Oct 162019

Nina discusses North East Region Permaculture (NERP)

If you are interested in learning more about permaculture, or have experience in permaculture practices which you could share, then you could consider joining North East Region Permaculture (NERP). During the last six months, a bunch of local permie’s have revived NERP, which had folded a few years ago after an existence spanning around 20 years. There are currently around 50 members in the ‘new’ NERP and their stated areas covered are “Greensborough, Eltham, Warrandyte, Hurstbridge, St Andrews and surrounds“.

The NERP members regularly meet in member’s gardens so that they can learn about what aspects of permaculture each member incorporates into their garden, including growing zones, keeping animals (chooks, goats, worms), energy efficiency and home design.

Membership to NERP is free but they would like you to also join Permaculture Victoria. If you are interested in joining NERP, contact them by email.

Read more of Nina’s vignettes.

Mega giveaway

I have lots of surplus seeds from local seed wholesaler and newsletter reader, Bruno Tigani. Thanks, Bruno! Some of the seeds are treated. In each case, you can have as many as you want (e.g. I have 250,000 of the spinach seeds!). Pickup at my house in Eltham. Email me to arrange pickup.

  • Bunching onions (guardsman) seeds: from 2016; untreated.
  • Salad rocket seeds: from 2017; untreated.
  • Spinach seeds (baby leaf) seeds: undated; treated.
  • Purple sprouting broccoli seeds: from 2014; treated.
  • Kale (curled afro) seeds: from 2013; treated.

Where to buy rice hulls?

Several people responded to the request in last week’s newsletter to tell us about where one can buy rice hulls.

St Andrews Stock Feed currently have large bales of rice hulls in stock. $85 for 125Kg.

A number of other local stock feed suppliers are willing to order the bales for you. However, the manufacturer Coprice is not currently making them. Their response to our enquiry: “Unfortunately no, we do not have rice hulls at present. The shortage will be for the 2020 cropping year (April through to March 2020) due to the drought and shortage of rice crops. When we start to get rain and water, this will hopefully change in 2020.

Thanks to Claire Smith, Heather and Rebecca Parsons for their detective work! This newsletter is at its best when it becomes interactive. Two weeks ago I had never heard of rice hulls but now I feel something of an expert on the subject!

As Heather said: “I’ve been using rice hulls for years and found them very good for keeping nests and floors dry … plus the chooks can nibble them for extra fibre.

Milk from farms where the calves aren’t killed

Presumably you know that a) for a cow to produce milk, it has to give birth; and b) around half of the calves (including most of the male ones) are deemed surplus to requirements and killed shortly after birth – around 500,000 calves per year in Australia. One Victorian farm is now claiming to avoid this slaughter. A major part of their approach is the use of ‘sexed semen’ such that all their calves are female and can, in time, join the dairy herd. The farm is called How Now and you can read about their approach on their website.

You can buy How Now’s milk at: Boccaccio SUPA IGA, Balwyn; Cannings Butchers, Hawthorn; Cannings Butchers, Kew; Ceres Fair Food, Preston; Eastfield Natural Foods, Croydon South; Fredricks Grocer, Richmond; Rhubarb Organics, Preston; Mt Evelyn IGA; Natures Harvest, Hurstbridge; Paul’s IGA Ringwood, Ringwood; Quinton’s SUPA IGA, Warrandyte; St Andrews General Store; SUPA IGA, Brunswick; and The Vegetable Connection, Fitzroy.

Note that, as part of writing this little article, I went to one of the shops above to buy the milk but they didn’t have any in stock. Rather, they said that deliveries are rather unpredictable. So, my suggestion is that you ring before going.

If you ever come across a swarm of bees …

Here is a list of people who collect swarms across North East Melbourne. Thanks to the Beekeepers Club for maintaining the list, to Morgan Koegel for telling me about it, to Paul Hemsworth for bringing a bee swarm in Montmorency to my attention, and to Andrew Stanish for saving said bee swarm.

Some articles of potential interest

Robin Gale-Baker has written in The Leader about grow tomatoes (see picture right).

Richard Kottek has written in to suggest that you read this article about how to make your own seed packets.

The Yarra Valley visitor site has just published an article about the general stores in Nillumbik. There are five such at Kangaroo Ground, Panton Hill, Smiths Gully, St Andrews and Yarrambat.

Local food organisations in the news

Last Friday’s Gardening Australia had a feature on Kevin Heinze GROW in Doncaster. Watch the video.

Museums Victoria delivers again

I have talked before about the brilliant critter identification service that Museums Victoria offers. Newsletter reader Paul Hemsworth has recently taken advantage of the service to identify the egg casing(?) below as that of a species of snout moth, genus Pararguda. It is 6cm long and has been changing rapidly.

On Thursday, white On Saturday, dark brown On Monday, light brown The adult moth

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

The petition asking the Victorian Government to adopt a container deposit scheme.

Joke of the week

What do politicans need to drink? Honest-Tea.

Read more jokes.

New events – not cooking

La Gran Fiesta, including tomato seedling sale: Sunday, 20th October, 10am-4pm; Northcote.

What: Stalls, auctions and live music. One of their stalls will be selling tomato seedlings. They will have 48 varieties on offer including 10 dwarf ones (e.g. Tasmanian Chocolate and Kangaroo Paw Yellow) and many unusual ones (e.g. Blue Beauty and Orange Banana). Even though they have grown around 600 seedlings, they usually sell out by lunchtime so if people want to get some of the more unusual varieties it is best to go early.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.

Behind the bar – Hargreaves Hill beer: Friday, 1st November, 5.30-7.30pm; Nillumbik Cellars, Diamond Creek.

What: Hargreaves Hill are a brewery in Lilydale. Taste their beers at Nillumbik Cellars – free to attend, free to taste, and no bookings required.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.

Pop-up spring plant sale at Gunyah garden: Sunday, 17th November, 7-9pm; Pascoe Vale South.

What: Spring plant sale of unusual and difficult to find herbs and edible plants including: plants from Crete (dittany, mountain tea and perennial sea chicory); native edibles (cinnamon myrtle, old man saltbush, strawberry gum and native elder flower); and other (perennial thai basil and strawberry grape). All of the plants are propagated from Karen Sutherland’s garden.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.

The joy of backyard chooks: Thursday, 5th December, 6.30-9pm; Bulleen Art and Garden.

What: What you will learn: how to get started with keeping chickens in a suburban backyard; how to house and protect chooks from predators; and how chooks can be used to improve your garden and soil. Presented by Sarah Hardgrove. Keeping a few chooks in the backyard used to be a staple of Australian suburban life, and their eggs made up a healthy part of our diet. But even though our house blocks might be shrinking, a smaller backyard doesn’t necessarily mean an end to raising or enjoying them. In this class, you will find out just how easy it is to keep a few hens as pets and as the ultimate garden recyclers, as well as everything you need to know about housing, protecting and feeding them, and lots of practical ideas on how to live harmoniously with them in your garden. Suitable for those who have never kept chooks before.
Cost: $50.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.

Native plants for food and medicine: Saturday, 7th December, 9.30am-12.30pm; Bulleen Art and Garden.

What: What you will learn: traditional Indigenous lifestyles and healing practices pre European settlement; traditional ways of using various Indigenous plants for medicinal purposes; and promising new research into their potential medical applications. Presented by Gaby Harris. Indigenous Australians have been using native plants and animals for tens of thousands of years as sources of food and medicine. With European settlement much of this knowledge was lost or ignored, but there is now growing interest in relearning these traditional healing methods. More research is being carried out to see how we can grow, harvest and utilise our Indigenous plants for foods, medicines, cosmetics and more. This class will introduce you to some of the well-known, as well as some more obscure, Indigenous Australian plants, teach you how they were once used, and how you can use them now. You will be able to see, smell and taste a variety of these amazing plants and learn where you can find them and how to cook with them.
Cost: $55.
Bookings: WeTeachMe.

Sustainable gardening: Thursday, 12th December, 11.30am-12.30pm; Fawkner Library.

What: Local horticulturalist Diana Cotter will present handy hints to minimise waste in the garden. Learn how weeds can become your friends and other composting options. Eliminate plastic waste and reduce water usage.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.

New events – cooking

Dairy and kombucha fermentation class: 4 occurrences – Saturday, 19th October, 10-11.30am; Saturday, 19th October, 2-3.30pm; Wednesday, 6th November, 11am-12.30pm; and Friday, 29th November, 11am-12.30pm; Dixons Creek.

What: You will learn how to make your own yoghurt, kefir and kombucha. Have some fun and experiment with soft kefir cheese and gut healthy fizzy drinks.  Conclude the class with a guided tour of the Edible Forest. Optional extra: purchase a kombucha pack for $25 to take home and continue your fermentation; the pack includes a 1 litre jar, flip top bottle, gut health book and muslin cloth.
Cost: $70.
Bookings: their website.

Dumpling making workshop: Wednesday, 30th October, 10.30am-12.30pm; Canterbury.

What: Learn how to make Chinese dumplings. The class will cover selection of ingredients, preparation and cooking. Meat, vegetarian and gluten-free options will all be covered.
Cost: $75.
Bookings: just turn up.

Cooking master class – ‘an Italian Christmas’: Thursday, 7th November, 7-9pm; Gourmet Living, Templestowe.

What: Enjoy 3 tasting size courses cooked by chef Bek McMillan, from Gourmet Living, who will demonstrate step by step. All recipes are included. Menu – asparagus, ham & brie tart; baked gnocchi; and panettone bites.
Cost: $42.
Bookings: EventBrite.

Cooking master class – ‘citrus makes everything delish’: Friday, 15th November, 7-9pm; Gourmet Living, Templestowe.

What: Menu – roast pumpkin tart; Moroccan chicken; and lemon cheesecake tart.
Cost: $42.
Bookings: EventBrite.

Cooking master class – ‘a Mediterranean Christmas’: Thursday, 21st November, 7-9pm; Gourmet Living, Templestowe.

What: Menu – preserved lemon prawns; greek meatballs; and fig tart.
Cost: $42.
Bookings: EventBrite.

Cooking master class – ‘a Mediterranean Christmas’: Friday, 22nd November, 7-9pm; Gourmet Living, Templestowe.

What: Menu – preserved lemon prawns; greek meatballs; and fig tart.
Cost: $42.
Bookings: EventBrite.

Thermomix made with love: Saturday, 23rd November, midday-2pm; Chirnside Park.

What: The recipes demonstrated at the class will include: parmesan shortbreads with fennel and chilli; sun-dried tomato pesto dip; spicy peach and mango chutney; za’atar seasoning; lemon and thyme oil; DIY chocolate truffles; chai tea powder; and cranberry and pistachio cookie gift jar. Tastings will be available throughout.
Cost: $35.
Bookings: EventBrite.

Cooking master class – ‘Christmas faves’: Thursday, 28th November, 7-9pm; Gourmet Living, Templestowe.

What: Menu – prawn pasta salad; grilled pork fennel sausages; and Christmas mousse.
Cost: $42.
Bookings: EventBrite.

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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