Summer gardening ideas

Here we go with a brand-new year, which just has to be better than 2020.

What better way to celebrate than to create a pretty, productive garden to keep our spirits up and lower our living costs with fresh, full of flavor, home grown vegetables, surrounded by colourful scented flowers.

Number one after the new year is to plant some new tomato seedlings to ensure you can harvest a second crop later in the autumn. Our summer season has been forecast to last longer than usual and nothing sets off a salad better than home-grown tomatoes. Any excess tomatoes can always be frozen for use in winter casseroles or to make your own tomato sauce.

Most gardens have a shady area where you despair of ever growing something nice, but some plants prefer such a spot. A spectacular example is a Clivia, which comes in several shades from pale lemon to bright red and show to advantage against the bright green strappy leaves.

An added benefit is that they don’t require much water and don’t suffer much damage from slugs, snails and other pests. Upkeep is easy as they clump and they can stay in the same place and keep flowering for many years and stay green all year round, definitely a win/win situation.

One tip to remember is very simple – if using pine bark or wood chips as mulch, mix in a nitrogen-rich fertilizer before applying to the garden beds. This replaces the nitrogen lost from the soil in the process of the mulch breaking down and your plants will thrive instead of being deprived of this essential element.

Another couple of tips to make your summer easier and to ensure your plants get the best care and yield good results. Always water early in the day if possible, which makes sure the plants get the moisture required during the heat of the day.

Watering at night encourages insect life, particularly mosquitoes, which are tipped to be very bad this year. If the soil is shrinking away from the sides of your pots, soak them in a large container full of water that comes over the top of the pot until all the bubbles stop – these bubbles show that your pot has dried out. You can put a bit of liquid fertilizer in the water, which does two jobs in one.

St. Patrick’s Day is traditionally the time to plant sweet peas for the winter colour burst. What is more cheerful on a cold winter’s day than a vase of beautiful, sweet smelling sweet peas? Add some lime and well-rotted compost to the area where you want to plant the seeds.

Save money this year and plant seeds of winter vegies such as cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, silver beet and onions to name a few. These will then be ready to plant out at a later date, instead of buying seedlings, giving you a head start on the cooler weather and leaving more cash in your pocket. Other things to plant include broad beans, leeks, lettuce, radish, spring onions, parsnips and turnips.

Volunteer program a winner

Rosewall Neighbourhood Centre is celebrating the work of its volunteers after winning the 2020 Learn Local Volunteer Team Award.

The Learn Local Awards are held annually to recognise outstanding achievement in a range of categories. The Volunteer Team Award is for a group of up to 10 people who have worked together on a common project and demonstrated that effective or shared effort can achieve greater outcomes.

The award nomination said: “The dynamic Rosewall Learning and Creative Team from Rosewall Neighbourhood Centre, are sowing the seeds for a successful life in their English Conversation and Sewing Group.

“This humble activity is paying big dividends for new arrivals from across the globe. The six volunteers warmly receive women from places such as Afghanistan, Iran, Cambodia, Africa, Israel and Pakistan. Many of them have been victims of persecution in their home country and are faced with marginalisation in Australia.

“As they’re taught to sew, they develop their spoken English, literacy and problem-solving skills. Financial literacy comes from exploring moneymaking ventures and developing their long-term career aspirations.

“Some of the sewn items are sold through Rosewall’s small sales table and Torquay Community House. Funds raised are used to buy haberdashery and food vouchers for needy participants.

“Importantly, friendships develop as participants work as a team and connect with community. Rosewall volunteers have a diverse range of complementary skills from sewing machine mechanics, to sewing, crafting, and delivering ESL courses.

“With personal attention and care, they’ve created a robust, enduring program that boosts the confidence, morale and employability of women who might otherwise be disengaged and isolated.”

Cloverdale Community Centre also won a Learn Local Award in 2020, for its Collaboration with The Gordon TAFE. Cloverdale created and delivered education programs to help local learners pathway to TAFE and supported TAFE students who needed extra help with language and literacy.

Connecting with community

Friends of Cowies Creek (FoCC) is a community group in Norlane whose members foster care for Cowies Creek by connecting with the local community to protect and regenerate the creek and its native biodiversity. The group holds public clean-ups and indigenous planting days.

Spokesman Lachie Chomley said members acknowledge that their activities take place on the stolen land of the Wadawurrung people and that the creek was traditionally used by the Wadawurrung people as a source of fresh water, food and medicine. 

“The creek starts in the Moorabool hills and flows through Bell Post Hill and Norlane, out into Corio Bay at Corio Quay,” Lachie said. “It is home to lots of amazing wildlife including loads of birds, reptiles, fish, insects and frogs.

“The endangered growling grass frog (featured in our logo) makes a home along the creek. You might hear them if you stay quiet; their growling sounds more like snoring.

“Near any larger body of water, you might also find our native otter, the Rakali. Look out for the white tip of its tail as it dips down underwater in search of food.”
Lachie said FoCC members believe it’s important and exciting for locals to get connected with and help protect all of the precious life along Cowies Creek, particularly as in-fill development impacts the catchment.

“Lots of people we talk to don’t even know the creek exists,” he said. “We encourage everyone to respectfully spend time by the creek and see what you discover.” 
For people who want to get more involved, FoCC organises regular events for local community to get involved. A public rubbish clean-up will be held at the Fountain of Friendship Park on Sunday, February 14 from 10am-1pm.

To stay in touch with other future events and ‘creekly’ happenings you can find the group on Facebook or email

Renee rewarded for kindness

Norlane West Scout Group member Renee Brown has been recognised for her compassion, integrity and kindness by winning the Fred Hollows Humanity Award.

The Humanity Award is a national initiative of The Fred Hollows Foundation that acknowledges Year Six students who follow in Fred’s footsteps by demonstrating humanitarian values towards others. It includes a scholarship for secondary schooling in 2021.

Renee (pictured) was nominated by Scout Leader Kim Brian, for her enthusiasm for helping others and doing the right thing.

“Renee has volunteered countless hours of her time helping those less fortunate than herself – from cooking snacks and meals for the local food bank, to collecting toys and winter clothes for the homeless,” Kim said. “She is one of our younger, quieter members but stands her ground for what she believes in.”

Kim was delighted that the nomination was successful and that Renee’s activities and experiences in Scouting helped her achieve it.

Since 2012, the Fred Hollows Humanity Award has recognised more than 1500 students who follow in Fred’s footsteps by making a positive difference in the lives of others.

Founding Director of The Fred Hollows Foundation Gabi Hollows congratulated 254 students from across the nation, for their kindness, compassion and integrity.

“This year, more than ever, it’s important to recognise these values,” Gabi Hollows said.

“So it thrills me to know that amidst everything going on in the world, The Foundation was able to celebrate these fine young leaders and highlight the differences they are making in their communities.

“Fred would have been incredibly proud of the contribution these students are making to society, no matter how big or small their actions.”

Friendship and ‘visitors’

Australian Red Cross is providing social companionship and friendship for older people through its Community Visitors Scheme.

The Community Visitors Scheme is a free program where volunteers are matched with an older person for social companionship and friendship on a weekly or fortnightly basis.

During COVID-19 restrictions the program has transitioned to phone calls, cards, letters and video calls, until it is safe to resume face-to-face visiting. Participants and their volunteers might have a cuppa, do puzzles together, reminisce or otherwise enjoy each other’s company.

The Community Visitors Scheme is available to older people who are living in a public aged care facility or receiving a home care package. It is an initiative of the Australian Government.

If you are interested in volunteer with the program or would like to know more about receiving a volunteer, email

Spring delight in flowering fruit trees

Nothing says spring more loudly than the sight of a flowering fruit tree – all that lovely blossom with the promise of freshly picked fruit.

But what do you do if you don’t have room for a fruit tree? They do take up a lot of space and even though they do look great in the garden, they also give you heaps of leaves to clean up in autumn. The answer is a miniature tree.

These trees can be planted in the garden or grown in large pot. I have two – a peach tree in the garden that is 35 years old and stands 1.2 metres high which yielded about 50 peaches last year, and a pear growing in a pot which yielded two pears in its first year. I have high hopes of more this year.

A little extra care is needed to ensure they don’t dry out and monthly feeding of a liquid fertilizer will ensure a happy result when the fruit crop comes in. If you’re not sure where to site them in your garden, they are easily moved to that particular spot where they look at home. A special benefit is that if you are renting you can take them with you.

Tomatoes are always the subject of discussion in my house at this time of year – what type, height and size of the crop we want to try. If growing from seed they should be planted now to have healthy seedlings ready for planting out in November, the popular idea being that Melbourne Cup day is the ideal time.

I don’t suppose the tomatoes will object if the Melbourne Cup is not actually run, but the soil should be warmed up a little by then and this will give your plants a good start. Staggering the planting time with a two-week break between plantings will see you with a continuous supply during the summer months instead of having them all coming in at the same time.

If growing the taller varieties, placing the stakes or other supports in place when planting the seedlings will prevent root disturbance which will affect their progress. Leave at least one metre between plants (I prefer a little more) which helps prevent overcrowding and transmission of disease. It also makes it easier to pick your fruit and to control weeds around the base of the plant.

Plants need fertilizing on a regular basis with either granular or liquid types and if you are short on space you can also grow these in pots if you take a little extra care of them.

Happy gardening,


Anis rewarded for leadership

Northern suburbs resident Anis Gul Mohammad Ali has worked hard to achieve many things in her 24 years. She continues to work hard and study, and has been rewarded for her commitment to also helping others.

In late July, Anis was honoured as the Leadership category winner in the City of Greater Geelong 2020 Youth Awards for her academic achievements and contributions as a community volunteer.

Anis was born in Afghanistan and migrated with her family to Pakistan when she was one year old. When they arrived in Australia in 2013, Anis knew little English but was determined to make the most of the opportunities her new home offered.

When she first enrolled at Northern Bay College she completed a six-month English language class, which she credits for learning foundation English. “I was also watching TED talks and YouTube videos to improve my English,” she said.  “I was up late every night.”

Driven by her passion to one day become a doctor, Anis worked hard to ensure her English skills were at a level that allowed her to progress to VCE studies. She achieved her VCE with the highest ATAR score at Northern Bay College.

“From a young age I dreamed of becoming a doctor and that’s what motivated me to keep going. I have to overcome some struggles – learning English was my first challenge – but I got into VCE and then did very well.”

Anis said her mother Gulsoom remains her greatest supporter. “She just wants me to do well and still cooks and cleans and just lets me study,” she said.

Anis enrolled at Deakin University in 2016 to study biomedicine. At the same time, she studied nursing at The Gordon and is currently working at St John of God Hospital. She will complete her biomedicine degree this year and then take a ‘gap’ year in 2021 when she will “just work, not work and study”. Her goal is to be accepted into medicine at Deakin in 2022, for four more years of study towards becoming a doctor.

Anis is an advocate for young refugee women in the northern suburbs, assisting with the integration of refugees into the Geelong lifestyle. In the little time she has free, Anis is also volunteering at Diversitat, Pako Festa, The fOrT Youth Centre and other multicultural events in the northern suburbs.

“I have been so welcomed since I came here and have had amazing people around me,” she said. “Now I try to do as much to help others in any way, to guide them.”

Lions Club’s community projects

Corio Norlane Lions Club has gone from strength to strength since it chartered in April 2012 with 28 original members.

The club’s major projects are:

  • Donating more than 750 computers to families and students in the last nine years.
  • Donating more than 2400 bikes to families and students.
  • Collecting winter clothes and hygiene items and donating them to those experiencing homelessness.
  • Running the Op Shop in Alkira Avenue, where volunteers also provide food parcels to the needy.
  • The Op Shop providing Work For The Dole program opportunities for 16 weeks.
  • Providing clothing and utensils to people referred by organisations.

Lions Clubs around the world support their local communities in any way that will improve it.

Community members who have projects they would like to pursue but need help with, are encouraged to contact Corio Norlane Lions.

The club is also keen to welcome new members, so if you feel you can make a difference to the local community, contact Richard Walter, phone 0402-409-895 or email

Spirit of Tasmania base in Geelong

Geelong’s northern suburbs will become the Victorian home of the Spirit of Tasmania in 2022.

GeelongPort has reached agreement with TT-Line Company Pty Ltd to relocate the Victorian port home of the Spirit of Tasmania vessels, from Station Pier at Port Melbourne to Corio Quay. The project is an important investment in regional Australia, which will increase freight and exports for Victoria and jobs and tourism in regional Victoria.

GeelongPort CEO Brett Winter said that the deal with TT-Line will create major economic, employment and tourism opportunities for Geelong, the Bellarine and the wider G21 region. 

“Bringing the iconic Spirit of Tasmania vessels to GeelongPort is a huge coup for the Geelong region. Each year over 450,000 passengers and 105,000 twenty–foot equivalent units of freight sail with Spirit of Tasmania” he said.

“Now more than ever, opportunities to inject new jobs and economic growth into the greater Geelong region are crucial. Working with our key stakeholders, we need to streamline our planning approvals so that this important project will be ready for 2022”.  

The project is expected to generate up to 75 construction jobs over the two-year build program, while increasing tourism expenditure in the greater Geelong region by up to $174.1 million by 2029. In addition, there will be a number of new opportunities for regional hospitality, agribusiness, and logistics services.  

The new 12-hectare dedicated site will include a purpose-built passenger terminal building, a passenger vehicle marshalling area for 600 cars, more efficient passenger vehicle check-in, security facilities, public amenities, crew accommodation, a cafe, children’s play area and a pet exercise area.

Scouts and Cubs ready for return

Norlane West Scout Group continued to operate during COVID-19 restrictions and is preparing for a return to halls at the start of Term 3.

Group Leader Kim Brian said Scouting across Victoria has been active online since the last week of Term 1, with weekly – and in some cases twice-weekly – online meetings for more than 20,000 young people.

“We believe Victorian families – especially young people – need support at this time,” Kim said.  “Many young people are missing the social interaction they enjoyed through school and sport, but Scouting can fill the gap.”

Kim said volunteer leaders and youth members are running online meetings. They have also participated in a state-wide sleepover with 2000 Joeys Scouts (aged 5-7) and held an overnight backyard camp with the Cubs and Scouts all connected online.

Work has also continued to raise funds online through the annual Scout Monster Raffle, while also planning for a return to outdoor Scouting.

“It is a great time for new families to check out Scouting as Scouts Victoria has scrapped membership fees till March 31 next year to support Scouting families in 400 communities across the State,” Kim said. “Families will still need to purchase uniform items and pay for any camps and excursions their children participate in. 

“We recognise that many families will be financially affected, or suffering stress or uncertainty, so we want to do our bit to support families at this critical time.

Email membership inquiries to  or go to For more information Kim Brian, phone 0425-783-995