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Newsletter #22 | October 2023

Transformation!

 

Slowly but surely the efforts of a dedicated group of members are transforming this area from a vacant space of parkland into a vibrant space for all to enjoy.


Close examination of our leading photo will reveal a thriving orchard, a pergola with its stained timber and shade area ready for paving (seats and table planned), a peace pole and garden, a native plant circle, a raised garden area and fence, and in the distance a small market garden, newly planted. Many thanks to Rory and his hard working committee and members who have given many of their free hours to work on these areas of the garden, solo, in small groups and at a working bee on 15th October.


There is another working bee on Sunday 5th November so make sure you come along to this one to keep this transformation growing. Check the details below.

 

Our next Working Bee - from Rory


Our next working bee is just around the corner! This Sunday 5th of November community garden members are invited to come along to the garden to help out with a variety of jobs, meet new members and to share food and refreshments.

 

You don't have to be a member to come out and get involved. This is a great opportunity to meet new people in a safe and accepting setting. We welcome people from all walks of life to be part of our community.

 

This will be our second working bee of the 2023 spring season, and no matter what your skill level, experience or physical condition, there will be lots to do. Below is a list of jobs to expect on the day:

  • Meet and greet: Manage the sign-in desk, ensure that people have signed in on arrival, provide information on working bee activities

  • Photographer/videographer: We need lots of pictures for social media and our newsletter. The more people taking photos the better

  • Sign painting: We have sheets of plywood ready to be painted. We’d love to see some artsy people paint informative signs to help bring a touch of colour and an eclectic feel to the garden

  • REO mesh on fencing: Concrete reinforcing mesh will be tek screwed to the top half of the fence. We will need 2 people to hold sheets of REO while another person screws them in place

  • Painting the fence: As the REO mesh is installed, we'll be painting the fence to match the veranda. Brushes/rollers and paint will be provided

  • Weeding: The weeds between the raised beds need to be removed so that we can proceed with the next stage of our pathways.

The weather is forecast to be in the mid 20’s so it should be a perfect day to get out in nature. As always, please wear appropriate footwear and be sun smart with a hat, sunnies and sunscreen! If you are helping with the fence a pair of gloves will be useful protection.

 

We encourage everyone to walk or bike to the garden where possible. If you are travelling by car, please ensure you park on Seaford Road in front of Eldercare, or on Nautical Terrace. 



Sadly we have had to take steps to lock the garden gates and extend the height of the fence due to a number of our raised garden lease holders reporting thefts of produce from their garden over the past few months. The temporary bike locks will be replaced with more user-friendly keypad locks soon. Please ensure that you lock the gates when you leave unless there are other lease holders present.

 

From our last working bee - the Peace Pole and Native Circle gardens



 

Growing tomatoes?


We see a lot of budding tomato growers in the raised bed area at this time of year and who can blame them? Home grown tomatoes are fresh and full of flavour - much better than we get from supermarkets whose offerings are more designed more for travel and shelf life. But there are a few things to be aware of when growing your own, including how to avoid blossom end rot. The article below contains some great tips for successful tomato growing.


Add Pulverized Egg Shells

At the top of the list to plant with your tomatoes are pulverized egg shells. 

One of the most important nutrients tomato plants need is calcium. Early on, it helps the plant build strong stems and roots. But more importantly, calcium is critical for helping tomato fruit to form without issue.


Tomato blossom (black end) rot is caused when the plant cannot take in enough calcium. Without enough, the blossom end of the tomato turns soft and dark. If bad enough, blossom end rot can ruin an entire crop of tomatoes.


The finer you can pulverize your egg shells, the faster the nutrients can absorb into plants.

The good news is that egg shells happen to be full of calcium. In fact, an egg shells consist of nearly 95% calcium carbonate. By putting pulverized egg shells in your planting hole, the calcium can then be absorbed into your plants.


Why pulverized? The more you can break down the egg shells, the sooner they can decompose and allow their calcium to be absorbed. Large pieces of egg shells will eventually decompose, but not quickly. By pulverizing the shells down to a near powder, it will speed up the process and the absorption rate.


To be effective, use the egg shells from four to six eggs in each planting hole, or about two tablespoons of egg shell powder. If you happen to have an electric coffee grinder, it makes fast work of grinding up the shells!

 

Compost 

Compost is another must-add to every single tomato planting hole. It is full of energy and nutrients. Even better, its nutrients are in a form that are easy for the roots of tomato plants to absorb. That means they can get the food they need right from the start!


The benefits of compost do not end there. Compost can absorb water and hold moisture nearly ten times more than plain soil. For tomato plants, that means they can have the moisture they need to grow foliage, blooms and fruit. 


Finally, compost helps to loosen the soil with its light and airy makeup. Loose soil allows the roots to expand easily and without issue. Remember, the more root structure a plant can have below, the more it will feed the plant above!


How much compost should go into each planting hole? At minimum, mix at least two to three cups of compost into each hole. And for an added benefit, put a few more cups around the base of your plant after planting. Those nutrients will leach down to the roots every time it rains or you water.


Worm Castings 

Worm castings are perhaps natures finest slow and low release fertilizer. Castings are the manure of earthworms. As they chew through the soil, earthworms leave behind castings, which are loaded with a perfect mix of energy. Even better, it is easy for plants to absorb! We have our own worm farms in the garden. Ask Rory how you can get some worm castings.


For the roots of tomatoes, the castings provide instant energy. But what makes them so special is that the energy is delivered low and slow to keep the plant growing at the perfect rate – not too slow, and not too fast.


Worm castings provide the perfect blend of nutrients for your tomato plants – at just the right rate!

In each planting hole, mix in a quarter to a half-cup of worm castings for best results. This is actually a great practice for all of your vegetable plants. Once you use worm castings and see the results, you won’t ever stop using them!


Coffee Grounds 

Finally, while you are mixing all of that goodness into your planting hole, don’t forget spent coffee grounds. Yes, as it turns out, just like many humans, tomato plants enjoy a little jolt of energy from coffee grounds too!


Coffee grounds contain nitrogen and other trace elements. Nitrogen is a key factor for tomato plants when it comes to growing strong foliage and roots. But even more, like compost and worm castings, spent coffee grounds help to retain moisture and loosen the soil makeup.


Mix two to three tablespoons of spent coffee grounds into each planting hole. It is important to use only the spent grounds and not fresh grounds. Fresh grounds are acidic and can affect the soil’s pH. Spent grounds, because they are run through a steaming hot water rinse, lose the acidity and are perfect for powering your plants.


Common Misconceptions – Saving Egg Shells and Coffee Grounds

Unfortunately, when it comes to both egg shells and coffee grounds – there are a lot of misconceptions about using them on plants and in the soil.


The first is about the acidity levels of coffee grounds. The fact is, spent coffee grounds will not drastically change or make your soil more acidic. The process of brewing takes nearly all of the acid out, and it would take mountain loads of grounds to make a difference.


But on that subject, fresh grounds should not be used as they do contain a higher level of acidity. Only brewed grounds (spent) should be used. On the same subject, avoid using flavored or altered coffee grounds as well. Unfortunately, many contain artificial additives and chemicals you simply don’t want around plants.


How To Best Save Them In The Winter Months

When it comes to storing each safely through the winter, freezing is the best method of all. You can also dry them out before storing if space in the freezer is an issue. Make sure they are completely dry and place in a tight container.


For egg shells, you can wash out and let them dry a bit and they crush and store. You can also crush and keep them in the freezer until ready to use. We like freezing as a better option because there is no worry of any smell. In addition, you can keep a lot of crushed egg shells in a large freezer bag.


This Is My Garden is a garden website created by gardeners, for gardeners. We publish two articles every week, 52 weeks a year. 

 

By AuthorTIMG

Last updated: March 25, 2023 Photo by Mel Nottle-Justice

 

Coming Up in the Garden and Wetlands in 2023/2024

  • Purchase of a new greenhouse to be built in the raised bed area

  • Paving of the area under the pergola

  • Weeding the paths and spreading yankomite

  • Installing keypad entry locks on the raised bed gates

  • Friday morning Social and Gardening Group - next ones are on Friday 10th and 24th November 9am-11am

  • Working Bee - Sunday 5th November 9am-4pm

  • Fundraising Bunnings BBQ - Saturday 30th December

  • Official Opening Ceremony! - Sunday 28th April

 

This project was seeded by

 
Our Committee

Our committee is Rory Fitzsimons (Chair), Kaarin Wilkinson, Jan Brown, Melissa Styles, Jennie Simon and Wayne Good. If you have any questions or ideas please contact us via Facebook, on our website or on the Seaford Wetlands Gardeners WhatsApp chat.

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