Articles

Dyer’s chamomile

By Penny Woodward

Butter yellow flowers

Dyer’s chamomile flowers

I’ve been weeding and cleaning up parts of my garden, ready for some planting and for new spring growth. Now is also a good time (maybe almost too late) to divide perennials. One I love and have been digging and dividing, is dyer’s chamomile. It’s botanical name was Anthemis tinctoria but is now Cota tinctoria. I do understand the need to update botanical names in line with new research, but it does make it really hard for gardeners and garden writers to keep up! 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

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

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

Cretan thyme

By Penny Woodward

Pink flowered ground cover thyme

Cretan thyme

Cretan thyme (Thymus longicaulis subsp. chaubardii) and other ground cover thymes will grow from sub-tropical to cold temperate regions. They need full sun and very well drained soil. Ground cover thymes are very useful to cover bare patches, while providing little competition for nearby plants. They are also wonderful for attracting bees, so plant them near fruit trees and vegetables that need bees for pollination. Continue Reading

Turmeric

turmeric

Turmeric Curcuma longa

Known in India as grandmother’s herb the root of this ‘cure all’ plant is antiseptic and astringent. Turmeric is a herbaceous perennial that grows from the characteristic orange yellow rhizome with broad oblong leaves. It thrives in tropical and sub-tropical regions planted into well-drained humus-rich soils in autumn. In cooler regions plant into large pots, full of composty soil and sit the pot in a sunny position where it will receive almost no water during late autumn, winter and early spring, but make sure it gets plenty of water once the weather warms up. Turmeric is a heavy feeder so top up with compost or manures or blood and bone every few weeks once it starts vigorously growing in spring. Continue Reading

Bountiful beetroot

Bright red beetroot

Bull’s Blood beetroot

I was leafing through the book I wrote with Pam Vardy, Community Gardens: A Celebration of the People, Recipes and Plants  because I had been thinking about refugees and immigrants and how much they have enhanced our lives. Since the new government has been in power (and to some extent the previous government) the rhetoric has again resembled that of the Howard government and the Tampa. It was the events surrounding Tampa that prompted Pam and myself to get together and combine our skills (hers in interviewing and cooking, and mine in gardening and writing) to produce a book that show cases just a few of the very many ways that people from other cultures and countries have added to our lives and lifestyles in Australia. To highlight this, I thought that from time to time, by taking extracts from the book,  I would focus on unusual individual plants or ways of using plants that we would not otherwise have available for our gardens or meals. Continue Reading

Cape gooseberry, ground cherry and tomatillo

By Gail Thomas

Unusual edible fruit

Clockwise from top left, tomatillos, cape gooseberries, ground cherries (photo by Gail Thomas)

As alternatives for the garden cape gooseberries, ground cherries and tomatillos (all in the Physalis family) are both edible and ornamental with their fruit forming in protective lantern-like calyxes which conveniently keeps the birds and bugs at bay.
All three species are best planted in spring and treated similarly to tomatoes. The lemon/gold flowers develop into green calyxes which turn to a papery beige hue as the fruit, suspended inside ripens from late summer through to autumn. Continue Reading

Rose petal and strawberry jam

Article and photos by Penny Woodward

Juicy red strawberries

Strawberries

I have just spread cow manure around my strawberries and mulched with lucerne hay. And I added some pine needles collected from the block behind us. Although our soil is already slighty acid, strawberries love acidic soil, so I spoil them with a dusting of pine needles. I love the way the strawberries appear at the same time as the petals of the luscious red roses. The perfect combination for one of my favourite jams. I only make this in small jars because it seems too precious to eat in bulk. The flavour is true stawberry with ephemeral flavours of the fragrant red petals. Anyway, here is the recipe, and you have plenty of time to make them so you can parcel them up as unique and special Christmas presents. Continue Reading

  • All words and images © Copyright Penny Woodward 2019.
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