Down in the Garden - Weekly Article Feed

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: 

Peace copy 2

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: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com


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 reservations@bellsatkillcare.com.au 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: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com

 


Growing Cut Flowers

Flowers-1854075_1920

 


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
329541614_4486144231509583_4222713775597153053_n

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 reservations@bellsatkillcare.com.au 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: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com

 


How to Preserve Your Harvest

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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: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com

 


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: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com

 


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

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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: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com

 

 

 

 


DOWN IN THE GARDEN: Kids in the Garden

Gardening kids 1

Tips to inspire the gardening bug in young kids:

* Ask your kids what they would like to eat and then grow it.

* Involve them in the daily chores like watering.

* Let them get dirty and have fun.

Garden Dress Up 
Most kids love the idea of dress-up so by designating ‘gardening clothing’ you can not only save their everyday cloths but make gardening seem a little special, (which it is!). They will need protective footwear, and this could be a fun pair of gumboots, rubber clogs or an old pair of runners. Gloves are also a must as little fingers like exploring and this will give some protection to them from bites, cuts and irritants. There are kids aprons and overalls that are garden-specific but even a set of colourful clothing that you suggest are kept ‘just for gardening’ will fit the bill. You could even look out for floral, botanical or garden creature themed tops, shirts or pants or have fun with a set of fabric markers and let their imagination go wild.

Tools and Gardening Materials for Kids
I’ve seen the cute kids gardening tools/toys out there, but I would suggest that if your kids are old enough to work with scissors supervised then I’d be much more inclined to purchase a child sized ‘real’ set. Gardening is lots of fun, but it is a real-life skill and using ‘real’ tools generates an environment of responsibility that hopefully your kids will connect with. If your child can manage adult sized tools, I would be investing in these but be mindful as cutting tools such as pruners and secateurs are a lot more powerful than general household scissors. You should never leave these around any children at any time. Go organic as this will be safer but make sure proper handling of soil, even organic pesticides, composts and mulches and the like are handled under strict supervision. Masks must be worn to avoid inhalation of microorganisms and gloves worn when handling these substances and materials.

Technical Buzz
There is no getting away from the fact that kids love electronics, and you can capitalise of this by introducing ways of using their gadgets for gardening goodness. YouTube has a huge amount of gardening videos just for kids and often by kids. Perhaps you have a budding ‘Costa’ or ‘Dirt Girl’ in your family and they would like to make their own gardening channel! There are also heaps of gardening apps out there. Beware of the free ones that require additional payments though. One that is a lot of fun that I can recommend is ‘Plantsnap’, (www.plantsnap.com). This app costs about $4 upfront with no additional payments and lets you take photos of plants and will help identify them. It is not 100% accurate but it will get kids on the right track in their botanical exploration. Others will also help you identify insects for the bug lovers in the house.

Design a Garden
you will need
graph paper
tracing paper/baking paper
graphite (lead) pen and eraser
coloured pens/pencils
masking tape
tape measure (optional)

You can measure the garden by pacing it out and kids find this really fun. Get them to make sure their stride is even (a game in itself!) and work out how many paces wide and long your garden area is. You could also measure with a tape measure.
Stick down a piece of graph paper to a table/surface to keep it steady and mark out the existing garden with all its features. You will have to work out how many squares equal a pace as the bigger the garden design is on the paper the better.
Draw the garden on the graph paper and colour in as you wish. Tape a piece of tracing paper/baking paper over the top of this design and now redesign the garden. You can move things around, place new things in the design, do whatever you wish! This is pretty close to what real garden designers do when they are creating for their clients.

Make a Botanical Press
Version One: Grab two sheets of thin flat wood (around A5 size is best) and drill holes in each corner and then secure together with screws and wingnuts. Version Two: Use those sheets of wood and secure with four thick rubber bands. Version Three: Use heavy cardboard (around A5) and secure with four thick rubber bands. After collecting leaves, petals and flowers, lay two sheets of newspaper (cut to A5 size) onto the sheet of wood or cardboard and then top with one sheet of white A5 paper. Lay out your botanical specimens carefully on the white paper and then lay another sheet of A5 white paper on top and then another sheet of newspaper. You can continue for a few layers and then finish off with two sheets of newspaper and the top of your press (wood or cardboard). Secure with screws and wingnuts or rubber bands. If it is loose, place press under heavy books as well. Leave for at least two weeks or more. Botanical specimens are ready for use in your journal or crafts when they are completely dry.

 

Start a Garden Journal Kit
you will need: a blank journal, a waterproof pencil case large enough to fit journal, pens/pencils

stickers/stamps (optional). Keeping a journal is a great way to record what is happening as you garden grows and to keep your personal observations, garden wishes, plans and feelings. You can add your garden designs, drawings of your plants, dates you planted seeds or seedlings and notes about when they sprouted, flowered, and produced fruit. Keep a record or what you might like to change next time and new plants you see on tv, magazines, books or in other gardens.

Use the botanical press (above) to dry and flatten leaves and flowers and add to your pages with tape. The other thing garden journals are good for is making a note of when things don’t go right. Make sure you describe exactly what went wrong, was it a pest, a disease, not enough water or maybe something else. If you keep your garden journal and a few pens and pencils in a waterproof case, you can take it out into the garden with you.

Make a Rain Gauge
you will need: a clear plastic bottle, ruler, permanent marker/s, gardening wire (rubber coated), scissors. Your garden needs at least 3cm water per week (some plants more and the whole garden in the summer!) so creating a rain gauge is a very helpful project. Soak off any labels and then cut the top of the bottle off so that you are left with a straight container with a bottom.

Mark out each centimetre on the bottle with the permanent marker/s. Use black for the measurements for easy viewing but you may like to add a bit of artistic water themed artwork with the markers as well! Wrap the coated wire around the bottle and secure in the garden to a fence, pole or structure that is completely straight, with nothing above it so it can catch the rain. You can keep a record of rainfall in your gardening journal, and it will help you know when your garden needs more water.

HAVE YOU GOT A GARDEN OR GARDENING TOPIC TO SHARE?
Down in the Garden is looking for Central Coast gardeners who would like to share their garden with us.
We are particularly looking for: Evergreens, Tulips, Spring Bulbs, Water Feature Gardens, School Gardeners, Commercial Kitchen Gardens, Medicinal Plant Gardeners, and Community Gardens but all gardens and gardeners are welcome
contact: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com

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: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com

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Down in the Garden: Christmas Gift Guide

ChristmasHave you got a gardening friend? Are you a gardener looking for a hint to give to your family? Well, I’ve wrapped up a bunch of the most interesting of gifts for all budgets and all different types of plants lovers.

For the ‘I Want to Start Gardening’ Gardener
*A gardening journal is an excellent present for those beginning their steps into the botanical world. Look for one with gardening tips in it. 
*Everyone should have a good gardening hat. Find one to suit their style and make sure it offers sun protection. This could be anything from a wide brim straw hat (my favourite) to a bucket hat.
*You can’t get enough knowledge as well as up to date information so apart from encouraging them to read my column, you might want to gift the new gardener a magazine subscription.

Book: ‘Australian Geographic Gardening School’, Simon Akeroyd and Ross Bayton is simply brilliant for those venturing into the garden for the first time or wanting to renew their skills. Although it does drive deep into the technical aspects of gardening, it does so in an easy to read way.

For the ‘Houseplants are Everything’ Gardener
*Houseplant people cannot get enough pots. Just make sure they have drainage holes and for goodness sake, make sure the pot/s match their decor perfectly.
*Is this houseplant person very special in your life? Then a larger cactus might be on their wish list, so are rare plants but a large cactus is far easier to track down this close to the big day.
*Encourage your indoor plant guru to start propagation of their prized treasures. There are ready made kits out there or you could make up a kit yourself from supplies. Not sure how to do that? Ask one of the lovely staff at our many gardening centres.
Book: There seems to be a new houseplant book coming out every other day and I don’t think this is a bad thing as it encourages people to get into gardening (I’ve written one myself! Apart from mine, ‘The Language of Houseplants’, Cheralyn Darcey; I really love The Royal Horticultural Society’s ‘Practical Houseplant Book’, Fran Bailey and Zia Allaway as it not only shares 175 in-depth plant profiles, there are lots of general indoor growing tips and clever ideas to show off your houseplants within.

For the ‘I’m Saving the Planet’ Gardener
*A basket weaving class or online course is a wonderful idea for those who are crafty eco-warriors. Using up the fallen botanical materials in the garden to create something new should appeal to them. I can personally recommend any course from www.craftschooloz.com as I’ve done them.

*Native beehives are a must to protect and encourage our precious naïve bees. They are readily available from most garden centres and you might like to create you own for your nature-passionate friend. Instructions can easiest be found online, search: DIY native beehive.  
*Paper pot making kit. These consist of two wooden parts that help twist newspapers into a small pot. Once seeds germinate and the seedling is established, you simply plant the whole pot.
Book: ‘Milkwood’ Kristen Bradley and Nick Ritar is probably one of the more recent and inspiring works for those wishing to garden with more care of the earth.

For the ‘I Kill Everything but I Want a Garden’ Gardener
*An indoor smart garden. These can be found in lots of sizes and are made up of a hydroponic growing system that includes a light, pot and usually the growing medium and nutrients.
*A beautiful watering can may be a subtle hint, but it might just give your brown-thumbed, but garden-interested mate, more motivation to keep their plants watered.
*Are you a gardening guru? They why not gift them your time. Make up a gift certificate for one-on-one gardening lessons from you. An alternative is a gardening class or course online or in person.  
Book: ‘Top 50 Edible Plants and How Not to Kill Them’ Angie Thomas is a Yates gardening guide just for them!  

For the ‘Foodie-Master Chef’ Gardener
*Harvesting baskets are such lovely and handy items and make practical gifts as well. They can be found in lots of materials and sizes. Look for one that is perhaps a little sturdier for the kitchen gardener. 
*If they don’t have one, a raised garden bed may just be the ticket to creating a kitchen garden. With so many styles out there, I’m sure you will find one perfect to get them growing.
*Although I’ve used lots of different containers to hold my kitchen scraps while they are awaiting their journey to the compost bin, I am a fan of the purpose-built compost bucket. Most have a charcoal filter and inner removable bucket. You might also want to consider an indoor compost bin for those with limited space. These do the composting right there within the bin.
Book: ‘Matthew Bigg’s Complete Book of Vegetables in Australia’ describes itself as the definitive sourcebook for growing, harvesting and cooking vegetables and it is right. Highly recommend book for all actually.

For the ‘Mystical and Meditative’ Gardener
*How about a tinkling set of wind chimes?  Soothing and beautiful they can be found in endless designs to match the taste of your gardening friend and their space.  
*A sundial would be a brilliant gift and can be found in all sorts of sizes. Don’t worry about how it works, I’m sure your magical friend will know how or where to find that information.
*A Zen garden. Those Japanese-inspired trays filled with sand, stones and a rake are much appreciated by the mind, body, spirit focused.

Book: ‘The Art of Mindful Gardening’ Ark Redwood is a lovely title that explores the healing and mediative aspects of gardening. Another book I think this type of gardener would enjoy is ‘The Garden Apothecary’ by Reece Carter which is a fantastic resource for those wanting to create their own herbal remedies.

For the ‘Art and Craft is Life’ Gardener
*One of the best things I found this year was a set of metal alphabet stamps so I could create my own metal garden label stakes. They can be found in hardware and craft stores.  
*It might be getting a bit late to order this but have a look for custom stamp creators or if you are arty/craft as well, get the carving tools out and create a personalised stamp reading something like ‘from the garden of….’. This is a great idea for those who garden and create things from it.
*A plain terracotta pot and a selection of suitable art materials such as weather-proof paints or markers so they can make their own garden art masterpiece would be much appreciated.
Book:
‘The Laws Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling’ by John Muir Laws is a drawing course in a book and one that has been the foundation of many modern botanical artists.

For the ‘I’m not sure why I’m not on Gardening Australia yet’ Gardener
*There are lots of very gorgeous gardening labelling stakes to be found in metals, ceramics and weather-proof timbers. Find a style that suits your gardening friend and their garden and home.
*Have I told you how much I adore gardening hand balms and creams? Well for the gardening obsessed in your life this is a very thoughtful gift. My favourites include Aveeno Intensive Relief Hand Cream, L’Occitane Intensive Hand Balm and The Body Shop Hemp Hand Cream.
*Most of us have stopped using reusable coffee cups this year due to COVID but you know who needs them? Gardeners! We don’t want bugs in our drinks so look for a garden-themed lidded mug, cup or water bottle.
Book: I bet they share loads of pictures of their garden on social media or if they don’t, you could hop on over and take a bunch of photos and create a handmade scrapbook of their garden or even create a hardbound book at one of the stores that offer this service. A great read for the holidays for the master gardener is ‘Banks’ by Grantlee Kieza. It is a new biography that any garden and plant lover will appreciate.

For the ‘I may be young, but I can do it’ Gardener

*Children love inviting friendly creatures into the garden, so a bird house is a lovely idea. Buy a ready-made one or better yet one they can make or decorate themselves.
*Dress up is loved by most children so a gardening apron and gloves are not only essential to protect the little ones, they will also bring a sense of play time and excitement to gardening.
*Pets! The best gardening pets are worms and if you gift a child their own worm farm, they will love you forever and so will their garden.
Book: ‘Easy Peasy Gardening for Kids’, Kirsten Bradley and illustrated by Aitch is a beautiful introduction to gardening for children that not only explains how to garden but also shares lots of practical and fun activities.

Chritmas screen


A few other ideas to suit everyone:
wishing well, seed raising kit, heirloom seeds, a flower press, beekeeping course, bees, native edible food plant, a bird bath, a bird window feeder, a compost bin, a garden gnome, garden sculpture or art, personalised signage, kneeling pad, seed storage tin,  boot scrapers, gardening boots/shoes, houseplant display stand, mushroom growing kit, birdbath, watering globes for houseplants, tool basket or trug, seed bombs or cannons and if you really can’t decide then nothing say ‘I love you and know you love gardening’ like a gift card from one of your local gardening centres.

PLANT THIS WEEK
(early Summer, temperate areas) 
This week you can also plant the following: culinary herbs, beans, beetroot, blueberry, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, celery, chicory, cress, cucumber, eggplant, endive, leeks, lettuce, marrow, melons, mustard, okra, spring onions, parsnip, pumpkin, radish, rhubarb, rosella, salsify, shallots, silverbeet, squashes, sweet corn, sweet potato, tomato, zucchini, ageratum, alyssum, amaranths, aster, begonia (bedding), California poppy, coleus, cosmos, carnation, dianthus, gazania, gerbera, gypsophila, marigold, petunias, phlox, portulaca, lobelia, love-in-a-mist, lupin, nasturtium, nemesia, rudbeckia, salvia, snapdragons, sunflowers, vinca, 

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
Archived articles can be found on Cheralyn’s Blog:  www.florasphere.com

Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com

 


Down in the Garden: Vegan Gardening

 

Vegan gardening

DOWN IN THE GARDEN: Gardening for Vegans
Cheralyn Darcey

This weekend the Central Coast welcomes Vegan Fest again to Gosford. A plant-based day of markets, entertainment, and demonstrations down at Leagues Club Park on Saturday 4th December and a great opportunity for those wanting to explore a bit more about the vegan lifestyle. It’s a popular event on our calendar, growing larger every time it is held which prompted me to explore ‘Vegan Gardening’.
While it may seem that gardening in itself is a vegan, as it’s all about growing plants, that’s not exactly true because there is much more to living as a vegan than simply not eating meat. In Veganic Gardening, as vegan based gardening is often called, there is also a dedication to not using any animal products directly or indirectly while working organically. As all gardeners are aware, soil preparation and fertilisation are important first steps in any garden and this is where the differences between traditional and vegan gardening will be most noticeable.

Many of the popular, especially organic, fertilisers are created from animal by-products like manure, blood, bone or even entire carcasses, such as fish emulsions. It would seem obvious that fertilisers that include actual parts of animals would not be acceptable in a vegan garden, but you may be wondering why animal manures are not. The answer is that the use of animals in the production of products is also often thought of as cruel in the ethics of veganism. So, using manures/products that contain these manures is supporting these animal-based industries. However, not all vegans have this view and some do accept the use of manures in gardening.

While there are a few vegan branded fertilisers now on the market, my early inspection showed level of some minerals that seemed a bit high for my liking. My advice is to do your own research on these types of fertilisers and their contents before using them. Natural fertilisers and plant tonics that would be considered vegan and are also safe to use include seaweed, green manure crops and composts created from vegetation only.  

Making your own liquid fertilisers, called ‘teas’, from plants is also an option as this concentrates the goodness from botanical matter ready to give your garden a super boost. To brew a fertilising tea, soak cuttings in water in covered containers for a few weeks. Some suggested plants that can be used include, comfrey, nettles, grass clippings, dandelions, yarrow, borage and most weeds.

Looking after what you plant in your garden is vital and even more so as your fertilisers are not going to be as nutrient-dense without the use of manures. Garden soil will need to be protected from leeching out any goodness it does hold and the best way to do this is with mulch. An organic, easily composted material will be best so that your mulching does double duty and feeds the garden as it breaks down.

Mulch also helps retain water, keep the soil cool in summer and warm in winter and can hold back some pests. Speaking of bugs that we don’t want in the garden, pest control will of course need to be organic but most vegan practices I have found do frown on killing insects and to this end, companion planting as well as sacrificial planting will be the best options to implement. Sacrificial planting is simply planting a crop of something on the perimeter of your garden that is more desirable for the bugs. Things like lettuce and kale are suggestions. Companion planting will include plants that have aromas and attributes that pests don’t like but can also include plants that help other plants to thrive usually via reactions in the soil. An example is basil and tomatoes.

Barrier pest control methods like netting to deter birds and insects work exceptionally well, just make sure holes are small enough to not capture creatures. Copper tape will turn back snails and slugs and not do them harm but you will find the popular methods of using crushed eggshells or beer traps are not acceptable.

Two other living creatures that are often seen in gardens and raise vegan debate are bees and worms. Many vegans do not eat honey as the keeping of bees to work for us is thought to be exploitive and so having them in the garden unless they are wild is out. Gardeners don’t just keep bees to create honey of course, they also help with the pollination of plants.

All is not lost as you can still invite them in naturally but growing plants that have bee-attracting flowers like borage, basils, lavender, yarrow, dandelion, bottlebrush, eucalyptus, grevillea and westringia. Worms enrich the soil via their castings and help aerate it as well and while worm farms seem to be given the green light by some vegan gardeners but not others and those plastic fully contained units are probably not ok with any vegan. Rather, encourage worms to the garden by using worm towers and by adding sheets of damp cardboard and finely chopped vegetation.

Vegan gardening is possible with a bit of planning and the dedication to follow through with a completely plant based plan and if you have vegan garden, I’d love to see it in action.

Vegan screen

PLANT THIS WEEK
Early Summer, temperate areas
This week you can also plant the following: culinary herbs, beans, beetroot, blueberry, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, celery, chicory, cress, cucumber, eggplant, endive, leeks, lettuce, marrow, melons, mustard, okra, spring onions, parsnip, pumpkin, radish, rhubarb, rosella, salsify, shallots, silverbeet, squashes, sweet corn, sweet potato, tomato, zucchini, ageratum, alyssum, amaranths, aster, begonia (bedding), California poppy, coleus, cosmos, carnation, dianthus, gazania, gerbera, gypsophila, marigold, petunias, phlox, portulaca, lobelia, love-in-a-mist, lupin, nasturtium, nemesia, rudbeckia, salvia, snapdragons, sunflowers, vinca, zinnia


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
Archived articles can be found on Cheralyn’s Blog:  www.florasphere.com
Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com


 


Gardening with Edible Flowers: Down in the Garden

Edible Flowers copy

Edible Flowers are growing in popularity every year. While zucchini and squash flowers have had their popularity as pretty cases for delicious stuffings, dainty sugars violets and rose petals have also enjoyed favour over the years. These days with the rise of farm to plate interest and a focus on what can be grown at home for our own cooking explorations, edible flowers of all types are popping up everywhere yet again. I’ve put together a list of blossoms that you can grow and eat along with suggestions for their use based on their inherent flavours. Please note that not all flowers can be consumed with many being toxic or even deadly so be sure of identification and that they are organically grown.
Borage
(Borago officinalis)
They taste like fresh cucumbers and make a refreshing tea but can also be added to just about any dish or drink to add a delightful splash of blue with their brilliant royal to sapphire blossoms. It is an annual that requires a very sunny spot, most soils and should be planted in spring through to late summer.
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) This traditionally medicinal flower with fantastic skin-healing properties is also a culinary hero as a natural food dye. It has a mild aromatic flavour and works well in almost any form of cookery. Plant from spring through to autumn in a moist, rich soil in a sunny position.
Carnation
(Dianthus caryophyllus)
People have been writing about the joys of eating carnations since writing began! They have a peppery taste and make amazing pickles, drink additives and desserts. Plant in spring through to autumn in a full sun position with a free-draining soil.

Lavender (Lavandula spp.)
Best with stronger and bitter flavours like dark chocolate or drinks such as wines and spirits, this is a flower that also alienates a few with its strong sweet perfume flavour. The mistake most gardeners make is overwatering lavender. They are a Mediterranean plant and likes full sun, the best drainage you can ensure and light feeding.
Nasturtiums
(Tropaeolum majus)
They have zingy pepper flavour that also works well with stir-fries and salads while looking so bright and inviting.  Plant by seed in autumn and you will find that they are also a wonderful addition to vegetable gardens as pollinators. Soak seeds overnight before planting in full sun in most soils.
Rosella/Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) The dark red calyx of the flower can be used to create jams and syrups and can be candied or persevered in a sugar syrup as well. The flavour of the calyx is berry-like and can be used best in drinks and sweet dishes while the flowers do well in salads. Grows easily from plant cuttings or seed in late spring through to early summer and needs full sun.                                                 
Roses (Rose spp.)
Most people have a love/hate relationship with rose flavoured foods. They are the base of Turkish Delight, and give an exotic aroma and taste to desserts, drinks and sauces. Sugared rose petals are also a pretty decoration for confections and baking. The trick to using roses is to separate the petals and trim away the white base end of each petal as it has an undesirable flavour. Roses need full sun, at least six hours a day, in a wind-sheltered position with rich well-draining soil.
Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo var. giromontiina)

With flowers that mildly taste like their yummy vegetables, these blossoms are one of the most popular of the edible flower bunch. They are delicious stuffed with anything you can imagine but are particularly good filled with cheese-based recipes and then fried or baked. They also make wonderful additions to stir-fries and Mexican cuisine. Plant in spring after the risk of frost has well and truly past. They need a compost-rich soil that is free-draining and full sun.
Sunflowers (Helianthus annuus)
Brighten up your next salad with sunflower petals and you will also find they work very well in breads and other baked goods. Their flavour is mildly earthy and reminiscent of leafy greens. Plant seeds from late winter through until late spring but I have personally had success planting year-round on the Central Coast and in Sydney. They need full sun, a moisture-retentive soil and if you are growing taller varieties, a stake for each. 

Violet (Viola spp.)
Popular as a sugared decoration for baked goods, violets can be tossed into salads, desserts and drinks to add colour and sweet flavour. Plant in autumn and late summer in a semi-shade but bright spot, in a rich moist soil. They are mostly annuals but all easily self-seed.

 YOUR GARDENS
Bel and Steve – Tranquil Haven, Edible Garden Trail
This is another gorgeous and productive garden joining the Central Coast Edible Garden Trail this weekend. Permaculture practices are employed throughout Bel and Steve’s haven in Avoca that blends more traditional plants, like roses, in with a huge array of edibles.  The front garden isa dedicated to veggies and you will find tomatoes, peas, beans, kales, chokos and even cucamelons popping up everywhere. Two years ago, the lawn mower died so Steve dug up the backyard and continued the permaculture dream on. Their garden is on 637 squares and jammed packed with inspiration, love and chickens. Hop onto the Facebook page of the Central Coast Edible Garden Trail to find out more.
Bel & Steve Garden

PLANT THIS WEEK
Late Spring, temperate areas
This week you can also plant the following: culinary herbs, beans, beetroot, blueberry, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, celery, chicory, cress, cucumber, eggplant, endive, leeks, lettuce, marrow, melons, mustard, okra, spring onions, parsnip, pumpkin, radish, rhubarb, rosella, salsify, shallots, silverbeet, squashes, sweet corn, sweet potato, tomato, zucchini, ageratum, alyssum, amaranths, aster, begonia (bedding), California poppy, coleus, cosmos, carnation, dianthus, gazania, gerbera, gypsophila, marigold, petunias, phlox, portulaca, lobelia, love-in-a-mist, lupin, nasturtium, nemesia, rudbeckia, salvia, snapdragons, sunflowers, vinca, zinnia

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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
Archived articles can be found on Cheralyn’s Blog:  www.florasphere.com
Send your gardening questions, events, and news to: gardeningcentralcoast@gmail.com