GARDEN GURU: ABC 'Gardening Australia' magazine horticultural editor and organic advocate, Phil Dudman with some of the six varieties of garlic he has been growing in his highly productive garden in Lismore.
GARDEN GURU: ABC 'Gardening Australia' magazine horticultural editor and organic advocate, Phil Dudman with some of the six varieties of garlic he has been growing in his highly productive garden in Lismore. Alison Paterson

Gardening a soul balm

STANDING under six varieties of garlic drying under his veranda, Phil Dudman can't keep the grin off his face.

Wearing his trademark hat, the man who is familiar to keen green-thumbs as the horticultural editor of the ABC's Gardening Australia magazine and author of three books including the best-seller Down to Earth Garden Design, Mr Dudman said it's all about making gardening as easy and enjoyable as you can.

"I don't want to eat food laced in harmful chemicals and don't want to support agriculture which is laced in harmful chemicals, so I try to grow as much of my own food as possible,” he said.

"I've not bought garlic for years, I planted six varieties this year, including; Italian red, Glen Large, Southern Glen and for the first time Italian Late yet to harvest , Monaro Purple and giving a Spanish variety a go.”

And he's passionate about teaching others and is generous with advice.

As the talkback host on ABC Radio's Good Gardening program and writing articles, several times a year he opens up his backyard for the popular Grow Your Food workshops.

"I get a lot of pleasure out of the whole process of caring and improving soil. sowing seeds, nurturing my crops, harvesting food and bringing it to the kitchen and then the table,” he said.

"So I want to share this passion with everyone and help them to design their patch to create highly productive soil without digging, make great compost, raise plants from seed, manage weeds and pests without poisons and really get their hands dirty and enjoy themselves.”

He said he loves helping people whether they are experienced gardeners looking for a few tips or absolute beginners who are irresistibly drawn to the idea of planting seeds but need some encouragement.

"I think are are all drawn to the garden and those who nurture plants, we are all connected to the soil and to the people who grow flowers and food,” he said.

"It's a real joy to help someone discover how wonderful growing good, organic food can be.”