Apr 012020

J.B. Shackleton’s marmalade wins again!

Lachlan Shackleton-Fergus, from local marmalade maker J.B. Shackleton’s in Wonga Park, has just won a gold medal in the 2020 World’s Original Marmalade Competition in the UK! Their winning marmalade was ‘Luxury Tangelo Marmalade with 11 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky‘. They had previously won gold medals in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018. Congratulations, Lachlan!

Another free giveaway

Partly to mark his recent gold medal and partly to show solidarity in these difficult times, Lachlan is giving away another 20 or so jars of his marmalade! Given social distancing etc, I have decided to give them away as follows: any newsletter reader who goes to the Organic Fix health food store at 937 Main Road, Eltham will be given a jar if they ask for one until supplies run out.

Note that, whilst they remain open, Organic Fix have, for social distancing reasons, put a table across their entrance and are serving people one-by-one across this table.

After you have consumed some of the marmalade, Lachlan would love to know what you thought of it. Email me and I’ll pass your comments onto him. If you want to submit some sort of photo, that would be great too.

And the winners from last week are …

The four jars of The Bearded Bee honey go to Judith Chivers, Kim Riazi, Melissa Tripodia and Soo Mei Leong.

I was completely overwhelmed by the number of people who asked for some of Bruno Tigani’s leeks. They were given away on a first come, first served basis and went to the following people amongst others: Angie Kristens, Cathy Romeo, Emma Duncan, Jane Thurman, Jo Stackhouse, Liz Eadie, Mala Plymin, Marina Bistrin, Michelle Hegarty, Pam Jenkins, Sara Browne, Shellie Drysdale and Tracey Bjorksten.

Pre-order some seedlings from KABUU

You might have noticed that veggie seedlings are currently hard to find in our local nurseries. You might also have noticed that, for coronavirus reasons, seedling grower KABUU are currently not attending farmers’ markets. One way around both of these problems is to pre-order seedlings from KABUU. Pre-ordering allows them to grow to demand, conserving resources and saving costs. It is available for asian greens, beetroot, lettuce, silverbeet and spring onions. Pricing: $5 for a set of 8-12 seedlings (a discount of around 50% over standard prices). Place your order by 7th April, with the seedlings to be ready by 15th May. Read more and place your order.

Help Maude establish a microbakery

Maude Farrugia and family want to create a microbakery in their home. The business will be subscription-based, meaning that they will bake to order, thus avoiding the waste that occurs in conventional bakeries. They need to raise some funds to turn their back room into a council-approved microbakery and are therefore running a crowdfunder. Read their crowdfunding page and potentially support them. Look through the list of rewards (bread, pizza, etc) and select your level of support.

Markets this upcoming weekend

Only 3 of the 6 scheduled farmers’ markets will be happening this weekend: Alphington, Coburg and Eltham. Although Carlton Farmers’ Market will not be taking place, most of the stallholders have apparently been re-allocated to either Alphington or Coburg Farmers’ Markets. Both Bundoora Park Farmers’ Market and Heathmont Farmers’ Market, like all the farmers’ markets operated by Regional Farmers Markets, will not be happening for the foreseeable future.

Of the 5 other markets with food stalls, only the Fitzroy Mills Market will be taking place. In other words, the markets at Hurstbridge, Kingsbury Drive, St Andrews and Warrandyte will not be happening.

Want to receive a newsletter from Eltham Farmers’ Market?

Chris Chapple, market manager at Eltham Farmers’ Market, has written in: “The importance of local food was recently brought into sharp focus when some of our supermarkets were cleaned out of fresh vegetables a couple of weeks ago. The coronavirus has demonstrated the fragility of our supply chains and our vulnerability to global trade. But the virus now presents an existential threat to our food future as our remaining local farmers lose what little opportunity they previously had to sell their produce. Many local markets have closed but the State Government has permitted food-only markets such as the Eltham Farmers’ Market to continue. We are working hard to keep the market operating so that there is something left to re-build when ‘we get to the other side’. Our aim is also to make sure that the market is a safe place to do your shopping. A variety of safety measures have been introduced, including restricting numbers on site at any one time and ensuring that the space provided exceeds government guidelines and facilitates good social distancing. To keep customers informed of the rapidly changing local food landscape, whether it be the traders who continue to make it to market or the stallholders who offer alternative ways of sourcing their produce, we will be producing a market bulletin. Please subscribe.

A source of free food at Diamond Creek

The Rotary Club of Diamond Creek has partnered with SecondBite to give away free food every Saturday, from 9-11am, at Diamond Creek Church, 32 Wensley Street, Diamond Creek (opposite Aksorn Thai and the police station). Pictured is some of the food that they distributed last Saturday. Read more.

Website page of the week – home delivery of fruit/veggie boxes by postcode/suburb

Perhaps not surprisingly, one of the pages on our website which has become massively more popular over the last week is the home delivery of fruit/veggie boxes by postcode/suburb page. Basically, you enter your postcode or suburb and it tells you some of the local organisations who will home deliver fruit and veggie boxes to you.

An alternative to standard food swaps

With most food swaps currently in abeyance, some people are thinking about alternative ways of keep swapping going. Whitehorse Urban harvest swap have set up something called ‘seedling give & take’ at Box Hill South Neighbourhood House, 47 Kitchener Street, Box Hill South. The ‘give’ element is that people are invited to donate food plants, potted in soil and labelled. The ‘take’ element is that people in need are invited to take the seedlings to grow and use.

Do you know?

Richard Lee, from KABUU, writes in: “I would like to learn about vegetables indigenous to the African continent. I’m thinking about plants we could potentially grow in Melbourne as a food crop. Having a greater diversity of species would increase food security. Which African crops could we grow in Melbourne?Email me with your answers.

Kerryn Johnson writes in: “My son brought home a mango from a property in Brunswick that he was working at a few weeks ago. The mango had been grown in their backyard! It was a lot smaller than your average mango, with a much smaller pip/seed. As any good gardener would do, I’ve saved the seed. How should I propagate this seed and can one grow mangoes without too much work in Melbourne or am I wasting my time?Email me with your answers.

How to make sauerkraut

Marina Bistrin has sent in her recipe for making sauerkraut. Thanks Marina!

As Marina says in her introduction: “Sauerkraut is just salt and cabbage, with the fermentation of the natural sugar in the cabbage being done by the lactic acid bacteria that are in the air and on your hands. It’s best eaten raw as a side dish. You can also add small amounts of the juice to foods without cooking them, as this is meant to be a good inoculant for your gut health.

There are now 224 recipes in our website database.

Alternatives to the pasta aisle

Thanks to Karen Olsen for this article on alternatives to pasta.

Empty pasta aisles in the supermarket remind us how much we love a Mediterranean diet. So, it’s good to know that yummy alternatives to pasta have also been with us for a long time. Pasta-less meals can include any of the following healthy options.

1. Creamed cauliflower (aka mashed cauliflower). Creamed cauliflower appears to offer all the bonuses of comfort food, with few of the calories and more of the nutrition. Steam cauliflower florets until tender, then blend in food processor or mash, together with your preferred flavourings. Add salt & pepper, olive oil, butter or sour cream. Optionally add a little crushed garlic, some coriander seeds, dried/fresh parsley or other herbs. Tip: drizzle olive oil in slowly while the food processor or mashing is happening for a lighter, ‘fluffier’ outcome.

2. Zucchini fettuccini. Peel fresh zucchini lengthways into long strips to any width you like and dress with lemon juice, olive oil, herbs, salt and pepper. Eat hot or cold.

3. Polenta, coarse, fine, or instant. A time-honoured staple, polenta is traditionally cooked in a pot on the stove, with the ingredients for success being some salt, herbs or butter (and/or cheese when we are feeling particularly indulgent). Remember that the coarser the polenta, the fuller the flavour. Serve straight into a bowl and top with bolognaise, ratatouille, osso buco, lentils, or any other casserole-type dish. Another option is to spread into a tray to set, then fry in oil or butter cut as triangles, squares, or chunky ‘chips’.

4. Potato or sweet potato. Mashed tatties make a great casserole or pasta sauce under-layer, like polenta.

5. Homemade gnocchi. This is a quick and relatively painless way to bulk up potato and flour options.

6. Make your own pasta. This can be a whole afternoon’s activity during these home-based school holidays and, once the experimenting with vegetable additions in the pasta mix begins, can open the doorway to a whole new world of colours, flavours, and possibilities.

Queensland Fruit Fly in Nillumbik

Evan Gellert, whose tomatoes are currently infested, writes about his recent experience with Queensland Fruit Fly.

Queensland fruit fly (QFF) (Bactrocera tryoni) can infest nearly all fruits and fruiting vegetables, including solanums and cucurbits. Our Eltham neighbours have been devastated by the infestations to their stonefruit this summer. Separated by about 100 metres from them, our stonefruit escaped but our tomatoes are now being infested in March. The larvae and less than 2mm long when they first hatch, and then grow to 5-9mm long. Look for these on the move inside infested fruit. Adult flies are 5-8mm long, generally brown, with yellow shoulder pads and a yellow patch on the mid lower back.

QFF was recognised as being on the rise in Nillumbik from January this year. But this was not the first time: a co-volunteer with the Heritage Fruits Society told me some years ago that QFF had been here. The Nillumbik Council website has some advice of the subject, including a downloadable fruit fly guide. If your fruit has been infested by the small larvae this season, I suggest you download this guide.

QFF is found throughout eastern Australia, from Cape York to Victoria. They prefer to gather in dark spaces, probably due to their forest origins. Creek lines have been suggested as a likely transmission route through suburbia. They rarely fly across open grassland. Where I live backs onto the Diamond Creek. I wonder whether there are notable differences between the ridge-lines and creek-lines for infestations in Eltham. The flies are reported to be repelled by white surfaces which might explain their low incidence in plastic greenhouses. They mate for only around 30 minutes at dusk.

Why did we escape infestations to our apricots and nectarines only 100 metres from our neighbour when QFF is known to circulate over 500 metres (but rarely more than 1 km)? It could have been our insect net which we use as fruit tree netting. The mesh size of 1 x 3mm should exclude the flies, and the white colour might deter them. I have finally netted our tomatoes late in March and seen the QFF inside trying to get out. I’ve made a calendar note for earlier next year to erect netting over tomatoes. Infested fruit can’t be just composted, or the cycle continues.

Why have the flies been much more active here this year? We can only guess. Perhaps we have had a series of milder winters which otherwise keep numbers in check. Or perhaps other random environmental drivers have favoured their breeding.

Beginners veggie growing tip – mustard greens

One of the consequences of the current crisis is that I am now writing weekly veggie growing tips for Nillumbik University of the Third Age (U3A). I thought that I would also include these tips in this newsletter. The first tip relates to mustard greens.

Some people like eating lettuce as their main leafy green. Others like something more peppery, such as rocket (aka arugula). I’d like to suggest that you try mustard greens. It has a pleasant peppery taste, but not as strong as rocket. It grows easily and quickly, and you can start harvesting leaves within two months of planting. It grow well in pots. You can plant it at any time over the coming months. The plants should be spaced around 30cm apart. It comes in two main forms, one with thin frilly leaves and the other with wide flat leaves. I prefer the former, with ‘golden frills’ being my favourite variety.

Are you a senior living in Nillumbik or Banyule?

During the current crisis, Nillumbik University of the Third Age (U3A) is producing a free weekly newsletter, written by yours truly, which aims to keep seniors connected, informed, entertained and engaged. If you would like to receive this newsletter, complete a simple signup form. If you want to see what sorts of things they cover, read this week’s newsletter.

Every newsletter needs a good picture

Mala Plymin has sent in a photo of some seeds packets that she has just made with her children. She is going to share her excess seeds via the Heidelberg Good Karma Network. Thanks Mala!

More articles from Angelo Eliades

Not content with his 3 articles about coronavirus from last week, Angelo has now embarked on a series of 7(!) articles entitled Emergency Survival Prepper Gardening. The first three articles are:

He has also just published an article entitled What are the best rocks to use for building wicking beds?.

New food delivery options


Here are a few new food delivery options in the postcode where I live (3095).

Bolton Street Fruit Market (in the group of shops where Bolton Street and Main Road meet in the south of Eltham) will put a box of fruit and vegetables together and you just have to go to the door and collect it. Alternatively, they will deliver to postcodes 3088, 3093, 3094 and 3095. Phone: 9439 5654. Text: 0478 067 733.

Earthbound Bolton Cafe (at 5/266 Bolton Street, near the 24 hour medical clinic) will not only deliver coffee and takeaway meals but also fruit, vegetables, milk, bread, eggs and other staples. if you want, you can go to the cafe and view what fruit and vegetables they have before placing your order. Read their Facebook page. Tel: 9439 3932.

And finally, as discussed in last week’s newsletter, Organic Fix (937 Main Road) has started a home delivery service throughout postcode 3095 and the surrounding suburbs. Tel: 9424 1861.

Diamond Creek

Three of the local food shops are working in partnership to offer free, contactless home delivery, or pick up at the shops. They are Local Fine Foods (fruit and vegetables), DC Meats and Bakers Delight. Contact Local Fine Foods (who can take orders for all three shops) by email, phone (0433 435 142 or 0438 604 339) or Facebook messenger (Local Fine Foods).


The Lettuce Inn is offering delivery in Hurstbridge (free) or surrounding suburbs ($5), or pickup at the shop (803 Main Road). Order by email or phone (9718 1150).

Other suburbs

Is there any news from your suburb that you would like to share? Email me.

Which cafes are open for takeaway in your suburb?

I have just rung all 30 cafes in my suburb (Eltham) to ask if they are currently open for takeaway or closed.

  • Bean Alive (tel: 9134 7997)
  • Bolton Street Deli and Liquor (tel: 9439 6922)
  • Brents Patisserie (tel: 9439 9625)
  • Cafe Z (tel: 9437 2022)
  • Earthbound Bolton (tel: 9439 3932)
  • Ferguson Plarre Bakehouse Eltham (tel: 9431 6422)
  • Health Bar Melbourne (tel: 9437 1972)
  • Lilies On Brougham (tel: 9431 6622)
  • Little Drop Of Poison (tel: 9424 8186);
  • Miss Pryor (tel: 8407 3839)
  • Old Evropa Bakery (tel: 0433 981 414)
  • Oregon Xpress (tel: 9435 9640)
  • Papa Bear (tel: 9439 8736)
  • Pierross Pasticceria Italiana (tel: 8407 3830)
  • Teapot Cafe (tel: 9431 2611)
  • The Greek Place (tel: 9431 4241)
  • The Main Cafe Bar and Restaurant (tel: 9431 6611)
  • Zen Den Coffee and Food (tel: 9439 8838).

The other cafes appear to be closed.

If anyone is willing to ring the cafes in their suburb, I’d be more than happy to publish the results in the next newsletter. Email me.

Which link was clicked most times in the last newsletter?

Angelo’s article on the coronavirus panic and how to prepare properly.

Joke of the week

Today, I will be as useless as the ‘g’ in lasagne.

Useless fact of the week: lasagne and lasagna both refer to the same food. The difference is that, whilst lasagne is the plural, lasagna is the singular.

Second useless fact of the week: the singular of spaghetti is apparently spaghetto.

See photo right. Ravioli anyone?

Read more jokes.