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🌿How Do You Get Your Partner into Gardening?
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Special Guests
✅Jen Jones - Pickle's Patch
✅Psychologist Carlos Camacho
AND ALL OUR FAB REGULARS
Listen in LIVE 8am - 10am every Saturday morning, locally on the Central Coast of NSW, Australia COAST FM 963 and streaming everywhere. Also download the app at Community Radio Plus




Snip Snip! Winter Pruning

Why Prune?
Winter pruning
We are well and truly in the middle of winter now so that means that some of our garden trees and shrubs might be needing a good trim soon. Don’t stop there because lots of other plant types can do with the winter snip! While pruning can test the courage of the beginner gardener, who may be fearful of doing ‘the wrong thing’ and perhaps killing off their plants, following a few basic guidelines is all it takes to successfully get your garden into shape.
Why prune at all? While it may seem rather romantic to hold back the pruning for the gardener who has visions of organic, wild rambling vistas, most plants grow stronger, healthier, and more abundantly with a good cut back every now and then. Along with the removal of dead or diseased matter, pruning enables us to also guide a plant to the shape, direction and sometimes size that we may want. Thinning out plants to increase air circulation and light or to slow the growth of fast-growing plants are other reasons to grab the secateurs. It’s also an important task for those growing flowers and food, as pruning increases the production of both. While there are plants that never require any pruning, others will need to be regularly maintained and some can easily get away with a careful trim every five to ten years.

Winter Pruning
As a rule of thumb, younger plants can usually tolerate pruning at any time. This is because they are in a faster growth phase of their lives and can regenerating themselves quickly. Older plants should be pruned in the time that’s advisable for them and to be safe? Stick with these times for all your garden plant buddies. If in any doubt, check with your local nursery or a reliable published resource. Be careful when using books or online sites that advise you of the month you should be pruning instead of actual seasons as they might not be referring to Australia! The following is a small selection that may require some trimming attention late winter. Deciduous shrubs, apples, pears, European and Japanese plums, figs, persimmons, pomegranates, peaches, nectarines, cherries, quinces, winter flowering natives and give overgrown trees and shrubs the once over as well. When something has completed flowering or fruiting or is in a dormant state, it’s a good time to prune.

Pruning Tools
Bypass secateurs are an all-rounder tool that will see you through with most small to medium pruning jobs. They are best suited however to soft materials, twigs, and small branches. Moving up from there to thicker branches, anvil secateurs will be needed or a pruning saw, which will take you up to even bigger branches. If you can only afford two pruning tools, pick the bypass pruners and the pruning saw. Buy the best quality you can afford and look after your tools by always cleaning them after use and storing safely. Maintenance includes sharpening, perhaps oiling moving parts and replacing worn parts as needed. On that point, look out for tools with replaceable parts.

Safety First
Tools must be sharp and in good working condition and you must be familiar with the way they work. Eye protection is important as sticks and branches have a habit of snapping in all directions. Always work away from you and if using ladders to reach higher parts, make sure that you and your ladder are completely stable. Assume all plants are toxic so wear gloves for this purpose as well as cut protection, don’t touch your face while working and cover any open wounds you have with bandages. Wash any cuts or scrapes you acquire while pruning immediately. To keep plants safe, disinfect your tools as you move from plant to plant to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.


How to Prune
Aim to make oblique cuts, on a downward angle, just above an outward facing node or bud. When cutting larger branches, do so in sections by taking off the weight of the branch from the outer most tip bit by bit. Trying to cut a large heavy branch from a tree will usually end with the branch tearing once the weight falls. This will open the tree up to infection and could topple you to the ground with it.
Your first course of action is to remove all dead, dying and diseased parts, then move on to shaping or thinning of the plant. There are lots of different examples of exactly how to shape and prune your plant dependant on type to be found online or in publications. Examples include rose winter pruning - aim to open the interior by removing any crossing branches and try to shape the bush to even length branches. Deciduous fruit trees are usually pruned into a vase shape as this allows maximum light to fall into the middle of the tree.



WHAT’S ON FOR PLANT LOVERS
If you have an event to share contact: [email protected]

Pat Collins Boost your Immune System Sat, 22 Jul 2023 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
In this workshop, you will learn about many useful herbs that will boost your immune system along with other helpful information. We will cover a healthy diet, exercise, additives and lifestyle. We will enjoy together healthy treats to sample and create lots of useful items to take home.

https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/pat-collins-boost-your-immune-system-tickets-634553325077
Gardens Hosts for Central Coast Edible Garden Trail 2023

Would you like to be a Garden Host for the 2023 Central Coast Edible Garden Trail on October 21+22? They would love to hear from you! Do you have any friends you would like to put forward as Garden Hosts this year - we're looking for more lovely gardens to join us.
Please send recommendations to: [email protected]
Rachel’s Farm Special Screening, Avoca Theatre, 27th July
Be one of the first to see Rachels Farm at our special Q&A screening with Rachel Ward, Maree Lowes and Cheralyn Darcey. In this triumphant film, Rachel voyages from wilful ignorance about the ecological impacts of conventional agriculture on her own rural property, to embracing a movement to restore the health of Australia’s farmland, food and climate. Tickets from Avoca Theatre: avocabeachtheatre.com.au

 

GARDEN PLANNER
Start digging in composts mixed with well-rotted mature into beds in preparation for Spring. You can plant the following now: culinary herbs, artichoke suckers, asparagus crowns, beetroot, broad beans, cabbages, carrots, cress, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, parsnip, peas, potatoes, rhubarb crowns, silverbeet, African marigold, delphinium, dianthus, English daisy, gloxinia, gypsophilia, mignonette, spider flower, statice.


Cheralyn is a home & garden author and along with Pete Little, 

hosts ‘Home with The Gardening Gang’
8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3
contact via: cheralyndarcey.com

She also writes the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News.

 

 









 

 


Gardens That Look After You

Healing gardensWhile we are constantly searching for ways to look after our gardens, the gift of gardens is that they are always quietly looking after us. We don’t even need to own a garden to benefit as Clara Rosa, Medical Scientist and President of Permaculture Central Coast shares, “I think gardens are incredibly healing and good for our health and there are a huge number of scientific studies into the area to back this up. Even Florence Nightingale mentioned in her nursing journals, the healing power of gardens and all over the world people have noticed that gardens, nature, and scenery have all these healing benefits.”
There are many studies that have proved you don’t even have to get into the garden to experience positive benefits including an improvement of mood and mental health. A Japanese experiment in 2019, (Physiological Benefits of Viewing Nature: A Systematic Review of Indoor Experiments. Hyunju Jo, Chorong Song,Yoshifumi Miyazaki), measured the physical changes in people with monitoring equipment including brain wave scanners. The participants were show scenes of a beautiful garden and then scenes of concrete walls. Clara said, “They saw changes in brain waves, reduction in pulse and blood pressure as well as a release of muscle tension.”
Have you ever noticed that dentist surgeries are often filled with artwork featuring nature and that many place television screens with nature programs on them for you to watch while you are in the chair?  Clara added, “This is because viewing nature has an analgesic effect upon us, which means you can actually use natural scenery as a pain killer.”

Living with Plants
Take it a step further and live with plants. You will see these benefits to your health increase even more. In 2010 Japanese researchers Sawada and Oyabu set out to measure the stress levels in people working in offices with and without plants. To do this, they tracked the levels of cortisol in the blood and amylase in the saliva of participants as these are both indicators of stress levels. They found that those working in offices with plants recorded significantly lower stress levels. Other studies have found that patients recover faster after surgery and feel less pain when sharing their recovery rooms with plants. Getting people outside if they are experiencing a panic attack or a frightening or stressful experience will enable them to get some fresh air but if there are plants around, it’s been shown to quickly calm them.

Gardening for Health
You don’t need to start big at all, even tending a few potted plants will bring you joy, health and increased happiness but if you can get your hands dirty? Then there are even more healing outcomes in store for you Clara noted, “There are microorganisms in the soil that act as an anti-depressant. They increase you serotonin levels and improve your immunity. Not to mention, when we are outside, we are going to improve our levels of Vitamin D thanks to the sunshine, and we are also going to better regulate our melatonin levels which is going to result in a better night’s sleep. Sleep is a really important part of your health.”
If you have no space for gardens or you would like company, community gardens, clubs and groups are there for you. They are a great place to learn, create and to connect with others. Along with various styles, techniques, and opportunities, many have additional programs and events on offer. To find your local Community Garden check out: communitygarden.org.au and the Central Coast Community Garden Network: facebook.com/CentralCoastCommunityGardenNetwork
To try Permaculture, which is more than just gardening, it’s a sustainable and holistic way of living, Permaculture Central Coast: https://permaculturecc.org.au

Plants for Therapy
While any plant you spend time with is going to make you feel better here are a few that are known for their special qualities.
Better Sleep: Lavender (Lavendula spp.) will help you get to sleep and have a restful sleep. Whether you choose to grow it outside a bedroom widow, have in inside in a sunny spot or use the essential oils from it as a room or pillow spray, lavender will lower your blood pressure and calm a racing heart.
Breathe Easy: Spider Plants ( Chlorophytum comosum) may be reminiscent of 1970’s bathrooms but they are one of nature’s number one air purifiers. They can suck up those nasties like formaldehyde lurking around your place quick smart and they are one of the easiest plants to grow loving filtered light spot inside or out.
First Aid: Aloe (Aloe vera) needs to be in every garden as the gel that is contained within the thick fleshy leaves is an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial powerhouse. Use direct for sunburn and bites by simply rubbing on the thick gel. You can grow Aloe outdoors or indoors if you have bright indirect light.
Happiness Boost: Stephanotis (Stephanotis floribunda) is said to uplift the spirits with its heady perfume and is perhaps why it is a favourite with brides. Don’t stop at just this beautiful plant, there are many fragrant blooms that you might like to try. This flowering vine can be grown indoors or out and will need a trellis and indirect light.
Anxiety Reliever: Holy Basil (Ocimum tenuiflorum) is used to create a treatment for anxiety in Ayurveda medicine but just having it around will assist calm nerves and reduce stress vias its fragrance. Holy Basil is also a ‘super’ oxygenator emitting oxygen over 20 hours a day. Grow indoors in a sunny spot.

WHAT’S ON FOR PLANT LOVERS
Central Coast- Hunter Region Cymbidium Society 2023 Winter Show 14 – 16 July Home Co. Tuggerah
Visit a beautiful display of all sorts of stunning orchids. Top floor outside of Spotlight. Along with the judged show, there will be orchids for sale, and you can enter a raffle to win a beautiful cymbidium.
More info: www.centralcoasthuntercymbidiumorchidsociety.com
Gardens Hosts for Central Coast Edible Garden Trail 2023

Would you like to be a Garden Host for the 2023 Central Coast Edible Garden Trail on October 21+22? They would love to hear from you! Do you have any friends you would like to put forward as Garden Hosts this year - we're looking for more lovely gardens to join us.
Please send recommendations to: [email protected]
Rachel’s Farm Special Screening, Avoca Theatre, 27th July
Be one of the first to see Rachels Farm at our special Q&A screening with Rachel Ward, Maree Lowes and Cheralyn Darcey. In this triumphant film, Rachel voyages from wilful ignorance about the ecological impacts of conventional agriculture on her own rural property, to embracing a movement to restore the health of Australia’s farmland, food and climate. Tickets from Avoca Theatre: avocabeachtheatre.com.au

GARDEN PLANNER
winter, temperate zones
Start digging in composts mixed with well-rotted mature into beds in preparation for Spring. You can plant the following now: culinary herbs, artichoke suckers, asparagus crowns, beetroot, broad beans, cabbages, carrots, cress, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, parsnip, peas, potatoes, rhubarb crowns, silverbeet, African marigold, delphinium, dianthus, English daisy, gloxinia, gypsophilia, mignonette, spider flower, statice.

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Cheralyn is a home & garden author and along with Pete Little, 

hosts ‘Home with The Gardening Gang’
8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3
contact via: cheralyndarcey.com

She also writes the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News

 








 


Following the Edible Garden Trails

 

Central Coast Edible Garden Trail
Central Coast Edible Garden Trail

Edible Garden Trails are a joyful event that helps gardeners showcase their techniques, passions and experience while opening the way for budding and more experienced gardeners to find inspiration, knowledge, and friendship. Usually held over a weekend in warmer weather, they are a relatively new form of Open Garden experience that focuses on growing your own food. The emphasis is on organic agricultural methods and often includes permaculture and sustainable practices. These self-guided trails enable visitors to experience a variety of gardens, in different sizes, created by gardeners with various interests and levels of experience over a short period of time gives the visitors an abundance of first-hand local knowledge that I’m not sure could be gained elsewhere. Plus, Edible Garden Trails are fun! Lots of fun.

There is nothing quite like the vibe of these trails that are springing up
not only here in Australia, but around the world. Often, they offer a chance to see first-hand how those working with gardening techniques that may be little outside mainstream are succeeding as well and to hop beyond the garden gate and check out what is working in your neighbourhood.
In 2018, Susanne Rixs, a life-long gardener who is passionate about home-grown organic food got 30 of her neighbours together in the Blue Mountains to open their produce gardens to the public. Ediblegardentrail.com Her vision was for this event to grow, “I’m hoping this will become a global phenomenon with people all over the world opening their gardens not just for show, but for sharing intelligent, thoughtful, sustainable food production techniques.” That wish is being granted with the Sydney Edible Garden Trail beginning after Bridget Kennedy visited the inaugural Blue Mountains Trail as she was looking for a way to create an annual fundraising garden trail to promote sustainable living and growing your own food. This year the Sydney Edible Garden Trail is on the weekend of 4th and 5thNovember 2023 sydneyediblegardentrail.com


The Central Coast Edible Garden Trail Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd October 2023
CCEGT_Logo_apple_colourLast year more than 650 visitors joined the inaugural Central Coast Edible Garden Trail of 37 locations that included home gardens and community gardens covering much of The Coast - from Killcare to Gwandalan, out to Jilliby, Wyong and Watanobbi. Local Permaculturalists Anna Trigg and Sandi Eyles came together to create and manage our local Trail to highlight Central Coast food gardeners who are working with the earth and sustainability.
Like all Edible Food Trails, the Central Coast Food Trail is a ticketed event run as a not-for-profit organisation. “We have been quite excited that we raised a lot of money from ticket sales and more than we expected from our first year and so it meant that we could donate a whole lot of money back to the community.” organiser Anna Trigg shared. $400 was donated to each Community Garden across the Coast and to finance a hugely successful community outreach program designed by Sue Bradley of In8lygood and SWAMP Central Coast that brought together fifteen organisations across The Coast. The program that helped those living with disability to learn gardening with facilitators Kerrie Anderson and Matt Silavant.
So, what was the biggest take away from the inaugural Central Coast Edible Garden Trail? Sandi Eyles, trail organiser said, “It’s so lovely to help build community. We met so many amazing gardeners and visitors who helped create this beautiful warm and joyous community.” Both Anna and Sandi agreed that the event helped reinvigorate the permaculture and general gardening community on The Central Coast as well.
To keep updated on Central Coast Trail happenings, hop on over to their website: centralcoastediblegardentrail.org.au or facebook.com/CentralCoastEdibleGardenTrail
Along with lots more special features, Coastfm963, the official media partner of The Central Coast Garden Trail will have popular local home and garden program ‘Home with the Gardening Gang’ with me, your gardening writer Cheralyn Darcey and co-host Pete Little broadcasting live on the Saturday from one of the gardens.


Register Your Garden for the Central Coast Edible Garden Trail
The Central Coast Edible Garden Trail is looming for more gardens! Would you and your garden like to be on the Trail? It’s a wonderfully welcoming community of Central Coast gardeners who have a passion for sharing their experiences and love of all things botanical. Any sized garden and all skill levels are welcome, and you don’t have to be open both days, you can if you are keen but one day is ok with the team. The Edible Garden Trail is not competitive, it’s about sharing time, thoughts, and the love of plants. Getting more people growing. If you want to know more email [email protected]

Exploring Edible Garden Trails
While I’ll give you my experience with the Central Coast Edible Garden Trail, much of my tips are relevant to other such trails. With the Central Coast being so vast in area, planning is of essence for trail explorers. The organisers make it easy with maps being given to ticket holders in advance along with opening days and hours. The first thing to be aware of is that some gardens are open both days of the event while others only for one, so take that into careful account. Short descriptions of each garden are given, and they are highlighted in the weeks leading up to the event on social media. Make a note of techniques and plants that you want to see but also make sure you include visits to gardens similar in size and environment to yours. With the Central Coast having so many different micro-climates, from blustery seaside to frosty mountains, on to rich valleys and urban hot-zones, what can work in one area here might not in another. To experience ways in which gardeners in conditions very similar to yours are doing to tackle challenges is an opportunity too good to pass up.

WHAT’S ON FOR PLANT LOVERS
The Fungal Kingdom with Anna Durkin, 8th July

The July meeting of the Australian Plants Society Central Coast Anna will share her work as a Citizen Scientist in this field, educating us with her skill and knowledge and answering our questions about the fungal kingdom of the Sydney region. 1:30pm for. 2pm start, Philip House, 21 Old Penang Road, Kariong. Entry: $3 with lucky door prizes. Austplants.com.au/Central-Coast-Events for more details.

                                                                                           
RF_Tour_AvocaBeachTheatre_Post



Rachel’s Farm Special Screening, Avoca Theatre, 27th July
Be one of the first to see Rachels Farm at our special Q&A screening with Rachel Ward, Maree Lowes and Cheralyn Darcey. In this triumphant film, Rachel voyages from wilful ignorance about the ecological impacts of conventional agriculture on her own rural property, to embracing a movement to restore the health of Australia’s farmland, food and climate. Tickets from Avoca Theatre: avocabeachtheatre.com.au




GARDEN PLANNER
Winter - temperate areas
You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, artichokes, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, cress, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, spinach, ageratum, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, carnation, cineraria, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria, lobelia, nigella, pansy, poppy, primula, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, viola, wallflower

 

Cheralyn is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little,
hosts ‘Home with The Gardening Gang’
8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3
contact via: cheralyndarcey.com

She also writes the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News

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Homegrown Citrus

CitrusEveryone has room for citrus these days will a vast array of offerings to suit all garden sizes available from our local nurseries. Select a tree that you know you will use and that will be compatible with your area and environment. Grafted varieties will generally be hardier as they are clones of desirable plants that are grown upon strong, disease resistant rootstock that is suitable for your area. There are a large variety of sizes so make sure that your intended spot can accommodate the growth. While you can grow a tree from a seed, they probably won’t grow true to the type of the fruit they came from and though you may be pleasantly surprised, you will probably end up with sometime inedible. As it will take about seven years until you see the fruit, you will be better off having faith in a grafted tree of the type you are after.










A few of my juicy selections for Central Coast/temperate regions include Lemon: Eureka, Orange: Valencia, Lime: Makrut, Grapefruit: Ruby Red Grapefruit, Mandarin: Imperial, Cumquat: Nagami. Australian Native:  Finger Lime (any they are all wonderful!) 
Buddha-fruitSomething Unusual: Buddha’s Hand


How to Grow a Citrus Tree
Citrus will require at least six hours of full sun every day. The soil needs to be deep, rich and loamy, with free draining qualities being an absolute must. It won’t want other plants, or a lawn, sharing its space at all and a sheltered spot is best as they don’t fare well in strong winds. Planting time is early spring but planning time is right now, in the middle of winter, because a well-prepared bed will mean a happy, healthy long-lived tree.
Chose you spot and dig in. If your soil is heavy, add compost and lots of it and some sand can help as well. Dig your hole right out to three metres wide and as deep as you can manage.  Enrich the soil now with a little well-rotted manure if you feel your soil is depleted as fertilising during planting will burn the sensitive root structure of citrus. The preferred pH level for citrus is 6 - 7.5 and so you may need to toss in a little lime to bring up the level. When it is time to plant, ensure you mound up earth in the planting hole and spread roots out over it before filling. Water in well and mulch the surrounding area with an organic material and leave at least 12cm away from the trunk.

Citrus Care
Citrus are hungry garden buddies, so you need to feed them well. To leave no doubt there are specialised citrus fertilisers that are brilliant and take the guess work out of things for beginners. The usual pattern for feeding is mid-winter, late spring and late summer. Watering is essential once a week for newly planted trees and then only once every couple of weeks except if the weather is very hot. Container grown plants will naturally need additional watering and just remember that they detest soggy feet. Pruning may seem a bit daunting but in all honestly, it’s relatively easy with most citrus. Just trim back after harvest should you wish to shape your tree and remove dead branches and any that may be diseased but never cut away more than 20% of your tree canopy. You should be able to reach the trunk of the tree without being too obstructed by branches so keep the centre clear. When it comes to harvest, leave fruit on the tree until they have fully developed to ensure best flavour.

What’s Wrong with my Citrus?
Holes in my Tree: Probably Tree Borers and they can be removed by digging out with a skewer and a pyrethrum-based spray can knock them down as well.
Wiggly Lines on Leaves: The Leaf Miner is usually the culprit and can be controlled with an organic pest oil.
Sooty Mould & Honeydew: The sticky dew is created by insects, and it can lead to the sooty mould fungus issue. It can be controlled by washing the plant with a horticultural soap and then treating the tree with an organic insecticide.
Healthy Leaf Drop: This happens in most cases due to lack of water but can also indicate a health issue with the tree so give it a close examination.
Yellow Leaves: These will usually also drop and indicate too much water and poor drainage. Reduce watering and the tree should return to good health.
Stink Bug Infestation: This is a big one, and dreaded, as the fruit is punctured and drops off and tree slowly dies. If they are known in your area, my advice is to get a jump on them by spraying your trees completely in early spring with an organic horticultural oil but if they are already there then you will need program of organic insecticide as per the manufacture’s recommendations.

No Room Citrus Tips
Why don’t you try growing citrus in pots? This is also brilliant for those who are renting as you can simply take your ‘movable orchard’ with you and there are lots of dwarf citrus available. You will need as deep a pot as possible and repot every two years. An old but clever way to grow citrus in limited space to train it to grow up a wall. Espalier style, as it is called, needs careful planning and constant maintenance, but if you have the time, it’s an easy way to make use of tight spaces and provide a stunning backdrop in a courtyard or garden.


WHAT’S ON FOR PLANT AND NATURE LOVERS
Got an event to share? Tell us: [email protected]

Long Jetty Produce Swap 10 – 11am, Saturday 1st July, Bateau Bay Community Garden
Share excess (chemical free) edible produce and creations from your garden. Come together with minded locals and make some new friends. It’s an opportunity to share produce, knowledge, and skills locally - find out what grows best here. Make sure your garden produce does not go to waste. Find plants and produce that you won't find in the shops. Feel free to drop in and have a chat to see what it is about. Haven't got a garden? We usually have some cuttings/seeds/plants on offer or why not bake something and bring it along.


Christmas in July Workshop, Burbank at Saddles, Mt. White, 1pm, Sunday 2nd July
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Get into the festive spirit with our exciting and creative Kids Christmas Terracotta Pot Workshop! Let your little ones unleash their artistic talents and create beautiful, personalized Christmas decorations that will add a special touch to your holiday celebrations. All materials provided. Bookings a must phone 43701010

 

 

 

 


GARDEN PLANNER
Winter - temperate areas
You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, artichokes, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, cress, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, spinach, ageratum, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, carnation, cineraria, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria, lobelia, nigella, pansy, poppy, primula, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, viola, wallflower

 

Cheralyn is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little,
hosts ‘Home with The Gardening Gang’
8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3
contact via: cheralyndarcey.com

She also writes the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News

 









 


Thrifty Gardening

With the additional financial pressures that life is bringing, many are turning to gardening as a way to provide at least some ease. Although gardening, like any endeavour, can end up being expensive if you don’t pay attention to your spending. Any savings made by growing your own food or even being a little more entrepreneurial and selling your produce could take a long time to balance out if you spent a small fortune in getting established or maintaining your garden. The best way to avoid wasting money is by planning your garden, your crops and setting goals. Start small and grow from there as gardens have a habit of evolving as if by magic as you meet other who garden, save seeds from each harvest and learn what it is that your truly need to be successful and more importantly, the horticultural extravagances you really can do without.

Thrifty Gardening

Build a Thrifty Garden
Your garden will cost as much as you are able or willing to spend on it. I caught up with local home and garden blogger, Jen Jones of Pickles Patch and asked her for tips on building a garden for less. “Start with water. Are you using tank water or are you using council supplied water and what ways can you use water in your garden more effectively?” Jen also suggested that if you can’t afford a water tank, to use barrels under drainpipes to catch run off. To build a garden, take advantage of things that others are throwing out. “Save building materials and pots from landfill by using them to create garden beds” she said, and she is a big fan of composting to build the soil. “I cannot stress enough how important composting is. It reduces the waste coming out of your house and creates valuable soil for your garden.” Other ways Jen suggested to save money include seed saving and sharing cuttings. Any money you are going to spend, is best directed towards investing in good tools. You can find Pickles Patch on Facebook for lots of gardening and home inspiration: facebook.com/Piccklespatch

What to Grow
If you are seeking ways to save money on grocery bills, then take a good hard look at what your family eats and focus in on growing a few of the staples in abundance to start with. You can’t go past root crops like potatoes, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens like silverbeet and lettuce. These are allrounders that can be used in a huge variety of dishes. Clara Rosa of Clara’s Mini Urban Farm and President of Permaculture Central Coast grows a verge garden, for herself and to share with neighbours. It is filled with lots of produce, primarily herbs. Who hasn’t purchased $4 scraggly bunches of dill, rosemary or parsley and watched them turn to slime? Growing your own saves money and waste. Clara says that the good news is herbs are probably the easiest plants of all to grow. Following Clara’s lead, you can save hundreds of dollars a year and boost the flavour of all your dishes. As she explained, “Even if you live in a townhouse or apartment, you can bunch a few pots together and still grow herbs.” For more wonderful insight into gardening more sustainably check out Clara’s Blog: facebook.com/ClarasUrbanMinifarm and for permaculture on The Coast: www.permaculturecc.org.au


Thrifty Garden Practice
Once you are established, the most important piece of advice I think I can share is to plan what you are going to grow. Plant in line with the season because that way you do not have to invest in resources or infrastructure to keep your crops warm or to cool them down. Grow what is suitable for your environment by having your soil tested and improving it with rich organic matter that you create yourself, like compost. Work with your zone. Here on the Central Coast we enjoy what is known as a ‘warm temperate’ zone so look out for plants that are known and recommended to grow well here.

Swapping Your Produce
Once you obtain a harvest, a great way to find free food sources and help others is by swapping your excesses for things you are not growing. There are bunches of produce swaps on the Central Coast and around the world. Usually held in community gardens but also elsewhere. These are amazing places for inspiration, gardening tips and friendship. There is a private Central Coast Produce Swap Group on Facebook. It’s a place for people on the Central Coast, who grow chemical free produce, to swap and share with others. Handy when you can't get to your local produce swap, and you can also find or list local swaps. Central Coast Produce Swap Group: facebook.com/groups/400030077022113. Two popular swaps I have found are: Long Jetty Produce Swap and it is held on the first Saturday of the month 10 - 11am at the Bateau Bay Community Garden and the Woy Woy Produce Swap which happens on the last Sunday of the month at Woy Woy Peninsular Community Garden. There are sure to be more so join the group, keep an eye on this page or ask around. 


WHAT’S ON FOR PLANT AND NATURE LOVERS
Share your Gardening News and Events - [email protected] or call 0408105864

Mingara Orchid Club Orchid Fair and Show - 24th and 25th June
Orchid-web-image-1
This is a spectacular and free event for the community, providing a fabulous festival of exotic and native Australian Orchid displays. It is one of Australia's biggest orchid shows with lots of vendors also selling orchids and products. Mingara Recreation Club, Mingara Drive, Tumbi Umbi Saturday 9am-4pm, Sunday 9am - 3pm. 
Pete Little and Cheralyn Darcey of Coastfm’s Gardening Gang will also be broadcasting live from the orchid fair Saturday 8am - 10am. More information: coastfm.org.au and mingara.com.au

 

 

 

 

Green Teams- Bird walk and Talk - Saturday 24th June
Christina_Port_Bird_Photos
Join CEN's Green Teams and local bird expert Kaye Pointer leads a walk and talk, identifying local birds and learning about some of the local food sources and nesting habitat. Morning tea provided after the walk (Please note any dietary requirements in the comments section when booking.) Venue: Ourumbah Creek Landcare Site. Bookings are essential Ph: 4349 4491 or email: [email protected]. Please wear appropriate clothing, covered footwear and hat. Bring binoculars (if you have them) & a bottle of water. This event is funded by Central Coast Council, through their Community Development Grants program, as part of the CEN’s Green Team project. Saturday 24th June, 9am-11 am. More information: cen.org.au

Kincumber Produce Swap - Sunday 25th June
A produce swap works by having a set time and place for backyard growers to bring their excess food to share with other growers. It is a very casual affair, and nobody keeps score. By bringing your produce you are saying that you are happy for other swappers to take what they need because it is excess to your needs. It is simply a way of sharing your food with the fellow growers in your neighbourhood. 3 - 4pm at 20-22 Kincumber St, Kincumber

GARDEN PLANNER
winter: temperate areas
You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, artichokes, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, cress, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, spinach, ageratum, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, carnation, cineraria, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria, lobelia, nigella, pansy, poppy, primula, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, viola, wallflower

Cheralyn with Roses

She also writes the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News. 

 

 










 


A Garden for the Birds

New Holland Honeyeatercredit_ Jinesh PS
New Holland Honeyeater credit: Jinesh PS

There are also many other benefits in encouraging native birds to your garden along with these obvious delightful additions to your plot of paradise. Birds need to eat, and many will happily devour your pests and assist in pollination and will also help distribute seeds while flitting about on their business. For happy and healthy birds, they require what we need, shelter, water, and food so to encourage them, you can try providing these elements in your garden but first, you must think of life at a bird’s level, not your own. A good example is the ever-popular birdbath. While it may look splendid high up on a pedestal in the centre of a vast lawn, many birds, (and probably the ones that need your oasis the most) won’t like being caught out in the open in clear view of predators like that. Lower and shift the birdbath so that it is close to shrubs and trees, and you give birds an escape route if needed. The key to welcoming birds it to make them feel secure and by offering water and food in a safe way that feels like home.

When providing plants, you need to think in layers as birds don’t just live within trees, they require shrubs and grasses as well as climbers and depending on the species, they need nectar producing and/or seed producing plants as well as places for insects and smaller creatures to live that may be part of their diet. Along with places to hang out, birds need nesting areas and materials and while they are not going to find everything they need at your place, no matter how big it is, they may find just enough if you grow and provide it so that they drop in regularly.

 

Plants for Native Birds

Trees will offer birds places to perch, to nest and can also provide food. Ones to consider for your garden are:

Wattles (Acacia spp.), Gums (Eucalyptus spp.) and Tea Trees (Melaleuca spp.) and (Leptospermum spp.)

Shrubs, especially thicker growth species, are safe harbour for the small birds in your backyard. These can be in the form of a hedge but also grow a few together in another part of your garden. A quiet area if possible as this could also offer just the right place for nesting. Many shrubs also blossom in nectar producing flowers. Try: Banksias (Banksia spp.) Boronias (Boronia spp.), Bottlebrush (Callistemon spp.), Correa (Correa spp.), Bursaria (Bursaria spp.), Grevillea (Grevillea spp.) Waxflower (Crowea exalata), Lechenaultia (Lechenaultia formosa) and smaller species of wattles and tea trees. Grasses offer seeds, a safe hiding place and a nesting spot for many ground-living birds. Grow Kangaroo Grass (Themeda triandra), Wallaby Grass (Austrodanthonia spp.), Mat Rush (Lomandra spp.) and Tussock (Poa labillardieri). Climbers will also be vital in a bird-friendly garden as a quick get-away spot and feasting opportunity. Ones to consider are Bower of Beauty (Pandorea jasminoides), Black Coral Pea (Kennedia nigricans) and Hardenbergia (Hardenbergia spp.). While not a growing plant, organic mulches are essential as they make good homes for easily accessible insects that can become dinner for your feathered friends.

Central Coast Birds
Along with the usual suspects, rosellas, rainbow lorikeets, grass parrots and magpies, watch out for the pictured. Eastern Yellow Robin along with the Tawny-crowned Honeyeater, Yellow-tufted Honeyeater, Brush Bronzewing, Dusky Wood Swallow. You might also catch a glimpse of a New Holland Honeyeater (pictured, credit: Jinesh PS) or a Red Wattlebird. To find more and to help identify birds in your backyard these two websites have easy to use and fun interfaces suitable for all ages: birdsinbackyards.net and birdlife.org.au. If you do unfortunately find a sick or injured bird, please contact either wildlife-arc.org.au ph: (02) 43250666 or wires.org.au ph: 1300094737

Should You Feed the Birds?

Attracting birds is good for you, but it is also a way of growing a garden to be part of the environment and add botanical value to the area your home is situated in. This means that you are growing plants in a way that is good for the local ecosystem. What birds don’t need however is for you to hand feed them food that is not part of their native diet. Along with inviting rodents from fallen seed and food, you are encouraging bad habits in Australian native birds. We are surrounded by National Parks and bushland so I can assure you, no native bird needs a plate of birdseed or a handful of mince. Rather than setting out food, provide a more natural environment filled with the plants and the opportunities for birds to live naturally. What they can do with is fresh clean water, especially in dry spells. As mentioned, make sure that your birdbath or container is placed in an open, high area so that the birds can see predators easily.

Central Coast Bird Watching
Birding is the art of birdwatching, not just a happy hobby but a way of playing a part in the research and conservation of our wildlife. One of our local Birding groups is Central Coast Birders who meet the fourth Tuesday of the month, 7:30pm at Progress Hall, Anzac Road, Tuggerah and they can be found online along with their informative and inspiring newsletters here:

http://www.birdingnsw.org.au/central-coast-group-newsletter/


WHAT’S ON FOR PLANT LOVERS
Tabletop Cactus Garden Workshop.
1 – 2:30pm Sunday 18th June Burbank at Saddle, Mount White. Come join our lovely crew in creating your own tabletop cactus Garden to take home and enjoy. Bookings essential ph: 43701010
Kincumber Community Eco Garden Working Bee
. 3 – 4pm Friday 23rd June. 20 – 22 Kincumber Street, Kincumber. Work bee - weed grass from garden beds, prune bushes and trees , check and attend compost,and worm farms, water. Dig out arrowroot. Prune citrus. Tidy potting table and assemble shade house, tidy shed. Prepare for June Produce Swap and Workshop.
Build Your Own Frog Hotel. 1 – 3pm Saturday 24th June Wyee Nursery, Wyee. Learn why frogs are important, learn about different types of frogs, touch on the flora & fauna that is best suited for frogs, build your very own frog hotel and learn how to maintain it once you take it home.

This workshop is suitable for all ages and will be a fun-filled adventure for the whole family!

Tickets: https://tinyurl.com/55ayt8aw

GARDEN PLANNER
winter - temperate areas
You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, artichokes, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, cress, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, spinach, ageratum, alyssum, bare-rooted roses, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, carnation, cineraria, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria

Cheralyn is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little,
hosts ‘Home with The Gardening Gang’
8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3
contact via: cheralyndarcey.com

She also writes the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News. 
DUCKSCCN394P29


Hibiscus Happiness

The actual origin of the beautiful hibiscus is not really known. The problem with botany and our love and interest in plants is that we have naturalised them throughout history as we have travelled, mixed cultures and then hybridised to suit our needs or they have naturally evolved as they have found themselves in new terrains. These days there are over 300 species of Hibiscus.

Hibiscus

Growing Hibiscus

This easy to grow evergreen will usually flower perennially and can attain a height of up to 10 metres in the wild in favourable conditions. They can be planted and trained to become a gorgeous hedge and make a lovely standard shrub in a varying size depending on the cultivar. Colours range from singular colours of whites, reds, yellows, oranges, pinks, purples, blues, browns and stunning multi-colour combinations of all of the fore-mentioned.

Your hibiscus needs at least six hours of full sun every day and they like it warm but not too hot, so this is why they like living here on the Coast, as long as you position them well. What they don’t like is wet feet so be careful to plant in a free-draining soil and do not over water. They like a constant even watering as needed to keep soil just moist rather than drying out and then being drenched.

Hibiscus are one of the hungrier plants of the garden and will need feeding every month with a liquid fertiliser (Seasol is a good suggestion) as per instruction of the mixture you choose. They benefit from a layer of worm castings dug into the surrounding soil occasionally, a sprinkling of coffee grounds is good too at times. There are hibiscus-specific and time-release fertilisers available as well but whatever you use, never feed dry soil as it will burn the delicate roots.

When transplanting a hibiscus seedling or plant into your garden, the number one rule is to never remove the soil from the root ball and the second is - don’t stick it straight into position unless the original position was very similar. If your hibiscus came from a garden centre it has probably been in a shade house and also been a bit stressed from transportation. Introduce it slowly from semi shade into the full sun slowly by leaving it in its pot and moving it to its final destination over the course of a couple of weeks.

Hibiscus can be grown successfully in containers too, but you must make sure that they drain extremely well, and saucers are never allowed to fill with water. Place them in a full sun position just as you would a garden cousin.

Pruning your Hibiscus plant will encourage a more vigorous bushy growth, and this means, more flowers. It assists the health of the plant by removing deadwood, diseased and weakly growing branches. You can also remove growth in areas that you don’t want as you may like a certain shape, size or a tidier look. You can lightly prune your hibiscus on the Coast in February but save the hard pruning for September. (Get in quick! You can do it this week!). Never remove more than a third of the branches unless you have a very ill or struggling weedy looking plant. In this case you can prune down to around 60cm above the soil level. Usually you would prune back leaving two or three nodes on each branch and make the cut on the diagonal, slanting towards the ground and about 1cm above the first node you leave.

Your healthy cuttings can them be propagated by trimming to just below a leaf node and having a length of around 15cm. Dip in a hormone rooting solution or honey and plant in a pot with a mixture of 50% perlite and 50% quality potting mix. Keep damp and place in a warm, sunny, sheltered spot.

 

Hibiscus Help

Hibiscus are rather hardy but like all plants they can still succumb to pests, disease and negative environmental factors. Hibiscus are susceptible to aphids, ants, mites and thrips and these should be dealt with using an organic pesticide containing neem oil or pyrethrum.

Some diseases that are common to hibiscus are ‘Hibiscus Wilt’ and this is usually fatal. It can be recognised by leaves that wilt and then turn a dark colour. Try giving it a light watering (don’t overwater), fine misting of water each day, providing some bright shade and that’s it. Leave leaves on plant, don’t prune, transplant or feed.

Leaf Fungus with its black spots looks horrible but is completely harmless. It is usually caused by water sitting on the leaves for too long after dew, watering or rain. The leaves will fall off eventually and new ones will grow. Dieback usually occurs when a break happens in a stem or branch and bacteria or fungus enters the plant. Cut away affected areas of the plant and seal the cuts with grafting wax. Ensure that fallen flowers are quickly removed from plant bases and composted as these encourage pests and diseases.

 

Delicious Nutritious Flower Food

Yes, Hibiscus is edible! Hibiscus flowers can be used to flavour all sorts of foods and teas created from the dried petals are divine. In China the leaves are lightly steamed and eaten as we would cook spinach or silver beet. This is also a plant widely used in herbal medicine for lowering blood pressure and blood sugar, skin health, heart health, bronchial issues, fighting the effects of cancer and in gallbladder disease. You must seek the advice of a registered herbal practitioner and never self-medicate. Properly identified Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, can be used as a food, drink and used topically. It is not recommended for those with low blood pressure, about to undergo surgery, pregnant and lactating women and should be used with caution if diabetes is present. It should not be consumed close to taking any preparation containing paracetamol as it slows the release rate of the drug from your body.

GARDEN PLANNER
early winter - temperate areas
You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, artichokes, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, cress, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, spinach, ageratum, alyssum, bare-rooted roses, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, carnation, cineraria, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linari

Cheralyn is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little,
hosts ‘Home with The Gardening Gang’
8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3
contact via: cheralyndarcey.com

She also writes the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News. 

 


Bare-rooted Rose Time

It’s Bare-rooted rose time! These are rose plants in their dormant state and are one of the best ways to purchase because stock and varieties will be more plentiful and it’s also a lot cheaper than container growing roses.
Roses 1

The pick of the bunch for Central Coast gardens in my books are: The new hybrid tea rose ‘Heaven Scent’ with a strong old damask rose fragrance and unusually shaped orchid pink petals. The ‘Amazing Mum’ is a showstopper with its breathtaking dark pink- purple huge and very fragrant flowers with a lighter reverse. For a delicately pretty rose, look out for ‘Earth Angel ‘with its creamy soft petals with touches of blush. Earth Angel also has a perfume to match that is soft and sweet. For something different, ‘Coco’ which as the name suggests, displays velvety petals in cocoa shades. The fragrance is spicy and warm with hints of vanilla.
Drop into any of the Central Coast’s local nurseries as bare-root stock is arriving now. You may need to order in certain varieties and if your selection has already sold out this year, the friendly teams can also suggest similar roses.

Rose Planning
You can decide to grow a rose garden or, like I do, pepper the garden here and there with roses. You might like a theme that is focused on a type of rose, a period of their history or of course colour. I buy what I like, when I see it and tuck it in where it fits but then I have a garden that Freida Kahlo would be proud of. It’s very colourful, rambling, and bright, but I’ve seen stunning gardens of very formal white roses or filled completely with only French Old Garden roses. With so many varieties, the longevity of the plant and this area being very suitable for all roses, you won’t be stuck for choice. For your needs and garden design, there are climbing roses, bushy roses, ones that you can prune to look like little trees and others that make great hedges. Bare Root plants are available from late autumn until early spring, and they come wrapped in sawdust or peat moss and plastic bags and sometimes in pots. These are usually far more plentiful and cheaper that potted growing roses. These on the other hand are available year-round and are naturally covered in foliage and sometimes blooms if found in season, (usually spring through summer). They are more expensive and there are not as many varieties available in most places.

Planting Your Roses
Under absolutely no circumstance can the roots of a rose be allowed to become dry. Get your planting position ready first so that there is limited disruption. Roses will need full sun for most of the day and while some can tolerate shade, you will gain more blossoms in sunny positions of at least five hours a day. They also prefer to be sheltered, with good air circulation and have cool earth plus space as roses do not like to have heated roots or competition. This may sound like a fussy checklist but with roses, once you get the planting and position right, they are usually set for life. Roses will grow in any soil, but it must be free-draining and deep so that the roots can stay cool and not become waterlogged. The best preparation is to dig over your selected rose garden bed spot to at least the depth of a spade about six weeks prior to planting and add lots of organic matter and rotted manure. Each plant will need an area of at least 3 meters in diameter. Bare rooted roses need to be carefully unwrapped and washed of their packing material and nursery potted ones need the soil shaken gently from their roots. Roses you are transplanting during this dormant period need to be treated the same. I like to soak my rose roots in a bucket of plain water overnight to make sure they are nicely hydrated before planting the next day. Into a hole that you have dug that is wide enough for the roots and deep enough so that the bud union will come to the soil level, make a mound of soil that your roots can sit upon. Fan them out over this and then half fill hole with soil. Next fill the hole with water and once it drains away, top up the hole with soil firmly.

Rose Care
Mulch the rose plant with a layer about 6mm deep of organic materials such as sugar cane, general garden mulch and compost but, never use eucalyptus, pine needs or pebbles. Keep the mulch at least 6mm away from the stem. Roses like to be kept well-watered but check in with your selections as some like to dry out a bit between watering. Rainfall over 20mm during the week will mean that watering can be skipped. This can be increased to twice a week during the summer months. They are hungry plants and do so much better with natural matter as their food source. In early spring, after gently forking over the surrounding soil spread well-rotted manure to a depth of at least 10cm and top this with compost to a depth of 5cm. Late spring after this has worked its way down into the soil, add bone and bone and mulch and you might like to feed again with blood and bone mid-summer.

GARDEN PLANNER
early winter - temperate areas
You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, artichokes, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, cress, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, spinach, ageratum, alyssum, bare-rooted roses, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, carnation, cineraria, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria, lobelia, nigella, pansy, poppy, primula, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, viola, wallflower

Cheralyn is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little,
hosts ‘Home with The Gardening Gang’
8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3
contact via: cheralyndarcey.com

She also writes the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News. 

 


How to Grow Gorgeous Garlic

They say that to enjoy garlic come Remembrance Day (November), you must plant by Anzac Day, so get cracking! Due to the warmth we are still experiencing, there are a couple of more weeks left in the garlic planting window this year. Fresh garlic, straight from the garden is a divine experience and it is also the way to ensure you get the maximum health benefits possible. It is garlic planting time on The Coast and across temperate areas of Australia right now. Good news is, they are one of the easiest plants to grow and home-grown means more flavour and nutrients. This wonderful veggie can be planted in pots and garden beds and can be used fresh or stored for use all year-round. Garlic (Allium sativum), probably originated in the western areas of Asia, but it is such a long-cultivated plant that we cannot be completely sure. The Ancient peoples of Egypt, China, and India, all have recorded histories of growing and using garlic as a medicinal and culinary plant with some even attributing mystical properties to it. Most commercial garlic is treated with a chemical to render it sterile, so you won’t be able to use those bulbs for propagation and it’s handy to know that there are two types of garlic, ‘hard-neck’ which has flowers and ‘soft-neck’ which does not. Soft-neck garlic will store for longer than it’s hard-neck friend, but I do like the flowers which are also edible, and the spikes make amazing, dried foliage material. Another factor you will need to consider is that you probably won’t end up with as large a bulb size as you find in the shops, but you will have leaves and you can eat those as well. Types to consider: Dynamite Purple, Spanish Roja, White Crookneck, Giant Russian, Melbourne Market.
Along with growing garlic, make this spray from it to combat pests in your garden. Blend together 4 cloves of garlic with 1 cup of water and a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid (not antibacterial), strain into 500ml spray bottle and top with water. Spray onto plants to deter pests. Test on a few leaves first.  Garlic is a brilliant companion plant for beetroot, carrots, strawberries, lettuce, and roses and provides a fair amount of protection from various pests, but it should never be planted alongside beans or peas as it will stunt their growth and production. For medical use garlic has been used as both an antiseptic and an antibacterial agent for over 3,000 years. Garlic is still used for these reasons in herbal medicine today along with treatments for digestive issues, respiratory diseases and for circulatory benefits as well.

Grow Your Own Garlic
Peter Donnelly of Coachwood

I had a chat with Pete Donnelly from Coachwood Nursery at Somersby for his tips on growing garlic on The Coast. He shared that the soil must be open, free-draining and well-prepared with compost. I asked about just planting store-brough garlic. “No don’t do that, “Peter said, “You will find that supermarket garlic will usually come from overseas and be treated with chemicals. If you purchase from local Farmers Markets, ensure that the produce is organic and then that would be ok.”
Soil pH level is best sitting between 6.5 and 7.5 is best and whether you decide to grow in the garden or in pots, find a sunny spot. Garlic can be planted by seed but is mostly cultivated via bulbs. To do this, gently separate the bulb into individual corms. Plant directly in their final designation into the soil with the tips just below the surface and firm down.

Garlic is not a fan of weeds so keep it tidy and water should be consistent but don’t drown your plant. They just don’t like to get soggy feet or humidity. Water seedlings a few times a week until they are a couple of months old and then back off to once or twice a week. Feed every second week with a seaweed-based fertiliser, as they love it and mulch with your usual veggie garden mulch medium but ensure you don’t crowd the plants as air flow and low humidly are important.

Harvest most varieties at around the five-month mark but this will depend greatly on type. You will know they are ready as the leaves will begin to wilt and yellow around this time. Lift gently, keep the leaves intact and hang to dry for a few weeks in a warm, sheltered spot to cure before storing in a cool, dry, dark place. The leaves are left on during the curing process so that all additional nutrients are pulled down into the bulb. Don’t forget to save some of those bulbs for next year’s planting. You can find garlic to grow at your local nursery or online: diggers.com.au or theseedgarlicshop.com.au and Giant Russian Garlic: naglesfallsfarm.com.au

What’s on for Plant Lovers
Dried Flower Workshop at Coachwood Nursery, Somersby. 3 - 5pm Sunday 7th May. Take home a gorgeous flower arrangement that you create on the day! Everything supplied. Just bring along: - your own drink bottle, box to take home your creation, pen and paper for taking notes as there is a lot to learn, a jacket as it can get cool in the afternoons at Somersby and comfortable shoes. Rain, Hail or Shine! Held in the Dried Flower Emporium in the grounds of Coachwood Nursery, 900 Wisemans Ferry Road, Somersby. Information and tickets: coachwoodnursery.com/index.html

Cactus and Succulent Sale, Charmhaven Saturday 9am – 1pm Saturday 13th May. Central Coast Cactus and Succulent Club have an amazing sale on at the Charmhaven Hall Nararah Ave Charmhaven

More information about the sake and club:  0401544052


Soil, Pests and Predators in Your Edible Garden with Kerrie Anderson, Holgate
9:30am – 12:30pm Thursday 18th May, 9:30 am - 12:30 pm. No matter what the size of your garden, from a balcony to acreage, for renters, community gardeners and homeowners alike, this workshop will help you gain skills in soil improvement and integrated pest management. This workshop is designed for beginners and for those who want to improve their processes. Tickets and more information: synergypermaculture.com.au

Gardening Planner
late autumn - temperate areas
Time to reduce watering of indoor plants and make sure they are well away from heating. You can plant the following now: Culinary herbs, artichokes, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbages, cauliflower, cress, garlic, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, shallots, spring onions, silverbeet, spinach, ageratum, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, carnation, cineraria, columbine, cornflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria, lobelia, nigella, pansy, poppy, primula, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, viola, wallflower

Cheralyn is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little,
hosts ‘Home with The Gardening Gang’
8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3
contact via: cheralyndarcey.com

She also writes the weekly 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper and this originally appeared in The Coast News.