Our first (and only) avocado

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Six years ago I established our guerilla-garden food forest, which included a wide range of apples, plus citrus, avocado and macadamia.

We’ve had a good crop of apples, and an ongoing supply of citrus of various sorts.

Our first (and only!) avocado
Our first (and only!) avocado

And finally, we’ve now had our first avocado. It being our only avocado, we treasured it, and spread it on toast for breakfast. Yum!

Delicious!
Delicious!

Hopefully we’ll have a good crop next season, now that the tree is finally mature enough…

A giant windfall of choko

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That's a lot of chokos!
That’s a lot of chokos!

This is what 22kg of chokos look like, 56 fruit in total.

Two days ago, we had a day of very strong wind as a cold front went through. This dislodged the ripe fruit in our choko vine that had grown all the way up into the trees. A single vine, that is, and there’s still fruit on it!

I needed to get a left-over grain bag to collect them all, and a bunch of them had cracked when the landed on the convent driveway next door. No matter, we’re steaming the broken ones to feed to the chickens, which they love!

The rest we’re eating. Expect to see a bunch of choko recipes posted to the blog over the coming weeks…😉

Buying a box of bugs

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Whitefly (and a caterpillar) on the underside of our cucumber leaves
Whitefly (and a caterpillar) on the underside of our cucumber leaves

Sydney’s warm weather promotes the spread of a hundred types of bugs, most of which seem to love our pumpkins, cucumbers and zucchini.

This includes whitefly, which can multiply to plague proportions, covering the underside of every large leaf in the garden. Whereupon they proceed to suck the life out of the plants.

This tube contains 10,000 beneficial bugs (!), delivered in the mail
This tube contains 10,000 beneficial bugs (!), delivered in the mail

So with the refrain of “whitefly, begone!”, I ordered a box of bugs. Montdorensis to be specific, which feed on whitefly and thrips (of various sorts).

The thrips are too tiny to see in the vermiculite mix
The thrips are too tiny to see in the vermiculite mix

A small cardboard tube contains 10,000 of these good bugs, and I’m hoping that they’ll establish a permanent presence in our garden (apparently they feed on mites and pollen when thrips are absent).

Good hunting little bugs!

The 1,000 label milestone

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We thought a box of 1,000 labels would last us a lifetime...
We thought a box of 1,000 labels would last us a lifetime…

Three years back, we started creating branded labels for the products we produce, starting with some jars of pickled bur gherkins. At the time, I bought a box of 1,000 labels, and Priscilla laughed. A lifetime it would take to get through these!

Well, fast forward three short years, and the box of labels is finished. I’ve done countless jars of honey, chutneys and pickles, not to mention numerous boxes of eggs.

While a fair bit of the produce has been sold to friends and neighbours, more than half has probably been given away. So that’s 500 jars, bottles and boxes of eggs that have come out of our small patch of land, and have gone on to make someone else happy.

Onwards into the second 1,000 box of labels!

Heirloom zucchini

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"Costa Romasesque" zucchini, along with snake beans
“Costa Romasesque” zucchini, along with snake beans

When you first start gardening, every harvest is a miracle. Over time, this abundance becomes normal, as evidenced by the recent lack of vegetable pictures posted to this blog.

Every once in a while, however, you get a pleasant surprise. In this case, it’s the heirloom zucchini (courgette) “Costa Romanesque” that I obtained as seed from Green Harvest.

We’ve already had five of these ribbed monsters, which have a beautifully soft flesh, great for pan frying. I’ve also shredded several of them, then blanched and frozen them for later consumption.

We’re certainly enjoying the last days of summer:-)

Making our own seeded mustard

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It was with some anticipation that I picked up a copy of the Cornersmith recipe book. Not only a local Marrickville cafe, but one renowned for pickles and preserves.

My first project out of the book was making our own seeded mustard, which turned out to be delightfully simple (as well as delightfully tasty!).

Mustard seeds and honey plus vinegar  = seeded mustard
Mustard seeds, honey plus vinegar = seeded mustard

The starting point is generous pile of whole mustard seeds (yellow and brown), which can be obtained very cheaply from your local Chinese or Indian supermarket. To this is added honey (our own, of course!), plus vinegar, and some extra flavourings.

Ground mustard seeds, plus the seeds that are left whole for texture
Ground mustard seeds, plus the seeds that are left whole for texture

The majority of the mustard seeds are ground down to a paste, using a coffee grinder. The whole seeds are then added back in for texture.

Once everything is combined with the vinegar, it’s left in the fridge for a month, allowing the flavours to infuse together. Then into jars.

The result is every bit as good as the store-bought, for a fraction of the price.

Five jars of home-made seeded mustard
Five jars of home-made seeded mustard

Who knew? Possums like honeycomb

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A family of possums live in the trees behind our house, and every night they walk across our roof and around our back fence. While adorable in theory, in reality they ate our green roof, nibble on our ferns, and when really hungry, head to the front garden to munch through our vege patch.

What we recently discovered is that they also love honeycomb.

A possum on our back verrandah, munching away on our left-over honeycomb
A possum on our back verandah, munching away on our left-over honeycomb

To extract honey, I use a fruit press to squeeze the honeycomb. What’s left over is a thick lump of wax, honey and detritus. I left this on the back verandah for the bees to re-collect the honey, back into the hive.

One night, when watching TV, we heard heavy movements on the varandah. Turning on the lights, there was a possum, munching through the lumps, as bold as day. It was so fearless, I had to wrestle the tray off the possum, who was very reluctant to let it go.

The next night, we found the possum munching the left-over bits off the honey press. The cheek!

Who knew that possums love honeycomb?

Next night, the possum nibbled the left-overs off the honey press!
Next night, the possum nibbled the left-overs off the honey press!