14 April

On Sunday 17 members and one child were busy watering and transplanting crowded seedlings. We sowed more silverbeet and coriander. We picked some radishes, chicory and greens.

At our meeting we welcomed new members Marianne, Antoine and young Charles to the garden.

Theresa has been contacted by Beth from the Library asking if they could bring children that come to the Library Rhyme Time on a tour of the garden for Nature Week on Tuesday, 30 April. We all agreed and Theresa will organise the tour and activities for the children. Join her if you can.

Glen from Kil.n.it ceramics group has offered to run a workshop one Sunday where we make more sentinels to join the lone one on our stakes.

We will meet as usual this coming Easter Sunday. Some of us will be away but the garden still needs watering etc.

Recently replaced washers in both taps but now the electric pump at the rainwater tank has failed. We have reported that to Council.

See my previous email if you want to attend two Council workshops.

  1. Seed saving Sat 25 May, 10-12noon.

2. Tool maintenance. Sat 27 July, 10-12noon.

There are a limited number of free places for community gardeners but they want a response by the end of this week for the seed saving workshop.

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24 & 31 March 7 April

In the last three weeks we have harvested radishes, a few eggplants, rhubarb, rocket, mizuna, red dandelion, lime basil, sorrel, dill, Komatsuna leaves and turnip tops. We trimmed the curry tree to remove the seeds to stop it self-sowing as this tree is an environmental weed.

24th March we sowed dill ‘Bouquet’, carrots (‘Baby’, ‘Western Red’), broccoli ‘Green Magic’, Mustard cabbage, kale (‘Tuscan Black’, ‘Blue Scotch’, ‘Red Russian’), mustard ‘Golden Streaks’, turnips ‘Japanese’, turnip tops, coriander ‘Slow Bolt’, radish ‘Red Round’, leeks ‘Varna’.

31st March we sowed broad beans (‘Crimson Flowered’, ‘Aquadulce’, ‘Chocolate Flowered’), lettuce (‘Australian yellow leaf’, ‘Rouge d’Hiver’, ‘Forellenschluss’), coriander ‘Slow Bolt’, turnips ‘White Mini’, parsnip ‘Hollow Crown’, carrots ‘Baby’, beetroot ‘Chioggia’.

7th April we transplanted crowded Komatsuna (Japanese spinach mustard), rocket, parsley, Russian kale and silverbeet.

Our lettuces have not germinated and will be replanted. Lettuce germinates when the soil temperature is less than 26 degrees. It must be covered with less than 5mm of fine soil as the seeds need light to germinate and must be kept moist. Our onion ‘Green Stem Welsh’ also failed to germinate. This bunching onions variety may do better in it own pot as it is slow to germinate and gets overlooked in bed and accidently dug up or washed away.

At our meeting we welcomed a new member Janice to the garden.

The plant of the week is our Rosella ‘Red Drops’ (Hibiscus sabdariffa) which is flowering at the moment in the Kitchen Garden. It is a native shrub belonging to the Mallow Family: Malvaceae. Its young leaves can be eaten but it is the calyx at the base of the flower that is high in vitamin C and used in teas, cordial and jams. The seeds can be dried and ground for flour. It is a native bush tucker plant.

Rosella flowering 7Apr19

During the week Grill’d café in Broadway notified us that we came second in the competition and they will be sending us a cheque for $100.

 

10 & 17 March

The rain washed out Sunday with 110 mm (over 4 inches) falling on Saturday and Sunday. The rain was welcomed though some seeds and seedlings were washed out by the shear force of some downpours. The previous Sunday we sowed in the main garden seeds of rocket ‘Apollo’, radish ‘Purple Plum’, Japanese mustard spinach ‘Komatsuna Tokisan’, lettuce ‘Amish deer tongue’, broccoli ‘Purple Sprouting’, mizuna, silverbeet ‘Fordhook giant’, silverbeet ‘Perpetual’, coriander ‘Slow Bolt’. In the Secret Garden we planted garlic cloves ‘Italian Glenlarge’ and ‘Italian Pink’ and seeds of cauliflower, kale ‘Tuscan Black’, turnip tops, rocket, dill ‘Bouquet’ and radish ‘Sparkler’. We harvested rocket, mizuna, red dandelion, a few eggplant and some okra.

This week following the rain the garden is brightened up by the flowering Jerusalem artichokes (Helianthus tuberosus) also known in USA as sunchoke and in France as topinabour (photo). It is a close relative of sunflowers and both belong in the Daisy Family Asteraceae [Compositae]. Some gardeners remove flower buds as they believe it will enhance tuber development.

J. artichoke flowers March19

We owe a big thanks to Louise who has painted a fantastic new sign for the garden. We will install it as soon as we get posts etc.

This is the last few days to buy a hamburger Grill’d café in Broadway to boost our coffers. We have one of the three jars this month for grants to community groups. Just put your token in our jar. Even if we come 3rd we will get $100; but $200 if we come first.

3 March

On Sunday 17 members and one child worked in the garden. We sowed perpetual silverbeet in the trial bed and onion ‘Green Stem Welsh’, rocket and lettuce ‘Freckles Bunte’ in bed 11. Our harvest was mostly basil, 6 eggplants along with some rocket, mizuna, land cress, chicory and a few okra. As well as basil, parsley and mint there are plenty of other herbs in the garden to pick: French tarragon, thyme, pizza thyme, lemon thyme, sage, chives, mint etc.

At our meeting we welcomed Daniel, Community Garden Coordinator, and Sophie, Urban Ecology Coordinator. We had invited them to come to assist us in getting a native bee hive. After Jock explained our long journey in trying to get a native bee hive they assured us it was near its end. They explained Council policy and gave us a timetable for progress this year: late winter native bee training session, early spring community consultation followed by installation of a native bee hive. They answered questions and we discussed composting and how the Council might work with us to establish a ‘depot’ in our garden for kitchen waste from the public as we are currently overwhelmed by the supply. It was good to meet like this and get to know the Council staff responsible.

During the day Robert who is studying horticulture at TAFE has a project on pests in citrus trees, particularly gall wasps. We have 5 citrus trees in pots and he found the characteristic gall wasp swelling on some branches of our lime tree. The wasp is only 3mm in size and is native to northern NSW and Queensland but has spread south with the warming climate. Unfortunately the two parasitic wasps that are its natural predators haven’t followed fast enough and it has become a big problem in lemon trees in Melbourne. The larvae grow in the stems and by late summer a large gall develops on the branch (photo). The only solution is to cut off the branch and destroy by burning or bagging.

Gall wasp in lime tree Mar19

Robert will be back over the next few weeks to monitor the problem.

If you are feeling like a hamburger this month go to Grill’d café in Broadway. We have one of the three jars this month for grants to community groups. Just put your token in our jar. Even if we come 3rd we will get $100, $200 if we come first.

24 February

On Sunday twelve members continued to tidy up and prepare beds for sowing. We sowed mizuna, silverbeet, radish and cos lettuce. We welcomed Polly as a new member.This Sunday the Urban Ecology Coordinator for the Council will come a speak to us on the Council’s policy for native bee hives.(Last week I forgot to thank Wendy for bringing a delicious tart she had made to last week’s meeting.)

At the moment there are pretty bright blue flowers in our herb bed (photo). It is common or wild chicory (Cichorium intybus) also known as sword leaf because of the leaf’s shape.

Chicory flowers Feb19

The flower is edible and the leaves are too but they need to be blanched to reduce bitterness. Its roots are used as a coffee substitute. Families who have a Mediterranean cooking culture are picking leaves for their dishes.

Chicory, like many plants in our garden, belongs to the Daisy Family (Asteraceae). The common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale) is a closely related genus belonging to the same family.

The cultivars of the genus Cichorium that we grow in are less bitter. Their nutritious leaves can be used in winter salads or cooked. Red varieties keep their colour when cooked. Variety names for chicory are a bit confusing because they come in red (radicchio) and green (chicory) colours and both loose leaf and headed forms.

The genus is divided into two species each with their own cultivars.

  1. C. intybus Common chicory or sword leaf. Cultivars can be divided into:
  2. a) Heading (tight leaf) chicory: witlof or witloof, Belgian endive, some radicchio.
  3. b) Loose leaf chicory: some radicchio, ‘Red Dandelion’, Italian dandelion.
  4. C. endivia has two main cultivated varieties:
  5. a) Curly endive var. crispum (French frisée),
  6. b) Escarole, Batavian or broad-leaved endive var. latifolia.

We grow one from each species. Currently we have ‘Red Dandelion’ (syn. ‘Italico Rosso’, ‘Red-ribbed Catalogna’) with beautiful red stems ready for salads or cooking and we will plant curly endive when it cools down. Both will do better in winter and be less bitter.

 

 

17 February

Our plant of the week must be the vigorous vine growing up the side of St Helen’s (photo) finally producing its first fruit (photo).

It is Angled Luffa (Luffa acutangula, Family Cucurbitaceae or gourd/cucumber family) also known as Okra Vine, Okra Cee Gwa or vegetable gourd [Green Harvest advises not to grow with luffa sponge (Luffa aegyptiaca syn. L. cylindrica) as they can cross-pollinate]. It has taken 126 days (sown 14th Oct) to bear its first fruit. This is a normal wait for this vine to fruit. It grows well in Sydney’s humidity because, being a tropical plant, does not suffer fungal problems. More female flowers are setting fruit so we can hope for a big harvest (photo).

Angled luffa female

Evidently the flavour of the fruit is similar to zucchini but slightly sweeter. According to the Green Harvest seed packet the fruit should be picked young when 10cm long and “the shoots, young leaves and flower buds can also be steamed as vegetables and the seeds from mature fruit roasted with salt and eaten”. It is popular in Indian and Asian cooking. The first fruit we picked on Sunday was cut in half for two members to take home.

Nineteen members and two children worked in the garden on Sunday. Not much to harvest except basil and other herbs. We planted seedlings of:

Curled parsley, Garden thyme, Pizza thyme, Sage, Echinacea or purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea, Daisy Family Asteraceae), Lovage (Levisticum officinale, Parsley Family Apiaceae), Cape Gooseberry (Physalis peruviana, Nightshade Family Solanaceae), Betel Leaf (Piper sarmentosum, Family Piperaceae)

At our meeting we scheduled volunteers for the Council’s Seniors Week “Healthy Living-Healthy Mind” EXPO at StHelen’s this Wednesday 10am-1pm where we will show visitors around the garden. Our Worm Tower and Bee Motel now have notices of explanation and our herbs are all labelled for the event. We agreed to add cauliflower to our list of plants to grow this season. On Thursday a group of us showed Daniel Harris (Community Garden and Volunteer Coordinator) around the garden. He was very impressed with the garden and supportive of us getting a native bee hive. He has since contacted Sophie Golding to organise this and she will come and speak to members on a Sunday (soon) to be arranged.

10 February

Another hot week in the garden with a storm providing some relief with 22mm of rain. Twenty members and one child attended on Sunday. We picked plenty of basil and some pursline, rocket, red dandelion and a few lemon drop tomatoes. We started removing the tomatoes. A big thanks to all who spent the morning hoeing the weeds from our paths and generally tidying up. On Monday a garden admirer donated 4 bags of well composted horse manure which we can put to good use.

Plant of the week is purslane (Portulaca oleracea, Family Portulacaceae) sometimes, rather unkindly, known as pigweed. It has a worldwide distribution and is also native to Australia. It is a summer annual succulent with oval leaves and is in flower at the moment with tiny yellow flowers. It has self-sown throughout our garden and is doing well at the moment and ready for picking. It is considered a weed by some but an edible weed by us! Leaves and stems add a fresh lemony tang and crunch to salads. It will thicken soups, sauces and stir-fries and is high in magnesium and omega-3. Indigenous Australians use the seeds to make flour. It is commonly used in middle-eastern cuisine.

Purslane in flower Feb19

At our meeting:

  1. Michael has been involved with the Botanic Gardens and propagating plants including native mint bush. He will try and get a native mint bush for our garden.
  2. The group agreed we buy some herb seedlings for planting out next Sunday. Jock will redo some signs. This will make the garden more presentable for the v
  3. There is still time to submit suggestions for autumn planting. It is best if you can tell the group its growing conditions i.e. that we have the right climate and space for the plant. At least an interim list for ordering will be done following discussions at our meetings this Sunday 17th.
  4. We agreed to try and sequence our sowing this year, particularly of greens, to extend the harvest period.
  5. Barbara explained to us the role of prop roots in holding our corn upright. She also demonstrated the success of our worm tower in composting kitchen waste.