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Winter notes 2016

Throughout autumn and well into winter we have enjoyed an exceptionally long season of harvesting sweet potatoes. Between November and January we planted a dozen or so tubers of sweet potatoes from our own harvest in a few beds inside and outside. Six months later we started harvesting and have just finished taking down the trellis and digging deep the last bed for any left overs. Much delight to our volunteers we still managed to harvest a bucketful of sweet potatoes last Sunday.
I found these sweet potatoes are great for roasting. Salad of roasted sweet potatoes, garden veg such as kale and land cress or rocket, quinoa, topped with mix nuts have become my favourite dish at the moment (see photos).

This year we planted a few new plants that we hadn’t grown in the garden previously. One of them was Snake Beans. In spite of late summer planting and limited amount of plants, they produced tasty beans week after week.
After Chia Seeds were sown and seedlings transplanted in January, it took a few months for the plants to mature to the height of almost 1.8 m with beautiful blooming of blue flowers. Growing Chia Seeds was easy and relatively care free other than regular watering and feeding with Seasol. However, the harvesting process was considerably long for yielding such a small amount of seeds in the end. Once flower heads were removed from the plants after most petals have fallen, they were dried indoor for a couple of weeks, then crushed by hands and sieved out a couple of times, though I could not separate the seeds from particles of husks completely. So, I ended up with Chia Seeds with green (husky) taste! Anyhow, I believe they still posses all the health benefits of organic Chia Seeds, don’t they? I understand Chia leaves also make great herbal tea, so it might be worth saving enough seeds for the next year’s planting.

– Ever leaning-over Tamarillo tree was saved once again with a leather belt (donated by Martin’s father) and Colin’s DIY trick. Well done! (see the photo).
– Lots and lots of tree roots were found when digging the new western bed (near the children’s playground). We believe the roots from the nearby large tree is the cause as roots found their way between the sealing mat at the bottom of the bed. We suspect the same root problem is happening in the nearby western bed, so the beds will need to be emptied and re-matted securely before filling the soil again. This means a lot of hard work for Colin, Marton, Peter, Bruce and other young and capable volunteers. Thank you!
– Seed potatoes of Kipfler, Desiree and Dutch Cream have been planted in separate beds during the month of July. We look forward to harvesting them later in the year.
– Some of the garden beds continue to deteriorate and require repairing and rebuilding. Thanks to the generous support of North Sydney Council we are hoping to commence rebuilding these beds before spring.

If you have not visited the garden for a while, please feel free to pop in and say hello. Each Sunday morning our volunteers gather to work in the garden, share abundance of harvest and warm up with the garden herbal tea and Kate’s beautiful home baked treat as always.

Thank you everyone for your continuous interest and support for the garden!


  1. Dave

    Always love these updates Yumi.
    I will try to make it down on Sunday morning to say hi and roll up the sleeves – particularly if there is a few beds to dig out.
    Do you have a couple of tarpaulins? So we can wheelbarrow to dirt onto these… and not lose any of that great soil in the process.

    • Yumi Sakauchi

      Hi Dave
      Thank you for your offer of help! It’s always appreciated. North Sydney Council is allowing us to keep the soil just outside the garden fence while we work on these beds. Before the council’s contract carpenter comes in to build new beds, hopefully soon, we will need to empty the beds and refill again once completed. I will keep you posted when we need the big man!

  2. Heather

    Thanks for this great report Yumi. I have missed attending the garden of late and hope to get back there soon. I managed to be there for the first wonderful sweet potato harvest. They certainly have been worthwhile and abundant.
    At this time of heightened awareness of sustainability, I feel it is important for us to learn more about the value of the whole plant and it was good to read about chia leaves also being of value. I think we tend to waste a lot of our harvest through lack of knowledge.

    I look forward to seeing everyone soon. Hope to be there Sunday week
    X Heather

    • Yumi Sakauchi

      Thanks Heather. Hope you are feeling better.
      As we need to trim our plants, particularly herbs, regularly, one way of utilising them is to dry them for later use. I’ve been enjoying herbal tea of dried lemon verbena and thyme with some fresh dill.

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