Thursday, November 13, 2014

Gravel Hill Gardens


‘There’s only one community garden within walking distance,’ says the teller at Bendigo wholefoods. 'Gravel Hill Gardens.' 

He wasn’t too friendly as Ms Tagalong explained her mission. Must have been because she had no purchases in hand.

Smiling anyway she sets off on her awfully big adventure into the wilds of Bendigo, well about three streets down and as many across.

The garden spreads down the hill, a mixture of private and communal plots with red private signs advising you not to pick others’ produce. On this sunny lunchtime only one couple are working in the garden.

A softly smiling lady bows her head in acknowledgement of Ms Tagalong’s greeting.  She shyly explains that she, Jkyawparnt, and her husband, Lahsu, came from Burma as refugees in 2007.


We were first Asians here,’ he proudly says as he guides Ms Tagalong under the grape arch and into his fenced plot with beds piled high with manure.

Ms Tagalong wasn’t sure if this was the time to tell him that the Chinese were here over a hundred years ago, an integral part of the goldrush hereabouts.  He assented but repeated that he and his wife came from the borders of Thailand and Burma, the forerunners of about four to five hundred Asian refugees settled here.

He explains that these are water beds, ridged high with the seedlings planted in the shallow of the furrows. Ms Tagalong was not able to ascertain what crops were actually grown here as they were not familiar to her but she thought he said they tasted good with frogs!

Lahsu said that Ms Tagalong should come back on Thursday to speak to the co-ordinator Mark but she had other obligations. Remember the futsal tournament?

Ms Tagalong left them to their hard work and meandered the many plots cordoned off by fences, stones and hedges of beans.

At the foot of the hill she was very impressed by the mounds of lawn clippings left by locals which contribute to the much needed compost. An idea which should be adopted at Tighes Hill she thought. 
On her return to Kings Road she got out the chalkboard and scrawled a sign asking for lawn clippings to be placed HERE!

So far the mound is not very impressive - in fact no-one seems to have noticed the sign.




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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Of bikes and trailers!


A determined walk along the Bendigo Creek takes Ms Tagalong behind houses, over bridges, past the tennis courts and Lake Weerona, over the oldest remaining bridge and into Peppergreen Farm by the back way climbing over the fence.

A group of industrious men are busy painting bundles of stakes. Not for an upcoming Vampire’s convention but for local surveyors.


This community garden is mostly run by Access Industries providing work for disabled clients in the area. They mow, they whipper snip and paint stakes.

Ros Woodburn who has been co-ordinator for 2 ½ years proudly points out her transport. A bicycle with a trailer.

Keen as mustard, not the mustard lettuce growing so prolifically in Tighes Hill garden, but mustard nevertheless, she explains what she uses the trailer for.

Under a large canopied area trays of lettuces and salad greens grow. They are harvested daily and bags taken to four local restaurants who in turn provide bags of coffee grounds to be used in the compost.

Ros’s eyes glisten as she imagines fleets of these bikes traversing Bendigo taking some of the excess produce people drop off at the garden, completing the urban food cycle as it were.


Ms Tagalong tries to glimpse the ghosts that must inhabit this garden, the location of the Bendigo Chinese Market Garden but all she can see are the happily waving employees hard at work under the canopied area and a vision on a bicycle, produce in tow.

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Our own Edible Gardens Competition

This is your chance. This is your moment in the spotlight. Proud of your veggies? Proud of your fruit? Enter in the Throsby Villages Competition, open to residents of the Throsby Villages. 

Some of you assiduous readers may remember Ms Tagalong visiting Todmordern in Yorkshire and admiring their Incredible Edibles. Now it’s your turn. How sustainable are we as a community?

Do you have chooks? A bush tucker garden? A garden run on organic or permaculture principles? 

There are many categories, verge garden, container gardening, balcony gardening etc. Just download an entry form from the Facebook site and get to work on that garden!


It's great to have some feedback, so please leave me some comments.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Nasturtiums - torn up and used!

There go the nasturtiums! 

Ms Tagalong winces as the nasturtiums are wrenched out. The chooks had done a fairly good job of shredding this bed, but now they were all gone. Lucky that Ms Tagalong had been harvesting the green, crisp seeds last week for an experiment.

Smoked salmon - mmm. They are not the same unless you add some capers. So here Ms Tagalong is looking to make some Poor man's capers. Steeping silently in the fridge, judgement awaits for a later time.
Spot the capers! 

In the meantime, why are the nasturtiums being ripped up?

The members of the garden and some interested locals want to learn how to make compost, specifically hot compost.
Neat bays! 

As it happens, it morphs, moves and becomes bigger than Ben Hur. The compost becomes three constructed bays ably made by all.

Firstly a layer of twigs for carbon, then leaves, gutter clearings, manure and pulled up vegetables gone to seed and of course the aforesaid nasturtiums.

And it doesn't finish until all the collected green waste is added to the bays.

Ms Tagalong will need some new names for some of these new willing workers.

While Mr Permie explains all about the process, (aerobic, anaerobic, carbon are words which float past Ms Tagalong's ears,) The Constant Composter makes sure that all the manure is added, tidied up and the bananas are looking happy in their new abode. All was watered and settled in.

What a productive day!


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Monday, October 6, 2014

Spring comes to Bendigo


Bendigo. Goldfields. Ornate buildings. Sweeping boulevards. Fourteen hours bus ride.

If Mr Ideasman ever suggests a trip to accompany him to Bendigo, turn and run the other way.
Ms Tagalong in her inimitable fashion decided to go along. She did not however , anticipate fourteen hours in a bus packed with forty-five pre-pubescents off to play in the national Futsal championships.

But that aside, the sun is shining, a mug of tea awaits on the verandah and Ms Tagalong is laying plans to visit gardens, community and otherwise, which abound in this city of ‘unparalleled opulence and glamour.’


Mmm, Ms Tagalong should fit right in!

Stepping over the tram lines the first port of call is the conservatory on Pall Mall where the annual tulip display is over its best as the lady at the information centre offers.

Not quite Amsterdam. Not quite Spalding. Nevertheless the colours bounce and jostle in the spring sunshine, the object of many a visitor’s lens.


The conservatory houses a strange garden. A garden fashioned out of cardboard, retwisted and designed into organic shapes, decorated and be-tasselled. Sculpture from children’s workshops in and around Bendigo adorn the vestibule where would-be-artists scribble wildly on large pieces of paper anxious to have their efforts included.


Sitting in the sunshine, the nightmare journey recedes and Ms Tagalong consults her map to find her way to the nearest community garden.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Springing to life!

Self seeded coriander

Spring has sprung and Ms Tagalong has come out of winter hibernation ready to start chattering. In fact she is so garrulous you might wish she was still sleeping....

It's time for workshops, time for Cocktails in the Garden, pizzas and laughter. Time for planting, time for weeding and making compost. Time to listen to the birds, attract the bees and feed the chickens.

Ms Mova is feeling very smug and so she should be. Ms Tagalong is feeling equally excited. We welcome back the Chicken Whisperer into our midst, fresh from a southerly sojourn, ready to add her wisdom and knowledge to the garden.

Mr Ideasman is of course full of ideas and so plans are afoot for a fabulous Splendour in the Garden. Not to be outdone by Byron Bay, there will be music by local bands, pizza from the famous oven, coffee from a coffee cart and oh of course plenty of gardening activity from our workshop presenters.

Our wonderful community garden hasn't been left totally in the dark, comments, photos are to be found on our facebook page and if you would like newsletter updates just give us your email address.

So that's it, from the dark to the light, we welcome all into the garden!

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Don't you love a working bee?

The chickens are murmuring as Ms Tagalong and Mr Ideasman pass the gate. Hang on, they are supposed to be inside the coop, not roosting on the water barrel or squeezed between the chair and the railway sleepers.

The two latest additions to the coop, our beautiful black (Australorp?) and another Isa Brown had been kicked out by the others and had sought refuge by flying over the fence into the garden.

Purring gently they are encouraged back into the coop. It was the end to a very hot, sweaty and busy day in the garden.


Mr Ideasman had raised the roof literally on the water tanks. Something to do with the drop/fall. Ms Tagalong who had lent a little muscle to the operation nodded sagely.

The weeds were everywhere, mostly grass, probably from immature horse manure and the rampant sweet potato covered every walkway, let alone every bed!

Many piles later and a few beds revealed self-seeded lettuce, rocket and mustard. Great, good to get a head start on winter crops.

Each working bee participant got to take home some seed trays to nurture and bring back to the next session.

Spinach, endive, celery, dill, mustard lettuce, pak choy – can’t wait!

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