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.

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!

Heaps of good greens

the final  heap with it's straw blanket

We had ten gardeners help out with the compost make on Sunday, with three hard core composters, Julia, Angella and Gordon, lasting the whole shebang. Thanks Julia for the pics.

We had a little issue with water supply (!) but once sorted hopefully will have drenched the heap enough. The ingredients were all fresh, green andmoisture-rich though, which hasn’t been the case with many of our previous builds and bodes well. If you are walking past the garden in the next week, especially in the cold of the early morning or evening, check for rising steam!

The big heap should slump down by a third, or even half, once the microbes and BD preps get into action. It’s a little disappointing, seeing all that hard slog minimised, but that is the point. And it shows that we have created the right conditions to make very good compost. The garden will love it in the months and years to come.

I think the hard core composters will still be getting over pains and aches all of this week, maybe into the next, but there’s still enough greenstuff and manures for at least another go, carbon sources – and composters – willing, sometime soon.

Don’t forget the next working bee on Sunday 28th. One of the jobs will be weeding, but there’ll also be some other pleasant tasks, like sowing seeds for the Festival of Gardens plant sales, and giving things a foliar feed of fish emulsion and worm juice.

August times

winter in the garden

It feels like spring is in the air, however unscientific that is. Lengthening days and signs are about, in the bush (flowering wattles and hardenbergia, sundews seeking protein, orchid flag leaves and rosettes unfurling, bird activity) and in the garden (stonefruits budding, the odd asparagus spear, weed growth and oxalis flowering, globe artichokes getting active, broadies flowering) and the sense of things to come. Warm days ahead, even.

Perhaps this is Sprinter, as Tim Entwisle (Director at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne) has coined it?

On that note, the August ones are now posted and it’s time to make a move. Hope you can emerge from winter hibernation and get out into the, or your, garden and enjoy watching it all unfurl next month. There’s plenty to do this time of year and you’ll be rewarded when the warmth does arrive.

Don’t forget the Produce Exchange on Saturday 6th and our Working Bee on Sunday the 28th. Dare I mention compost? Probably not. See you in the garden.

Trying again on the compost front … and garlic update

weeding and mulching at the garlic fundraising crop

We didn’t get a quorum for compost building on Saturday (perhaps Sundays are a better bet for the garden, and the more usual thing?) And what would a compost quorum be, you might ask? More than Saturday’s, though Julia and I enjoyed coffee and cake and have made things more ready. Let’s try, for the fourth time, next Sunday 11am.

Compost is at the heart of every good garden and we’ve been making a large heap every year since the garden started in 2010 (usually as a workshop for non garden members; and usually well attended!). The big BD heap is a critical way to get enough humus back into the soil on an annual basis, especially for our large growing area.

The beautiful rain has been good for edible greens, as well as weeds (all compostable!). The garlic is a case in point. Mulch time, to avoid more continuous weeding. If you are passing the paddock, and have a little time to spare, please add some mulch to our growing fundraising crop. Garlic sets clove numbers during winter and fills them during spring (clove size), so care and nurturing during these colder months will set yield potential.