Feeds:
Posts
Comments

A Natural Garden

When did you last visit the garden? Was it when it was looking its best, flush with new Spring growth and seedlings? Resplendent in plum blossoms or mulberries.?Was it in Winter when the citrus was heavy with big orange balls of healthy fruit or were smaller green limes on display?

Was it after prolonged rain when everything, weeds and all, grew rampantly? Or when there was no rain and everything looked droopy and a little brown?

Did you visit before or after we picked up the discarded lolly wrappers, beer bottles, nappies and pizza boxes?

Was the garden a hive of activity with families, children and gardeners or were you the only one there?

And today, just now, what does it look like? Well, it can, as one critic said,  look a bit abandoned, but only to those who don’t now what to look for. Did you see the new bunches of grapes, the unusual Davidson plums growing up the trunk, the bright blue flowers of curly lettuce, the macadamias, the blueberries?

The community garden is an organic edible garden where we practice messy seed saving and hand removal of weeds, companion planting, Permaculture and more. You’ll see plants that attract beneficial insects and other that repel unwanted bugs. And you’ll see plenty of bugs and bees.

You’ll see different ways of protecting young seedlings, like a covering of an old banana leaf for sun-protection. You might catch us before we replant a spent vegetable bed; a bed probably full of weeds and straggly plants. But come the next week you’ll see that same bed, weeded, with a layer of garden-made compost and another layer of mulch, ready for planting.

Our beautiful garden relies entirely on our garden members. We are all volunteers. We clean, plant, weed, water, harvest and compost because we love the idea of contributing our little bit to making this planet more sustainable. Why don’t you come and join us!

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Come and celebrate at our inspiring community garden. It’s our 7th birthday!

Starting at 10am. All welcome.

The day’s activities include:

  • All day – wood-fired pizzas
  • Good coffee
  • Local music
  • Bake & plant stall
  • Penned chickens
  • Children’s activities 
  • Prizes

 

  •       11am Compost Demonstration
  •       11am-12:30 Crop Swap 
  •       1pm Splitting a Native Bee Hive

 

1 - 1 (8)       

 

 

 

We’ve successfully had our general public composting bins at Manly Vale Community Garden for over 6 years now.

Of course it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. We’ve had our fair (unfair) share of yucky nappies, nappy wipes and all manner of plastic rubbish, but on the whole we feel you (and us) are making a great contribution to reducing landfill. Not to mention creating new soil to grow healthy fruit and vegetables (but that’s  another story).

Well… Recycling your food scraps has got a whole lot easier. We now have 10 litre food grade recycled plastic buckets.

  • Pop one on your kitchen bench, chuck in your food waste (no meat), add some torn up paper as you go.
  • When it is full leave it in the compost area, up the back in the Garden, and grab a new bucket! How easy is that!

 

043

Can you believe we have been around for nearly 7 years! Seems like yesterday we were knee deep in community garden governance and local politics, policies and plans. We couldn’t wait to get our hands dirty and start gardening.

We didn’t know who would come to the garden or who would join us. What would their commitment be? Would they ‘get it’? Would we become a pristine abundant food forest or a bug-infested wasteland?

As it happens it all turned our alright. We have members from every walk of life and every age group and it seems like from every country. The most heart warming aspect of our adventure has been how much we have become part of the local community.

So without further ado I would like to invite you to:

MVCG’S 6th Birthday Spring Fair Saturday 3rd September – A celebration of community and organic gardening.

  • Learn how to build healthy soils with compost. Grab a free compost bucket for “drop and swap”. What’s that? You’ll have to come along to find out. You could win a compost bin!
  • See how to grow your own organic fruit and vegetables.The chooks will be clearing a garden patch ready for planting and we’ll take you on a garden tour as well as giving you the lowdown on keeping chickens.
  • Come and learn all about stingless native bees.
  • Visit the Hub and see what’s happening in your local environment. Representatives from Freshie Community Garden, the soon to be Curly Community Garden, Baringa Community Garden, Permaculture Northern Beaches, Kimbriki and the Mermaid Pool will be on hand to entice you to become more involved in your local environment.
  • We’re busy baking so we’ll have some home made goodies to sell as well as wood-fired herb pizzas and potatoes.
  • Local young man, Bayley Dunn,  will be entertaining us with his fabulous music.
  • And finally.. will you be a winner of the “best plot competition”, judged by Judith Sleipjen, the garden guru from Peninsular Living magazine.

See you there.

Happy Gardening

Lets talk about Pigeon Peas (Cajanus cajan)

They are small trees or shrubs. We have one growing in the garden. Pigeon peas are nitrogen fixers, deep rooted , very edible and easy to grow short lived plants.
The pigeon pea is a perennial legume from the family Fabaceae. Since its domestication in India at least 3,500 years ago, its seeds have become a common food grain in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Wikipedia
 It is very high in protein, potassium, dietary fibre and  contains calcium, iron, Vit B6 and magnesium.
 You can find out all about this versatile plant at this website.
Growing Pigeon Peas, An Incredibly Versatile Permaculture Plant
Image result for pigeon pea plant

Seed Raising

Here is the original post by Anne-Marie from June 2011. We miss you. Hope you are having a wow of a time in your mobile home.

Hi everyone,

Let’s get seed-raising for our First Birthday Spring Fair celebration so we can have spectacular flowers, vegetables and herbs growing throughout the garden.

Here’s how to start your seeds growing in winter, for spring planting, by making up a seed protection box using one of those foam boxes you can pick for free from a green grocery shop/fruit market (they usually throw them out so just make sure the boxes are without holes in the bottom or sides).

What you need to get the seeds growing:

  • 1 protection foam box
  • Either single cell punnets or multi cell punnets (clean with warm soapy water and dry before adding growing mixture
  • Seeds (one variety per punnet; if you have enough seed then one variety per box)
  • Seed growing mix
  • Masking tape
  • Permanent marker
  • Plastic spray bottle  filled with water
  • Clear plastic (enough to cover top of box to keep seeds & young seedlings warm)
  • 4 sticks for box (sticks should be the height of box plus 6”)
  • Seeds
  • A couple of bricks or something to hold the 4th side down

What to do:

  1. Cut the foam box down to 2” above height of seed punnets.
  2. Use the masking tape to tape a stick to each inside corner of the foam box
  3. Label each punnet using masking tape (or paddle pop sticks). If you have the same seeds for the whole box just write the name of the seed etc on the outside of the box.
  4. Add a very thin layer of water to bottom of foam box.
  5. Fill punnets with prepared plant raising mix
  6. If the seeds are very small put about 2 to 3 seeds per cell for multi-cell punnets. Larger seeds put 2 in each cell.
  7. Very lightly spray the punnets with water using the plastic spray bottle.
  8. Use the clear plastic to cover the box.  Take it over the top of the sticks and down over the 4th side of the box. Tape plastic to 3 sides on the box but leave the 4th side loose.  Don’t tape this side down as you need to be able to water the seeds with the spray bottle.  Just tuck the plastic under a couple of bricks to hold it down over the box and to keep the seeds from the weather.
  9. Put the box in a sheltered place but with plenty of light.  Once the seedlings are up you can gradually bring them out into the sun and when there are stronger you can take the plastic off and they should be ready for transplanting into the community garden.
  10. Make sure that the seeds do not dry out but also make sure that you don’t have them swimming in water.  When the seeds come up watere regularly and don’t let them dry out.
  11. Once the seedlings are growing strongly we can start planting them.

Here’s a list of plants that will grow well at the community garden:

Edible flowers:

  • Pansies
  • Johnny-Jump-ups Viola tricolor
  • Small Snapdragons Antirrhinum majus
  • Yellow gem marigolds
  • Calendula
  • Cornflowers Centaurea cynaus
  • Sundews Portulacas   (these can also be grown from small plant cuttings)
  • Carnations Dianthus caryophyllus
  • Pinks Dianthus
  • Impatiens Impatiens wallerana
  • Native Violets & Violets

Salad greens :

  • Migunette lettuce (Red and green)
  • Butter lettuce

Veggies:

  • Tomatoes
  •  Rainbow Chard
  • English Spinach & Spinach

Herbs:

  • Coriander or Cilantro
  • Bee Balm Monarda didyma
  • French Lavender
  • Dill
  • Angelica Angelica archangelica
  • Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum 
  • Borage Borago officinalis
  • Burnet Sanquisorba minor
  • Chevil
  • Marjoram (will grow by cuttings)
  • Sage (any different species would be great) we already have the common Sage and Pineapple Sage (will grow by cuttings)
  • Ground cover rosemary (will also grow by cutting)
  • Lemon thyme
  • Ground cover thyme
  • Common thyme
  • Savoury
  • Chives and garlic chives
  • French Tarragon

If you have any other herbs to spare that would be great as we will start up a herb garden

Another homemade small greenhouse can be made using a large plastic soft drink bottle.

  1. Take the lid off and keep for use after you have completed your greenhouse
  2. Cut the plastic bottle in half (lengthways) using a knife
  3. Put growing soil in one half of the container and sow tomato seeds in this
  4. Spray with water
  5. Use masking tape to seal up the two sides of the bottle
  6. You can put the lid back on
  7. Water through the lid as needed (keep the soil moist but not wet
  8. Put near a window but not too close (keep it warm but not hot)
  9. Watch your seeds grow and when they are near the top of the little greenhouse then they are ready to plant.

Some other plant growing containers

You can also use a foam box (this time with holes) and plant tomato seeds in there (use a good soil mix with plenty of old manure for this one)

Use a very large clear plastic bag over the whole box and water as necessary (again keep the soil moist but not wet).  You should get a lot of seeds come up this way.

The same method can be used with an ordinary pot to grow cuttings or seeds.  Use a small pot for seeds and larger one for cuttings.

You also need some sticks to hold the plastic bag up and masking tape to hold the bag down around the pot.  Same deal water as needed.

Happy potting

Anne-Marie McArdle

MVCG’s Roving Gardener

As you know, our beautiful Manly Vale Community Garden is an organic garden. You can eat strawberries straight from the ground, firstly ascertaining that a small child has not wee’d on them; feast on mulberries straight from the tree. No need to wash.

We use homemade ‘fertilisers’ like worm juice and compost tea; coffee grounds, compost and animal manures. We interplant and ‘mix it up’ to confuse the bad bugs and lovingly plant special flowers like calendula and marigolds to attract beneficial insects.

We even sacrifice our pristine park-like grounds to scruffy seed saving. Are we doing well? Yes you betcha we are.

But…. then there is Marketing. Unless you have hours/days to spare on Mr Google or are a biochemist/scientist, at some point you have to take your organic supplier at face value. Or if you are a tiny bit paranoid like me, you do your research.

Just because something is marketed as organic does not necessarily mean it cannot be harmful. A point in example is Spinosad, an insecticide, derived from naturally occurring beneficial soil bacteria,  for the control of caterpillars, fruit fly etc. Spinosad has been implicated in the world-wide widespread decline in bee colonies ie it  has been found to be toxic to bees.

(For more information – http://www.bigpictureagriculture.com/2012/01/honeybee-decline-story-spinosads-and.html. There are many articles out there).

Which brings me to slugs and snails. I rather like snails as does my blue -tongues, so never need to use any control apart from a ring of ash or egg shells around my seedlings at home. However not everyone is the same and I have recently come across an organic snail & slug killer.

Multiguard Snail & Slug Killer, guaranteed  not to harm you, your pets or wildlife. Sounds good? Yes…but.

It’s all a bit confusing really.

The main ingredient is Iron EDTA complex. Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid,(EDTA) a synthetic fertiliser. EDTA is a chelate. I remember from my soil lectures, chelates are not a bad thing, definitely something that will help your citrus if needed. “A  chelate is a soluble, organic compound that bonds with metals such as Fe, Mn, and Mg and increases their solubility and, thus, their plant uptake.  In essence, what iron chelates do is protect the iron from precipitation to an unavailable form.”  http://www.harrells.com/blog/irony-in-iron.

However, EDTA has not been given organic status. In 2007, as a snail bait, it was not added to the US National List on the recommendation of the National Organic Standard Board  because, “Is not consistent with environmental and compatibility with organic farming OFPA criteria primarily due to the behaviour of EDTA in the environment and the toxic chemicals used to manufacture.”

http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5066636 

More information can be found at

http://www.hostalibrary.org/firstlook/RRIronPhosphate.htm

Reading further I found that EDTA is used for soil amelioration especially where there is lead contaminated soil. The conclusions (edited) from the book Soil Remediation and Plants: Prospects and Challenges edited by Khalid Hakeem, Muhammad Sabir, Munir Ozturk, Ahmet Ruhi Mermut, are as follows:-

  • Soil- applied EDTA can adversely impact soil enzymatic and microbial activities
  • At high concentrations EDTA can negatively affect soil fungi and plants
  • EDTA complexes are not easily biodegradable and may persist in soil for several months
  • The complex is not ideal in terms of plant uptake and translocation
  • EDTA salt can destroy the physical and chemical properties of soil
  • At higher rates, soil –applied EDTA can result in eutrophication because of excessive release of nitrogen from EDTA
  • EDTA can affect soil nutrients status due to unspecified co-mobilisation of macro- and micronutrients

Not a good look. Not to mention the reported cases of toxicity to dogs.

I’ll stick to snail-nibbled veggies, thanks.

Jenny

 

 

 

 

%d bloggers like this: