Sunday, February 28, 2010

C is for chestnuts

Besides the note about our flexible Calendar and Cumquat tree in the blog below, C is for chestnuts and this month, Saturday 27 March 2010, Anne Elliott is leading a visit to Kookootonga Chestnut and Walnut Farm at 247 Mt Irvine Road, Mt Irvine, where we will meet at 11 am. Pickers need to bring rubber/gardening gloves because the chestnuts are picked off the ground and very prickly. The cost is $8 per kilogram. We will car share. Bring some lunch and drinks. Anne will bring roasting equipment and talk about all the uses of chestnuts in the kitchen. Contact Anitra if you want to join us.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

'Fruit and Nut Tree Liberation Front' blackberry blitz

We had a blackberry blitz in Blackheath yesterday to free some apple, plum, pear and orange trees of bramble. Our host called our team the FNTLF: the fruit and nut tree liberation front! Our 'carrot' was to harvest blackberries before we started. The photos show Lizzie working and an apple from one of the trees.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

C is for calendar

No sooner had we announced a calendar — meeting on the first Saturday morning of every month February to November — than we have found it unworkable. Nature works seasonally and plant (fruit and nut) growth responds to so many factors that our human calendar with its strict and simplistic linear divisions means we could not do activities at the most appropriate time. This month we had a talk and have a working bee for blackberry gathering and eradicating tomorrow. In March we have several activities lined up whereas later in the year we are likely to hibernate with the winter. Watch the top right hand corner of our website for future activities still hatching as I write.

At the moment you will be harvesting apples (as we saw at the community gardens ten days ago), some blackberries have survived the deluges, rhubarb (unless its going to seed, in which case Lizzie reminds you to cut off the stalk asap), and my cumquat tree is so burdened I feel sorry for it (see photo). Many peaches are ready to be picked now too. Beautiful fresh and raw they are wonderful for crumbles, chutneys and rocket salads (with almonds and fennel or spring onion).

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Saturday's talk

In the last thee days Katoomba has received 266mm of rain, almost half of it in the 24 hours since 9 am this morning! Fortunately for all the people (there was around 40 of us) who turned out yesterday to the Blue Mountains Organic Community Gardens — to the talks by Sue Girard, Wayne Levi and Stafford Lowe — it was only raining lightly much of the time. The rain did stop us inspecting the gardens' fruit and nuts trees for pests and diseases and the topic was not exhausted, so we will hold part two of this session at 10.30 am to noon on Saturday 6 March. Even if you did not attend the first session yesterday I am sure that you will get a lot out of the next one.

The session yesterday stressed preparing soils and other conditions for plant growth so as to prevent and avoid pests and diseases and to implement integrated pest management. As well as participants wanting pests and diseases identified, Sue and Wayne brought examples and handed round devices used to get rid of pests (such as sticky paper) and to scare pests (such as birds) away.

Wayne suggested a particularly good book on the topic: What Garden Pest or Disease is That? Organic and Chemical Solutions For Every Garden Problem by Judy McMaugh, New Holland Publishers, Sydney. The book advises on avoidance, organic controls and is structured around an A to Z in the three key areas of 1) plant care, 2) pests, 3) diseases. It has lots of illustrations for identification.


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)