Herbal lore

The river approached the levee but the garden stayed dry - ish. Rampant spring growth, but the deluge may have put paid to hopes of a good stonefruit season, unless the bees had already done their pollinating - drenched and dropped blossoms.

We have a special treat for this Sunday’s working bee at the Newstead Community garden which starts at 10am and goes through until about 2.30pm

Thornhill Lane Biodynamics skincare owner and skincare product maker Stefania Netcu will be with us from midday for about an hour. Thanks to Gen for inviting her and organising it.

Stefania is from Romania. Making her own skin creams and lotions using wild harvested herbs was part of family life in her old country. These skills, cultivated during communism when it was impossible to buy such things, were handed down through her family
She has brought these skills to Australia and now lives at Elphinstone and sells at locals farmers markets and at Green Goes the Grocer.

Stefania is interested to visit our garden & see what we grow. She will explain how she makes skin care products using herbs and plants (and will bring some to sell, but’s not a commercial visit for her). Rather it’s for fun and to make a connection with us & our biodynamic garden. (But we may be in need of some decent hand cream after a bit of gardening)

Working bee starts at 10am. Weeding and planting conditions are tip-top and the garden looks magnificent in its overgrown state. We don’t have many more chances to get things ready for the Castlemaine Festival of Gardens in late Oct/early Nov.

It will be a busy morning in the garden on Sunday as the Anglican church will hold a special service in the garden at 9.30am, with the Newstead and Maldon congregations coming together. Gardeners are invited to attend both gatherings.

After the Deluge

During, at the garden levee

Unplanned, uncontrolled growth. And I’m not talking about Melbourne, or its hinterlands. Our garden has sprung, sprawled and sprouted after the recent rains. Messy could be one word, but there’s something very lovely about the way the plants have responded to a good drenching, weed or not. It’s also a bit overwhelming. Mowing anyone? I’m also concerned about the flowering stonefruit and whether the deluge has put paid to any fruit this year.

The water lapped the levee again (thanks Gen for the photo) but the garden and most of Newstead stayed safe. Local tourists, kept home from work, bandied about. Out of towners couldn’t enter. Lots of excitement about Water and Weather, though thoughts are with other communities where it is a lot more than ‘exciting’. However, the soils will be loving it, especially our subsoils, which are the equivalent of a gardener’s gold mine, bank, or just plain, basic, security.

We had suggested an event on for 23rd or 24th this month, however let’s just go back to Sundays, when most gardeners manage it, and try the 25th September for a catch up, survey the ‘carnage’  and enjoy the fecundity of the garden (whilst it lasts)  … See below.

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Hope springs eternal

hard core composters turned out to build the early spring heap

Happy Spring! The first of September, a date we conventionally associate with the start of spring (though I’ve mentioned the observed nature of spring’s beginning/s in earlier posts). And this year it is a happy and hopeful one, after a good wet winter, not too many frosts, and lots of growth.

Soils should be more than top-wet and even if the spring dries up, there should be enough sub-soil moisture to sustain growth through the next few months, with only a few top-ups. One could ‘make hay’ and make the most of the season by growing some plants that we won’t have bothered with in past, drier years because they are use lots of water (think corn, cuke, melons, etc).

The September Growing Notes are now posted, so visit them and see what else to sow and tend to this month. With blossoms, bees and increasing warmth, you’ll be wanting to spend more time in the garden this Spring.

Don’t forget the Produce exchange on Saturday at Dig cafe (10.30-12) and see you in the garden.


Spring to it on Sunday

hard core composters turned out to build the early spring heap

A reminder we have a working bee scheduled for Sunday – weather being well.
I am chasing down some seed spuds for communal planting and these may have arrived in time.
Weeding and mowing are probably main priorities, as well as removing the shadecloth from the berries to see if any survived the season and giving the small compost bays a turn.

Other garden news:
– The compost heap is heating and has slumped a bit.
– Seeds have been sown in the igloo for Festival of Gardens and summer plantings.
– Good bug mix sown under fruit trees.
– Red clover sown between the strawberries to form a living mulch.
– Garlic is growing well at Helen’s and has just had another foliar feed of seaweed/fish and worm juice).
– More mulch arriving in about 3 weeks (small bales) thanks to John Hanley
– Spring has indeed sprung!

As the trees begin to blossom …


… one’s thoughts turn to pollination (plus the fact we missed out on doing curly leaf prevention this year…) and thus bees. I’ve been watching a few winter hardy bees on the lavender (especially the prostrate lavender; quite prolific this year) and on the early broadies in the past couple of weeks.

After doing a natural beekeeping course at Castlemaine Continuing Education earlier this year, I’ve been investigating top bar hives as a way to host bees that could be both bee and human body friendly. And perhaps in the garden.  Adrian Iodice is running a course in Warranwood at the St Michael Centre on September 3 and 4. The Centre hosts Biodynamics in Community, and a biodynamic community garden, so I’m keen to check the garden out as well.

Here’s the link to find out more about the course.

It’s also a reminder to sow more bee-friendly seeds and to incorporate flowering plants this spring (see Penny Woodward’s article) wherever you garden.