Since April, Moss Vale Community Gardeners have been having a stall at Moss Vale Markets on the fourth Saturday of the month. It is proving to be a great way for locals to find out more about our community garden and what we do there. We would like more people to get involved with our growing activities, our organic gardening and support for all cultural activities relating to good, fresh local food. We also enjoy the preparation and eating of fruit and veges from garden to plate – can’t get fresher than that!
Why not come down and visit us at the markets. We sell seedlings of food crops and potted edible species plus excess produce from both the community garden as well as from the gardens of locals and members. Last market we had apples, potatoes, cape gooseberries, spinach, spring onions and pumpkin. We even had jars of both raspberry and fig jams.
You never know what treasure you might find. At the very least, you will be met with a smile from one of our members.
The weather this May has been most forgiving. Barely a frost (yet!) and beautiful sunny days to be out preparing our beds for winter and spring crops. Here is one of our garden pixies, Joy, collecting a basket of autumn abundance.
Around six weeks ago we created our wicking bed and our wall gardens and many of the veges we planted are ready for harvest. See for yourself!
Our bell lantern chillies have ripened splendidly so once again we have dug up the plants, re-potted them and placed them back into the hothouse for winter. We are experimenting to see how “perennial” we can make our chillies here in the cold temperate climes.
Our young heritage apple trees which have been espaliered along the fencelines have been producing their first crop of organic apples. We have deliberately planted early, mid and late season varieties to extend our cropping period. Check out the Lady Williams (parent of Pink Lady apples).
Kilos of fruit on our dwarf Lady Williams apple tree.
Autumn is generally the most abundant season, with everything from pumpkins, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers and cabbages filling our baskets.
Peanuts!! In Moss Vale??
It follows that it is a good time for preserving the harvest, and this year our members have bottled tomatoes, pickled an assortment of veges, dried fruits like apples, quince and figs and made jams and jellies from berries, figs and quinces. They seem to be very popular on our stall at Moss Vale Markets.
Klever Kathi created a Five Senses Bouquet consisting mainly of edible leaves and fruit from the Community Garden. What an imaginative and personalised gift it was!
The Garden is now morphing into its winter entity. Although it seems that there wouldn’t be much to do this time of year, it is actually quite busy – preparing the soil for Spring with green manure crops, pruning the fruit trees, planting winter veges like onions and garlic, broad beans and peas, mulching the kikuyu and grasses into oblivion.
Think it must be time for a celebration of the bounty of last season and the promise of hearty foods from the winter garden!!
Watch this space for our Winter solstice open day celebration…….
On 17th of April, we were pleased to host Wingecarribee Shire Council’s Environment and Sustainability committee members, staff and some of our Councillors for morning tea at Moss Vale Community Garden. We have been partially supported in some of our initiatives by Council’s Environment Levy and we appreciated the opportunity to demonstrate and explain the role of community gardens in modelling and encouraging various aspects of environmental sustainability within our shire.
How are we demonstrating environmentally sustainable practices?
By growing organic (chemical free) food on site and encouraging our members and visitors to do the same in their own backyards
By supporting other initiatives encouraging local food production (Slow Food etc) on a major scale for future food security for the Highlands
By recycling materials into compost and mulch that would normally go into the waste stream (eg coffee grounds from a local coffee shop, lawn clippings from other gardens, shredded paper from Council offices)
By re-using tools and equipment, building materials, garden furniture etc, from Moss Vale Resource Recovery Centre and giving them a new life out of the waste stream
By building structures with renewable low embodied energy materials (strawbale shelter shed) as a model for others
By catching as much rainwater as we can store in tanks for use on our vege beds & mulching paths to reduce lawnmowing pollution
By installing solar panels for our energy requirements on site
By ‘growing’ community – being open to all people in our shire regardless of ability, age or creed and interacting with other environmental groups to strengthen local environmental education
By taking part in Council’s School’s Environment Day activities
By developing a bush tucker bed and planning for future plantings of endemic native species for wildlife habitat and garden pest control.
Here we are at the Penrose Harvest Festival, enjoying a warm, sunny day whilst we chat with visitors to the fair and sell our seedlings and fruit trees. It was a great day with lots of activities and entertainment throughout. Lunch was a pizza cooked in the large wood-fired pizza oven (almost identical to the one at Moss Vale Community Garden and built by the same artisan – Manuel Alves).
We shared a site with Bundanoon Community Garden, who kindly loaned us a gazebo for the day and who sold lots of tickets in a raffle in which third prize was a selection of vege seedlings from our gardens and which raised money for both of our community gardens. Many thanks to the Bundy group who diligently sold lots of raffle tickets.
Jill demonstrated how to create a worm tower in your vege garden to breed worms exactly where you want them – right there in the middle of the garden bed. Very easy and very successful, so long as you feed them some kitchen scraps and wet shredded paper from time to time and give them some shade through the hottest months. This worm tower looks like a red and white pine mushroom often seen growing wild in our district underneath radiata pine trees.
In early April, I was invited to Mittagong Garden Club to talk about community gardening. It was great to see a room crowded with keen gardeners, some of whose faces were familiar to me. The following Friday, the members of Mittagong Garden Club were invited to have a tour of Moss Vale Community Garden to see what sorts of activities we get up to.
Luckily the weather held out and we were able to have a cup of tea and a biscuit followed by a tour of some of the features of our garden. The strawbale shelter was of particular interest, as was the pizza oven and our new raised wicking beds.
Autumn is a great time to show gardens off. We still had masses of tomatoes and several varieties of dwarf apples fruiting in amongst all the salad greens and berries. We are going to share some of our bell lantern chilli seeds with the Mittagong gardeners so they can spread the intriguing looking chilli around the Highlands. That will ensure it’s survival in our area.