23 May 2013


On the 5th of May young Declan, born year of the monkey, true to his Chinese birth animal scaled the avocado tree from the food forest and harvested 60 divine fruit. Barefoot and fearless he climbed to the crown, with Cal catching the bounty, a modest haul was retrieved...

The interesting aspect of this story is that the avocado tree (Persea americana) was grown from seed. Six years ago, a young Uni volunteer propagated it, (from a Friday Wollongong market stall avocado), on her west facing balcony in North Wollongong. It was pot raised, in a blend of the Garden compost and coarse river sand, for 3 months and then gifted to the Garden before she returned to her Chinese home land. 

We selected a spot on the southern side of the Garden in the food forest, between two acacias and adjacent to a macadamia nut, for its home.  The avocado was selected as a climax fruit tree for a South American "plant guild" of back sapote, strawberry guava and custard apple (African Pride). A small flock of  chickens regularly pulse through this side of the garden to scratch around the deep carbon rich soils built from years of heavy mulching with woodchips .

It was planted on a slight mound to provide drainage for its sensitive root system. (The Garden however, grows on an existing flood plain of free draining mineral rich "Bulli black" sandy loam.) The years of  soil building has built a 40 - 50cm thick humus layer supporting good moisture holding ability. 
We initially fed it with a generous combination of dolomite lime, lucerne hay, molasses and water, comfrey, blood and bone, chook manure, cow manure, leaves and straw. This was continued seasonally for the first 3 years. It then received a heavy seasonal feeding of carbon rich banna grass, wood chip (acacia and eucalypt) and large (12cm diameter) logs placed around the drip line to protect the sensitive roots from the chickens. 
It has and continues to be rain watered only.

It now stands at 6.5m high with a drip line of 5m in diameter. In its second year we pruned it giving it twin leaders at 1m. 
It bore fruit in its fourth year. Now in its third year of fruiting, it produced around 80 healthy fruit this season. 
It suffered both leaf and fruit burn on the 42 degree January 18th scorcher, but it held its fruit and promptly put on a new flush of leaf growth. It is unaffected by the prevailing south to westerly winds now that its established.

Seed avocados are easy to propagate, as many folk know, but the taste and quality of the fruit it what is of interest. The fruit is small, 10-12cm long and 7-9cm at the widest point, and has a large seed. The seed size is of no consequence, as it is the taste of the flesh that is superb. It recalls childhood memories of the wild avocados in SE Queensland, with its nutty aromatic flavour and smooth flesh. A friend called them a "quality single serve fruit", which is accurate as the flesh is a modest portion but so rich and smooth and hence a perfect meal for one.

Community resilience and food sovereignty is more relevant now than ever, so the planting of seed avocados in public spaces is a practical solution to getting this mineral rich fruit to the wider public. By planting seed avocados in "woody weed" infested riparian (creek and rivulet) zones high on the bank is an ethical "slow and small" solution to shade lantana and other weeds, provide habitat for native fauna and produce a "low maintenance" long term food crop.

The tasty bounty coming to a local creek line near you

18 May 2013


It was in 2005 that Darren, the resident WPCYC police youth officer, first recalled the arrival of a pizza oven of the Garden. He was just one of many good folk who had heard that fictional tale and waited with interest and then well, lets just say that all great enterprises take time...

That was until Friday the 17th of May 2013, where all things were to change and Dane Wilmont from Kealoha Constructions hit the garden with great enthusiasm to commence our brick pizza oven. First, an internal slab of the oven poured in the Hewitts creek sourced stone base. (The stone was traded for a case of beer to a earth moving contractor clearing the creek after a particularly heavy rainfall event in early 2005. It was ear marked for landfill, with a Green Corps team we rescued the stone then commenced on the base promptly.)
The organisation of materials and the design for the oven was then completed for the weekend push.

On Saturday, a cool group of folk headed down to try their hands at the first course of bricks while Dane facilitated with a Zen buddhist style of teacher-student dialogue. With more talk than action, the first course of bricks were eventually completed. The enthusiasm was maintained for a return on Sunday to crank the goodness again.

On Sunday, with the Swap in full swing, the Garden mob returned for more of the same... While the conversation continued and a buzz sounded around the beginnings of the brick work, the gaps in the bricks were filled with the lime mortar and the floor of the oven laid.

Other folk took the opportunity to continue with the paving, laying recycled concrete in a big mosaic style. The momentum is beginning to build with transformation of industrial waste into community space!

Dane from Kealoha Constructions

Dane briefing Cal & Sue

Greg and Dane on the first course

Some of the Garden mob

Prue buttering up the key brick

The Ando family filling the gaps on the first course

Dane & Comlan laying the second course of bricks

17 May 2013

WASTE NOT FRUIT & VEG SWAP on Sunday 19th May

Bring along your excess fruit, veg & seeds etc to swap or share, while you chill out over a cuppa or a coffee at The Garden.
9am till noon
See you there!

06 May 2013


On Sunday the 5th of May, we were greeted with a golden morning followed by clear blue skies and a light wisp of westerly winds. The morning sun kissed upon the northern face of the Garden and the annual vegies and windbreak plantings glowed a spectrum of green hues while insects buzzed above the different plant layers and the air filled with bird song, heralding the day.

The Garden was greeted by a new wave of volunteer energy working with the old hands to weave the magic of the monthly working bee. It was a hive of activity with the new mob redesigning the bed/path layout and soil building to transform the old "mandala" garden west of the ponds. 

Other folk got into interplanting around 200 annual vegies in the northern long beds, which is always a treat during this time of year. The allium bed was completely filled, following on from last Tuesday's garlic planting, while the asian greens, european brassicas, beetroot and "pick and pick again" leafy greens were pocket planted with last season's compost. 

There was also action in the food forest, with chop & drop of the northern windbreak and banna grass clumps to let light in and building soil with carbon. Also in the food forest, a keen climber who happens to be born in the year of the monkey (and also eight years old), scaled the 6m avocado tree to collect a real bounty!

The coffee machine was in full swing with Greg at the helm and a spill of people in conversation around the marquee, include the North Nowra Community Garden mob who toured the Garden then stayed for the famous feast.

It was a wonderful turn out for the lunch feast and the spread was of course splendid, with tasty assortment of organic, home made vego culinary delight. There was a fabulous energy among the beautiful tribe who gathered to connect, celebrate and share the spirit of International Permaculture Day, and "cranking the goodness". 

Pumpkin was the flavour of the feast!

Ladies of the North Nowra Community Garden Mob

Dane & Paul potting up vetiver grass

Ashley & Mal worked the front beds with style

The northern beds are looking great, great use of edge

The old Mandala garden is the new Kidney Bean garden

The day was fantastic, with plenty of laughs, smiles, great food and a good few Permaculture practices in action on International Permaculture Day 2013. 

01 May 2013

Sunday May 5th - International Permaculture Day 2013

Hey folks

Come join us on Sunday May 5th from 10am - 2 pm for International Permaculture Day.

Its a wonderful opportunity to support the work of the many volunteers who have been working towards community resilience by developing an inspirational urban demonstration of Permaculture.

Of course, we will be holding a working bee and doing a range of Permaculture practices. Feel free to join in on one of the activities or have a fair trade organic coffee and have a chat.

The famous feast will be at 1pm so feel free to bring a plate of something tasty and join the crew.

Hope to see you on Sunday!