Jul 312019

Judy visits the garden of Dianne and Chris Newman, from Macleod

Some of you will know Dianne or Chris through their involvement in the Macleod Organic Community Garden and the Macleod Veggie Swap. Some of you might even have been served one of the pizzas that they make in the community garden’s pizza oven! Judy Vizzari has now visited their garden and talked to Dianne and Chris as home growers.

As Judy says in the introduction to her writeup: “If you were to drive past Chris and Dianne’s suburban block you could be excused for not noticing anything unusual. Theirs is a neat, relatively new, two-storey brick home with a garden seemingly laid bare by winter. It fits well into the landscape, but it’s not ‘different’. You’d be wrong, though, to assume that not much happens in its garden.” Particular features include a computerised irrigation system covering the whole garden, a hanging garden of pots, and a large quince tree. Read the full writeup.

Robin discusses growing broad beans

[Editor’s note: broad beans are traditionally planted in Autumn but Robin is saying that the planting window is actually much greater than that and extends across Winter and Spring.]

Broad beans can be sown from Autumn to Spring, and now is a good time to plant them. Whilst Autumn-sown plants are ready for harvest in 25 weeks, spring-sown are ready in 15 weeks. Shelter from the wind if possible. To prepare your beds, dig in a low nitrogen, well-rotted animal manure such as cow, sheep or horse plus compost. Sprinkle potash at the rate of 1 tablespoon per square metre to strengthen plant stems and encourage flowering.

Plant spacing is generally 20-30 cm apart. Planting depth is recommended between 2-10 cm. I always plant at least 5cm deep to avoid rats eating the seed. Soak your seed in either water or a weak seaweed solution overnight and, once planted, water the seed in and don’t water again until the shoots emerge above ground.

Broad beans don’t suffer many pests but snails can be a problem. Black tip and spot is a fungal problem that is caused by poor drainage and black fly can infest tender top shoots.

Broad beans convert nitrogen from the air into nitrogen root nodules so, when the crop has finished, slash it and dig in the stalks and roots to add valuable nitrogen to your soil. You can also cut the stalks at their base and leave the roots intact in the soil and dig the shredded stalks into another bed.

Broad beans are delicious when young and small but tough when they are older and bigger (which sometimes gives them an undeserved, poor reputation).

[Editor’s note: This is a much shortened version of Robin’s article. You can read the full article on our website, where you can also read all her other articles.]

Community gardening news

Our website has now been extended to include pages for the various community gardens in the City of Yarra. More specifically: Balam-Balam in Carlton North, Condell Growers and Sharers in Fitzroy, Finbar Neighbourhood Garden in Richmond, Richmond Community Garden Group and Rushall Community Garden in Fitzroy North. Each is a bit different than the norm so each page is worth a read. Welcome Anne, Bonnie, Cathryn, Elle, Julie and Kath!

Balam-Balam Condell Growers and Sharers Finbar Neighbourhood Garden Richmond Community Garden Group Rushall Community Garden

Free horse manure

Dani Mallia, from the North Eastern Horse & Pony Club, has written in to remind people that they have lots of horse manure available for free all year round. Drive in at any time and load up as much as you like. 451, Banyule Road, Viewbank.

In addition to the North Eastern Horse & Pony Club, 7 other sources of free horse manure are listed on our website, including at East Ivanhoe, Eltham, Lower Plenty, Warrandyte and Kangaroo Ground.

Long Winter food drive – the results

In the 19th June newsletter, I discussed Montmorency Asylum Seekers Support Group’s (MASSG) initiative to help re-stock the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s (ASRC’s) Foodbank, which provides meals and food basics to around 700 people seeking asylum and refugees each week, most of whom have no income. Lyn Richards has written in to say that they have had a great response (as the picture right of her living room attests to!), adding: “People donate with pleasure and far more generously if they’re giving cans of beans, not money. Food feels like they’re connecting; buying the beans helps them relate to a family that can’t just go buy food. Food somehow triggers empathy and sharing. Hard then to buy the stereotyping and alienating language of ‘illegals’. So this sort of labour intensive campaign – much more hard work than taking donations online – does make sense, as does the ASRC’s amazing grocery store approach to feeding all those people with no income. 90% of the food that they use every week is donated.

How to plant bare rooted fruit trees

Newsletter reader Chloe Thomson, from the Gardenettes, has published a video about how to plant bare rooted fruit trees.

What seeds to plant in August

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

Leafy greens

Mustard greens


Spring onions

Warm season veggies



Globe artichoke


As Spring begins to beckon, the list begins to grow. Note that the warm season veggies can only be planted if under cover in seed trays.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

Home delivery of fruit/veggie boxes by postcode/suburb.

Proverb of the month

Eat humble pie. Meaning: act submissively and apologetically when admitting an error. ‘Humble pie’ is a corruption of ‘umble pie’ which itself is a corruption of ‘numble pie’, where numbles in 14th Century England were the heart, liver and other entrails of deer and other animals (in other words, offal). ‘Humble’ also means ‘not proud’ (and is apparently derived from ‘humus’, which can be used to mean ‘grounded’ or ‘from the earth’). In a play on words, some unknown person took these two unrelated meanings of the word ‘humble’ to create the idiom ‘eat humble pie’.

The adding or dropping of an ‘n’ at the start of a word over time is apparently quite common in English. For example, (n)adder, (n)apron, (n)ewt, (n)otch, (n)umpire. The reason is that, because English uses ‘an’ rather than ‘a’ when the noun begins with a vowel, the versions with or without an ‘n’ sound the same. For example, ‘an apron’ versus ‘a napron’. These additions/deletions are apparently called ‘rebracketing’ or ‘metanalysis’.

Read more proverbs.

Gardening quote of the month

The greatest service which can be rendered any country is to add a useful plant to its culture.” by Thomas Jefferson.

Read more quotes.

Joke of the week

Why is parsley better than Justin Bieber? Because everything is better than Justin Bieber.

Read more jokes.

New events – not cooking

Cheesemaking – the art and science of cheese: Tuesday, 13th August, 6-7pm; Lilydale Library.

What: Discover all about making your own cheese with Anna Ladner from Coldstream Dairy and try some of the cheeses that Anna makes herself.
Cost: free.
Bookings: their website.

Chook keeping and Chooks4Charity: Tuesday, 3rd September, 4.30-6.30pm; Chirnside Park.

What: This event is for people from schools or early learning centres in Manningham, Maroondah, Whitehorse or Yarra Ranges. See chook keeping in action and hear from Chooktopia about the best ways to keep chickens in an educational setting. You will also have the opportunity to hear from Oxley Christian College on their Chooks4Charity program that students set up as part of their Student Leadership Program.
Cost: $10.
Bookings: EventBrite.

Portable wicking bed demo: Sunday, 8th September, 11.30am-12.30pm; Northcote Library.

What: Learn to create and maintain a wicking bed that is perfect for urban dwellers. Kerrie will show you how to recycle scrap from around the community to create your own portable garden bed.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Facebook.

Veggie gardening for beginners: Saturday, 21st September, 9.30am-12.30pm; Bulleen Art and Garden.

What: What you will learn: how to set up and prepare a vegetable garden; how to select, plant and care for crops; and how to grow veggies in the ground, in raised beds and in pots. Presented by Nicole Griffiths. This class will teach you everything you need to know to grow delicious produce in your own backyard. They will cover all of the veggie gardening basics, from setting up your patch to harvesting.
Cost: $55.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.

Tomato talk, book sales & signing: Thursday, 26th September, 7-8pm; Brunswick.

What: Go along to hear some tomato growing tips from Karen Sutherland. Learn how to prepare your soil properly, when and how to protect your plants, and the pros and cons of various pruning and training techniques. Discover the world of heirloom tomatoes.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.

Native plants for food and medicine: Saturday, 28th September, 9.30am-12.30pm; Bulleen Art and Garden.

What: What you will learn: traditional Indigenous lifestyles and healing practices pre European settlement; traditional ways of using various Indigenous plants for medicinal purposes; and promising new research into their potential medical applications. Presented by Gaby Harris. Indigenous Australians have been using native plants and animals for tens of thousands of years as sources of food and medicine. With European settlement much of this knowledge was lost or ignored, but there is now growing interest in relearning these traditional healing methods. More research is being carried out to see how we can grow, harvest and utilise our Indigenous plants for foods, medicines, cosmetics and more. This class will introduce you to some of the well-known, as well as some more obscure, Indigenous Australian plants, teach you how they were once used, and how you can use them now. You will be able to see, smell and taste a variety of these amazing plants and learn where you can find them and how to cook with them.
Cost: $55.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.

New events – cooking

Vegan and gluten-free cooking class: Sunday, 8th September, midday-4pm; Smiths Gully.

What: There will be 5-8 dishes in total. Everything will be vegan and gluten-free and will include staples, mains, desserts, raw and a brunch dish.
Cost: $100 (includes sit down 3-course meal).
Bookings: their website.

Basic bakes: Saturday, 21st September, 10-11.30am; Kitchen Warehouse, Box Hill South.

What: Learn how to get the consistent results you’ve always dreamed of! They will share with you the tips and tricks behind a successful bake, from monitoring oven temperatures to choosing the ideal equipment. They will also show you how versatile butter cake can be by turning it into a apple-flavoured dessert and a chocolate marble creation.
Cost: $30.
Bookings: their website.

Petit gateaux: Saturday, 21st September, 12.15-1.45pm; Kitchen Warehouse, Box Hill South.

What: Level up your pastry skills and learn how to assemble little French cakes using mousses and cremeux. Learn show to put a brownie base, raspberry gel insert, chocolate mousse, and glaze together.
Cost: $30.
Bookings: their website.

Summary of upcoming events – not cooking

Over the next week
Over the next month

Summary of upcoming events – cooking

Over the next week
Over the next month

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.