Winter newsletter – 2023

by | Jun 23, 2023 | Winter | 0 comments


President’s Message

Dear Members and friends,
Welcome to our new members:
Merelyn and Yosi and their families Plot 4 commencing in July
Kris and family Plot 25
Alison and Michi and families Plot 43
Lina and Dougall and family Plot 46.

The Building Taskforce has been busy replacing rotten garden edging in the plots that most needed it. Sleeper replacement has been finalised for plots 1, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 43. 
Thanks to Phil Redelman and Daniel Bloom who risked life and limb getting the hardwood to site and in place – hard work!! And to Bunnings Rose Bay and Randwick for donating $500 towards the purchase of hardwood sleepers at Bunnings Alexandria.
Thanks also to Woollahra Council which provided financial assistance for the purchase and installation of a new battery which has just been installed in the shed so the shed light can work – see note on how to turn off the light below.
Two of our committee members, Anna Johns and Greg Vaughan, have recently resigned  form the Committee due to other demands on their time. We valued their input to the garden planning process and I thank them for their contribution.

Here is our current Committee.

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

We have really made an effort to make Cooper Park Community Garden a productive and pleasant outdoor experience and have managed to keep the garden looking good with the replacement of rotten sleepers and the general care people take with their individual gardens.
Thanks to all the members who give their time to make the garden so enjoyable. The Taskforce Working bees are a great opportunity to meet other gardeners and make sure our garden paths and surrounds are well maintained. I know sometimes there is a great temptation to work in your own plot .Thanks to all who came to the June Working Bee for respecting that rule that working bee time 10-12 is for whole of garden maintenance. We will have a plot maintenance working bee and BBQ coming up in September – see events below.

The garden looks all the better for your hard work.We must be doing something right because we have just had four new family members join the garden and we have over 20 people on the still on the waiting list to join.
Some of our new members have been on the waiting list since 2021.
This is why we ask that those members who are lucky enough to have a plot make optimal use of it and maintain it regularly or let us know if their circumstances have changed and they can no longer look after their garden
Co-founder & President CPCG

Photo below: Autumn Colour

For Member Action

How to:

Lock the padlock for the gate on entry – When you unlock the gate use the current member only code to open the padlock, then take the padlock and lock it on the inside of the fence, on the reverse side of the ‘no dogs’ sign, making sure that you spin the numbers away from the access code. When you leave, unlock the padlock and re-lock the gate again ensuring the code numbers are not left visible on the padlock.

Open the dynamic lifter and sugar cane bags and keep them waterproof.
Please open the new bags with scissors by cutting across one corner of the bags; then after use secure the dynamic lifter and sugar cane mulch bags so that water does not get in. Once the bag has been opened, please ensure it is sealed by rolling the top of open bag closed so that it remains watertight. See photo below.

Put away garden tools. First clean them under the tap to help reduce contamination from one plot to another.

Use the hose – pull the hose out the desired length first then turn the hose on. After finishing watering first turn the hose off and release all water from the hose. Then rewind the hose slowly and carefully.

Keep our new battery working in the shed : TURN OFF THE LIGHTS WHEN YOU LEAVE.

Keep the compost healthy. To compost citrus, chop up lemons and oranges into very small pieces. Larger pieces of citrus (halves or quarters) must be put in the green bin. The Compost Team needs a break from rifling through the scraps to chop up lemon and orange halves.


  • Sunday 16 July 2023 Taskforce Working Bees 10 am-12 noon 
  • Sunday 20 August 2023 Taskforce Working Bees 10 am-12 noon 
  • Sunday 17 September 2023  Garden Plot Working Bee 10 am-12 noon  and BBQ 12 noon – 2 pm. This working bee is dedicated to looking after the soil in your garden plots. We have a delivery of compost which members can use freely to improve their own plots during the working bee and then it’s our Spring BBQ.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Getting ready for spring

In Winter, besides growing winter crops, it is a good idea to plan ahead for Spring and Summer and build up your garden with organic matter.

Some gardeners who have depleted or weedy plots may need to look at a garden overhaul so here are some notes from Anna Johns, a talented former member of the garden, who took over a very depleted garden plot and made it productive again.

Here is Anna’s garden rejuvenation process
Begin by laying down solid cardboard from fridge packaging and removal packing boxes – note that it can’t have plastic layers.
Water / soak cardboard and put a layer of Who Flung Dung and cow manure on top – you will need about five bags cow and three Who Flung Dung.
Keep watering and leave for a couple of weeks before laying down thick wads of newspaper, watering and adding more cow and compost – say 10 bags.
Wait three weeks before planting. The layers may not be completely decomposed so you can make holes through the newspaper to plant seeds/seedlings.
You could try a green manure crop and turn most of the first crop back using a hoe to chop the plants up and spread them over the top of the soil.
Add more Who Flung Dung and cow manure and mulch over with pea straw.
Once this is looking decomposed plant seeds / seedlings and mulch.

It takes about six months for cardboard to completely disappear. Crops will be fine during that time. To enrich the soil during cropping add four to five buckets of compost and some diluted worm juice (weak tea colour for dilution). 

This process rejuvenated the soil and eradicated most weeds but not onion weed – that needs to be carefully taken out by hand after digging a long way down to the roots with a shovel. Every now and then another onion weed will still shoot up and it is best to get onion weeds out while they are small so you get the whole root before it shoots out potential new plants – this sometimes means taking out soil around the root as well.

This year ahead of Spring from mid August, plan to layer up with cow manure and Who Flung Dung or organic matter of your choice, eg. dynamic lifter, or similar fertiliser (Enfield Produce has a great selection of organic garden supplements, particularly their Cow and Compost mixture). Then keep using compost and fertiliser and mulching  throughout spring and summer. Some members swear by Coir Peat for moisture retention which comes in a brick form from Bunnings. A 15 litre brick will do your whole plot – soak in water and mix with your cow manure and compost.

Note from the Committee – to help add organic matter to your soil the Committee plans to order a trucked-in compost delivery for the week prior to the 17 September working bee. You will be able to use it on your own garden with the fertiliser you like to use – e.g. Dynamic lifter, Who Flung Dung, Organic Life, cow manure or Blood and Bone.

Photo below: Alison and Simon Plot 43 starting to enrich the soil with a no-dig garden

Some like it hot

We have noticed an abundance of chillies in the garden and here are two chilli recipes to use up all your chillies and keep your winter warm.

Chilli in oil
Recipe from our Committee Member, Daniel Bloom

Three methods same ingredients

Two handfuls of various chillies
4 teaspoons of minced garlic
2 medium pinches of salt
Choice of oil (olive or avocado oil works well)

Method one: hand chop chillies finely (with seeds) and then add to a jar. Add rest of ingredients and shake to combine.

Method two: using a mortar and pestle grind up the chillies (with seeds) and add to jar. Add rest of ingredients and shake to combine.

Method three: using a NutriBullet add all ingredients and blend. Add to jar after

LINA’S CHILLI JAM recipe from our web designer, Alex Simpson
400 g hot chillies
1 kg red capsicums
4 large onions
800 g ripe tomatoes (or 2 tins diced tomatoes)
750 ml red wine vinegar
Juice and zest of 2 limes (or lemons)
1 kg white sugar

Dice the chillies, capsicums, onions and tomatoes and place in a large pot.  Add the vinegar, lime (or lemon) juice and zest.
Bring to boil and simmer until thickened (approx. 1 hour).
Add sugar gradually, bring to boil again and simmer until jam begins to set (approx. 1 hour).  Test for setting by putting a spoonful on a saucer in freezer for 5 minutes and testing consistency.
Place in sterilized jars, leaving upside down to help seal.

Photo of Chilli bushes in Virginia’s garden. Virginia harvests regularly and freezes the chillies until she has enough to make loads of chilli jam.

Meet Priscilla (plot 26)

Priscilla shares her garden with her daughter Dominique. We love having Priscilla in the garden because she knows a lot about plants and how to grow them with love, prepare and eat them and she generously looks after neighbours’ gardens when they are away.

Priscilla visits the garden very regularly and has had many experiences there including being locked in when someone locked the padlock from the outside while she was still inside. That evening lock-in was a bit traumatic but she escaped the fox and lived to tell the tale.

Recently Priscilla has been growing kent pumpkin (also known as jap pumpkin) and butternut pumpkin, as well as eggplant and sweet potato. Priscilla is planning to grow more herbs in her plot such as basil, turmeric, coriander and curry leaves. Herbs, such as these, are often thought of as a culinary ingredient first, then a health food. Coriander and curry leaves may help to balance or lower blood sugar levels, and turmeric can be used as a dietary supplement. Holy basil (not to be confused with Thai basil) is rich in vitamins and can help to lower blood pressure. All gardeners have access to many of these herbs in the Communal Herb garden near the entrance.

Priscilla and Dominique are looking forward to seeing you at the next working bee. Happy planting!

So we aren’t exotic and that is a good thing

Recently we have been working with Rachel Taylor-Hukins, Plant Biosecurity and Product Integrity, Department of Primary Industries, to identify exotic pests in the garden. A trap was installed on the finger lime tree and after a week it was examined for pest infestation. Here is the report.

There is a range of insect diversity on the traps submitted. Most of the pest species are sap sucking bugs which cover a range of groups including scale, thrips (many), psyllid, aphid, leafhoppers and planthoppers (many). 2 moths and one fruit fly (Bactrocera tryoni female) also present. Most of the beneficial species are wasps with many of them being microwasps. Also included here are flies (many predatory flies from the Dolichopodidae family and a few from the Phoridae family). 2 fig wasps were present. Some large and small beetles are also present. A large number of ants, which are general scavengers, were captured on the sticky mat.

Unfortunately the finger lime had the tip of its growing stem cut off soon after this process.The finger lime is a special tree planted by Ruth Osen, a founding member of Cooper Park Garden whose plot 38 is now a Communal Plot led by Inés Tejero. The tree was planted by Ruth when she first started the plot. It is a memorial for Ruth’s friends in the garden and we guard it closely. Please treat all gardens with respect and ask Taskforce leaders before doing anything in a Communal Garden. Make sure to take only produce marked with a red stick indicating that it is for sharing. 
And please don’t chop off the tops of any trees!

News from the Communal Gardens

In Plots 27 and 28, Taskforce 2A has planted root vegetables and broad beans and there is a large amount of mustard leaves to share – look out for large green and red leaves growing in abundance. Use them  to jazz up your salads.

The herb garden (plot C11) has a newiy planted Bush Basil in a pot near the entrance. Members can harvest freely in the herb garden – we don’t use red sticks in this garden as everything that is growing robustly is available.

In Taskforce 2C members have been keeping the plot well maintained while Rudi has been away. Nic has managed a great crop of parsley which is available to share in C50.

Look what I grew

In the garden this week you can see that Inés (plot 18) has a fabulous paper daisy which she is very proud to have grown from seed. It’s a stunner.

Visit someone else’s garden

If you get a chance to visit Margan Winery in the Hunter Valley near Broke make sure to see their restaurant vegetable garden filled with winter vegetables. Photos below


The well gardened mind by Sue Stuart-Smith

Book suggestion from Meg (plot 36) – A life affirming study of the pleasures of tending a plot or garden, and soothing your mind. Meg turned to gardening after suffering for a number of years with Lyme Disease. She is fully recovered now, and tending to her garden was an integral part of her healing journey. Sue Stuart Smith is a psychiatrist and psychotherapist who writes about her garden as far more than just a much loved physical space. “When you work with your hands in the garden, weeding or clipping, you free your mind to work through feelings and problems. By tending your plants you are also gardening your inner space, and over time, a garden is woven into your sense of identity, become a place to buffer us when the going gets tough”. A beautiful study on why growing things is so good for our psychological health.

Use our garden shed library and our seed collection

We have a collection of gardening books available in the garden shed for members to consult/borrow. Have a look next time you are in the garden (and remember to turn the light off when you leave).
You will also find a selection of seeds in a sewing box in the shed which you are welcome to use or add to.

Shop seeds

Susie Foster (plot 10) recommends The Happy Valley Seeds Company which is where she purchased her green manure seeds.

Find Out More

Shop soil improvement

We have a few gardeners who are replenishing their soil at the moment so we thought we would let you know what a fabulous excursion it is to go to Enfield Produce and purchase great quality, soil building compost and manure, fertilisers and much more. We have tried home delivery during Covid but it was a bit tricky. Take the kids and bring home a rabbit if you need some help eating your greens.

Find Out More

Thanks to the contributors : Torsten (plot 8) Meagan (plot 37) Daniel (plot 34) Suzie (Plot 10) Lucille (plot 44 and Compost Team Leader) Dominique and Priscilla (plot 26) Virginia (plot 35) Inés (plot 18)
Looking forward to seeing you all in the garden. Happy growing.