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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.

 

 









 

 


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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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
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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
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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. 

 

 










 


Creating a Peaceful Garden

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Although gardens are naturally calm places, you can create even more relaxation ambiance with a few carefully added design features. To escape the pressures, stresses and pace of the outside world, all garden spaces, indoors or out can easily provide you and your family with a spa-like experience to enjoy year-round. Try any of these elements at your place to help you find your Zen.

Open Areas
Even if you find sitting in a jungle of green soothing, a small clear space within gives you a place to rest your gaze and is a design element that will enhance the garden by providing contrast between the full and the void. You may also enjoy sitting, lying, or collapsing on the grass after a particularly stressful day.
Seating
While it is lovely to wander and to stand around a garden, being able to sit is important. To rest yourself physically as well as mentally and to just ‘be’ within the space for as long as you need is far better achieved with a seat. While outdoor furniture is one answer, so are benches and stools created from old tree stumps and upcycled weather resistant materials. My favourite bench in my garden is just an old sleeper bolted to a couple of tree stumps or go all the way with a lounge or day bed.
Art Works

This can be the form of a created sculpture of any size or a nature feature that serves as a sculptural piece. An interesting log, an old piece of machinery or equipment. Sculpture in the garden rests our minds with something of beauty or makes us curious and in turn this takes our thoughts away from what may be disrupting our peace. Small whimsical garden ornaments and decorative panels are also artistic pieces that you could consider. Choose something that delights you and matches the style of your garden.
Water Features
Fountains, fishponds and water plant features are all such soothing and alluring places in gardens and if you have the space and the desire then you really should investigate. Should you already have a pool or spa, consider surrounding with some of the plants listed below to add to the Zen. Why water makes us feel calm is not really known but it has been shown to slow our brainwaves and there is some evidence that the sounds we could hear in the womb, a time we would have felt safe, are reminiscent of other water sounds.
Wind Chimes
While are talking about the sounds of water, let’s not forget wind chimes. These come in a vast array of sounds and from gentle tinkling to bass clanging loudness and your selection will depend on placement, size of garden space and personal taste. They can all be silenced when needed but a wind chime adds a beautiful interaction with the breezes moving through your space and the sound, if chosen well, will help promote calm.

Indoor Oasis
The houseplant craze is well and truly upon us and to be honest, I’m a fan. It’s created a lot of new garden-curious people and that’s not a bad thing at all. While you may not need an Instagram-worthy indoor curation of plants, having an area with an inviting chair surrounded by botanical goodness would qualify as a Zen indoor garden in my books. Adding plants to areas of high traffic and family activity can also help calm the vibe.
Calm Inducing Plants
So which plants suit a peaceful garden? All plants will but consider greening up areas with soft textured plants that suit your environment, and this could include ferns, shrubs, and grasses. The gentle movements in caught breezes of softer textured plants will calm the mind and the greenness soothe the soul.  The following plants can all be grown inside or out and have additional therapeutic qualities for calm living.

Aloe vera (Aloe barbadensis miller) is known for its skin healing benefits but it also purifies the air of carcinogens and emits oxygen at night. Peppermint (Mentha × piperita) when grown near pathways and seating areas will enable you to brush past and release the aromatics that help bring clarity to your mind and feel less frustrated. Been found to lower frustration and boost alertness. Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla) is almost famous for its sleep inducing and relaxation characteristics when used in teas. Cutting the flowers and drying to use in potpourris will bring the same benefits into your home. Basil (Ocimum basilicum) contains within it a compound known as ‘linalool’ which has been found to reduce the activity of certain genes that are triggered during stressful situations. The Snake Plant (Dracaena trifasciata) is one of the best plants for purification of the air, according to NASA and while they purify the air during the day, they emit oxygen at night. Lavender (Lavandula spp.) is a must in any garden as the flowers and the leaves contain the powerful aromatics. By inhaling the scent of lavender, it has been shown to especially decreased feelings of depression and confusion. Jasmine (Jasminum officinale) fragrance is a super soother and anxiety reliever for many. A study published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry reported that the smell of Jasmine can be a soothing as Valium. Catmint (Nepeta cataria) is not just for cats! It not only sooths the nerves of our feline friends but of humans as well.

NEWS & EVENTS
Bonsai Open hosted by Central Coast Bonsai - Saturday 4 March (9am-5pm) and Sunday 5 March (9am-4pm) 2023 in Mingara Events Centre. Along with sales and competition, there will be demonstrations across the weekend from some of the country’s finest bonsai artists including Andrew Edge, Evan Marsh, Hugh Grant, Joe Morgan- Payler, Tony Bebb and Marcela Ferreira. Coastfm Gardening Gang will be broadcasting live Saturday 8am – 10am Tickets at door: $7 adult, kids free. mingara.com.au


GARDENING PLANNER
Late Summer Temperate Areas
This week you could plant: culinary herbs, beans (dwarf), beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages,  carrot, cauliflower, celery, chicory, cress, endive, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard, onions (spring), parsnips, peas, potatoes (tubers), radishes, rhubarb (crowns), salsify, shallots, silverbeet, spinach, turnips, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, cineraria, coneflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria,  lobelia, lupin, nasturtium, nigella, pansy, poppy  (Iceland), primula, statice, stock, verbena, vinca, viola, wallflower

Cheralyn writes the 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper each week and this originally appeared in The Coast News as below: 

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Cheralyn Darcey is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3, on air locally or streaming by asking ‘play coastfm963’ Archived articles: florasphere.com  Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: [email protected]


Growing Cut Flowers

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It’s been a week when the local markets have been flooded with flowers but have you considered growing your own cut flowers? Not just to fill your garden with colour, perfume and beauty but for a focused harvest? While it can be difficult to lop off the stems in your garden design, if you set up purpose-built gardens, just as you would for say veggies, then it becomes a whole lot easier to cut down bunches of flowers. Don’t get me wrong, your harvestable flower crop will still add interest and colour to your garden!
Preparation
Just as you would any garden, you will need to make a plan. Factors to consider before deciding on which flowers to grow on your site include soil composition, light, access to water and possible environmental challenges such as wind and visitors that may become pests. You may find you will need to adjust the soil to suit the flower type you have your heart set on growing but as a baseline, a rich, loamy soil that is high in organic matter and free-draining will be required. Using raised garden beds, no dig mounds or just areas set aside for your cut flower growing adventure.
Planting
Cut flowers are just plants with purpose other than hanging out in your garden so a good idea is to plan for succession planting. Popular with veggie garden growing, it involves planting out the same type of seed every couple of weeks for a period of time so that come harvest you have a continuous crop and are not overwhelmed with too much of one flower. Starting seeds off in planting cells rather than directly into the ground can help protect them from pests and environmental factors. I’ve found it impossible to direct plant sunflowers for example as the birds and ground creatures simply dig them up in my garden. Getting your flowers to a sturdy seedling stage while under protection saves time and resources.
Growing Care
All plants have different growing requirements so do your research to ensure that feeding, watering and general care are maintained. You will also find that certain plants will need support via staking or a trellis and that light requirements will vary. For your own and the environment’s health, use only organic methods of pest and disease control. Following the advice for individual plant spacing, planting and care ensures healthier plants that are more resistant to challenges.
Pinching Out
How do you encourage your flowers to grow lots of blossoms? Well one way that is popular in the commercial industry is ‘pinching out’, but it can be more than a little daunting. Only suitable for some multi steamed annuals, it encourages the plant to produce more branches from its base and flowers that will also have longer stems. When your plants are over 20cm in height, take off the top 8cm just above a set of leaves. Flowers that this method is most suitable for include dahlias, cosmos, branching sunflowers, snapdragons, amaranth and zinnias. Double check first to see if this method is suitable with your flower selection.
Harvest
Picking your flowers at the right time will mean that they last longer which is especially important if you are planning on giving or selling them. Harvest most before the flowers are fully opened as this will mean a longer life. Of course, it is good garden practice to leave some of your crop standing for the pollinators and for seed saving. Harvest in the early morning when flowers are most hydrated. Remove all foliage that may sit below the waterline and place them straight into a bucket of cool, clean water. Let them sit for a few hours before arranging or bundling for sale.
What to Plant Now
As we are coming into autumn the following are suggestions of what can be planted now. These are by no means the only flowers but will get you started. Plant seeds of Amaranth, Asters, Black-Eyed Susans, Chrysanthemums, Chinese Lanterns, Japanese Anemone and Sunflowers. Spring flowering bulbs can also be planted such as tulips, daffodils, jonquils, freesias, iris and hyacinth.

Growing Flowers Locally- Suzie German
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One person who is growing cut flowers successfully is local Permaculture Gardener Suzie German of Hidden Valley Harvest Edible Flowers. She has a passion for edible flowers and this season is growing zinnias, marigolds, dahlias, cornflowers and snapdragons to name just a few but Suzie also reminds us of another source, “We often forget that our herbs and vegetables have flowers as well and these can all be used.” While it will depend on the season right now Suzie suggests that sunflowers can be planted now as can Zinnias. “Coming is all sorts of colours and shapes including the flashy double pom-pom zinnias or there are lower growing varieties. Just two of many that grow well here on the Central Coast” All flowers are important in the garden she says whether for eating or pleasure as that they provide an important role for the environment, especially for our pollinators. You can find Suzie on Facebook: Hidden Valley Harvest Edible Flowers.

GARDEN EVENTS
Bell’s Killcare Garden Tours 11.00am - 12.00pm. Friday 24th February. We invite you to meander through our abundant kitchen gardens with Megan, whilst learning about our organic growing techniques, Closed Loop Composting System, and see what we have growing and why! $15 per person includes a coffee/tea & pastry from Bells Bakery on arrival. Bookings essential and numbers limited to small groups. For further details or to book: email [email protected] or phone 4349-7000 
Come and Share My Garden
, Niagara Park. 10 – 11am Saturday 25th February. $15 per person. Join Carin Clegg, Dietitian and Eco-Warrior in a short tour of her permaculture designed garden. There is a lot to see and talk about so discussion will be guided on the group. You will get a few packets of seeds and plant cuttings of your choice. Bring your own jar if you would like to take home some plant cuttings. A share table will be available so please bring any garden related items you wish to give away, share or swap. Plant sales will be available by cash sales only. Address will be emailed to you prior to the event. Info and booking call Carin on 0407 492 278
Woy Woy Produce Swap 10 – 11am 26th February, Woy Woy Peninsula Community Garden. 85 -87 Moana Street Woy Woy. 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 the food you have grown with the fellow growers in your neighbourhood and a great way to meet local gardeners.


GARDENING PLANNER
Late Summer Temperate Gardens
This week you could plant: culinary herbs, beans (dwarf), beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages,  carrot, cauliflower, celery, chicory, cress, endive, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard, onions (spring), parsnips, peas, potatoes (tubers), radishes, rhubarb (crowns), salsify, shallots, silverbeet, spinach, turnips, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, cineraria, coneflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria,  lobelia, lupin, nasturtium, nigella, pansy, poppy  (Iceland), primula, statice, stock, verbena, vinca, viola, wallflower

Cheralyn writes the 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper each week and this originally appeared in The Coast News as below: 
NEWS cut flowers

Cheralyn Darcey is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3, on air locally or streaming by asking ‘play coastfm963’ Archived articles: florasphere.com
Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: [email protected]

 


How to Preserve Your Harvest

IMG_4594 2
As your garden or the local market fills with the harvests of the season the time is right for you to start looking at ways to take advantage of the oversupply. You will save money, create ready to use items and extend the availability of crops. The best thing about planning to preserve your own garden harvest is that you will be able to pick when produce is at its peak which is ideal for preservation. When purchasing produce, select undamaged items and always go for organic. There are a few different was to preserve your harvest and these are the following: heat, via pickling or fermentation, sugar and heat, freezing, alcohol or desiccation. All of these methods inhibit pathogens and prolong the shelf life of produce but not all are suitable for every delicious vegetable, fruit or herb from your harvest. Let’s explore ways to make the most of this season’s bounty.
Freezing
As a general rule, use freshly picked young and tender vegetables. They all need to be blanched and this is to retain colour, taste, appearance and most importantly, nutrients. With the exception of rhubarb and quinches you won’t need to blanch fruits before freezing.
Heat
This method is suitable for bottling naturally acidic fruits but is not to be used for non-acidic produce because the risk of botulism, a deadly bacterium, is far too high. Tomatoes, most berries, apricots, plums, apples and pineapples are all good candidates for this system. Heat preservation involves packing washed raw fruits into sterilised jars and then filling with water that is sometimes flavoured. Lids are secured and the bottles are submerged in a water bath and heated for a length and time determined by the contents. A popular commercial system is Fowlers Vacola which includes a very supportive community to find out more: fowlersvacola.com.au
Acid

This is the pickling or fermentation of non-acidic vegetables and perhaps one of the best-known methods. Often referred to as ‘cold pickling’ because the bottles do not go through the heat process described above, although they can if desired. Produce is cleaned, often salted overnight first to remove excess water and then packed into jars into which a pickling solution is added. See the delicious recipe by Jen Jones of the Pickle Patch below.

Sugar
Jams, jellies and conserves all use sugar and heat to preserve and with the addition of pectin these mixtures are set to a desired consistency. Pectin either occurs naturally in produce or needs to be added. Berries and citrus are the heroes for this method but with the addition of vinegars and herbs this is how chutneys and savoury sauces can also be made.
Alcohol
Apart from making liquors, covering fruits with alcohol is an easy way to preserve them while creating a delightfully delicious treat to add to your desserts or drinks. The addition of sugar will also increase the shelf life of the contents while adding sweetness.
Desiccation
Sounds scary but it simply means drying. By removing the moisture from produce, you can also halt spoilage. This drying can be done in a few different ways. Airdrying produce, often sliced, on racks under fly mesh in the full sun is an ancient method. Fan-forced ovens with their doors slightly opened and on the lowest heat will also provide a suitable drying environment. For those who wish to take the plunge, a dehydrator appliance is an excellent investment. All drying times will depend on the actual produce.

PICKLE’S PATCH
Jen Jones from Pickle’s Patch is a local home gardener from Chain Valley Bay who has mastered the art of preserving. She wastes nothing from her garden creating conserves, salsa, pickles, jams, sauces as well as herb mixes and even dried mushrooms. Taking it a step further Jen and her husband also create the most delicious fruit liquors. Although she admits there’s a lot of information available these days on the internet, Jen prefers hitting the local charity shops for classic old cookbooks and preserving guides. It's also where she has found the tools, jars and equipment needed including a Fowlers Vacola system and a dehydrator!  This is a great way to keep costs down while also recycling. You can find Jen online: Facebook: Pickle’s Patch and Instagram: The Dreaded Kitchen Witch.
Jen’s favourite thing to do with excess cucumbers, which are in season right now, is a traditional English pickle which keeps the best of the season for all year round. You can use this recipe for other vegetables.

Pickle’s Patch Bread and Butter Pickles
Jen Pickles

6 large cucumbers (or the equivalent)
2tbsp of cooking salt

1 1/2 cups of white vinegar

1 cup of water

1 cup of sugar

2 tsp white mustard seeds

1 tbsp Black peppercorns

Slice and salt the cucumbers in a bowl, ensuring the slices are well covered in salt, cover and leave for an hour or so. Meanwhile combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Rinse the cucumbers well and strain in a colander. Pack the cucumber slices into sterilized preserving jars and pour hot spiced vinegar over to cover completely. Seal and place upside down for 1 min to complete the seal. Allow to cool and label

GARDEN NEWS
CEN Wildplant Sale & Talk with Jacquelene Pearson 9am Saturday 4th February. This is the first Community Environment Network plant sale of 2023 and Jacquelene Pearson will also be talking about the issues surrounding the environment in the local area. Wildplant Nursery, Loop Road, UoN Central Coast Campus, Ourimbah
Free Wicking Bed Workshop (online)
6:30pm Wednesday 22 February
Asa part of the National Sustainability Join Adam Grubb from Very Edible Gardens for an informative hour while learning how wicking beds work, if they are right for you, how to make them, and how to look after them for super veggie abundance. Book now: veryediblegardens.com.au/events/
Volunteers Wanted to join Doyalson Community Garden. An interest in gardening or a wiliness to learn. Centrelink Workplace Provider Contact Garden Co-ordinator Jules Sayers 0439463219


GARDENING PLANNER
Late Summer temperate Australia -
Summer fruit trees will need to be pruned once harvest is complete and keep deadheading those summer flowers. If looking at laying new turf, now is good time to do it. This week you could plant: culinary herbs, beans (dwarf), beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages,  carrot, cauliflower, celery, chicory, cress, endive, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, mustard, onions (spring), parsnips, peas, potatoes (tubers), radishes, rhubarb (crowns), salsify, shallots, silverbeet, spinach, sweeds, turnips, alyssum, calendula, candytuft, Canterbury bells, cineraria, coneflower, delphinium, dianthus, everlasting daisy, forget-me-not, foxglove, godetia, gypsophila, hollyhock, honesty, larkspur, linaria,  lobelia, lupin, nasturtium, nigella, pansy, poppy  (Iceland), primula, statice, stock, verbena, vinca, viola, wallflower

Cheralyn writes the 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper each week and this originally appeared in The Coast News as below: 
NEWS Harvest Jan 23

Cheralyn Darcey is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3, on air locally or streaming by asking ‘play coastfm963’ Archived articles: florasphere.com

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

 


Getting into Bush Tucker

Bush Tucker (credit Royal Botanic Garden Sydney)
pic: Royal Botanic Garden Sydney

Apart from gaining a great tasting harvest, growing an Australian Bush Tucker Garden will help provide food and shelter for local wildlife. These plants are naturally suited to the local environment and so will generally need less watering, no or very little fertiliser and not much in the way of soil improvement. Eaten and used by Indigenous Australians for centuries as a food source and in some cases as a medicinal aid, it is only fairly recently that these powerhouses of flavour and goodness have been considered as a regular addition to the home garden by most. Some plants, like Lily Pilli, Davidson Plum and Lemon Myrtle have enjoyed wider spread moments of popularity but there is so much more to discover and a whole banquet of Bush Tucker that you can plant and cultivate at your place to bring life to the environment as well as your table. Here is a sample of the plants that you can grow at your place right now. For more information I highly recommend the classic: ‘Wild Food Plants of Australia’, Tim Low and for a complete growing, buying and cooking guide, ‘First Nations Food Companion’, Damien Coulthard and Rebecca Sullivan is brilliant. 

Warrigal Greens (Tetragonia tetragonioides)
Tetragonia_tetragonioides
Eat as you would English spinach but raw it can be a little bitter for most so blanch first. The tiny flowers are also edible and look pretty sprinkled on baked goods. Although tolerant of most soils, it will do far better in a moist loamy free-draining medium. Growing to only 20cm in height and spreading out to over 2m, it will do well in either full sun or part shade. Warrigal greens die back in winter and then come back in spring.

Finger Lime (Citrus australasica)
Citrus_australasica_green_fruit1

You will need patience as it can take up to 15 years until you are enjoying the caviar-like inner of this delicious fruit if grown by seed and although they can grow from cuttings, the success rate is very low. Most home gardeners fall back on grafted stock obtained commercially which also only attain a height of about 3m. Grow in a wind-sheltered location in full sun to part shade. Most soils are tolerated and fertilising requirements are minimal. Regular citrus feeding at half strength every 3 months will be sufficient for grafted varieties. Keep moist during fruiting and flowering times.

Old Man Saltbush – Tjilyi-tjilyi (Atriplex nummularia)
A_nummularia_closeup
The seeds and the leaves are the harvestable part of this plant and as the name suggests, imparts a salty flavour to your cooking. Use the leaves like you would any leafy vegetable. A hardy shrub, it will grow 1 to 3m in height and 5m wide and prefers full sun to part shade. Tolerant of most soils and requires no feeding and only regular watering until established. 

Midyim Berry – Midgen (Austromyrtus dulcis)
Austromyrtus_dulcis_fruit1
Growing up to 1m in height (sometimes 2m) and 150cm in width these easy to grow plants are gaining popularity as a super food with their high antioxidant properties. You will be harvesting delicious tangy berries after the first year. Does well in most soils and in full sun or part shade. Watering only required to established and when fruiting and flowering. Feed with a native specific fertiliser as per directions during fruiting and flowering.

Pigface (Carpobrotus glaucescens)
Carpobrotus_glaucescens_01
If you go down to the beach today, you will probably see these gorgeous bright flowers and their juicy foliage but you can easily grow Pigface at home as well. The leaves can be eaten raw or roasted and used as a salt substitute. Look out for the fruits that give this plant it’s ‘Pigface’ name as they are delicious with a salty strawberry flavour. The flowers too are edible and look fabulous in savoury-based dishes and drinks. It will grow up to 20cm in height and to around 2m in width so makes a fantastic rockery or edging plant. It can be easily propagated from cuttings, loves a well-drained soil and it will tolerate both full sun and part shade. Water until established and you can hold back on feeding.


Bush Tucker Foraging
Jake

I spoke with local Bushcrafter Jake Cassar about the possibility of foraging our own bush tucker. While it seems like a natural thing to do there are a few cautions to be aware of. “There’s heaps of Aussie Natives you can eat when you are out and about and there’s also a lot of introduced plants. As always, you need to be 100% sure of the identification of plants before you eat them as some can make you very sick or even cause death.” Although there are books, phone apps and websites that can assist with this identification process, mistakes can still be made, especially by the inexperienced. As Jake points out, a lot of plants, their fruit included, can look very similar to each other. Additional care must be taken to ensure plants have not been sprayed with chemicals and when collecting you have to be aware of spiders and snakes. Attending bushcraft training or foraging with a guide is a good way to educate yourself about plant identification and safety. “You have to be aware also that it is illegal to forage, even for food, in our national parks.” Jake also cautioned and while you can forage on private land, permission must be granted. With a passion for our environment, he prefers to focus on foraging for introduce species like blackberries, as this helps regenerate our local bush. Some of the local edible natives that are found across the Central Coast include Lilli Pilli, Sour Current Bush, Yams, and Native Raspberries. Jake as a lot of resources on his website and social media and his local bushcraft courses are a great way to learn more about experiencing our Australian bush safely. Find out more at: Jakecassarbushcraft.com

GARDEN NEWS
Our Garden and Flower Clubs need us. Many are in danger of folding as the average age of members now stands at 76. Without younger people joining it is feared that these once popular clubs will be a thing of the past. Garden and Flower Clubs are keepers of plant knowledge, a lot of it local and not found elsewhere so losing them will leave a huge hole in our resources. Most members spend no more than a couple of hours a month on club activities and all skill levels are always very welcome. To find out more about these clubs go to gardenclubs.org.au you might just find one that interests you!

GARDENING PLANNER
Late Summer temperate areas of Australia 
Funnel web spiders are on the move and we are expecting higher than average numbers due to weather patterns we have been experiencing. Shake those boots before you put them on and be aware when working in the garden. This week you could plant: culinary herbs, beans (dwarf and running), beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chicory, cress, cucumber, endive, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, marrow, mustard, onions (spring), parsnips, potatoes (tubers), radishes, rhubarb (crowns), salsify, silverbeet, swedes, sweetcorn, turnip, zucchinis, ageratum, alyssum, boronia, calendula, cineraria, cleome, cyclamen, forget-me-not, lobelia, lupin, marigold, nasturtium, pansy, poppy  (Iceland), primula, stock, verbena, vinca, viola, wallflower

Cheralyn writes the 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper each week and this originally appeared in The Coast News as below: 

NEWS Bush Tucker JAN 23

 

Cheralyn Darcey is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3, on air locally or streaming by asking ‘play coastfm963’

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

 


New Year - New Garden!

New Year New Garden
Is your resolution to create a garden this year or to improve your skills? Then read on as I have a bunch of resources, tips and inspiration to get you growing! Gardening is a skill that anyone can learn but you need to be prepared for success as well as the challenges.

Believe You Can
I don’t think there is such a thing as a born ‘green thumb’ but rather it’s that some people are more relaxed about gardening and accept the inevitable failures as being just a part of nature and not an indication of their skill. Green thumbs also garden more. They will plant entire banks of annuals, rows of raised veggie beds and then dive over the fence to help their neighbours. More skilled gardeners will also readily spring into action when challenges arise because of their experience and also their confidence in themselves. They are willing to give things a go. Green thumbs often have had gardeners in their families or been around horticulture of some sort in their childhood or youth and that familiarity breeds confidence. This all makes them appear a lot more successful than timid newbies who nurse along a couple of houseplants and a few seedling punnets while wondering if those yellowing leaves are ok. In saying this, I’m not suggesting that those new to gardening invest in hundreds of plants from the start. What I do hope is that you understand that gardening is a skill that is learned like any other craft or endeavour. The more you do it, the greener your thumb will become and your belief in longer term gardening success will grow.

Plan to Succeed
If you wanted to run a marathon you would not get up tomorrow morning and sprint out the door for your first ever 42Kms! To achieve success, you would gather all the information about how to do it, select your resources, create a plan and then train for your first marathon. There would also be many smaller jogs, maybe even walks before you ran that race. You might even enlist the help of a trainer or mentor. So it is with gardening!
Gather information about the types of gardens you would like to create along with foundational notes about your garden space. You have to start with good soil. There is no getting around this and it is paramount to gardening success. Soil can be improved and structure balanced to suit the types of gardens you are planning. Soil testing can be done at home with kits available from your local nursery or many offer this service in store, just ask.
Plants also have different light requirements and one of the major reasons they don’t thrive is that they are simply planted in the wrong spot. Most veggies won’t grow well, or at all, in less than six hours of full sun per day and other plants will shrivel up and die in a couple of hours of direct sun. To help you with plant selection, map out the areas of your garden that receive sun and shade. This will need to be done over the course of a day and to be efficient, because the sun’s position will naturally move through the seasons, a year. You don’t have to wait that long as there are lots of purpose made apps online that will assist you. Look for the terms ‘sun position’ or ‘sun mapping’. Some will need you to use your smart phones GPS abilities but other desk top methods will use your address like the free ‘Sun Calc’ page found at  www.suncalc.org. I’ve tested it out and found Sun Calc is rather accurate and easy to use.

Learn to Garden
Go educate yourself in the ways of the plants you wish to grow! While you can enlist in courses and workshops, and these are a great way to get started, other methods to gather this knowledge include going to plant events because plant people love to talk about their passions and you will also see a vast array of offerings in your area of interest. This experience is both inspiring and educational. To learn just about anything in the garden world, read and watch! There are endless books, magazines, tv shows, Youtube clips and more that are not only about gardening but also types of plants, individual species and specialised techniques. Make sure that the information you find is relevant to your area. Climates and environments change across not only countries but states and even areas and while a lot of general information will still be helpful, you need to top that up with local knowledge, like this gardening page you are reading right now. Connecting with others is a social way to learn and there are lots of gardening groups and clubs in just about every area and catering to all sorts of plant types and techniques. You can find them with an internet search or by asking at your local nursery.

Garden Mentors - Community Gardening
Perhaps one of the very best ways to learn to garden is by joining your local community garden. One of the biggest misconceptions is that you need to be a green thumb or at least very experienced to be a part of one of these wonderful places. In my experience, the vast majority of community gardeners either started off as complete novices or with very little experience but they enjoyed the company, the community and they learned along the way. Skilled gardeners at community gardens love to share their knowledge and they need people to just show up and help do anything from sorting seeds to digging the earth or making a cuppa for the team. All physical abilities and commitment levels are welcome. You will learn to garden in your actual environment and be instantly connected to other plant organisations, ideas and wisdom. To find your local community garden hop on over to: communitygarden.org.au and on the Central Coast we have a fantastic Facebook Page: facebook.com/CentralCoastCommunityGardenNetwork

GARDEN NEWS
Graham-ross
pic credit: Treloar Roses

Graham Ross AM, Australia’s most awarded horticulturist has been honoured by Treloar Roses with the naming of a rose after him. This delightfully sweet fragranced hybrid tea rose makes a wonderful cut flower and is also heat resistant. $2 from the sale of each of these roses is to be donated to NextSense (formerly known as the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children).  Over the years Grahame has supported NextSense in many ways including the organisation of many well-known large flower shows at the Institute’s Sydney site and in 1991 was awarded Life Membership of NextSense. Graham is delighted to continue his support of NextSense with the release of this beautiful new rose. For more information: treloarroses.com.au

GARDENING PLANNER
Late Summer temperate areas of Australia 
Make sure you are picking beans daily as this will extend their harvest and if your cucumbers start sending out fruitless runners then snip them off to encourage these to branch out and fruit. 
This week you could plant: culinary herbs, beans (dwarf and running), beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbages,  carrot, cauliflower, celery, chicory, cress, cucumber, endive, kohlrabi, leeks, lettuce, marrow, mustard, onions (spring), parsnips, potatoes (tubers), radishes, rhubarb (crowns), salsify, silverbeet, swedes, sweetcorn, turnip, zucchinis, ageratum, alyssum, boronia, calendula, cineraria, cleome, cyclamen, forget-me-not, lobelia, lupin, marigold, nasturtium, pansy, poppy  (Iceland), primula, stock, verbena, vinca, viola, wallflower

Cheralyn writes the 'DOWN IN THE GARDEN' page for the Coast News Newspaper each week and this originally appeared in The Coast News as below: 

NEWS New Garden Jan 23

Cheralyn Darcey is a horticulture author and along with Pete Little, hosts ‘At Home with The Gardening Gang’ 8 - 10am live every Saturday on CoastFM96.3, on air locally or streaming by asking ‘play coastfm963’

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

 


DOWN IN THE GARDEN: Christmas in Your Garden

Christmas Garden 2

A Christmas Tree in Your Garden
Although the cutting of a tree and bringing indoors to celebrate the winter season and then Christianity, is an ancient tradition, the modern-day Christmas tree as we know it was popularised by Queen Victoria and her German husband, Prince Albert after a newspaper illustration of them with their children around the palace ‘Christmas Tree’ captured and inspired the people of the time. The delight of a decorated tree has now become synonymous with Christmas through across many regions the world. The debate as to what is more eco-friendly, a cut tree or a manufactured tree may rage but all would agree, a living Christmas tree in your garden is perhaps the best solution of them all!
Although there are traditional Northern Hemisphere trees that can be grown in your garden, how about an Australian native tree that will give you the look but will be far better suited to the environment here and fit in with the wildlife locals better? Let’s begin with the magnificent Norfolk Pine Araucaria heterophylla.
5@5 Norfolk Pine
They do grow up to 35m in height and they certainly will be the closest native that you will find in appearance to a traditional l tree. Houseplant lovers listen up as this tree grows well indoors while young for a few years as well.

Oh, Woolly Bush Adenanthos sericeus
5@5 Woolly Bush
how divine you are! Perfect for small gardens as it will grow up to an easily manageable 5m and with bonus vivid orange-pink flowers in spring and early summer this will delight both you and your local pollinators. 

If you have a dinosaur lover or botanical history buff in your family, then you just have to make a
5@5 Wollemi Pine

 Wollemi Pine Wollemia nobilis your garden Christmas Tree. One of the rarest and oldest trees on Earth, it will grow comfortably indoors and in sheltered spots in the garden.  

Australian Christmas Bush

Depending on where you find yourself in our beautiful country, will indicate the type of plant known locally as as ‘Christmas Bush’. Here on the Central Coast and across our state, NSW Christmas Bush Ceratopetalum gummiferum is our Aussie festive native and it becomes more popular each year.
Ceratopetalum-Gummiferum-Flowers2
People in colonial times simply looked to flowers that reminded them of the key symbolism of the European Christmas of their birth places. Christmas bush, with its red flowers in tiny bell shapes and its appearance at the 'right time' would of more than fit the bill. Christmas Bush is mentioned as such in colonial letters and also found sketched and painted by the artists of the time on gifts, cards and greetings. Louisa Anne Meredith, an artist of the time, refers to it as such in the 1830s: “We used to meet numbers of people carrying bundles of beautiful native shrubs to decorate the houses, in the same way we use holly and evergreens at home… it is a handsome verdant shrub, with flowers, irregularly flower shaped and go from green to crimson in colour”

Similar in ways to the poinsettia, the flowers are not the part of the plant that endear us to it. The flowers are 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.
Other Christmas Bush varieties include Victorian Christmas Bush Prostanthera lasianthos and South Australian Christmas Bush, also known as Tasmanian Christmas Bush Bursaria spinosa, both of which will grow in Coast gardens.


NSW Christmas Bells

The flaming yellow-red Christmas Bells Blandfordia nobilis
Blandfordia_grandiflora_-_Flickr_003

and Blandfordia grandiflora
1986

are
two of my personal favourite flowers. They are members of the Lily family say everything ‘New South Wales’ to me and remind me of summer bush walks, family picnics and home. As with any native flower, it is illegal to pick these in the wild but that’s ok as they will grow easily in Coast gardens. You will find that Blandfordia nobilis grows well in full sun but is semi-shade tolerant while Blandfordia grandiflora needs full sun.

Christmas Colour Indoors
If you want to liven up your home in an instant, collect big bunches of foliage and display in vases. They will look very much like dramatic potted plants, fill your home with living greenery and if you are selective in your foraging, will add delightful fragrances to your living spaces. Soft Lemon Teatree branches are divine indoors and also help deter mosquitos. Try grouping different sized and shaped vases together for a really lush, tropical look, especially if you are using palm and fern leaves.
Our local nurseries are also bursting with summer colour at the moment and now might be the time to pop in a few new beauties in your garden to welcome visitors or for your own delight. Before you do get planting, why not make a blooming bright display for a day or two? African Daises, Inpatients, Coreopsis, Hydrangeas, Zinnias and Kangaroo Paw are all coming into flower at the moment and you could leave them in their pots (maybe cover with cloth or paper) and create a lovely display but only for a day or two at most as they do need to be out in the garden. 

Congratulations Doyalson Community Garden
Doyalson Community Garden

On top of their fourth consecutive year winning the ‘Best Community Garden’ category in the Wyong Garden Competition, Doyalson Community Garden has taken out a big national win in the inaugural National Community Gardens Awards. Doyalson Community Garden has been named the ‘2022 Australian Community Garden Champion’. This award celebrates the gardens that reach out to their community with valuable connections, activities and opportunities for locals. Garden Co-Ordinator Jules is proud of the achievement and the far-reaching possibilities, “I think the award is a good thing to help people realise what our community gardens do and hopefully they will want to join.” She commented. “Here at Doyalson we host community group gatherings and have opened our garden to a local support group to share education and life skill opportunities.”
Community Gardens Australia, the body that runs the awards, is a networking organisation that connects community gardeners around Australia. It is growing source of information, networking opportunities and support for all those currently working with community gardens or have an interest in them. Another feature is their very handy, interactive map to help you find a community garden near you. Communitygarden.org.au

IMG_4421

Cheralyn Darcey is a gardening author, community garden educator at swampcentralcoast.com.au 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: communityradio.plus

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