November Share & Swap

This month we shared and swapped vegetable seedlings, lemons, lettuces, seeds harvested from back yard vegetables, potted herbs, dried rose petals, home-made jam, broad beans, ornamental plants, recipes and gardening magazines.

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In our region this is the perfect time to plant tomato seedlings, zucchinis, cucumbers, lettuces and many other summer crops, so all the seeds and seedlings were particularly welcome. We also gathered many tips and ideas from our host’s productive, permaculture-inspired backyard in Brighton South.

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Many varieties of berries are grown along sturdy DIY trellises made from recycled material. They are fertilised with home-made compost, chook manure and worm juice. The chick pea straw mulch protects the soil from direct sunlight and reduces the need for watering.

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Winter vegetables like silver-beet are left in the ground to go to seed, shading the soil and summer seedlings growing nearby. Their roots help retain moisture while flowers and seeds feed backyard chooks, bees and other beneficial garden insects. These plants will also provide mulch over summer and many volunteer seedlings after next year’s first autumn rains.

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The old brick tool shed has been turned into a chicken coop and a secure, extended run added to the structure. Grape vines are trained over the coop, providing plenty of shade during hot summer months. The chickens are frequently allowed to free range, under supervision, in the front and back gardens.

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Large plastic PVC pipes, recycled from hard rubbish, are used to create raised garden beds…

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… and a colourful, home-made ‘insect hotel’ houses beneficial garden guests.

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Apart from swapping, we enjoyed lots of home-cooked treats over morning tea and coffee and chatted about our plans for the summer months. Rob offered to house and care for Hedwig’s chickens during the summer holidays and Heather agreed to host our last swap of the year. We all look forward to visiting her home and garden next month.

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