On pollinator patrol at the patch

A blue-banded bee spotted in the garden

A blue-banded bee spotted in the garden

A few intrepid bug spotters gathered at the garden this morning to take part in the Wild Pollinator Count.

The Wild Pollinator Count is an opportunity to contribute to wild insect pollinator conservation in Australia. Thousands of native pollinator species contribute to pollination in crops and gardens all around the country. However, relatively little is known about them. This citizen science project aims to help identify all our insect pollinator species, understand their ecology and how they are affected by human activities.

Unfortunately, the overcast day meant that our pollinating pals weren't out in force, but we still managed a few sightings.

The salvias won the 'Best Pollinator Attractors' award. We also found pollinators on the basils and brassicas.

Our final tally for the day was:

  • European honey bees: 11
  • Blue-banded bees: 2
  • Ladybird beetles: 1
  • Hoverflies: 4
  • Wasps: 3
These little green long-legged flies weren't doing any pollinating, just hanging out on the leaves.

These little green long-legged flies weren't doing any pollinating, just hanging out on the leaves.

Transformation task force PermaBee

It is not often that a Sunday working bee truly transforms the face of the garden. However, last Sunday's (19th April) working bee achieved exactly that.

The upper garden had always been reminiscent of its past life as a car park; and despite luscious private plots it never quite managed to acquire the same cozy feel of the lower garden. So a few months ago, the plan was hatched to cover the bitumen surface with woodchips.

Woodchips would not just be a cosmetic enhancement. They would also help to keep the upper garden cool(er) in summer and encourage beneficial ground and fungal networks to grow. And, all of the energy that is used sweeping the upper garden's surface clean of leaf litter and bark strips could go into proper gardening activities.

How many woodchips does it take for such an endeavor? MOUNTAINS of woodchips! 

 Colin at the summit of Woodchip Mountain

 Colin at the summit of Woodchip Mountain

And of course, it takes people to move the mountains.  Given the scale of the project, we asked Permaculture Sydney North (PSN) to lend us a helping hand and called a special Permabee working bee. This meant instead of our usual afternoon shift of a couple of hours, we started early to make the most of the day.

And things progressed really well! By the time we gathered for late morning tea the mountains had already been eroded to mere speed bumps.

                    Time for morning team - catching up with old friends and making new ones.

                    Time for morning team - catching up with old friends and making new ones.

Not that there we were short of tasks...There is always something to do in the garden. A whole range of activities had been planned and prioritised for the day:

Our impressive project schedule for the day. After number 9 we ran out of white space on the board...

Our impressive project schedule for the day. After number 9 we ran out of white space on the board...

Excitingly, about 400 new seedlings had arrived just in time for the working bee. We received a mix of little lettuces, cabbages, carrots, coriander and several others. So not only would we be able to refill the lettuce pots of the acquaponics, the common beds had been weeded and topped up with compost the Sunday prior - perfectly prepared to provide for the little seedlings. 

Tasks like these cannot be tackled on morning tea alone. Since the early morning we had fired up the pizza oven and served pizzas for lunch. 

We're certainly getting the hang of how to get the pizza oven going, and even used the residual heat for roasting corn cobs and a slow-cooked pork roast. 

Activities continued well into the afternoon, until the wind picked up and temperatures dropped announcing a change in weather. Time to clean up and pack the tools away!  

It had been a wonderful day, - very productive in terms of all the tasks we accomplished. But most importantly, it was really fulfilling to work alongside like-minded people and have a great time turning our garden into an even homelier place. Thank you to everyone involved! 

Big win for community garden at election day fundraiser

It was still dark when the first group of volunteers arrived to set up the barbecue and cake stall for the election day fundraiser at the Chatswood Uniting Church polling station. 

With the smell of sizzling beacon and onions filling their crisp morning air, it didn't take long for the first voters to order a sausage, bacon and egg sandwich, or get a sweet breakfast treat.

Many members and friends of the garden had baked the night before: Our cake stall boasted banana bread and pecan nut loaves in different sizes, date and walnut rolls, gingerbread, macadamia chocolate cookies, jam drops, heart-shaped coconut cakes, traditional fruit and zesty lemon cakes, scones with jam and cream, and many many beautifully decorated cupcakes. Not to forget the chilli jam and tomato relishes - our stall spelled "pure temptation".

                                                          Kim's colourful democracy cupcakes

                                                          Kim's colourful democracy cupcakes

Compared to previous years, fewer voters were registered at the polling station, and we could certainly tell the difference. Yet many more stopped at our stalls, giving us the opportunity to talk to them about the garden.

So all the hard work and many hours manning the stalls and sizzling sausages paid off: We managed to raise $960 for the community garden on the day!  This is massive! It's also a nice increase compared to last year.

A big thank you to everybody involved, whether it was baking, barbecuing, buying, or organising  - your help is much appreciated and will make a real difference to the garden. The biggest thank you goes to the master organiser, mobiliser, and motivator of the day, the lovely Kim. She made sure it all came together - without her work the fundraiser would not have happened - and it would not have been as much fun! Thank you, Kim!

April Planting Guide

Here are your April planting reminders from gardenate.com.

Planting now in April for the Australia - temperate zone

Beans - broad beans, fava beans 
(also Fava bean)Plant in garden.Harvest from September.

(also Beets)Plant in garden.Harvest from August.

Broccoli Plant out (transplant) seedlings.Harvest from July.

Brussels sprouts Plant out (transplant) seedlings.Harvest from August.

(also Gobo (Japanese Burdock))Plant in garden.Harvest from October.

Cabbage Plant out (transplant) seedlings.Harvest from July.

CarrotPlant in garden.Harvest from September.

Cauliflower Plant out (transplant) seedlings.Harvest from September.

(also Garden chives)Plant in garden.Harvest from August.

(also Collard greens, Borekale)Plant out (transplant) seedlings.Harvest from August.

Corn Salad 
(also Lamb's lettuce or Mache)Plant in garden.Harvest from July.

Endive Plant in garden.Harvest from August.

Florence Fennel 
(also Finocchio)Plant in garden.Harvest from September.

Garlic Plant in garden.Harvest from October.

(also Borecole)Start undercover in seed trays and plant out in 4-6 weeks.Harvest from August.

Kohlrabi Plant in garden.Harvest from August.

LeeksPlant out (transplant) seedlings.Harvest from August.

Lettuce Plant in garden.Harvest from July.

(also Japanese Greens, Mitzuna, Mibuna)Plant in garden.Harvest from July.

Mustard greens 
(also gai choy)Plant in garden.Harvest from July.

Onion Plant out (transplant) seedlings.Harvest from November.

(also Pot Marjoram)Plant in garden.Harvest from July.

Pak Choy 
(also Pak choi)Plant in garden.Harvest from July.

(also curly leaf parsley or flat leaf (Italian) parsley)Plant in garden.Harvest from August.

Peas Plant in garden.Harvest from August.

Radish Plant in garden.Harvest from July.

(also Arugula/Rucola)Plant in garden.Harvest from July.

(also Eschalots)Plant in garden.Harvest from September.

(also Swiss Chard or Mangold)Plant in garden.Harvest from August.

Snow Peas 
(also Sugar Peas, Mangetout, Chinese Peas)Plant in garden.Harvest from September.

(also English spinach)Plant in garden.Harvest from July.

(also Rutabagas)Plant in garden.Harvest from September.

Turnip Plant in garden.Harvest from July.