Jul 122017

Mac’s tip of the week

It is a good time to consider spraying your deciduous fruiting plants and citrus with Pest Oil (or Neem oil) to give them a clean start in spring. This should clean up any scale or mites over-wintering on your trees. It is also good for citrus leaf miner, aphids, mealy bug and caterpillar eggs, to name a few.

Read all of Mac’s tips.

The latest newsletter from Leaf, Root & Fruit Gardening Services had a useful checklist for fruit tree related tasks for winter:

  • Pruning.
  • Planting bare-rooted fruit trees.
  • Setting up and maintaining espaliers.
  • Controlling citrus gall wasp.
  • Controlling curly leaf.

Everything you wanted to know about Bokashi bins but were afraid to ask

Paul Gale-Baker, from Sustainable Macleod, has written some tips about using Bokashi bins. As Paul says in his introduction: “It’s important to realise that a Bokashi bin doesn’t compost. Rather, the food is fermented using the Bokashi ‘bran’ that you sprinkle over each layer. This is wheat-based, containing a powerful microbial mix which ferments the food waste anaerobically. That means the bin can be completely sealed with the lid so no odour escapes.” There then follow 9 specific tips for when using Bokashi bins. Read the full article.

Paul’s notes were originally published in the Sustainable Macleod newsletter, which is one of our most substantive local newsletters. Whilst much of the material is specific to Macleod, it also contains more general articles such as Paul’s. Sign up here.

Local food producer news

I went to Rivers Cafe & Farm Shop earlier this week and, whilst there, took the opportunity to check which local food producers they are now stocking. By my count, it is up to an impressive 11: A Local Baker St Andrews, Apted’s Orchards, Australian Harvest / Bio Grape, Coldstream Brewery, Cunliffe & Waters, Organic Times, Rustic Sourdough Bakery, Top Hundred Acres, Under The Pickle Tree, Unforgettable Products, and Yarra Valley Tea Company. That puts them third in the shops’ league table.

Yummy Gardens currently have a lot of point-of-lay cross-bred chicken for sale at $30 each. Australorp x New Hampshire, New Hampshire x White Leghorn, New Hampshire x Rhode Island Red, and Australorp x Leghorn. Ring Greg on 0431 382230 to place your order and then go to his house in St Andrews to choose your chickens.

AVS Organic Foods’ products (Vegan cheese, etc) are now available at Local Fine Foods, Diamond Creek.

Caffe Strada’s gluten-free bread is now available at Pro-Health, Eltham.

Quists Coffee is now available at Hurstbridge Osteopathy.

Offaly Good Food will be at The Finders Keepers Market at The Royal Exhibition Building, 14th-16th July.

A new food swap at Diamond Creek

At Thrive Community Garden (31 Watkins Street). 3rd Saturday of the month, 2-3pm.

I now know where to get kefir grains

Thanks to Doris, Duang, Jon, Lax, Lucinda, Lynnsay, Marilyn and Stuart, all of whom replied to the question asking where Nicole could get kefir grains. Apart from offering her some grains for free, they also identified the following stockists:

It would be good if more people asked questions via the newsletter. And, as you can see, you will get answers. Just email me with any questions.

The peeing in the garden discussion continues

Marina Bistrin writes in: “Thanks for the urine article link – I enjoyed reading it and thought it brought up lots of interesting points. I use undiluted urine around my citrus tree’s drip line as much as possible and they are doing well (I have been doing it for 8 years, ever since I moved into my current home). I think if the soil were really dry, I’d water it in, but I don’t need to most of the time. Another benefit is that you don’t waste water by flushing that valuable substance down the toilet. ‘Humanure’ article next time? (not that I use it but I am interested). There is a man at the Sustainable Living Festival that has had a caravan there for at least 3 festivals, near the food area, and he collects it in wheelie bins below the toilet and keeps it for a year, and then it’s ok to use. This year he separated the wee out by putting a metal partition in the front part of toilet and asked the guys to sit to wee. Some people have composting toilets and I feel that’s a great water saving and use of valuable fertiliser resources.

‘Crowd harvest’ winter citrus

Winter brings a citrus bounty and many gardeners are overwhelmed with fruit. Why not take some of your excess down to your local food relief provider and help those facing food insecurity and homelessness. Up until 23rd July, you can drop your citrus fruit at any of The Alphington Community Centre, CERES, STREAT, or Surrey Hills Neighbourhood Centre (the Facebook event provides details of opening times). Any questions, contact Cath Lyons (aka Tiny Trowel) by phone (0401 814679) or email.

Transition groups in North East Melbourne

As part of their preparations for the Transition Towns Convergence on 29th July (see event description under ‘new events’), our friends at Transition Banyule have kindly sent us the following list of the Transition groups in North East Melbourne:

Suburb Group Email address
Collingwood Friends of the Earth foe@foe.org.au
Darebin Transition Darebin transitiondarebin@gmail.com
Fitzroy Fitzroy Urban Harvest peta@cultivatingcommunity.org.au
Fitzroy Yarra Climate Action Now (YCAN) info@ycan.org.au
Fitzroy North North Fitzroy Community Gardens Group rushallgarden@gmail.com
Greensborough Transition Greensborough sustainablegreensie@gmail.com
Heidelberg Transition Banyule info@transitionbanyule.org.au
Heidelberg Transition Warringal warringal@transitionbanyule.org.au
Heidelberg West Transition 3081 transition3081@gmail.com
Macleod Sustainable Macleod sustainablemacleod@gmail.com
Maroondah Transition Town Maroondah ttmaroondah@gmail.com
Montmorency Montmorency Community Group montymoves@gmail.com


Northern Multicultural Small Business Awards (NMSBA)

Facilitated by Whittlesea Council and others, these awards seek to celebrate the contributions of multicultural small business owners including: migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. Food businesses are eligible if they are from Banyule, City of Yarra, Darebin, Moreland, Nillumbik or Whittlesea. Also, the owner has to either have been born overseas or their parents were born overseas. For more details, or to nominate, go to their website. Nominations close this Friday (14th July) – sorry for the short notice.

Want a job as a Food System Officer?

Moreland Council has a vacancy for a part time Food System Officer. Applications close 27th July. Read the job description and apply.

Urban agriculture survey

A University of Melbourne project which aims to look at urban agriculture in the context of its role in cities and in food supply resilience, both now and into a climate change affected future. Your garden doesn’t need to be amazing to participate – they are interested in all food gardens, of all sizes. Read more and then take the survey.

Joke of the week

As featured on The Project on Channel 10 last week: Did you hear about the explosion at the cheese factory? There was de brie everywhere!

Read all of this year’s jokes.

Corrections and clarifications

Last week, I stuffed up with the descriptions of the three forthcoming workshops in Maria Ciaverella’s ‘absolute beginner’ series. The three events, with their correct descriptions, are provided below. By way of apology, I am offering a prize of free attendance at one of Maria’s upcoming courses to the person who emails me the best fruit or veggie growing tip for inclusion in a future newsletter. You choose which of Maria’s courses you want to go to (see www.mygreengarden.com.au/book-now). Closing date: Sunday, 16th July.

Absolute beginners to vegetable growing – your patch from scratch

What: What you will learn: plant basics – what they need to grow well; setting up a vegie patch in different situations – pots and plots, including no-dig layer beds; and sun, siting, soil issues. What you will get: personalised information on the best way for you to set up a patch in your garden. You will cover the basics for success from the start: soil improvement, siting your veggie patch, sunshine needed, plant nutrition needs. Starting no-dig gardens vs traditional veggie patches are demonstrated. Planting in pots for difficult situations and good soil media. This is the first of three related workshops and, ideally, you would attend all three.
When: Saturday, 26th August, 10am-12.30pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $50.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Absolute beginners to vegetable growing – seasonal vegetables

What: What you will learn: understanding seasonal nature of growing vegetables; success with growing vegetables from seed and seed saving techniques; and introducing less common vegetables and how to grow them. What you will get: a seed raising box planted out on the day with seasonal vegetables. Knowing what to plant when gets you on the pathway to success and you can count yourself as a real gardener when you don’t need to rely on buying seedlings for your patch. Starting from seed is a bit art and a lot science so you will look at different techniques for success and then how to save and store the seed at the other end to continue the cycle from year to year. This is the second of three related workshops and, ideally, you would attend all three.
When: Saturday, 9th September, 10am-12.30pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $50.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Absolute beginners to vegetable growing – soil and pests

What: What you will learn: how to keep your soil biologically active using composts and other natural additives; how to set up a composting system, a worm farm and a bokashi bucket for promoting soil fertility; and pest control the natural way. What you will get: barrier controls and lures to keep pests away from seedlings; and ‘ingredients’ for compost making. Part 1: improving soil fertility. Good soil is teeming with all manner of microorganisms and keeping them active leads to healthier and more productive plants, also able to withstand garden pests and diseases. This session will show you how easy it is to keep your soil healthy by making compost, keeping a worm farm or a Bokashi bucket. See all methods at work in the garden and learn how to set them up for yourself. You will look at using the product of these organic waste recyclers in your veggie patch. Part 2: keeping pesky pests at bay. Pests are a natural part of your garden’s ecosystem but spraying harmful chemicals is not and can lead to more problems than the ones you were targeting. You will look at more sensitive ways of tackling garden pests and enlisting the help of nature to do so. This is the third of three related workshops and, ideally, you would attend all three.
When: Saturday, 23rd September, 10am-1pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $50.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

New events

Fruit tree pruning

What: They will be pruning the 2nd year trees in the orchard of Macleod Organic Community Garden.
When: Saturday, 22nd July, 2-4pm.
Where: Macleod Community Garden.
Cost: $15.
Bookings: by email.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Introduction to permaculture (two day)

What: A two-day workshop. Developed by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren, permaculture (permanent agriculture) is a whole system approach to ecological planning and design for sustainable living. This workshop, spread over two weekends, will be beneficial to both those new to the concept of permaculture and for those thinking of undertaking a permaculture design course. You will be introduced to permaculture and gain a basic understanding of the principles and design methods associated with permaculture.
When: Saturday, 22nd July and Saturday, 29th July, both 10am-4pm.
Where: Edendale.
Cost: $120 for the two days.
Bookings: Trybooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Fruit tree pruning and maintenance

What: Merrin Layden is a horticulturalist who has spent the past 5 years working at The Orchard Project in London teaching urban fruit tree skills. The skills that you will learn from Merrin will be put to use on the day in the farm’s orchard.
When: Sunday, 23rd July, 10am-3pm.
Where: Bundoora Park Farm.
Cost: $64 (includes entrance to the farm).
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Transition Convergence 2017 – share and inspire

What: This is an opportunity for Transition Town members to reconnect and share stories, news, ideas and plans. It is also ideal for people wanting to start a Transition group or find a group to join. The day’s program will include sessions on: sharing our celebrations and challenges – including posters and short presentations; discussing issues of interest or concern; and briefing on Transition Hub Australia and the 2017 Transition Communities National Summit. Please take: pictures, maps, stories, from your Transition group for display; news, questions, ideas – what’s worked, what hasn’t, what to celebrate and build on; $10 donation towards cost of venue; and food to share for a potluck lunch.
When: Saturday, 29th July, 9.30am-4.30pm.
Where: Docklands.
Cost: $10 donation towards cost of venue.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Preparing your spring garden

What: Diana Cotter has been designing and introducing people to the benefits and delights of gardening for over 30 years. Here is an opportunity to find out which vegetables and flowers to plant in your spring garden, so your garden not only provides good things to eat, but looks great too.
When: Monday, 14th August, 2-3pm.
Where: Fawkner Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Rainwater tanks and smart backyard irrigation

What: This workshop will provide information on what to think about when planning to install a new tank and irrigation system. Go along and receive expert advice and helpful hints on making the best use of your water to help make your garden bloom.
When: Tuesday, 29th August, 6.30-8.30pm.
Where: Kew Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Bush tucker

What: Uncle Ian Hunter will be sharing his knowledge on the indigenous food found in the City of Whittlesea. Find out if you have some of these plants growing in your garden and learn about Wurundjeri history.
When: Friday, 8th September, 11am-midday.
Where: Whittlesea Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Indian cooking – Southern region (two sessions)

What: Tutor Taariq Hassan. Learn how to cook a healthy North West Indian vegetarian meal from scratch using authentic ingredients. Menu: sambhar (spiced lentil soup with tamarind and vegetables); iddli (steamed savoury rice /lentil flour cakes); fresh coconut chutney; tamarind rice with peanuts and curry leaves; dry roasted papadums; plain yoghurt; and milk-based dessert.
When: Monday, 11th September and Monday, 18th September, both 6.30-8.30pm.
Where: Hurstbridge Hub.
Cost: $92.
Bookings: Living and Learning website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next month

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