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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

Food Forest Celebration

We are kicking up our gumboots and celebrating the opening of the Winton Road Food Forest.

Friday 30th November, 6-9pm at the food forest.

Please bring a plate of finger food to share, BYO drinks and chair/picnic rug.

It will get dark after sundown so a torch is probably needed if you plan to stay late.

Everyone who has shown an interest in our food forest is welcome.

By foodforestashburtongroup Posted in Events

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

Food Forest gardening, Saturday 10th November, 3-5pm

We will be back at the food forest this Saturday afternoon 3-5pm.

Come along for a guided tour of the food forest or participate in some gardening activities.

This week we will be concentrating on managing kikuyu regrowth (probably by spraying with oil or vinegar) and making an edge between the forest and the surrounding grassed area. There are also some small seedlings to plant if you’d like to satisfy a green thumb craving.

Bring the kids, bring the dog. All welcome.

By foodforestashburtongroup Posted in Events

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

Working Bee Saturday 3rd November 9:00am-noon

Come along and plant two more trees this Saturday at 9am til noon. Bring a shovel and gardening gloves!

Nine trees were planted last weekend thanks to the most fabulous support of the community. Boroondara Council too, have been amazing, turning up early Saturday morning to drill our tree holes for us (they drilled a metre deep!). We couldn’t have done it without those starter holes as the site is rock hard clay and it would have been backbreaking work. Even so the process of planting our trees was not so simple. The site is poorly drained over winter as nearby residents will attest. It floods approximately every 5 years. Our wonderful community members who came to help establish the food forest dug down deeply, we placed about 10 kg of cow manure in the bottom of the hole -it is deep enough that the tree roots will only reach this nutrient store in the second year of tree growth, heaps of gypsum clay breaker and some imported top soil were mixed into the pure clay and the whole lot mounded up about 50cm above groundfall. The trees were planted into the top of the hole within a small reservoir at the top of the mound. Around the base of the mound we made another moat to store moisture for both the tree and a selection of companion plants we placed at the foot of each tree.

So now we have planted a walnut, 2 carobs, a macadamia, lemonade, almond, plum, apple and white mulberry. There is an apricot and a native finger lime still to go next weekend which brings me to the date of the next working bee…

Come along and plant two more tree this Saturday 3rd November at 9am til noon. We are planting an apricot and a native finger lime. A quandong will be planted with the finger lime at some stage however the quondong is still a bit too tiny to put in the food forest yet.

Hope to see you there!

By foodforestashburtongroup Posted in Events

We are tree planting at last!

Winton Road Food Forest Stage 1 plan

Come along and help establish the Winton Road Food Forest

When: Saturday 27th October 2012, 9am-4pm and Sunday 28th Octover, 10am-finished?

Where: 38 Winton Road, Ashburton

Please Bring: Gardening gloves and something to nibble and drink. If you can bring a shovel, wheelbarrow, rake or other gardening tools (clearly named) then so much the better.

Wow! we are planting our food forest at last. We have been delayed a little by boggy ground but the turning of the season has finally allowed the trucks in to scrape off the kikuyu and lay down mulch. There is a wandering path being established – no gate yet but that will come soon we hope. And most importantly we can now put in our fruit trees.

We will be digging BIG holes for the trees to give them the best possible start in life. We need people to bring shovels, wheelbarrows, gardening gloves and enthusiasm. BYO morning tea (or lunch or afternoon tea) and deck chair.

Come for an hour, come for the day, do what you can. All will be appreciated.

Get involved, meet your neighbours and support your community food forest this weekend. Membership available on the day.

By foodforestashburtongroup Posted in Events