Native Bee Day

On Saturday I became the proud owner of a hive of native stingless bees, Trigona carbonaria. Damo had done some web-searching and found that Tim Heard, a CSIRO entomologist and native bee specialist, supplies colonies and his brother, Frank, makes specially designed hives for them. Stingless bees and honeybees happily co-exist. Happily Brisbane provides an…

Honey Flora Report – May

We’re members of the Bayside Beekeepers Association, and every month they release a Honey Flora Report listing significant flowering local native plants useful for honey production. Our hives are busy harvesting pollen and nectar from the urban forest and garden plants as well, so we’ve decided to add them to the BBA report.

Botanical Stamps

A selection collected by my parents, grandfather and me. One way for a child to learn about plants and places…and a bit of botanical latin too. There’s just one from my grandfather’s collection: Cattleya skinneri, an orchid. Stamps of his era hadn’t tapped into the profitable collectors’ market. There are more from my father’s collection…

Chiquita Bananas Sued

Garden sustainably. Grow your own organic bananas – it reduces your ecological footprint. The Great Barrier Reef is choking on agricultural sediment, fertilisers and pesticides; Invest sustainably. Never do business with Chiquita – to keep their boots off the faces of others; Never do business with Chiquita. How sure are you that your superannuation isn’t…

Luffas – Grow Your Own Bath Sponge

It’s time to sow heat-loving summer crops and this year I’ve sown some angled luffa. Luffas are mostly grown for their fibrous fruit used to make bath sponges. They may resemble sea sponges but this is a vegetable, a curious member of the Cucurbitaceae or cucumber family. Two species are grown: the smooth luffa, Luffa…

A Plant For Every Preschool

I’ve just got back from speaking at the opening day of SEEN, the world’s first early childhood learning conference, at Cockatoo Island, Sydney. The theme was sustainability – creating the future today. There were discussions about plant safety, landscaping and books on these topics for carers and educators. A great conference and some really uplifting…

Driving To The Grocery Store Brings Famine To Your Neighbour

Suddenly the UN, which has spent years warning world leaders that we would reach Peak Food early this century, are being listened to. The UN has accurately described how, where and who would be hit by famine. I recently wrote a piece in The Organic Gardener about this topic because home food gardeners have role…

New Book: How To Create A School Food Garden

Here is the best step by step guide showing how schools can set up an organic food garden. This book is packed with brilliant, practical suggestions for establishing and maintaining an inexpensive Seed Saver garden. Schools are currently eligible for government grants to help establish organic food gardens, and by using this guide, success can…

Perfect Peas

We’ve got some very healthy heritage snow and shelling peas, Pisum sativum var. sativum, most of which came from Seedsavers. I get such a happy feeling observing our growing peas. The seeds feel lovely to the touch, they unfurl and push through the soil so eagerly as they germinate, their leaves are very soft and…

Open Day

Last weekend we opened our place as part of the Australian Open Garden Scheme. I chose August to open because that’s when our Phillip Island Hibiscus hedge, Hibiscus insularis, is in flower. Well, in the end it didn’t because the recent frost set it back a fortnight. I also chose this time because right now,…