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Monday, April 28, 2014

Celebrate International Compost Awareness Week at our COMPOSTRAVANAGZA. Workshop! Prizes! Worms! Compost!! (May 10th)

Any resemblance to our Compost King is purely coincidental

Moreland Community Gardening and VEG invite you to a FREE Composting Workshop to celebrate International Compost Awareness Week (yes this is really real).

When: Saturday May 10th 10.30am – 1pm

Where: West Brunswick Community Garden, Behind 49 Everett Street, Brunswick West VIC 3055 (Enter via Everett St through the car park beside the Child Care Centre.)

What: Learn the art and science of how to team with worms and microbes to turn waste into rich organic topsoil – the cornerstone of organic gardening and ultimately human health. A hands-on session will have you confidently making compost. You will also learn how to set up a worm farm and how to use the wonderful by-products of these amazing critters in your garden. 

No space for your own compost system?  Then use the community garden compost hub.

We've got prizes to give away including:
  • A compost tumbler
  • A compost screw
  • Compost caddies
  • Ethical Shopping Guides
Entries for the competition will be collected between 10.30am – 11am, so get in early to be in the draw!

For more info please email us at:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

This Sunday's Garden & Gather

Autumn sunshine making everything look lush
Our next Garden & Gather is coming up this Sunday between 11am and 3pm.

As well as running an introduction for new gardeners, we'll be accepting membership and communal crew contributions if you haven't got around to paying yet.

We have plenty of stuff to do including:
  • Finishing off some of the mulching left from last weekend
  • Mounting the mural that was painted for us
  • Making personal plot name signs and taking plot holder photos
  • Building a structure for our new compost signs
  • Lifting the unhappy ruby grapefruit and give it a temporary home over winter
  • Removing the pesky passionfruit by the shed
  • Edging the remaining personal plots
  • Mulching inside the perimeter fence with straw
What to bring: gloves, sturdy shoes, something edible to share for lunch, a coat in case it rains

Remember, if you can’t make it this time, mark the 4th Sunday of each month on your calendar and plan to make it to 2 or 3 working bees each year.

See you there!

Friday, April 18, 2014

What to sow or plant in autumn

It's really autumn now. How lovely. We've even (finally!) had some rain. But it's such a busy time, with one season's produce to be dealt with in the kitchen, and another's to get into the ground.

We're making pesto for the freezer, stirring jam and chutney, bottling quinces and plums, and getting our winter and spring crops in the ground. And who would want it any other way?

A few more decades and our garden will look like this.

So here are a few things you can get started in April & May:

  • Beetroot
  • Bok choy
  • Broad beans
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Garlic
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Kale
  • Kohl rabi
  • Lettuce (try Cos, Imperial, or green or brown Mignonette)
  • Leeks
  • Mitzuna
  • Onions
  • Peas
  • Rocket
  • Shallots
  • Silver beet or rainbow chard
  • Spinach
  • Swedes
  • Turnips.

You can also plant perennial vegetables and fruit such as strawberries, asparagus and globe artichokes, as well as herbs like chives, oregano, sage, thyme and parsley.

Yes. That's a lot. But get a few things in the ground now, and they can be quietly growing over winter while you're inside in the warm, eating home-made jam on toast.

Happy digging!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Doing something about food theft from our garden

Hi there,
As you probably know, lots of people visit our garden. They enjoy wandering through and admiring our efforts. It’s an important aspect of our garden that we are open and welcoming and it’s how many of us first got involved.

Unfortunately some of our visitors don’t just look, some are taking food that isn’t theirs to take. For a while we’ve been hearing reports ranging from the loss of an occasional eggplant through to whole crops being taken from personal plots just as they’re ready to pick. We’ve recently tried putting up some signs but it hasn’t helped.

This is very sad, disappointing and frustrating for everyone but ESPECIALLY for those committed people who lose their food! As it’s happening quite a bit, we must do something about it or we risk being an open, welcoming garden with lots of unhappy gardeners.

Ty Cacek/The New York Times
"A gardener's recipe for vengeance at the Sixth Street and Avenue B Community Garden in Manhattan."
We're not alone: community gardeners everywhere experience food theft, all deal with it differently
Last week, at our monthly meeting, nine members of our organising committee made this problem our highest priority. There was vigorous discussion about lots of different options and we agreed unanimously on a plan.
For 3 months we’re going to put locks on the garden gates.

Why are we doing this?
This won’t stop someone who is determined to take food but it should send a clear message and deter most people.
We’ll take this time to make some proper signage and work out what else we can do to combat this bad behaviour. Please share any ideas you have about this.

When will it start?
We’ll set a new combination for the shed, wheelbarrows and gate and lock up for the first time from the end of the next Garden & Gather (Sunday 27th April 11am -3pm).

What else?
One gate will have a combination lock like the shed and wheelbarrows
The other gate will have a keyed lock for people who have trouble using the combination lock.
All our combination locks (shed, wheelbarrows, gate) will have the same combination.

How do I get the new combination or a key?
To get the new combination (or to get a key) you’ll need to come along to the next Garden & Gather (Sunday 27th April 11am -3pm).

If you can’t make it then we’ll have someone at the garden on the following dates/times:
  • Thurs 17 April 10.30-11.30am
  • Mon 28 April 5.00 - 7.30pm
  • Tues 29 April 5.00 - 7.30pm
  • Sat 3 May 10.00-11.00am
  • Mon 5 May 5.00 - 7.30pm
  • Tues 6 May 5.00 - 7.30pm
  • Thurs 8 May 5.00 - 8.00pm
  • Fri 9 May 10.15 - 11.15am or 6.00 - 6.30pm
  • Thurs 15 May 7.30 - 8.00pm
Like I said before, this is an unwanted and sad turn of events but we feel we need to take this action to address the important issue.

If you have anything to say about it, please feel free to email us ( or bring it up down at the garden with a member of the organising committee.

Optus RockCorps Volunteer Working Bee - Sat 19th April

Remember last Winter we were lucky enough to host a Food Forest Permablitz when about 60 volunteers (including many of us) helped us get months of work done in a day? Big days like this can give us a real boost, tackling big jobs that might take us 3-4 monthly working bees. We made some new friends and had a fun day too.

If you go down to the garden this Saturday, you're in for a big surprise...not so much a teddy bears picnic*, more like a BIG volunteer gift to our garden and us from Optus RockCorps who provide opportunities for people to volunteer their time in return for exclusive music rewards.
(* I might be showing my age with the Teddy Bears Picnic reference.)

A few weeks ago they asked if we could benefit from one of their working bees. In short they were offering to help organise and run the day, bring 40-60 volunteers who'll help us to make things better at the garden and food forest. How could we pass up an offer like that!?!?

Since then we've been busy getting a program of work organised, sourcing materials and getting all the details sorted out. It's happening this Saturday, 19th April between 10am and 2pm. Here's some of what we have lined up for people to do on the day:
  • Sheet-mulching outside the whole garden perimeter, creating grass-free buffer outside the fence to help us manage the never-ending grass problem
  • Installing more of the food forest watering system to reduce the number of people needed to do watering
  • More sheet-mulching in the almond/pistachio area to protect the low tree branches from mowing and to help the trees
  • Painting some mural panels that we can hang on the fence to brighten things up and act as a wind break
  • There are some other things we'll try to get done too like Communal bed raised bed building using pallets weeding garden and food forest.
Although this is their gift to us you're very welcome to join in if you want to. If you're interested, please go here and register.

A few dedicated members of the garden organising committee (thanks Anna, Jools, Karen and Janelle) will be there to lend a hand. If you're passing by give them and the other volunteers a yell and say "Thanks!". They're all doing us a massive favour.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Cloudehill-Growing Garlic Workshop

Hey all. I'm fresh back from Cloudehill up in the Dandenongs. It's a great garden and now host to a new Diggers shop. See below for a summary of the garlic growing workshop.

Reason to Grow your Own

Only 13% of the garlic consumed in Australia is grown here. THe majority of this garlic is grown using non-organic growing methods which use herbicides and perticides in the process to control pests and weeds

The rest is imported from China,racking some serious food miles in the process and requiring additional use of chemicals (fumigation with methyl bromide).

Growing your own reduces the embodied energy of the garlic you use , allows you to take control of the flavour and relative heat (it’s ranked on a scale from 0-10) of the garlic you have available and , if grown well, will give you a better quality product.

Read on to see how you can grow it correctly.

How to Grow Garlic

Soil preparation: Diggers reccomendation was to add plenty of compost to your bed before sowing garlic. As long as the compost is well-matured you can sow the garlic on the same day you dig in your compost.If you don’t know what mature compost looks like it should smell ‘earthy’ and look like the compost in Bay 5 of our very own compost palace.

To lime or not to lime - Garlic likes a neutral to slightly alkaline pH (6.2 to7). Test your soil to see if you need to add lime . If your pH is lower than 6, then you should add lime. Again, well-matured compost will help to keep your soil ph neutral (around 7). COMPOST, COMPOST, COMPOST!

We will be testing the communal beds for soil pH and soil texture soon. If you want us to make this a workshop, let us know

When to sow: March and April is a good time to sow garlic. Diggers say that you should plant before the shortest day and harvest around the longest. So it needs to get in the soil before winter. To “bulb up” ,which is the process wherby the single clove you sow becomes the bulb you harvest, the garlic must be in the ground over the colder months.  A clove sown in spring is unlikley to grow into a bulb.

How to sow : ‘Activate’ your bulb by leaving it in the fridge for a week or more. Take out, break in to individula cloves and plant each clove (pointy end up) about 5cm deep (2nd joint on your finger). Plant each clove about 7cm apart.

Maintainance and feeding:
Once the green leves appear above the ground Diggers reccomended feeding fortnightly with a liquid organic fertiliser (Charlie Carp/Amingro) or weak worm juice/compost tea.

Weed control is also important. Gently hoe out small weeds when they appear or even better plant a fast growing nurse crop or “living mulch” such as loos leaf lettuce or asian green (Tatsoi/mizuna/mibuna)
  • From Nov to Dec, depending on variety (the leaves should start to go brown);
  • Fork up and brush off dirt;
  • Tie three or more bulbs together by their leaves;
  • Hang in a dry place with ventilation.
  • After two weeks transfer to a cool, dry place to store.
  • Eat when and how you like :) but don’t forget to keep a couple of bulbs for sowing next year.


Two main types

  • Soft Neck: smaller bulbs and generally store for up to 12 months
  • Hard Neck: bigger bulbs that are easier to peel but only store to 6 months.

...but lot’s of varieties (Diggers have at least 10). Try growing a couple of soft necks and a couple of hard necks of varying heat to see what works for you.

We plan to put some in the communal plot this year (Maybe Korean Red Below)