Thursday, September 5, 2013

Spring News

Here is the latest news from  Community Gardeners:

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Mackie Lane Update:

Norma's amazing sweet peas along Mackie Lane
The garden is an absolute picture at the moment with the majority of beds planted out and producing generous crops of vegetables including rainbow chard, carrots, turnips, Asian greens, lettuce, rocket, broccoli and peas.

Mackie Lane is a sea of brilliant colour from the two metre high sweet peas growing along the fence. Large bunches of flowers are being picked each Wednesday and Sunday, encouraging even more growth and flowers.

There has been a great deal of progress over winter with the building of new beds in readiness for groups of children from Middle Harbour After School Care and Bond Street Montessori coming to participate in our garden. We continue to celebrate with food and drinks on the first Sunday of the month, but were sad to farewell Maria, Scott and Anna who are leaving Australia. Greg Burns has been busy trying new ideas as he explains below:

Perry Runners: going gang busters!
The Strawberry Wall: What do you do with a surplus of wooden pallets, a desire to explore the vertical space in your garden, and a great need for lots more strawberries? Build a vertical strawberry bed! We simply placed four pallets on their side secured by steel posts, lined the inside with weed mat to hold the soil, and then filled both sides of the pallets with 200 strawberry runners! The inspiration and all the instructions were from ABC Gardening. The 200 strawberry runners were sourced from Perry Runners, who provided great service and the right price.

Wicking Beds: The garden seems to be forever expanding as the total area has doubled during the last year and bed construction steadily progresses. Naturally the task of watering and the amount of water required is also growing. In response we decided to build raised beds that virtually watered themselves. A growing bed of soil and mushroom compost sits on top of a reservoir of water and a wick acts as conduit between the two. This wicking bed approach can be found in the Gardening Australia magazine, Sept 2011 p52.

Edible TeePea: What do you get when you throw together a few bamboo sticks, some string, a few bricks and pots with some pea seeds? A productive cubby house for the kids! The inspiration and instructions for our edible TeePea can be found in the Gardening Australia magazine, Oct 2011.

Thank you

We have had some wonderful financial support lately for which we are very grateful. Rotary has given us a grant to provide shading in the garden; Mosman Council has given us a grant to expand the number of garden beds and implement our plans for a kids program and Bunnings Balgowlah has kindly donated a garden shed.

Middle Head Update:

Visitors at Middle Head

Production and harvesting has continued throughout the winter and we’re pleased that the native beds are surviving well without netting. We have decided to plant dwarf paper daisies at each end of our native beds as the paper daisies we planted last year were very tall. Our broccoli and brocolini plants have been very successful and we continue to harvest celery, parsley, coriander, snow peas, silver beet and lettuce. Broad beans and potatoes are progressing well.

Members have enjoyed nibbles and drinks on the last Sunday each month and we had a special celebration in July for Anna and Dario before they left for Italy to be married on August 31st. We look forward to welcoming them back in Spring. Our spring planting will include silver beet, Asian salad greens, capsicum, lettuce, eggplant, zucchini and possibly tomatoes.

ABC Vegie Garden App: ABCVegie Guide is an essential tool for all vegetable gardeners – from the novice to the experienced - to help you find out what vegie should be planted when, no matter the climate zone you’re in. ABC Vegie Guide will give you all the information you need to produce healthy crops throughout the year, including growing tips, pest and disease control pointers and harvest guides.

Mackie Lane September 2013

We hope you are enjoying the warmer weather and look forward to seeing you in the gardens sometime.

Cheers Tina

Mosman Community Gardeners

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Winter News

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Mackie Lane Update: We continue to nourish the soil with manures and compost for winter planting. So far this includes broadbeans, peas, cauliflowers, Asian greens, garlic (lots of garlic!), strawberries, rhubarb and much more.  The square metre gardens are also doing well. The large tree near the garden entrance, the site of many garden celebrations, has responded well to our care and grown about two metres since we started.  

The succulents on the Mackie Lane footpath outside the garden have grown from single leaves and are now extremely impressive. 

We’re working as a group to develop the planting plan for winter and looking ahead to spring. Meanwhile planning is also underway to make the new section of the garden a more welcoming space and we continue to source paling fences to recycle into new garden beds. 

With the larger space we now need to make ‘rooms’ and come up with ways to bring more height into the garden. We’re sharing ideas and look forward to further beautifying the space.

The team is also seeking sponsorship for a new garden shed to provide much needed secure and dry storage and, potentially in the future to have a pergola like structure to provide shelter and shade. This will allow us to have more education workshops, which can go ahead despite inclement weather.

Mackie Lane Monthly Celebration: At our recent MCG meeting we decided to have a monthly celebration on the first Sunday of the month. Come along on Sunday 2 June at 4pm after the regular Mackie Lane working bee. BYO drinks and nibbles. We will also take this opportunity to toss around some ideas for the new section of the garden. All welcome.

Middle Head Update: The curry plot is growing well and the snow peas are thriving at the other end of that plot. The soil in Bed 3 was completely removed and sifted to clear away the fine roots from the pine tree nearby. A geotextile mat was installed on top of cardboard and paper to inhibit the tree root penetration. The soil was then replaced with manure and compost, and a layer of Lucerne mulch. A nice crop of broad beans is growing, as well as broccoli, parsley and mustard leaf. Cabbage seedlings have recently been added to this bed. Hoops have been added to strengthen the framework and the netting re- installed. Pea seeds planted in Bed 1 have provided a challenge and we are now trying new pea seeds in their place. We are regularly harvesting broccoli, silver beet, chilies, celery, parsley and lettuce from the other beds. Root vegetables and garlic are also growing. Nets have been removed from the Native Food beds and the local wildlife is not dining on the produce.

The plaque in memory of David Luke is now in place on the sandstone rock next to the Sandpaper Fig.

Verge Gardens: Students at Macquarie University are undertaking a project on verge gardening in Mosman, with the support of the Council. They would appreciate your support in completing a short survey. Here is the link 

Thank you: We are very grateful for the support of our ongoing sponsors. We could not have built the garden without the financial support of sponsors such as Bendigo Bank and Bunnings. Many thanks also to Mosman Council, Ausgrid, NPWS, Kimbriki, Poskitt Design, Proj-X, Honeysuckle Garden Centre, Mosman Climate Challenge Group and the Mosman Daily. 

TED talk on guerilla gardening: A great story about the magic of community food gardening. Ron Finley plants vegetable gardens in South Central LA -- in abandoned lots, traffic medians, along the curbs. Why? For fun, for defiance, for beauty and to offer some alternative to fast food in a community where "the drive-thrus are killing more people than the drive-bys." Click here

We look forward to seeing you at the gardens sometime.

Cheers Tina

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Autumn News

Mackie Lane Update: 
Square metre garden
We have welcomed Autumn with the completion of another 2 large garden beds. These are now being prepared for the first of our feature ‘square metre gardens’. Come along during autumn and winter to take a look at how this highly efficient approach combines both organic gardening and companion planting principles. Our first plots are planned to highlight an all-round autumn veggie and herb garden as well as a ‘soup bed’ featuring root vegetables. 
The garden viewed from Mackie Lane
All the beds have now been nourished with manures and composts and are ready for autumn/winter planting. Seedlings, including peas, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and a range of onions and leeks, have been planted. At this stage, seeds have also been sown for more cabbage, silverbeet, chard, kale, a variety of lettuces, rocket, celeriac and broad beans.

Harvesting has seen a bounty of produce over the last month with beans, spinach, silverbeet, tomatoes, various herbs especially basil, chives, kaffir limes, eggplant, endive, celery and the last of our summer carrots and beetroot have been thoroughly enjoyed.
Sweet peas are in! Our thanks to Norma who has been championing the sowing of our sweet peas ensuring they were in on St Patrick’s Day! Here’s hoping they grow to grace our fences over the coming months as they did so well last year – a highly anticipated addition to the garden by all, especially the residents of The Manors and Mackie Lane who enjoy them as much as we do.
Thank you to Silvana Griffith: Mackie Lane Garden Coordinator Silvana Griffith is about to take on a new work project with heavy demands on her time, so sadly has stepped down as Mackie Lane Gardening Coordinator. Silvana has done a fabulous job and we are very grateful for her dedication and enthusiasm. She has assured us that she will still be coming to the garden. Congratulations Silvana and thank you from all the Mackie Lane gardeners.
Middle Head leeks

Middle Head Update: We’ve planted two beds after adding home-grown compost and cow manure etc.  One is a ‘Curry Plot’ with vegetables suitable for making curry such as, peas, onions, carrots, turnips, celeriac, mini cauliflowers, coriander and fenugreek. The other bed has celeriac, beetroot and broccolini. In another bed we have sown a green manure crop in preparation for planting soon in the hope of overcoming the issue of over-alkalinized soil. The tub that gave the wonderful garlic crop has been sown with parsnip, daikon radish and salsify. We’ve already had  finger limes from the three trees planted. We regularly harvest more bok choy, celery, eggplants, leeks and silverbeet than we can eat but are now planting winter crops and experimenting with one of Lolo Holbein's magic square designs for winter salads. The native beds have been huge success.
Tribute to David Luke: A sandpaper fig has been planted in David Luke’s memory and a lovely piece of sandstone found by one of the NPWS volunteers has been made into a plaque in David’s honour.
Beauty Point Public School: Mosman Community Gardeners continue to work with the school on the veggie garden. Many thanks to Balgowlah Bunnings who have offered to sponsor the school garden to run planting and composting workshops with the children.

Visit to Paddington Community Garden: A group of us (Silvana, Peter, Tina and Gill) went along to Paddington Community Garden and were very impressed by the flourishing state of their produce. They combine individually run plots along with communal plots and require members to put in a certain amount of time each week to the communal gardening beds as well as gardening their own. Each new member undergoes individual training for a few weeks to ensure they understand the principles of permaculture and organic gardening. Whilst the location is very different from our two gardens, being in a gully and surrounded by trees, it is well worth a visit. One of their hallmarks is producing their own compost from kitchen scraps donated by neighbours and organic veggie retailers (delivered to the garden) combined with horse manure from the police stables, so, after a number of years, their soil is highly productive. They also have a superb self-built permanent wooden shelter where they run workshops and gather for harvest meals. See the Paddington Community Garden website for more details.
Paddington Community Garden - a great source of inspiration
We hope to see you at one of the MCG gardens soon.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Summer News

Anna with cabbage harvest
Mackie Lane Summer Update: This 
summer we produced a bumper harvest including potatoes, eggplant, strawberries, radish, garlic, red onions, French eschallots, leek, beans, silverbeet, spinach, pak choy, tatsoi, variety of lettuces, mustard greens, arugula, endive, warrigal greens, more strawberries, habaneros, jalapenos, chilli, kaffir lime, heirloom tomatoes, turnip, carrots, cucumber, zucchini, beetroot, cabbage, herbs… and even more strawberries! Our ongoing thanks go to our dedicated waterers who also attended our first team workshop early in the season to prepare for keeping the garden going over the hottest months as effectively and water-efficiently as possible.

The holiday period also saw a great many visitors to Mackie Lane, many of whom we have now welcomed as new members. Our new 4m banner which is prominently seen from Military Road, has gone a long way to attracting interest and promoting our community garden’s location and activities. Our thanks go to Dan Poskitt (Poskitt Design) for the banner design and to Ian Schutt (Proj-X) for donating the banner.

Mackie Lane expansion: Mackie Lane is being transformed once again and we’re currently just over halfway in constructing a total of 87sqm of additional area, making the total veggie area of the garden well over 110sqm. Many thanks to everyone who came to the working bee in December. Construction has continued over the summer thanks to a dedicated, hardworking group of volunteers, building with hardwood pallet bases and donated recycled hardwood fencing – but we’re on the hunt for more. 

If you happen to know of any fencing or pallets we could put to good use, please let us know.

Mackie Lane opening times: Many thanks also to everyone who took part in our first survey. In response to feedback on opening times, we have decided to trial an additional gardening session at Mackie Lane: Saturday mornings from 10am to 12 noon. This session complements our two afternoon groups of Wednesdays from 2pm-4pm and Sundays from 3pm-5pm. On Sunday we also have BYO drinks and nibbles. All welcome.

Middle Head: The gardens have thrived over the summer months, but we are particularly looking for more volunteers. So please come along, group gardening is on Tuesdays 3-5pm and Sundays from 4-6pm. On the last Sunday of the month we have BYO drinks and nibbles. Everyone is welcome.

Vale David Luke: We note with much sadness the passing of David Luke, a founding member of MCG and stalwart of the group. Many MCG gardeners joined David’s large family and wide circle of friends to wish him farewell. David will be greatly missed and our thoughts are with Elizabeth and their family.

Mosman Council promotes community gardening: Council has produced three videos on sustainable living, one of which focuses on community gardening at Mackie Lane. Click here to see more: Mosman Council presents Mackie Lane Community Garden

We hope you are enjoying the last days of summer, and look forward to seeing you in the gardens sometime.