Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Northcote Dinners

All this digging, planting, weeding, paving, mulching and watering can sure make a gardener hungry!

Whilst I would describe the first potato crop as meagre 
(the poor plants struggled in the alkaline conditions), the creamy, 
starchy goodness was concentrated into the delicious few that we 
harvested during January.  Eaten simply with rosemary and sea salt.
 A summer risotto with green beans, zucchini, and
chard all from the NLFG (and some peas thrown in).

Simple, seasonal, and very local food.  Yum.


During the quiet, hazy summer days at the garden:
  • Bees and insects are busy pollinating
  • The beans that waited patiently for summer proper are suddenly creeping and climbing skyward
  • Sunflowers, planted long ago by tiny hands, shine bright yellow across the garden 
  • Finger-like zucchinis lurk beneath jungle green leaves
  • Giant seed heads of silverbeet and parsley reach shoulder-high in the food forest
  • Tiny, sherbety wild strawberries are gobbled up by garden visitors
  • Green caterpillars munch on juicy leaves
  • Tomatoes struggle in the tough soil conditions, but are trying hard to flower and fruit
  • Berry canes stretch out in all directions – a promise of a very berry crop to come next season!
  • Busy hands are watering, weeding, tending to compost and digging in coffee grounds 

What else have you noticed at the garden this Summer?

Zucchinis and Sunflowers

Edible cannas and climbing beans
Food Forest January 2012

Monday, 9 January 2012

Filters, Flush valves and Flow rates - Irrigation 101

Sunday 11th December saw an energetic crew gather at the garden to install the new drip irrigation system.  Angelo Eliades led the hands-on workshop and capably ran the attendees through the parts of the system and demonstrated how the parts fit together to water efficiently. Under the guidance of Angelo and John Pinnegar, small teams worked collaboratively to lay out and peg just under two hundred metres of drip irrigation hose line in giant looping zig-zag formations across the four garden beds, as well as connect all the valves, filters, connectors and extenders required.
Angelo demonstrates how all the parts fit together

Laying out the drip line
The benefits of drip irrigation for the garden will be:
  • greater water efficiency by delivering water directly to the root zone of plants
  • reduced water run-off and evaporation
  • prevention of disease by minimising water contact with the leaves, stems, and fruit of plants
  • decreased labour (less lugging of hoses around and across garden beds)
  • greater effectiveness of watering on uneven ground (all our garden beds slope)

The watering at the garden is managed by a roster system.  Gardeners are rostered on in pairs for a week at a time and for that week manage the irrigation needs of the garden.  If it rains, you’re lucky!  One potential drawback of the system is that it does take longer to water, with each bed needing at least 25-30 minutes for a deep watering.  However, given where the garden is situated, this means that waterers can duck into the library, have a coffee or go shopping between watering beds!

Our sincere thanks are extended to the City of Darebin for supplying the irrigation equipment and for its ongoing support of the garden.  Angelo and John continue to be great teachers and facilitators in the garden and we thank them for lending us their time and expertise once again.

Laying out the drip line
It's a team effort!
Many hands...