Gardening

The arid zone presents a challenge to gardeners: how to take advantage of brilliant sunshine but cope with long dry periods, depleted soils and a huge range of temperatures. Our responses are often innovative.

Buckets of rain

Jan 10, 2017 | Discuss

Buckets of rain

  If you happen to be sweating it out in Alice Springs at the moment, it may seem hard to believe there’s not a lot more rain around. In its long-range forecast the Bureau of Meteorology is punting on a merely average rainfall for Central Australia during the summer months. January, already distinguished by a torrential downpour a few days ago, is actually even less likely to hold water than February, according to their climate maps. If it’s true – even though it doesn’t feel all th...Read more

How to work the rain and beat the buffel

Dec 07, 2012 | Discuss

How to work the rain and beat the buffel

From Alice Springs Landcare A new book is available for people who are managing Buffel Grass to regenerate local native plants. The Alice Springs Bush Regeneration Handbook is a book in two parts: a practical guide for controlling Buffel Grass, and a plant identification guide featuring 150 plants that regenerate after rain. Buffel Grass is a well known introduced grass that is now widespread in Central Australia. Although it is not difficult to treat, there are a number of factors that make imp...Read more

Bushies team up with freaks and mongrels

Sep 27, 2012 | Discuss

Bushies team up with freaks and mongrels

The humble cabbage took a bollocking from botanist Peter Latz at the launch of a bush medicines section at Alice Springs’ community garden earlier this month. The Hermannsburg-born author of Bushfires And Bushtucker threw diplomacy to the wind as he compared the traditional plants wild-harvested by the Arrernte with the “freaks and mongrels” they will be growing alongside in Burke Street. His point, perhaps a little overstated for dramatic effect, was that we have bred much of the nutritio...Read more

I heard it through the grapevine

Aug 30, 2012 | Discuss

I heard it through the grapevine

It’s one of those seasonal activities – some small and personal, some large and public – that explode all over Alice Springs in August. Because our Spring is such a short affair, we have to fit a lot in. Gardeners who have been overly intimidated by Jack Frost face a frenzy of duties before it suddenly becomes too hot to plant or to prune,. But you may still have a weekend or two to  encourage your grapevines with some judicious cuts. Geoff Miers is an old hand at the ancient vines of...Read more

On the verge of abundance

Mar 07, 2012 | Comments Off on On the verge of abundance

On the verge of abundance

It would be nice if last week’s lovely rain had greened up the thoughts and policies of Alice’s prospective new Mayor as councillors as much as it has the buffel grass. Various creative minds are pushing the idea of a comprehensive town plan for Alice Springs; perhaps it should include a more holistic, less fragmented approach to good old H2O. The Alice Springs Town Council could lead the way. I note from an article in last Friday’s Centralian Advocate that candidate Jade Kudrenko is keen ...Read more

The joy of composting

Mar 01, 2012 | Discuss

The joy of composting

Despite numerous experiments and occasional failures, I have always found the dirty business of making compost a deeply satisfying and somehow magical experience. Not everyone gets it, of course. But Alice Springs Steiner School gardener Bill Pechey and Colleen O’Malley do, and for that reason I heartily recommend their compost-making workshop at the school this weekend. I took my video camera along to a similar session in August last year, and got more than I bargained for, content-wise, whic...Read more

Bush food’s new life in garden

Jan 16, 2012 | Discuss

Bush food's new life in garden

An Aboriginal-owned enterprise near Alice Springs is pioneering the cultivation of one of the world’s most ancient wild foods with help from an unlikely source : a Chinese university. Desert Garden Produce’s Max Emery is anticipating a record harvest of as much as one a half tonnes of kutjera, which will be exported to Melbourne and end as part of the recipe of a mass-produced gourmet sausage. After interviewing Max in 2010 about the Rainbow Valley farm, which is owned and operated by local ...Read more

Buckley’s chance

Dec 24, 2011 | Discuss

Buckley's chance

As you stock up on your holiday feast supplies this year, imagine a Christmas of such abundance that wherever you walked you were surrounded by fresh fruits from all over the planet, and all in season. The dream is not happening in the crowded aisles of your local supermarket, courtesy of big oil and diesel. It’s right in your own back yard, where ripe or ripening cherries, peaches, apricots, two kinds of apples, grapes, mangoes, bananas, avocadoes and figs are hanging from trees and vines, ju...Read more

Biodynamics: stirring stuff

Jun 29, 2011 | Discuss

Biodynamics: stirring stuff

The first time I heard about biodynamic farming was from a TV program set on a dairy farm in Victoria and broadcast on the ABC’s now defunct Countrywide series. Amazed, I watched a farmer bury two cowhorns filled with manure – the first step in the creation of a substance called “500”. This month, nearly three decades later,  I stood among biodynamic gardeners as they did the same thing, this time in the arid, infertile  heart of Australia. In the years between these two ev...Read more

Cottage garden desert-style

Oct 21, 2010 | Discuss

Cottage garden desert-style

If you’re in town this weekend you can learn something more about the wildflowers that have been blowing minds all Spring with a guided walk around the Alice Springs Desert Park. Rebecca Duncan will be running a Wildflower Walk at the Alice Desert Park on Sunday,  showing people who’s who in the wildflower world and advising people how they can grow them in their own gardens. The Alice Springs Desert Park is one of the few places around the Centre that has a good crop of semi-domes...Read more

Planetary gardeners

Oct 15, 2010 | Discuss

Planetary gardeners

By Dave Richards I’m in Brisbane for a week, so I can’t make it to the Saturday morning buffel battle at Maynard Park tomorrow. That may sound like an excuse to get out of a working bee, but it’s not. If you want to experience the amazing world of  Central Australian plants and understand how important they are to us, at so many levels, I can’t think of a better way to do it than join one of Alice’s landcare groups as they strike a blow for biodiversity. I spent a ...Read more

Suburban wilderness enlists allies

Sep 24, 2010 | 1 Comment

Suburban wilderness enlists allies

Imagine a small triangle of wilderness flourishing on and around a  spine of unknowably ancient rock, surrounded on all sides by Australian suburbia in full swing: a school, a main arterial road, houses and even a BMX track at the perimeter. There may be nowhere else in Australia something like this could happen, but in Alice Springs a small group of dedicated Alice  people seem to be pulling it off. The amazing thing about what is happening at Maynard Park is that ‘creating’ this ...Read more