Us humans are a species full of contradictions. We can be fixed in our ways and unwanting to entertain change, and yet we can also be very adaptable and resourceful when the times call for it. We can be insular and fearful, but we can also pull together and achieve amazing things. It has been surprising and gratifying to see how the world has largely acted together during this pandemic …..though there are the contradictory outbreaks of stupidity, sadly, so it is my fervent hope that no-one out there is trying to prevent or rid themselves of coronavirus by drinking disinfectant or lying in suntan pods trying to get a dose of UV radiation…. It is my hope that the pandemic will show us humans that we can tackle the bigger things together, and that sooner rather than later major and concerted action on climate change and environmental depredation will happen. And that science will win out against greed and inertia.

One of the things that has really stood out to me is the way Australia has been able to keep the medical side of this pandemic under control. How have we done this where many countries with similarly sophisticated health systems are being overwhelmed? The difference to me appears to be that our politicians have listened and acted on the advice of scientists. Even though we cannot see the virus that provides the threat we are acting on the science and I give great credit to the politicians from both sides that have laid their political ideologies to rest and acted according to the science. Which brings us to climate change and the opportunity we have as a species to see how things can be when we listen to objective scientists and act accordingly.

One of the consistent messages from climate scientists is that planting trees is one of the best things we can do to help reduce the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, thereby mitigating the effects of climate change. I am putting my money where my mouth is here on my farm by mounting an ongoing tree planting program. Furthermore, my goal is to create an arboretum of species that are under threat in the wild around Australia…. but more about that in next month’s newsletter.

One of the gratifying things has been to hear so many people say that they are quite enjoying the enforced slow down. Even though it is affecting the economy, that resourceful spirit that saw Victory Gardens in WWII (which incidentally led to a big improvement in people’s health), saw The Snowy Mountains hydroelectric scheme built, saw the Great Ocean Road created, is surfacing. With time on their hands, people are baking sour dough bread from scratch, putting in vegetable gardens, getting together over the airwaves to sing in choirs. The simple things in life are bringing a certain kind of happiness that we lose sight of when times are ‘normal’, whatever that is!

One of the simple things for me is having more time to get my own vegetable garden going. While I am not able to go out to my usual work, growing edibles will not only help feed me, but are also a vital aspect of keeping healthy. Part of growing vegetables though, is that there are many other insect and animal hungry mouths out there also wanting a feed. I am sure that this is coming as a surprise to new gardeners everywhere, just how challenging it can be to grow your own dinner. My gardening aim is to tread as lightly as possible, and so I have two methods to achieve this, The first is to exclude the bugs and bigger things, in my case by a large area fenced at the sides and above by chicken wire. Home gardeners can use smaller versions of this by means of wire supports and netting (but be sure to get the smaller white mesh type that will not trap birds, bats and other creatures). If you want a ready made solution I can suggest the Vegepod, one of my sponsors, whose clever wicking bed units also provide a cover that does a great job of minimising the damage caused by a range of pests. It is definitely not foolproof but in conjunction with careful observation, it does help manage the pest load. And it keeps out my worst pest of all – possums.

Vegepod cover protecting edible crops

The other method of combating pests is to use beneficial insects. An Australian company called Bugs For Bugs has a good range of predatory insects available for home gardeners and professional horticulturists. I took delivery of some lacewing eggs recently, whose larvae and adults will feed on some very common pests that appear in gardens and that can do a lot of damage. They will eat many small insects such as aphids, moth eggs, caterpillars, scale insects, psyllids, mealybugs and lace bugs. As a bonus, they have a delicate beauty, which makes them a great subject for educating kids about nature. Kids are never too young to teach about the wonders of the natural world, and about how we can live in balance with it rather than exploiting it. Watching the eggs hatch into alien looking larvae that then pupate to emerge with their intricate wing patterns (hence the name lacewing) is much better entertainment than TV.

Lacewing newly hatched

Mothers Day!

I can’t be with my mum due to the travel restrictions, so this year it will be celebrated via technology. Very grateful for the many ways we can still keep in contact with family and friends and still stay safe.

I have some great gifts for gardening mums on my shop. Orders made prior to Mothers Day will be sent via express post. We can also gift wrap and include a card….just let us know if you need any of these extras in the ‘Order Notes’ at the checkout.