DOWN IN THE GARDEN: What to Plant for Christmas
Down in the Garden: Get the Tropical Look


Cheralyn Darcey
Bens paper 2

So easy, so yummy and you can sow right now! Most beans go brilliantly all year round, especially on the Central Coast and even the changeable Spring weather and extra rain won’t have too much of a negative effect as long as you prepare well. They will prefer a deep soil that is rich in organic matter and digging through some blood and bone a couple of weeks before planting can give them a great start. Beans don’t really like sandy soil so add lots of organic matter and make sure, as with most vegetables, that it is well-drained. The biggest human-induced problem beans face is over-watering. This leads to fungal issues and oxygen starvation so hold off on the hose. Beans will like moist to top-dry soil and you will find that they are rather hardy through summer. You can mulch, but never allow the mulch material to touch the stems as this is another way to trap too much moisture close to the bean plant which will lead to plant death. What beans really need is full sun and for climbing beans, a trellis of some sort to support them. Once growing, beans really don’t need additional feeding unless there has been a lot of rain and nutrient levels are low. Then a liquid-based preparation or manure tea would work well. Beans are able to get all the nitrogen they need because they fix it from the air around them. Over feeding beans will actually upset this balance and cause damage to your plants so be very careful when making the decision to feed.
While growing beans is relatively easy, they can fall victim, to diseases like powdery mildew and halo blight. Make sure that you are giving your plants plenty of air flow by spacing well and that you are not over-watering, watering during the heat of the day or letting water fall upon leaves or pool around the plants. All this increases humidity and this encourages the growth of these fungal disease.
There is a lot of variety out there to choose from when deciding what to grow in your garden and you will find that the selection seems to be divided between climbers and bushes. Climbers can reach a height of 2 metres while bush beans get up to around 40cm depending on type. They grow. As annuals in this area and you can expect to harvest between 10 to 14 weeks. Make sure that you harvest as soon as they mature, when they are still crisp and full because leaving too long will cause your beans to toughen up. If you would like to collect beans to dry, allow them to do so on the plant. These can be collected for culinary use or for planting in the future.
Here are a few bean types that will grow well on the Coast and can be planted right now. Dwarf Borlotti which can be harvested as a green bean or left to dry on the plant. This is an excellent culinary bean and very popular. Butter ‘Cherokee Wax’ is another lovely dwarf variety worth growing. One of the most productive climbers is ‘Blue Lake Climbing’ bean and if you like your beans without strings then look out for ‘Lazy Housewife’ or Dwarf ‘Snapbean’. For stir-fries you can’t go past ‘Snake Beans’ and if you like broad beans, ‘Coles Early Dwarf’; is a good one. Beans love to grow with broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbages, cauliflowers, cucumbers, lettuce, potatoes and sweet corn.

Bateau Bay Community Garden
Bateau Bay Community Garden

Tucked behind the Men’s Shed at Bateau Bay, this Central Coast Community Garden began because two Men’s Shed members, Kevin and Nigel, saw the need for a place that had similar benefits but would be open to all. Ten years ago, they petitioned the Central Coast Council to create their dream of a garden that men, women, parents, grandparents and children could all enjoy upon the degraded bush block. Nigel shows me around and explains the planning and work undertaken by these dedicated volunteers over the years. The garden now houses lots of raised beds, a wonderful meeting room with facilities, chickens and many outdoor supporting structures.
Lynsey was working hard when I visited and has been coming for nearly four years, initially not a gardener, she came along to just get out in the fresh air, get some exercise and meet people. Deb comes every now and then, loves helping with the planting and enjoys the company of others here. Glenda moved to the Coast from a home with larger gardens and unfortunately her new balcony garden didn’t work out as planned. She joined the garden and has been thrilled with the community connections she didn’t expect to make, “I’m home when I’m here at the garden” she tells me. Kevin Armstrong is the Secretary of the Bateau Bay Community Garden and says the object of this important Central Coast asset is to provide an outdoor location that serves as a meeting place for people as well as encouraging healthy eating and exercise. “Community Gardens engender a sense of community and give people an opportunity to work together to achieve things as a community in a cooperative way.” Kevin adds.
You can join the warm and welcoming Bateau Bay Community Garden or pop in for visit any Tuesday or Thursday morning. It’s an organic garden and open to all ages and level of skill, even zero skills. They also host the Long Jetty Produce Swap on the first Saturday of the month. You can also follow them on Facebook:

Coachwood Nursery Open Days 21 & 22 October, 9am – 3pm. 900 Wisemans Ferry Road, Somersby. Free Entry. Pet friendly. Succulent Workshop starts at 3pm, book online to ensure your place: 
Dried Flower Workshop 23rd October from 3pm. 900 Wisemans Ferry Road, Somersby. Create a stunning wreath and learn proper florist techniques with Ruth who will guide you in selection, crafting and care of your dried floral creation. Make your own beautiful gifts and products to take home. Everything included.
To book:
Clara’s Urban Farm Mushroom Talk & SWAMP Working Bee 10am – 12pm Sunday 23rd October. Who loves mushrooms? Who wants to learn to grow their own mushrooms? Come along and find out! Also, it’s the SWAMP Working Bee so if you would love to garden for an hour or so alongside the SWAMPIES, get those boots and gloves on and join in! Gold coin donation for mushroom talk please. 1897 South Tacoma Road, Tuggerah

Temperate Areas late October
This week you can also plant the following: culinary herbs, artichoke suckers, beans, beetroot, blueberry, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, celery, cherry, chicory, chilli, cress, cucumber, eggplant, endive, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, marrow, melons, mustard, okra, spring onions, parsnip, potatoes (tubers), pumpkin, radish, raspberry, rhubarb, rosella, salsify, silverbeet, squashes, strawberry, sweet corn, sweet potato (shoots), tomato, zucchini, ageratum, alyssum, amaranths, aster, begonia (bedding), canna lily, coleus, cosmos, carnation, dianthus, everlasting daisy, gazania, gerbera, gypsophila, geranium, impatiens, marigold, petunias, portulaca, lobelia, love-in-a-mist, lupin, nasturtium, nemesia, sunflowers.

Cheralyn Darcey is a gardening author, community garden educator at and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM963, on air locally or download the app:

Archived articles can be found on Cheralyn’s Blog:

Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: [email protected]