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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.
In the shop you will find all my books, and books by other Australian garden writers that I like and recommend.  If you would like a signed copy of one of my books, send me an email after you have purchased the book and let me know the name of the person you want it signed ‘To’.  Postage anywhere in Australia is only $5.00 or $10 per book (depending on the weight). You can pay for your book by credit card through paypal, or by using a paypal account. The store is only set up for book purchases within Australia, but if you are overseas and really want one of my books, send me an email and we’ll work something out.
The articles are all written by me unless otherwise signed. I hope you find the site interesting and useful.  PW

News

Drumstick allium

Drumstick allium

Drumstick allium, Allium sphaerocephalum

Over the last couple of years I have been more than a little preoccupied with one species in the Allium family, namely garlic (Allium sativum). So much so that I have created a website all about this fascinating and beautiful vegetable. You can see it here. There are however beautiful ornamental Alliums that also deserve a place in our gardens. The one that is looking elegant in my garden at present is A. sphaerocephalon or drumstick allium. My garden is pretty low on elegance and high on profusion and confusion so it is a very welcome member. Continue Reading

Shungiku

By Penny Woodward

Edible flowers and leaves

Shungiku in flower

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 showcases 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  writing about plants that are in the book, I would focus on unusual individual plants that we would not otherwise have available for our gardens or meals. Continue Reading

Garlic

An organic guide to knowing, growing and using garlic, from Australian Whites and Tasmanian Purples to Korean Reds and Shandongs.
GarlicFrontCover

I am thrilled to say that my new book has been released and is in bookshops and can be purchased online from my website shop . If you would like your copy signed to a specific person, then send me an email through the contact page. I’ll be talking about garlic and the book on radio over the coming weeks and there will be reviews in newspapers and magazines, so keep an eye out for them.

The book has taken me three years to write, but has been much longer in it’s gestation. It covers everything from more than 50 different cultivars of garlic, to 
guidelines for growing organic garlic around the country as well as interviews with
 twelve Australian garlic growers telling you how and where they grow their garlic.
 There are also recipes for cooking, preserving and smoking garlic and even making your own black garlic as well as medicinal uses and an extensive list of growers and suppliers.

This book starts to make sense of the confusion surrounding garlic and explains that garlic is not just garlic, it is Creole, Rocambole, Purple Stripe, Turban, Silverskin and more.

 

These are a couple of short extracts from the book, starting with Garlic Thoughts Continue Reading

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

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

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

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

French breakfast radish

Bright red crunchy radishes

French Breakfast radish

This bite sized treat is one of the easiest of all vegetables to grow and my favourite radish. Mild flavoured ‘French Breakfast’ radish (Raphanus sativus) was first introduced in Paris in 1879. The market porters in Paris used to eat these radishes with butter and salt as a mid-morning treat, hence French Breakfast. Sow seed into any reasonable garden soil in full sun to semi-shade, keep moist and thin to 5cm spacings once they have a few leaves. Add the thinned leaves to salad. Bubls can be harvested after 4-6 weeks and if you want to make sure you have them on hand when ever you feel like one, then sow new seed every three weeks. These mildly spicey radishes make a delicious snack on their own, or dunked in a dip, or emulate the French porter and cut in half, spread with butter and sprinkle with salt, yum! They are also, of course, delicious in salads or used as a garnish on a range of dishes. Young and older leaves also make a slightly spicey salad leaf. Continue Reading

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