Volunteers helping to set up the seed propagation area

The Plant Lab is the Elsternwick Park Association’s very own plant and seed propagation facility. The Lab is volunteer run and plans to supply the Elsternwick Park Nature Reserve with thousands of plants per year. The Plant Lab endeavours to grow the rare, difficult or inconspicuous plant species, which are often forgotten in nurseries and revegetation projects. These will make all the difference in our aim to restore and build biodiversity. Ongoing propagation will remain essential in maintaining populations even after the initial establishment of the reserve’s plantings.  It will give the plants the help they need to overcome impediments to natural regeneration such as weeds, climate change, missing pollinators, lack of fire etc. 

There’s nothing more exciting than seeing a plant that you grew thrive, while providing homes or food for wildlife. The Plant Lab offers an opportunity for people to participate in the creation of the nature reserve. We encourage you to join us in making the reserve a special place, and being a part of our community. All skill sets, ages and abilities are welcome to come along to our Plant Lab volunteer days. You do need to be an epa member to participate.

The Plant Lab volunteer coordinator is Claire Hudson epaplantlabcoordinator@gmail.com

Dr Tricia Wevill (epa Committee), lecturer in Environmental Sciences, showing Plant Lab volunteers how to propagate microlaena.

The Plant Lab volunteers recently helped set up the SPA (Seed Propagation area) this has been set up with the guidance of researchers working with Melbourne University, who are working with Bayside Council. If you are interested in this part of the Plant Lab, you can watch this video of the SPA set up at Burnley. This is a very similar set up to the EPNR one.

 

 

Feature plant

Microseris sp. 

 

Myrnong/Yam Daisy

This week at the Plant Lab-
Main Tasks
 for  4/5 and 7/5–   getting all of the stock ready for possible planting out on site on the weekend of 14/15th of May ( save the date)  This will include weeding our  existing stock, cross checking the current Stock Inventory list ( close to completion – images added to assist with identification and plants labelled including recommended water levels for all of the aquatic  ponds as marked by symbol), there are some large clumps of a few water plants that could be broken up and potted up ( 6”pots) so that they are more manageable on the day ( see  further details on the White Board). For a seated task we  have lots of the drying sachets in white material bag on  the shelf near the white board – they can be added to each packet of the seeds that are in the kitchen in large plastic tubs  with label Spring or 2023.   We have a tub of Yam Daisy seedlings ready for pricking out into forestry tubes.  Please wash and  air dry  the forestry tubes prior. Maybe half at each session? Please put these in the  middle of row with all of the  newly potted up Senecio tubes. 

Which one is which ?
Flat weed has a rosette of hairy, wavy-edged leaves that sit flat on the ground, while murnong has upright lance-shaped leaves. Murnong flower stems have a curved, drooping top as the bud develops, then straighten as it opens, whereas flatweeds and dandelions are upright as the bud is forming. 

2 yellow flowers one with text 'Murnong' the other with text 'Flatweed'

 

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Murnong was the main staple food for the Wurundjeri Aboriginal people until the mid-1840s, when the introduction of sheep rendered this hillslope yam virtually extinct.

Murnong produces gangly, milky, white tuberous roots that may be eaten raw or baked. They can be prepared warm with butter, included in salads, mixed with other vegetables, or turned into a paste for desserts. They taste sweet and slightly coconutty. The slightly bitter leaves are also edible and may be enjoyed in salads with a vinegar dressing.

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Growing requirements

  • Can be planted from seed Autumn- early Winter
  • Grows best in sun but can manage part shade

Cultivation notes from recent study…Dry-air after-ripened murnong seeds need to be sown in the nursery in autumn (March-April) to produce tubers. This is important to allow the plants enough time to complete flowering by early December before entering summer dormancy to prevent heat stress and allow tuber survival underground… Transplanting dormant tubers was much more successful than field-sowing seeds. Significantly more tubers regenerated than seeds germinated in the restoration sites. …The tubers also produced more leaves more quickly than seedlings, which made them better at competing with weeds. Most tubers flowered, produced healthy seeds and survived to transition into summer dormancy while all seedlings died before flowering…  Ref:Victorian Landcare Magazine – Summer 2021, Issue 80

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