Zero Waste With Worms at Work!

Rosina demonstrating worm farming to guests at the World Environment Day launch

Rosina demonstrating worm farming to guests at the World Environment Day launch

Continuing the theme of Think Eat Save, one of our members, Rosina, gave a demonstration of how to set up a worm farm in your own backyard.

Mrs Chop Chop feeding the worms.
Mrs Chop Chop feeding the worms.

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

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.

Burying the bottomless bucket to one third of it's depth so that the worm holes are in the topsoil.
Burying the bottomless bucket to one third of it’s depth so that the worm holes are in the topsoil.

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.

Note the finished spotted pine mushroom worm tower - and an interested audience of gardeners.
Note the finished spotted pine mushroom worm tower – and an interested audience of gardeners.

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.

World Environment Day 2013 Launch At MVCG

Awaiting the guests arrival at the World Environment Day launch
Awaiting the guests arrival at the World Environment Day launch

The theme this year for World Environment Day was Think Eat Save, encouraging us to think about how we, as individuals, can curb the high levels of food waste and environmentally damaging Foodprint we experience in the developed world.

To highlight local programs supporting this theme, Joe Stammers of Wingecarribee Shire Council’s Environment and Sustainability department organised almost a week of activities starting with this launch on Wednesday 5th June (World Environment Day)

Meeting and greeting our local Mayor and Councillors and distinguished guests
Meeting and greeting our local Mayor and Councillors and distinguished guests

 

and culminating on Sunday 9th with the Australian Premiere screening of the film, “Symphony of the Soil”.  In between there were tours of local food producing properties, including Jo Dodd’s 1/4 Acre Farm in Mittagong and Jill Dyson’s famous Foodpath Market Tour.

To demonstrate the Think Eat Save theme, Moss Vale Community Garden provided directly from the beds the bulk of the seasonal fresh food (prepared by chef John Shelley) for lunch served to the Mayor, Wingecarribee Councillors, Shellharbour Councillors and other guests.  No food miles here.  Just food metres!

Gourmet food from MV Community Garden beds

Gourmet food from MV Community Garden beds

And no throw away paper plates and cups to end up in the ever-expanding waste stream!  Just keeping it simple.

Mayor Arkwright with Clr Whipper, Shellharbour Councillor and Sandra Menteith cutting cake
Mayor Arkwright with Clr Whipper, Shellharbour Councillor and Sandra Menteith cutting cake

After the cutting and consuming of an amazing cake, our guests had to move on to their next engagement and the team of dedicated volunteers (that make up the regular Garden membership) washed up and sent the food scraps over to the worm farm demonstration that Rosina was about to start.

Now you can find us at Moss Vale Markets!

Oli and Joy chatting to local market goers.
Oli and Joy chatting to local market goers.

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 sun brought out the market goers - including Dennis.
The sun brought out the market goers – including Dennis.

 

Autumn Around the Community Garden

One of our garden Pixies, Joy, picking a basket of produce.

 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!

Six week old lettuces, brassicas and herbs in our new wicking bed.
Six week old lettuces, brassicas and herbs in our new wicking bed.
Our wall gardens looking pretty and productive.
Our wall gardens looking pretty and productive.

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.

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.

A savoy cabbage.
A savoy cabbage.

Peanuts!!  In Moss Vale??

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!

Kathi's Five Senses Bouquet made predominantly with edible leaves and fruit.
Kathi’s Five Senses Bouquet made predominantly with edible leaves and fruit.

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…….

Community Gardens & Environmental Sustainability

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.

MVCG's team with Council's Environment and Sustainability Committee and friends
MVCG’s team with Council’s Environment and Sustainability Committee and friends

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 enjoying a quick cuppa.

Council's Environment and Sustainability Committee learning a bit about the Community Garden's activities
Council’s Environment and Sustainability Committee learning a bit about the Community Garden’s activities