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Welcome to the February 2023 BP News!

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The BP Admin Team!

Autumnul Salutations!
 Welcome to the BP News for April 2023.

 Well, the weather has been keeping us on our toes again. We all remember the downpours last October with floods and drearyness. When summer finally made an appearance the ground dried out very quickly, with large cracks forming most everywhere. Dams were low, forage scarce, and it was looking rather grim there for a while. Thankfully, recent rains have rejuvinated the soil, sparking the emergence of fresh ground cover from the soil seed bank. And again thankfully, with some more rain, the seedlings have survivied and are doing well rather than withering for lack of moisture. The gardens also benefited from the rains of course.
 However, predictions are that we are heading into some prolonged El Ninos.
Climate models warn of possible ‘super El Niño’ before end of year
This means it's time to start thinking about water sources, storage, retention and ecenomic use in the garden. I've been running some expierments with soil amendment in the garden for better moisture retention and producton, and the results are very promising indeed. More about that in another newsletter.
The May Permie Picnic is coming up, details below. May 7th is International Permaculture Day, a fitting day to get together with some permie friends. As always, I'll have seeds and seedlings to share, but you gotta be there.
Permie Picnic, Sunday May 7th.

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

Bees and Varroa

Unfortunately, the infections in NSW continue to climb, with 148 recordrd infected hives as of April 5th. This is partly due to illegal movement of hives, infected hives that were missed in the initial inspections, and the natural spread of the mite. The new infections are mostly in the Red Zones, but this has also meant some of the Red Zones have been slightly expanded. There is also a subtle shifting of the Red Zones southward towards Sydney, which is of concern.
The next step in the ongoing battle to eradicate the mite is to start baiting the area to neutralise (euthanise) feral hives in the area, that is, unmanaged hives in hollow trees and the likes. There are major concerns with this, in particular with the chemical being used, Fipronil, a broadbased insecticide. The idea is to leave baited honey out for feral workers to take back to their hive, hoping it will be fed to the queen and thus kill the entire hive.
One concern is that, as the baits are not Honey Bee specific, it will also kill Native Bees, along with a miriad of other pollinators, which could also affect food supply which relies on pollination, from the back yard to commercial concerns.
There is a very good write up of the concerns here -

Historically, this is very similar to the cituation in China, where Fruit Groweers have to hand pollinate their trees as a result of the Four Pests Campaign in 1958. More info here -

So, as previously stated, all we can do really here is monitor the situation 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.


May Permie Picnic

Meet & Greet, Chat & Chew!

We started the Permie Picnic a few years ago on International Permaculture Day, which was designated to be the 1st Sunday in May in recognition of Bill Mollison's Birthday. It was a great success, but was disrupted by lockdowns and other events. It's time to pick up the pace again and revrl in the social aspects of Permaculture. So, please come along to enjoy some company and chew the fat over current issues and how Permaculture can play a huge part in solving some of the problems we are facing.
Share some of your knowldege, your experience, and some of your produce on the Share Table.

When? - We're meeting on Sunday 7th May 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.

As always, 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.
The Off Grid Living Festival is on again this year, April 15-15, at Eldorado.
More details at
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.

Not for the pot: how ‘V-notching’ lobsters may help save them
"Cornishman Ned Bailey has caught and returned ‘notched’ lobsters for years as part of a broader effort to preserve stocks.
Bailey cuts a small “V” into its dappled royal-blue and yellow tail before gently laying the lobster back in the water. Now she is marked as illegal for others to land – and with any luck her reproductive potential is secured for a few more years."
" The diversity of life on Earth is essential to the health of our planet and to our wellbeing as human beings. But nature is under pressure as never before. Our needs for food, water and land, and our demands for energy and more and more stuff are destroying habitats, polluting our air and water, and driving species of animals and plants to extinction. We are now losing biodiversity up to ten thousand times faster than it was disappearing 100 years ago."

Schools should partner with family farms to provide nutrition and education
" Unfortunately, many children don’t understand the connection between California’s natural systems and the nutrition they need for their growing minds and bodies."
How Do We Make Organic, Nutrient-Dense Food Affordable for Everyone?
"Instead of giving big corporations “bogus” carbon credits while they continue to degrade soil, air and water quality, we should pay authentic organic and regenerative farmers for the beneficial ecosystem services they provide."

Stop Buying New Furniture!
I must admit, I have a penchent for furniture from the 30s-50s, so this video is right up my alley, but it does have a good message that aligns with Permaculture Principle #6 - Produce No Waste. So much good and useful furniture os thrown away in favour of buying new pieces, which wastes resources in many ways. This is worth watcing.
Reducing inequality could see world population fall to 6 billion
"A projection of how the global population will change by the Club of Rome is far below United Nations estimates and numbers could drop even faster if we invest more in reducing poverty and inequality, it says."
In The Garden!
Greek Basil, little balls of goodness.
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.

This is still a woork in continual progress, so if you have anything to contribute, please feel free to get in touch. I've been working on the database, drawing from various sources and tightening a few things up, I'm happy with the result, but will keep tweaking as we go.

Remember that the Herb & Medicinals and Flowers sections don't specifiy how the seeds/plants are started, so check your books and resources.

April in the Garden

April is still a month of transition, with the last of the Summer harvests, Autumn fruit, plantings for harvests in the colder months, and preparations for fruit and nut tree planting.

Sow Direct: Asian Greens, Beetroot, Broad Beans, Bunching Onions, Choi San, Corn Salad, Daikon, Fenugreek, Kale, Leek, Lettuce, Mibuna, Mustard Greens, Pak (Bok) Choi, Parsnip, Peas, Radish, Rocket, Sorrel, Spigariello, Spinach, Spring Onions, Turnip.
Start: Asian Greens, Broad Beans, Bunching Onions, Celtuce, Choi San, Globe Artichokes, Kale, Lettuce, Mizuna, Mustard Greens, Onion, Pak (Bok) Choi, Peas, Sorrel, Spigariello, Spinach, Spring Onions, Tatsoi.
Plant: Asian Greens, Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Bunching Onions, Cabbage, Celery, Celtuce, Choi San, Endive, Garlic, Kale, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Mibuna, Mizuna, Mustard Greens, Onion, Pak (Bok) Choi, Peas, Potato Onions, Shallots, Silverbeet, Sorrel, Spigariello, Spinach, Spring Onions, Swede, Tatsoi.
Herbs & Medicinals: Caraway, Chives, Coriander, Cress, Parsley.  

Support Flowers: Alyssum, Aquilegia, Baby’s Breath, Calendula, Carnation, Cornflower, Daisy (Common), Daisy (Everlasting), Delphinium, Foxglove, Godetia, Hollyhock, Honesty, Impatiens, Larkspur, Lobelia, Lupin, Pansy, Snapdragon, Statice, Stock, Sweet Pea.
Maintenance: Watch out for Cabbage White Butterfly on young brassicas.
As the weather turns cold, remove and spent bean plants and other summer crops for the compost pile.
Harvest unripe tomatoes to ripen inside and remove spent tomato and capsicum plants. Dispose of these rather than compost, to reduce possible spread of viruses (Viri?).
Do a final collection of heirloom seeds to replant next season. However, remove flower heads from Rhubarb to promote leaf production, unless you are saving the seeds of course.
As you clear your summer crops, collect and compost any spent mulch.
Sow green manures in fallow beds. Add any old, unwanted seeds into the mix as they will be chopped down young and not grown out.
Remove and destroy Coddling Moth or Queensland Fruit Fly infested fruit on apple, pear and quince trees.
After harvest, feed stone fruit trees, peaches and nectarines etc., with compost, blood & bone or aged manure.
Start preparing sites where you plant to plant bare root trees.
Harvest: Chillies should now be ripening on the plants, so harvest them and dry for later use.
Pick the last of the Pumpkins before frosts. Leave a bit of stalk attached to avoid rotting. Let them sit in a sunny protected place for a few days to cure the skin, then store in a cool, dry, dark spot.
There should be plenty of pears and apples on the trees. They can be dried, cooked and frozen, made into sauce, ...
If you have plenty of Tomatoes but not enough time to process them all, try roasting some with garlic, herbs and salt, then freeze until you have time to make sauce or chutney.
Try: Fenugreek Leaves. We all know fenugreek as a spice used in curries, but did you know the leaves are edible? I didn't, but I have it on good authority (you know who you are) that they are edible and good for us.

May in the Garden!

May is a slowing down month, as the days get shorter and the temperatures get colder. It's time to get the last of the winter crop in before looking towards other garden plant tasks in June.

Sow Direct: Asian Greens, Broad Beans, Corn Salad, Fenugreek, Lettuce, Peas, Rocket, Sorrel, Spigariello, Spinach, Spring Onions,

Start: Asian Greens, Globe Artichokes, Onion, Peas, Spinach, Spring Onions,

Plant: Asian Greens, Asparagus, Broad Beans, Bunching Onions, Celtuce, Choi San, Garlic, Kale, Lettuce, Mustard Greens, Onion, Pak (Bok) Choi, Peas, Potato Onions, Shallots, Sorrel, Spigariello, Spinach, Spring Onions, Tatsoi,

Herbs & Medicinals: Caraway, Cress,

Support Flowers: Baby’s Breath, Carnation, Cornflower, Daisy (common), Lupin,

Maintenance: Aphids can be a problem in Autumn, so keep an eye out. Watch brassicas for grey ones, and chives for black ones. Also watch brassicas for green caterpillars, Wash off with a hose or spray with a mild soap solution. OR, just wait for the lady bugs to arrive.
Remove any nets no longer needed.
Tidy up the berries, divide and replant strawberries.
Tidy up the asparagus.
Revitalise beds with compost and lime if needed.
Plant green manure in fallow beds, beefing up the nitrogen with broad beans and peas.
Collect and save seeds, store in a cool, dry, dark spot, ready for resewing next season.
Keep weeds at bay.
Feed fruit trees with mature compost and manures.
Order new fruit trees.

Harvest: Harvest and dry any summer herbs for use through winter.
Bring the last of the unripe tomatoes in for ripening or making into chutney.
Harvest the last of the pumpkins with stem attached as it starts to die off.
Dig up all remaining potatoes and store in a cool, dry, dark spot.
Apples and Quinces almost finished, Medlars will need to blet before eating eat.

Try: Miner's Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata, is an edible winter succulent, just like Purslane in the Summer. I haven't tried it myself yet, but it's on the list for this Winter. You can get seeds easily through eBay.

Plant Profile - Peas

... in a Pod!

Peas are from the Legume family, and have the ability to draw nitrogen from the air for their needs, and then store excess in the soil. So Peas are a good cool season crop to grow prior to planting leafy greens, which need a lot of nitrogen. (The Warm season crop is Beans, except Broad Beans which grow from through Winter to early Summer.)
Peas have two growth patterns; Bush/Dwarf (determinate) and Climbing (indeterminate). There are three main varieties; Shelling, grown for the peas themselves, Snow, grown for the young edible pods, and Sugarsnap, grown for the young edible pods and mature peas. Climbing peas will need a trellis for support, while the bush peas can be grown in beds or pots.
The plants will tend to slow down over winter, but will take off again in Spring, taking advantage of the already established root systems.
Peas don’t need rich soil, but will respond to some manure or compost, which will also prepare the soil for the subsequent crops. Also, a little lime will be beneficial. The biggest mistake made when sowing peas direct into the soil, is to over-water which can rot the seeds. Soaking the seeds in water overnight is all they need to get stated.
When they do start podding, harvest regularly to promote continual production.

... on a Vine.

... in a Soup!


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 -

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            
Please feel free to forward this newsletter on to interested parties.
Copyright © 2023 Benalla Permaculture, All rights reserved.

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