Hibiscus Leaves Helped Save Australian Lives

I’ve just found a letter written years ago in response to an article I wrote about edible members of the Hibiscus family (the Malvaceae). This refers to rosella leaves (Hibiscus sabdariffa), an icon of Australian backyards, and also peasant food or famine food in Bangladesh, Thailand and Burma. Rosella leaves helped Australian prisoners survive the…

Favourite Flying Fox Food Trees: What To Plant

  Flying-foxes are flying gardeners, they sustain forests along eastern and northern Australia, pollinating native trees in national parks and reserves that have become separated or isolated by settlement. Flying foxes also spread tree seed, helping to landscape vast areas of Australia. Many forest-dwelling threatened species depend on these ‘batty’ forests to provide them with food…

Morwell Fire: “My Garden Is Covered In Ash”

By mid-February 2014, a garden near Morwell, Victoria, was covered by ash from a coal mine fire which started on 9th February, setting the Hazelwood open cut coal mine alight. The coal mine fire ended up burning for weeks, causing serious health effects for local residents and a ‘high probability’ that eleven deaths resulted from the…

Give a Tree Frog a home

We ran out of time on 4BC Radio’s talkback gardening programme this morning, and I was unable to answer this question. Q: when should I shorten my pawpaw and ‘cap’ the pruning wound?

Biodispersal: Another word for the dictionary

A student at Dekin Uni is writing about GM foods. She wanted my opinion, so here is my reply – it was published eight years ago in response to an opinion piece written by Jennifer Marohasy (a member of the Institute of Public Affairs, a pro-industry lobby group) in the Courier Mail…

Glyphosate, The World’s Favourite Herbicide

Glyphosate-based herbicides are bee-killing global pollutants of groundwater, rivers and surface water. More recently glyphosate has been detected in rain. The latest research reveals that glyphosate damages the beneficial bacteria in the gut of the honeybee, making them prone to to deadly infections. Previous studies have shown that pesticides such as neonicotinoids cause harm to bees,…

How Do I Grow Sword Beans?

Or more importantly, what are sword beans? Think of sword beans (Canavalia gladiata) as haricot bean alternative. Both are vines and sword bean needs  a garden in a frost-free climate to grow really well. Fancy something different for dinner? I grow sword beans in a sunny spot in compost rich, freely draining soil. I train…

Scrub Turkey Trouble?

Question Hi Jerry, I have just moved to Byron Bay and have a Scrub Turkey (aka Australian Bush Turkey) problem. Do you have any clues as to what I should do to get my veggie garden going? Me and my veggie-head friend in Sydney love your work, Vicki

Marigold Magic

Question I love the smell of Stinking Roger, but my neighbour says it’s a weed to get rid of. Please do tell me what use I can make of it. Kelly, Facebook