Betty summoned us to Tending on Tuesday last week, rather than the usual Thursday. Why? She decided to take half a day off her work in the Cafe, to make her own garden bed!
This post briefly documents the whirlwind of activity – thanks to Betty and her team – which saw our growable bed area at Tending double in just one day.
It’s probably well-known across campus that Betty is a great gardener. But I’m not sure how many staff and students would be aware that she and her “Marrickville Jungle” are actually featured in the book Lawns into Lunch: growing food in the city by Jill Finnane:
Since the cafe shifted location, from its corner spot last year to the current, more central, location, Betty says that (for some reason I haven’t yet been able to grasp) she’s not allowed to grow herbs in pots on site. So she was really keen to get involved in our garden right from the beginning. She’s been bringing us her coffee grounds and food scraps for the compost; and I’m really looking forward to the time when the garden gets productive enough for her to harvest lettuces and herbs to actually use in the cafe.
Anyway – she rustled up a few keen students – notably Yumi, a photo-media artist with no prior gardening experience; and Dan, a graduate of the glass-making programme at SCA: a keen gardener himself.
Here’s Dan, who arrived with some really healthy-looking seedlings from his own home nursery:
– these are Dan’s chili seedlings – hundreds of them!
Betty started by putting down a layer of cardboard boxes – mostly packaging from cafe deliveries:
(That’s Yumi with the orange skirt, and regular Tend-er-er Lisa in the middle).
Next, Betty laid down some leaves and branches she brought from home, as well as some compostables from the cafe (including coffee grounds):
Then we loaded on all 9 sacks of soil I had been holding in reserve for this moment (thanks again to Rachel from freecycle for the soil from her yard!):
By this stage, Heather had arrived to help out too, and also Jess, who took these photos. Heather and I went to grab a few more wheelbarrows full of leaves from one of the nearby courtyards, to bulk up the bed.
And then it was time for lunch! Betty had prepared the most delicious feast for us, fried spicey potatoes and sticky rice and taboulli, served on banana leaves – all the packaging went into the garden bed at the end of the meal!
As a nice surprise, Ross, our benevolent overlord showed up just in time for lunch. This is his first time visiting the garden when we’ve been in full swing, and he was very pleased to find us all in action. (Note Ross’ good taste in hats).
Dan and I got back to work, heaving some of sandstone blocks to the site with the help of, at first the wheelbarrow, and later, his station wagon. Here you can see the blocks starting to shape up around the sides of the emergent bed:
And in the above photo, more people! Word was getting around that the garden was open – it seems that people love coming along to lounge and enjoy the sight of bucolic labourers. (Above are Susan, Bec and her son; and Lizzie who is working with Betty, already starting to plant-out the bed.
The bed shaping up:
A mini water-feature embedded, with watercress:
The proud artist having done her work for the day:
Later that evening, Lisa sent me a text message:
Man I am pooped! I
am SO impressed
by Betty. She’s the
real deal. It’s like
SCA is her village.
Thanks for the fun,
Betty says: “It’s nothing special, the shape of the bed and everything can be modified later, it’s just to get something in and growing first, and worry about all that down the track.”