Bugs, bulldozers and bountiful produce

Date posted: 29 February 2016

What a month it’s been for Little Sprouts, with big changes happening at the Garden ahead of our first Visiting Program session for the year on 16 March!

Transformation

Construction for Stage 2 of the Garden is progressing well with completion a little while off. When finished, the Garden will have added a shade arbour, new garden beds, a handwashing and drinks station, water pumps and tables and chairs, offering visitors an even more hands-on experience. Have a look around during your next visit and try to spot the differences!

Goodbye summer, hello autumn

The Garden made it through its first summer in tip top shape (thanks to our tireless curator Pip), so we now turn our eyes to autumn. March will see forward planning and planting commencing for our winter crop, which will include beetroot, broad bean, broccoli, coriander, cabbage, celery, fennel, kohlrabi, lettuce, parsnip, snow and sugar snaps peas, silverbeet, swede, spring onion and turnip. What a mouthful!

Garden highlights

There’s something to catch your eye everywhere you look in the Garden, but there are a few things turning heads more than others. Sunflowers, which some refer to as “the smiling faces of the garden”, will continue to remind us of summer, well after the season finishes. Tomatillos (Physalis philadelphica) are an intriguing fruit, which are related to the tomato and are in the same family as capsicum, chilli and eggplant. Unlike “normal” tomatoes, tomatillos – which originate from Mexico – are surrounded by a paper-like husk and are used while still green (or purple). Tomatillos are a key ingredient in Mexican salsa verde (green sauce), for the taco fans out there! Meantime watermelon, carrot and eggplant continue to shine in the Garden. See what else you can spot during your next visit.

Our stinkiest resident yet?

An interesting character in the Garden of late is the shield bug. These bugs are easily recognisable from their triangular-shaped plate, which looks like a shield and helps to protect them. Shield bugs are generally found among plants and crops, such as beans, cabbage, cotton, melon and squash and while some types feed on the plants themselves, others like to eat insects that feed on the plants (e.g. caterpillars and weevils) – which makes them a friend of gardeners who’d like to get rid of pests! But the most interesting (and smelly) fact about shield bugs is they store a stinky liquid in their glands they can release when in trouble to scare off predators that want to attack or eat them. And trust us – we’ve experienced first-hand the smell – it works!

The perfect classroom

The school year is just getting started and there are still spots available in the Little Sprouts Kitchen Garden Visiting Program. Classes that participate in the fun and hands-on program will learn about the different aspects of a kitchen garden such as the life cycles of plants, recycling and sustainability, diversity of food, seasonality and the role of insects, bugs and other animals in the environment. Find out more about the program and book your class in today!