20 January

On Sunday 11 members worked hard to remove the giant sunflowers and save seeds from plants with giant flower heads and plants with multiple flower heads. Michael proposed, and the group agreed, that we try and recycle our “green waste” within the garden. To do this we will stack of sunflower stems in fences in the Kitchen Garden till they dry out and can be used as a carbon source in compost replacing brought in straw.

harvest 20jan19

We picked some good corn, abundant lemon drop and green zebra tomatoes, more basil, some okra, chillies, chicory (red dandelion), French tarragon (photo). Unfortunately the silverbeet in the Secret Garden had been over-picked during the week and will not survive. The cucumbers are finished and we removed them.

We are pleased to be able to help researchers at the University of Sydney with their pollination ecology experiment in our garden (photo). Please keep a watchful eye on it and if you notice any damage let Caitlyn know on 0406 596 230. As she says “Please leave me bee!”

experiment syd uni 16jan19

At our meeting we agreed to use bed 4 as a trial plot for growing vegetables without inputs, like fertilizers, from external sources. This was proposed by Barbara and agreed to in principle at a previous meeting. Barbara will write an information sign to put on the bed explaining its objective. This will be an important research experiment for the garden.

During the week the tree stump in the Secret Garden was removed. The group felt that a replacement tree should be planted in the space created. A lilly pilly was the preferred suggestion but other suggestions are welcome and will be discussed next Sunday before approaching Council. Wayne, our neighbour, has constructed a solid fence on his boundary and our bee motel has to be repositioned.

We have filled in the forms for the Council’s Senior’s Week Expo “Healthy Living, Healthy Mind” that they are holding in St Helen’s on Wednesday 20th February at 10am. We have agreed to participate and have some members present on that day to explain the garden.

 

Workshop: The City of Sydney is holding a “Protecting Pollinators” workshop at St Helen’s community centre Saturday, 16th February, 9:30-1:30 (booking required $10/$7.50). It will be given by Sydney University PhD researcher Amelie Vanderstock and will include recognising native pollinators and providing a habitat for them.

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6 & 13 January

Happy New Year to everyone and may it be a productive one for the garden and friendships. At our meeting on Sunday we welcomed a new member Theresa.

For the past two Sundays in the garden we have picked more tomatoes and cucumbers, lots of basil, some okra, zucchini, chillies, the last of the beans (or nearly), papayas, rocket and some silverbeet, land cress, grapes mint and Warrigal greens (photo). We picked the first cob of corn but it was not fully developed. Corn should be ready in the next couple of weeks. We started picking and removing the large sunflowers that have dominated the garden over the past few weeks. We saved a vast amount of parsley seeds. A lot of watering was done.

harvest 6jan19

Back in late August we sowed four varieties of tomatoes: green zebra, lemon drop, black cherry and Beams yellow pear. The first two seemed to have survived better than the others.

Both our turmeric (Curcuma domestica, also known as Indian saffron) and galangal (Alpinia officenarum also known as Thai ginger) are flowering in the Secret Garden at the moment (photos). Our ginger (Zingiber officinale) is not flowering yet. All three belong to the ginger family Zingiberaceae and now is a good time to tell them apart by noticing their leaf and flower type.

Louise Robinson, who is the Community Services Worker for the City in St Helen’s, has asked us to participate in the Council’s Senior’s Week Expo they are holding in St Helen’s on Wednesday 20th February. We have agreed to participate and have some members present on that day to explain the garden.

Workshop: I have just found out that the City of Sydney is holding a “Protecting Pollinators” workshop at St Helen’s community centre Saturday, 16th February, 9:30-1:30 (booking required $10/$7.50). It will be given by Sydney University PhD researcher Amelie Vanderstock and will include recognising native pollinators and providing a habitat for them.

Warning: The soil is full of bugs, mostly good bacteria and fungi however there are some nasty ones, particularly in bought soil and potting mix that can cause Legionnaires and other diseases. We recommend that you use gloves when gardening and dust masks when handling potting mix. Gloves and masks are available in the shed or bring your own. They are recommended for use when we induct new members. There are also centipedes, spiders and sharp objects in the soil that you may want to avoid. Make sure your tetanus shots are up-to-date.

23 & 30 December

It has been a hot week or so for the garden. The sunflowers, okra, corn, zucchini and eggplants are happy with the heat but beans suffer (photos). On Sunday the temperature in the bean bed was greater than the maximum reading on the thermometer of 520C! Unfortunately building a structure for shade cloth is not an option. Thanks go to Michael who brought ice-cold herb tea for us to drink and thanks to those who watered over Xmas. The garden is worth a visit for the sunflower display alone: van Gogh would be delighted.

Nineteen and fifteen members braved the heat and attended the garden the last two Sundays. For the fourth Sunday the cucumber harvest was a bumper one. Our Lebanese style cucumber ‘Muncher’ is very productive, more so than our bush cucumber ‘Spacemaster’ (photo). We also picked the first red okra, the first green zebra tomatoes and a few zucchini, beans, sorrel, silverbeet, rocket, chillies, basil, chicory ‘Red Dandelion’, French tarragon and a few blackberries.

Harvest 30Dec18

Thanks to Judith who cut strips of old clothes for tomato ties and Rosie who brought bamboo for stakes. We need more of both to keep the tomatoes upright.

16 December

Newspaper headline: “Tree falls in storm, kills 10,000 worms

Tree fall 1

The Friday night storm remove the coral tree for us! We now have more sun on our Secret Garden. Thanks.

Fortunately the storms held off until after our Summer Solstice party on Thursday evening. It was a very relaxed and cheerful gathering with about 30 members and family attending and eating delicious home made food and drinks including zucchinis, cucumbers, radishes, pepinos, garlic and herbs from our garden.

On Sunday 16 members and one child worked in the garden. We picked a bumper harvest of 16 cucumbers (‘Muncher’ and ‘Spacemaster’), several zucchinis ‘Costa Romanesque’ variety, radishes (‘Cherry Belle’), beans (bush and climbing), tamarillos, pepinos, basil, French tarragon, chillies, blackberries, late season ‘Ail de pays du ger’ garlic and baby rocket and young silverbeet. We tip pruned some climbing beans to encourage them to send out more laterals. The sunflowers are in full bloom and receive many favourable comments.

Glen, from Kil.n.it pottery collective, has kindly donated a beautiful ceramic cap for one of our tomato stakes (photo). He said how much he, and the other potters, appreciate our tranquil garden for inspiration as well as relaxation.

Ceramic flower 2

Thanks to Lucy who constructed three fruit fly traps. They catch the male fly by luring him into a bottle and drowning in a vegemite mixture (photo). Let’s hope they work so we can harvest some tomatoes without fly maggots.

Fruit fly trap

We received an email from Ben wanting to list us on his website www.yardpatches.com.au and we agreed at our meeting for him to do so. He is trying to encourage more productive use of vacant land, both private and public. Community gardens are one possibility.

Do frequent the garden any day during the holidays as some members will be away and the plants will need watering and harvesting and tidying up.

 

9 December

On Sunday twenty adults and two children picked our first zucchini (2), cucumbers (3, photo) and blackberries (3, photo) along with a good harvest of beans, radishes, basil, sorrel, chillies, French tarragon, a couple of cloves of garlic and some red chicory. We planted some more basil seedlings and a thyme plant.

Violas are nothing if not survivors. Several have self-sown into our gravel paths (photo). Both violas and calendulas are ending now that summer has arrived. Our main summer flowers are sunflowers, cosmos and French marigolds.

Violas in gravel

2 December

Twenty-two members and one child worked in the garden on Sunday, a very hot day. The first sunflowers opened to brighten the day (photo). We harvested the first of the bush beans Phaseolus vulgaris (photo), more climbing beans, some baby radishes and a few pepinos. Some herbs, sorrel and the last of the coriander and mizuna were also picked. We planted some silverbeet seedlings and fertilised and mulched beds.

Sunflowers (Helianthus annus) belong to the Daisy (Asteraceae) family. Others plants that we grow from this large family are: calendula, chicory, feverfew, French tarragon, Jerusalem artichokes, cos lettuce, French marigolds, tansy, wormwood, yacon and yarrow. Evidently you can eat the flower buds of sunflowers and they taste like a globe artichoke, anyone game to try?

25 November

The windstorm last week played havoc with our corn, sunflowers and okra. They now have a lean-up towards Glebe Point road but hopefully they will recover when a nor-easter blows them back. Thursday evening was windy for the six members who turned up and tied up tomatoes, moved some overcrowded bean seedlings and removed apple mint that was choking the lemon grass. Sunday was a calm sunny day and 15 members and two children worked in the garden. We planted more silverbeet and basil seedlings that had been grown by members at home and we saved seeds of rocket, mizuna and ruby streaks mustard. We picked the first few climbing beans along with two more asparagus spears. At our meeting we welcomed Stefan as a new member. Our cucumbers are flowering and setting fruit. Each plant has male flowers (photo left) and female flowers with baby fruit (right photo) so they require insects for pollination.

The Glebe Society has asked us to donate a lucky door prize for their Christmas Gathering being held in the Glebe Town Hall on Sunday 16 December. They had suggested “plants or a basket of produce”! After discussion with the group it was decided we would offer a complementary membership of the garden, value $25! Good public relations for us and our garden and good promotion for community gardens in general.

There is good news on the composting front. The City of Sydney council is going to run a trial recycling of food scraps starting mid next year. Other councils already have moved on this essential service. You have to register if interested in becoming one of the 300 houses or 100 apartments to be selected:

https://news.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/announcements/sign-up-for-our-new-food-scraps-recycling-trial

Thanks to Jan who has put a notice about this on our public bins and there has been a lot of positive feedback. Community composting of food waste is the future: less waste is even better.