Nov 302013

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Covering all matters food in North East Melbourne

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Eltham Farmers’ Market, a Local Food Connect initiative, is held every Sunday.

Mar 142018

Greta visits the garden of Marc and Liz Hudson

Greta Gilles has visited the garden of Marc and Liz Hudson, from Heidelberg Heights. Here is how the write up starts: “Marc and Liz moved to Heidelberg Heights in the early 90s. Marc is semi-retired and keeps the garden under some sort of control as well as working a couple of shifts at Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital as a Patient Services Assistant (PSA). Liz works fulltime at Austin Repatriation in admin (specifically older people). They both love the opportunity that the Repatriation Hospital gives to interact with the older members of our community. They also volunteer (run a cooking program) with Heidelberg Housing, which is a disabled housing initiative, and are involved with both Rough Trade 3081 and a support network for people returning from volunteer work in closed countries. On visiting, you immediately recognise the garden as a place of refuge with many seating areas scattered around the garden, a space that does a loop around the house. This isn’t solely a food garden and non-edible flowering plants weave wonderfully in amongst the edible. This is a garden many years in the making with so many pockets of interest within it.Read the full write up.

Mac’s tip of the week

Although March is officially the start of Autumn, we are definitely having a late Summer period. With mid to high 30s forecast for next weekend, and still no real sign of rain, don’t rush out to plant your autumn seedlings just yet. To quote myself: “the early bird may find a fried worm“. Better to keep watering or simply prepare your soil for when true Autumn arrives. If you’ve already jumped the starting gun, pull out that shadecloth!

Read all of Mac’s tips.

Looking to move to a beautiful bush block?

Duang Tengtrirat and Rob Reid Smith, who we interviewed a few weeks ago, have decided to downsize. Their delightful 18-acre property at 95 Gumtree Road in Research is therefore up for sale. Click here to read all the details.

They would love it if the property could be sold to a reader of this newsletter. Duang writes in: “Anyone interested in food and sustainability would find our property ideal. We have enjoyed building the gardens and improving the soil, season after season. There is enough fertile soil to grow enough vegetables and fruits to be self sufficient, run a food business, and share with family and friends. The main vegetable garden is on an enclosed tennis court. Established and productive fruit trees are netted and fenced. It would be great if this property continues to reflect sustainable living in the local community.Click here to read all the details.

News about local food producers

Fairfields Food Swap is a new food swap organised by Transition Darebin. The 3rd Saturday of each month, 11am-midday. St. Andrews Church, side garden, corner of Gillies Street & Duncan Street, Fairfield.

Fairfields Farmers’ Market has moved to the Melbourne Innovation Centre, 2 Wingrove Street, Alphington, 3078.

Arthurs Creek Garlic, from Arthurs Creek, and Juanita’s Kitchen, from Preston, will both be at The Herb and Chilli Festival in Wandin North on 17th and 18th March.

AVS Organic Foods, from Watsonia North, and Billy van Creamy, from Fitzroy North, will both be at the Big Vegan Market at the Royal Exhibition Building on Saturday, 12th May.

You can now buy Blue Pear Pantry’s savoury rolls at Eltham Deli

Sim Hanscamp, from Spoke & Spade in Heidelberg West, featured in an ABC article on Melbourne’s urban farmers. The public housing community gardens operated by Cultivating Community were also discussed.

Fresh food delivery company Aussie Farmers Direct has gone into voluntary administration. Click here to read an ABC article on the subject.

Vegetawall: a garden for everyone, everywhere

Vegetawall’s (aka Ariel de Ramos’s) mission is “to help and support people in rented flats and low income households to have their own garden and grow their own fresh, healthy food through saved seeds, home compost and vertical gardens.” They are Melbourne based and facilitate workshops. Their three pillars are:

  • VegetaWall: a vertical garden system which is simple to make, affordable and adaptable.
  • Seed library: a collection of saved seeds, seeds of heirloom plants, and surplus seeds from packets.
  • Compost map: communal composting.

Young Farmers Scholarship Program

Up to $10,000 is available from the Victorian Government for young farmers to study and invest on-farm or in professional development activities. Closing date 24th April. Click here to read more and to apply. Click here to read about the wider young farmers’ programme.

Henry the Hedgehog

Miriam Jans has written in: “I am currently writing a vegan kids books series called Animal Alliance Series – 12 short stories in total, 4 animal main characters and 12 addressed moral values (such as honesty, perseverance, humility, courage and compassion), as well as topics of veganism. And it all rhymes, too! The book’s aim is to teach children from a young age about environmental and moral issues of the modern age, whilst being cute and non-confrontational. As it is still early days, and the first book about Henry the Hedgehog is available for pre-order, I need all the support I can get, as it is important to get the vegan message ‘out there’ to as many people as possible. For more info, have a look at my website or Facebook page.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

Greta’s visit to the garden of Maude Farrugia and Neil Erenstrom.

Joke of the week

The trouble with eating Italian food is that five or six days later, you’re hungry again.

Read all the jokes.

New events

Shopping with a conscience

What: What are the issues that reflect the true cost of the products we buy? What are ‘best buys’ for our health, our communities and our planet? How can you find the most sustainable purchase amongst the options available? Go to a workshop by Nick Ray from Shop Ethical (creators of the Shop Ethical Guide) to find out more about the products, companies and related issues that are part of your weekly supermarket shopping adventures. You will explore practical ways to help you in making more ethical choices and lighten your impact. The session will include a trip to the Watsonia IGA to buy some food based what you have learnt, followed by a light meal and discussion. Organised by Sustainable Greensborough.
When: Sunday, 18th March, 2-4.30pm.
Where: Watsonia Library.
Cost: $15 (includes the cost of the food you purchase at the IGA).
Bookings: by email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Seed saving

What: With Kat Lavers. Learn how to save seeds. You will save a fortune on seed packets and seedings of course, but over time you will also develop stronger plants that are perfectly adapted to your garden’s microclimate. They will cover all the basics of plant selection, pollination, harvesting, drying, cleaning and storing seeds.
When: Tuesday, 20th March, 6.30-8.30pm.
Where: Fitzroy North.
Cost: $25.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

A taste of harmony – community lunch

What: Learn to cook food celebrated throughout the world. Hosted by local residents from different cultural backgrounds, this event will celebrate the stories, memories and new connections to people and the food that they love.
When: Wednesday, 21st March, 10.30am-2pm.
Where: Heidelberg West.
Cost: $10.
Bookings: by email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Cooking master class

What: Enjoy 3 tasting size courses cooked by chef Bek McMillan, from Gourmet Living, who will demonstrate step by step. All recipes are included. Menu: prawns; grilled salmon; and chocolate mousse tart.
When: Thursday, 22nd March, 7-9pm.
Where: Gourmet Living, Templestowe.
Cost: $42.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Building wicking garden beds from IBCs

What: Links Community Group are building a new community garden in Lalor and want to install some wicking garden beds. Attend this interactive, hands-on workhop to learn how to build wicking garden beds from secondhand intermediate bulk containers (IBCs). Matt Odgers from Links Community Group, together with Lalor & District Men’s Shed members, will cover: sourcing IBCs, cutting tips, making the cut IBC safe, protecting an IBC from the sun using wood, and use of basic power tools.
When: Saturday, 14th April, 10am-midday.
Where: Links Community Garden, Lalor.
Cost: free.
Bookings: by phone (0431 896347) or email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Herbal teas

What: What you will learn: learn about herbal teas; understand how to grow your own tea; and learn about using native plants for herbal teas. Presented by Karen Sutherland, of Edible Eden Design. Herbs have been used for centuries for health benefits and one of the most common ways of taking them was through teas. Karen will guide you through their cultivation requirements and how to use them in herbal teas. Sip your way through some teas during the class to discover some new favourites, including some Australian native herbs.
When: Thursday, 3rd May, 6.30-9pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Cooking faster, cheaper and healthier with Duang

What: Need some easy to prepare, low cost meal options for your family dinner? Duang will demonstrate how to avoid food waste, save money and time when preparing delicious lunches and your family dinners. There will be tastings of all dishes and young children are welcome.
When: Friday, 3rd May, 10am-midday.
Where: Watsonia Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Introduction to horticulture – 9 session course

What: This 9-week hands-on course will introduce you to a range of topics in the field of horticulture. Places in the course are government-subsidised, so it is a great starting point for people thinking about turning their passion into a career in horticulture, or simply for home food growers who want to learn more – only $135 for a 9-session course! No prior experience is necessary. Working as a team with fellow participants, you will gain a broad overview and practical, hands-on experience such topics as: introduction to plant recognition; propagation; planting; soil properties; environmentally sustainable work practices; and career pathways/further study in the horticulture industry. The course will be run by Justin Calverley,
When: Saturdays, starting 5th May, 9.30am-3pm.
Where: Edendale.
Cost: $135 for all 9 sessions ($78 concession).
Bookings: by phone (9433 3744)
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Vegetable seed saving

What: Led by Ian Culbard, this workshop will cover the knowledge and skills required to produce some of your own true-to-type vegetable seeds. Seed selection, harvesting, processing and storing will all be covered. Samples of a range of locally saved open pollinated and heirloom vegetable seeds are included.
When: Saturday, 5th May, 1-2.30pm.
Where: Edendale.
Cost: free.
Bookings: TryBooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Kellybrook Cider Festival

What: Scrumpy cider, live bands and lots of food is what the Kellybrook Cider Festival is all about. Set in the historic gardens and vineyards at Kellybrook’s Wonga Park property, the weekend will feature Kellybrook’s scrumpy and other ciders, beers and wines. There will also be tastings at the cellar door. Bring your picnic rug, invite your friends and celebrate the end of apple harvest.
When: Saturday, 5th May and Sunday 6th May, both 11am-5pm.
Where: Kellybrook Winery, Wonga Park.
Cost: $22.
Bookings: EventBrite – 5th May; 6th May.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Kalorama Chestnut Festival

What: Explore the diverse range of stalls showcasing locally-made handcrafts and produce. Children can enjoy the fun rides and adventure play space. The activities will include: roasted chestnuts; poffertjees; Devonshire tea and home made cakes; sausage sizzle; local restaurant food stalls; artisan beer (including chestnut beer!) and mulled wine; coffee, tea and chai; bungy jump trampolines; train rides’ flying swings; petting zoos; old-fashioned kids games; raffles; local handmade crafts; local produce; and live music and performances.
When: Sunday, 6th May, 10am-4pm.
Where: Kalorama Memorial Reserve.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Natural pest control with companion planting

What: What you will learn: which plants to grow together, and which ones not to; how to solve many common garden problems naturally; and how to construct ‘plant guilds’ (groups of plants that grow much better together). Presented by Angelo Eliades. With companion planting, by knowing which plants to grow together and which ones not to, you can grow stronger, healthier and more productive plants, improve soil quality, and reduce pests and diseases in your garden. Learn which companion plants to add to your garden to solve many common garden problems naturally, and find out how to construct ‘plant guilds’ (groups of plants that grow much better together) for more abundant harvests.
When: Saturday, 12th May, 9.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Bulleeen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Raw living whole foods with Valentina Rise

What: What you will learn: basics of raw food; make guilt free treats; and learn what super foods are. You will discuss the nutritional benefits of superfoods, and how introducing more raw (natural plant-based) foods into your daily eating regimes can assist in your over-all health. Eating the right foods can help with reducing stress, anxiety and depressive states of being, increase your immunity and gut health and bring greater clarity into your lives. You will learn raw food cooking skills and get to feast on many different foods from savoury to sweet healthy treats (e.g. raw pad thai, raw stir fry, raw caramel slice, raw ice cream, raw lemon slice and raw cheesecake). No refined white processed sugars or products will be used. You will gain knowledge on the best natural sweeteners and produce to use to assist in optimal health.
When: Saturday, 12th May, 10am-3pm.
Where: CERES.
Cost: $70.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Food for thought – finger foods and tapas

What: Local chef, Mellissa Strachan, will present three canapes. Each recipe will cater to a gluten-free, dairy-free or vegetarian diet. Participants will make these tasty treats and, at the conclusion of the workshop, be able to taste the final products. Apart from sharing some recipes, Mellissa will give some tips and tricks that will help even inexperienced cooks gain confidence in the kitchen.
When: Saturday, 12th May, 10.30am-1pm.
Where: Ringwood Uniting Church.
Cost: $60.
Bookings: EventBrite.
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: Saturday, 12th May, 11am-1pm.
Where: Merri Creek Trail.
Cost: $25 ($20 concession).
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.

Mar 072018

Greta visits the garden of Maude Farrugia and Neil Erenstrom

Greta, together with neighbour Stevie, has visited the garden of Maude Farrugia and Neil Erenstrom, from Heidelberg Heights. Here is how the write up starts: “The ‘Farrugia-Erenstroms’ are a little family that live in a little house on top of a big hill in Heidelberg Heights. Maude works part-time from home for Pip Permaculture magazine, so gardening feels like ‘real’ work a lot of the time. She also runs her tiny design label Cheerio Paper Co. The rest of her time is spent gardening, looking after 3-year-old Alfie, and being an active member of the local transition towns community. Neil works a lot more (though he’s working on making it a lot less) in solar power research and development. He facilitates Maude’s garden designs through sheer brawn (and general fear of Maude?!). Alfie helps out in the garden by eating much of the produce (before it’s even made it inside), sowing seeds and harvesting. You’ll be surprised to find out that this garden has built up its thriving harvest in just under a year!Read the full write up.

Maude is one of seven Pip magazine’s people listed on their website, with newsletter readers Adrian O’Hagan and Samantha Allemann being two of the others. She blogs on the website around once a week, with her latest blog post being about summer pickling ideas.

The Urban Agriculture Forum 2018

Our roving reporter, Paul Gale-Baker, went to the 2-day Urban Agriculture Forum in February. Read his write up.

Tip of the week – white cabbage moth

Last week, we talked about March and April as the best months for planting brassicas. Here is what Leaf, Root & Fruit had to say on the subject in their March newsletter: “Just be aware that the dreaded white cabbage moth tends to ruin any unprotected early crops. So plan ahead and have some insect netting ready to protect them. Or better still, just wait until late April to plant out seedlings. The white cabbage is a lot less prevalent in the cooler weather and your young seedlings will stand a better chance of surviving.

What happens is that the moths lay their eggs on the seedlings and the caterpillars hatch and eat the seedlings. Fine netting stops the moths from reaching the plants to lay their eggs. Another alternative is decoys: white bits of moth-shaped paper on sticks apparently make the moths think that the leaves are already home to caterpillars and thus they leave them alone.

Mac is having a well-earned week off.

Strategies for lead contaminated garden soils

A recent RMIT study found that some Melbourne veggie patches have high levels of lead contamination in the soil. In response, Adam Grubb, from Very Edible Gardens, has written an article giving 11 mitigation strategies. In summary:

  1. Get tested (by The VegeSafe project at Macquarie University).
  2. Wash. Wash your hands, and wash your vegetables.
  3. Add organic matter.
  4. Home test your soil’s pH.
  5. Add a high-phosphorous fertiliser.
  6. Mulch.
  7. Grow fruit crops, not root crops.
  8. If you have chickens, keep them separate from the soil.
  9. Use raised beds. Ideally wicking beds.
  10. Isolate or remove any highly contaminated soil.
  11. Eat a healthy diet.

Do you have a project concept that you would like support with?

Doing Something Good, in partnership with City of Melbourne and Open Food Network, are running their third Local Food Launchpad program from April to June this year. They are looking to support ideas for products, services, enterprises, campaigns or community projects that will contribute to either a) increasing food production in Melbourne, and/or b) increasing opportunities for Melburnians and visitors to Melbourne to purchase locally- and regionally-grown food. Their initial meeting, called a Concept Development Workshop, is being held in the CBD on Wednesday, 14th March. Click here to read more and register.

If your project is located in North East Melbourne, you are also invited to email Local Food Connect, who may be able to assist with expertise and/or funding.

Whitehorse Community Grants 2018/19 are now open

Are you part of a not-for-profit community group in Whitehorse with an interest in environmental sustainability? If so, you can apply for a grant. The closing date is Friday, 6th April. Click here to read more.

Do you have a Jora compost tumbler?

As part of a research project, 3000acres would like to see a Jora compost tumbler in action. Do you have one that you could show them? If so, email Merrin Layden.

News about local food producers

Tamil Feasts, who are based in Brunswick East and grow much of their food at Joe’s Market Garden, featured on the 9th February episode of Gardening Australia. In total, they are on for 12 minutes of the 60-minute program but, irritatingly, this is split across four segments (starting at the 1 minute, 32 minute, 45 minute and 55 minute marks).

‘Crowd harvest’ – tomatoes for Easter

At this time of year, gardeners everywhere often have more tomatoes than they can sensibly consume. Gardeners with excess tomatoes are invited to give them to one of the not-for profit organisations listed below, each of will preserve the tomatoes as passata, chutney or sundried and then distribute through their food relief programs. DIVRS in Preston or STREAT in Collingwood. Any questions, contact Cath Lyons (aka Tiny Trowel) by phone (0401 814679) or email.

Naturally died easter eggs

Question: what do you use to die eggs blue for Easter? Answer: purple cabbage, of course. See a simple step-by-step guide to naturally dyed easter eggs. Thanks for the heads up, Penny Grose!

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

Judy’s interview with Carol and Alan Woolcock.

Joke of the week

Why did the fungus leave the party? Because there wasn’t mushroom.

Read all the jokes.

New events

Passata demonstration with Jean Garita

What: Jean Garita, matriarch of Joe’s Market Garden, will talk about how to make passata the traditional way of the Garita family.
When: Saturday, 10th March, 10.30-11.30am.
Where: Joe’s Market Garden, Coburg.
Cost: donation.
Bookings: by email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Vegan day out in Melbourne

What: Local cafes and businesses in Fitzroy will be reducing 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, 10th March, 9am-6pm and Sunday, 11th March, 10am-5pm.
Where: Fitzroy.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Getting ready for seasonal veggies and sowing from seed

What: Led by Maria Ciavarella.
When: Wednesday, 14th March, 1-3pm.
Where: Doncaster.
Cost: $30.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Intro to composting workshop

What: Go and learn how to make beautiful, rich, compost for your garden. Turn household green waste into nutritious food for your veggies. Learn about the theory and different compost systems: hot compost, bokaski and worm farms. Facilitated by Murundaka Cohousing Community members Kaz Phillips and Mikoto Araki.
When: Saturday, 17th March, 10am-midday.
Where: Murundaka, Heidelberg Heights.
Cost: $5.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Great soil, making compost and keeping a worm farm

What: Led by Maria Ciavarella.
When: Wednesday, 21st March, 1-3pm.
Where: Doncaster.
Cost: $30.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Easter treats with The Kitchen Whizz

What: Join Min and Thea from The Kitchen Whizz (an offshoot of The Natural Nutritionist) where they will demonstrate a variety of healthy sweet treats just in time for Easter. Recipes will include choc chip hot cross buns, sweet potato brownie, cashew chilli coconut chocolate bark, and Easter bliss balls.
When: Friday, 23rd March, 11am-midday.
Where: Camberwell.
Cost: $57.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Kitchen dream team

What: Manage your home kitchen just like a chef. Learn to work as a team in your kitchen at home. You will learn tips that will support you to work together and involve the kids, to put home cooking at the centre of your family’s life. An interactive workshop with practical activities that you can go home and start putting into practice straight away. Please note: no actual cooking involved – this is a theory-based program.
When: Saturday, 24th March, 11am-midday.
Where: Lilydale Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Hibi Farm home tour

What: The Hibi Farm is a micro suburban farm that produces bread, beer, cheese, chocolate, honey, preserves, pottery and bicycles from scratch, amid thriving fruit and vegetable gardens. It is a social experiment in sustainable living, and the hub of a spontaneous community known as ‘the hood’. This is a ‘harvest time’ event.
When: Sunday, 25th March, 9am-midday.
Where: Heidelberg West.
Cost: $25.
Bookings: TryBooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Safer pest control

What: Led by Maria Ciavarella.
When: Wednesday, 28th March, 1-3pm.
Where: Doncaster.
Cost: $30.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Introduction to natural beekeeping (two-day)

What: Suitable for beginners, and ideal for the backyarder, this two-day event is designed to provide participants with the information they need to start natural beekeeping with confidence. It will cover such subjects as: boxes, equipment, legislation, choosing the location, ongoing maintenance and harvesting. It will also include hive manipulations and some honey tasting. After the course, for those that need it, the course organisers may be able to provide bees for your hive at no cost during swarming season. The event is being run by the Natural Beekeeping Group of Permaculture Victoria.
When: Saturday, 7th April and Sunday 8th April, both 10am-5pm.
Where: Mitcham.
Cost: $200 for members of Permaculture Victoria; $250 for non-members.
Bookings: by email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Young gardeners

What: Join your youngsters in learning to successfully grow your own food. Children enjoy eating food they have produced. An event organised by Urban Shepherd.
When: Saturday, 21st April, 10am-midday.
Where: Macleod.
Cost: $30 (children free).
Bookings: by phone (0408 733683 or 9444 7427).
Further information: LFC calendar entry. Continue reading »

Feb 282018

Judy interviews Carol and Alan Woolcock

Many of you will know Carol as a participant at multiple food swaps, as one of the organisers of the Warrandyte Food Swap, or as a maker of delicious jams and cakes. Judy Vizzari has now interviewed Carol, and her husband Alan, about all these matters, as well as about their experiences as home growers. Here is how Judy introduces her write up: “Today I’m visiting Carol and Alan Woolcock, who live on a large, irregular block in Warrandyte on the north-east outskirts of Melbourne. Their property tops the hill which leads down to Pound Bend in the Warrandyte National Park. It’s close to the Evelyn Tunnel which was excavated in 1870 – a tunnel cut through an elbow of the Yarra River to facilitate gold mining. It’s an area which provides a fascinating glimpse of the endeavour of mid 19thC miners.Read the full interview.

One thing that I would like to highlight from the interview is that Carol and Alan were the recipients of a permablitz in 2013. Furthermore, the permablitz people re-visited in 2016 and provided a nice write up about the garden.

Robin’s veggie growing tip of the month

A well-dried herb should be the same colour as it was in its fresh state. Those supermarket ones that are heat-dried, lose not only their colour but also most of their volatile oils. The best way to dry herbs is to cut the stems in the morning once any morning dew has dried but before watering, as this will be when the herb’s volatile oils will be strongest. Then tie them in bunches, remove any brown, dried leaves and hang them upside down in a warm but shady place to dry out. Once fully dry, strip the stems, fill the jars, screw the lid on, label and you’re done.

Some herbs don’t dry well and are better preserved in oil. These include basil (though recently someone told me that basil dried in a very slow oven retains its flavour), french tarragon, oregano, savoury and thyme. If preserving in oil, use a hot oil method as the microbes on herbs (or any other vegetable) can cause botulism (which can be fatal).

Julie’s tip of the month

Julie French has written in: “I found these little bugs (see photo) in my garden last year. They were about the size of a ladybird. At the time I couldn’t find out what they were and didn’t follow up as they were only a few and only on the one eggplant. This year they’ve appeared in greater numbers on my beans and I’ve made more of an effort to find out what they are. In Australia, they’re called the green vegetable bug (Nezara viridula) and are pests on tomatoes, eggplants, capsicums, beans and other veggies. The ones in the photo are nymphs; the adults are bigger and can look like green stink bugs (which is what they’re called in the US, I think).

In researching this issue, I found a useful report discussing all sorts of insect and mite pests (pdf) from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research. It’s particularly useful in that it has good photos showing the various stages, from egg to mature critter, of these pests and that’s important because the immature form often does not look anything like the adult. Beneficial ladybirds are an example of this.

Permablitz’s ‘hero of the month’

Tromboncino: this is the zucchini with outstanding flavour that doesn’t get too big too soon. Be sure to train the quick growing vines up a trellis so it hangs straight or you’ll have lots of long and curlies!.

Read about all of Permablitz’s heros.

Mac’s tip of the week

It’s time to remove (and maybe tag for next year) most of your bird netting (obviously only from those trees where the fruit has been harvested). In so doing, you may need to prune any growth that has come through the netting. In fact, why not keep going and give your fruit trees a good ‘late summer prune’ rather than wait until winter dormancy, as has been more traditional. This can be particularly beneficial for stonefruit or any espaliered/trained trees where you do not want vigorous spring growth (water shoots) to ruin your desired shape. At this time of the year, wounds heal quickly and, whilst there will be some re-growth, it won’t be the vigorous, unproductive, vertical growth (water shoots) often seen after hard winter pruning. Broadly speaking, winter pruning promotes vigorous growth whilst summer pruning inhibits growth. So, while winter pruning is recommended for newly planted trees up until the tree has achieved the desired framework and height, summer pruning is a great way to control the size of your tree once established.

All the growth made since Spring should be cut back by at least a third noting that, for some fruit trees, it is this new growth which will carry next year’s crops. [Editor’s note: the fruiting schedule on our website includes a column which, for each type of fruit tree, summarises where the tree fruits. Where it says, ‘1-year-old wood’, this means that it is this year’s growth which will carry next year’s crops.]

Also remove rubbing / crossing branches. All major structural pruning should, however, still be saved for when the trees are dormant and less prone to stress.

Read a recent SGA article on summer pruning of apple trees.

Early Autumn is also a great time to cut out summer-fruiting raspberry canes that have completely finished fruiting. Cut out all dead canes, right down to ground level. All remaining (up to 5 or 6 per plant) healthy canes can be loosely tied together and, if necessary, secured to a trellis / wires or stakes.

Read all of Mac’s tips.

What seeds to plant in March

Here is a list (see the planting guide for more detail):


Brussels sprouts
Mustard greens
Pak choy

Other leafy greens



Broad beans

Compared with February, all the brassicas are now on the list, plus broad beans. The best months for planting brassicas are March and April. What I do is plant seeds in March so that, if they don’t germinate, I can either try again in April or cheat and buy some seedlings. My tip of the month is to plant mustard greens as a tasty, somewhat peppery, leafy green. Mizuna is another good option, but I tend to keep that for summer as it is bolt resistant.

Read Helen’s 2016 articles on growing brassicas and on autumn plantings.

Want a job with Leaf, Root & Fruit?

Leaf, Root & Fruit are hiring again, this time for a Strategic Projects Officer. The responsibilities include: set up and documentation of new systems; development of their new depot in Burwood; and optimisation of their existing urban farming and ongoing garden maintenance services. Click here to read more and to apply.

News about local food producers

Sugarloaf Produce, from Strathewen, have started sending out fortnightly emails to local cafes, shops and restaurants outlining what veggies etc they currently have available. Read their latest email. If you would like to receive these emails, email them.

Website calendar upgrade – cooking classes

An increasing proportion of the local food events are cooking classes. All cooking classes are now highlighted in green text on the website calendar of all events. Furthermore, because ‘cooking class’ is now a category, you can view a calendar of the cooking classes only. And, of course, that also means that you can view a calendar of once-off events other than cooking classes!

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

Greta’s visit to Tuan Pham’s garden.

Pip pip

Pip magazine is still accepting nominations for their inaugural Pip Permie Awards 2018, with a closing date of 8th March. There are two awards:

  • The Best Permie Project award is open to projects which are current, create positive change and demonstrate the permaculture ethics of earth care, people care and fair share. The prize will be $250.
  • The Permie Of The Year award is for a permaculture practitioner working to create positive change in the world, where that person demonstrates the permaculture ethics of earth care, people care and fair share in their work. The prize will be an award pack (which includes garden tools and books) valued at $250.

The awards will be presented at the 14th Australian Permaculture Convergence (APC14). To nominate a project or person, email Pip magazine with their name, location and age. Include a brief description about what they’re doing, how they demonstrate these ethics, and why you think they should win.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

Greta's visit to Tuan Pham's garden.

Proverb of the month

Man does not live by bread alone. Meaning: physical nourishment is not sufficient for a healthy life; people also have spiritual needs. Or, as one website put it: no one says they don’t have time to eat food and no one should say that they don’t have time to read the Bible. The phrase was first used in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 8: 2-3) and this was then referred to by Jesus in the New Testament when tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:4 and Luke 4:4): And Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”

Read all the proverbs.

Gardening quote of the month

Gardening has just sort of grown on me. I find it therapeutic. And I like smelly things. by Clive Anderson.

Read all the gardening quotes.

Joke of the week

Submitted by Sabi Buehler: Can you tell me the joke about the peanut butter? No, I’m not telling you because you might spread it.

Read all the jokes. Continue reading »