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


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

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. 

Jacican kitchen garden fruit trees 0012

The kitchen garden at Jacican in 2021.


 Matthew and Neville Vaux Rosedale butchers

Third and second-generation butchers, Matthew and Neville Vaux, Rosedale butchers. Photo Jaci Hicken

At lunch, Susan is telling a story about how the bacon she is eating tastes like the bacon she had when she first moved from the UK to Rosedale, Gippsland, in 1982. The answer is, "it is, it is the same bacon."

It's not possible that its precisely the same bacon, but it is still made by the Vaux family in the same butcher's shop, using the same method, recipe and wood smokehouse, but now by the second and third-generation butcher. 

Neville Vaux, his wife Debbie and their son Matthew run Rosedale butchers, on the highway in Rosedale, Gippsland.

"We came here in 1977, then I did my apprenticeship with Mum and Dad. Debbie and I brought the shop in 1995. In 1997 Matthew came along and in 2007, he started his apprenticeship with us." Neville said.

The reason Susan thought the bacon tasted the same, from when she first moved to Rosedale, is the family still operates the smokehouse installed by Neville's father, Raymond Vaux. 

"We still use the smokehouse installed by Dad's father in 82, which aren't fancy. We use them to make all our small goods and bacon," Mathew Vaux said.

For the smoking process, carried out by Matthew, fresh forequarter, legs or loins of pork are pickled, injected with water and a salt, herb and spices mix. It is then cured in a pickling tub containing a brine of salt solution and water.  

After three days in the pickling tub, the pork is washed off and smoked anywhere from 14 to 18 hours. This becomes the ham or bacon that Susan remembers from 1982.

"It's exactly the same process from 1982," Matthew said. 

Matthew Vaux Rosedale butchers smokehouse

Matthew Vaux, Rosedale butchers with the families smokehouse in use on the premise since 1982. Photo Jaci Hicken

The butcher's shop and the attached house next door has been in the same place in Rosedale since the late 1800s. Before Raymond Vaux built the smokehouse to meet regulations, the fireplace was in the kitchen in the shop, "and they use to have rails above the fireplace. That was how originally the hams were smoked," he said.

Traditional smokehouses are run on a wood fire. To meet regulations set by PrimeSafe, the smokehouse at Rosedale butchers is run on gas that burns food-grade wood chips to produce the smoke.

Wattlebank Park Farm free-range pig farmer, Nadine Verboon uses Rosedale butchers to cut and pack her pork products, firstly for personal use, then for the last seven years as the maker of small goods for her on-farm butcher's shop.

Nadine Verboon at Wattlebank park farm
Nadine Verboon, Wattlebank Park Farm with her pigs. Photo Jaci Hicken

Using pigs that are raised at Wattlebank Park farm, Rosedale butchers make traditionally smoked bacon, cabana and polish sausage, that Nadine sells at Farmer's markets, online and through her butcher's shop.

"Rosedale does all our smoked small goods. We've been with Rosedale for probably 14 years," Nadine said.

Wattlebank Park farm runs saddleback and large black pigs and is currently trialling a Durco boar over their sows to breed to "get bigger hams."

"We are trying to keep those heritage breeds going. And the flavour that comes from them is just a phenomenal, beautiful flavour," Nadine said.

saddleback pig at Wattlebank park farm

Saddleback sow and piglets at Wattlebank Park Farm. Photo Jaci Hicken

At Rosedale butcher, they are finding that there is a move towards the old English breeds of pig, like the heritage breeds at Wattlebank Park farm.

"They are fatter, but you can also get some mix breeds that come out with plenty of flavour," Matthew said. 

"The quality of the product that comes in is the quality of the product that goes out. You can't go making gold out of bronze. To get a good quality product, you can have as big as you like, but as long as it's lean," he said.

Neville Vaux finds the quality of the pork depends on what feed the farmers give to their pigs.

"They don't give them the right grain, because the grain costs too much money, so they skimp on that. Then they give the pigs too much whey and that makes them fat. Then they give them too much bread, which makes them fat as well," Neville said.

"And too many vegetables makes them lean. We find that Nadine's pigs are lean," he said.

Only farming pigs for personal use, Caroline Van Oosterom recognises that you have to feed pigs feed with the "right animal protein percentage."

"The amount of protein you feed them is so important. Pigs need to have a feed that is high in lysine as a source of protein," Caroline said.

"We have taken the decision not to farm pigs commercially, only raise them for personal use, due to only being two abattoirs we can access, from Gippsland," she said.

The two licensed abattoirs that can take pigs are in Laverton on the west side of Melbourne and Orbost in far East Gippsland.  

Wattlebank Park Farm transports their pigs to the city, which are then returned slaughtered to Rosedale butchers. Rosedale butchers will know which pig carcasses belong to Wattlebank Park farm, by the pig tattoo number on the right shoulder of the animal. Pigs are not allowed to leave a farm without this identification.

Rosedale butchers then cuts, process and packs a farmer's pork into any cut they would like. The fresh cuts that can be included are roast, chops, schnitzels, mince and sausages, and small goods, Matthew Vaux said.

Watch as Rosedale butchers fill and twist fresh sausages. Video Jaci Hicken 

"Everyone’s product comes in different shapes and forms. There is always something you can do with it. It's just a matter of working out what cuts you require and what product you are going to get back," he said. 

"You've just got to work in with your butcher. Your butcher is your end product and the more you work with the butcher, the happier the butcher will be working with your product."

Visit Wattlebank Park farm with Jaci. Video Jacican

Just outside Mirboo North, at Milly & P’lette farm cottage you will find Mary Germano Smeriglio. Mary has always cooked and shared things we may have thought where weeds for her family. Learning from her mother, Mrs. Paolina Germano, at an early age, Mary’s recipe for Cosce Vecchie has now been past on to her daughters, as well as me.

Mary Smeriglio shares her recipe for Dandelion Greens with Jaci from Jacican

I was lucky to share a meal of Cosce Vecchie, homemade woodfired bread topped with olive oil, home-dried oregano and salt, Mary’s mother’s eggplant parmigiana and slices of fresh prosciutto with her and her husband Joe, when I called around to learn to cook dandelions.

Mary picks the nice tender greens. To pick the dandelion, she puts a knife under the flat weed and slides it across. She removes any dead or yellow leaves and you don’t eat the yellow flower stalks. You will have to wash thoroughly before use.

Cosce Vecchie (Dandelion Greens)

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add salt and the greens, pushing them down with a wooden spoon until they are all submerged under the water

When the leaves are tender, drain in a colander and press down firmly with a potato masher or small saucer to remove the excess water. Place in a large bowl and cut roughly with kitchen scissors. Loosen with a fork.

Place on a serving dish. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt. A squeeze of lemon juice finishes it off nicely.

Lunch at Mary Smeriglio of dandelion greens

You can find this recipe in Nonna's Secret Recipe Book, part of the Mirboo North Italian Festa


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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