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Saturday, January 25, 2014

What to sow or plant in mid-summer

Incredible, isn't it? Here we are, watering dry earth and nudging those summer tomatoes along, battening down the hatches on 44C degree days. and already it's time to think about getting organised for spring and winter.

But it's true.

(Photo by Jennifer via Flickr Creative Commons)

You might not want to plant out too many seedlings if there's a hot spell imminent, but here are the sorts of things you can get into the ground or pots over the coming weeks:

  • Beetroot (soak seed in water before sowing)
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Capsicums
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Endive
  • Kale (as always!)
  • Kohlrabi
  • Leeks
  • Parsnip
  • Rocket
  • Silverbeet or rainbow chard
  • Spring onion
  • Tatsoi
  • Turnips.

Lettuce is tricky at this time of year. It wants to bolt in the heat and once it does, the leaves can become very bitter. And yet this is the time of year we most feel like eating it. A contrary vegetable. So try planting some seedlings now for late summer picking and then sow some seed for an autumn crop as well - cool down the seed in your fridge before sowing.

You might have noticed the odd bit of shade-cloth draped over a few plots during the recent heatwave. That's to protect both plants and any fruit such as tomatoes from scorching. Not a bad idea for short-term protection (you need to remove it once the worst of the heat is past). Of course, one of the most important things you can do to protect your crops in the heat is mulch, and mulch well, with lucerne or pea straw, to hold in the water and protect the root area from the full force of the sun.

And don't forget to protect yourself while you're out there. We have spare hats and sun block in the shed at the gardens if you ever need them.

Happy gardening!

Monday, January 20, 2014

This Sunday's Garden & Gather, Some Feb events and Recent happenings

Hi there,

Hopefully you and your plants survived the heat wave. I was down at the garden on Sunday and it was looking remarkably good considering last week. I hear there were ten people down there Tuesday evening giving everything a good soaking, I'm sure that helped.

Sunday's monthly Garden & Gather (9am - 1pm)

This is where we all help get the shared garden stuff taken care of and we've got plenty going on and lots to do.

Don't forget to bring something to eat and drink, sturdy shoes, gloves and a hat.

9 am - Get underway - We (hopefully!) all turn up and work out who's doing what. Jobs include:

  • lots of watering
  • weeding the paths and perimeter
  • organising a wheelbarrow corral
  • edging of western most personal plots

11am - Garden intro - For anyone who has joined us in the past month or who hasn't been before, Libby will do an intro to the garden that'll explain what's what, help orient you, and help you get to know a few friendly faces. If you haven't paid your membership contribution and would like to, you can do that too.

11.30am - Compost workshop - a regular monthly feature now, our compost workshops are always popular, is it the smell, the charming presenters (Shane and Thomas) or something else. Learn how it works and how to help make black gold from our green waste.

1pm - Stop and eat lunch!

We're also trying to organise bit of a talk about pests and diseases and good watering practices.

Mark your calendar....

February is the Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne (and us) and it's is shaping up to be a doozy! More info to follow but here's a taster...

  • Sunday 9th Feb (same day as mid-month Communal Crew and Food Forest working bees) will see an evening family picnic/BBQ with food catered by Open Table and film screening at the garden. I know sounds great doesn't it, come along and make it amazing.
  • Sunday 23rd Feb (Garden & Gather) we're planning all sorts of things - workshops, tours, food (and maybe a weeding competition?!?)

In other news...

  • Have you seen the fantastic ceramic signs (made by Sophie and some of our other gardeners) dotted around the communal beds to identify plants and let communal crew folks know what to pick? I think they give our garden a bit of character.
  • Sunday 12th saw Communal Crew and Food Forest friends enjoying a very productive mid-month session. Some welcome, fresh new faces in the food forest brought enthusiasm and energy and helped us get lots of much needed weeding and watering which I'm sure helped with the heat as well. We fixed up the shade on the greenhouse too.
  • Our recent efforts towards a chookhouse for the garden have sadly come to nowt. Thanks again to Rosemary for being so generous and patient.
One of our new communal bed "Pick me now"
signs modelled here by Shane

Friday, January 3, 2014

Food Forest Fix Day (Sunday 12th)

Happy 2014! Kick off your new year by coming along to our next food forest fix session on Sunday 12th January from 10am. 

We're glad so many of you (over 30!) have expressed interest in helping to manage and develop the Food Forest. It's a volunteer project - it only happens if people help.

Before you read any further, go to your 2014 calendar and add "Food Forest" at 10am on the 2nd Sunday of each month. If you only make it every other month that's 12-18 hours of your year. Doesn't sound like much but it'll really make a difference to the food forest.

Last month's food forest working bee was, shall we say ... compact (about 5 of us) but productive (we made good progress on installing a watering system). This month we'd love more of you to come along. Whether you're in the Friends of the Food Forest or not, everyone is invited and welcome.

The more hands we have the easier it is for everyone.

Don't forget to bring gloves, a hat, sturdy footwear and something to eat.

What needs doing?

Apart from those couple of really hot days we've had, it's been a good growing season so far. 

Unfortunately this means the weeds are doing just as well as everything else and we need to get on top of them before they take over! 

We also need to water, tidy up the windfall fruit, spread a bit of mulch, tie in the grape vines and of course eat left over Christmas cake and have a cuppa.

If you haven't been to the garden or food forest for a while, come along and say hi. The Communal Crew will also be in action.

See you down there!