Nov 252014
 

Melbourne XXXIX - Trafalgar - 373.2008 089Messages about addressing climate change mostly focus on decreasing carbon dioxide emissions by reducing use of electricity and gas and increasing renewable energy. While these are extremely important, there also strategies for removing carbon from the atmosphere. We all know that planting trees and just growing more “green stuff” is a popular way of fixing carbon dioxide, but getting carbon into the soil itself is another approach that is now thought to lock it up for longer than can be achieved by tree planting. So who wouldn’t want to do that? Many “old” garden practices actually cause more carbon dioxide to be released, so what can gardeners do to reverse this? The good news is that more carbon in the soil also means more fertility.

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Nov 072014
 

Weeds (invasive plant species) can have significant impacts, such as the reduction of biodiversity, loss of habitat, increased fire risk and the costs associated with control. So what can we do about them? Is it enough to rely on governments through environmental legislation to control or eradicate them? Or can actions of home gardeners contribute to protecting natural areas? Continue reading »

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Nov 022014
 


We’re always being told to eat more fruit and vegies and get more exercise with this diet or that exercise program. If the thought of donning the Lycra and heading to the gym has you reaching for the chocolate cake, what about green gym? Get out into your sustainable garden for your daily workout. Sustainable gardening is not only good for the planet; it’s good for your health. There are more and more people using their gardens and growing fruit and vegies to help manage chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes. Think about all the weeding, digging, mulching, planting, and raking you can do in your garden. Wow, what a workout. Not only that, your sustainable garden is a great mood booster, so it’s good for your mental health as well.

Make November your month to start your green gym in your patch! Continue reading »

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Nov 022014
 

CharcoalBiochar has been hailed as a useful contributor to reducing the world’s increasing carbon emissions since it stores carbon in the soil1 . It has also been recommended as an alternative to chemical fertilisers, since it remains in the soil to increase productivity for a very long time2. We review what is known about biochar and its use and one of SGA’s supporters, Keith Laker, shares with us his experience of making and using it in his garden. Continue reading »

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Neem

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Nov 022014
 

neemtreepictureNeem products are sold for a variety of uses. In the garden, some people hail neem oil spray as a wonder pesticide. It has also found its way into toothpastes, medicines and herbal health preparations. Continue reading »

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Nov 022014
 

Not all of us have half a metre of topsoil in our backyards – unfortunately. So to get a decent depth for plants, especially veggies, to grow, we are confronted with the need to create raised beds. And if there is lawn next to the garden beds we usually want some sort of barrier to slow grass invasion. Edging materials can be expensive, so why not repurpose “rubbish” from elsewhere? It saves money and helps the planet too.

In our recent competition for photos of recycling, resourceful SGA supporters sent us great ideas for how to do this. Here are some of them. Bonollo-1 Continue reading »

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Oct 022014
 

With the weather warming up nicely, there’s no better place to be than the backyard. October is a huge month in the patch. With so many varieties to plant, you’ll be struggling to get it all done. So, welcome to October, a fine time to be in any sort of garden. Remember to use all your senses in the garden. Watch for pest issues, feel for soil moisture, smell your soil, and… most importantly… taste the fruits (or vegetables) of your labours. Let’s get into it… Continue reading »

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Oct 022014
 
Leptospermum laevigatum

Leptospermum laevigatum

We see them on the roadsides: vigorous, long-flowering, hardy and a splash of colour against the grey-green foliage of the native species. They are weeds and it is their hardiness that makes them such a threat to endemic species. Environmental weeds invade native ecosystems and adversely affect indigenous flora and fauna. There are now more foreign plants in Australia than native ones: about 27,500 introduced plant species have made their way into the country, compared with 24,000 native species. Around ten per cent of the ‘invaders’ have become ‘naturalised’.

Environmental weeds were introduced as ornamental species for domestic gardens. They are survivors as they have relatively few natural diseases, insects or pests to control their populations, and can out-compete native species. Disturbed sites are havens for weed species as many thrive in poor soils and then smother existing native species. They can have significant health, economic, environmental and social impacts (Ragweed, Gorse, Rubber Vine and Salvinia, respectively). They also have larger environmental impacts such as degradation of water quality and increased risk of fire, loss of ecotourism opportunities, the costs associated with control, impacts on recreational activities and the landscape, and the reduction of biodiversity. Continue reading »

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Oct 022014
 

A lot of lawn (1024x768)

Each spring and early summer it is amazing how fast grass, weeds and lawns can grow. The combination of longer, warmer days and the occasional shower makes for ideal growing conditions, and there is always something to do in the garden.

For most of us, there will be the need to mow our lawns (if we have them) fortnightly, if not weekly, and if things have been a bit out of hand, we may even need to use a trimmer to cut back the weeds. You might begin to wonder if there is anything we can do to improve the situation? Continue reading »

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Oct 022014
 

Tine Grimston 33 (1024x534)

“My garden is chock-a-block with rescued plants, rescued pots & garden furniture, mirrors, birdcages, wheelbarrows, barrel hoops, ladders and all sorts of other bits and pieces. Not only do I collect treasures from the hard rubbish and Op shops. My friends and work colleagues donate things too. Some are used ‘as is’, others are tweaked, tarted up, assembled or arranged to make them more useful or display-worth.” So says Tine Grimston, from Rowville, Victoria.

As well as using recycled treasures, Tine tries to be sustainable in other ways. She is a participant in the local council’s Garden’s for Wildlife program and has fruit and nut trees, a veggie garden, water tanks, solar panels, indigenous and native plants and a pond. Continue reading »

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