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ABC Organic Gardener Magazine Essential Guides

ABC Organic Gardener Magazine Essential Guides

Organic Gardener Essential Guide 14

ABC ORGANIC GARDENER ESSENTIAL GUIDES: The popular Essential Guide series, brings together some of Australia’s best gardening writers in a series of guides. The guides are a comprehensive, must-have for every organic gardener. The 124-page, book-quality magazines will serve as a reference for years to come.

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in this issue

1 min.
golden oldies

I try to visit my local farmers’ market as often as possible – although I must admit I’m not the earliest riser on a Sunday morning, especially during the chilly winter months. That said, it’s always worth the effort. I come away with a basket full of freshly harvested produce and a head full of information gleaned from the local growers, not only about the provenance of the fruit and veg but also how to cook and store it. For instance, the incredible ‘Romanesco’ broccoli on the cover has a nutty flavour and, for mine, is best lightly steamed and served alongside its stablemate, ‘Purple Sprouting’ broccoli (page 27), with a knob of butter and a sprinkle of cracked pepper. The flavours are incredible and the colour and texture on…

5 min.
growing from the past to ensure our future

Heirloom vegetables and heritage fruit have been the backbone of agriculture and home gardens for thousands of years. Ever since our ancestors began collecting wild plants and growing, selecting and improving them to produce bigger, sweeter and more reliable crops, humans have grown, nurtured and cared for these precious plants. It’s only since the introduction of industrial agriculture, F1 hybrids and the actions of a few of our biggest companies, that these thousands of precious, diverse cultivars of fruit and vegetables have begun disappearing from gardens, farms and seed banks all over the world. Why is this important? As Doctor Judyth McLeod puts it in her excellent Heritage Gardening, ‘It’s about the need to save your future with your heritage from the past’. She goes on to explain that genetic diversity…

4 min.
seed saviours

Hold a seed in the palm of your hand and it’s hard not to marvel at its promise. It is a miracle that from seed, sometimes as small as a pinhead, a plant can germinate and produce food. And if that plant is left to go to seed, more seeds can be collected to grow more food, and the process repeated time and time again. The common heritage of seeds dates back more than 10,000 years, to the start of agriculture, with today’s seeds collected, cultivated and passed on by our ancestors. Alas, in the past century the genetic diversity of seeds has declined markedly. Land clearing, a preference for monoculture, the dominance of hybrid, patented or genetically modified seeds over heirloom and open-pollinated ones, and the loss of smaller, independent seed…

3 min.
album vilmorin

Seed Savers Exchange On a grassroots level, one of the pioneer organisations of seed saving, the US Seed Savers Exchange, is working to not only conserve heirlooms but to keep the seeds strong and pure at its 890-hectare heritage farm in Iowa. Founded in 1975 by Diane Ott Whealy and Kent Whealy, it is the largest non-governmental seed bank in the world. Members distribute hundreds of thousands of heirloom and open-pollinated garden seeds, many brought to North America by members’ ancestors who emigrated from Europe, the Middle East, Asia and other parts of the world. The Seed Savers’ website states that the group has 20,000 listings, including 12,495 unique cultivars. The Australian equivalent began with the launch of a national seed-saving network in 1986 and establishment of the Seed Savers Foundation in 2000. Its…

7 min.
full of beans

While I was researching garden ideas for a TV project Through The Seasons, I came across the Heritage Food Crops Research Trust (heritagefoodcrops.org.nz), which some years ago imported a wide range of heirloom Mesoamerican bean seeds into New Zealand. With names such as ‘Cherokee Cornfield Bean’, ‘Apache Red Bean’, ‘Hopi Black Pinto’ and ‘Tarahumara Purple Star’, they captured my imagination and I managed to secure a stash from my local Southland Seed Savers group to grow my own. The seeds I was given came from cultivars that had been grown for hundreds if not thousands of years. Some were resistant to drought, some could grow in the shade, and all had the prettiest seeds imaginable. My winter bean soups would never look or taste better. The seeds I obtained are all part…

1 min.
support your beans!

There is something magical about the way climbing beans twist their way up towards the sky. It seems they will go as high as whatever pole you provide for them to climb. I like to make wigwams for my runner beans out of long stakes of tea tree jammed into the soil in a circle and tied with wire at the top. Recycled old wire mattresses also make a good bean frame, as do old ladders, market umbrella frames and grid fencing wire. If you have lots of room, you can construct a double row of bamboo poles crossed at the top, supported and tied through the length with a cross bar of bamboo. Or if you live in an apartment, try growing your beans in pots and use downpipes or pillars…