Sustainable Chippendale

A Sustainable Suburb In the Making

Sustainable Chippendale is a community initiative setup to support the Sustainable Streets and Community Plan in Chippendale. If you are passionate about sustainability we'd love you to join us in getting behind this ground breaking project to establish a practical model for sustainable inner city living in Sydney.

Weekly Report 29th November

By Jessica Tang

This week we have a new gardener, Jessica’s mother Amy, came to help in the community garden. Since Chinese students and their parents are volunteering in the community garden, this report will be translated into a Chinese version.

 

This week we have transplanted some young tomato plants and peas in the raised bed gardens, watering the plants with compost juice which made from composts, mulches and recycled water. Surprisingly, some seeds from compost has successfully germinated in the raised bed garden, and will be transplanted in few weeks.

 

The grapes at the backyard of Michael’s house are growing very well, they haved formed a lovely shelter for chooks. As the plants are bearing fruit, their stems are needed to be pruned to reduce the nutrients intake. To make the compost juice, we chopped the unwanted stems of grapes and soaked into water for 3 days. These grapes are given to a local cafe for it to make verjuice. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verjuice)

 

The chili peppers in our community garden are ready to harvest. Healthy and delicious, these spice can be used fresh in salad and stir-fries. Having productive gardens on streets means it only takes you few-minute walk to get the fresh vegetables and fruit. It decreased the money spending on transportation and reduced the pollution from transporting and packaging. The plants also consume the wasted vegetable and fruit. Take the compost as an example, the ingredients of compost all came from unwanted food and plants which are full in nutrients. Instead of spending time and money to clean the waste, we make it into fertilizer for plants and they will provide us food as return. An example of a cafe which accepts surplus fruit and veggies from local urban farmers is Cornersmith: http://www.cornersmith.com.au/

 

Chippendale社区花园是一个富有特色的多产花园。我们将本地的水果、蔬菜种植在居民区街道上,利用雨水浇灌,打造了一片美丽的绿色街道,也为居民提供了健康环保又便捷的食物来源。在Chippendale, 我们提倡环保与废物再利用。我们将丢弃的食物与植物枝叶制作成混合肥料,并且收集雨水和废水,将其再次利用于花园的灌溉与施肥中。这样做不仅减少了清理垃圾与脏水的成本,还能够带来一定的生产效益。

 

作为一个开放性的公共绿色花园,我们欢迎所有热心的居民。这个星期,中国学生Jessica和她的母亲Amy, 还有Mia同学一同前来帮忙。在Michael的指导下,她们定期来浇灌植物,修剪枝叶,移植花草,制作混合肥料。在大家的共同努力下,社区花园得以良好的运作。我们努力将Chippendale社区花园打造成一个有教育意义的典范,希望有越来越多的人加入环保行动中来。

Late weekly report!

This was a WEEKLY REPORT, written by the lovely Jessica Tang on the 29/08/16, and somehow we missed publishing it! But better late than never, as this is all still very interesting and relevant! 

A Chinese proverb says ‘spring is sooner recognised by plants than by men.’ Although the chill of winter lingers in air during August, those tiny pink pulps of finger limes remind us that springs is coming. The finger lime Citrus australasica is the most well-known Australian native citrus. They are hardy and thorny, producing distinctive finger shaped fruit with small bead-like crystal pulps. Although those bright pink pulps look like flower buds, the finger lime actually blooms in late summer and autumn with white or pale pink, and fruits ripen through winter to spring. The fruit of finger lime is popular among top restaurants around the world, and it can be used in drinks, desserts, jams and as a garnish.

There are two other popular citrus trees in our community garden, Tahitian lime Citrus aurantifolia and Kaffir lime Citrus hystrix. They both have edible fruits or leaves. Unlike finger lime, Tahitian lime is thornless, the fruits are round-shaped, lemon-yellow with smooth thin skin. Kaffir Lime is native to Indonesia but wildly grown worldwide as a shrub for its aromatic leaves used in Thai cuisines. Kaffir lime is the shortest one among other citrus, which only reach 1.5m in height. They are easy to be recognized by their unusual double lobed leaves and knobby fruits with little flesh.

Remove the weeds

Remove the weeds

This week we also cleaned the weeds in some pots and planted with vegetable seeds. Here I would like to share some tips on sowing the seeds.

Dry seeds

Dry seeds

* Read the instructions. It is important to choose the right seeds in the suitable region and season. We decided to sow some peas at the end of August. Cooler seasons in the subtropics are the ideal time for growing peas. Luckily they are easy to grow, fast germinate in 7 to 10 days and they are productive.

* Removed all the weeds and roots, and mix the soil. Gently pull the weeds out and carefully remove their roots in soil. In fact, the best time to hand-pull weeds is after a drenching rains, or pre-sprouting the soil before removing the weeds. Weeds are valuable too. Some of the weeds are edible and may have medication values. Common edible weeds include: chickweeds (Stellaria media), Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale), Wood sorrel (Oxalis), Nettle (Urtica urens). Weeds can be added to composts if the seed heads of weeds haven’t formed.

* Prepare a wick for pot plant with dark cloth. When placing the plot on vertical garden, the wick can water the plants from below and draw up the moisture through the soil.

Wicks made of shade cloth

Wicks made of shade cloth

* Fill the clean pots and press down the soil, sow the seeds and light covered it with soil. Cover the soil with mulches which help to keep the soil moisturized and warm. Some peas need beside trellis to support and direct the way they grow.

* Keep the soil moist but not too wet, and make sure they get enough sun. Our vertical garden faces north and south, which is a good position for plants to receive sun light.

Jessica with Miss Chook

Jessica with Miss Chook

 

More on citrus here. 

More on planting from seeds here. 

Read about weeds control here.

Grow Your Own Food in Water from Kitchen Scraps

By Jessica Tang

Sustainable Chippendale Community Garden

A video on Facebook inspired me to grow the leftover fruit and leafy green vegetables in water bottles. I have tried lettuce, kales, chives and avocado nut. The instruction is very simple, and you will see the result in few days!

You will need your plants, water, a knife, some plastic or glass bottles. The fruit seed such as avocado nut will need some upholder, for example, toothpicks or wires.

See video for growing lettuce here.

Lettuce that forms round or cone shape can easily regrow from its base. You will need to cut of the lettuce leaves and leave an inch-or-to stem, placing the head of lettuce in an inch of fresh water. Make sure the water covers the whole base and put it in the sunny window. Replace the water every few days.

You can also try to chives, kales, cabbages, onions and herbs in the same way. Choose different shapes of containers that can hold the plant steadily, and make sure the stem of the plant to be covered with enough water.

Be inspired here and here too.

Have fun with it!

PLANTING ALPINE STRAWBERRY FROM SEEDS

By Jessica Tang

27/09/2016

The alpine strawberries (Fragaria vesca) are shade-tolerant ornamental edibles with beautiful small white flowers and sweetly flavoured fruits. They are easy to grow and well behaved in the garden. With the help of this instruction you can have this beautiful fruit growing in your own garden!

 

·      Get the seeds from local Nurseries or online shops.

You may check out the website we bought our seeds from: https://www.diggers.com.au/

 

·      When and where to sow the seeds?

The alpine strawberries are best planted in early Spring. They can grow in full sun, and in warm areas like Sydney, they also thrive in half day sun and shade. They love the rich, fertile and well-drained soil with consistent moisture.

 

·      Sowing the seeds in seed bed tray/seeding pot

Placing a sheet of permeable fabric at the bottom of seed bed tray or small seeding pot. This allows the water to drain without losing soil. Fill two-third of the container with fine seed-starting mix and sow seeds 3cm apart and 2cm deep. Keep the container evenly moist but not soggy, and maintain a temperature of approximately 15 Celsius.

·      Feeding and Planting

Feed the seeds evert two weeks. It often takes 2 to 8 weeks for germination. When 3 leaves have appeared, the plants should be planting out into pots in the depth of 10-15cm. Transplant to garden when well grown (approximately 2 months), and spacing plants about 30-60cm apart.

·      Harvesting

It usually takes one year for strawberries to bear fruit. Matured alpine strawberry will form low-growing, leafy plants with the height of 15cm and spread to 50-100cm. They have lovely white or pink flowers, followed by red juicy fruits grown in early spring. Enjoy the fruits of alpine strawberries!

 

Further instructions on planting from seeds: http://www.reneesgarden.com/articles/strawberries-ahs.pdf

Video instructions on growing strawberry plants: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PVQsaq2wBKY

Gennaro’s Italian Risotto with Strawberry & Balsamic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AIWFG0-kp4c

Cover Image Reference: www.xn--kruterey-1za.com

Weekly Report 20/09/2016

By Jessica Tang

20/09/2016

This week we welcomed our new volunteer, Mia, to give a hand in our community garden. It is happy to see our sustainable ideas and work have been known by more people. Gardening has the magic to bring people together, and thanks to the enthusiastic volunteers, our garden has become healthier and beautiful.

 

Our weekly task for garden maintenance usually started with removing compost. Compost is essential to our productive garden and it needs regular maintenance. It is made up of leftover fruit and vegetables, papers, barks and leaves. We also chopped the unwanted stems from Fan Palm and Pawpaw to make the compost juice. They need to be augured to get mixed with air and settled in regular temperature in order to decay. During a few weeks the mixture will be decayed and formed the soil texture, which is the nutritional fertilizer for plants. Luckily, the compost on Myrtle Street has become better under the help of volunteer and neighbors.

 

We also removed the banana tree on the verge garden opposite to Peace Park. Because each pseudo-stem of banana only fruits once, their root system constantly puts our suckers that form new plants to replace the dying part of plants. The extensive root system of the plant keeps spreading and sucking the nutrients, which made it aggressive to the surrounding herbs and trees.

 

With sharp shovels, secateurs and lots of energy we dug out the mushy roots, trimmed into small pieced and put in the compost bin. It is amazing that plants never give up to survive. It is their nature to take care of themselves as much as possible. In order to make the garden sustainable, we should not only look at individual plants, also we need to make sure the lives in garden are balanced as a group. Thus, it is our job to organise the plants in a productive and healthy way.

 

Being sustainable is to respect the cycle of life. During this 3-months volunteering, I have seen the strong connections between our life and the life of nature. Living in the city we sometimes ignored this ligament that human being shall always live with nature. Things we did will subsequently impacts every part of the cycle, and it is going to influence ourselves as return. We have to be very responsible and considerable to the decisions we make. The good decisions can be as simple as putting leftover food in compost, harvesting rainwater for drinking, recycling the waste water for irrigation, growing your own food from seeds…Being sustainable will benefit both of nature and us. 

Mia's First Day in Sustainable Chippendale

By Yulan(Mia) Li

20/09/2016

As a green hand in gardening, my first time working in Chippendale road garden was absolutely a rich and helpful experience. The skills I learned include watering, pruning, composting.  I also got some knowledge about how to achieve sustainability through gardening.

Watering

My first work was watering plants on both side of the road with the help of Jess. We used recycled water(it may also be called ‘greywater’). I learned from Jess that it is the root that needs access to water, not the leaves. Wetting foliage can be a waste of water.

Pruning

We pruned kaffir lime and comfrey planted on roadside. The key point in pruning trees and shrubs is that always making an angled cut just above and sloping away from a viable bud. In this way we cut some offending branches that have blocked sunlight and take in too much nutrient. Comfrey is a kind of perennial herb and the pruning method is different from that of trees or shrubs. Basically we removed the stems from the comfrey.

 

Refer to http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/landscaping/implement/pruning_perennials.html for more information.

Auguring the compost

We moved the stuff in the compost bin on the street to the bins in backyard and aerated them with auger in order to encourage air circulation. The compost system is decaying well. I saw both brown materials such as moistened cardboard, egg containers, dry leaves, as well as green materials such as green leaves, garden clippings, and vegie scraps. They together provide sufficient carbon and nitrogen that are beneficial to balanced compost. It was good to see so many worms in the compost because they accelerate the decay and help function more efficiently.

Refer to http://www.sgaonline.org.au/the-science-of-composting/ and http://www.abc.net.au/gardening/stories/s4439784.htm for more information.

Life circle – Turning green waste into composts   

We shredded the fresh green pruning (both limbs and leaves) and broke bulks of banana tree roots into small pieces then added them into compost bins. We soaked the pruning in water and after a few days they will produce a ready-to-use ‘compost tea’ that can be soil conditioner. We add banana tree root into compost bins and stirred well.

Refer to http://www.sgaonline.org.au/compost-worm-and-weed-teas/ for more information.

Mia and Jess

Weekly Report 20/07/16

By Kathrin Germanous, Christina Gadalla and Bianca Bader

We are doing the Duke of Edinburgh scheme and part of that scheme is community service. For our community service we have been helping Michael Mobbs garden in Chippendale. Today we found out how much privilege we have because we have access to water every day and we learnt that mulch means a lot more to plants than we think.

We started the session by gathering the soil and worms under the hay in the chicken coop which we then mixed with water to make mulch! Then we covered the surroundings of plants with mulch in order to prevent weeds which compete with plants for moisture and nutrients. We also learnt that using organic mulch means there is more organic matter in the soil.  We put the mulch around many plants in an ‘L’ shape in order for the plant to be properly covered.  After that, we had a small photoshoot as you can see in the video below to show what we actually do not just in words. 

Next we had to empty the compost bin and we transported the compost to Michael’s backyard. We learnt that compost can be used again as mulch to be put around trees and shrubs to keep the moisture in and to prevent weeds from growing. The street’s compost bin hadn’t been emptied for only a month but it was already so full, although most of the paraphernalia were old fruits and veggies, there were a few naughty plastic bits inside it!

After we had finished with the compost bin, we got to lay brand new hay for the chickens! They were very happy with our work! Afterward we had to clean Michael’s floor because we had stepped in and out of his house with our muddy shoes way too many times. After we broomed and mopped, Michael challenged our knowledge of world affairs. He asked if we were aware of how many people don’t have access to clean water around the world. He told us to research about it and the results I found were very eye opening. 783 million people do not have access to clean and safe water. 37% of those people live in Sub-Saharan Africa. 443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases. Half of the world's hospital beds are filled with people suffering from a water-related disease. Nearly 1 out of every 5 deaths under the age of 5 worldwide is due to a water-related disease. So how can we, knowing all of this take water for granted? We use water for showering, drinking, washing our hands, cleaning the dishes, watering our plants, cleaning the floor and 783 million people can’t even drink it.

At the end of the session, Michael gave us a ‘who gives a crap’ toilet paper roll each and challenged us to make the switch. This brand of toilet paper donates 50% of their profits to wateraid to build toilets in the developing world. This organisation has provided 120,000 people with sanitation access, saved 22,758 trees by selling forest friendly paper products, saved 54 million litres of water by making their products using eco-friendly materials and reduced 4,377 tons of greenhouse gas emission by making products with cleaner processes. 

Overall, every time we come to Michael’s house, we learn something new and it makes us more consciously aware of gardening and of how much privilege we have to live in a country like Australia. We learnt that mulch helps plants to survive, we learnt that compost can be reused for a purpose and we learnt that buying one roll of ‘who gives a crap’ will save lives.