Feb 282018
 

Judy interviews Carol and Alan Woolcock

Many of you will know Carol as a participant at multiple food swaps, as one of the organisers of the Warrandyte Food Swap, or as a maker of delicious jams and cakes. Judy Vizzari has now interviewed Carol, and her husband Alan, about all these matters, as well as about their experiences as home growers. Here is how Judy introduces her write up: “Today I’m visiting Carol and Alan Woolcock, who live on a large, irregular block in Warrandyte on the north-east outskirts of Melbourne. Their property tops the hill which leads down to Pound Bend in the Warrandyte National Park. It’s close to the Evelyn Tunnel which was excavated in 1870 – a tunnel cut through an elbow of the Yarra River to facilitate gold mining. It’s an area which provides a fascinating glimpse of the endeavour of mid 19thC miners.Read the full interview.

One thing that I would like to highlight from the interview is that Carol and Alan were the recipients of a permablitz in 2013. Furthermore, the permablitz people re-visited in 2016 and provided a nice write up about the garden.

Robin’s veggie growing tip of the month

A well-dried herb should be the same colour as it was in its fresh state. Those supermarket ones that are heat-dried, lose not only their colour but also most of their volatile oils. The best way to dry herbs is to cut the stems in the morning once any morning dew has dried but before watering, as this will be when the herb’s volatile oils will be strongest. Then tie them in bunches, remove any brown, dried leaves and hang them upside down in a warm but shady place to dry out. Once fully dry, strip the stems, fill the jars, screw the lid on, label and you’re done.

Some herbs don’t dry well and are better preserved in oil. These include basil (though recently someone told me that basil dried in a very slow oven retains its flavour), french tarragon, oregano, savoury and thyme. If preserving in oil, use a hot oil method as the microbes on herbs (or any other vegetable) can cause botulism (which can be fatal).

Julie’s tip of the month

Julie French has written in: “I found these little bugs (see photo) in my garden last year. They were about the size of a ladybird. At the time I couldn’t find out what they were and didn’t follow up as they were only a few and only on the one eggplant. This year they’ve appeared in greater numbers on my beans and I’ve made more of an effort to find out what they are. In Australia, they’re called the green vegetable bug (Nezara viridula) and are pests on tomatoes, eggplants, capsicums, beans and other veggies. The ones in the photo are nymphs; the adults are bigger and can look like green stink bugs (which is what they’re called in the US, I think).

Permablitz’s ‘hero of the month’

Tromboncino: this is the zucchini with outstanding flavour that doesn’t get too big too soon. Be sure to train the quick growing vines up a trellis so it hangs straight or you’ll have lots of long and curlies!.

Read about all of Permablitz’s heros.

Mac’s tip of the week

It’s time to remove (and maybe tag for next year) most of your bird netting (obviously only from those trees where the fruit has been harvested). In so doing, you may need to prune any growth that has come through the netting. In fact, why not keep going and give your fruit trees a good ‘late summer prune’ rather than wait until winter dormancy, as has been more traditional. This can be particularly beneficial for stonefruit or any espaliered/trained trees where you do not want vigorous spring growth (water shoots) to ruin your desired shape. At this time of the year, wounds heal quickly and, whilst there will be some re-growth, it won’t be the vigorous, unproductive, vertical growth (water shoots) often seen after hard winter pruning. Broadly speaking, winter pruning promotes vigorous growth whilst summer pruning inhibits growth. So, while winter pruning is recommended for newly planted trees up until the tree has achieved the desired framework and height, summer pruning is a great way to control the size of your tree once established.

All the growth made since Spring should be cut back by at least a third noting that, for some fruit trees, it is this new growth which will carry next year’s crops. [Editor’s note: the fruiting schedule on our website includes a column which, for each type of fruit tree, summarises where the tree fruits. Where it says, ‘1-year-old wood’, this means that it is this year’s growth which will carry next year’s crops.]

Also remove rubbing / crossing branches. All major structural pruning should, however, still be saved for when the trees are dormant and less prone to stress.

Read a recent SGA article on summer pruning of apple trees.

Early Autumn is also a great time to cut out summer-fruiting raspberry canes that have completely finished fruiting. Cut out all dead canes, right down to ground level. All remaining (up to 5 or 6 per plant) healthy canes can be loosely tied together and, if necessary, secured to a trellis / wires or stakes.

Read all of Mac’s tips.

What seeds to plant in March

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

Brassicas

Broccoli
Brussels sprouts
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Kale
Mizuna
Mustard greens
Pak choy

Other leafy greens

Lettuce
Rocket
Silverbeet
Spinach

Other

Beetroot
Broad beans
Carrot
Chives
Fennel
Leeks
Oregano
Parsley
Radish
Shallot

Compared with February, all the brassicas are now on the list, plus broad beans. The best months for planting brassicas are March and April. What I do is plant seeds in March so that, if they don’t germinate, I can either try again in April or cheat and buy some seedlings. My tip of the month is to plant mustard greens as a tasty, somewhat peppery, leafy green. Mizuna is another good option, but I tend to keep that for summer as it is bolt resistant.

Read Helen’s 2016 articles on growing brassicas and on autumn plantings.

Want a job with Leaf, Root & Fruit?

Leaf, Root & Fruit are hiring again, this time for a Strategic Projects Officer. The responsibilities include: set up and documentation of new systems; development of their new depot in Burwood; and optimisation of their existing urban farming and ongoing garden maintenance services.

News about local food producers

Sugarloaf Produce, from Strathewen, have started sending out fortnightly emails to local cafes, shops and restaurants outlining what veggies etc they currently have available. Read their latest email. If you would like to receive these emails, email them.

Website calendar upgrade – cooking classes

An increasing proportion of the local food events are cooking classes. All cooking classes are now highlighted in green text on the website calendar of all events. Furthermore, because ‘cooking class’ is now a category, you can view a calendar of the cooking classes only. And, of course, that also means that you can view a calendar of once-off events other than cooking classes!

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

Greta’s visit to Tuan Pham’s garden.

Pip pip

Pip magazine is still accepting nominations for their inaugural Pip Permie Awards 2018, with a closing date of 8th March. There are two awards:

  • The Best Permie Project award is open to projects which are current, create positive change and demonstrate the permaculture ethics of earth care, people care and fair share. The prize will be $250.
  • The Permie Of The Year award is for a permaculture practitioner working to create positive change in the world, where that person demonstrates the permaculture ethics of earth care, people care and fair share in their work. The prize will be an award pack (which includes garden tools and books) valued at $250.

The awards will be presented at the 14th Australian Permaculture Convergence (APC14). To nominate a project or person, email Pip magazine with their name, location and age. Include a brief description about what they’re doing, how they demonstrate these ethics, and why you think they should win.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

Greta's visit to Tuan Pham's garden.

Proverb of the month

Man does not live by bread alone. Meaning: physical nourishment is not sufficient for a healthy life; people also have spiritual needs. Or, as one website put it: no one says they don’t have time to eat food and no one should say that they don’t have time to read the Bible. The phrase was first used in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 8: 2-3) and this was then referred to by Jesus in the New Testament when tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:4 and Luke 4:4): And Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”

Read all the proverbs.

Gardening quote of the month

Gardening has just sort of grown on me. I find it therapeutic. And I like smelly things. by Clive Anderson.

Read all the gardening quotes.

Joke of the week

Submitted by Sabi Buehler: Can you tell me the joke about the peanut butter? No, I’m not telling you because you might spread it.

Read all the jokes.

New events

How to prepare your garden beds to successfully grow new plants

What: Presented by Angelo Eliades.
When: Saturday, 3rd March, 10-10.30am.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Preserving the harvest

What: Fowlers Vacola fruit bottling with Meredith Plain.
When: Saturday, 3rd March, 11-11.30am.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summer fruit tree pruning

What: Presented by Diana Cotter. This is the best time for pruning stonefruit, apples and pears. Tune in for a demonstration followed by a hands-on session on maintenance and pruning among the espaliered and vase shaped fruit trees at Peppertree Place garden and nursery.
When: Saturday, 3rd March, 11am-12.30pm.
Where: PepperTree Place, Coburg.
Cost: $15.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Growing in the soils of Melbourne’s North-West

What: Growing plants in the native soils of the north and western suburbs of Melbourne can be tough. In this workshop, they will talk about why this is and give you strategies to build your soil into a happy and hospitable place for your plants. They will look at soil type and structure; methods of rectifying problems; and nutrients and maintenance. Facilitated by Kelly Gillespie.
When: Sunday, 4th March, 10am-midday.
Where: Fawkner.
Cost: $8 (free for Fawkner residents).
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

The Great Tomato Taste Off

What: This annual event at the Monty Food Swap gives growers a chance to show off the amazing varieties of tomatoes grown locally. Local growers are invited to bring along their favourite varieties of home-grown tomatoes and put them to a taste test. Both growers and non-growers are invited to taste and compare and to cast a vote for your favourite variety for the People’s Choice Award.
When: Sunday, 4th March, 10.30-11.30am.
Where: Montmorency.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Beekeeping

What: Head down to the Boroondara Village Festival and discover what’s involved in setting up and maintaining your own productive beehive at home from local beekeeping experts, Backyard Honey. Enjoy free tastings of local honey varieties.
When: Sunday, 4th March, midday-4pm.
Where: Hawthorn Arts Centre.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Cooking master class

What: Enjoy 3 tasting size courses cooked by chef Bek McMillan, from Gourmet Living, who will demonstrate step by step. All recipes are included. Menu: roast pumpkin tart; Moroccan grilled lamb; and lemon cheesecake tart.
When: Friday, 9th March, 7-9pm.
Where: Templestowe.
Cost: $42.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

How to protect your produce from birds and animals

What: Presented by Angelo Eliades.
When: Saturday, 10th March, 10-10.30am.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Celebrate harvest month (Garden of Plenty garden tour)

What: Enjoy a tour of the Garden of Plenty community garden and learn all about it’s beginnings and development. Local Food Connect will also be on hand to explain the benefits of food swaps.
When: Saturday, 10th March, 10-11am.
Where: Diamond Valley Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Companion planting

What: Companion planting adds diversity to the garden and creates a more resilient landscape. Learn how to plant different kinds of plants together to form beneficial relationships. This workshop will look at basic plant families, deterring pests and attracting beneficial insects. Facilitated by Elspeth Brock.
When: Sunday, 11th March, 10am-midday.
Where: Fawkner.
Cost: $8 (free for Fawkner residents).
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Cultural Diversity Week cooking demo

What: Join Marie Vassallo as she cooks up a storm.
When: Thursday, 15th March, 1-3pm.
Where: Diamond Valley Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summer fruit tree maintenance

What: What you will learn: how to prune to keep trees to a manageable size; how to prune to maximise fruit production in the coming season; and keeping espaliered shapes in check. Watch and ask questions of Angelo Eliades, as he prunes both traditionally shaped trees and espaliered varieties. Convention had us pruning deciduous fruit trees in winter but now the thinking is swinging to doing it straight after fruiting, in late summer or autumn. Techniques are slightly different, so it is wise to see the pruning in action on actual trees.
When: Saturday, 17th March, 9.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden
Cost: $45.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Heritage apple tasting

What: Sample the seasonal flavours of the heritage apple collection at an apple tasting afternoon at 5pm. Around 15 varieties will be available for tasting, with limited quantities available for purchase. An orchard tour is included. All funds received go toward the maintenance and expansion of the collection.
When: Sunday, 18th March, 5-7pm.
Where: Petty’s Orchard, Templestowe
Cost: $15.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Eltham twilight market

What: The food stallholders will include: Blue Pear Pantry, Kings of Kangaroo Ground, Kooinda Boutique Brewery and Under The Pickle Tree.
When: Thursday, 22nd March, 4-8pm.
Where: Eltham Town Square.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Fruit trees in small spaces using espalier techniques

What: This workshop introduces the art of espalier, a technique for growing fruit trees flat against walls or supports in the narrowest of spaces. Gain a practical overview of what is involved in espaliering both deciduous fruit trees (such as apples and pears) and evergreen trees (such as citrus and olives). Learn about the different espalier shapes and forms, when to use them, and how to maximise the productivity of those smaller spaces in your garden.
When: Thursday, 22nd March, 6.30-8pm.
Where: Nunawading Library
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Home composting workshop

What: Learn how composting, worm farming and the use of particular plants can naturally improve your soil. Discover how to compost and worm farm effectively for the best results. Understand how recycling your household and garden organic waste (including dog poo!) can benefit the life within your soil.
When: Saturday, 24th March, 2-4.30pm.
Where: Edendale.
Cost: free.
Bookings: TryBooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Watsonia Library Community Garden tour

What: Following her talk about keeping backyard chooks, Felicity Gordon will be available to give guided tours of the community garden.
When: Saturday, 24th March, 3-4pm.
Where: Watsonia Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

On The Bend / On The Mend – Coffee and Beer Festival

What: This event brings together two of Melbourne’s most adored beverages, coffee and beer, and will showcase a range of local, artisan coffee roasters and brewers. The breweries will include: Fixation Brewing Co; Moon Dog Craft Brewery; Mountain Goat Beer; Stomping Ground Brewery & Beer Hall; and Tallboy and Moose. The roasters will include: Aviary Coffee; Industry Beans; Maker Fine Coffee; and Proud Mary Coffee Roasters and Cafe. There will also be latin street food and and live music. For those extra curious connoisseurs, there are tickets available for $23 to masterclass sessions where you can delve into the experience and knowledge of the brewers as they take you on a guided tour of each of their coffee beer creations. These tickets include a sample of each of 8 coffee beers on show.
When: Sunday, 25th March, midday-5pm.
Where: 3 Ravens Brewery, Thornbury.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Root to tip cooking

What: With Melissa King, television presenter and author of Garden Feast focusing on the delights of cooking and growing your own heirloom vegetables. Melissa’s cooking demonstration will focus on recipes that will help you use up the parts of vegetables that you otherwise may have discarded, edible flowers and more– tantalising your taste buds, saving you money and reducing waste all at once!
When: Wednesday, 28th March, 7-9pm.
Where: Box Hill Town Hall.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Backyard chooks for beginners

What: Learn the basics of backyard chicken keeping with their farmer Stephen. This hands-on 2-hour workshop will cover the characteristics of different breeds (in order to make a selection that suits your setting and needs) as well as the housing and care of chickens. Participants will leave with the knowledge and confidence to begin keeping chickens and producing their own free range eggs.
When: Friday, 6th April, 10am-midday.
Where: Edendale.
Cost: free.
Bookings: TryBooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Mooroolbark Growers & Weeders present: “edible Australian native plants and unusual herbs”

What: Many Australian indigenous plants can be used as foods or as healing medicines. Jill Bryant, a long-time member of the Herb Society of Victoria, will present samples of many of these useful plants, including tea & coffee plants, an elder tree, and a ‘toothache’ plant.
When: Tuesday, 17th April, 2-3pm.
Where: Mooroolbark Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: by phone (9800 6480).
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Set up and maintain a worm farm

What: A worm farm can be one of the best ways to dispose of food scraps and, at the same time, produce vermi-juice (worm tea) and vermicast (worm castings) for use on the garden. Learn how to set up a worm farm and the easiest methods to manage and care for these most hard-working of creatures.
When: Saturday, 21st April, 3-4pm.
Where: Edendale.
Cost: free.
Bookings: TryBooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Nature’s solutions to garden pests with Penny Woodward

What: Penny Woodward (author of numerous books, including Pest Repellent Plants) will share her knowledge on how to treat short term pest problems and create long term garden design solutions so pests and predators live in balance. The session will cover: how to create a ‘whole of environment garden’ where pests and predators live in balance; companion plants to use in your garden; how beneficial insects can be utilised to manage pests; tricks, traps, collars and barriers to manage pests; and Q&A session to answer all your questions. There will be an opportunity to purchase some of Penny’s books. Organised by Sustainable Gardening Australia.
When: Sunday, 22nd April, 10.30am-midday.
Where: Edendale.
Cost: $50.
Bookings: TryBooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Sustainable homegrown garlic with Penny Woodward

What: Penny Woodward (author of numerous books, including Garlic) will bring you this class on growing garlic sustainably. The session will cover: types of garlic, its diversity, groupings and cultivars; how to choose your garlic seed type to improve the way your crop grows, harvests, stores and tastes; soil preparation, planting, growing, harvesting, curing, storing and using; characteristics of different types of garlic including examining of samples; tips, myths and traps; and solutions to common problems. There will be an opportunity to purchase some of Penny’s books. Organised by Sustainable Gardening Australia.
When: Sunday, 22nd April, 2-3.30pm.
Where: Edendale.
Cost: $50.
Bookings: TryBooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Produce in pots

What: What you will learn: why edibles fail and what how to improve their chances of success; how to choose the right pots, potting mix, additives and mulches; and the best fruit and vegetables options for pots, and the best sustainable and organic maintenance techniques, including watering and feeding. Presented by Diana Cotter. Is your lettuce and coriander running to seed? Do you have beans that flower but don’t fruit, or flowers falling off your citrus? Or do your plants seem to die no matter you do? If any of this sounds familiar, or if you’re a complete novice, then this class will teach you how to avoid these issues. You’ll learn how potting mix and watering work, how plants react to different situations, and how the weather affects different plants differently. There will be a practical demonstration showing how to properly prepare potting mix, plant seeds and seedlings, and maintain the
When: Thursday, 26th April, 6.30-9pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden
Cost: $45.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Growing fruit and veggies in small spaces

What: What you will learn: which produce plants are suitable to grow in small areas; coping with shade and sun for produce growing; and how to make the most of any available space for growing produce. Presented by Angelo Eliades. Do you only have a small garden or no garden at all? Would you still like to grow your own food? This class will inspire you to get started. Topics will include fruit, vegetables and berries for small spaces, growing produce in pots and containers, maximising productivity in any size space and plant selection.
When: Saturday, 28th April, 9.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden
Cost: $45.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Organic gardening for beginners

What: Want to grow your own healthy vegetables, herbs and fruits but don’t know where to start? Would you like to improve your family’s food security and increase your skills and garden productivity? Part theory and part hands-on, this workshop will help the beginner organic gardener develop the skills and knowledge to start a thriving edible oasis at home.
When: Saturday, 28th April, 10am-4pm.
Where: Edendale.
Cost: $65.
Bookings: TryBooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next month

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.

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