May 102017

Mac’s tip of the week

Frosty mornings normally begin from about now so it’s time to start thinking about whether or not any of your plants will be needing any form of protection (moving into the greenhouse, shade cloth, etc). Until next time, remember: dirty hands are good hands and gloves keep them warm.

Read all of Mac’s tips.

Which commercial fertiliser is best?

In the 26th April newsletter, I discussed two interesting posts by Leaf, Root & Fruit, one on which potting mix is best and the other on the importance of soil. Well, they have now published a third in the series, on which commercial fertiliser is best. Interestingly, their main conclusion is that: “even with the best quality fertilisers, terrible soil is difficult to improve“.

The Australian Fair Food Forum

The Australian Fair Food Forum is a new forum for discussing how to build a fairer food system in Australia. It’s a place both to ask questions and to share resources and lessons learned. The forum is launching with support from a wide range of food organisations across the country including: Open Food Network; The Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance; Right to Food Coalition; Food Connect; Melbourne Farmers’ Markets; the Fair Food Challenge; Farmer Incubator; 3000 Acres; the Youth Food Movement Australia; Sunraysia Local Food Future; and the Organic & Regenerative Investment Co-operative.

Some important pages on the website you might not be aware of

Just about every week, I find out about a new food organisation or website, sometimes local and sometimes national, and put something in the newsletter about them. But newsletters (like blogs and Facebook) are ephemeral and any entry quickly gets lost in the mists of time. By contrast, website pages, if well organised, can be lasting reference sources. So, I have always duplicated the newsletter material on the following pages:

Want some free soil/compost?

For reasons that are too complicated to explain here, the four wicking beds at Eltham Farmers’ Market have to be dismantled. So, good homes are being sought for their various components: the soil/compost/manure mix, the pond liner, the scoria, etc. Pick up in situ. If interested, contact Bev Robertson by phone (9439 1421) or email to arrange the logistics.

Want some pomegranates?

Cath Lyons will be selling pomegranates at the Community Market Stall at Eltham Farmers’ Market on Sunday, 14th June.

We need more people to come forward to sell their surplus produce at future Community Market Stalls. You win, the public wins, it’s good fun, so what is there not to like. If potentially interested, email me.

Want some discounted compost bins, worm farms or bokashi bins (Boroondara residents)?

To celebrate International Compost Awareness Week, the City of Boroondara has partnered with Compost Revolution to make the following offer to Boroondara residents during May: a 50% discount on compost bins, wormfarms and bokashi bins plus free delivery to your door.

Out of interest, I had a look around the Compost Revolution website. First, I typed my home address in and was told that I qualified for a 25% discount off RRP, So the Boroondara offer above is actually a 33% (1-0.5/0.75) discount compared to usual prices. Second, I saw that, to claim the offer, one has to first do a tutorial and then answer a quiz – a rather weird, interesting, but potentially irritating, approach. Finally, I read that the initiative is a social partnership involving around 40 Councils, but only 1 (i.e. Boroondara) from North East Melbourne.

Calendar: community gardening events

The people at the Garden of Plenty, Greensborough have written in to say that they meet every Monday, 2-3pm, to share tips and ideas and to maintenance of the community garden. These meetings have been added to the community gardening section of the website calendar.

Currently, the calendar only contains community gardening events for gardens in Nillumbik and Banyule. But this is only because other community gardens haven’t (yet) told me about their regular events. If you live in Boroondara, City of Yarra, Darebin, Manningham, Maroondah, Whitehorse, Whittlesea or the western part of Yarra Ranges and know or any regular events at your local community gardens, email me.

Calendar: farmers' markets

Someone asked for a schedule of the local farmers’ markets. Our website article on the local farmers’ markets contains such a schedule.

How to eat (or not eat) an avocado seed (part 2)

Ralf Humphries has written in to say that, from his understanding, it is not yet clear that avocado seeds are actually suitable as human food. Googling confirms that the jury is still out on this subject. Thanks for the heads up, Ralf!

Random fact of the week (gleaned from googling): most fruit serve the function of seed dispersal, accomplished by their consumption by animals. But what could possibly eat an avocado seed (apart from you after watching last week’s video!)? The answer is apparently megafauna, such as giant ground sloths, which have now gone extinct. In other words, the avocado is an ‘evolutionary anachronism’. See the discussions on the Wikipedia and Smithsonian websites. Or watch and listen to a video of someone called Connie Barlow singing a song entitled Ghosts of Evolution (which is actually worth watching).

Joke of the week

What cheese is made backwards? Edam.

Read all of this year’s jokes.

Picture of the week

For ‘technical reasons’ to do with Facebook, every newsletter has to have at least one good picture. Here is this week’s: a very hungry caterpillar.

New events

Creating a wicking bed

What: Join Peter Daams as he creates a new wicking bed or two at Thrive Community Garden. Peter will explain the theory behind how wicking beds work and their methods of construction. He will then proceed, with your assistance, to demonstrate how to create one. Tickets are $10 but free to paid-up members of Local Food Connect. Click here if you would like to become a paid-up member of LFC, or renew your membership (from $10 pa). Members will be sent a booking code to book free tickets to the workshop. If you have not received your code, please email us.
When: Sunday, 21st May, 1-3pm.
Where: Thrive Community Garden, Diamond Creek.
Cost: free (LFC members) or $10 (non-members).
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Transforming your yard into an edible oasis – with Vasili

What: Interested in creating your own edible oasis, but don’t know how to go about it? Join TV and radio personality and gardening guru Vasili Kanidiadis, from Vasili’s Garden to Kitchen, for this practical workshop to learn the steps to help you design your garden to grow your own vegetables, fruit and herbs. Following Vasili’s presentation, there will be shorter talks on a topic of your choice, either learn about how to keep bees in your own backyard including seeing a live demonstration hive in action, or watch a hands on fruit tree pruning demonstration to learn the best ways to go about your winter pruning.
When: Sunday, 4th June, 10am-12.30pm.
Where: Box Hill Town Hall.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Cooking to save money and avoid food waste with PlanBuyCook

What: Learn how to whip up tasty and healthy meals without the waste. PlanBuyCook’s Jen and Gaby will give you great recipes and meal planning know-how to save time, money and stress in the kitchen, as well as eliminate food waste. Includes cooking demonstrations, giveaways and prizes to help you reduce food waste. Bookings are essential.
When: Tuesday, 13th June, 10-11.30am.
Where: Preston City Hall.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Masterclass series for absolute beginners to vegetable growing (3 sessions)

What: What you will learn: how to experience success by getting the basics right from the start – soil, sun, siting; how to select suitable and seasonal plants to grow from seedling and seed; and how to do it organically and sustainably – composting, worm farming, pest control. This series of workshops will take place over 3 sessions. Session 1 – setting up a vegetable garden: you will cover the basics for success from the start: soil improvement, siting your veggie patch, sunshine needed, plant nutrition needs. No-dig gardens vs traditional veggie patches will be demonstrated. Session 2 – which veggies should I grow? Knowing what to plant when helps you get it right. You will cover the seasonal nature of planting and then look at which are the easiest to get right. Some vegetables are best grown from seed and you will go through the tips and techniques to ensure you have success with all types of planting. Session 3, part 1 – when things go wrong: you will look at some low-impact ways of dealing with the pests that sometimes plague our gardens and encouraging the ‘good guys’ into your garden. Session 3, part 2 – making great compost and setting up your worm farm for ongoing soil fertility.
When: Session 1 – 15th June or 17th June; session 2 – 29th June or 1st July; session 3 – 13th July, or 15th July; all 10am-12.30pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $150.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Winter fruit tree maintenance

What: What you will learn: pruning – formative and maintenance of new and established fruit trees. Also, selection and planting of new fruit trees; Winter fruit tree maintenance practices for pest and disease prevention, control and treatment; and Pruning tool maintenance. Presented by Angelo Eliades. The aim of this demonstration class is that you will leave it feeling confident to maintain your fruit trees. The preparation that is done in the colder months pays mighty dividends in the growing and harvesting seasons to come. Learn all of the pruning techniques and needs of individual fruit trees from apples and plums to persimmons and pomegranates. And hear about what not to do. Discover how to reduce and prevent pest and diseases that compromise your fruit production. Learn how to treat problems with different methods – organic/permaculture and conventional. They will also cover buying new fruit trees and will demonstrate how to clean and sharpen your pruning tools and other edged garden tools (spades etc).
When: Saturday, 17th June, 9.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Fruit tree pruning

What: Learn the why, when and how of deciduous fruit tree pruning. As well as the theory around pruning, some of this workshop will be spent in the Edendale orchard where there will be hands-on pruning practice. So bring along your secateurs and wear some suitable outdoor boots, clothes and gloves.
When: Wednesday, 21st June, 10am-2pm.
Where: Edendale.
Cost: $60.
Bookings: Trybooking.
Further information: Edendale website.

Artisan pasta – ravioli and cannelloni

What: What you will learn: how to make a basic egg pasta to use for filled shapes; how to make ravioli using free-form techniques, as well as molds for a more uniform shape; and how to make cannelloni with a variety of fillings, including vegetarian options. What you get: lunch of the cannelloni made on the day, with a glass of wine; the ravioli made on the day; and handouts with recipes and techniques for the pasta and the fillings. Cook like an Italian when you join them to make home made egg-based pasta and then use it to make ravioli and cannelloni. You will start from scratch with just some basic ingredients. The ravioli will be filled with a variety of fillings, including vegetarian options; and take on different shapes when you see how they are made free-form or using special molds.
When: Sunday, 2nd July, 10am-2pm.
Where: Donvale.
Cost: $90.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

DIY grafting

What: What you will learn: why we graft or bud trees and bushes, and the principles behind grafting and budding techniques; how to select and store appropriate scion for grafting; and how to do a cleft graft and a whip-and-tongue graft. Presented by Angelo Eliades. Find out how and why we graft fruit trees (and any others). This is a hands-on class where you will practise grafting techniques and prepares you to go out and do your own collecting and storing of scion, and be confident in grafting your own trees. There will be lots of tips to improve your success rate. You will have the background to attempt more complicated grafts and discover that you have nothing to lose if you give it a try. Please bring a grafting knife and secateurs if you have them (not essential).
When: Saturday, 8th July, 9.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Love food, hate waste cooking demo with lunch

What: Did you know Victorians waste 25% of the food they buy? Learn how to avoid food waste and use leftovers more creatively. Local chef Duang Tengtrirat, from Real Food Catering, will provide a cooking demonstration and tips’ session. Get creative, make the most of your leftovers and show them the love they deserve!
When: Friday, 14th July, midday-2pm.
Where: Edendale.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Trybooking.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Growing fruit and veggies in small spaces

What: What you will learn: which produce plants are suitable to grow in small areas; coping with shade and sun for produce growing; and how to make the most of any available space for growing produce. Presented by Angelo Eliades. Do you only have a small garden or no garden at all? Would you still like to grow your own food? This class will inspire you to get started. Topics will include fruit, vegetables and berries for small spaces, growing produce in pots and containers, maximising productivity in any size space and plant selection.
When: Saturday, 15th July, 9.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
Bookings / Further information: WeTeachMe.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week
Over the next month

View the complete calendar of upcoming events.

Read some (recently updated) help on how to view the calendar selectively (e.g. search for events in a given suburb or set of suburbs).

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