8 September

We had another large harvest of rocket, mizuna, komatsuna, mustard (ruby streaks, golden streaks), land cress, silverbeet, lettuce (cos, Amish deer tongue, freckles bunte), curly endive, coriander, French sorrel, kale (Russian, curly, cavolo nero), rhubarb, some peas, a few broad beans, herbs (parsley, mint, chives, thyme, sage etc.) and two parsnips. Photo of Judith with a three fingered parsnip:

Parsnip 8Sept19

We planted ‘Sydney’ rhubarb crowns in the Secret Garden, ‘Hawaiian’ sweet potato in the Kitchen Garden and the first sweet basil seedlings. We built climbing frame for beans and sowed climbing beans ‘Purple King’ and bush beans ‘Brown Beauty’ and ‘Hawkesbury Wonder’.

Two members sowed tomatoes ‘Tommy Toe’ and ‘Yellow Currant’ in pots for taking home to grow into seedlings for our garden. This Sunday there will be another opportunity to pot seeds.

During the week Judith led a group of thirteen members of the National Parks Association through our garden. They were impressed with the variety of plants and particularly interested in our worm farms.

It’s time to prevent scurvy! Start adding miner’s lettuce to your salads or cook like spinach. We have some growing at the moment as a first time experiment (photo below). It grows best in shady, damp soil. Miner’s lettuce (Claytonia perfoliata, Family: Montiaceae) is a fleshy, winter annual native to the west coast of North America. Also known as Winter Purslane it is not related to lettuce. It gets its name from miner’s eating it during the 1840s California gold rush to prevent scurvy.

Miner's lettuce 3Sept19

Daniel Harris, Community Garden and Volunteer Coordinator for the City of Sydney, visited the garden on Sunday. The following issues were discussed:

  1. Native Bee Workshop Saturday 9 November 9-12am. The City has reserve 3 spots for St Helen’s community gardeners and those places are free of charge OR you can book a place for $10/$7.50 on https://whatson.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/events/native-beekeeping-workshop

Places are limited.

  1. Kitchen waste and our compost overload. We explained that we are overwhelmed with people wanting to bring their kitchen waste to the garden for us (Michael) to compost. Everyone is trying to reduce waste to landfill and there is no Council alternative. Daniel said it was an issue experienced by all the community gardens and that he is “working on organising a meeting with our waste strategy team on how we can meet the demands of compost”. Meanwhile we will have to close our “public” compost bin.
  2. Expanding the Secret Garden. Daniel approved in principal the expansion, at our expense, with three new corrugated colourbond raised beds buts he wants more details and it may require a community notification letter.
  3. Can’t have champagne and canapés if you haven’t paid your $25 for 2019-2020!! The Lord Mayor is hosting a cocktail reception to thank City of Sydney Volunteers on Wednesday, 27 November 2019 in Sydney Town Hall. They need a list of our active members along with their emails so that they can send out invitations. We will do that.

SAVE THE DATE: The visit by the children from the Library is now Tuesday, 22 Oct at 11:15. Theresa will lead the activities but welcomes help from other members.

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1 September

We had another large harvest of rocket, mizuna, komatsuna, mustard (ruby streaks, golden streaks), land cress, silverbeet, radish, lettuce (cos, Amish deer tongue, freckles bunte), curly endive, coriander, French sorrel, kale (Russian, curly, cavolo nero), rhubarb, some peas, some broccoli, a few broad beans, three papayas, one cauliflower, the last of the cumquats and herbs (parsley, mint, chives, thyme, sage etc.).

Following our Sunday meetings and taking into account suggestions we now have a list of plants we propose to grow this spring (attached with this email). We will sow and plant in the coming months.

Our finger lime (Microcitrus australasica, Rue Family Rutaceae) is covered in flowers and bees are busy pollinating so we can expect some fruit next autumn (photo below). Once the fruit sets we will cover the tree with netting to discourage marauding fingers.

Finger lime flowers 1Sept19

WARNING. It is time to remind members that while soil and compost contain many good microbes, bacteria and fungi there are also ones that can affect your health. It is recommended that you wear dust facemask and gloves when handling compost, soil or potting mix. This is particularly important if you suffer from asthma or if you have cuts or scrapes on your hands that could get a serious infection. We have facemasks and gloves in the shed for use but it would be more hygienic if you brought your own.

25 August 2019

Eighteen members and three children worked in the garden on Sunday. We picked another cauliflower and the first broad beans. There was a large harvest of rocket, mizuna, komatsuna, mustard (ruby streaks, golden streaks), land cress, silverbeet, radish, lettuce (cos, Amish deer tongue, freckles bunte), curly endive, coriander, French sorrel, kale (Russian, curly, cavolo nero), some peas, some broccoli, rhubarb and herbs (parsley, mint, chives, thyme, sage etc.).

We have three varieties of chicory in our garden ready for picking. Their nutritious leaves can be used in winter salads or cooked. Red varieties keep their colour when cooked. Blanch the leaves to reduce bitterness. Their characteristic blue flowers are also edible. They, like many plants in our garden, belong to the Daisy Family (Asteraceae). The genus Cichorium is divided into two species each with their own cultivars.

Chicory endive 28Aug19

  1. We have endivia var. crispum ‘Pancalieri costa bianca’ (French frisée) also known as curly endive growing in several beds and ready for picking now for salads (photo above).

2. We have the common chicory also known as sword leaf intybus self-sown in beds 9 and 10 (photo above left). We also have a self-sown cultivar ‘Red Dandelion’ (photo above right).

18 August

A big crowd of 27 members and three children worked in the garden on Sunday. We welcomed two new members: Simon and his young son Xanter, and Debbie.

We had another large harvest of rocket, mizuna, komatsuna, mustard (ruby streaks, golden streaks), land cress, silverbeet, radish, lettuce (cos, Amish deer tongue, freckles bunte), curly endive, coriander, French sorrel, kale (Russian, curly, cavolo nero), some peas, some broccoli, a few beetroot, the last of the Chinese cabbage and herbs (parsley, mint, chives, thyme, sage etc.). We distributed a lot of compost as mulch and sowed some more coriander.

More cumquats were picked for all to share and we dug up more galangal Alpinia officenarum (photo left) and ginger Zingeber officinale (photo right). Both belong to the Ginger Family Zingiberaceae. The ginger rhizomes were deeper in the ground and we had missed it in our first harvest.

Ginger & galangal 18Aug19 cropped

We also plucked two quite edible parsnips (Pastinaca sativa) out of the ground. It is the first time we have tried to grow these cool-climate roots. They belong to the Apiaceae Family, the same as parsley, carrots etc. But don’t eat the leaves of parsnips as they have a toxic sap unlike their cousins parsley and carrots.

Tim installed our new native bee motel on the fence in the Secret Garden. Hopefully it will encourage more beneficial insects to live in our garden and pollinate for us.

At our meeting we had general agreement on the seeds we would buy for spring sowing. Thanks to Eliska and Tom we enjoyed home made scones and home made cumquat jam for morning tea, but without the tea.

11 August

A bitterly cold wind blowing on Sunday did not deter 16 members and 4 children working in the garden. We continued the big harvest of greens and brassicas, a few peas, coriander and silverbeet. We installed the first of two worm towers in the sustainable bed and added compost to beds. We sowed some saved parsley seeds and put signs “PLEASE LEAVE FOR SEEDS” beside some flowering rocket and mizuna plants. The photo below shows our broad beans (Vicia faba) sometimes known as fava beans starting to set pods. Being in the Legume Family (Fabaceae) they enrich the soil by fixing nitrogen in their root nodules.

Broad beans 11Aug19

At our meeting we went through the seed list for spring. We had suggestions for red flesh sweet potato, pea eggplant and two Digger’s small tomatoes “Tommy Toe” and “Broad Ripple Yellow Currant”. We will finalise the list next week. At the end of the meeting we enjoyed delicious cumquat tartlets made by Sandra.

During the week we received an email from Sophie saying she has ordered our native bee hive but that it will be installed after our workshop will be in November.

We also received more emails from members of the public wanting to bring their kitchen waste to our compost bins. We had to say no as we are overwhelmed with green waste for composting and we asked them to write to Council requesting a composting service.

 

4 August

Last week I forgot to welcome Maureen as a new member of our garden. This week Mutsumi re-joined along with her three young children (Mika, Mia and Jun-Talia. We welcomed her and her family back.

After selling all of Steve’s chutneys and sauces we raised $340 for the garden. Thanks again to Steve who would welcome assistance next time. Natasha has already volunteered.

On Sunday 23 members and three children worked in the garden. We again picked mustards, lettuces, rocket, mizuna, silverbeet, cumquats, some carrots, peas, rhubarb, coriander and herbs. The Nagami Cumquats (Fortunella margarita) with the sweet skin were very popular. It is not in the Citrus genus as do our lemon and lime trees but it does belong in the same Rue family (Rutaceae).

Beth from the Library has asked us to show the children from the Library’s “Rhyme Time” group around the garden on Tuesday 10 September 11:15-11:45. Theresa has offered to coordinate the visit with activities for the children. If you can help let Theresa know or just turn up on the day.

We held our AGM and the minutes and reports will be circulated. We decided to work with Council to establish a public composting station in or near the garden and to add three garden round beds to the Secret Garden. We will work to establish a native garden. Members re-elected Michael and Jock as Co-coordinators, Danielle as Secretary and we have a new Treasurer: Eileen. We thanked Jan for her work as Treasurer over the past few years.

Over the next two Sundays we will put together a list of seeds to buy for spring. We like growing new/unusual plants but we need to know their habit and soil and climate requirements to find the right spot for them in the garden.

 

28 July

Our Annual General Meeting will be held next Sunday 4th August in the garden at 10:30am. All positions are open for nomination: Co-ordinators (TWO), Secretary, Treasurer. If you have any items for the agenda please let one of us know. The draft agenda is circulated with this newsletter.

On Sunday we picked our first two cauliflowers (Brassica oleracea). Back in March we sowed a heirloom variety called ‘Green Macerata’ which has bright lime green coloured flowerettes, see photo below. We tied the leaves over the cauliflower head to prevent discolouration, bolting to seed and theft!

Harvest 28July cauliflowers

Twenty members and one child also picked a wide variety of greens (lettuces and mustards), some broccoli, cabbage leaves, silverbeet, kale, coriander, carrots, cumquats and three papayas. We sowed 6 varieties of potatoes: ‘Banana’, ‘Royal Blue’, ‘Dutch Cream’, ‘Nicola’, ‘Sebago’ and ‘King Edward’.

It’s time to renew our membership contribution of $25 for the new financial year (July 2019 to June 2020). Please deposit direct to our Commonwealth Bank (account number in email) using your name as our reference OR give cash/cheque/bitcoins to Jan/Michael/Jock. If you have joined since 1st January this year then you don’t have to pay.