Saturday, January 30, 2010

B is for

Before we begin Berries, have you Been to Braidwood (half way Between Bateman's Bay and Canberra)? Of course, it's a long way from our Bioregion But the Old Cheese Factory there offers a great service: you can take apples to be made into juice or cider instead of wasting them! If you produce share 50:50 and assist in the operation it doesn't cost you to have them juiced! Tom Whitton (Megalong Books, Leura) alerted us to this.

Does anyone know of an apple pressing service in our bioregion or a neighbouring one? If so please leave a comment with details.

Now B is for Berries and we have lots of different kinds growing in the Blue Mountains: take a look at the harvest calendar below and please remember that we are trying to update our lists of what is growing where (columns on the left).

Blackberry (Rubus fructuosus) a noxious weed but this time of year, if you can pick some unsprayed blackberries, they make wonderful jams, pie fillings and jellies, especially when mixed with apples. (Including red ones improves the pectin content too.) When you've removed the fruit — you can freeze any surplus — get stuck into removing the canes. However, there are some more contained varieties that you can purchase from suppliers such as Diggers. The blackberry is ancient, a native of three continents and widespread throughout the world today. Ancient Romans used blackberry leaf tea as a medicine. All berries are, in fact, aggregates of drupelets botanically speaking.

Blueberries, like raspberries etc., like sun (filtered, where it gets too hot) and acidic soils (pH of 4.5–5.2) , so they befit from local pine tree mulch. You need to obtain the right species for your location as chilling requirements vary from around 400–1100 hours. Once established they don't seem to require much attention but be sure to net them.

Remember to come to the talk at the Blue Mountains Organic Community Gardens in North Katoomba at 10.30 am on Saturday 6 February, when we will advise people on other activities coming up in the next few months. The apples in the photo for this week come from the community gardens. The photo was taken about ten days ago.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A is for avocado too

No, the photo isn't of avocados but rather fruit laden branches at the Blue Mountains Organic Community Gardens, where we will hold a talk on pests and diseases of fruit and nut trees grown locally on Saturday 6 February starting at 10.30 am. The gardens has many apple trees too with ready-to-harvest or already dropped apples.

Now for avocados: I like the idea of growing them from seed. This means propping a stone from an avocado (that was lovely, you know because you just ate it) conical part upwards in a jar with a wide mouth that you have filled with water or placing it in moist sawdust. I love the look of the root and shoot growing. Once that happens you can simply pot it up in organic potting mix. Germination is amazingly simple.
However, problems with avocados grown from such seedlings are legion even though it is possible to do it successfully. You have to make sure that you 'nip' out the central shoot once it has a few leaves and turn the plant to benefit from sunlight in an even way so it grows into a rounded plant. You will have to wait several years, perhaps tenor so, for it to fruit. (Grafted trees will fruit in just a few years.) It might not fruit or it might not fruit well. A grafted tree will be a more practical size (say 8–10 metres); avocado plants grown from stones tend to take up more space. A good compromise is to graft the seedling plant to a good variety.

Fruit and art

Just reading #19 of HEAT (the University of Western Sydney Writing and Society Research Group's literary journal, which you can borrow from the Blue Mountains City Library) and found some wonderful colour reproductions of Robyn Stacey's photographic art works.
On page 117 appears the 'Untitled (Walnuts)' broken and whole nuts with the flesh gnarled like old roots glistening under the photographer's light.
The next two pages feature Mr Macleay's Fruit and Flora: flowers, a bunch of young carrots, cumquat, avocado, passion fruit and stick insect (just like one clinging upside down outside my window as I type).
Further on is another tablescape of flowers, vegetables and fruit — bananas, lemons and olives — and 'The First Cut, after Robert Spear Dunning', featuring an ornate knife sitting deep in the flesh of a watermelon, in the hole where a small triangle of flesh has been cut and sits nearby ready for eating, red and green...

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Apricots and almonds

While I was away I bought a copy of Discovering Fruit and Nuts: A Comprehensive Guide to the Cultivation, Uses and Health Benefits of Over 300 Food Producing Plants, a large 480 page book by Susanna Lyle. It was published a couple of years ago (2006) by Landlinks Press, which is a CSIRO Publishing imprint, though its coverage is not limited to Australia/New Zealand.
This book is a useful reference for home gardeners. It has illustrations and general as well as particular details about grafting, layering, pruning and training. In terms of our fruit and nut for this fortnight — the apricot and the almond — the book describes their ancient origins and ornamental use due to their colourful spring blossoms. The apricot is a native of China and it is speculated to be the forbidden fruit that Eve ate in the Garden of Eden. Although the almond is a native of the eastern Mediterranean, it too was cultivated in China three millennia ago.
In the BM neither grow prolifically due to humidity because they are both susceptible to fungal diseases.
See the ABC clip of how to prune apricots — The Almond Board of Australia has provided our images for this week.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

B is for Break

B is for Break and ours is right now. But we will be Back in a week. So I will resume the Blog then...


We can harvest a wide range of fruits and nuts locally each season.

Local fruit and/or nut gardeners are invited to make additions or suggest modifications to the following work-in-progress compiled by Lizzie Connor.


Across the mountains: loquat, mulberry, rhubarb, strawberry and (in late spring) raspberry

Best in the lower mountains: avocado, jaboticaba, lemonade


Across the mountains: apricot, blueberry, boysenberry, cherry, currant (red, black, white), gooseberry, kumquat, loganberry, loquat, mulberry,nectarine, peach, plum, raspberry, rhubarb, strawberry and (in late summer) almond, apple, fig, hazelnut, passionfruit, pear (incl. nashi), pomegranate, youngberry

Best in lower mountains:lemon (Eureka), lemonade, lime, mandarin, orange, persimmon (non-astringent) and (in late summer) avocado, babaco, macadamia, rockmelon, wampee, watermelon

Best in upper mountains: jostaberry, lemon (Meyer), persimmon (astringent)


Across the mountains: almond, apple, chestnut, feijoa, fig, grape, hazel, kiwi fruit, kumquat, medlar, olive, passionfruit, pear (incl. nashi), plum, quince, raspberry (some), rhubarb, strawberry, strawberry guava, walnut

Best in lower mountains: avocado, babaco, cherimoya, grapefruit, lemon (Eureka), macademia, monstera deliciosa, orange, pine nut, pistachio, rockmelon, tamarillo, walnut, watermelon, white sapote

Best in upper mountains: lemon (Meyer), mandarin (Satsuma)


Across the mountains: apple, hazelnut, kiwi fruit, kumquat, pear (incl. nashi)

Best in lower mountains: grapefruit, lemon (Eureka), orange, tangelo

Best in upper mountains: avocado (Bacon), lemon (Meyer)