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Greenhouse Park

Welcome to Sustainable Wollongong Issue 26

As the colder weather sets in we hope you are remaining warm and dry.
This edition focuses on projects and events for the winter months. 

In this edition 

Keeping the compost cooking over winter
Act now to beat wind damage to trees
Helping your chickens through winter
Loving your food without the waste
Seasonal foods to love this winter



World Environment Day 
When Life Gives you Lemons...have a festival! 18 May - 18 August

National Tree Day

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Click here for Calendar of Events
snow peas

Grow Local .....

How is your patch faring after the wild wind and rain of early autumn? Many local gardeners have reported a bumper season despite the wild weather.

It seems like more and more people have been reconnecting with the skills to preserve their autumn bounty for the short, cold days of winter to come. We’re hearing about lots of passata, sauerkraut, pickles, and fermented vegetables being put up all over town. Are you in on the fun? Keep an eye out on our workshop calendar to check out opportunities to learn the skills to pickle, ferment and preserve - or look around for training courses offered by local social enterprises and small businesses. 

Things to do in your edible garden this winter….

Plant a pomegranate! Winter is the time to do it, whilst the roots are bare. Pick a sunny spot, and enjoy the low-fuss care this wonderful fruiting shrub requires. The dense spiky foliage provides habitat for small birds and beneficial insects, the flowers provide food for our pollinating insects, and the fruit is a miraculous addition to salads and a range of delicious dishes from the eastern Mediterranean and middle east. Plus, have you seen how much a single pomegranate costs? These things are easy to grow. Winner! 

Plant Now:  onions, radishes, rocket, peas, asparagus, lettuce, dill, parsley.  

National Tree Day

Planet Ark is celebrating 20 years of planting trees for National Tree Day. 

National Tree Day is on Sunday 26 July and Schools Tree Day is on Friday 24 July. 

Council is once again supporting National Tree Day and coordinating a number of community planting sites.

By taking part in National Tree Day, you'll be contributing to Australia's largest community tree planting and nature-care event and joining thousands of individuals in making a difference, connecting people with nature, beautifying neighbourhoods and inspiring positive environmental change.  

For further information and to find a site near you visit the National Tree Day Planet Ark Website.

When Life Gives you Lemons... have a festival!

Citrus season is upon us!  Help celebrate the abundance of citrus flourishing in Wollongong backyards by joining in the ‘When Life Gives you Lemons’ Citrus Festival from 18 May – 18 August. 

There are many different ways you can get involved in this community volunteer project supported by Wollongong City Council. You could donate lemons to be used in local community kitchens or at workshops, join in a citrus themed workshop, volunteer to teach a skills building workshop or simply share your favourite citrus recipes or photos of your citrus harvesting adventures.

For more info, and to share among your networks, please visit and

World Environment Day 

Introduction to Sustainable Urban Farming Workshop with Johnny Alevras
Thursday 4th June 2015

Come and take a voyage into the world of Urban Farming and Permaculture Design, with a guided walk through the food forests of Greenhouse Park. 

You will learn the basics of urban farming and how to design your backyard to be a lush, productive environment.

You will cover several topics ranging from microclimates, companion planting, to the basics of permaculture design and also gain a better understanding of the ethics and principles behind sustainable food production. 

Every year hundreds of thousands of hectares of land is cleared for agriculture, which is causing a significant amount of damage to our natural systems.
Grow local; reduce your food miles and your environmental impact.

10 -11am             Introduction to Sustainable Urban Farming
                              Part 1

11 -11:30am       Morning Tea
11:30 -12:30pm Introduction to Sustainable Urban Farming
                              Part 2

12:30 - 1pm        Lunch
1 -1:30pm           Introduction to Sustainable Urban Farming
                             Hands on

Cost - $10 which includes - workshop, tea/coffee, a light lunch of pizza cooked in the Greenhouse Park Pizza oven using Fresh vegetables picked from Greenhouse Park gardens. 

To book your place: call Robyn Scott on 42277334 or email rise&


Keeping the Compost Cooking over winter

During the winter months many people find that their compost slows down and seems to take longer to break down. It doesn't have to be this way. It’s not the sun’s rays that make our compost get warm; it’s the bacteria inside the compost that heats it up. Once compost cools off, worm activity is slower and the whole process seems to stagnate.

But there are ways to get your compost rocking again. Grab a garden fork or turner and give that pile a good stirring up. Sure, this does create air pockets, but this helps the bacteria to take a deep breath. Next, ad some water. Fill a watering can with water and ad ½ a cup of brown sugar or molasses to the water; pour this over your compost. What is a party without some sugar! Bacteria and other compost creatures do like sugar, but not too much as it can make the pile go acid. Autumn leaves brightly coloured are also high in sugars and help to excite bacteria. Next if you can add some chook manure (not dynamic lifter) and/or some yarrow leaves the bacteria will really start to ramp things up. Within three days you should start noticing a rise in heat.

There is also a set size or volume of compostables that gets hotter. Anything less than 1 cubic metre will struggle to get really hot and maintain heat. Think of it as a big party. If you walk into a club where there are only two people dancing, you are less likely to join in. If however, you walk in and everyone is up dancing, you want to join in. Your compost is the same. Maybe you feel that you can’t possibly add enough organics to get one cubic metre or you may not have access to grass clippings and weed matter?  

Don’t despair, just add bokashi. Bokashi is a Japanese fermenting agent. You can put this directly into your compost, but you do need to cover it over…a handful of soil will do. The heat from the fermentation is a party invitation to all compost creatures. You can even put Bokashi in your worm farm.
This way, you should have finished compost, ready to plant your spring crop in. 

Helping your Chickens through Winter

This article is not about knitting little stockings and beanies for your chickens. It is about practical things you can do to reduce the stress of cold winter temperatures.

Chickens, like us, become hungry when they are cold; their bodies burn through that food faster, using it to make energy to stay warm. Giving your chickens a nice feeding of cracked corn before bed gives them something to digest during the night, keeping them warmer. And they love it

It is really important to keep them warm at night. Chickens need a roost, a place to get them off the cold ground where they can fluff out their feathers and snuggle beside their other feathered friends. The roost needs to be at least 2/3rds the width of the length of their foot. They don’t want to sit on cold steel, a wooden roost is best. There needs to be enough space to fit all of the chickens on the one roost. Go outside with your torch and check if they are all sitting on it. If there is one sitting on the ground, she is really cold and can get sick. 

There has been a lot of rain lately and chickens don’t like mud, so don’t have your chicken coop in a low lying area. If the land is poorly drained then you might have to construct a special winter run with sand or wood chips on the floor and a solid roof over this run area. If you’re worried about your girls not having enough space in the coop, you can build a kind of greenhouse style run, covering it in clear plastic. They will wander out into it and have a bit more space on nice days, and you can rest easy knowing they are getting some fresh air. Of course, they can go outside on cold winter days, but you’ll find that if you have a warm dry green house, they will usually prefer to hangout in there.

In winter, you will hear some people say their chickens aren’t laying now that it is colder, others boasting that theirs haven’t stopped. It’s not that some peoples’ chickens are better than others. It is all about the age of the chicken and the light conditions of winter. Egg production naturally slows down over the winter months because egg laying is stimulated by the amount of light and day length. Some people choose to add lights in their chook house to add an hour or two of light, this may give you more eggs this year, but may prematurely age your chicken, reducing its laying life. Regardless of the light factor, the older hens get, the less they lay.

Rats are a problem for chicken owners, especially over winter. It is really important to discourage rats as much as you can. Ensure there is no feed left lying around and that you store the food securely away from rats. Rats will eat chicken eggs if they are left in the nest overnight, so ensure the eggs are collected daily. Yes, chickens will eat mice and small rats, but not when it is dark. Chickens are not nocturnal, they are quite docile when it is dark and rats can even be so bold as to chew out a few tail feathers. So, if you don’t want bald hungry chickens, control the rats!

Finally, when it is cold, windy and rainy, the girls may choose to just hang out inside the pen. To prevent boredom, hang interesting items like cauliflower heads or comfrey from the roof of their pen. Make sure these things are just within reach. Similarly placing straw, weeds or grass clippings on the floor gives the girls something to scratch through. 

Act now to beat wind damage to trees 

With the traditional 'windy season' around the corner, we are encouraging residents to inspect tees on their properties to reduce the risk of damage.

Wollongong is usually affected each August by a period of high winds which often result in a number of fallen trees and limbs, resulting in damage to private and public property.
To prepare for the upcoming season, we are urging residents to look at limbs and trees they feel might pose a risk to their property and lodge applications for major pruning and removal where required.
Under Council's Tree Management Policy it is illegal to remove, lop or damage tree, including dead trees, without an approved application to Council unless they meet certain exemption requirements.
The exemptions cover a number of species of trees including commercial to domestic fruit trees and noxious weeds.
Further information and details of the Tree Management application process and its exemptions are available by logging on to Council's website or by contacting Council's Customer Services on 42277111


Seasonal foods to love this winter

Winter brings a range of colourful fruits and vegetables. Here is what is in season.

Fruits: apple, custard apple, grapefruit, kiwi fruit, lemon, lime, mandarin, orange, passionfruit, pear, quince and rhubarb.
Vegetables: avocado, beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprout, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, fennel, leek, olive, onion, parsnip, potato, pumpkin, silverbeet, spinach, swede, sweet potato and turnip.

Purchasing and storage tips:
Mandarin: Choose fruit with glossy skin, fine texture and that feel heavy for their size. A loose feel and puffy appearance is normal due to the easy-to-peel skin. Mandarins can be stored either at room temperature or in the fridge.
Rhubarb: Choose crisp and firm brightly coloured stalks. Rhubarb can be kept in the fridge, sealed in either a plastic bag or an airtight container.

Sweet potato: Choose firm sweet potatoes and store them in a cool, dark, well-ventilated place.
For more storage tips visit Love Food Hate Waste

Loving your Food without the Waste

There is a lot you can do to help reduce food waste at home, and it really doesn't take much effort, just a little bit of thought.
  1. Buy less food. With a little bit of planning you can buy just what you need to get through the week.
  2. Plan. Each week before your grocery shop, open your pantry and fridge and look at what is already in there. Use these items up before they spoil, even if you don’t feel like eating them.
  3. Keep a whiteboard in your kitchen. Keep lists of what is in your pantry and fridge so you know not to buy more of what you already have. Otherwise you’ll end up with yet another box of taco shells you didn’t need taking up valuable space in your cupboard.
  4. Be creative. The kitchen is the perfect place to get those creative juices flowing. Throw together a beautiful meal out of what you already have. The tin of beans in the cupboard could be used to make hummus.  A tired old capsicum could be roasted, cut it into strips and tossed through pasta.
  5. Read books such as OzHarvest’s cookbook. A beautiful compilation of recipes from some of Australia’s best chefs and cooks all developed around using up leftover food.
  6. Learn to be frugal and economise. Make your food purchases stretch as far as possible. Collect meat and vegetable scraps in a zip lock bag in the freezer and use them to make stock. For example if you peel a carrot the peelings go into the vegie stock bag. If you buy fresh herbs use what you need then chop up the rest and freeze them. Freeze BBQ chicken carcasses for making stock.
  7. It’s what’s on the inside that counts. A staggering 40% of produce ends up in the trash because it doesn’t look “right”. There is an unrealistic consumer expectation that food has to look perfect on the supermarket shelf. Crooked cucumbers, spotty apples and marked tomatoes are just some of the beautiful produce being thrown away. If a piece of fruit is marked, it really is irrelevant.

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