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Friday, March 22, 2013

Garden & Gather: This Sunday 11am-3pm

Hi everyone,
It hardly seems like a month ago that we were frantically running around preparing for our big Sustainable Living Festival event. If you didn't make it, we had a great time despite the heat, got some work done and met some new friends. All round it was very successful.

Ryan, Isa and Nathan demonstrating
their innovative raised garden bed shaped seat.
Hopefully I don't need to remind you (you've added it to your calendar right? 4th Sunday of every month?) that this Sunday from 11am-3pm is our March Garden & Gather event, your opportunity to come and lend a hand around the garden to help us move closer to finishing the build. We've come a long way but still have much to do.

Please be there at 11 so we can explain what's happening for the day once. We're endeavouring to be a little more organised on these monthly sessions so we get as much done as possible.

The communal crew are getting organised to do some work on Sunday and there are other jobs to do. It'll also be a good chance to catch up with people and see what's been happening.

It's a beautiful time of year, temperatures are much more conducive to an enjoyable session than they have been over recent months.

Remember your hat and something to drink and eat. If you have any fruit, veg, seeds etc to swap bring them along and we'll set up a swap table.

Don't forget that this weekend an inspiring local edible garden is open for you to view. Well worth a look. Some of the gate proceeds will be donated to our garden and we'll be volunteering over both days. Come and say hello.

See you on the weekend!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

An easy way to help raise money for our garden (23/24 March)

Hi everyone,
I know you won't be surprised to hear although we have grant money to help with building our garden we also have running costs and need to raise money in other ways. We haven't had to do much fundraising so far but it is part of keeping our garden going and helps keep our plot fees down.

Last year, one of our biggest and best fundraising efforts was when we worked on the gate at a garden in Pascoe Vale which opened for the Open Garden Scheme (NB: this link is about last year's open day).

Our help was really appreciated (over 2000 people visited over the weekend!), it was casual and great fun AND we received around $600 for our efforts which goes a long way. We also got a chance to talk about our garden with lots of people.

On Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 March this year we'll do this again and need to provide 8 volunteers over the weekend.
  • Shifts are from 9.30-12.30 or 12.30-3.30 both Saturday and Sunday
  • We need at least two people for each shift
  • Food and drinks provided for volunteers
  • It's easy, fun and nice to chat to people
Please, please, please volunteer. It helps us and it helps a supporter of our garden. If you can help, get in touch and let us know which shift you can do. Any questions, ask.

Even if you can't volunteer, you should make the effort to along to the Open Garden anyway, it's an amazing edible garden.

Keep digging and see you soon!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

This week: 3 things you can do -- Sunday Session -- Other stuff

First up, remember every Sunday morning 9-12 we're down at the garden. No need to come every week or stay the whole time or even do any gardening, you can just come along, say hello and sit about and enjoy the view. We can even enjoy a tea or coffee now that we have power!

Depending on how it gets, I reckon I'll attempt a bit of a shed reorganisation this week.

Things are moving along nicely don't you think?

  • Our four 5m2 raised beds are built and the 1m2 boxes are in place
  • Personal plots are starting to take shape and the communal bed's looking lush and green
  • Council are working with us to open the toilets and clean them regularly
  • We're planning to hook up a water tank to the child care centre so we can harvest their rain water for our garden
  • Plans are also afoot to build a compost hub that will set a new standard for all compost hubs AROUND THE WORLD (I'm not building it up too much am I?)

All that said, it's time to put the call out for some more hands to keep things running smoothly so here are...

3 things YOU can do

#1. Join the watering crew
NB: The watering crew does not look like this
My garden is suffering and I've been wishing I could call on the diligent, dedicated watering crews that are keeping our food forest and communal beds growing. As our garden grows the amount of watering it needs is growing too, in this heat, we're also slotting in extra watering sessions when it's really hot.

To sustain this, we need more waterers. If you can hold a hose and put a sprinkler on (and let's face it, that's must of you) let us know when you're available (weekly? fortnightly?) and we'll allocate you a slot, show you the ropes and get you started.

#2. Join the communal crew
Our communal crew manage our large, communal beds; planning what goes in, working out what needs to be done each week and so on. For people with limited time, who can't quite manage a personal plot or who aren't too sure where to start, this is the crew for you!

If you haven't already joined and this sounds appealing let us know and we'll get you involved.

#3. Shed bosses
We need a couple of special people to run our shed, to plan what needs to be done to keep it stocked up, organised and safe. First job will be to plan some shelves and other storage solutions to organise all the stuff. There'll be help available, you won't be on your own.

I'm thinking organised, diplomatic, assertive...some of you relish this type of thing and we need to hear from you.

Enough for now, hopefully I'll see you down at the garden soon.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What to sow or plant in March

(thanks Kelly)

Beta vulgaris from Lalbagh during flower show
It may be harvest time, but it’s also planting time, especially with this recent (glorious) rain.

The soil is warm, the nights are a little cooler, and these few weeks will set up key winter and spring crops. So if your plot is ready to go, best get cracking. The bonus: it’s one of the loveliest times of year for gardening.

Here are some plants you can get in the ground now:

  • Asparagus
  • Beetroot
  • Broad beans
  • Broccoli seedlings
  • Brussels sprouts seedlings
  • Cabbage seedlings
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower seedlings
  • Coriander
  • Endive
  • Garlic
  • Kale
  • Leeks
  • Lettuce
  • Onions (brown)
  • Pak choy
  • Parsnip
  • Radicchio
  • Shallots
  • Silver beet or rainbow chard
  • Spinach
  • Spring onion
  • Tatsoi
  • Turnip

If you haven’t already sown seeds for brassica (cabbage family), it’s possibly a little late, so seedlings are the best option.

If you’re willing to risk a random frost over winter, you can also sow peas now.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Summer gluts: preserving basil and tomatoes

(thanks Kelly)
Got more basil than you can use?
The bushes getting a little sad, or bursting into bloom?
Not quite ready to let go of that summer-in-Tuscany taste?

Here’s how to freeze basil:

  • Pick individual leaves, wash and pat dry
  • Toss them in a decent olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt
  • Bag them up into manageable portions in air-tight containers, such as zip-seal sandwich bags
  • Throw them in the freezer.

Mozzarella Cherry Tomatoes & light Basil Pesto
That’s it. They won’t go black, will still taste like actual basil, and are perfect for winter soups and pasta sauce. You’ll be able to break off a few or a chunk when they’re frozen. You can also freeze them in individual ice blocks in an ice tray, although this can take a little wrangling of bigger leaves.

You can also freeze pesto, though some people suggest freezing it before you add the cheese, and adding that when you’re ready to eat it.

Tomatoes, too, can be frozen whole or peeled – they may never again grace a salad, but they’ll always be on hand for cooking.

Here are some more time-consuming, but incredibly satisfying, ways to prepare and preserve your tomato crop:
Make and bottle passata
Make and bottle pasta sauce
Bottle whole tomatoes

What are your favourite ways to store summer goodies?