Thanks to the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Henk Lustig, Laura Nix, Merrin Layden, Philip Stevenson, Robin Gale-Baker and Virginia Solomon.
Next week’s newsletter will be the last for the year.
How to grow mulberries (by Robin Gale-Baker)
[Robin has written an article for our website about how to grow mulberries. The article focuses on red (Morus rubra) and black (Morus nigra) fruiting mulberries. It does not discuss either the white shahoot (Morus macroura) – but read Jaimie Sweetman’s article on our website – or the inedible common mulberry (Morus alba), whose leaves are fed to silkworms. A summary of the article is given below.]
Before deciding to plant a mulberry, note that both the red and the black species will stain any surface under and surrounding the tree. They will also stain your fingers, but you can rub them with a wet mulberry leaf to remove the stain. The main varieties of the black mulberry in Australia are Black English and Hick’s Fancy (the latter having smaller fruit). The main variety of the red mulberry is Downing’s Everbearing.
Habit and conditions
The mulberry tree is a vigorous grower which prefers fertile, well-drained soil and a temperate climate. It does not like wet feet but needs water in summer if conditions are dry. Wherever it is planted, it is likely to be in full sun given its aptitude for quickly heading skyward, with particularly rapid growth in its first few years. Mulberries can grow up to 15 metres in height and 8 metres in width so are unsuited to small gardens. An alternative is to plant a weeping mulberry, which will grow to a height of 2-3 metres and width of 3-4 metres but can be pruned to keep it smaller. They can also be kept in pots or espaliered.
It is recommended that fertiliser be added in spring. If the leaves yellow and/or fruit drops prematurely, then that is an indication that fertiliser is needed.
This is a thorny subject with a lot of conflicting advice from experts. Generally, the advice is to prune in winter. However the tree will then grow considerably in Spring and often the purpose of pruning is to reduce the size of the tree. In reaction, sometimes winter pruning is followed by a light summer prune after fruiting but this can be either difficult or impossible if the tree has grown too high.
Personally, I (Robin) follow the advice from Grow Great Fruit in Harcourt, Central Victoria, to prune two major branches from my tree in summer as this is the time that there is little vegetative growth and pruning then will keep my tree smaller.
The best way to harvest is to spread a tarpaulin beneath the tree and shake the tree!
Mulberries only last a couple of days after harvest so use them quickly or freeze them. They can be used in pies, muffins, jam, syrup, juice, ice cream or eaten fresh.
Read the full article.
Want a job?
Oakhill Farm in Preston are looking for a Community Farmer and Volunteer supervisor, 2 days a week starting in January. Closing date: 4th December. For more information, email Leila Alexandra (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Annie Borat community cupboard is no more
The Annie Borat community cupboard in Brunswick has closed down because the organisers have moved house.
Kevin Heinze Grow
From 5th to 22nd December, Kevin Heinze Grow are having a sale of all their plants and fruit trees at both their Coburg and Doncaster nurseries. 25% off 4 and 6 inch pots, 50% off 10 and 12 inch pots and 50% off all fruit trees. Their Coburg nursery is at 512 Sydney Road and their Doncaster nursery is at 39 Wetherby Road.
They are also trying to raise funds to develop a new cafe program at their Doncaster nursery. The cafe will provide training and support for young people with a disability and participants in the program will receive training in a range of skills, including customer service and barista skills. The new cafe will create a meeting place at the Doncaster site for the community to enjoy. You can donate online, by phone (9848 3695) or by direct bank transfer (Kevin Heinze Grow, BSB – 633 000, account number – 146 052 337).
Yarra Valley Gateway Estate (now Gateway Yarra Valley) is under new ownership
Gateway Yarra Valley in Coldstream is under new ownership. Whilst it still comprises a large, temperature-controlled hydroponic greenhouse, deli and cafe, the mix of things that are being grown and sold has changed.
In their greenhouse, which is massive, they are now growing a wide range of vegetables, herbs, fruit and flowers. As was explained to me by the new owner, Philip Stevenson, when I visited, shoppers can pick their produce directly from the plants.
In their deli, they are selling food from around 9 local food producers. This puts them 6th= in the list of shops in North East Melbourne which sell the most local food. Particular highlights are Yarra Valley Dairy (try their Huberts washed rind cheese) and Cunliffe & Waters (try their caramelised fig & quince jam).
They are having a ‘hard launch’ on Saturday, 10th December, 9am-5pm. Everyone welcome.
NERP at the next Eltham Farmers’ Market
North East Region Permaculture (NERP) will have an information stall at the next Eltham Farmers’ Market (4th December). Their themes will be ‘low waste Christmas’ and ‘planet-preserving New Year’s resolutions’.
Developments in Nillumbik
Nillumbik Council wants to understand what skills or knowledge areas local landholders would be most interested to gain. To progress this, it has developed a short (5 minute) survey. Closing date: 19th December. Complete the survey.
Nillumbik Council is organising an open farm day on 18th March at Edendale. They would like Nillumbik-based farms and agricultural-based businesses to participate by having a stall, doing demonstrations, selling produce, bringing machinery or livestock, etc. If you are potentially interested, complete their expression of interest form.
‘Crowd harvest’ – seeds for Christmas
Gardeners with excess seeds are invited to send them in a Christmas card or holiday card to one of the not-for profit organisations listed below who will, in turn, either germinate the seeds, store them or distribute them to people facing crisis yet know how to start seeds. Please package the seeds in individual and labelled packages so that food relief recipients can easily take them home. The program runs from 1st December to 15th December.
DIVRS in Preston, Liberty Church at 25 Miller Street in Epping, STREAT in Collingwood or Carrington Health at Level 2, 43 Carrington Road, Box Hill, 3128. Alternatively, Tiny Trowel, PO Box 4076, Box Hill South, 3128.
More on the Age Good Food Guide Awards 2023
An inaugural award of this year’s the Age Good Food Guide Awards was the ‘Food for Good’ award, which is “an award celebrating innovation, social enterprise and sustainability while contributing to the wider community.” The winner was Abbotsford-based FareShare.
“Food charity FareShare is celebrating 21 years of operation, during which time it has cooked 20 million free meals for people doing it tough. Meals are created from rescued and donated ingredients supplemented by vegetables grown on FareShare’s own urban farms. A largely volunteer workforce of 10,000 is rostered at the Abbotsford headquarters and a Brisbane facility that opened in 2018. The nutritious meals that result are distributed to frontline charities throughout Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.“
What seeds to plant in November
Here is a list (see the planting guide for more detail):
Warm season veggies
December is not a very good planting month: arguably too late for many summer veggies and, although you can plant leafy greens such as lettuce and mustard greens, they are likely to go to seed pretty quickly.
Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?
The most popular link in the last newsletter was the Seeds of Plenty website.
Word of the month – Borborygmus
‘Borborygmus’, meaning intestinal rumbling caused by moving gas. Borborygmus is supposedly onomatopoeic – i.e. it sounds likes the thing that it describes.
Read about previous words of the month.
Proverb (or phrase) of the month
Don’t try to teach your Grandmother how to suck eggs. Meaning: Don’t offer advice to someone who has more experience than you. This phrase dates back to the early 18th Century and the words ‘suck eggs’ were sometimes replaced by either ‘milk ducks’ or ‘steal sheep’. The origin of the phrase is not clear but, according to Wikipedia, it most likely “derives from the fact that before the advent of modern dentistry many elderly people (grandparents) had very bad teeth, or no teeth, so that the simplest way for them to eat protein was to poke a pinhole in the shell of a raw egg and suck out the contents; therefore, a grandmother was usually already a practiced expert on sucking eggs and didn’t need anyone to show her how to do it.”
Read about more food-related proverbs.
Gardening quote of the month
“Flowers are beautiful hieroglyphics of nature, with which she indicates how much she loves us.” by Wolfgang Von Goethe.
Read more gardening quotes.
Joke (or pun) of the week
Smoking will kill you … Bacon will kill you … But, smoking bacon will cure it.
Read more jokes.
Regular activities over the coming week
- Thursday: Diamond Valley Library (Greensborough), Edible Hub (Hurstbridge), SEEDs (Brunswick) and Whittlesea.
- Friday: Reynard Street (Coburg) and West Brunswick.
- Saturday: Doncaster Hill – shed launch, Links (Lalor), Macleod and Thrive (Diamond Creek).
- Sunday: Fawkner Food Bowls, Northcote Community, Pentridge (Coburg), Regent (Reservoir) and Sylvester Hive (Preston) – Xmas party.
- Monday: Panton Hill, SEEDs (Brunswick) and Whittlesea.
- Tuesday: Watsonia Library.
- Next Wednesday: Living & Learning Eltham, Macleod, Newton Street (Reservoir), Sylvester Hive (Preston) and Span (Thornbury).
Upcoming face-to-face events – not cooking
Banyule City Council, in partnership with Sustain, is developing an Urban Food Strategy. At this session, local residents will discuss the Banyule urban food system and how they would like it changed. The session will be hosted by local resident Dan Milne.
Formidable Vegetable’s first show in Naarm/Melbourne in three years will be a family-friendly picnic/BBQ.
Gateway Yarra Valley is under new ownership and is hosting a ‘hard launch’ in the lead up to the festive season. As the new owner, Philip Stevenson, says: “There’s a fresh approach to food launching in Coldstream, at Gateway Yarra Valley. Cafe and farm shoppers can pick greens, herbs, fruit and flowers directly from the plants in a temperature-controlled greenhouse – so it’s about as fresh as you can get. With a range of produce grown on-site, and local artisanal goods and other staples, Gateway is on a mission to re-introduce people to the origins of their food by connecting the community back to the supply chain. The cafe’s seasonal menu includes freshly harvested produce from the greenhouse and is the perfect place to get a taste for the fresh future.”.
Corrections and clarifications
On Saturday, 3rd December, 1-3pm, Green Karma are organising an event called Heal with Food – Dementia in Eltham. In some (but not all) previous newsletters, this event was wrongly referred to as being about diabetes rather than dementia.
- Twilight pop-up plant sale plus summer veggie growing tips; Thursday, 1st December, 5-7pm; free; Pascoe Vale South.
- Banyule’s Urban Food Strategy – community co-design workshop; Saturday, 3rd December, 9am-12.30pm; free; Greensborough.
- Beginning beekeeping course; Saturday, 3rd December, 9.30am-4pm; $260 ($40 per hour); Edendale.
- Summer fruit tree pruning with Chris England; Saturday, 3rd December, 10am-1pm; $65 ($22 per hour); Richmond.
- In-depth mushroom cultivation workshop; Saturday, 3rd December, 10am-4pm; $165 ($28 per hour); Alphington.
- Heal with food – dementia; Saturday, 3rd December, 1-3pm; $8; Eltham.
- Train the trainer masterclass: Queensland fruit fly; Saturday, 3rd December, 1-3pm; free; online.
- Urban foraging; Saturday, 3rd December, 1.30-4pm; $85 ($34 per hour); Forest Hill.
- Rosé blending workshop; Saturday, 3rd December, 5-7pm; $49 ($18 per hour); Brunswick East.
- Basic inoculation workshop; Sunday, 4th December, 10am-midday; $87 ($44 per hour); Alphington.
- Formidable Vegetable house concert and Christmas party; Tuesday, 6th December, 6-9pm; $42 ($14 per hour); Eltham.
- Banyule’s Urban Food Strategy – kitchen table conversation; Tuesday, 6th December, 6.30-8.30pm; free; Montmorency.
- Soil health with Kat Lavers; Wednesday, 7th December, 5-7.30pm; free; Forest Hill.
- Wilam-nganjin community garden opening (Reservoir); Thursday, 8th December, 3-6pm; free; Reservoir.
- Formidable Vegetable + Mal Webb & Kylie Morrigan; Thursday, 8th December, 5-8.30pm; $27; CERES.
- Native edibles for companion planting; Thursday, 8th December, 6.30-9pm; $50 ($20 per hour); Bulleen Art & Garden.
- Gateway Yarra Valley ‘hard launch’; Saturday, 10th December, 9am-5pm; free; Coldstream.
- How to manage garden vandals; Saturday, 10th December, 10am-midday; $15; Ringwood.
- DIY mushrooms; Saturday, 10th December, 10am-4pm; $165 ($28 per hour); CERES.
- Edible weeds walk; Saturday, 10th December, 10.30am-12.30pm; $25 ($13 per hour); Brunswick East.
- How to navigate Christmas with chronic illness; Sunday, 11th December, 2-4.30pm; $8; Eltham.
- Mushroom growing 101; Wednesday, 14th December, 6.30-9.30pm; $145 ($48 per hour); Collingwood.
- Bush foods & herbs for courtyards & balconies; Thursday, 15th December, 6.30-9pm; $55 ($22 per hour); Bulleen Art & Garden.
- Growing gourmet mushrooms; Sunday, 18th December, 10-11am; free; Kensington.
Upcoming face-to-face events – cooking
Organising an event can often leave you with leftover food which goes to waste. This can pose a challenge if you want a special meal and something memorable for your guests, but you want to take a sustainable approach without filling your bin. With a little creativity and some planning, you can host an impressive event with a clear conscience, less waste and lower budget. Presenters: Kirsty Bishop-Fox of Sustainable Pathways and Tamara Russell of Karhina Textiles.
- Christmas gingerbread house making; Friday, 2nd December, 7.30-9.30pm; $40 for two people ($10 per hour); Diamond Creek.
- Authentic Mexican; Saturday, 3rd December, 10am-3pm; $115 ($23 per hour); CERES.
- Laksa masterclass; Saturday, 3rd December, 11am-1.30pm; $128 ($51 per hour); Brunswick.
- Gingerbread house decoration; Sunday, 4th December, 10.30am-midday; $46 ($31 per hour); Camberwell.
- Middle Eastern cooking; Sunday, 4th December, 10.30am-1.30pm; $80 ($27 per hour); Park Orchards.
- Pizza masterclass with Antonio; Tuesday, 6th December, 6-8.30pm; $70 ($28 per hour); Eltham.
- Menu planning for zero waste events; Thursday, 8th December, 1.30-2.45pm; free; Chirnside Park.
- Christmas cookie decorating workshop; Friday, 9th December, 6.30-8.30pm; $65 ($33 per hour); Park Orchards.
- Gingerbread house workshop; Saturday, 10th December, 10-11.30am; $65 ($44 per hour); Park Orchards.
- Kraut, kefir, kimchi & kvass; Saturday, 10th December, 1-5pm; $365 ($91 per hour); Fitzroy North.
- No coconut Thai; Sunday, 11th December, 10am-2pm; $160 ($40 per hour); Panton Hill.
- Feta and haloumi cheese making; Sunday, 11th December, 10am-4pm; $170 ($28 per hour); CERES.
- Gluten free Christmas baking; Wednesday, 14th December, 10am-12.30pm; $35 ($14 per hour); Balwyn North.
- @drool.aus (Italian); various Saturdays and Sundays; roughly $100 ($40 per hour); Fitzroy and Northcote.
- Al dente cooking (Italian); most Saturdays, 9am-1pm; $155 ($39 per hour); Chirnside Park.
- Artisan bread making; Various Sundays, 8am-2pm; $220 ($37 per hour); Abbotsford.
- Become a junior chocolatier; various days and times; $40 ($53 per hour); Yarra Glen.
- Beginners bread making; various Sundays, 8am-2pm; $220 ($37 per hour); Abbotsford.
- Chocolate discovery class; various days and times; $48 ($48 per hour); Yarra Glen.
- Chocolate making workshop; various Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; $152 ($38 per hour); Blackburn.
- Kombucha brewing workshop; monthly on the last Thursday, 7-11pm; $54 ($14 per hour); Brunswick.
- La Cucina di Sandra (Italian); various evenings, 6.30-10.30pm; $105 ($26 per hour); Richmond.
- Nonna & Mum’s cooking class; monthly on the 4th Thursday, 7.30-10pm; $24 ($10 per hour); Thornbury.
- Otao Kitchen (various classes); various dates, times and prices; Richmond.
- Rosa’s traditional Italian cooking class; various Saturdays and Sundays; $155 ($39 per hour); Bundoora.
- Sourdough bread workshop; Various Saturdays, 9-11.30am; $185 ($74 per hour); Brunswick East.
- The ultimate biscuit class; various Tuesdays, 10am-3pm; $162 ($32 per hour); Blackburn.
- Wild fermentation class and edible forest tour; monthly on the 1st Saturday, 10am-1pm; $85 ($28 per hour); Dixons Creek.