Friday, 31 August 2018

Growing Ginger

Ginger would have to be one of the easiest plants to propagate - all you need is a plump piece of ginger to get started. The ginger can be sourced from an organic grower at your local farmers market, nursery or even a commercial piece from the supermarket will work well too.

Prepare a well-drained, sunny spot or even semi shade here on the Coffs Coast and add lots of compost and well-rotted manure. In Spring plant pieces of fresh rhizome that are showing signs of shoots when the soil temperature is around 20°C or more. Plant them 30-40cm apart and 5cm below the surface. 

The ginger can be harvested after the plant dies down in winter, digging around the plant to cut off a piece of the older root or you can harvest ginger while it's still green and succulent.

Ginger can grow quite well in a pot as well - best to use quite a large pot as ginger grows quite tall (1-1.2m), it might topple over in windy conditions. Keep the water and nutrients up and select a nice warm spot.

Fresh ginger root can be stored unpeeled in a 'Ziplock' bag in the fridge crisper for around two months or at room temperature where it will last a week or two. Ginger can be dried quite successfully either in a commercial dehydrator or in a low oven overnight.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Welcome Guyra Garden Club!

Bromeliad in the Tarry garden
Over the last two days Guyra Garden Club have visited the Coffs Coast to sample some local gardens. 

Guyra is situated between Armidale (38kms south) and Glen Innes (60kms north) on the Northern Tablelands in the New England region. It may be a small community however NOT their Garden Club! Currently there are over 120 members and these members are drawn from Glen Innes and Deepwater to the north, Armidale to the south. Ebor and even Dorrigo to the south east, so it has to be said that these members are not afraid to spend time in their vehicles.

Their meetings are always held in a garden each month - either a member's or otherwise, so they are constantly on the move and see some wonderful gardens throughout the year. The climate is a little different to ours here on the Coffs Coast with most temperate climate plants doing quite well. For instance McKie Park which was created and continues to be maintained by the club has beautiful white flowering crab-apple trees, a club member mentioned today. She said that these were planted in memory of the founding President, Noeline Miller who was the Garden Club's first President in 1986.

Margaret serving up a storm
The Garden Clubs of Australia motto of 'Friendship through Gardens' certainly describes how gardeners interact and this was evident today. At first acquaintance there was easy conversation.

The Catering Team of Anne-Maree (sweet treats) and Margaret (yummy sandwiches) were most welcome at the Tarry garden today. Gaye and Bob were most welcoming and generous in opening their garden to the visitors.

Anne-Maree enjoy a chat with a visitor
I'm not sure if you recall but Guyra became the focus of national attention in February 1960 when a four-year-old boy named Steven Walls wandered off from his father on a property to the north of town. Hundreds of volunteers searched the bush for the boy until he was discovered four days later asleep against a log. His first words were 'Where's my daddy, where's my daddy?' which gave rise to a song by singer Johnny Ashcroft, entitled 'Little Boy Lost'.

Guyra visitor and Gaye taking some time out
The Guyra folk headed off to Middle Boambee to look at a further two gardens, thank you to the gardeners who opened up their gardens for the visitors from the Northern Tablelands.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Gardens in Alaska

Jane had a brilliant presentation at our August meeting on gardens in Alaska. If you would like to view the wonderful slides please click here.

Saturday, 25 August 2018

Community Engagement - Judging Masonic Village Gardens

CHGC members Margaret Franks and Maria Bell had the great pleasure to judge the Residents' gardens at the Coffs Harbour Masonic Village recently. It has been a privilege for Coffs Harbour Garden Club to provide judges for this competition for many years now.

There are many people living in the self care units at the Masonic Village who brilliantly maintain their own gardens (including some stunning vegetable gardens). This year was once again a challenge to find an all out winner as there were some amazing gardens entered. Each year brings something different to this competition and we never know what to expect and are constantly delighted to see many changes from year to year.

The beds are just 'popping' with colour, and clever use of both periennial and spring annuals making bright, cheerful displays. The level of maintenance was outstanding and it is obvious that there's much love found in the gardens of the Masonic village! 

Both Margaret and Maria took away some innovative ideas from these more experienced gardeners and hope to implement them in their own gardens.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Jane's Presentation - Alaska Grow Bucket

All information in this post has been obtained from

If you have a five-gallon bucket, a kitchen colander, and a cloth grocery bag, you’re set to grow your own vegetables.

If you want to grow your own vegetables, but don't have the space or the time for watering, consider making an Alaska Grow Bucket. Tomatoes, cucumbers, and other plants are well-suited for this system.

Jim Lister grew up in Iowa and has been an avid gardener all of his life. When he moved to Wasilla, Alaska, he found the soils weren't nearly as rich as Midwestern black dirt. He perused the Internet for ideas and found a website about growing vegetables in five-gallon buckets. He studied the process and started refining it.

"I looked at the idea of using different mediums to grow the plants in and the idea of a wicking medium where the moisture is introduced at the bottom of the container, and then the medium itself is like a sponge and soaks the moisture up," says Lister. "It stays relatively damp all the time."

Peat moss, coconut coir, and even old cotton rags make a fine wicking mechanism. To get the bucket ready, drill holes around the outside to allow air in for the roots. Then, all you need are a few other supplies.

"Reusable shopping bags and a simple plastic kitchen colander," says Lister. "Just something that will hold the inner reusable shopping bag off the bottom of the bucket so that the water can fill from the bottom, and allows you to connect the buckets together using simple plastic tubing of some sort."

Several grow buckets can be connected to a bulk reservoir for automatic irrigation. Lister uses a 35-gallon plastic garbage can to hold the water, but you could use a rain barrel or other container as well. The plastic tubing runs from the water reservoir, to a smaller 3-gallon  bucket, where a float valve regulator is used to maintain the water level. As the water is drawn up by the plants, the float will drop and open the valve, automatically replenishing the system.

Here are the step-by-step directions for making an Alaska Grow Bucket - from

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Best Kerbside Appeal

Sometimes folk just don't like the idea of having people wandering around their garden however feel very proud of their achievements in creating a garden that brings them much joy and delight and would enjoy the opportunity to share that with passersby.

This year for the first time Coffs Harbour Garden Club's Spring Garden Competition has an ideal category for these gardeners - Best Kerbside Appeal Garden. This category is the only one throughout the entire competition where the judges DO NOT enter the garden. The judges will do their assessments from a distance, namely the kerb.  The same judging criteria is used as with the majority of other categories that is: Design, Plant Selection, General Appeal and condition of lawn or other non garden-bed element.

There has been feedback from previous competitions that there are many non ambulant people who really appreciate and love gardens but are just not able to cope with uneven surfaces, inclines or steps and so miss seeing some decent Coffs Harbour area gardens, as often it's the back garden that holds reign on the beauty stakes of winning gardens. 

This category has been established specifically so people can take a drive over the weekend of Sat 22 and Sun 23 September and look at a couple of lovely appealing gardens from the road. Just perfect for taking Mum and/or Dad for a drive!

If more information is required please visit the club's website or call either Pat 6690 2511 or Maria 6656 2429.  


Flower of the month - August 2018

KINGDOM:  Plantae

FAMILY:  Magnoliaceae

GENUS:  Magnolia


Magnolias are ancient trees. They appeared before bees had evolved and thus had to rely on beetles to do the pollinating work. Beetles are a clumsy lot, compared with dancing bees, and so the flowers need to be robust, with thick, waxy petals that reflect in moonlight, when the beetles are up, and tough inner catrpels, heady with fruit scent so pleasing to a beetle's nose. Guardian

Guardian Magnolias are named after French botanist Pierre Magnol. Wikipedia 

Bring along your favourite for the Competition Table on Saturday.

Jane did an excellent presentation on Magnolias - you can see her presentation here.

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

You Can See Me!

The air-side gardening crew from Coffs Garden Club are now sporting hi vis vests courtesy of the management at the Coffs Harbour Regional Airport.

Apologies for the bleary image, however all the vests have Coffs Harbour Garden Club written on the back. 

We now look like a team when maintaining the gardens every first Wednesday of the month. 

This month we had Maria & Geoff Bell, Simon Young, Graham Davey, Barbara Fitzgerald, Peter Kimber and Noelene Sell make up the team. It was a bright, winter's day and great to be outside. Although we suspect there may be others taking an interest in the gardens........ lots of the cordyline fruticosa ruba had been eaten right back - the suspect? hare(s) according to one team member scat knowledgist. Let's hope this particular critter goes somewhere else to gnaw as the cordyline make a wonderful pop of colour in the gardens.

Coffs Harbour Regional Airport are Platinum level sponsors in the Coffs Harbour Spring Garden Competition which is held each spring. The winner of the Champion garden receives a prize organised by the Regional Airport of two return flights to Brisbane and two nights' accommodation, a terrific prize and the garden club are very grateful for this support. More information of prizes and conditions of entry can be seen here.

Blue Tongue Lizards

Blue Tongue Lizard - image L. Gardner
One of the largest lizards commonly found in Australia are Blue Tongue Lizards, with their bright blue tongues, they are very easily identified.

To encourage this good critter we need to provide an environment they enjoy - a warm, sunny spot near shelter. This shelter is usually gaps between rocks or bricks, in a wood pile or in a clay pipe. The clay pipe is an excellent home if you want to provide one.

They LOVE snails, slugs, caterpillars and beetles and are renowned for tucking into tomatoes and strawberries.

They don't enjoy snail and slug bait which poisons them when they eat affected foods. Cats and dogs aren't really good companions for Blue Tongues as they can frighten them or even by playing with them cause them harm. They also do not enjoy being handled as they particularly dislike losing contact with solid ground.

If you have a Blue Tongue Lizard in your backyard, count your blessings and let him/her reign supreme in the snail and slug annihilation.