Archive for the ‘Citrus’ Category

What to do?

June 12, 2018

I’m sitting here at the computer on a cold, grey wintry afternoon, when I should be outside working, but I’ve succumbed to the temptation of being inside, with a fan heater under the desk, blowing warm air on my legs and a recording of Handel’s Judas Maccabeus playing in the background.

I’ve read through all the latest posts in my blog feed, I’ve scrolled through Facebook (it’s pretty boring) and looked at Chris’s new version of his Weekly Notes From Fernglade Farm blog. That’s when I saw that he’s very kindly put a link to this blog in his blog list and I felt immediately guilty, because I haven’t kept up with writing this blog like I used to.

Hence the title of this post: What to do? Because I really don’t know whether to keep writing or not. I closed it down once before and everyone wrote such nice comments that I eventually started writing again. I felt I was saying the same things over and over and I had only had a few new subscribers and the stats were showing daily readers had dropped off. And summer was a disaster and many plants died and the birds/possums got most of the fruit that did manage to set and….and….well, fellow gardeners, you know how it is. Not exactly gardening blog-writer’s depression, but similar.

I’d better write something……

So, after a very dry summer—no rain at all in February; and less than normal in March and April—the rains finally came in May, with almost 4 times the average for Melbourne. The water tank filled again; the 3 pools down the back, which had dried out completely, filled up. The curling leaves on the citrus opened out and became dark green again (I had tried desperately to keep water up to them). The 2 tamarillos that had gone to god decided to stay there and not return, but they were old and woody and probably past their best. All the tamarillos had flowered well before the big hot/dry but with a single day of 42 ºC in summer, all the flowers dropped off and that’s why I’m not eating tamarillos now when they should be coming out of my ears.

One fruit I did get, and very pleased with the crop I was, were about 20 persimmons. The blackbird got a few before I realised he was onto them, but I swathed what I could of the tree in nets and put individual little bags over the rest :

The good thing was, I discovered that if I picked them as soon as they had developed a reasonable amount of colour, they would continue to ripen inside on the kitchen table, so I was able to get them off the tree while it was still covered in leaves and the leaf cover helped to keep them out of sight of the birds. Oh, they are so delicious when ripe and almost fluid inside!

The other crop I got quite a lot of was Jerusalem artichokes. I had 2 batches in large tubs and another batch in the ground; in fact one lot are still in their tub—I just cut off the dead stems and left them there to harvest at any time. I will probably have to remove them and thin them out before they begin to shoot again in spring, or they will choke themselves out :

I love them sliced into quarter-inch slices and fried in butter till soft, but I discovered they also work well very thinly sliced and deep fried, when they end up just like potato chips. Of course, one can’t eat too many at once—not for nothing are they often called Jerusalem ‘fartichokes’.

Here are a few pics of what’s in the garden at the moment.

This is a mixture of kales which I’ve direct-sown from garden-collected seed. I think it was meant to be Red Russian Kale but it has come up as 2 forms—a feathery-leaved form and one with a darker, more entire leaf. Obviously the initial (purchased) seeds were hybrids and they’ve returned to a mixture of the parents. That’s a few purple-podded peas in the background :

Plenty of silver beet for me and the chooks. This is the form called spinach beet. It’s often touted as ‘perennial’ but it’s not—it runs to seed in its second year just like normal silver beet :

Leeks in a wicking box, almost ready to pick :

Parsley in a wicking box. Wicking boxes never need watering at this time of year :

This one is interesting. It’s Apium australe or King Island Celery, a native celery. Years ago I went to a talk on native bush foods and the chap giving the talk was growing this as a crop for the restaurant trade. I bought a plant from him and have been growing it and collecting seed ever since. I was lucky with these 2 plants. I discovered, going through my seed bank, that I hadn’t grown out seed for a few years and there were only a few left. Luckily 2 came up. These are in a wicking box and doing very well as all celerys like lots of water. The leaves have a very strong celery taste. I use it mainly for flavouring soups. This species is endemic to the Bass Strait Islands and Lord Howe Island :

I cleaned out the summer bean crops from the milk bottle planters and filled them with fresh mushroom compost with a bit of Dynamic Lifter mixed in. I’ve put endive seedlings in. More chook food than me food :

This is my little native lime in its large tub. It’s grown really well in the last year. I’m hoping it will flower and set some fruits this spring/summer :

This is Mizuna, a soft-foliaged Japanese green and easy to grow. I collect seed every year and direct-sow it. It’s useful as a winter green for soups, omelets and scrambled eggs :

Usually my strawberries in their wicking buckets die back over winter and I cut them right back for the new spring growth. This year I cut them back early and they leafed out again and flowered. The fruits aren’t ripening well; I suppose it’s just too cold :

Blueberries are getting their winter colours :

And some early flower buds? :

It looks like the turmeric is almost ready to harvest. I’ll wait till the leaves are a bit more dead and dig up the tubers :

Well, that’s it. I wrote a post. Yay for me! I’ll try and keep it up!

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April update

May 1, 2016

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.

Australian Finger Lime

April 17, 2016

A recent post by Kathy at My Productive Backyard dealt with culinary use of the Australian Finger Lime. I decided I had to try and grow one.

I rang the local nursery where I usually buy my fruit trees. “Nah”, he said, “don’t often have ’em….try again in spring.” Bother.

I had to call into Bunnings to get potting mix. They won’t have even heard of it, I decided.

“Oh, yes,” she said, “some came in on Wednesday.” I choked.

Beautiful little plants. I was rapt, especially in the tiny leaves :

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I need to do some homework about where to put it….garden or large pot? Kathy has a post here on growing it. We don’t get frosts here and the deck would be an ideal spot in winter (in a pot) but far too hot in summer. Shifting it wouldn’t be easy (down the steps?…no way).

Anyway….I have it and it looks really healthy. Plenty of time to do some homework and it can stay on the deck in its present pot, enjoying the winter sun until I find it a permanent home.

Thanks, Kathy.