Category: Blog

What’s happening in May 2019?

So far this Autumn soil temperatures have been higher than last year reflecting the mild weather, so it’s still not too late to plant some greens, especially the Chinese style Pak Choy. The cooler weather reduces its tendency to bolt. Time is rapidly running out for cabbages and caulis though, as there is a risk that the onset of cooler temperatures will stop their growth. We are busy mulching around our brassicas, with a side dressing of blood and bone and also a little bit of lime. The mulch keeps the weeds down and the soil temperatures up.

We are harvesting our pumpkins. This year we tried some Austrian Oil Seed pumpkins which are grown specifically for their seed, although the flesh is also edible. We have also just completed harvesting the last of the quinces and they have produced an excellent crop this year. All the garden volunteers have taken some home. This year we pulled all the second flush of figs off our fig tree as they will not have time to develop fully before Winter and we hope that doing this will produce a really good first flush next season.

On the planting front, celery plants will go in this month and we also will be trialing some early snow peas. Spring onions can be sown at any time of year as can baby gem lettuce. In the glasshouse we will be planting sweet pea seeds in punnets ready for an early start in spring. On the corner section we have some Blackcurrant bushes to go in as they do very well there.

As usual there is so much to do. Weeding, especially the noxious  oxalis is constant as is the general maintenance required to keep the garden productive.

 

WHAT’S HAPPENING ? ~ AUTUMN 2019 ~ Our 20th Anniversary in the Community – see our events page for more info

While we attempt to recover from the shock of recent events,  the Autumn garden calls. It is a welcome call – working quietly in the garden is comforting. It is important we continue planting the last of the leafy greens before the soil temperatures drop.  Plants going into winter need to be as big as possible ( but not going to seed) as growth will slow down from now until August. The objective is to have big  luscious leaves for winter so don’t be tempted to pick the leaves too soon. We are planting  pak choi, silverbeet, cabbage, kale, broccoli and cauliflower.

It is a good time to repot plants, check for disease and make compost to stock pile for spring.  We are also preparing to make our annual batch of organic spray and have cleaned up our glasshouse first with vinegar – then with baking soda to protect against disease during the colder months. We are especially proud of our peaches, date palms and olive trees – all grown from stones and pits.  Date palms can make elegant pot plants under cover in a sunny space or  in a frost free area of your garden. Dry the pits from fresh dates on newspaper then plant  on a sandy soil mix in a deep tub, cover with more soil and place in a protected area / glasshouse. Dates are very slow growing and may take  up to one year to emerge – so don’t give up too soon and take care not to over water – they prefer to be a bit dry.

We hope you can join us in a few weeks at our Community Garden Autumn Market day – April 13th –  188 Strickland St, Sydenham

 

For more information Contact: Christine Blance:   info@cscommunitygardens.net.nz

 

 

What’s happening in April 2018?

It was a beautiful day on Easter Saturday when we held our Autumn Market Day and thanks to all who came along to Strickland St to have a look around or to buy. Thanks also to the volunteers whose efforts make it happen.

It has been a bountiful season for pickles, so we will be busy making more and plan to hold a “mini market day” on the 14th April to offer these delicious treats for sale.

It has been a very mild Autumn ; according to the met service the warmest start to a year since records began. Consequently aphids and white fly are still a problem, so much so that Christine will be making up another batch of our organic spray and blasting the critters. She will also be running a demonstration on how to make it during the mini market day on the 14th at around 11am. If the weather stays mild we can also expect a lot of diseases such as powdery mildew in the spring. On the plus side, we will take advantage of  the mild weather to plant our spinach, silver beet and other leafy greens. It also makes mulching easier so we will be doing lots of this to keep the weeds down and hopefully keep the soil temperature just a little raised.

Some of our beds will be planted with a green manure crop this month. We will use a mixture of French Marigold (Tagetes) and mustard which will then be dug in before planting broad beans. We have also used barley, and for Nitrogen fixing, blue lupin.

We are still harvesting crab apples and quinces, so jellies made from these are still emerging from the kitchen. The Feijoa tree also has some nice big fruit left.

2018 Autumn Market Day – Saturday March 31st 10-1pm

Christchurch South Community Gardens

2018 Autumn Market Day 

Saturday March 31st ( Easter Saturday) 

10-1pm   ~~ 188 Strickland St, Sydenham

PLANTS – PRODUCE – PRESERVES – BAKING – HOT SOUP – BOOKS – POSTERS

LEARN ABOUT WHAT WE DO & WHY COMMUNITY GARDENS ARE IMPORTANT

 SIGN UP AS A VOLUNTEER ~ WIN A BASKET OF PICKLES 

– CONTRIBUTE TO NEIGHBOURHOOD SUSTAINABILITY  

What’s happening in March 2018?

This month is mostly about Picking, Preserving and Pickling. especially our crops of tomatoes and zucchinis.The tomatoes will go straight into the freezer to be used later for soups. Any green ones will be the basis of our delicious green tomato and pineapple relish. Zucchinis don’t freeze well so they are bound for the pickling pot. All the tomato plants will then be removed in order to prepare the beds for planting broad beans. We usually leave the ground fallow for a while but sometimes plant a crop of a light leafy green feeder such as lettuce or spinach. It’s probably too late for any new planting of carrots, but the ones we put in earlier are doing well

We have harvested a large quantity of apples and these will be stewed and then bottled or frozen. Some will be made into apple and mint chutney. Despite the trees looking very healthy, it has not been a good stone fruit season for us this year, especially the plums. We possibly pruned a little too hard last year. Our Grapes, however, have produced a bumper crop, as have the quince trees. Slow roasted with honey is a great way to use these as well as the traditional jams and jellies.

The NZ cranberry bushes (not a native despite its name) are ready to be picked and we are thinking up ways to use the berries. They taste a little like  (their relative ) guavas but with a hint of strawberry.

We have discovered rust on our peach seedlings and trees so they will all be sprayed with lime sulphur. We have researched this chemical and are satisfied that it fulfills the requirements of organic gardening. Apricots do not like it however.

March is a good month for planting silver beet and also the last of the winter brassicas will be put in after the ground has had blood and bone and sheep manure applied.

What’s happening in December 2017?

Our Summer Market Day is being held on Saturday 9th December from 10am until 2pm. All the usual good stuff will be on offer: plants, produce, baking, preserves etc. In addition, local resident Neil will be bringing along his collection of renovated bicycles . A good range of bikes will be for sale; children’s and adult sizes.

Our Pea crop has finished but the second crop of Broad Beans is ready for harvesting. We are using Crimson Hughey which is a new variety with beautiful maroon flowers. It is cropping well so we will probably use it again.

It’s the time of year when watering is crucial and we need volunteers to help with our watering roster over the next month or two. If you would like to help come along to the market day and sign up to the roster. Sprinkler theft makes setting up the roster a little more difficult. Each year we lose two or three sprinklers, with an occasional hose going too. Given the hot weather we’ve been experiencing early in the summer the possibility of water restrictions is looming. At the gardens we have 3 big plastic barrels which are kept full of water. If restrictions are applied we can then use their contents with a watering can. If you do the same at home, make sure your barrel has a secure top to keep out mozzies and stop infants falling in.

Tomato training is in progress. Some of our volunteers are not at all certain about how to go about this so Christine will probably run a workshop in January. If you’d like to join in call in and talk to her.

Light summer pruning of our grapevine will be done this month. If you have a vine at home we suggest you prune to the last two or three leaves beyond the last developing bunch. This will give a much improved crop.

Have a great Christmas.

Summer Market Day 2017

SUMMER MARKET DAY 2017

Saturday 9th December 10am – 1pm

CHRISTCHURCH SOUTH COMMUNITY GARDENS

188 Strickland Street, Sydenham

Plants, Produce, Preserves, Baking

Looking forward to seeing you here on the day – volunteers needed for summer watering roster

Enquiries: Ph. 9426630 ( Christchurch South Community Gardens Resource Centre)

Good Quality Second – Hand Bikes For Sale On The Day 

What’s happening this month? November 2017

November is almost half gone already and the gardens are beginning to yield their bounty.

Sweet eating peas are ready for picking as are the fragrant sweet peas.  The Cavolo Nero is looking spectacular and is also ready to eat. It makes a great dip. Mix natural yoghurt, tahini, just cooked peas, a sprig of mint and the cavolo nero with the centre part of the leaf removed and run through the blender.

We are planting tomatoes, potatoes (at our site in St Martins) carrots and pumpkins. We will be planting for succession crops right through until February. It is also time to start thinking about what to sow in the Autumn for Winter yield, with an eye to crop rotation. Usually the brassicas  (cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli) go in then.

Show weekend is the traditional time when all danger of frost has passed and we will wait until then before putting in French Beans. It’s also now too warm for Bok Choy as it tends to bolt in the warmer temperatures.

The starlings nesting in the kitchen extractor fan have successfully hatched their eggs and are now extremely busy bringing food to the chicks. It wont be long before they are fledged and then we can use the fan again.

Elderflowers are out and Christine is busy making elderflower cordial. If you haven’t tried it grab a bottle at one of our market days or call in to Strickland St. It’s delicious with ice on a hot day.

We will be at the St Mary’s Fair in Church Square Addington on the 25th November. It’s a lovely old church and the fair is always fun, so come along and have a look around.

BIG SPRING MARKET DAY Saturday Oct 14th

2017 BIG SPRING MARKET DAY

SATURDAY OCTOBER 14TH – 10AM – 1PM

AT THE GARDENS ~ 188 Strickland Street, Sydenham, ChCh

Come along for plants, produce, preserves , delicious baked goods
heirloom tomato plants for sale
good variety of pumpkin, squash , zucchini
cold drinks – Try our plum & lemon verbena cordial
Lucky visitor pickle basket prize
☼☻☼
Enquiries: Ph. 9426630 ( Christine / office)

Community Gardens Life: Participation

People often ask when they stop by  – so who works here?  On-site volunteer workers include an average of 80 people p.a ( approx 15 p er week) and 3-4 paid staff . Paid staff are in my view critical to the capacity development, maintenance and stability of a community garden and provide the support and resources required by volunteers and the community. We have three main volunteer days – Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.  Tuesday is often spent off site on our two other sites and Friday is set aside for meetings and  administration.  Our weekend is Sunday and Monday so in the summer, help with watering on those days is much appreciated. . The work, like that of any  small farm is incredibly varied and suits those of a practical bent.

The rewards for volunteers working here on a regular basis are free resources ( plants, produce, preserves, compost etc..) and a free lunch twice a week. There are naturally other intangible and intrinsic rewards such as companionship, social support and learning. Enjoying lunch from the crops grown is important in order to enjoy the fruits of our labour and gives us time to sit down and talk about the work and relax together. At this time of the year we are having soup and toast made from autumn produce stored in the freezer and root crops growing in the garden now. In summer we have salad and rolls. We function as a workplace with a lunch break – so its back to work until afternoon tea-break, after which most volunteers head off. The average time spent here is 4 hours – usually 10.30 – 2.30. In the summer months we can still be working at sundown if the mood and weather takes us.

So what do we do on rainy days? We make pickles and preserves for fundraising, process seeds, clean and tidy the resource centre and sheds and have a covered potting shed so a bit of weather means we can get other work done and carry on with propagating plants.

If you take a look at our statistics page you will notice that a relatively small number of 80 volunteers facilitate the opportunity for the majority ( 4500+ ) of other participants visiting for plants and produce, advice and recreation, dropping off recycling, and for education ( school visits, student placements etc..)  or professional purposes. These people are as much participants as the volunteers and staff, are important to us and help us  contribute to our goal of supporting a sustainable community. We provide resources and grow crops for the wider community who participate by accessing them .  While the number of these participants we can reasonably count is up to 5000 people, I would estimate that we provide services for an additional 5000 people in terms of indirect and passive benefit. That’s  10,000 – the standard size for a ‘community’ or’ neighbourhood’ for research purposes.

We very much enjoy interacting with people utilising the site as a resource. I personally enjoy engaging with strangers.  Even discussing our harvesting policy with plunderers is satisfying in the sense that these exchanges need to be done face to face to back up the various notices about harvesting and to model ( or at least experiment with)  what a trust-based economy might look like in the flesh.

In the previous post I spoke of the less than desirable attitude of those few who act disdainfully towards the workers here while helping themselves to produce. Detachment from or avoidance of face to face interaction with real people is a  growing problem in our society. Community gardens create opportunities for participation in neighbourhood productivity and purposeful interaction while educating about fair sharing and trust in an increasingly competitive society.