Dear Diggers (Summer 2015)

Contributions and feedback from our readers following the Summer Garden 2015 issue.

No desire to be an activist gardener

Dear Clive, I have been a member of The Diggers Club for nearly 25 years. I have enjoyed receiving the magazines you publish. In fact I don’t open them as soon as they arrive but wait till I can sit down and savour their contents, both the helpful information about how to grow things and the exciting catalogue of plants on offer.
I note you are calling your magazine one for activist gardeners. This seems to be a change of emphasis. My garden is the last place I want to be politically active! I am unclear about what you mean by politically active as you only seem to offer one side of the argument regarding the complex problems discussed and at the same time condemning those who hold might hold different views.
I have loved being a member of The Diggers Club for all these years and I would miss it if this was no longer the case. However I have no desire to be an activist gardener especially if it means having to accept the editorial position that is currently being presented. If this continues to be the case sadly I will have to resign my membership as I have no wish to support political activity through my membership fees to a gardening club.
Elizabeth T

Dear Elizabeth, was that a shot across the bow? We love to hear from all our members and run their views in our magazines so we get a balanced view; you could hardly expect us to write about things we don't believe in. We never take political sides but we do take issue with policies that threaten our ecosystem.
Over the last year we ran about 110 pages of editorial of which 12 pages seem to have annoyed some gardeners, but as we publish 358 pages of gardening in total that's just 3.3% of content. Here are some of the big picture issues we cover:
♦ How gardeners have lost 80% of publicly owned seeds to multinationals.
♦ How mono culture agriculture is causing declines in soil fertility.
♦ The threat to all biological life forms from climate change.
Best wishes, Clive Blazey

Purchasing coffee and cake with a view!

So DISAPPOINTED after telling everyone how nice it was to go and have coffee and cake at Heronswood outside a couple of weeks ago with our elderly father (85 years old).
We decided to visit again yesterday at his request only to be told it would cost us $10 each to enter the restaurant/café, we were then told that we could get a take away coffee around the side door. So sad as I think you will put a lot of people off, Ann

Dear Ann
We are sorry that you were disappointed about access to our restaurant. There is a lot going on behind the scenes you may be unaware of.
We lost our restaurant to a fire in January and so moved into Heronswood – the Neo-gothic late 19th century masterpiece.
This building is on the register of national estate and accessible to the public for the first time in its history – now every day of the year. Our dining room predates better known historic dining rooms like the Melbourne and Australian Clubs which are only accessible to its members.
This access needs protection to ensure the privilege of access is preserved for hundreds of years not just our lifetime. So we need to fund its preservation and restrict the numbers of visitors.
I hope you understand.
Yours sincerely, Clive Blazey
The Diggers Foundation

I wish this German organic garden scheme were here!

Hi, my husband and I have just returned from Germany after establishing an alternative energy company there. I came across a fantastic scheme set up to employ “challenged” people. A large old farm had been purchased and a thriving business established, which included organic seedlings, organic vegetable delivery service and a catering company on site in the beautiful 800 year old farm buildings.
The manger introduced a new scheme where a large field was prepared in early spring and divided into assorted sizes. People could rent a plot for a season and it was handed over on May the 1st, ready to go with over 30 different vegetables already planted. I secured such a plot (3m x 13m with a plot in a hot house as well, the season cost about $250 AUD.
Everything was provided. Fantastic for us as we were in an apartment. All tools, watering cans, bamboo poles and even string! Everything was totally organic and one could not bring any seedlings or seeds onto the farm from outside. I was in clover! I had a magical environment that was totally organic and supporting a fantastic community scheme
We had a wonderful time working in our plot on balmy summer evenings. We had bumper crops of vegetables that we shared around our neighbours and work friends. The quality of the vegetables was something I had not seen in my Melbourne vegetable garden for years.
The manager of the scheme communicated with everyone by email. She would inform us about weather, pests, time to harvest certain crops or emergency news such as pulling out all our potatoes after heavy rain as “blight” was noticed. On the first of November we had to return our plots and winter soil preparations were done before the soil froze.
These schemes were popping up all over Germany in the 3 years we were there. Yet again we saw innovation that was encouraged and actually supported and funded by politicians. The employees that became my friends, would tell me while we were eating lunch together (provided for us all by the catering team for $2 for 2 courses) how proud they were. They could come to work every day and carry out responsible tasks. How I wish we could something like this here. Annemarie F

A wildflower waterfront

Dear Diggers, I felt compelled to share with you the rewarding Flanders Field Poppy & Wildflower Meadow Mix etc.
Mine is one of the only waterfront gardens on Lake Macquarie, NSW where the prevailing winds can be all too strong and gusty but the morning sun and well drained soil aid and abet a Mediterranean style ‘Let Your Garden Go’ cottage garden.
I may not grow vegetables successfully but I certainly encourage bees.
Many thanks, Patricia McK

Signing off, with thanks...

To everyone at Diggers,
After being a member for many years, I have now decided not to renew my membership. I am no longer able to garden on the scale I once did – the body is no longer able to cope. I now get very frustrated when I see your magazines – all those beautiful plants and seeds that I can no longer plant and nurture!
I would like to thank everyone for the many years of wonderful seeds, plants, and most of all the help from your wonderful staff. Not only have you all over the years helped to stock my gardens, but you have also helped many times with projects I have done with school children, in particular your generous supply of free seeds.
Thank you all, Penny B

Solid rock

Having built a house on rock here in Bendigo, thru using compost, good quality garden dirt, mulch and hay, it has taken us five years to get all this and lawn too. But yes, you can really notice the coolness and growing vegetables, small fruit trees and old style garden plants is lovely ... and what a lovely place you have at St Erth!  Regards, Donna B

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