Passing on the baton: Josh Byrne (left), author of Small Space Organics, with Peter Cundall.
Passing on the baton: Josh Byrne (left), author of Small Space Organics, with Peter Cundall.

Sunday week is the day for mostly dads so, with Gardening Australia celebrating 25 years on ABC TV, it's good to see a photo of current presenter Josh Byrne with the original bloke Peter Cundall in Byrne's book about creating sustainable, edible gardens Small Space Organics (Hardie Grant Books. $34.95).  There is a foreword by Cundall who calls it "a guide to intelligent action in a modern world". Interest in edible home gardens has been a positive trend in the past decade and it continues with gusto.

Byrne is an authoritative and eco-wise leader.  At the age of 18 he lived in a rented house while at university and he and his friends developed a garden to provide food where household waste was recycled and water collected. They also loved to party and entertain outdoors, activities that were easily accommodated.

In this book, Byrne invites the reader join him in a project surrounding an early 1900s semi-detached workers' cottage in inner South Fremantle, WA, which he rented from friends. The owners helped cover construction expenses as he developed the landscape to demonstrate his innovative ideas. The owners moved in when he had finished and he married wife Kellie in the garden. The built structures in his urban design included an outdoor kitchen and a studio with its own open-air bathroom.

Good cause: From each Dianthus 'Memories' plant sold, $1 will go towards Alzheimer's disease research.
Good cause: From each Dianthus 'Memories' plant sold, $1 will go towards Alzheimer's disease research.

The garden was experimental and the organic food production he describes in detail includes planting of fruit trees, vegetables and herbs, raising edible aquatics and keeping chickens.

Byrne includes rainwater harvesting and grey-water reuse and the research work that he conducted at the site was part of his PhD candidature on integrated water systems for sustainable urban landscapes.

Memories blossom

Eco manual: Josh Byrne's Small Space Organics shows you how to live sustainably even without a traditional garden space.
Eco manual: Josh Byrne's Small Space Organics shows you how to live sustainably even without a traditional garden space.

Dianthus 'Memories' comes from specialists Whetman Pinks in the UK. It was bred specially to support Alzheimer's research and is available from nurseries here via Plants Management Australia. Ita Buttrose, president of Alzheimer's Australia Dementia Research Foundation, says $1 from each plant sold is donated to dementia research. Her father had dementia in the latter years of his life.

Dianthus 'Memories' has pure white flowers in spring, is dry tolerant and fragrant and it is a perfect plant for small gardens or courtyards, entertainment areas or edging vegie beds.

Thrive's still thriving 

Thrive is celebrating 50 years of supplying fast-acting fertiliser for the Australian garden made to a formula developed in 1964 by expert gardener Allan Seale. The new specialised range of Thrive liquid fertiliser concentrates are for vegies and herbs, berries, tomatoes and Thrive Citrus that is enriched with potassium for juicy, more abundant lemons and other zesty fruit.

Growing sandwiches

From September 8 to November 30, every purchase of Abbott's Village Bakery bread will come with an offer of a free packet of Yates vegetable seeds to be redeemed online. The salad varieties have been chosen to maximise success even for new and inexperienced gardeners.

In 1982 a research scientist on holiday in the Caribbean noticed there was no sound of insects near an abandoned rum distillery. He took soil samples back to his laboratory and discovered a bacterium. That active ingredient, spinetoram, is included in the formulation of Yates Success Ultra Insect Control.  The product stops caterpillars from eating their way into your tomatoes, or your root, stalk and stem vegetables, and controls codling moth.

Win Byrne's book

To celebrate Fathers' Day we are giving away a copy of Josh Byrne's Small Space Organics and a bag of Yates products including a container of Thrive Citrus, a bottle of Yates Success Ultra and packets of Yates organic vegetable seeds. The seeds include spring onion, Lebanese cucumber, roma tomato, cherry bell radish, butternut pumpkin and Cosmos 'Bright Eyes' with its tangerine blooms. Yates donates 40 cents from the sale of each packet of Cosmos 'Bright Eyes' to Retina Australia and New Zealand to provide funds for research, awareness and support for people with inherited eye diseases.

To win, email with the best memory of your Dad or male mentor that is linked to nature, whether it happened last week, last year or last century.  Send entries to bodenparsons@bigpond.com with the subject 'memories'. The winner will be advised by September 1 and the prize can be collected from The Canberra Times.

Susan Parsons is a Canberra writer.