Versatile Bamboo: Food, Shade, Construction and Carbon Sequestration

I planted bamboo because it is important in sustainable living: food, shade, privacy and for supporting vines. Pheasant coucals and possums gravitate towards the shelter of my bamboo which, now it is seventeen years old, has grown to become a landscape statement without outgrowing the allocated space…

In Production Today: My Subtropical Harvest Festival, May 2015

With 100 square metres of good soil you can feed a person all year round. That’s what my ‘Dig for Victory’ grandparents taught me when I was a teenager in London. Here in sunny subtropical Brisbane you also need a minimum of 7,000 litres of stored water, ideally 10,000 litres, to sustain that production through…

Father’s Day 2014: Concerning Seaweed And Quadratic Equations

This is a fictional letter. My father, John, who had been living for some years with Alzheimer’s, died shortly after I emigrated to Australia. My sister and I looked after Dad at home for several years until he required full time professional care. During the period when his mind was failing, remembering our family and things…

Cocoyam Recipes – Winter Open Day At Bellis, 2014

If you attended this winter open day, congratulations, you were part of gardening history. A record breaking number of guests visited Brisbane’s thrifty sustainable house and garden. And what a jolly, generous, patient and enthusiastic bunch you proved to be. The very best Queensland has to offer. Best of all, there were more young gardeners…

In Production Today: August 2014

Here’s my subtropical food garden’s winter menu: Edible roots Arrowroot, Canna edulis Carrot, Daucus carota ‘Paris Market’ Cassava, Manihot esculenta Cassava, Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’ Cocoyam, Xanthosoma saggitifolia Jerusalem artichoke, Helianthus tuberosus ‘Dwarf Sunray’ Radish, Raphanus sativus ‘Sparkler’ Edible leaves Basil, Greek, Ocimum minimum Basil, sacred, Ocimum tenuiflorum Cassava, Manihot esculenta Cabbage, Chinese, Brassica rapa var. pekinensis…

Open Day At Bellis, August 2014

FULL DETAILS SEE: http://www.opengarden.org.au Leave Brisbane’s suburbs behind as you visit 813 square metres of rural Wynnum. Check out my award-winning, thrifty sustainable garden: blue bananas, stingless bees, home grown bath sponges, and turf mostly mowed by guinea pigs. See how a decade of organic gardening has converted uncompromising acid sulphate soil into a wonderful,…

In Production Today: June 2014

Today a cool change has arrived, a reminder that June weather is supposed to be about winter, not the continuation of autumn as it has been. Will there be another winter?

Ecofest, Gladstone

Interest in conservation and sustainability has never been stronger in Gladstone. Ecofest, an annual event marking World Environment Day, has grown up. It’s now one of Australia’s leading environmental events for sharing information, celebrating conservation initiatives, Australian technology and pooling resources.

In Production Today, May 2014

May 2014 was the 351st consecutive month of above average global temperatures. Or put another way, any gardener under 30 years old will never have experienced normal growing conditions. This month’s weather has been surprisingly sunny, dry and so warm my ‘Java Blue’ and ‘Pisang Ceylan’ bananas and Sugar palm – tropical plants – are…

Stingless Bees: Factory Farming With A Future

Sugarbag bees are fun. Young kids are always surprised to discover some Australian bees are both tiny and without a sting. Once they understand these bees are safe company, they can’t resist taking a closer look and become absorbed by the antics of these industrious mini-bees.

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…