April update

Hard to believe it’s May already; I’m wondering where autumn went. We don’t seem to have had many of those lovely warm days I remember from past autumns.

The Sweet Wattle is flowering all through the bush, filling the air with a beautiful scent :


I picked the first mushrooms and Jerusalem artichokes of the season :


The mushrooms actually came from the hugelkultur bed; it’s nice to think that as the underlying wood rots down, it’s providing me with some extra food.

The New Girls have continued to lay well, with at least a dozen eggs a week between them. I thought the they were going off the lay, preparing for their winter rest, when egg production dropped down a bit to 9 a week, but then this appeared, all 136 gm of it. Ouch! I bet that hurt! :


This Japanese seedless mandarin is covered in fruits, the only problem being that they have almost no mandarin flavour and are as sour as lemons! :


I’m thinking the only way to deal with them would be to preserve the segments in a sugar syrup, perhaps with some spices to make up for the absence of mandarin flavour. Ideas anyone?

The blueberry has donned it’s autumn foliage :


The oca is growing well and the tubers will be harvested as soon as the foliage dies down in winter :


The asparagus fern needs to be allowed to die back to return nutrients to the root system, then it can be cut back and the beds fertilised in readiness for the spring crop :


This is an alpine strawberry in a wicking box. I sprinkled some corn salad seed around it. I think I overdid it a bit! :


The pepino in the wicking box is still producing fruit :


The wombok chinese cabbage in the wicking box is growing well, but not looking like producing the expected tight central cluster of leaves. I was hoping to make kimchi with it, but if it doesn’t do its thing the chooks are going to have a ball pulling these massive leaves to bits :


11 Responses to “April update”

  1. notsomethingelse Says:

    Great stuff. I would be interested to know if you …can’t think of the word just now, ‘spoored’ the wood, with the intention of getting mushrooms… or if they just appeared by chance?

    Incidentally, I just bought some garbage bins (water collection) and plastic boxes (wicking), to follow your example. Thanks for the tips.


    • foodnstuff Says:

      No, I don’t do anything; they just come up naturally here. They’re the only ones I know that are edible (a friend who’s a mushroom geek identified them for me). There are lots of poisonous ones here as well. I didn’t have any success with that spawn I sent for (which you helped get for me by contacting the supplier). I will try it again someday, though.

      Hope your wicking boxes perform well….put some photos on your blog when you get them going.


  2. narf77 Says:

    Almost half the year has gone and it feels like I blinked and missed it! I am assured by the B.O.M. that it is 1C outside and here, inside my little kitchen with Brunhilda fighting off the frost, it is easy to believe. We apparently entered El Nino today and if the weather boffins are accurate, that means not a lot of rain this winter or coming spring. Let’s just hope that they are wrong (like they usually are).

    My Jerusalem artichokes have died back and it’s time to see if there is a harvest out there. They grew like topsy, but I reckon their crazy growth (about 15ft high) was due to being planted in horse manure compost and that they might just have been harbouring my white fly nemesis. Might be time to get hauling and have the first Jerusalem artichoke meal of the season. I think it might be soup.

    I think my lot (hens) are laying somewhere that I don’t know about. Not good! We aren’t here to listen out for them in the mornings so they lay and cackle with impunity and no snooping humans around to find that nest. Pretty soon, one of them is going to have her biological clock go off and suddenly, chickens galore. I don’t mind the chicks but I do mind the heartbreak when their useless mums lead them straight into the gaping maws of any and every predator that we have in numerous hungry multitudes on our property at any given time.

    You could candy those mandarins (slice across as they are seedless) or have a go at making glace mandarins? The other alternative is to try making preserved mandarins and use them like you would preserved lemons? What about a chutney? You could use a recipe for Indian lemon pickle as a starting point?

    I have a large bucket of oca and will be harvesting the tubers when the foliage dies down. How do I keep them for planting out in spring? I want to use my harvest to populate a small oca bed. I know that they grow well here as the lady up the road (with the little plant stall) gave me a bag that she had harvested from her ocas in her garden that she inherited when she moved here. I like crops that do well in our neighbourhood as that is half of the battle won, getting them to grow. The other half is keeping everything that wants to scoff them at bay 😉

    I love the colour contrast between that salvia and the artichoke fronds as they die back. I am going to have to get hold of some salvia cuttings!

    I think I need to get hold of some alpine strawberry seeds or seedlings. There are a few plants of them at the Deviot community garden and I tasted one of the strawberries and it knocked my socks off. Once you eat them, you really can’t compare regular strawberries to that heady experience

    My pepino’s suffered from being overnitrogenised. The leaves on them are about three times the size of the leaves on your potted specimen and although I did get some fruit, the rats feasted on it before I could get to it.

    You can make kimchi out of just about anything so I wouldn’t reward the chooks with your hard work just yet ;). Another excellent post for what is almost half of the year gone! I have some serious horse manure unloading to do next week and then the annual oak leaf raking event that has me quaking in my mind already but I really want that 15 or so trailer loads of oak leaves to mix into that manure. This time I WON’T plant into the horse manure oak leaf mix till it has rotted down and I dig it into the composted mix we used to create the original garden beds. Might have to shake that moth eaten sock under the bed and see if we can’t import some “soil” to add to that fecund mix.


    • foodnstuff Says:

      I haven’t made soup yet with JA’s. I slice them thinly (5-10 mm) and fry both sides till they’re browned outside and soft inside. I didn’t get a huge crop because they got no fertiliser and very little summer watering. They’d be also good very thinly sliced and deep fried as chips, but I don’t do deep frying stuff.

      Chutney is a better option for the mandarins, but I will try candying some too. Thanks for the ideas.

      I got my alpine strawberry seeds from Phoenix seeds which is down your way. The red form doesn’t sucker but the white form (which I bought as plants from Diggers) does. I thought I’d lost the white form in the mess that the food forest had become, but found some when I tidied up and have potted them up for planting elsewhere. I’ll send you some rooted suckers when available. The whites taste the same as the reds but the birds don’t cotton on to them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • narf77 Says:

        Anything that the birds and possums and rats and mice and bandicoots and wallabies and currawongs and blackbirds and dogs don’t cotton on to is GOLD! :). It looks like I am going to get a bumper crop from the tubers that I collected from a walk (they were outside a fence in the roadside gutter and I carried them, dirt and all, in my handbag 😉 ). I am going to make them their own bed as they tend to go mental here and as I said, they were about 15 feet tall! Thank you SO much in advance for being such a wonderful person Bev. We get each other and sharing blogging time with you is a privilege and a pleasure 🙂


  3. Chris Says:

    Yep, its definitely getting colder. Winter equinox is a little over a month away. The wind has started up today. Lovely pictures in your garden though.

    All your hens are Barnevelders, aren’t they? The large egg doesn’t look as dark as normal Barney eggs do. Is it a “one-off” light colour, due to its size?

    I’ve been meaning to try brandied kumquats, where you soak them in brandy. It preserves them, but apparently it also makes them taste great! Wonder if the same would work with mandarin segments?


    • foodnstuff Says:

      The large egg didn’t really have any colour and it had a chalky coating, not the usual smooth one. Something obviously went awry in the laying process. When they first started laying there were a couple like that (although not that size) and I presumed it was just their systems getting into gear. The colour is the last thing to be laid down, then a sort of protective layer, which makes the egg surface quite wet, but it dries very quickly.

      Brandied mandarin segments sound great! Something to get a little tiddly on 🙂


  4. Linda Says:

    Your garden looks wonderful! I woul love to try oca. I must ask around to see if anyone has some. The asparagus ferns look lovely snuggling up against the salvia.


    • foodnstuff Says:

      Hi Linda, I see from your blog that you’re in Victoria. I could send you some oca tubers when I harvest them, which would be in a couple of months time. When I harvest them, I’ll contact you through your blog and get your address. Would that be OK?


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