What we talked about … and garlic harvest this weekend.

We had a good gathering of about a dozen gardeners last Thursday evening and apologies from around the same number. It was a lovely evening to sit under the pepper tree and have a chat and then eat pizza. We welcomed new members and Mary gave them a quick orientation of the garden so hopefully people know a bit more about the what, where and how of the garden.

Generally people are happy with the way the garden is going, some felt guilty they hadn’t done more with their plot or been down to the garden more often, but support for the garden is still strong.

Spring in the Newstead Community GardenSome of the things we talked about to improve things:

  • having more opportunity for joint gardening activities and to garden with others, see others face-to face, eg more working bees, say every 6 weeks; dates set in advance; some weekday mornings for group gardening, trying other days and times since Friday doesn’t seem to be bringing people anymore
  • some Diggers unsure what/where to do when they get to the garden – noticeboard (if funding is successful) should help; many would like signs in plots eg ‘weed me’ or colour-coded flags (‘eat me’ might be seen as invitation to non-members, would ‘now ready’ be any better?)) and perhaps a bit more direction on how
  • induction/orientation of new members is important part of feeling welcome and comfortable doing activities without direction or others around
  • compost – how does it work? ‘use me’ sign; having the large heap which takes 4-6 months to transform, as well as the smaller bays which are quicker to compost. Try to chop soft weeds/plants as you pull them up so they can be directly composted with manures, etc into the bays whilst they are sappy and green. Large stuff needs to go through mulcher; bad weeds like couch need to go in wire cages to dry out and then be burnt (and ash put through compost). Try and deal with material as you dig it up.
  • having more small/short workshops in conjunction with working bees (piggy back on the ‘work’ with a ‘workshop’) or anytime, eg. compost ‘how-to’ workshop needed, other workshop ideas
  •  – making borders for plots & plant support structures (knotting, weaving, etc), fruit trees as per Simon Rickard workshop. We could have these in-house and/or invite others (for a small fee). Short workshops, possibly round robin format as per The Hub, eg. compost/using pizza oven/… people were interested to learn to light and operate the pizza oven.
  • improving communication – email & blog good; more distinctive formatting of email could help; noticeboard (grant applied for) and also having a contact sheet with names, phone numbers and where people live (eg the Campbelltown people could share a lift or garden together, the ‘morning’ people, etc) both at the garden and for individual gardeners.
  • plotholders growing different things & exchanging produce, encouraging better use of produce – through the produce exchange and also swapping amongst gardeners
  • the social connection is really important for a lot of gardeners, sharing ideas, knowledge is important – creating more opportunities for this eg working bees, group activities, shared tasks (short bursts)… pizza oven – regular days? take turns to light it? other social food sharing eg picnic
  • watering – chart system okay; plotholders to do communal area while doing their own; Diggers do whatever is needed; everyone to use chart
  • keeping an eye on things generally, and being willing to mow or whipper snip if it looks like it needs it and you are able. Garden can reimburse for fuel, a small container is in the shed.
We are planning another get together early next year to talk more about the garden and  how we use and develop the space, as well as our community of gardeners. It’s been 4 years since we started and a good time to take stock, look at what’s worked and not worked, where we want to be in the next 4 (or more!) and how we continue to grow and develop food and community. More news on a date soon.
Other things: seedlings in the igloo are for members – the tomatoes from Margot -please keep with labels and save some seed (we will show you how) to help us determine the best varieties (we’ll also have a taste-off!) and there are also free seedlings from Loddon Prison that needed to be planted asap. Other seedlings to share (check labels) from members in igloo also. Garden tasks on the blackboard in the shed, inc. netting fruit trees, cutting back herbs, preparing plots.
Finally, our garlic is ready to harvest. We’ll be selling it again at Newstead Live! in January to raise more funds for the garden, with any leftovers and seconds distributed amongst members. So a working bee this weekend to harvest it (and plant more communal crops – spuds, tomatoes – any other requests? – if enough time and helpers. Starting 3.30pm Saturday afternoon for a couple of hours and then resume Sunday morning from 10am. Please join us. Bring a picnic if you wish, we will have tea and coffee avail.See you in the garden!

One thought on “What we talked about … and garlic harvest this weekend.

  1. margot brulotte says:

    Loved the round robin the Hub had that day…

    Sorry can not help much at all with all we have to do here.

    Have a great  time in the garden.

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