Dec 062017

Mac’s tip of the week

My tip this week is all about whiteflies. These sap-sucking pests are what look like ‘flying dandruff’ when heavily infested plants are disturbed. At the moment, that may well be many of your veggies. As they suck the sap on the underside of your leaves, you will see yellow or white mottling on the upper surface. Ladybirds, lacewings, hoverfly, parasitic wasps, spiders and birds can be natural predators, but often you may have to get involved as the whitefly population explodes.

Squirting with a hose, especially the undersides of the leaves, while shouting ‘GET OFF’ or ‘BE GONE’ at least once a day for 3 or 4 days can quite often work and gives great satisfaction.
Hand picking older leaves to remove young whitefly stages also helps.

I have also heard that vacuuming (seriously) your plants in the early morning (when whiteflies are cold and slow moving) can remove many of the adults before they have a chance to lay many eggs. I would, however, suggest that you don’t drag out the Dyson but instead use a smaller battery car cleaning type vacuum device instead.

If spraying becomes necessary, be sure to spray underneath the leaves, preferably late in the afternoon when predators are less active. Suitable organic sprays include Natrasoap, Eco Oil, and Eco Neem.

Read all of Mac’s tips.

Do you want a paid, part-time job as a gardening specialist?

Briar Hill Primary School has a vibrant garden environment, with the capacity for fruit tree growth, vegetables, herb and indigenous plants. They are seeking a gardening specialist to take overall responsibility for planning and maintaining the garden. The applicant will need a strong background in selecting, delivering and leading a gardening program. They would deliver lessons on 2 days a week (18 days per term), starting at 11am and finishing at 4pm, and will be paid for 10 hours’ work. The rate of pay per hour would be dependent on relevant knowledge, expertise, qualifications and experience. Read more and/or apply.

The 2018 Home Harvest FEASTival

The 2018 Home Harvest FEASTival for home growers in Nillumbik and Banyule will be on 4th March at Edendale. As last year, it will be a picnic. They are already encouraging growers to register.

The associated ‘harvest month’ will be stretched out over a 3 month ‘harvest time’ (February to April), with talks, workshops and open gardens. If you have a garden that you would potentially be happy showing off to like-minded people, email Pam Jenkins. If you would potentially like to give a talk, run a workshop or share a skill with other members of the community, also email Pam. Note that the local libraries will be venues for some of the talks and they would like presenters to let them know early so that they can get their advertising brochures out.

The great garlic growing debate continues

In last week’s newsletter, I discussed the initial results of a garlic growing experiment covering Monaro Purple hardnecks. Chris Newman has written in to say that he is concerned that my wording might be taken to mean that people should have harvested all their garlic by now. Rather, as Chris says, one should wait until the green tops have died back and the timing of this might vary by variety, when they were planted, their watering regime, etc. As the picture shows, Chris’s garlic has not yet reached this stage.

Chris also pointed out the aphorism: ‘plant your garlic cloves on the winter solstice (the shortest day of the year) and then harvest them on the summer solstice (the longest day of the year)’. For me, this aphorism is in the same category as ‘plant your tomatoes on Cup day’ – both timings are a month or so too late.

Finally, Chris is also growing elephant garlic, an alternative to garlic which is technically a leek (Allium ampeloprasum) rather than a garlic (Allium sativum). According to Wikipedia, elephant garlic, unlike standard garlic, does not have to be harvested each year but can be ignored and left in the ground without much risk of rotting. Chris says that the the Macleod Organic Community Garden elephant garlic has had some little babies on the side, so he will be leaving some in the ground at home to see what happens. Elephant garlic has a mild, sweet flavour that is somewhere between garlic and onion. Thanks for all the info, Chris!

My Australian White hardnecks have now died back and I have therefore harvested them. Here are the results:

  • Normal-sized garlics: the April plantings, the early May plantings, and the refrigerated June plantings.
  • Small garlics: the late May plantings and the unrefrigerated June plantings.

So, based on my experiments, the conclusion remains: continue to plant your garlic in late April or early May even if the weather is warm. If you forget, try putting your garlic into the fridge for a bit before planting.

Crepe Collective

Eltham-based Crepe Collective have been added to the Local Food Directory. They sell ready-to-eat savoury galettes and sweet crepes at Eltham and Carlton Farmers’ Markets. Their savoury galettes include potato, mushroom, capsicum, tomato and other vegetarian options. Their sweet crepes include lemon, choc-hazelnut, strawberry and banana. All their batters, spreads and sauces are homemade and they use speciality flour, such as buckwheat, to cater for the gluten intolerant. They aim to leave as little a footprint as possible, so their menu is designed to avoid food wastage and their packaging is biodegradable. They are currently scheduled at Eltham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Sunday of each month but there is no market on 24th December so you might well have to wait until 28th January to try their crepes. Welcome Mel!

Local food producer news

The eggs of Top Hundred Acres, from Yan Yean, can now be bought at Nature’s Harvest Hurstbridge.

Blue Pear Pantry, from North Warrandyte, and Kings of Kangaroo Ground will both have stalls at the Eltham Twilight Market on 14th December, 4-9pm.

Community garden news

There is now a page on our website about the community garden at La Trobe University, called The Patch. That makes a total of 39 local community gardens that are described on the website. Welcome Ashley and colleagues!

Although many of the local community gardens have Facebook pages, most do not have newsletters. One exception is Thrive Community Garden (in Diamond Creek), who appear to have re-started their newsletter. Read their latest newsletter. Sign up for their future newsletters.

Another exception is Macleod Organic Community Garden, which has regular monthly newsletters. Read their latest newsletter. Sign up for their future newsletters.

Banyule Council grant recipients in 2017

In 2017, Banyule Council awarded $50,000 in environmental sustainability grants. They included:

  • Ivanhoe Children’s Community Cooperative: establishment of a low maintenance composting system which will recycle the kitchen food waste.
  • Mary Immaculate Primary School: funding for new compost bins to enable recycling of food waste at the school.
  • Murundaka Cohousing Community: hosting of workshops, including introduction to composting and beeswax food cover making.
  • St Pius X Primary School: establishment of garden beds to provide fresh produce for gardening workshops and community harvesting events.
  • Watsonia Heights Primary School: installation of ten raised wicking beds to grow vegetables, herbs and native plants.
  • Watsonia Library Community Garden: new fruit trees.

Which link was clicked most times in last week’s newsletter?

Helen Simpson’s interview with Guy and Susan Palmer.

Question of the week

What’s a turophile?

Joke of the week

Why didn’t the melons get married? Because they cantaloupe.

Read all the jokes.

New events

Events in January will be covered in next week’s newsletter.

Petty’s Orchard – collection, maintenance and discussion

What: They need to graft some more trees and so will have a demo of green grafting. Possibly mowing and putting more guards around trees. They always discuss plans for the orchard and encourage new ideas.
When: Wednesday, 13th December, 9am-midday.
Where: Petty’s Orchard, Templestowe.
Cost: free.
Bookings: by email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Mulching for Summer

What: Discuss mulching methods and other water-wise tips for your garden this summer with Heide gardener Katie Grace.
When: Thursday, 14th December, 11am-midday.
Where: Heide Museum of Modern Art, Bulleen.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the rest of December

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.

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