12 January

A big crowd of 32 members and 2 children turned up on Sunday to form the bucket brigade to water. At our meeting we welcomed Judy-Ann as a new member.

Sunflowers 12Jan20 1

A lot of the plants are coming to the end and we removed them and mulched the beds. There were a few beans, cucumbers, greens, chillies and rhubarb to harvest. The sunflowers add a cheerful note to the garden during this smokey drought (photo).

Daniel, the Council Community Garden Coordinator, will be leaving the role in February and we will be getting a new coordinator. This came as a surprise to us. Since his temporary appointment over a year ago we have had nothing but encouragement and help from him in his role so we are all sorry to see him go. Only last week Daniel gave us 4 bales of sugar cane mulch for the garden.

29 December & 5 January

A big thankyou to the bucket-and-can brigade that have kept the garden not only alive but thriving (almost) over the Xmas-New Year period. The sunflowers are coming out and the garden is well worth a visit. The mulching with straw that we have done has also helped the plants survive the heat.

Harvest 5Jan20

Some of the harvest, Sunday 5th.

Over the holidays we continued to have a big rollup of 20-15 members the past two Sundays. We picked the first okra, lots of cucumbers, lots of beans, silverbeet (getting to the end), perpetual silverbeet, spinach mustard, rhubarb, a few tomatoes, some eggplants, zucchini, cos lettuce and chillies. For green salads there is still basil, mizuna, ruby streaks, rocket, land cress, parsley (curled and Italian), mint, basil and sorrel. In the Kitchen Garden there is purslane, Warrigal greens, blackberries and Cape gooseberries available for picking. Some papayas, lemons and limes have also been picked.

The Herald last week reported that the food fad for 2020 is going to be cucumber juice. We have plenty of cucumbers but don’t forget to eat the most nutritious part: the skin. Chicory root is also predicted to be the new drink for 2020 and we have plenty of that plant – just grind up the root.

Pineapple's progress 31Dec

Pineapple’s Progress 31 December 2019.

Our bees survived 41 degrees C on Saturday but they have been behaving strangely. On a couple of days last week clouds of them were swirling around outside their hive. Tim Heard’s explanation is that they are defending their hive from invading native bees of the same species (The Australian Native Bee Book, page 184). They seem to have won the battle and have now gone back to foraging.

For a bit of summer reading about various aspects of gardening written by experts go to The Conversation at https://theconversation.com/au/topics/gardening-series-31530

22 December

Our Summer Solstice Party was a great success with over 40 members, family and friends enjoying a smorgasbord of delicious treats reflecting the diversity in our membership. Many of the dishes incorporated veggies from the garden.

Summer solstice 1

On Sunday morning the bucket and watering can brigade was busy carting water to each bed. We also harvested a big crop of beans, rhubarb, cucumbers, silverbeet, radish, basil, cos lettuce, rocket, mizuna, ruby streaks, sorrel, Warrigal greens, land cress, chillies, tarragon, thyme, parsley a few tomatoes and zucchini (photo below). The blackberry bush continues to be a popular grazing site for passers by.

Harvest 22Dec19

15 December

This coming Sunday 22nd is our Summer Solstice Party from 5-6pm. Husbands/wives/partners and children are invited. Bring a plate of food and drinks to share. Please bring your own plates, forks, knives, cups.

With water restrictions in place 24 members were busy on Sunday with watering cans. We need members to come on Tuesdays and Thursdays to water either before 10am or after 4pm. On Sundays it would help if you can bring your own watering can. There is a list of beds on the white board in the shed. Tick off a bed once you have watered it.

The summer garden is looking fantastic despite the drought (photos).

Our tomato season has started! We picked the first ‘Tommy Toe’ and ‘Yellow Current’. We also harvested our first cucumbers of the season and lots of beans, more silverbeet, perpetual silverbeet, zucchinis, Warrigal greens, radishes, cos lettuce, spinach mustard Komatsuna, mizuna, rocket, ruby and golden streaks, basil, chillies, French sorrel, French tarragon, land cress, parsley, pizza thyme and mint. We planted some more basil seedlings and spread out crowded cosmos seedlings.

Good news is that the Council has agreed to our request regarding kitchen waste and will trial a 120L food scrap bin in our garden. It will happen in the New Year. We have to write a Safe Work Method Statement to put in our Management Plan.

We have 4 chilli plants growing in the garden. Three are cultivars of Capsicum annuum namely ‘Jalapeno’, ‘Santa Fe Grande’ and ‘Joes Long Cayenne’ and one cultivar of Capsicum frutescens named ‘African Birds Eye’ also known as ‘Piri Piri’. All belong to the Nightshade Family Solanaceae. For chilli aficionados in our group we go back to 1912 when Wilbur Scoville devised a pungency or “hotness” scale measured in Scoville Heat Units (SHU) for capsaicin concentration, the ‘hot’ chemical in chillies. Our mildest is ‘Santa Fe Grande’ about 1,000 HSU, then ‘Jalapeno’ ~3,500 HSU, ‘Joes Long Cayenne’ ~50,000 HSU (Tobasco sauce is 30,000) and our hottest is ‘African Birds Eye’ at 100,000 HSU.

Free Composting and Worm Farming workshop: Saturday 8th February 9:30-12:00. Put on by the Green Living Centre at Camdenville Paddock Community Garden, Newtown.

Register at: https://www.innerwest.nsw.gov.au/explore/whats-on#/details/26809

8 December

The rainwater tank for the main garden has finally run dry. Starting this Tuesday 10th December water restrictions come into effect. At our meeting we decided to use the water in the Secret Garden till it runs out. We will also use watering cans until 10am and after 4pm to comply with the restrictions. So get up early and water any day of the week if you can! Thanks to Ralph who cleaned out the leaf catchers on each tank – they were full and blocking water flowing into the tank. We welcomed new member Chriss to the garden

Pineapple 8Dec19

Pineapple’s Progress (with apologies to John Bunyan) 8 December.

Don’t forget that our Summer Solstice Party is on Sunday 22nd December in the cool of the late afternoon from 5-6pm. Husbands/wives/partners and children are invited. Bring a plate of food and drinks to share. (No throwaway plastic cups/plates please). Kim has used one of our green papayas to make pickles for the party.

A big crowd on Sunday: 27 adults and 5 children. We harvested lots of beans, more silverbeet, perpetual silverbeet, Warrigal greens, radishes, mizuna, rocket, ruby and golden streaks, basil, 4 payayas (1ripe), chillies, radishes, French sorrel, French tarragon, land cress, parsley, pizza thyme, mint, a few blackberries for the children and some green garlic (from cloves left behind after the harvest).

You may have seen a strange plant flowering in the “public” bed (photo below). It is mature miner’s lettuce Claytonia perfoliata (syn. Montia perfoliata) Family: Montiaceae. It looks unusual as the stems of the small white flowers grow above a pair of leaves that are connected together around the stem.

Korean Mint is flowering in the Secret Garden attracting bees and butterflies (photo above). Its botanical name is Agastache rugosa and belongs to the Mint Family: Lamiaceae. It is used extensively in Chinese medicine and in Korean cooking. Its aromatic liquorice scented leaves are coarse so use in moderation chopped finely for salads, Korean pancakes or tea.

An information notice has been put on the beehive to spread the word about how clever and important our native bees are. The notice has been sent to all members.

1 December

Our beehive has finally been installed, under the curry tree in its secure cage with a nice roof. The native stingless bees (Tetragonula carbonaria) seem happy in their new home collecting nectar and pollen. Twenty- eight members and one child attended on Sunday and observed our new bee friends going about their business and tasted their honey from Jock’s hive. We welcomed Chris as a new member.

Bee hive 27Nov19

 We have decided to hold our Summer Solstice Party on Sunday 22nd December in the cool of the late afternoon from 5-6pm. Husbands/wives/partners and children are invited. Bring a plate of food and drinks to share. (No throwaway plastic cups/plates please). Kim has used one of our green papayas to make pickles for the party.

The bumper beans harvest continued. We also harvested our first two zucchini, our first blackberries, more silverbeet, perpetual silverbeet, Warrigal greens, radishes, mizuna, rocket, ruby streaks, basil, chillies, radishes, French sorrel, French tarragon, land cress, parsley, pizza thyme and mint. We also re-sowed some climbing beans.

What makes our chillies black?

Black chillies Nov19

It seems that the black colour in ripening chillies is a natural process and not a disease. They will eventually go red. We grow seven plants in the Solanaceae (Nightshade) Family. Because they are closely related they have similar growing requirements, features and also diseases so it is important to recognise them. The plants we grow belonging to this Family are:

Cape Gooseberry Physalis peruviana

Chillies/peppers Capsicum annuum

Eggplant Solanum melongena

Pepino Solanum muricatum

Potatoes Solanum tuberosum

Tamarillo Cyphomandra betacea

Tomatoes Solanum lycopersicon

24 November

Pinapple's Progress 19Nov19

Pineapple’s Progress (with apologies to John Bunyan) 19 November.

At our meeting we decided to hold our Summer Solstice Party on Sunday 22nd December in the cool of the late afternoon from 5-6pm.

It has been a bumper beans harvest this year. Twenty one members on Sunday havreseted beans, silverbeet, perpetual silverbeet, mizuna, rocket, ruby streaks, basil, chillies, radishes, French sorrel, French tarragon, land cress, parsley, pizza thyme and mint. On Thursday evening members harvested rhubarb from our new plants in the Secret Garden. We sowed more radish, squash ‘Vegetable Spaghetti’ (Curcurbita pepo), cos lettuce, snake beans (Vigna unguiculata) varieties ‘Snake Brown’ and ‘Red Noodle Snake’, and cosmos. The turmeric is flowering and the tamarillo tree has fragrant flowers setting green fruit (photos below):

Jan has kindly provided The Australian Native Bee Book by Tim Heard for members to read. It is part of our library in the shed.

There is a native bee workshop at St Helen’s Community Centre on Tuesday, 11th February, 9:30-3:30. Tickets $20/$15 are limited. https://whatson.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/events/native-stingless-bee-workshop

Pocket City Farms also has a stingless native bee workshop on 1st December http://www.pocketcityfarms.com.au/