Our first harvest of dragon fruit

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It’s been a while since we’ve done a “first of” post. We did many during the first heady months of establishing our first proper veg patch, when every harvest is new and exciting. After time, of course, it all becomes very routine and not worth mentioning.

Still, dragon fruit is a pretty spectacular thing! We were given a piece of this succulent by a friend, over five years ago. Since then it’s clambered up our fence and into the tree, but only now has it started to fruit.

Three yellow and white dragon fruit flowers

The flowers are distinctive, and they bloom for only a very short period. A few weeks later, we had three bright red fruit standing out against the green of the plant, and the grey of the fence.

Ripe fruit ready for harvesting

A possum eat one, but we still ended up with two fruit. We cut them up to use in a fruit salad, combined with a harvest of mangoes and some yoghurt, yum!

The unique black and white flesh of dragon fruit

This is just one of the sub-tropical plants that I’m starting to grow in Sydney, as we seemingly shift inexorably away from a temperate climate.

Our first proper harvest of apples

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Our first real crop of Jonathon apples ready for harvest.
Our first real crop of Jonathon apples ready for harvest.

Four years ago we started planting out our guerrilla-gardened food forest in the land behind our house. This included nine different varieties of apple trees, alongside a mix of citrus and other fruit trees.

While we had a tiny harvest two years ago, this is the first year that we’ve had a reasonable harvest.

The Jonathon variety is by far the strongest tree, and the most prolific producer of fruit. We’ve also got a good crop of local Granny Smith apples on the way.

The trees have been very hit-and-miss so far. Some years it’s been the weather, with a lack of rain during key spring growing period. Fruit fly attack is also a constant problem (I’ll post shortly about our bamboo-and-netting solution.)

Still, we’ve harvested two full bucket loads of apples so far this year, with more to come. That’s a lot of apples for two people to eat.

While a many of the apples are blemished or marked externally, they have wonderfully pale green flawless flesh. Not to mention a crispness and depth of flavour that you just don’t get in supermarket apples that have been sitting in a cool store for upwards of six months. Yum! 🙂

Expect more posts shortly on apple-related preserves 🙂

A full bucket of apples, ready for a wash -- and then eating!
A full bucket of apples, ready for a wash — and then eating!

Ruby grapefruit

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Ruby grapefruit, in all its glory
Ruby grapefruit, in all its glory

We’ve ended up with not one, but two ruby grapefruit in our front garden. This year we’ve had several fruit off each tree, and they are absolutely delicious!

While it may look pithy in the photo above, once the white flesh is removed, there’s plenty left to eat. We’ve been using them in salads, which we’d highly recommend 🙂

Fighting off fruit flies

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Dead fruit flies, drowned in the bottom of our home-made traps.

Each year, we seem to have a different plague of pests. Last year it was fruit flies. The year before last it was cabbage moths and citrus leaf miner. I guess it’s probably to do with the weather conditions leading up to summer.

This year we’ve taken a more proactive approach to dealing with fruit flies, as our citrus is finally cropping well, and we’ve got a good number of apples growing out the back.

The photo above shows the home-made traps, made of plastic food containers with slots cut in the side. These are filled with Wild May Fruit Fly Attractant. This lures in the male fruit fly, who then drowns in the liquid.

It’s cheap, and as you can see in the photo, effective. Let’s see if it makes enough of a difference!

Lots of limes

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The first real harvest of citrus: 45 limes!

We’ve been pretty quiet about our citrus growing on this blog so far, despite having a lemon, lime, two oranges and a grapefruit in the ground. Why? Let’s just say, they didn’t prosper in their first 18 months.

What turned things around was some reading about their hungry nature. We’d been giving them regular handfuls of citrus fertiliser, but they were still struggling, barely growing, and not fruiting.

Then I read the following from two different sources:

Citrus trees need 0.5kg of fertiliser for each year of age … per year.

Eeek! That’s a lot of fertiliser, certainly a lot more than the handfuls I was applying.

Ramping up the feeding quickly showed the value of this advice, however. All the trees starting growing strongly, with the yellow vanishing from the leaves, and flowers sprouting. They’re now well on their way, and I’m expecting good things from them over the next few years.

The photo above shows our first real harvest of citrus. Noting that the lime tree was weighed down by fruit, I harvested a bucket’s worth. This turned out to be 45 limes, from a tree not as high as my shoulder. That’s more like it 🙂

Lemons into the nature strip

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Two dwarf meyer lemons, in excellent shape and ready for the nature strip
Two dwarf meyer lemons, in excellent shape and ready for the nature strip

A few weeks ago I ordered two dwarf myer lemons from Perry’s Fruit and Nut Nursery in SA. These are your typical Australian backyward lemon, but on “Flying Dragon” roostock, which according to the nursery is the only “true” dwarfing stock.

This morning both lemons went into the nature strip, in front of our house. Give them a year, and they should be producing prolific fruit all year round (fingers crossed!). Of course, many (most?) of the lemons will be picked by passer-byers, but that’s OK. Particularly if it distracts them from raiding our front garden veges…

White passionfruit

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Before heading off to work this morning, I planted out two new white passionfruit seedlings. These were a gift from my grandmother, who rescued a fruit from her old house, and grew new plants from that.

Apparently these type of passionfruit produce long, almost banana shaped fruit that are extremely sweet. The fruit is, naturally, white. (They are also very uncommon, rarely if ever seen in garden stores or seed catalogues.)

I’ve planted them along the side fence at the front, with the goal of covering over some ancient (and faded) graffiti. They should end up taking over the entire fence, making for a glorious green border rather than a boring paling fence.