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Every week or so I post a new article, review or news items about organic gardening and edible and useful plants. Right through the website I emphasize organic, local (Australian), sustainable and ethical practices and products. So if you know of anything that might work on this site or have an event you want publicised, please let me know, either through the website or my facebook page.
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News

Asparagus

by Penny Woodward

Purple and Green asparagus

Asparagus spears

Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) is a tough, rewarding, long term vegetable that once established will give many years of delicious, nutritious spears. A perennial plant, it is a member of the lily family (Liliaceae) and has been grown and eaten for more than 2,000 years. If you haven’t ever tried growing asparagus, you probably should, and now is a good time to plant it. Continue Reading

Leeks

Leek cultivar

Leek, Autumn Giant

Leek cultivar

Leek, King Richard

Leek cultivar

Leek, Welsh Wonder

Leeks, Allium porrum,  are a great vegetable. They are especially good for people who find onions and garlic too strong, but still enjoy a milder onion flavour. They are biennial vegetables that are usually grown as an annual. They thrive in cold and warm temperate climates and are best planted in autumn and winter. Continue Reading

Chervil

Bright green chervil leaves

Anise flavoured chervil

If you haven’t planted your chervil yet, now is a good time to do so.  Chervil, Anthriscus cerefolium, is a soft, tender annual herb with dainty, bright green, fern-like leaves and tiny white flowers in umbrella shaped heads. Flowers are followed by long thin black seeds. The leaves have a sweet anise flavour. Plants grow to about 40cm high and 30cm across and you can start harvesting leaves about 5 weeks after sowing seed. Continue Reading

Tree onions

Tree onions are one of the easiest onions to grow

Tree onion bulbs and bulbils

Tree onions grow well from the sub-tropics to cold temperate regions and autumn and winter are the best time to plant them. They are now botanically classified as Allium x proliferum as they have been shown through genetic testing to be a cross between the common onion (Allium cepa) and the welsh onion (Allium fistulosum). Continue Reading

Thrift

Pink flower of thrift

Wild growing thrift

Thrift (Armeria maritima) was one of the first plants that I grew in my first garden and I have loved it ever since.  It is a delightful, tough little perennial that  grows as a small clump of tufting, grassy leaves with white, pink or red button flowers on slender stems in spring and summer. Their ideal home is rocky well-drained ground near the coast but they are adapted to a range of different climates and will do well anywhere except in regions with high humidity. So plants grow beautifully in cold and warm temperate regions but are not much good in the sub-tropics and certainly won’t survive in the tropics. Continue Reading

Hyssop

By Penny Woodward

Blue flowered hyssop

Bees love hyssop

Hyssop bush

Hyssop, Hyssopus officinalis

Hyssop (Hyssopus officinalis) is often overlooked but given its drought tolerance, charming flowers and many uses it should be much more widely grown. A low-growing, shrubby herb that in my garden reaches about 50cm, hyssop has woody branches with fragrant, small, dark green leaves. The delightful dark blue flowers appear in one-sided whorls and are very attractive to bees and butterflies. Like the other, better known Mediterranean herbs such as thyme and rosemary, hyssop likes a well-drained soil, and an open, sunny position. It does not do well in regions with high summer humidity where it will usually succumb to rot. Hyssop is not deciduous, but older plants will sometimes die back during cold winters, loosing many of their leaves. A light pruning in late autumn, after flowering has finished, will keep bushes looking neat. Continue Reading

More tough herbs

By Penny Woodward

Bright yellow day lily flower

Edible day lily flowers

 

More tough herbs that are easy to grow and will withstand both drought and heat. And they are useful too! Continue Reading

Organic Crop Protectants wins award

Award presentation

Anni Brownjohn (OZGANICS), Steve Falcioni (OCP), Therese Kerr & Costa Georgiadis

Organic Crop Protectants (OCP) who sell the Eco-organic garden range of garden products has been voted the Best Organic Input Supplier at the 2013 Organic Consumer Choice Awards.  The awards are run by The Centre for Organic Research & Education (CORE) as part of National Organic Week which is designed to increase awareness of the benefits of organic products.

It caps off a big year for OCP having won three other major awards earlier in the year.  OCP is an Australian firm who work hard to produce organically certified products for the home gardener. I have used, like and recommend their HIPPO enhanced pest oil called Eco-oil (it not only kills pests but the natural oils included in the spray attract beneficial insects) and Eco-fungicide (made from activated potassium bicarbonate). I like the way they are open about their products and provide plenty of information and MSDS’s on their website.

I asked Steve Falconi, the General Manager of OCP why he sees organic approaches to gardening and farming as crucial to our world?  Continue Reading

Growing tough herbs

By Penny Woodward

Bee and thyme

Bees love thymes including Lemon thyme, Thymus citriodorus.

As global warming bites, water becomes more precious and the heat increases it would be easy to just stop gardening. But I think it is even more important now that we grow as much of our own food and medicine as possible. Herbs are an integral part of this.  Herbs are used to control pests, to provide essential vitamins and minerals, to give flavour to food and to enhance the quality of our lives by adding perfume and pleasure. They can be beautiful as well as practical. My current strategy is to grow the essential but more water hungry herbs in pots near the kitchen, or in the vegetable garden. This gives me only a couple of spots that need regular water. The other tougher herbs go out in the general garden and rely on rainfall with the occasional top up with tank water. Continue Reading

Chicken feed

By Penny Woodward

Chooks feeding

Lizzie and Jane feeding on their microgreens

A variety of green feed is essential to chook welfare and happiness. This can be achieved in a number of different ways, ranging from allowing your chooks to free-range to supplying all their greens in the chook pen. My girls don’t free-range, their pen, though, does get moved every few weeks to a new position. I provide them with fresh green leaves every day, usually just dropped into the pen. Alternatively they can be hung in a bunch, or placed into a basket. Keeping them off the ground helps to keep the leaves clean and prevents contamination from chook poo. Plants that can be harvested from the average garden and fed to chooks are weeds like dandelions, milk thistle and cleavers; vegie leaves such as brassica, lettuce and silverbeet, and herbs including borage, comfrey, lemon balm, nasturtiums and chicory. Some of these can also be grown in pots, placed in the pen and then removed to re-grow.  Comfrey is a particularly important green for chooks as it is high in protein, potassium and calcium, as well as several important amino acids. I try to make sure my hens have a little comfrey every day. Continue Reading

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