Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thinking of Spring - Warming work through July

There's lots to be done at the Community Garden this Winter.

The first of our July Working bees is this Saturday 2nd July. There's seed to plant, Seedlings to pot up, Work to do on realigning the top slope and Pathways to surface.

Come and join us from about 9am until early afternoon.
There should be plenty of work for all, so see you there!

All parking is at the Leisure Centre Car Park.
No parking is allowed at Blue Haven.
Entry is via the soccer fields

Friday, June 24, 2011

Getting in before tomorrow comes ...

I thought I best 'blog' last weekend before tomorrow comes. Because with tomorrow comes another working bee, and more photos. So, back to last weekend ... If you have been reading the blog you already know we had a visit from some community gardeners from Mt Kembla on Sunday. But while Kathy and I were 'front of house', showing the group around a trio of very persistent, patient and personable volunteers were working away in the background constructing our hot-house. Imagine, if you will, a really really large multiple-pack IKEA flat-pack. Starting to panic at the thought of construction? Now let me add that the flat-pack came from China, and, yep, you guessed it, all the instructions are in Chinese! Thankfully there are photographs (in English). The construction has been happening for weeks now - nights, weekends, many many hours. And last weekend the crew got 'all-but' there, only the door to go. Well done Jo (left), Les (middle) and Eddie (and everyone else who helped along the way). It's looking awesome!

Another new edition to our happy garden is our very first worm farm. We have old bath tubs on-site ready to use for building large versions, but meanwhile, we have set up our first portable unit using recycled 'broccoli' boxes. Thanks go to Julie H for bringing in the gear and for sharing some of her precious worms with us. "ED's worm farm" already looks right at home. And Eddie looks very very happy to have one more thing to look after!

Getting in before tomorrow comes also means lots and lots of planning. In winter we are planning for spring, in spring we will be planning for summer etc. It is all part of building a sustainable garden. Right now we are working on our slopes. On Saturday 18 June we worked with Aaron and Dan, our mentors, on a micro-design for the three sloped banks between our terraces. The following pictures are from our workshop.

It is vitally important that we get the design of these right; like the total garden we are working with permaculture design principles to ensure that the banks are sustainable and productive areas. This doesn't just mean growing food, although in the last six months we have grown abundant crops of cucumbers, snake beans and sweet potatoes on the slopes. It means that what we do with the slopes must contribute to the total garden 'system'.
The slopes are important for drainage, they offer space for us to build wind breaks and provide area for planting out important support plants, like those that fix nitrogen in the soil, provide 'chop n drop' mulch or provide habitat. As always our 'permaculture master classes' are totally inspirational. Very hands-on they provide
rich learning for us all.

This weekend it is time to commence putting these latest plans into action. The sun WILL be shining on Saturday. At least in our garden it will be. Come join us!


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Join us in June.

Come along and fill the seats, Talk .............. Work ............... Share morning tea,

Find out about Kiama Community Garden.

25th June

From about 9am until early afternoon - Interested people welcome.

A small group will be working to complete the hot house. Library books need to be covered. There will be new plants to be planted and work to modify the top slope will begin.

PLEASE NOTE: Park at the Leisure Centre car park.
Enter via the soccer fields.
Strictly no parking at Blue Haven.

Of community workshops and visitors

Obviously here, at the gardens, we are about ..., ummm, gardening. Go figure. But a community garden is so very much more. It is also a place to gather, share, teach and learn. From the very beginning we 'wished' that the garden would be a site where members of the community could come and learn. This blog is about 3 such events.

Back in February we hosted a Propagation Workshop
, with Karl, the workshop facilitator, working with the group (a mix of community gardeners and others) teaching us about propagating from seed and cuttings.

Karl is very involved in bush regeneration work, so the day was particularly focused on knowing your local 'natives', collecting seed and cuttings from indigenous plants and growing local species from 'scratch'. The benefits for us of hosting such an event were many - we learnt (we will be propagating in our own hot-house soon), we shared our space and we gained new members!

To mark National Composting Day/Week (who would have thought there was such a thing), in early May, Penny from Wollongong Botanical Gardens facilitated a Composting Workshop. She shared her wisdom regarding all things 'compost' (and gee, does she know a thing or two). We looked at composting, bokashi bins and worm farms. Once again we regulars got much out of it, and got to share our own composting practice, which includes compost bins, a compost bay, which you can read about in a previous post (pictured below), and worm farming.

I end this blog with a photo from today, 19 June. A group of folks interested in getting a community garden up and running in the Mt Kembla region visited our garden. They had also visited the PCYC garden in North Wollongong and the Lane-way in Port Kembla so we gather they had heard the message "WE AIM TO GROW SOIL, (NOT FOOD)" a few times!

We spoke to them about the history of our garden, our philosophy and practice around gardening, composting, soil nurturing, harvesting etc. It was a great visit; we wish them luck with their endeavours!

By the way, they are seated on our awesome 'seating arc' - lovingly constructed using recycled materials by some very cleaver folk at the gardens, lead by 'our' Joe.

Creative gardening to you all!


Earning your (pumpkin) cake

As Kathy says, come along and join us next Saturday 25 June. We are self-confessed 'foodies' at the gardens and we love to share. We promise, you will both earn and enjoy the morning tea.

Pumpkin, Walnut and Raisin Cake

250 g butter

2 cups sugar

3 eggs

3 cups wholemeal flour (or 2 cups wholemeal*

1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon all spice or mixed spice

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

2 cups mashed pumpkin^

1 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup chopped raisins

* To make a slightly lighter and yet still wholesome version try 2 cups wholemeal and 1 cup white flour

^ I used Jap pumpkin, but any richly flavoured and coloured pumpkin would do

Preheat oven to 125 C. Grease and flour entire 23 cm cake tin and line the bottom for extra good measure.

Cream butter and sugar together. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Sift dry ingredients together, and add alternatively with pumpkin to creamed mixture. Add walnuts and raisins and beat well. Pour into cake tin and bake for 90 – 100 mins or until cooked through.

NB This is a very moist cake so make sure you line the cake tin well and cook at low temp as indicated. It is also a large and hearty cake so for a smaller version half the mixture works well in a small-medium loaf tin. NOT that it needs it, BUT lemon icing does work well is you are so inclined. Decorate with cinnamon and walnuts if iced.

(Original recipe from Cake Bible (2006), Published by Penguin, adapted by me!)