When I was first starting out and learning as much as I could to try to grow something, anything at all, the Gardening Australia and Organic Gardener (OG) magazines were absolutely invaluable. As I’ve developed, and in recent years, I’ve made the hard decision to stop following Gardening Australia (a few issues I received seemed to have more ads than articles, and I don’t buy a magazine to look at the glossy ads …) and instead focus on OG, Pip and Warm Earth (Australian permaculture magazines), Junkies, for all your upcycling pleasure, and Peppermint magazine, which is awesome if you’re wanting to learn about new sustainable enterprises, products and charities – it would have to be one of my fave magazines now.
I would also recommend the Earth Garden and Grass Roots magazines. I usually only buy these when there appears to be articles that I’m interested in, but this does seem to be more often than not, and they’re always a good read.
A few years ago, while on holiday up north, I stopped into a country newsagency to get something to read in the car and discovered Town and Country Farmer magazine. Although more ‘country’ orientated than ‘town’ it has had many interesting articles over the years, particularly if you’re dreaming of your own little patch of dirt with a few sheep/cattle wandering around, fruit and nut crops, bees, etc.
For a few years, I was also subscribing to Sanctuary magazine, which looks at ‘sustainable’ housing and innovations. I’ve put ‘sustainable’ in inverted commas because they seem to have a differing opinion of what ‘sustainable’ is compared to what I do; it’s great that they show all these beautiful houses with solar on the roof or passive heating/cooling technologies, but the houses are all still massive/way larger than necessary, usually on a postage-stamp-sized lot or on acreage that is just mown lawn and not being used for anything productive, so to me, they’re only ‘sustainable’ in looks.
So my reading list is:
If any of you know of any other gems that I’ve missed, please let me know!
There are probably millions of gardening books out there, so I’m not going to list them all. I will however recommend that, if at all possible, you look for books that have been written for your climatic area/zone. For instance, I live in sub-tropical Queensland, so anything written for a cool or temperate zone is going to have the wrong advice in it regarding what to grow when – eg we grow things like broccoli and potatoes through winter, not summer, because we don’t get frost and our summers are too harsh for these temperate vegetables. Also, it warms early here, so we can get away with putting ‘summer’ crops like corn and pumpkins in as early as August, and thus give us multiple crops through the warm growing season. People in temperate zones can’t do this unless they start the seedlings off inside a greenhouse first and plant out after the last risk of frost has passed.
Unfortunately, most of Australia’s population resides in south-eastern Australia, with a cool, temperate or cool-arid climate so most books will be focussed on these climate zones. So be aware, sub-tropical or tropical gardeners!
If you’re looking for expertise outside these areas, do what I did and watch/read Gardening Australia. They have ‘experts’ from around the country and many of these have written their own books. For a sub-tropical area, I look towards the likes of Jerry Colby-Williams and Annette McFarlane. Annette has also written many books on sub-tropical gardening (available in ABC Shops, and sometimes in Aldi, Post Offices, etc) and has a radio segment every Saturday morning. Both of these gardening celebrities live in Brisbane.
Having said this, some of my collection includes:
Organic Vegetable Gardening, by Annette McFarlane
Organic Fruit Growing, by Annette McFarlane
Vegie Patch: How to grow your own food, by Alan Buckingham, with Australian Consultant Jennifer Wilkinson
Grow Vegetables: Gardens, courtyards, verandahs, balconies, by Alan Buckingham, with Australian Consultant Jennifer Wilkinson
Grow Fruit: Gardens, courtyards, verandahs, balconies, by Alan Buckingham, with Australian Consultant Jennifer Wilkinson
Companion Planting, by Brenda Little
Australian Gardening Calendar: What to do in your garden each month, produced by Penguin Books
Growing Herbs: Herbs for all seasons. Grow, harvest, use, by Meredith Kirton and Dr Judyth McLeod for Murdoch Books
Growing Vegetables: Vegetables for all seasons. Grow, harvest, use, by Steven Bradley, John Fenton-Smith, et al, for Murdoch Books
Easy Organic Gardening and Moon Planting, by Lyn Bagnall
A History of Kitchen Gardening, by Susan Campbell
Down-to-Earth Garden Design: How to design and build your dream garden, by Phil Dudman, published by Gardening Australia
Composting: The ultimate organic guide to recycling your garden, by Tim Marshall, published by Gardening Australia
No-Dig Gardening: How to create an instant, low-maintenance garden, by Allen Gilbert, published by Gardening Australia
Habitat Garden: Attracting wildlife to your garden, by Peter Grant, published by Gardening Australia
Creating an Australian Garden, by Angus Stewart
Small Native Plants for Australian Gardens, by Nola Parry and Jocelyn Jones
Practical Self Sufficiency: An Australian guide to sustainable living, by Dick and James Strawbridge (Note: Dick and James live in the UK, so although not all the information will be relevant to your climate zone, overall it’s still quite an interesting and useful book)
1001 Easy Ways for Earth-wise Living: Natural and eco-friendly ideas that can make a real difference to your life, published by Readers Digest
Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things: Over 2000 ways to save money and time using 209 common household items, published by Readers Digest
(The links above are (mostly) for BookDepository.com, which is the cheapest source I could find, but most of these books are also available in ABC stores/online, bookstores such as QBD and Angus&Robertson, as well as occasionally in stores such as Big W, Post Offices and Aldi)
I don’t tend to use webpages a lot – I like to be able to take the book or magazine out onto the patio to read/research something – but if I do want to quickly look up a topic, I head straight to the Gardening Australia website. You can search for anything on this site and they’re bound to have a few articles on the topic.