Dec 122018

The 2018 Golden Seedling awards

Now in their 4th year. Maybe there should be a judging panel, or maybe voting by the readership, but at the moment it’s just my 2 cents. If you would like to nominate any other organisations or individuals that you consider would be worthy winners, email me.

Awards to organisations
  • Community garden of the year – a difficult award as I have only visited some of the community gardens but I’m going to give it to Sylvester Hive (Preston): numerous events, which are both well-attended and well-organised, with energy, a friendly ambience and yummy food. Honorary mentions – previous winners St John’s Riverside (Heidelberg) and Macleod, both of whom continue to go from strength to strength.
  • Food swap of the year – another difficult award as I only visited a minority of the food swaps but I’m going to give it, for the second year running, to the Forest Hill and Box Hill South food swaps, both of which are run by Whitehorse Urban Harvest: a lively Facebook page plus free talks at many of their swaps and, importantly, they tell people by email about the talks before they happen.
  • Library of the year – Lilydale: free, monthly events on a wide range of topics. Honorary mentions – previous winners Watsonia and Diamond Valley, both of which continue to organise numerous free events.
  • Council of the year – Banyule (both staff and Councillors): for their support of local community gardening and composting initiatives. Honorary mention – previous winner Darebin, for their continuing program of activities.
  • Social justice organisation of the year – there are lots of organisations who arguably deserve this award but I have chosen one that happens to be less well known: Open Table, for their ongoing provision of free meals to those in need. Honorary mentions – Diamond Valley FoodShare, Food Not Bombs Melbourne, Reservoir Neighbourhood House, The Community Grocer, The Darebin Fruit Squad, The Salt Foundation and Watsonia Neighbourhood House, to name just a few.
  • Non-cooking workshop organiser of the year: Bulleen Art and Garden nursery – numerous, affordable events covering a wide range of gardening topics.
Awards to individuals
  • Lifetime achievement award – Bruce Plain, owner of the Bulleen Art and Garden nursery: for his philanthropy with respect to many of our local community gardens and for his role in establishing, and then running, Sustainable Gardening Australia.
  • Newsletter contributor of the year – Judy Vizzari: for her monthly interviews of local home growers, which take substantial time and effort as well as the obvious writing skill. Honorary mention – Robin Gale-Baker: for her monthly gardening tips, which are always interesting and increasingly so.
  • Newsletter reader of the year – Stuart Rodda: for his frequent contributions on such subjects as bees, soil and coffee grounds.
  • Cooking workshop organiser of the year: Bek McMillan for her frequent, varied and affordable cooking classes.
Newsletter links

Judy interviews Virginia Solomon

Virginia, who lives in Research, held an open garden in November and those of us who went generally agreed that it was an interesting garden that more people should know about so Judy Vizzari went to visit and to interview Virginia. Here is how Judy introduces her interview write up: “From the moment I pull up outside Virginia’s property, I know that I am in for a treat. What do I see? An extensive garden of colourful flowers, shrubs, flourishing herbs and thriving Australian indigenous plants. They line twisting walkways, flock expansive flower-beds and cling to garden walls. I see espaliered apples and twisting wisteria vines draped over metal archways. There are some complete show-offs too – heavily laden bushes, one supporting massed fragrant roses and another clothed in large magenta leaves and adorned with fairy floss puff balls. Above is a high canopy of indigenous and exotic trees. There’s a house here too, but I can only glimpse fragments of its rendered clay coloured walls and bright blue trims.Read the full interview.

Somewhat surprisingly, at the time of writing this, there are still some tickets available for the Formidable Veg Melbourne permie house concert happening at Virginia’s house on Tuesday, 18th December, 6-9pm.

Finally, it is my habit to do a bit of Internet searching whenever I write one of these interview introductions to see if there is anything interesting to say about the person. So, I googled ‘Virginia Solomon’ and it turns out that she is the current Chair of Permaculture Australia! Here is the evidence. So, maybe now you will read the full interview! (If you don’t know what permaculture is, you might be able to guess from the picture below!)

Robin’s veggie growing tip of the month: tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) – the solution to ants!

A number of people have recently asked me how to deal with ants. Tansy is the answer. Tansy is a fern-like herb, growing to about 1 metre, with clusters of flattish yellow button flowers that make good dried flowers. It is a perennial but does best by being cut to ground level late autumn and allowed to shoot from the base. It will be the first plant in the garden to wilt in hot weather, indicating that your garden needs water.

Tansy has quite a history as an insect repellent and a biological pest control. It was used for embalming bodies, placed in coffins and made into wreathes which were placed on dead bodies. The tansy kept insects from attacking the corpses. As a pest control, it is used as a companion plant to roses, to cucumbers (repelling cucumber beetle), and in the USA with potato crops (to deter Colorado potato beetle).

Ants loathe tansy. Crush a tansy leaf and place it across an ant trail and the ants will immediately turn and run away. They will not cross the tansy leaf. Fresh tansy can be placed anywhere where you want to deter ants, or dried and placed in cupboards or drawers. It does have quite a pungent smell so that needs to be taken into account. At the Macleod community garden, where there was a considerable ant problem, tansy is grown behind the compost heaps and keeps them free of ant nests.

Read all of Robin’s tips

Stockyard Food Garden

This newsletter is all about connecting. And part of connecting is trying to encourage connections between the various local food-growing groups. And one small part of this is the set of stencils that Felicity Gordon designed and that we make available for any community garden to use. That’s why I was really pleased when Nina Ceddia, from the new Stockyard Food Garden in Kensington, asked me if they could borrow the stencils. This week, Nina showed me around the garden, which is a communal garden which anyone can harvest from. Thanks, Nina! Here are a few pictures.

And here are thumbnails of some of the stencils (in arbitrary colours).

If you would like to borrow the stencils, along with appropriate paints, just email me.

In passing, it was good to hear that Stockyard Food Garden have been working with both 3000acres and KABUU.

News about The Community Grocer

The Community Grocer aims to improve access for people living on a low-income to fresh, affordable food. They do this by running weekly fruit and vegetable markets. There are currently three such markets (at Carlton, Fawkner and Fitzroy). Their weekly market at Mernda has just stopped trading.

Summer seedling care

Fay Loveland has written in to say that she found the following advice from Green Harvest very helpful:
As the days warm up, we all find it harder to transplant seedlings successfully, particularly tender ones, like lettuce. Don’t be disappointed and waste your efforts; rather, help yourself by:

  • Soaking your seedlings for an hour prior to transplanting in a weak seaweed solution.
  • Watering the hole before planting and then water the seedling after planting. Many seedlings need watering twice a day for at least a week to help them become established. So the moral is – don’t buy seedlings if you can’t give them care for a week.
  • Always transplant late in the afternoon. Cover your seedlings for the first critical few days by using hoops of bamboo or polypipe to support shadecloth.
  • In hotter weather, it can help to grow sturdier plants by potting them on into individual pots (e.g. jiffy pots) to reduce transplant shock.

Still looking for that perfect Christmas present?

If you weren’t taken by last week’s suggestions of cabbage quilts or chicken leg socks, how about seed kits for children or recycled gift cards with seeds from Hurstbridge-based Going Green Solutions?

Proverb of the month

Butterfingers. Meaning: A name playfully applied to someone who fails to catch a ball or otherwise lets something slip from their fingers. Some people think that the phrase was invented by Charles Dickens in The Pickwick Papers but it actually first appearws in a book entitled The English Huswife, Containing the Inward and Outward Virtues Which Ought to Be in a Complete Woman, published in 1615 by someone called Gervase Markham. In that book, Mr Markham describes the qualities that he think a good housewife should have(!): “First, she must be cleanly in body and garments; she must have a quick eye, a curious nose, a perfect taste, and ready ear; she must not be butter-fingered, sweet-toothed, nor faint-hearted – for the first will let everything fall; the second will consume what it should increase; and the last will lose time with too much niceness.

Read all the proverbs.

Gardening quote of the month

To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves.” by Mahatma Gandhi.

Read all the quotes.

Joke of the week

As submitted by Sabi Buehler: The only type of Christmas dessert you should never trust is mince-spies.

Read all the jokes.

New events

Compost like a pro with Kat Lavers

What: In this workshop, Kat Lavers will look at how to compost food scraps and garden material, how to avoid common mistakes, and how to diagnose common problems.
When: Saturday, 15th December, 10.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Fitzroy.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Become a junior chocolatier

What: In a 45 minute ‘parent-free zone’, children aged 6–12 years can learn from their chocolatiers how to make their very own chocolate creations. Includes personalised badge, chef’s hat and apron, graduation certificate plus take home three chocolate creations to enjoy.
When: 36 times during January on each of Tuesday 8th, Wednesday 9th, Tuesday 15th, Wednesday 16th, Tuesday 22nd and Wednesday 23rd, at each of 9am, 10am, 11am, midday, 1.30pm and 2.30pm.
Where: Yarra Valley Chocolaterie, Yarra Glen.
Cost: $40.
Bookings and further information: their website.

Guided tours of The Plummery

What: You will explore Kat Lavers’ permaculture kitchen garden to learn about getting abundance from small urban garden spaces. The 280 square metre block produces almost all the household’s herbs, veggies, fruit and eggs while using only 46 litres of mains water per person and 4 kilowatt hours of electricity per day.
When: three times on Saturday, 19th January, at 10am, midday and 2pm.
Where: Northcote.
Cost: $15.
Bookings: TryBooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Spoke and Spade – guided tour

What: This is an urban farm tour the size of your lawn in organic food production and selling veggie boxes. Sim from Spoke & Spade will give you a guided tour.
When: three times on Sunday, 20th January, at 10am, midday and 2pm.
Where: Heidelberg West.
Cost: $15.
Bookings: TryBooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Emma Grace – beeswax wraps

What: You will learn how to make and maintain their own beeswax wraps for keeping food fresh and hygienic without the use of single-use plastics such as cling-wrap. You will leave with two ready-to-use wraps.
When: Wednesday, 23rd January, 10am-midday.
Where: Richmond Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

New events – festival21

festival21 is a day-long series of food-related workshops, performances, exhibitions and other activities being held on Saturday, 2nd February. Read the program.

Starting young (kids program)

What: This session will be presented by kids, for kids (and their parents!) where kids can learn, play and be inspired to create healthy habits that last a lifetime. It will encourage kids to become involved and excited about where food comes from and why it’s so good. Any adults must be accompanied by children!
When: Saturday, 2nd February, 11am-12.30pm.
Where: Meat Market, North Melbourne.
Cost: donation.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

What should I eat?

What: With so many to choose from, it’s not easy to conclude what makes for a healthy diet. This session sets out to demystify the rhetoric surrounding diets, cooking, and the many definitions of ‘eating well’.
When: Saturday, 2nd February, 1pm-2.30pm.
Where: Meat Market, North Melbourne.
Cost: donation.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Navigating food landscapes

What: When it comes to making food choices, we are influenced by more than just appetite. It’s easy to hold individuals responsible for their food choices, but evidence tells us that it’s actually our everyday settings that affect our diets most. Every day we are exposed to strategies designed to impact our food choices, both healthy and unhealthy. This session aims to open our eyes to the food landscape in the communities we live in, and how we can navigate them for the better.
When: Saturday, 2nd February, 3pm-4.30pm.
Where: Meat Market, North Melbourne.
Cost: donation.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Can we eat our way out?

What: With an estimated increase in plastic pollution that will see more rubbish than fish in the sea by 2050, there has never been a more important time to reduce food packaging. Add to that the fact that one in three mouthfuls of edible food is wasted and we clearly need some seriously creative zero-waste solutions, and we need them now.
When: Saturday, 2nd February, 5pm-6.30pm.
Where: Meat Market, North Melbourne.
Cost: donation.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

The food chain

What: This session will discuss the five major stages of food production: grow, process, purchase, eat and dispose. Each stage will be expressed through a selection of individual speakers, a panel session, a short film, music, comedy and social enterprise crowd-funding. It will conclude with a talk-show panel that brings together the ideas and questions posed by festival21, and sets an agenda for action.
When: Saturday, 2nd February, 7-10.30pm.
Where: Meat Market, North Melbourne.
Cost: donation.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of upcoming events

During the rest of December
During January

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.

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