Happy Growing

Happy Growing

Winter 2018, Living Well Magazine

by Ben Mates

As spring springs to life I can’t help but sense the feeling of new beginnings and renewal. The stunning new burst of swelling buds on our deciduous trees accompanied by an array of beautiful colours and flowers in our gardens marks the start to what I like to look at as the true start of the seasonal year.

I would also like to take a moment to reflect on my transition to the Yarra Valley Living Centre. It is with great honour that I have now become apart of the fantastic garden team at the Foundation. My past 13 years experience all over the horticultural sector, from retail and wholesale nurseries, including working with people of disability in a nursery environment, to landscaping and garden design, and a fundamental love for nature, now has the chance to shine fully were I can apply all aspect of my learning to one amazing space, and to support and contribute to such a wonderful cause. I must also note that I have never felt more welcomed by a group of people, that in there own ways inspire me and others around them to create a life full of learning, good nutrition, emotional support, wellbeing, and most of all a love for life. I thank you all.

Now, time to get our hands dirty.

We are in the awakening time of year for most flowering and fruiting veggies and plants.

Spring marks the beginning of the busy time of year in the garden where we are starting to pull out our seeds saved from last years crop, where we will sew and nurture them in our hot house until it is time to plant in the coming months.

It is also the time where we are turning our green manure crops into the soil, to put back the much-needed nutrients for our future crops.

Something I have also learnt to be crucial, now that we’re going to be planting very similar crops to last year, is crop rotation.

It is essential to keep crop rotation consistent to minimise pest and disease; lack of nutrients for particular crops or, in the opposite case, too many unused, wasted nutrients.

The cycle for rotation is:

1 Legumes, e.g., beans, peas, and potatoes

2 Roots, eg, garlic, beetroot and onions

3 Fruit, eg, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers and eggplant

4 Leaf, eg, brassica’s, lettuce, corn and greens

This is very important in sustainable veggie growing.
It is crucial when growing organic veggies to have a focus on minimal outsourced materials. It saves money when on a budget, and also keeps the natural cycle as undisturbed as possible.

We are also coming to the end of our winter harvest that seems to be hanging on longer than expected, which this year was an eclectic mix of kale including (Curly kale, Russian kale, Tuscan kale, and our new addition 2 peters kale), which has now become our chef Stacy’s requested favourite. We are also still harvesting our brassica varieties, which include green cauliflower, purple cauliflower (a stunning new addition), and the remarkable Romanesco broccoli, which has to be seen.

At the beginning of spring, we also had our first asparagus pop it’s little head up out of the beautiful rich soil.

Happy growing and all the best from the garden team here at the Yarra Valley Living Centre, Ben and Wendy. We hope you get great results this season and can share the fruits of your labour with friends and family during this spectacular time of year. Get out there and have fun.

In 2019, we are planning a “Garden to Kitchen” Retreat in Autumn.

Register your interest by emailing clientservices@gawler.org