Robin and Paul Gale-Baker write about how to grow eggplants and capsicums

As you will know from the 26th October newsletter, Helen Simpson is moving on from writing growing guides to interviewing selected home growers. The results of her first interviews won’t be available for the newsletter for some time so it looked like there wouldn’t be an article for December. But Robin and Paul Gale-Baker, from Sustainable Macleod, have stepped into the breach with an interesting article about growing eggplants and capsicums. Thanks Robin and Paul! As it is getting late to grow these veggies, I have decided to publish the article now rather than wait until the start of December.

The article starts by recommending that you plant seedlings rather than seeds: “Eggplants and capsicums are members of the Solanaceae family, as are tomatoes and potatoes. Unlike tomatoes, however, they are difficult to grow from seed because they need much higher temperatures to germinate and, by the time they do, it is often too late to grow them and get a decent crop. So, buy seedlings from your nursery and pot these into larger containers, and grow them on before planting out. Transplant capsicums once the temperature is steadily over 16°C. You can also buy (though they are much more expensive) grafted eggplants, which will produce a higher yield. For eggplants to set fruit, the temperature needs to be over 20°C at night.” It then goes on to discuss where to plant, pests & diseases, and campanion plants. Read the full article.

And the winner is … Joel Brown!

Those of you that read this newsletter carefully may have realised that we never announced the overall winner of our video competition. Well, the wind scuppered our plans to select the winner at the 9th October Eltham Farmers’ Market, so we postponed it to the 27th October, and the winner picked up their prize (a bag of market produce of their choice) at the 13th November market. Congratulations, Joel Brown (pictured here with his mum, Ali).

Help needed to maintain the planter boxes in Chute Street, Diamond Creek

As you probably know, the 8 planter boxes in Chute Street, Diamond Creek, are food gardens and the produce, once it is mature, is available for anybody to pick, share and eat.

The team who maintains the boxes are looking for some food-minded people to help tidy and re-plant with summer veggies, herbs and flowers. Seedlings, plant food and mulch are all provided free of charge and the major watering to fill up the wicking bed reservoirs is done by the CFA. Working on the boxes is intermittent and easy. If you want, you could adopt a box or two, perhaps the ones outside your favourite cafe, hairdresser, or dress shop. If potentially interested, please email Pam. No experience necessary – just a smile and some enthusiasm!

Mac’s tip of the week

“It’s time to buy ear plugs! It does not happen every year but, from the few I’ve seen emerging, it may be a good year for the iconic (and loud) cicada. Sure, they have been pupating underground, sucking sap from your tree roots, but they have been down there for the last 6-7 years, waiting for a good year. Adults only survive for 3-4 weeks, trying to find a mate to start the cycle again. And yes, as always (so I have been told), it is the males that are the ones making all the noise. Until next time, remember: dirty hand are good hands.”

Click here to view all of Mac’s tips on our website.

Australia’s Right to Food Coalition

Dana Thomson has written in to highlight Australia’s Right to Food Coalition. As they say on their website: “Australia’s Right to Food Coalition (RTFC) exists to improve the health and wellbeing of all Australians by working to ensure equitable access to nutritious food. We are a coalition of organisations, practitioners, researchers and community workers united in our cause.” They have a Victorian branch and they would welcome new members. Click here to join (as, indeed, I have just done!).

Filtering the website calendar

The website calendar contains a lot more events than it used to, partly because more people now tell me about their events and partly because I have become better at finding them on the Internet. Some of you might only want to look at the events that are close to you (e.g. in your local authority area) or of a particular type (e.g. community garden). This can be achieved on the website by filtering by either location and/or category. Read the help page to understand how to do this.

When filtering, I find that it is easier to read the results using the ‘agenda view’ rather than the default ‘month view’ – again, refer to the help page to read how to do this.

To coincide with this little article, I have added a new event type: ‘garden tour’. So, for example, click here to view a list of all the garden tours over the rest of November.

New events

Gnomes Farming Co-operative (Westgarth site)

What: In the run up to the Urban Agriculture Forum, this is one of several community gardening locations opening up to welcome visitors. There will be tours of their urban garden and verge space. Gnomes will be there to chat with people about what they do, how to join them, or how to start your own urban garden sharing community. There will also be a fundraising stall included with tasty treats, seedlings and succulents. There will also be books and clothes with a bit of a garage-sale vibe.
When: Saturday, 19th November, 10am-1pm.
Where: Northcote.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Gnomes Farming Co-operative by email.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre multicultural food garden

What: In the run up to the Urban Agriculture Forum, this is one of several community gardening locations opening up to welcome visitors. Head Gardener Sebastian Beck will give you a tour of the garden and explain its design and evolution into a multi use mini-urban farm providing a wide range of veggies and fruit for their multicultural community.
When: Saturday, 19th November, 3-5pm.
Where: Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre by phone (9347 2739) or email.
Bookings: just turn up.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

The Plummery

What: In the run up to the Urban Agriculture Forum, this is one of several community gardening locations opening up to welcome visitors. ‘The Plummery’ is a small-scale 280m2 urban permaculture system which produces most of the veggies, herbs, fruit and electricity consumed by the household, as well as recycling all organic waste on site. The owner, Kat Lavers, currently manages a popular sustainable gardening program, My Smart Garden, for Hobsons Bay City Council in the Western suburbs and is a volunteer coordinator of Permablitz Melbourne.
When: Saturday, 19th November, 4-5pm.
Where: Northcote.
Cost: free.
Bookings: Email riki@sustainaustralia.org with the subject title ‘The Plummery – RSVP’.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Urban forage and feast: a celebratory community dinner

What: Youth Food Movement (YFM) Melbourne are whipping up a feast made exclusively with local fresh produce straight from community gardens, balcony backyards and small producer farms. The dinner aims to highlight the range of food produced within Melbourne, the stories connected to them, and to encourage eaters to support these local food champions. Have some homegrown produce you would like to donate? Have an out-of-control lemon tree? Spare a few leeks from your garden? Email them if you have some produce you would like to share. Growers who donate produce will be entitled to a discount on the ticket price. The food will be vegetarian – however, please let them know if you have any other dietary requirements. Stay up to date on their Facebook event page.
When: Friday, 2nd December, 7-9.30pm.
Where: Brunswick.
Cost: $27.
Enquiries: Youth Food Movement by email.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Christmas cookie decorating

What: With Christmas around the corner why not make your own packaged cookies to give as gifts to friends and family. Learn how to decorate cookies using fondant icing and different techniques. You will be provided with the cookies and equipment to decorate and package them.
When: Friday, 9th December, 2-3pm.
Where: Fawkner Library.
Cost: free.
Enquiries: Moreland Council by phone (9353 4000) or email.
Bookings: Eventbrite.
Further information: LFC calendar entry.

Summary of upcoming events

Over the next week

The art of espalier: Thursday, 17th November, 6.30-9pm.

Save Our Seeds screening with Seila Hierk: Thursday, 17th November, 6.30-9.30pm.

Foodnotes & Coloursense: Thursday, 17th November, 8-10pm.

Joe’s market garden: Saturday, 19th November, 9am-1pm.

Robbie’s aquaponics garden: Saturday, 19th November, 10-11am.

FareShare garden: Saturday, 19th November, 10am-1pm.

Gnomes Farming Co-operative (Westgarth site): Saturday, 19th November, 10am-1pm.

Ceres organic farm: Saturday, 19th November, 11am-3pm.

Practical aquaponics with Robbie Kershaw: Saturday, 19th November, 11.15am-12.15pm.

Lee’s generous sharing garden: Saturday, 19th November, 12.45-1.45pm.

3000 Acres Saxon Street garden: Saturday, 19th November, 1-3pm.

Sustainable food garden tour: Saturday, 19th November, 2-4pm.

Fotios’ and Effy’s mediterranean garden: Saturday, 19th November, 2.15-3.15pm.

Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre multicultural food garden: Saturday, 19th November, 3-5pm.

Damian’s biodiverse permaculture garden: Saturday, 19th November, 3.45-4.45pm.

The Plummery: Saturday, 19th November, 4-5pm.

Introduction to natural beekeeping (two day): Saturday 19th November and Sunday, 20th November, both 10am-4pm.

Introduction to permaculture (two day): Saturday, 19th November and Saturday, 26th November, both 10am-4pm.

Organic food – everything you need to know: Sunday, 20th November, 10-11.30am.

Preserving Spring produce: Sunday, 20th November, 10am-midday.

Steve and George’s mini suburban farm: Sunday, 20th November, 12.30-1.30pm.

Steve’s water efficient garden workshop: Sunday, 20th November, 1.45-2.45pm.

Sharing homegrown food with Luigi and Emanuela: Sunday, 20th November, 3.15-4.15pm.

Urban Agriculture Forum (two day): Sunday, 20th November and Monday, 21st November, both 8.30am-4.30pm.

Kat’s small scale urban farm: Monday, 21st November, 6-7pm.

Keeping quails with Kat Lavers: Monday, 21st November, 7.15-8.15pm.

Preserving with Marie: Tuesday, 22nd November, 11.30am-12.30pm.

Kim’s recycled renters garden: Tuesday, 22nd November, 6-7pm.

Preserving basics: making preserves for Christmas: Wednesday, 23rd November, 10am-1pm.

Angelo’s fertile food forest: Wednesday, 23rd November, 6-7pm.

Rooftop honey: Wednesday, 23rd November, 7-8pm.

Over the next month

A taste of China: meet authors Kei Lum Chan and Diora Fong Chan: Thursday, 24th November, 6.30-7.30pm.

Cultural tea tasting: Thursday, 24th November, 6.30-7.30pm.

Honey appreciation and tasting evening: Thursday, 24th November, 7-9pm.

Gingerbread sleigh for Christmas: Friday, 25th November, 2-3pm.

Beekeeping workshop: Saturday, 26th November, 9-11am.

Become a junior chocolatier: Saturday, 26th November, 10-10.45am.

George and Marika’s mini market garden: Saturday, 26th November, 10-11am.

Beginner’s sourdough – wild yeast workshop: Saturday, 26th November, 10am-12.30pm.

Italian cooking workshop: Saturday, 26th November, 10am-1pm.

Permablitz 191 (Richmond): Saturday, 26th November, 10am-4pm.

Antonis Greek garden: Saturday, 26th November, 11.30am-12.30pm.

Sylvester Hive Community Garden launch: Saturday, 26th November, 1-2.30pm.

Michael’s cottage food garden: Saturday, 26th November, 2.30-3.30pm.

Maya’s exotic edible garden: Saturday, 26th November, 4-5pm.

Crowd Harvest – Epping: Sunday, 27th November, 10am-2pm.

Backyard chook keeping workshop: Sunday, 27th November, 10.30am-midday.

Harry’s micro orchard garden: Sunday, 27th November, 1-2pm.

Food as medicine with Naturopath Erin Loughnan: Sunday, 27th November, 2-5pm.

Fruit tree propagating workshop: Sunday, 27th November, 2.15-3.15pm.

Food forests with Angelo Eliades: Sunday, 27th November, 3.45-4.45pm.

Backyard chooks for beginners: Monday, 28th November, 10am-midday.

Mindful eating: Tuesday, 29th November, 7-8.15pm.

Getting ready for the summer harvest: Wednesday, 30th November, 7-9pm.

Urban forage and feast: a celebratory community dinner: Friday, 2nd December, 7-9.30pm.

Chocolate treats workshop with Santa: Saturday, 3rd December, 10.30-11.30am.

Heritage Fruit Society: orchard maintenance workshop: Sunday, 4th December, 9am-midday.

Building veggie beds from pallets: Sunday, 4th December, 12.30-4pm.

Raw living whole foods with Valentina Rise: Sunday, 4th December, 2-5pm.

Christmas cookie decorating (Coburg): Tuesday, 6th December, 2-3pm.

Christmas cake decorating: Thursday, 8th December, 10.30-11.30am.

Homemade Christmas: Thursday, 8th December, 10.30am-midday.

Christmas cookie decorating (Fawkner): Friday, 9th December, 2-3pm.

Sourdough workshop: Saturday, 10th December, 10am-1pm.

Preserving basics: making preserves for Christmas: Saturday, 10th December, 10am-1pm.

Italian Christmas cake decorating: Tuesday, 13th December, 7-8pm.

Click here for the complete calendar of upcoming events. Click here for help in how to view the calendar selectively (e.g. search for events in a given suburb).

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