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October 2022


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]

DOWN IN THE GARDEN: What to Plant for Christmas

Gardening Page 15th Oct 22

This year, why not give everyone at your place the treat of freshly harvested goodness from your garden. To give yourself a head start, plant seedlings rather than seeds and make sure you are planting into rich, healthy soil and once established keep well feed and add a seaweed-based booster as per their instructions to encourage healthy, strong, and fast growth. Look at labels and seek out the term ‘early harvesting’ although right now, most seedlings of tomatoes, capsicums, eggplants, cucumbers, climbing green beans, beetroot, Chinese cabbage, and snow peas can be planted and should be ready by the time Saint Nick gets here. Try golden yellow pear drop and tumbling red tiny toms for produce that will rival the tinsel.

Fill out a veggie plot to impress visitors with sweet corn, onions, and melons because although they may not be ready for the big day, they will provide a lush looking veggie garden throughout summer and a later season harvest for the holidays. Going traditional dinner this year? Then delicious homegrown potatoes should be on your list and although most varieties can’t be harvested for 60 to 90 days, if you select an early harvesting variety, you should be able to pull up baby potatoes by the end of December. Plant seed potatoes into contained areas of the garden or very large deep pots in full sun. Planting at this time of the year increases the risk of disease due to increasing humidity so cut eyes singularly with only a small amount of surrounding flesh and allow to dry for a day before planting.

Don’t forget the sweet potatoes. These beauties can easily take over a garden space so are better grown in contained areas or very large pots. Plant sweet potato seedlings in full sun at this time of the year to ensure a mini-Christmas harvest.  They need a free draining soil that is rich with compost and well-rotted manure. Feed with nitrogen-based fertiliser to start but then only use a general feeder thereafter every 6 to 8 weeks. Lettuce, endive, beans that grow in bush form and zucchini will all be worth getting into the ground right now for Christmas. Coast gardeners will find ‘Cos’ lettuce, ‘Salad King’ endive and good old ‘Blackjack’ zucchini thrive here.

BBQs, salads, baked dinners and in fact all your holiday cooking will be given a zesty boost with fresh herbs straight out of the garden and try growing all of these in pots as well as they make delightful and easy gifts. Just make sure that the pots are placed in sunny spots and although you could grow them now from seed, use seedlings to ensure that you will be obtaining these treats in time. You might even like to create wreaths for your front door or kitchen if you are already growing them. Simply tie bunches of herbs to a cane circle and use as needed. Herbs that can be planted now include basil, chives, coriander, dill, oregano, and mint. Plant mint in big pots rather than directly in garden beds as it can become very intrusive and pop them in those drab shady places for a green lift. If you want the best stuffing, you will ever make, there is no passing the opportunity to plant parsley, sage and thyme now. Sage needs full sun and a dry environment. It won’t like the coming humidity so if you have not grown sage before or experienced past failures, try planting in a large well-draining pot and move as needed out of the rain or find a dry spot in the garden and water sparingly.

Plant Australian Christmas Bush
Not only will you create your own supply of this festive favourite, the local wildlife will love you for it. NSW Christmas Bush (Ceratopetalum gummiferum) has small creamy-coloured blossoms that fall away in spring to leave sepals that turn a gorgeous red by late December. Find a full sunny spot to plant your Christmas Bush and feed during spring with a native-specific fertiliser only. This is advised to increase the number of blossoms which will lead to a showier festive display. When harvesting your Christmas bush, never remove more than a third of the plant and cut branches at an angle with sharp secateurs. Remove all foliage that will sit below the waterline in your vase, change water every second day and snip drying bottom of stems as required. You should see your cut Christmas Bush last well into the New Year with a vase life of at least two weeks.

Terrigal Community Garden

This group of Central Coast plant lovers have their sights and hearts set on creating the next Central Coast Community Garden. Coming together after a Facebook call out by one of their members, Maryanne, back in March 20022, the group of interested locals met in person and shared their ideas and visions of what they thought the people in their local community would want and need. They were quickly put in touch with the Green Point Community Services team who have worked hard in guiding and supporting the Terrigal Community Garden group in navigating the processes involved. While still in negotiations with Council over various suggested sites in which our next Central Coast Community Garden might take root, they have already begun planning their garden. It will be a permaculture garden, a green space in Terrigal for people of all ages to come together, to grow and to share not only the produce but also the peace of nature, their knowledge and their time together. Already the foundational members are appreciative of the wonderful community support, including that of other already established local community gardens and the ‘Central Coast Community Garden Network’. To join the group or find out more: [email protected] and hop on to their Facebook group: ‘Terrigal Community Garden’ to watch them grow.
If you want to meet the team and help out, they are having a ‘Spring Trivia Night’ to help raise awareness and funds to kick them off this Saturday night:

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]

Down in the Garden - Spring Garden Pest Control



DOWN IN THE GARDEN: Safe Pest Control for Your Garden
Cheralyn Darcey

In our home gardens, we are usually asking plants from across the world to not only adapt to the weather and environment but to everyone and everything living in our gardens. The best way to have a healthy and pest-resistant garden is to plant natives but, most of us want tomatoes, lettuce and roses, so we need to find ways to protect them and to enable them to thrive. Other than companion planting, as we discussed last week, all other pest control measures should be only employed when the pest population is proving to be out of control. Your pest controlling methods, even organic ones, should be stopped as soon as your garden situation improves because no matter how careful you are, unfortunately these measures can affect native living things as well. Healthy plants are much better equipped to combat the invasion of pests. They can recover quicker, and they can better resist subsequent disease challenges as well. Water, feed and care for your plants properly as per their individual needs to keep them in tip top health. When working in the garden clean and disinfect tools and your hands when moving on to another plant as this helps stop the spread of pests and disease. You must remove damaged and diseased materials quickly to stop the spread as well. Other than using your hands to pick off the unwanted bugs, here are a few organic ideas to help you round your garden

 Barrier planting works by planting crops that your pests would rather eat than your garden treasures. You can plant as barriers to your whole garden or around more valued plants. Caterpillars love nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) while slugs and snails will head for lettuce (Lactuca sativa). There are also beneficial creatures and insects that you can encourage into your garden to help control pests for you. These include other less destructive to your garden insects along with birds, frogs and lizards. Keeping chickens will help if you can manage them. They love snails and slugs as well as a host of insects. Spiders and even wasps, as much as you might not like them, do a fantastic job of munching their way through a lot of annoying insects. The local bird population will love your bug problem so invite them in as well. How do we let the predators know we are open for their dinning pleasure? You can encourage them by having a water source such as a bird bath, a pond, nesting boxes and hives/insect hotels. This includes nettings to stop pests getting to your crops. Just make sure they are fine, breathable and white or clear and well anchored, so they do not entangle birds and animals. Things put on the ground that pests like slugs and snails won’t cross include crushed eggshells, nutshells or gravels. Copper is also known to be something snails and slugs won’t cross, and you can purchase copper tapes that can be effective along the edges of raised garden beds.

While traps and baits work exceptionally well in reducing unwanted pests and are far better than traditional poisons and chemicals, they can and do, trap beneficial bugs. The following should only be used as a last resort if other methods mentioned are not working.

Bottle Traps
These are incredibly easy to make, cheap and they do work but use as a last resort as  Once full, you simply throw away or wash and repeat. Neatly cut the top third of a plastic drink bottle off then Insert the top into the bottom. This creates a funnel that the insects will go into, attracted by whatever bait you use and be drowned in water that you need to add. Wasps: Use mashed up fruit in about 3cm of water and make sure that a few bits of fruit stick up from the water. Set on ground near places you have noticed wasps. House Flies: Old raw meat in about 3cm water with some sticking out from water. Make sure this trap is set in the sun. Stink Bugs and Moths: a battery-operated light in the bottom of trap. Set in a dark place in your garden.
Bowl Traps
Into a clear glass bowl place, a chopped-up piece of ripe fruit and cover with fruit juice mixed with ¼ teaspoon of dishwashing liquid. Cover with plastic cling film drum tight and punch about 3 to 6 holes, depending on size of bowl with a bamboo skewer or similar. This method works well for fruit flies.
Underground Container Traps
A good way to combat a slug or snail invasion but be mindful that you could inadvertently trap native snails. Use plastic containers about the size of a margarine tub with lid and cut away about a third of the lid. You want to create a cover for the container but have enough room for slugs and snails to fall in. Bury container to soil level, fill with beer/yeast mix and then put the lid on. You can also use half a scooped-out orange or grapefruit in the same way but without a ‘lid’.

All of these mixtures should be tested on a small part of the plant first and never used on stressed, dry or thirsty plants. Use in the evening and reapply as required to control pests.
The All-Rounder
This is suitable for a broad range of pests and the majority of plants.
6 unpeeled cloves garlic , 3 whole hot chillies, ½ cup of chopped tomato plant leaves, 500ml water, ½ teaspoon liquid soap. Blend all except soap in a blender and then mix in soap, strain into a spray bottle. Test on a leaf first and watch for adverse reaction over 24hours. If not noticed, spray all over plant when plant is not stressed and in the cooler evening. Use only as needed, no more than once every few weeks.

The Sure-Shoot
Mix up the above recipe and substitute the tomato leaves with any one or you could try a mixture of the following:
Ants: basil, mint, pennyroyal, tansy, wormwood
Aphids: coriander, dill, mint, chives
Weevils: catnip
Mice: wormwood
Cabbage White Butterflies: tansy, wormwood
Slugs and Snails: wormwood, rosemary
Mosquitos: pennyroyal, lavender, rosemary
Spider mites: coriander, dill
Gnats: pennyroyal
Fleas: wormwood, lavender
Flies: lavender, pennyroyal, tansy
Beetles: Tansy
Moths: wormwood, tansy, lavender
Cockroaches: catnip
Carrot Fly: basil, chives

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:

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