickyto-grow, cool-climate, perennial semiaquatic plant. It has a very thick, knobbly rhizome that’s around 10cm long and the most prized part of the plant. That said, all parts of the plants can be harvested and processed. The leaves are bright-green and kidneyshaped, and the white flowers appear on long stems around 50cm in height. To grow these plants successfully, you’ll need to provide clean, cool, running water in a location with plenty of shade during summer. They can be grown in very moist soil, though the rhizome is generally of an inferior quality. Uses: Wasabi plants can take up to two-plus years to mature. The leaves and stems can be used in salads and stir-fries while it’s still young and you are waiting for the rhizome to mature. The leaves can also be dried and turned into a powder. When your wasabi plants’ rhizomes have reached maturity — 10cm long — you can start to harvest. This will happen in autumn. The small plantlets alongside the main rhizome should be cut off and replanted to make up the next crop. You can eat the rhizome raw. Grating wasabi triggers the chemical reaction that gives it its mega zing. The flavour is similar to horseradish and it’s produced in Japan primarily for garnishing dishes and making sauces.

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Bigstock, Claire Bickle

WASABIA, EUTREMA JAPONICA (SYN. WASABIA JAPONICA)


EDIBLE AQUATIC PLANTS II | WEEKEND GARDENING

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1 Attractive arrowhead 2 Swamp pepper is also known as Chameleon Plant 3 Swamp pepper TOP TIPS FOR AQUATIC EDIBLES

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Growing in bathtubs, laundry tubs and larger vessels If you are growing your edible aquatics in one of the abovementioned containers, it’s best to fill two-thirds of the container with a mix of 70 per cent good-quality garden soil and 30 per cent compost or well-rotted manure. Be sure to allow for the correct water depth needed for your chosen aquatic plants. Growing in ponds When growing plants in ponds, if there’s no depth of soil and gravel at the bottom of the pond you can easily grow your aquatics in large pots filled with the soil/compost mix. Then plant your chosen aquatic plant into the pot and place some sand and gravel on top to keep the soil mix in place. Next, submerge

them to the required depth in the pond. You may need to use bricks to ensure your pots are at the correct water level. Fertilising aquatic plants in ponds and containers Your plants will derive a certain amount of nutrient from the pond water, fish detritus and so forth, but you can give them additional fertiliser during the growing season every second year. I recommend avoiding synthetic fertilisers and sticking to organic blood and bone or manure-based ones. To apply, lift your potted water plant out of the water and place the fertiliser in the soil mix. This can be done by digging a space down the side of the pot, placing the fertiliser and covering it back over with soil to stop immediate seepage into the water.

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ARROWHEAD, DUCK POTATO, SWAMP POTATO, SAGITTARIA SAGITTIFOLIA

SWAMP PEPPER, CHAMELEON PLANT, BISHOP’S WEED, HOUTTUYNIA CORDATA

Habit and cultivation: Arrowhead is an attractive water plant with its arrowshaped leaves that will grow up to 40cm high. It will happily grow in water pots, concrete laundry tubs, bathtubs and pond edges in temperate and subtropical areas in a full-sun position with a water depth of around 10cm. The Duck Potato is an easy-care, easyto-grow aquatic plant and the tubers can be planted from the start of spring. Uses: Sagittaria produces a small white edible tuber, which can be harvested once the plant’s leaves have turned yellow and die down. The tuber’s cream flesh must not be eaten raw and should be baked, fried or boiled. The young plant shoots are also edible. It was reputedly thought a delicacy by Native Americans.

Habitat and cultivation: Swamp pepper is a running herb with distinctive arrow-shaped leaves. The wild form has green leaves with a red border and the variegated form has a very striking colour combination, with the foliage being green and yellow with a border of vivid red. Sometimes the showy variegated form can revert to the plain green wild form. Swamp pepper will happily grow in temperate to tropical locations and is often found growing as a hardy ornamental perennial across the globe. If not kept in check, it can get a little bit weedy. It will grow in moist to waterlogged soils. To propagate, just divide the emerging runners in spring.

Uses: Swamp pepper’s spicy and aromatic leaves and roots are usually eaten raw and also are cooked as a vegetable green extensively in eastern Asia, especially Vietnam and Japan. The variegated form (seen above left) makes for quite a pretty splash of colour in a summer salad. In Japan it is also brewed into a tea tonic. Note: The foliage of this plant is an acquired taste.

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WEEKEND GARDENING | EDIBLE AQUATIC PLANTS II

H ot & S o u r F i sh S o u p

with Taro Stem INGREDIENTS • 30cm taro stem, peeled & thinly sliced • 500mL water or chicken stock • 2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped • 1/4 pineapple, cubed • Juice 1 lime • 1 tbsp sugar • 1 tbsp fish sauce • 2 fillets bass or salmon • 2 shallots, diced • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped • 50g bean sprouts • 1 chilli, sliced METHOD In a large saucepan, bring the water or stock to the boil and add the tomato, pineapple and lime juice. Add the sugar and fish sauce. Taste and adjust the balance. Add more sour if too sweet, more sugar if too salty and salt if too sweet. Bring to the boil for a further 2 mins, then add the fillets or whole fish. Bring to the boil for another 2 mins. In a separate frypan, brown off the shallots and add the garlic. In a serving bowl, add the raw bean sprouts, chilli and taro. Add the fried shallots and garlic on top. Once the soup is ready, pour into the serving bowl. The hot broth should cook the bean sprouts and the taro root soaks up the broth like a crunchy sponge. Sprinkle herbs on top and serve with steamed rice, vermicelli or on its own.

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Tip: You can also use prawns, squid or other seafood in this soup. Fish heads always bring out a great flavour.

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EDIBLE AQUATIC PLANTS II | WEEKEND GARDENING

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1 Bean sprouts and prepared taro 2 Boil taro before adding to recipe 3 Serve soup with a herb garnish 4 The hot broth cooks the sprouts

PREPARING TARO STEM Wash stems. Lightly oil your hands (to protect from potential itching) or wear food preparation gloves. Peel the thin outer layer of green skin off the stem. To do so, grab hold of a sliver of the skin at the end of the stalk and pull. It should peel off easily. Slice the stalk thinly or cut it into 2.5cm pieces. Boil for 5 mins, then rinse and drain before adding to the recipe.

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WEEKEND GARDENING | PERENNIAL HERBS Words Claire Bickle ou don’t have to abandon your herb and flower patch when the heat hits. There are more herbs and edibles than you realise which, with a little care and good selection, can deliver flavour, colour, zest and zing to your meals and drinks all summer long, no matter how high the mercury rises. Topping the list of heat warriors, of course, are all the Mediterranean herbs — oregano, sage, rosemary, lavender, thyme. Basils aren’t far behind, either, coming to life once the heat arrives after a long, cold winter. Then we have the suite of subtropical Asian flavours: cardamom, ginger, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime and perennial coriander. Want more inspiration? Here are my summer-lovin’ top 10.

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THYME, THYMUS VULGARIS You can never have too much thyme, right? But there are just so many species and named varieties to choose from, ranging from the traditional garden thyme to the heavenly eucalyptus-like Spanish wood thyme. Some varieties grow as small woody perennials, while others fall into the creeping groundcover forms, growing flat like a carpet. The creeping thymes are a great choice to grow between pavers and stepping stones: crimson creeping, bergamot creeping, white creeping, Doone Valley. Other popular varieties are lemon, orange, Turkey, Pizza, Pink Chintz, Pink Matting, Orange Peel, Silver Posie, Caraway, Wild and Westmoreland. Grow in full sun with good drainage. The flowers are edible and bees just adore them.

THE HEAT IS ON BUT YOUR HERB PATCH DOESN’T HAVE TO BE OFF

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All basils love the warmer months but Greek and perennial basil are tougher and longer-lived than most of the other popular varieties. Grow your basil in a full-sun location with good drainage. The foliage, of course, is the main plant part used, but we are seeing more use of the other parts of the basil plant, such as the flowers and even the basil seeds. Be aware that the seeds pack a real basil flavour punch when added to meals and snacks. The flowers make a delightful garnish, too, and are a big hit with beneficial insects and bees.

Bigstock, Kerry Boyne

HERBS i n t h e h e a t

GREEK AND PERENNIAL BASIL, OCIMUM SP.


PERENNIAL HERBS | WEEKEND GARDENING

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1 Small-leaf Greek basil bush 2 Curry leaf tree 3 Chilli Opposite page Thyme

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EDIBLE FLOWERS THAT LOVE THE SUN Let’s not forget the back-in-vogue floral additions such as zinnias, marigolds, nasturtiums and even the flowers of Asian greens; mustard and rocket are edible and the bees love them. See a solution, not a problem; the salad greens and Asian greens will be struggling with the heat, but let them go to flower for the bees and other good bugs and use the blooms to pretty-up your summer salads. What would a summer garden be without bursts of brilliant colour? Many of these are not perennials but they are tough flowering choices for summer and will happily self-seed for next season. Other great edible floral choices for summer are alyssums, dianthus, carnations and sunflowers.

CHILLI, CAPSICUM ANNUUM The humble flavour-packed chilli is the supreme lover of summer. Even if you don’t like your meals hot, there are many chilli varieties that deliver a chilli flavour without the burn, such as ‘Anaheim’ and ‘Poblano’. But if you really want to ramp up the heat dial, go for ‘Ghost’, ‘Habanero’ or ‘Tepin’. There are literally hundreds of named cultivars of chillies. Chillies like to grow in a hot, sunny location in the garden and can easily be grown in pots, too, for those who have limited space or live in an apartment with a sunny verandah. If you live in a subtropical area, be at the ready with your fruit-fly control measures, such as wick traps for the males, Eco-naturalure spray for both male and females and exclusion bags for 100 per cent protection.

CURRY LEAF TREE, BERGERA KOENIGII (SYN. MURRAYA KOENIGII) This fast-growing tree is the ultimate flavour addition to curries. In the ground it will grow to around 4m but it can be easily kept in a pot or container to keep its size compact. The fragrant white flowers appear in spring and summer and it’s best to prune them off, especially in warmer areas, as the seed that follows can be quite invasive. Note: the seeds are not edible. The foliage has a strong curry flavour, even more so when it hits heated oil in a pan. Quite often curry leaves are added to the pan before anything else to infuse its flavour through the dish. During the cooler months it’s quite common for the curry leaf tree to turn yellow and even defoliate a bit,

depending on temperature. Protect from frost and grow in full sun. More on this plant in our last issue.

LEMONGRASS, WEST INDIAN LEMONGRASS, CYMBOPOGON CITRATUS Lemongrass is a large clumping grass plant that has a beautiful lemon scent. Mostly we use the stems when cooking but the grass blades can be used, too, especially for making delicious lemon tea. Lemongrass will grow to around 2m high and about 1m wide, so it will need plenty of space. Maintain plant by cutting back after flowering and dividing late winter/early spring so you can acquire more plants and reduce the width of your clump. Lemongrass can sometimes be confused with its close relative

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WEEKEND GARDENING | PERENNIAL HERBS East Indian lemongrass, Cymbopogon flexuosus. Frequently used in Thai cooking, it is more resistant to the rust fungus that often affects West Indian lemongrass. It’s a cold-sensitive plant, though. More lemon-flavoured herbs to choose from are lemon-scented myrtle, lemon verbena, lemon bergamot, lemon balm, lemon mint and lemon thyme.

PERENNIAL CORIANDER, ERYNGIUM FOETIDUM For those who love coriander and get frustrated with how the annual soft-leaf form, Coriandrum sativum, just bolts to flower once the weather heats up, this is the plant for you.

Completely unrelated, Eryngium foetidum has an almost identical flavour to that of the common soft-leaf coriander. It’s a low-growing plant that appears as a rosette of long lanceolate leaves with a serrated edge. This attribute gives it its other common name: sawtooth coriander. It also goes by the name of Mexican coriander. Sawtooth coriander will die down in winter, which is fine because that’s when the common coriander is hitting its straps, lapping up the cooler weather. Once the temperature starts to rise again it will reshoot. When the prickly flower spikes appear in summer, take care when pruning them off as they are very sharp. Pruning

1 Lemongrass 2 Perennial or sawtooth coriander 3 Sage 4 Oregano za'atar

will encourage more leaf growth. Grow in full sun and soil that has good drainage. When using perennial coriander in your cooking you need to chop the leaves more thoroughly as they are a lot tougher than regular coriander. They can be used in stir-fries, curries, soups, salads and salsas. The flower spikes and roots can be used, too.

SAGE, SALVIA OFFICINALIS Sage is a fantastic perennial shrubby herb with soft grey foliage. It can be added to a variety of culinary dishes. The flowers are edible, too. There are also other coloured forms — purple, gold variegated and tricolour.

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Bigstock, Dreamstime, Eric Chan CC, Kerry Boyne

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66 | Good Organic Gardening


PERENNIAL HERBS | WEEKEND GARDENING

Rosemary is excellent for growing in pots

SUMMER HERB PATCH TIPS

TOPPING THE LIST OF HEAT WARRIORS, OF COURSE, ARE ALL THE MEDITERRANEAN HERBS - OREGANO, SAGE, ROSEMARY, LAVENDER, THYME. BASILS AREN’T FAR BEHIND... Another couple of sage beauties to grow are pineapple sage and fruity sage. Both have the most aromatic foliage and beautiful flowers. Pineapple sage, of course, has a pineapple flavour and the vibrant red flowers are also edible. Fruity sage foliage has a fruit salad flavour and bears delightful bright-pink edible flowers. Both of these require a bit more water than traditional sage. In subtropical and tropical regions many treat common sage, Salvia officinalis, as an annual.

OREGANO ZA’ATAR, ORIGANUM SYRIACA This flavoursome cousin of oregano is a flavour-packed, heat-loving beauty. The furry grey-green foliage that grows up to 40cm high and can spread up to 1–2m doesn’t bat an eyelid when the heat hits. All the oreganos are, of course, great

year-round herbs. Oregano za’atar generally has a stronger flavour. The flowers are white and appear in summer. Common oregano, Greek oregano, golden oregano and close relative sweet marjoram also flourish when the summer temperatures soar. They are all low-growing spreading perennial plants and have either pink or white flowers. This group of herbs is essential for lovers of Italian cuisine. Just add to pizza, pasta and casseroles.

ROSEMARY, ROSMARINUS OFFICINALIS Rosemary is a long-lived hardy herb that, in Australia, has had a long association with Remembrance Day. It’s also reputed to assist with improving memory and even longevity. These days, there are many types of rosemary and all are edible. There

Deadheading, harvesting, mulching, watering, seaweed applications and regular fertiliser are all important maintenance practices to keep that herb patch cranking despite the heat. Remember to harvest your herbs on a regular basis, as this will keep them producing more fresh new growth throughout the season. Don’t succumb to the summertime sulks and let the heat get you down. Just change your edible crops and put a little extra time into soil preparation and plant care, and you’ll still be on your self-sufficient journey, even in the sweltering, sizzling summer weather.

are groundcover forms, compact bush forms and traditional shrub forms, some of which can grow up to 2m plus. The flower colours vary, too, from pale blue to white, pink and deep blue, and there’s even a variegated foliage form. Rosemary likes a hot, sunny spot in the garden with good drainage. Larger forms can be clipped into a hedge or even a rounded topiary shrub. The flowers are edible and a popular nectar source for bees and butterflies.

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THE SHED | TIERED HERB GARDEN

Herbal whirl LACK SPACE FOR A PROPER HERB GARDEN? GROW A SMALL SELECTION IN A CONTAINER AND GO UP INSTEAD OF OUT

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TIERED HERB GARDEN | THE SHED Photos GAP Photos/Mark Winwood f you’ve always wanted a herb spiral but don’t have the space, here’s how you can make a scaled-down tiered version for a balcony or deck. While it would look great in terracotta pots, the benefits of using plastic are that it’s much lighter to move around and, of course, cheaper. You simply need a series of pots in different sizes — four are used here — along with a potting medium such as compost or potting soil and a selection of small herb plants or seedlings. Choose those you use regularly in your cooking so that frequent picking keeps them compact. Don’t plant anything that will grow large or want to spread itself far and wide. Over time, when any of the plants needs re-potting or has reached its useby date, simply dismantle the relevant tiers, replace the plant and restack the pots, making sure to replenish the soil where it has subsided.

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METHOD

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Part-fill the biggest pot with compost and then place the second largest pot inside and part-fill, then the next and so on, leaving a 5–8cm rim protruding.

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2 Working from the top down is the easiest way to plant, as any surplus compost then drops into the pot on the level below.

3 Remove each plant from its pot and plant it firmly into its new home. Where possible, try to place herbs with similar growing speeds into the same tier, with the slowest growers highest up.

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THE SHED | TIERED HERB GARDEN

4 CHOOSE THOSE YOU USE REGULARLY IN YOUR COOKING SO THAT FREQUENT PICKING KEEPS THEM COMPACT.

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Continue planting and adding compost until all the tiers are filled and planted.

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5 Back-fill as you go, remembering that the soil level will drop a bit over time.

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If possible, depending on your choice of plants, place the thirstier plants and those with a trailing habit on the lower levels of your pot herb spiral.


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GARDEN DESIGN | VERTICAL GARDENS Words Carrol Baker ith petite-sized house blocks and the rise of apartment-style living, many would-be home gardeners don’t have enough room to swing a cat, let alone grow a vegetable patch. The good news is you don’t need a lot of room to cultivate fresh produce. With vertical gardening, the only way to grow is up! Growing vertical edibles allows you to produce more for less. Because of the nature of vertical gardening you can cultivate bigger yields with a smaller footprint. With a vertical garden it’s possible to take an uninspiring wall and turn it into a productive green space. Or, you can use it as an attractive green screen for privacy or a way to segment spaces. And if you choose to grow edibles, you can also bring fresh homegrown produce to the family table.

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WHAT TO GROW PLANTS IN? Vertical gardens can be grown directly from the ground using trellises, in hanging pots or in any number of modular systems that are made up of specially designed, interchangeable pockets, pods, trays or pots, fitted to a frame or wall. You can also get creative with preloved items found around the home: a ladder, wooden pallets, old guttering, recycled containers including tins and plastic bottles, even some old kids’ gum boots. Creating a unique and productive vertical garden really can be child’s play.

VERTICAL VERNACULAR

GROW UP! SPACE-SAVING VERTICAL GARDENS CAN NOT ONLY SAVE SPACE BUT BE GREEN LIVING WORKS OF ART

72 | Good Organic Gardening

The key elements of vertical gardening are location, water, substrate or growing medium, and nutrients. The substrate needs to be freedraining and lightweight. Garden soil isn’t suitable for container or vertical gardens as it’s too dense, too heavy and inhibits good drainage. Try combining a good-quality potting mix with some vermiculite and perlite to improve aeration and drainage, and a little compost material for good measure. Chris McLaughlin, author of Vertical Vegetable Gardening, suggests omitting the potting mix component and mixing one part vermiculite and one part perlite to six parts peat moss, and two parts compost to the original recipe. Or perhaps see what works best for you. Most vegetables need a minimum


VERTICAL GARDENS | GARDEN DESIGN

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1 Modular kit systems like this one from Holman Industries, make vertical gardening easy 2 Indoor and outdoor vertical gardens can be made from any number of materials, including timber 3 When harvested, gather herbs into bunches to dry

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Holman Industries

BENEFITS OF VERTICAL GARDENS

of four to six hours of sunlight a day in order to flourish. Ideally, position your vertical garden where it will receive adequate sunlight (morning sun and afternoon shade) but not too much sun in the warmer months. More exposure to drying winds means vertical gardens do have a higher water requirement than garden beds; watering needs to be frequent but not too heavy. Hand watering is one option, but a low flow rate and drip feeding can work well. Some kits include drip feeders. Your vertical garden will also need a regular nutrient boost. A liquid seaweed and fish emulsion concentrate will help to strengthen the root system. Top up compost regularly in the plants and mulch well (especially in summer), as this helps

Vertical gardens are one of the biggest horticultural trends to hit the home gardening market. And for good reason. • When positioned in the right place, vertical gardens can help to cool a garden or home. • With a vertical garden there is more free-flowing air movement between plants so less likelihood of diseases. • It’s much kinder on the joints. You don’t have to bend or kneel to plant or harvest. • There are fewer garden pests to contend with. This is because it’s a lot harder for crawling garden pests to reach the crops; also, they’re easier to spot at eye level. • Layers of crops allow you to grow sun-loving plants above those that need a little shade.

to provide a more even temperature and protects the root systems. Organic pest control for vertical gardens includes bringing in the good bugs like ladybugs to get rid of aphids (do this by planting mint, fennel and

dill). To get rid of slugs and snails, invite birds in with a bird bath nearby, or try beer traps. Garlic and chilli sprays can help to get rid of some bugs. If mildew’s a problem when humidity is high, mix organic milk and water, then spray.

Good Organic Gardening | 73


GARDEN DESIGN | VERTICAL GARDENS WHAT CAN YOU GROW? Generally, the best vegetables and fruits to grow are those that are compact with a shallow root system. You can grow a rainbow of colour in your vertical garden with orange and red tomatoes, purple lettuces, vibrant green mint and gorgeous red strawberries. In the warmer weather you can grow beans, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, celery, cucumber, snow peas and capsicum. In the cooler weather try kale, leeks, lettuce, parsnip, turnip, rhubarb, spinach, radish, Swiss chard and kohlrabi. You can grow edibles from seed, but with vertical gardening it’s a lot easier to begin with seedlings.

A MOVABLE FEAST Freestanding vertical gardens can also be placed on wheels if you choose, so you can move them to make the most of seasonal variations in sun, warmth and shade, or to move the garden closer to your entertaining area for guests to pick their own salad greens.

WITH A VERTICAL GARDEN IT’S POSSIBLE TO TAKE AN UNINSPIRING WALL AND TURN IT INTO A PRODUCTIVE GREEN SPACE, OR YOU CAN USE IT AS AN ATTRACTIVE GREEN SCREEN FOR PRIVACY OR A WAY TO SEGMENT SPACES.

1 Pockets of leafy produce 2Take it indoors with a vertical garden on your kitchen bench, from Holman Industries

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Canstockphoto, Bigstock

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74 | Good Organic Gardening


VERTICAL GARDENS | GARDEN DESIGN

A VERTICAL GARDEN IN FOUR SIMPLE STEPS

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Drill a hole in each of your plastic pots Add a hook to each pot Plant using lightweight, freedraining potting mix Hang the pots on wires or another form of support

Instructions and photos by Carrol Baker.

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Holman Industries

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Good Organic Gardening | 75


SHORT SHOOTS | EARTHY IDEAS

CLEVER IDEAS FOR YOUR GARDEN Words Chris Stafford

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CATS SCAT!

Tired of finding feline calling cards in your garden? Here are four simple solutions. Make a repellent by combining two parts cayenne pepper, three parts dry mustard and five parts flour. Simply mix together and sprinkle. Cats don’t like tea leaves, so empty your used ones onto the garden soil. Try using a sprinkler activated by a motion sensor. Getting doused once or twice will deter any cat. To keep them off your pots, use 150mm-long wires made from old coat hangers. Insert half the length into the soil around the perimeter of the pot as a barrier.

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SOAK CLEVER

It’s a great idea to water your garden thoroughly before you put your mulch down. This wets the soil and the mulch keeps the moisture in. The best mulches are those with a variety of large and small particles as they let oxygen and moisture penetrate through to the plants’ roots. Even-sized mulches tend to compact more easily and prevent oxygen and moisture from penetrating soil.

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ROUGH’N’READY TRELLIS

Make a rustic trellis from stems or canes of a variety of plants. Bamboo is the most obvious but poplar and willow are also effective, as are small-diameter branches dropped from eucalyptus trees. Support the frame at intervals with star pickets if necessary. For a rectangular trellis, vertical branches can be interwoven with horizontal stems, especially if they are flexible like willow or poplar. Tripods of natural materials also look effective, will last a season and hold up either vegies or flowers that need support.

76 | Good Organic Gardening

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HANDY TO KNOW!

The average adult handspan from pinky fingertip to thumb tip is around 20cm across. When your fingers are held straight and not stretched out, the width of your hand from little finger knuckle to thumb knuckle is about 10cm across. These measurements can be very handy to remember when you’re planting out seedlings.

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FRAGRANT SKEWERS

If you have a large rosemary bush with plenty of hard woody stems that need cutting back, don’t throw away the prunings. Strip off most of the leaves, leaving a few here and there for flavour, and keep the loose leaves to use in cooking. Then sharpen one end of each hard stem to turn it into a pungent meat skewer for barbecuing. Tip: make holes in your meat pieces first to make them easy to slip on to the skewers.


EARTHY IDEAS | SHORT SHOOTS

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MAKE A LOOFAH SHOWER SPONGE

Loofah, or luffa, is a climbing vegetable from the cucumber family, popular in Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine. If consuming, it should be eaten young, but if you leave it on the vine you can create a loofah shower sponge, perfect for skin polishing and exfoliating. When the luffa fruit has turned a dark shade of yellow or brown and become lightweight and dry, it’s ready for harvesting and sponge

making. Carefully peel away all the skin and shake the seeds out, banging on the floor if necessary. Apply water pressure from a hose to remove the sap; this will further remove remaining seeds. Squeeze out excess water and allow to dry in the sun, rotating as needed. The sun-drying will lighten the luffa into a creamy colour; the longer you leave it in the sun, the coarser its texture will become. What a great way to clean yourself after a hard day’s graft in the garden.

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BRANCH STACKING

A rustic, one-of-a-kind hat-stand can be easily made out of a found or lopped tree branch that has been stripped and cleaned of debris. Choose one that will stand relatively straight and has some smaller branches going off it for hanging hats and bags on. Get your DIY person to make a nice timber base from wood offcuts that’s deep enough for the branch to be set in.

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GREEN AS MUSTARD

Mustard is a great crop to grow as green manure. When you dig it in to the soil, the mustard decomposes and releases “mustard gas”, which kills and controls root-knot nematodes in the soil. There are many different nematodes and some can be beneficial but the root-knot nematode can be problematic, causing nodules on roots and poor plant growth. Make sure the garden bed is kept moist to get the best results as the mustard decomposes. Of course, it’s important to follow up with all the other good gardening practices, such as crop rotation and building up a rich soil with organic composts, manures and mulches.

risk of an early frost. In both cases, the damaged skin can deteriorate, become mouldy and rot. Damaged pumpkins will not store into the winter.

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BREAK IT DOWN

Is your compost taking too long to break down? The versatile herb comfrey is a great activator. Simply applying the leaves of this nitrogen-rich plant to your compost litter will speed up the decomposition of the less degradable elements. Comfrey can also be used as a great generalpurpose liquid fertiliser. To create your own organic nutrient-rich fertiliser, soak comfrey leaves in a bucket of water for 2–4 weeks, leaving it until it turns black. Strain the leaves out and dilute with water to create a potent plant food.

9 Bigstock, Kerry Boyne

SHADE YOUR PUMPKINS

Here are some ways to protect your pumpkins from very hot sun and early frost. When developing, on very hot days their skin can burn just like human skin if the leaves of the plant don’t cover the fruit. Use shadecloth (or any material will do) to cover them. Similarly, when your pumpkins are ripening in late autumn, make sure they’re covered if there’s

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GARDEN CALENDAR | MID SUMMER

Things to do in

JANUARY

SUMMER IS THE SEASON OF FLOODS, FIRES AND CYCLONES, ALL OF WHICH TAKE THEIR TOLL ON GARDENS. PREPARE FOR ALL EVENTUALITIES, FROM HOT AND WET TO DRY AND WINDY 1

By Jennifer Stackhouse

VEGIES

FRUIT

COMPOST & SOIL

The number-one job is to protect soft vegies (such as tomatoes and capsicum) from fruit-fly attack in fruit-fly zones. These pests become more active and prevalent as summer progresses. Use organic fruit-fly baits or traps and, where possible, cover individual fruit with exclusion bags or nets. Visit the garden in the cool of the early morning to water and tend crops, check for pests, yank out weeds and harvest vegetables. On very hot days, shade crops to prevent sun damage. Use shadecloth or light materials. Visit productive gardens again in the evening to water plants in need, especially tomatoes, which can develop blossom end rot on their fruit if they get water stressed. If some crops are failing to form fruit — particularly cucurbits, including pumpkins, squash and zucchini — try hand pollination (transferring pollen from male flowers to receptive female flowers). Regularly liquid-feed all edibles, especially leafy greens, and make new plantings of successful crops to keep the harvest coming. Sow seeds or plant seedlings of dwarf beans, beetroot and cabbages, along with lettuce. Shade new plantings until they are established.

If you are going away over summer when there are likely to be crops to harvest, invite a friend or neighbour to pick the crop rather than let it go to waste. To keep orchard areas accessible through summer, mow or weed around fruit trees. This is also the time to deeply water trees, shrubs and vines. Apply extra irrigation at least once a week if rain is scarce, but reduce watering of fig trees and cherries, which can split with excess water. Feed most fruiting trees and shrubs, including apples, apricots and blueberries. Keep up fruit-fly protection for still-ripening soft fruits, including raspberries and other berries, and stone fruits such as peaches. Use baits, traps and exclusion bags. Continue to protect ripening fruit from birds. Use nets or re-useable fruit baskets that snap over fruit clusters to protect crops against birds and bats. Netting brings responsibility. Select white-knitted nets that are less likely to snare birds, bats and reptiles. Stretch nets taut and avoid overly large nets that pool on the ground where they may trap small reptiles. Regularly inspect nets to free any trapped animals.

Keep weeds in productive soils under control by hoeing between rows. Cover any bare soil with a thin layer (2-5cm) of organic mulch. This mulch helps to deter weed growth but also keeps soils cool on hot days. You can use leaf mould from decomposed autumn leaves, pea straw or chopped, spoiled lucerne. As growth is vigorous during summer, there are usually lots of prunings to deal with. To help them decompose quickly, chop or mulch up green prunings to add to compost heaps layered with dry leaves and green, seed-free weeds. Compost is developing rapidly so also regularly use compost from the heap, spreading it over soil as natural mulch. This protects soils, keeps them cool and discourages weeds from growing and seeding. Heaps should be moist but not too wet. If there are extended periods of heavy rain, cover heaps that are too wet. Conversely, if the weather is hot and dry, compost heaps can very easily dry out and may need to be watered and turned. Keep worm farms in a cool location as hot spells can kill worms. Provide extra cooling for heat-stressed worms by covering them with damp sacking.

78 | Good Organic Gardening

Bigstock, Shutterstock, Kerry Boyne, Jana Holmer

R AT E C O O L & T E M PE


MID SUMMER | GARDEN CALENDAR

T R O PI C AL

VEGIES

FRUIT

COMPOST & SOIL

Harvest vegies while small and tender. In the heat and humidity of the wet season, crops such as zucchini and cucumber quickly get over-mature. They become large, seedy and watery and are best fed to the chooks while you concentrate on picking the next wave of vegies. Leafy crops, too, become tough and bitter as they age. That’s why you always need to harvest these regularly, selecting young and tender leaves. Leaving plants to mature means they’ll start to form flowering stems, then set seed. Replace mature crops with fresh sowings. Shade new plantings to protect them from both heat and heavy rains. Sweet corn, sunflowers and climbing crops on a trellis, such as the fast-growing, vine-like Ceylon spinach, provide a natural source of shade for the vegie garden. Combat powdery mildew with regular applications of milk spray (one part whole milk to 10 parts water) or just pull out badly affected plants.

Keep organic fruit-fly baits fresh by regularly reapplying and protecting them from rain. A clever way to do this is to paint the fruit-fly bait on a stake or paling, then top it with a “hat” made from an upended icecream container. Continue to harvest summer fruit regularly, including avocado (which ripen after picking), custard apples, mango, pawpaw and passionfruit. Hand-pollinate passionfruit flowers if fruit is slow to form on the vine. Check flowers regularly for ripe pollen to transfer to the sticky female part of the flower. Use a dry brush or cotton bud to transfer. If fungal diseases are evident on fruit or foliage, apply a copperbased fungicide approved for organic gardens. Apply a fruiting fertiliser to avocado, banana, custard apple, jackfruit, loquat, passionfruit and pawpaw, especially after periods of heavy rain, which leaches nutrients from the soil. Bottle, freeze or dry excess crops.

Heavy rain from summer storms leaches nutrients from soils. To protect soils from leaching, top up mulches with extra organic matter or simply lay down chopped-up prunings, including chopped palm and fern fronds. Before adding mulch layers to productive garden beds, apply slowrelease fertilisers containing good levels of potash. These aid rapidly growing vegetables and fruiting crops. In fallow vegie beds (beds being rested from growing an edible crop), plant a green manure crop to add fertility to the soil in time for dryseason planting or simply cover soil with a layer of mulch. Quick-growing seeds to sow in tropical zones now for a green manure crop to nourish the soil and add nitrogen include cowpea and mung bean. Dig in the leafy crop before it flowers to maximise nutrients. Use the cool evenings for digging, spreading mulches or turning the compost heap to avoid the hot, muggy conditions during the day.

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1 Hoe between rows to control weeds 2 Look out for fruit fly and blossom end rot on tomatoes 3 Plant lettuce but provide shade 4 Exclusion bags protect ripening fruit 5 Mow around fruit trees and water deeply 6 Compost should be moist but not too wet Good Organic Gardening | 79


GARDEN CALENDAR | LATE SUMMER

Things to do in

F EBRUARY DON’T WASTE THE BOUNTY OF LATE SUMMER. WHAT CAN’T BE EATEN FRESH CAN BE PRESERVED, DRIED OR FROZEN TO ENJOY OVER THE COOLER MONTHS AHEAD 1

By Jennifer Stackhouse

VEGIES

FRUIT

COMPOST & SOILS

Mozzies spoil time in the garden, especially in late summer. In addition to wearing long sleeves and repellents for protection, regularly empty water that’s collected in containers. This removes breeding grounds and reduces mosquito numbers. Water put out for pets, poultry, native birds and bees should be replenished daily to avoid mosquitoes using it to breed in. Productive crops need daily watering at this time of the year. They’ll also benefit from liquid-feeding each week. Use organic plant food. Leafy crops such as lettuce, coriander and parsley may bolt (that is, begin to flower and seed) if they are allowed to dry out, become heat stressed or lack nutrients. As hot days continue, shade crops to prevent sun damage and to allow new plantings to become established. Seedlings are particularly vulnerable to sudden hot temperatures or drying winds. Continue to make the most of the cool of the morning and evening to tend crops. Search for 28-spotted ladybirds and pumpkin beetles that skeletonise leaves on pumpkins and zucchini, and squash the adults, larvae and eggs. Stay on top of pests, diseases and weeds by inspecting the vegie patch daily.

Reduce fruit fly by rigorously finding and removing fruit-fly-affected fruit. Soft fruit such as peaches, nectarines and plums are very vulnerable to attack. If damaged fruit is left on the plant or lying on the ground, larvae can pupate in the soil, mature and start another generation. Look for fruit that shows signs of stings (small punctures) on the skin or fruit that is rotting due to the action of larvae feeding inside. Pick up all fallen fruit. To destroy the larvae in the fruit, place the damaged fruit in a clear plastic bag and leave it to stew for a few days in the sun. It can then be buried (do not put it in the compost). Poultry feeding in orchards can help reduce fruit fly numbers. In cool areas, watch for a recurrence of pear and cherry slug, which skeletonises foliage on pear, cherry and peach trees. Dust with lime, ash or apply a registered organic insecticide. After harvesting summer crops, remove and store bird exclusion nets and lightly prune trees. Feed citrus trees now using a citrus food or organic fertiliser. Water trees well after applying fertiliser.

If soils have become hard to wet (a condition often referred to as “water repellent”), apply an organic soilwetting agent. With the assistance of this material, the water should once again penetrate the soil rather than run off. Check after watering to see that water has soaked in. Once soil is moistened, cover it lightly with a fine layer of compost topped with a layer of coarse organic mulch. Be careful not to mulch too heavily as this can stop moisture from reaching the soil. A 5cm layer is sufficient. Continue to water regularly to avoid repellence reoccurring. Check the compost heap and, if necessary, damp it down with a spray of water from the hose. Use a spade to regularly turn compost heaps to keep them working efficiently. Thin layers of grass clippings and green weeds laid over the heap can help increase temperatures to encourage faster composting. Where areas are dry and water is limited, grey water can be used to water fruit trees, but don’t store untreated grey water for longer than 24 hours (as harmful bacteria can build up in the stored water) and don’t use on leafy vegetable crops.

80 | Good Organic Gardening

Bigstock, Shutterstock

R AT E C O O L & T E M PE


LATE SUMMER | GARDEN CALENDAR

T R O PI C AL

VEGIES

FRUIT

COMPOST & SOIL

The high humidity and heavy storms of the wet season may be taking their toll on vegetables. Regularly remove spent crops or those badly affected by diseases such as powdery mildew. Don’t put diseased or pest-infested material into compost heaps. Instead, it can be buried. Where vegetables are not doing well in the ground due to poor drainage, consider creating raised vegetable beds for improved soil drainage. Grow herbs that need dry conditions in containers such as terracotta pots. Move pots into a sunny spot that’s sheltered from heavy rain. Keep a supply of leafy greens for salads and stir-fries by sowing seed or planting seedlings of Asian greens, kang kong, silverbeet and amaranth, which thrive in the heat and humidity of summer. Pick small, tender leaves and edible shoots. Visit a local farmers’ market to look for new and unusual crops that grow well at this time of year.

Fertilise all citrus trees using an organic plant food formulated for citrus. This fertiliser contains higher proportions of potash than is found in fertilisers for leafy crops. Apply according to the recommended rates on the container, spreading around the root zone, and water in. Overfertilising not only damages plants, but is also wasteful as nutrients are leached away and may enter watercourses, leading to pollution. Also feed other productive plants not already fed this summer, including passionfruit, bananas and pawpaw. Continue to bottle, freeze or dry excess crops, or search out a local produce swap group. Also collect and dispose of spoiled fruits. Poultry can help clean up fallen fruits and reduce pest problems, so allow them to free-range around fruiting plants, but keep them out of the vegie garden unless you want the entire area cleared for replanting.

This is the time to improve the moisture-holding ability of soils by adding organic mulch such as compost or well-rotted manure. Dig it into new growing areas to prepare for dry-season planting. These materials can also be added as surface mulch and left for the earthworms to do the work of turning it into the soil. This has the benefit of preserving the soil structure and protecting the soil from the weather. Continue to chop or mulch up green and woody material before adding it to the compost heap or bin to help it break down faster. This organic material can also be spread as mulch over non-productive garden areas such as around trees, palms and shrubs. Don’t allow mulch to build up around trunks or stems as it may encourage rot. Keep wood-based mulches away from structures as it can provide cover for termites.

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1 The pumpkin beetle skeletonises foliage 2 Feed citrus trees now with organic citrus food 3 Mulch green waste to add to the compost 4 Pick up fallen fruit to help control fruit fly 5 Keep a look out for the 28-spotted ladybird 6 Coriander may bolt to flower at this time Good Organic Gardening | 81


Chickens in a warming world WITH THE WARMEST WINTER EVER RECORDED AND ANOTHER HOT SUMMER, WE MAY NEED TO RETHINK THE WHOLE BUSINESS OF KEEPING CHOOKS 82 | Good Organic Gardening

Bigstock, David Goehring CC

FEATHERED FRIENDS | CHOOKS & CLIMATE CHANGE


CHOOKS & CLIMATE CHANGE | FEATHERED FRIENDS

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1 Shows and

auctions can be hot places 2 Naked necks feel the heat less

Opposite page Frizzled feathering allows better heat tolerance

SHOWS AND AUCTIONS An overlooked outcome of higher temperatures is the effect on birds during transportation or when contained in hot pavilions at auctions or shows. Welfare requirements are likely to govern transportation as well as poultry events. An acceptable temperature range may be enforced for events, confining them to a couple of cool months each year.

Words Megg Miller lobal warming is going to make a remarkable difference to animal keeping and, in particular, poultry. The breeds we keep may need to be re-evaluated or tremendous losses may occur; housing will have survival as a driver and owners may need to take more responsibility for the ration offered. Sounding rather exaggerated? Not with poultry, especially small farm and backyard birds. These fall through the cracks in terms of targeted products and professional advice, so we will be undertaking the research to develop a new range of strategies to ensure survival and success.

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BREEDS FOR THE FUTURE Poultry show signs of stress with temperatures in the low 30°Cs and risk collapse once the 40°Cs are entered. Our traditional favourites — big, profusely feathered breeds like Sussex, Orpington, Faverolles, Cochin, Australorp, Wyandotte and even Pekin bantam — will need special care, even fans and

air-conditioning, if they are to survive in regions where summer temperatures are routinely in the 40s. It may be pertinent to choose breeds with heat-resistance features, like a lower bodyweight, reduced or close feathering, large combs and wattles that aid heat loss and possibly bantam-sized representatives of common purebreds.

Research has been undertaken in countries like Egypt, Pakistan and India to determine the genes that confer maximum thermoregulation. Genes for frizzle feathering and the naked neck condition allow hens to eat, grow and lay virtually normally in hot conditions, whereas fully feathered birds would be suffering organ damage, and

Good Organic Gardening | 83


FEATHERED FRIENDS | CHOOKS & CLIMATE CHANGE

GENES FOR FRIZZLE FEATHERING AND THE NAKED NECK CONDITION ALLOW HENS TO EAT, GROW AND LAY VIRTUALLY NORMALLY IN HOT CONDITIONS...

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1 Large combs and wattles, like on these Minorcas, aid heat loss 2 Chicks are even more adversely affected by heat

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TWEAKING BROODING TEMPS A strategy currently practised to acclimatise birds to anticipated higher temperatures involves subjecting chicks in brooders to a number of short periods of raised temperature during the first few days of life. Research has revealed that, when adult, these individuals have greater tolerance in high temperatures. The relevance to hobby breeders warrants further investigation.

84 | Good Organic Gardening

IMMUNITY AND PARASITES While panting and fluffing out feathers and wings signify heat discomfort, they don’t alert us to the biochemical changes that are occurring internally, a significant one being reduced immune function. Prolonged high temperatures will leave poultry vulnerable to disease with increased incidence of both metabolic and infectious conditions. Concurrent with this will be challenging levels of ectoparasites, the hotter temperature favouring multiplication. The life cycle of lice and mites will be sped up, leading to increased generations produced yearly. Higher summer temperatures are not all bad, though. Red mite eggs start dehydrating at about 38°C and adult mites struggle to survive above 42°C.

Cunningly, adult mites hide deep in cracks in housing and some always manage to ensure species survival. Internal parasites will be safe in their host’s gastrointestinal tract, but eggs shed in faeces will have little hope of escaping summer conditions. The hot sun will dry out and damage eggs, leaving few with the ability to complete maturation. Hot summers already reduce the viability of worm eggs: without moisture they cannot develop. Temperatures in the 40s lead to considerably lower reinfection rates.

REPRODUCTION WOES Breeding, though, will be challenging, as it’s established that high temperatures adversely affect semen quality.

Bigstock, iStock

producing smaller, thinner-shelled eggs and undersized young birds. The introduction of one or both of these genes to birds in backyard flocks could well make the difference between life and death.


CHOOKS & CLIMATE CHANGE | FEATHERED FRIENDS Concurrent with this will be the struggle to maintain egg lay due to reduced appetite/feed intake, difficulty in achieving decent egg size and also strong shells. These three issues are directly connected to reproduction. Short of running birds in climate-controlled housing and ensuring they are given supplementation to boost their nutritional status, there are few options to overcome reproduction difficulties. Good nutrition is an acknowledged driver for happy, healthy birds but, because feed intake drops in hot weather, there are deleterious outcomes. Eggs become smaller because of reduced feed intake and, in turn, this causes poor shell quality because insufficient calcium is ingested. Chicks, however, are even more adversely affected. They, too, don’t feel like eating when it’s hot, so growth slows and they are likely to end up smaller than parent stock. There is a risk of bantamising our birds or producing many with stunted growth. What hasn’t been mentioned in

regard to fertility and hatchability is the difficulty in keeping fertile eggs cool enough so the germ is not prematurely activated. Eggs will not be able to sit in nests all day or they will overheat; collection will need to be undertaken several times a day. Eggs cannot be stored in the refrigerator if they are to be incubated, so we’re going to need a cool environment where the temperature can be maintained around 12–18°C during the collection period. Hatchability is particularly vulnerable to incorrect storage.

FEED CHALLENGES And what of the availability of conventional feed ingredients? It’s foolish to assume higher temperatures will not influence growing seasons and the varieties of cereal, seed and legume crops grown. GM may also become an issue. We may need to grow more than greens and learn about the anti-nutritional factors in grain, seeds and legumes and the amount that can be safely fed before problems arise.

Sprouting grains and seeds and growing trays of greens are likely to become common practice, along with running small systems to produce beetle larvae for additional protein. We shouldn’t assume poultry food will be a purchased convenience.

ACT NOW While there are massive changes ahead of us, we certainly don’t need to be victims. If we start now by ensuring we have lots of tree or shrub cover around housing it will keep accommodation and birds cooler and we can get food forests growing so we can contribute to diet essentials. Low housing and chook tractors are not sustainable decisions because of the greater severity of radiant heat, so there’s time to organise appropriate housing with ceiling insulation and a reflective roof. With a more poultryfriendly environment, the breeds best suited to local conditions can be ascertained. The cooler set-up may even mean a few of the big feathery girls can be kept without heartache. The challenge starts today, so it’s time to get cracking.

Eggs are simply the best. We give them the best certified organic grain – no meat-meal (unlike others). We value the welfare of our feathered friends; that’s why we give them an idyllic habitat with plenty of space to roam, lots of deep mulch to scratch through, shady trees and lush pasture so our eggs are nutrient dense and rich in omega 3’s. We run no more than 600 hens per hectare. Our hens are always occupied so we don’t have to debeak.

Happy hens lay sensational eggs.

For stockists and more details, go to our website:

www.organigrow.com.au

Good Organic Gardening | 85


PLANT NOW | HERBS & VEGIES

F R ES H

LOC AL

TH E THESE FRUIT AND VEG ARE THE FRESHEST AND BEST IN OUR SHOPS AND GARDENS DURING HIGH SUMMER

In seaso n

In sea son

JA N UA RY

F E B R UA RY

FRUITS

VEGIES

FRUITS

VEGIES

Apricot, avocado, banana, berries, carambola (starfruit), cherry (Morello sour), currants (red currant, black currant), grapes, lemons, limes, lychee, mango, melons, nectarine, passionfruit, peach, pear (Paradise, Williams), pineapple, plum, prickly pear, rambutan, tamarillo

Asparagus, beans (butter, flat, green, snake), capsicum, celery, choko, cucumber, eggplant, lettuce, mushrooms, okra, onions (salad, spring), peas (green, snow, sugar snap), potatoes, radish, spinach, squash, sweet corn, tomato, zucchini

Avocado, banana, berries, custard apple, fig, grapes (Cardinal, Muscat, Sultana, Waltham Cross), guava, kiwifruit, lemon, limes, lychee, mangosteen, melons, nectarine, orange (Valencia), passionfruit, peach, pears (Howell, Red Sensation, Williams), pineapple, plums, prickly pear, rambutan, rhubarb, starfruit, tamarillo

Beans (borlotti, butter, flat, green, snake), capsicum, celery, chilli, choko, cucumber, daikon, eggplant, leek, lettuce, okra, onions (brown, salad, spring), peas (green, snow, sugar snap), radish, spinach, squash, sweetcorn, tomato, zucchini

SEASONAL TIP nd If you have an excess of lemons or limes, preserve them in salt and spices for your tagines and casseroles. Cut the fruit in quarters, leaving them attached at one end. Gently separate the stillatta at ta a attached quarters and spoon plenty of Celtic salt into the open quar qu arte te Pack them tightly in a jar, pressing down to release juices. quarters. To sspice them up, add bay leaves, a cinnamon stick, cardomom p po ds whole cloves, coriander seeds and peppercorns as you go. pods, Add Ad d tthe juice of more limes or lemons and enough water to cover ffruit. fr frui ruit uit (You may have to break a few in half to pack in as many as ui yo ou c you can.) Place a weight inside the jar to hold the fruit below the liliqu quii Cover tightly and keep at room temperature for 2 weeks, qu liquid. tu u turning the jar once a day. Once opened, store in the fridge.

86 | Good Organic Gardening


GARDEN TO TABLE

88

89

91

92 90

G arden to table w i t h S a lly Ob er mede r & Ma h a K o r a iem SEASONAL RECIPES TO MAKE NOW BABY SPINACH

Green Supreme Layered Smoothie

BERRIES

Quinoa Brekkie Bowl

ZUCCHINI

Asian Kazoodle Salad

MANGO

Smoked Trout & Mango Salad

CHERRY TOMATOES

Heat of the Night Chicken Bowl

Images and recipes from

SUPER GREEN SIMPLE AND LEAN Sisters Sally Obermeder and Maha Koraiem co-founded and run the lifestyle blog SWIISH.com. Sally is also the author of Never Stop Believing (2013) and co-author, with Maha, of Super Green Smoothies, The Good Life and now this latest book, Super Green Simple and Lean. Sally is a TV presenter and Maha is a certiďŹ ed health and nutrition coach and writer. They are passionate about cooking, creating recipes and good health.

Bigstock, Shutterstock

88 89 90 91 92

Good Organic Gardening | 87


GARDEN TO TABLE | BABY SPINACH

Green Supreme L aye re d Smoothie SERVES 3

INGREDIENTS • 270g (6 cups) frozen baby spinach leaves • 3 frozen bananas • 945g (3 cups) frozen mango pieces • 750mL (3 cups) unsweetened vanilla almond milk, plus 250mL (1 cup) unsweetened vanilla almond milk extra

METHOD

1 2 3 4 5

Place the spinach, banana, mango and 3 cups of almond milk in a blender and blend until smooth. Divide the mixture into three portions. Divide portion 1 across three jars and freeze for 2 hours. While portion 1 freezes, take portion 2 and add 1⁄4 cup vanilla almond milk. Pour portion 2 on top of portion 1 in each jar and return it to the freezer. Take portion 3 and add the remaining 3 ⁄4 cup of vanilla almond milk. Pour portion 3 on top of portion 2 in each jar and freeze until firm. Top as desired.

Tip: We’ve used paleo granola, blackberries, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), starfruit, honey, goji berries.

88 | Good Organic Gardening


BERRIES | GARDEN TO TABLE

Quino a B re kk i e B owl SERVES 2

INGREDIENTS

METHOD

• 75g (1⁄2 cup) quinoa • 125mL (1⁄2 cup) unsweetened coconut milk (carton variety) • 4 medjool dates, seeded & roughly chopped • 1 tsp ground cinnamon • Pinch nutmeg • Pinch ground cardamom • 2 tsp sunflower seeds • 2 tbsp moist coconut flakes, plus extra for serving (optional) • 125g punnet blueberries • 250g punnet strawberries

1

2

Rinse the quinoa under cold water until the water runs clear. (Make sure the holes in your sieve aren’t bigger than the quinoa — Maha learnt this the hard way!) Put the quinoa into a saucepan with 375mL (1 1⁄2 cups) of water, the coconut milk and chopped dates. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for 15–20 minutes. Stir occasionally, making sure the quinoa doesn’t stick to the bottom of the saucepan.

3 Once the quinoa has begun to

4

soften, add the spices, sunflower seeds and coconut flakes. Continue to cook for another 5–10 minutes, until the quinoa has cooked. Serve immediately. We topped ours with fresh berries, extra coconut flakes, goji berries, pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and Greek-style yoghurt.

Tip: For extra sweetness, drizzle with a little honey or rice-malt syrup.

Good Organic Gardening | 89


GARDEN TO TABLE | ZUCCHINI

Asian Kazo odle Sa lad SERVES 2

INGREDIENTS • 2 large zucchini, spiralised • 1 large carrot, spiralised • 150g (2 cups) shredded red cabbage • 50g (2 cups) kale ribbons, massaged • 1 red capsicum, thinly sliced • 1 yellow capsicum, thinly sliced • 3 tbsp chia seeds (black and white) Dressing (optional) • 2 tsp fish sauce • 2 tbsp soy sauce • 80mL lime juice • 1 tbsp rice-malt syrup • 2 tsp sesame seeds

METHOD

1 2 3

Put all the salad ingredients into a large bowl. Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients in a small jar and shaking well. Pour the dressing over the salad, and toss to ensure the salad is well coated. Serve immediately and enjoy.

Tip: How do you massage kale? Simply take the leaves once they’ve been chopped or sliced and use your hands to rub the kale (as if you’re massaging it) until it begins to soften. You can use a little olive oil or coconut oil if you like. This process basically makes the kale easier to eat as it breaks down the toughness of the leaf and also removes some of the bitterness.

90 | Good Organic Gardening


MANGO | GARDEN TO TABLE

S mo k ed Trout & M a n go S a l a d SERVES 2

INGREDIENTS • • • • • •

90g (2 cups) baby spinach leaves 200g hot smoked trout, sliced 1 large mango, thinly sliced 115g (1 cup) bean sprouts 2 spring onions, thinly sliced 1 fresh red or green chilli, seeded & thinly sliced • 15g (1⁄2 cup) mint leaves, roughly torn • 15g (1⁄2 cup) coriander leaves, roughly torn Dressing (optional) • 1 garlic clove, crushed • 2 tbsp lime juice

• 2 tbsp fish sauce • 2 tbsp rice-malt syrup • 2 tbsp coriander leaves, finely chopped • 1 fresh red chilli, seeded & finely chopped

METHOD

1 2

In a small bowl, mix together all the ingredients for the dressing. On a platter, place the baby spinach leaves. Top with the trout, mango slices, sprouts, spring onion, chilli and herbs.

3 Spoon the dressing generously over the top and serve.

Tip: This salad also works really well with tinned tuna. We suggest using tuna in spring water; because the dressing is so flavoursome, it’s best to use tuna that is closer to its natural flavour. You can get smoked trout at the supermarket. It comes shrink-wrapped and in a fillet. Here we’ve used hot smoked river trout, but you can also use rainbow trout or even hot smoked salmon. They all work beautifully in this recipe.

Good Organic Gardening | 91


CHERRY TOMATOES | GARDEN TO TABLE

Heat of the Ni ght C h i c ke n B owl INGREDIENTS • • • • •

2 × 100g skinless chicken breasts 62g (1⁄2 cup) pearl (big) couscous 1 tsp olive oil 1 bunch broccolini Greek-style yoghurt, to serve (optional)

Marinade • 2 tsp ground chilli • 2 tsp Middle Eastern spice blend • 2 tsp rice-malt syrup • 2 tsp lime zest • 1 tsp ground sumac • 1 ⁄2 tsp garlic salt • juice 1⁄2 lime (reserve the lime halves after you’ve juiced) • 1 tbsp olive oil • Pink salt & black pepper

92 | Good Organic Gardening

Roast Vegies • 1 red (Spanish) onion, quartered • 4 garlic cloves, unpeeled but smashed with the back of a knife • 200g punnet medley cherry tomatoes, halved • 1 red capsicum, seeded, roughly chopped • 1 tsp olive oil • Pink salt & freshly ground black pepper

4 5 6

METHOD

1 Preheat the oven to 200°C. 2 Mix all ingredients for the marinade in 3

a small bowl, then rub it all over the chicken, making sure it’s well coated. Set aside. Place the vegies in a roasting tray, drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil, season with a little pink salt and pepper and mix well. Pop the reserved

7

lime halves into the tray as well. Place the chicken on top of the vegies and roast for 25–30 minutes, until the chicken has cooked through and the juices run clear. While the chicken and vegies are in the oven, cook the pearl couscous according to the instructions on the packet. Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the roasting dish and leave to rest. Then return the vegies to the oven and turn up the heat to 230°C. Leave the vegies in the oven for another 8–10 minutes, or until they have nicely caramelised. While the vegies are in the oven for the final 8–10 minutes, quickly blanch the broccolini in a bowl and cut the chicken into 1.5cm slices. Divide the ingredients equally between 2 bowls. Add a dollop of yoghurt to the middle.


BOOKS | REVIEWS

COVER TO

COVER Leafing through books for gardeners and cooks

PLANT SOCIETY By Jason Chongue, Hardie Grant, $29.99 Plant society? Well, indoor plants are social. As architect and interior designer Jason Chongue writes, “There is something therapeutic and calming about their presence and they breathe life into every corner of my home.” And it’s not just the way they filter the air; greenery is easy on the eye and softens the hard lines of the modern home. With plenty of advice on every aspect of plant care, Chongue profiles more than 20 species, organising them from the most low-maintenance through to the more exotic and labour-intensive.

THE BLUE DUCKS IN THE COUNTRY By Darren Robertson & Mark LaBrooy, Pan Macmillan, $39.99 Three Blue Ducks is a very successful cafe in the Sydney seaside suburb of Bronte, now with branches in Rosebery and Byron Bay. In this beautifully photographed cookbook, two of the Blue Ducks’ team, chefs Darren Robertson and Mark Labrooy, bring you more than 90 recipes. All the dishes are based on their garden-to-plate ethos, which is to create real food that’s locally sourced, reared humanely and supportive of the local community.

DREAMSCAPES By Claire Takacs, Hardie Grant, $70 Australian photographer Claire Takacs has created what must be the ultimate coffee-table book for gardeners. Subtitled Inspiration and Beauty in Gardens Near and Far, it looks at more than 50 stunningly designed gardens across the world, around a quarter of them in Australia. To get your creative juices flowing without the expense of an airline ticket, she features the likes of Le Jardin Plume in Normandy, Santa Barbara’s Lotusland, Japan’s Kenrokuen, Hermannshof in Germany and Bryan’s Ground in Herefordshire, all looking their absolute best, as well as local examples like Cloudehill, Frogmore and Pear Tree Walk — each with extensive notes.

GROW YOUR OWN

THE WELLNESS GARDEN

By Angus Stewart & Simon Leake, Murdoch Books, $45 Horticulturist Angus Stewart and soil scientist Simon Leake, a dynamic duo indeed, have penned a “how to” guide for urbanites keen to establish a productive garden, whether on a balcony or in a bijou backyard. A healthy garden starts from the ground up, so the book covers all you need to know about soil, from checking its pH to enriching it. And there’s easy-to-follow advice on what to plant, how to tell if your plants have a nutrient disorder, what organic fertilisers to use and more.

By Shawna Coronado, Cool Springs Press, $39.99 Having a chronic health condition doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to hang up your gardening gloves. In this book, avid gardener Shawna Coronado shares the wellness approach that enabled her to greatly reduce her osteoarthritis pain. One recommendation is to eat (and grow) food that has health benefits, such as those with anti-inflammatory properties. Another is to redesign your garden so it is a place where you can meditate and do gentle, appropriate exercise, such as yoga.

Good Organic Gardening | 93


ard work pays off


Create your organic dream with 2000+ gardening articles at your (green) fingertips

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PICK OF THE CROP

PICK

OF THE

CROP

Our selection of products and services for gardeners and cooks GIVE YOUR GARDEN THE LEADING EDGE When you first think of stunning outdoor areas, an assortment of plants and pavers may come to mind, but garden edging is rarely at the top of the list. You’ll be surprised to know just how much clean borders and raised garden beds can elevate your landscape from something average to something special. FormBoss™ steel garden edging has been supplying designers, landscapers and weekend DIY-ers all over Australia for more than 10 years now. What sets FormBoss™ apart is the fact you can produce edging with straight lines or curves and create garden beds on-site with unprecedented ease and with little to no experience. Having the rolled top lip makes the edging completely safe and allows you to connect each piece easily. Anchoring the edging into the ground will completely conceal all fixings. Eight heights are available, ranging from 75mm to 580mm in ZAM, Galv and “weathering” Australian REDCOR® Steel. For more information, visit formboss.com.au

TOP DRESS WITH LAWN STAR Rocky Point Mulching’s Lawn Star, Premium Top Dress & Feed, is a superior blend designed to enrich and rejuvenate your lawn. This carefully screened and formulated mix is packed with a high mineral content for levelling undulations in lawns, and slow-release fertiliser to produce green, healthy growth, feeding your lawn for up to four months after top dressing. It will also reduce watering needs as it contains specialised wetting granules to improve dry, tired lawns. Lawn Star meets the Australian Standard 4419 for a top dress soil and is passed through an 8mm screen before packaging to ensure size and consistency when spreading over your lawn. Lawn Star is available in 30L bags from all good gardening retailers. For more information on Lawn Star or other premium garden products in the range, visit rpmulching.com.au

96 | Good Organic Gardening

SIMPLE, USER-FRIENDLY AND EFFECTIVE Last year, Earthlife Veggie Mate won People’s Choice in the 2016 Good Organic Gardening Garden Idea Awards. Why? Because the product is both easy to apply and effective. Veggie Mate is a user-friendly natural solution to growing nutritious, healthy food while simultaneously keeping the soil healthy and conditioned. With more than 60 minerals, natural humates and 30 types of biology, this product does the work for you. Add it when planting, along with a good shot of water to activate the biology, and you’re on your way. The minerals strengthen the cells of the plant, which helps to create a pest-free environment by assisting the plant to metabolise properly. In turn, this improves the nutritional value and taste and extends shelf life, post-harvest. It also assists in the breakdown of other additives and with no animal waste like manures or blood and bone, it is contaminant-free and vegan-friendly. earthlife.com.au


PICK OF THE CROP EASY TO GROW, EASY TO EAT Easy Care Crimson Crisp™ (PBR) and Easy Care Pixie Crunch™ (PBR) are not just delicious apples, they are highly pest-resistant. Both varieties were bred specifically for their resistance to apple scab, making them low maintenance and just right for home gardeners. The Easy Care range shows resistance to fire blight, too, and, according to world-renowned horticulturalist, Dr Jules Janick, their flavour is top notch. In fact, Dr Janick is particularly fond of the juicy flesh of Pixie Crunch™. This smaller-size fruit is not only delightful, it is suitable for lunch boxes and a good variety for U-Pick operations. Crimson Crisp™ is red-skinned with creamy-white flesh while Pixie Crunch™ is a bright-red-skinned apple with firm white flesh that is crisp to the crunch. Easy Care apples grow to approximately 4m x 4m and pollinate with each other perfectly, as well as Jonathan, Granny Smith and many of the Ballerina® Columnar apple varieties. flemings.com.au

GOODNESS FROM THE SEA Seagold is a soluble seaweed extract made from fresh seaweed (alga) such as Ascophyllum nodosum, Sargassum and Laminariales, which are rich in micro-nutrients and natural hormones. Seagold is a natural non-toxic and non-polluting soil conditioner that improves the quality of all crops by strengthening the cell walls and boosting plants’ natural resistance to disease and adverse conditions. It promotes the development of vigorous root systems for the plants to access nutrients and water, which ultimately leads to increased yield. Improved quality is readily evident in bolder foliage, improved skin colour and texture, higher sugar content and longer shelf life. Additional applications can be made immediately before or after stress periods such as frost and drought. Product sizes 150g, 1kg, 5kg, 20kg. Ph 0410 335 633. seagold.com.au

ORGANIC STATUS PROTECTS YOUR HEALTH “Here at Organigrow we are truly free range. We are audited yearly by Australian Certified Organic and Humane Choice (who have the strictest rules of any certifying body) to give you confidence that what we say is real. But being truly free range does have its challenges; there are many animals who see a flock of hens and think ‘dinner!’, so we have to protect our precious feathered friends from predators. Having many thick shrubs across the farm helps, but the key is our faithful Maremma dogs which watch over the flocks and protect them from harm. Unfortunately, there are paralysis ticks in the area, which can easily kill an adult dog, so we use tick collars and tablets for prevention, as well as going over the dogs twice a day for ticks. Recently, one of our dogs got sick so I took him to the vet — the diagnosis was bowel cancer. He was only a relatively young dog and although I have no evidence to back up my hypothesis, it does make me wonder if there is a link to the tick treatment. Any chemicals are dangerous and that is why we value our organic status because it allows us to protect your health and guarantee there are no toxic chemicals in our eggs. Now for the happy ending to the story: we have a new fluffy puppy. Po is getting used to being with the hens and in time will grow up to protect them. My 83-year-old mother is in charge of looking after him and the other dogs.” — Simon Cripps Clark, organigrow.com.au

Good Organic Gardening | 97


PICK OF THE CROP

THE TOOTHBRUSH THAT GIVES BACK Introducing a new Aussie family business called Brush for Change — the eco-friendly toothbrush that gives back. When we say “gives back” we mean that when you purchase an eco-friendly bamboo four-pack of toothbrushes, the company GIVES BACK. That is, we donate $2 to an environmental cause AND two eco-friendly bamboo toothbrushes to underprivileged people. With Australia’s population rapidly approaching the 25 million mark, the impact of plastic toothbrushes on our environment is enormous — about 100 MILLION every year — and we want to change that! So we thought, what if we could provide people with an affordable alternative? Then we thought, what if we could also pay it forward? Hence the birth of Brush for Change. Get yours now for just $19.95 + $2 p&h for a pack of four, at brushforchange.com.au

KUVINGS COMMERCIAL COLD PRESS JUICER CS600 The Kuvings Commercial Whole Slow Juicer is the first on-demand cold-pressed juicing solution. The patented low-speed cold-press extraction delivers juice that tastes noticeably different. The cold-press juicer slowly presses and squeezes rather than grinding and chewing, retaining higher nutrition, colour and taste. It’s the ideal solution for cafes, juice bars, fruit shops and restaurants, chefs, home foodies and large families. Features include: • Extra-wide feeding chute for whole fruits and vegetables • Stainless-steel gearbox for 24 hours of continuous juicing • Up to 60L per hour • High yield • Heavy-duty quiet motor • Easy to clean • Juices all fruit and vegetables with ease • More nutrition, real taste and colour For more information, info@kuvings.net.au, Ph (02) 9798 0586, kuvings.com.au

98 | Good Organic Gardening

LIGHTING TO GET YOU IN THE MOOD Make the most of your garden after sunset with the HOLMAN app-operated Bluetooth range of garden lighting. It’s 100 per cent DIY-friendly and easy to install as a weekend project. The range features spotlights, deck lights and path lights, which are available in white or full-colour-spectrum RGB light, and are joined by weatherproof IP68 water-resistant plug and socket cables. These come in a range of different lengths that allow you total design freedom to set up the perfect lighting display for your garden. The lights are connected to the HOLMAN LIGHTSOURCE controller, which is programmed by the iGardener™ app on your smart phone. Easily change colours and lighting intensity and set automated start and stop times via the app. Whether you want to illuminate a garden path or create a dramatic coloured garden light display, this lighting range is the smart choice for your backyard this summer. For more information on the new garden light range, visit holmanindustries.com.au


PICK OF THE CROP RESTORE LIFE TO YOUR SOIL Biota Booster is a potent soil probiotic consisting of 11 key beneficial soil microbes in an easy-to-use, concentrated liquid. Technically bioremediation agents, the balanced fungi and bacteria symbiotically manage plants and elements to grow (bioremediate) healthy environments/plants/soils/ composts/systems which are more productive and resistant to pests and diseases by direct application to soil and plants. BB supercharges most compost, tea, worm, fish, kelp, mineral, organic matter and fertiliser inputs to enable unmatched efficiencies and astounding short- and long-term results. Only two drops mixed with 1L of water can inoculate up to 50 square metres, and one 10mL bottle is enough for the average garden for one year. So why should you use Biota Booster? This pioneering microbial liquid solution saves you money by encouraging bigger, faster and healthier plant growth with reduced inputs, improved soil structure, better water, carbon and nutrient cycling capacity, and reduced erosion and labour requirements. Grow nutrient dense with biotabooster.com.au

CELEBRATING 20 YEARS OF AUSTRALIAN QUALITY NATURE’S CUPPA Nature’s Cuppa is the result of decades of organic research and today this successful Australian tea company uses organic, handpicked tea leaves sourced only from its certified organic estates in the Sri Lankan highlands. It’s grown high and picked at the moment of perfect freshness. This pure, premium-grade tea makes a superb morning cuppa and gets everybody off to a good, healthy start. Tea the way it should taste! Available online or at Woolworths, Coles, selected IGA and Foodworks and healthfood stores. naturescuppa.com

Wobble-Tee Sprinklers is celebrating 20 years of Australian quality — and celebrating with colour! Now available in blue, purple, pink, orange and yellow, the award-winning Wobble-Tee sprinkler is well known for its efficiency, covering up to 15m in diameter using low to medium pressure. The Wobble-Tee now has a little brother, the Clever Drop Sprinkler, covering a diameter up to 8m. As with the Wobble-Tee, its large consistent droplets minimise wind drift and evaporation loss, watering your lawn efficiently like slow, soaking rain. Both sprinklers have a removable filter, allowing the use of river, dam and recycled water. The Clever Drop sprinkler has many clever new features: a base purpose-built to adjust for uneven or sloping surfaces or on roofs for cooling; four different-sized pressure-regulating discs are supplied, allowing use of high water pressures, 5–50psi; and its low angle of trajectory further reduces wind drift and up to eight sprinklers can be run in a row. Covering large or small areas, Wobble-Tee can provide a clever, Australian-made solution to suit your watering needs. wobble-tee.com.au

Good Organic Gardening | 99


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This new 2018 diary is a complement to EatWell magazine. Inside, you will ďŹ nd 52 seasonal recipes from some of the most well-known health-food chefs, inspiring you to shop and eat well all year. With a week-to-a-page view plus space for shopping lists, it will become your must-have accessory throughout 2018.

THE NEW EATWELL 2018 DIARY INCLUDES: - Weekly recipes - Seasonal food recommendations - Chef bios - Room for your shopping lists - Week-to-a-page view

e or ing m p or hip r 3 d s E! e d an E Or ies F R ar is di

Get your copy now from paperpocket.com.au or at your local newsagent


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Good Organic Gardening Dec 2017  

Gardening with goodness at its heart — fresh, organic and fun. This magazine is 100% real. We are unashamedly earthy, reflecting the spirit...

Good Organic Gardening Dec 2017  

Gardening with goodness at its heart — fresh, organic and fun. This magazine is 100% real. We are unashamedly earthy, reflecting the spirit...