Opportunities to volunteer elsewhere in Tassie

Tasmania’s Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment is offering a range of extraordinary volunteering opportunities. Perhaps some blog followers may be interested to pursue one of the five options in the south of the state or the one option in the north west of Tasmania.  For further information read the details at here.

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Another RTBG day

While I wasn’t able to join my gardening friends at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG) on Thursday as usual, seven of our team turned up plus a newbie and everyone worked in the Food Garden with their usual commitment and verve. 

The sky was a mix of wide blue heavens and soft puffy white clouds – visually it was another glorious Thursday. However the temperature was icy with a southerly wind breezing air from the Southern Ocean and Antarctica in the far distance.  Robyn remarked ‘The weather – it was a ‘coat on, coat off’ kinda day, at one point a few drops of rain, but mostly beautiful, as per usual.’ I am particularly grateful for her photos of the Food Garden and willingness to share on this blog.   

In the first photo below, across from the Food Garden, notice the trees in the distance are showing their new green buds; before long those large shade trees will be covered in leaves.  The second photo shows a healthy artichoke plant.

Robyn wrote: ‘ Jobs today:

– Tony harvested cumquats, silverbeet, mustard greens, kale with the help of Neil and Adam 

– after weeding, Andrew added compost and rocket fuel to one of the central beds (post brussel sprouts). Adam is considering growing tomatoes in all of those central beds, like an avenue of toms. Andrew also turned the compost to make space for greens, weeds etc.

– we all weeded in the orchard, a massive job that is just always there!

– Adam asked Janet and I to harvest the tea and suggested rather than the backbreaking, tedious work of pinching out from the plants themselves, that we lightly prune the plants down to a growth node, then take the prunings back to the bench to pinch out the tips there. It was more comfortable – not bending down and on our knees in the tea patch – and I think it was more efficient. It will also encourage new growth on the plants. There will be more to do next week. Adam will ‘process’ today’s harvest and next week, we’ll have fresh green tea (we had the last of the previous harvest for morning tea today).’

Long term blog followers may recall that Robyn and I picked tea leaves last year; for those stories refer here and here. From Robyn’s report above, clearly the harvesting process is different this year. First the pruning, then the pinching, with the discards taken to the compost bin.

Robyn’s photos included a plant that attracted her attention, and one which I haven’t noticed before, so thanks – next week I will be on the lookout for the native watercress.

The sustained activity by everyone (by phone Robyn told me many arrived early and left late) and the generous spirit of cooperation pervades Robyn’s account of the day.  Many thanks.

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RTBG makes it into the Tasmanian Community Achievement Awards

You can see that the Food Garden of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG) was entered into the prestigious Tasmanian Community Achievement Awards and listed as a semi-finalist in that competition, here.

A few weeks ago RTBG reported on its Facebook, ‘we’re semi- finalists in the Tasmanian Community Achievement Awards! Congratulations to our staff and valued volunteers who look after our Community Food Garden! What a fantastic achievement to be listed as a 2020 semi-finalist in the Tasmanian Community Achievement Awards. Did you know our garden showcases best practice principles in organic and sustainable produce-growing techniques and demonstrates to visitors the variety of seasonal crops that can be easily grown in home gardens. The Community Food Garden produces over 1,500kg of produce each year which is donated to local charities who ensure it goes to the people in our community who need it the most.

The Tasprint Community Group of the Year Award recognises groups that make a significant contribution to their community. These community groups share a strong sense of team spirit, and play a vital role in enhancing the social, economic, commercial and environmental prosperity of their region. Whether it be working together on an event, restoration project, providing a service or program, it is important to recognise and encourage these groups, as their efforts help to make our communities stronger and more vibrant. Winners will be announced at the Awards Gala Presentation Dinner on Friday 6th November 2020!

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Plum tree

In mid-August, the red plum tree that was living here when I moved into the house had hundreds of bunches of flower buds waiting to burst open. At of the end of August a few were opening and on their way making the bees happy.

Now the tree is blooming in delicate fragile white flowers – in the month when we get our most notoriously strong wind gusts. So far most flowers have hung on.

This is one wonderful example of Spring springing glorious change!

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A walk around ‘our’ mountain

Not me this time. Rather friends walked on Hobart’s kunanyi/Mt Wellington, and offered to share the experience with photos.

Sandra offered a selection of ‘winter wonderland’ photographs from her recent walk. She said ‘The pics show a daytrip up the mountain on a beautiful sunny winter day. We drove up to the springs and walked up the icehouse track and then donned on the snow shoes and walked around the top of the mountain along the plateau between Dead Island and the mountain and came out along Thark track. A magical winter day on the mountain with amazing views.


The temperature might have been icy, but so many of our winter days were covered in  blue skies and sparkling sun making the landscape gorgeous to behold.

And the value of snow shoes is shown below.

Glorious. Thanks Sandra.

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Yummy steamed buns

In Hobart’s CBD, many new eateries offering various Asian cuisines have established themselves for the daytime and lunch markets. I was desperately hungry during one recent visit to the city and wandered into Yangs Dumplings.

As a vegan and not eating fried food, I am limited in what I can eat and choosy about where I eat. It was the menu that attracted me with one item; mushroom steamed buns. For a moment I considered they might not really suit my eating style but the name was tantalising and I was willing to try.

I didn’t know what to expect but placed an order. And waited. The buns were made from scratch – you can’t get fresher than that! And well worth the wait.

When the steamed basket was placed before me, the presentation was truly exciting. It seemed a shame to eat these buns.

I am familiar with the pristine white of ‘normal’ steamed buns. My mushroom buns had the appearance of real mushrooms. Their tops were marked as for a mushroom, and they had plump short ‘stalks’ beneath. I loved that attention to detail.

Despite being difficult to handle with chopsticks I worked at it and bit into the soft giving ‘flesh’ of the first bun. Almost melted in the mouth. No stodgy dough sticking to the roof of my mouth, and the juicy mushroom filling added the right savoury note.

What a delightful surprise. And the sort of treat I am bound to repeat!

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Codling moth – help is on its way

Do you grow apples, pears or quinces? Have you found that ugly brown excrement, frass, oozing from your fruit, then cut them open to find tunnels and sometimes a moving codling moth grub?

If so, read on to learn how to counteract the problem –if your fruit trees grow in Tasmania, and you haven’t already done so, then it is probably time for you to act (depending on your microclimate).

The GoodLife Permaculture site provides a wonderful and simple explanation of the codling moth cycle and what can be done about it. Read more here.

This GlobalNetAcademy site offers additional information.

For years I have pasted horticultural glue on one side of cardboard strips and wrapped them around the trunks of my pear and apple trees, and later found beautiful specimens of codling moth larvae trapped in there over time. But in recent years I have not thought carefully enough about when to do the wrapping. Judging by the volume of attacks on my pears and apples last year, I have failed. So in the first days of September this year, when I noticed the first buds about to unfurl their first leaves on my pear tree, I dispensed with the cardboard and directly taped the trunks and applied the sticky glue.

Will this work? Am I too late? Have the moths already laid their eggs? Only time will tell. Wait and watch. That’s the plan.

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A glorious Thursday at the RTBG – part 2 of 2

Yesterday’s blog post talked about the work we undertook in the Food Garden of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG). In addition, and as soon as we had eaten our lunches, Coordinator Adam took us on a tour of the specialist Japanese Garden located elsewhere in the RTBG – just for a treat and because we don’t make time to look at other parts of the large Garden complex when we come to volunteer. During recent months and while we have been away, major changes have been made to the fence and gateway into the garden, and to the operation of the waterways within that garden.

Last September the aged fence and entrance looked as follows.

Now a beautifully constructed custom-built fence and entrance is set to last another 30 or more years.

The waterway is a system of interconnected ponds which, with the aid of a pump, is maintained by recirculating water. As the set-up has aged, some water was being lost. Now all has been cleaned and repaired to create a secure magical environment. The water is comparatively shallow so no fish have been added, however from time to time goldfish are seen swimming. Where they come from is unknown – they don’t last long and quickly become a meal for local birds.

Our tour was exceptionally interesting as Adam explained how traditional Japanese gardeners prune trees and we looked at some examples where that careful professional work had been undertaken (I found a video which gives some indication of the meticulous work required). As we left we admired the shaping of a few box plants.

This was an educational experience layered with beauty, creativity, and wonder. Entrancing. The Japanese Garden felt like a sanctuary of calm, stillness and peace. We hope that Adam may introduce us to other parts of the RTBG on future Thursdays.

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A glorious Thursday at the RTBG – part 1 of 2

Long term blog followers will know that in the past and with one exception in a year, Thursday’s have always been blue sky days and glorious regardless of season when we are volunteering in the Food Garden of the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG). And so it was yesterday – a heavenly day in every way.

In advance of our return to volunteering, we had been through Covid 19 ‘training’, filled out new paperwork and agreed to abide by changed conditions for our efforts. Over the past months, our ‘family’ of Food Garden volunteers had exchanged emails and phone calls, participated in many Zoom online meetings, and met occasionally for a meal together. With the news that we could return, we buzzed with excitement. Our suggested work time has always been 10am-3pm although we are not expected to stay the entire time. I knew I planned to arrive around 9ish, another told me he’d be there by 8 (and in fact he arrived 20 minutes before then). As I bussed to the Gardens an exchange of texts alerted me that another two would be arriving around the time I expected to arrive. Buzz. Super-excitement. We all felt vitally alive. ‘Can’t wait’ was our mantra. And once there, ‘can’t leave’ almost became our new mantra! I left a little before 3pm while others were still enjoying planting new vegetable crops.

Soon after arrival, the resident magpie family sent a representative waddling across the pathway to welcome us before Food Garden Coordinator Adam took us for a short tour of the garden so we could understand the work which needed doing. The plants which surprised us all were the unusual crimson flowering broad beans. Strikingly beautiful.

T was already harvesting brassicas ready to distribute to charity, and a couple of others moved to help him. As each container was filled we lined them up, eventually covering them to prevent a marauding currawong having an easy feast.

The big job for the day was to weed a long brassica patch where last year we had planted and tended garlic. We all came across a few rogue garlic plants that has somehow survived and let them continue to grow.

Hours later, after four of us worked on it, the bed was cleared. The cabbages and other plants looked larger and more magnificent with the new space around them.

Mid-afternoon planting began. Garden beds needed to be dug and readied then leeks, spring onions and kohlrabi plants were lined up, spaced, removed from their potting containers and set in the ground.

A joyful day of great satisfaction.

As any gardener knows you never finish all that you expect to achieve; the time passes and not all on ‘the list’ gets completed. And so it was yesterday – but we know those other jobs will be waiting for us next week; joys such as picking the cumquats and the freshly growing tea leaves not to forget we will be extracting more healthily flourishing weeds!

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First day back at RTBG

Great news – yesterday the Tasmanian Government and the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens (RTBG welcomed my gardening friends and I back to volunteer in the Community Food Garden. Today I am writing up that story and you can expect a report in tomorrow’s blog.

Long term blog followers may recall that this Tasmanian Discoveries blogsite has existed for some years, however I had not written a blog post each day until Covid 19 changed our lives and I was no longer permitted to volunteer at the RTBG. I vowed to continue to publish daily until I could return to the RTBG. Now after 182 days, the blog publications will transition from a torrent to a trickle – gradually. No longer should you expect to get your ‘regular morning fix’, as some readers have declared my blog posts to be. Initially there will be more posts published than just the once weekly RTBG report, but eventually I will settle back into a weekly reporting regime – unless I make an exciting discovery somewhere else in Tasmania which I feel compelled to write up.

Meanwhile I am in awe of others who continue to offer beautiful photos and ideas through their Facebook sites to keep our spirits raised during this pandemic: these include, Mary McA’s daily photographs ‘To brighten each day – morning memory of special places close to home…’; Chantale’s regular landscapes and art works, June’s connections to the TSO Daily Dose, Mary B’s La de Dardle Lauderdale landscapes, and Katie’s permaculture news. Fantastic contributions across social media. Thank you. I hope everyone knows someone who is making the world a better place during the restraints of our times, and can admire their efforts – and perhaps you are also achieving wonderful things during this time.

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