Workshop: Learn to identify native bees: Update 28th November


Please note that This workshop will now run on November 28th

You’re invited to the next Bee Aware workshop – this will be a hands-on session in which you’ll learn to capture, chill, photograph and identify native bees.

If you’d like to participate in the session please come along. If you have
any equipment such as a camera, wide mouthed jar with lid (clean and label
removed), an insect net and magnifying glass (yes some kids have them.
Especially big kids like me), cold brick (as in those used in eskies). The
more equipment we have the more likely you will be to see and learn stuff!

If you are interested in connecting up with others in this project head to the Bee Aware of Your Native Bees Facebook group. It’s a closed group, so just request to join and Megan will add you to the group.


343 beans exactly!

hilling up potatoesWhat a lovely way to end the year in Dec 2010. Class 2/3  at North Katoomba Primary continue their ever growing adventures  with the Community Gardens. On September 2010. they came down to hill up their potatoes. This is a great way to increase the yield of potatoes from each plant. The potatoes were originally planted in this 30 metre bed and will be ready for harvesting in February 2011. The potatoes had grown beautifully helped along by abundant rains.

The children also harvested the remainder of the broad beans that had been planted in Earth Week April 2010 taking home a large bag of beans each. It was a very successful and abundant crop watered only by the rain with no added fertilizer. A huge bag of beans had previously been taken to the children in the classroom where the teacher tipped the beans out onto the floor. A method was worked out by the children to count and divide them.

fistfull of beansCounting the beans in groups of twenty, 343 beans were counted in all. Then they divided the beans by how many students were in the class. This made for a much more interesting maths lesson than usual. A number of children ate those beans for their dinner that night; some didn’t like them because they had eaten the outer shell!

The kids said they can’t wait to come and harvest the potatoes.

Water for Life

We may not have had too much rain in the last few days, but we’re still focused on water. Class 2/3 from North Katoomba Primary School learn all about our Water Catchment Area with Jasmine Paget from BMCC.  We begin with close scrutiny of the water catchment model, a dozen pairs of eyes soaking in the model version of  this house on the hill. 60 seconds to take in all the details, then “eyes closed! what do you remember seeing?”

What would I have remembered at that age I wonder?

Work continues this week on the stream, in fact I’ve barely seen Fred and Michael out of the creek since we had the workshop, now that’s inspiration.

Soup today is delicious, and is all garden goodies: just harvested marrow (the surprisingly tasty addition) as well as late pumpkin, spring onions, always threatening to be the last but never quite ending crop of bush tomatoes and potato.

Plans are firming up for a new grain garden, a joint project with the local co-op and a new crop of workshops. See the main events calendar to see what’s coming up. Get your suggestions in quick for winter if there’s an event or workshop you’d like to see at the Gardens.

natural born gardeners

veggie seedlings

veggie seedlings

Another busy day yesterday as our growing hub of community garden educators get together with the local Home School Network. We’re planning to visit 10 schools in the next couple of weeks, care of  Footbeat Festival and Blue Mountains City Council. Gathering together volunteer community gardeners, teachers and children in each school. Lizzie and Sue run a dual purpose session today, as well as guiding parents and children from the Blue Mountains Homeschool Network in planting out their boxes, some of us are also learning how to run a workshop for other schools up and down the Blue Mountains over the next two weeks.

There’s a bit of preparation to do first, holes are made in the bottom of old recycling boxes. The council here has moved to wheelie bins, leaving a good number of these puppies lying around, so we’re keen to keep with the recycling theme. Blue Mountains region is making great headway according to Councillor Searle, having increased recycling by over  8% over the last year, in comparison to City of Sydney’s 3% rise. Just wait till you get those wheelie bins in the city folks, they make such a difference.

alot of crates!Gathering up the old style crates, Janet and Sue poke holes through the bottom to let water drain freely through. The vegetables’ roots will  live in the top 10 cm of the box, so we raise the level with filler material. this will keep the weight of the boxes down, as well as only using as much soil as we need. In the very bottom of the boxes goes newspaper, light filler material, we had polystyrene handy so in that went. Some great soil care of the council, and vermiculite added (its lighter than soil and also helps with aeration too).

“Which way is North”? All hands up in the air, “which way” little fingers all point North. “Veggies need at least 6 hours sunlight to grow really well, so which way will the boxes face?” Good, right, looks like our boxes wont have any trouble seeing the sun.

in go the veggies

in go the veggies

Together we set up 10 kitchen garden boxes. 11 seedlings for each box from suppliers like Oasis, as well as onions kale and leeks grown here in the gardens.

With so many willing workers the job is done in lightning speed. Seedlings are carefully planted leaving enough room for the size the plant will become, around 11 plants in each. Once the plants are in the box, attention spans do begin to wander and the call of the big pile of soil is just too much. All the plants are safely in the boxes, and to complete this session, all that’s left to do is take them home and water them.

An Epilogue from Sue:

The feeling of energy and excitement that these classes have communicated (for myself anyway), inspired me the way Banjo Patterson’s poem The Man from Snowy River. After being at two schools today my expectation were as stirred up as the children and having been asked to write something about the experience so far; I feel fanciful enough to tell you:

There was movement in the playground, for the word had passed around

This lesson was outdoors for to-day

Planting seedlings into boxes; that might grow veggies by the pound

So students and teacher gathered to the fray

Some tried and noted gardeners from the villages near and far

Had mustered tools from ‘Toomba Garden overnight,

Backyard experts with skills and knowledge, and a willingness to share

So the children gathered eager with delight.

Or as another school’s teacher described his class ‘they flapped around like seagulls’, perhaps ravenous for bits of informational jetsam from passersby.

All lightheartedness aside -I can report that thanks to BMCC huge mounds of soil have been delivered to each school involved and about a hundred seedling planted into the older style recycling crates by a chosen number of students/or class. I have been back to three schools in the program, as have others in the team, andc. Some have already been decorated and others mulched.