Monday, March 9, 2015

Great Chestnut Expedition: 28th March

‘Switch off the light and support Aussie food and farming’

Come and be part of this important day, and show your support for Slow Food Blue Mountains, locally-grown – and Earth Hour Day!  There are three elements to this chestnut-inspired day, and you can choose to be involved with one – or all three!
1.  EXPEDITION TO KOOKOOTONGA CHESTNUT/WALNUT FARM, 247 Mt Irvine Road, Mount Irvine, to collect chestnuts.  A sublime experience! You can choose to meet us there  at 11 am (look for our sign) or be part of a car-pool, meeting in Katoomba at 10 am. (Email  if you wish to car pool, for further details.)
       ‘ Kookootonga’ is one of the original farms at Mt Irvine in the Blue Mountains and has been owned by the Scrivener family since 1897.  The first chestnuts and walnuts were planted over 100 years ago.  The majority of the orchard was created by Bill and Ruth Scrivener (the current owners) from the 1950s.  Find out more  about  Kookootonga, including directions at

If you wish, return to a  ‘secret location’ in Katoomba to help cook, peel and then freeze chestnuts – and taste a few as well as you work!  (Later, these processed chestnuts will be turned into CHESTNUT PATE  and CHESTNUT CAKE  by two local small businesses for Slow Food Blue Mountains and sold  at our Slow Food stall,  during  the Leura Harvest Festival on 3 May, 2015.)

Sitting at communal tables festooned with chestnut leaves, we’ll turn out the lights at 8.30 and savour the delights of hot roasted chestnuts and chestnut chocolate fondue  by candelight! Be quick!  Numbers strictly-limited for this.  Cost:  $25 per person/$20 Slow Food members.  Bookings Essential:  E 0423109270.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Blue Mountains Seasonal Review

Seasonal Notes

It's good to take stock and make notes every season. Fruit and Nut Network members Kris and Marnie share their experiences from different places.

...From the Mid Mountains 

by Kris Newton

My summer raspberries are really getting into their stride, and I’m picking a bowlful every few days; I’m enjoying Jonathan and Cox’s Orange Pippin apples, with the majority of varieties yet to come; and my main crop of figs is starting up (the early, breba, crop of Black Genoa was amazing!).
Unfortunately, the almost sub-tropical environment in the mid- to lower-Mountains is also encouraging all sorts of fungal growths, like black-spot;  I need to make time to get out with the milk spray and get into my fruit trees (and my tomatoes and roses).    

So far so good in my experimental greenhouse - there’s more vegetative growth than anything else, which I’d expect in young trees;  but I do still have one mango left on the little dwarf mango tree, so I’m hoping to try harvesting this soon :-).  

I’ve moved most of my expanded citrus section into large pots, and now have a 'Citrus Annexe' under the eaves (to protect from any frost) along the long north-facing wall of the house.  All have put on significant new growth, and the older (2-3 years) ones are flowering well. the Upper Mountains

by Marnie O'Mara

Summer is the season of plenty here in the mountains.  Our garden has provided us with an abundance of produce over the past few months - we've eaten our fill, shared with friends, swapped for things we don't grow but others do, frozen, dehydrated and bottled enough to get us through the less productive Winter.

At a recent Kitchen Garden Produce Swap we swapped some cucumbers for a large quantity of crab apples. I know lots of people have these in their gardens and think they aren't the most useful of fruits. We brought home about two kilos of crab apples from the swap as we wanted to make enough pectin to see us through the next berry-jamming season. We also used them to make two batches of fabulous fizz, one lot paired with rhubarb. The result was delicious - thirst quenching and not too sweet.

Our three apple trees are very sensible - they pretty much stagger the ripening of their fruit so that when one is finished the next begins (actually, my very practical hubby carefully chose which trees to plant with this in mind). This means we have been able to pick apples every day during January and February - and today, the first day of Autumn, we still have lots of apple days ahead.

This year we have also have a bumper crop of grapes! This is the vine's third season - last year we had a few good sized bunches, and this year there are masses of huge purple/black bunches of beautiful, juicy grapes. I see the birds eyeing them off, longing to get stuck into the fruit, however our garden cage keeps the birds out and our precious bounty safe.

Surveying our garden this morning I see that we'll soon be picking kiwi fruit and cape gooseberries.

Have seasonal notes for the lower mountains or elsewhere in the mountains? We'd love to hear from you! More news from the Fruit and Nut Tree Network.


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)