Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Star Apple

Most of the time, I try to buy my fresh produce locally, mainly from my weekly shop at the markets, because it is almost always fresher and of course, definitely a more sustainable way of eating. But sometimes, just sometimes, there are things which cannot be sourced locally.

I just thought I'd share this because it is a relatively unknown fruit in Australia, but it is perhaps, one of my favourite fruits. It's a star apple - not the star fruit - don't ask me if it is a star fruit again PLEASE. I love it that much that I've dedicated a WHOLE blog post about it.

A tropical fruit, it has a soft ultrafine fibrous flesh similar to perhaps a lychee? The flavour however is unique and I would find it difficult to find a comparison...A 'milkiness' that screams tropical and is incredibly aromatic (not the durian type of aromatic - if you're worried). It is that unique that I can't even think of another fruit to compare it with. I scoop the flesh out with a spoon...you can't eat the skin...the sap has an astringent effect on your tastebuds.

Often found at asian supermarkets, but you have to hunt for them...and don't buy the dodgy ones. There are a LOT of dodgy ones...just use common sense, if it looks fresh, feels firmish and isn't infested with insects it may be ok. No gurantees though - it can be like an avocado. You know, it looks ok, feels ok but when you cut it open it's totally shit. But don't let that stop you from trying some star apple next time you see them.

Friday, October 14, 2011


In my mind, my garden is profilic with produce. An abundance only stoppable by my inclination to cultivate whatever piece of dirt that I have.

But in reality, cold weather that is checking the growth of many many vegetables, clay, more clay and endless clay, bags and bags of compost, cow shit, sheep shit, chook shit, more compost, seedlings, more seeds and watering and that's just to the starting point.
Then is there is the small (or actually, massive) issue of damn aphids. Initially, they stealthly enter the garden, attacking things like neighboring rose bushes, but soon enough with the lack of predators, they move through to the the chilli and capsicum plants, and even the tomato plants. Thousands upon thousands of aphids.

How can my seedlings survive such an attack? Yes, there are a few beneficial insects here and there like the wasp and the ladybirds...but somehow, the eco-oil wasn't doing enough to balance things out. There is imbalance in my yard.

Well, I called for reinforcement. I ordered live insects online - yes...I am that guy that orders insects online.

500 lacewing larvae ready to end my aphid problem. I put a few on my little padron pepper plant which I had only transplanted last week. Here you go aphids, meet your friends...aka aphid lions. My only concern is after I purchased them I read that the actual lacewings and also the bigger larvae actually bite...which can be quite nasty........but I really really have an aphid problem.

My backyard

Thursday, October 6, 2011

ok...so I haven't won the lottery (yet).

Well, ok, I haven't won the lottery yet so I'm probably going to need a job - but not yet. Just not yet!

It has been such a long time since my last post, over 2 weeks, almost 3 as September seemed to have just whispered by since Freedom. A lot of my time in September has been just catching up on things, unwinding, reassimilating my thoughts, reassessing goals and direction and really trying to properly reenergise.

I've spent quite a bit of time in the garden, but no where nearly as much as I had planned. I started ambitious, but it was only last week that I decided to drill drainage holes in my half wine barrels that I had bought a month or so ago. Yes, that is how slow I work. There has also been drama with my seedlings, as the ones which I had started so so early in July seemed to have been stunted due to the fact that I didn't realise seed raising mix...was totally inappropriate to leave seedlings in once they germinated.
I know, amateur. I transplanted all of them into jiffy pots (yes, mistake again) with potting mix and compost and they recovered by turning green once again (as opposed to yellow). Yellow being a sign of malnutrition from what I understand. Their growth however has been stunted which I am bitterly disappointed about, given that I had meticulously seeded each  punnet with heirloom varieties thinking I would be well positioned for a bumper crop. I can now only just water, watch and hope they take off. The seedlings which I have started a bit later are almost catching up which indicates it may be a losing battle.

So dramas aside, you are probably dying to know what varieties of tomatoes am I planning (hoping) to grow this year?

Tommy Toe
Black Krim
Yellow Pear
Aunty Ruby's German Green
Rouge de Marmande
Maldovan Green
Speckled Roman

All the seedlings have been started, some more advanced than others which I suppose won't be a bad thing as I will stagger their plantings.I also tried starting my padron peppers really early, but they appear to have been stunted due to the "starvation episode", so I'm gonna start them all again..so disappointing, but I figure I still have some time. I've also got cukes, zukes, tomatillo (hopefully), alpine strawberries, several varieities of capsicum and chillis (including habaneros), so so many different types of basils, and other herbs, and a whole lot of beans.

I also dug into a patch of garden that I thought would be perfect for things like tomatoes...but I quickly learned why it is recommended, for the area that I live in, that raised beds be used. It was just full of heavy heavy heavy clay. It's going to need a lot of work, a lot of organic matter, and more work. So I think I will only try and grow zucchinis and pumpkins this year in that area. WHO would've thought growing my own stuff would be so hard. For the record, yes, it would've been easier just to buy my produce grown by others...but I've also discovered that there is something incredibly satisfying in doing something that is hard. It seems we've become scared of the backyard, the garden, and ultimately nature. We barely even know where our produce has come from. The other day I did something that I had never done before which was to pick some peas from the garden and eat them within minutes. I said I would never grow tall peas again, but the purple podded peas are heartbreakingly beautiful to see climbing in the garden. Indeed, there is something satisfying about doing something that is hard.

I've also put in a lot of garlic chives (left picture). I think garlic chives are incredibly satisfying to grow. Super easy and I absolutely love them with scrambled eggs. If you can, find someone who has plants that can give you divisions - so so much faster than seed. I'm trying to see if ginger and galangal will work (just because I have a shady spot where probably nothing else will grow). The rhubarb crowns (right pic x 6 of them) which I got via mail order hasn't died - I know you're impressed - and in all honestly, I'm a little shocked that they've survived. I am hoping they become incredible so I can pretend to like rhubarb pie!

I have no idea when to transplant my citrus so I might just do it sometime in the next week. I figure better now than high summer or deep winter right?

For now, fingers crossed for my tomatoes.

Oh I also saw on a forum someone planting beans in a bucket...so I decided to do the same!


My backyard