Sunday 8th June was a brisk winter’s day, but this didn’t stop 25 hardy seed savers from venturing down to Moss Vale Community Garden to clean and share seeds of our food crops from the recent growing season.
Dr David Murray gave us an informative and interesting talk about peas and beans, the challenges and suggested solutions for growing healthy crops for eating and saving seed. This being David’s speciality, he was able to respond to questions relating to rotation cropping and diseases in peas & beans as well as techniques for keeping the dried seeds viable for the maximum period before replanting.
David points out that the safest place for our seedbank crops is NOT in a seedbank, but rather, being planted out in as many local backyards as possible. Seeds, like us, only have a limited lifespan – parsnip only one year, large seeds like peas and beans about three years and tomatoes up to ten years in ideal (cool, dark, dry) storage conditions. Freezing extends the lifespan of a viable seeds so long as the seeds have been dried in ambient temperatures until the maximum amount of moisture has been removed before sealing and freezing.
As usual, our pot luck lunch provided by all of the members was varied and delicious and we managed to clean a large amount and variety of seeds for registering by Chris Ann into our current seedbank database. At our Spring meeting, we will be asking our members to foster some seed varieties – plant seeds and grow out for more fresh seed to save for next season as well as some for the local seed network seedbank.
A big thankyou to our backyard growers and seedbank members who continue to save seed and make it available to other local growers via our Permaculture Southern Highlands Local Seedbank. Local seed bank members help to stem the tide of food crop biodiversity loss which threatens our future food security. They are also good sources of seeds of crops you won’t find in standard seed company racks – seeds saved by families over generations which are then given to seedbanks to grow out and disseminate to more backyard growers.
Anyone interested in becoming involved with our local seed network can contact me via the Moss Vale Community Garden website:
It is a most satisfying hobby and growers get to complete the cycle of life in our backyards:
plant the seed, grow the plant, save the seed, plant the seed etc ….
Well, some of you were planning to come to our Winter Solstice Party and Pruning Demonstration in June until the skies opened and 300mm of rain later we felt we had to either celebrate in wetsuits or postpone to another date.
So…. let’s try again, this time on Sunday, 4th August from 10.30am!
Instant Garden Bed from Prunings
Entry is by gold coin donation – the cheapest cup of warming tea/coffee in town.
We will still be celebrating around 1.00pm with a roast lunch using local produce cooked in our wood-fired pizza oven (members – no charge, non-members $7.00)
But while that’s cooking, around 11.00am we plan to build a hugel kultur garden bed. Read on …
Joanne Dodd of Lightfoot Education will demonstrate how to use all your winter prunings in the creation of a new raised vegetable bed. Joanne has been running workshops on a variety of sustainable living topics like beekeeping, backyard food growing, chooks in the backyard, etc. In fact, it is worth a visit to her terrific website: www.lightfooteducation.com.au
Here is a photo of the hugel kultur bed in Joanne’s backyard:
What a terrific way to re-use your backyard prunings. A waste product becomes a resource! And hopefully more organically produced food.
For further info you can contact Jill on (0414)545735
Rosina demonstrating worm farming to guests at the World Environment Day launch
Continuing the theme of Think EatSave, one of our members, Rosina, gave a demonstration of how to set up a worm farm in your own backyard.
Using her “Mrs Chop Chop” technique she cut vege scraps into smaller portions to make them easier for the worms to digest. Using cocopeat (or coir) as the bedding material, Rosina added lots of moist shredded paper, crushed egg shells and various other materials like kitchen scraps and old cow manure to the middle worm tray. The new batch of worms can then be introduced to settle in for a couple of weeks before being fed again. Worms can eat their body weight in scraps each day.Therefore, if a thousand worms weigh around 250gms you can add around 250gms of kitchen scraps per day for them to consume. Don’t over feed them and don’t forget to replace the lid and put your worm farm in a shady spot.
Worm bedding made up of cocopeat/coir and wet shredded paper
Worms were harvested out of one of the existing worm farms by up-ending the full worm box onto an old table. As sunlight is harmful to worms, they will scuttle to the bottom of the pile and you can scrape of the top layer of worm castings for use in your garden beds. After several scrapings, you are left with a mass of writhing worms that can be relocated into the new worm box or even into a worm tower.
Perhaps you would like a Worm Tower in your garden!
If you want to set up mini worm farms in-situ, you can remove the base of an old lidded bucket and drill holes around the bottom third.
You then ‘plant’ the bottom third of the bucket in the middle of a garden bed by digging a round hole in the soil around 20cms deep and putting the bucket in place. Place some old manure, garden lime and wet shredded paper in the base before putting the worms in. Follow that up with some kitchen scraps, water well then replace the fitted lid to keep out vermin (rats love eating worms). We decorated ours as a pine mushroom, which grows in our local area.
You can have great fun with kids setting up these worm towers around your garden. The kids can have the responsibility of “feeding the worms” each day.
We have just been informed that we have been successful in our application for grant money to run some gardening activities for our older shire residents. This is to encourage seniors to continue gardening and sharing their skills despite any physical challenges – creaks and aches!
There are lots of new ways to garden at waist level and we will be demonstrating some of these on the day. For example, raised beds and wall gardening.