Spring newsletter – 2021

by | Sep 2, 2021 | Spring | 0 comments

President’s Message

In the last couple of months we have had quite a few inquiries and applications to join the garden. Please introduce yourself and welcome new members if you see them in the garden – Rita and family (garden bed 2), Mariangela & family (4), Michael & family (16), Fiona (29), Tahlia (34), Kristen (43) and Janet (46). We also have the able assistance of Neeva who will be helping out on the communal area weeding and de-cobwebbing the fence as part of her Duke of Edinburgh award. 

The garden is looking ready for Spring and we are currently checking with members who haven’t been able to visit recently, about how to manage their garden beds. To protect the entire garden from weeds and pests, individual beds need to be kept weed-free and plants maintained.   

Thank you to those members and Team Leaders who have been helping maintain the Communal Garden beds during Covid restrictions and watering gardens for members who are out of Sydney or outside the 5 km travel limit. If any members need assistance due to restrictions, please get in touch. A number of members have offered to help out with weeding or watering for members in this situation. 

We look forward to a time when we can have a calendar of events. I encourage all members to get vaccinated ready for when that happens. In the meantime, make sure to QR code in and out of the garden, maintain social distance, and wear a mask in the garden as is now required under the health regulations. 

Members have found the gate unlocked recently when there is no one in the garden. Now more than ever, it is important to make sure the gate is locked at all times. 

A reminder that dogs and gardens are not a good mix and there are heath implications when dogs are around food crops. No dogs are permitted at any time in the garden.  And if you are after a break from Netflix etc try a zoom garden workshop. Local Libraries are offering some online events and Sustainable Gardening Australia also has some interesting zoom offerings. Here is a member suggestion Live smart, waste less: a chef’s guide to sustainable food on 8 September 2021. 

Enjoy life in the garden

Torsten Blackwood

Cooper Park Community Garden – Covid 19 Safety

Communal Gardens

After Winter crops of Chinese cabbage, fennel, lettuce, coriander and pak choy we are looking forward to a Spring harvest of broad beans, kale, strawberries, blueberries and poppies.    During Summer, expect to see zucchini, daikon radish, green beans and more.   The herb bed will be producing Mediterranean herbs and tasty annual herbs to collect on your way out. 
Don’t forget to look out for the red stakes to know what to pick next.  Communal Garden Team members and general Cooper Park gardeners are
welcome to share the produce from the communal gardens. If you do want to share please follow these simple guidelines: 
Community Garden Bed Team Leaders are currently preparing the planting
plan for the communal gardens. This creates some order about what
goes in the Communal Garden Beds and allows for planting and maintenance to be scheduled. Consult with the Team Leaders about any plants you would like to see in these beds. 
When crops are ready to share in the communal gardens, the Team Leader
will place a red stick near the crop to let Cooper Park Community Gardeners know that they are welcome to pick these crops from the Communal Garden beds. Only harvest red stick crops, always use secateurs/scissors and generally pick from the outside of the plant.    All members are welcome to join a communal garden group: 

  • Ruth’s Plot C38 and C11 Herb Garden and pots – Team Leaders Inés Tejero and Jeni Black 
  • C27 and C28 and pergola – Team leaders Susan McCalmont and Diane Berner 
  • C50 (stone-edged plot) and area around amphitheatre – Team Leader Rudi Adlmayer.  

Contact cooperparkgardeners@gmail.com to arrange to join a communal garden working group.

Composting and worm farming

Composting is a fabulous way to enhance your garden soil. Have a look at The Compost Revolution Tutorials to learn how to compost at home. Those who can’t accommodate a compost bin because they live in a unit could try the smaller worm farming or Bokashi options. If these options aren’t suitable, you can join the Composting and Worm Farming teams at the garden, and once a member, put your prepared scraps into the compost bins/worm farms. 
You must: 

  • join these groups if you want to use the CPCG compost bins or worm farms 
  • do the Compost Revolution training so you know how to compost safely and efficiently 
  • be sure that you only put in scraps that are safe for the garden (no meat, plastic biodegradable bags or weeds) 
  • cut your scraps very small to speed up the composting process  
  • layer brown and green waste. 

We have had to make this a stipulation because we have found inappropriate substances such as plastic and meat in the bins. The plant material being put in the bins was not being cut into small enough pieces to allow for efficient composting. If you are not a member of the composting group leave any material for composting in the green bin provided. 
Contact cooperparkgardeners@gmail.com to arrange to join the compost or worm farm groups.  

Spring in the Garden

What to grow in spring 

Spring gardeners are spoiled for choice. There is so much to choose from. It is hard to go past sowing crunchy beans, juicy beetroot, crisp radishes, heirloom tomatoes, rhubarb and sweet corn. Dig in some of the compost you have been preparing over winter to replenish your soil’s organic content. 

It is the best time to plant:

broccoli, Chinese cabbage, capsicum, cucumber, endive, lettuce, melons, okra, onion, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, rosella, silverbeet, spring onion, squash, sweet corn, sweet potato and zucchini; and herbs – basil, chives, coriander, dill, mint, oregano, parsley, sage and thyme. 

8 Tips for spring gardening – Susan Muller

1. Start by preparing your soil – add fertiliser and compost and dig it in ready for planting. You might try a combined cow and compost product or buy cow manure separately and add a little mushroom compost or compost from your own compost bin. For moisture retention dig in an expanded coir/peat block. 

2. Decide on what to grow. Check out the Diggers planting guide, companion planting guide and seasonal flower guide mounted on the inside of the shed. Look for the green dots in the September column of the charts. Alternatively use the ABC Organic Gardener Planting Guide on planting in a warm temperate zone what to grow in Sydney in Spring. To avoid waste, grow only food that you want to eat and make sure you choose plants that grow well in the Sydney Region.  

3. Once you have selected suitable plants to grow you can either buy seed or purchase seedlings. Growing from seed is recommended as it is economical and generally produces the best results. 

4. Grow from seed – use seeds from the shed or buy seeds from a supplier that supplies seed for Sydney growing conditions and climate. Try the Italian Gardener, Bunnings, Yates and Eden seeds. If you are buying seedlings from a nursery look up what is suitable to grow first. You can’t assume that because a seedling is available at a nursery, the season is right for growing it. E.g basil is sold year-round but its growing season is summer; rocket and lettuce are sold in summer but the best growing season for these plants is winter. 

5. Plant your seeds or seedlings – dig a small finger hole in moistened soil. If you have a worm farm, add a small ball of castings to the growing hole and plant on top of the worm castings. 

6. Once planted tuck the plant or seed in tight (like wrapping the baby in a swaddle) and water around the roots with Seasol which is a soil tonic and helps get the plant roots started. 

7. Water new plants regularly, concentrating water on the soil around the roots where it is most beneficial to the plant – keep water away from the plant’s leaves. When you water, dig down a little in the soil and check the water penetration. If the water is not penetrating you may like to dig in some compost or add an eco water-retention agent. 

8. For best results feed your plants regularly with liquid fertiliser (e.g. Neutrog Gogo Juice) or worm water from your worm farm. Regular watering with Seasol helps to condition the soil in addition to liquid fertiliser which feeds the plants.   

Bee Happy

Australian Native Bees love these 10 flowers – Susan Hely

As the weather warms up, the tiny native, stingless Australian bees leave their hives in their thousands looking for flowering, spring plants. One of the biggest advantages of welcoming native bees into the community garden is their successful pollination of all our plants. They can make a huge difference to the success of flowering and fruiting plants. 

We want to encourage Australian native bees over spring as it is the best time for the bees to create their own sort of honey, known as sugarbag. Native bees will forage over a wide area of 500 metres – or around a tenth of the range of normal honeybees – but more likely you will see them foraging in the community garden if we plant bee attractive flowers. 

What are the flowers that attract native bees?  Native bees typically love all sorts of flowers – natives and exotics – with a variety of shapes and colours. Their small size allows them to easily negotiate small, delicate flowers. Some native bees have short tongues and like shallow flowers such as daisies, tea tree (leptospermum) and eucalypt blossom. Other bees have long tongues and like coastal native rosemary (westringia), lavender and salvias. Some native bees are very particular and like a small variety native flowers. Favourite flowers for native stingless, according to Bob Luttrell, known as Bob the Beeman, a long-time native beekeeper and bee photographer on the website by Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee include: 

Abelia grandiflora  Luttrell finds that the original full size Abelia variety attracts native bees much better than the dwarf variety or the golden Abelia.  

Brachyscome  These long flowering ground coversare popular with stingless bees. 
Grevilleas  Many Grevilleas such as Grevillea Moonlight provide good nectar for bees.  

Hebe  The lush blooms of the long flowering hebes strongly attract stingless bees.  

Coral Plant- Russelia  The coral plant’s red tubular flowers are great for native bees, but it spreads quite strongly and can be hard to contain.  

Butterfly bush or buddleja davidii.  The blue-banded bees love buddleja flowers and can often be seen darting from flower to flower.  

Lavenders Lavenders are special favourites of the Blue-banded bees. The French lavender, Lavandula dentata, is a strong shrub with abundant flowers.  

Salvia  Many varieties of Salvia attract Blue-banded bees. Densey Clyne, naturalist and author, says salvia uliginosa is particularly popular with her bees.  

Paraguay Nightshade – Solanum rantonetti  This fast-growing plant forms a very large, dense shrub. Its abundant purple flowers attract Carpenter bees and Blue-banded bees. These bees are capable of a special type of pollination called buzz pollination. The bee wraps her body around the flower and buzzes it (by vibrating her muscles) to release the pollen. These flowers offer great opportunities for watching the bees perform this interesting behaviour. 

Seeding herbs and vegetables Allow some of your herbs and vegetables to go to seed. Bees love the little flowers, particularly flowering coriander and parsley. Check out Bob’s website and his incredible bee photos at: Bob The Beeman – long-time native beekeeper, home gardener and bee-photographer. 

Young people in the Garden

Meet new Cooper Park Gardeners

Meet new Cooper Park Gardeners  

Arianna and her father Luca starting a new in garden bed 4.  

Gardening with Jasmine – Susan Huxley

I love my family membership of Cooper Park Community Garden because it has allowed me time to explore the benefits of gardening with my granddaughter Jasmine. 

Jasmine has always loved mucking around in the garden. At school she is an active and very happy gardener in the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden. The children plant, grow and care for the garden and cook with the produce they grow. I am a volunteer there and it is fabulous fun.  

When Jasmine heard we were going to have our own space to grow veggies and flowers at Cooper Park she was very excited. The physical engagement of digging in the dirt, watering and watching vegetables grow, and then getting to eat them, totally excites Jasmine. The first time she picked a tomato and gobbled it up right there in the garden was magical. She absolutely loves picking the flowers we grow. At the moment they are sweet peas, it is such a treat and she can’t wait to get them home to show her mummy.  

Children are more likely to eat veggies they grew themselves. Jasmine takes pride in her work. Recently Jasmine helped Jeni and Virginia in their garden beds in particular planting strawberry plants. She rushes to check on them every time we are in the garden. Not only does she pick the veggies but she loves to help prepare a meal with our harvest just like she does at school. 

Between picking up tiny seeds, pulling weeds, and caring for the seedlings, gardening is a great way to help children develop fine motor skills – it is so much fun. The companionship of having a gardening buddy benefits me too – I love watching her chatting away to Virginia and Jeni then running off into the park for a swing. 

I also love the questions she asks: “What do plants need to make them grow? Why are leaves green? How much water do they need? Which one is a weed?”

Introducing children to gardening is a priceless experience and makes lifelong memories. I am sure we all remember gardening with a parent or grandparent. Jasmine and I are both looking forward to the spring planting.  

Noice, Different, Unusual

Growing Yacon (Peruvian Ground Apple) – Lucille Segal

After a bumper crop this year, Lucille Segal is sharing the rhizomes for next year’s crop of yacon. You will find them in a box in the shed. Please help yourself.

Lucille says: Yacon is such a versatile plant. You can eat it fresh – it’s crispy and tastes like nashi pear – grate into slaw, roast batons and pair with feta and leaves, puree and pair with yoghurt (like apples). 

Once peeled and cut yacon should be kept in water with lemon juice to retain its colour and freshness. Yacon freezes well and the leaves can be used as wraps. 

Look on Youtube where permaculture expert Morag Gamble provides all the info on the fabulous Yacon plus there are tons of recipes online. Give a yacon a go this season!!  



It has been hard to locate seedlings this season with everyone at home trying their hand at growing their own herbs and vegetables. Inés and I were looking for a Kaffir Lime and a Curry Tree to plant in pots near the herb garden (donations welcome). No luck so far. 

At a fly-in visit to the Paddington markets last Saturday, I met Clarissa and Angus who were selling the healthiest plants I have seen in a long time – all grown by their parents at Patio Plants Nursery. Plants are grown outdoors so guaranteed to transplant well.  

Patio Plants offers a smorgasbord of summer vegetables at reasonable prices that is very hard to resist – one $5 pot of Tatsoi had enough plants for 4 garden beds so Inés and I put some in Ruth’s garden too. Patio Plants offers online seedling purchase and mail delivery or you could try ordering and picking up from Paddington markets. See you there next Saturday.  

Thank you to all our newsletter contributors for this edition including at least three Susans: Susan Hely, Susan Muller and Susan Huxley, Vanessa,  Ines, and Virginia. 

Our Summer newsletter will be out in December 2021. It will be a Garden Question and Answer edition so please send in your questions to cooperparkgardeners@gmail.com and we will try to find the answers for you.