March meeting – the fascinating world of fungi

We have been lucky enough to secure Dr Alison Pouliot as our speaker. Alison is an honorary fellow at Australian National University, and has published The Allure of Fungi. She runs fungi workshops, seminars & forays around Victoria.

Her photography is spectacular and her knowledge of fungi is amazing.

Guests are welcome – cost for non members is $5 which covers the talk and supper. Please RSVP to

The March meeting will be held on Tuesday 24 March at 7:30 pm at the Wesley Hill Hall

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October Meeting – Gung Hoe Growers

Mel Willard from Gung Hoe Growers at Harcourt gave a very informative and entertaining talk.

From 2014 Mel has been working with her partner Sas to grow organic food on a larger / productive scale than backyards. Gung Hoe Growers was set up at the Mt Alexander Fruit Gardens location in 2015. It has become part of the Harcourt Organic Farming Co-operative. The initial venture was to rotary hoe 1/8 acre and plant 30m of garlic.  This has expanded to grow many vegetables, herbs, perennials and edible flowers on 1.5 acres.

Harcourt has better soil than the Castlemaine area, but it is granitic soil, so very old and like sand.  It doesn’t have much in it nutrient wise and doesn’t hold much. The Gung Hoe Growers practices are all about building up the percentage of organic matter and soil life – microbes, fungus, worms, bugs etc. – building soil – which means better moisture retention and healthier plants. 

The plants you eat are only as nutritional as the soil in which they’re grown. 

The soil preparation process is to initially rotary hoe then add a sprinkling of either gypsum or dolomite lime and rock dust, broad fork the new bed, incorporate compost and either mulch the bed or plant directly into it.  The aim is to have the least amount of bare ground possible as this is what dries the soil out, puts carbon out into the atmosphere and depending on the season either freezes or fries the top layer of soil deriding it of life.

They rotate all of the crops every season depending on which section they fall under – heavy feeders, light feeders, green manures, alliums,  By using rotations you not only take from the soil, but you feed it too.

Gung Hoe Growers sell to select restaurants in Chewton, Castlemaine, Trentham and Bendigo. They cater for functions and sell veggie boxes via CSA for 6 months of the year. They have a stall at the new weekly farmers market in Castlemaine – held next to the Market building on Wednesday afternoons rom 3.30-630pm.

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Garden Market 2019

Another successful Garden Market was held on 3 November 2019. The new location in the car park of the Castlemaine Tennis Club proved to be very popular, particularly as the proximity to the monthly Artists Market and Farmers Market, enabled people to walk between all sites .

Thanks to club members who potted up plants for the market and assisted at the plant stall and entry points on the day. Particular thanks to those members who worked hard to find a new site for the market at short notice and organised signage, including balloons to assist people to find the new site; layout details; assistance towards printing new fliers and posters; and the myriad other tasks to ensure that the day was a success for stall holders and the general public.

Winner of the 2019 raffle!
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Garden Market

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Posies for Senior’s Week

Thanks to Club members who made posies at Peggy’s and to those who delivered them to residents at Penhall, Ellery, Spencely and Thompson House.  Everyone had a happy time and the posies were much appreciated!

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Garden Club September Meeting – Festival of Gardens

Many thanks to Peggy Munro and Marion Cooke, who treated us to a nostalgic wander through the history and development of the Castlemaine and District “Festival of Gardens”.

Peter Robertson, Developmental Officer for the City of Castlemaine, and Ian Huxley, President of Promote Castlemaine, proposed the idea of a garden festival to be held in Cup Week as on off-year balance to the biennial Castlemaine State Festival, which at that time was also held in November. 

The first Festival of Gardens was run in 1991 with guidance and hard work by Peggy Munro, Ian Huxley and “Promote Castlemaine Inc.”  Financial pressure from the Kennett State Government moved the Castlemaine State Festival to April, meaning that one year both events were held in the same year.

Initially, gardens were not ‘selected’ and anyone could enter: private gardens, nurseries, parks, the Botanical Gardens and galleries. Early years saw up to 52 entries. These days, prospective gardens are selected by people from outside the area to avoid bias.

Production of the program booklet has been an expensive and time-consuming feat.  Jeff Hocking’s cheerful and quirky cover illustrations have become a well-loved tradition.  The first painting, done on wood, was auctioned to raise money towards printing costs. The program are now full of enticing colour photos of all gardens and usually accurate maps. Marion remarked that, “Doing the maps is one of the worst jobs.”

Many members at the meeting added their own reminiscences to this very enjoyable evening. We certainly all admire the tremendous passion and enthusiasm of gardeners and organisers who have kept this festival going and growing for so long.

Alison McMillan.

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Posies for Senior’s fashion parade

Beautiful posies made for the Senior’s fashion parade held on 17 September. Thanks to those who brought flowers and made these lovely arrangements and to Peggy for organising.

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