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Did you apply for membership recently?

July 3, 2018

If you recently applied online to join our community garden, and have not received any email confirmation from the garden, could you please contact us by email at  nfcommunitygarden@gmail.com.

Open Day

September 24, 2018

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Spring is in the air!

September 8, 2018

A walk around the garden at this time of the year is a lovely experience and evidence that spring is certainly upon us. Even though the nights are still cold, the warmer days are telling us that spring is in the air.

Nectarine blossom

The apricot, nectarine and plum trees are covered in their delicate blossoms, buzzing with bees doing that all important work of pollinating the flowers.

Many plots have large blocks of broad beans with the beans starting to develop.These are surely one of the best spring vegetables, along with artichokes and asparagus.

Most cabbages and cauliflowers have been harvested by now, but there are still  a few waiting to be cut. Fennel, leeks and garlic are still evident and of course, there is plenty of silverbeet. The new circular beds outside the garden have been planted up with crops to sell at Open Day. Plots are gradually being cleared and planted for summer while work on the new shed has started with the intallation of the electrics.

 

 

How to raise seedlings from seed

August 3, 2018

One of the most satisfying aspects of growing vegetables is raising seedlings from seed, especially if that seed was saved from a previous year’s crop.  It does require some forward planning and patience but it will result in seedlings that are stronger and healthier than those that you will usually find in any nursery. If you haven’t saved seeds, try to use quality heritage seeds from somewher like Diggers or Eden Seeds.

Thermostatically controlled propagator

The key to successful germination of the seeds is to have an environment with constant temperature and moisture. This can be achieved with a special home propagator – the most efficient are those with a thermostat to regulate temperature. But any warm environment will do, such as a window ledge or airing cupboard. If the temperature is stable the seeds will germinate quickly, usually 5-7 days. The more the temperature varies, the longer it will take. The humidity needs to be maintained, and this can be done by misting the seed tray but it is important not to overwater.

 

Seed raising tool kit – propogating mix, mister, pots and labels

Small seeds such as tomatoes and chillies can be sown in small seed trays or egg cartons, and larger seeds such as pumpkin or zucchini can be sown directly into small pots. It is best to use a seed propagating mixture rather than potting mix as the mixture is lighter and more open so that the tiny roots and shoots can devlop easily. If you are raising lots of seedlings it is useful to label the trays or pots – there is nothing worse than forgetting what is in each!

Once the seeds have germinated, they should be removed from the propagator or they will quickly become ‘leggy’ and at no time should they be allowed to dry out. When the seedlings have their second set of true leaves, they can be potted up from the seed tray into seeedling sized pots. You can always get these from a local nursery such as BAAG which always has a big tub of plastic pots to give away. At this stage, the seedlings will benefit from regular feeding – worm tea is excellent.

The aim when raising from seed is to have the seedlings well developed and strong by the time you want to transplant them out into the garden. If they have been mainly raised indoors or in a very sheltered spot, they need to be ‘hardened off’ prior to transplanting. This simply means placing them outdoors in an enviroment similar to where they will be planted for a few days before transplanting.

The forward planning referrred to at the start means that you will need to work backwards from when you want the seedlings to be transpalanted. For example, if you want tomato seedlings planted out by mid October, you will need to start raising them by mid August. As the weather could still be cold the growth might be slow, so allow 6-8 weeks. This generally is the case for most seedlings, but those grown from larger seeds such as zucchini need less time.

And finally, have a look at this amazing timelapse video showing the germination of a bean seed.

 

A productive winter working bee

July 22, 2018

The winter working was a great success! The big job that was completed involved preparing the six new raised beds that City of Yarra gave us. These are located outside the garden and will be planted with herbs and ‘cut and come again’ vegetables for the locl community to enjoy. The beds were prepared with mulch and compost and will then be filled with good topsoil. Other tasks that were done involved pruning the outdside plum trees, dividing up compost for members to put on their plots and the inevitable weeding. We then enjoyed a BBQ prepared by Lindsay, a cosy fire over which we toasted marshmallows, and a demonstration of setting up a worm farm by Michelle. A great way to spend a winter’s afternoon! Thanks Deb, Julie and Lindsay for organising this working bee. Check out the photo gallery below.

 

Great composting workshop

July 10, 2018

On Sunday 8 July, 23 sturdy souls – both garden members and local residents –  braved the cold and sometimes wet weather to attend a wonderful composting workshop at the garden  run by Kat Lavers a permaculture expert.

 

Kat’s attentive audience!

The workshop covered composting, worm farms and bokashi buckets.

We learnt the key to successful composting – the right balance of carbon rich materials and nitrogen rich materials – and the importance of layering these two components in the compost bin. If you’re not sure which is which, here is a brief summary:

 
 

Nitrogen rich
Carbon                                  
Green leaves
Autumn leaves
Grass clippings
Shredded paper
Food scraps
Wheat straw
Coffee grounds
Shredded newspaper
Lucerne/pea straw
Rippedup cardboard

 

 
   
 
  
 
   

The new gazebos kept us dry!

We also learnt that most problems in composting come from too much nitrogen rich material which makes the compost smell unpleasant. The importance of moisture and oxygen in the compost was also explained, as was the difference between ‘hot’ composting, which needs a large volume of material, and ‘cold’ composting which is what happens in the black composting bins outside the garden. You can read lots more about composting here.

Kat explaining the basics of worm farms

Kat had brought her own worm farm with her to show us the do’s and don’t’s of this form of composting. Again, she emphasised the importance of a balance between nitrogen and carbon materials in the worm farm.Worms are fussy eaters and don’t like citrus, onions, meat, dairy or bread. A worm farm is perhaps the most tricky form of composting to get right, and it takes about 6 months until it is producing castings. It is very important to have the worm farm in the shade, or else the worms can get ‘cooked’,especially if using a black plastic worm farm. Check out all the tips for a productive and successful worm farm here.

The Bokashi bucket is a system that was developed in Japan and is very well suited to apartments and offices. There is little that can go wrong, and the only disadvantage is that the bucket, when full, needs to be emptied into a compost bin or dug directly into the garden. Find out more on Bokashi buckets here.

The workshop was made possible through a Sustainability grant that we received from the City of Yarra. If you missed this one, it will be repeated on August 25.

Get to know your fellow gardeners

July 2, 2018

Have you ever wondered who your fellow gardeners are? Every few weeks we will profile one of our members. Would you like to be involved? If so, just send an email to nfcommunitygarden@gmail.com, with answers to the highlighted headings (as Lindsay has done) and maybe include a photo, if you want.

Name:  Lindsay Round

Background:  Worked in the Community sector for over 35 years, coordinating and implementing  engagement and participation programs for unemployed, homeless and disengaged young people.

Involvement:  Commenced Cultivating Plot # 47, in January 2017 with partner Debbie and also member of Rushall Garden Committee

Favorite vegetable:   Without doubt the tomato, so tasty , versatile and it’s a “happy” fruit to work with.

Interests:  Family, friends, gardening, walking, riding, swimming, birdwatching and travelling.

Favorite Garden: Cloudhill in Olinda, part of the Diggers Club. It’s well structured, with an excellent selection  of plants and trees in a beautiful hillside setting.