June 2023

Botanical Update

A Botanical market garden update from Lou Sales our Horticulturalist 

Winter is well and truly here at Botanical and we’ve had some pretty hard frosts over the past week. There is not much you can plant at this time of year (even the weeds slow down!) giving us a welcome break from garden maintenance tasks and the opportunity to get stuck into some major garden development.

We’ve built a new garden and food forest to complement our community site at Bond Place, which is due to be completed in August. We are also constructing a garden for our new Beauty Lab at Botanical. This will include a range of plants that we’ll use in our beauty products - such as kunzea, tea tree, dog rose, rosemary, lavender, camomile, lemon balm, mint, aloe vera and pig face. Today we are harvesting calendula, rosemary, lime balm, lavender and lemon grass to dry out ready for our first Beauty Lab workshop at the Winterfest on 30th June.

Many of these plants have the added benefit of being great for beneficial pollinators and our resident bees. We tucked our bees up in bed ready for winter last month, with a full box of honey per hive to keep them going over the cold winter months. We also reduced the size of our hive entrances to keep our cold drafts and to help prevent honey robbing by mice and wasps.

Since we are not growing many seedlings at the moment, we’ve temporarily converted part of our seedling raising area into a mushroom growing chamber and have been teaching visiting school groups how to grow grey oyster mushrooms in tubs. If you are keen to give mushroom growing a go too, I’d highly recommend Milkwood Permaculture’s Free Growing Guide to get you started. They also have a great online course for those wanting to learn more.

Winter is also a great time to take hardwood cuttings. Over the coming weeks we’ll be taking grape cuttings to give to our schools and the local community. If you want to have a go at taking cuttings yourself, Goodlife Permaculture have some easy to follow instructions on their website here.

Our new apprentice Travis is particularly interested in growing fruit trees, so we intend to expand our orchard this winter, moving and planting trees during their dormant season. We’ll use espalier techniques to squeeze in as many trees as we can including plums, cherries, pears, nectarines and peaches. We are looking forward to being able to share the produce with our schools in years to come.

Note: Lou Sales is our Horticulturalist who looks after our 1 acre market garden in Bridgewater, Lutruwita/Tasmania. Botanical produces hundreds of kilos of produce for our schools, community and food banks along with thousands of seedlings to keep our school gardens fruitful all year round.

Image: Amy Brown