Sep 262017

Helen Simpson interviews Felicity Gordon and Heath Rickard

Many of you will know Felicity through her artwork at Edendale and at various community gardens, or through her involvement in the community garden at Watsonia Library, or through her presentations about keeping chooks and worms. Helen has now interviewed Felicity and partner Heath as home growers. Here is the first paragraph: “A beautiful mosaic, a vertical wall of interesting tea pots in all shapes, sizes & colours, and a multitude of lush, green plants on the porch, all greet visitors to Felicity and Heath’s house. It’s hard to believe that, just seven years ago, the house was surrounded by grass, one lemon tree, a rosemary bush and a native tree – and not much else. A contemporary artist, with a background in permaculture, Felicity has not only extensively gardened, but also produced an artistic creation.Read the full interview.

A collection of Felicity’s community gardening artwork can be found on our website. Her most recent contribution has been on the wicking beds at Eltham railway station.

Mac’s tip of the week

With the AFL Grand Final long weekend in front of us, some of us may be thinking of getting into the garden. My tip this week is the TIGERella tomato. The Diggers Club say that it is the best yielding tomato they have ever grown, producing enormous crops of attractive red-yellow striped tomatoes with exceptional flavour. It provides fruit 10 weeks from transplant (much better than a patient wait of 37 years!) and continues to yield for months, up to 20kg of fruit per plant. Another tomato (popular in Adelaide?) is the Tumbling Tiger, which is a semi-compact trailing plant which produces up to 300 fruits per plant! Stone the Crows, these Tiger tomatoes are the best!

What seeds to plant in October

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

Warm season veggies


Perennial herbs

Lemon balm

Other veggies and herbs

Globe artichoke
Jerusalem artichoke
Mustard greens
Sweet potato
Spring onions

Compared with September, the solanums (capsicum, chilli, eggplant and tomato), basil and coriander drop out of the list, whilst the cucurbits (cucumber, gourd, pumpkin, rockmelon, watermelon and zucchini) stay in. Note, however, that these lists are the months that it is both normal and ideal to plant particular seeds – with this year’s abnormal weather, planting solanum seeds in October this year should actually be fine.

The eagle-eyed amongst you might have spotted peanuts in the list above. As newsletter reader Greg Parsons has demonstrated (see picture right), it is perfectly possible to grow peanuts in Melbourne. And they are quite interesting to grow for a number of reasons. First, you don’t know until you harvest a plant whether it has zero peanuts or a gazillion (because the peanuts are underground). Second, given that peanuts are seeds, and that peanut plants have normal, above-ground flowers, how come the peanuts are underground? (clue: Google ‘hysterocarpy’)

Another community garden in Darebin

Uniting Church Herb Garden and Orchard, Northcote. Our website now has individual pages on 30 community gardens, with more to be added over the coming weeks.

A new local food producer – Maya ‘Xala Honey

Maya ‘Xala Honey make pure and natural honey which they sell in 600g jars. You can buy their honey from: their Road Side Honey Stall at 11 Coulthard Cresent, Doreen; via their Facebook page; Doreen Egg Farm; Local Fine Foods, Diamond Creek; Mernda Cafe Convenience; or Rivers of Yarrambat. The owner, Nathan Stewart, is also the resident beekeeper at Rivers of Yarrambat. Note that “Maya’Xala” as it is an Indigenous word that means treat others and things the way you want to be treated (i.e. with respect). Read their Local Food Directory entry.

There are now 6 honey producers in the Local Food Directory.

Local food producer news

Carlton Farmers’ Market has re-opened: same dates and times but now at the Carlton North Primary School.

Alot of Good Stuff, from Greensborough, now have a website and it includes an online shop.

Punch are now open every weekend, Saturday & Sunday, midday-5pm, at 10 Scott Street, St Andrews.

Know where to get kefir grains?

Yes, it’s kefir sharing time again! Ricardo Chia from Macleod is after kefir grains, both water and milk. If you have any that you would be willing to share, email me and I’ll pass your email onto Ricardo.

Do you have any views about planning controls for animal industries?

The Victorian Government is currently seeking feedback on its proposed reforms to planning controls for animal industries. The stated aim of the reforms is to make the land use planning process clearer for farmers, councils and community. A two month consultation period has commenced and feedback can be submitted until Tuesday, 14th November. You can provide feedback online. If you have any questions about the proposed reforms, you can also contact the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning by phone (8392 5433) or email.

Which link was clicked most times in last week’s newsletter?

The edible food garden at Eltham railway station.

Quote of the month

My neighbour asked if he could use my lawnmower and I told him of course he could, so long as he didn’t take it out of my garden.” By Eric Morecambe.

Proverb of the month

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Meaning: it is more worthwhile to teach someone to do something (for themselves) than to do it for them (on an ongoing basis).

Whilst the general principle of alleviating poverty by facilitating self-sufficiency has a long history (e.g. Maimonides wrote about it in the 12th-century), this proverb apparently only dates back to 1885 when it was included (in slightly different form) in a novel by someone called Anne Ritchie. Incidently, Ms. Ritchie was the daughter of William Makepeace Thackeray, the author of Vanity Fair. From the picture right, it appears that she lacked glasses and badly needed them!

Read all the proverbs.

Joke of the week

What did the green grape say to the purple grape? Breathe, dammit, breathe!
Read all the jokes.

New events

Gourmet guests at Eastland

What: On the last Thursday of each month, a gourmet guest will create a dish in a live demonstration, using seasonal ingredients from Eastland’s fresh food precinct. The demonstrations will start at 10am and again at 11am, with book signing (where relevant) at 11.45am. In September, the guest will be Julie Goodwin, winner of Masterchef in 2009. Future guests will include Reynold Poernomo (October), Diana Chan – winner of Masterchef in 2017 (November), and Justine Schofield (December).
When: Thursday, 28th September, 10am-midday.
Where: Eastland.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Yarra Valley Oktoberfest

What: This is a boutique, pop-up festival that will include a beer hall, beer garden, food truck park, German entertainment and DJ. The Oktoberfest beers on offer will include: hofbräu, hofbräu dunkel, löwenbräu and paulaner pilsner.
When: Saturday, 7th October, 11am-6pm.
Where: Lilydale.
Cost: $35.

Veggie patch 101

What: On the 3rd Sunday of each month. What you will learn: what it means to grow Italia and what it is like gardening in Italy; how to set up your veggie patch at home; and how to best address problems in your veggie patch; such as pests and disease. What you will get: open forum to ask your gardening questions; a guided tour of the farm; and a packet of saved seeds. Optional extra ($45): lunch.
When: Sunday, 15th October, 10am-12.30pm.
Where: Warrandyte South.
Cost: $65.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Heaps cooked: toastie press Sunday sesh

What: Toast, grill, melt, fry, press, squish, heat, scorch, sizzle, brown, crisp, burn. This event is about bringing it back to basics to create culinary delights using only a toastie machine and a student budget. They are talking more than just toasted sandwiches – this humble machine can cook you breakfast, lunch or a three course dinner with minimal effort and cleaning. A toastie-specialist will lead the way and provide you with takeaway recipes. You will enjoy a relaxed afternoon with simple food and great company (oh, and there’ll be drinks available too).
When: Sunday, 15th October, 4-6pm.
Where: Carlton.
Cost: $20.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Indian cooking

What: Learn how to prepare traditional Indian snacks and discover their association with Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.
When: Tuesday, 17th October, 6.30-7.30pm.
Where: Coburg Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Macleod Organic Community Garden fundraiser

What: This will be Sustainable Macleod’s fourth annual community auction. The items include donations from local businesses, Sustainable Macleod members and others. They have over 100 items from fruit trees to cafe vouchers, health consultations to wine. The purposes of the auction are: to raise funds for the Macleod Organic Community Garden; to support their local shops and services; and to bring people to Macleod Shopping Centre. You can register a pre-bid on the online auction site and continue to bid in person on the day. If your online bid is the winner and you are not able to attend the live auction, they will contact you for pickup and payment.
When: Saturday, 21st October, 11am-1pm.
Where: Macleod.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Getting ready for Summer veggies

What: Learn to put your garden to good use to grow some summer veggies. You will get advice on how to get your veggie patch started as well as tips on the best veggies to grow over the warmer months. Be prepared to get your hands dirty as you will take home some seeds to get growing in your own garden. Bookings required.
When: Thursday, 2nd November, 10.30am-midday.
Where: Thomastown Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: their website.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Pick your own broadbeans on Melbourne Cup Day

What: The broad beans will be sold by the box. Most customers want to pick their own so you will pick them together. There will be music, broadbean cooking workshops from Amne, hessian sack races and a raffle on how many beans are in the jar!
When: Tuesday, 7th November, 10am-2pm.
Where: Joe’s Market Garden, Coburg.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Sourdough breadmaking

What: Ever wanted to make a sourdough starter but think it’s too hard? Go along to this workshop with Marie from Rie’s Kitchen and learn the art of sourdough breadmaking.
When: Tuesday, 21st November, 11.30am-12.30pm.
Where: Diamond Valley Library.
Cost: free.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

You are what you eat: nutrition and mental health

What: We’ve all heard the phrase ‘you are what you eat’. Food is essential to fuel, shape and protect our bodies. However, recently science has begun to understand the relationship between food and how we feel; our brains, mood and behaviour. There is now evidence to support the importance of what we eat to our mental health, with diet as a key factor in promoting and protecting mental health. Sarah Dash and Amelia McGuinness, from Deakin University’s Food and Mood Centre, will discuss current research, new findings, and important tips and strategies for using nutrition for the promotion of mental health.
When: Thursday, 23rd November, 11am-midday.
Where: Nunawading Library.
Cost: free.
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. 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. Add bushfoods to your garden and plate without delay!
When: Thursday, 23rd November, 6.30-9pm.
Where: Bulleen Art and Garden.
Cost: $45.
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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