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Welcome to the February 2023 BP News!

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Cheers,
The BP Admin Team!

Happy New Year!.
 Welcome to the BP News for February 2023, a tad late thanks to some last minute hiccups. Which also means rather short notice for the imminent Permie Picnic, hopefully you will have seen mention on the various Facebook regional noticboards. Do come along if you are available, with the amount of interest being shown on said noticeboards, this might be a good one.
 Is it too late to wish everyone a Peaceful, Properous and Productive New Year? Or even Gong Xi Fa Choi? That is, Happy New Lunar Year of the Rabbit - the cuddly kind, not the destructive kind.

 Well, it's been an interesting and busy few months since the October rains. And yet again, Mother Nature put me in my place. I was conversing with a chap in the irrigation department, no, not the immigration department, a few weeks ago. We both commented that, despite being flooded a few months ago, the ground and pastures were now as dry as a bone again, as if the flooding never happened. "Gosh", we both mused, "we could certainly do with some nice rain again."
 Later that evening, our wishes were granted, and I was sitting at my desk, listening to the steady gentle rain on the roof, thinking of the plants eagerly soaking up the moisture, and enjoying the accompanying light and sound display in the distance.
 Little did I realise the portent of the lightening and thunder I was enjoying, as trees were felled, drainage filled, and roofs brushed aside as if mere pieces of tissue paper. For those who didn't get to see the carnage first hand, have a look at the reports from the Benalla Ensign, and the ABC.

https://www.benallaensign.com.au/news/freak-storm-causes-damage-across-benalla/
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-01-15/victorian-weather-storms-hit-state-heatwave-benalla/101856530


Sometimes when these situations hit, we need some help. Here are some useful numbers to keep on hand.
Flood Recovery Hotline - 1800 560 760
Emergency, Police, Fire & Ambulance - 000
    or 112 on your Mobile Phone
Police Assistance Line non emergency - 131 444
State Emergency Services (SES) - 13 25 00
Nurse on Call - 1300 606 024
Lifeline - 13 11 14


 This unsettled weather continues to cause some problems in the garden. Was that burst of 30+ degree days all the summer are going to get? Perhaps so. Even so, seeds are stll germinating, so now a good time to start planting for Autumn, and for Winter.

The February Permie Picnic is coming up this Sunday, details below. I'll be bringing seeds and seedlings to share, but you gotta be there.
The following Permie Picnic, will be Sunday May 7th, aka International Permaculture Day.

Anyway, enough from me, on with the show.
Woz - Convener, Benalla Permaculture.

Bees and Varroa

Well, sadly there's some not so good news about the Varroa incursion up in NSW.

Despite efforts, there are still infested hives being discovered, taking the number of infected hives to 112 as of Jan 31. There is lots of speculation of cours as to how these hives remained undetected to this point, the most obvious possibility being feral, unmanaged, or even unregistered hives. That is, people not adhering to the measures in place to decalre all hives in the region, registered or no.

There is an update over here -
https://www.facebook.com/NSWDPI.Biosec/posts/pfbid0LK9pT22GPctZmb5oYo8EbntoUTbMYctu6V3FBNSQRsX2oTCVckH7pk9gwg2WoH5kl

People in Tasmania are also getting a tad twitchy as they imorted Queens from NSW before the outbreak was discovered. So the question is, did they inadvertantly import varoaa on the back of the Queens, literally. Time will tell, but I sure there are a few nervous beeks down there.

Then there is the situaiton with Border Restrictions being lifted to allow, upon request, beekeepers from outside NSW who still have hives stranded there, to bring them across the various borders back home. The authorities are stating that they are 99.9% sure they have the situation under control, but the recent discoveries would seem to contradict that. So, should we be opening the borders? Again, time will tell.

So, what do we do in the meantime? All we can do really is monitor and prepare for the possibility that Varroa has escaped to the rest of the country.

And remember, this is not a problem that only affects beekeepers. If we like eating fruit and vegetable, we are dependant on honey bees for the majority of the pollination we need.

Woz

February Permie Picnic

Meet & Greet, Chat & Chew!

Yes, time for another get-together!

When? - We're meeting on Sunday 5th Fenruary from 11am - 2pm.
Where? - Jaycee Island, access behind the CFA shed, there is a picnic pavilion directly opposite the entrance bridge. Just keep an eye out for the Big Benalla Permaculture Banner! If it's raining head to the library, we'll gather in the car park underneath.

 
We are planning a communal picnic, so please bring a plate to share, but if people prefer to BYO, that will be quite understandable. We will have some tables for people to place their offerings upon. There is a public BBQ aailable which is now running again.

BYO Crockery & Cutlery, Drinks, Chairs, Picnic Rug, etc. Children welcome under supervision.

Plan to arrive around 11 for the Meet and Greet part, Lunch will be at 12. Beyond that, there is no real schedule for the day other than just getting to know each other and have some friendly conversations.

We will also have a share table for anything you wish to share with everyone, from seeds, to seedlings, to plants, to produce, to old tools, to books, to ... The only rule is that unwanted offerings should be taken back home please.

COVID - No Measures to be taken anymore, BUT, if you are feeling unwell, have tested positive for COVID or are awaiting test results, then for the benefit of all, please stay at home, rest up and get better.
Freezer February! - What???
There are many ways and technoiques for preserving food for later consumption. People have frozen food for millenia using natural means, but freezing using appliance is one of the later inventions, and almost mandatory when living a rural lifetyle. The challenge is making sure we use all the food in the freezer, especially those morsels buried deep in the depths of artificial winter.
I have a problem - my freezers are full, and need a good clean out. So I have set myself a challenge, which I am calling Freezer February. The intention is to clean out the freezers as much as I can so I can give the units a proper clean, inside and out, ready to receive future offerings.
There are but two rules:-
1) Eat from the freezer! That seems pretty obvious, of course, but means that almost everything on my meal plate will come from either the freezer, or the garden. The only exceptions allowed being essentials that don't live in the freezer, such as fats and oils.
2) Don't refill the freezer! Resist the temptation to snaffle up those bargains to pop in the freezer - right on top of the items that need to be eaten now.
Another focus will be foods that are taking up space in the freezer that could be preserved in other ways, such as Dehydrating.
So, will this be a success? I'm going to ensure it is - at least for me!
Wanna give it a go yourself? Please, feel free to join in. Who knows, this might end up becoming a "thing".
The Off Grid Living Festival is on again this year, April 15-15, at Eldorado.
More details at https://fb.me/e/3TMquzJBe
Benalla Permaculture will be there, so please feel free to drop by and have a yarn.
Some useful and interesting links found
on the interwebby thingamajig.

 
EARTH CARE
Small gardens can deliver bumper crops
About this time every new year, I ruminate on all the ways I could make my food growing more productive. More constancy, more forethought and better succession sowing invariably top my list.
https://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/life-and-relationships/small-gardens-can-deliver-bumper-crops-and-here-s-how-20230127-p5cfu3.html

How salmon feed flowers and flourishing ecosystems
Nutrients from salmon carcasses can substantively alter the growth and reproduction of plant species in the surrounding habitat, and even cause some flowers to grow bigger and more plentiful.
https://phys.org/news/2023-01-salmon-flourishing-ecosystems.html

PEOPLE CARE
I reunite families with their long‑lost photos
"For or me, nothing is more satisfying than discovering hidden gems in secondhand shops and estate sales. After all, one person’s trash is another person’s treasure."
https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2023/feb/03/experience-i-reunite-families-with-their-longlost-photos

Onion smuggling rackets thrive as staple becomes a luxury in Philippines
Millions of dollars’ worth of onions seized by authorities as inflation crisis sees the cost of other basics soar.
Their price soared so rapidly, some likened them to gold. Restaurants stripped them from their menus, officials warned travellers not to import them without special permission and millions of pesos’ worth have reportedly been seized in raids.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/jan/26/onion-smuggling-rackets-thrive-as-staple-becomes-a-luxury-in-philippines

FAIR SHARE
Brown gold: the great American manure rush begins
The energy industry is turning waste from dairy farms into renewable natural gas – but will it actually reduce emissions?
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/feb/02/manure-renewable-natural-gas-california

Save public lands: Put solar on Walmart
There are other ways, however, and other locations for solar panels, from residential rooftops to farm fields fallowed by drought. France, for instance, recently required large parking lots to be covered by solar canopies that shade cars and provide up to 11 gigawatts of new generating capacity.
https://www.hcn.org/issues/55.2/infographic-solar-energy-save-public-lands-put-solar-on-walmart/view
In The Garden!
Mixed Radish Pods awaiting processing.
It is often thought that Permaculture is only about Gardening, because that is one of the most common activities undertaken by Permies. It's not of course, Permaculture is about regenerative design, which can include anything we humans need. Even though, gardening is important to provide food for ourselves.

So, what should we be planting and doing in the veggie garden each month? Well, I (Woz) have only been here a few years, so I'm still getting my head around planting times specific to this area. So here are some suggestions for you to think about, very much in the "work in progress" category. If you have some experience to share, please feel free to send in, just reply to this email.

You will see that I've updated the format a little to make it easier to see what needs doing. I've added in a specific Herb & Medicinals section, but haven't specific whether these should be sown directly or started as seedlings etc. Neither have I for the Flowers section. Also, remember that a lot of the herbs are propagated via cuttings or divisions rather than seeds. Check your books and resources.
TOP TIPS
* If you grow Oregano or Marjoram, they should be budding up getting ready to flower. This is the perfect time to pick for drying, as the buds will contain a highlevel of the aromatic oils. Pick the stalks, place them in a paper bag and stand them upright in a dry cool place to dry naturally.
* We're coming towards the end of Summer (really, was that all we get?) so we need to turn our minds towards the Winter crop and start seedlings now, mainly of the Brassicas. Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Fennel, celery, Kohlrabi, Leek, Onion, Swede, Turnip and Parsnip.

February in the Garden


In February we should be in full swing with harvesting, which also means space for planting out is at a premium. This is the time when you look to bandicoot produce when you can, and pop fast growing veggies and salad green into nooks and crannies to keep up with your succession planting.
There are still some long maturing plants that need to go in now, such as brassicas and leeks, so you may need to sacrifice some plants to make room. Anything that has bolted which is not being kept for seed is fair game.
You should also have a lot of waste plant material which all goes into the compost pile – unless it is diseased then burn or otherwise destroy it.
Sow Direct: Beans, Beetroot, Carrot, Cauliflower, Florence Fennel, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mustard greens, Radish, Shallots, Silverbeet, Spinach, Swede, Turnip.
Start: Broccoli, Collards, Kale, Leeks, Onion, Silverbeet, Spring onions.
Plant: Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Celery, Collards, Lettuce, Kale, Silverbeet, Spring onions
Herbs and Medicinals: Basil, Chives, Coriander, Parsley.
Support Flowers: Alyssum, Aster, Borage, Brachyscome, California Poppy, Cosmos, Gypsophila, Marigold, Nasturtium, Petunias, Phlox, Snapdragon, Verbena, Zinnia.
Maintenance: Monitor plants and seedlings for sunburn and install protection if needed.
Keep on top of watering, mulching and weeding. Top up the growing beds with compost and add a sprinkle of potash around fruiting vegetable to promote flowering. Liquid fertiliser - fish, seaweed or similar - can also be applied.
Hand pollinate Cucumbers, Pumpkins and Squash in the morning if needed. Remove flower heads from Rhubarb to promote plant growth.
Collect seed from heirloom varieties when ready for future sowing.
Keep and eye out for cabbage moth grubs and either squish them or apply Dipel.
Watch tomatoes for signs of disease and treat accordingly.
Continue Summer pruning and thinning of fruit trees. Net fruit trees as needed. Remove and destroy any fallen or diseased fruit, or feed them to the chooks. Top up mulch to keep the roots cool. Feed and Mulch Citrus trees. Run chickens under fruit trees to deal with fallen fruit and break pest cycles.
Tidy up berries that have fruited, removing dead canes and branches. Remove strawberry runners and pot up for next season.
Cut back herbs to promote new growth, and remove heads from flowering herbs, unless you want to harvest the seeds.
Start propagating hardwood cuttings, especially herbs.
Perpare and fertilise beds for Garlic.
Harvest: Now is the time to be drying and preserving the harvest – pickles, chutneys, sauces, vinegars, cordials, syrups, jams, the list is endless. Excess Squash and Zucchinis can go to the Chooks or other animals.
Try: Spigariello Broccoli, a cold hardy Biennial usually grown as an annual, Spigariello is grown for its leaves rather than florets, good in salads as baby leaves, or soups and stews. Sometimes considered a milder version of Kale.

March in the Garden!


March is a month of transition, seeing out the last of Summer crops and seeing in the beginning of Winter crops.
 
Sow Direct: Beetroot, Broad Beans, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celeriac, Corn Salad, Endive, Fennel, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mizuna, Mustard greens, Pak Choy, Parsnips, Peas, Radish, Rocket, Salsify, Silverbeet, Swede, Spinach, Turnip.
Start: Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage.
Plant: Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Celery, Collards, Garlic, Kale, Leeks, Lettuce, Shallots, Silverbeet, Spring onions.
Herbs & Medicinals: Chives, Coriander, Dill, Parsley.
Support Flowers: Alyssum, Aquilegia, Baby’s Breath, Borage, Calendula, Cornflower, Echinacea, Everlastings, Foxglove, German Chamomile, Hardenbergia, Honesty, Larkspurs, Lavender, Lobelia, Marigold, Nasturtium, Nigella, Pansies, Poppies, Snap Dragons, Sweet Peas, Verbena, Violas.
Maintenance: Keep on top of water and mulch to ensure continuous growth.
Remove and compost any spent or mildewy plants.
Enrich the soil with compost and remove mulch to cool the soil for winter crops. Add some lime to beds destined for Spinach.
Sow green manures in beds you are leaving fallow.
Sow some coriander seeds amongst peas, brassicas and spinach, but not carrots or dill.
Foliar feed remaining summer crops with worm tea or seaweed extract whilst there is still some warmth in the air.
Keep on top of weeds to avoid them setting seed.
White cabbage butterfly could be a problem, use fine netting, squish the green grubs or apply Dipel.
Prune fruit trees after harvest to minimise foliage growth next season.
Keep en eye out for scale on Citrus, treat with white oil.
Collect seeds from heirloom varieties you have left for seed saving.
Remove seed heads from Rhubarb if you don’t want to collect the seeds to promote leaf growth.
Place something, a piece of cardboard perhaps, under pumpkins on the ground to avoid them rotting.
Harvest: Make the most of the last of the Summer harvest by pickling and preserving produce.
Bandicoot your potatoes or pull and harvest the whole plant if it has died off. Last chance to plant more.
Try: Mibuna, a frost hardy Annual from the Brassican family, . Hardy: Plants have the ability to survive frost and cold weather. The flat rounded strap like leaves have a mild mustardy flavour.

Plant Profile - Rocket

Rocket Seedlings
Rocket, aka Arugula, is a popular leafy green vegetable that is very easy to grow at home. (Rocket is a romanisation of Ruchetta which is derived from the scientific name.) A member of the Brassica family, Rocket has a peppery, sometimes bitter flavour, useful for that extra bit of zing in a salad.
There are two main types of Rocket in Australia, the regular round leaf variety, Eruca sativa, and “Wild Rocket, Diplotaxis tenuifolia, with thinner leaves.

There are also some variants available, such as Wasabi Rocket, and Lemony Rocket, which taste a little like, well, wasabi or lemons.

Rocket is not only a useful edible, but the mustard oils in the leaves also act as biofumigants in the soil and compost heap.

It likes plenty of sun, but prefers cooler temperatures, so late summer and autumn are perfect times to sow it, either directly or raise as seedlings for transplanting. It needs regular harvesting to avoid going to seed, particularly in hotter weather. However, letting it go to seed is a good way of ensuring a constant crop bu letting if self seed, drop seeds where it is growing. One way to avoid it taking over the garden is to grow it in pots with good rich potting mix.

It can be eaten as micro greens, baby leaves, or mature leaves. When harvesting a mature plant, pick the outer leaves to encourage growth in the new leaves, thus ensuring a succession of growth. The flowers can also be eaten providing food for the eyes as well as the tummy.
A versatile plant, it can be used in anything from salads to smoothies, omelettes to spanikopita pie, or even dehydrated and ground to a powder to add into almost anything over winter for those extra nutrients.
Rocket Flowers
Rocket Leaves, note the rounded leaves of Arugula,
and the thinner indented leaves of Wild Rocket.

MEMBERSHIP DRIVE

Permaculture can be described as having three foci:-

Vision - for what the world can be,

Design System - for how to create this world, and

Network - of like minded people across the world.

 

Benalla Permaculture is part of the Permaculture Victoria network
which has local groups right across the state.

Becoming a member of Benalla Permaculture is easy,
just visit the Permaculture Victoria website
and apply for membership online,
nominating Benalla Permaculture as your local group.

Yes, you do gain benefits as a member,
but it not so much about what BP can do for you,
rather what you can do for BP.

Join Here - http://www.permaculturevictoria.org.au/membership/

Benalla Permaculture Committee
Convener/Editor - Warwick Bone (Woz)     Deputy Convener - Andrew Ross-Costello
Treasurer - Cheryl Wilmott                 Committee Member - Carla Gardener

 
Are you a financial member of BP?
Would you like to assist on the Committee?
Please feel free to get in touch.
   
Benalla Permaculture                                              PO Box 658, Benalla VIC 3672
https://www.BenallaPermaculture.org                      info@benallapermaculture.org
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