Hooray for summer harvests and blitzing in Jan Juc
We recently enjoyed the first decent rains in Melbourne in almost six weeks, and with any luck we won’t have to wait quite so long before the next time we hear raindrops on the roof… By now, most of the summer harvests are complete, whether it be in the form of jams, tomato sauces, preserves, jars of honey or even just a full belly!
Not long ago we did a callout for a new innie, and what a wonderful response we had! We’re looking forward to meeting the new recruits again this week, and will be sure to announce a new innie (or two) really soon…
To honour our hero of the month, we’re awarding Booker T and the MGs the honour of belting out April’s song of the month with Mo’ Onions!
Ego Lemos in Seaford this weekend
Ego Lemos is a permaculturist and singer-songwriter who is spreading the good word through Timor Leste through local schools and community engagement. Ego is currently in Melbourne and will be at the Down’s Estate Community Project this coming Sunday – don’t miss it!
Dan Palmer - still making permaculture stronger
Almost twelve years ago, Dan Palmer helped create Permablitz, and has enjoyed watching it evolve and spread across the globe ever since. Among others things, Permablitz has become an accessible and fun way for people to get started with permaculture.
Since Dan believes that design is at the core of permaculture, he’s really interested in deepening our understandings of permaculture design as a way to create beautiful, largely edible eco-systems.
He’s put together the Making Permaculture Stronger blog, and teamed up with Permaculture co-originator and Retrosuburbia author David Holmgren to deliver annual workshops, the latest of which are just wrapping up now. (But keep an eye out for future workshops!)
Hero of the Month
Onions are a simple to grow garden crop, and are used in a multitude of dishes worldwide. Some prime ministers have even been known to eat them raw, but we reckon there’s lots of better ways to eat them…
To learn about the most common varieties (and a few tasty recipes), as well as some great growing tips, click here!
Beets and Pieces
Mark Healey, Surfer Dude and Hellman With a Garden Hoe
There are few surfers on earth at the upper echelon caliber of gnarliness as the North Shore’s Mark Healey. Perhaps the most fearless goofyfooter on the planet, Healey’s lists of exploits and accolades in and out of the water could empty the ink out of a pen trying to list them.
His newest adventure? Gardening. Specifically, permablitzing. Healey just hosted one at his pad and here’s why:
“We’re the most remote chain of islands on the planet, the furthest from a land mass, so while there’s beauty in the isolation, it brings some challenges,” said Healey. “One of those, being how expensive imported food can be here. So much of our fruits and vegetables are even shipped here on boats and a lot of ills can be helped by sustainable farming. At the moment, the chapter of my life I’m going through is finding efficient ways to live the lifestyle that I want to and help at the same time.”
Radical? Well, considering that over 80% of food in Hawaii is shipped into the joint, being sustainable kind of is.
“They say that the human population is only as healthy as their soil,” said Healey, “and with permaculture — which is a self sustaining, complimentary plant system found in many native cultures — the result is more food and less work. So, from a health perspective, a food security perspective, and from a social/community perspective, I think permaculture should be everywhere.”
Check out Mark Healey’s garden (and surfing!) skills in the video in the full Surfline.com article.
Strategies for Lead Contaminated Garden Soils
A recent RMIT study found that one in five Melbourne vegie patches had high levels of lead contamination in the soil. The results were worse for Sydney. Which is pretty dispiriting for those interested in healthy home grown food. But not altogether surprising for the Very Edible Gardens crew who have been testing some of their clients’ backyards for years.
Fortunately the science shows that there are lots of effective mitigation strategies, and VEG have compiled them for you. So, what to do if you’re a food grower and you’re worried about your soil’s lead levels?
Things you can do include:
- Getting your soil tested.
- Home testing your soil’s pH
- Washing your hands, and washing your vegetables
- Adding organic matter.
- Adding a high-phosphorous fertiliser
- Growing fruit crops, not root crops
- If you have chickens, keep them separate from the soil.
- Using raised beds. Ideally wicking beds
- Isolating or removing any highly contaminated soil
- Eating a healthy diet
To read more details on each of the above points, check out the full VEG article here. It’s totally worth it!
In the Garden
While Autumn may have been mostly missing in action this year, we’ve found that some streets have plenty of free mulch in the form of leaves that are available for collection to be added to the compost bins, chicken runs, orchard floors or anywhere you’d like to see them break down!
With the removal of a lot of your summer plants and herbs from the garden you’ll have plenty of organic matter ready to add to your compost – and if you’re not sure which compost method to use, why not check out this compost how-to chart?
It’s also a good time to top up your mulch levels around your veggie beds and herb gardens, as keeping the weeds down is really important at this time of year.
Seeds that do well in April include…
Remember: some seeds do better starting off in punnets, some in pots and some in the ground. To get the best from your seedlings be sure to check the best methods first!