Beechworth Natural Farm Visit: Notes from the Seedsavers visit 09/11/19

Saturday 9th November 201

A few seedsavers and keen local gardeners braved the cold, windy weather and visited Pat and Ada’s farm at 13 Kibell Lane Beechworth, last Saturday. We had a nice hot cup of tea before our informative tour around the farm. Pat and Ada have been growing vegetables on their 27acre farm for the last three years. They are committed to producing healthy organic vegetables grown in humus rich soil, as they are certified Demeter Bio Dynamic in conversion growers.

This chemical free farming practice and the certification requirements are challenging and rewarding for Pat, Ada and their young family. They have worked hard growing green manure crops to improve their soil which was quite acid and depleted to begin with. In winter they sow fava and broad beans, vetch, clover, oats, and lupins which are cut and dug into the soil. In summer they grow sorghum, sunflowers, buck wheat and corn to help build up humus rich soil, rich in organic matter. They use mulch, hand weeding or use various hand tools to limit weed germination around their young seedlings.

Poor drainage in their fields was another challenge they had to contend with, constructing table drains to prevent waterlogging and adding mushroom compost and animal manure to improve the soil fertility. They erected a boundary fence that keeps rabbits, Kangaroos and wombats out. Red legged earth mites and  hot and cold temperatures have been managed by covering emerging seedlings in the fields. In terms of water they have 10 megalitres of groundwater and 12 megalitres in surface dams to use for growing vegetables.

The rewards for Ada and Pat are evident in the vegetable boxes they sell at the farm gate. They supply vegetables to local restaurants and they sell open pollinated seedlings at local markets for home gardeners. So check out their website to shop online https://beechworthnaturalfarm.com.au or visit their farm. Pat and Ada are both genuinely committed to growing healthy organic food for their community.

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Creating A Garden for Habitat: Notes from session held 17/09/2019

Creating A Garden for Habitat

On Tuesday 17th September more than sixty enthusiastic gardeners attended a presentation on creating a wildlife friendly garden by horticulturist Sue Brunskill. This event was co-hosted by  Seed Savers Albury-Wodonga and Gardens for Wildlife Albury-Wodonga.

There is no dispute that attracting wildlife such as native birds, lizards and pollinating insects to gardens is of huge importance in the garden because of the part they play in preserving species, promoting diversity, increasing pollination and reducing plant diseases.

Some of the points made by Sue were:

-observe which plants attract birds and insects and plant those (eg grevillias for honey eaters, flowers for bees)

-think about the amount of time you have to maintain a garden and design accordingly.

– plant in layers to provide shelter for wildlife at many levels.

– ensure that there are possible homes for animals eg logs, bee hotels, nesting boxes, leaf litter

-do not clean up too much, wildlife is not particularly attracted to neatness

– leave some weeds and let some plants go to seed

– native plants are important for attracting wildlife, put in some even in a more traditional garden

– provide water for wildlife (put a rock or wood for a life buoy if the critter falls in!)

– recycle water eg catch water used in car washing to be used elsewhere.

-microclimates can be created with thoughtful use of water and plantings.

Aided by wonderful slides and the knowledge of plants that she has obtained during many years of work in horticulture, Sue offered many suggestions of the types of plants to grow in our gardens in order to attract wildlife.

Thank you Sue for sharing your time and expertise with us.

Many attendees took advantage of the opening of the Seed Bank after the presentation to stock up on seeds for the current planting season.

Improving The Soil With Compost: Notes From Session held 23/10/2019

Improving The Soil With Compost: Notes from session held by Rachel Buchan on 23/10/2019

On Wednesday 23rd October a group of enthusiastic gardeners attended a presentation on improving soil with compost by Seed Savers Albury Wodonga Committee member Rachel Buchan.

Some of the points made by Rachel and members of the group were:

An assessment of your soil should be a first step. (Is it clay, sandy, hydrophobic, too acidic or alkaline etc?). Look for methods to improve it.

Compost helps with most problem soils.

Compost can be made using aerobic (oxygenated) or anaerobic (oxygen not used). Compost made in heaps is aerobic, compost made in closed plastic bins is often anaerobic and takes longer.

Compost  requires 25 units of carbon to every unit of nitrogen.

Carbon ( brown) -leaves/forest leaves/ twiggy garden material/ shredded newspaper/sawdust/straw/animal manures of horse or dried cow pats shredded

Nitrogen (green) – clippings, garden prunings of green materials, coffee grinds, lucerne as hay or chaff, chicken manure, kitchen scraps

Source horse manure carefully. Manure from commercial stables may contain traces of medications given to horses.

Horse and chook manure should be well composted before putting on plants as it may burn if used straight.

Chook manure should not be used on native plants as it contains high levels of phosphorus.

Ensure that sawdust is well composted. It is high in carbon and can leach nitrogen from soil if used fresh.

Egg shells have neither carbon or nitrogen but provide some phosphorus and help in breaking up the soil. Grind to put in compost.

Green manure crops (legumes, mustard, kale, some grasses) are excellent for providing nitrogen to soil. Dig in before they flower.

Can also use nettles and weeds to make a tea, dilute before pouring on plants.

Rachel demonstrated soil pH testing methods with a kit and a probe. Participants were very interested to see the PH of samples that they had brought from their gardens.

Many of the vegetables we grow prefer neutral or slightly acidic soils. Azaleas, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries eggplants like more acidic soils while cabbages, cauliflowers, cucumbers prefer more alkaline conditions.

To make soil more alkaline, add lime

To make soil more acidic, add well rotted material and compost.

Rachel referred those who wanted to know more to the resources on the Seed Savers Albury Wodonga website and to the vast number of resources available on the internet.

VISIT TO BEECHWORTH NATURAL FARM

SATURDAY 9TH NOVEMBER

Certified Demeter Bio-Dynamic In-Conversion. Fresh seasonal produce grown to the Australian Standards for Organic and Bio-Dynamic Produce. We are committed to building healthy soil so that we can produce healthy food for you.

Saturday 9th November
1.45pm for a 2pm start.
Parking on site, come in the first gate.

Farm tour with owners, Ada and Pat, then communal afternoon tea then optional working bee. Working bee will depend on the farm activities but could include transplanting, mulching, trellising etc. BYO gloves, rest of equipment supplied.

BYO afternoon tea supplies. The site is basic, Ada and Pat are living in a caravan with two
small children. So there will be no fancy tea and coffee facilities! Composting toilet.

There will also have some seedlings available from their nursery – mostly open pollinated except a few varieties that are hybrid seed due to yield, faster ripening and in one instance flavour.

Ada would like an idea of numbers so we ask that participants register via karralm@tpg.com.au to obtain the address and directions.

Look forward to seeing you there!

Event : Improving your soil with compost!

With all the excess grass growth, this is a perfect time to make compost for your garden. Learn what it does for the soil and how to make it.
There will be an opportunity to test the pH of your soil so bring some small samples.
Wednesday 23rd October 6.30 to 8pm at the SAC on the Causeway.
Seedbank open for withdrawals/deposits. Ideal time to grab some seed!

How to create a habitat garden

All welcome – 17 September

Hear Sue Brunskill, horticulturalist and co-author of Garden Guide for Albury Wodonga, share her tips on creating a wildlife-friendly garden. She’ll discuss designing for lower maintenance and water use, creating microclimates and how to attract native birds, lizards and pollinators.

Hosted by Gardens for Wildlife Albury-Wodonga and Seed Savers Albury-Wodonga.

Attendees will have the opportunity to access the seed bank after Sue’s presentation.

When: Tuesday 17 September, 6.30pm-7.30pm
Where: Sustainable Activity Centre, Gateway Village, 1/44 Lincoln Causeway, Wodonga. View on google maps.
Cost: Free

Membership reminder – with discount

Membership reminder

Discount: just $15 for a household for a year; helps to support our activities

Big thanks to those who have renewed or taken out a new membership at recent events!

Our membership year runs from 1 July to 30 June, so it’s renewal time. We’re offering our usual incentive, where those joining or renewing by the end of August do so for just $15 per household. After August the price will return to $20 per household – so be sure to catch this “special”!

How: Complete the online membership form (to ensure we have your current details for insurance purposes) and indicate if you are either paying electronically or will bring cash to one of our gatherings. Easy!
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