Monday, April 26, 2010

Name change

Well, we've had the form saying our first choice of name, "Church Street Community Garden Inc" has been reserved for us for three months. We've agreed that's the name we  want, so the cheque and application for approval for change of name is in the snail mail to Department of Fair Trading. Whew - what a long process. Annie will change our name and operating place with the Insurance company and we are away again. Meanwhile this bit of rain and sunshine will settle in the new plants very well and put some real water into the tanks. First choice for watering will be the tanks, not the tap. There is absolutely no sense in having tanks full of water. We want as much empty space in the tanks as possible all the time. Funny isn't it - our aim is to store empty space!! Sometimes the obvious isn't "common sense". Like - why are plants green? It's because they absorb every other colour in the rainbow for their photosynthesis and chuck out the green bit, so they appear green.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


The Trio's garden, and a pair of galahs in the trees near the old hall.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Doris, Pius (Chicka), and Ashleigh have a garden

The trio didn't take long to get started. Enthusiastic spade work, plenty of fancy hose work and lots of digging. Mulching and a sign to finish it off. Ashleigh showed she has a mean right hook if Pius - who prefers his nickname "Chicka" - annoyed her Jude yearned for a sweet-smelling red rose, so we checked out what was on offer at Sharpe's when we went to get the mulch. Climbing Black Boy on bamboo trellis around a tank will do the trick. The trio have their own gardening gloves now, but bare feet still cop it from the ants. Little brother and sister David and Wonderful came for a visit.  We went and checked out the round table and benches at Min's and will bring them over for a tightening and paint job. Put up the gazebo, furled it and have stored it in the garage. Tom from the neighbourhood and Kristy, volunteer coordinator for   Samaritans,  joined in and will pop in from time to time. Lovely weather, lots done, a great day. Listening to The Science Show on ABC radio on the way home, there was a discussion about how urban children are largely "nature-deprived", fear the bush as they are convinced there actually ARE things living there which will eat you, are fearful of critters in general, only do "safe" things, are sometimes tailed by protective parents in cars when they go out on for a bike ride and never learn to climb a tree. How sad. I can remember the things we did as kids and teenagers and if our parents had known  what we did they would have died a thousand deaths. We were urban dwellers but would disappear to the beach, creeks and anywhere a million miles from home. We had very little money, racketty bikes and I can't remember that we even bothered about taking something to eat or drink - we just took off and came home for dinner at night. When we had enough pocket money we went to the pictures - on foot. It wasn't all joy, we got bored as well but we dealt with it somehow. Perhaps we learned that every minute doesn't have to be filled with something entertaining supplied by others. 

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday April 16th

Alan was beavering away as usual. I dropped in some seedlings which were on special at Aldi. Just a few to get some colour going soonish while our seeds and seedlings get going. I'm not good on exotic flowering plants like pansies and co as I am an aussie native plant grower - but other people love them so I adapt in a community garden. The vegetables we eat have come from all over the globe and it will be quite some decades, or even centuries, before our native plants have been hybridised and selected to food crops. Even the big chick pea we know now is a tiny black seed in it's original form. Chick Peas belong to the Fabaceae family, just like our wattles do, but chick peas are in the sub-family Faboideae while the wattles are in the sub-family Mimosoideae. Being veggo I eat  my share of chickpeas but it would be much harder to incorporate wattle-seed into dinner. 

This is the twisty pod of Acacia implexa, commonly called Hickory Wattle. You can see why Fabaceae are called the "pea" family - seeds in pods.

Doris and Pius from across the road came running over wanting help to tie plastic bags on their hands as gloves, raced back and were very busy weeding.
Annie is away camping with grandchildren, so she won't be at the working bee tomorrow. I collected the pop-up marquee today and we can store it in the bus garage.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

More pictures

Alan has done a great job of planting and mulching. Despite his declaration that he didn't want his picture took, I did anyway!!  Thanks Alan.
Our demarcation line for activity is from the down-pipe on the outer edge of the old hall to the matching one on the new hall and inside the easement near the fence.
Seeing someone sitting on the seat near the old hall inspired Min to offer us a round table and bench set. She says it needs painting and that there is an umbrella to go with it. Min's nephew died from meningococcal disease and was the original owner. She said he would have been delighted to see them used in the garden. 
Alan has been talking to the neighbour acoss the road who says he can't physically do anything much but would "keep an eye on things" for us.
So nice to think that a simple thing like gardening can bring people together.

PS about the fungi. The big brown one produced very little spore and a mass of beetles and grubs. The small one produced large amounts  in the same pattern as the gills, the spore being a "pointy pear" shape under 400X magnification. The delicate little lemony one produced a tiny smudge of yellow spore which was a bumpy oval shape.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

It's Fungi time

I am a member of Sydney Fungal Studies Group, so March to November is eyes down to the ground and up to about eye-height. Three species found in the lawns of Church Street so far. Jude thought she had spotted an interesting bright orange one - but it was a flake of rusted gutter. Thanks Alan, who has repaired the dodgy downpipe,  levelled and plumbed the tanks. 
The first questions asked about fungi is "can you eat it" We reply, "You can eat any fungus you want, it may kill you, it may not, either way you will very likely be very very sorry". What is the difference between a toadstool and a mushroom? Nothing except common usage as people try to separate poisonous from non-poisonous. Stick to the commercially-grown mushies. Even then, avoid the older "on special" ones as fungi undergo chemical changes as they age and what may not upset your tummy when fresh may do so when they are older.
A fungus is the spore/fruiting  body of a vast network in the soil. Fungi have a root-like system called mycellium. It creeps through the soil and can extract nutrients and minerals more efficiently than the finest of plant hair-roots. Where mycellium and plant roots touch, mycellium pushes into or around the cells and makes a connection. Fungus and plant exchange and share nutrients to mutual advantage, with the scales probably tipped a bit more in the fungus' favour. This network connects most of the plants in the area - tree to shrub to grass and vice versa.  Digging disrupts the connections. A gardeners spade should be used more like a surgical instrument than a plough - with precision and only as necessary. Do what happens in nature, layer upon layer allow leaves, mulch and compost to blanket and be broken down by fungi, moulds, smuts, soil biota and the bigger animals like worms.
The brown mushies in the picture look like you could eat them because they resemble the commercial kind. See warning above! Identifying a fungus is a long process. Gill shape? Does it have a skirt around the stem? Colour and smell? Does it change colour when bruised or cut? Relative size of cap and stem?  What does it grow on (substrate)? What is the pattern of the spores shed when the cap is left on paper overnight? What is  their shape and colour when seen under the microscope? Many more characteristics can be included. Australia has at least 250,000 species of fungus and only a relative few have been positively identified and recorded fully.
The little pale lemon coloured beauty and the big brown ones were all attached to grass roots. There were some "puffballs",  attached to the gum tree roots,  which I didn't photograph.

Friday, April 9, 2010

31a Church Street, Mayfield

The Parish Council, Rector Andrew and congregation of St Andrew's, Church Street, Mayfield  have been brave and kind and allowed us to set up our new garden behind the Main Hall. It's a marvelous space, plenty of sun, gentle slope, lots of space for tanks and garden beds, a lock-up shed and much more. Our Volunteer Small Equipment Grant, joined with the seed grant from Newcastle City Council, has given us plenty of cash to really set ourselves up well. Lots of recycling and refurbishing is happening, as always. Annie and Julia painted the old wooden benches and table yesterday and they look a treat. We will have a go at the set of sturdy but mouldy-looking plastic chairs as well - have been assured by the paint salesman that two coats of Permalast will do the job very well. Rev Andrew says there is a little-used 14-seater bus in the garage and we are invited to make use of it. Terms and conditions are not yet established. I have a heavy vehicle licence, no demerits because I am a boring goody-two-shoes driver and haven't been pinged when I HAVE  made mistakes, as well as a fair bit of bus driving experience.  The offer is tempting. Gardening, BBQs, a marquee to shelter under and enjoy  shared food and drinks - it's all blue skies.

On the move

Bye Bye to Villiers Street. We hope the tenants of the houses to be built there sometimes find a vagrant plant popping up to remind them that for a brief while it was a great garden. The new place at 31a Church Street has a lovely atmosphere, the soil is good and loamy, water is on tap from tanks and mains - garden heaven!!   We made "crop circles" on the lawn marking out a large open bed, a more formal parterre circle with paths and the "no-man's land" where the sewer main runs. Aussie native plants for the birds will screen the galv fence as they grow and spread. Annie has some tiny  paw-paw which won't be tiny by Summer. Lime, tamarillo, passion fruit, the Bay tree and citrus have been relocated from Villiers Street already. Moving the tanks was a tip and shove onto Russell's ute, much easier than we thought it would be. 
Annie and Julia had a short sharp shopping burst. The Newcastle City Council seed grant has been lingering but is pretty well spent now.  Louise Duff  from NCC will be invited to come and see our new spot, as will Judy and Scott Sharpe who have been so kind to us. 
Saturdays at 10 am will be the regular working bees.

More pictures of the Villiers Street site and things we did