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February 2023 Newsletter

Happy harvesting season!

We have just passed the full moon and I am sure everyone is as busy me harvesting and preserving all their bounty and/or busy planning their winter crops and purchasing or swapping seed.

The tomatoes this year are doing so well. I even trialled some tomato bags which have been having great success at keeping those pesky fruit flies away while the tomatoes ripen on the vine. I even trialled some new exclusion bags for my peaches this year and am very happy with those too. I will write an article about those in the next newsletter.

It has been hot and humid - I hope you have been able to keep your gardens well watered and still under some kind of control. We had so much rain for quite a while there it is easy to forget all the plants need regular watering, especially fruit trees, at this time of year.

Purple Pear Farm is holding the next Produce Share for the 3 Rivers Hinterland. It is this Friday 10 February, 10am at Anambah. We will list the dates of future shares in the next newsletter. Thanks Jacqui from In Our Hands Family Farm for starting up and managing the Produce Shares. Please join the Facebook group with the same name to attend a share and read about how they operate.

If you would like to contribute to the newsletter or have a notice or event you would like to submit, please email it to

Melissa Fogarty, Blue Boat Farm (Newsletter Editor)

Grow Your Own Mushrooms

With Kellie Wall from the Pickled Patch

Saturday February 11 from 10am-2.30pm


Learn how to grow mushrooms at home using some simple techniques from Kellie who has been teaching mushroom growing for several years now.

Kellie loves permaculture and fungi.

She completed her Permaculture Design Certificate at Limestone Permaculture a few years ago and learnt to grow mushrooms with Aaron Boyer of Urban Kulture. Kellie is a paramedic and raises four boys as well as her own garden called The Pickled Patch.

This weekend she will teach you how to grow mushrooms and send you home with a mini kit to continue learning.

Places are almost booked out so if you have not booked in, get in fast. Register here


MESSAGE from the President

Welcome again to this month's newsletter. I hope to meet some new members at the next meeting. This is a workshop and it is being paid for by HOGS. Check it out in the newsletter and on social media for details. Members get to many varied and interesting events during the year. Hope to see you at more.

Mike Lorraine (President)


PRINCIPLES in Action - Pathways

Each month, Will from Maplewood Permaculture will be sharing an example of permaculture principles in action from their farm. The principles are integrated concepts, illustrating how they apply several in concert when decision making.

Use the edges and value the marginal is a permaculture principle that really resonates with Anthea and I. Learning to recognise the potential of challenging spots, or just making the most of the margins can be of great benefit to your garden.

The desire for a ‘down-to-earth’ or ‘back-to-the-land’ approach to living has continued to grow in the face of adversity, and so with an increasing population of people searching for a place on which to grow food, capture energy and restore biodiversity, it seems likely that more challenging sites - the unusual, overlooked plots of land - are the places that will be most accessible for growers to transform.

If you have a place to grow, or are looking for one, observation and interaction is your guiding principle in determining how you might be able to value the marginal. I would note that the idea is not to extract value from the marginal, but to simply value it. It is of course going to be necessary to obtain a yield if you are to eat from your new garden, but you might also be simply hoping to use and value diversity, helping restore the land within the natural ecosystem.

A permaculture site sector analysis of the place, is a map of your observations. It is more of a synthesis of all of the influences coming together on the site, and helps you to design your garden from patterns to details. There are literally one hundred questions or more that you can ask about a place in preparation for interacting with it. We knew that our new south-facing, 33m vertical rising site was marginal (and thus affordable) - it had been unwanted for some time - and taking our time with observation highlighted the potential, and challenges, we might encounter with shade and wind, water movement, hillside microclimates and more.

In a typical garden, the margins are likely those areas that were not filled with beds first. The places with excuses. The shady zones, the dry patches, those exposed to the wind. These can sometimes be the place to put your

garden shed, using the least favourable conditions for a structural function, and saving the best for the plants. The marginal places are also the edges. If you have a veggie patch already, using materials for your garden edges or planter boxes is great for holding soil - but what other functions could be stacked with a few modifications? It might be a semi-permanent trellis that provides shade in the warmer months, attached to the edge of the bed. Remember to think in three dimensions and it might just be that the vertical space isn’t so marginal all, but a major asset. The fence lines around your property, the edge around the shed, even the space that is perfect for three months of the year in autumn, and is utilised just at that time, is an example of the creatively using and responding to change principle, with the seasons.

While we are moving with time, consider the marginal and ‘edge’ times of the year. A great way to maximise your garden yield is to identify strategies to grow through the more difficult seasons - in my opinion we are, only just now, making our way out of the most difficult time of the year in the Hunter. Soon we will sit on the edge of summer and autumn, and another shoulder at the end of winter. These edges in the calendar can be amazingly abundant as we make the most of two sets of conditions if we have planned for them. You can also work with the edges when picking varieties and when to grow. Choosing to start early and late tomatoes can be a great way to address fruit fly, avoiding the height of their life cycle in the season. It also used to be quite common for a few fruit trees in the backyard to be of different varieties for an extended seasons, lemons for example chosen for a heavy crop in winter, and smaller crop in spring and summer.

The humble fruit tree is often an edge or marginal growing space that I see overlooked in backyards. Trees growing in isolation with a neat ring of mulch around them. Instead of mowing lawn between them, connect them together and fill the ground below with layers of herbs and flowers. Integrated, not segregated, plants can be of enormous benefit to one another. Choose a good ground-cover and your mulching needs will be gone also.

The edges and margins are not separate from the garden, but highly valuable parts of it, we just have to identify them first.

For more about their marginal farm, see Will & Anthea’s expanded article in Sowing Seeds Magazine, Issue 4, 2020

Will Maplewood, Maplewood Permaculture Farm (Member)


That Herb Guy

Working Bee Update

HOGS members came around to our place and did marvellous work. We

haven't been the only ones to receive working bees. The working bees are just some of the benefits of membership. Over the year I have included photos of the progress made.

A lot has happened since HOGS came last year. More plants in the ground. More raised gardens. Just started on the Food Forest with planting a Red Shahtoot Mulberry which I am planning to espalier. I planted out the Native Current. The pile of stones is still there but it will soon be used for a herb spiral.

By Mike Lorraine (President)


Tools and Guides

Limestone Permaculture over the last few years has been involved with Greater Sydney Small Farms Network and more locally Hunter Local Land Services, Karuah Great Lakes Landcare providing permaculture farm tours, online permaculture workshops & talks as a segway into permaculture systems thinking for new farmers, property owners & homesteaders.

Whilst the term 'Permaculture' doesnt always get mentioned in some of these publications & guides, its design process & systems thinking does, which is all that matters.

Continued collaboration & cooperation with local & state government bodies such as these is essential in creating thoughtful land stewards for the future!

The most current publications / tools & online outcomes can be accessed here:

Hunter Small Property Landholder Guide (Web page / PDF)

Hunter Every Bit Counts Assessment Tool (Online version)

Greater Sydney Property Planning Resources (Web page)

Brett Cooper, Limestone Permaculture (Member)


Maitland Show

17-19 February

Maitland Showground

Competitions in horticulture, cookery, animals and more.

Permaculture at the Pub

Thursday 2 March, Paterson Tavern, from 6pm Thursday 6 April, The Paterson Courthouse, from 6pm

Casual dining and chats with other like minded folks with Maplewood Permaculture

Soil Sisters - Coffee and Compost

First Saturday of the Month, 10am

Three Sista's Cafe, John St, Singleton

Casual chats about soil, gardening and more.

Newcastle Show

3-5 March

Newcastle Showground

Volunteers needed for the Horticultural Precinct

Competitors enter here.


Sow: Amaranth, Basil, Beans, Beetroot, Bok Choy, Cabbage, Carrot, Celery, Choko, Coriander, Dill, Herbs, Kohlrabi, Leek, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Nasturtiums, Okra, Parsley, Parsnip, Radish, Spinach, Spring Onion, Squash, Sweet Potato, Tatsoi, Turnip and see more here

Other jobs to do:

  • harvest, harvest, harvest all your hard labour

  • water deeply veggies and trees and maintain mulch cover

  • fertilise regularly to replace leached nutrients with manures and rock minerals (checking application rates)

  • take cuttings of soft wood herbs for propagation

  • keep compost moist and turn heaps regularly

  • monitor fruit-fly controls

  • cut back passionfruit once fruiting has finished by one third

  • check irrigation systems and unblock drippers

  • remember to keep your worms out of the hot sun

  • plan your winter crops and review or purchase seed as necessary

  • order bare rooted fruit trees you want to plant this winter

  • consider which flowering bulbs you will grow next season and order where you can

  • consider which garlic you will grow this year

  • preserve your bounty if you cannot eat or share it

  • review what has been successful or otherwise over the spring and summer season


Homemade Tomato Sauce

This recipe is a favourite of mine. I don't know about you but we are sauce people. This one has deep and robust flavour which pairs nicely with everything according to my son. Or if you prefer not to add tomato sauce to all your meals then I feel it complements freshly roasted, crispy potatoes very well indeed. If you have plenty of tomatoes this season you might like to try making this homemade tomato sauce for your own afternoon treat indulgence.

Makes 4 x 250ml jars

Ingredients 4kg tomatoes

2 brown onions, peeled and chopped

1 cup sugar (adjust to taste)


8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed

2 cups apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons mustard seeds

1 teaspoon black pepper corns

1 teaspoon coriander seeds


Wash and de leaf tomatoes.

Chop and place in pot with onions and garlic.

Simmer gently until soft and then blitz in batches in a food processor or similar.

Pour through a sieve to remove seeds and skins (some seeds remaining are ok with me).

Mix vinegar and spices in another pot and bring to the boil, cool and strain.

Add strained liquid, sugar, salt and tomatoes to a pot/large frypan and stir over low heat for a couple of minutes.

Simmer gently until reduced and thick (in one large pot this can take up to around 2 hours).

Bottle as per your preserving unit instructions or personal method.

Farmgates and Markets

Paterson Farm Gate Saturday mornings from 8am

4-8 Count Street, Paterson for CSA membership information

In Our Hands Family Farm Gate Everyday 13a Giles Street, Seaham


Earth Market Maitland First and Third Thursday mornings of the month

Maitland City Mall


Raymond Terrace Farmers Markets

Second and Fourth Thursday mornings of the month

Raymond Terrace Rectory



Community Gardens are a great opportunity to talk to the gardeners about what makes their community garden special and to get your hands dirty.

  • LARGS Tuesdays 9:30AM - 1:30PM Please contact Evelyn on 0419492016 for the address and more information

  • MEDOWIE Wednesdays 9:30AM - 12:30PM 6 Waropara Road Medowie, within the Medowie Baptist Church grounds, behind the Church building

  • MEREWETHER 1st Thursday 5PM-7PM 3rd Sunday 8AM - 10AM Townson Oval/Mitchell Park, Merewether

  • MUSWELLBROOK Sundays 9-11am Penguin Community Garden Wilkinson Avenue, Muswellbrook

  • NEWCASTLE 1st Sunday of the month 9AM - 2PM Fig Tree Community Garden 20 Albert Street, Newcastle

  • SINGLETON 1st & 3rd Sunday of each month Singleton Community Garden 42 Bathurst St, Singleton

  • WARATAH/MAYFIELD Wednesday mornings Hunter Multicultural Community Garden 2A Platt St, Waratah

If you are part of a community garden, meet up or event then please send us a message so we can share with the Hunter Valley community. Find your local community garden here


Current Committee Members

President - Mike Lorraine

Vice President - Nestor Gutierrez

General Secretary - Gerda Maeder

Treasurer - Tracey Evans

Public Officer - Barbara Nudd

Membership Officer - Melissa Fogarty

Agenda and Minutes Secretary - Karen Miller

Newsletter Editor - Melissa Fogarty

Event Coordinator - Tracey Evans

Website Manager - Bec Evans

Social Media & Publicity - Chiala Hernandez

Tea & Coffee - Jennifer Richards


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