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 out 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


  • Tomatoes
  •  Rainbow Chard
  • English Spinach & Spinach


  • 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.”


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.






Putting life back into Garden Soils


Rebuilding fertility and Soil Structure, to easily grow healthy plants & Vegetables

Use worm extract microbial fertiliser, organic and biology based. Use your “Worm Farms”.

Biology, is where the future lies in rebuilding depleted Australian soils.

We have the worst depleted soils on earth, in Australia, but they can easily be made fertile if you understand how soils work, and what controls soil fertility.

Basic Building Blocks you need to understand

A healthy soil is full of life both microbial and all sorts of little critters including important ones like earth worms

To Rebuild Healthy Garden Soil and Fertility.

The first step to rebuilding our depleted garden soils is rebuilding the microbial life that was once in our soils, we should be looking at our soils as the biggest asset we have in the garden, without healthy fertile soils you will never grow healthy plants and you will be treating the plants for the same problems every year. As gardeners we should never impose detrimental gardening practices on our soils. If you look after your garden soil the soil will reward you with healthy plants and fresh nutrient dense vegetables.

Do you have Worm in Your Garden Soil?

When you dig in your garden are you seeing earth worms, if not this is the first indicator of low microbe numbers, low soil fertility and soil garden health. It’s commonly believed that worms eat organic matter when in fact worms eat microbiology; these are the organisms that are breaking down the organic matter in the garden soil and turning it into humus.

Why do I not have worms in my soil?

The problem with modern gardening practices is the use of synthetic fertilisers and chemicals to make it easier to grow plants, when in actual fact these synthetic compounds that are added to the soil sterilize the soil and kill off all the microbial life in the soil. Once you kill off the microbes in the soil you will no longer have earth worms.

How does this affect my soil then?

The microbes’ job in the soil is to cycle the nutrient and minerals in the soil and to break down and shred the organic matter turning these materials into a soluble form for plants to be able to absorb through the root wall. So the life in the soil is making organic fertiliser for your plants to be able to grow. the microbes and worms also move these materials around in the soil taking it down deeper into the soil, opening up the soil so it holds more air and water and allowing plant roots to penetrate deeper into the soil profile to assess more water and nutrients when conditions are dry.

Are You Struggling with Soil Compaction?

The Cause

Both machinery and foot traffic cause compaction, but the biggest cause is long term and over use of synthetic fertiliser. Soil compaction and sterilizing the soil’s microbial populations is caused by synthetic fertiliser and chemical abuse to your soil.

Soil microbes live on each and every soil particle in a healthy garden soil and they open up the pore space between each and every soil particles; this then allows air and moisture to penetrate into the soil profile, the microbes and worms also take organic matter down into the soil profile , this helps to break up clay soils and adds organic matter to sandy soils  improving its water holding capacity this also allows the plants roots to go down further into the soil profile after these compacted zones are opened up by soil microbes.

Soil Ph.; Should I know mine?

Yes.  Soil PH is critical and basically controls the soil function,  as soon as your soil PH swings away from neutral and gets above 8 and below 5 your soil microbe start to go dormant, so once this happens your nutrient cycling stops, also mineral availability is at its largest availability at around PH 6.4, as your PH swings you also get chemical lock up in your soil, so the minerals and nutrients  are there but unavailable for your plants to use.

How to stop the nutrients and minerals from leaching or washing out of your garden soil

With synthetic chemical fertilisers over watering or heavy rain leaches or washes the synthetic fertiliser down through your soil profile and away from your garden plants and veggies. This chemical then ends up in our ground water polluting our natural rivers and dams, plus our drinking water supplies

In a healthy garden soil, soil microbes consume the minerals, nutrients and tie up chemicals already in the soil profile, these compounds are then contained in the microbes’ bodies until the microbe is consumed or dies, this stops the nutrients and minerals from leaching out of the soil profile with heavy rain or irrigation. This is the organic slow release method of farming that is sustainable, and this is why you can reduce your fertiliser inputs

How can I reduce the amount of water my garden requires? 

Microbes coat each soil particle with a mucus layer that absorbs water this retains more moisture in the soil profile, also because the microbes open up the soil and allow more moisture deeper into the soil profile more water is stored for your garden use, with far less evaporation and as the microbes take organic matter deeper into the soil profile the soil retains more moisture.

Is your garden under pest and disease attack? What about Biological Control?  

Synthetic fertilisers kill off microbes and increase compaction and swing your Ph from where it should be, so soils with low microbe numbers, will be unable to defend or out compete the diseased organisms, both bacterial and fungal, when they arrive in your garden, you are then forced into treating with more chemicals that also have a detrimental effect on your soil and microbe numbers.

The biology contained in worm extracts (worm wee and castings) as a bio-control helps to protect the seeds, seedlings and plants from both pest and disease attacks, by helping to increase plant brix levels and supply the nutrients and minerals in a soluble form available to plants, the microbes will also consume disease spores from the soil and crop, when in good numbers. Build the microbial life in your soil and they will build soil health. Rebuilding soil microbe numbers is the key to soil fertility, if you are seeing mineral deficiency or pest attacks on your plants and vegetables it can always be traced back to mineral deficiency in the soil, don’t treat the problem you see on a plant, fix the problem once and for all, by repairing the soil.

How do I break down the organic matter in my soil?

Organic matter is broken down by microbes and turned into humus or plant food, the soil microbes and worms will also consume and eliminate any disease organisms contained in organic matter or manures that you have put on your garden, but with synthetic fertiliser use and chemical abuse on your garden and soil you can kill off the microbe numbers and be left with organic matter and manures that contains disease spores that will attack the next crop planted in it. Organic matter cannot break down without decomposing microbes, so this organic matter will just lay on the surface of the soil.

By using worm extract on your gardens and plants you are replacing the missing species of microbe that have been killed off with the extra benefit of soluble nutrients and minerals in an easy to apply liquid.

By reducing synthetic chemical use and building soil health you can build microbe numbers and rebuild your soils for more sustainable gardening whilst reducing your costs.


Thanks Rose

SWAP SHOP EAT REPEAT – Saturday 13th September 2014
Celebrating the garden’s 4th Birthday, an exciting event for everyone.
All funds raised go towards events like this and the garden’s needs.
Find the garden or contact the organisers – Click here

SWAP – Register now for the ladies clothes swap, please visit;
(Price – Gold coin donation payable on the day)
Registration is only for planning purposes of the clothes swap.
(MVCG won’t use registration list for any other purpose or share). SHOP – MVCG Membership stand
Join on the day and get extra bonus and member discounts at the event.
Prices hereUpside-down tomato plant
Make your own to take home at our workshop, everything supplied.
($10 non garden members, half price garden members)
(Time to be confirmed)
What is an upside down tomato plant? Click me for video.

Good prizes, drawn on the day (Tickets $2 each or 3 for $5)
Choice of prizes if there when drawn. More to follow with thanks to our supporters:

Aluz Remedial Therapies, P: 9982 2058  1/846 Pittwater Road, Dee Why
1 hr Facial x 1 Voucher
1 hr Relaxation Massage x 1 Voucher

We use these products at the garden and love them.
Starter kits x 3

Garden Set x 1

EAT – Available for sale at the event.

Tasty collection of cakes
Made with love from the community gardeners

Sausages, onions and selection of breads/sauce etc
(Price $3 Sausage sandwich – Half price for garden members)

Home-made lemonade
MVCG’s famous lemonade made on-site. We may even let you have a go at squeezing the lemons (how fresh is that?)
(Price – free for children, adults donation)

REPEAT – Do it all again, but wait, there’s more…

Art with Angela Van Boxtel
Children can make a masterpiece that may end up in the garden or take home (Time to be confirmed)

Chickens are visiting. 
Big thanks to New Leaf Nursery for the loan of some chickens for
our event. Highly recommend this Nursery for all your needs, great supporter of our garden.
Phone: 02 9913 3709
Fax: 02 9970 8590
Email: info@newleafnursery.com.au
Web: www.newleafnursery.com.au
224 Powderworks Rd (Cnr Wilson Ave), Ingleside,  NSW

Northern beaches native bees talk with Dan Smailes
From 2pm, bee there!

Live Music
(To be confirmed)

More updates to come…latest edit 1/9/14

Why not check photos from our previous events.


Upside-down tomato plant


Angela Van Boxtel – Street Art


Native sting-less bees

Swap Shop Eat Repeat

SWAP SHOP EAT REPEAT – Saturday 13th September 2014
Celebrating the garden’s 4th Birthday, an exciting event for everyone.
Come along and CELEBRATE with the 4th Birthday of the Manly Vale Community Garden on Saturday 13 September! Lots of fun stuff to do as well as a clothes swap, yummy food, play and art for the kids, lots of plants, and learning about the garden.
AND of course Angela will be there too, to make some lovely ECO ART with the kids!


Saturday, 13 September 2014 from 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM


Event Details

SWAP SHOP EAT REPEAT – Ladies Clothes Swap Event

Bring up to 10 pieces of ladies’ clothing and/or accessories to the Manly Vale Community Garden on Saturday 13 September 2014. All items must be clean and in good condition. You may take away up to the number of clothes you bring, for gold coin donation.

How it works

Time: Register your items onsite from 9.00am. The swap will start at approximately 10.00am.

Please note, this will be a partly outdoor event, run by community garden volunteers. Any leftover clothing items from the day will be donated to Lifeline Northern Beaches for sale in their charity op shops.

All money raised will go to the Manly Vale Community Garden Inc.

To register go to    http://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/swap-shop-eat-repeat-event-ladies-clothes-swap-tickets-12573968077


The chickens are coming to our 4th birthday on the 13th Sept! Big thanks to Daniel at New Leaf Nursery, Ingleside. No, we won’t be eating our friends, they are coming for a play date. www.newleafnursery.com.auThe chickens are coming to our 4th birthday on the 13th Sept! Big thanks to Daniel at New Leaf Nursery, Ingleside. No, we won't be eating our friends, they are coming for a play date. www.newleafnursery.com.au

Post adapted from Angela van Boxtel’s blog. and David Sawyer’s posts.



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