A week later

Remember this?

It now looks like this …



I couldn’t quite capture the steam rising gently off the heap, but it was. The heap has slumped to two-thirds or less of the original height and is warm but not yet at the 60-70 degrees C it should get to, perhaps by next weekend.

Another year, and another splendid compost

compost 2015 019A quick look back of previous year’s compost builds and I see a little pattern emerging, perhaps, that after we make compost we get a nice little sprinkle of rain – on a few occasions anyway. Perhaps we should build more heaps, earlier in the year!

Thanks to all who contributed to our weekend compost build; we now have the makings of more humus for another season. Around 10 work-shoppers from Castlemaine, Barkers Creek and Welshman’s Reef joined a handful of garden members to construct the heap. It should be cooking nicely by next week, if not before. If you are passing by the garden in the early morning you may see a bit of steam rising from the heap – don’t call the CFA; it’s just the thermophillic bacteria and microbes at work. The heap will cool down after six to eight weeks as other microbes and fungi take over, with earthworms and other larger soil fauna the last workers to move in for a meal. The pile should be ready to apply in November.

We also welcomed members of the Anglican church congregation for lunch to thank them for their ongoing support as over the last five years, and look forward to the next five! On that note a reminder that membership renewals are now due. Contact Mary Park – mary.park3@bigpond.com – for the form, or download it here – https://newsteadgarden.wordpress.com/getting-involved/.  You will also find a copy of our garden guidelines on this page.

At the moment we have one “Individual Plot” available for use and welcome any number of new Digger members to share gardening in the communal plots and the “Digger Plot”. We have also introduced a “Supporter” membership, for those who want to support the garden, share in our events, activities and produce excesses, but may not have the time and/or ability to garden with us.

You can read or download more info on compost building – here and here, or more generally on the basics of biodynamics. Thanks to Caroline for the photos.


Help feed the heap, and our garden

IMG_9163Food is often foremost for our community garden. We had a wonderful feed – and afternoon of song and stories – with Joe and Lin and Newstead Short Story Tattooists last Sunday.

Thankfully our pizza doughs and toppings got the big seal of approval from Joe! You can find his recipe here.

Thanks to Joe for sending us a few pics from the day.

Still on the food front, we have our Compost Build on next Sunday 17th and need as much food for it as we can source – especially green material.

We made a run to the Powlett Hill sheepshed and thanks to Max and Ritchie (outstanding shovellers), our trailer bearers Carol, Carolyn, Gordon, we came home with five loads of biodynamic sheep poo and a double trailer of spelt hulls, thanks Ewen and Joan. Farmer John Hanley is to drop off certified organic straw bales this week. Council have left autumn leaves after ‘cleaning up’ our local streets and drains. The local General Store are dropping off some unread newspapers.

All that’s missing is some nitrogen rich material – weeds, lawn clippings, food and kitchen scraps, crop residues, herb cuttings, prunings. We’d love anything you can offer, no matter how small the amount.

Come along and learn how these raw ‘waste’ ingredients can be transformed into rich, nutritious, water-holding, worm-loving compost that will feed our garden – and us – for another season. The technique can also be used for smaller home garden composts and we will have BD preps for sale if you want to try for yourself.

On the topic of microorganisms, compost, soil and food/stomachs, here’s an interesting article from the Sustainable Food Trust in the UK. I like the idea of thinking about the soil as my stomach, and vice-versa!

Book for the compost workshop on 0439 003 469 so we know how much soup, bread and cake to make…

Busy May Days

May in the garden is a bit of a rush to get plants in before the cold really slows things down. It’s also an opportunity to prepare well for any bare rooted fruit trees you might be planting over winter – site it well, plan for it’s growth, espaliered or not, dig over the spot, add compost and rock dust … and get ready to dig a great big hole. Go to the Planting Notes for May to see what else to do in the garden this month.

digAlongside the gardening, this month is a busy one for the community garden – our Produce Exchange outside Dig on Saturday 2nd (10.30am – 12noon), Sunday 3rd is  Joe Dolce’s session as part of the Newstead Short Story Tattoo, Tuesday 5th we collect BD manure from Powlett Hill, and Sunday 17th we make compost – that weekend is also our fifth birthday.

Hoping it’s a lovely autumnal weekend for the Newstead Short Story Tattoo. But some rain on Monday would be nice, just to get a bit of growth and a tinge of green about. Green materials will be in short supply for our compost build, so even the weeds are welcome!

And for those interested in broader food gardening and environmental issues, the Mount Alexander Shire are inviting input/comment on their (ten-year) Environmental Strategy. Saide has been attending Council’s Sustainability and Environment Roundtable meetings, held four-monthly, on behalf of Newstead 2021 and the Newstead Community Garden. The draft document is available here on the Council website. Saide is also making a written response and welcomes any suggestions for inclusion. Please send her any comments before Sunday 10th May. There is also an opportunity to provide written feedback direct to the Shire via email to info@mountalexander.vic.gov.au.

What do you think would be the most useful thing our Shire could do for our environment in the next ten years?

Enjoy May’s days in the garden.

Autumn Alchemy

UntitledIt’s autumn and one’s thoughts naturally turn to compost making. It’s the nearest thing to alchemy I know of. We’re holding our annual big BD compost build workshop on Sunday May 17 for those who’d like to partake in a bit of magic – biology, chemistry and physics included.

Last year’s heap was a wonder to behold that kept giving (though we let it dry out over summer, which lessened it’s benefit) and it’s just about spent. So we now have space for a new heap, plus there’s the ongoing, smaller, cubic meter composts that can add much to the garden, much more quickly.

Join us on Sunday 17th from 10.30am to learn about BD basics and composting, help construct a large BD heap (also applicable to smaller home garden compost making) and learn by doing. We’ll provide sustenance and there will be BD preps available for you to buy for your own garden or property. See the flyer for more info.

Thanks to Jenny, Andrew, Ben and Jo at Powlett Hill who each year so generously sponsor our heap (and garden) through BD manure and spelt hulls. Also to staunch supporters Rosie and Ernst from Australian Biodynamics-Victoria who have attended all our builds and provide BD preps, enthusiasm and inspiration.

If you have materials to contribute to the heap – especially green (!) matter – the garden would welcome it. Please contact us (you’ll also receive a discount on the workshop cost). We’ll also be doing a collection run to Powlett Hill on Tuesday May 5, for those who have a trailer and/or some muscle to help shovel manure.

Compost is such an important part of our community garden; it enables us to keep growing and improving the soil and it allows gardeners to reap the benefits of a healthy soil. More important than any money in the bank, compost is our real ‘fundraiser’, ensuring the community garden can keep growing, and producing.

Don’t forget Joe Dolce at the garden as part of the Newstead Short Story Tattoo on 3 May. A big thankyou everyone who came along last Sunday at some stage and helped around the garden to get ready. Also to the pizza makers; yum, not sure that we’re any more prepared for Joe Dolce, but it was good practicing! We also sprayed a mix of BD500, compost preps and seaweed emulsion on a watered garden (sans rain) after we’d renovated the communal greens bed with more greens, shredded spent tomato crops and dug them back into the soil with compost, planted communal broadies and carrot seed (please keep an eye on the communal bed and keep moist till seeds germinate – for carrots this may be a fortnight or more) burnt the bramble prunings and some couch/bad weeds, started on preparing the communal fallow bed for leeks, celery and onions, cut back herbs, raked pathways, sowed pyrethrum in pots in igloo (please keep an eye on them and water) and generally weeded and gardened.

And now for the rain.