Sustainable Organic Gardening

Meet the team

Frances – the Earthwise Gardener

Some of my happiest childhood memories are of holidays on a family farm tucked away in a river valley west of Sydney. I’d head out with my basket to harvest sun-warmed tomatoes for us to eat on toast for breakfast. The fresh eggs were a bigger challenge as they had to be snuck out from under an indignant hen. Toast was made over the coals with a long fork; getting it browned without it falling off and burning was a challenge but it tasted completely different to any toast I’ve had since. There was homemade plum jam to spread on it, topped with the thick Jersey cream skimmed off the billy of milk. Back home with parents who simply didn’t garden, I attempted my first around the age of 10. It was pretty disappointing. The thin Hawkesbury sandstone soil was uncooperative and I raised blisters digging up the rocky ground. My first crops resembled bonsai versions of the tomatoes, corn and watermelons I was trying to grow. One part of the garden produced abundantly, with a great sprawling pumpkin vine. It grew out of the compost heap and it taught me that a garden begins with the soil.

14 Responses to “Meet the team”

  • Niven McArthur says:

    Hi Guys. Just joined. Looking forward to learning from you all. Niven.

  • Niven McArthur says:

    Mould & die back. Wow, am I frustrated. Every year I plant out tomatoes, pumpkins, squash, courgettes & they take off. I get a small amount of early pickings & then they all go mouldy & die. What am I doing wrong? I try to keep the water off the foliage. I lay down mulch. I live on the Central Coast of NSW & sure, we do get humid weather this time of year but my friends do not seem to share the same problems. Can you please help?

    • Earthwise says:

      This sort of ongoing problem can be very frustrating and there are no short answers. Plant selection and timings of plantings are critical but most important of all, good soil health. Healthy plants that are fed with a wide range of essential plant nutrients are far more likely to resist disease, similar to the way people who don’t eat enough fruit and vegetables commonly get colds. Another difference between your garden and your friend’s gardens can be air movement. It is possible that buildings, fences, or shrubs are contributing to still pockets of air that prevent leaves drying off. I would recommend you read the attached article, particularly the ‘Long Term Strategies’

      • bob chandra says:

        finally it seems someone will help me ,im after some sunset manihot abelmoschus seeds im after the varity the one sekks at green havest but they sell cuttings im after seeds which is allowed in nz can anyone sell me csome seeds or give sites that sell seeds in aust, there many different types seeds online.looking forward

        • Earthwise says:

          Unfortunately we can’t send seeds of aibika syn. Hibiscus spinach to New Zealand as the type we prefer to grow does not produce seed.

  • peter Searle says:

    Geoff / Frances, do you have an organic product that can eliminate ants in LAWNS.?

  • Mark W says:

    Help, being a Kiwi I miss my Yams this is the second year I have grown them however the fruit seems to always be small. I planted in October (I live in Melb) and they are still to small to harvest. The tops have died off about 70% and some fruit is on the surface. Soil is rich as there are plenty of worms. the biggest yam I have yet to grow is about half a thumb. I am also getting tubers growing off each other in clumps. Help!!! some growing tips would be great as i am in agony waiting for a good feed of roast yams.

    • Earthwise says:

      Melbourne is a suitable growing climate for yams but they are originate at high altitude so don’t like it when the temperature goes over 30 degrees C and tend to die off early. Putting 4 stakes in the ground with a 30% shadedcloth roof tied to the stakes would help keep them cooler. Tubers need even watering as well. The tubers are the plants attempt to store energy for a cold winter so if conditions are poor (too hot, too dry, not fertile enough, even for a few days) they die off early giving you a small tuber size harvest. From their point of view, any tuber is better than none.

  • Stephen Lillioja says:

    I had high hopes for the convenience of Cera-Traps for fruit fly but am disapointed. Has anyone got experience that they are effective? I am in Shellharbour, coastal southern NSW. Eco-naturalure seems to work, though putting it up every week is annoying..

    • Earthwise says:

      The Green Harvest team has a vegetable garden to grow food for staff lunches. Our harvest this year of Grosse Lisse, Black Russian and Thai Pink Egg tomatoes was protected solely by Cera Traps, we had zero fruit fly damage. The only damage was from a possum.

  • Emma says:

    HI Frances

    I hope you are well. We are a group of Sydney based gardeners from the Eastern Suburbs who are trying to start some good.

    Recently we have noticed in Sydney’s more gentrified areas established gardens are being mulched to make way for low maintenance gardens so we decide to do something about this.

    Adopt-A-Garden’s aim is to connect gardeners from all around the world, we are starting locally in Sydney so that they can exchange with each other in their locations and connect with other gardeners when visiting other parts of the world.

    We would really appreciate it if you could please give us a mention in your blog, social media shout out or press articles. If this is not appropriate then it’s no problem, but we would really appreciate your thoughts or comments on how you think this might work.

    Please find a link to our campaign

    Hope to hear from you.

    Best regards

    Emma and her venture team

  • glenda ross says:

    Hi there everyone, I have been searching for food safe pots to grow my veggies and it seems there is no such thing really. What does everyone use? Terracotta, plastic or other? What is least likely to leach toxins into my yummy veggies and herbs? Thanks Glenda

  • Kevin Wang says:

    Dear Earthwise Gardening team,

    Glad to send you this email.

    We are the consulting team from University of Sydney who are doing the consulting project for clay chimenea market analysis.

    We will be really appreciated that if you could help us for this project (we will ask you few questions) to better know about Australian market for Mexican hand-made clay chimenea.

    Looking forward to your reply.

    Best regards,
    Kevin Wang
    University of Sydney

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *