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.
Seniors Week came along in March, and we had been preparing the various demonstrations for several weeks so that we had all the materials and equipment ready to go. These demonstrations were going to be a team effort with four of us demonstrating a particular type of raised gardening techniques that would be useful for older gardeners.
Jo demonstrated how to set up a wall garden consisting of several deep trays like window boxes that can be attached to a wall or fence, one under the other at a convenient height to plant, maintain and harvest. It was filled with both edible and flowering plants for insect habitat.
Kathi showed how pallet gardens can be set up to enable raised gardening whilst recycling wooden pallets. We had created a large pallet garden beforehand (see photos) but it suffered a little when it was erected vertically after a few weeks of growing in a horizontal position. The smaller pallet lined with weedmat was much more successful and easier to plant up on the day . Just a few weeks later we are harvesting lettuces and parsley!
Kathi filling the weedmat lined pallet with potting mix in preparating for planting up.
Rosina prepared a talk and demonstration for grandparents to give them some ideas on activities they can carry out with the grandkids, encouraging an early interest in gardening and the environment. She showed us a very useful book on school gardens and gardening for kids which would be a most useful resource for our library. Jiffy pots were the order of the day and such a simple and successful way for children to learn to propagate from seeds – in this case, sweet pea seeds which would be up in 10 days!
A wicking bed was the last demonstration, designed to show, step-by-step how to set up a waist-level raised bed which has a plastic-lined sump in the bottom for storing water which will wick up through the geotextile into the top layer of garden loam/potting mix. This means you can go away on holidays after topping up the sump with water, and your garden will self-water for a couple of weeks. Great for summer holidays. Our friends from Disability Services helped us set up and plant the bed, which we covered with shade cloth to ward of those damned white cabbage butterflies. You should see the produce springing out of this month-old wicking bed! We are eating lettuces from it already.
Sam filling the wicking bed with premium potting mix and compost.
At this point I would like to thank a couple of local organisations:
Wingecarribee Shire Council’s Environment and Sustainability group who helped us advertise the event and loaned us Kimberly Elliott to help with the setting up and manning of our stall in the Queen Street Community Centre.
Moss Vale CWA who provided scrumptious sandwiches and slices for lunch on both days of the event.
Welcome to all Seniors on Wednesday 20th and Friday 22nd March.
We are running two days of demonstrations and activities to celebrate Senior’s Week. Meet the Garden volunteers and trial different gardening techniques that make it easier for seniors to get back into the garden.