Tomato: know sow grow feast

Front cover Tomato

By Penny Woodward, Janice Sutton, Karen Sutherland

It’s tomato season again. So don’t forgot about our beautiful Tomato book, written for Australian conditions.

Tomato: know sow grow feast, written and published by Penny Woodward, Janice Sutton and Karen Sutherland.  This book was awarded the Gold Medal in the House and Garden category of the Independent Publisher’s 2019 Awards (the IPPYs), judged against books from all over the world.  Early in 2020, it shared the Book Laurel from the Horticultural Media Association Australia for the best gardening book in the previous two years. Hardcover. RRP $65, but $60 from this site.

Tomato: know, sow, grow, feast is a hardback book celebrating Australian heirloom tomatoes. These colourful heritage gems are full to bursting with juicy deliciousness and are enjoying a renaissance in Australia today. This book brims with information about heirloom tomatoes, so that tomato lovers throughout Australia can identify, learn to grow and enjoy them.

Tomato explains why a ‘red tomato is red’, why ‘real tomatoes’ taste so good, and why tomatoes are so ‘good for you’. The book also leads both experienced and aspiring gardeners through the practice of organic heirloom tomato growing and explores the history of heirloom tomato cultivars in Australia. It also provides, for the first time, a comprehensive description and extensive illustrated list of the more than 220 different cultivars of heirloom tomatoes available from seed suppliers in Australia today. What also sets Tomato apart, is the book’s extensive list and description of heirloom tomato pests and diseases, painstakingly researched by gardening expert Karen Sutherland, that includes an indispensable pest and disease chart to help gardeners identify and control them.

Uniquely too, for a gardening book, Tomato includes a substantial dedicated cooking and recipe section, where internationally award-winning cookbook author, Janice Sutton, explains not only how to preserve tomatoes and create the perfect tomato passatta, but also delves into the enticing realm of heirloom tomato variety flavours. The cooking section also contains more than 60 delicious recipes (each with its own beautiful full-page image) shared by a raft of talented chefs, cooks and passionate tomato lovers from throughout Australia and beyond – including some of Australia’s most respected culinary icons: Peter Gilmore, Stephanie Alexander, Maggie Beer, Sally Wise, Christine Manfield, Mark Olive, Matthew Evans and the Agrarian Kitchen’s Rodney Dunn.

It is for tomato lovers, gardeners and cooks; and all those who love beautiful books.

“This is the ultimate book on tomatoes, brimming with information based on experience. It covers everything anyone ever needs to know about selecting, growing and using the best and tastiest tomatoes in all districts and climates.” Peter Cundall 2018

To find out who wrote what and to read the Table of Contents and see a couple of short extracts from my section, then Read more


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

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 Read more

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. Read more

Growing Honest Food

Review by Gail Thomas

Eager to keep their Italian traditions alive after coming to Australia in 1965 Lina and Tony Siciliano started a new life together in suburban Essendon. With only a small garden they yearned to grow their own food so in 1981 acquired a barren block of land in East Keilor where they planted fruit trees and vegetables and raised chickens. Thirty years on and the couple have transformed the site into a profitable business boasting a productive bounty of 400 olive trees, an orchard, vegetable garden and their Rose Creek Estate vineyard.
Taking a month by month approach author Gabriella Gomersall-Hubbard has documented the family’s sustainable way of life from preserving – think big tomato day and sausage making – to producing olive oil and wine. Colour photos throughout capture the essence of the Siciliano’s seasonal activities in the garden and kitchen while traditional recipes reinforce that achievable goal of growing organically, knowing where your food comes from and ensuring low food miles. Try a spicy pasta with potatoes and cavolo nero or the slow cooked capretto with fresh peas.

Review by Penny Woodward

This lovely book is full of delights. For those of us lucky enough to have visited Rose Creek Estate, to have met Tony and Lina, and eaten their food, this book is a wonderful evocation of their lives and lifestyle. Read more

Extracts from Pest-Repellent Plants

Your garden should not only be beautiful to look at but also a dynamic, balanced haven for all creatures (and plants) big and small.

These a just a few short extracts from my book Pest-Repellent Plants

from Chapter 1 Pests plants and predators

I hope this book will encourage you to embark on a journey of discovery, a journey that will add a fascinating new dimension to your gardening experience. Start by closely observing your garden and its inhabitants.

Everything in your garden depends on the other garden occupants and interacts with them. From the lowliest worm, centipede and ant … beetles, caterpillars and bugs … to frogs, lizards and birds … and finally to you. Your observations will show you the complexity and fragility of your garden ecosystem and some of the astonishing relationships that exist between insects and plants. Forget about bombarding everything that moves with a cocktail of the latest pesticides.
Instead, experiment with growing various masking and insect-repellent plants as well as plants that attract predators into the garden. Gradually you will build up a complete ecosystem where plants, pests and predators live in balance and remedies are needed only when this balance is upset.


Read more

Pest-Repellent Plants

By Gail Thomas for Australian Horticulture.

(reproduced with permission)

If the pests are taking hold, this useful reference has plenty of quick and easy organic solutions to getting the upper hand in both the garden and home.
With a host of ideas, strategies and answers this new revised edition has been updated and expanded, documenting more than sixty relevant plants along with traps, barriers, sprays and more to assist in addressing all manner of pest problems while maintaining a healthy balanced lifestyle and garden.
Penny Woodward who has a wealth of knowledge, having penned seven herb and garden related books has divided the plants and recipes in this volume into four categories; those that will kill pests, actively repel them, those that can mask the scents of plants targeted by pests and those that will kill or control fungi and bacteria.
Importantly it is imperative to take a holistic approach in maintaining a balance between pests and predators and the book also features tips and safety guidelines when making and using homemade pesticides.
The comprehensive A-Z of plants and organic remedies is fully illustrated with clear colour photographs throughout and also includes recipes using many easily accessible household ingredients including coffee, bicarbonate of soda, milk, molasses, flour and garlic. Read more

Pest-Repellent Plants

My new book has finally arrived on the bookshelves around Australia. This is the second edition of the book of the same title that sold more than 20,000 copies with three reprints. This edition is completely updated with new information and new photographs. It covers the philosophy of pest-repellent gardening, that the garden should be a haven for all creatures and plants, big and small, not a battle ground. That sprays that kill (even organic ones) should be a last resort. That gardeners need to concentrate on healthy soil and healthy plants, as well as a diversity of planting, including predator attracting plants. We also need to provide homes and food for frogs, birds, lizards and bats, all of which feed on pests. Then the book looks at masking, repelling and killing plants and their numerous uses. As well as other solutions such as traps, trickery, netting and barriers to keep pests away from our precious plants. And common household items that are organic and can also be used against pests: soap, molasses, coffee, bicarbonate of soda, copper, sulphur and even water, to name but a few. The final section looks at the pests.

I encourage you to spend time in your garden, get to know your insects, as not all insects are pests and only spray once you have tried all the other solutions. Ask your local library to get a copy, buy the book from your local bookshop or buy it online in our store. Pest-Repellent Plants

  • All words and images © Copyright Penny Woodward 2024.
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