Gardening: Time to think about winter vegies

We’ve said goodbye to summer and the labour-intensive work in the garden over the warmer months and hello to the lower maintenance time of the cooler weather.

A crop of onions, leeks and garlic is always a bonus to the home cook and some can be stored after they mature and used during the coming seasons. They are not hard to grow and their flavor fresh out of your garden makes the produce out of the supermarket seem very bland and uninteresting, lacking in looks and flavor.

Another keeper is pumpkins – if they are cut after the vine withers and dies off, stored in a cool, dry place with a constant temperature, they will keep for months and the flavor is amazing.

Top of the agenda during the winter months are cabbages, cauliflowers and brussels sprouts. Grown from seedlings they seem to take forever to reach maturity, but the wait is worth it.

They do need monitoring to make sure that the white cabbage moths don’t eat them all for dinner and they must be kept dusted or covered under fine netting to keep them safe. They are at their best both in flavor and in vitamin content when fresh from the garden.

A spare cauliflower can be used to make a lovely pot of Picalily Pickles – the recipe is an old one my Gran brought out from England in 1921. It’s easy to make and a great keeper, I’ve kept it for three years in storage.

Now is also the time to buy in your bulbs ready for spring and summer flowers. Bulbs grow well in pots so they’re great for balconies or patios. Look for big, firm bulbs and plant them three times as deep as their height, with their shoot facing upwards. You’d be amazed how many people plant them upside down. Don’t overwater them or they may rot.


Start with: 1 cauliflower, 3 zucchinis, 3 large onions, ½ cup salt.

Finely chop all vegetables and put into a large plastic bowl or bucket with salt. Mix through and cover with water. Leave overnight.

Next day, tip into large boiler, bring to boil for five minutes, then strain off the water.

Add 3 to 4 cups sugar, 1 level tablespoon salt, a pack of pickling spice tied in a cloth and cover with enough white vinegar to cover plus an extra 1.2 centimentres (usually takes 2 bottles). Bring to boil for approximately 15 minutes.

Thicken with a mixture of 1 ½ cups plain flour, 2 tablespoons mustard and 1 heaped tablespoon turmeric mixed together with water. Boil a further 10-15 minutes to cook the flour, stirring frequently, remove the spices tied in the cloth and bottle into hot bottles. Seal with paraffin wax.

If it’s too thick add more vinegar; if too thin add more flour mixture.

If it’s not spicy enough add more mustard, but remember that flavor will improve and grow stronger when stored before using.

Dental care for kids

Barwon Health’s Oral Health Service is continuing its early intervention program Wide Smiles, visiting thousands of students across Geelong this year.

Led by Dr Michael Smith and Sharon Lewis, Barwon Health developed a method to improve the oral health of children by visiting 44 kindergartens and 25 schools.

During the 2018 school year, children received two dental check-ups and were provided with toothbrushes and toothpaste. Students with early ‘white spot’ decay had fluoride varnish applied.

Parent engagement sessions were also conducted and information on sugar content in different foods was shared. To date, more than 16,000 children have benefited from the program.

Children at Northern Bay College requiring dental procedures benefited from Barwon Health’s outreach dental van, which is equipped to provide a variety of more complex dental treatments.

2018 was the third year the program has operated at Northern Bay College’s Wexford Campus and the service has now expanded to the school’s Peacock Campus. The response from both parents and students has been positive.

Adults with a Health Care Card or a Pension Card can access dental services at the Corio Community Health Centre Dental Clinic. Appointments can be made by phoning 4215-7240 – children under the age of 13 years access the service free.

Coasthaven development to open early 2019

Construction at Baptcare Coasthaven Community in Robin Avenue, Norlane is proceeding on schedule and the development will be open to the public in early 2019.

It will deliver a 90-bed residential aged care facility and a Community Hub, designed to serve the needs of the local community.

To receive updates and news on this new Community, as well as special offers, giveaways and information on the Open Day to be held early next year, visit to register your interest.

Chantelle leading 2 & 5

The 2 & 5 shop and café at Labuan Square has a new manager, with Chantelle Chauvet-Allen moving into the role in late 2016.

Chantelle is experienced working in community service organisations, especially with homelessness, and has a good understanding of the issues around food security and safety. She said it’s an important part of her role to take the time to sit and talk to her customers.

“I like seeing groups of people coming in and chatting with each other,” she said. “The communal aspect is an important part of what we do. It’s healthy, it’s safe and it’s social.”

2 & 5 is a social enterprise set up to address food insecurity by improving access to affordable, sustainable, fresh and healthy food. The 2 & 5 café and shop is open Monday to Friday from 9am-4pm. It serves all day breakfast, lunch, tea and coffee, cakes and slices. The shop also sells fresh fruit and vegetables, and has free bread available twice a week, thanks to the Geelong Food Relief Centre.

Chantelle said she’s enjoying the variety of shops in Labuan Square that are bringing people to the precinct. They include Vinnies, a variety store, café, supermarket, pharmacy, cake shop, medical centre, an additional hairdresser and a new fish and chip shop.

New medical service Norlane

Norlane residents have access to a local medical service following the opening of Labuan Square Medical Centre. The medical centre opened as part of a revitalisation the shopping centre and adjoins the pharmacy.

Residents have responded well to the service, which offers bulk-billing Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm. A pathologist is available in the clinic every morning.

Practice administration manager Sunu Varghese said the practice opened in response to an obvious need for medical services in Norlane. It is saving residents from having to travel out of the area for medical care.

Ms Varghese said there is a rotation of GPs who are highly trained and able to provide care in multiples areas including diabetic management, antenatal (shared) care, medication reviews, women’s health, asthma assessment and management, childhood vaccinations, counselling services and mental health assessments.

A podiatrist started at the medical clinic in December, and a physiotherapist and psychologist will also be available onsite regularly. Ms Varghese said future plans for the clinic include additional doctors and extended hours if there is demand.

Labuan Square Medical Centre is at 19 Labuan Square. For appointments phone 5272-3233. Walk-ins are also welcome.

Preparing for new hub

Changes are being made at Waterworld this summer as part of the Masterplan for a new health and well-being hub in Norlane.

City of Greater Geelong Manager Community Life Linda Quinn said negotiations are continuing around the Northern ARC (arts, recreation and community) Masterplan. She said the goal is to deliver a vibrant health and well-being hub in Geelong’s north and the council will be in a position to provide further information in the next few months.

Ms Quinn said decommissioning of the water slides has commenced, as part of Stage 1 of the Northern ARC Masterplan, which means they are not operating this summer.

However, the rest of the Waterworld facility remains open during summer including the outdoor toddler pool, Splashpad, diving pool and towers, barbecue area, large outdoor area and car park. The centre’s indoor aquatics area, gym, group exercise room, cycle studio and crèche will also remain open to the community.

“We will also be introducing the inflatable Aqua Adventure Run for young people this summer,” Ms Quinn said.

“This exciting floating obstacle course will provide hours of challenging entertainment for kids and teenagers and features four different inflatable challenges including the Swing, Overpass, Peg play and Aqua Joust. The inflatable Aqua Adventure Run will be open at specific times through the week.

“We will also be introducing additional outdoor shade structures and landscaping improvements to ensure families can enjoy hot summer afternoons by the pool.”