Welcome back to the second edition of the Melbourne University Community Garden newsletter! Here, we provide a summary of recent events and update you on all things gardening.
Small Space Gardening: Being Innovative
This event delved into the dos and don'ts of small space gardening and how to best get ahead. Amber (a garden coordinator here at MUCG) gave an informative presentation on how one can start their own small space garden before leading us into a practical planting session. There were a range of seedlings on offer for patrons to pot and take home, including thyme, marigold and coriander.
Tip: Herbs are especially good for small space gardening as they are easily grown indoors if kept on a sunny window sill (they also provide a great bounty for herbal tea lovers too).
The event was a great way to kick-off September so many thanks to Amber for leading such a great event!
R U OK? Day & other September garden news...
In honour of R U OK? Day, the grounds team here at The University of Melbourne hosted a pot-planting workshop to promote mental health awareness. MUCG coordinators and facilitators assisted in running the event by providing event goers with plenty of tips and tricks to help smooth the planting process.
There were a range of seedlings and seeds to plant, with patrons being able to choose from capsicums, basil and even sunflowers!
Following this event, we held our regular weekly working bee and were able to add the remaining seeds and seedlings to the garden. What a wonderful harvest we may have ahead of us!
In other working bees, we continued to take advantage of the turn of Spring by planting seedlings we had raised in our glasshouse in the past month. We also kept up-to-date with regular maintenance tasks such as managing our copious amounts of wonderful compost.
As September turned into October we kept busy in the garden. Warmer weather and spring rain have been keeping us busy harvesting, composting and planting.
Garden Pest Management: The Natural Way
We kicked off October with a workshop run by Volunteer Coordinator Maleeka on the wonders of natural garden pest management solutions. She spoke of ways to prevent garden pests such as weeds and wildlife from appearing in the garden, whilst also focusing on how to deal with these pests once they have.
She also concocted some soap spray for us to use on the aphid invasion prominent on our Kohlrabi crops. It was an enjoyable experience and appeared to have some benefit on the garden.
We thank Maleeka for her efforts and also those who came along!
Art in the Garden: A Calming Event
To commemorate Stress-Less Week, we held the event, 'Art in the Garden'. Event goers lounged on vibrant picnic rugs placed next to our perennial beds while sketching and painting beautiful scenes from the garden. It was a soothing break from our busy university studies and added a small-pocket of joy to our usual Wednesday routines.
World Food Day & October Working Bees
In celebration of World Food Day, we held an extra special working bee where in addition to general maintenance activities, we held a produce/seed swap and gave away some excess compost. Following this, we headed to System Garden where UMSU Environment was holding a picnic to celebrate World Food Day.
As the semester came to an end and exams and final assessments were now looming in students' minds, we continued to hold working bees while bringing our usual workshops to a halt. We thought of our working bees as ideal study breaks and encouraged people to take time to assist in tending to the garden.
With the exam season still upon us, we continued to hold-off on running any workshops while continuing to hold weekly working bees.
In our first working bee of the month, we had a surprise visit from a few students involved in the running of Deakin University's Community Garden. They had been travelling around Victoria visiting university-owned community gardens and it had been very interesting to learn of what these other gardens are like.
Our first two working bees for November involved a significant amount of harvesting. Volunteers took home a variety of crops. These included delicious broad beans and babaco (image below).
With Summer nearly upon us, our final working bee of the month focused on seed raising in addition to general maintenance tasks such as watering, weeding and composting. It was a productive effort that is hoped to lead to positive yields for the garden in future.
Keep in Touch
Welcome to the very first edition of the Melbourne University Community Garden monthly newsletter! Here, we provide a summary of the months events and update you on all things gardening.
Gardening 101: An Introduction to The Joys of Gardening
We kicked off August with Gardening 101, an event that went through the fundamentals of home gardening. Our event coordinators touched on watering and irrigation, soil, and how to properly transfer and plant different types of seedlings. It was an enlightening experience that had us crowded around a garden bed while we listened to Renee and Skanda's words of gardening wisdom.
The action didn't stop there however, as we then got hands on and put into practice what we'd covered that day. We planted numerous floral seedlings throughout the garden beds to add a splash of colour to our vegetation-dominant garden. Event goers planted poppies and marigolds and we are very keen to see them flower in the coming months.
As an added bonus, patrons were also able to plant their own seedling of choice in a pot to take home with them. We'd love to know how your plants are going so please let us know through the comments if you attended.
On an additional note, our seedlings were purchased from CERES (Brunswick).
Thanks again to Renee and Skanda for running such a great event!
Garden Updates: Beans and a Bountiful Harvest
In our first working bee for the month we made a trip to the community garden greenhouse to do some pre-spring cleaning and prepare the space for seed raising.
As you can imagine, the focus of the next week's working bee was seed raising in anticipation for the coming Spring months. We used egg cartons and seed trays to plant a variety of seeds, but mostly different types of beans. Below you can see our lovely volunteers hard at work.
We look forward to being able to transplant our fully grown seedlings to our garden beds in future and will keep you updated on their progress.
At one of working bees later on in the month we harvested a massive bounty of edibles pictured below. The haul included radishes, kohlrabi and a wonderful babako (a not-so-common delicious tropical fruit). Earlier in the month, we also harvested a plentiful bunch of carrots.
Not too bad for a chilly August!
Thank you to everyone who came along to our workshop this week! If you missed it fret not because here are the recipes that we discussed this week. Aside from tea recipes we also discussed the benefits of a couple of plants and how to grow them! Hopefully these plants spruce up your life making it tea-tastic!
Sage is a culinary & medicinal herb that has a very distinct flavour and smell. It is a member of the mint family and is the largest genus (Salvia) having nearly 1000 species! This makes it very easy to find a Salvia plant no matter the season. Common sage is known as Salvia officinalis. Its consumption helps with digestion, colds, sweats and infections.
Sage is a perennial, evergreen herb and it likes the sun. It needs well-drained soil (so do NOT overwater it) and is easy to propagate from cuttings. Once placed in a new pot and watered, the cutting will grow roots (this usually takes up to 4 – 6 weeks). As soon as you see roots you must plant them in soil. Unlike other herbs, sage tastes based dried and is usually accompanied by rosemary and carrot, which helps in detering carrot fly.
1. Related to common mint, but an Australian local version.
2. Used by Aborigines for medicinal purposes
3. Embraced by the early settlers and added to their roast meats.
4. Tea is good for easing the effects of colds
5. Crushed leaves sniffed to relieve headaches
6. Can also be rubbed on the skin for a repellent effect
7. Great plant for a 'boggy' or waterlogged area in your garden! Likes moist soil.
8. Sun or part shade
10. Super easy to propagate! From a cutting or runner.
11. Suggest growing in a pot due to vigorous nature and tendency to spread.
12. Cut back hard when it gets leggy. Will bounce back!
1. Hardy perennial
2. Super easy to grow!
3. Grow in pots due to vigorous nature and tendency to spread
4. Full sun or part shade
5. Cut back hard when it gets leggy
6. Good for pesto or in tea
7. Medicinal uses: anti-inflamatory properties, antiseptic, antibacterial, eases digestion, helps with stomach issues, mouth wash, chewing leaves can alleviate flatulence.
8. Smells a bit like basil!
1.Used extensively in Thai, Cambodia and Laos Dishes
2. A good mosquito Repellent
3. Good for colds
Companion plant for lemongrass:
Coriander, basil, thyme, mint, lemon verbena(pretty much all the plants in the garden!)
Lemongrass and ginger herbal tea benefits:
Lemongrass cutting and propagation can be done both from the supermarket ones and the your existing lemongrass in the garden.
Follow those steps:
Ginger is a tropical plant with many benefits. Cuttings can be taken from the rhizome, not roots or leaves.
Ginger grows in a well-watered, well-drained and loose soil. The best condition is full sun or part shade. It can grow both in a big container or a garden bed. Ginger loves fish emulsion, loves compost.
Ginger are best planted in Spring, they takes 5 months to 1 year to harvest depends on climate conditions. In the case of Melbourne weather, it is recommended to keep them in a glasshouse/sunny indoor spot until weather gets really warm.
Steps to follow to propagate ginger:
Recipes we used:
Welcome back! What better way to celebrate (or commiserate?) the beginning of a fresh new semester than with a fix of greenery at the garden?
To get the ball rolling at our welcome back event, garden coordinator Eleanor gave us a few tips on how to get started with gardening. The main message? Keep an eye on your plants! Observation is key to success - if you don't know what your plants are doing, you can't help them thrive. You should regularly check if they've got enough (or too much) water, if they're showing signs of nutrient deficiency or disease, or if there are any pesky critters trying to harm them. That's just the beginning, but it's a great place to start!
It's also super important to make sure you have good soil for your plant babies. That's why Joyce explained the importance of compost and gave attendees a quick tour of our compost system. Adding compost to your soil improves its nutrient and water holding capacity, which your plants love. If you garden in pots, make sure you use a good quality potting mix, ideally combined with organic matter (like compost!).
Eleanor also gave us a tour of the garden, pointing out the different sections (including perennials, annuals, natives, and sub-tropical plants), and explaining how it all works. We tasted some interesting things, including nasturtiums and native river mint (which tastes a bit like candy canes!). We followed this up with delicious homemade cake topped with flowers from the garden.
After the tour we did some general garden tasks, including weeding the natives bed, potting up warrigal greens for our farmers' market stall and feeding our worm farm.
Our last workshop digressed from gardening a little and focused on the art of fermentation. Although used traditionally as a substitute for refrigeration in order to increase the shelf life of veggies and fruit, it’s still a great way to introduce beneficial bacteria and different flavours into your fresh food.
This workshop we looked at making cider and kimchi. We had a little kitchen sesh at the lovely Food Co-Op that was followed by an Enviro Collective Play With Your Food sesh (think free vegan dinner cooked and eaten by you). To make your own cider or kimchi, check out the fermentation gardening guide up on our website!
Finishing off the semester, we’ve had a lot of fun with our workshops as well as learning from our new and less new coordinators. We hope you have too! In other news, we also generously got funding from the grounds team to install another two double shelved tables into our greenhouse as well as upgrade our irrigation system. We’ve now tripled the space we have to propagate and tidied the place up! Hopefully you’ll be seeing new residents at the garden soon that we’ve propagated in our now very spacious greenhouse.
Dear fellow garden lovers,
On May 19, 2017 we had our small space gardening workshop.
Though it was hosted during lunch time, it's lovely that we still got quite a few participants turn up.
There are various ways to do gardening in small spaces, in this workshop, we mainly focused on container garden.
Our coordinator Joyce first started by talking some basic elements of container gardening, below are the main points of each elements to keep in mind!
1.Most herbs need partial sun (roughly six hours per day).
2.Most leafy veggies (lettuce, spinach, asian greens and Kale) can grow in light shade(roughly four hours per day).
Type of container:
1.There are no best types of containers. It all depends on the type of plants that you are aiming to grow! For example, root vegetables need deep containers while lettuces are fine with shallow soil.
Soil and nutrients:
1.Add coconut coir to increase water holding capacity (more relevant during hotter months)
2. Use pea straw or broken autumn leaves as mulch to reduce water evaporation
3.Use liquid fertiliser like Fish Emulsion or Nitrosoil as a supplementary way to add fertiliser( especially when you don't have sources to add regular compost)
For demonstration, we used herbs(mint, sage, rosemary and basil mint) as examples.
All the herbs are fresh cuttings taken from the garden.
A seed library box was the other option for the participants to play with. Some participants chose to plant some Bok Choy and lettuce.
Since the weather is not in the most favourable condition, some of our participants chose to leave their new babies in our glasshouse near the system garden for a few weeks. Fingers crossed they will survive and become strong to be taken home for later.
A little bit of harvest was then done after the workshop. There was nothing much to harvest in the autumn, but luckily our capsicum and rhubarb are ready!
For the whole guide for container gardening, kindly refer to the gardening guide page for "balcony gardening" !http://mucgarden.weebly.com/gardening-guides.html
Thanks for reading and see you again in our next workshop!
Been to a couple of workshops and thought, hey this is fun? Like gardening? Got time to kill? We're looking for you!
We have some spaces opening up in our coordinator team!
Volunteering as a garden coordinator is a great way to learn new skills, meet new people and help shape the future of the garden.
Applications close June 18th. Click the link below to apply.
Hello fellow garden lovers,
We hope that everyone has had a splendid week and is enjoying the cooler days! This workshop we talked about guerilla gardening! To many, myself included, it was a foreign topic, something that I had never really understood or talked about.
So what is guerilla gardening?
A Guerrilla is, by dictionary definition, 'a member of an irregular, usually indigenous military or paramilitary unit operating in small bands in occupied territory to harass and undermine the enemy, as by surprise raids'.
Therefore, guerilla gardening can be summed up as the act of gardening on land that the gardeners do not have the legal rights to cultivate, such as abandoned sites, areas that are not being cared for, or private property.
It encompasses a diverse range of people and motivations, ranging from gardeners who spill over their legal boundaries to gardeners with political influences who seek to provoke change by using guerrilla gardening as a form of protest or direct action. This practice has implications for land rights and land reform; aiming to promote re-consideration of land ownership in order to assign a new purpose or reclaim land that is perceived to be in neglect or misused.
Guerrilla gardeners generally work under the cover of darkness, organising “troop digs” and “actions” where keen guerrillas meet and transform an ordinary looking public (or private) space with trees, shrubs, annuals and more. They engage in on-going watering, maintenance and rubbish removal on planted sites, much of this also done under the cover of darkness. The general public is often encouraged, by signage located in the gardens, to water a guerrilla garden as they pass or collect rubbish if required.
For gardening in areas where access is difficult or a long dig is unsuitable, seed bombs are used (sometimes called green grenades). They are essentially seeds and soil held in an explosive or degradable capsule.
There are 6 different types of seed bombs - the Classic Clay Seed Ball (which we will be making), NYC Green Guerrilla Grenade, Kabloom “SeedBom”, Explosive Eggs, Seed Balloons and Seed Pills (for more information check: http://www.guerrillagardening.org/ggseedbombs.html)
During our workshop this week, we tried our hand at making seed bombs! It was surprisingly easy and cheap. The steps are as follows:
Once the seed bombs have been planted, we wait for it to rain, which will wet the organic matter, swelling and forcing the bomb apart. The seeds will also soak up the rain and germinate into a lovely clay and compost soil. Hopefully in late spring and early summer the 'bomb site' will be filled with delightful flowers (remember to place the bombs in areas which will get enough light)!
Hopefully the above information encourages you to get on the guerilla gardening bandwagon!
Thank you to everyone who came out for our workshop and to those who stayed behind to help with our working bee! We really appreciate your support! Stay happy and remember to garden!
This week we spoke about one of our favourites, succulents. These thick and fleshy leaved plants are an easy one for those who are just starting out on their gardening ventures! Our coordinator, Christian, gave us a couple of tips on how look after these succulents:
Succulents usually grow in arid climates such as the desert/semi- desert, areas where there are high temperatures and very little rainfall. Therefore, they are suitable for indoor environments and they are very low maintenance.
Soil & Potting:
There you have it folks – a couple of simple and easy steps to ensure the life and health of your succulent! Happy planting!
Unsurprisingly, our herbal tea workshops tend to prove quite popular. Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggests that around 38% of Australians are tea drinkers, while it’s clear that tea culture is incredibly rich both here and around the world. When it comes to herbal tea, there seems to be a particularly potent set of associations attached; the soothing effects, potential medicinal properties, and cultural significance all mirror the similarly varied colours, flavours and aromas which make herbal teas so attractive. Along with the promise of cupcakes at our Food Co-op collaboration following the workshop, this made the herbal tea workshop an easy sell.
Of course, there are other good reasons to get involved in growing your own herbal teas. It is a wonderfully rewarding way to start your edible garden adventure, make the most of small spaces, and share the joys of home-grown produce. As we discussed during the workshop, growing, propagating, and harvesting some of the basics to kick-start your herb garden is very easy, and perhaps one of the simplest and cheapest ways to grow something edible under tricky conditions. If you don’t have much time to devote to maintaining plants, or else don’t have the space or conditions for much gardening, then a few choice herbs could be a fantastic option. Moreover, in addition to cooking, herbal tea is a rewarding way to enjoy and experiment with your edible plants.
Ticking all the boxes for looks, taste, smell, maintenance and growing conditions, mint is a go-to choice for tea. We began our workshop by talking a bit about the herb spiral which is a major feature of the garden, and mint was one of the first plants recognised by participants. Our herb spiral allows us to position different plants according to their needs. For example, plants like Vietnamese mint, which are used to a warmer climate and regular rainfall, work well higher up and against the black rocks which give shape to the bed and capture the heat well. Other mint varieties have spread around the spiral, and can be found amongst some of the other herbal tea favourites like thyme and lemon balm (helpful tip: if you’re growing mint at home, think about keeping it in a pot, as it can easily spread).
After taking a look at the herbs, tasting and smelling along the way, we set about doing some propagation. This is another area which marks herbs (again, mint is a prime example) as a faithful garden standby; for many herbs, it is extremely easy to take cuttings. Those who joined us for the workshop got a chance to take a cutting home with them, which was often as simple as snipping the top of a rosemary stalk, clearing about two inches of leaves (leaving a few at the top) and sticking it in some potting mix. Likewise, mint and lemon balm are easy choices on which to find a bit of the stem good for sending new roots out and putting it in a pot. In this part of the workshop, one of the favourites was definitely river mint, a native Australian plant with a distinct, almost sweet taste (a bit like candy-canes, perhaps?).
After we had finished in the garden, we picked some of our favourite herbs and headed to the Food Co-op for some tea brewing and cupcake decorating. While there, the fabulous co-op volunteers supplemented our fresh herbs with some of their huge range of dried teas for people to experiment with their own blends. Adding to the delicious fun, they had also provided cupcakes for us to try out some herbal icings on; hibiscus made for a great natural food dye, while some other herb combinations proved flavourful successes.
This time at the coop was a great way to finish our herbal tea workshop, and emphasise the creative ways you can put garden produce to use. Hopefully all our volunteers were able to take their chosen herb home, tend to it, and will soon be enjoying their own tea.
Australian Health Survey: Nutrition First Results – Food and Nutrients, 2011-12
Read all about it: MUC Garden and Burnley Student Association share updates on their activities.