May 132020

Thanks to the people who have contributed to this week’s newsletter: Angelo Eliades, Aziza de Fazio, Heather, Jane Dyer, Jon Buttery, Judith Chivers, Karin Motyer, Louise Nolan, Mala Plymin, Megan Goodman, Natalie Nigol, Peter Dyer and Vicki Jordan.

Which farmer’s markets will be happening this weekend?

Coburg on Saturday; Alphington and Eltham on Sunday. Not Carlton or Yarra Valley.

3000acres say that through food we come together

This month’s contribution is from Merrin Layden.

Here at 3000acres we’re grateful to Guy for continuing to deliver his great newsletter every week and finding new ways to connect and inspire us.

At the peak of the olive season, we’re feeling pretty gutted that Olives to Oil, our annual communal harvest event, had to be cancelled and we’ve received lots of messages from people feeling the same. But, even at a distance, food still has the ability to bring us together.

Celebrating the harvest is a powerful ritual in many cultures and we’ve been reflecting on some of the beautiful festivals we’ve seen here and around the world. I (Merrin) previously worked in London where our orchard team exchanged apple traditions with a group based at Tolstoy’s orchard in Russia. Returning to Melbourne, I saw that my idea of re-creating this tradition through the bountiful urban ‘olive grove’ of our suburbs already had a proud history in the Darebin Parklands Association Olive Days.

Of course, Indigenous Australians have observed their own food celebrations for millennia and it is such a privilege to be able to learn and share in this through the annual Merri Murnong Gathering – now a fixture in my year.

Read more articles by 3000acres.

Our photo competition

Last week, I asked for suggestions about themes for future photo competitions. Here are some of the suggestions that you made:

  • Autumn colours/leaves.
  • Bees and other pollinators.
  • Indoor plants.
  • Insects.
  • Pets.

This week’s competition will be on the theme of Autumn colours/leaves. To get things going, pictured is a Japanese maple from my garden. The prize for the best photo will be a mushroom growing kit from The Mushroom Shed. Email your photo by end of play Sunday, 17th May.

Yes, you did know!

Jo Buckle asked what was on her apple tree (see photo right). The answer is woolly aphids.

Heather: “Woolly aphid. Cute, but naughty.

Angelo Eliades: “Woolly apple aphid (Eriosoma lanigerum). They cover themselves with white, cotton-line secretions to form a protective cottony mass. They are a common pest of apples. You can spray them with eco-oil to get rid of them.

Judith Chivers: the latest newsletter from Leaf, Root & Fruit has an article about woolly aphids, which includes the following sentence: “Although not majorly detrimental to the tree in small numbers, in large numbers they can cause significant stress and damage the tree.

Want some free olives?

Vicki Jordan has written in: “I have hundreds of olives for the taking. There are three different types and currently range from green to black. I am in Lower Plenty and can be contacted on 0418 539714“.

Mac’s blast from the past

It’s probably time to harvest your olives. Here’s how to tell: when your olives start to change colour from green to black, it’s time to harvest. Yes, you can wait until they go completely black but they are ripe when they start to go black. Here’s another way to tell: 20 corellas or parrots visit your tree, scoff all the olives and make a complete mess of your garden.

[Editor’s note: there are several different ways of curing olives. For example, see our pages on curing green olives and curing black olives.]

Read more of Mac’s tips.

Every newsletter needs a good picture

Karin Motyer has sent in a picture of the fruit from her Irish strawberry tree. “I decided to cut a couple open as I was curious as to what is inside. No, I don’t eat them. I leave them for the birds, who seem to love them.

[Editor’s note: they can be used to make both marmalade and brandy.]

Local food producer news

Organic Fix, in Eltham, are now making their own flour using a stone mill. The flour is stoneground (ground between two stones), wholegrain (uses all of the grain) and wholemeal (still contains bran).

Did you watch Masterchef on 6th May?

The theme was cooking with local ingredients and it included produce from three of our local food producers, namely Cooking With Koji (who make miso), Melbourne Gourmet Mushrooms and PowerHouse Cheese. Pictured are the three people from these producers who represented their organisations on the show, namely Yoko Nakazawa, Matthew Robison and Barbara Power.

Yoko Nakazawa
Cooking With Koji
Matthew Robison
Melbourne Gourmet Mushrooms
Barbara Power
PowerHouse Cheese

What alerted me to this was that the PowerHouse Cheese page was the most popular page on our website for the 24 hours after the show aired. Plus some of our new subscribers wrote rather unusual things on their subscription form, such as “I’m a blue cheese lover much to the disdain of my doctor“.

Darebin backyard harvest stories

Darebin Council is partnering with 3000acres to invite you to share your garden stories via photos and videos on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #darebinbackyardharvest and tags @3000acres and @darebincitycouncil. For example, post about your gardening progress, tips and tricks, garden tours or favourite recipes. One lucky gardener will win a copy of David Holmgren’s Retrosuburbia. To be eligible to win you must live, work or grow food in Darebin.

Guy’s veggie growing tip – growing in pots

Karyn asks: “I’d love to know any hints tips and tricks for growing in pots. I have no open space but room for pots. Any help would be much appreciated thank you. Great site!

Here is a list of veggies that grow well in pots: garlic, leeks, lettuce, pak choy, radish, rocket, silverbeet, spinach and strawberry.

To ease your watering tasks, use pots with water wells.

Use high quality potting mix but also add some fertiliser (or buy a mix which includes fertiliser) as most veggies are heavy feeders. Then add a liquid fertiliser periodically.

Read more of Guy’s veggie growing tips.

Meg’s social isolation week

The rain is caught in the buckets of the nasturtium leaves and look like little round sparkling balls. The air is damp and the autumn leaves are sodden underfoot. I am grateful for the quiet time in the garden.

While the soil is wet and soft, it’s a good time to dig up plants for division. I divided my horseradish (see photo right) and harvested a few pieces of root for use in the kitchen. The garden fork works hard in the soil and each year the horseradish seems deeper and harder to dig up – the roots often grow sideways in my clay soil. Horseradish grows very easily from pieces of the root. My plants originally came from a food swap and I’ve found that it is very hardy and can be a bit invasive. The cooler weather brings out its pungency and we keep it wrapped in the fridge ready to grate when needed. It is great as a dressing.

I have had a few enquiries about the Novella pea seeds which some of you received. It is described as a ‘unique leafless shelling pea’ and it does look a bit strange, but the pea pods were plentiful. I find that some support is needed. I like trialling some more unusual varieties from time to time as a bit of a challenge.

Horseradish dressing

3-4 tablespoons natural or greek yoghurt
1-2 tablespoons freshly grated horseradish (to taste)
juice of one small lemon
about a dessert spoon of olive oil
salt and pepper

Mix the yogurt and horseradish. Add the lemon juice a little at a time and then the olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Taste and adjust as required.

Read Meg’s other recipes on our website.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

Jacinda Brown’s photo of herself with a pear.

Joke of the week

What did the ice-cream say to the unhappy birthday cake? “What’s eating you?”

Read more jokes.

Regular, current, online events

If you know of any others, email me.

Newly announced events

Nillumbik Council are organising a free, online presentation entitled nestbox neighbours on Tuesday, 26th May, 7-8pm. Register on EventBrite.

As discussed last week, Darebin Council and 3000acres are holding free, online gardening videos every Tuesday at 3pm on the 3000acres Facebook page. The next 3 video topics are: 12th May – backyard poultry 101; 19th May – beekeeping 101; and 26th May – cool season garden projects.

Previously announced events

Bullen Art and Garden Nursery (BAAG) are now holding weekly classes online on a variety of subjects. The next two classes are on growing fruit & veggies in small spaces (Saturday, 16th May) and compost & worms (Saturday, 23rd May), each 10.30-11.30am. $20 per class. Book online at WeTeachMe.

Sustainable Macleod are producing a series of videos entitled growing tips starring our very own Robin Gale-Baker.

3000acres are holding a free online workshop to discuss how to preserve olives, using fresh olives harvested from our local area. Then, all together, you will preserve a small batch to put away in the cupboard. The workshop is on Thursday, 14th May, 10-11am. Register on EventBrite

Central Ringwood Community Centre is organising a free online Q&A on plant-based eating on Friday, 15th May, 8-9pm. Register on Facebook.

Jesuit Community College are organising a free, online course for concession card holders covering zero waste cooking and sustainability. The course will start on 15th May and run for 7 weeks. Read more and register on WeTeachMe

CERES have moved some of their classes online.

Kat Lavers is publishing a series of videos entitled gardening in hard times on her Facebook page.

Newsletter reader Chloe Thomson is doing free, weekly podcasts on gardening for Bunnings.

Pip Magazine (some of whose journalists live in North East Melbourne) are producing a series of videos entitled simple skills for self sufficiency.

Formidable Vegetable are producing a series of videos entitled ‘grow-vid-19’ permaculture pandemic.

Good Life Permaculture are producing a series of videos entitled crisis gardening.

All The Dirt is a weekly podcast about gardening.

Birdlife Australia are giving weekly talks on their Facebook page. The talks can be watched live starting at midday on Thursdays, or as videos afterwards.

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