Mar 282018

Greta visits the garden of Jacklyne Bereka

Greta Gillies has visited the garden of Jacklyne Bereka and her family, from Heidelberg Heights. Here is how she introduces the write up: “Jacklyne lives with her husband Michael and their sons McNivan (12), Ishmael (3) and Jayson (16 months). Jacklyne is a primary school teacher and Michael is an accountant (currently undertaking his Master’s). The family moved to Australia from a coastal area in Papua New Guinea in August 2017. Since then, they have really immersed themselves in their local community, getting to know their neighbours and becoming involved in local community networking groups Rough Trade 3081 and Heidelberg Good Karma Network. Since the start of this this year, they have been growing a food garden. The main garden beds, currently growing tomatoes and pak choy, are in the front garden. As Jacklyne is being interviewed, a passerby shouts out “nice crop of tomatoes!”. She says that compliments like this are common.Read the full write up.

This is the last of Greta’s garden visits for the time being. As John Buttery said, Thanks very much for your reviews, Greta, they are great.” Thanks, Greta!

Robin’s veggie growing tip of the month

When to pick pumpkins and how to ‘cure’ them. Pick pumpkins when the stem coming out of the top of the pumpkin has withered. Leave 10-12 cm of stem but don’t use it as a handle. You can also ‘knock’ on the pumpkin and if it sounds hollow then it is ready for picking.

A pumpkin will not be ready to eat immediately after being harvested. Rather, it needs to be ‘cured’ (aka ‘hardened off’) and allowed to sweeten. To do this, rest the pumpkin on some mesh or wire so that air can circulate around it, with newspaper or straw underneath so that the skin doesn’t tear or blemish. Leave it in the sun for 2-3 weeks then turn it over and do the same for the bottom. Then the pumpkin will be ready to eat.

Read all of Robin’s tips.

Mac’s tip of the month

At last we have the green light (aka rain) for Autumn plantings! Be sure to dig your compost through your soil, and perhaps some cow manure and /or mushroom compost as well.

Although my favourite harvests are probably during the warmer months, I have to say that Autumn plantings are both productive and easy: you can pretty much just plant, mulch, and leave them to it.

Editor’s note re the change of title: from henceforth, Mac’s tips will be monthly rather than weekly. This will help ensure that they are each well-fertilised!

Read all of Mac’s tips. In total, Mac has now done more than 50 tips. Thanks, Mac!

What to plant in April

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


Brussels sprouts
Mustard greens
Pak choy

Cool season veggies

Broad beans

Other leafy greens




April is a good month to plant your cool season veggies. So, plant those broad beans, peas, garlic and brassicas. Also, plant some leafy greens.

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

Eltham Farmers’ Market stallholder lists

Eltham Farmers’ Market becoming weekly has obviously made it easier for people to know whether the market is being held on a particular Sunday. But it also seems to have made it more difficult for some people to know whether a particular stallholder will be at a particular market. Two of our website pages are designed to help this:

Note that, because of Easter, Coburg and Fairfield markets are not taking place this upcoming weekend. So, Eltham is the only farmers’ market happening in the whole of North East Melbourne.

David Holmgren’s presentation at Eltham: the aftermath

Around 150 people turned up to listen to David Holmgren talk at Eltham last Thursday. Click here to buy his new book, RetroSurburbia. It may cost quite a lot ($85) but it is also substantial (600 pages). As someone who has read it, I can tell you that it is substantive, comprehensive and readable.

For interest, here is a quick analysis of where the 150 attendees came from: 35% from Nillumbik, 35% from Banyule, 15% from elsewhere in North East Melbourne and 15% from further afield. 60% currently receive this newsletter and 40% don’t.

Choosing the best compost method

An interesting article with a great graphic.

News about local food producers

My Little Country Kitchen’s (Kinglake West) sausage rolls are now available at the Wild Wombat Cafe, Hurstbridge.

PoppySmack’s (Warrandyte) sauces are now available at Mirrabella’s at Doncaster.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

Greta’s visit to Jonathan Warren’s garden.

Gardening quote of the month

My life now is just trees. Trees and champagne. by Judi Dench.

Read all the quotes.

Proverb of the month

You’re not as green as you’re cabbage looking. Meaning: you’re not as gullible as you look. A Yorkshire saying dating back to at least the mid-1800s. First used in Australia in 1882 in the Southern Argus (Goulburn, NSW). ‘Green’ here means gullible, naive or foolish. ‘Cabbage-looking’ is from a comparison of the head to a cabbage, both being of similar size and shape, and is a traditional slang term for naive. As a bonus, cabbages are coloured green. [The picture is an advert for hats from 1887.]

Read all the proverbs.

Joke of the week

Why did the tin man from Oz eat artichokes? Because he wanted a heart!

Read all the jokes.

New events

The basics of preserving

What: Learn to preserve the best seasonal produce by making delicious jams, pickles, relishes and sauces. These techniques are suitable for most fruit and veggies and you learn how to make your own preserves. The tutor, Maria from My Green Garden, will make some on the night for you to taste and maybe even take home a small jar to share.
When: Tuesday, 17th April, 7-8.30pm.
Where: Hawthorn Community House.
Cost: $20.
Bookings: TryBooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

3 Ravens Brewery tour and tasting

What: What you will learn: 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; and learn what goes into beer, how it’s produced and how it gets in your glass.
When: Saturday, 21st April, 4-5pm.
Where: Thornbury.
Cost: $35.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Artisan pasta – fettuccini

What: What you will learn: how to make and knead egg-based pasta dough; use traditional pasta machines to roll and cut pasta; and how to use selected vegetables to make colourful fettuccini, including vegan options. Learn how to make pasta like an Italian! You will use age-old techniques to make a classic egg pasta, to be transformed into delicious fettuccini. Then, using the basic pasta-making technique, you will incorporate colourful vegetables to make fettuccini in a variety of colours. You can also opt to make your fettuccini suitable for vegans. Your pasta will be ready to take home to cook for a lovely meal. Instructions on how to dry the pasta or freeze it for future use will be given. Easy sauce recipes will also be discussed.
When: Sunday, 29th April, 10am-12.15pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $55.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Food and mood

What: Science has begun to understand the relationship between food and how we feel. Evidence now shows that diet is a key factor in promoting and protecting mental health. Meghan Hockey and Amelia McGuinness from Deakin University’s Food and Mood Centre will discuss current research, new findings, and important strategies for using nutrition for the promotion of mental health.
When: Monday, 30th April, 7-8pm.
Where: Coburg Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Make sense of food labels

What: Tour a supermarket and learn how to accurately read and understand food labels and choose healthy foods that are suitable for the whole family. You will also receive a show bag with information sheets and a healthy shopping guide booklet. The tours are led by healthAbility’s qualified dietitian and open to anyone interested in healthy eating.
When: Monday, 14th May, 9.30-11am.
Where: Eltham.
Cost: $15 (includes a healthy shopping guide booklet).
Bookings: by phone (9430 9100).
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Olive magic

What: What you will learn: improve your culinary knowledge; learn how to preserve olives; and understand and experience different techniques for preserving olives. What you will get: take home olives ready to eat; take home olives that you will continue to cure ready to eat at a later date; recipes and notes on the different techniques used; and olive preserves tasting with cheese, biscuits and wine. 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.
When: Saturday, 19th May, 9.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Sourdough bread making workshop

What: Tutor Jenna Farrington-Sear. This workshop will cover basic theory as well as the tactile pleasure of all the steps of making bread from milled flour. Suitable for both novices and those who want to expand their bread making repertoire. Topics to be covered: the essential ingredients and tools of the trade; the principal steps of bread making; baker’s percentage and hydration; mixing, kneading and folding dough; shaping loaves, scoring and baking; and maintaining a starter. You will take home: a piece of dough which can be baked at home; and a sourdough starter.
When: Saturday, 19th May, 10am-1pm.
Where: Panton Hill.
Cost: $59.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Native herbs for the kitchen and garden

What: What you will learn: which native produce-plants are suitable for growing in the Melbourne area; what to harvest and when; and how to use them to flavour your dishes and enliven your garden. Presented by Karen Sutherland, of Edible Eden Design. Explore edible native Australian plants that are easy to grow, attractive and add flavour and interest to your home-cooked dishes. Lemon myrtle, bush pepper and native salt are just a few of the flavours we can smell and taste, and they and many others will be discussed in terms of how best to use and grow them in your garden. All plants covered are suitable for a Melbourne climate, and many are suitable for pot cultivation.
When: Thursday, 24th May, 6.30-9pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Beeswax food wraps

What: Ever wanted a reusable, sustainable alternative to clingwrap and plastic zip-lock bags? Beeswax wraps, made from fabric and beeswax, are an alternative to one-use plastics. Wrap sandwiches, snacks and other items, cover bowls and plates. You can even fold them over containers and use them again and again! Learn what fabrics to use, where to buy beeswax, and how to create your own reusable food wraps.
When: Saturday, 26th May, 2-3pm.
Where: Brunswick Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Kitchen medicine with Lisa Hodge

What: What you will learn: an introduction to herbal medicine making; plant identification; guidelines for foraging and wild-crafting; medicinal uses for plants; and how to introduce medicinal herbs into the kitchen for medicine. Take a walk through the CERES garden beds and bring the wisdom of traditional herbal medicines into a modern context. During this workshop, you will explore traditional and modern uses of the plants and how to introduce these plants into the kitchen as medicine. You will make an item to take home as well as a seedling.
When: Sunday, 27th May, 10am-3pm.
Where: CERES.
Cost: $70.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.
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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