17 January

Sunday was another busy day working in the garden in glorious weather. The dragon fruit turned on another spectacular display with 6 blooms. A record 31 members and one child attended. As usual for this time of the year there was an abundance of beans and cucumbers. We also harvested snake beans, okra, basil, Thai basil, Greek basil, rhubarb, papayas, sorrel, tomatoes, French tarragon, rocket, parsley, carrots, Warrigal greens, chillies, tamarillos and purslane.

We saved sunflower seeds, parsley seeds and land cress seeds.

You can’t help but notice climbing beans flourishing in bed 8 and along the fence in the Secret Garden. They are ‘Double bean’ vines (Phaseolus lunagus, Legume Family Fabaceae) also known as tropical lima bean, butter bean or Madagascar bean. They like hot, humid weather and slightly acid soils. Dies back in winter and produces more beans in the second season. Only the seeds are eaten. Unfortunately they are slow to produce and our vines have few pods and they have not yet filled out. See https://permaculturenoosa.com.au/madagascar-bean/

We have Greek basil (Ocimum obovatum, Mint Family Lamiaceae) growing in the garden (photo below). It is a small-leaf dense bush perennial. It can be grown from cuttings. Pick some to add a strong flavour to salads, soups, sandwiches and egg, tomato and cheese dishes.

Our okra (Hibiscus esculentun) are producing seed pods for harvesting. Also known as ‘Gumbo’ or ‘Lady’s Fingers’ they belong to the Mallow Family Malvaceae. Their flower in the photo below is characteristic of the Mallow or Hibiscus family. Use the seed pods in curries or stews or young ones raw in salads. Our rosella (Hibiscus sabdariffa0 plants belong to the same genus and family and will be flowering soon.

There are self-sown curry leaf tree seedlings (Murraya koenigii, Rue Family Rutaceae) at the foot of the tree. Take them if you want, or give them to someone. We have to keep the tree trimmed of flowers because it can self-sow and become a nuisance. Also it might fall over. We have been giving leaves to local restaurants.

There are plenty of lilly pilly (Syzygium smithii,  Myrtle family Myrtaceae) fruit on the tree above our meeting site. Pick them if you want to make jelly or jam.

Glen is offering a pottery workshop next month for anyone interested in making sentinels of various designs for the tops of our stakes. Let me know if you are interested.

You may have seen the photo in the Herald last Friday of Bourke Street Community Garden in Woolloomooloo under the headline “Chooks join a growing flock of urban gardeners”. Their membership doubled during the pandemic (not including the chooks). We too had an increase in membership of 23 during 2020.

Also in the news last week was the alarming news that last year tied with 2016 as the hottest year on record for the world.

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/2020-tied-for-warmest-year-on-record-nasa-analysis-shows

10 January

On arrival in the garden on Sunday we were treated to a spectacular display by the dragon fruit cactus. One of its magnificence flowers had survived its night-time bloom. In general the buds bloom for about an hour late at night and their perfume attracts insects for pollination and by morning they have wilted. We will have about 10 red-fleshed dragon fruit to harvest in about a month.

Our red-fleshed dragon fruit is the species Hylocereus costaricensis, also known as pitaya and native to central America. Dragon fruit belongs to the Cactus Family: Cactaceae.

On Sunday we had 25 members and one child working in the garden. We picked another bumper crop of cucumbers and beans which some members are pickling. We also picked our first snake beans, okra, basil, Thai basil, Greek basil, rhubarb, papayas, sorrel, tomatoes, French tarragon, mizuna, rocket, turnip tops, parsley, carrots, Warrigal greens,  chillies, tamarillos, purslane and a few raspberries from our canes.

We saved some land cress seeds.

Thanks to our friends who repaired and oil our seats and table. They wish to remain anonymous (but we know who they are).

To compensate for our limited travel in these COVID times Tuscany and Arles have come to us. Just relax in the garden and imagine the scene (garden photo below) to be a Tuscan villa with grape vine over the veranda or Van Gogh painting his sunflowers in Arles.

27 Dec & 3 Jan

Happy New Year to everyone and let’s hope for a more healthy and prosperous one than 2020.

The steady rain over the past two weeks has led to a growth spurt in the garden with all the sunflowers reaching to the sky and flowering and the vegetables overflowing their beds. The garden is well worth a visit and bring your friends to show it off.

Members have been working in the garden the past two week picking a bumper crop of cucumbers, beans, okra, basil, Thai basil, Green basil, rhubarb, papayas, sorrel, some tomatoes, French tarragon, mizuna, rocket, turnip tops, parsley, carrots,  Warrigal greens,  chillies, tamarillos, purslane. We picked the first (4!!) raspberries from our canes.

The zucchini ‘Costa Romanesque’ and vegetable spaghetti (both Cucurbita pepo) have germinated and the pumpkins are starting to spread their wings.

Our unpicked globe artichokes are flowering (Jan’s photo):

20 December

Unfortunately COVID has struck again and we had to cancel our Summer Solstice Party. On a positive note rain has arrived and the garden is looking wonderful, full of flowers and produce, and is receiving many compliments from the community. Do visit the garden as frequently as you can over the holiday period and pick cucumbers, basil etc. as you need. Also water and weed and needed but don’t forget to relax and enjoy the space. There will be the usual meeting next Sunday, 27th.

Forlorn Sunflowers

Eleven members turned up on Sunday morning and we picked a big crop of cucumbers, basil, rhubarb, sorrel, a few bush beans and climbing beans, a few tomatoes, French tarragon, mizuna, rocket, turnip tops, parsley, tamarillos, purslane and the first okra.

We sowed zucchini ‘Costa Romanesque’, vegetable spaghetti (both Cucurbita pepo) and resowed some pumpkins.

Have a happy, safe and peaceful Christmas and New Year.

13 December

On Sunday 23 members and one child helped dig up a bumper harvest of Solanum tuberosum. Our most productive variety was Ruby Lou. It is a cultivar bred in Victoria. Good for roasting, boiling or frying. Our second most productive was King Edward an old English cultivar good for roasting, mashed or baking. Last but not least were our Dutch Cream potatoes, a waxy potato good boiled, mashed or roasted.

We also picked cucumbers, the first tomatoes, radish, rocket, beans, rhubarb, basil, tamarillos, sorrel, the last of the silverbeet and some blackberries. We sowed some borlotti beans and saved some land cress seeds. Last week we planted four japaleno chillies.

Judith brought along a branch of Kangaroo apple with flowers and fruit. Its botanical name is Solanum aviculare and belongs to the Nightshade Family: Solanaceae. It is a soft-wooded shrub native to the east coast of Australia and New Zealand. It is also known as poroporo or pam plum. Only the ripe fruit is edible, poisonous when green.

Don’t forget our Summer Solstice Party will be held this Sunday 20th December at 5-6pm The solstice is when we celebrate our garden. Please bring family members along and a plate of food and drinks to share. COVID care: Bring your own eating utensils and plates and drinking cups (No throwaway plastic cups/plates please unless they are compostable).

6 December

Twenty-eight members worked in the garden on Sunday. We harvested climbing beans, radishes, rhubarb, the last of the silverbeet, warrigal greens, land cress, sorrel, purslane, basil and parsley. We also picked some blackberries, tamarillos (Cyphomandra betacea, also known as tree tomatoes belonging to the Nightshade Family Solanaceae) and the first cucumbers. We sowed climbing beans, borlotti beans (Phaseolus vulgaris, Legume Family: Fabaceae ), radishes ‘French Breakfast’ and pumpkins (Cucurbita maxima, Gourd Family: Cucurbitaceae) cultivars ‘Iron Bark’, ‘Galeux d’Eysines’ and self-sown. We saved more rocket seeds.

Despite all the flowers only 4 set fruit on our native finger lime (Microcitrus australasica, Rue Family: Rutaceae). Probably variable moisture in the pot was the cause. They are well camouflaged from prying human fingers.

Don’t forget our Summer Solstice Party will be held on Sunday 20th December at 5-6pm The solstice is when we celebrate our garden. Please bring family members along and a plate of food and drinks to share. COVID care: Bring your own eating utensils and plates and drinking cups (No throwaway plastic cups/plates please unless they are compostable).

The Pop up picnic on Saturday was a great success with some 30 people attending.

22 and 29 November

Summer has arrived along with the heat and humidity. This is a difficult season for the garden even for our heat loving plants: eggplant, okra, beans, tomatoes, cucumber, corn, chillies, basil and Jerusalem artichokes. They suffered on the weekend with temperatures well over 40 degrees. Thanks go to Michael for putting wet bags over the native beehive to save the little creatures. Michael also got the Council to fix the taps. Remember that the tank water can be switched off at the tank if there is a leak, as we don’t want to waste the precious water.

Twenty-eight members worked in the garden on the 22nd and 15 on the 29th. We welcomed Lisa and her son Edward as new members. During the week we had two tours of the garden: a group from Probus Neutral Bay and a group from the National Parks Association. Thanks go to Judith and Michael for showing them around. We also had a visit from a tertiary student, Helen, who is studying community gardens as a project. She interviewed members along with a questionnaire.

Don’t forget our Summer Solstice Party will be held on Sunday 20th December at 5-6pm (We should be able to meet the current COVID restrictions of 50 people). The solstice is when we celebrate our garden. Please bring family members along and a plate of food and drinks to share. COVID care: Bring your own eating utensils and plates and drinking cups (No throwaway plastic cups/plates please unless they are compostable).

The Pop up picnic is all organised to go ahead at 10:30am on Saturday 5th thanks to Jan and the funding from UTS and Council.  If you signed up with Jan go to Ernest Pedersen Reserve (corner Avon St and Ferry Rd).

We harvested more nicola and sebago potatoes and picked our first climbing beans. We also picked silverbeet, warrigal greens, a few asparagus spears, rhubarb, land cress, sorrel, purslane, basil and parsley. Some blackberries are available for the children to pick. We sowed some more cucumbers.

One of our members, Gil, featured on ABC-TV Gardening Australia last week. His expertise on gardening and garden books is wide ranging. Well done Gil!

A surprise in the garden is the flowering of one of the globe artichokes (Cynara scolymus); we only planted them in spring (see photo below). We have the cultivar ‘Green Globe’. According to the literature they do prefer a less humid climate than Sydney to get big, tight buds to eat https://www.sgaonline.org.au/globe-artichoke/ This thistle belongs to the sunflower family Asteraceae along with our Jerusalem artichokes and sunflowers.

15 November

On Sunday we had a big crowd of 26 members working in the garden.

At our meeting we agree to hold our Summer Solstice Party on Sunday 20th December at 5pm (COVID restrictions permitting). The solstice is when we celebrate our garden and bring family members along with a plate and drinks to share.

We harvested our first nicola and sebago potatoes. There will be more in a couple of weeks if you missed out. We picked silverbeet, warrigal greens, , a few asparagus spears, rhubarb, cos lettuce, curly endive, radicchio, land cress, sorrel, purslane, basil and parsley and the last of the dill and coriander.

We planted more eggplants, French marigolds and sweet basil.

Our raspberry, from the Rubus genus, is flowering but don’t stop buying punnets just yet as they are not suited to a hot climate (photo below).

8 November

At our meeting on Sunday that was attended by 17 members we welcomed two new members: Mary and Kel. We harvested silverbeet, warrigal greens, dill, coriander, asparagus, rhubarb, lettuce, curly endive, radicchio, land cress, sorrel, purslane and parsley. We sowed some Japanese turnips (Brassica rapa var. rapifera), radishes (Raphanus sativus) and bush beans. Our flowers are cheering up the garden at the moment while we await the summer harvest. The bees are enjoying them and many are also edible. Use the flowers or petals to decorate cakes or salads. Four of the main ones are in photos below but also rocket, day lilies and all brassica flowers can be eaten. Photos of calendula, cosmos, violas and borrage:

1 November

Despite the cold and the rain on Sunday 14 members attended and we re-sowed some beans and corn that had not germinated. We harvested mibuna, silverbeet, dill, coriander, asparagus, rhubarb, Russian kale lettuce, land cress and parsley and a blackberry!

Unfortunately slaters are attacking some of our seedlings. We planted more sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum, Mint Family Lamiaceae) and chillies. We also planted a betel leaf (Piper sarmentosum, Pepper Family Piperaceae) seedling in the communal bed. Also known as ‘La lot’ pepper. It is a completely different plant to Betel pepper (Piper betle) which is chewed with betel nut. It is a perennial creeper with heart-shaped leaves (see photo below). It is widely used in Asian curries, stir-fries, salads and as a wrap. Reported to have medicinal benefits as well.

Notice the grape vine is flowering well:

25 Ocober

Don’t forget that there is now twilight gardening on Thursdays 5-6pm. It is a nice time to meet other gardeners and weed, water and generally tidy up and pick what you need.

At our meeting on a cold and windy Sunday we welcomed another new member Ross.

Sixteen members staked tomatoes, transplanted eggplants and okra on Sunday. We harvested a few asparagus spears, Cape gooseberries, plenty of silverbeet, Russian and curly kale, radicchio, coriander, lettuce (Amish deer tongue, cos, freckles bunte), mibuna, land cress, curly endive, rhubarb, sorrel, dill, and parsley. We sowed bush beans, climbing beans, cucumbers, carrots and radishes.

We are growing a bumper crop of an underrated salad green ‘Mibuna’ (Brassia rapa, var. nipposinica). It is similar to ‘Mizuna’ but with smooth edged leaves (see photo below). This Japanese mustard is growing in the Secret Garden. Enjoy a light mustard flavour that is perfect raw in salads, steamed, stir-fried or in soups. Pick it now!

18 October

At our meeting we welcomed two new members Alex and Anais. Also at our meeting Jan demonstrated the “Composting Cannon” that she had purchased. It is a worm tower ideal for small beds or balconies and the tube is cardboard and will slowly decompose into the garden.

Twenty-four members and one child were busy in the garden on Sunday. We harvested a few asparagus spears, Cape gooseberries, plenty of silverbeet, Russian and curly kale, radicchio, coriander, lettuce (Amish deer tongue, cos, freckles bunte, mibuna, land cress, curly endive, rhubarb, sorrel, dill, and parsley. We sowed bush beans, climbing beans, cucumbers, carrots and radishes.

Our potato crop is flowering and looking good for a bumper harvest later next month (photo below). Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) belong to theNightshade Family: Solanaceae.

Other items:

1. Our St Helen’s Community garden is featured in the City of Sydney News following the visit by photographers a couple of weeks ago. Thanks to all who participated. Other community gardens in the city are also featured and it is good to hear what they are doing. The publicity can only help spread the support for community gardening.

Go to https://news.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/articles/sydney-green-thumbs-show-us-6-diverse-community-gardens

2. We have received from Jenny (Community Garden and Volunteer Coordinator) an email asking gardeners and anyone else to “Have Your Say on Community Gardens in the City of Sydney”. Please do fill in the online survey which is open until Monday 9 November

https://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/policy-planning-changes/community-gardens-policy-review

or register for an online workshop on Wednesday 4th or Thursday 5th November.

11 October

Twenty-four members and one child were busy in the garden on Sunday. We harvested a few asparagus spears, Cape gooseberries, plenty of silverbeet, Russian and curly kale, radicchio, radish, coriander, lettuce (Amish deer tongue, cos, freckles bunte, rouge d’hiver), mibuna, land cress, curly endive, rhubarb, sorrel, dill, papaya and parsley.

We sowed sweet corn (Zea Mays, originally a tropical grass from Mexico) cultivar ‘Max’; okra (Abelmoschus esculentus) ‘Red’ and ‘Mammoth Spineless’ from the Mallow Family Malvaceae and from the same family rosella (Hibiscus sabdariffa). We also sowed cucumbers (Cucumis sativus) ‘Muncher’ and ‘Spacemaster’ and seedlings of ‘Lebanese’. Thanks to Frank we have an excellent bamboo frame for the cucumbers.

We sowed saved sunflower seeds in several beds.

We planted seedlings of tomatoes and eggplants members had grown, chillies (Capsicum annuum) ‘Habanero’ and ‘Jalapeno Fire Eater’, sweet fennel (Foeniculum vulgare), French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus) for your bouquet garni, sweet basil (Ocimum basilicum) for you pesto, Greek perennial basil and Thai basil.

All plants in the Amaranthaceae family contain varying amounts of oxalic acids. Silverbeet (Beta vulgaris), beetroot and English spinach belong to that family. We grew four cultivars of silverbeet, three belonging to the Flavescens Group (‘Fordhook Giant’, ‘White Silver’, ‘Deep Green’) and one from the Cicla Group (‘Perpetual’).

Other plants that we grow containing oxalic acid are sorrel (Rumex scutatus) and rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum) both from the Buckwheat Family Polygonaceae. In high concentrations, such as rhubarb leaves, oxalic acid is poisonous but in small amounts it is important for the body. Cooking reduces the oxalic acid content.

The asparagus (Asparagus officinalis, Lily family Asparagaceae) crowns keep sending up their spears. Lemon verbena (Aloysia triphylla, Family Verbenaceae) is in the background.

A kind neighbour and supporter of the garden donated three bags of horse manure from her farm. Michael will compost before we use it.

4 October

Twenty-one members worked in the garden on Sunday. We harvested a few asparagus spears, Cape gooseberries, plenty of silverbeet, kale, radicchio, radish, coriander, lettuce (Amish deer tongue, cos, freckles bunte, rouge d’hiver), miner’s lettuce, rocket, mibuna, curly endive, radish, rhubarb sorrel, dill and parsley and the last of the sugar snap peas.

We planted ‘Tommy toe’, ‘Yellow pear’ and ‘Scorpio’ tomato seedlings along with cucumbers and sweet basil. We planted ginger rhizomes and sowed Greek climbing beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) and ‘yard long’ snake beans (Vigna unguiculata) and sunflower seeds we had saved from last year.

The Nightshade family Solanaceae often has the descriptor “deadly” before it because of the poisonous perennial Belladonna belonging to that family. We grow several members belonging to this family: tomatoes, potatoes, chillies, eggplants, Cape gooseberry, pepino and tamarillo. Though they are not as notorious or as deadly as Belladonna do not eat their leaves or flowers.

The potato flowers below have similar characteristic to other flowers in the nightshade family.

Thanks to those members who came last Tuesday for the Council photo shoot. They also interviewed some members. They were impressed with the garden, of course!

27 September

Twenty-five members worked in the garden on Sunday. At our meeting we welcomed four new members: Margaret, Eva, Christine and Tim. Jock reported that the City is conducting a five year review of the Community Gardens Policy and will be asking us to participate via online survey and workshops. The Council is also going to photograph our garden for publicity this Tuesday, 29th, at 11:30. Please come if possible.

We harvested what was left of the garlic along with plenty of silverbeet and the last few cauliflowers, kale, radicchio, radish, coriander, lettuce, rocket, curly endive, sorrel, dill and parsley. There were a few sugar snap peas as they are ending.

We planted ‘Tommy toe’ and ‘Cherry red’ tomato seedlings along with Italian basil that members had grown at home.

Our self-sown Cape gooseberry (Physalis peruviana) also known as ‘Peruvian Groundcherry’ is producing well. This South American bush produces delicious yellow fruit which are best when the husk is brown and ready to drop to the ground. It belongs to the Nightshade family Solanaceae.

Sydney City Farm is having online composting and worm farming workshops on 17th and 31st of this month (October). To enrol go to https://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/community-gardens/sydney-city-farm

20 September

Despite the welcome rain on Sunday 12 brave souls attended the Spring Equinox morning tea. Delicious home made cakes decorated with edible flowers from the garden were enjoyed by all under the shelter of the veranda. A few ventured out in the rain to harvest asparagus (3), silverbeet, kale and parsley and there is plenty more to pick during the week.

Those intrepid gardeners planted French marigolds ‘Safari Queen’ (Tagetes patula), alyssum ‘Sugar Crystals’ (Lobularia maritime), chilli ‘African Bird’s Eye’ (Capsicum frutescens – 100,000-200,000 Scovilles), eggplant ‘Listada Di Gandia’ (Solanum melongena), two globe artichokes ‘Green Globe’ (Cynara scolymus). Rather surprisingly this thistle belongs to the sunflower family Asteraceae. Both the chilli and the eggplant belong to the nightshade family Solanaceae.

Dedicated gardeners “Just Working in the Rain” (apologies to singer Johnnie Ray)

During the week we were attacked by the “Yarn Bombers” – gorilla knitters that have crocheted colourful ladybirds to decorate our bean trellis (photo below).

13 September

At our meeting today the 21 members present decided to celebrate the spring equinox next Sunday 20th in a COVID safe way (the actual equinox is on Tuesday 22nd). Bring a small plate to share for morning tea at 10am.

A photo of the harvest and members below:

The bumper harvest continued: broccoli, silverbeet, kale (cavolo nero, curly, Russian), lettuce, miner’s lettuce, mizuna, mibuna, ruby streaks, rocket, land cress, cauliflower, sugar snap peas, chicory, radicchio ‘Cicoria Rossa’, curly endive, coriander, dill, French sorrel, parsley and cape gooseberry.

We planted silverbeet seedlings and Mexican tarragon (Tagetes lucida).

Our first asparagus are up!

6 September

Eighteen members were again busy in the garden on Sunday.

We dug up one bed of garlic that had been decimated by the aphids. The green garlic bulbs are still great for the kitchen. There is another bed that should make it to maturity.

The bumper harvest of broccoli ‘Green Magic’ continued along with silverbeet, kale (cavolo nero, curly, Russian), turnip tops Cima di Rapa, four varieties of lettuce (‘Amish deer tongue’, green cos, ‘Freckles Bunte’, ‘Lollo Rosso’), miner’s lettuce, six varieties of mustard (mizuna, mibuna, ruby streaks, golden streaks, Chinese mustard cabbage, mustard spinach), rocket, land cress, one cauliflower, the last of the snow peas, chicory, radicchio ‘Cicoria Rossa’, curly endive, rhubarb, coriander, dill, French sorrel, plenty of parsley and the last cumquats.

We planted a blueberry ‘Sunshine Blue’ (Vaccinum spp., Family Ericaceae) seedling in the Secret Garden. We also planted seedlings of lettuce (‘Amish Deer Tongue’ and ‘Cos Romaine’), silverbeet ‘Fordhook Giant’.

We sowed coriander ‘Slowbolt’ and more tomatoes and eggplants (‘Listada di Gandia’, ‘Rosa Bianca’, ‘Violetta di Firenze’) t o take home to grow to seedling size before returning them to plant out in the garden.

Interesting activity goes on in the garden soil 24/7. One morning last week “Dog vomit fungus” sometimes known as “slime mold” appeared around a lettuce rouge. The next day it does look like dog vomit. It is actually not classified as a fungus and scientist don’t know what it is.

According to Chris Reid of the University of Sydney it is classified as a protest. This is a group for “everything we don’t really understand.” (from https://dengarden.com/gardening/What-Is-the-Orange-Fungus-Growing-in-My-Mulch).

Beware! Slime mold thinks… and moves! And it does it without a brain. It is a harmless blob but…??

Several of our members are involved in the Council’s trial food scraps recycling program. The good news is that it is to be expanded this month to 700 more homes and 150 more apartment buildings. It is a long overdue initiative to reduce landfill, create compost and deliver renewable energy. If you are interested in participating contact the council.

30 August

Eighteen members were busy in the garden on Sunday. Thanks to all who helped clean up the overgrown paths in the Secret Garden.

The bumper harvest of broccoli ‘Green Magic’ continued along with silverbeet, kale (cavolo nero, curly, Russian), turnip tops Cima di Rapa, four varieties of lettuce (‘Amish deer tongue’, green cos, ‘Freckles Bunte’, ‘Lollo Rosso’), miner’s lettuce, six varieties of mustard (mizuna, mibuna, ruby streaks, golden streaks, Chinese mustard cabbage, mustard spinach), rocket, land cress, the last of the snow peas, chicory, radicchio ‘Cicoria Rossa’, curly endive, rhubarb, coriander, dill and plenty of parsley and one papaya.

We sowed more radish and relocated self-sown cosmos and calendulas. Eight members sowed tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum Nightshade Family: Solanaceae) in pots to take home and bring back in a few weeks. The cultivars were ‘Cherry Tommy Toe’, ‘Yellow Pear’ and ‘Scorpio’ seeds all from Green Harvest.

We will be sowing eggplants and more tomatoes next week for anyone who wants to nurse them at home until they are large enough to plant out in the garden. We continued the battle with aphids on the garlic and scale on the trees.

Our finger lime is in full flower. Let’s hope the bees do their thing and then we will net it and hope to harvest a crop in April next year. We gave it some natural potash (potassium sulphate). Potassium (K) is an essential element for fruiting.

Finger lime flowers Aug20

Last week a group of about 10 employees from the Polyglot Group, a business with headquarters in Glebe, visited the garden. Michael and Jock showed them around and they were very interested in what we had achieved and showed their enthusiastic support for the garden.

23 August

Fifteen members and one child were busy in the garden on Sunday. We welcomed a new member, Gil to the garden. Another large harvest of broccoli ‘Green Magic’, kale (cavolo nero, curly, Russian), turnip tops Cima di Rapa, four varieties of lettuce (‘Amish deer tongue’, green cos, ‘Freckles Bunte’, ‘Lollo Rosso’), miner’s lettuce, six varieties of mustard (mizuna, mibuna, ruby streaks, golden streaks, Chinese mustard cabbage, mustard spinach), rocket, land cress, silverbeet (green and red), a few snow peas, chicory, radicchio ‘Cicoria Rossa’, curly endive, radishes, rhubarb, coriander, dill and plenty of parsley.

We sowed radish, coriander, dill, mizuna and rocket seeds along with potato tubers of ‘Dutch cream’, ‘Ruby Lou’ and ‘King Edward’. We planted seedlings of thyme, lemon thyme, marjoram, oregano and sage.

Last week we treated all our citrus, except the finger lime, with both iron chelate and Epsom salts because they were showing signs of Mg and Fe deficiency.

Our lemon leaves with distinct dark green veins show iron deficiency:

Lemon leaf

Leaves from our kafir lime and cumquat trees show magnesium deficiency:

Strangely our Tahitian lime tree seems to be OK. Such is the way with gardening. Unfortunately aphids attached our garlic and it may not survive despite our organic treatment. There just aren’t enough ladybirds around at this time of year to feast on them.

16 August

A new variety of mustard we sowed this year is Mibuna (Brassica rapa). It is a flat leafed Japanese green with a light mustard flavour that can be added to your salads. It is growing amongst the curly endive (Cichorium endivia var. crispum, Daisy Family Asteraceae) in the photo below. This endive is also known in France as ‘Frisée’ and Italy as ‘Pancalieri costa bianca’ and adds a nice bitter flavour to your salads.

Mibune Aug20

There is also some self-sown miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata, Family Montiaceae) to add to your salads. It is growing amongst the parsley forest in beds 10 and 13. Its crunchy fan-shaped fleshy leaves in the photo below will prevent scurvy!

Miner's lettuce

Twenty members and one child worked in the garden on Sunday. There was another bumper harvest of broccoli ‘Green Magic’, kale (cavolo nero, curly, Russian), turnip tops Cima di Rapa, four varieties of lettuce (‘Amish deer tongue’, green cos, ‘Freckles Bunte’, ‘Lollo Rosso’), six varieties of mustard (mizuna, mibuna, ruby streaks, golden streaks, Chinese mustard cabbage, mustard spinach), rocket, land cress, silverbeet, the last of the snow peas and sugar snap peas, chicory, curly endive, radishes, the last of the cumquats, coriander, dill and plenty of parsley but only two beetroot.

We had some delicious Greek cakes after our meeting thanks to John.

A group has contacted us about seed saving and selling them online. I told them what seeds we save for ourselves or to give away but that it was too complicated to get involved in online sales. It is a great initiative and we wish them well. For more info go to: https://www.localseeds.com.au

Did you know that 2020 is the International Year of Plant Health?

9 August

Fifteen members attended on Sunday and we continued reaping a good harvest. During the week Adrian joined the garden. He works with the Physical Disability Council of N.S.W. office in St Helen’s and has qualifications in horticulture. He will help maintain the garden in his breaks during the week.

Harvest 9Aug

We picked our first cauliflower and more broccoli ‘Green Magic’, kale (cavolo nero, curly, Russian), turnip tops Cima di Rapa, four varieties of lettuce (‘Amish deer tongue’, green cos, ‘Freckles Bunte’, ‘Lollo Rosso’), five varieties of mustard (mizuna, ruby streaks, golden streaks, Chinese mustard cabbage, mustard spinach), rocket, land cress, silverbeet, snow peas, sugar snap peas, chicory, curly endive, rhubarb, cumquats, coriander, dill and plenty of parsley.

We Sowed Nicola and Sebago potatoes and will sow more varieties in the coming weeks.

At our meeting we went through the list of possible plantings for Spring. There is still time to send in suggestions and favourite cultivars that would suit Sydney’s climate..

26 July & 2 August

At our AGM on Sunday Michael and Jock were reappointed as Co-ordinators and Eileen was reappointed as Treasurer/Secretary. The minutes of the meeting will be circulated later.

Twenty-one members attended on Sunday and we picked aother good harvest of broccoli ‘Green Magic’, kale (cavolo nero, curly, Russian), turnip tops Cima di Rapa, four varieties of lettuce (‘Amish deer tongue’, green cos, ‘Freckles Bunte’, ‘Lollo Rosso’), five varieties of mustard (mizuna, ruby streaks, golden streaks, Chinese mustard cabbage, mustard spinach), rocket, land cress, silverbeet, baby carrots, snow peas, sugar snap peas, radish, chicory, cumquats, green papaya, one dragon fruit, coriander, dill and plenty of parsley and plenty of turmeric, but unfortunately only one fennel bulb and one small sweet potato.

The warming climate due to our release of CO2 is having an effect at the local level. Our garden is an example by providing an unusual sight in Sydney with out-of-season sunflowers flowering at the same time as peas. We left some self-sown sunflowers to grow in winter and they have flowered.

Winter sunflowers July 1

The netting of some beds has proved to be successful in keeping out bugs and reducing over-picking. The rainbow chard and lettuce in the photo below are a good example:

Chard & lettuce 2Aug

Mutsumi, a member of our garden for some years, has returned to Japan along with her three children and is setting up a community garden where she lives having been inspired by her participation in St Helen’s community garden.

IMG_0209

At the end of gardening on Sunday Kerri found a baby ringtail possum in distress on the ground outside the library. WIRES came to the rescue. Thanks Kerri.

 

Cumquats 2Aug

We picked the last of the dragon fruit for the season along with more cumquats and a lone blackberry (way out of season).

There is a fascinating talk on the ABC radio program “Conversation” about fungi, see:

https://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/conversations/merlin-sheldrake/12467466

19 July

Reminder. The Annual General Meeting will be held this coming Sunday at 10:30am 26 July in the garden. Nominations will be called for the two positions of co-ordinator, secretary and treasurer. A draft agenda is circulated with this newsletter.

At our meeting on Sunday we welcomed a new member, Sarah. We also heard from a solicitor that they have clients who wish to leave a legacy in their wills to St Helen’s community garden. This is further recognition of the important role the community garden plays in bringing enjoyment and involvement to both members and visitors.

We picked fruit and leaves from four of our trees belonging to the Rue Family (Rutaceae): some Nagami cumquats (Fortunella margarita), Tahitian limes (Citrus latifolia), Makrut (Kaffir) lime leaves (Citrus hystrix), curry tree leaves (Murraya koenigii,) and from the Caricaceae Family green papayas (Carica papaya).

We had fun digging up the yacon tubers now that the plants had died back. We also picked a good harvest of broccoli ‘Green Magic’, kale (cavolo nero, curly, Russian), turnip tops Cima di Rapa, four varieties of lettuce (‘Amish deer tongue’, green cos, ‘Freckles Bunte’, ‘Lollo Rosso’), five varieties of mustard (mizuna, ruby streaks, golden streaks, Chinese mustard cabbage, mustard spinach), rocket, land cress, silverbeet, baby carrots, snow peas, sugar snap peas, radish, chicory, coriander, dill and plenty of parsley. We sowed some calendulas (Calendula officinalis, Daisy Family: Asteraceae) for some winter colour with edible flowers.

Harvest 19July 1

Plant of the week is yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius) also known as Peruvian ground apple. The yacon belongs to the Daisy Family: Asteraceae [Compositae]. They are native to the Americas like their close relatives, sunflowers and Jerusalem artichokes. We dug them up on Sunday and there were enough tubers to share. The photo below shows the edible brown tubers and the reddish rhizomes which can be replanted or stored for next year’s crop. Once peeled the crisp, sweet tubers can be eaten raw in green or potato salads or steamed, baked or juiced. Yacon tubers, like their Jerusalem artichoke cousins, store carbohydrates in the form of inulin, a type of fructose, which can be a helpful addition to the diet of diabetics.

Yacon 19July 1

To clarify terms: A rhizome is a swollen length of underground stem that grows horizontally and forms roots on its underside and new stems sprout from the top. Examples are ginger, galangal and turmeric. A tuber is a storage organ formed from a root or stem. This organ develops eyes or buds all over its surface. Examples are Jerusalem artichokes, potatoes and sweet potatoes. A bulb is formed from the plant stem and leaves e.g. garlic.

Thanks to Eileen who raised some funds for the garden by selling our surplus turmeric to the local greengrocer.

5 & 12 July

The past two Sundays saw 17 and 18 (+1) members working in the garden observing as safe distance from each other to keep the virus at bay.

Winter harvest is in full swing. We picked broccoli ‘Green Magic’, kale (cavolo nero, curly, Russian), turnip tops Cima di Rapa, four varieties of lettuce (‘Amish deer tongue’, green cos, ‘Freckles Bunte’, ‘Lollo Rosso’), five varieties of mustard (mizuna, ruby streaks, golden streaks, mustard cabbage, mustard spinach), rocket, land cress, silverbeet, baby carrots, snow peas, radish, chicory, coriander, dill and plenty of parsley.   We pulled some green garlic to thin the crop.

Harvest 2

We sowed some more coriander and transplanted crowded endive, turnip tops and violas.

Thanks to Wendy, Wendy and Louise for cleaning up the mess in the shed with enthusiasm.

No further details regarding Glebe Public school’s request for help in establishing a garden.

The Annual General Meeting will be held at 10:30am on Sunday 26 July in the garden. Everyone is encouraged to nominate for the two positions of co-ordinator, secretary and treasurer. An agenda will be circulated prior to the meeting.