How to grow and use licorice

Today I’m talking with herb specialist Ian Hemphill of Herbies Spices about growing that very tasty plant, licorice (or liquorice if you are in the UK). Forget the sticky black confectionary licorice – you can make your own sweet treats like licorice icecream and even chewable sticks from your own home-grown plant. Continue reading

Common names versus scientific names

What’s in a name, you might ask? A scientific name is a two-word name, which is unique to a particular organism, unlike common names where there may be several different common names for the same organism. Take the scientific name of a large American native cat, Felis concolor, for example. The cat has several common names across its range including puma, cougar, mountain lion, panther and catamount. Continue reading

Minuscule harvests

Hooray, hooray, it’s my first avocado harvest! Yep, that’s avocado harvest, singular. It was delicious – not quite the bushels I planned to give away to family and friends, but at least Geoff and I enjoyed half each as a mid afternoon snack… a small snack, as the avocado was not very big! Here it is: Continue reading

The big squeeze on our citrus trees

It’s hard to imagine a backyard without a good old heritage lemon tree in the corner to make spontaneous lemonade or a delicious lemon meringue pie for dessert. But right across Melbourne and into Victoria, that’s the future we’re now facing as our citrus trees are under serious threat, slowly dying from a pest so tiny you can’t see it easily – the citrus gall wasp (Bruchophagus fellis). Continue reading

Can new technology change the way we garden?

In a previous life, I worked as a programmer. My world was technology. It’s only in the last few years that I’ve found my way into the natural world. The change was sudden and overwhelming, and I made many mental leaps to reconcile being a ‘plants person’ as well as a ‘tech person’.
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Ludwigsburg: one of the world’s best pumpkin festivals

When I was growing up the only pumpkin we ate was the Ironbark, which required the strength of an iron woman (or man) and a sharp axe to cut it up. Usually it was baked with meat and potatoes, until tender and delicious but sometimes it was boiled then mashed with butter and a dash of nutmeg. The shape and toughness of the Ironbark made it difficult and time consuming to peel so it was often baked with the skin on. The cooked flesh could then be scraped away from the skin but to be honest I liked the nutty taste of the skin and happily devoured it all. Continue reading

Scrumptious red November

It is the most glorious time of the year in Melbourne (Australia). Our garden is yielding its scrumptious early bounty of red-coloured treats. Delectable alpine strawberries, loganberries, raspberries, mulberries and early cherries – all in mid-November! Continue reading

Making a small commercial edible garden for ‘Patch’

Recently we were asked to create a temporary commercial display container garden for the sales area of a new apartment building project called ‘Patch’ in Fitzroy North, Melbourne. Although ‘Patch’ has a range of apartment sizes, it includes a higher than usual percentage of three-bedroom family-focussed apartments. The Patch building, due for completion in late 2017, will have a 4 star ESD rating (Ecologically Sustainable Development). Continue reading

Listening to the locals: a new garden for The Cellar Door

I, like many, enjoy more than anything to take a break from a routine and embrace a new destination. By going and putting yourself in someone else’s shoes for a few days or weeks, it opens your eyes and you realise that there is more to life than just the day to day. There is nothing better than finding out what a place is really about; its history, its food and drink, its culture and its beauty. Continue reading