Winter tends to be the quietest time of the year in the garden, but at Tucker Patch our group of gardening volunteers have been busy as bees, clearing out old beds, weeding and mulching in the Food Forest, and planting new-season veg in our extensive and ever-expanding market garden.
Thanks to these dedicated volunteers, the gardens are flourishing, jam-packed with healthy citrus trees, salad vegies, herbs, and winter veg such as broccoli, onions, leeks and more, and strawberry plants coming along nicely.
Three types of onions growing in the market garden
.The gardens just keep getting bigger and better, with plans to keep extending and creating new beds that volunteers can use to grow their own food, either just for themselves and/or family, or to sell at our Farmgate Stall on a Friday.
If you’re interested in finding out more about our Volunteer Program, helping in the gardens and learning about organic and permaculture growing methods, contact us at email@example.com or call us on 0484 001 390
Part of the Food Forest after extensive weeding and mulching.
While spring is just around the corner, and days have been mostly warm and sunny, the danger of frost is never far away. Here are some tips to protect your plants:
• Water the garden thoroughly before nightfall. The soil will release moisture into the air around your plants during the night, keep the air warmer.
• Even a slight breeze will prevent cold air from settling near the ground during the night. You can help keep frost from forming by building breezeways.
• Cover up before dusk! By the time it gets dark much of the stored heat in the garden has already been lost. Try building a simple frame around your plants – even a single stake may do – then drape a cover of newspaper, cardboard, plastic tarp, bed sheeting or any other lightweight material over the frame to create a tent. Remove in the morning, once the frost has thawed, to let the light and fresh air back in, and prevent overheating by the sun.
• For smaller, individual plants you can use glass jars, milk jugs with the bottom removed, paper cups and upside-down flower pots as heat traps. Don’t forget to remove these covers in the morning.
• Collect heat during the day by painting plastic milk jugs black, filling them with water and placing them around your plants. The collected heat will radiate out throughout the night.
• Potted plants are particularly susceptible to frosts because the roots are also unprotected. If you are unable to move your container plants indoors or under cover wrap the pot in burlap or bubble wrap, or simply bury it in soil, in addition to protecting the foliage.
• Create heat sinks in the garden, such as gravel beds and ponds.
• Rake mulch away from plant roots in winter to maximise the heat that can be absorbed during the day and radiated at night.
You may be surprised to learn that frost has some benefits too! It can check rodent populations, help prevent the spread of cane toads, kill some undesirable weeds, break the breeding cycle of pests such as fruit fly, help kill pathogenic fungal spores, limiting reinfection, and improve soil.
August is a great time to sow: globe artichoke, jerusalem artichoke, broad beans, beetroot, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, carrots, capsicum (use a heat mat), celery, choko, kale, lettuce, onions, spring onions, parsnip, climbing peas, dwarf peas, potatoes, radish, rhubarb (crown), silverbeet, spinach and tomatoes (indoors).
You may have noticed over the past few weeks that there have been a few changes to the Tucker Patch website, including a fresh new look and extra sections such as recipes, a regular blog, updates on what's happening in the Tucker Patch garden and more. We also plan to feature gardening advice from our growers and readers, so if you have any natural remedies or tips to beat the frost, or combat bugs and diseases, please send them in so we can share them.
I’d like to also introduce myself as the new Webmaster.
Hugo (my wonderful partner who is originally from Chile), and I moved to Gloucester from Gulgong six months ago and we love it here. We have wonderful neighbours, and have met some lovely people who have made us feel very welcome.
Hugo and I were particularly pleased and excited when we found The Tucker Patch and quickly became members only a week after we arrived.
I grew up on my family’s farm and my childhood was both educational and priceless – although I probably didn’t appreciate it at the time! My mother was a wonderful cook and had a cupboard from ceiling to floor just for her preserves. My two sisters and I would have to go and collect fruit, berries or whatever was ready for picking from Dad’s vegie garden for Mum to preserve. I thought she was being a bit hard at the time, when all we wanted to do was build a cubby house in the trees!
But now I say – thank you Mum. Today, just like my mother, I love to see my pantry full of preserves. The wonderful local produce from the Tucker Patch lets me continue preserving, as well as making delicious fresh, plant-based meals, smoothies and all sorts of other treats. And the best part is I know where it has come from and it is free of chemicals and pesticides – a bonus that will surely help us reach our goal of achieving 100 years of age!
- Lorraine Lawler
PS: If any of our growers or readers have any natural tips to beat the frost, or combat bugs or disease in the garden, please let me know so we can share!
Last Call For Tucker Patch Car Boot Sale!, and with a cut-off date for booking at COB Tuesday 30th, for more information go to: http://tuckerpatch.weebly.com/events.html
An old family favourite Gramma Pie
Make your favourite short crust pastry for this yummy gramma pie filling
3 Cups gramma steamed after peeled and seeded
1/2 brown sugar
Juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
1 cup cream
small hand full of sultanas
1 teaspoon golden syrup
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp all spice
While still hot place gramma, eggs, cream, sugar and spices in a processor and whiz until smooth. Line a pie plate with short crust pastry. Pour cool gramma into the half cooked pastry shell base, cover top of pie with more pastry squishing the two edges together, not forgetting to make a rose and leaves for the top of your pie, brush top of pie with egg or milk and bake in a moderate oven until pastry is golden brown, Cool, serve with cream or ice cream, or just top with your favourite nuts and fresh whipped cream.
Our Working Bee this month was attended by ten people (or was it eleven?) and next time you visit you will immediately see the results.
A lovely new herb garden has been planted just behind the Farmgate Stall and the surrounding areas now look as neat as a pin, thanks to the group of "gardening" volunteers.
New plants in the blank spots beside the carpark are also looking hopefully up at the sunshine. And the packing shed has had a new lease of life, with all that "stuff" that's been collecting over the past year being cleared out, and everything dusted, tidied and cleaned - thanks to the group of "housework" volunteers!
We are a community group of dedicated volunteers who run the Tucker Patch in Gloucester, and we would be delighted to welcome you to see our work here.
You will see a unique example of a demonstration garden which champions the spread of local sustainable agriculture. You will be amazed to see how we have converted a barren, underutilised area into productive agricultural land without using any chemical sprays or fertilisers.
Here, we trial small and large-scale crops as a model for sustainability. You will see a large market garden that is farmed by one of our members, producing a variety of award-winning crops using organic methods; you will see a small plot where local students are trained in horticultural methods; you will see a beautiful permaculture-style food forest with everything from fruit trees down through climbing and bush vegetables to creeping ground crops; and you will see small gardens that demonstrate how you can produce a remarkable quantity of high quality veggies in your own back yard.
Our visitors are particularly delighted by our surrounds – our gardens have beautiful views over the Gloucester valley, and you can sit in our lovely cottage garden by the fountain and enjoy the clear air and the sounds of our delightful family of grey-crowned babblers, a threatened species of bird which inhabits the small area of bushland within our perimeter.
If you come to our Farmgate on a Friday morning, you will also be able to purchase some of our wonderful produce, or try out the local organic honeys, nuts, preserves, jams and eggs which local farmers bring to our farm gate, or even sit down in the cottage garden and enjoy a cup of tea.