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.




The Art of Composting and Worms

Thu 24 July, 10am
Sun 27 July, 10am
Kimbriki Eco House and Garden, Terrey Hills
Free. Book on 9486 3512
Warringah residents who attend receive a free worm farm.

National Tree Day

Sun 27 July, 9am to 12pm
Dee Why Beach
Meet on the North side of Dee Why Surf Club
Join us to create wildlife corridors and enhance the dunes at Dee Why Beach.
Entertainment for the whole family plus a free sausage sizzle.
Wear a hat, covered shoes, long sleeved shirt and pants.
Free, no need to book.
For more information, email Nicole McVicar

Dogs Big Day Out

Sun 24 Aug, 10:30 to 2:30
Frenchs Forest Showground, Blackbutts Road
Check out the Eco Van native animal display, and indulge in all things canine.
Free, no bookings required.

Stony Range Spring Festival

Sun 24 Aug, 10am to 4pm
Stony Range Botanical Garden
Pittwater Road, Dee Why
Guided walks, native plants for sale and a free sausage sizzle.
Free, no bookings required.


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




  • 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



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

Continue Reading »

%d bloggers like this: