Want more practical advice

G’day, I have just begrudgingly renewed my membership with Diggers. Although I am a passionate gardener and environmentalist and agree predominantly with the views your magazine takes, I am disappointed with its lack of practicality.
Clive can harp on about the fire suppression abilities of oak trees and others but I’m sure you will find 90% of your readers live in suburbia and cannot practically grow such creatures on their 700m2 (or less) block of land. I am trying to be self-sufficient and grow my own vegetables and fruit in the space I have.
However, I have killed more avocado trees than I care to mention, have a low hit rate with seed germination and can’t seem to make my soil acidic enough to grow blueberries.  I would very much like to see a section of your magazines devoted to how to grow specific vegetables, or fruits or flowers.
And I mean real advice, not glossed over details like in your books, i.e. avocados – how to prepare the soil, the type of aspect, necessary fertiliser, pruning, companion planting etc. Same for raspberries, blueberries, carrots, celery etc.
Your magazines sell a lot of things but if your clients can’t get them to grow, their interest in your items will quickly wane. So can you get as practical as your members who are trying to do their best by the environment?
Thanks, David F

Hello David, I do sympathise with your frustration about basic gardening advice, and to address this we have written eight gardening books to cover those queries. I don’t think any gardener will progress without an expert garden book.
To address your specifics:
Success with seeds – We test our germination each year and we buy seed from growers who sell seed at minimum germination levels, usually 80% . Failure is usually from:
Sowing seed too deep, i.e. only cover seed twice the seed width;
Sowing seeds like tomatoes outdoors when soil temperatures are too low, i.e. tomato seed requires minimum 15°C or germinate indoors at 20°C. Remember, tomatoes come from the subtropics and need about 20 weeks of 20-25°C soil temperatures.
Air temperatures in spring could be from 3°C to 25°C each day and they are tender plants that won’t survive frosts.
Avocados and berries need the frost-free winters of the subtropics. Most failures to fruit are caused by their strange pollination rituals. You need to have temperatures at flowering times around 20°C.
This is all covered in The Australian Fruit and Vegetable Garden book which has chapters on soils, pH, watering, pest control, pollination, pruning, seed sowing and fruit varietal selection by climate zone: and our climate zone/climate guidance we believe is easily the best in the country. Each plant we offer has up to 46 items of guidance on water needs, sun and shade, climate etc. See opposite and compare with our climate guide on page 20.
May I wish you gardening success. Most of us have had struggles like you have had.
Best wishes, Clive

Hilarious vanity exercise

Hi, I’m not going to be resubscribing to Diggers this year. While I have always found the magazine to be a hilarious vanity exercise for Clive Blazey, his rants and self-justification have become a bit tedious. My husband and I used to cry with laughter at how many (badly written) articles were by and about the ‘great man himself’, but the joke’s no longer very funny.
Perhaps if you wrote a more informed and seasonal magazine about things to do in the garden?
Or had more of a variety of voices? Or less about how awesome Clive and the team at Diggers are?
Bridget Q


Dear Bridget, we don’t want you to hold back from expressing your opinion! But I would like to explain that having written eight books for beginner gardeners I thought (hoped?) we had given all the advice you would need to help you. Every gardener needs at least one or two books as well as our magazine and members can buy the books at a discounted price.
Now with regard to your personal annoyance and irritation with me, let me explain that this club was never about me, otherwise we would have called it The Blazey Club just like Yates and Tesselaars branded their operation after themselves.
It was called The Diggers Club from day one, over 40 years ago. My wife Penny and I started it but we are just the original starters. We currently
employ about 140 staff who will carry the mission on after we are finished.
The most-respected gardening institution worldwide is the Royal Horticultural Society which began 210 years ago. We are inspired to replicate the RHS for Australian gardeners, but go further in standing up against genetic engineering of hybrids and vigorously supporting organic principles.
We see climate change as a threat to our grandchildren’s future, so in our Australian context we see the future threats as being very real and in need of urgent attention, which sadly is not a quality that the conservative mindset seems to understand.
We hope you can support the Diggers mission for the future too, being to save our seeds, plant more trees and preserve our garden inheritance. Because no other Australian gardening institution is even thinking about this problem.
Please let me know what you think.
Best wishes, Clive

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