Summer newsletter – 2022

by | Dec 2, 2022 | Summer | 0 comments

President’s Message

Dear Plotters & Friends,

2022 has been a busy year back in the garden.
The Building team has installed a new working bench (guaranteed to be waterproof), paved around the work bench, raised and polished the shed floor, restored and varnished the garden benches, relocated the BBQ outside, rebuilt and strengthened the weathervane and tool storage column, installed a street library by the front gate, and set up a gardening, landscaping, architecture and arts reference library. The Compost team has participated in training and implemented new layering and aeration practices for compost production. The Worm Farming team has installed a Hungry Worm Farm which replaces the four previous farms with one larger unit. The Communal Garden teams have been busy composting and planting. In Ruth’s garden the star is the finger lime which is looking good in its second fruiting season. The herb garden has been replanted with basic common herbs and we are hoping for a good crop of basil and mint now that the lemon myrtle has been potted into a large pot at the front gate and seems to have survived the move well.
The pergola and surrounding communal gardens look fabulous with a dose of organic matter from the compost and we just hope that we can reach the grapes when they are ready. Communal plot 50 provides gardeners with a model for vegetable growing in shaded areas. The Communications team has produced Autumn and Spring newsletters, posted on our Instagram page and managed the Website occasionally as time and talent permits.

I want to thank the Committee, the Task Force Leaders and all our members for their work making the garden a productive and welcoming environment.

The Committee for 2023 has grown by three non-executive members (Anna, Meagan and Daniel) as the Committee workload has increased over time. Committee members are listed below. We will be in touch after the 2023 Membership forms have been processed to let you know about Taskforce Teams for 2023.

If you need to get in touch with the Committee, catch a Committee member in the garden, at working bees or by email to The email is monitored once a week and anything of consequence to the whole garden is discussed at the following Committee meeting, so please understand that responses/outcomes may take some time.
Here is our Committee.

Role Name
President Torsten Blackwood
Vice President Virginia Pearce
Treasurer Helen Connell
Secretary: Jeni Black
Non-Executive Members Susie Muller
Bruce Nockles
Daniel Bloom
Greg Vaughan
Meagan McDonald
Anna Johns

Enjoy the holiday season and keep up the summer watering and mulching in the garden.

Co-founder & President CPCG
With help from the Communications Team

Photo below: two friends on the weather vane.

For Member Action

In summer it can be hard to keep the watering. One way to help the garden retain moisture is to add organic matter such as compost. Quite a few gardeners have successfully trialled mixing coir with their compost to retain moisture even more and if you like to feed your garden as well there is dynamic lifter available in the garden. Coir can be purchased in blocks at Bunnings and garden stores and then soaked in a bucket and mixed in with the compost and fertiliser.
Some gardeners like to mulch and there is sugar cane mulch provided in the garden which seems to work well in a layer about 50mm thick.
We do not recommend wetting agents and slow release foods as they are pellets coated in plastic or resin.
Currently the Committee is doing a blitz on fruit fly lures. If you grow fruiting plants such as chillies, tomatoes, eggplant and capsicum make sure you have a fruit fly bait in your gardens.
Consider using the abundant rosemary available from the herb garden near the gate and at the back of the amphitheatre and removing rosemary from your garden. This will free up space for more produce and reduce the need to constantly cut back unwieldy overhang from these bushes.
If you are planning on being away from the garden for any length of time over the summer break, please let the Committee know and we can put you in touch with neighbouring gardeners who may be able to water your plot. Email
Could members who are near the following plots help with watering during the next month please – Plots 5, 24 and 40.


  • Working bees are held every third Sunday of each month (except January). Search for Cooper Park Community Garden on Instagram and follow us for updates.
  • Sunday 19 February 2023 Taskforce Working Bees 10 am-12 noon and BBQ 12 noon-2 pm is our next get together.
  • Committee meetings are held each first Tuesday of the month. If you want to raise any matters for discussion at a Committee Meeting please email at least a week before the meeting.

News from the Committee – we all need good neighbours

Part of the reason that Cooper Park Garden is successful is that we have a very active Committee that meets each first Tuesday of the month to discuss garden matters, plan events, discuss plans for garden improvements and monitor issues raised by the members. In between these meetings, Committee Members run the BBQs, liaise with people seeking to join the garden, provide induction for new members, purchase garden supplies and transport them to the garden for your use, publish the newsletter and respond to member requests for assistance. All Committee members are volunteers and conduct their garden responsibilities around lives that are busy with work, family, gardening and life in general, like all other members. This year we had a number of matters raised by members and we thought we would share some of them so that it is clear how individual and communal care of the garden is essential for its ongoing success.
To ensure that the garden is a communal environment where we can all garden successfully and learn from each other requires us all to be hands on and cultivate. Members’ active participation in garden activities, attending working bees and presentations and responding to Member Action items in the newsletter is essential for the wellbeing of the garden community.

1. Individual garden maintenance
This year a number of members raised concerns about weeds in neighbouring gardens that were moving into their gardens. The Pests and Weeds Taskforce monitors weeds and from time to time will contact members whose gardens have not been regularly weeded. The Committee would like to thank the members who have assisted in maintaining other members’ gardens at working bees to assist in reducing weed issues.
Members are also responsible for weeding the pathways surrounding their own plots and ensuring their plants do not overhang their plot. Plants that overhang pathways can make it hard to get the hoses to other gardens and impede wheelbarrow access. They can also cause trip hazards.
If members are not able to get to their garden while they are on holidays or have an injury, they need to arrange with a neighbouring gardener for their garden to be looked after during that time. Please email the Committee if you will be away for an extended period due to holidays/surgery/illness so that we can put you in touch with a neighbouring plot holder who can help with your garden while you are away.

2.Taskforce participation
On the membership form, members are asked to join a Taskforce. This is the group that a member will work with at the Working bees held each third Sunday of the month. There is a requirement that each member attend at least five working bees during the year to work on overall garden maintenance (note – not on their own individual gardens). This helps keep the garden paths free of weeds and well mulched, allows for planting and composting of the communal plots, assists with projects related to building and composting, and importantly introduces gardeners to each other to share ideas.

When membership renewal is finalised after 1 December we anticipate that Taskforce leaders will be in touch before the next BBQ in February 2023 to let you know what your Taskforce group members will be working on to keep the Communal Gardens and the general garden well maintained.

Photo below: Daniel Bloom in Design and Building Taskforce mode says “fake it til you make it” and starts shovelling cement for the workbench paving.

From the Composting Taskforce – Leader Lucille Segal

Please respect our request
No bread
No meat
No fish
No eggshells
No biodegradable plastic bags
Cut green matter as small as you can.

Anna Johns and I attended a composting workshop hosted by Compost Revolution as a collaboration between 3 councils Waverley, Woollahra and Randwick. The workshop was run by permaculture guru Margaret Mossakowska of Mosshouse. who explained that the ratio of
green to brown matter should be 1 green:4 brown
Green includes coffee grounds all vegetables and plant cuttings (excluding weeds or badly diseased cuttings).
Brown includes brown leaves, straw mulch, shredded newspaper, cardboard, coffee chaff (big thank you to Daniel Bloom – yes we are ready for more…)

If the bin is a bit smelly we add builders lime which seems to absorb the bad odour.

Final stage of taking compost out of the bin and leaving it to decompose into rich compost for a few weeks until you can’t recognise the vegetables but just nice rich humus!! Thanks again to Ronnie for this step.
Covering with hessian bag also seems to encourage this process. It is important not to touch the pile during this period so as not to disturb the structure of the developing humus.
“Strictly speaking, compost and humus are two terms that mean different things. When the organic matter has almost completely decomposed, it becomes a stable material called “humus”. But waste materials that are still actively decomposing are called “compost.”
Each time the bin is added to the twirler needs to be used to mix and aerate.

Thanks to our Composting team we have some great compost being prepared for use on the Communal gardens.
We are happy for any help whether it be food scraps/leaf matter from home cut small or cuttings from your patch again cut small please. And remember, twirl to aerate.
Photo below: Lucille with the new Japanese cutting tools purchased for the composting team to help cut the compost as small as possible.

Meet Katrina (plot 40)

Katrina has divided her plot into colour segments where edible plants are bordered by flowering plants of uniform colour for each segment. Katrina is going on a European holiday in December / January so please give her garden a water if you are nearby with a hose.

Try something different

Sometimes it is good to move beyond our usual planting and experiment. This year a few people tried artichokes and found they grew much bigger than expected and after harvesting that steaming and eating them was quite a bit of work for quite a minimal amount of artichoke. They do look very sculptural in the garden and are successful for winter planting.
Recently Jane and Geoff on plot 6 have been trying a new green called Cime Di Rape. Cime di rape is a green leafy vegetable also known as broccoli rabe, rapini or turnip tops.
Geoff shared this recipe for using it. Have a go!

Orecchiette with Rapa (Orecchiette Con Cime Di Rape)
Prep Time: 5 min | Cook Time: 20 min | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 6
2 large bunches cime di rape (broccoli rabe), washed
80 ml (⅓ cup) olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 anchovy fillets in olive oil
1 small red chilli (optional)
500 g orecchiette
100 g (1 cup) toasted breadcrumbs (See Note)
extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Optional: juice of half a lemon

Discard the tough bottom part of the cime di rape and chop the rest roughly.
Put the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat with the garlic, anchovies and chilli (if using). Cook, stirring, allowing the anchovies to soften, for about 5 minutes. Add the cime di rape and combine well. Season to taste and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the cime di rape has wilted.
Meanwhile, cook the orecchiette in boiling salted water until al dente.
While the orecchiette is cooking, skim off about a ladleful of the white, starchy pasta water and add it to the cime di rape sauce, stirring to combine.
Drain the pasta well and add it to the sauce in the pan and combine well. (Optional: add juice of half a lemon). Transfer to a communal serving bowl, sprinkle with the toasted breadcrumbs and drizzle with some extra-virgin olive oil. Season to taste and serve.

Growing a kefir culture

Water kefir
At the last BBQ some members tried water kefir as a non-alcoholic drink alternative and seemed to enjoy it. Water kefir is very easy to make once you have a culture and is less bitter than kombucha. It is just water kefir culture (3 tablespoons) + sugar (3 tablespoons) + distilled water (500 ml) + thin slice of lemon  in a large jar or jug.
Then 3-5 days later pour the liquid into a screw top bottle (reserving the culture for your next batch), add another slice of lemon and  some passionfruit to the bottle and in a week you will have a refreshing fermented drink that tastes like passiona only not so sweet. Try buying water kefir grains online.

Milk Kefir
You may also like to make your own milk Kefir which is not only much better for you than commercial kefir (according to Michael Mosley) but also a lot cheaper and more convenient because you can make as much as you need. Milk kefir is a probiotic and can assist in gut health. If anyone wants to try to make their own, one of our members has surplus culture and can give you some to start you off. Here is what you need – photo below – kefir culture, milk, a plastic strainer and a glass jar or plastic container. Simply add milk to the culture, leave in a warm place for a couple of days until it has set like yoghurt, and then strain the mixture with a plastic sieve and put the strained kefir in the fridge and the culture (see lumpy bits in photo) in a clean jar with more milk to be left in a warm place.



Anna Johns, Lucille Segal and Jeni Black made a recent trip to Japanese Tools Australia in Kogarah  to look at long-armed garden shears for the Compost Team. This is a truly marvellous shop if you like to see and feel the best in Japanese garden tools and cutting implements. We particularly loved the Okatsune brand which seems to be lighter and easier to grip for women gardeners than other brands we have tried (perfect for our needs).

Photo below – tools for the garden and cleaning solution to keep them in good order

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