Apr 252018
 

Marina visits the garden of Mary and Robert Stringer

Many of you will know Mary through her leadership of Transition Banyule (watch this video where she is interviewed) and some of you will know Robert through his role as auctioneer at the annual Macleod Organic Community Garden fundraiser. Marina Bistrin has now visited Mary and Robert’s garden in Rosanna. Here is how Marina introduces her write up: “On a hot morning in Summer, I went to the cool, shady oasis of Mary and Robert’s garden. Mary was watering her back garden, where most of the food is grown. Robert had to dash out to do something with bees – looking like an astronaut in a white beekeeper suit. Mary and Robert have made a permaculture food forest in their backyard from the kikuyu and couch grass lawn that existed when they moved there in 2004. They only retained an orange tree and an old peach tree.Read the full interview.

Robin’s tip of the month

Pomegranates and figs are ripening beautifully at this time of year but must ripen on the tree (they do not continue to mature once picked). How do you know when they are ready? In the case of pomegranates, look for split skins. Once this happens to a few on the tree, all will be ready. It is worth investing in a pomegranate press (available online for less than $60) to extract the juice as the press will avoid inclusion of any of the bitter pith which ruins the taste. In the case of figs, look for wilting of the stem and give a gentle squeeze for softness. Note that pomegranates and figs that look like they are ready by colour often still have a way to go.

Editor’s note: fruits that continues to ripen after being picked are called ‘climacteric’, whilst fruits that stop ripening after being picked are called ‘non-climacteric’. The archetypal climacteric fruit are tomatoes and bananas. Avocados, peaches and plums are also climacteric. The archetypal non-climacteric fruit are citrus. Grapes and all the curcubits (cucumbers, pumpkins, etc) are also non-climacteric. For each fruit, our North East Melbourne fruiting schedule lists whether it is climacteric or not. Climacteric fruit will typically only continue to ripen if kept at room temperature so you can defer this by putting them into the fridge until you want them to ripen.

Editor’s second note: have you ever seen the flower of a fig tree? The answer is ‘no’ because the flowers are actually inside the fig (and the fig is therefore not technically a fruit). Whilst common figs do not require pollination, they do not taste that good. Rather, the best tasting type – Smyrna – does require pollination. But it only has female flowers so needs to be pollinated by a wild/caprifig (whose fruit are inedible). As the flowers inside the fig are inaccessible to all normal pollen vectors, pollination is done by tiny wasps. The wasps hatch in the caprifig, then mate, then the females leave to find new figs to lay their eggs in. As they leave, they get covered in pollen, and pollinate the next fig that they enter. If it is a caprifig, then baby wasps are born but no edible fruit results. If, however, it is a Smyrna, then edible fruit results but no baby wasps are born (the Smyrna flowers are too long for the wasp to lay its eggs in). Luckily for you, the female fig produces an enzyme that digests the dead wasps completely and so the crunchy bits inside a fig are seeds, not wasp parts. For more info, watch this video.

Read all of Robin’s tips.

What to plant in May

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

Cool season veggies

Broad beans
Chickpea
Coriander
Fennel
Garlic
Peas

Leafy greens

Lettuce
Mizuna
Mustard greens
Pak choy
Rocket
Silverbeet
Spinach

Other

Carrot
Chives
Onion
Parsley
Radish
Shallot

The list of what can be planted begins to grow shorter, with most of the brassicas dropping off the list. For something different, you could try chickpeas.

Someone asked me what herbs it would be sensible to plant in their raised garden bed this month. After consulting a local gardening guru (Robin Gale-Baker of ‘Robin’s tip of the month’ fame), this is what we came up with:

Plant now?
Why?
What?
Yes Standard perennial Marjoram, Oregano, Rosemary and Thyme
Yes Cool season annual Coriander
Yes Will grow ok Parsley
No Doesn’t like the winter Sage and Tarragon
No Warm season annual Basil
No Invasive Lemon balm, Mint and Vietnamese mint

News about local food producers

Yarra Valley Dairy, from Yering, will be at the MOULD – A Cheese Festival on Friday, 4th May and Saturday 5th May.

3000acres need volunteers

Events volunteer, communications volunteer and volunteer photographer.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

The article about the chicken nuggets truck crash.

Proverb of the month

Curry favour. Meaning: ingratiate oneself with someone through flattery or obsequious behaviour. Or, more colloquially: suck up to. This is a phrase that illustrates the complexity and obscurity of the English language. First, the word ‘curry’ has nothing to do with Indian/spicy food, pre-dates such usage, and originally meant ‘to prepare’ and then ‘to groom’. Second, the word ‘favour’ has nothing to do with the current English word but is instead a corruption of ‘fauvel’ (or ‘favvel’), which was the name of a horse in a poem dating back to 1310. In turn, ‘favvel’ is thought to be a French acrostic of a variant of the 7 deadly sins: flattery (aka pride), avarice (aka gluttony), vilanie (aka wrath), variété (inconstancy), envy, and lacheté (aka lust). In the 1310 poem, the rich and powerful humiliate themselves by bowing down and stroking the coat of the horse named Favvel who was their supposed leader, thereby ‘currying favvel’. The phrase ‘currying favour’, to mean the same thing, first appeared in a book in 1510.

Read all the proverbs.

Gardening quote of the month

No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.” by Thomas Jefferson.

Read all the quotes.

Joke of the week

What do you call a sad raspberry? A blueberry.

Read all the jokes.

New events

Chinese vegetarian cooking demonstration and picnic lunch

What: Helen Chen and her friends will be demonstrating home-cooked Chinese food (which is very different from Chinese restaurant food). Bring a picnic lunch. If it’s cold, you we will eat in the polytunnel which is warm and sheltered.
When: Saturday, 28th April, 11.30am-1pm.
Where: Macleod Organic Community Garden.
Cost: free.
Bookings: TryBooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Mullum Mullum Festival

What: The 18th Mullum Mullum Festival will be held over the weekends of Saturday 28th & Sunday 29th April and Saturday 5th & Sunday 6th May. Read the brochure. As detailed in the brochure, the various events are at various locations in Mitcham, Doncaster East, Donvale, Park Orchards and Templestowe. There will be over twenty expert-lead walks and presentations that will leave you with a greater understanding and appreciation of our beautiful native bushland. On the evening of 28th April, there will be a spotlight tour in search of nocturnal wildlife. On the 29th April, there will be a celebration of Aboriginal culture plus some nature walks. On the 5th and 6th May, there will be 18 presentations and walks on a range of topics.
When: Saturday, 28th April, 6.30-9pm, Sunday, 29th April, 10.30am-8pm, Saturday, 5th May, 8.30am-8pm and Sunday, 6th May, 8.30am-8pm.
Where: various locations in Mitcham, Doncaster East, Donvale, Park Orchards and Templestowe.
Cost: $2 donation per session.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Transition to a safe climate conference

What: Would you like to do something concrete with others to tackle climate change? On the Friday evening, Ian Dunlop, a climate change expert and former executive in the oil, gas and coal industries, will give a presentation to set the scene. On the Saturday, Gilbert Rochecouste, from Village Well, will facilitate a discussion to develop big ideas for community projects in Banyule.
When: Friday, 4th May, 7-9pm and Saturday, 5th May, 9am-5.30pm.
Where: Macleod College.
Cost: $25 for both days or $15 for just the Friday.
Bookings: TryBooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Vietnamese cooking demonstration (bilingual)

What: Nga Diep from BANH Cultural Catering will demonstrate how to make Vietnamese vegetarian noodle dishes. Visitors will have the opportunity to practice and also sample the dishes. Vietnamese cooking books & DVDs will be displayed too.
When: Saturday, 5th May, 10.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Richmond Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Yarra planter box revitalisation – Clarke Street, Abbotsford

What: This workshop will offer gardening locals, knowledge, skills, and resources to revitalise local planter boxes. Participate in activities like soil conditioning, mulching, crafting worm towers, and planting out new seedlings for the current and approaching seasons. At the end of the day, they hope to give you the skills and knowledge to fix up planter boxes in your own area with a little help by offering a starter kit of seedlings, mulch, soil, worms and your own worm tower.
When: Sunday, 6th May, 10.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Abbotsford.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Yarra planter box revitalisation – Mark Street, Fitzroy North

What: This workshop will offer gardening locals, knowledge, skills, and resources to revitalise local planter boxes. Participate in activities like soil conditioning, mulching, crafting worm towers, and planting out new seedlings for the current and approaching seasons. At the end of the day, they hope to give you the skills and knowledge to fix up planter boxes in your own area with a little help by offering a starter kit of seedlings, mulch, soil, worms and your own worm tower.
When: Sunday, 13th May, 10.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Fitzroy North.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

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 May, 10am-1pm and again on Saturday, 30th June, 10am-1pm.
Where: Living & Learning, Panton Hill.
Cost: $59.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Fawkner Food Bowls launch

What: The Fawkner Food Bowls Launch will be a celebration of what they have achieved so far in the garden and an opportunity to share with you what they hope to achieve in the future. As well as kids activities, garden advice, barefoot bowls, live Gypsy music by Vardos, and local food, they will be outlining the future running of the garden and how you can be involved.
When: Sunday, 20th May, 2-5pm.
Where: Fawkner Food Bowls.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Mooroolbark Growers & Weeders present: “preparing your garden for Winter”

What: Autumn is a time of harvest, but also a time to prepare the garden for Winter. Although many Winter crops will have been planted earlier in the year when soils were warm, there are others that can be sown in late Autumn and through Winter. In this session, you will discuss these, as well as the other important jobs to be done, to keep the garden flourishing through the colder months, and in preparation for the next Spring/Summer growing season. Olwyn Smiley has been growing food in a suburban garden for 30 years, and runs a small business, The Backyard Vegetable, with the aim of encouraging backyard food growing through consultation, mentoring and workshops.
When: Tuesday, 22nd May, 2-3pm.
Where: Mooroolbark Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: their website.
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: roast sweet potato & smoked chicken salad; red curry; and chai apple crumble.
When: Thursday, 24th May, 7-9pm.
Where: Gourmet Living, Templestowe.
Cost: $42.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Ask Costa: gardening forum hosted by Costa Georgiadis

What: Join Costa for an opportunity to ask him any questions relating to gardening, in particular how you can be more sustainable in your garden. Following Costa’s session, there will be three workshops available to attend: Attracting beneficial insects and pollinators to your garden with Karen Sutherland from Edible Eden Design; homemade garden sprays with Angelo Eliades from Deep Green Permaculture; and small space gardening with Sustainable Gardening Australia.
When: Sunday, 3rd June, 9.45am-1.30pm.
Where: Box Hill Town Hall.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Social Food Project: sustainable food practices

What: Join Ben McMenamin, the founder of the Social Food Project, for a cooking demonstration which will include his five top tips for improving sustainable food practices at home. Meal planning, purchasing food, techniques to reduce waste, storing and preserving food and growing and composting will be discussed while sampling some of Ben’s dishes.
When: Thursday, 7th June, 7-8.30pm.
Where: Box Hill Town Hall.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Pantry 101 with The Kitchen Whizz

What: Min and Thea from The Kitchen Whizz will show you how to save money buying in bulk, kitchen & pantry organisation tips and weekly shopping prep strategies. They will also demonstrate two whole food, gluten free & dairy free recipes: bliss balls and savoury pumpkin loaf.
When: Wednesday, 13th June, 6.30-8pm.
Where: Camberwell.
Cost: $34.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Backyard chickens

What: Always wanted to have your own chickens for pets or to enjoy your own fresh eggs? Join Maria McCarter from Sunset Valley Chicks and learn all about how to keep chicks in your very own backyard.
When: Tuesday, 19th June, 11.30am-12.30pm
Where: Diamond Valley Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Authentic Indian cooking

What: Each region of India has its own style of cooking and distinct flavours: the north is known for its tandoori and korma dishes; the south is famous for hot and spicy foods; the east specialises in chilli curries; the west uses coconut and seafood; and the central part of india is a blend of all. Join cook, Anitha, as she blends spices and ingredients to prepare authentic Indian dishes.
When: Tuesday, 19th June, 7-8.30pm.
Where: Hawthorn Community House.
Cost: $20.
Bookings: TryBooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Green at Kathleen: thrifty gardening

What: This workshop will demonstrate how you can get away with not spending a fortune on your garden by utilising things you may already have and by learning some clever techniques to save money.
When: Saturday, 23rd June, 12.30-1.30pm.
Where: Kathleen Syme Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Blogger Cat Woods explores resources around plant-based living

What: Cat Woods will discuss blogs, websites and library resources dealing with plant-based diets and health.
When: Saturday, 23rd June, 2-3pm.
Where: Fitzroy Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry. Continue reading »