August update – slow progress…


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Grapefruit

We’ve had a few people away recently so no regular updates sorry. However, the garden has not been neglected as we have a strong team of dedicated volunteers looking after it. The orchard is also thriving and the grapefruit are amazing this year – very plentiful and large and very sweet.

Everything is looking healthy but growth has been slower than expected…or is it just that we forget that things take longer in winter! The first broccoli and cabbages have been enjoyed and for the first time ever, we managed to grow a cauliflower with a heart – what did we do differently? Usually, they look like broccoli with long stalks.

The red onions and leeks seem to be thriving and the celery has survived the cold so far, only the outer leaves looking a bit bedraggled. Garlic was planted at the June working bee. Some garlic was also added into the strawberry bed as one of our volunteers (Yana) says it’s a good companion plant and they do this in Russia. Worth a try then! Beetroot has mainly grown leaf but hopefully with a bit more time, we’ll get some better results. Leafy greens such as bok choy, winter lettuce, parsley, dill, coriander, kale and rocket are all being enjoyed by our volunteers. Broad beans still have a long way to go but look healthy.

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May 26 – clearing and planting


Mark and Ethan cleared two of our overgrown plots, which had been strangled with lemon balm and harbouring a number of good specimens of comfrey. The comfrey was transplanted into the orchard and Mark and Gilles repaired the beds with some old timber that we had.

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Broad beans were scattered into one of the plots and covered with compost by Jayden, Quinne and Jacqui. Broad beans are a great green manure crop and these plots are probably depleted after having been neglected, though we know comfrey is a plant that keeps on giving…

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Nicole, Olga, Monique and Jacqui worked to clear the area in front of the new compost bays and covered the bare ground with mulch. The large white PVC sheet got a clean courtesy of Olga and Nicole. It’s handy stuff and we’ll use it again elsewhere. Monique also moved some of the hot compost into the other compost bins.

There were two plants still waiting to go into the orchard, a pyrethrum and a tansy. Olga had provided some more tyres, so Jayden and Quinne loaded up the wheelbarrow with compost for planting so that we could give them a good start.

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We dug a couple of big holes and filled them up with compost. The soil has become quite boggy so it was pretty messy and muddy. The plants were then added and their tyres added as protection from our resident lawn mower Mark. Finally, some mulch was added to cover up the mess and also to suppress the weeds long enough for the plants to get going.

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5 May – planting fruit trees and seedlings


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Torrential rain scared most people off on our official April working bee day so we postponed to Saturday 5 May. There was plenty to do so it was wonderful to have lots of volunteers onsite. The first task was to plant 6 fruit trees that we bought last year; 4 feijioas, one lime and one lemon tree. Nicole and Monique planted the lemon and lime trees next to the other citrus trees while Olga, Gilles, Jacqui and Yana planted the feijoas at the other end of the orchard. We planted alyssum and comfrey next to the trees and covered the bare ground with coffee sacks (thanks Altura!) and mulch.

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We were happy to welcome two new volunteers to the garden, Quinne and Jayden. They were keen to do some planting so they got busy planting some coriander seedlings next to the brassicas. Coriander is a good companion plant for cabbages, cauliflower and broccoli as it apparently keeps the unwanted bugs away. Let’s see if it works!

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Verena also planted silverbeet seedlings and some coriander under the fruit trees. Mark and Verena also planted two oregano seedlings under another couple of fruit trees.

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We had celery and leek seedlings ready to go in so Yana finished clearing one of the empty plots by removing a large taro plant. We didn’t want to waste it so she and Monique planted it into a tyre on the border of the orchard.

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Yana added in some compost into the plot and planted the celery seedlings. Then Jayden and Quinne helped to plant the tiny leeks, not the easiest task, especially when you have to take such care when separating them! A bit of watering and all done.

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We had bought one artichoke plant after being inspired by seeing them at the Auckland Botanic Gardens on Anzac Day and Viv provided us with a second one. Tyres provided by Olga allowed us to plant them in the orchard with a protective rim. They take a lot of space so we thought they might do well in the orchard and look beautiful..

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We wanted to clear another bed ready for planting so Quinne and Jayden helped Mark to pull out the old tomato stakes and lemon balm from one of the overgrown plots. Home-made compost and horse manure was added into the plot. It’ll be ready to plant in a couple of weeks.

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Gilles continued working on the compost bays, which will be a big improvement from our current heaps. We also have one for horse manure and another for lawn clippings.

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That isn’t to say that the hot compost heaps aren’t working… In fact, the grass has broken down quite well so Monique was able to move some of it into our other compost bins for further processing by our army of worms. Nicole checked out the Earthmaker (also known locally as the Dalek) to see if we were finally getting the hang of it with a bit of help from Verena.

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Finally, it was time for tea…

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Garden update: Feb – Apr


This little beauty decided to latch onto Nicole’s hat recently; needless to say, she didn’t leave it on for long! Our pile of mulch seems to be bringing new friends to the garden.

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At the February 24 working bee, we harvested our main potato crop, which was Agria. There were fewer potatoes than we had hoped for but we had started to get worried that all the heavy rain we were getting would cause our potatoes to start rotting. Of course when we found lots of small potatoes in the plot, we did wonder if we should have left them a bit longer but never mind. We now have a plot almost ready for the next crop. One good thing about potatoes is that they loosen up the soil really well!

The week after the February working bee, we got cracking on planting some winter crops. Some volunteers were saying “the garden looks really tidy but there’s nothing to eat!”. Nicole and Yana finished preparing one of the vacant plots and planted one of Annabel Langbein’s seed packs – rocket, radish and cress. Yana also planted some of her fresh dill seeds along the borders.

We had been allowing the Lamb’s Quarter to flourish in the tomato patch as it looks pretty and is apparently OK to eat. However, some plants had turned into giants so it was time to clear them out as the tomatoes had finished producing. The photo below shows Gilles with one of the plants.

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At the March working bee, Monique and Nicole tackled the huge hot compost heap. It was good to see that all of the grass had started breaking down but it’s very far from being compost. Gilles got busy creating some new bays using pallets obtained by Selina via her mother. The plan is to have 3 bays for the hot compost with another two for horse manure and grass clippings. Gilles added extra support to our fence to attach the pallets.

 

We cheated and bought a few seedlings to get our winter crops going a bit faster. Nicole and Gilles prepared a plot for the broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage while Jacqui worked on preparing a plot for the red onions using the new stainless steel fork recently donated by Jess (thanks again Jess!). The plot planted a couple of weeks ago by Yana and Nicole with rocket, cress and radish has really boomed with everything ready to eat now. The radishes are white and we’re not sure what the variety is as it’s not on the packet. They seem a little milder than the red varieties.

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Magic Rocked @ Woodside!


Our combined Neighbours Day/EcoWest Festival event went really well with lots of friends and neighbours coming along for a free sausage or falafel (vegetarian), live music from Lauren Collins and activities for children. The sun was shining and the garden was happy to receive visitors interested in how community gardens work. Finding rocks in the garden and around it, kept the children busy with prizes bestowed by Nicole. Rock painting was also very popular.

See the full story on the event and more photos on the Riverpark Action Group site.

Thanks to all our supporters as below who made the event possible!

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Free event – Sat 7 April – 10am -12pm


Great news! Lauren Collins will be singing at our event tomorrow! Come along…

MAGIC ROCKS @ WOODSIDE – EcoMatters-Layers-Poster

Massey Matters Fund application successful


We are delighted to report that Woodside Community Garden volunteers will soon be learning to operate a new mulcher/shredder due to a successful grant application by our umbrella group Riverpark Action Group to the local Massey Matters Fund. We have been awarded $1000 and hope to make the purchase soon. The plan is to use the mulcher to shred up all of the kikuya grass and woody weeds as well as plants that have gone to seed. We will let these break down a bit first in our new hot compost bays (change over from the heaps covered with black plastic) and then transfer the material sequentially into the other bins. We are always in need of more compost to build up the garden beds and the mulcher will allow us to compost this material more efficiently. Selina managed to get some nice pallets for us which Gilles used to create the compost bays. We’re also now thinking to do the same for the grass clippings and horse manure piles to bring a bit more order into the garden. Thanks Massey Matters for your support!

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