Nov 302013
 

Join a vibrant food culture, growing and eating local

Covering all matters food in North East Melbourne

Whether you are a local food producer, want to eat local food, grow veggies in your garden or meet like-minded folks, Local Food Connect is for you!

Eltham Farmers’ Market, a Local Food Connect initiative, takes place every 2nd and 4th Sunday of the month.

Jul 192017
 

Mac’s tip of the week

Mac has now been providing a tip every week for almost a year now. I know from discussions that lots of people agree with me that his tips are interesting, timely and pertinent. Thanks, Mac! Anyhow, this means that some of Mac’s tips from a year ago are now relevant again and he and I have decided that we will selectively repeat some of them. This is the first such repetition.

The citrus gall wasp can start hatching in late Winter so now is a good time to prune off existing galls (i.e. those galls without holes) and consider hanging sticky traps. I wrap my traps in bird wire or mesh: the traps seem to attract all insects (and birds that eat them), which can unfortunately also stick in the traps, but the wire/mesh should keep many of them out. By contrast, gall wasps are only 2-3mm and so will still get through. An experiment worth trying until the end of November, when they can be removed.

Note that Leaf, Root & Fruit have just blogged about an alternative approach to treating citrus gall wasp, which involves both less pruning and less fertilising. Now there’s an attractive approach for lazybones such as myself!

Sustainable Gardening Australia also has an interesting article about citrus gall wasp. And Karen Sutherland has a 6 minute video.

Everything you wanted to know about worm farming but were afraid to ask

Felicity Gordon, from Watsonia Library Community Garden, has written some tips about using worm farms. For example: “Do not feed worms citrus, garlic, onion or chillis (all of which which make the farm too acidic and the worms don’t like them), or dairy or meat scraps (both of which can attract flies).” and “Do not over-feed the worms – add regular small amounts of food chopped into 1-2cm size pieces, in a layer 1-2cm deep, so that the worms can eat through this without there being too much that might turn into a slimy mess.Read the full article.

And the winner is …

The winner of our little competition from last week is Carol Woolcock. Here is her tip: “Dog owners have an ongoing dilemma of how to dispose of doggy do other than placing it in their council waste bin. I came across a Bokashi product called Ensopet starter. It is supposed to be used with an Ensopet composter (a plastic upturned bucket gizmo) which costs around $70. I achieved the same result by using a 30cm plastic pot with the base removed. I dug a hole about 30cm square and 40cm deep and placed the upturned pot, with the base removed, in it about level with the surrounding ground. Dog poo goes in it and is sprinkled with Ensopet starter. I cover the pot with a heavy stoneware dinner plate. The holes are dug on the uphill side near the drip line on my fruit trees. I have 4 holes at present and simply dig another when they are near full. The ingredients in Ensopet starter include “beneficial microorganisms, wheat, sawdust, zeolite, molasses”. It costs $13 for 1kg and has lasted me for around 6 months. So no dog faeces in my bin, no odour and the fruit trees get a boost.

As her prize, Carol has chosen to participate in the Sensational sourdough at home workshop.

Videos from Edible Forest Gardens nursery

John Ferris, newsletter reader and owner of Edible Forest Gardens nursery in Wonga Park, has started posting regular videos on his Facebook page. The videos are effectively mini growing guides and the subjects covered to date include: turmeric, canna lily, yacon and society garlic.

2017 Australian Food Awards

The Australian Food Awards are an annual, rolling set of awards where roughly half the awards for 2017 have now been made. Congratulations to the following winners from North East Melbourne:

Name Suburb Highest award Food group
Ardor Food Co Thomastown Gold Pasta
Aura Co. Mernda Bronze Ice cream
Billy van Creamy Fitzroy North Gold Gelato and Sorbet
Blue Pear Pantry North Warrandyte Silver Sausage roll
Chokamour Macleod Silver Chocolate
Cunliffe & Waters Croydon Bronze Jam and Sauce
Fritz Gelato Richmond Silver Gelato and Sorbet
Gelati Sky Brunswick Gold Gelato
JZ Business Enterprises Coburg North Bronze Snack
Marisa’s Kitchen Alphington Gold Soup and Dip
Montefiore Cheese Thomastown Silver Cheese
My Little Country Kitchen Kinglake West Silver Sausage roll
Okka Pies Bayswater Silver Quiche
Pantalica Cheese Company Thomastown Gold Cheese
Plough to Plate Fine Foods Thomastown Gold Preserve and Sauce
PoppySmack Warrandyte Bronze Sauce
Ranch Hand Foods Blackburn Gold Sauce
Select Harvests Thomastown Gold Almonds
St David Dairy Fitzroy Gold Milk and Butter
Sweet by Nature Heidelberg West Gold Cake
That’s Amore Cheese Thomastown Gold Cheese
We Feed You Hawthorn East Bronze Ready meal
Yarra Valley Dairy Coldstream Silver Cheese

 
Thanks to Deb Graham for the heads up.

Local food producer news

Kings of Kangaroo Ground’s recent medal wins in China made it into the July edition of The Warrandyte Diary.

The Asian sauces of PoppySmack, from Warrandyte, can now be purchased from McCoppins Clifton Hill.

Organic Empire, from Mt Evelyn, have blogged about how to store different fruit and veggies.

Joke of the week

Another contribution from Meg Montague: Why did the cucumber blush? Because it saw the salad dressing.

And, as a bonus: What did the mayonnaise say when someone opened the fridge door. Close the door, I’m dressing!

Read all of this year’s jokes.

Every newsletter needs a good picture

So, here’s one of a carved apple. More pictures of carved fruit can be found on the Colossal website

New events

Cooking master class

What: Menu – baked brie; green minestrone; and lemon meringue pie. Enjoy 3 tasting size courses cooked by chef Bek McMillan, from Gourmet Living, who will demonstrate step by step. All recipes are included.
When: Monday, 24th July, 11am-1pm and again on Thursday, 27th July, 7-9pm.
Where: Gourmet Living, Templestowe.
Cost: $42.
Bookings: / Further information: Eventbrite – 24th July and 27th July.

Cooking master class

What: Menu – spiced crispy chicken; Moroccan veg pot pie; and fig bread & butter pudding. Enjoy 3 tasting size courses cooked by chef Bek McMillan, from Gourmet Living, who will demonstrate step by step. All recipes are included.
When: Friday, 4th August, 7-9pm.
Where: Gourmet Living, Templestowe.
Cost: $42.
Bookings: / Further information: Eventbrite.

Herbs for digestive health

What: Are you confused about which herbs to use for digestive health, want some simple and effective ideas? Do you want to understand why some herbs may be more appropriate for you than others? Suffer from bloating, nausea, indigestion and fatigue? Libby Shaw, Naturopath, Herbalist & Nutritionist will run through some of her favorite herbs to help support digestive health, so you have a better understanding of their energetics, when they appropriate to use and when they are not. These are simple effective herbs, some can even be grown in your own garden. Libby will also share a few of her go to herbal recipes. Bookings are essential.
When: Saturday, 5th August, 3.30-4.30pm.
Where: Nature’s Harvest, Hurstbridge.
Cost: free.
Bookings: by phone (0407 338647).
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Swipers Gully Restaurant guest chef Stephen Mercer

What: Swipers Gully Restaurant welcomes back the annual guest chef Stephen Mercer, of Mercer’s Restaurant, for an evening of delicious food matched to their Swipers Gully wines. Five courses. Bookings essential.
When: Thursday, 24th August, 6.30-10pm.
Where: Swipers Gully Restaurant, Kangaroo Ground.
Cost: $95.
Bookings: by phone (9437 2222).
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Winter fruit tree maintenance

What: What you will learn: pruning – formative and maintenance of new and established fruit trees. Also, selection and planting of new fruit trees; Winter fruit tree maintenance practices for pest and disease prevention, control and treatment; and pruning tool maintenance. Presented by Angelo Eliades. The aim of this demonstration class is that you will leave it feeling confident to maintain your fruit trees. The preparation that is done in the colder months pays mighty dividends in the growing and harvesting seasons to come. Learn all of the pruning techniques and needs of individual fruit trees from apples and plums to persimmons and pomegranates. And hear about what not to do. Discover how to reduce and prevent pest and diseases that compromise your fruit production. Learn how to treat problems with different methods – organic/permaculture and conventional. They will also cover buying new fruit trees and will demonstrate how to clean and sharpen your pruning tools and other edged garden tools (spades etc). You have the option to bring one of your own pruning tools along and learn how to sharpen it.
When: Saturday, 26th August, 9.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Annual agribusiness dinner

What: It’s time again to gather the City of Whittlesea farming community together, celebrate a successful year and to bring in the busy Spring ahead. Enjoy an evening of local food and wine, conversation and music. Launched on the evening will be the City of Whittlesea’s Land Capability Assessment online maps, which will be a decision making tool for farmers, investors and policy makers. Dr. Rob Faggian from Deakin University will be presenting the maps and you will have the opportunity to try them out for yourselves. But the evening is mostly about music and celebration. James Blundell, Australian country music icon, will play while you share a cocktail party style dinner and drinks, with plenty of time to chat, mingle and maybe even have a dance.
When: Saturday, 26th August, 6-10.30pm.
Where: Growling Frog golf course, Yan Yean.
Cost: $45.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Wicking beds

What: Join Jeremy from VEG Wicking Beds to learn all about wicking beds – what are they, what do they look like, how to make them, and how to look after them.
When: Saturday, 2nd September, 10.30-11.30am.
Where: Brunswick.
Cost: free.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Vegan day out in Melbourne

What: Local cafes and businesses in Fitzroy will be slashing prices, giving away samples and putting special vegan products on the menu. Here is how it will works: a map of all the participating businesses will be created. Collect your map and vouchers from the Cruelty Free Shop. Then enjoy spending the weekend walking around redeeming the vouchers. At the Cruelty Free Shop, they will have storewide discounts on hundreds of items and special offers plus free food tastings all weekend long.
When: Saturday, 2nd September, 9am-6pm and Sunday, 3rd September, 10am-5pm.
Where: Fitzroy.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

How to grow the perfect tomato

What: What you will learn: how to raise tomatoes from seed, seed saving, soil preparation and pruning; how to cook and preserve the harvest; and how to choose the right tomato for the right purpose, from the many standard and heritage varieties. What you will get: a bowl of pasta with homemade sauce; a sample of heritage tomato seeds sown during the class; and detailed class notes. Presented by Maria Ciavarella. The class will go through the basics: choosing varieties for different purposes, growing from seed or seedling, soil preparation for the garden or in pots, watering, fertilising and then finally the eating, with some ideas on how to cope with the quantities you are bound to get! You will do some seed-raising as part of the class.
When: Thursday, 7th September, 6.30-9pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Veggie gardening – beyond the basics

What: What you will learn: tips on growing specific herbs and vegetables; and growing from seed, crop rotation, soil pH. Presented by Maria Ciavarella. This class is for those who have already dabbled in some veggie growing but want a little bit more knowledge.
When: Thursday, 14th September, 6.30-9pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Chinese cooking with Jenny Chua

What: Join Jenny Chua, from Cooking with Jenny in Melbourne, as she explores some favourite authentic Chinese cooking techniques. Learn how to make Chinese dumplings the authentic way. Includes tasting.
When: Saturday, 16th September, 10.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Nunawading Library.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next month

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.

Jul 122017
 

Mac’s tip of the week

It is a good time to consider spraying your deciduous fruiting plants and citrus with Pest Oil (or Neem oil) to give them a clean start in spring. This should clean up any scale or mites over-wintering on your trees. It is also good for citrus leaf miner, aphids, mealy bug and caterpillar eggs, to name a few.

Read all of Mac’s tips.

The latest newsletter from Leaf, Root & Fruit Gardening Services had a useful checklist for fruit tree related tasks for winter:

  • Pruning.
  • Planting bare-rooted fruit trees.
  • Setting up and maintaining espaliers.
  • Controlling citrus gall wasp.
  • Controlling curly leaf.

Everything you wanted to know about Bokashi bins but were afraid to ask

Paul Gale-Baker, from Sustainable Macleod, has written some tips about using Bokashi bins. As Paul says in his introduction: “It’s important to realise that a Bokashi bin doesn’t compost. Rather, the food is fermented using the Bokashi ‘bran’ that you sprinkle over each layer. This is wheat-based, containing a powerful microbial mix which ferments the food waste anaerobically. That means the bin can be completely sealed with the lid so no odour escapes.” There then follow 9 specific tips for when using Bokashi bins. Read the full article.

Paul’s notes were originally published in the Sustainable Macleod newsletter, which is one of our most substantive local newsletters. Whilst much of the material is specific to Macleod, it also contains more general articles such as Paul’s. Sign up here.

Local food producer news

I went to Rivers Cafe & Farm Shop earlier this week and, whilst there, took the opportunity to check which local food producers they are now stocking. By my count, it is up to an impressive 11: A Local Baker St Andrews, Apted’s Orchards, Australian Harvest / Bio Grape, Coldstream Brewery, Cunliffe & Waters, Organic Times, Rustic Sourdough Bakery, Top Hundred Acres, Under The Pickle Tree, Unforgettable Products, and Yarra Valley Tea Company. That puts them third in the shops’ league table.

Yummy Gardens currently have a lot of point-of-lay cross-bred chicken for sale at $30 each. Australorp x New Hampshire, New Hampshire x White Leghorn, New Hampshire x Rhode Island Red, and Australorp x Leghorn. Ring Greg on 0431 382230 to place your order and then go to his house in St Andrews to choose your chickens.

AVS Organic Foods’ products (Vegan cheese, etc) are now available at Local Fine Foods, Diamond Creek.

Caffe Strada’s gluten-free bread is now available at Pro-Health, Eltham.

Quists Coffee is now available at Hurstbridge Osteopathy.

Offaly Good Food will be at The Finders Keepers Market at The Royal Exhibition Building, 14th-16th July.

A new food swap at Diamond Creek

At Thrive Community Garden (31 Watkins Street). 3rd Saturday of the month, 2-3pm.

I now know where to get kefir grains

Thanks to Doris, Duang, Jon, Lax, Lucinda, Lynnsay, Marilyn and Stuart, all of whom replied to the question asking where Nicole could get kefir grains. Apart from offering her some grains for free, they also identified the following stockists:

It would be good if more people asked questions via the newsletter. And, as you can see, you will get answers. Just email me with any questions.

The peeing in the garden discussion continues

Marina Bistrin writes in: “Thanks for the urine article link – I enjoyed reading it and thought it brought up lots of interesting points. I use undiluted urine around my citrus tree’s drip line as much as possible and they are doing well (I have been doing it for 8 years, ever since I moved into my current home). I think if the soil were really dry, I’d water it in, but I don’t need to most of the time. Another benefit is that you don’t waste water by flushing that valuable substance down the toilet. ‘Humanure’ article next time? (not that I use it but I am interested). There is a man at the Sustainable Living Festival that has had a caravan there for at least 3 festivals, near the food area, and he collects it in wheelie bins below the toilet and keeps it for a year, and then it’s ok to use. This year he separated the wee out by putting a metal partition in the front part of toilet and asked the guys to sit to wee. Some people have composting toilets and I feel that’s a great water saving and use of valuable fertiliser resources.

‘Crowd harvest’ winter citrus

Winter brings a citrus bounty and many gardeners are overwhelmed with fruit. Why not take some of your excess down to your local food relief provider and help those facing food insecurity and homelessness. Up until 23rd July, you can drop your citrus fruit at any of The Alphington Community Centre, CERES, STREAT, or Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre (the Facebook event provides details of opening times). Any questions, contact Cath Lyons (aka Tiny Trowel) by phone (0401 814679) or email.

Transition groups in North East Melbourne

As part of their preparations for the Transition Towns Convergence on 29th July (see event description under ‘new events’), our friends at Transition Banyule have kindly sent us the following list of the Transition groups in North East Melbourne:

Suburb Group Email address
Collingwood Friends of the Earth foe@foe.org.au
Darebin Transition Darebin transitiondarebin@gmail.com
Fitzroy Fitzroy Urban Harvest peta@cultivatingcommunity.org.au
Fitzroy Yarra Climate Action Now (YCAN) info@ycan.org.au
Fitzroy North North Fitzroy Community Gardens Group rushallgarden@gmail.com
Greensborough Transition Greensborough sustainablegreensie@gmail.com
Heidelberg Transition Banyule info@transitionbanyule.org.au
Heidelberg Transition Warringal warringal@transitionbanyule.org.au
Heidelberg West Transition 3081 transition3081@gmail.com
Macleod Sustainable Macleod sustainablemacleod@gmail.com
Maroondah Transition Town Maroondah ttmaroondah@gmail.com
Montmorency Montmorency Community Group montymoves@gmail.com

 

Northern Multicultural Small Business Awards (NMSBA)

Facilitated by Whittlesea Council and others, these awards seek to celebrate the contributions of multicultural small business owners including: migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Food businesses are eligible if they are from Banyule, City of Yarra, Darebin, Moreland, Nillumbik or Whittlesea. Also, the owner has to either have been born overseas or their parents were born overseas. For more details, or to nominate, go to their website. Nominations close this Friday (14th July) – sorry for the short notice.

Want a job as a Food System Officer?

Moreland Council has a vacancy for a part time Food System Officer. Applications close 27th July. Read the job description and apply.

Urban agriculture survey

A University of Melbourne project which aims to look at urban agriculture in the context of its role in cities and in food supply resilience, both now and into a climate change affected future. Your garden doesn’t need to be amazing to participate – they are interested in all food gardens, of all sizes. Read more and then take the survey.

Joke of the week

As featured on The Project on Channel 10 last week: Did you hear about the explosion at the cheese factory? There was de brie everywhere!

Read all of this year’s jokes.

Corrections and clarifications

Last week, I stuffed up with the descriptions of the three forthcoming workshops in Maria Ciaverella’s ‘absolute beginner’ series. The three events, with their correct descriptions, are provided below. By way of apology, I am offering a prize of free attendance at one of Maria’s upcoming courses to the person who emails me the best fruit or veggie growing tip for inclusion in a future newsletter. You choose which of Maria’s courses you want to go to (see www.mygreengarden.com.au/book-now). Closing date: Sunday, 16th July.

Absolute beginners to vegetable growing – your patch from scratch

What: What you will learn: plant basics – what they need to grow well; setting up a vegie patch in different situations – pots and plots, including no-dig layer beds; and sun, siting, soil issues. What you will get: personalised information on the best way for you to set up a patch in your garden. You will cover the basics for success from the start: soil improvement, siting your veggie patch, sunshine needed, plant nutrition needs. Starting no-dig gardens vs traditional veggie patches are demonstrated. Planting in pots for difficult situations and good soil media. This is the first of three related workshops and, ideally, you would attend all three.
When: Saturday, 26th August, 10am-12.30pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $50.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Absolute beginners to vegetable growing – seasonal vegetables

What: What you will learn: understanding seasonal nature of growing vegetables; success with growing vegetables from seed and seed saving techniques; and introducing less common vegetables and how to grow them. What you will get: a seed raising box planted out on the day with seasonal vegetables. Knowing what to plant when gets you on the pathway to success and you can count yourself as a real gardener when you don’t need to rely on buying seedlings for your patch. Starting from seed is a bit art and a lot science so you will look at different techniques for success and then how to save and store the seed at the other end to continue the cycle from year to year. This is the second of three related workshops and, ideally, you would attend all three.
When: Saturday, 9th September, 10am-12.30pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $50.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Absolute beginners to vegetable growing – soil and pests

What: What you will learn: how to keep your soil biologically active using composts and other natural additives; how to set up a composting system, a worm farm and a bokashi bucket for promoting soil fertility; and pest control the natural way. What you will get: barrier controls and lures to keep pests away from seedlings; and ‘ingredients’ for compost making. Part 1: improving soil fertility. Good soil is teeming with all manner of microorganisms and keeping them active leads to healthier and more productive plants, also able to withstand garden pests and diseases. This session will show you how easy it is to keep your soil healthy by making compost, keeping a worm farm or a Bokashi bucket. See all methods at work in the garden and learn how to set them up for yourself. You will look at using the product of these organic waste recyclers in your veggie patch. Part 2: keeping pesky pests at bay. Pests are a natural part of your garden’s ecosystem but spraying harmful chemicals is not and can lead to more problems than the ones you were targeting. You will look at more sensitive ways of tackling garden pests and enlisting the help of nature to do so. This is the third of three related workshops and, ideally, you would attend all three.
When: Saturday, 23rd September, 10am-1pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $50.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

New events

Fruit tree pruning

What: They will be pruning the 2nd year trees in the orchard of Macleod Organic Community Garden.
When: Saturday, 22nd July, 2-4pm.
Where: Macleod Community Garden.
Cost: $15.
Bookings: by email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Introduction to permaculture (two day)

What: A two-day workshop. Developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, permaculture (permanent agriculture) is a whole system approach to ecological planning and design for sustainable living. This workshop, spread over two weekends, will be beneficial to both those new to the concept of permaculture and for those thinking of undertaking a permaculture design course. You will be introduced to permaculture and gain a basic understanding of the principles and design methods associated with permaculture.
When: Saturday, 22nd July and Saturday, 29th July, both 10am-4pm.
Where: Edendale.
Cost: $120 for the two days.
Bookings: Trybooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Fruit tree pruning and maintenance

What: Merrin Layden is a horticulturalist who has spent the past 5 years working at The Orchard Project in London teaching urban fruit tree skills. The skills that you will learn from Merrin will be put to use on the day in the farm’s orchard.
When: Sunday, 23rd July, 10am-3pm.
Where: Bundoora Park Farm.
Cost: $64 (includes entrance to the farm).
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Transition Convergence 2017 – share and inspire

What: This is an opportunity for Transition Town members to reconnect and share stories, news, ideas and plans. It is also ideal for people wanting to start a Transition group or find a group to join. The day’s program will include sessions on: sharing our celebrations and challenges – including posters and short presentations; discussing issues of interest or concern; and briefing on Transition Hub Australia and the 2017 Transition Communities National Summit. Please take: pictures, maps, stories, from your Transition group for display; news, questions, ideas – what’s worked, what hasn’t, what to celebrate and build on; $10 donation towards cost of venue; and food to share for a potluck lunch.
When: Saturday, 29th July, 9.30am-4.30pm.
Where: Docklands.
Cost: $10 donation towards cost of venue.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Preparing your spring garden

What: Diana Cotter has been designing and introducing people to the benefits and delights of gardening for over 30 years. Here is an opportunity to find out which vegetables and flowers to plant in your spring garden, so your garden not only provides good things to eat, but looks great too.
When: Monday, 14th August, 2-3pm.
Where: Fawkner Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Rainwater tanks and smart backyard irrigation

What: This workshop will provide information on what to think about when planning to install a new tank and irrigation system. Go along and receive expert advice and helpful hints on making the best use of your water to help make your garden bloom.
When: Tuesday, 29th August, 6.30-8.30pm.
Where: Kew Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Bush tucker

What: Uncle Ian Hunter will be sharing his knowledge on the indigenous food found in the City of Whittlesea. Find out if you have some of these plants growing in your garden and learn about Wurundjeri history.
When: Friday, 8th September, 11am-midday.
Where: Whittlesea Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Indian cooking – Southern region (two sessions)

What: Tutor Taariq Hassan. Learn how to cook a healthy North West Indian vegetarian meal from scratch using authentic ingredients. Menu: sambhar (spiced lentil soup with tamarind and vegetables); iddli (steamed savoury rice /lentil flour cakes); fresh coconut chutney; tamarind rice with peanuts and curry leaves; dry roasted papadums; plain yoghurt; and milk-based dessert.
When: Monday, 11th September and Monday, 18th September, both 6.30-8.30pm.
Where: Hurstbridge Hub.
Cost: $92.
Bookings: Living and Learning website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next month
Jul 052017
 

Mac’s tip of the week

With the frosty mornings of the last week, you are likely to have a few blackened leaves and tips on your plants due to frost burn. As tempting as it may be to prune off and tidy your plants, it is best to leave the damage there to protect the lower growth from more frosts yet to come. Wait until after the last frost to remove. Until next time, remember: dirty hands are numb hands.

Read all of Mac’s tips.

A maker of bread alternatives and snack foods: Raw 4 The People

Raw 4 The People, from Bayswater North, make (dehydrated) bread alternatives and snack foods, catering for the health conscious, vegetarian, vegan, and people with intolerances. All products are processed under 42 degrees in temperature, gluten free, and use local sources where possible. Particular products include: raw tomato wraps (pictured right); mushroom jerky; raw chia seed crackers; raw sunflower seed bread; raw carrot and coconut crackers; and raw banana pancakes. You can buy their products either online or at: Apples and Sage Organic Wholefoods, Balwyn; Go Vita stores; Great Earth Health Stores; Jefferies Family Supermarket, Croydon; Leo’s Fine Food & Wine supermarkets; Terra Madre, Northcote; or Tone & Trim Zone, Ringwood East. Read their Local Food Directory entry. Welcome Clinton!

Local food producers in the news

The FareShare kitchen garden featured on Landline on ABC on 2nd July, mainly discussing their growing of sweet potatoes. The episode is available on iview until 1st August – the relevant part of the programme starts at 34:18 and goes on 17 minutes.

I can personally confirm that sweet potatoes can be successfully grown in Melbourne. Plant in October or November and harvest when the vines die back in, say, March or April.

Local food producer news

Blue Pear Pantry’s ready made meals are now available from Switchback Cellars, Chirnside Park.

If you are a local food producer and you have some news, just email it to me.

The Eltham planter boxes have gone to good homes

Bev Robertson would like to give a huge thank you to Kaye Saunders, Nada Cunningham and Vicki Jordan who, between them, have recycled all the components.

More about peeing in your garden

The link to the article about peeing in your garden in last week’s newsletter turned out to be one of those popular but controversial links.

In terms of popularity, it was clicked by 10(!) times as many newsletter readers as my article on buying Certified Organic food.

In terms of controversy, it received a critique from Stuart Rodda about its inaccuracies:

  • Urine is not a rich source of uric acid, but urea. Bird droppings are full of uric acid, which is what makes them white. If we have too much uric acid in our bodies, we get gout, due to uric acid crystals in the joints.
  • “Urine is not ‘acidic’ as quoted in that article. Indeed, if it stands too long then it becomes alkaline because urea breaks down to ammonia and CO2 (e.g. the ammonia smell of baby nappies left on too long).
  • “The Romans knew about this and used stale urine for washing clothes because alkalis are good at removing stains (which is why we use ammonia, or sodium carbonate / washing soda). I’m not sure if stale urine is a weedkiller, maybe worth testing.

Stuart has also commented on the little vignette about urea from my article on organic certification from two week’s ago. “Synthetic urea is supplied as a ‘pure’ solid whereas urea from urine is a dilute solution along with other organic nutrients, minerals etc. Applying solid urea to soil is thus quite different from watering in urine or diluted urine in its effects on soil life, soil structure, and plants. In theory, synthetic urea could be diluted to the same weak levels as in urine (e.g. 1%) or even lower. However, it can be contaminated with byproducts of manufacture such as biuret, which is toxic to plants by foliar application. So, if you have a choice, it is probably better to avoid sourcing your nitrogen from synthetically manufactured urea. Nitrogen can also be sourced from decomposing organic matter (usually compost or recycled organic material such as blood and bone), or made on site by nitrogen-fixing plants, or from worm juice etc.

Finally, Susan Palmer has told me that she has personally never done any testing of the techniques discussed in the article. I’m sorry that I gave the wrong impression and retract my words unreservedly. #FakeNews

Know where to get kefir grains?

Nicole Johnston has written in to ask whether anyone knows where she can find some kefir grains. Email me and I’ll pass your email onto Nicole.

Want a job as a Landcare Facilitator?

Whittlesea Council is looking for someone to help reinvigorate Landcare in the municipality. Applications close 16th July. Read the job description and apply.

Want to learn about permaculture?

Download Permaculture – A Designers’ Manual by Bill Mollison. 600 pages!

The van Gogh exhibition ends next week

Just a reminder that the van Gogh exhibition at the NGV ends on 12th July. Inter alia, he is the only(?) prominent painter ever to have painted potatoes.

Have you started to preserve your olives yet?

From Mrs Louca via Maria Ciaverella: a fast way to preserve your olives.

Joke of the week

From Callum via the Herald Sun and Chris Kent: How many eggs are there in a French omelette? Just one, because one egg is un oeuf.

Read all of this year’s jokes.

New events

Paleo Pure & Bod Kombucha shout brunch

What: One Saturday every month, Pure & Bod Kombucha opens its doors to the public and puts on a free brunch for those who wish to come and try their range. You’ll be able to feast on organic breaky bowls from Paleo Pure, made with their hand made grain free granola, fresh fruit & coconut yoghurt as well as Bod Kombucha to wash it down. There’s no need to stay the entire time; rather, pop in for a chat, take a seat, and leave when you want.
When: Saturday, 8th July, 10am-1pm.
Where: Fairfield.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Seasonal cooking: leczo (Polish marrow stew)

What: Leczo is a Polish dish which combines Polish sausage with marrow (cukinia, over-grown zuchini!). Iwona will walk you through how to make this dish and finish with a sample of the dish.
When: Saturday, 8th July, 10.30-11.30am.
Where: Joe’s Market Garden, Coburg.
Cost: by donation, $5-10 suggested.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Mushroom talk

What: It is the season for mushroom foraging, so they have Robin Hallett, a mushroom enthusiast to speak about them. Though he is enthusiastic about foraging for mushrooms, he is quite aware of how difficult it can be to identify edible fungi with certainty. So he will share with you some simple ways of growing mushrooms at home. Robin will also discuss his experiments using cardboard, barley, straw and coffee grounds to produce mushrooms. And the great thing about growing mushrooms this way is that you don’t even need to have a garden. The talk will follow the Warranwood Food Swap, which will start at 10am.
When: Sunday, 16th July, 10.30-11.30am.
Where: Warranwood Primary School.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Family recipes from Malta

What: Sharon Spiteri will prepare Maltese dishes for you to sample while she discusses her book Traditional Sweet Recipes from Malta. Books will be available for purchase at the event.
When: Thursday, 17th August, 6.30-8pm.
Where: Lalor Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

The garden farmacy with Lisa Hodge

What: What you will learn: plant identification; medicinal uses for plants; and make your own remedy. What you will get: a remedy and a seedling. Take a walk through the CERES garden beds and bring the wisdom of traditional herbal medicines into a modern context. During this workshop, you will explore traditional and modern uses of the plants and ways that you can use these plants in self-healing and make an item to take home as well as a seedling. You will learn the basic ways of making your own medicines at home both topically and internally.
When: Saturday, 2nd September, 2-4.30pm.
Where: CERES.
Cost: $70.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Absolute beginners to vegetable growing – your patch from scratch

What: What you will learn: plant identification; medicinal uses for plants; and make your own remedy. What you will get: a remedy and a seedling. Take a walk through the CERES garden beds and bring the wisdom of traditional herbal medicines into a modern context. During this workshop, you will explore traditional and modern uses of the plants and ways that you can use these plants in self-healing and make an item to take home as well as a seedling. You will learn the basic ways of making your own medicines at home both topically and internally.
When: Saturday, 26th August, 10am-12.30pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $50.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Absolute beginners to vegetable growing – seasonal vegetables

What: What you will learn: plant identification; medicinal uses for plants; and make your own remedy. What you will get: a remedy and a seedling. Take a walk through the CERES garden beds and bring the wisdom of traditional herbal medicines into a modern context. During this workshop, you will explore traditional and modern uses of the plants and ways that you can use these plants in self-healing and make an item to take home as well as a seedling. You will learn the basic ways of making your own medicines at home both topically and internally.
When: Saturday, 9th September, 10am-12.30pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $50.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Absolute beginners to vegetable growing – soil and pests

What: What you will learn: plant identification; medicinal uses for plants; and make your own remedy. What you will get: a remedy and a seedling. Take a walk through the CERES garden beds and bring the wisdom of traditional herbal medicines into a modern context. During this workshop, you will explore traditional and modern uses of the plants and ways that you can use these plants in self-healing and make an item to take home as well as a seedling. You will learn the basic ways of making your own medicines at home both topically and internally.
When: Saturday, 23rd September, 10am-1pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $50.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Vegan vegout

What: The food trucks offering vegan food usually include: Bomba Wood Fired Pizza; Lady Rawsome; Pierogi Pierogi; Taitas falafels; The Kind BBQ Co.; The Real Jerk Food Truck; and Yay!
When: the 1st Wednesday of every month, 5-10pm.
Where: Welcome To Thornbury .
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next month

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.

Jun 282017
 

Mac’s tip of the week

A question of arithmetic for you: when is a subtraction really a division? This week’s tip provides the answer.

Now is a good time to divide your perennial herbs and veggies. Dividing your plants will: help stop their spread into areas they are not wanted; promote more vigorous growth; provide you with more plants for other parts of your garden; and make for great gifts to others. The list that can be divided is long, but includes: asparagus, blackberries, chives, globe artichokes, marjoram, mint, oregano, raspberries, rhubarb, strawberries and watercress.

Read all of Mac’s tips.

Helen Simpson interviews Margot Meredith and Jim Cunnington

Some of you will know Margot through her involvement in the Watsonia Library Community Garden and Greensborough Food Swap. Helen has now interviewed Margot and Jim as home growers. Here is the first paragraph: “Walking down the side road to Jim and Margot’s corner block house, I immediately know I’m going to the house of creative gardeners. Masses of luxurious plants grow down the outside of their side street fence and, as I turn the corner and open the picket gate, I am delighted by the sun-dappled front yard with a number of fruit trees, a huge rhubarb plant, plus pretty bee attracting, flowering shrubs. Margot has made a delicious carrot cake, so we firstly sit around the table to chat over morning tea.Read the full interview.

Buying Certified Organic food in North East Melbourne

If you want to eat food that was locally grown or made, you have lots of choices. If you want to eat Certified Organic food, you again have lots of choices. But if you want to eat food that is both local and Certified Organic then, at least in North East Melbourne, your choices are very limited. Your options are discussed in a new article on the website. In summary:

Read the full article.

What to plant in July (see the website for details)

Here is a list:
Beetroot
Coriander
Lettuce
Mustard greens
Onion
Peas
Radish
Shallot

The shortest list of the year.

Local food producer news

Hibi farm, in Heidelberg West, featured in the June edition of pip magazine. There is also a podcast interview with prime mover Maria Cameron.

Kings of Kangaroo Ground have just won two medals at the Shanghai International Wine Challenge: gold for Cabernet Sauvignon and silver for their Shiraz.

Wyldblooms, from Rosanna, appear to have changed their name to W1ldblooms.

Cath Lyons, aka Tiny Trowel has been interviewed on 89.9lightFM. Listen to her interview.

Eltham Farmers’ Market needs a new theme song

For the last three years, the theme song has been Happy by Pharrell Williams. I’ve now been told that it is time to retire the song and choose a new one. Any suggestions? Email me. The chosen song should be: a) well known, b) upbeat, c) catchy and d) this century(!). Email your suggestions.

On a related issue, if you have any suggestions more generally for what music to play during the market, again please email me.

Fundraising drive for schools and community groups

KABUU are having a Spring garden fundraising drive for schools and community groups. See their leaflet pictured right.

Live in Darebin and want to start a community garden?

Darebin Council is looking to help create a new communal food growing site in 2018/19. Read their call for submissions. Submissions are open until 29th September. If interested, contact Lee Tozzi by phone (8470 8392) or email.

Going Green Solutions

Going Green Solutions is one of the liveliest, local Facebook pages, with most of the content being about eco-friendly food-related equipment. They are based in Hurstbridge (929 Main Road) and you can also buy their products online on their website. Furthermore, you can subscribe to their newsletter. Their owner is newsletter reader, Lucinda Flynn.

Kevin Heinze GROW

Kevin Heinze GROW are based in Doncaster. They “work with children and adults of all abilities to provide, enhance and promote the benefits of horticulture based therapy.” and their “activities promote social inclusion, laughter and friendship.“. If you want to get involved, you can volunteer or you can donate.

Nillumbik Healthy Schools newsletter

If you are involved in any food-related activities at your local school, you might be interested in receiving the quarterly Nillumbik Healthy Schools newsletter distributed by healthAbility. Whilst some of it is specific to Nillumbik (and Banyule), around half of the material is more general. To subscribe, email them.

Sustainable Homes Coordinator (Darebin and Banyule) – job vacancy

Newsletter reader Anna Haygreen is heading back to Adelaide and has left her post as Sustainable Homes Coordinator (Darebin and Banyule). The position is now being advertised. It is a joint post across Darebin and Banyule. Applications close 10th July. Read more

Website calendar enhancement

On the main calendar page, you have always been able to limit the results to a specific Council area by choosing that Council from the ‘locations’ drop down box, but now you can also go to ready made pages where this filtering has been done for you: Banyule, Boroondara, City of Yarra, Darebin, Manningham, Maroondah, Moreland, Nillumbik, Whitehorse, Whittlesea and Yarra Ranges.

I have also written some code which can be used to display these sorts of filtered calendars on any website, drawing on the data from our database in real time. So, for example, your website could have a calendar of events for your Council, or just for your suburb, or just farmers’ markets, or whatever. Just email me if you would like such a calendar on your website.

Why you should pee in your garden

Susan Palmer suggests that you read this article. She tells me that she has done extensive testing and that everything in the article works as stated.

Proverb of the month

It’s no use crying over spilt milk. Meaning: There is no point worrying about a mistake or bad situation from the past. First known from a publication entitled Proverbs in 1659 by someone called James Howell. That publication also introduced to the world the famous proverb All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Joke of the week

Two more jokes from Meg Montague:

Why should you never enter a corn field? You’d get lost in the maize.

Why did the maize fail as a stand-up comedian? The jokes were just too corny.

Read all of this year’s jokes.

New events

Seasonal cooking: edible weed dips

What: Learn how to make two dips with two different edible weeds that grow at the garden: nettles and mallow. Interactive, edible and vegan friendly.
When: Saturday, 1st July, 10.30-11am.
Where: Joe’s Market Garden, Coburg.
Cost: by donation, $5-10 suggested.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

The permaculture orchard

What: Go and learn how to design and manage a permaculture orchard. Whether you have a large property or a small garden you can grow the fruit you love at home. John Ferris, from Edible Forest Gardens, will cover tree selection, feeding, pruning techniques and pests & diseases.
When: Sunday, 2nd July, 1-3pm.
Where: Edible Forest Gardens, Wonga Park.
Cost: Gold coin donation.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Social media marketing for hospitality

What: Go along and meet Mark Khoder who specialises in social media for the hospitality industry. Hear him talk about how to drive the awareness and good word of mouth for your business using the power of social media. Ideal for all the local cafes, restaurants, wineries and other local food producers. Hosted by Nillumbik Business Network.
When: Wednesday, 12th July, 6.45-9pm.
Where: Edendale.
Cost: free.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Wild fermentation and sauerkraut workshop

What: Sauerkraut is a fun, easy and tasty way to enter the world of wild fermentation. This workshop will cover: how to make and ferment sauerkraut at home; the basic principles and information about how fermentation works; and why fermented products are important in your diet. You will receive an information booklet. Please BYO apron and wide mouth jar (between 600ml-800ml) – any recycled jar will do.
When: Saturday, 22nd July, 2-4pm.
Where: Joe’s Market Garden, Coburg.
Cost: $50.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Fruit tree pruning

What: Presenter Chris England. A workshop for beginners or as a refresher for more experienced gardeners. There will be a lecture/demonstration of pruning techniques for all sorts of fruit trees (apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, plums, citrus). There will also be a supervised pruning session in the Burnley Field Station where Chris will instruct and help you. BYO cleaned secateurs, gloves and closed shoes. Morning tea included.
When: Saturday, 5th August, 10am-1pm.
Where: Burnley Campus, University of Melbourne.
Cost: $65.
Bookings: Friends of Burnley Gardens by phone (9035 6815) or email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Keeping chooks in the suburbs

What: Have you you always wanted to keep chooks in the suburbs? This workshop will go through how to feed and care for your poultry, the local laws, housing and your neighbours. You will also cover diseases, predators and pets. Also, how to handle your chook correctly (live chickens) and which heritage breed to buy and from where.
When: Tuesday, 15th August, 7-9.30pm.
Where: North Ringwood Community House.
Cost: $25.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

DIY water-wise wicking beds

What: Learn all about wicking beds and how they use less water than conventional garden beds to produce an abundance of veggies. Discover how to build one and get advice on which materials to use. Perfect for people who are conscious of their water use or are not able to water their gardens daily over summer.
When: Thursday, 17th August, 6.30-8.30pm.
Where: Balwyn Leisure Centre.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

DIY worm farms

What: What you will learn: how to make a working worm farm from recycling materials; how to look after worms for maximum productivity; and how to use the worm by-products to best effect in your garden. What you will get: a worm farm that you set up on the day; the worms and bedding to start your worm farm; and notes so that you look after your worms well. Worm farms are a great way to recycle kitchen scraps but buying commercial ones is expensive. In this hands-on workshop, you will recycle materials to make decorated working worm farms. This workshop is suitable for parents with young children to work on together (for a single price).
When: Saturday, 19th August, 10am-1pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $70.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Sourdough bread making workshop

What: Tutor Jenna Farrington-Sear. This workshop will cover basic theory as well as the tactile pleasure of all the steps of making bread from milled flour. Suitable for both novices and those who want to expand their bread making repertoire. Topics to be covered: the essential ingredients and tools of the trade; the principal steps of bread making; baker’s percentage and hydration; mixing, kneading and folding dough; shaping loaves, scoring and baking; and maintaining a starter. You will take home: a piece of dough which can be baked at home; and a sourdough starter.
When: Saturday, 19th August, 10am-1pm.
Where: Living & Learning Nillumbik at Panton Hill.
Cost: $59.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Edible weeds walk

What: What if many of the weeds in our garden were just as edible as the vegetables we tend beside them? What if some of these these free, all-too-easy-to-grow uninvited guests were so nutritionally dense that they are just about the healthiest things you could possibly eat? What if many of them also had medical traditions dating back centuries? Well it’s all true! And if you know what to choose, they also taste great. Join Adam Grubb, co-author of The Weed Forager’s Handbook, for a fascinating walk on the wild side.
When: Sunday, 20th August, 11am-1pm.
Where: Merri Creek Trail.
Cost: $25 ($20 concession).
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Mooroolbark Growers & Weeders present – “an introduction to permaculture”

What: Claire Coutts, from Outer Eastern Permaculture Swap, will introduce you to the basic principles of permaculture, a concept originally created in Australia, covering sustainability and self-sufficiency. By applying these principles in our daily life, we can move from being dependent consumers to becoming responsible producers. Claire will also explain how to make your garden more productive with less work.
When: Tuesday, 22nd August, 2-3pm.
Where: Mooroolbark Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Mooroolbark Library by phone (9800 6480).
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Sensational sourdough at home

What: What you will learn: how to start your own sourdough starter; how to maintain your sourdough starter without lots of waste; and how to use your starter to make, shape and score sensational genuine sourdough bread. What you will get: recipes sheets describing all of the techniques used; a sample of active starter for you to continue to maintain at home; a loaf that you shape, ready to take home to rise, score and bake; and batch of sourdough that you have mixed, for you to take home and continue the process on to baking. Anne, from The Mixing Bowl, will take you from the basics of making your own starter, through to our low-knead technique, using ‘stretch and fold’, the rising process and then the baking. In so doing, Anne will de-bunks a lot of the ‘rules’ surrounding making a good sourdough loaf.
When: Thursday, 24th August, 11am-3pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $98.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Winter fruit tree maintenance (Bulleen)

What: What you will learn: pruning – formative and maintenance of new and established fruit trees. Also, selection and planting of new fruit trees; Winter fruit tree maintenance practices for pest and disease prevention, control and treatment; and pruning tool maintenance. Presented by Angelo Eliades. The aim of this demonstration class is that you will leave it feeling confident to maintain your fruit trees. The preparation that is done in the colder months pays mighty dividends in the growing and harvesting seasons to come. Learn all of the pruning techniques and needs of individual fruit trees from apples and plums to persimmons and pomegranates. And hear about what not to do. Discover how to reduce and prevent pest and diseases that compromise your fruit production. Learn how to treat problems with different methods – organic/permaculture and conventional. They will also cover buying new fruit trees and will demonstrate how to clean and sharpen your pruning tools and other edged garden tools (spades etc). You have the option to bring one of your own pruning tools along and learn how to sharpen it.
When: Saturday, 26th August, 9.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next month

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.

View the calendars for specific Council areas: Banyule, Boroondara, City of Yarra, Darebin, Manningham, Maroondah, Moreland, Nillumbik, Whitehorse, Whittlesea and Yarra Ranges.

Read some help on how to view the calendar selectively. For example, search for events in a given suburb or set of suburbs. Or search for events of a given type (such as markets).