Jun 192024

Thanks to the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Ann Stanley, Genevieve Rigot, Karen Thomsen, Robin Gale-Baker, Tatiana Coluccio and Vivien Yii.

July to September: key months for garlic success (by Robin Gale-Baker)

Now that the shortest day has passed, any garlic planted in the autumn will have developed a strong root system and healthy green shoots but what next? How do we support the swelling of the bulbs into good-sized, healthy heads?

Bulb swell occurs as the days lengthen and the temperatures rise. This happens progressively after the shortest day (21st June) until the heads are ready to harvest in November or December. Action taken in July to September is key to getting a great crop.

Weed, mulch and water, July to September:

  • Garlic dislikes competition from weeds. Weed your beds well and keep them well weeded until harvest.
  • Mulch (if you have not already) to a depth of 5cm, preferably with sugar cane mulch, keeping the mulch clear of the stems to prevent collar rot.
  • Begin spraying with diluted Seasol or Maxicrop according to instructions and then repeat every 2-3 weeks. These are seaweed solutions that add minerals and micronutrients, balancing any deficiency in your soil. Note that they do not add nitrogen.
  • Garlic bulbs grow best if always moist. Water regularly with either a drip line or straight onto the soil. Do not water overhead as this can result in fungal disease such as rust. Watering must be deep and regular (twice a week generally) but not result in soggy soil. Do not be misled into thinking that rainfall under 10mm per day counts as watering – none of this will penetrate the soil and reach the roots.

Fertilise, late August to early September:

  • Side dress your garlic with blood and bone. This means pulling back the mulch and sprinkling it, according to instructions, between the rows of plants. Trowel it into the soil surface. Blood and bone contains nitrogen and this helps bulb swell. However, if you apply it later than early September, then it thickens the stems at the expense of the bulb and can cause fungal problems.
  • If you notice that some leaves are yellowing or the plants are weak, spray them with fish emulsion, also a nitrogen product.

Once early September has passed, simply keep your garlic well weeded, mulched and watered, and every 3 weeks spray with a seaweed solution. Two weeks before harvest, stop watering so that the bulbs are as dry as possible when pulled.

The Melbourne ‘Local Food Connections’ community radio show

On next Sunday’s show (23rd June, 10-10.30am) on 3CR (855 AM), Ann Stanley will celebrate the first anniversary of the Local Food Connections’ community radio show. Listen by tuning into either the station (855 AM) or its livestream.

Your help is needed! As you know, Local Food Connections supports the work of this newsletter by broadcasting to a radio audience about the power of locally grown food to build community. It is now seeking to raise $750 of the $275,000 that 3CR needs to continue broadcasting. Every donation, no matter how small, is appreciated and goes directly towards supporting Local Food Connections and other programs on 3CR. You can donate online at https://www.3cr.org.au/donate or by calling the station on 9419 8377 either during business hours or during the Local Food Connections show. During the show, they will give a shout out to everyone who has donated.

They are also offering a deal to anyone who is organising a food-related workshop or event in the coming months: if you offer a free place at the event to one of their listeners, they will give your event a shoutout on this Sunday’s show. Contact Ann Stanley by email (annstanley.wes@gmail.com) to organise.

Finally, Podcasts of all previous episodes are available on their website, the latest being the second part of Katie Finlay on the Harcourt Organic Farming Co-op (9th June).

Want to buy some apple trees?

St Andrews CFA are selling some bare rooted apple trees as a fundraiser. 40 varieties are available (see graphic right) and most of the trees are grafted onto semi-dwarfing rootstock M26. They will grow to around 2.5 metres tall and start fruiting in year 3. Staking is recommended for all trees during establishment, and some varieties need permanent staking. Apples are not self-pollinating, so two trees are required unless there are other apple trees growing nearby.

$50 per tree. Pick up from St Andrews CFA station on Saturday, 3rd August or Sunday, 4th August, between 10am and 1pm (delivery also available). Pay when you collect your trees, cash or card. Call or message Karen on 0411 957 374 with your order and contact details.

Want some training?

Seeding Success is a four-month online training program designed to support food systems leaders as they work to make their businesses sustainable. It will give participants access to coaching, workshops, network opportunities, mentoring and guidance from sector experts. It is free. Applications close on Monday, 1st July. It is an initiative by VicHealth, together with The Difference Incubator (TDi) and STREAT. Read more and potentially apply.

Something for you to watch

Someone called Kate Mason recently gave a one hour presentation to the 100 year Biodynamic Conference in Sydney entitled the synthetic transformation of our food systems, which was about various developments in the production of synthetic food. Newsletter reader Genevieve Rigot found the presentation interesting and suggests that you might like to watch the video.

I (Guy) have watched the whole video and agree with Genevieve that it was rather interesting.

Critter of the week from my garden – St. Andrew’s cross spider

The two photos are both of female St. Andrew’s cross spiders (Argiope keyserlingi in the family Araneidae), with the one on the left being the top side and the one on the right being from underneath. Whilst the females are ‘standard spider size’, the males of the species are apparently miniscule.

St. Andrew’s cross spiders are so called due to the construction of the silk bands forming the arms of an X-shaped cross in the centre of their web, supposedly similar to the one upon which St. Andrew is traditionally said to have been crucified. The purpose of this cross is not well understood. The spiders usually align 2 legs along each arm of the cross.

Read about my previous insects (or critters) of the week on our website.

What veggie seeds to plant in July

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

The shortest list of the year.

Our articles over the last month

Here are some of the articles from our newsletters over the last month that you might have missed:

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

The most popular link in the last newsletter was Angelo’s lettuce growing guide.

The most popular event link in the last newsletter was the upcoming Australian Chocolate Festival by bean-to-bar makers on Sunday, 7th July, 10am-4pm, at Abbotsford..

Word of the month – Sapid

Sapid, meaning something that has a strong, but pleasant, taste.

Read about previous words of the month.

Proverb (or phrase) of the month

One sandwich short of a picnic. Meaning: stupid. This is one of those rare phrases whose origin is recent. The BBC’s Lenny Henry Christmas Special in December 1987 included a song called I’m mad which parodied Michael Jackson’s song Bad. It included the lines “He’s mad, mad, one brick short of a load. He’s mad, mad, one sandwich short of a picnic.

Various phrases of the form ‘an X short of a Y’, meaning stupid, go back further in time. For example, from 1852: a shingle short [of a roof].

Read about more food-related proverbs.

Gardening quote of the month

The greatest fine art of the future will be the making of a comfortable living from a small piece of land.” by Abraham Lincoln.

Read more gardening quotes.

b33e661f-c100-4ebe-9ffa-847952e0da4e.jpgJoke (or pun) of the week

I went to a restaurant that serves ‘breakfast at any time’. So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance.

Read more food-related jokes on our website.


Regular activities over the coming week

Farmers’ and other food markets
Food swaps
Community gardens

Not (quite) local but interesting

Panettone masterclass; Wednesday, 3rd July, 8am-5pm, $350 ($39 per hour); CBD.

The topics to be covered will include: sourdough; kneading techniques; raw material influence on the product; leavening stages; and baking tips and tricks. Presenters: Giuseppe Piffaretti (President of Coppa del Mondo del Panettone) and Alessandro Urilli (Pastry Chef). At the William Angliss Institute, 555 La Trobe Street, Melbourne, 3000. Book your place by bank transfer (BSB 033 091; Account number 588 110; Name of account Old Evropa Pty Ltd).

Upcoming face-to-face events – not cooking

IPA masterclass; Tuesday, 25th June, 6-8pm; $43 ($22 per hour); Brunswick East.

With a deep dive on 7 styles of IPA, learn the ins and outs of IPA and how it’s been adapted and evolved through the centuries. Included is a group tour of the Brunswick East Brewery. Presenter: Mark Schipano.

Classic cocktails with Itinerant Spirits; Saturday, 29th June, 3-5pm; $69 ($35 per hour); Fitzroy North.

Itinerant Spirits will guide you through their gin and vodka plus the basics of cocktail making. Then make your own classic cocktails and enjoy a shared grazing platter.

The Little Food Market; on Friday, 19th July, 11am-9pm, Saturday, 20th July, 10am-7pm and Sunday, 21st July, 10am-5pm; $20; Carlton.

In addition to the $20 admission ticket, you can buy tickets which include a wine glass and/or tote bag. There will be
around 200 food and drink exhibitors
, where visitors can taste, purchase, and discover. There will also be a series of demonstrations and talks.

Urban wine walk; Saturday, 3rd August, 10am-5pm; $82; Brunswick East.

This is a self-guided wine tasting experience, where you choose the order in which you visit the various venues. The ticket includes complementary tastings, a $10 food voucher, a $25 voucher for wine orders and a tasting glass. The participating venues and winemakers: Atticus Finch with Konpira Maru; Bouvier Bar with Philip Lobley; Craftsmans Corner with Tokar Estate; East Brunswick Hotel with Stella Bella; Maggie’s Snacks and Liquor with  DEFIALY; Noisy Ritual with Noisy Ritual; Teller with Yering Station; The Quarry Hotel with Susuro Wines; and Uncle Joe’s Wine Bar with Greenhouse Knight.

Tomato growing; Saturday, 17th August, 10am-3pm; $145 ($29 per hour); CERES.

This workshop will cover: how to choose which tomato varieties to grow; whether to grow from seed or seedling, in pots, raised beds or directly into soil; when and how to plant and tips for success; training growth with stakes, cages or string vs free range; pros and cons of pruning and how to do it; preventing common problems; and feeding and crop rotation. Presenter: Carol Henderson.

Edible weeds; Sunday, 18th August, 10am-midday; $70 ($35 per hour); CERES.

Learn about the seasonal edible weeds that thrive in Melbourne’s inner north and gain knowledge about the plants’ culinary, medicinal and ecological uses. This session will also include a demonstration, and sampling, of prepared edible weeds. Presenter: Lauren Mueller.

SEEDs Fest; Sunday, 18th August, 11am-4pm; free; Brunswick.

Join them in celebrating SEEDs Communal Garden at their annual ‘winter soup’ fundraiser, where the where soup is made from locally sourced and community grown produce. There will be workshops, garden grown meals, a mini market, live music and dancing. Click here to read about the garden.

Garden tool repair workshop led by Sandra Macneil; Sunday, 18th August, 2-4pm; $15; Macleod.

Learn some techniques for repairing their tools, including: sharpening and maintaining secateurs; sharpening the bottom edge of spades; straightening bent fork tines; replacing handles; securing loose handles; and oiling wooden handles to preserve them. Presenter: Sandra Macneil. Organised by Sustainable Macleod.

Introduction to permaculture (4 sessions); on consecutive Mondays starting 19th August, 10am-2.30pm; $60 ($3 per hour); Edendale.

To be eligible for the government subsidised fee, you need to be either a permanent resident and/or an Australian Citizen/New Zealand Citizen and not enrolled in mainstream secondary school. This practical, hands-on course will give you an understanding of what permaculture is and how it can be applied in both a home garden setting and a commercial setting. Tutor: Justin Calverley.

Food adventures for sensory superheros; Wednesday, 21st August, 10-11.30am; free; Wollert.

Hear from an Accredited Practising Dietitian on how to support children to have fun with food while supporting their growth and wellbeing.

Complete urban farmer (14 sessions); weekly starting Wednesday, 28th August, 9am-3pm; $1,150 ($14 per hour); CERES.

The topics to be covered will include: permaculture; fruit production; soil preparation; beekeeping; composting, worm farming and fertilisers; vegetable growing; propagation; seed collection; pest & disease management; bushfoods & berries; chooks; and community gardens. Presenter: Justin Calverley.

Traditional wooden spoon carving; Saturday, 31th August, 10am-4pm; $145 ($29 per hour); CERES.

Learn the traditional craft of carving your own kitchen utensils using specialised carving knives and your hands. From a piece of sustainably sourced native timber, carve spoons, butter spreaders, spatulas or spurtles from a piece of wood. You will learn: an age-old craft; the sense of meditation and slowness to be found in whittling life’s essential objects; sourcing sustainable materials; the basics of traditional tool use; and how to safely turn a log into your favourite wooden utensil. Presenter: Alma Arriaga.

Edible weeds walk; Saturday, 31th August, 10.30am-12.30pm; $30 ($15 per hour); Merri Creek.

What if many of the weeds in our garden were just as edible as the vegetables we tend beside them? What if some of these free, all-too-easy-to-grow uninvited guests were so nutritionally dense that they are just about the healthiest things you could possibly eat? What if many of them also had medical traditions dating back centuries? Well it’s all true! And if you know what to choose, they also taste great. Join Adam Grubb, co-author of The Weed Forager’s Handbook, for a walk foraging for edible weeds.

Essential crop rotation and succession planting (part 2); Wednesday, 4th September, 7-9pm; free; Doncaster.

Duncan Cocking, from Leaf, Root and Fruit, will discuss: seasonal issues such as companion planting, pests and diseases; succession planting; soil preparation; crop rotation; layout and spacing; companion planting; and seasonality of pests and diseases. The presentation will start at 7pm but there will be sandwiches and a food swap at 6.45pm.

Complete urban farmer (14 sessions); weekly starting Friday, 6th September, 9am-3pm; $1,150 ($14 per hour); CERES.

The topics to be covered will include: permaculture; fruit production; soil preparation; beekeeping; composting, worm farming and fertilisers; vegetable growing; propagation; seed collection; pest & disease management; bushfoods & berries; chooks; and community gardens. Presenter: Justin Calverley.

The herbal apprentice (8 sessions); weekly starting Friday, 6th September, 10am-3pm; $995 ($21 per hour); CERES.

The course will include the following topics: medicinal plant cultivation; introduction to plant identification and botany; understanding common ailments; herbal language and terminology; patterns of traditional western herbalism; plant chemistry basics; introduction to medicine making; botanical animism; and community supported herbalism. Presenter: Taj Scicluna, aka The Perma Pixie.

REthink your kitchen; Saturday, 7th September, 10am-1pm; $7; Edendale.

Discuss common kitchen purchases and practices, and how you can apply circular economy principles to making your kitchen more sustainable. The topics to be discussed will include: the REthink actions of refuse, reduce, repair, re-use, re-purpose, replace and recycle; food and cooking; appliances and equipment; purchase choices; packaging and waste; and systems, habits and routines.

Permaculture and waterwise gardens; Thursday, 12th September, 7-9pm; free; Doncaster.

Hannah Maloney, presenter on ABC’s Gardening Australia and author of The good life: how to grow a better world, will discuss founding Good Life Permaculture in Tasmania and why she is known as the ‘compost queen’.

Organic vegetable growing; Saturday, 14th September, 10am-3pm; $145 ($29 per hour); CERES.

The workshop will be a mix of classroom presentations and practical exercises, giving you a chance to get your hands dirty on a real working farm. You will learn to: build healthy soils; work with the seasons; and grow a productive garden, including vegetables, fruits and herbs. Presenter: Donna Livermore.

Australian plants expo; on Saturday, 14th September and Sunday, 15th September, both 10am-3pm; $5; Eltham.

There will be sales of native & indigenous plants, books on related subjects and native flower displays. The plant sellers are likely to include APS Yarra Yarra growers, Friends of Melton Botanic Gardens nursery, Goldfields Revegetation nursery, La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary nursery, Natural Plantscape nursery, Sunvalley Plants Nursery and Vaughan’s Australian Plants. Organised by Australian Plants Society – Yarra Yarra.

Wine and Vine Festival; Saturday, 14th September, midday-7pm; $58; Abbotsford.

There will be around 30 wineries plus live music and food. The ticket includes unlimited tastings for a 3-hour period plus a tasting glass.

In June
In July
In August
Regular events

Upcoming face-to-face events – cooking

Miso making with Rieko Hayashi; Saturday, 22nd June, 11am-2pm; $150 ($50 per hour); Fitzroy North.

Get your annual miso made. They will have the chickpeas soaked and cooked, the koji and salt ready to go, and the jars there. You will mash and squish and roll and throw – ready to go home with 1 litre of miso that can be ready to eat within 3 months, or ferment for longer if you like. The ticket includes a light lunch of miso soup and onigiri.

Koji and natto; Thursday, 4th July, 6.30-7.30pm; $20 ($20 per hour); Fitzroy North.

Learn about koji and natto and make your own batch of each. Later, at home, use your fresh batch of koji to make miso, shio-koji (salted koji), sake, pickles and amazake.

Mini master cooks (6-8 years) – sweet bread; Friday, 5th July, 10.30am-midday; $52 ($35 per hour); Forest Hill.

Learn how to make sweet bread rolls with filling of choice. Measure, stir, taste and cook. Make healthy apple cookies drizzled with passionfruit icing. Take a container to take cookies home in plus an apron. Organised by Strathdon House.

Farmhouse sake (doburoku); Saturday, 6th July, 4-6pm; $50 ($25 per hour); Fitzroy North.

Sake making, plus sake and cheese pairing tasting.

Mastering French pastry with Old Evropa; Sunday, 4th August, 10am-midday; $28 ($14 per hour); Eltham.

Learn the secrets behind creating perfectly balanced flavours and textures in French cooking. Uncover the history and diverse origins of pastry. Watch the art of working with pastry, from the delicate process of making pâte à choux to the precise techniques for laminating dough. After the demonstration and hands-on experience, relax and enjoy some coffee and pastries. Presenter: Tatiana Coluccio from Old Evropa.

Milk kefir magic; Thursday, 15th August, 6.30-8.30pm; $145 ($73 per hour); Fitzroy North.

They will show you how to easily incorporate this little SCOBY into your daily routine. You will make some milk kefir and then move onto flavouring, making butter, labneh, catching the whey and then making a naturally fizzy and gut-loving soda. You’ll go home with: a milk kefir SCOBY in a jar and ready to feed when you get home; a whey soda flavoured with fresh fruit of your choice to finish fermenting at home; milk kefir cultured butter; and an illustrated recipe card.

FFS … ferment four staples; Sunday, 18th August, 10am-3pm; $425 ($85 per hour); Fitzroy North.

This is a fermenting ‘101’ class, where you will learn about salt, different preserving techniques, two of the most popular cabbage recipes (kraut and kimchi), a drink (kvass) and all about SCOBYs, with a focus on milk kefir. At the end, you will sit down for a chat and a bite to eat, including fermented foods and drinks to taste. You will take home everything you make during the class: kimchi, sauerkraut, milk kefir butter, milk kefir with SCOBY, whey soda and kvass.

Kitchen chemistry (for ages 5-8); Monday, 19th August, 4-5pm; free; Richmond.

For children aged 5-8. Experiment with a variety of food-related chemicals and take home a bag of sweet, tongue-tingling sherbet.

Kitchen chemistry (for ages 5-8); Thursday, 22nd August, 3.45-4.45pm; free; Carlton North.

For children aged 5-8. Experiment with a variety of food-related chemicals and take home a bag of sweet, tongue-tingling sherbet.

Kombucha / jun M.O.B.; Thursday, 22nd August, 6.30-8.30pm; $85 ($43 per hour); Fitzroy North.

Kombucha is traditionally made with black tea and sugar, and jun with green tea and honey. Learn how to feed your mother/SCOBY (choose between kombucha or jun) and then flavour their own batch ready for second phase fermentation using fruits, herbs and spices that will be made available to you. Go home with your selected SCOBY and your personally flavoured bottle of kombucha/jun. M.O.B. stands for mingling over bacteria.

Vegan cheese making; Sunday, 8th September, 10am-3pm; $150 ($30 per hour); CERES.

Learn how to create your own array of vegan cheeses, milks, creamy spreads and dairy-free desserts. Limitless options for flavours and styles. Presenter: Nase Supplitt.

Greek cooking; Saturday, 14th September, 10am-2pm; $150 ($38 per hour); CERES.

You will learn how to prepare traditional dishes that you would expect to eat in the kitchen of a Greek family home. You will prepare all the meals together and then enjoy your feast. Presenter: Kelly Michelakis.

Sourdough bread baking; Sunday, 15th September, 9am-5pm; $220 ($28 per hour); CERES.

You will: make a variety of different breads, gaining the skills and confidence to make your own at home; enjoy some of your own handmade pizza for lunch; and take home some leaven to get you started baking bread at home. Presenter: Ken Hercott.

In June
In July
In August
Regular classes

Every so often I come across a cooking class that looks really interesting and I wonder why I haven’t come across it before. One such is Free to Feed which offers a wide range of ethnic cooking experiences, including Egyptian, Eritrean, Ethiopian, Indonesian, Iraqi, Pakistani, Persian, Somali and Syrian. There is at least one class on every day and they are typically 3 hours long, $155 ($52 per hour) and in Northcote. Per their website: “A Free to Feed cooking experience is different from an average cooking class. Expect three hours of hands-on cooking, rich storytelling and a final shared feast! Our experiences are designed to aid in the exchange of powerful memories, form life long connections, shape conversations and celebrate the ambition of newly arrived people.” This reflects the organisation’s mission which is “to empower people from asylum seeking and from refugee backgrounds to overcome barriers to social and economic inclusion in Australia through training, employment and psycho-social support and the delivery of shared food experiences.” As well as cooking classes, they offer meals a couple of times a week and catering.

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