Gardening

Find out about worm farms, compost bins and Bokashi buckets. Producing compost from your garden clippings and food scraps will improve your garden, save money and reduce waste.

Join the Compost Revolution

Council has partnered with Compost Revolution, an award-winning program aimed to reduce the amount of food and garden waste going to landfill and to provide residents with nutrient-rich compost to use on their gardens or indoor plants.

Click here for more information on the program.

Compost

Compost bins are a good choice for people with large yards as they can handle greater volumes of organic waste. However, they do require maintenance. Material in compost bins should be turned regularly to maintain air flow. This will help the micro-organisms to break down material faster.

Compost requires a balance of inputs to ensure the organic matter breaks down effectively. It needs a balance of:

  • Carbon  - dry leaves, straw, paper, sawdust, shredded branches, dry grass
  • Nitrogen - Food scraps, fresh grass, manures, blood and bone, seaweed, comfrey, lucerne
  • Oxygen - introduced by turning the heap once a week while the material is new
  • Water - to keep the heap moist and covered
  • Correct size of particles and heap (small particles, large heap)

Compost bins are available in a range of shapes and sizes from online retailers and hardware stores. Residents can also purchase compost bins through Compost Revolution. Further Information:

Bokashi Bins

Bokashi bins are ideal for smaller apartments or units, as they conveniently can be kept inside. This system can handle smaller volumes of kitchen waste, including scraps that generally can't go into a compost bin like meat and dairy. The system uses a process of fermentation (aided by the 'bokashi mix' sprinkled over layers of kitchen scraps) and results in 'bokashi juice' that can be diluted and added to your garden or indoor pot plants.

Bokashi bins also produce solid 'bokashi waste', which can be buried in your garden or added to a conventional compost heap where a complete breakdown of the waste occurs. If you don't have access to a garden, that's okay! Many community gardens and home composters are happy to accept this solid waste in their compost heaps. Check with your closest community garden or visit Share Waste to find a compost heap near you!

Bokashi bins are available in a range of shapes and sizes from online retailers and hardware stores. Residents can also purchase Bokashi bins through Compost Revolution

Worm Farms

Worm farms are a great option for people with smaller yards or balconies. With your worm farm you can produce rich soil (castings) and liquid fertiliser (worm juice) in a small area. Worm farms uses specific worms (typically Tiger Worms, Red Wrigglers and Indian Blues) to break down kitchen and garden scraps.

Tips:

  • Choose a cool shaded spot for your worm farm. 
  • Add composting worms, such as Tigers, Reds and Blues to your worm farm as they live, work and breed well in the rich, moist, organic environment of your worm farm.
  • Keep your worm farm moist, warm and protected from the hot summer sun
  • If possible, shred kitchen and garden waste into smaller pieces
  • Cover the worms with a small black plastic sheet in cool weather. In hot weather a damped hessian, newspaper is more desirable.
  • Always replace the lid
  • Castings can be placed in the garden around plants, in pot plants, around fruit trees, native trees and vegetables. 

What you can put in your worm farm?

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps and peelings 
  • Plate scrapings (cooked vegetables, pasta, rice, cheese, stewed fruit, etc). 
  • Hair clippings 
  • Shredded, soaked newspaper and cardboard
  • Vacuum cleaner dust 
  • Sawdust 
  • Coffee grounds and tea bags 

Worm farms are available in a range of shapes and sizes from online retailers and hardware stores. Residents can also purchase worm farms through Compost Revolution.

A limited number of worm farms are available from our Customer Service Centre in Preston for $65 inc GST. Please note, worms must be purchased separately and are available from hardware stores and online.

Coffee grounds are a source of nitrogen and are a great addition to your compost as well. Add together with your kitchen scraps and make sure you layer with about one third carbon based materials such as dried leaves or clean wood shavings. Coffee grounds also make good worm food. Some people like to add coffee grounds directly to their garden as fertiliser. They can also be sprinkled around seedlings to deter slugs and snails.

Create a visually beautiful, environmentally sustainable garden.

Sustainable gardening can benefit our local environment in so many ways.

If we plant local plants we provide food and shelter for birds, bees and butterflies. By conserving water in the garden we help maintain water levels in our reservoirs. If we minimise our use of chemicals, we help to keep stormwater runoff into creeks and streams chemical free. By growing food in our gardens we can reap environmental and health benefits. If we purchase garden products made from renewable resources for the garden instead of nonrenewable resources, we help to protect our old growth forests and river ecosystems.

Creating sustainable gardens and encouraging biodiversity are also a great way for us all to take action on the climate emergency together. By composting our food waste and using it on our garden rather than sending it to landfill, we reduce harmful greenhouse gases. Our plants and trees help draw down carbon from the atmosphere, as well as providing shade and shelter and reducing the heat generated by the many hard surfaces of our city.

Download the Sustainable Gardening in Darebin Booklet for detailed information on creating a sustainable garden, including a list of recommended local plant species.

Further Information
Phone: (03) 8470 8888
Email: environment@darebin.vic.gov.au

You can reduce water consumption in your garden up to 30% by applying simple design and maintenance principles. On top of saving water these ideas will give you a healthier and more productive garden.

Saving Water

  • Check the weather forecast to avoid watering before rain
  • Check and clean your irrigation system every spring
  • Follow EPA guidelines when using greywater from the bathroom and laundry
  • After watering, dig down to see how far it has penetrated, it should be at least 10cm.
  • Install a large water tank - 3,000 litres of water in a tank for summer watering is ideal.
  • Water pots and plants with a low pressure on the hose. The water should be running slowly, not on a spray, as this does not penetrate very deeply. Micro-sprays waste up to 70% water through drift and evaporation and if the soil is mulched, water will not penetrate to the soil.
  • Use a tough drought tolerant grass like ‘Sir Walter Buffalo’; a native grass such as Microlaena stipoides, or a native groundcover like Myoporum parvifolium for the front garden.

Improving the quality of your Soil 

  • Worms break down and aerate the soil and so plant roots can breathe. 
  • Spreading compost over your soil (under mulch layer) will encourage worms.
  • Late spring (November) is the best time to put on mulch once the winter rains have soaked in.
  • Bark mulch provides limited nutrients so is not ideal in areas where a rich soil is needed.
  • Mulches made from recycled organics last well and feed the soil when they break down
  • Most local and native plants like a relatively infertile soil so they prefer bark mulch on its own without soil improvement
  • Minimise digging unless your soil is compacted after building works. Digging disrupts the soil structure, therefore destroying the air holes and drainage spaces

Mulch

The purpose of mulch is to conserve water, improve the health and fertility of the soil and to reduce weeds

  • Mulch adds organic matter and nutrients to the soil and reduces your watering needs
  • Mulch also helps keep your garden weed free by preventing weed seeds from contacting soil
  • Apply layers of mulch up to 8cm deep after winter rains to retain moisture in soil
  • It is environmentally preferable to use mulch containing coarse particles of wood, leaves or straw which have been recycled rather than pebbles
  • Keep mulch away from tree trunks and plant stems to prevent rot
  • Unless the mulch is rich in nitrogen (for example, Green Lucerne) it may be necessary to add some nitrogen such as blood and bone to your soil. Most mulch will take up nitrogen as it decomposes

Visit Melbourne Water for more information.

There is nothing like fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables grown from your own garden. We have tips and resources to get you started on your own home garden.

Food Harvest Network

The Darebin Food Harvest Network was created to assist and support community groups and individuals in the Darebin community interested in sustainable food initiatives or improving food security. 

Visit the Food Harvest Network Website to connect and share sustainable food initiatives, tips and events.

Darebin Seed Library - become a Seed Saving Champion

Council is developing a new Seed Library to help gardeners access, grow, save and swap heirloom and locally adapted vegetable and flower seeds. We will install ‘Little Seed Library’ boxes in gardens across Darebin and support you to become Seed Saving Champions! 

To get you started we will provide some open-pollinated, heirloom and local seeds and a seed saving workshop every season, where local seed saver legend, Kat Lavers, will teach you the essentials of seed saving. Then it will be up to YOU, our seed saver network, to keep the seeds growing and flowing back through the Little Seed Libraries.

How to get involved:

Sow What When

Check out Sow What When - our seasonal guide on when to sow vegetable and herb seeds in Darebin.

Indigenous plants are not only beautiful, they also provide important habitat for native birds, insects and animals.

There are many indigenous plants that are suitable for the home garden. 

Benefits of indigenous plants
  • Create an attractive garden
  • Require less water
  • Increase biodiversity and attract wildlife (including birds and bees)
  • Provide habitat and  food source for wildlife
  • Provide wildlife corridors
  • Low maintenance - reduce the need for intensive grass cutting
  • Retain the natural character of an area
  • Prevent and controls salinity and erosion

Creating an indigenous garden

  • Identify the area you would like to plant. Check for infrastructure including pipes, underground cables and overhead lines, etc. Ring Dial Before You Dig on 1100.
  • Decide on your total budget including plants, tree guards, mulch, jute squares, herbicide, contractors or stakes.
  • Prepare the site by removing weeds, mulching and pruning trees if required. Where possible plant in autumn or winter.
  • Plan for the size of the mature trees and shrubs and consider their sunlight needs.

Download our Sustainable Gardening Booklet for a list of recommended indigenous plants (pages 26-33). Please note, this is not an exhaustive list. You can also consult a local indigenous plant nursery for recommendations. Visit the Community Directory for a listing of local suppliers.

Further Information

Contact the Bushland Management Team on 8470 8888
Email: environment@darebin.vic.gov.au


While they are helpful in gardening, pesticides and fertilisers can be harmful to the environment if used incorrectly. Sprays can drift in the wind and powders can wash into waterways, moving from gardens into the natural environment.

Strong chemicals can kill our native insects, plants and animals. Too much fertiliser can put extra nutrients in our creeks and result in blue-green algae growing out of control and harming animals and people.


Reducing Chemicals in Your Garden

  • Many insects in the garden such as ladybirds are “good guys” that will hunt and eat pests such as aphids. If you spray lots of chemicals in your garden you will also kill these beneficial insects and make your pest problem harder to control. Multi sprays in particular kill anything they touch.
  • Too much fertiliser makes plants produce a lot of leafy growth that often becomes a target for pests.
  • Organic fertilisers such as compost, manures, seaweed and fish emulsion break down more slowly than synthetic (chemical) fertilisers and generally match the rate at which plants need the nutrients.
  • Synthetic fertilisers break down quickly and can ‘burn’ plant roots.
  • Organic fertilisers improve the soil structure meaning the soil is better able to hold water and make it available to plants.
  • Synthetic fertilisers add nothing to the soil structure and tend to move easily from the soil after heavy rain or watering.
  • When a plant looks sick the worst thing you can do is feed it.

Download the Low Environmental Damage Chemicals Factsheet 

Further Information Environment and Natural Resources Team
Ph: 8470 8888
Email: environment@darebin.vic.gov.au

Managing Queensland Fruit Fly is a community effort. Working together we can prevent it from becoming established in Darebin.

Queensland Fruit fly

Queensland Fruit Fly (QFF) is a serious horticultural pest that can devastate commercial and backyard fruit crops. It lays its eggs in many common fruits, causing the flesh to rot and making it unsaleable and undesirable to eat.

Over time QFF have spread from their native habitat in Queensland rain forests to parts of Victoria. Sadly, small outbreaks have occurred in the inner Melbourne area, with recent sightings being reported in Darebin for the first time.

Managing Queensland Fruit Fly is a community effort. Working together we can prevent it from becoming established in Darebin.

How to identify Queensland Fruit Fly

Adult QFF are about seven millimetres long and are reddish-brown in colour, with distinct yellow markings and transparent wings.
The larvae/maggots are white or cream and 2-9 mm long. They are wedge shaped and plumper at the tail end. A black feeding hook is visible in mature larvae. You can find between 2 and 20 larvae in infested fruit.

Common host fruit

QFF can infest nearly all common fruits and fruiting vegetables such as: stone fruit (such as nectarines, peaches, nectarines), pome fruit (apples, quinces, pears), citrus (lemons, limes, oranges, cumquats), tomatoes, berries, cherries and grapes.

For a comprehensive list, visit Agriculture Victoria’s List of Host Fruits.

Life cycle

QFF Life Cycle from Agriculture Victoria to learn about the life cycle of Queensland fruit fly and how it spreads.

Managing Queensland Fruit Fly

Scroll down to watch our video to learn how to identify, prevent and manage QFF in your garden.

  • Monitoring: Hang pheromone-based traps to monitor and catch fruit flies. These traps indicate if fruit flies are active in your area and when you need to act. You can also check fruit skin for small puncture marks.
  • Baiting: Baits are one of the most effective methods of fruit fly control. They are a protein bait attractant mixed (usually a yeast liquid) with a small amount of a registered insecticide (e.g Malathion). Spot-spray onto the trunk and branches of host plants. The females eat the protein and are killed by the insecticide before egg laying occurs.
  • Exclusion: Net host fruit and vegetable plants with a fine UV stable mesh over a frame. Alternatively, you can place bags and sleeves over individual fruits.
  • Pruning: Prune trees to a manageable height so fruit can be easily picked and netted. Remove fruit trees altogether if you don’t intend to harvest them, or contact the Darebin Fruit Squad to maintain and harvest your fruit trees for you.
  • Garden hygiene: Harvest produce as they ripen. Pick up and dispose of fallen fruit.
  • Correct disposal of fruit: If you find infested fruit, do NOT put in your compost bin or worm farm as this will aid the Queensland fruit fly life cycle. Process affected fruit by boiling, freezing or place in a plastic bag and leave in the sun for a week to kill larvae. Then dispose of in the landfill bin.

Baits, traps, nets, bags and sleeves can be purchased from nurseries and home garden retailers. You can try making your own baits and traps. Check out this guide on How to make DIY fruit fly traps by Gardening Australia.

Working together to stop the spread

Area-wide management is required for QFF control to be effective. In addition to protecting your own fruit and vegetables from being infested, it is everyone’s responsibility to reduce the population of fruit flies in their local area.

  • Do not dispose untreated produce directly into your rubbish or green bin, as it may spread to another area.
  • Do not take infested fruit to another area – this is how it spreads easily
  • Please do help your neighbours to prune their trees
  • Please do carefully examine the fruit for pests and diseases before sharing and swapping fruit with friends

Further resources

For more information about Queensland fruit fly, the following websites have handy information and resources.

 

Managing Queensland Fruit Fly in Darebin