Mar 112020

Every newsletter needs a good picture

Newsletter reader Angelo Eliades has been protecting his crops from giant possums.

And the winner is …

The winner of the $50 voucher for Kevin Heinze GROW seedlings is Louise Nolan. As Louise said when told, “OMG that’s so exciting! I never win anything! I’m rapt!” A photo will hopefully follow in due course. Commiserations to everyone else who entered.

Want to try and win some money for your community garden?

The State Government’s Back to the Earth Initiative is running a competition whereby one garden or environmental project in each municipality will be given $1,000, plus there will be a $5,000 grand prize. The winners will be determined by public vote. Closing date: 27th March. Voting: 16th April to 11th May. Gardens located in the municipalities of City of Yarra and Whittlesea are not eligible. Read more and enter.

Do your food staff want some free training?

The Healthy Eating Advisory Service, which is based in Carlton, offers free training for retail food outlets and caterers. The training is for both cooks (online or workshop) or point of sale staff (online only). Read more.

Two world firsts

In the five years that I have been editing this newsletter, there has never been a food-related event in either Bayswater (as opposed to Bayswater North) or Kew East (as opposed to Kew)! These two suburbs were a type of food desert. Well, no longer. Chinese cooking with Lillie Giang: Thursday, 19th March, 10am-midday; Bayswater Library. Boroondara beekeepers: Saturday, 14th March, 3-4.30pm; Willsmere Station Community Garden, Kew East.

Yes, you did know (sort of)

Last week, Tracey Bjorksten asked when she should plant her Brussels sprouts seeds.

Angelo Eliades responded: “in my opinion, February is the month to plant, with the harvest time of 14-28 weeks that will mean harvest in mid-June to September before it gets too hot.

Bruno Tigani also responded: “there is a large Brussels sprouts grower in Coldstream. Their transplanting season runs from November to February, growing different varieties all the way through and harvesting from March to September.

The farm that Bruno is referring to is called Adams Farms. I spoke with the farmer there, Jeremy Adams, and he confirmed Bruno’s timetable, which means that their seeds are planted from September to end December. I asked Jeremy when home growers in North East Melbourne should plant their seeds and he said that it all depended on the variety. For example, whilst Gustus is a cool season variety which should be planted in late December, Gladius is effectively a warm season variety which they plant in September. He said that people could ring him in November on 0433 396 444 and get some seedlings from him. Thanks, Jeremy!

The Adams Farms’ biennial celebration of Brussels sprouts – Sprout Fest – is on Sunday, 5th April, 10am-3pm. 681 Maroondah Highway, Coldstream. Entry fee: $1 only.

Mac’s blast from the past – pumpkins

Ok, your pumpkins now look ready … but maybe don’t pick them just yet. The longer you leave them on the vine, the sweeter they will get, and the longer they can be stored. It is best to wait until the vine dies off and the stem to your pumpkin withers and goes brown. Don’t worry if frosts arrive – they will only kill the vines. Pick with as much stem as possible – some people keep up to 1m of vine attached if they plan to store the pumpkin for months. Many growers also keep the pumpkins in a sheltered outdoor spot for up to a week to mature before storing in a cool, dark well ventilated area. Hanging in a bird net sack in a dark shed works well … and it also keeps the rats at bay. Finally, note that most pumpkins are best kept for at least a week or so before eating, although Japs can be eaten as soon as picked.

Read more of Mac’s tips.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

Local sources of free manure, coffee grounds, etc.

Joke of the week

Children are like pancakes. The first one is always a bit weird.

Read more jokes.

New events – not cooking

Protecting your crops: Saturday, 14th March, 10-10.30am; Bulleen Art and Garden.

What: Angelo Eliades will explain how you can protect your fruit trees, edible vines and berries from birds, bats, possums and other creatures.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.

Boroondara beekeepers: Saturday, 14th March, 3-4.30pm; Kew East.

What: Jane and Peter Dyer, from Backyard Honey, will be hosting this event featuring live bees and Kew multi-flora honey. meet the beekeepers, discover more about life in the beehive and the critical local and global importance of looking after bees and other pollinators.
Cost: $5.
Bookings: EventBrite.

Growing fruit and veggies in small spaces: Sunday, 15th March, 10-10.30am; Bulleen Art and Garden.

What: Join Nicole Griffiths as she discusses growing your own fresh produce in a small garden, or even no garden at all.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.

The emergency veggie patch!: Sunday, 15th March, 2-4pm; Macleod Organic Community Garden.

What: Keep your family in fresh veggies during a crisis. Plant 2-3 square metres with a range of quick-growing vegetables and begin harvesting in 4-8 weeks. Find out how to prepare and fertilise your soil, how often to water, when to harvest, and how to deal with pests.
Cost: $15 ($8 per hour).
Bookings: TryBooking.

Mushrooms with Ellen from Simply Sustainability: Tuesday, 24th March, 2-3.30pm; Lilydale Library.

What: Join Ellen, from Simply Sustainability, to learn how to cultivate and care for your own mushrooms at home.
Cost: free.
Bookings: their website.

Growing garlic successfully: Sunday, 29th March, 2-4pm; Macleod Organic Community Garden.

What: Learn the secrets of garlic growing. Presented by Robin Gale-Baker.
Cost: $15 ($8 per hour).
Bookings: just turn up.

Moreland Local Food Forum and networking: Thursday, 2nd April, 6-8pm; Peppertree Place, Coburg.

What: Celebrate the achievements of the local food community. Participate in conversations about local food projects. There will also be facilitated networking, providing opportunities to connect with others who are passionate about creating a sustainable, just and vibrant food system. For those who grow their own food, you are also invited to bring a simple dish to share, made from homegrown or locally grown ingredients.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.

Bush foods & herbs for courtyards & balconies: Thursday, 7th May, 6.30-9pm; Bulleen Art and Garden.

What: What you will learn: which native produce-plants are suitable for growing in pots and small spaces; what to harvest and when; and how to use bush foods and herbs to flavour your dishes. Presented by Karen Sutherland of Edible Eden Design. Australian native plants have flavour and aroma profiles unlike any others, and can be easily incorporated into your kitchen. Also, a wide range of them can be grown in Melbourne in pots or small and difficult spaces. In this class, which is ideal for those with limited garden space or even just a courtyard or balcony, you will explore the world of edible native Australian plants that are easy to grow in such spaces, attractive to look at and can easily add flavour and interest to your home-cooked dishes. All plants covered are suitable for Melbourne’s climate, and will be discussed in terms of how best to use and grow them in your garden.
Cost: $55 ($22 per hour).
Bookings: WeTeachMe.

Edible weeds: Saturday, 9th May, 10am-midday; CERES, Brunswick East.

What: What you will learn: how to identify edible weeds; and how do use them in your everyday life. What you will get: samples in class of prepared edible weeds. Presenter: Monique Miller. Learn about seasonal edible weeds that thrive in Melbourne inner north, and gain knowledge about the plants’ culinary, medicinal and ecological uses.
Cost: $50 ($25 per hour).
Bookings: Humanitix.

Taste Heide: Saturday, 9th May, 3pm-4.30pm; Heide, Bulleen.

What: Join Heide gardeners David, Katie and Luke for a conversation about productive gardening and tastings of the offerings available in the Heide gardens. Includes talk, garden tastings and cherry plum-infused gin.
Cost: $20 ($13 per hour).
Bookings: EventBrite.

Backyard poultry: Tuesday, 12th May, 7-9.30pm; Coburg Library.

What: Learn everything you need to know about keeping chooks, quails and ducks in urban areas.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.

New events – cooking

Chinese cooking with Lillie Giang: Thursday, 19th March, 10am-midday; Bayswater Library.

What: Learn how to make dumplings and the Yee Sang Prosperity dish to bring good fortune to all participants. All ingredients provided. This will be a hands-on session making and eating your dumplings.
Cost: free.
Bookings: their website.

Easter bunny cake decorating with Norma Rose Cakes: Thursday, 9th April, 7-9pm; Chirnside Park Community Hub.

What: Jess, from Norma Rose Cakes, will teach how to make buttercream icing, buttercream decorating techniques, and fondant detailing.
Cost: $95 ($48 per hour).
Bookings: TryBooking.

Beatrix bakes: Thursday, 7th May, 7.45-8.45pm; Brunswick Library.

What: Beatrix Bakes is Natalie Paull’s bakery as well as the name of her first cookbook. Natalie will discuss her cooking adventures and motivate you to break the baking mould.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.

Olive magic: Saturday, 9th May, 9.30am-12.30pm; Bulleen Art and Garden.

What: What you will learn: improve your culinary knowledge; learn how to preserve olives; and understand and experience different techniques for preserving olives. Presented by Lucy Marasco. Transform bitter unpalatable olives into gourmet delights! This hands-on workshop will show you a variety of different ways Italians use to preserve green olives straight from the tree.
Cost: $55 ($18 per hour).
Bookings: WeTeachMe.

Sauerkraut and gut health: Tuesday, 12th May, 7-8.30pm; Hawthorn Community House.

What: Sauerkraut is finely cut cabbage that (combined with other vegetables) has been fermented by various lactic acid bacteria. Learn the ins and outs of obtaining great gut health through fermented foods plus how to make sauerkraut. Sample a variety of this food. They will also cover how to make it even healthier and tastier with the addition of different spices and seasonal vegetables.
Cost: $25 ($17 per hour).
Bookings: TryBooking.

Indian cooking – Punjabi (two sessions): Tuesdays, 12th and 19th May, both 6.30-8.30pm; Hurstbridge Community Hub.

What: Tutor: Taariq Hassan. Learn how to cook a healthy North West Indian vegetarian meal from scratch using authentic ingredients.
Cost: $99 ($50 per hour).
Bookings: their website.

Summary of upcoming events – not cooking

Over the next week
Over the next month

Summary of upcoming events – cooking

Over the next week
Over the next month

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.

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