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.
We are now opening for half a day on the first Sunday of the month (bar January). Recently we had our February open Sunday and despite a small group attending (an all-girl event this time), we got a big output for the day.
Firstly, we must thank friends of our community garden, Jim and Lauren Gleeson from Filbert Farm, who kindly donated six advanced hazelnut trees recently to start our proposed nut grove. We hope to add other nut varieties in time.
Hazelnuts are not self-pollinating – in fact you need specific pollinators for each variety. As they are wind pollinated, we planted them in a special pattern to aid pollination and ensure a future nut harvest.
As the soil is soft from recent February rains, we took advantage and worked hard to dig the large holes required. Into these holes we added our compost to heel the root ball in before watering with a weak Seasol solution to minimise transplant shock.
Below you will see a gallery of photos showing Judy, Joy, Jo, Kathi and Natalie helping to create future food for our local community. We look forward to a nutty feast early next year…..
The weather was relatively kind compared to last year’s event and we were lucky to have a shady site for our plant stall. Our gazebo was overflowing with plants we have been propagating, ranging from various berries, dwarf heritage apples and figs to seedlings and herbs.
We love propagating unusual food crops too – like water chestnuts, cape gooseberries and taro. Our diet has been dumbed-down over previous decades and it is important that we vary our diet to maintain good health.
We had a profitable day, helped by sharing a site with our Volunteering Wingecarribee friends. Funds will go towards a replacement trailer (second-hand, of course) for the one stolen in early January.