A friend told me recently, that in tough times make sure you have Brussels Sprouts. They will survive at the bottom of your fridge through everything.

chopped brussel sprouts waiting for your lunch at Jacican

Here’s how you cook them

To save on the typing, from now on I’m going to call Brussels Sprouts, BS.

I like to peel off any leaves for the outside that are past their best.

have brussel sprouts with your lunch at Jacican

You can either cut a cross in the bottom of each BS or cut each BS in half vertically.

chopped brussel sprouts into halves for lunch at Jacican

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to the boil. Blanc your BS in the boiling water for 2 minutes. I do less time, not more, as I like my BS still crispy. Not grey and soggy. 

Dice a couple of strips of bacon and one onion.

Heat a frying pan. Add a spoonful of butter. Melt.

Add the bacon and onion to the frypan. Fry off until the bacon is crisp, and the onion cooked.

Throw in the BS. Fry off until they start to brown.

fry your brussel sprouts in a frypan with bacon and onion

To finish the BS off, pour in ½ cup of white wine. Add a pinch of salt, pepper and the chef’s secret ingredient, sugar.  

On this day, I’ve served mine with a rack of Wattlebank park farm lamb

Brussel sprouts served with lamb rack at Jacican lunch

Stay safe and keep cooking!


When we first brought our property that was to become Jacican, there were only three fruit trees.

Mirboo North 001

The kitchen garden when we first brought the property in 2008

Before us, there were rumours that the ¾ acre property had a full self-sufficient garden, but the previous owner had mown over it over 20 years, and there was very little left.

One ancient plum tree, an apple, and an ornamental peach – that was it.

Jacican kitchen garden fruit trees 0001

The ancient plum tree - one of the original three fruit trees at Jacican

Over the 13 years we have been living here, there are now three apples, three hazelnuts, a feijoa, a medlar, seven citrus, two mulberries, a quince, three babacos, a pear, three peaches, two apricots, a nectarine, a cherry, two figs, a new plum, and the old plum.

Jacican kitchen garden fruit trees 0007

Fruit tree - bare of leaves - waiting for a winter prune

Jacican kitchen garden fruit trees 0009

Seven different citrus fruit trees are now in the Jacican Kitchen garden

Along with currents, raspberries, strawberries, edible natives, herbs, passionfruit, flowers, and annual and perennial vegetables. 

Jacican kitchen garden fruit trees 0005

Babacos - also called champagne fruit

You can see the change.

We learned how to look after the fruit trees.

When they needed to be pruned, prune them with what, when, and where on the tree.

And we are still learning …

If you would like to learn to we are running a winter pruning class on Saturday 7th of August 2021. 

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The kitchen garden at Jacican in 2021.


In the Garden, edible flowers.

October is traditionally the month of the year that the vegetable garden is at its leanest. The season is between slow-growing winter vegetables going to seed and the yet to be warm enough to plant out the summer crops.

I’ve been thinking about this and how I ‘think’ that there’s not much in my kitchen garden. The only thing is I forget that I pick and cook something out of it every day. 

I thought I would start writing down a list each month of what I’m eating from the kitchen garden, focusing on one type of edible plant. Even though October is a little lean, by way of vegetables, there is one plant that I have more than enough of … flowers.

October is the middle of spring and spring means a lot of flowers. Because I like to use everything in the kitchen garden, I’ve planted a lot of edible and companion flowering plants over the years. 

The Flowers

You can walk around the garden and snack on any of these flowers, this October …

apple geranium

Apple geranium

I would really snack on this one, as it doesn't really have any flavour.

It would go wonderfully in a dry flower thing and it a great companion plant for the kitchen garden. 



I never planted the borage. It just moved in from the neighbours. Now it's all through the kitchen garden. The flowers are rumored to taste like oysters, but I think they just taste like green!



Pick a large bucket of it. Ferment with lemons and oranges, cover with water for 5 days. Strain and measure how much liquid you have.

Add a third of the volume of sugar. Stir to dissolve. Bottle and save for later.

Now you have Elderflower cordial. 


Fennel seed

For a while, I couldn't get fennel to set in the kitchen garden. 

I brought some from the plant person at the farmers market. She said that if I planted it out and let it go to seed, I'll have fennel forever. 

For the time being this means that I have a lot of lovely seed and pollen to use in salads, cakes, desserts or with pasta. 



Another plant that I struggled to grow in the first few years at Jacican. Now it grows like a weed (and I pull it out like a weed)

You can eat the mustard flavoured leaves and flowers. great in a salad. I think back in the day, they where eaten in white bread as a sandwich! 

pineapple sage

Pineapple sage

Use a lot on those competition cooking shows. In my kitchen garden, it grows by itself. Loves a hard prune.

You can just pull the sweet flowers off and eat like a lolly. I like to bake them into a vanilla butter cake for something a little fancy.  



Lovely with lamb, you can use the cakes in cakes for a savoury flavoured dessert. Sprinkled on top of ice cream for something a little different. 



it's everywhere in my kitchen garden. And what lovely flowers. 

I seem to add sage to many things. The flowers are great in salads or served as a garnish with beef. 



An Australian native that grows in dry coastal area. In dry times it is feed to sheep or these days, so they can charge more.

I cook the leaves under lamb for a very salty jus. You can use the flowers just like salt. But they come with a warning ... they are very very salty. 



Thyme, thyme, thyme .. what's become of me!

Bake these tiny flowers into a vanilla cake or flavour ice-cream 

Now for everything else I have to eat out the kitchen garden, this October ...

The vegetables

Vegetables that are coming out of the Jacican kitchen garden this October are …


Very young potatoes


Young garlic (you use it like spring onions)

Last year’s shallots



Brussel sprouts

The greens

Green leafy plants that grow pretty much by themselves in the Jacican kitchen garden and you can eat this October …


Warragul greens



The herbs

Never by herbs from a shop when you’ve got these growing in the kitchen garden this October ...

Parsley … so much parley

All the thymes you can think off

Lemon & lime balm

So much mint and in 5 or more flavours

A few people ask me what seeds we should plant now because there are lots of people out there that haven't gardened before.

As you can see, I've gardened before.

You can pick these up from any of your normal hardware shops Mr. Fothergills, Radish, broccoli and bok choy (pak choi), are my recommendations to start with.

 Seeds to grow in April in Mirboo North Gippsland at Jacican

I’m going plant bok choy seeds in the garden, and I'll show you how you do it.

It's really, really, really easy.

In the packet, you get a roll of seed tape, two lengths of 2.5 metres.

In a normal household, you would plant 1 metre at a time, which means you got to have five months’ worth of seeds, one meter at a time, once a month for five months.

What we do is scraped back some mulch, throw the ball for the dog in between.

Rough up the top of the soil, it doesn’t need to be very deep, and lay in the seed tape and sprinkle back over the dirt or you could use a little potting mix

That's it, you've planted some bok choy

Bok choy will grow the fastest, it maybe will only take 4 to 6 weeks before you are harvesting your own.

bok choy in the Jacican kitchen garden in Mirboo North Gippsland

It will depend on how warm the weather stays.

This is what you will end up with after about 4 weeks, bok choy ready to eat!

grow your own bok choy in the Jacican kitchen garden in Mirboo North Gippsland  grow your own bok choy at Jacican Mirboo North Gippsland


Jacican Cooking School's kitchen garden, Mirboo North Gippsland

Each year I grow a year’s supply of tomatoes in the kitchen garden. Usually, it’s three beds each holding 36 plants. After losses, I end up with about 100 tomato plants. All of them have different colours, shapes and sizes.

How to grow tomatoes at Jacican cooking school, Gippsland

All the tomatoes I grow, I grow from seed. I start tomato season in July, reviewing my collection of seeds, hunting out new ones to try, purchasing fresh seed. If you don’t get your seeds early, you rush when it’s time for planting

Sometimes around the middle of August, I spend an hour or two planting out the seeds in the glasshouse.

How to grow tomatoes at Jacican cooking school, Gippsland


How to grow tomatoes at Jacican cooking school, Gippsland

I use a 4 cm square seed raising trays that hold 24 plants. I’m a little bit lazy, so I buy fresh seed raising mix from the Mirboo North nursey. I fill each square with seed raising mix and poke a hole in the mix with a skewer. I then place a couple of seeds in the hole and push back over the dirt.

How to grow tomatoes at Jacican cooking school, Gippsland

Now the most important thing … remember to label. Each tomato gets an ice pole stick, with a handwritten label. I use Ice pole sticks, as they last a season, then break down into the soil.

Jacican grows all tomato seeding for the kitchen garden

Now water and wait. In about 4 months I’ll have tomatoes.


PS: You can only harvest your own tomatoes at Jacican, as a guest in a Harvest Lunch, when tomatoes are in season. This is usually between February and early May.

Walk amongst the weeds

jacican harvest lunch

Cooking Classes

jacican preserving cooking class

Private Classes

jacican pastry cooking class pasties

Acknowledgment of country

Hello, I’m Jaci Hicken, from the lands of the Brataualung clan, which is where I’ve spent most of my life.

I would like to acknowledge all of us here today to cook together and share a meal.

I love sharing my dream of growing the food this country has to offer and share it with you.

The traditional place that we come together today is on the lands Gunaikurnai people

And I’d like to pay my respects to our elders past, present, emerging leaders, along with all the young people in our community.

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