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Monday, January 19, 2015

Communal New Year

Sunday the 11th of January saw the ringing in of a new gardening year with the first Communal Crew day down at the WBCG.
Due to the great response to the weed emergency of last week, there wasn't a huge list of things to do, but as any gardener knows, once you're in the garden, suddenly more little jobs and adjustments become apparent.
 Encouraged by premium weather, compost was turned, rampant parsley and amaranth was diplomatically thinned, lettuce seeds sown, tomato seedlings planted and a bean-bed was staked.

 Cup-a-tea time was shared by a discussion about rust and a phantom tomato-wilting disease that exists in the soil. Libby diligently passed around samples of rust-effected marigolds (to be disposed off off site now) and a wasted tomato plant.
Marigold rust.
Through out the morning the harvest table was slowly added too with the end result a veritable bounty of various tomatoes, kale, zucchinis, amaranth and chinese cabbage. (See below).

We also welcomed a new comer to the garden, Jessie, who turned up just in time for cake and tomato planting.

The next communal crew day is on the 15th of February, if you feel like coming down.

The vegetable loot of hard labor. 

Friday, January 9, 2015

Did you know it's Veganuary?

Did you know it's Veganuary?

The Veganuary movement encourages people to 'try' vegan in the month of January.
Ripening Tomatoes at WBCG
You don't have to become vegan for the whole month, but the idea of veganism can help you consider increasing your intake of veggies, and think more about where your food comes from and how it comes to you.

With a great many tasty veggies available throughout summer months, like zucchinis, beans, capsicums, cucumbers, tomatoes, eggplants, many leafy greens, squash etc, it's easier than you think to 'veganise' a meal or two during the week. We've got heaps of these growing down at the West Brunswick Community Garden.

The key to 'veganising' is not to forget to replace the protein. Meat can be replaced by Tempeh, Tofu or nuts, and cheese can be replaced by avocado, nut cheese and savoury yeast flakes.
New Zucchini's at WBCG 
In baking, full-fat coconut cream can replace dairy-cream, it whips into stiff peaks just the same to top your vegan cakes. Eggs can be replaced by arrowroot & cornflower, or flaxseed meal.

Go on, why not experiment in January.
Here is some blog inspiration:

Vegan Richa.
Happy.Healthy. Life.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

WBCG Pictorial Update

Artichoke flower.
Hi all,
Have a look at our midsummer garden!
Zucchini patch in the communal beds. 
Hessian sacks helping to block wind through the fence.
Tomatoes and interplanted pumpkins.
Some private plots.

Summer growth - Kale, potatoes, pak choi.

Parsley going to seed.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Fundraising - Your help needed at Pascoe Vale Open Garden (Feb)

The last few years we've been lucky to partner with Karen Sutherland of Edible Eden Designs, when she has welcomed the public in their hundreds into her amazing edible garden in Pascoe Vale as part of the Open Gardens scheme.

In exchange for volunteering at the Open Garden we've shared in the gate takings. These funds (over $1000) have helped keep your annual fees low and our garden going.

Over the weekend of 21-22 February, Karen will open her garden once more. This time, as well as covering the gate (and sharing in these takings), we'll sell tea, coffee and cakes and perhaps a few pots of jam as well (money raised from this part all goes to the garden).

This is one of our key fundraising efforts each year and your help is needed. If you haven't helped yet this year, here's your chance! With 300 people on our mailing list including 80 members surely we can manage this.

What's involved?
As fundraising goes, this couldn't be much easier. You either get to: 
  • hang out for a few hours (Sat or Sun, morning or afternoon) in Karen's lovely, edible garden, chat to people who're interested in lovely, edible gardens while raising money for our lovely edible community garden, or
  • make some jam, biscuits or cakes in advance for us to sell
If you're up for helping to organise it then let us know.

Volunteers should email Mark at

This year the Open Garden scheme is winding up so you really should go and check out Karen's garden while you can. More details close to the time.

What's on when in January

January is a quiet month as far as planned sessions go, lots of people on holidays.

If there's a time you're available to spend time at the garden and you want company, let us know.

Fri 9th Jan         10ish - Friday Meetup **
Sat 10th Jan      12 - 2pm - General pottering **
Sun 11th Jan     10am - 1pm - Communal Crew working bee **
Fri 16th Jan       10ish - Friday Meetup **
                           6.30pm - dark - Twilight Gardening **
Sat 11th Jan       9 - 11am - General pottering
Thu 22nd Jan    10am - 12pm - General pottering **
Fri 23rd Jan       10ish - Friday Meetup **
Sun 25th Jan     9am - 1pm - Garden & Gather and Food Swap (note the time change for Dec, Jan & Feb)
Fri 30th Jan       10ish - Friday Meetup **

Sessions marked with ** will have someone who can provide advice and direction on Communal Crew activities.

Monday, January 5, 2015

New year, edible flowers and saving seeds

Hi all and happy new year!

As we're reaching the peak of summer (strange how it gets hotter and more 'summery' after the longest day and summer solstice, the 21st of December)

The height of summer means two things in terms of crops: peak productivity or flowering/seeding.
Flowering Pak Choi

Many summer-season crops: beans, zucchini's, seasonally planted kale and collards are at their productive peak.any of you may be benefiting from such harvests, or pulling your hair about a glut (why do all the tomatoes seem to come at once?) of veggies, a phenomenon that has spawned the cute, National Sneak Some Zucchini Into Your Neighbor's Porch Day in the USA. 

The other side is some earlier crops, and herbs flowing and going to seed. This means: 1. Edible flowers (try rocket, parsley, borage or coriander flowers in salads!) and 2. Seed saving.

In an era where we are seeing the monopolisation of the worlds seeds by big scary multinational corporations like Monsanto, seed saving is more important than ever. Or, if you are not so politically inclined, seed saving offers a-few-dollars-saved on buying new seeds from the shop next year.

Points on seed saving:
  • Save seed from the best plants and eat the rest.
  • Save seed from non-hybrid plants (commonly referred to as heritage, old-fashioned or open pollinated plants.) They are the plants most likely to produce offspring that are like their parents.
  • Seed collection should take place when the plant is mature and the seeds have had time to properly form. When the seeds form either in a pod like a bean, or on a stalk as with silverbeet, then it is best to let them dry on the plant for as long as is practical. 
  • When collecting the seeds from fruiting plants it is best to collect from really ripe fruit. In some cases, such as with cucumbers and melons, the fruit is left until it is almost rotting on the vine. 
  • Some fruit, like tomatoes can be removed semi-ripe then left to ripen fully off the plant.
  • Most seed, such as that from lettuce or kale are dry. Simply remove them from their capsules/pods and store them somewhere cool and dry.
  • When it comes to fleshy seed, such as tomatoes, there are two ways of saving seed:
  1. Soak the pulp in water overnight to allow it to ferment. This removes the natural germination inhibitors. After washing and straining through a sieve, the seed can be dried (on a window sill on paper or in an old jar lid) and stored.
  2. Slice the veggie, ie. tomato, squeeze the pulp directly onto paper towelling and let it dry before storing. When it's time to sow the seed, just cut off a piece of towelling/paper with four to six seeds on it and sow them.
  • Store dried seeds in screw top jars or paper bags/envelopes. Make sure they are dry or you risk mould developing.
Source:, ABC Gardening Australia

Coriander gone to seed