Posts in Fruit

Petty’s Orchard Open Day 2011

The Petty’s Orchard Open Day is happening again this year on Sunday 27th March.  The annual event is run by the Heritage Fruits Society, which is a group dedicated to preserving rare and heritage breeds of fruits trees, i.e. preserving our genetic heritage.

Unfortunately I don’t make it every year, but it is well worth the trip.  One of the major bonuses I found was that they have a tasting of most of the heritage varieties of apples available in Melbourne.  This is very helpful when it comes to deciding which varieties to have in your garden.  I don’t see much point in growing the apple varieties that are widely available in the shops.  By growing rare varieties you can have access to great tasting fruit that you would otherwise not get the chance to eat, and you are preserving the planet’s genetic heritage.  As I understand it, proceeds from the event go to the Society.

Petty’s Orchard is located in Templestowe, in the north east of Melbourne. More details about this excellent event can be found here: http://www.heritagefruitssociety.org.au/festivals.html

Upside down plum tart

Upside down plum tart

Upside down plum tart made from my next door neighbour's plums - post dinner.

My former neighbour had (and probably still has) the same madness as me – the desire to cram as many fruiting trees into his backyard as possible.  Unfortunately he has now moved somewhere else, but his legacy lives on in the garden next door, and before he left at the end of January he gave us some lovely plums from one of his trees.

We had already been given a load of plums from someone else and had made several months worth of jam.  I suppose we could have made more, but there is only so much jam you need, particularly when we have marmalade there to be eaten as well.  So as is so often the case at this time of the year when there is a glut of fruit, the plums languished at the bottom of the fridge for the last few weeks.

Last night however, inspiration struck!  One of our local TV channels had an ad for a cooking spot where they were making a plum tart.  I wasn’t able to get the recipe but after a quick search on Google I found a nice version of an Upside Down Plum Tart on a site called Kitchen Culinaire.  I didn’t have the variety of plums the recipe called for and I substituted yoghurt for sour cream (because we didn’t have any sour cream), but it worked a treat and was delicious.  Perhaps next time I might try adding 1/2 a cup of almond meal for some of the flour.  We’ll see.

I reckon you could substitute most of the stone fruit or apples or pears for plums in this recipe.  So if you have a glut of any fruit at the moment I recommend giving it a shot.  Let me know how you get on!

Spotty (but delicious) nectarines

Our nectarines this year are a bit spotty, but delicious none the less.

We have a bumper crop of nectarines this year on our tree, and we have just started harvesting them.  Unfortunately (and I never thought I would say this in February – our hottest month) we have had too much rain and like the grapes I have mentioned elsewhere, they are suffering from some fungal spots.

So far though it doesn’t seem to have affected the crop or the taste.  I guess we will just have to wait and see if it has any effect on the keeping.  Not that nectarines are a crop to try and store anyway.  They are one best eaten immediately in all their soft ripe glory – yum!

Bordeaux mixture in the end

Those who have been following my mildew saga will know I had come down in favour of using sulphur to try to control it. Unfortunately that didn’t have the effect I was hoping (in fact it seemed to make no difference at all). And it was starting to spread into the second vine I have. So despite the advice I came across I decided to use copper sulphate in a Bordeaux mixture. The good news is it seems to have checked the problem. And even better the vines are sprouting new leaves so they will at least build some reserves for winter. Next year we might get some good grape crops. Here’s hoping!

Sulphur is the go for mildew!

Sulphur powder on the vine leaves

I went to look for copper sulphate as I talked about in my last post but it proved to be harder to find. I did manage to get some at a local stock feed store, but along the way I found some where selling powdered sulphur.

It turns out sulphur is also good for fungal infections. So after doing some research on the Gardening Australia website I found that Bordeaux mixture is best used during winter when the plants have no leaves and that powdered sulphur can be dusted onto plants with mildew. So that’s what I’ve done. I’ll let you know how they get on.

Copper sulphate, bordeaux mixture and the curse of the mildew

mildew blighted grape vines

My mildew blighted grape vines

I’ve got mildew. Not me personally of course, but my grape vines. It was shaping up to be a bumper year for grapes with all the rain that we have had. However that has turned out to be the problem.

The moisture in the air has resulted in mildew on the vines. Initially I thought I might be able to avoid spraying it but the rain has persisted and the mildew is getting worse. Unfortunately it has damaged the early grapes on one vine and I will have to take some action to prevent the other vine going the same way.

But what to do? I know about Bordeaux mixture to treat fungal infections on grape vines but I have been unable to find the copper sulphate needed to make the mix. All the gardening books say it should be available in garden centres. But here in Victoria it isn’t. All I could find was other commercial copper fungicides and if you are an organic gardener you can understand my reluctance to use them.

However it turns out that is readily available in stock/horse feed stores to treat copper deficiency. So tomorrow I will be heading down to buy some. Otherwise I’ll have no grapes left to eat.

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