Oct 302019
 

Ann talks to Drew Barr in the permaculture garden at Templestowe College

Some of you might have met Drew Barr on one of the (all too rare) open days of the permaculture garden at Templestowe College. A (lucky) few of you might even have been taught permaculture by Drew at Eltham College. Ann Stanley has now interviewed Drew on site at Templestowe College, where he has been working for the last six years as a permaculture educator. As Ann says in her writeup, Drew believes that, along with maths, one of the most important skills the students learn is to re-imagine junk: “With climate change and peak oil, the world is going to be full of this stuff with nothing to do. If the kids can re-imagine stranded assets in a completely new environment for a completely new purpose then they can turn a worthless piece of junk into something creative.” And “My view is that the more you can take a common item and put it a new context, the more it stimulates the imagination.

Read Ann’s full write up.

A new food swap in Blackburn

1st Sunday of the month, 10-11am (so it’s on this coming Sunday). Corner of Stanley Grove & Hamilton Avenue. Not held in January. Contact Claire by email. Welcome Claire!

That makes a total of 32 regular food swaps in North East Melbourne – see the map on our website.

Note that, when talking about local food organisations in this newsletter, ‘new’ usually means “new to me” rather than necessarily “new to the world”!

More places to buy Spoke & Spade’s veggies

Spoke & Spade are a small urban farm in Heidelberg West who mainly sell their veggies via veggies boxes which they deliver around their local area. They have also just become a stallholder at the Vegan Market of Melbourne, which is held on the first Saturday of every month at Abbotsford Convent (so they will be there this coming Saturday). And they are contributing to Melbourne Food Hub’s Seasonal Fruit and Veg Box.

Robin’s tip of the month – blueberry hedges!

Have you considered growing a hedge of blueberries? These delicious, small berries are so much better tasting straight from the bush, particularly as the store-bought berries are often slightly beyond their best. Hedges produce more berries than a number of plants scattered through the garden and a hedge will crop for up to 50 years.

There are three main types of blueberries: highbush, lowbush (not suitable for growing in Australia) and rabbiteye. Of these, highbush has a further two types – ‘northern’ (which is deciduous) and ‘southern’ (evergreen). Strangely [Editor’s note: only for those living in the Southern hemisphere!], ‘northern’ requires a greater chill factor and is the type commonly grown in the southern states.

To grow a hedge, select several northern highbush plants which will grow to a height of 1.5-2 metres. I recommend a mix of Brigitta (an Australian bred variety) and Northland (a North America bred variety). Or, for a lower hedge of about 1 metre height, choose rabbiteye (so called because the berries have a pinkish tint which supposedly makes them resemble the eye of a rabbit).

For many years, a blueberry farm existed not far from Montsalvat in Eltham which grew Brigitta. Speaking to the owner some years ago, I discovered that we have good conditions for blueberry growing in our area but we do need to check the pH of the soil and adjust where necessary. Blueberries require a pH of 4.5-5.5 which is more acidic than is general in our locale so add some granulated sulphur and dig it through the bed according to the instructions on the packet.

Blueberries require full sun for maximum cropping (they will tolerate partial shade but will produce fewer berries). Because they have shallow roots which need to remain moist, soil should be well drained but full of compost and organic matter to retain moisture. Plant the bushes 1.5 metres apart and, if planting two rows, then these should be around 2.5 metres apart. Prepare a hole twice the width and depth of the plant and add a mix of 2 parts loam to 1 part compost to the bottom of the hole. Hold the plant so that it is not buried deeper than it was in the pot, and backfill with loam. Then, to help maintain soil acidity, mulch with a 5-6cm layer of pine needles or, if that is not available, then woodchip. [Editor’s note: There are a number of pine trees along the Yarra, for example at Lenister Farm – simply take some big bags and scoop the needles off the ground.] Keep the mulch away from the stem to prevent collar rot.

Water deeply 2-3 times a week in summer and, if the winter is dry, also water then.

For the first 2 years, rub off all the pretty, white flowers. This seems a shame but it will be worthwhile in the long run as it will result in more vigorous bushes. There is no need to prune in the first 3 years. In the 4th year, prune out weak, damaged, crossed or diseased wood plus woody canes (cut these off at ground level). This will provoke new shoots and increase berry production. Leave the strong, new canes growing from the base, and the new laterals. Pruning should occur after the end of cropping in autumn. You can expect to harvest blueberries from December to April.

[Editor’s note: in The Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia, Louis Glowinski recommends using well-rotted chicken manure as the annual fertiliser. His argument is that blueberries don’t like either nitrates or chlorides and that many commercial fertilisers contain such compounds.]

Read more of Robin’s tips for growing fruit

Want to volunteer in Greensborough?

Diamond Valley Library in Greensborough are looking for volunteers for their community garden. The role will inlcude at least one weekly 2-3 hour shift (on Thursday mornings) to coordinate regular weekly working groups to develop the space which includes: planting; harvesting; mulching; maintaining the worm farm; maintaining compost; watering; weeding; seed saving; propagating; staking; and fertilising. Express your interest.

Want some pictures of Eltham Farmers’ Market?

Newsletter reader Sally Frawley works for food businesses creating image content for them of their products, services and stories. She recently visited Eltham Farmers’ Market and took a whole bunch of pictures which you can view and/or download.

A resource for teachers and educators

A website called Phenomenon is trying to transform food education for Australian children via a mixture of podcasts and lesson plans. Thanks for the heads up, 3000acres!

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

Lauren Ko’s fancy looking pies..

Proverb of the month

The hair of the dog. Meaning: an alcoholic drink consumed as a hangover remedy. The fuller version of the phrase, namely the hair of the dog that bit me, gives a clue about derivation, namely the medieval belief that when someone was bitten by a rabid dog, a cure could be made by applying the same dog’s hair to the infected wound. First used figuratively in the 16th Century. First used as an actual recommendation for treating dog bites in the 18th Century by someone called Robert James in a book entitled A Treatise on Canine Madness, where it ranked second to his preferred treatment of the application of the ashes of river crabs. Less elegant than the phrase by Hippocrates around 400 BCE with a similar meaning: like cures like. There are lots of articles on the Internet discussing whether an alcoholic drink can actually help with a hangover, where the consensus appears to be that it might make one feel temporarily better but only by postponing the effects.

Read more proverbs.

Gardening quote of the month

Gardeners are good at nurturing, and they have a great quality of patience, they are tender. They have to be persistent.” by Ralph Fiennes

Read more quotes.

Joke of the week

Submitted by Lesley Wing Jan: Why did the unsuccessful mushroom hunter resort to stealing? Because he had no morels. [Editor’s note: if you don’t know what morels are, read this Wikipedia page.] Thanks, Lesley!

Read more jokes.

New events – not cooking

Hobby beekeeping with Frank Ceichmoski: Tuesday, 12th November, 10.30am-midday; Collingwood Library.

What: The presentation will include frames of a live bee hive in a glass display case showing capped honey in its natural state as well as a brood of live bee larvae.
Cost: free.
Bookings: EventBrite.

The Pollinators (film): Wednesday, 13th November, 6.30-8.30pm; Cinema Nova, Carlton.

What: Thousands of semi-trailers crisscross the United States in the dead of night delivering goods through the darkness to stores, warehouses and factories nationwide. But some of them carry an unsuspected and highly unusual cargo: honey bees. Tens of billions of them are transported back and forth from one end of the United States to the other in a unique annual migration that’s indispensable to the feeding of America. One out of every three bites we eat, the growth of almost all our fruits, nuts and vegetables, would be impossible without pollination from bees. The Pollinators presents this untold story and warns that the bees are in serious danger.
Cost: $24.
Bookings: their website.

The Pollinators (film): Wednesday, 13th November, 6.30-8.30pm; Village Cinema Rivoli, Hawthorn East.

What: Thousands of semi-trailers crisscross the United States in the dead of night delivering goods through the darkness to stores, warehouses and factories nationwide. But some of them carry an unsuspected and highly unusual cargo: honey bees. Tens of billions of them are transported back and forth from one end of the United States to the other in a unique annual migration that’s indispensable to the feeding of America. One out of every three bites we eat, the growth of almost all our fruits, nuts and vegetables, would be impossible without pollination from bees. The Pollinators presents this untold story and warns that the bees are in serious danger.
Cost: $24.
Bookings: their website.

Tomato planting: Thursday, 21st November, 11am-midday; Diamond Valley Library.

What: Join Kathleen to learn how to plant and best care for your tomatoes to ensure a bumper crop.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.

Eikellegimaa NGO evening and film screening: Saturday, 23rd November, 5-8pm; Edendale.

What: Hear about life in the Estonian countryside, living close to nature. They will introduce their little NGO and their activities past and future in promoting sustainable living and environmental awareness. Food forests, organic seed banks, traditional craft, foraging, wildlife and everything in between. Following this, they will screen the nature film The Wind Sculpted Land. Go and meet the moose, wolves, huge bird migration and magical landscapes of Estonia. This event is free, though they welcome donations to their 2020 projects. Afterwards, there will be a soviet disco in Montmorency for those with cobwebs to dance loose!
Cost: free.
Bookings: Facebook.

New events – cooking

Dream gingerbread house: Saturday, 16th November, 10-11.30am; Kitchen Warehouse, Box Hill South.

What: Learn how to keep your yummy abode perfect and stable for Christmas Day. With a foolproof gingerbread recipe, best construction method, and top-notch frosting to hold the walls together, there’ll be no more saggy roofs and cracked panels on your edible holiday home!
Cost: $20.
Bookings: their website.

Christmas baking and desserts with Charlotte Ree: Sunday, 17th November, 11am-12.30pm; Kitchen Warehouse, Preston.

What: Charlotte Ree wants to teach you that decadent desserts are easy to make and that baking isn’t a scary science – it’s fun, creative and intuitive. Learn Charlotte’s tips and tricks for making delicious cakes, biscuits, sweets and no-fuss decorating. You’ll also have the chance to grab your copy of Charlotte’s first cookbook, Just Desserts.
Cost: $20.
Bookings: their website.

Dream gingerbread house: Saturday, 23rd November, 10-11.30am; Kitchen Warehouse, Preston.

What: Learn how to keep your yummy abode perfect and stable for Christmas Day. With a foolproof gingerbread recipe, best construction method, and top-notch frosting to hold the walls together, there’ll be no more saggy roofs and cracked panels on your edible holiday home!
Cost: $20.
Bookings: their website.

Gingerbread house workshop: Saturday, 14th December, 9.30am-midday; Kinglake.

What: Create a seasonal gingerbread house. Recipe and instructions will be supplied. You will need to bake your own gingerbread slabs to bring along on the day.
Cost: $25.
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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