Grass Attack!

We have been continuing our attack on kikuyu regrowth at the food forest. None of us like digging it out  much (thanks Eric and Simon for your mammoth efforts on this front!) We have so far tried spraying with cheap white vinegar, painting with (less cheap) eucalyptus oil and then spraying again with (even less cheap) Go Natural Organic Herbicide (pine oil based). Our results so far show that all three kill off the top growth BUT do next to nothing about killing the roots outright. OK so we knew this already but we were hoping that depriving the roots of their food source (ie. their photosynthesising leaves) that the grass would be significantly weakened. No sign of that just yet I’m afraid. Or maybe the root mat is just very extensive, deeply buried in the clay and able to withstand a fair bit of top growth abuse – just the kind of grass we need for lovely green  parks!

So then, next step is mulching it out with newspaper. We did consider that for the site at the very start of the project but decided that it would be too much work for this size area. Carting hundreds of wheelbarrow loads of mulch to cover over the newspaper/cardboard is almost as hard work as digging it out with a mattock. The council did a pretty good job of removing the grass by scraping it off the top but of course the major downside is that we then lost most of our top soil and the grass roots deeply embedded below the scraped surface are re-sprouting to give us grief now.

The worst affected areas are at the extreme ends of the food forest and there are a couple of bad patches here and there. So here are some pics of the latest newspaper mulch campaign (thanks for your help Moira – you’re a star).

The northern edge being invaded by grass

The northern edge being invaded by grass

The northern edge after mulching with newspaper

The northern edge after mulching with newspaper

Of course when I dig out old newspapers there is always SOMETHING that catches my eye. Here is a Leunig gem that made my morning.


By foodforestashburtongroup Posted in Updates

Summer working bees each Saturday 9-11am

Lucerne “Sequel” in flower

Each Saturday morning we will be doing a few gardening activities in the food forest to help with its establishment.

This includes planting a few more of the understorey plants, watering if necessary and removing kikuyu regrowth.

The apple tree was removed this week due to it having a bad case of apple mosaic virus. So the first Saturday we will plant its replacement. We have also been painting the kikuyu with eucalyptus oil to kill it off and it seems to be working (early days yet). We will stay vigilant and make sure we get all the regrowth early.

We are also planting lucerne in the understorey to fix nitrogen, bring up nutrients from deeper in the soil, and provide a living mulch.

It is getting much more summery in Melbourne but it is still very pleasant gardening at the food forest so come along and join in.

Hope to see you there

Stage 1 complete!

13 newly planted food forest trees

Our food forest has been officially born with completion of the Stage 1 plantings. There are heaps of support plants under the trees – too tiny yet to see in the wide scale photo – but they are there believe me. Thanks to all the great volunteers, many neighbours and food forest enthusiasts who have made this a reality. You know who you are and you all put in an incredible effort. My heartfelt thanks.

Here’s a pic of two very happy co-convenors.



And some of our precious plants. This is how they start. Now lets watch them grow.

Walnut with the season’s first shoots



Where would we be without comfrey?

ooooh – Sorrel. Yum

Rose scented geranium

Alpine strawberries

Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb…


White mulberry with white 10cm long fruit that wont stain kids clothes when they cant resist climbing up the tree for a snack.



I’m looking forward to everything growing up and becoming a real forest.

I hope you will join us on this journey – it will be very satisfying.






By foodforestashburtongroup Posted in Updates

Food Forest – on its way?

Food forest – food forest – food forest –food forest. Yes ladies and gentlemen. We are getting closer to a community food forest for Ashburton. Recently Boroondara Council together with the Food Forest Ashburton Group (FFAG) and the Craig Family Centre held a community consultation event at the proposed Food Forest Site at 38 Winton Rd Ashburton.   

Overwhelmingly positive feedback from Neighbours and surrounding residents on day and some great ideas added to the proposal. The event was also attended by Mayor Cr Heinz Kreutz and Solway Cr Kevin Chow, whom both expressed their support for the proposal. Burwood MP Graham Watt also attended the event and showed interest in the proposal.

Our draft design- feedback welcome!

The proposed food forest involves planting a range of fruit and nut trees with supportive understory in a portion of the reserve. A proposed first stage would see around 12 trees planted, with potential for additional trees to be planted in a future stage.

There would be an all-abilities gravel path and the draft landscape plan also allocates a space for a potential park shelter in the future.  The planted area would remain open to the public, and the plantings would be maintained by the FFA Group and interested community members, with Council support.

The draft design will be refined based on advice from Council and feedback from local residents.

Give us your feedback and ideas on the design!

1. Come to the Have your say day, 10:30-12:00 Sat 21st July at Winton Road Reserve

2. Comment via this blog

3. Complete the council survey

Stage 1

Stage 1 plus future stage 

Ashburton survey shows strong support for a community food forest

A community survey about the Food Forest was undertaken by the Craig Family Centre between Dec 20th 2011 and Jan 31st 2012. This preliminary survey was used to gauge community support and feedback for a possible community food forest on three potential sites in Ashburton (all located on council managed land). All houses within a 250m radius of each site were delivered a survey with a return prepaid envelope.

The findings show that there is wide support in Ashburton for the community food forest concept.  For the full report and findings click here- AFF Survey summary report