ABC Organic Gardener Magazine Essential Guides Natural Solutions

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

3 min
from the editor

Pests and diseases. Gardening would be boring without them. Where would the challenge be if all your tomatoes were perfect without you even trying? Or if nectarines fell off the trees into your hand as you strolled through the orchard looking for things to do? Reality, of course, is nothing like that. At least in my garden. What with fruit flies, fruit bats, aphids, scale, snails and caterpillars, there’s plenty of competition out there when it comes to enjoying the harvest. That’s if there is a harvest, after the various wilts and rusts and mildews have done their best to bring plants to their knees. It sometimes seems like a miracle that we get to eat anything out of the garden at all. Nuking all those bugs and diseases with powerful chemicals…

4 min
our contributors

Peter Cundall Peter was born in Manchester, England, in 1927. He started gardening as a young child, later developing a vegetable garden to help support his family during the Great Depression. After military service in World War II, then the Palestine War and later with the Australian 3rd Battalion during the Korean War, he finally settled in Tasmania and began full-time landscaping. In the late 1960s he began working in radio and television, eventually hosting ABC TV’s Gardening Australia until 2008. He still broadcasts each week on ABC Local Radio and writes for newspapers and magazines, including Organic Gardener. Peter has also written three books on gardening, and is active in anti-war and environmental movements. Penny Woodward Penny is a well-known gardening writer and photographer who is also horticultural editor for Organic Gardener…

4 min
natural wisdom

“Totally cured,” he chortled, flexing his fingers. “I take a tablespoon of that delicious pig stuff every day and it’s worked for me.” I can’t stand waste of any kind. That’s probably because of my background as a child of the Great Depression in the 1930s when everything was reused. Our district was known for its almost permanently empty dustbins (we called them “middens”). My mother would instruct me to hang around our gate to tell the midden-man not to bother emptying ours. “There nowt in’t’ midden,” I’d shout each week, and he’d bellow, “Thanks lad” and move on. Above all, I can’t bear wasting time. I know for a fact that I’m not the only nutcase that actually enjoys occasional bouts of sleeplessness. This valuable, uninterrupted time is spent inventing things or…

7 min
the balanced garden

The most efficient way to control pests and diseases in an organic garden over the long term isn’t to reach for a spray at every opportunity. It’s to imitate nature by treating the garden as an ecosystem. There is a misguided view in organic gardening circles that all you have to do to become an eco-gardener who cares very deeply for the planet is swap toxic, synthetic chemicals for natural, non-toxic alternatives. Concerned about the fact that glyphosate has been described by the World Health Organisation as a probable carcinogen? No worries, just swap glyphosate for a butane-powered torch. Keen to nuke insect pests but seeking to avoid using bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides? You’re in luck. Natural pyrethrum will do the job. See, being an organic gardener is a piece of naturally grown…

5 min
good bugs

Anyone who has seen a ladybird attack a group of unsuspecting, sap-sucking aphids, or watched a praying mantis patiently waiting for its next meal, will appreciate the value of having friendly insects in the garden. Insects such as ladybirds and mantids are known as ‘good bugs’ or ‘beneficials’ or, more technically, ‘biological control agents’. They play an important role commercially in agriculture and horticulture as they can decrease a grower’s reliance on pesticides to control insect or mite pests. The same applies in the home garden. Good bugs work in various ways. They may be: * Predators, which feed on pest insects or mites. * Parasites, such as certain wasps and flies, which lay eggs in or on other insects. * Pathogens, such as pest-specific bacteria – the most widely known is Bacillus thuringiensis,…

1 min
five good bugs to look for in your garden

Lacewings Lacewing larvae are ferocious predators of soft-bodied pests including mealybugs, two-spotted mites and aphids (as can be seen above). Look for larvae on plants where these pests occur (see pages 44-75), especially during warm weather. Lacewings get their name from the two pairs of clear lacy wings on adults (pictured on page 17). Ladybirds This is a ladybird larva (often mistaken for a pest). Adult ladybirds are the most visible and best-known good bugs. They and their larvae are predators of many pest insects, including aphids, mealybugs, scale and two-spotted mites. Some ladybird species are specialist predators of certain pests while other species are not so fussy. Hoverflies Adult hoverflies are often seen hovering over flowering plants like mini helicopters. They feed on pollen and nectar and are useful pollinators. Female hoverflies lay their…