About Kat Szuminska

designer, educator, gardener, activist, creative problem solver bmfoodcoop.org.au, oaf.org.au

Spring Update 2017

We’re in a wild and windy start to spring. 25 degrees one day and snow flurries the next. Spring bursts through with every new bud, leaf and flower. Where’s mayhem at the Sydney airport, with planes unable to land. Up here in the gardens, the gardens have weathered conditions without any giant tree falls so far.

Hot sun followed by strong winds strip moisture from plants and soil alike.We do observe some petals turning brown at the edges and falling off quickly.  Is it sun damage, or wind?

Did the bees and other pollinators get into them or were they, like planes in Sydney been grounded?  We’ll look for signs of pollination in the coming weeks.

Blue mountains community gardens katoombaToday the breezes are mild, blossom flowers dance in our sharp bright sunlight. A perfect backdrop! Sarah fills up watering cans to haul up to the northern gardens, to replenish them after hot and dry conditions.
Blue mountains community gardens katoomba

Let’s give the garlic a drink!

Getting water to plants at the north end of the garden has always been a hard slog here. Jed’s working on putting in a small structure to collect water, so eventually, gardeners won’t have to do the hard yards anymore.
Blue mountains community gardens katoomba

Spring blows in new flows of people to the gardens. Today, Tanya, works with Blue Mountains City Council, stopped by to say hello to garden volunteers. She’s pictured here with Fred and Sarah at the tea shed. Tanya’s joined Landcare for the Blue Mountains working with Eric Mahoney. Tanya worked with community gardens in Hornsby before moving to the mountains. We hear there’s a lovely community garden there. Perhaps worth a visit one day.

Tanya Sarah Fred

If you’d like to join in gardening activities or join us for a cuppa, come along on Friday morning. We’d be glad to see you there.


Grow a Food Forest – Free Training

Friday mornings 18th March – 8th April, 9am – 12 midday

In this 4 week TAFE OUTREACH course you’ll learn about soil, seed saving, propagation, looking after the health of plants and trees in a lovely community garden.

Places are FREE – Booking Essential. Call Jude on 0411506556


Planting Ahead for Spring

Group of three seedlings in repurposed toilet paper rolls
So many decisions to make at this time of year. What should I plant, where and when? As with so many things in life in 2015, I can definitely say there’s an app for that! In point of fact there are quite a few that can help in designing your next planting sessions. A really simple one I’ve used for quite a few years now to help remind me about WHAT I can plant WHEN is at Gardenate.com

Gardenate on the web or via a low cost app for your phone gives a good list of annual plants to get you started, tells you whether it’s the month for sowing seeds or seedlings for lots of edibles.  To get going you just need to say which country (the app covers Australia UK) and what climate you have. Being in the upper mountains I chose cool mountain, but in the lower/mid mountains the growing season starts a little earlier and winters are less, well, wintery, and so you’d mainly go for temperate. A sunny protected spot and even an upper mountain gardener might look to see which plants are ‘planting now’ for temperate neighbours and might be started off optimistically early.

If you buy fully formed seedlings from a shop then it’s a bigger financial risk to chance your bigger initial investment. It’s worth it if you want to grow plants which are marginal in the area usually, like grosse lisse tomatoes. As the name suggests these are big, and need a lengthy season of sun to get to their mature ripening size. Source them early to get a head start on mountains shorter season. Cherry tomatoes on the other hand are a much safer bet in the upper mountains.  It’s also well worth thinking ahead a little and seeing what seeds you can buy, without too much more work you can get a lot more plants for your money. Get an even better deal by hooking up with seedsavers, friends who garden and save seeds to see what’s grown well for them in your area and if they have any seed to share. In truth, knowing exactly what to plant when is a lifelong learning experience. You can optimise for a good outcome based on the information you’ve collected before, but you can never understand everything. It’s what keeps gardening interesting and sometimes infuriating!

Thanks to Growstuff.org, gardeners around the world can now share our growing experiences and seeds beyond immediate gardening friends.  The more gardeners join up and share information and experiences the more we can all learn from each other about what grows well in our areas. There are nearly fifteen hundred gardeners around the world connected up, and already a couple in the mountains.

GrowStuff Aus Map

The project is run by a geek-meets-gardening community as an open source project, so as well as tracking your seedlings, your friends, and cousins tomato plants in QLD or overseas, you can even contribute to improving Growstuff code if you like.  Find out more at Growstuff on Github

Image of Seedlings by Stacie

Come to Our Spring into Action: Introduction to Permaculture


Course investment is a snip at only $100  for 4 sessions.

Places are strictly limited, small class size so you make the most of each session

Book online:  springinto2015.eventzilla.net