Tuesday 16 April 2019 at 10am
At Terry and Margaret’s garden in Maitland

President Janie welcomed all members and visitors.
Safety office Robert, cautioned everyone to be careful with chairs on sloping ground and to “be aware, take care”.

Janie introduced Terry and Margaret and thanked them for hosting our meeting.
Margaret told us that they moved to the house 15 years ago after living on acreage outside Dungog for 20 years, which was a very different experience to living in an urban environment.

Despite living now on a normal town block, they still aim to become self-sufficient.
Margaret prefers to devote space to vegetables rather than flowers but is happy to mix them up in a random way, allowing plants to self-seed.

They removed the existing swimming pool to give themselves more garden space and Terry built raised garden beds for vegetables. One major problem has been the neighbouring heritage listed Camphor Laurel which has invasive roots throughout the garden. To counter this Terry has started to line the vegetable beds to try to keep the roots out. They raise their plants from seed and try to keep a continuous supply of seedlings for successive plantings throughout the season. Fruit trees include citrus, figs and olives. Pumpkins and rockmelons are grown on the river bank at the back gate.

The gardens are enriched with home-made compost, compost tea, horse manure and castings from a worm farm, and everything is well mulched. Comfrey is used to make tea for the garden and when the plant dies down it supplies nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil. One failure they have had is tomatoes – only cherry tomatoes have been successful.
Janie presented Margaret and Terry with some Tar 10 products in appreciation of their hospitality.

President Janie gave a report on the PAGG Garden ramble held on the 7 April.
It was a very successful and happy day with a great “buzz” made possible by the fantastic presentation put on by our garden owners.  A major contributor to the success was the 50 members who volunteered for the day, helped along by the amazing organisation of a great committee and many others, and also the perfect weather. We had hoped for 200-300 visitors on the day, but received about 700 people to each garden! Total profit will be in excess of $15,000. The funds have been placed on deposit and planning is under way to allocate an amount to the Arboretum and the remainder to be spent on worthwhile projects in the Paterson/Allyn Valley. The committee will invite comment from the garden owners and from members.
Penny thanked everyone who potted up plants and contributed to the successful plant stall.
Caz has been researching an over-night trip to Mudgee in October/November and trying to keep the cost to less than $300. A show of hands indicated that there would be enough interest to make this viable so Caz will seek garden venues for us to visit. She also requested ideas from members for a possible day trip.

Janie introduced our guest speaker, Liz Griffiths, from “Slow Food Hunter Valley”.
Liz lives in Telarah and 15 years ago was given a large clump of turmeric and since then has become an avid grower of this plant. She grows three types – Aleppi, Mudra and Cape York which all have different qualities and differing cucurmin content.

Liz plants the tubers in August/September, the leaves emerge in October/November and by February the plant is full height and the tuber develops. The above ground plant will start to go brown and die off in June/July and will be ready to harvest in July /August. The rhizome is the part that is harvested and the leaves are used as mulch.

The rhizome is washed many times, steamed for 45 minutes, husk removed then the remainder is dehydrated before grinding into a powder. Liz then sells this at the local markets. It is a very hard-won product, which accounts for the price!

Turmeric is used for curries, pickles, food colouring, dyes and is reputed to be beneficial for sufferers of arthritis. Janie thanked Liz for her interesting presentation and presented her with some Tar 10 products.

Photos: Christine

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