Costa Georgiadis, man of soil and soul

I met a man this week who made me rethink my whole outlook on gardening. Three hours talking to the ebullient and charismatic Costa Georgiadis, who will host ABC Gardening Australia programme this year, left me sort of like James Bond’s martini – but I was shaken AND stirred.

On my grapevine blog I’ve been focussing  on my home patch of ground. Costa sees the whole world as a garden. The way we live, consume, waste and imprint on the earth has an effect on its health, he believes. Just as we care and nurture our garden, feed it, enhance it, enjoy it and –  if we are lucky –  live off its bounty, so we should cherish the world likewise. It’s a kind of a take on ” Think globally; act locally”, but it’s also a call to think a bit more deeply about what we can contribute to the health of the planet. It might be protesting against genetic modification of  crops, or mis labelling of food or being extra vigilant about what waste we generate  and how it’s best recycled.

A landscape architect who has an all-consuming passion for plants and people, Costa knows how to bring out the best in both of them, and takes great pleasure in bringing them together. Costa believes in embracing and celebrating mother nature’s cycles and seasons and nurturing her balance, beauty and bounty organically. His holistic approach is all about gardening the soil and the soul.

Costa’s no joyless zealout. He’s a fun, enthusiastic and witty ambassador for gardening which he sees as a community activity par excellence. He made me laugh and he made me think. He has kick-started a gardening on the verge ( footpath) project in his street, involving all the residents in a learning and sharing activity and wants to take the idea across the country. Imagine a vegetables garden on every footpath, where street residents can stop and share and swap and just TALK; where kids can learn the basics of  growing things. What is the point of all that wasted grass space, that needs watering and mowing? Costa says the space is far better used to produce food and educate  people about growing things.

He gardens with his hands and his heart. But then, is there any other way?


I said in my descriptive ( About) page on this blog that I have made every boo boo in the book when it comes to gardening. Add mistaken identity to that long list.  Some weeks ago I bought what I thought were beetroot seedlings, planted them and watched them thrive. I thought they seemed to be ripening very close to the surface and that accounted for their paler pinkish hue, not the deep red I expected. I plucked five big beauties from the soil last week and learnt I have been growing not beetroot, but something more like a turnip. But I am not really sure what they are. ( pictured). They have pale, pink streaked  insides If they are turnips, I  have done it all out of season, ( you should sow them in March and pick in June) but nonetheless, here they are and I am canvassing for some recipes. I am told turnips can be eaten raw, baked, steamed and stir fried with the leaves or cooked in stews and casseroles.  So a happy accident, really, because I probably would not have CHOSEN turnips, but will now relish  a new taste on the menu. I always associated turnips with punishment food, that is, food that you endured like chokoes, not savoured. I am probably thinking of the  enormous and coarse variety which humans and farm animals ate over the centuries.  ( I recall Peter Rabbit loved them in Mr McGregor’s garden) Turnip leaves and stems are spicy and lovely in a salad and probably full of vitamins and wrinkle- reducing qualities. ( I made that last bit up) They’re not sexy, rather stodgy and functional; the veg patch’s equivalent to a beige Homy Ped shoe.  But there’s got to be a yummy recipe with them somewhere.

I really do want to grow beetroot again, as I have successfully in the past, so I will be more vigilant at the seedling stall next time.

Have you ever planted one thing that grew into something entirely not what you were expecting? Come on. Fess up. I can’t be the only plant ditz around. Let me in on your dirty little secrets.


Follower Peagreen wants to know if there is anyone  – particularly living on north side of Brisbane – with a  healthy fiddlewood tree (Citharexylum spinosum), a West Indian native. It seems they are susceptible to lantana beetle  infestation and her specimen included. But she has heard there is hope the trees may regenerate after it.  See comments.

Happy gardening.


6 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Mary said,

    We must have bought our seedlings from the same supplier but several months apart because they certainly look like the beets I grew, picked & roasted recently. Mine also grew close to the surface & I presumed they looked like that because of the heat or lack of care from me over the holiday period. Certainly tasted a bit like a beet but texture was a little more stringy.

  2. 2

    Aaah. Well, I have yet to cook and taste, so will see, Mary.

  3. 3

    rose said,

    Hooray for no grass on footpaths. With no grass anywhere else in our garden (and no mower) we’ve been letting council mow our footpath. Tired of the many weeds which emerge from the communal mower, i’ve dug up half and mulched ready for greenery. Will remove the remainder of grass slowly but surely. Flowers, vege, herbs and greenery on footpaths looks so much better than grass. Are busy inner city streets less healthy for edibles though?

  4. 4

    Dale Michel said,

    Well, you people who live in fertile SE Qld may have lantana beetle problems, but there are no lantana beetles (no self respecting lantana plant would consider living on the Calliope ridges!) where we live! We do, however have a magnificent Fiddlewood Tree thanks to heaps of mulch and constant watering from the kitchen and laundry waste water. The problem here is that when we go away, it stresses quickly unless we’re lucky enough to score rain at that time.
    Other than that, we have not experienced any problems, it is a large tree now and constantly provides nectar for a variety of birds and butterflies and lovely shade on our west.
    Do hope you resolve the beetle problem.

    • 5

      peagreen said,

      Oh Dale Michel, I’m rather envious you have a healthy fiddlewood tree and pleased you also think it magnificent; I do so want that joy of seeing one in my yard again. Maybe one day. The alternative is to move to Calliope, I guess! I hope you stay aconophora compressa free.

  5. 6

    Jean said,

    Hi Julie,
    Thought I’d tell you about my ginger plant.. it just still amazes me every time I look at it!
    A little bit of its history..
    I’m new to Qld.. and when we visited Buderim and saw all their stunning ginger plants.. I also wanted some! I duly found to stunning specimens.. planted them in the same spot.. and planted it in what I thought was the ideal spot. To my horrors.. they wilted.. too hot.. so I upended them.. and replanted in a ‘cooler spot’ I though! And then they both died totally!

    Lo and behold, in early January when we returned from our Sydney visit,.. I could not believe my eyes! Here in the original spot was something growing again! And in the newly transplanted spot as well!

    Two new ginger plants! Well I never! So now I’ve got three ginger plants, and they are all flourishing! I’ve had four amazing flowers off the one, non yet off the other, but its early days, and I have patience!

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