April update

I found a spot for my little Australian native Finger Lime in a large tub beside the deck. It looked so big in its original nursery pot and now looks so tiny dwarfed by the gas bottles. I had planted a half circle of purple-podded peas at the rear of the tub and they had only just germinated, so it will have some company and they will put some nitrogen into the soil for it. I’m still tossing up whether to get another one to plant in the garden near the regular citrus trees :

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Tamarillos are starting to ripen and so are persimmons :

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I wasn’t sure about the persimmons, even though the colour looked right, they were still hard, so I picked just one and left it on the bench for a week and thankfully it softened and became edible. This is what a friend told me to do years ago. She had a huge tree and I can remember visiting and seeing dozens of bright orange persimmons lining the window sills in the kitchen and living room.

I’m pleased with my garlic so far, growing in the new bath. Hope it’s better than last year when the bulbs I picked were so small as to be practically useless :

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Carrots direct sown in a wicking box :

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My local greengrocer had locally grown Pink Lady apples for under $2 a kilo, so I got some to dry. I’ll chop these into smaller pieces in the Thermomix and use them in a mixture of chopped dried apricots and sultanas, which I add to my (cooked) rolled oats for winter breakfasts :

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I dried some lime slices at the same time. Don’t know what I’ll do with these :

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My Jerusalem artichokes were a dismal failure, but then I wasn’t surprised. They were in a terrible spot under gum trees, got very little water through the summer and almost no nutrients. So this is the entire crop. I’m not eating any, but replanting them right away into a large tub which will be well watered and fed through next summer.

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The solitary yellow tamarillo has produced more fruit than the four red ones, which, for some reason, lost most of their flowers during the summer :

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The trouble with most of these fruits is that they’re well out of reach, because tamarillo plants do this :

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A tall skinny trunk with an umbrella of foliage at the top. In The Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia, Louis Glowinski recommends pinching out the tip growth when the plant is a metre high to force it to branch. Well, I did that with this plant and it still reached for the heavens (it might have been a little over a metre). Nowadays I pinch out the tip growth when the seedling is only 25 cm high (no mature trees from that experiment to show as yet). Luckily the fruits fall when they’re really ripe, even though they’re usually OK to eat before that.

My Naranka Gold pumpkin has been picked and is maturing enjoying the sun on top of the firewood box on the deck. I hope there’s plenty of seed inside as I’ve now run out and this one is grown exclusively for Coles supermarkets, so seed isn’t available to buy :

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My yacon crop is better this year. I kept it well-watered and fed over summer, so I’m hoping for some decent tubers. It’s planted under a couple of tamarillos (note the trunks either side), so it was always protected from the direct sun which makes the soft leaves wilt readily :

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I cleaned all the old summer crops out of the two planter boxes and planted some kale seedlings :

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But there are still white butterflies about, so :

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The climbing beans did so well in the milk bottle planters, I thought I’d try some peas. Only three per bottle and they’ll require careful tying up since they don’t twine like beans, but hey, anything’s worth a try :

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The strawberry wicking buckets are still producing a few strawberries :

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During the month we had a welcome 50 mm of rain which greened everything up nicely, but we still need much more to make up for the very dry spring and summer months. Melbourne’s average for April is 53 mm.

Last but not least, the Girls have all stopped laying and are having their autumn/winter break. I don’t expect any more eggs until September at the earliest. I’ll be buying eggs for the first time in 13 months. This was the first laying year for the three newbies (Bonny, Missy & Clover) and between them they laid 382 eggs. Five year-old Molly would have contributed some of those, but not many. She’s a senior cit now and just likes to spend her days lolling in the sun. When she does produce an egg it probably surprises her more than it does me.

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9 Responses to “April update”

  1. narf7 Says:

    I love this post Bev. It’s cram packed with excellent information and ideas. We are in the middle of clearing out our front block and block splitting 2 truck loads of wood but once we finish the Sanctuary upgrade will be full steam ahead and I will be using as many of your excellent wicking ideas as I can. I wonder if I could grow tamarillo here? I NEED a persimmon tree or two. I tasted them for the first time at my daughters house and fell instantly in love with them.

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    • foodnstuff Says:

      Thanks, Fran. You’d need a warmish, sheltered spot for tamarillo….they’re shallow-rooted and tend to blow over easily. Worth trying. I can send you some seed if you can’t pick up a plant locally. Last year seed of the yellow variety germinated well for me, but not the red. Don’t know why.

      Liked by 1 person

      • narf7 Says:

        You never know sometimes why things won’t germinate. I have been saving all kinds of seeds and pits this year. I have lots of tree chilli seeds that came out of the huge fruit from my small tree chilli. We finally got some serious rain and the garden was on it’s last legs when it arrived. Lost our net and phone for 3 days with a storm and a tree pulling out our phone line. Sorry I haven’t replied sooner.

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  2. Chris Says:

    Wow, your garden looks lovely. Especially the picture with the Tamarillo. You’re moving into the autumn sun positions now, where I see it’s starting to shade the garden with the Tamarillo. I reckon this is why its gone leggy. My guess is, it probably does most of its growing in the cool of autumn, rather than in summer where it gets full sun exposure, from directly overhead. As a result, it stretches to attempt to breach the canopy of shade.

    I’ve noticed this happening on our bush block. Trees which get direct sunlight, all year, are more compact, than those which have to reach for the dwindling sunlight, during autumn/winter/spring.

    Lucky you and poor you. We seemed to have excelled and failed at opposite crops. My yacon was miserable – no edible tubers. In fact, I’ll be lucky to save anything to grow on. Yet, I did much better with the Jerusalem artichokes. I’ll use your tip with shading the leafs. 🙂

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    • foodnstuff Says:

      Actually the tamarillos in that area get quite a bit of summer shade, too, so that probably contributes to the legginess. In full sun, the huge leaves wilt alarmingly even if there’s water at the roots, so I tend to plant them less in full sun areas.

      It seems that seedlings get more leggy than cuttings, according to Louis Glowinski. I’ve put in some cuttings to try. They’re amazingly hardy. I had one leggy specimen die (so I thought), during our dry spring/summer, but didn’t bother to water it as it wasn’t in a good spot and I had lots of seedlings ready to plant when the rains came. The leaves at the top had completely fallen off and the branches were dry and dead. Amazingly, when we did finally get some rain, I noticed new leaves sprouting from further down the trunk. I’ve cut the top off down to the new growth and will see how it goes. I’ve also cut others right back to the ground (wanting to remove them), and have had them sprout again.

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  3. kmfinigan Says:

    Great to see that your finger lime is sitting pretty in the sunshine! They are best grown I find in a pot that can be moved around with the sun at different times of the year. They do though need to be maintained really well, so here are some tips for moving into the winter months (whenever they get here) http://bit.ly/1BcbCBN

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  4. Chris Says:

    A bit off topic here, but I’m just letting you know I’ve put in a request to Blogger to check my template – if there’s anything wrong with it. I did some minor upgrades on my template when I changed it around recently. Maybe that’s why you’re still having to do word verification?

    You can email me at c dot d dot riley at optusnet dot com dot au and if you’re still having issues, let me know. Cheers.

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    • foodnstuff Says:

      I did a Google search and apparently a lot of Blogger people have turned off verification and are finding it’s still on. It’s not impossible to comment to your blog…just annoying sometimes 😉

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