Thanks to all the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Annie Howard, Chris Chapple, Doris Glier, Emily Alexandra, Georgia Tracy, Jon Buttery, Megan Cassidy, Simone Broekman, Robin Gale-Baker, Sue Maric, Tom Danby and Vasundhara Kandpal.
More than 300 people have now contributed to this newsletter since the start of the pandemic! Have a look at the list.
Given that we are not including any face-to-face events at the moment, there is lots of space to include other things. Now would therefore be a really good time for you to submit some words about any food-related matters. It can be anything so long as it is food-related: ask a question, provide a tip, discuss an issue, submit a photo, send in a recipe, etc. Email us with your contribution(s).
This week’s farmers’ markets
Saturday: Abbotsford Convent and Coburg. Not Wonga Park.
Sunday: Alphington and Eltham. Not Heathmont.
Growing great spuds (by Robin Gale-Baker)
Way back in 2016, Helen Simpson wrote a great series of veggie growing guides for this newsletter and for our website. But they didn’t cover how to grow potatoes and that has been a big gap ever since. Now, thanks for Robin Gale-Baker, that gap has been filled with her new article entitled Growing great spuds.
Central to Robin’s article is the distinction between ‘indeterminate’ and ‘determinate’ potatoes. Determinate potatoes grow beneath ground essentially at the depth they were planted. Indeterminate potatoes, however, grow along the stem and may therefore become exposed to the light, turn green and become poisonous. Indeterminate potatoes, therefore, benefit from being ‘hilled up’ with soil, whereby they are planted in a trench which is then gradually filled as the shoots re-appear above the surface of the soil. Putting this another way: whilst determinate potatoes can be planted in the obvious way (i.e. plant them a bit under the ground), indeterminate potatoes benefit from being planted in a particular way (e.g. dig trenches, which are then gradually re-filled).
Indeterminate potato varieties include Brownell, Dutch Cream, Nicola, Sebago, Up to Date, King Edward, Salad Rose and Pink Fir Apple.
Determinate potatoes varieties include Kipfler, Purple Congo, Pink Eye, Red Pontiac, Spunta, Russian Banana, Burgundy Blush and Pentland Dell.
Two final thoughts. Only ever plant certified seed potatoes as these will be disease and pest free. And start harvesting when the plant flowers.
Read the full article.
Guy’s tip of the week – potatoes
My tip this week is inspired by Robin’s article above.
Potatoes are a great veggie to grow: you get lots of potatoes for your potato, you choose your varieties, you can plant them throughout the year, and they don’t suffer from the ‘everything comes at once’ glut. But they have one major problem: once you have grown them in a place, it is very difficult to get rid of them from that place! This is because, although one thinks of them as an annual vegetable, potato plants are actually perennial, with the potato itself simply being a temporary energy storage repository between periods of growth. So if, when harvesting, you miss any of the potatoes, as you invariably will, the plants will simply re-grow and this will screw up any plans or crop rotation systems that you might have.
In this context, my tip is simple: don’t grow potatoes in your main veggie beds. Rather, if you can, grow them in containers (such as bags or sacks) where you can harvest them by emptying out the soil and thus ensure that no potatoes remain.
Read more of my veggie growing tips.
Jon’s podcast of the week
All The Dirt is a wonderful, regular Australian podcast on gardening. Here is one of their recent episodes, which then led me onto another fascinating podcast about biodiversity in a famous English garden: www.allthedirt.com.au/podcast/2021/8/16/episode-150-michael-mccoy-gardener-designer-and-writer and then www.rootsandall.co.uk/portfolio-item/podcast-44-fergus-garrett-on-biodiversity-at-great-dixter.
Another food relief organisation – Thornbury Church of Christ
Thornbury Church of Christ do a number of things. They operate a food relief program, open Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 2.30-5pm. There is a free community meal on the 4th Sunday of every month, midday-1pm (currently takeaway only due to Covid). There is also a pantry (Smith St Community Pantry) which is open 24/7 and typically contains unopened non-perishable food, bread and garden produce. Read their Local Food Directory entry. Welcome Sue and colleagues!
Read about some of the other local food relief organisations on our website.
Fruit trees and other plants available at Kevin Heinze Grow (Coburg and Doncaster)
Georgia Tracy has written in to say that the Kevin Heinze Grow (KHG) Spring Fair (their annual event which celebrates spring with the sale of veggie seedlings, herbs, etc) won’t be on again this year. This is really disappointing and, as it is traditionally the disability charity’s biggest fundraiser, having to cancel will negatively impact the organisation financially.
However, you can still support their work by shopping with them. More specifically, they have now organised a ‘call and collect’ system for the KHG nurseries in both Coburg and Doncaster. Initial offerings cover fruit trees and other plants, and these can be viewed at https://kevinheinzegrow.org.au/nursery-cafe/nursery/.
You choose what you want, send them an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and they will contact you re payment and collection details.
In early October, they will be adding their tomato and other veggie seedlings to the system. Stay tuned!
Veggie seedlings available at Eltham Farmers’ Market
There will be lots of veggie seedlings available for sale at Eltham Farmers’ Market on Sunday.
Peace Farm will have beetroot, beans, cucumbers, herbs, pumpkin, spinach, sweetcorn, tomatoes, zucchini and more.
The Mushroom Shed will have a wide range of veggie and herb seedlings, including around 20 different tomato varieties, edible flowers and native saltbush. Ginger and turmeric plants will be available in the near future.
Yes, you did know(sort of)! Wicking beds
Sonia Martinez wants to install some wicking beds in her back garden but she has no experience with them and asked for people’s thoughts. Two people responded.
Emily Alexandra: “Get your wicking beds from Ceres Fair Wood.”
Tom Danby: “I plan to establish a tailored wooden garden bed service but, because of Covid restrictions, I currently mostly install Biofilta Foodcubes.”
I have added Tom to our website list of local people who build planter boxes, wicking beds or raised garden beds, including his contact details.
Do you want any silkworms?
Doris Glier has some surplus silkworms that she would like to give away. Says Doris, “So many of my silkworms hatched this year and I would love to share them with others to give them the interesting experience of observing the silkworms’ life cycle. If you have access to mulberry leaves, it would be the perfect project for kids all ages (including pre-schoolers) to observe the life cycle (September to December) of these little creatures and learn to take some responsibility for little animals.” If you are potentially interested, contact Doris by email.
Can you help?
Annie Howard: “Is anyone willing to sell me one or two young or laying hens? We were down to 2 older hens and one of them died on the weekend (peacefully from old age). Given Covid restrictions, I am finding it hard to source hens locally to where I live in Brunswick.” If you can potentially help Annie, email me and I will put the two of you in touch.
Interested in joining a sustainability book club?
Sustainable Greensborough have started a monthly book club (currently online) to chat about issues of sustainability on our planet, and how we can grow the future we want to see. The 4th Tuesday of every month, 7.30-8.30pm. This month’s meeting (on 28th September) will discuss Retrosuburbia by David Holmgren.
Another article by Angelo Eliades
Manure application rate, how much should we use in the garden?
Read more of Angelo’s food-related articles.
Every newsletter deserves a good picture
Spanish photographer Tessa Doniga became famous for her series of pictures ‘Break/Fast’, which are surreal images that take the word ‘breakfast’ literally and misappropriate everyday objects. See more of her photographs.
The photo competition
The results of last week’s competition
The theme was ‘amusing or interesting meals that you have cooked’ and it attracted zero entries. That’s right, no entries whatsoever. How embarrassing (for me certainly but, I suggest, perhaps also for you!).
This week’s competition
I’m going to classify last week’s lack of entries as an anomaly and, as we are still in lockdown, we are going to have another photo competition this week. I’m choosing a theme which I’m hopeful will attract a goodly number of photos, namely ‘exotic (i.e. non-native’) flowers’.
To get you started, the photo right is of one of my bulbs that is currently in flower, namely poppy anemone (anemone coronaria). The flowers last a long time, they are less than 10cm off the ground and lots of them pop up every year in early Spring.
Email your photos together with some words about them.
Dairy-free cardamom almond shake (by Vasundhara Kandpal)
Ingredients (for 1 litre)
3 tablespoons oats
10 almonds (for ease, use blanched almonds)
3-4 saffron strands (optional)
1 cardamom pod (or equivalent in powder)
a pinch turmeric (optional, for colour)
sugar (according to taste)
Soak everything together for 1-2 hours (except the almonds if using regular almonds) in ¼ cup of water.
If using regular almonds, soak the almonds separately for 8 hours or quickly boil to easily remove the skins before soaking with the rest of the stuff.
After all the soaking, blend to a very fine paste.
Add 1 litre of water to form the shake.
Strain the shake if you want.
This drink can be stored in fridge for around a week.
Read more of Vasundhara’s recipes.
We are running out of recipes. Why not send us one of yours? Email it to us.
Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?
The most popular link last week was Angelo’s article entitled What happens if you don’t turn your compost?.
Joke (or pun) of the week
I’m not saying my family is inbred, but my cousins’ names are Cheddar and Jarlsberg.
Read more jokes.
Upcoming online events – newly announced
If you know of an upcoming online event that you would like to see included in this newsletter, email me with either the details or a link to the details.
Sustainability book club; Tuesday, 28th September, 7.30-8.30pm
Organised by Sustainability Greensborough. Free. Read, watch and chat about issues of sustainability on our planet, and how we can grow the future we want to see. This month’s book is Retrosuburbia by David Holmgren. Read more and potentially book your place.
Super seeds; Wednesday, 29th September, 1-2pm
Organised by Cultivating Community. $12. Participants will have the opportunity make some ‘seed tape’, seed packets for seed storage, and ‘seed bombs’ for seed distribution. You will need to bring the raw materials for each of these seed creations. Read more and potentially book your place.
Worms, wonderful worms; Thursday, 30th September, 1-2pm
Organised by Cultivating Community. $12. Suitable for children 6 to 12 years. What do worms get up to when nobody is looking? What is the difference between earthworms and composting worms? And how to make your own in-ground worm farm to promote free-range worms and healthy soil in your garden? Read more and potentially book your place.
Know and grow heirloom tomatoes with Penny Woodward; Saturday, 2nd October, 1.30-3pm
Organised by Nillumbik and Banyule Councils. Free. Learn about: where and how to grow and care for tomatoes; some of the health benefits of eating tomatoes; and how to deal with the pests and diseases that can affect tomatoes. Read more and potentially book your place.
Foods for energy and strength; Tuesday, 5th October, 1-2.30pm
Organised by Manningham Council. Presenter: Karen Lovell. Free. Find out more about the foods that the body needs to get the most out of every day. Understand what to eat and why. Read more and potentially book your place.
SecondBite’s mission is to end waste, end hunger; Thursday, 14th October, 1-2pm
Organised by Manningham Council. Presenter: Steve Clifford, CEO of SecondBite. Free. SecondBite rescues surplus food from retailers, manufacturers and farmers and re-distributes it free of charge to local charities and not-for-profits that run food programs. Read more and potentially book your place.
Beginners guide to urban farming (7 sessions); starting Sunday, 17th October, 2pm
Organised by Richmond Community Learning Centre. $82 for all 7 sessions. The 7 sessions will cover: 1. making a wicking pot, starting seedlings, container gardening, introduction to permaculture; 2. soil, making biochar, trench composting, soil carbon, hugelkultur, soil food web, fungi; 3. composting, worm farming, bees wax wraps, weed tea; 4. straw bale gardens, hidden hugelkultur, no dig gardens, bee scaping, food scaping; 5. creating a guild, plant companions, polycultures, building soil, maximising space, increasing vigour and yield; 6. feeding the soil, organic control of common problems and pests, chop and drop, looking after our insect friends; and 7. seed saving, cuttings, produce sharing, seed sharing and making community connections. Read more and potentially book your place.
Upcoming online events – previously announced
Pest control with companion planting with Angelo Eliades; Sunday, 26th September, 10.30am-midday
Organised by Bullen Art and Garden. $35. Learn how to bring good bugs into your garden and keep the bad bugs at bay, as well as ensuring that your garden is as chemical free as can be. Read more and potentially book your place.
Backyard Honey; Thursday, 30th September, 11am-midday
Organised by Boroondara Libraries and featuring Backyard Honey. Free. Watch life inside a live honeybee hive and learn about the role bees play in our world. Read more and potentially book your place.
Growing fruit & veggies in small spaces with Angelo Eliades; Sunday, 3rd October, 10.30am-midday
Organised by Bullen Art and Garden. $35. Angelo will teach you how to grow your own food in the smallest of spaces. Fruit, veggies, berries and herbs can be all squeezed in, it’s all just a matter of knowing where to begin. Read more and potentially book your place.
Wicking beds; Saturday, 9th October, 1-2.30pm
Organised by Sustainable Macleod. $15. Paul Gale-Baker will discuss the how and why of wicking beds, including a detailed explanation on how to put them together. Read more and potentially book your place.
Otao Kitchen cooking classes; various dates
Otao Kitchen have moved many of their cooking classes online including chinese, dumpling making, indian, indonesian, japanese, korean, thai and vietnamese, Read more and potentially book your place.