I have to admit that I am a bit of a bookaholic, I will read any gardening book I see, or rather that the Coburg library happens to have on their shelves. I also read a lot of blogs on the subject. But despite this rather studious approach to gardening and a number of years of experience, there are still questions I really don’t know how to answer. Either they are things that I am confused about; due to there being huge variations in the approaches of gardening professionals, or else my experience goes against the conventional wisdom. Regardless they are questions I feel I should be able to answer. Perhaps you can help….
1. Should you prune tomatoes? I always feel like I’m pruning off potential fruit if I prune my tomatoes. Sometimes I prune, sometimes I don’t but really I’m not quite sure which method is best. My suspicion is that pruning is of benefit with some varieties but not others but which and when I find endlessly confusing.
2. Does companion planting work? There are heaps of books and magazine articles detailing the wonders of companion planting but they often contradict each other and I’ve yet to see much real evidence that it works. But then I don’t have any evidence that it doesn’t either.
3. How do you get potatoes to sprout? I have been trying to get some of my recently harvested potatoes to sprout so that I can replant them. My research so far has told me to leave them in the light so that they go green and shoot, and that the greening stops them from shooting. Which is it? Why do gardening books insist on offering completely contradictory advice????
4. Does the taste of Basil change when it flowers? I have seen a couple of online conversations about this, most recently on Zucchini Island where it was generally concluded that basil doesn’t really change flavour much when it flowers. And I have to say I agree. Do I have appalling taste buds or is the taste change a myth? Is Thai Basil different – I find its often sold with flower buds attached.
And finally a very specific and Australia centric question:
5. Should I join Diggers Club? Diggers Club is a Melbourne based seed and plant supplier that you can get discounts from by joining their ‘club’. They are very well known but so far I have resisted their temptations largely because I can get a bit annoyed with them. My only experience with them to date is an attempt to get a catalogue from which to order seeds (this was pre online ordering), the catalogue arrived, after about 3 months and was for the previous winter so was totally useless. Since then I have heard stories about long waits for seeds so I haven’t bothered with them but they do have some interesting varieties.
Aside from their customer service I also find their marketing a little irritating. To quote from their website:
You may not have heard of us because we don’t sell the ordinary sort of plants you’d find at Bunnings, nurseries or supermarkets.
The problem with this is, that they actually do sell their own, very clearly labelled, plants in Bunnings. Now its fabulous that Bunnings stocks heirloom varieties (not that I would necessarily choose to shop there for them but that is another post altogether) but I do think that for Diggers to suggest they have no relationship with them smacks of ‘ethical washing’ (incidentally I’ve made up that term but anyone familiar with the concept of green washing will know what I mean).
I also find the implication, that the so called ‘ordinary’ varieties, stocked by a lot of nurseries, aren’t as good, a little irritating. In Melbourne most nurseries selling tomatoes, for instance, would stock heirlooms: Rouge de Marmande and Grosse Lisse, amongst others – both great varieties which are well suited to the climate and in my experience generally worth growing. If I’m honest I would have been much better served tomato wise this year by planting more of those and less of the so called out of the ordinary varieties.
Incidentally if any Australian readers are looking for a seed company with excellent customer service and really, really quick delivery times: my last order from Green Harvest (an organic seed supplier based in Queensland) arrived in two days and had an extra pack of one of the lettuce varieties in it because they were concerned about germination rates (which have been reasonable – I wouldn’t have noticed they were reduced). They also included a nice greeting on the invoice – which was a little cheesy but also great customer service.
So to all you Diggers members out there – is it worth it? Is it fabulous? Do you feel special? I’d probably want all that and more if I was to fork out the $50 or so they want for membership, but I’m willing to be convinced.
And that concludes my Top 5, but if one Top 5 is never enough head over to The New Good Life for her runthrough of Beach Holiday Essentials.