Archive for the ‘Persimmon’ 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!

Happiness is a ripe persimmon

May 20, 2016

My persimmon tree produced 20 fruit this autumn. It’s been in 8 years and has only produced fruit once before. That year it managed 13 and  I was over the moon. This year, I went right around the solar system!

When a persimmon ripens, it goes squishy soft, like a balloon filled with water. The flesh inside has the texture of apricot jam. The peel isn’t usually eaten. I found the best way to tackle one was to cut from bottom to top, down through the centre, to the hard woody calyx :


Then pick up the whole thing, one half in each hand, squeeze the sides upwards from the bottom and slurp up the pulp. It helps to be standing with head bent over the sink at the time, and a wet flannel is necessary to wipe the mouth and surrounds afterwards.



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 :


Tamarillos are starting to ripen and so are persimmons :


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 :


Carrots direct sown in a wicking box :


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 :


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


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.


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 :


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


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 :


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 :


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


But there are still white butterflies about, so :


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 :


The strawberry wicking buckets are still producing a few strawberries :


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.

October update

November 16, 2014

I’m a bit late with this owing to activities on the chicken front taking precedence, but anyway here it is—better late than never and just to prove that things other than chook things do happen here.

The passionfruit climbing over the old chook run has finally decided to flower… :



…and produce fruit :


The redcurrants are colouring up. I suppose I’m going to have to think about netting them, although last year I didn’t, and the birds left them alone (although that ant seems to be interested) :


I put three cucamelons into a wicking tub and they’ve been slow to establish; maybe the weather hasn’t been hot enough yet. Their thread-like tendrils have finally found the wire support, so maybe that will jog them along a bit :


Last year was a poor year for the persimmon, with only three fruit and the blackbird got all of them while they were still green. There are only three buds on the plant again this year, but this time I’ll get in ahead of him with netting :


I planted out all the tomatoes during October because they were big enough and it looked like all the cold weather had gone. I did a quick tour & count and there are 36 plants out, most in wicking boxes or wicking tubs and just a few in the garden. This one, in a wicking tub, has trebled in size in just a couple of weeks :


These are in a wicking box :


The comfrey re-appeared with a vengeance :


These three chokos in pots are looking for something to grab onto. I don’t know where I’m going to plant them as I don’t have a trellis prepared. Maybe I’ll see if they’ll climb up a tree :


Well, I finally put one next to the wire corridor connecting the two chook runs. I have a feeling I’m going to regret it if it takes over the whole area :


The raspberries are in their first year of growth. Looks like I might get some fruit :


Basil futures. I froze pesto last year and it worked so well, I’m aiming for plenty more this year :


This is Wild Rocket. I think it has a stronger flavour than the common variety and the foliage is more attractive :


I go through 3 litres of milk a week. While I know the bottles can be recycled, it still pains me to have to throw out something I could maybe use. So I came up with this:


I’ve put 4 tiny holes in the bottom and I fill them from a bin that contains water with seaweed fertiliser, worm juice and comfrey tea, then sit them on a wicking box or wicking tub and let the contents trickle out slowly. It helps when I don’t have time to stand and water with the hose and it adds a bit of extra nutrient along the way.

I picked all my garlic. There were three batches, one (supermarket purchased) in a wicking box and two in the garden (one from Yelwek and another from a local source). The garlic in the wicking boxes didn’t form single bulbs, but separated into cloves, each with a single stem. Not worth eating, not worth replanting. I composted it. Was it because it was supermarket garlic or because it didn’t like the wicking box? I’ve grown it successfully in wicking boxes before, so I’m blaming the supermarket. It wasn’t that stark white Chinese stuff. I know better than to plant that! :


The local garlic in the garden was OK, but the bulbs were very small :


The Yelwek garlic produced the most robust plants, with the thickest stems, but that still didn’t translate into large bulbs. I think lack of fertiliser may be the problem. I really need to do more research into growing garlic :


The potato onions, also from Yelwek, aren’t doing well. After planting the bulbs way back in April, some in the garden and some in a wicking box, they sprouted and seemed to be growing well. Then in winter, they grew backwards and some died. Now it’s warmed up, the leaves are growing again, but the bulbs are small and I don’t know if they’re going to get any bigger. The batch I put into a wicking box all rotted away in winter. Too much water probably :


I’ve put pumpkins in the hugelkultur bed, in between asparagus which are only in their first year. In the other hugelbed I’ve put zucchini and button squash. I’ve made a huge hugelmound from raked leaves and twigs and put 3 extra pumpkin in there.

Pumpkin :


Zucchini & button squash :


Pumpkin on the hugelmound :


The strawberries in the strawberry wicking buckets are bearing, but a lot of the fruits are deformed. They look awful. I’ve never had this happen before :


Google tells me it could be caused by inadequate pollination or lack of calcium or boron, or attack by certain types of mites. I inspected, and there are aphid-like insects on them so I’ve removed all the trusses of developing fruits and given the plants a good spray with a garlic-pyrethrum spray. I wouldn’t be surprised if pollination was a problem, because they’re up on the deck against the house wall, where insects might not find them.

I always like to have a patch of calendula somewhere in the garden. The bees love the flowers and I can pick the petals for salads :


That’s all I can remember for October. I won’t write anything about chooks because you’ve had that ad nauseum by now and anyway that all happened this month. I’ll bore you with more on that in next month’s update.

More mini cuttings

October 20, 2013

I’ve written about taking mini cuttings here, here and here. I’m still trying various varieties and now I can add two more: silver beet and cucumber. I was surprised at the cucumber; it didn’t seem that it would grow new roots up the stem like tomatoes do, and it didn’t. They grew out from the cut bottom edge. I can’t imagine that this will make for a very robust plant, since roots like that will easily break off, but I wouldn’t normally want to increase cucumbers by this method anyway. It’s just nice to know it can be done.

Treating silver beet this way, though, IS useful. A single silver beet seed is actually a composite of many seeds and several plants will appear from sowing one seed. Usually the recommendation is to thin to the strongest. Now I can snip off the extras with scissors and put them in as mini cuttings.

When a potato does this…..

saturday 002

…..I make a small space somewhere in the food forest, place it in a hole, cover it with a pile of chook poo compost and a bucket of leaves and leave it to itself. It’s great fun digging up the progeny. Growing your own potatoes couldn’t be easier!

I’ve finally been able to harvest a decent-sized pepino:

saturday 003

And there are two more to come:

saturday 004

In the past, the rabbits or possums have taken them when they’ve been on the ground like this. When I saw these three rapidly expanding, I protected them with apple socks and thought I’d better put a wire cage over them as well. It’s done the trick. I’m going to enjoy these on my breakfast mueslii.

I bought the apple socks from Green Harvest. They call them apple pouches but they’re actually little nylon sockettes. They’re great to slip over fruit to keep birds and possums off. I wouldn’t want to do a whole tree with hundreds of fruit on it, but they’re OK to do enough of the best (and low-hanging) fruit to get a useful harvest. Here’s the persimmon with its socks on, a couple of seasons ago:

I managed to collect and eat every one. No problems with possums, blackbirds or parrots. Persimmons are really vulnerable because they lose all their leaves before the fruit ripens, so you’re left with a naked tree covered in bright orange fruit that can be seen by every bird for miles around.

More fruit trees

June 28, 2012

I called in to the local nursery yesterday intending to buy another persimmon and came home with the persimmon and a Blueberry and a Cox’s Orange Pippin apple.

I wanted another persimmon because the existing one (Nightingale variety)  has done so well and I believe you should always have more than one of a Good Thing. I was lucky to get the last one in stock and guess what…it was a Nightingale! I’ll plant it near it’s namesake  and hope they’ll be happy together.

The blueberry wasn’t a named variety, but it will go into a large pot on the deck alongside the one I’ve had there for a couple of years already. It produced a couple of cups of blueberries last year (its second) and being right up against the house wall, wasn’t bothered at all by birds trying to pinch the berries.

Cox’s Orange Pippin is supposed to be the benchmark for flavour in apples. I was told by an Englishwoman years ago that it was the only apple worth eating. It needs a Granny Smith as a pollinator so it will go down in the food forest as close to Granny as I can find a spot. It’s supposed to be best in a cool temperate climate, so fingers crossed it’ll be OK here  (it should be happy with the freezing weather we’re having at the moment). I’ll take some cuttings when I prune it back after planting.

(I just looked at the Ozgrow garden forum and one of the members, who lives a few kms south of  me, says that she has had a Cox’s Orange Pippin for 20 years in her garden, doing well. So that’s OK then).

The Girls still aren’t laying. They finished moulting ages ago and look rather smart in their new outfits. They’re eating well and seem to be coping with their first winter. I think they would be a year old by now. They were 12 weeks old when I got them, at the end of last September, and started laying just before Christmas. They stopped laying in early March, so I’ve been eggless for four months. I expect they’ll pick up as the days start to lengthen in late winter/early spring.

(Hey, the ground’s tilting. Nah, she’s pointing that thing at us again. She can’t even hold it straight. What a klutz!):

OK, well here’s a nice straight view of my little lime tree. It’s about a metre and a half tall and wide. I’m really pleased with the way it’s come on in the last couple of years. The ripe limes are starting to fall now, so I’m crystallising them and drying them in the dehydrator:

I thought I’d have go at growing linseed again. It’s been successful in the past, but then I don’t get my act together in time to protect the seed from the parrots and they get most of it. This year it’ll be different (where have I heard that before?). I broadcast the seed in one of my wire veggie rings. Each plant is a single stem with a cluster of blue star-flowers at the top. Sometimes there’ll be a few white flowers amongst them. The shiny brown seed forms in a head the size of a pea:

A few extra photos of non-food plants in the garden. This is a pretty, low-growing Grevillea. I don’t know the species:

Silver Banksia, a species indigenous to this area:

I love the moss that covers the ground at this time of year, and the little orange fungi that come up in it:

Winter fruits & a new food

June 4, 2012

I’m picking 3 useful winter fruits at the moment. I’ve already written (at length) about persimmons and tamarillo, but the new one for me this year is Cherry (or Strawberry) Guava (Psidium littorale). In The Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia, Louis Glowinski says, “this claret-red cherry-like morsel is the best of the guavas”.

The fruits are rich in Vitamin C (more than oranges) and, says Glowinski, more than most Vitamin C tablets.

I have 3 plants grown from seed taken from a bag of fruit given to me some years ago. They germinated readily, but grew very slowly. It’s been a long wait for the first crop.

I’ve picked all the persimmons (they will continue to ripen inside) and the tamarillos and the first of the guavas. There are plenty of green ones still to ripen.

The tamarillos are half their normal size because the plants were stressed over summer and didn’t get enough water to swell the fruits. I’ve planted more plants nearer to the water tank and will keep the water up to them this summer. They’re short-lived anyway, so I plant a few new ones each year. I can’t recommend them highly enough as an easy-to-propagate and grow plant, with a beautiful rich-flavoured centre (the skins aren’t eaten). They’re not readily available to buy and are expensive when they are (last year Coles had them for $1.75 each…I picked 100 that year!). And another bonus is that they usually flower and fruit in their second year of growth.

The Cherry Guavas will be interesting—I’m in the process of collecting recipes for guava jam and jelly.

The ‘new food’ is my first batch of kimchi; a result of buying Sandor Katz’s fermentation book:

I’ve used Wom Bok chinese cabbage, with some kale to provide the darker greens. There’s also grated carrot, red capsicum, onion, garlic and grated ginger, with caraway seeds because I love the flavour they impart to cabbagey meals.

I’ve packed the vegetables into a wide-mouthed jar and weighted them down with a smaller jar of water on top:

I’m looking forward to my first taste!


May 24, 2012

Last week, the persimmon looked like this:

I thought it would be a while before the fruits ripened fully and was ignoring them, plus it’s hard to see the colour changes when they’re shrouded in their protective socks.

But today I gave a couple a gentle squeeze. Wow! One was so soft my thumb almost went through it. Look at that colour:

I took it inside and cut it in two….:

…..then scooped out the delicious pulp with a spoon:

And there are 12 more to go!

The apple-sock tree & other things

May 17, 2012

The persimmon has finally lost all its leaves and the ripening fruits in their natty little apple socks are now obvious (but not, I hope, to the possums & parrots):

Here’s what’s under those protective covers. There are 13 of them (I hope that’s not going to be unlucky). My mouth is already watering:

Always on the lookout for new food things to grow, I came across this pot of Burdock (Arctium lappa) seedlings at a local Sunday market:

The people who grow these are regulars at the market and often have unusual plants. Their pots always seem to be crammed with seedlings. I think their technique is to fill the pot with potting mix and add a generous pinch of seed and let it all grow on.

I researched Burdock and it’s the long tap root that’s used, so I thought it might be a good idea to repot the seedlings individually so I have one plant to plant in each spot and one root to dig up at any one time. There were plenty of them and they were easy to separate. I wound up with a dozen plants in all:

At last count I had 24 wicking boxes and every one has something growing in it.

Garlic doing well:

Bok Choy, direct sown. I’ll thin these as they grow, use the thinnings as greens and let a few grow to full size:

A selection of edible greens—Red Russian Kale, Curly Kale, Lacinato Kale, Rocket, Tatsoi, Chicory, Endive and Osaka Purple Mustard. This box is on the deck, right outside the door—easy to access a handful of greens to steam for dinner:

Remember when I was looking for chickweed growing wild on the property? Well, I eventually found it and encouraged it and now it’s everywhere. Here is is in a wicking box with peas in the background. It has a lovely delicate flavour, gently steamed with butter and is also good on sandwiches. Far more nutritious than lettuce:

What’s happening?

April 26, 2012

Well, not much, at the moment.

In the last 3 days we’ve had over 2 inches of rain and that has kept me out of the garden. The Girls were not amused and stood in a disgusted trio in the secure run, protected from the downpour, watching the holes in their playground fill with water. Luckily it’s sandy soil and it soon soaks away.

Only Molly is still moulting and looking a bit tattered; Cheeky and Lady have nice new feathers and perky new tails and look particularly chipper. They were even doing their egg-laying chortling yesterday, so I hope that means more eggs soon. I’ll be pretty peeved if I don’t get any now until the spring. That will mean only 3 months of egg-laying since I got them last September. It really hurts to have to buy eggs.

I was a bit disturbed to find something had tried to dig under their playground fence a couple of nights ago. Probably a fox. It was in a spot where I hadn’t put wire down under the ground, but had put a wooden bird-bath stand against the fence. It was easily kicked aside, so now I’ve put wire there. In the spots where I haven’t put wire, I’ve put 60 litre bins to collect rainwater and also wicking boxes; those without compost to fill them are full of water. I’d like to see Mr Fox push a 60 kg tub of water aside. I’ve replaced the bird netting over the playground with wire mesh now and it’s secure enough that I can leave the Girls in there when I go out and don’t have to lock them back in the secure run, which they hate. They get locked in the secure run at night and that’s completely surrounded with wire under the soil, so I have no worries about a fox getting in there.

Water-holding bins and a wicking box against the playground fence:

Wire mesh over the playground:

I planted another 3 dozen cloves of garlic, this time in a wicking box. I pushed them down into the compost with just their tips showing and a couple of days later, they were standing up right out of the soil:

Nothing could have pulled them up as I’d covered the box with wire. When I investigated, I found that roots had already grown and that’s what was pushing them up. So quick! Apparently root developement is triggered as soon as the base of the clove is in contact with moist soil:

And in another couple of days, green shoots:

The persimmon leaves are getting their autumn colours and I’ve put apple socks on those precious 12 fruits:

I bought the apple socks from Green Harvest. They call them apple pouches but they’re actually little nylon sockettes. They’re great to slip over fruit to keep birds and possums off. I wouldn’t want to do a whole tree with hundreds of fruit on it, but they’re OK to do enough of the best fruit to get a useful harvest:

In the brief intervals between showers, I managed to get the second planter box planted out:

There’s 2 varieties of kale—Lacinato and Red Russian, and 2 varieties of broccoli—Di Cicco and Italian Sprouting and 1 brussels sprout.

So really, quite a bit has been happening after all!