Sunday, November 15, 2009

Gala and Greenhouse

Its been a busy few weeks in this sleepy little place. Every year at Labour weekend, which falls on the last weekend of October in New Zealand, we have the distinct privilege of having the Matakana School Gala day. This is an event which has been held for many years, and has raised large sums of money for the school. This year the gala raised $47,000. While the money is important, as it goes towards improving the school for the benefit of the current and future generations of children, it is even more important as a coming together of the community, and in showing off our community to the region. Matakana is a country school with only 325 pupils, but very committed support from parents, staff and local businesses and the gala is an event that nearly everyone helps at or attends. In this ever more uncertain world, a good, supportive community is one of the factors that make life more secure and satisfying.

In the past we have supplied lots of bromeliads for the plant stall at the Gala, but have been unable to help on the weekend as we had our own bromeliad sale on that weekend, which was always a major event for our small business. This year, with the closing of our business I had no bromeliads to supply, but was able to give a hand on one of the stalls instead. Theo and Katelyn were old enough to go around the gala with their own money, which meant all of us had a good time. After trying to sell electrical equipment all morning I got down to the serious business, buying raffle tickets for the monster crayfish and schnappers. The crayfish got bigger as each one was put up for auction, but I didn't win even a small one.

Labour weekend is also the traditional date in New Zealand for planting out tomatoes and other cold sensitive crops. In theory, this is when the risk of frosts has passed, and soil temperatures are warm enough to promote good growth. However, New Zealand is a long and skinny country, that stretches over several degrees of latitude. With this comes quite a wide variation in temperatures. In warm gardens in the north, we can usually get away with planting out our tomatoes a couple of weeks before the end of October. Further south, crops can be lost to late frosts and planting too early can also check the growth through low soil temperatures. Planting too early is often a false economy, as the check in growth leaves the plants weaker and less productive for a major part of the season. Plants that are planted later will often overtake these early planted tomatoes.

Just to highlight the problem, this October was the coldest for many years, with lots of cold southerlies and even frost, hail and snow in the colder regions. Even in our subtropical garden the beans and capsicums refused to put on any growth, while the melons just gave up the ghost altogether.

Luckily we had already planted out our little greenhouse with some tomatoes, zucchini and beans. A greenhouse is essential for any serious home garden. In winter Angela gets hundreds of seedlings of all types of summer veges going for an early start to the season and we plant out the greenhouse beds with crops for early veges. The early ones are always the most precious and the most delicious.

The first of the tomatoes are already full size and about to show colour, we've been picking the beans and lebanese cucumbers for a couple of weeks and the zucchinis are in full swing. Check out these beans! This photo was taken at Labour Weekend, and already they're hitting the roof. The greenhouse is only an 8 by 12 foot, has no heating, and even has a pane or two missing, so its not all that flash, but before any of the crops were planted, I filled the beds with my favourite blend of 50% fresh compost and 50% peat soil, with a decent sprinkling of equal parts dolomite, potash and blood and bone. The growth has been stupendous as you can see. In a greenhouse, the soil gets depleted faster than outdoors and can build up diseases quicker, so good soil care is vital for good crops every year. Throughout the season I'll side dress with sheep pellets and worm wees, and over winter the soil will be replenished with a generous helping of fresh compost and more fertiliser.

After a fairly disastrous crop of eggplants last year, all of them have been planted out in the greenhouse. Eggplants, along with rock melons, are the most tropical of the crops we grow, and with their long growing season, they just don't produce enough outside to make them worth growing. In the greenhouse though, the growing season is extended a good month on either end, and daily temperatures over the summer are a few degrees higher, which makes all the difference. Already they're putting on good growth, so fingers crossed. Capsicums work better outdoors, but we've still planted some in the greenhouse too, to take advantage of the warmer conditions.

As I write this, we're exactly half way through November, and the weather doesn't seem that much warmer, with the same cold Southwesterlies coming through. However, still warm enough for the outdoor beans to get moving at last. Also just warm enough to get the net out and do some drag netting in the channel at low tide. One smallish flounder and half a dozen paddle crabs was the sum total of the catch, but at least it feels like summer is almost here.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rain, salt and sea

Well its' been a couple of weeks of water. First the tsunami warning emanating from Samoa - and my heart and thoughts go out to the lovely gentle people from those Islands that were affected by this tragedy - and then the rain, lots of it. The tsunami warning really hit home, reminding us of the downside of living on what is basically a peat bog about a metre above the high tide mark and a few hundred metres from the waters edge. It would not take much for us to be in the same predicament as those other poor people. Once we realised that the tsunami was probably not going to be more than a tidal surge, my thoughts went from our safety to my garden, naturally! All I could think was how to get the chooks above ground level, and what would happen to the soil if salt water went over it. As it happened, the arrival of the surge coincided exactly with low tide, and we barely noticed it.

This got me thinking though, about salty soils and tidal inundation in general. Many areas around the world suffer from this problem, for a variety of reasons. One of the best ways of overcoming this problem is to apply gypsum to the soil, in fairly large quantities. The way this works is the calcium in gypsum replaces the sodium in the soil. If there is sufficient rainfall, or a sufficient supply of quality irrigation water, then the sodium leaches out into the subsoil or the ground water. Of course this requires a good amount of water, and somewhere for the sodium to go to. If there is not enough clean water, or the soil is quite shallow with a hard pan beneath it, then this does not work as well.

I used this technique just last week, when I treated blocks of coir fibre that I use for potting up my bromeliads. Great stuff, which the broms just love, as it is very free draining. However some of it, like the fibre I use, is produced in regions where there is not enough fresh water to process the coconut husks to produce the coir fibre. Any fresh water they have is a precious resource. The salt water they use instead impregnates the fibre with sodium, which is toxic to the plants planted in it. So, before I use it, it gets a dusting of Gypsum which is mixed in and then left to soak overnight. The next day, fresh water is run through until the salt level drops enough to use, after which the fertilisers can be added. I check the level with a handheld salt meter (also known as a CF or EC meter). Apart from the transport from places like Sri Lanka to NZ, using this product ticks all the boxes for me. Aside from being great for the broms, it is a renewable and sustainable product, with very little detrimental impact on the environment, and also helps support families in some pretty low income areas.

All this reminds me just how lucky we are in New Zealand, particularly up North, where the rainfall is plentiful and the water quality is usually superb. A bit too plentiful this last two weeks, where we've had rain nearly every day. This makes it a bit hard to get out into the garden, but I have managed to set up two more raised beds. These are really simple to make. I just get 5 macrocarpa sleepers, 2.1m long. One I cut in half for the ends, and the others make the sides, all held together with nail plates. So easy. This makes a bed 20cm high, 4.0 m long and 1.0m wide. Some so-called garden experts recommend making the beds much higher than this, up to 1 metre high! This is fine if you've got medical issues so you can't bend over or kneel, but is otherwise quite useless. A high bed just uses up much larger quantities of good soil, dries out much quicker and provides no added benefit to the plants. The sleepers are great, as they are so heavy they don't need additional stakes or framing to keep them in place and they provide a place to kneel on when you're weeding or planting the garden. We now have 7 of these beds in our vege garden, filled with a mix of 50:50 compost and peat soil.

One downside of all this rain and humidity is an increase in fungal diseases. I noticed late blight on the potatoes, aagh I hate this disease. This year I am determined to not let it beat me, which is easier said than done in the humid North. Anyway, I thought I might try Potassium bicarbonate, which is like baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), but slightly more effective. Well it worked better than I thought it would. Stopped the disease in its' tracks as well as any commercial fungicide. I made sure I got good coverage with the spray, and followed it up with another 10 days later to make sure. While one success proves little, it certainly gave me a enough of a indication to use it again later in the season when the disease pressure is greater. Fingers crossed.

On a less gloomy note than natural disasters, rain and disease, we harvested our first decent pick of strawberries today. An icecream container full of them; big, firm, sweet and juicy. Aah the joy of the first berries of spring, with vanilla icecream and cream. It looks like we're in for a good crop.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Icecream, lemon honey, lemonade and alcohol

Always a good combination in my opinion, but this time it was the making of it, rather than the consuming of it. With a surfeit of lovely lemons, from a rather tired but excessively cropping lemon tree; for the last couple of months we have been making anything and everything we could out of lemons. I'm hoping that we can reduce the load on the tree before it flowers, to try and reduce the chances of biennial bearing. With such a heavy crop I'm pretty sure it will have an off year this coming season anyway, but if I can shift the balance a little, that would be good.

This is another one of those sad, neglected trees that has all sorts of noxious weeds sapping the life from the soil around it. This week I have cleared out about 3 barrow loads of wandering jew (or wandering willie for the more PC inclined - although seeing as there is no similar general frowning on the expression "dutch courage" I fail to see why wandering jew needs changing), a barrow load of arum lilies and black taro, some chlorophytum, some ladder fern and a bunch of dock. All from under this poor tree.

I have found the best way to deal with wandering jew is to attack it with the mower. If you can get the mower under the tree, set it low to the ground, set the speed on full blast and get ready to empty the catcher a lot. It makes brilliant compost, as it heats up within hours, effectively killing off any life left in the mushy mash of leaves and stems. This is the method I used to free up the plum trees over winter. For the lemon tree I couldn't do this as I had planted bromeliads around the edge about 6 months ago. There's a lesson in that, finish clearing before you start planting! Anyway, wandering jew pulls out easy enough, then I just scatter it over the lawn to be munched up the next time I mow. Or I feed it to the chooks who love it.

People seem to get all panicky about leaving the little pieces behind, which will grow again quite quickly. For this reason many garden experts recommend spraying with herbicides. The common herbicide Glyphosate struggles against this weed, even when a sticking agent is used, so often more aggressive herbicides are recommended. My advice is simple, don't! There is no place for herbicides in the home garden, aside from using glyphosate to clear a large area for a new garden (if I have time I prefer to use a sheet of roofing iron to kill the area off over a month or so before planting). Some herbicides have residual effects in the soil that continue to affect your plants for months or even years. Others such as Clopyralid based herbicides can continue to kill even after composting the residues or feeding them to animals. Check out this UK site to see how scary this can be for home gardeners, or this US site for more information.

Instead of resorting to chemicals for troublesome weeds like ladder fern, wandering jew, arums and the like, just haul them out, mulch them up with a mower and then cover the soil with a good thick layer of mulch, such as sea grass, bark, sawdust or similar. The pieces that you've missed, which will be a lot; will regrow. However as they grow through mulch, their growth will be lush, their root systems comparatively smaller and they are much easier to pull out. If you get them early enough they will come out entire, without leaving bits behind. Presto! After two weeding sessions, three at the most, you have completely eliminated that nasty weed from that area. You've also improved your soil by adding lots of organic matter.

Whoops, that got a bit off topic, where was I, Oh yes, icrecream and alcohol. To use up the lemons and our eggs, Angela has been making delicious lemon honey, but this week she's been laid up with an infected leg, so I got out the cheap Vodka (that line always sounds classy) and proceeded to make Limoncello. This Italian lemon liqueur is right up my alley, being alcoholic (of course), sweet and lemony at the same time. As a by-product I made a big jug of fresh lemonade which is so much nicer than the bought stuff and so much better for you.

I was about to make lemon icrecream as well, but got sidetracked and added frozen blueberries that we swapped in autumn at our local green swap. The icecream recipe was so easy; in one bowl, whip up 4 egg whites with 1/4 cup of sugar, in another bowl mix the egg yolks with another 1/4 cup of sugar, in a third bowl whip 300ml of cream. Chuck the lot into an icecream maker, or gently mix them together yourself with a spoon and as you're mixing add a couple of decent handfuls of partially thawed blueberries (or fresh ones or anything else that is in season). It makes about almost 2 litres of really delicious icecream that is completely free of stabilisers, colouring, preservatives, artificial sweeteners and thickening agents. I used our fresh free range eggs so it is even richer to taste. Ooh, just ducked out to the freezer to have a sample, it's good!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Citrus fertiliser, wine and swimming

After Avocados, Citrus would be my next favourite fruit tree to grow. So trouble free and so bountiful. We were lucky in that we had 3 orange trees, 1 lemon, 1 tangelo, 1 mandarin and a huge grapefruit tree on the property when we brought it two years ago. We've added another lemon, a lime and a couple of mandarins since then. The trees were in reasonable condition, but were starting to suffer from a lack of attention.

This is pretty typical of many trees in back yards, as most people don't really give these the treatment they deserve. Trees that are showing yellowed leaves, crops of small acidic fruit with thick skins and weeds or long grass right up to the trunk are sure signs that the trees are not being looked after.

Our trees were very productive this year, except the grapefruit which I hacked back hard last winter. One Tangelo tree gave more than 60kg of fruit this season; juicy, sweet, gorgeous fruit. The secret? Clearing all the grass from around the base of the tree, out to the drip line. Citrus hate competition around the roots.

Trim the skirts off to about knee height so you can get underneath easily. Then fertilise with equal parts of dolomite, potash and blood & bone. This gives the trees an ideal nutrient ratio of nutrients, particularly for our soil which is very low in potassium. I throw about 3-4 handfuls of each fertiliser around each medium size tree. Then, cover with a 5cm+ layer of woody mulch.

Although commercial growers fertilise several times each year, in the home garden a good dose of fert and a mulch in early to mid spring will do the trick. The result, kilos and kilos of juicy sweet fruit that the kids can tuck into from late winter to late spring, just when they need that vitamin C. And seeing the kids were down at the point today for their first swim of the season they'll probably need it. What is it about getting older that results in adults hitting the water about two months after the kids have started swimming? Surely the extra padding should give us more insulation against the cold?

Anyway, the clearing. mulching and fertilising only took a couple of hours this afternoon, not much work for all the fruit these trees give. I would have done it in the morning, but was a bit seedy from the bottling of my new batch of feijoa dessert wine Saturday afternoon. This always involves a fair bit of tasting with friends and relatives, and usually includes breaking out some samples of previous wines for scientific comparison purposes. In this case a nice sweet red plum wine and a slightly drier yellow plum wine that my brother-out-law said should be called "CD cleaner 2009". Ingrate.

This is a damn good spring though. One out of the bag. About 6 weeks ago I planted my first spuds of the season, just after the full moon when its the best time for planting root crops. These have gone into tyre rings, and the stacks are already 3 high, with another one overdue to go on. That's about 10cm of growth a week!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Are Copper Sprays Really Organic?

Recently I have been doing some research on the use of copper sprays in horticulture, specifically Avocado production in this case, but this post applies to most crops.I have had some disquiet about the use of copper for some years, but as I've learnt more about it, I've come to the point where I will no longer use it in my garden.

Copper has been used for more than 100 years as a fungicide, most famously in the Bordeaux mixture developed in 1882 in France to combat grape diseases. Copper is usually applied as either Copper Oxychloride or Copper Hydroxide, but is sold under many different brand names. Copper sprays are used as protection against the fungi that cause Downy mildew, Late Blight, Early Blight, Black Spot, Brown Rot, and various bacterial diseases. As it is a protective spray, repeated applications are sometimes needed to prevent the diseases becoming established.

Copper is a heavy metal that is also an essential trace element for both plants and most animals. It is found throughout nature and most soils have natural copper levels of 10-30 ppm, with sandy soils sometimes being deficient and some soils having natural levels up to 100ppm.

It is commonly accepted that copper sprays are organic sprays, which leads people to believe that they are safe to use. In fact copper sprays are some of the most toxic and persistent pesticides used in gardens and orchards. In recognition of this, international organic standards list copper as a restricted product. In New Zealand, Bio-Gro allows a maximum copper application of 3kg/ha/year. Copper fungicides for organic horticulture have been banned completely in the Netherlands and Scandinavia, and use has been restricted to 6kg/ha/year elemental copper in other EU countries since 2006. In gardening terms that’s roughly the equivalent of one or two wet-to-runoff sprays per year.

However, in non-organic production and in home gardens there are no such restrictions and indeed many garden writers and horticultural experts continue to promote the regular use of copper, often calling it organic. In some crops such as Avocados, growers apply up to 12 sprays per year, while home gardeners are sometimes told to spray roses, potatoes or tomatoes every 2 weeks during the growing season!

Copper fungicides are actually synthetic pesticides that disrupt and kill the cells of a very wide range of organisms. In humans, copper can cause problems such as liver disease and anaemia, but fairly high exposure to copper is needed to produce these effects in humans, so only horticultural workers or gardeners that spray copper without good protection need to be worried.

Copper sprays are of much more concern for the effect on soil life, particularly beneficial soil bacteria, fungi and earthworms. Soil copper levels as little as twice natural levels can reduce earthworm populations, while soils with levels of more than about 250ppm may have no earthworms at all. Vital nitrogen fixing bacteria are also inhibited once the soil level gets above this level.

Spraying with copper also kills beneficial microorganisms on the leaves and some studies have shown that some diseases can actually increase after copper sprays, as the beneficial microbes have been killed off, allowing the disease to flourish once the copper has been washed off by rain.

A typical copper spray can raise the topsoil concentration by up to 2 ppm, so with frequent applications toxic levels can be reached fairly quickly. You might relax at this point, thinking that the amount of copper you’ve applied would no way reach toxic levels. But do you know the history of your soil? Was it once a market garden or an orchard? Many suburbs and lifestyle blocks are established on old horticultural land. You might be adding copper to a soil that already has high levels.

Where copper sulfate has been regularly used over many years, such as the vineyards of Europe, soil copper concentrations can be found up to 1500 ppm. If this were an industrial site, it would be labeled as a toxic waste dump and shut down! In soils with a shorter history of regular copper use, such as Apple, Avocado and Stone fruit orchards, levels in the top layer of soil can reach up to 400 ppm, still high enough to drastically affect soil microbes and worms.

Copper does not degrade in the soil and is not easily leached out, except in very sandy soils, as it is bound onto organic materials, clay particles and mineral surfaces. Like the gift that keeps on giving, once the copper is in the soil, you are pretty much stuck with it. As it kills one microbe, which then rots away, the copper molecule is then available for the next microbe and so on.

Think carefully before using Copper sprays. Although they might be called organic, they may be doing more harm than good.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Saving The Avocado Tree

I'm in a frenzy of clearing, planting and mulching. This week I got someone in to mulch the huge pile of tree branches that I'd cut down over winter. This made about 2 cubic metres of great mulch, which has gone on the new Bromeliad garden, the Avocado tree and the strawberry patch. I'm hoping that this will cut down my weeding this summer, which will pay off with more days floating in the harbour on my back, or fishing off the rocks at the beach. That's the theory anyway.

It's amazing how much vegetation can be chopped out in only a half acre section. Aside from the mulch, I've also cut nearly 3 cubic metres of wood for the fire next winter and filled all 4 compost bins, each another cubic metre. Mostly this is scrubby self sown natives, but also many noxious weeds and some prunings from overgrown fruit trees. I think this property had every noxious weed listed for the Auckland region.

The Avocado is a bit of a project. The tree was nearly dead when we arrived two years ago, with almost no crop and hardly any leaves. Everyone has been telling me that Avos don't survive at the Point, on account of the peat soil being loaded with the dreaded phytophthora root disease and the sandstone layer only about half a metre below the surface. Strictly speaking they are correct, as Avocado trees prefer a deep free draining soil with at least 1m of soil before you reach any hard pan or poor drainage.

Of course that is like a red rag to a bull, as nothing is impossible for a fanatic. Anyway, after two years of mulching, applying gypsum, clearing away the arum lilies and fertilising, I have a tree that still doesn't look great, but at least it has a crop of about 150 fruit and many more leaves than before.

Mulching is the absolute key to success with Avos. A good layer of woody mulch helps keep the weeds down, feeds the microorganisms that fight Phytophthora, evens out soil moisture and provides a nice slow release form of fertiliser. Most importantly though, the feeder roots of Avo trees are designed to creep about just below the leaf litter layer and a layer of mulch is the best way of ensuring these roots stay healthy and white, maximising their ability to take up nutrients and water.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

1st Day Of Spring!

Yay! The first day of spring, and what a good one! A lovely mild day, plenty of sunshine, no wind and a bit of cloud in the afternoon to keep it from getting too hot. Just perfect for gardening, with the soil nice and moist from the recent rain and not quite full moon so still good for planting. Just to prove it really is spring, check out this flowering cherry tree at our next door neighbour. The two dark blobs at the top are a pair of Kaka who successfully staunched out all the local Tuis to feast on these flowers.

Managed to plant 1 Goldfinger banana and 1 super dwarf cavendish, both of which are meant to be good fruiters here. Around them went 3 Hibiscus and 20 or so Broms, including some Neoregelia Exotica Velvet and some Tillandsia species which I attached to a Manuka with liquid nails. To get everything growing well, a decent dressing of blood and bone and a sprinkling of Potash went on the soil. Then I finished weeding the Strawberry patch, fertilised that with the same mix and did the Blueberries at the same time. Picked up all the dog poos (not my favourite job!) and mowed the lawn. To finish, collected some Grapefruit for a fresh juice to welcome the kids home from school and biked down to the water with them for a look. Great day!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Green Swap

One of my favourite activities each week is going to our local green swap. This week I swapped some Oranges and Tangelos for some fresh Rocket, Marmalade, eggs and sweet pea seeds. I could tell you all about green swap and how it works, but as I have a speech written by my 10 yr old daughter Katelyn  for school I thought I would be a bit lazy and post that instead!

Do you like fresh juicy fruit, crisp healthy veggies, scrummy baking and stuff like that? Well have I got the speech for you! Hi, my name is Katelyn and I am going to tell you about Green Swap.

Green swap is a community event where people who grow or make stuff come together and swap things without paying money for them. Green swap is also called swap meet but they both mean the same thing. Everyone swaps things that are around the same value, like a bag of tomatoes for a bag of beans, or some muffins for a jar of marmalade. That way everyone feels like they’ve had a good deal. So, all you need for a good green swap is something you’ve grown or something you’ve made and a smile!

You can swap all kinds of stuff at the green swap, like fruit, veggies, eggs, milk, baking, meat, flowers, plants and once there was even a live rooster! It’s a social event too, and people swap tips about planting trees, composting, growing veggies and cooking as well as having a good laugh.

Apart from fruit and veggies out of our garden, Dad makes fruit wines and Angela makes preserves like jam and chilli sauce for swapping. Don’t worry the sauce isn’t too hot! It’s not just the adults that go there and do the swapping, in the holidays the parents bring their kids along, it’s really fun and sometimes the kids bring things they have made or collected too, like rose petals for your bath!

My favourite is the milk we get from the Rainbow Valley Farm cow, which has lots of thick cream on it and is so fresh it’s still warm, yummy! And for a delicious breakfast, add the golden yellow free-range eggs, fresh bread that is still warm, with some crispy, crunchy free-range bacon and some oranges for freshly squeezed orange juice. All swapped at Green Swap.

We have our Green Swap every Friday morning at the Matakana Wharf. It starts at about 9:00am and finishes at about 9:30am. Hope to see you all there soon, Bye!

What's Paradise at the Point about?

Island Life? - Just about - Point Wells is actually a little village not far from Matakana, 50 minutes North of Auckland, perched on a sheltered harbour peninsula of deep black peat soil; but it feels just like living on Rarotonga. The feeling is helped by lush vegetation along the roadside, a mix of older bach’s and newer homes, very large section sizes (ranging from 600-2,000m2, with most around 1,000m2), and the very sheltered subtropical climate.

Tractors putt along the road towing their boats to the boat ramp, past the bowling club and croquet club where the only noises are the clack of mallet on ball or bowl on bowl. Aside from birdsong from the scores of Tuis and other native birds, the most noise comes from the local children, playing on the old style lullaby swing that can fit about 15 kids at once or balanced on the Maypole carousel. How many playgrounds have these anymore?

During the day, the harbour is serene, apart from the odd set netter hoping for a few flounder. After school and in the weekends, there are a tribe of kids of all ages at the Point, diving off the jetties, swinging from the rope under the pohutakawa and kayaking up the river. The more adventurous don snorkels and goggles and drift through schools of mullet and the occasional larger fish in the crystal clear water.

Regular events are held at the local hall, including village dinners and dances; fun for any age. Local weddings are often held here and the connoisseurs club caters to those who love food, wine and good company, which is quite a lot of the locals! At Christmas the whole village enjoys Christmas carols in the hall, and year round the little library is well supported.

With the decile 9 primary school only a short bus trip away, a local store, and the bustling market town of Matakana 5 minutes away, most day to day requirements are easily met without driving long distances.

If you can imagine coming here to retire or bring up your children in this idyllic village, and you want a property that suits you and the people you care about, then Andrew and Angela would love to work with you to realise that dream. They have a strong commitment to lifestyle and rural village living, with Angela’s family stretching back 4 generations in Point Wells.

Andrew one of New Zealand’s leading plant experts with two international bestselling books on gardening already to his name and three more books on gardening and sustainable living about to be released. He also writes regular articles for Weekend Gardener magazine.

If you’d like to know more, read Andrew’s property blog at Take your first steps out of the rat race and give them a call now.