Jun 242020
 

Thanks to all the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Ann Stanley, Cath Lyons, Darryl Wilson, Jo Douglas, Karin Motyer, Lucinda Flynn, Maude Farrugia, Megan Goodman, Pam Jenkins, Richard Rowe, Robin Gale-Baker, Sabi Buehler, Sean Flynn, Shelley Evans and Tracey Bjorksten.

Some of you received last week’s newsletter on Thursday rather than on Wednesday, whilst others of you may never have received the newsletter at all. Here’s why. As usual, I sent the newsletter out at 6.15am on the Wednesday. However, for reasons too complicated to discuss here, the newsletters go via Lithuania and there was a problem with the Internet in Lithuania last Wednesday. It took them around 24 hours to sort out the problem, hence the delays.

This seems an opportune time to suggest that you add my email address, (guy@localfoodconnect.org.au) to your Google or email address book. A chronic problem with all newsletters is trying to avoid them getting classified as either ‘spam’ or ‘promotions’ and not reaching your inbox as a result. If you add my email address, (guy@localfoodconnect.org.au) to your Google or email address book, this should stop this happening to you as it effectively says to your email provider that you are happy to receive emails from me (the technical word is ‘whitelisting’). (The whole Lithuania thing is actually an attempt to lessen these sorts of problems and it has worked well until last week.)

Which farmer’s markets will be happening this weekend?

On Saturday: Coburg. Not Abbotsford Convent or Wonga Park.

On Sunday: Alphington and Eltham.

Food swap news

The Heidelberg Food Swap, organised by Transition Warringal and located at St Johns Riverside Community Garden, has re-started.

Stuart and Kelli Lewien’s garden in Heathmont

We have continued to find ways of generating new garden write ups during COVID-19 without having to visit the properties. This time, it is Stuart and Kelli Lewien’s garden in Heathmont and the writeup is in their own words. It also includes 6 videos, each focusing on a particular aspect of the garden.

The garden was designed by John Ferris from Edible Forest Gardens and is permaculture-inspired.

Read about Stuart and Kelli Lewien’s garden.

Apted’s Orchards

Ann Stanley has written a short article about Apted’s Orchards (pdf). Apted’s Orchards grow apples and pears in Arthurs Creek and Kinglake West. You can buy their produce at Eltham Farmers’ Market, their farm gate in Arthurs Creek, Bolton Street Fruit Market in Eltham, Local Fine Foods in Diamond Creek or Rivers Cafe & Farm Shop in Yarrambat.

Robin discusses the appealing medlar!

In my [Robin’s] garden, a fruit tree needs to serve several purposes and our combined total of 40 fruit trees need together to meet a range of criteria. These include giving us fruit year round, beautiful flowers and autumn colour. The medlar is one of our favourite trees because it gives us winter fruit, late summer cream flowers tinged with pink, and autumnal leaves that range from gold to orange to deep red and last through to the end of June.

The medlar is a lesser known fruit tree and not often grown (although there are some spectacular trees in old gardens). It bears fruit that most people do not recognise. They are about the size and shape of a rounded crab apple with a calyxed bottom. Unripened, the fruit is green and moves through orangey colours to a deep russet to brown. In contrast to what many books say, I don’t find this unappealing. The fruit tastes like a tangy apple sauce and has the texture of thickened sauce that is deep brown in colour. To the uninitiated eye it may look like the ripe flesh has rotted but it is this over-ripeness that gives medlar its distinct taste. The process is called ‘bletting’. Bletting means that the fruit has fermented beyond ripeness and this is a very different process to rotting. Other fruits that blet include persimmon and quince.

Bletting can be achieved in two ways. Either remove the fruit and store on straw or paper towel or newspaper in a single layer, calyx down and stem upward, in a warm and airy place (darkness not necessary) for 2-3 weeks until soft or leave on the tree and pick them when soft. Sometimes the fruit will drop before being fully ripe and then should be stored as in the first method. You can also dip the stalks in a strong salt and water mix to prevent any mould setting in.

The best way to prepare a medlar for eating is to strip it out of the skin by squeezing it from the calyx end and keep stripping it until all the pulp is out, especially that close to the skin. I strip it into a strainer as it has quite large, hard stones and use the back of a dessert spoon to press it through. I serve it with cheeses just as you would use quince paste. It can also be added to cream, apparently goes with any wine, and is best known in either medlar jelly [see Jo’s recipe below] or medlar cheese (which is like a curd). Sally Wise’s book entitled A year in a bottle contains recipes for both medlar jelly and medlar liqueur.

The medlar tree itself has its origins in the Balkans, Iran and Turkmenistan despite its botanical name being Mespilus germanica. There is a large type called Dutch with fruit 5-6cm in diameter and a smaller type, the Common Medlar, of which the Nottingham variety is best known, with fruit 2-2.5cm. I grow the Common Medlar and, at present (mid June), mine still has around 150 fruit on it. Plant medlars in winter and train them early to a vase shape like an apple tree.

Medlars are unfussy about soil type, other than disliking chalk soils, but require good drainage. They do not need fertilising and they need very little pruning other than to keep the centre open for good ventilation and dead branches removed. They are rarely attacked by pests or disease. They like a sunny position but will grow in partial shade and it is best to provide some shelter from wind as the branches are brittle and flowers can blow off in strong wind.

Read more of Robin Gale-Baker’s fruit tree growing tips.

A recipe for medlar jelly

Last week, Jo Douglas sent in a photo of the medlars that had been harvested from a tree in Montsalvat. She has now sent in David Lebovitz’s recipe for medlar jelly.

Ingredients

1.4 Kg ‘bletted’ medlars
1 green apple
½ lemon
600g sugar

‘Bletted’ means that the medlars are soft and brown inside.

Method

Rinse and quarter the medlars, and put them in a large pot – skins, seeds and all.

Chop up the apple and add, including the seeds and core.

Add the lemon and pour in enough water so that the medlars are floating in water (around 2 litres).

Cook the mixture until it begins to boil, then reduce the heat and let it cook at a low boil for 45 minutes.

Line a colander with several layers of muslin, set it over a deep bowl and ladle the cooked medlars and their liquid into the colander. Let it strain overnight undisturbed. Do not press down on the cooked fruit to extract more juice from it or your jelly will be cloudy.

The next day, pour the liquid into a large pot – you should have about 1 litre. Put a small plate in the freezer. Add the sugar to the juice in the pot and cook the jelly until it reaches 104degC or until it gels.

To test the jelly, put a spoonful on the cold plate from the freezer and let it chill a few minutes. If, once cold, it wrinkles when you push it with your finger, then it’s done. If not, continue to cook the jelly until it gels.

When ready, if you wish, you can offset the sweetness with a few drops of fresh lemon juice.

Ladle the jelly into sterilised jars.

Read other Jo Douglas recipes on our website.

More on the Irish strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo)

Last week, Maude Farrugia wrote in to say that she had written a guide to the Irish strawberry tree in the latest issue of Pip Magazine. I asked Maude if we could re-print any of the guide. She consulted her editor (Robyn Rosenfeldt) and has sent in this:

The Irish strawberry tree is so named for its prevalence in Ireland (though it is native to much of Europe) and its fruit’s resemblance to (you guessed it) strawberries. A member of the heath family, along with blueberries, the tree has been culturally and historically important in the many European areas it is native to. The scientific name [Arbutus unedo] references Pliny the Elder, and is commonly thought to refer to the fact that the fruit is not as delicious as a strawberry (‘unedo’ is a contraction of Pliny’s ‘unam tantum edo’ meaning ‘I only eat one’). But don’t let that put you off, they’re still quite palatable, and a very fuss-free fruit to grow.

These medium sized evergreen trees are long-lived, grow well in a wide variety of soils and will tolerate the extremes of drought and frost (though variable weather can impact on their fruiting). Sweet nodding bell-shaped flowers are a boon for bees, and have made Arbutus unedo a popular ornamental tree. So if you don’t have room for one yourself, they can be commonly foraged in urban settings. Traditionally they have been wild foraged too, which makes them very easy to grow as they require little cultivation, no pruning or irrigation and will be quite happy if simply left to their own devices.

For a full growing guide, subscribe to Pip Magazine

Shelley Evans also wrote in: “Last week I made feijoa and Irish strawberry sorbet. I then used this as flavouring for my homemade ice cream. My very fussy family loved it and want more but they will have to wait until next year’s harvest.”

Thanks, Maude and Shelley!

More on gall wasp

Following last week’s discussion about Leaf, Root & Fruit’s experiment of different gall wasp treatments, Gardening Australia has weighed in on the subject. Watch their video.

Do you know?

Darryl Wilson writes in: “My wife is looking into medicinal plants for pain relief, healing of injuries and reduce inflammation.
Are there any courses that she may be able to pursue? The back story is that her brother is paraplegic living in a third world country with limited medicines. His welfare is of concern to us and this is our next step into looking for other aides for his condition.
” Has anyone got any suggestions of courses in medicinal plants?

No, you didn’t know

Although quite a lot of you clicked on the picture of Stella Ramos’ legume, no one wrote in to say what it was. Anyone want to try this week? As Stella said, “The pods are a bit fluffy. All the beans have a distinct white line along the edge.Email me.

What veggie seeds to plant in July

Here is a list (see the July planting guide for more detail):
Beetroot
Coriander
Lettuce
Mustard greens
Onion
Peas
Radish

The shortest list of the year.

A survey about food growing and COVID-19

Sustain and others invite you to complete a 10 minute survey about food growing during and after the current crisis. The stated aims of the survey are:

  1. To investigate the extent of edible food growing by Australians in 2020.
  2. To find out as best we can the impact of the COVID19 restrictions and ongoing legacy on the take-up and / or expansion of edible food growing by Australians.
  3. To understand the experiences of Australians with edible food growing during and after the COVID19 restrictions.
  4. To identify what resources and supports Australians may want or need to continue and / or expand their edible food growing.

‘Crowd harvest’ – Winter citrus

Lemon trees and other citrus are often heavily laden in the middle of winter. Gardeners with excess are invited to give them during the first half of July to one of the not-for profit organisations listed in the next paragraph who will, in turn, provide them to those facing food insecurity. Read this Facebook post for more information.

DIVRS in Preston, Elisha Care in Croydon, Now and Not Yet Cafe in Warrandyte or STREAT in Collingwood.

Foodscaping


Sabi Buehler has sent in this photo (left hand picture), which was captioned Foodscaping in Geneva, Switzerland.

It is actually becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish what things on the Internet are true and what are fake. Sabi’s photo looked too good to be true so I decided to investigate. My conclusion is that the photo is real and dates back to around 2013 but that the ‘houses’ are actually garden sheds and that the whole area is effectively one big community garden. More specifically, the place is called Jardins familiaux de Bel Essert and its coordinates are 46°13’00.7″N 6°06’36.2″E (references/sources available on request). The right hand photo is of the same place using Google maps – see how small the ‘houses’ are compared to the houses outside of the area.

Wikipedia has a page on foodscaping

Berry circles of life

A ‘circle of life’ photo of a blackberry is currently doing the rounds on Facebook. It is reproduced below together with less commonly circulated equivalents for blueberries and strawberries.

Blackberry Blueberry Strawberry

 

Want to do some paid hand weeding?

Susan is fighting a losing battle with oxalis and needs some help! $20 per hour. Eltham. If interested, email me and I’ll pass your email onto Susan.

Changes in Eltham eateries

The Missing Gorilla has closed down.

Earthbound Bolton has changed hands.

A new pizza place called Al’s Pizza has open where Bolton Pizza and Pasta used to be.

Guy’s veggie growing tip – moon phase planting

Lots of people (including, by anecdote, many farmers) practice something called moon-phase planting. There are three very different reasons why you might want to consider moon-phase planting, whereby different types of veggie are planted at different times in the moon’s 29½-day lunar cycle. The first possible reason is that you believe in it. The second possible reason is because it helps to impose discipline on your veggie growing activities. The third possible reason is to help give your life cadence.

To believe in it, you have to understand it a bit. The basic idea/assumption/rationale/sophistry is that one wants root crops to grow downwards, and thus when the upward pull of the moon is lessening, and thus when the moon is waning. By contrast, one wants leafy and fruity crops to grow upwards, and thus when the upward pull of the moon is increasing, and thus when the moon is waxing. This gives the following phasing:

1st quarter: leafy – plant crops where one eats the leaves/foliage.
2nd quarter: fruits – plant crops where one eats the fruit.
3rd quarter: roots – plant root crops.
4th quarter: have a rest!

To do it for discipline reasons, you have to understand one of its major implications. Consider capsicum seeds, which are best planted in August or September. There will be usually be precisely one week in August, and another in September, where the moon is in its 2nd quarter. So, you only have two opportunities in the whole year to plant capsicum seeds and if you miss both these opportunities then you won’t have any capsicum plants. So, if you want homegrown capsicums, then you have to be organised and disciplined to get your act together in these two weeks.

Finally, the cadence reason is probably only of potential relevance if you are not in paid work. Those of us who are retired know that days and weeks can flow into each other, with time passing and little rhythm to one’s life. Anything that makes one day different than another, or one week different than another, is welcome.

Are there any subjects which you would like me to write a tip about? Email me.

Read more of Guy’s veggie growing tips.

Meg’s social isolation week

When it is too cold to go outside, it is a good time to sort through your gardening paraphernalia and review any seed stored. Consider sending any that you may have spare off to the Gippsland Seed Drive, providing seeds to kitchen gardens in schools within the bushfire affected areas.

However, it was warm today and felt a little like the beginning of a very early spring. There are daffodils emerging in my terracotta pots and, unusually, there are some bearded iris in flower under the apple trees. I would not expect the iris until at least late August. It is good to be outside in the garden. The ground is soft, which makes weeding easy. I attack the winter pruning of the fruit trees, the black and red currents and brambles. I pot up some hardwood cuttings of my favourite plants, elderberry, a lemon coloured butterfly bush and button chrysanthemums.

After a day of work in the fresh air, it is good to have a glass of red wine, cheese, homemade crackers and quince paste. My cracker recipe is also gluten free.

Seed crackers

200g sunflower seeds
80g sesame seeds
100g pumpkin seeds
60g linseed
1 teaspoon salt plus extra sea salt to sprinkle
2 tablespoons psyllium husks
500mls water

Mix all ingredients together and leave for 10-15 mins until thick.

Spread very thinly on a lined baking tray. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Bake in 150degC oven for about 1 hour until slightly browned.

Cool and then break into pieces.

Read more of Meg’s recipes on our website.

Reader photos

Last week’s theme – chickens and eggs

Only one person (Karin Motyer) submitted a photo, and a sad one at that. Titch the chicken had been a long term resident at Montsalvat but died on Friday.

This week’s theme – garden tools

This week’s photo theme will be ‘garden tools’. Send me your interesting photos, together with a title and (if you want) a story, and I will publish them next week.

To get you going, here is a photo of a ‘soil blocker’ that I use, courtesy of KABUU. You press it into a moist mixture of coir and sieved compost and it creates little blocks into which you plant seeds. In comparison with plastic containers, there are no waste materials and the subsequent transplantation shock is arguably less.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

Kathy Gardiner’s article about growing peas.

Proverb of the month

In a nutshell. Meaning: concisely stated. This is an extremely old idiom, dating back to AD77 when Pliny The Elder said “Cicero informs us that the Iliad of Homer was written on a piece of parchment so small as to be enclosed in a nutshell“. The odd thing about this is that the Iliad is actually a long book, equating to around 700 pages in modern typeface. In the 17th Century, someone called Pierre Daniel Huet decided to test Pliny/Cicero’s claim and managed to fit the whole of the Iliad onto a piece of parchment sized 27cm x 21cm, using writing so small that no one could read it! So, the original meaning was something like ‘get a lot of information into a small space’ and this only turned into the current meaning of ‘get a lot of information into a few words’ in the mid 19th Century (e.g. in William Makepeace Thackeray’s The Second Funeral of Napoleon).

Read about more food-related proverbs.

Gardening quote of the month

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” A Greek proverb.

Read more gardening quotes.

Joke of the week

Submitted by Sean Flynn: I turned down a job where I would be paid in vegetables … the celery was unacceptable..

Read more jokes.

Upcoming online events

If you know of any events other than those listed below, email me.

Newly announced events

Fire and fungi: Thursday, 16th July, 6.30-7.30pm; $25 (recommended donation); organised by MYCOmmunity. Read more and book on their website.

Previously announced events

Grow your own fruit trees: Wednesday, 24th June, 7-8.30pm; free; organised by Yarra Ranges Council. Read more and book on EventBrite.

Composting and worm farming: Thursday, 25th June, 10am-11.30am; $15; organised by Living & Learning Nillumbik. Read more and book on their website.

Wonderful world of worms (for kids): Thursday, 25th June, 4-5pm; free; organised by Edendale. Read more and book on WeTeachMe.

Beeswax wraps: Sunday, 28th June, 10am-midday; $50; organised by CERES. Read more and book on Humantix.

Culturing fungi on agar for beginners: Sunday, 5th July, 2-3.30pm; $28; organised by MYCOmmunity. Read more and book on their website.

Backyard beekeeping basics: Tuesday, 28th July, 7-9pm; $50; organised by CERES. Read more and book on Humantix.

Open Table now offer their weekly no waste cook club workshops free and online on Saturdays. As well as cooking (which is actually optional), you will learn about food waste and composting. Register on EventBrite.

Whitehorse Council are publishing on their Youtube channel a video each Monday at 9am on various aspects of sustainability, including beeswax wraps (on 22nd June).

Newsletter reader Chloe Thomson is doing free, weekly podcasts on gardening for Bunnings.

Pip Magazine (some of whose journalists live in North East Melbourne) are producing a series of videos entitled simple skills for self sufficiency.

Good Life Permaculture are producing a series of videos entitled crisis gardening.

All The Dirt is a weekly podcast about gardening.

Jun 172020
 

Thanks to all the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Angelo Eliades, Choon Yin Yeok, Jeremy Mather, Jo Douglas, Karin Motyer, Laura Finch, Lili Dieguez, Mala Plymin, Maude Farrugia, Megan Goodman, Morgan Koegel, Pam Jenkins, Ros Hardy, Stella Ramos, Stephen Onians, Vanessa Nitsos Chan and Whitehorse Urban Harvest Swap.

Which farmer’s markets will be happening this weekend?

On Saturday: Coburg.

On Sunday: Alphington, Eltham and Yarra Valley. Yes, that’s right, Yarra Valley Farmers’ Market has re-started!

Community Garden news

Kevin Heinze GROW in Doncaster are holding some free social gardening sessions for Manningham residents. These sessions will “provide people in the community with genuine, supported opportunities to connect with others whilst taking care of plants, pruning and potting up“. The sessions are being held three times a week during July, August and September on Tuesdays (12.30-2.30pm), Thursdays (12.30-2.30pm) and Saturdays (9.30-11.30am). To book your slot, contact them by phone (9848 3695) or email.

Food swap news

The three food swaps run by Transition Darebin have re-started: Reservoir, Fairfield and Preston/Thornbury.

Vasundhara’s recipes of the month – rice

The theme for Vasundhara’s three recipes this month is rice. The three recipes are:

Noodle soup (aka thukpa) Potato soup Spinach and chickpea flour soup

Like all of Vasundhara’s recipes, the recipes are plant-based.

As I’ve got space, I’m going to put my favourite of the three recipes (noodle soup (aka thukpa)) in full below but you will have to go to the website to read the other two (potato soup and spinach and chickpea flour soup).

Noodle soup (aka thukpa)

Thukpa tastes best when there are cabbage and carrots in it.

Ingredients

1 cup cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, julienne
1 cup capsicum, julienne
1 cup onions, julienne
1 cup any green vegetable, finely chopped
1 inch ginger
3-4 cloves garlic
1 tomato, puréed
4 tablespoon oil
½ tablespoon salt
1 portion noodles
4 cups water (minimum)

Method

Heat the oil. Add the ginger and garlic. Cook well.

Add the tomato puree and cook thoroughly until it has dried and you see more oil and almost no liquid.

Add the onions and mix well. Add the cabbage, carrots and capsicum.

Sautée the mixture well. Sautéing everything nicely is really important in this recipe.

Add water to the veggies.

Boil the noodles. When they are done, add them to the soup.

Add the green vegetables before serving.

Read more of Vasundhara’s recipes on our website.

Vasundhara Kandpal is a professional cook who operates a meals delivery service called Green Karma in Briar Hill, Eltham, Eltham North and Montmorency. Read her menu and order.

Yes, you did know!

Last week, Velyne Moretti asked what the fruit tree was in her photo. Well, lots of you did know that it is an Irish strawberry tree (Arbutus unedo). Thanks to Angelo, Heather, Jeremy, Karin, Lili, Maude, Morgan, Pam, Ros, Stephen and Vanessa for all taking the time to write in with the answer. Here are a few of their comments:

Angelo Eliades: “The fruit is edible but very gritty, tasting like strawberries and sand mixed together!

Karin Motyer: “I’m sure that you and others know that Velyne’s photo is of and Irish strawberry.” [Editor: well we should know because Karin herself sent in a picture of one for our 13th May newsletter.]

Maude Farrugia: “I wrote a guide to them in the latest issue of Pip Magazine, including recipe for very yum Irish strawberry jam.

Pam Jenkins: “ I have never tried them but you can make jam with them. I have heard that they are not very tasty just straight off the tree and that the jam is not much better!

Ros Hardy: “As Velyne says, the birds love them but I am not sure if they are suitable for human consumption.

Stephen Onians: “The fruit is edible when ripe. It has a slight narcotic effect and should not be eaten in large quantities. It makes good jelly. Your local council may have it listed as a weed.

Finally, someone has sent in a recipe for Irish strawberry jelly.

Ingredients: Irish strawberries, sugar and lemons.

Cut the berries. Cover with cold water and boil for 2 hours. Strain and measure the juice. To every litre, allow 250g of sugar and juice of ½ lemon.

Bring to the boil, stirring, then simmer slowly for 2 hours until it forms a jelly.

Pour into sterile containers and store in fridge.

Do you know?

Stella Ramos has written in: “This plant is growing in my brother’s backyard. What is it, is it edible by humans and can he feed it to the birds? The dark beans are those which are dried out. The pods are a bit fluffy. All the beans have a distinct white line along the edge. My brother is not sure if it’s safe to eat but he tried some and says it tastes a bit like peas but not as sweet.

Leaf, Root & Fruit’s gall wasp experiment

Three years ago, Leaf, Root & Fruit purchased some citrus trees and have been applying different treatment for citrus gall wasp to the different trees. Every 6 months, they update their results and their results page has just been updated. Their current conclusions are as follows:

  1. You need to fertilise your trees regularly if you want more fruit.
  2. It doesn’t matter if your tree has galls or not, it can still be productive.
  3. If you want to prevent gall wasps from infesting your tree then kaolin clay looks to be a promising method to do so.

Reader photos

Last week’s theme – meals

4 people sent in photos, each with a little story, attached. In addition, Laura Finch sent in a picture of the meal for two that she won in the pets’ photo competition.

Choon Yin Yeok Jo Douglas Karin Motyer
 
Mala Plymin Laura Finch  

Choon Yin Yeok: “This is one of the courses I had in a vegetarian Shinto temple in Kyoto. Mushroom dumpling, rice crackers, okra, deep fried carrots and puffed rice.

Jo Douglas (Monsalvat’s Head Gardener): “For many years, the medlars at Montsalvat just fell off the tree and fed the soil beneath it. This year one of our volunteers, Barbara, decided that they shouldn’t go to waste and organised their picking, ‘bletting’ and transformation into medlar jelly. Medlars must be ‘bletted’, which involves storing them in a single layer in a rather cool place until they are soft and brown inside. They’re ready when they are very soft and squishy to the touch. The medlars were distributed to four different kitchens and the solids left after straining also became medlar & apple crumble and medlar chutney.

Karin Motyer: “These are homemade honey scones. It is a simple and quick recipe with honey, butter, self-raising flour and milk. Note, in the background, the jar of honey from Backyard Honey that I won in the bees’ photo competition.

Mala Plymin: “Homemade roti, rice, fried okra and pumpkin curry. The pumpkin is from our garden. We picked it when the skin was still soft. So tasty. The okra is from the local Community Grocer.

Doris Glier (Laura Finch’s mother): “We had a lovely evening out at Urban Grooves. Laura enjoyed her healthy green smoothie whilst sharing a mouth-watering starter tapas plate with her sister. The girls had had a big day out with their bikes so they still felt quite hungry when their appetizingly decorated main meals arrived.

This week’s theme – chickens and eggs

This week’s photo theme will be ‘chickens and eggs’. Quails, etc will also be allowed. Send me your interesting photos, together with a title and (if you want) a story, and I will publish them next week.

To get you going, here is a photo of some of the monster eggs that one of my chickens lays. Both 101 grams.

Guy’s veggie growing tip – crop rotation

If you ever grow veggies, they are likely to include tomatoes and you will probably grow tomatoes every year. But you shouldn’t grow them in the same place every year. Ditto any other vegetable. This is for two main reasons. First, most pests and diseases prefer specific types of plant; if you change the types of plants that you grow in a specific place from year to year then it helps to break the pest or disease’s lifecycle so you will have less pests and fewer diseases. Second, each type of plant places particular demands on the soil in terms of nutrient extraction, etc; if you change the types of plants that you grow in a specific place from year to year then it gives your soil a rest from the particular burdens placed on it.

What is true for specific species of vegetable is also true for groups of vegetables. So, for example, tomato, capsicum, chilli, eggplant and potato are all in the same family (solanums), all attract the same pest & diseases, and all place similar demands on the soil.

The discussion in last week’s newsletter talked about 5 groups of closely related vegetables plus a miscellaneous list. Divide the miscellaneous list into ‘roots’ and ‘leafy greens’ and you get 7 groups in total: alliums, legumes, brassicas, cucurbits, roots, solanums and leafy greens. The ‘leafy greens’ group is not relevant to crop rotation – just plant them wherever and whenever you have gaps. So, the ideal is a 6-bed, 6-year rotation for the other 6 groups.

If you have fewer than 6 beds, then you can either combine some of the groups (e.g. alliums and roots) or omit some of the groups (e.g. brassicas).

You then have to decide the order of how a bed should change over time. A principle here is that heavy feeders should, where possible, alternate with light feeders. So, for example, legumes (light) – brassicas (medium) – alliums (light) – cucurbits (heavy) – roots (light) – solanums (heavy).

And, finally, you have to decide when during the year to rotate the crops, with the obvious time being after the summer harvest.

See our website for a slightly longer discussion, including which vegetables are in which groups.

Read more of Guy’s veggie growing tips.

Growing peas

Newsletter reader Kathy Gardiner’s article in this month’s Warrandyte Diary is about growing peas.

Meg’s social isolation week

The raspberries are still fruiting, a couple of large red berries glowing at the ends of some of the canes. I grow Nootka which provides two crops, one in summer and one in autumn. It is quite late to be getting ripe fruit. I guess I will have to wait a little longer before cutting back the older summer canes and tying in the fruiting ones.

The potato seedlings emerging in the compost heap from past crops reminds me that it’s time to plant new certified seed potatoes. I usually plant some now when I have my pick of varieties and some more towards the end of August, when stock is often discounted. This provides a staggered harvest. The ones planted now will emerge in early spring, giving us new potatoes late November that you can carefully dig to find without pulling out the main plant. The larger main crop will be enjoyed in summer.

Last year I grew Kipfler, King Edward and Nicola. This year I am starting with Kipfler and Kennebec for something different. Kipfler seems to need longer to develop good-sized tubers. Potatoes are easy to grow in deep containers like large plastic trugs (with drainage holes) and I have two that I keep for this purpose. I also plant the seed potatoes in a trench and mound the soil so that they are buried around 10cm below the soil and around 20cm apart. In both cases, as the seedlings emerge, I add layers of compost and pea straw (leaving the growing tip exposed) to protect the crop and encourage more tubers.

I love roast potatoes, but new potatoes need only a little olive oil or butter while warm and a few fresh herbs. Nothing else.

Best roast potatoes

Boil potatoes (skin on or off) until just tender.

Drain and add to a roasting dish. Break up the potatoes slightly, roughing the edges. Brush the tops with olive oil, scatter with finely chopped thyme & rosemary and sprinkle with salt & pepper.

Bake at 220degC for around 20-30 minutes.

Read more of Meg’s recipes on our website.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

The picture of Irish strawberries.

Joke of the week

What did the cherry say to the cherry pie? “You’ve got some crust.”

Read more jokes.

Upcoming online events

If you know of any events other than those listed below, email me.

Newly announced events

Grow your own fruit trees: Wednesday, 24th June, 7-8.30pm; free; organised by Yarra Ranges Council. Read more and book on EventBrite.

Composting and worm farming: Thursday, 25th June, 10am-11.30am; $15; organised by Living & Learning Nillumbik. Read more and book on their website.

Wonderful world of worms (for kids): Thursday, 25th June, 4-5pm; free; organised by Edendale. Read more and book on WeTeachMe.

Beeswax wraps: Sunday, 28th June, 10am-midday; $50; organised by CERES. Read more and book on Humantix.

Culturing fungi on agar for beginners: Sunday, 5th July, 2-3.30pm; $28; organised by MYCOmmunity. Read more and book on their website.

Backyard beekeeping basics: Tuesday, 28th July, 7-9pm; $50; organised by CERES. Read more and book on Humantix.

Previously announced events

The Jesuit Social Services’ Ecological Justice Hub, together with Moreland City Council and the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance, is organising an online event entitled COVID-19 and food systems: impact, response and pathways to transformation on Thursday, 18th June, 6-8pm. $11. Read more and book on EventBrite.

Open Table now offer their weekly no waste cook club workshops free and online on Saturdays. As well as cooking (which is actually optional), you will learn about food waste and composting. Register on EventBrite.

Whitehorse Council are publishing on their Youtube channel a video each Monday at 9am on various aspects of sustainability, including beeswax wraps (on 22nd June).

Newsletter reader Chloe Thomson is doing free, weekly podcasts on gardening for Bunnings.

Pip Magazine (some of whose journalists live in North East Melbourne) are producing a series of videos entitled simple skills for self sufficiency.

Good Life Permaculture are producing a series of videos entitled crisis gardening.

All The Dirt is a weekly podcast about gardening.

Jun 102020
 

Thanks to all the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Carrie Newbold, Dan Milne, Evan Gellert, Gillian Manson, Hanh Truong, Karen Ye, Leah Lux Tame, Megan Goodman, Peter Bevz and Velyne Moretti.

Which farmer’s markets will be happening this weekend?

On Saturday: Coburg and Collingwood Children’s Farm relocated to Alphington. Not Croydon.

On Sunday: Alphington, Eltham and Whitehorse. Yes, that’s right. Whitehorse Farmers’ Market has re-started!

Community garden news

The Veggie Spot – Lygon Street Community Garden will cease to be a community garden on 15th July, as the site owner is moving forward with their residential development project.

From their Facebook pages, it looks like Bedford Park Community Garden and Edible Hub, Hurstbridge have both begun to re-start their regular get togethers.

Food swap news

From their Facebook pages, it looks like a few (but only a few) food swaps are re-starting, including Bayswater North, Heathmont and Mooroolbark.

Are you a local food producer who also cooks?

PoppySmack have started doing monthly cooking shows on their Facebook page. They would like to collaborate with other local food producers, who would then become part of the show. If interested, email Hanh Truong (hanh.truong@poppysmack.com.au).

Yes, you did know (sort of)

couple of weeks ago, Jan Akeroyd asked what was going on with her grapefruit tree (see right hand picture). We’ve now had three responses:

Peter Bevz: “I’ve seen black cockatoos strip bark off trees” (see left hand picture).

Velyne Moretti: “I think it is because the tree may have been in mild drought and must have received some big, big rain which quickly expanded the trunk, causing it to split. So nothing is wrong with the tree.

Carrie Newbold: “We had a similar occurrence with our kaffir lime tree this year. We blamed rats for eating the bark. The fully ringbarked branches eventually all died. Thankfully the tree is a 3-4m monster, and has seemingly brushed off their alleged poor behaviour.

Do you know?

Velyne Moretti asks: “Can anyone tell me what this is? It looks like a lychee but is mushy orange inside. The birds love them and this tree is next door.

Some recommendations from NERP permaculturalists

From Leah Lux Tame: the American website Free Permaculture is offering free/donation weekly online permaculture classes.

From Dan Milne: the most useful resource he has found in recent years is Dan Palmer’s work at Making Permaculture Stronger.

More on seed saving tomatoes

Evan Gellert writes in: “I just spreading the seedy mush onto a paper towel and dry well. This is much simpler than all the trouble of wet cleaning, fermenting, etc. And I think the germination rate is fine. My rules are as follows. Do it on hot windy days so that the paper and seeds dry quickly, with the paper sheets variety-labelled. Even multiple additions across numerous days. Leave as a sheet, well ventilated, for maybe a further month to fully dry. Then use scissors to separate, with the seeds stuck to the paper. Sow maybe 3-4 on the paper per seedling pot. Don’t separate the seedlings while planting out but rather wait to see which of the 3-4 does best, and snip off the others after 3-4 weeks.

Our photo ‘competitions’

A number of you have made representations about the cessation of the photo competitions announced last week. Rather than cessation, it has been suggested that they should continue but without prizes. A theme should be set each week, with people invited to submit photos on that theme, and for these photos to be published the following week. I have even been given lists of possible themes!

That all seems reasonable to me, so that is what we are going to do.

This week’s photo theme will be ‘meals’. Send me your interesting meal photos, together with a title, and I will publish them next week. If they are also accompanied by a story or recipe, I will publish that as well.

To get you going, here is a photo of some fried eggs that I recently made (recipe: crack two eggs into a pan, fry and serve on toast with salt and pepper to taste).

It has taken some time to distribute the prizes from previous competitions. Here is a photo of Karen Ye, together with friend Gillian Manson, picking up her jar of honey from the bee photo competition.

Guy’s veggie growing tip – vegetable families

Why is it important to know which vegetables are closely related?

First, it helps you work out how to grow them. For example, if you know how to grow pumpkins, and if you know that cucumbers are closely related to pumpkins, then you can guess that cucumbers are prostrate vines, are grown in summer, are heavy feeders and benefit from hand pollination. Of if you know that broccoli is closely related to cabbage, then you can guess that the cabbage moth likes to lay its eggs on broccoli plants and that you need to protect them from this.

Second, if you are following some system of crop rotation (and you should!), it helps you decide where to plant them. (Crop rotation will be the subject of next week’s tip.)

Many vegetables are in the following 5 groups, where a genus (plural: genera) is a group of very closely related plants and a family is a group of reasonably closely related plants:

  • Alliums (a genus): chives, garlic, leek and onion.
  • Brassicas (a genus): broccoli, brussels sprout, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, mizuna, mustard greens, pak choy and turnip.
  • Cucurbits (a family): cucumber, gourd, pumpkin, rockmelon, watermelon and zucchini.
  • Legumes (a family): bean, broad bean, chickpea, peanut and pea.
  • Solanums (a family): capsicum. chilli, eggplant, potato and tomato.

The following vegetables are in various other families: basil, beetroot, carrot, celery, coriander, fennel, jerusalem artichoke, lettuce, okra, parsley, parsnip, radish, rocket, silverbeet, spinach, sweet potato and sweetcorn.

Here are some characteristics of the 5 groups:

Group Growing season Feeding requirement What you eat
Alliums varies light varies
Brassicas cool season heavy varies
Cucurbits warm season heavy fruit
Legumes varies light fruit
Solanums warm season heavy fruit

 
Read more of Guy’s veggie growing tips.

Meg’s social isolation week

I am happy that it is the slow season in the garden as we begin to return to busy lives and emerge from our homes. Days are short, growth is slow, the trees are bare and the chickens will not lay eggs again until spring.

This week I have the removed the last of the runners from the strawberries and severely cut the remaining leaves right back to ground. It seems harsh, but I have found that I get better growth and fruit by almost ‘mowing’ them.

Planting is now limited to broad beans and I poke a few extra seeds of the Scarlett variety into the flower garden for their flower display.

Harvesting is similarly limited to only a few tired chillies, leafy greens and citrus. How can any home be without a lemon tree? The colour on the citrus trees makes all the difference in the winter light. The only problem is that an abundance of citrus does not equate to the often very small amounts needed for virtually any recipe, including my lemon curd. The food swaps are slowly returning and I am sure that there will be plenty of citrus to share.

Simple lemon curd

60ml lemon juice
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon rind
60g sugar
4 egg yolks
42 grams salted butter

Combine all in double boiler (a metal or glass bowl over a saucepan of water). Heat while whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and coats a spoon.

Pour into sterilised jars. Press a piece of greaseproof paper (or even a beeswax wrap) onto the top of the mixture to prevent a skin forming.

Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Freezes well.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

Choon Yin Yeok’s photo of her cat Ginger on her roof.

Joke of the week

Did you hear the joke about the fungus? I could tell it to you, but it might need time to grow on you.

Read more jokes.

Upcoming online events

If you know of any events other than those listed below, email me.

Newly announced events

Zero Waste Victoria, together with Save Our Soil Australia and The Compost Depot, are organising an online event entitled Focus on food: reduce waste by re-thinking our food systems on Saturday, 13th June, 2-5.15pm. Free/donation. Read more.

Previously announced events

Open Table are offering a free no waste cooking workshop on making pesto on Wednesday, 17th June, 6.30-7.15pm. Read more and register on EventBrite.

The Jesuit Social Services’ Ecological Justice Hub, together with Moreland City Council and the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance, is organising an online event entitled COVID-19 and food systems: impact, response and pathways to transformation on Thursday, 18th June, 6-8pm. $11. Read more and book on EventBrite.

Open Table now offer their weekly no waste cook club workshops free and online on Saturdays. As well as cooking (which is actually optional), you will learn about food waste and composting. Register on EventBrite.

Whitehorse Council are publishing on their Youtube channel a video each Monday at 9am on various aspects of sustainability, including bee hotels (on 15th June) and beeswax wraps (on 22nd June).

CERES have moved some of their classes online.

Newsletter reader Chloe Thomson is doing free, weekly podcasts on gardening for Bunnings.

Pip Magazine (some of whose journalists live in North East Melbourne) are producing a series of videos entitled simple skills for self sufficiency.

Formidable Vegetable are producing a series of videos entitled ‘grow-vid-19’ permaculture pandemic.

Good Life Permaculture are producing a series of videos entitled crisis gardening.

All The Dirt is a weekly podcast about gardening.

Birdlife Australia are giving weekly talks on their Facebook page. The talks can be watched live starting at midday on Thursdays, or as videos afterwards.

Jun 032020
 

Thanks to all the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Angelo Eliades, Choon Yin Yeok, Doris Glier, Fay Loveland, Fiona Finch, Fuchsia Branwhite, Glenis Vieux, Helen Cline, Jenny Shaw, Kate Shannon, Kim Lam, Laura Finch, Mahira Sobral, Mala Plymin, Megan Goodman, Natalie Nigol, Richard Rowe, Robin Gale-Baker, Soo Mei Leong, Susan Palmer, Velyne Moretti, Vicki Jordan and Virginia Solomon.

Which farmer’s markets will be happening this weekend?

Coburg on Saturday; Alphington and Eltham on Sunday. Not Bundoora Park, Carlton or Heathmont.

Helen Cline has written in to say that Boroondara Farmers’ Market has now re-started and that the next market will be on Saturday, 20th June. Thanks for the heads up, Helen!

Community garden news

Macleod Organic Community Garden has been awarded a grant of $4,000 by the Commonwealth for an equipment store.

From their Facebook pages, it looks like a few community gardens have begun to re-start their regular get togethers. These include Links, Northcote Library and Thrive.

Our photo competition

Last week’s competition

The theme of last week’s competition was pets. It attracted 12 entries (perhaps it would have attracted more entries if there hadn’t been a typo in the email link!).

After due consideration, the winner of the meal for two at a restaurant of their choice is Laura Finch for her picture of silkworm caterpillars. Congratulations, Laura!

An honorary mention goes to Leah Lux Tame for her picture of Jinx the cat and Darth the chicken. She win a consolation jar of honey from Backyard Honey.

Thanks to everyone else who participated.

Here are all 12 entries (3 to a row for presentational reasons on mobile phones). Click any picture to view a larger version.

Aziza de Fazio
Ruby
Choon Yin Yeok
Ginger
Doris Glier
praying mantis
Fiona Finch
silkworm moth
Fuchsia Branwhite
Bella
Glenis Vieux
Pumpkin
Kim Lam
Yuki
Laura Finch
silkworm caterpillars
THE WINNER
Leah Lux Tame
Jinx and Darth
HONORARY MENTION
Mala Plymin
worms
Soo Mei Leong
Indie
Velyne Moretti
Snoopy

When Fiona and Laura submitted their photos of their pet silkworms, they commented that they didn’t live for very long. More specifically, it appears that their total lifecycle is around 11 weeks (egg for 2 weeks, caterpillar for 5 weeks, pupa for 3 weeks, and moth for a week). Read this page for more information.

The week’s competition

We are going to give the photo competitions a rest for a bit. Thanks to everyone who has contributed – it has been a blast!

No, you didn’t know!

Last week, Jan Akeroyd asked what is going on with her grapefruit tree (see picture) but no one answered. Anyone want to answer this week? Email me.

Guy’s veggie growing tip – saved seeds – part 2: the practicalities

Although, as per last week’s article, the seeds of a named variety of vegetable will be largely genetically uniform, there will still be minor variations. Choose the best fruit (and thus the best seeds) for your seed saving, rather than eating the best and planting the dross. Incidentally, Richard Dawkins said (in The Ancestor’s Tale) that his father found this one of the hardest lessons to get across to farmers in Africa in the 1940s.

As also discussed last week, beans and tomatoes are both good plants for seed saving but they are collected rather differently. Tomato seeds grow in moist flesh and require wet cleaning: pick the fruit when it is just over ripe, scoop the seeds out of the flesh, run water over them to remove any flesh remnants, do something (see next sentence) to remove the gel sac around each seed, and then leave to dry for around 10 days before storing. To remove the gel sacs, which can inhibit germination, either wash and physically rub or leave to ferment in water (or their own juices) for around 4 days (Google for more detail). Bean seeds grow in dry receptacles and require dry cleaning: leave on the plant until they are completely dry and then harvest and store. In both cases, store them in dry and dark conditions.

If you want to know more about seed saving, a good book is The Seed Savers’ Handbook. Or, if you want a free booklet: A Guide to Seed Saving, Seed Stewardship & Seed Sovereignty.

Read more of Guy’s veggie growing tips.

Still got tomato plants with green tomatoes?

Any green tomatoes are unlikely to ripen now but Robin Gale-Baker posted this tip in the Sustainable Macleod Facebook group: “These tomatoes were harvested yesterday from the plants we hung upside down roots and all in our potting shed. There are lots more to come … This is a really good thing to do with tomatoes that you need to pull out but have plenty of green fruit still on them.

Another article from Angelo Eliades

This week’s article is on understanding soil pH and how it affects plant nutrient availability. As we have all now come to expect from Angelo, it is both erudite and comprehensive as well as being very readable.

Read more of Angelo’s food-related articles.

Vicki’s olives are now preserved

A few weeks ago, Vicki Jordan generously offered the olives from her olive trees to anyone who wanted them. Mala Plymin was one of the people who took advantage of the offer. Mala has now written in: “Thanks to Vicki for her olives. I preserved these today. Lily Angel helped me with this recipe: slit the olives and brine them in water and salt. When mixing the salt and water, put an egg in the water and, when it floats, there is enough salt in the water. I didn’t change the water. I regularly tasted the olives and, when they didn’t taste bitter, they were ready. Around two weeks. I then rinsed the olives. I mixed 60% water and 40% vinegar and then added the olives. They are now stored in sterilised jars topped with a bit of oil.

Something for you to read

Perhaps the closest sister spirit that this newsletter has is the Food Fairness Illawarra newsletter. Their latest newsletter highlighted the existence of the Illawarra Edible Garden Guide, which is well worth a read.

Answering an age-old question during COVID-19

Jenny Shaw has written in: “During lockdown I’ve been buying items online. Yesterday I bought a chicken and an egg. I’ll let you know.

How to you transport your glass milk bottles?

Many of us buy our milk from Schulz Organic Dairy and some of us prefer to use their (re-usable) glass bottles rather than their (single use) plastic containers. But the glass bottles aren’t the easiest things to carry around. Two newsletter readers have their preferred methods and have sent in photos to illustrate. The left hand photo is Virginia Solomons’ wicker baskets with 5 bottle positions. The right hand photo is Susan Palmer’s old style carrier with 4 bottle positions.

Corrections, clarifications and comments

Seed saving genetics

Robin Gale-Baker has written in: “Thanks for your article about the genetics of named varieties, which I agree with. I’m always harping on about buying commercial seed for pumpkins, brassicas and other cross-pollinators. My experience is that, whilst lots of tomato varieties usually self-pollinate, the potato leaf varieties, such as Brandywine, often cross-pollinate. The end result is that we are losing some of our varieties at Macleod Organic Community Garden and creating other variations which, whilst interesting, won’t grow true to type. For example, it looks like our Brandywine Pink crossed with our Apollo as the fruit were round like the Apollo but pink like the Brandywine Pink.

As keen as mustard

Robin Gale-Baker has written in to ask if there is a connection between the phrase ‘as keen as mustard’ and Keen’s mustard. The answer is no. Per The Phrase Finder website: “‘As keen as mustard’ and a well-known company called Keen that made mustard. Surely we have a winner? Unfortunately not. The phrase ‘as keen as mustard’ is known from 1672, the century before the company was formed in 1742.

Robin also points out that one of the sons of the founder of Keen’s Mustard migrated to Australia in 1841 and started a condiments business in Tasmania (Keen’s Curry Powder) which became famous too. And, whilst it started as a British company, Keen’s Mustard is now based in Melbourne and is, indeed, owned by the same company (McCormick Foods Australia) as Keen’s Curry Powder.

NERP

Virginia Solomon has written in to point out that NERP now stands for North East Region Permaculture rather than North East Ranges Permaculture, having changed its name in early 2019.

Virginia has also sent in a photo of the 5 different coloured cauliflowers that she bought at Peninsula Fresh Organics at Eltham Farmers’ Market last week.

Meg’s social isolation week

This week, rather than staring at screens, I have been looking through old gardening magazines obtained from a past food swap. It has been fascinating: the advertisements for weed and pest control, old-fashioned hand tools and lots of potted colour. They are also a good source of garden wisdom.

Last year, I saved up to buy a three-way pear (Beurre Bosc, Williams Bon Cretain and Williams). This year, inspired by an article entitled The mug gardener’s guide by Peter De Warrt in the June 1991 edition of Your Garden magazine, I’m going to try to graft budwood from a snow apple onto my Jonathon, creating a two-way apple. Collect budwood from your favourite apple tree while its dormant, wrap the cuttings in wet newspaper and place them in the crisper-section of your fridge until spring, when the apple trees begin to shoot. I have made and stored the cuttings and will wait for spring to follow the remaining steps.

I am also taking cuttings from my well-established red and blackcurrants as they head into dormancy, making sure to use recent growth. I simple place the cuttings into a vacant section of my raised veggie beds and leave them alone to take root before giving away or transplanting in spring.

Finally, I’ve been peeling the windfall apples from the farm last weekend to make deep dish apple pie.

Deep-dish apple pie (use a deep sided baking tray)

Piecrust
2 cups plain flour
½ cup sunflower oil
¼ cup orange juice
a pinch of salt

Filling
8 large apples, peeled, cored and cut into pieces
a dessertspoon of cinnamon (or to taste)
2 teaspoons all spice
a sprinkling of plain flour
½ cup sugar

Mix all the piecrust ingredients until just combined. You want a moist dough.

Roll half of the dough between two sheets of greaseproof paper and place on bottom of baking tray (not up the sides).

Mix the filling ingredients and layer on top.

Roll out the remaining dough to top.

Bake for around 1 hour at 160degC until well browned.

Read Meg’s other recipes on our website.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

Ann’s interview with Dan Milne.

Joke of the week

What’s orange and sounds like a parrot? A carrot.
Read more jokes.

Upcoming online events

If you know of any events other than those listed below, email me.

Newly announced events

Darebin Council are working with others to produce some free gardening videos under the heading of Backyard harvest stories. Kat Lavers will be doing two videos on her Facebook page, the first being a virtual tour of her kitchen garden (on Friday, 5th June, starting 11am) and the second being on fruit tree care (on Friday, 12th June, starting 11am). 3000acres will be doing two videos on their Facebook page, the first being on building a veggie patch from scratch (on Tuesday, 9th June, starting 3pm) and the second being on planning your Spring garden (on Tuesday, 16th June, starting 3pm).

The Jesuit Social Services’ Ecological Justice Hub is organising an online event entitled COVID-19 and food systems: impact, response and pathways to transformation on Thursday, 18th June, 6-8pm. $11. Read more and book on EventBrite.

Previously announced events

Open Table are offering free no waste cooking workshops on Thursday, 9th June, 5.30-6.15pm (homemade veggie stock) and Wednesday, 17th June, 6.30-7.15pm (pesto). Read more and register on EventBrite.

Open Table are also now offering their weekly no waste cook club workshops free and online on Saturdays. As well as cooking (which is actually optional), you will learn about food waste and composting. Register on EventBrite.

Whitehorse Council are publishing on their Youtube channel a video each Monday at 9am on various aspects of sustainability, including bee hotels (on 15th June) and beeswax wraps (on 22nd June).

CERES have moved some of their classes online.

Newsletter reader Chloe Thomson is doing free, weekly podcasts on gardening for Bunnings.

Pip Magazine (some of whose journalists live in North East Melbourne) are producing a series of videos entitled simple skills for self sufficiency.

Formidable Vegetable are producing a series of videos entitled ‘grow-vid-19’ permaculture pandemic.

Good Life Permaculture are producing a series of videos entitled crisis gardening.

All The Dirt is a weekly podcast about gardening.

Birdlife Australia are giving weekly talks on their Facebook page. The talks can be watched live starting at midday on Thursdays, or as videos afterwards.