No rest for the Wicking

Gardens, Lunchtime Sessions, Plants

Life’s a garden. Dig it!

On this frosty winters day, our in-house “curious gardener” Doug Cousins led the discussion around how to build a self-watering garden bed. Doug says “It is simply really. All you need is some timber, pond liner, a load of stone, some good quality soil and the odd bits and pieces to create your own garden bed to grow flowers, vegies or herbs.”

Doug and the Wicking Bed

Placing a layer of carpet down which was kindly donated by a carpet supplier here in Shepparton.


Jeanie and the Wicking Bed

The team adding the black plastic down to provide a waterproof base for the bed.

Wicking beds are becoming a popular way to grow your own herbs and vegetables as they are self-watering and simple to make. It is said that a wicking bed will use approximately 50% less water than our traditional vegie garden using “capillary action” where the water is absorbed by the plants from the bottom up.


Council worker’s got to work on the shovel. Funny that…


There are many benefits to installing your own wicking bed including:

  • Water-saving! Water is not wasted and evaporation is minimal as all the water is kept within the sealed base of the garden bed. A  wicking bed should irrigate itself for about a week which will vary from season to season.
  • You can use a variety of recyled materials laying around the house!
  • They are perfect for people with mobility issues and require minimal strength as large water containers are not needed to carted around.
  • They are self draining in the event of a large downpour.

That’s how it’s done. All we need now is the seedlings!

For more information head over to

Happy growing!


National Tree Day – 21 August

Plants, Uncategorized

National Tree Day in Greater Shepparton was postponed due to all the rain we have been having. Sunday saw loads of Greater Shepparton residents getting their hands dirty and planting trees at Tassiker Reserve.

A few of the SWAG members participated in the planting of around 1200 trees!


Photo cred for top and bottom photo: Councils Marketing/Communications team.

What To Plant This August

Gardens, Plants


After all this rain August will be a perfect time to get out in the garden and start planting:

Snowpeas             Spinach            Spring onions               Tomato
Watermelon          Artichoke (globe)         Asparagus         Beetroot
Cabbage              Dill                   Garlic                            Leek
Lettuce                Mint                  Onion                           Parsnip
Peas                    Potato               Radish                          Rhubarb


Fungi Festival Fun

Plants, Sustainability

In celebration of the important ecological role of fungi in our soils the Strathbogie Ranges Conservation Management Network  invites you to a late autumn Fungi Festival.

The event will be informative as well as engaging, fun and funny, as well as delicious (and inexpensive).

A workshop with fungi expert  and photographer Alison Pouliot kicks of the festival on Saturday May 7 in the township of Strathbogie.

This will be followed on subsequent weekends by a Bush Dance, a Gastromedy event and a Childrens Art Exhbition . Bookings now open for Alison Pouliot’s workshop on Eventbrite. See poster attached for more details on all events.

More information on all events will be posted on the Fungi Festival Facebook page. Get involved!


Lunchtime Information Sessions are back!

Plants, Sustainability

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February – How to grow your own Chillies/Tomatoes/Avocadoes

Want to learn more about growing fruit and vegetables? Learn from the master Michael Carrafa as he reveals his secrets on how to grow the tastiest tomatoes and chillies going around! MC will also share how you can cultivate your own avocado plants from seed.

Date: Thursday 18 February
Location: Hunter Room, Welsford Street Office
Time: 12.30pm – 1.15pm
BYO Lunch

Don’t panic it’s organic! Your guide to buying fresh produce

Plants, Sustainability, Wellbeing

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Let’s face it eating organic food is expensive and not always easy to get your hands on! There is, however, plenty of research reporting negative effects on both male and female fertility when exposed to harmful herbicides and pesticides. Many non-organic vegetables are treated with chemicals that encourage them to grow rapidly, grow large and last longer.

Organic fruit and vegetables have been shown in studies to have more nutritional value. Often you will find they don’t look quite as good and won’t last as long, but that’s how things naturally occur for fruits and vegetables once they have been harvested.

Since it’s not always an easy or viable option to eat everything organic, I do recommend you buy this produce organic because they’re the ones that are most commonly treated with pesticides.
• apples
• peaches
• nectarines
• strawberries
• grapes
• celery
• spinach
• red capsicum
• cucumbers
• cherry tomatoes
• potatoes
• blueberries
• I would add Kale and lettuce to that!

These are known as the clean 15 and are ok to purchase non-organic (ordered from least contaminated):
• onions
• sweet corn
• pineapples
• avocado
• cabbage
• sweet peas
• asparagus
• mangos
• eggplant
• kiwi
• cantaloupe
• sweet potatoes
• grapefruit
• watermelon
• mushroom

So, my advice is do the best you can and keep a lot of variety within your diet. And remember, that in Australia it’s only organic if it’s actually labelled ‘certified organic’.

Article written by Julie Vecera. Julie is a Chinese Medical Practitioner, Nutritional Advisor and Acupuncturist. She is available for private consultations in various locations in Melbourne or via Skype. For more information please contact or

Do you have any seeds, cuttings, or plants you’d like to swap?

Gardens, Permaculture, Plants, Sustainability


October – Succulent Swap Day
Date: Friday 30 October
Location: Welsford Street Outdoor Area (near bike storage)
Time: 12.15pm – 1.00pm

The Sustainability Working Group’s lunchtime sessions are back and we’re kicking off the new series with a Succulent & Plant Swap Day.

We encourage you to raid your gardens and bring along any excess succulent, cactus or plant cuttings that you’d like to swap with fellow green thumbs. Plant seeds are also welcomed!

Even if you don’t have any plants to bring, come along and choose a new plant or seed to grow in your garden or at your desk.

What to bring: Your plant, cuttings or seeds, gloves (if you’ve got some prickly catci!)

See you there!

Nikita’s Veggie Patch

Gardens, Plants, Sustainability


Member of our Sustainability Working Group Travis set up a vegetable patch with his family at home. We wanted to share his story to see how easy it is to create a space of your own.

“Last October, my daughter Nikita and I created a small veggie patch using two small raised garden beds over some former lawn area of our yard. Nikita absolutely loved helping to plant carrots, corn, beans, beetroot, tomatoes, strawberries, silverbeet, and potatoes to name a few. You can really pack a lot into a small space!

Any small space in your garden can be utilised. We also created a little herb growing area and planted butternut pumpkins along a narrow garden bed amongst some roses and other random plants.

Nikita and I particularly enjoyed the summer harvest time – yum yum! As the saying goes “growing your own veggies is like printing your own money!” Our butternut pumpkin soup was the most delicious menu item of the summer!

Watering and looking after the plants was a really enjoyable way to spend time with my daughter and it is great that she has a better understanding of where food really comes from, as opposed to just the supermarket shelf! Nikita is already asking me when we are going to be planting our next crop!”