Getting the garden ready for the Ryde Council Spring Competition 2018



There has been lots of activity last working bee on the 2nd of September 2018! .. the garden had to be cleaned and prepared for the upcoming garden competition run by the Ryde Council.

Rubbish was taken to the tip, new composting bays were reinstated and prepared for use, fruit trees were pruned, and berry plots (raspberry, strawberry, and rhubarb) were weeded, fertilised, and mulched.




The native garden was attended and the construction of a new frog hotel has begun.

Otherwise, there are definite signs that winter is over .. and plants and flowers are coming out, and the bees are back at work!


The mysteries of composting revealed…


There are several kinds of composting systems in place at the MQ Community Garden where organic material can be deposited.   In addition to the large composting bays that most of us use, we have several black compost bins as well as few worm farms.


  • Where are they?

The composting bays are located along the garden back fence (the one along the motorway corridor).

There are some black bins located next to the composting bays in the middle of the fence.

There are also black bins located in some of the plots. If you want a bin for your plot please ask.

Worm farms- the big green one down the back and a couple of smaller ones down under the Jacaranda tree.


  • What can be put into the compost locations?


Any organic material is a composting friend. Make sure you chop the material into small pieces.

It is good to start a compost pile with a base layer of course twiggy material. This takes longer to break down and helps to keep the pile aerated and well drained.

To this we can add green stuff, anything that’s fresh and green like:- kitchen scraps, garden pruning, lawn clippings – even weeds with seeds on them – and fresh manures, like horse, chicken or cow manure.  Of course, brown stuff is also very good for composting, so add dried leaves, shredded paper, coffee grounds, or even hay.

For the black bins in the plots, just put any weeds straight into them.



Do not put anything onto a compost bay that is covered with a plastic sheet or something similar across the top.  If you see that the bay is covered it means that nothing is to be added to it.

But remember … no meats, no fish, no fats etc. . They attract vermin.


  • Worm farms

The large green worm farm no longer works the way it was designed to. Too complicated to explain here, however a number of members still put kitchen scraps into it. Anything put it into this worm farm will break down and can be used.

There are two smaller worm farms down near the jacaranda tree.


  • How to help the compost systems

Regular maintenance

The large compost bays need regular attention. Organic matters needs air, water, and a variety of material to help break down and become a usable compost/ fertiliser. To help break down the materials always cut up the material into smaller pieces.

This is the process:

  • a) chop material into small pieces
  • b) get a pitchfork or rake and turn the pile over. This should be done once every 3-4 weeks. If rain is coming and the pile does not have much green waste, take the covers off the pile and let the water soak in.
  • c) with the black bins, if rain is coming take the lids off to get some moisture in.  Otherwise, get a hose and spray some water into the bin to help the composting process.

Regular supply

If you have green waste from your home, kitchen scraps, anything like that, it can be brought to the garden and put into one of the composting systems.

We also welcome any good timber pallets – if you have some, bring them and they can be used to replace/rebuild the walls.

Don’t hesitate to source other materials such as horse manure, saw dust, coffee grounds, or anything that is organic, and bring it and add it into the mix.


  • What compost can be used?

Compost can then be used as a fertiliser and spoil improver.  In the compost bays, the best material to use is at the bottom of the pile. Just dig into the bottom of the pile and you will find some compost you can put into your plot.

Winter Clean Up


Winter is the ideal time to tidy up the garden.  So, next time you attend your patch you can remove dead, diseased and damaged growth, pull out tired annuals, cut back perennials, remove any nibbled-on leaves and rip out any cold-sensitive crops, such as tomatoes.  Tidying up like this can remove sources of weeds, and removes potential habitat for fungal spores like mildews, sooty mould and rusts.


So, the tips for winter maintenance:

  • Leave the soil fallow for a few weeks
  • Grow mustard and dig it into the soil to act as a bio-fumigant
  • Clean your secateurs with methylated spirits between each plant when pruning to stop diseases being transferred from one plant to another.
  • Pick up any fallen fruit
  • Crown-lift trees by removing lower branches to increase air circulation
  • Place any clippings that might be infected into a black plastic bag and leave in the sun for a few months to ‘cook’ or solarise before adding them to your compost
  • Have a hot compost that gets up to 60 degrees so that seed and pathogens are killed
  • Put only disease-free clippings into cold compost

Community Garden Watering Guidelines

Use of water in the garden is in accordance with principles of sustainability.

  1. Plots are not to be watered every day
  2. All plots must use a mulch.
  3. Hose cannot be used between 10.00am and 4.00pm.
  4. Filling of water containers can be done any time.
  5. All taps must be turned off when watering is finished.
  6. Report any leaks/problems to Club Committee.

Snake warning reminder

Just a little reminder to be vigilant. A red belly black snake was seen hiding between the leaves of the strawberry patch by Matt on October 11 and in the shed by Denise on December 6. Please follow Mark’s instructions to stay safe:

  • Please  be alert to  any possible snake activity.
  • All members are to be careful when picking up anything where a snake might be lying underneath it.
  • Don’t pick up anything , like a stick, or step on a stick, without first having a look at it.
  • Make some noise when approaching  possible snake sleeping areas,  especially the compost bins.
  • When entering the shed ,  bang on the door before opening it.  Noise will scare the snake away.

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