About Kat Szuminska

designer, educator, gardener, activist, creative problem solver katoombastreetpermaculture.com, mattandkat.com, openaustraliafoundation.org, bluemountainscommunitygardens.org

Event: April 18th – Earthship Workshop with Duuvy Jester


Imagine a home-made from recycled and natural materials which is cool in Summer, warm in Winter made with a whole lotta love.Sustainable building doesn’t get any better than Earthships! This week offers two opportunities to get acquainted with this lovely way of building, with Aussie earthship builder Duuvy Jester -

First up, get a flavour for what’s possible with Earthships at a screening and Q&A on Wednesday evening - see http://permaculturebluemountains.net/2014/04/08/film-night-wednesday-16-april/ for more details.

Then on Friday the community gardens plays to host a fabulous workshop where you’ll learn how you can adapt your very own Earthship to suit the Blue Mountains. This Friday 18th April 11am-6pm

Enquiries and bookings info@terraeden.org See you there!
DuuvyJesterApril18th Workshop

Gardening Session Friday 11th April

We’ve had a fair bit of rain lately, making the ground lovely and loose. Perfect for weeding and digging out pernicious roots. So gardeners Sarah Belinda Bente Lynn and me dig in to get lots of weeding done today. A couple of garden beds in the heritage soup garden are tidied up, rainbow chard seedlings planted. Meanwhile I dig up a few kilos of jerusalem artichokes growing on the wrong side of the creek, I’m pretty sure I got most of the tubers, but they can easily grow back from the smallest root. Along with onions, potatoes and a few other garden veg, a multiple garden soup medley is created, along with a little spice is perfect for this wet day. Jerusalem artichokes are a reliable staple which are quite different when cooked just after harvesting, as we did today. If you have a fine flush of these tubers, you might want to try this recipe out. (thanks to Sue Girard for this one).

Jerusalem Artichoke soup

(Serves 4)

2 teaspoons olive oil·

800g Jerusalem artichokes, peeled, chopped·

500g sebago (brushed) potatoes, peeled, chopped·

3 bacon rashers, rind removed, finely chopped (optional!)·

4 bay leaves, torn·

8 sprigs fresh thyme·

1L (4 cups) home made stock·

750mls (3 cups) water·

Salt & ground black pepper, to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the artichokes, potatoes, (optional bacon), bay leaves and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.

Add stock and water and increase heat to high. Bring to boil and then reduce heat to medium. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.  Remove the bay leaves and thyme stems. Season soup with salt and pepper. Yum


Much News: Friday 21st March

It has been a busy busy 7 days at the Community Gardens. I will share the short version with you.

Bi1WtQMCUAETwveWe have built a new garden with the help of material (see left) from the Blue Mountains Music Festival. This included 2 skips of compostables, 8 or so straw bales, 3 cubic meters of cow poo and 3 cubic meters of soil. Add 12 volunteers, 3 days, 3 thunderstorms, one mulcher, a large bag of broad beans, and quite a few gardening implements and you can begin to see the picture.

The other things that happen every week also continue to happen, seeds planted, tea drunk, cakes eaten, weeds pulled, cut down, creek banks widened, paths mowed and so on.


Claudia, Ben and I also continued weaving a new form which will be part of several structures to make a playscape, to one side of the labyrinth. If you’d like to join in with this weaving project, please come along on Monday morning, or next Friday morning.

This week’s elevenses were host to discussions about a lease, about boundaries and responsibilities and continuing to build a resilient wonderful community garden at Harold Hodgson park. Our next step is to review the conditions of the lease and present back to council. I’ll post a bit more about this soon.

leQuickly elevenses turned into LUNCH, a warming laksa style soup made by Lynn with fresh garden ingredients, as well as a little help from the wonderful women behind the bluespirityoga.com.au and the Laughing Elephant in Wentworth Falls. Their generous donation of Asian grocery ingredients this week will help make warming spicy lunches and jasmine tea for community gardeners some time to come. Thanks Wendy and Mirella!


Get Horty!

Hello wonderful people. If anyone out there is looking for something to do for 3 days a week for a wee while, you could do worse than consider acquiring yourself horticultural training. (And bring it back here, put it to work at the community gardens pronto! (that’s entirely optional of course)) Without further ado, here’s the information: (click for bigger version) And of course feel free to share with your networks. Right, I’m off to the music festival. See you there!

Horticulture Course Flyer

Friday 7th March The Storm Approaches

There’s a storm brewing, an attack on community gardens! Here’s Hannah Moloney from the Australian City Farms and Community Gardens standing up for home and community growers and regionalised food systems.


A beautiful morning, none-thel-ess with the threat of storm approaching. The threat loomed as long as we kept up our gardening activities, and then, as I turned the key at my front door, the rain finally began its downpour.


We’ve had about a week of rain up until this day, and a few chillier nights, signalling that Autumn is indeed here. To complete the effect these conditions bring out little mushrooms in and around woody material like beams and mulch, such as these tiny ones sneaking out of tiny creases in railway sleepers which form the entrance to the heritage soup garden.

Sarah Belinda and I arrive a little early and begin the first preparations for permaculture day coming up in May. From the shed I retrieve an old soil sifter and we sift potting compost to separate big bits. What’s left after sieving is fine material, and perfect for our task today, planting seeds in pots. It’s slow work with just one sieve but an enjoyable task between two people. We add about 1/3 as much sand to the soil, and this makes a nice free draining light seed-raising mix. Bente arrives in time to wash recycled pots straight from the pot swap. By now it’s time to break for tea.

Peaches, and a few raspberries from the garden feature in morning tea meeting today. As does the continuing discussion on the pressing need to create an entity which can in turn take a lease on our land, and of auspicing and insurance. We are speaking with potential partners and auspicing bodies, and a direction is firming up. Yet we still have basic questions about the nature of any new lease and whether it will encompass the whole of Harold Hodgson’s parkland, as it does now.

Eventually Claudia and I make it back to planting seedlings, the job we began with today. We sow bok choy and dwarf blue curly kale, both of which grow very well in our upper mountain climate. These will be available for swaps or gold coin donations on the first weekend in May.

Observations: Mushrooms are coming up and not just the tiny ones, but also first sighting of  Pine mushrooms, or Lactarius deliciosa. In the garden, Zucchinis are still coming, not so thick and fast, but one or two regularly appear this week at each plant, netting continues to protect new plants in the heritage garden.

This week in the Gardens: Blue Mountains Organic Community Gardens hosted a morning class for permaculturists-in-training with Rowe Morrow, with her first PDC since returning to the mountains this year.  A submission was proposed by the community gardeners together with our friends at Permaculture Blue Mountains and Transition Blue Mountains in support of the council’s Draft LEP and incorporated a number of recommendations from Conservation Society. You can read that submission in full here.

Next Friday we prepare for the incoming compostible waste from the Blue Mountains Music Festival which several of us will be processing on Monday, weather permitting.

And today I’ll leave you with a puzzle, what might the following images have in common?

All will be revealed in the weeks to come, down at Blue Mountains Organic Community Gardens. See you there.

I gardened today with the delightful Sarah, Belinda, Bente, Claudia, Ishta, Fred, Leon & Michael.

Just as we were locking up, Meredith appeared, to announce details of a North Katoomba Community Day, which sounds like a lot of fun, and which the Blue Mountains Organic Community Gardens are invited to. Katoomba Neighbourhood Centre (KNC) is organising this and a meeting is planned for next Thursday afternoon around 3pm I think – call Laurie at KNC for details 02 4782 1117.