Most of us have seen Jerry Coleby-Williams on Gardening Australia or read his articles in their magazine. He recently spoke at the Gympie Garden Expo on 21st Century Cottage Gardening.
At first, I thought, what did this mean? Jerry gave us the definition of a cottage garden ‘it is a garden where food,medicine plants and flowers co-exist together in a garden.’
At the end of Jerry’s talk I thought, that made a lot of sense and is how I would like to garden.
Over an hour and a half we heard how Jerry’s garden has evolved over the last 10 years. It was quite interesting and inspiring.
When Jerry first moved into his house, the garden was not good for growing anything. The soil was lifeless, no earth worms and when he tried to use a rotary hoe to break up the soil, the blade broke!
Fast forward 10 years and there is a dynamic ecosystem that supports a thriving garden.
Below is a picture of Jerry’s garden Bellis.
(Photo from Jerry’s blog)
Jerry’s garden philosophy is to experiment, keep records and be observant. By doing this you will be able to find out what works in your garden.
Some useful tips that I picked up from Jerry were:
Millet attracts assassin bugs. These awesome bugs will munch on caterpillars and other pesky bugs!
Ladybugs love chokos – plant these and you can attract these beneficial insects to your garden.
Aphids control is very important is your garden – hover flies will kill aphids, get these to come live in your garden to control those aphids!
By planting a ‘predator border’ you will create an inviting environment for these beneficial insects to come and want to stay in your garden.
Attracting pollinating insects
There was a lack of honeybees in Jerry’s garden. No matter what Jerry planted to attract them, they still remained noticeably absent. He did some research and found that the area that he lived in was known for a lack of honeybees.
Ok, so no honey bees – what else can be a pollinator? Well how about native bees and wasps.
(photo above courtesy of Louise Docker)
Pigeon pea is grown to attract native bees. By the process of observing, he noticed bees and wasps liked Italian flat leaf parsley, blue banded bees were attracted to black salvias, in fact shrubby salvias work well to attract pollinating insects and we were given this useful tip “Aim for two types of plant species to be in flower all in year – this will always bring in bees “
Alternatives to chemicals
Nicotine soap – a recipe handed down to Jerry from his grandfather. This has the same effect on aphids, mealy bugs and other sucking insects as Confidor which is a toxic chemical that has been linked to the decline of bee populations does.
Soak 150g tobacco in 1 Litre of water for 2 weeks.
Add 2 tbs of this concentrate to 1 Litre of water. Then add acouple of drops of dishwashing liquid and spray.
White oil is another recipe we were told about to use as pest control. It works by suffocating the insects so they will never become resistant to it.
2 cups sunflower oil to 1/2 cup dishwashing liquid. This will last you approx. three months if stored in cool, dry conditions.
Add 1 tbs to 1 litre of water when you want to use it.
Spray on broad leaved plants and shrubs. Don’t use on soft leaved or hairy leaved plants such as lettuce because it will burn them.
There was so much more useful information that was given. It was an awesome way to spend a Saturday afternoon – listening to Jerry tell us about his garden… even better was that my 5 year old fell asleep in the chair next to me giving me the chance to listen in peace (so maybe it wasn’t that interesting to her). I definitely recommend it if you get the opportunity to hear one of Jerry’s talks, it’s well worth it!