Archive for the ‘committee posts’ Category

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!



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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

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Growing Pigeon Peas

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

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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.”


More information can be found at


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.






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You know when I was a kid, more than 50years ago, the Sydney region climate was classed as temperate. Now we are definitely sub-tropical.

The good thing about growing your own, is that you can create micro-climates in your gardens and grow plants with different climate requirements at the same time.

So this list is for sub-tropical Sydney from Gardenate http://www.gardenate.com/plants

Broad beans; Fava beans, Beetroot, Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory, Chives, Collards, Endive, Garlic, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mustard greens, Onion, Parsnip, Peas, Radish, Rocket, Shallots; Eschalots, Silverbeet; Swiss Chard, Snow Peas; Sugar Peas.

You can also click onto this blog’s planting guide pages for more information.

Happy Gardening

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  • 4 cups packed nasturtium leaves
  • 2 cups packed nasturtium flowers
  • 1 1/2 cups olive oil 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups walnuts or almonds or macadamias
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese


  • Pick a basket full of fresh, healthy leaves and flowers without any blemishes. If your plants aren’t blooming yet, using only the leaves is fine too.
  • Thoroughly wash and dry the leaves and flowers; tear larger leaves in half
  • Add the leaves, flowers, garlic, olive oil, nuts, and Parmesan to a blender or food processor.
  • Blend all the ingredients until the mixture is smooth.
  • Ladle the pesto into small jars, refrigerate. It should keep for up to two weeks.
  • Can be frozen


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Nasturtium is known for its warm cheerful flowers which are often used as a culinary garnish. All parts of the plant are edible, and have a peppery taste similar to watercress. Sow nasturtiums around the base of fruit trees to deter codling moth, woody aphids and borers. Alternatively, make an insect controlling spray by infusing nasturtium leaves in boiling water. Nasturtium is also grown as a companion plant to vegetables to improve pest resistance.



from Northey St City Farm News – JUNE 2014


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