Jan 172018

Mac’s tip of the week

With another burst of extreme heat on its way, it’s time to drag out your old sheets (or shade cloth if you have it) to protect your crops as well as you can. Even with mulch, and a good water in the morning, most produce plants run the risk of sunburn and obvious wilting when it gets to around 40°C. Ideally a tent type cover is best, rather than just laying over the foliage. So, some tall stakes, some twine, and a few pegs can make all the difference.

And Robin Gale-Baker (in the latest Sustainable Macleod newsletter) provides some complementary advice: “With more very high temperatures in the near future, it is important to understand the purpose of watering. The purpose is to hydrate plants before the hot weather hits. This means deep watering in the week before the day the temperature soars. Deep watering means watering onto the earth around the roots of the plants or under the drip line of fruit trees.

Read all of Mac’s tips.

More free gifts for newsletter readers: PIP magazine again

The winners of last week's random draw were Judith Chivers (for the year's free subscription) plus Niloo Barmanray and Pat Deveny (for the free hard copies of Issue #9).

30 people entered the draw for the the PIP magazine subscription and obviously most of them were disappointed. In reaction, we have decided to offer another year’s free subscription this week. Here is how it is going to work: if you entered last week and didn’t win the free subscription, you are automatically entered for this week; if you didn’t enter last week and want to enter this week, simply email us some time today (Wednesday) with the word ‘PIP’ or equivalent.

And some discounts for newsletter readers: Maria Ciavarella’s workshops

Maria and I have been talking and I am delighted to say that newsletter readers can now get a $10 discount on any of the following workshops (all based in Donvale). Simply use the coupon ‘MGG’ when booking.

  • The age-old art of preserving – the Summer bounty: Saturday, 3rd February, 10am-1.15pm.
  • Preserving know-how – savoury ways with tomatoes: Saturday, 10th February, 10am-1.15pm.
  • Preserving know-how – savoury ways with tomatoes: Thursday, 15th February, 10am-1.15pm.
  • The age-old art of preserving – the Summer bounty: Wednesday, 21st February, 10am-1.15pm.
  • Italian savoury preserves: Tuesday, 27th February, 10am-1.15pm.
  • Tomato passata – the traditional way: Saturday, 3rd March, 9.30am-14.30pm.
  • Tomato passata – the traditional way: Sunday, 4th March, 9.30am-14.30pm.

Bees, bees, bees

Stuart Rodda has written in: “I have just harvested around 9Kg of beautiful clean sweet honey from just 4 of the 6 frames in the Flow Hive (see picture right). I have had my Flow Hive (the Aussie invention) for nearly 2 years now but it took a while to get the bees organised to make honey for me. Like they claim, the harvesting could not have been easier and did not disturb the bees at all. While it was an expensive item, I would not have bothered to try to harvest honey without this hive add-on – I have had a hive for 20 years and not previously obtained honey from it.

Frankie Spranger, from Bee Rescue, has two extractors for sale: 29 frame, steel, $2,200; and 8 frame, gal, $850. Good condition and good working order. Contact Frankie by phone (0408 336363) or email.

Melbourne Roof Top Honey have hives in 36 locations in Melbourne, around half in North East Melbourne and the other half in the centre of Melbourne.

There are 6 providers of honey in the Local Food Directory.

Remember, bee puns are good for your health: they give you a dose of Vitamin Bee.

The Yarra Valley Tea Company

The Yarra Valley Tea Company, from Coldstream, are now in the Local Food Directory: read their entry. They specialise in Certified Organic loose leaf teas and tisanes (herbal beverages). Their range is comprehensive, including black (e.g. Earl Grey, English Breakfast), green, herbal (e.g. chamomile, lemongrass), chai, and functional blends. You can buy their tea at numerous shops across North East Melbourne – see their Local Food Directory entry for the list. They invite you to visit them at their factory in Coldstream. Welcome Meaghan!

The local shops selling local products

We have just reached a landmark: the number of local (‘local’ here means ‘North East Melbourne’) shops that we know stock products from at least one local food producer now exceeds 300! Click here to see the full list organised by the number of local food producers that they stock.

Incredible Edible Eltham – a lovely story told by Duang Tengtrirat

Duang is one of the people who spend time looking after the Incredible Edible Eltham planter boxes at Eltham railway station. After a recent visit, she posted the following in the Incredible Edible Eltham Facebook group:

Today a lovely boy walked up to the planter box at the Eltham station and found one fully ripe strawberry. “May I have it please?” he asked, and popped it in his mouth. “Ohhh that was so YUM, so SWEET, the BEST ever”, he said. “Thank you strawberry plant. I will come back again.” And off he went to board the train heading to Flinders Street Station.

Another lady with a sketching pad and a pen in hand placed her pad on the edge of the box and started to draw. After 15 minutes, she showed me a lifelike drawing of nasturtiums complete with flowers. Then off with a broad smile she went boarding the train heading towards Hurstbridge.

Such is a gifted pleasure the planter boxes afforded my visit to water the veggies earlier today.

Whittlesea Community Festival – a chance to showcase your produce

Whether it’s cheese making, fruit growing, bread making, wine producing or any other food, Whittlesea Council are offering you the opportunity to showcase and sell your produce at their Community Festival on 18th March. “If you’re even slightly interested“, contact Tanaya Preece by phone (9217 2278) or email.

Are you a student studying either an agriculture-related degree or financial services?

AgriFutures (formerly the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation) are offering scholarships. Click here to read about the opportunities and to apply. Closing date 23rd February.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

Interview with Lynn-eva Bottomley of Organic Fix.

Joke of the week

Did you hear about the guy who invented Lifesavers? They say he made a mint.

As a bonus, the picture has been submitted by Jenny Shaw.

Read all the jokes.

New events

Summer gardening

What: Join Matthew Odgers from the Links Community Group as he helps you get your hands dirty and build your own bee/insect hotel. Do your bit to support native wildlife, increase your crop yield and reduce pest damage.
When: Saturday, 20th January, 11am-midday.
Where: Lalor Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Vegetarian and vegan food truck event

What: Showcasing the best in meat-free and plant-based street food.
When: Friday, 2nd February, 5-10pm; Saturday, 3rd February, midday-10pm; and Sunday, 4th February, midday-9pm.
Where: Preston Food Truck Park.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: Facebook.

Nillumbik Garden Club: summer vegetables

What: Summer vegetables by Alan Richmond. Doors open 7pm for a 8pm start. There will be plants for sale, raffles, door prizes and supper.
When: Monday, 5th February, 7-10pm.
Where: Metzner Hall, Eltham.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

3 Ravens Brewery tour and tasting

What: See behind the scenes of a fully functioning craft brewery. Taste your way through the The 3 Ravens range under the guidance of one of their brewery team. Learn what goes into beer, how it’s produced and how it gets in your glass.
When: Saturday, 10th February and again on Saturday, 10th March, both 4-5pm.
Where: 3 Ravens Brewery, Thornbury.
Cost: $35.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next month

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.

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