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Question about your order? See our COVID 19 Update here. Online orders are currently only open to members only. Orders are taking up to 3 weeks to despatch based on current reduced-workplace COVID restrictions.

Diggers Club members are passionate gardeners

Lisa Remato presents the results of our recent member questionnaire

In our Spring Garden magazine this year, we ran a gardening survey and had an overwhelming response from you, our members.
We received over 1,000 responses, giving us great information about our members’ gardening passions, habits and interests which we wanted to share with you!
You are amongst the keenest gardeners in Australia and this is reflected in the years and hours you spend in the garden, the diversity and range of plants that you grow, and where gardening sits in your life interests.
Our members are predominantly female (75%), with a fairly even split between country and suburban gardens, with a small, but growing, number in the inner city (5%). You are very much keen home gardeners (96%), rather than career gardeners, who are loyal club members with most of having stayed members for 2 to 10 years (57%)!
Your top three reasons for joining were to get access to plants, not-readily-available seeds (by a decent margin), to improve your gardening success, and for information and advice. There was also a lot of support for Diggers causes (68%) as a motivator to be a part of Diggers – which we really appreciate!
What do our members grow?
The average size of our members’ garden is large by modern standards – between 500 and 1,000m – so there is plenty of room to grow a wide range of flowers, vegetables and fruits. 95% of you grow vegetables (almost double the national average) and 90% of you grow fruit as well, which shows a longer-term commitment to your gardens and your hobby.
Even more interesting is that for the members who grow fruit, more is more, with over a third of you growing more than 8 different fruit varieties (who can resist home grown stone fruits!). Over half of you were growing up to 10 different vegetables in your vegie patch, and another third growing up to 20! When you think about the diversity growing in over 1,000 backyards just amongst our members, it’s heartening to know that some of the best old heirlooms are forging a place in our home-grown food supply. And even if each of these gardens is only growing 10kg of food, that’s 10 tonnes of food not being chemically fertilised, transported on our roads, stored in refrigerated conditions and handled and sold through stores – a nice impact on our carbon footprint, I would have thought. Your passion for beauty and flowers is just as strong with a huge number (69%) of you growing up to 20 different annual flowers from seed and speedings, adding to our floral diversity and creating habitat and a food source for bees, butterflies, insects (and probably a few pests too!). I’ve got a particular passion for annual flowers, so I’m pretty happy with this result!
Perennial growing was also strong, showing a high level of gardening sophistication amongst our members, with over 50% of you growing a wide enough range of perennials to create a perennial garden.

How keen are you?
We can see from the survey results that you are dedicated to your gardens and gardening as your hobby. Most Australian’s spend on average 2 hours 41 minutes a week on gardening including lawn mowing and 13% of people outsource it altogether!
For Diggers members, the average time spent in the garden is over 5 hours a week, reducing to 1–2 hours during winter. All of this is reflected in the fact that you stated that gardening was your number one hobby (58%), followed by fitting it in around work and weather conditions (15% each).
More or less?
Our members were pretty clear on what they wanted more and less of, although this varied considerably based on your climate, gardening skill level and practical-versus-philosophical view of the role gardening plays in your life and in the environment.
As you can imagine there were mixed views on Clive’s controversial editorial, with our members being equally passionate on both sides! The majority of people were happy with what we were doing with plenty of “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” type comments, and many which said things like “You guys are doing a fantastic job. I wish I knew about your organisation earlier in my life.”
More
Surprisingly, one of the greatest requests was for more gardening ‘how to’ information and advice:
“More information on what can be done this month in the garden. What to prune, fertilise, plant via seed, seedling. I understand however that this is hard when you’ve got lots of different climates.”
We tend to steer away from this information in the magazine, assuming it is freely available online, through magazines and on television. We will have to rethink this a little. We provide lots of fact sheets and ‘how to’ info in the members section of our website and ‘what to do in the garden this month’ videos in our monthly eNewsletters, and we definitely hope to cover all of the practical knowledge that you will need in our books too. If you do want to find out this month’s gardening tips, check the website tab called ‘Garden Advice’ which gives tips and videos on what to do right now.
The second most-requested addition for the magazine was for climate-specific advice, particularly more information about gardening in the subtropics: “More reviews of specific vegetables and feedback from readers/members of what grows well in the different climate areas in Australia.”Followed by an interest in other member’s experiences:“A focus each time on a member’s garden. Some history of open (pollinated) seed. Some basic info on pests, fungus, etc and how to treat.”

Less
Less running out of stock was a common thread:“Too often plants are out of stock when ordering from magazine.”Rest assured it pains us too. Some of the unusual plants we get aren’t yet available in big numbers, but I think we are learning it’s better to hold on until we have enough than to disappoint. We also had quite a few references to the size of the font used and to consider increasing this to make it easier to read:“It is fine, but consider font size and layout for older people. Balance is great as is. Staff are always courteous and helpful in person and on phone.”
Many people wanted a better go for natives as well:“Focus more on growing stuff and less on lambasting eucs.”
And about Clive
There were many comments about Clive’s editorial role from both sides of the garden! From: 
“I love Clive’s rants! They are my favourite part.” and:
“I like what I read in the mag, especially the articles written by Clive. He doesn’t pull any punches, says what he means and means what he says!” 
Through to: “Clive should adopt more of a friendly-neighbour tone sharing trials, errors and successes rather than his insistence on what he considers beautiful or ugly. Keep up the good work on the anti-GM and corporate ownership of seed front!” and “While I appreciate passion regarding the need for plant diversity, the perils of destruction of forests, organic gardens and caring for our world, a little less diatribe and a little more celebration of the things we are getting right would be good.” Thanks to all of our members who participated, we will be doing more of an indepth study of your responses at Diggers to help us serve you better. I would like to finish with my favourite comment from a member which sums up the way the staff and I at Diggers hope you feel about us for the most part: 
“I don’t think Diggers needs to do anything. Your magazines are packed full of beautiful plants and great reading. There are so many plants to choose from, that’s why it is taking me so long to put an order in!”

More

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Clive talks to artist Bill Henson, a lover of beauty in all its forms

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Clive introduces Andrew Carpenter...

We Planted Our First Tomato Seeds!

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