June Garden Updates

It’s been a month since the Gardens launched our brand new website, and what a busy month it’s been! Just click on each titled section below to read about some of the work we’ve been doing in the Gardens!

The Cairns Eco-Fiesta & Costa from Gardening Australia

A big part of community gardening is growing your presence in the community, to attract new visitors, members, and sponsors. With this in mind, the Gardens hosted a stall at this year’s Cairns Eco-Fiesta, as well as the mini pre-fiesta event at the Manoora Community Gardens.

The Cairns Eco-Fiesta was a massive event, and a must-see for anyone interested in the environment and sustainability – if you didn’t get a chance to go this year, you should definitely give it ago next year! The Gardens were able to spread the community-gardening love, spruik our upcoming events, and educate a lot of interested people in the benefits and how-to of composting!

We also debuted our fabulous new pull-up banners, and were fortunate enough to have the one-and-only effervescent Costa Georgiadias film a video to launch our new website! Costa is a very busy and in-demand guy, and this was much-appreciated by all of the Garden-Members!

The Gardens’ President, Bernard Holden, with the new pull-up banner!

Reinvigorating the Garden’s Compost-Bins

At the Gardens we love composting and have heaps of compost-bins for food-scraps, leaves, cardboard, and all other kinds of organic-matter generated around the Gardens. As much as we hate to admit it though, some of our compost-bins hadn’t been getting the tender love and care they needed to thrive and create the healthiest soil, in the quickest amount of time.

As such, one fine Saturday morning during our weekly ‘Get Active Program’ we decided as a group to give them a re-vamp! This included the following process:

  1. Separating the good composted stuff from the not-so good composted stuff;
  2. Distributing all the good composted stuff into garden-beds to use as fertiliser;
  3. Re-filling the compost bins with a mixture of carbon and nitrogen materials;
  4. Putting in a handful of the good compost with lots of existing microbes, to jump-start the process;
  5. And mixing it all up a specially-made compost cork-screw!

Since then, Garden-Members have been dutifully monitoring and mixing the compost-bins, and making sure they get the right ratios of materials. Now our compost is breaking-down much quicker, and we’ll be able to use it in the Gardens much sooner!

Speaking of compost, the Gardens now collect food-scraps from the local Meals on Wheels to put into our compost, increasing how much soil we can create, and reducing the amount of waste that goes to land-fill. We have also registered the Gardens to be a part of the online ‘ShareWaste’ app, meaning members of the public can find us, and bring their fruit and veggies scraps to the Gardens for composting!

Next on the composting-agenda? Creating some worm-farms, to increase our composting capacity!

Re-Growing the Market-Gardens

Within the Gardens, there are numerous plots and places to grow food, and we are always happy for non-Garden-Members to pick from some of our public-gardens.

Honestly however, it can be a little disheartening for Garden-Members when we put in all of the effort and hard-work to…

…prepare the soil with compost, straw, mulch, fertilizer, and gypsum…

…then lovingly propagate seeds and seedlings in the greenhouse and transplant them into the garden-beds…

…then patiently watch, water, prune, and fertilise them every week…

…only for ALL of the produce to be picked and taken by anonymous people who don’t help-out at the Gardens, and before we even get a chance to enjoy the fruits of our labour.

As such, our Market-Gardens were looking a little dilapidated and neglected from repeated thefts, and members losing heart. However, one of our new Garden-Members had the great idea of securing the Market-Gardens with old chain-link fencing. Hopefully we’ll now be able to grow heaps of fresh fruit and veggies for our members, our monthly community picnics, and to give any excess to local community-groups!

As part of re-growing the Market-Gardens, we also relocated four of the massive garden-beds. They were previously too close together, and we couldn’t fit a wheelbarrow in between them, making it very difficult to replenish them with soil, compost, and mulch. This took a lot of digging and hard-work, but it is now much more practical!

Since securing the area and relocating the beds, we’ve also planted the following herbs and veggies:

  • Tomatoes, spinach-varieties, and Vietnamese mint (aka laksa leaves) – propagated at home and brought-in by some of our members.
  • Green beans and basil – propagated in the Gardens greenhouse, and transplanted by members.
  • Eggplant, Chinese lettuce, carrots, and pak-choi – bought in seedling form, as we were having difficulty germinating seeds in the cold, wet weather.

Erecting the New Shed

Now, putting-up a new shed might not seem like a big deal, but picture this:

Every month when it’s time for the Community Picnics, you need to put the mini-marquees over the picnic-tables (because it’s Innisfail, and it’s either too sunny, or too rainy).

…But you need to get the pop-up marquees out of the shed that is super far away, which means loading them into the back of ute (because it’s not worth someone getting a back-injury carrying them).

…You drive the pop-up marquees down to the picnic-area (which mucks-up the grass in the meantime), and then finally unload them, and put ‘em up.

…THEN at the end of the picnic, you gotta do it all again in reverse!

Well luckily, while we were looking for a cheap shed, the Council had some old sheds that they were looking to off-load for free. A match made in heaven!

Now all of the picnic equipment is much closer to the picnic area, and it’ll be much easier for Garden-Members to help with the set-up and pack-down, making for a much more pleasant picnic experience. Even better, we landscaped the path leading down beside the shed to include pots of herbs and flowers!

Revitalising the Kid’s Area

At the Gardens, we always strive to make the area as kid, family, and community-friendly as possible. Part of this included building a new cubby-house, made from donated wooden and plastic pallets. While the cubby has already been a great hit with kids, to make it pop even more, we were thinking about painting it. However, with so much to do in the Gardens, none of the adults could think of a cool or funky design. 

Thankfully, Good Counsel College approached the Gardens about having some of their Grade 11 students attend and work-in the Gardens as part of their ‘Faith in Action’ class. As well as being polite, kind, funny, and hard-working, the students also have incredible vision and creativity, and worked together to design and vote-on a pattern for the cubby. They only started painting the cubby this week, but got so much done in only the space of an hour and a bit!

While some of the kids worked on the cubby, others painted our old tyre-crocodile, and another group worked towards making a butterfly-corridor and seating area.

While it may not look like much now, soon the diamond pavers will be surrounded by a field of colourful native and non-native butterfly-attracting flowers, with the paves leading to a bench to sit-on and relax, surrounded by the lushness of nature!  

We hope you’ve enjoyed seeing what we do at the Gardens – until next time!