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Garden newsletters 2019

Garden mosaic made by member Paul Chooi

The newsletters for 2019 are reproduced here in text form. The original images are not reproduced.

Click on any month to view the newsletter for that month.


Now that the holiday period is over, the garden is getting back into full swing. The new extension of the pergola should be starting very soon and we will keep you updated on this exciting project.

Upcoming events

1.  Our first Major Working Bee will be held on Sun 17 Feb from 10 -12. It will be followed as usual by a BBQ and drinks – always a great opportunity to catch up with other members. In order to help with the catering, please RSVP if you will be coming.

2.  At the committee meeting this week, the committee decided it was time to change the code for the padlock on the on the gate and shed – the code was last changed about 10 years ago! Please read carefully what will happen:

  • on Wednesday 13 Feb, all members will be sent an email with the new code. Remember to check your emails that day! Please keep the code confidential and don’t give it to anyone who is not a member
  • the code will be changed on Sun 17 Feb, probably just before or during the working bee

3.  We have been given a small grant from the 3000acres organisation, this time for worm farm education. We will be running a workshop on manageing wormfarms for members and as soon as the details are finalised, we will let you know of the date – probably in April or May.

Gardening information

As we move towards the end of summer, many plots are looking a little ‘tired’ after a very productive few months. Now is the time to start thinking about what to plant when all those tomatoes, zucchinis and beans come out. These will have taken a lot from the soil, so make sure you dig in some well rotted manure before replanting. Check out this guide for what to plant in March.

And if you are overwhelmed with a glut of zucchinis and looking for some ideas, there are plenty on our website. You might also be interested in finding out more about the edible ‘weed’ purslane.

If you missed the ABC Gardening Australia program last week, here is an interesting segment on the composting collaboration between a community garden and a school.

WORM FARM WORKSHOP: Do you have a worm farm at home but don’t quite know how to look after it? Do you want to get your first ever worm farm at home? Do you want to help maintain the worm farms in the garden? Then come along to our first worm farm workshop at the garden on Sat 18 May from 1 pm – 2 pm. The workshop will be followed by our autumn working bee from 2 pm – 4 pm and the usual BBQ. Why not mark this date in your diaries now! More information will be sent out closer to the day. The workshop has been made possible by a small grant from 3000acres.

COMMUNAL BED WORKING GROUP SAT 16 Mar 2-3:30 pm:  We would like to invite interested members of the garden community to form a Communal Bed Working Group. This group will meet up in the afternoon (2pm-3: 30 pm) on the third Saturday each month to harvest, plant, weed and water the communal beds.

The communal areas in the garden are for everyone to share. They are already well established with fruit trees and vines, berries, artichokes, rhubarb and herbs.

The main priorities of the communal areas are to:

  • maintain the health of the fruit trees and vines, berries, artichoke, rhubarb and herbs
  • provide enough herbs (culinary and medicinal) for all to share
  • plant bee, butterfly and beneficial insect attracting plants
  • grow some heavy cropping produce for regular harvesting
  • create a beautiful garden for the enjoyment of all
  • continue to improve the soil.


In 2017 and 2018 we have worked on improving the soil in some underused communal parts of the garden and there are a couple of areas which can now be planted with short term high yielding produce. We will be introducing a little more structure around planting and harvesting in the communal areas in 2019.

AUTUMN WORKSHOPS AT BAAG AND CERES: The wonderful Bulleen Art and Garden centre has loads of interesting workshops over the next few weeks. Check out the full program here.

And for something a little closer to home, check out these workshops at CERES.

FAIRSHARE OPEN DAY: The FairShare garden (between Victoria Park Station and the footy ground) has an Open Day on Sat 16 March from 10 am – 4:30 pm. If you aren’t familiar with FairShare, they are an organisation committed to providing cooked meals to people in need, and their garden, built on disused railway land, is one important element of how they do this. The program for the day looks very interesting.

NEW LOOK NEWSLETTER: We are trialling what we think is a more ‘user-friendly’ newsletter with a consistent format each month. Would love to hear your feedback about it!

GARDEN MOSAIC: The beautiful mosaic at the top of this newsletter was made for the garden by one of our members, Paul Chooi. When the extension to the pergola is completed, the mosaic will find a home somewhere in or around the pergola. Thank you, Paul, for such a lovely gift.

HEALTH AND SAFETY GUIDELINES: The committee has been working on some Health and Safety Guidelines for the garden. These cover areas such as working safely in the garden, member responsibilities, hazards and associated risk management, and safe food handling protocols. If anyone (especially with interest/expertise in this area) would like to see a copy of the draft in order to give feedback, please email the garden and let us know.

CITY OF YARRA URBAN AGRICULTURE STRATEGY: The City of Yarra has updated it’s Urban Agriculture Strategy and one of its objectives includes ‘supporting community groups to find long and short-term urban agriculture opportunities‘. With a wait of many years for members to get a plot in our garden, the need for more Community Gardens is obvious. In the meantime, there is a small window of opportunity to complete a very quick online survey about the Urban Agriculture Strategy. It would be great if members, especially those on the waiting list, can take a few minutes to do the survey which you can find here.

‘NEW GARDEN’ WORKING GROUP: The number of people waiting for a plot (around 60) and a wait time of about 6 years to obtain one, presents a compelling case for creating another garden. A working group is being formed to identify ways we can work with City of Yarra Council to explore suitable sites for this. The group will meet every 1-2 months over the remainder of 2019 and will progress specific tasks relating to the engagement with Council as well as research and and development of specific proposals.  If you are interested in being part of this group, please register your interest via email to with the subject ‘New garden working group’.

PERGOLA UPDATE: The work on the pergola extension should be starting later this month. If you follow us on Facebook, we will post regular updates and photos and the next newsletter will have a report about the project. We will also have an update on the website.

GARDEN BOOK: If you have been to any of the ‘first Sunday of the month’ mini working bees over the last year, you will know that Lynda Achren has been busy gathering ideas from members about how to use all our various produce. She is organising these into our first ever garden book which be be sold at this year’s Open Day. The book will contain seasonal recipes and tips, growing notes for each featured vegetable and some ‘musings’ from members about seasonality and sustainability. You can read more about the project in Lynda’s own words on our website.

SHARE TABLE: Over the past few weeks, at working bees, we have successfully shared the harvest from nashi and other pears, plums, grapes and some apples. with some of this harvested fruit still available a day or two later.

With the quinces ripening in a few weeks, and more pears, apples, grapes and figs to harvest, we will set up a ‘share table’ at working bees. We will not just include the food harvest, but also:

  • produce from communal beds
  • donated produce from plants
  • anything you can bring from home eg bay leaves, kaffir lime leaves
  • produce your friends or neighbours are giving away
What to plant this month
At this time of the year, many summer veggies such as tomatoes and zucchini are coming to an end. As you clear these out, remember to dig in plenty of compost or manure as the soil will be exhausted. Then think about planting some of the following:

Seedlings: Leeks, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbages, kale, mustard, bok choy

Seeds: Beetroot, carrot, coriander, rocket, turnips, parsnip, snow peas

For lots more information and ideas about what to do in the veggie garden in March, go to this factsheet from BAAG.

MINI WORKING BEES IN APRIL: The first Sunday of the month mini working bee will be on Sun 7 April (don’t forget that daylight saving time ends early morning that day). We will work from 10am until 11am then enjoy a cuppa and chat from 11. These mini working bees have become a great space in which to socialise and share ideas about gardening and cooking. The newly formed Communal Beds Working Group will get together on the third Saturday – that is Sat 20 April from 2pm to 3:30pm.

WORM FARM WORKSHOP:  Do you have a worm farm at home but don’t quite know how to look after it? Do you want to get your first ever worm farm at home? Do you want to help maintain the worm farms in the garden? Then come along to our first worm farm workshop at the garden on  Sat 18 May from 1 pm – 2 pm . The workshop will be followed by our autumn working bee from 2 pm – 4 pm and the usual BBQ. Why not mark this date in your diaries now! More information will be sent out closer to the day. The workshop has been made possible by a small grant from  3000acres .

WORKSHOPS AT CERES: Ceres has regular workshops on various aspects of gardening and sustainability. Two workshops both on Sat 11 May look really interesting – Gardening with Indigenous Plants, and Edible Weeds. Full details of all the courses at Ceres are on their website.

CALL FOR RECIPESDo you have a recipe for Autumn produce? Lynda is currently collecting recipes for eggplant, capsicum, and Autumn fruits (apples, pears, quinces, figs) in order to finalise our Rushall Garden book “Plotting”. There are also gaps in the cucumber section and the silver beet, spinach and chard section. The emphasis throughout is on sharing ideas for using seasonal produce. Contributions don’t have to have exact quantities and, for copyright reasons, can’t be a direct copy from a published source but can be adapted − or made up by you, passed down from a grandmother, whatever … Doesn’t have to be ‘special’ either – just a good idea for using fresh seasonal produce. A few lines telling us something about the recipe is good too. Send your contribution directly to Lynda if you already have her email or to the Garden ( and we’ll pass it on. 

HEALTH AND SAFETY GUIDELINES:The new Health and Safety Guidelines are now available on our website. There are three main sections in the document. Firstly, the responsibilities of all members and of the committee in relation to health and safety in the garden. Secondly, a table outlining hazards and risks in the garden and how to deal with them. And finally, information regarding safe food handling at BBQs and other events, taken from the Vic Health website. In addition, there is an appendix with information about the processes for monitoring safety in the garden. I encourage all members to take a few minutes to read the Guidelines.

RUSHALL RESERVE BIKE PATH UPDATE: At it’s meeting on 19 March, Yarra Council voted not to proceed with the proposed shared bike path that would have run through Rushall Reserve on the other side of the railway line. Some of their reasons were around the railway infrastructure and high voltage cabling in the area. This would have required considerable addition work (and expense). A full report, with links to the Council meeting minutes is available on the City of Yarra website.

VICTORIAN GOVERNMENT CONSULTATION ON AGRICULTURAL LAND ON MELBOURNE’S FRINGE: So much of the fresh seasonal produce available in Melbourne comes from the urban fringe – think asparagus from Kooweerup, lettuces from the Mornington Peninsula, cauliflowers from Werribee, cherries from Bacchus Marsh. All these areas are constantly under threat from housing development. The Victorian government is conducting a public consultation on its draft policy around protecting Melbourne’s agricultural land. Full details of the policy are on the Engage Victoria website and you can complete an online submission. The consultations ends on April 23. If you are really interested in the issue, have a look at this recent University of Melbourne report Roadmap for a resilient and sustainable Melbourne foodbowl.

What to plant this month
April is a very busy time in the garden as the last of the summer produce is harvested, the plants removed and the soil prepared for the next season’s crops. Find out more about how to prepare for the winter from our website, or BAAG or the Little Veggie Patch.

You can now be planting some of the following:

Seeds: Broad beans, carrot, lettuce, peas, silverbeet, spinach, turnip

Seedlings: Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks, onions.

And of course, garlic can be planted any time during the next couple of months. For a great rundown on the ins and outs of growing garlic have a read of this article on Maria Ciavarella’s ‘My Green Garden’ website. You might remember Maria from the compost workshop she did at last year’s Open Day.

Remember that if you are planting tall veggies such as broad beans, you will need to be careful not to overshadow your neighbour’s plot. It is worth checking out our Vertical Planting Guidelines before sowing any broad bean seeds.


Upcoming Events
MAJOR AUTUMN WORKING BEE: Our major working bee for autumn will be held on Sat 18 May from 2pm to 4pm. It will be followed as usual by a BBQ and drinks. There will be a delivery of manure and compost for members. Details of how to order and pay has been sent out in a separate email. The working bee will be preceded at 1pm by a worm farm workshop for members wanting to learn how to better manage a worm farm or set one up at home. Don’t forget that the working bee and workshop are the same day as the election, so if you voted early and missed out on your ‘democracy sausage’ come to the working bee and enjoy a ‘garden sausage’!

OPEN DAY 2019: Open Day 2019 will be held on Saturday 12 Oct from 12 – 3pm. The Open Day Working Group will start meeting soon. We would love to have more members involved in the planning and preparation for Open Day, so if you would like to be involved, please drop us an email.

CONGRATULATIONS JESS! Congratulations to garden member Jess Racklyeft on the recent publication of her delightful book ‘There’s Only One Mum Like You’. Jess not only wrote the book, but also did all of the charming illustrations. Why not check it out next time you are in a bookshop.

WORLD BEE DAY IS 20 MAY: In 2017, the UN declared 20 May as the World Bee Day. The date was chosen because it was the birth date of Anton Janša, who is regarded as the pioneer of modern apiculture. Janša came from a family of beekeepers in Slovenia, where beekeeping is a very important agricultural activity with a long-standing tradition. Bees are a crucial part of food production and to often are taken for granted. Check out the latest on our website about World Bee Day. When you next have honey on toast at breakfast, remember the bees!

CASUAL VACANCY ON COMMITTEE: An opportunity has come up for a member to join the committee. This is a great chance to be more involved in decisions about the garden. The committee meets on the first Monday of each month at the North Fitzroy Arms Hotel in Rae St starting at 7pm where we enjoy a drink and some food as well as a meeting. If you are interested in joining the committee, you can email us for more information, or just come along to the next meeting on Mon 3 June and check us out.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO WRITE FOR THE WEBSITE? Do you enjoy writing? Do you have ideas about gardening that you want to share with members? Perhaps you plant by the phases of the moon and would like to tell us about it? Are you passionate about unusual types of vegetables? Do you have some tips for organic pest control? We are always needing people who would like to write a post for the website. If that person is you, then please get in touch with your ideas. Even better, send a short article with maybe a couple of photos to the garden email, and I will do the formatting and post it for you.

EXPLORING BUSH FOODS: Over the next few months, there will be a series of posts on our website about bush foods. The first one is about Lemon Myrtle, and will be followed by Warrigul Greens, Lilly Pilly and more,

What to plant this month
Now that autumn is coming to an end, plots should be planted up with winter crops. It’s a good idea to do another planting of things you might have planted last month, so as to spread out your harvest. It’s rather daunting to have, for example, 10 cauliflowers all ready at the same time!

There is still time to plant the following:

Seeds: Peas, snow peas, turnip, rocket, silver beet, carrot and broad beans

Seedlings: Cauliflower, cabbage, kale, leeks, onions, lettuce, silver beet

Many of the winter veggies we grow are Brassicas and prone to cabbage moth attacks. Check out this information from BAAG about cabbage moths. and remember that our garden rules allow for the use of Dipel to control these pests.

If you are going away, or your soil is looking very run down, why not consider a green manure crop on some of your plot. Most nurseries will sell one specific to winter, and you can find out more on this Gardening Australia segment.


Upcoming Events
WORKING BEES: There are two regular working bees every month. On the 1st Sunday from 10-11am and on the 3rd Saturday from 2-3:30pm. The Saturday working bee is specifically to work on planting and maintaining the communal beds, whereas the Sunday working bee includes more general activities such as mulching the paths, weeding and pruning and of course, morning tea. We also hold four major working bees each year. The next major working bee is on Sat 13 July from 2-4pm and will be followed by the traditional mid-winter fire and BBQ.

OPEN DAY 2019: Our annual Open Day is on Sat 12 Oct from 12 -3 pm. So pop that date in your diaries! As well as the usual stalls of fresh produce, seedlings, baked goods, jams and preserves, this year will see a new stall – artisan products. This will sell homemade non-food items such as pomanders, potpourri, bees wax wrappers, lavender sticks, pantry moth bags and more. Please contact Julie Sarll (via if you want to help with making any of these or if you have other ideas for items for this stall.

AUSTRALIA POST GRANT: We have recently obtained a community grant from Australia Post that will be used to provide electricity to the pergola. Won’t it be great to be able to quickly boil a jug of water instead of waiting for the gas kettle to boil or even make toasted sandwiches on a cold day? Thanks to Matt Brown who organised the application for us.

ARE YOU INTERESTED IN BERRIES?: Would you like to grow delicious berries in a pot at home, or find out how to manage the raspberries at the garden? Leaf, Root and Fruit Edible Garden Centre in Burwood is running an all-day workshop on Sat 15 June on all aspects of berry growing. Check out the details here. And if that date doesn’t suit, CERES is running a similar workshop on Sat 22 June.

EXPLORING BUSH FOOD: We continue the series of posts on the website about bush foods. The latest is on warrigal greens and has lots of ideas for using them as an alternative to spinach as well as some interesting historical snippets.

WORKING BEE ATTENDANCE: Members are reminded of the requirement to attend at least four hours of working bees or equivalent during the year. If you haven’t yet been to any, the dates of all remaining working bees are on the website, so check them out and put the dates in your diaries.

USE OF THE SINK: There have been problems recently with the barrel collecting water under the sink overflowing. The filter and pipe quickly become blocked with soil if members wash vegetables in the sink. Twice in the last month, the barrel had to be emptied and cleaned – a big thank you to Richard Langham for doing this messy job at the last two working bees. Please rinse vegetables over your plot or in a bucket to avoid the problem.

What to plant this month
Now that we have almost reached the shortest day, the garden should be bursting with winter crops. The delivery of cow manure and mushroom mulch at the major working bee a couple of weeks ago will have given a much-needed boost to the soil. Remember that all the Brassicas are heavy feeders. Now that the soil is much colder, seeds planted directly in the soil may not germinate. However, you can still plant some seedlings in the odd empty spot. The following would be suitable:

Lettuce, kale, mustard greens, beetroot, silverbeet and onions.

Winter is also the time to put in strawberry plants, which need a rich, slightly acidic soil. Watch this Gardening Australia segment for some tips on strawberry growing.


Upcoming Events
WINTER WORKING BEE: The midwinter major working bee will be held on Sat 13 July from 2-4pm. It will be followed, as has become our tradition, by a BBQ, drinks and a roaring fire over which we toast marshmallows. Have a look at what we did at last year’s winter working bee.

FIRST SUNDAY OF THE MONTH MINI WORKING BEE: This Sunday, starting at 10am – details were sent out in an earlier email.

OPEN DAY 2019 UPDATE: The Open Day Working Group has met recently to continue its planning of all aspects of Open Day. Last week you would have received a separate email regarding the Fresh Produce Stall. This outlined some of the things you can plant in order to have produce ready to donate to this stall on the day. Check your inbox if you missed that email (sent on 26 June). During July you will receive further emails about each of the stalls and how to contribute. At the first Sunday of the month mini working bee in August, we will be sowing lots of seeds in order to have plenty of well-developed seedlings for sale at Open Day. If you have any spare small rectangular pots lying around (the kind that seedlings come in) it would be great if you can bring them along to the garden, either on the working bee or before.

GOING AWAY TO ESCAPE THE COLD?: This is the time of the year when members often go away to escape the worst of the winter weather. Remember that if you are a plot holder and are away for more than three weeks, you need to let us know your dates and also who will be keeping an eye on your plot during your absence.

BEAT THE WINTER BLUES: If you are under the weather with the winter colds and flu, why not cheer yourself up with some great garden viewing? Remember the wonderful Monty Don’s Italian Garden series? They’re all available on YouTube – here’s the first episode.

What to plant this month
By this stage of winter, there isn’t a lot of stuff that can be planted but you can always put in lettuce, radishes and beetroot. Check the email from 26 June about planting for the Fresh Produce Stall and maybe plan your planting around Open Day (12 Oct)


Upcoming Events
Launch of the garden book ‘Plotting’: It’s here! We are pleased to present our very own cookbook and gardening guide, Plotting. Tirelessly compiled by Lynda Achren, Plotting features around 150 seasonal recipes contributed by more than 60 garden members, gardening tips and ideas for making the most of your produce. It’s the perfect Christmas present for friends and family.

All members are invited to a special launch for Plotting at Bargoonga Ngangin Library, North Fitzroy at 2pm on Saturday 5 October – so save the date! Plotting will be available for sale at the launch and upcoming Open Day in October for $25.

However, until 30 August we are taking pre-orders from garden members at a special early-bird price of $22. Hurry – reserve your copy!

To reserve your copy (or copies), please email Rushall Garden with the subject line Plotting, including your name and the number of copies you would like.

Working bees and water tanks: Despite a cold and sometimes wet afternoon, the July major working bee was attended by more than 20 hardy members. We enjoyed the usual BBQ, drinks and the mid-winter fire after all the work. Julie’s gluhwein was a highlight and you can find the recipe and photos here.

If you have been to the shed recently, you will have perhaps noticed the small rainwater tank that collects water from the shed roof and pumps it into the large tank. This completes the shed project which was very carefully and capably overseen by Tom Robin. Thanks, Tom!

Local Food Connect: Rushall Garden is now part of the Local Food Connect organisation, a vibrant community supporting local urban food production. Their website is worth looking at – it is a rich source of information and they run many workshops and activities. You might be interested in this Edible Weeds Walk on Aug 31.

What makes the garden run smoothly? Members are often surprised and amazed when they discover more about the work that goes into keeping the garden operating. Some of this is very obvious such as the new shed, open days and working bees. Some work is less visible, but just as vital, such as repairing hoses, taps, locks and ordering deliveries of mulch, manure and mushroom compost. Some work is almost invisible like negotiating a new lease with the council, refilling the baiting stations and sharpening the spades. So the answer to the question ‘What makes the garden run smoothly?’ is very simple. It is the members. Next week, all members will be sent information about opportunities to contribute further to the running of the garden – so keep an eye on your inbox for that email.

New committee members: We welcome two new members, David Green and Trish Pringle, onto the committee. Remember you can to chat with any committee member that you bump into at the garden if you have any concerns about the garden.

New Hoses: We have recently been given three new hoses by Bunnings Collingwood as part of their sustainable gardens program. Thanks, Dani and Richard for organising this. Please be aware that the bends in the hoses (from being rolled up) haven’t yet completely flattened out, so be careful not to trip on them. The new hoses are bright blue with a slightly different style of sprinkler attached. We would welcome any feedback on how you are finding the new sprinklers. ar

Indigenous plantings: At the southern end of the garden, near the fig tree, you will find a small lemon myrtle bush and ground cover of muntries. These add to the ‘bush tucker’ communal bed, which already contains a good patch of warrigal greens.

Red spider mite: At this time of the year, many plots get infested with red spider mite which particularly affects the leaves of beetroot, spinach and silverbeet. The leaves develop silver patches. If you don’t follow us on Facebook, you would not have seen Anne Wilkins idea for dealing with this pest, so I am reprinting it below.

‘Good news for Red Spider Mite damaged gardens! (plants with silvered leaves)
I’m having great success spraying on a diluted soap, hot cayenne pepper and vinegar spray. I used lux flakes.

Spray generously at the base of affected plants, getting right in between the new leaves at the base of the plants, as well as the back of stems.
I hardly have any mites after a few applications, and the new growth is looking ungrazed.

I’m hoping that this method will break the cycle of egg-laying etc. and next autumn/winter there will be fewer mites that are easier to knock off. Hopefully a longer-term solution rather than just pulling plants out!’

Update of spider mite treatment. Anne has offered to make up spray bottles of the solution to keep in the garden for treating the mites. If you have any empty re-usable spray bottles you can donate, please leave them on Plot 22.

What to plant this month
Now that the days are getting longer and the danger of frosts is probably over, it is the time to start planning for the spring and summer. If you want to raise tomatoes, capsicums, chilli and eggplants from seed, August is the time to start this. For information about how to raise seedlings from seeds check out our website.

Lettuces, beetroot, spring onions and leeks can all be planted in the garden during August. By the end of August, you can probably plant potato tubers. Here is an excellent information page from Diggers about how to grow potatoes.

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