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Dear Diggers (Spring 2014)

Contributions and feedback from our readers following the Spring Garden 2014 issue.

Pumpkins on display at the St. Arnaud's Pumpkin Pageant

I am not an ignorant farmer!

Dear Diggers, I would like to make a comment on Clive Blazey's article in the Winter 2014 Diggers magazine. I am not sure whether this paragraph is attributed to Clive Blazey or Tim Flannery as he was reporting on Tim Flannery's lecture. The paragraph in question is below

“Gardeners are at the forefront of understanding the impacts of climate change. We probably are far closer to understanding its impacts than most farmers because we work with the soil, rather than plough it (in the comfort of air-conditioned tractors). We till the soil, recycle our waste materials, feel the worms and understand the interaction of birds, bees and butterflies.

We hand water our gardens, and are in tune with the seasonal changes of trees and shrubs and can enjoy the sunrises and sunsets in our own created beauty. We understand how we can reverse the carbon cycle by growing plants so that in our backyards we can bring carbon down to earth.”

I would like to enlighten you on how we are not ignorant farmers who blindly go and spend money “ploughing” with no thought as to what we are doing

♦ We haven't ploughed for over 20 years (it destroys soil structure) and most farmers in WA do not plough.
♦ Are you saying we don't work with the soil? Our livelihood depends on our soil and we take our soil very seriously.
♦ How many gardeners get their garden's soil tested comprehensively every year? How many gardeners know their cation exchange capacity and actively try and balance their soils, rather than just adding amendments for no other reason than it is supposed to help?
♦ Anything done to the soil is a thought out process with a definite purpose.
♦ We don't have the comfort of picking and choosing our weather when we go and work. Consequently an air conditioned cab for our staff so they can have some comfort in any weather from -2 to 45 is not a luxury but rather a necessity in todays labour market.
♦ We go to great lengths to farm carbon, by minimum till, a large composting operation, biological products and doing an R&D project on sustainable agriculture.
♦ We can enjoy sunsets and sunrises too and usually without obstruction from buildings.
♦ Don't create a them and us scenario – we all have to work together on soil health.
♦ We have planted over 500,000 trees (about 200,000 by hand) and been involved in Landcare for over 20 years and many of our farmer friends have done similar. We have done major work on drainage and salt reclamation in an attempt to improve our farm.
♦ We spend a lot of money and time on looking after our soil.

This is not about blowing my own trumpet but would just like to see a balanced argument.
I would like to invite you for a tour, for you to see the lengths we go to improve our farm so if you are ever in Western Australia (near Esperance on the south coast) come and have a look (preferably not during seeding and harvest).

I have been a member of Diggers Club for years and always read your newsletters and order things. Please don't marginalise Australian farmers – we are trying the best we can – so a little encouragement would be nice so we can all work together on the many problems we have with our soil.

Regards, Linda C.

Dear Linda, thank you for setting me straight and for being such an incredible example. Here at Diggers, we have our two gardens certified which are only 6-7 acres in comparison to yours.
From my experience, I have watched wheat growers effectively destroy soil fertility, causing a potential dust bowl in some marginal areas. Also, our local member "The Minister For Ignoring The Environment" dashes our hopes. I would like to visit some time.
Best wishes, Clive Blazey

Publishing Tim Flannery's lies

After 20 years approx of Diggers Club articles I was shocked to read Flannery's dissertation on The Critical Decade in your magazine.

Along with Al Gore, CSIRO, and the IPCC the subject of anthropogenic climate change and the need to reduce CO2 has been exposed as corrupt years ago. Yes, we have some climate change but still very mild and we have not even reached the temperatures of the Roman period.

We are starved of CO2 at 380ppm and there has been a slow decline over the millennia from about 8000ppm as shown by ice cores and other studies. The Smithsonian Institute's recent studies showed an average of 58% increase in vegetable production at 560ppm.

Far from being ‘dangerously high’, today's level at 390 ppm is well below the optimal saturation level of all plants. CO2 reached a high of 380ppm (as it has reached again today) at a time between 1940 and 1970 when temperatures actually cooled, an embarrassing revelation!

Some commercial tomato growers know this and pump in CO2 to increase their yield. It has been shown that CO2 follows climate change and does not precede it.

Australia has 5 world class climatologists who have exposed this great ‘con’ (see books by Prof R.Carter and Prof Plimey) but none have been consulted by the last government or CSIRO, Flannery, etc. who are all on the ‘gravy train’. I beg you to read both sides of any argument and especially not publish Flannery's lies.

Yours, Peter C.

Dear Peter,
Thanks for your considered and well argued reply. It is difficult for laypeople to understand when your view is against that of 90% of scientists.
When I go for a walk, the earth seems flat but I am assured it is round. Even when I fly on a plane I can't see that the earth is round, but I'm assured it is so by science.
I have to trust that the plane will fly even though I don't really understand how; so I put my faith, thousands of times a week in the accepted scientific wisdom. As gardener I clearly understand the hot house effect and I also know up to a point that higher CO2 accelerates plant growth.
But as an economist/ecologist I know that even if catastrophic climate change occurs, not as a consequence of human activities but for other reasons, that the outcome of sustainable lifestyle is best for my children and grandchildren.
To lead a sustainable existence is not an economic risk at all,in fact to curb our spending by only 1-2% of GDP (which is less than the spending on gambling) is nothing compared to the risk of a biological catastrophe. I'm prepared to spend 5-10 times that estimated cost just as an insurance.
I want to live in a world without pollution that is healthy, green and renewable. I don't want to exhaust our non-renewable energy and minerals reserves when there are sustainable sources that are everlasting. It took millions of years to create the carbon stores; what right have we to use it all in just 200 years?
I am not an economic automaton that works to get rich and I am deeply suspicious of the power of big corporations who manipulate government to transform our society for the rich and powerful. It isn't that we can't afford sustainable lifestyles it is actually that we can't afford not too.
Best wishes, Clive Blazey

St. Arnaud's Pumpkin Pageant

Diggers recently assisted the St Arnaud Historical Society with a prize for their 2014 Pumpkin Pageant. Heather sent us some photos (including the judging of the Giant Pumpkin competition and a shot of the 38 different varieties on display) and a card to let us know how the day went...

“Thanks for your donation of a year's membership. The lady that won it is a keen gardener, who has been through a difficult time recently so this cheered her up. The day was a great success, with vegie growing competitions, cooking (a 7 year old won 1st prize for pumpkin scones), photography competitions ... weather affected pumpkins this year and many rotted or did not set due to the heat – the Giant winner (Bev R) weighed 62kg (last year's winner weighed 188kg).”

Thumbs up to trees

Hello, as a permaculturalist and small business owner focusing on incorporating permaculture principle's and ethics into landscape design and gardening, I was over the moon to see the article regarding planting trees for an edible landscape.

Combining permaculture principles with plants endemic to each area of our beautiful land, means food for us and food and shelter for our native fauna. Well done, keep up the great work!

Regards, Fiona

Award winning in Atherton

Atherton residents Les and Elsie are no strangers to the Tablelands Regional Garden Awards, having placed first and second with front garden entries in the past, but their fourth title, the Southern Home Garden Award, recognises their entire garden.

With an abundance of calendulas, petunias, snapdragons, marigolds and salvias and features like handmade planter boxes, windmill and well, this garden is a blooming, vibrant work of art.

Give Tony a break!

Once again excited to get my seed catalogue, until page 2, as usual can't help yourself. Having a go at Tony again. Why do we have to see it every issue? Tony in speedos, he should be commended helping the community by being a volunteer life saver. Not just for the cameras but for years. No it is not funny over and over. Why alienate your customers?


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Click one of the topic panels to see an A-Z list of articles on a specific topic, like 'Edible gardening' or 'How to garden'.

Or, if you're looking for something in particular, use the search box to enter a term like 'Mediterranean plants' or 'Community gardening', then filter the search results by Article.  Happy reading!


Autumn 201

Vegies in a Dandenong park and feedback on "activist gardening".

Autumn Flower 2016

Read what our members had to say in Dear Diggers, Autumn Flower Garden, 2016

Autumn Flower 2017

Read what our members had to say in Dear Diggers, Autumn Flower Garden, 2017

Autumn Fruit 2016

Read what our members had to say in Dear Diggers, Autumn Fruit Garden, 2016

Autumn Fruit 2017

Read what our members had to say in Dear Diggers, Autumn Fruit Garden, 2017

Autumn fruit garden 2018

Read what our members had to say in Dear Diggers, Autumn Fruit Garden 2018

Autumn Fruit Garden 2019

Read what our members had to say in Dear Diggers, Autumn Fruit Garden 2019

Correspondence with Diggers Club members

Correspondence with Diggers Club members

Festive Garden Magazine 2018

Read what our members had to say in Dear Diggers, Festive Garden Magazine 2018

Festive Gardens 2014

Members talk about climate change and poison hay bales!

Festive Gardens 2017

Read what our members had to say in Dear Diggers, Festive Gardens, 2017

Fruit garden Magazine 2019

Read what our members had to say in Dear Diggers, Fruit Garden Magazine 2019

Sping Garden 2019

Read what our members had to say in Dear Diggers, Spring Garden Edition 2019

Spring 2015

Feedback on Diggers selling heirlooms into Bunnings.

Spring 2016

Read what our members had to say in Dear Diggers, Spring Garden 2016

Spring Food Garden 2018

Read what our members had to say in Dear Diggers, Spring Food Garden 2018

Summer 2015

A wildflower waterfront and an organic garden scheme in Germany.

Summer 2016

On success with seeds, edible landscapes and more!

Summer Garden 2018

Read what our members had to say in Dear Diggers, Summer Garden 2018


Read what our members had to say in Dear Diggers, Summer Garden 2019

Winter 2015

An update on the Steve Marsh GM case and feedback on 40 degrees in the shade.

Winter 2017

Read what our members had to say in Dear Diggers, Winter 2017

Winter Tree Garden

Read what our members had to say in Dear Diggers, Winter Tree Garden 2019

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Spring Garden 2014

Heirloom seedlings, inspirational plants and gardens
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