The world’s best marmalade is still made in Wonga Park
J.B. Shackleton’s, a local marmalade maker from Wonga Park, won Double Gold medal for the best traditional marmalade in the 2017 World’s Original Marmalade Competition in the UK! Their winning marmalade was “Luxury Grapefruit Marmalade with a hint of Honey”. In addition, they won silver medals for their Tahiti Lime and Orange marmalades, and a bronze medal for their Tangelo marmalade.
Yarra Valley Chocolaterie feature in The Age
Celebrities visit Yarra Valley Poultry in Eltham
Who: Karen and Ros from My Kitchen Rules (and also Diamond Creek).
Where: Yarra Valley Poultry, Eltham.
When: Wednesday, 5th April.
‘Grow Free’ is coming to Melbourne
‘Grow Free’ is a movement “dedicated to making our food locally grown, organic and free” and they are currently “all about growing and giving away free organic, heirloom veggie/herb/flower seedlings for people to get their garden going“. The movement started out in Adelaide but is now coming to Melbourne. One of their carts can be found at 42 Zina Grove, Mooroolbark. To find out more, either join their Facebook group or listen to a ten minute interview with their founder.
‘Crop Swapping’ has come to North East Melbourne
Yarra Valley Crop Swap is a closed Facebook group which started in December and which already has 770 members. As they say “if you have fruit, veggies, eggs, honey, crafts, plants, etc that you’d like to swap, post your offerings and trade for something you need.” Its two co-founders live in Croydon North and Wandin East. They were interviewed in the 7th April edition of The Leader. Thanks to Tess Gardiner for bringing the group to my attention.
Crop Swap Melbourne is a public Facebook group which started in February and currently has 320 members. As they say “We are building local community, reducing food waste & eating better, for less. Join us to meet your neighbours, swap excess produce and fairly barter with other like-minded people for fresh, local and delicious food, edible plants, seeds or gardening goods.
So, if you are a home grower with a surplus, you now have a plethora of options:
- The crop swaps on Facebook – Melbourne and Yarra Valley.
- The 29 food swaps in the area.
- The Community Market Stall at Eltham Farmer’s Market.
- The food swapping websites – RipeNearMe and Spare Harvest.
- The Food is Free places – Reservoir, Ringwood East and Warrandyte.
- The Grow Free cart at Mooroolbark. (posted April 12)
EverGreen – a nature program for older residents in Banyule
Banyule City Council is currently piloting a new gardening program for older residents who no longer have the ability to be physically active in the garden. The program is designed to bring together people interested in gardening or being in nature, who are looking to meet new people. Two programs are being offered in May. Places are limited. If you are interested contact Sian Gleeson by phone (9457 9828).
What: floral arrangements, potting of plants with school children, creating an autumn wreath, and morning tea. To participate, you must be able to navigate approximately 50m with or without walking aids.
When: Tuesday, 2nd May, 9.30am-midday.
Where: St Pius X Primary School, 419 Waterdale Road, Heidelberg.
What: a small 100m nature walk, autumn seed cleaning, floral arranging, building nesting boxes, and morning tea. To participate, you must be able to navigate approximately 50m with or without walking aids and not have balance concerns.
When: Thursday, 4th May, 9.30am-midday.
Where: Old Shire Offices, 60 Beverley Road, Heidelberg.
City of Yarra Urban Agriculture Advisory Committee
Do you want to help shape and implement City of Yarra Council’s urban agriculture policies and actions, including the delivery of the Yarra Urban Agriculture Strategy? Expressions of interest are invited from people who want to join the Yarra Urban Agriculture Advisory Committee (YUAAC). Follow this link for more information and/or to download the application form. Expressions of interest close on Thursday, 20th April.
Pumpkin growing competition in Diamond Creek
There will be prizes for the biggest, prettiest and ugliest pumpkins. The weigh-in will take place at 2pm, Saturday, 29th April at Ellis Cottage, 10 Nillumbik Square, Diamond Creek. To enter, email email@example.com by Monday, 17th April. Enquiries Frank Phipps by phone (9715 0146) after 5pm.
Sylvester Hive Community Garden in Preston is up and growing
Sylvester Hive Community Garden (Pavilion School grounds, corner Dean St & Gray St, Preston) was built in a partnership between Darebin Council, The Pavilion School and local residents on land generously provided by the school. The garden was launched in November 2016. The garden committee meet regularly Thursdays at 7pm and Saturdays at 9am to plan working bees and organise community events in the space. If you are interested in being involved with the garden, please contact Hendrik Falk by phone (0420 353572) or email. For more information, see their Facebook page.
Pentridge Community Garden in Coburg is planned
Mac’s tip of the week
“If you haven’t already, now is a good time to prune your apricot trees. Winter pruning of apricots is not recommended because the dreaded gummosis (aka dead arm) disease can enter your tree via the pruning ‘wounds’ if the tree is dormant. Rather, always prune when the sap is still flowing. Until next time, remember: dirty hands are good hands and better than sticky hands.”
Click here to view all of Mac’s tips.
Is now really the right time to plant garlic?
In this month’s excellent Sustainable Macleod’s newsletter (click here to read the newsletter or click here to sign up for future newsletters), Robin Gale-Baker ruminated about whether the recent warm weather means that we should be deferring our garlic planting. She and I have subsequently debated the subject in more detail. It is a tricky issue, with no clear answer. The salient facts are:
- In Melbourne, garlic is usually planted in April.
- Robin thinks that the soil is currently too warm for garlic planting.
- According to Gardenate, it is ok to leave the planting until May (or even June).
- Like onions, garlic plants are sensitive to the length of the day, with the start of bulb formation (and the end of leaf growth) being triggered by a day length exceeding X hours. (This website says that X=13 and this website says that this will happen on 13th October.)
If you plant too early (i.e. when it is too warm), a risk is apparently that the resulting bulbs don’t divide into separate cloves. If you plant too late, a risk is apparently smaller bulbs (because, per day length, the garlic starts trying to form bulbs when it is too young). One potential way around this paradox is to keep the garlic in the fridge for 30-40 days before planting. I am going to try all the possible options and will report back in due course.
Incidentally, plants whose behaviour depends on day length are called ‘photoperiodic’. One way that they ‘know’ the length of the day (or, more accurately, the length of the night) is because they produce substances (X) in the dark which degenerate to other substances in the light so the night length is proportional to the maximum daily concentration of X. For many plants, day length is at least as important as temperature and this is one reason why so many plants can be grown over so much of the world. This subject is discussed in Chapter 9 of Science and the Garden: The Scientific Basis of Horticultural Practice.
Even more incidentally: as per the article above, one of the plants that is most sensitive to light is soy beans. Indeed, if there is any street lighting in the vicinity, they apparently consider it to be daylight and often never flower. So, if you live in urban Melbourne, it seems unlikely that you can ever grow soy beans.
Not food but useful – critter identification
Last week, I saw a strange spider on my apple tree. I like to know the identify of all the animals in my garden so I took advantage of the free ‘ask the experts’ facility of Museums Victoria by sending them a photo. Within a few days, they provided a comprehensive reply, not only identifying the spider (garden orb-weaver, Eriophora biapicata) but also telling me all sorts of things about it. What a fantastic service!
Joke of the week
We don’t have any more vegetable jokes. If you have one, lettuce know.
Corrections and clarifications
Lucinda Flynn is rapidly becoming the unofficial proofreader of the newsletter. Maybe, in future, we should ask her to proofread it before it gets circulated rather than after. Anyhow, as she has pointed out, the home brewing workshop discussed last week had the wrong description. The corrected event, with the right description, is given below. Thanks, Lucinda!
Home brewing with Paul Rigby
What: What you will learn: make your own beer; all about full grain brewing; and the fermentation process. What you will get: samples of different beers; and recipes to take home. The workshop will be a practical demonstration of full grain brewing covering ingredients (including malt, hops, yeast and water), equipment, brewing theory, and (most importantly) the brewing process (including mashing, lautering, boiling, sanitation, fermentation and packaging). Samples will be available for tasting.
When: Sunday, 4th June, 10am-2.30pm.
Enquiries: CERES by phone (9389 0100).
Bookings / further information: WeTeachMe.
Edible weeds walk
What: What if many of the weeds in our garden were just as edible as the vegetables we tend beside them? What if some of these these free, all-too-easy-to-grow uninvited guests were so nutritionally dense that they are just about the healthiest things you could possibly eat? What if many of them also had medical traditions dating back centuries? Well it’s all true! And if you know what to choose, they also taste great. Join Adam Grubb, co-author of The Weed Forager’s Handbook, for a fascinating walk on the wild side.
When: Saturday, 29th April, 11am-1pm and again at 2-4pm.
Where: Merri Creek Trail, Northcote.
Cost: $25 ($20 concession).
Bookings / Further information: their website – different pages for the 11am start and the 2pm start.
Winter apothecary and open studio
What: Learn to make simple and safe homemade recipes that help support us during winter, strengthen our immunity and protect us from general ailments. You will also have an opportunity at the end of the workshop to view/experience selected works from Rasha Tayeh’s previous art exhibitions, including audio portraits from “On Food & Memory” and short film screening “Growing Food Project” – with an opportunity to ask questions about her creative practice and the research behind “Spice Trails & Trade Routes”.
When: Saturday, 13th May, 2.30-4.30pm.
Where: MESMA Studio, Coburg.
Enquiries: Rasha Tayeh by phone (0403 843923) or email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.
Summary of upcoming events
Over the next week
- Seed raising with Felicity Gordon: Tuesday, 18th April, 11.30am-12.30pm.
- Introduction to home wine-making: Tuesday, 18th April, 6.30-8.30pm.
Over the next month
- The joy of backyard chooks: Thursday, 20th April, 6.30-9pm.
- Artisan pasta – fettuccini: Friday, 21st April, 10am-12.15pm.
- Mead making workshop (three sessions): starting Saturday, 22nd April, 9am-midday.
- Olive magic – preserving olives: Saturday, 22nd April, 9.30-11.30am.
- Free plants day: Saturday, 22nd April, 1-4pm.
- Apple tasting at Petty’s Orchard: Saturday, 22nd April, 11am-1pm.
- Herbal workshop – using food as medicine: Saturday 22nd April, 3.30-5pm.
- Growing garlic at home with Penny Woodward: Sunday 23rd April, 12.45-3pm.
- How to design a clean food growing system: Wednesday, 26th April, 7-9pm.
- Olive magic – preserving olives: Friday, 28th April, 9.30-11.30am.
- Become a junior chocolatier: Saturday, 29th April, 9-9.45am.
- Native herbs for the kitchen and garden: Saturday, 29th April, 9.30-10.30am.
- Introduction to horticulture – 9 session course: Weekly, starting Saturday 29th April, 9.30am-3pm.
- Sourdough bread making workshop: Saturday, 29th April, 10am-1pm.
- Nettles with Monique Eve Miller: Saturday, 29th April, 10.30am-midday.
- Keeping backyard chooks: Saturday, 29th April, 11am-midday.
- Edible weeds walk: Saturday, 29th April, 11am-1pm.
- Chocolate discovery class: Saturday, 29th April, 12.45-1.45pm.
- Edible weeds walk: Saturday, 29th April, 2-4pm.
- Soil improvement workshop: Saturday, 29th April, 2-4.30pm.
- Introduction to horticulture – 9 session course: Weekly, starting Monday, 1st May, 9.30am-3pm.
- Seed – The Untold Story (film): Thursday, 4th May, 6.45-10pm.
- Mediterranean cooking with Angela: Saturday, 6th May, 10-11am.
- Kellybrook Cider Festival: Saturday, 6th May, 11am-5pm.
- Raw living whole foods with Valentina Rise: Saturday, 6th May, 3-6pm.
- How to grow veggies the Italian way!: Sunday, 7th May, 10am-1pm.
- Kellybrook Cider Festival: Sunday, 7th May, 11am-5pm.
- Beekeeping – a taster: Sunday, 7th May, 1-3.30pm.
- Sustainable living and gardening – Felicity Gordon: Wednesday, 10th May, 7-9pm.
- Safe preserving techniques – bottled fruit, jams, pickles & relishes: Thursday, 11th May, 10am-1.15pm.
- Beekeeping workshop: Saturday, 13th May, 9-11am.
- Natural pest control with companion planting: Saturday, 13th May, 9.30am-midday.
- Italian cooking workshop (flavours of Naples): Saturday, 13th May, 10am-1pm.
- Backyard chooks for beginners: Saturday, 13th May, 1-3pm.
- Set up and maintain a worm farm: Saturday, 13th May, 2-3pm.
- Winter apothecary and open studio: Saturday, 13th May, 2.30-4.30pm.