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.

Annual seed bank stocktake

By Karral Miller

Thank you to the ten Seed Savers members who braved the cold on the evening of Wednesday 5th June to help with the annual stocktake of the seed bank. This is an opportunity to clean out seeds that are past their use-by date, to check which seeds we have in abundance and which ones are in short supply as well as a general clean up and overview of the system. With many people working, the job was done efficiently and quickly. Continue reading

A tour of Albury Wodonga Community Farm

By Steve Burton and Jackie van der Neut

Under brilliant Autumn sunshine (after the best rain the Border has had in months!), a group of keen gardeners and onlookers arrived at Lemke Rd, Gateway Island, Wodonga for a Seed Savers event – a tour of the Albury Wodonga Community Farm visit lead by Tilak, resplendent in his Parklands Albury Wodonga official uniform.

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All smiles in the sunshine! Photo: Paul Smith

Continue reading

Seed saving skills session notes

By Chris Amor

Roughly 20 people attended  a fantastic Seed Saving Skills session hosted by Karral Millar on the 5th of March at the Sustainability Activity Centre. It was a fantastic opportunity for those newer to seed saving to get a 101 introductory, and a chance for those more experienced seed savers to brush up and share their knowledge. Continue reading