Too little too late

It’s getting to that time in the season where I question how much longer to wait for the summer veggies.

Here are a few which won’t make it this year…

Watermelon – out of 3 plants in the strawbale garden (which were planted way too young way too late) this one has actually produced a golf ball sized fluffy little fruit.

Blue popcorn and Glass Gem Corn finally found their way to the light and have even pushed our a few baby cobs, I’m not expecting much from pollination at this point with 5 plants haphazardly growing at very different rates. So glad they actually did something as I believe some of the seed was getting quite old but I only wish I had something I could save seed from for next year.

Snake bean flower

After losing my first and second lot of snake bean babies to slugs this last one managed to grow up to the top of the trellis and has now graced us with not one but three fine long beans! We might just get enough sun to grow them big enough to harvest – I’d be tempted to keep all the seeds for next year if they’re mature enough.

These seeds were a gift from Stoney Creek Permaculture farm up in NSW where we camped last Autumn.

Our tomatoes are still ripening slowly and I think I’ll be pulling most of them out this week to give me room for the next crop – just need to find a safe place to hang them to let them finish ripening.

Lessons learned – planning ahead for how many seedlings I can pot up and still fit in the cold frame – and plant a few out earlier to hedge my bets regarding late cold snaps. Don’t hang around on the top step of the pool – at some point you have to just jump in!

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Hume Enviro Champions: Bush Tucker tour of The Nook

I’ve been really looking forward to tonight. Session 4 of the Enviro Champions Program took us to The Nook in Sunbury where we were given a special ‘Welcome to Country’ Smoking Ceremony and participated in a Bush Tucker tour of the area.

Mamma Gum leaves were smoked to release bad spirits.

It was a brisk Autumn evening

We heard about all the uses of Black and Light wood Acacias – even their sap can be eaten or used as glue.

Indigenous Hopbush – an excellent antiseptic among other uses

Our guide Jo demonstrating the strength of the Lomandra grass, just behind her is the Dianella – it’s purple berries are edible.

The tubers of the bullrush as well as many other water plants are edible and taste similar to potatoes/ parsnips.

Jo pointed out a formation of rocks below the fall which were built as an eel trap by local indigenous people a long time ago.

We passed around river mint, Lemon Myrtle, Wattleseed, Mountain Pepper and Tasmanian Pepper Berry herbs to smell and Jo shared a few of her favourite books.

Some of Jo’s favourite resources:

Royal botanic gardens – heritage walk

Ceres Nursery

Latrobe Indigenous Nursery

Koori Heritage Trust at Federation Square for books

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Summer foraging

I’ve been keeping a close eye on a couple of wild apple trees we pass regularly.
We tasted the fruit last month but it was still pretty tart, so when I saw glimpses of red through the leaves this week I knew it was time to try them again.

They are some of the tiniest apples you have ever seen – fit for a teddy bears picnic – and a lot sweeter than last try.

I also grabbed some tiny pin oak acorns in my travels – I’ll plant them and see if they’re big enough to sprout. Yes it’s a Western Bulldogs cap, no it’s not mine!

Ingrid Button from Free Food Foragers in Central Vic put me onto the Map Marker app as an easy way to track wild foods throughout the year and I’ve only started using it but hoping to have pins everywhere soon!
I love that you can add text and photos to each pin and organise them by colour.

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Zucchini Bread & Butter Pickle

In anticipation of today’s Preserving workshop I’m attending at The Plummery, earlier this week I made my first attempt at Bread & Butter Pickle with some gifted Zucchini’s that were waiting patiently for something to be since Christmas.

I used this simple recipe and added the dried wild mustard seeds I’d foraged at one of the Free Food Forager workshops I attended last year as well as some dill seeds I’d just collected from our strawbale garden. Had that giddy little chuckle that I do whenever I harvest something I’ve grown myself (it’s addictive!).

I used both red and brown onions so the colour has deepened to a beautiful amber after a few days. Just waiting to pick up a nice loaf of bread to try it with.

One jar will go of course back to the zucchini supplier :).

Do you always gift a jar back when you’re gifted produce? It feels so nice to do and like to make a habit of it…

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Our first pear harvest

Since we brought this healthy, blossoming William pear tree home last spring I’ve been keenly tracking the 5 fruit that survived wind and rain and aphids to actually develop.
Not keenly enough though as we saw one was half eaten yesterday so without hesitating we whipped the rest off the tree to enjoy with our picnic dinner.
Yes they’re small and still pretty firm to eat but full of flavour and sweetness! Hopefully this tree will actually be living in the ground by next spring and will enjoy the space to develop even more, larger fruit.

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Day 9 and our orange harvest

For the final application I switched to straight blood & bone with a boost of potash because I finally ran out of dynamic lifter.
The texture was much lighter and grainy, didn’t sit on top once I wet it down like the DL does. I got the fork into it today to ensure it was draining through well.
Shouldn’t have worried too much as temp is still around 30C so it’s definitely composting. I am wondering if it will be too intense for young plants to grow in though.

So apart from keeping it damp and waiting for some warmer weather I’m ready to plant! Still having trouble reducing my wish list though…

Also today I noticed that one of our oranges had split and deciding it was finally time to harvest – found that more than half of them had. As suspected it was probably due to a combination of too much water, food and wind.
I expect that (one day) when the tree is planted out and has grown some more it should be less of an issue. What an aroma fresh homegrown oranges have!

We juiced them up and they still tasted amazing,

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Day 8 strawbale conditioning

Watering day!

Digging a trowel into the tops today I found the straw soft and very easily parted, won’t be long now!


Also, the strawberries I received from a friend have settled in and are obviously making themselves comfortable.

And big spring news… try as I might I couldn’t get a clear picture but a couple of the buds on the Butler hazelnut have cracked enough to allow a flash of magenta blossom to emerge! The pomegranate leaf buds have also popped open.
I know it’s mid August but it’s so encouraging seeing these tiny hints of spring…

Lambley’s seeds arrived today – hope I can fit them all into the garden. Oh, and then there’s the Diggers order on its way…

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