new gardens of spring


Spring sprung, sorry the pun. It is here, the rainy moon we’re experiencing is thrusting everything into life, so green.
And people come out and make gardens, even more now.

Below is the result of a permablitz on a verge, in LiIlyfield, a couple of Ks down the hill, I believe Heather and Jes took part in it.


The result is outstanding, i was especially impressed by the size of the tomatoes plants and fruits, the rainy water lovingly fostering all plants.

A couple of new gardens came to be in Tending too. One, a classic combination, tomatoes and basil, each looking after the other, and the other is a start of a Banana circle,
Thanks to Michele of Enmore, who donated us a number of Lady’s finger banana pups, in exchange for soil, so we eagerly sealed the barter, and now we a have a starting wonder, right were the horse poo enriched the soil, they should love it.
Some of the cluster are going to another garden thou, yet another one 🙂
This time in Roselle, at Anyplace, were some brilliant growing will happen soon.
Me and Heather and Justine went to speak with Jase last week, and started some clean-up this sunday, stay tuned.

next Tending day is this thursday, from 9ish, Nick should pop in, and we the whole new pile of soil we collected from Callan Park’s gardeners, we should be ready to start the melissa garden no?

Below then is me posting a video

Big Green Thumbs Up

Tending at Social Relations and Critical Spaces


Caleb Kelly is one of the lecturers at SCA, and, amongst other things, runs a class for Art Theory, Social Relations and Critical Spaces.
In it it tends to present the reality of post-object art, presenting the works of the like of Gordon-Matta Clark, Vito Acconci and ( I would assume) Alan Kaprow, the situationist, the fluxus movement etc..
As stated in the course outline;

In 1971, Conceptual artist Gordon Matta-Clark, among others, opened Food, a restaurant run by artists, where cooking and dining became a means of artistic expression and debate. Twenty years later, Rirkrit Tiravanija’s work Untitled (Free) took the form of a Thai meal cooked by the artist in the gallery for its patrons. Taking its cue form works such as these, this elective explores expanded models of contemporary art practice and new forms of institutional and social critique. Drawing on the legacies of Situationism and Conceptual Art, it addresses the current dynamics of authorship (such as collaboration and artist collectives), spectatorship, and the politics of space.

So when the Tending garden project started in the courtyard beside the library Caleb quickly enlisted as a great supporter, organising public presentations and lectures.
Above is the image of Lucas presenting Tending to one half of the class, in the garden, on a glorious (outdoor) day.
The students were very engaged with the presentation, asking key questions on a variety of aspects of such an academic adventure as growing a garden could be.
Fantastically they also engaged in follow up conversations on their own blog , here, where some of the questions and reasoning popped back up.
Is it art?
Short answer is YES.
Long answer is: does it matter? If as cultural practitioners the end game is communication, does it matter if it fits the label?
Lots of academics delved in recent decades on the thorny question ‘does art have agency’, does art really activate anything outside of its own bubble, can art realistically engage in a constructive and critically-participatory way with modern society?
Or is it just furniture, preaching to converted, high-end consumerist comfort-food for the intellect?

I truly recommend this post by Jodie as an example of how the listeners digested the Tending presentation.
Hopefully some of this people will come about and follow the growing through, inserting their own personal readings as layers of soil, and compost.

As for highlighting the already solid connection of Tending with the outside world surrounding the campus, we (Tending and a number of other keen gardeners) have been invited to advise on a gardening project at Anyplace, the new Leichhardt Council supported artist studios complex just up the road from SCA, see details here.
Get in contact if you want to participate too, Anyplace is worth it. First meeting this coming Monday, send a mail to tending.

Somewhat making a garden sets up a level ground for all, or as Jodie post, a garden could well sit outside all of the already defined structures, transversely joining and inverting them all.

on growing a garden


There are lots of special things that enrich your day when gardening.
They mostly relate to the relationship between time and change.
Things grow, change through time, and to witness the slow unfolding of change demystify stiff solutions, defined resolutions.
When things change they do so by transporting whatever they are into new things, new being, new paradigms.
Resilience, validity, transformation, are all part of time+change.


Tending is growing, the plants in it are growing, the people around it are growing, in number and interest.
I love the little bushes of fireweed (Senecio spp), a plant no one planted, but because we are here ‘managing’ the grounds, they had the chance to grow: they would have been mowed otherwise.
So this little clusters of bright yellow flowers found a sanctuary. They are declared noxious weeds in many parts of the east coast, illegal being, not even refugees, outcasts rather.

diego's tending photos, 4 august 2010

I’m writing this from a place where fireweed is heavily legislated upon, on a property 3 hours south of Sydney, see here, and yesterday we had a presentation from Maarteen Stapper, a Biological agronomist, who amongst other things said that the current shortsighted legislation around ‘weeds’ miss the point. Plants grow to heal the soil, and if you rather have more complex plant structures growing in your fields then you should take a hint from what is growing, because it tells you the deficiency in the soil, no point to poison the plant, actually you shouldn’t at all, but rather leave them, the pioneer flora will slowly remediate the soil structure. If you don’t want to wait, he said, then look at the telling signs the weed is providing: Fleabane (conyza) say the soil needs aeration, Nettle (urtica) says the soil is too rich in calcium, Thistles too much potassium ( i seem to remember..) and so forth. Fix the deficiency, facilitate a healthy ecosystem of bacteria and microorganism below the ground. That is not done with chemical fertilizers.

So the garden grows, and so the interest and we slowly witnessing an overgrowing participation.
Betty is spearheading her own patch, she already enlisted the help of a number of students, soon to come.
come down, watch it grow, by slow interaction of living organisms.

manure galore!


Indeed, for our Tending Day on Sunday we hauled a hefty load of manure to the garden.
This is how it went:
Lucas organised the pick up of goodies from the Mounted Police stables, in Crown St, Surry Hills, and luckily we enlisted the eager help from Kyla, whose parent’s ute acted as the cart for the strongly scented booty.

So here we are shoveling the shit:

It's poo day at Tending

This was great manure, as horse poo is (together with cows poo) one of the best fertilisers, not too harsh (as chicken droppings can be) and easy to compost.
It is important not to apply such nitrogen rich material directly against plants, as the fermentation process might upset the growth, this is also very important when dealing with chicken manure, which together with the heat produced during the fermentation process also has a very high quantity of phosphorous and nitrogen, a bit too much for the plants if applied too handsomely.
Read more about manure in cultivation here, and below is the steaming pile at the stables (note also the flytrap just behind it).

It's poo day at Tending

So here it is, a nice sizeable pile of manure to rest for a couple of weeks to then enrich Tending’s garden beds

It's poo day at Tending

Believe it or not, that took most of the morning, but the rewarding task was happily celebrated with green tea and pies and dates, as more guest joined us, noticeably Kirsten, 1/3 of Milkwood, who came along to visit Tendings, and Heather, our most constant supporter, and Nick Keys, another researcher from SCA, which planted a pot of red seeds in collaboration with Heather.
What else. We turned the compost bin, to aerate and speed up the process, we pruned the sick branches of the Kaffir lime, and we even managed to go to the Writer Centre to meet with a number of local activists, the Friends of Callan Park, which had organized an ‘open park’ event with posters , guided tours and tea stalls.
Over all we drank lots of tea, and achieved some great stuff, while the plants slowly but surely show themselves, like this potatoes from our chicken wire and tyre experiments below:

It's poo day at Tending

It's poo day at Tending

More images from the day here.

One last thing:
me and Lucas are really enthusiastic about Heather’s enthusiasm, who keeps sending us emails with amazing links to all sorts of related material, so much -valuable- material that we decided to make a new page up there, and call it Heather’s corner, and it will be a sort of depository of links, and connections possibilities, de facto ‘rooting’ Tending within a wider gardening/activist/artistic context.
We hope you readers might find as interesting as us.

Green Cheers!

on how to reshape a garden

Lucas replanting the lettuce

Yesterday we spent the day in wonderful company at Tending. Our good friend Heather visited us with gardener extraordinaire Cecilia Macaulay, and all together we ventured in to the reshaping of one of the garden beds.
Cecilia is renowned for her intimate and permaculture-aware garden solutions, advising and running workshops on the subject in Australia and Japan, see her blog here.
The lovely personality was a welcome addition to a rather windy day, and gave impetuous to the reshaping of a circular garden created a couple of weeks back.
The careful selection of sandstones blocks available on site allowed for a more dynamic visual achievement which incorporated also the Kaffir lime, the Thyme bush and the Oregano into a little landscape.
How wonderful is to have such a generous offering of time and energy by all participants (big smile)
Big cheers for Jes as well, for taking pictures and general great company, and for Betty, who came along with a donation for the compost bin.
Come and check out the changes during this Saturday’ SCA open day!

Also big smile to the resident Mynah, who came to check our doings as soon as we let down of the shovel:

and as soon as we finish