Thursday, December 29, 2011

Some new additions at the end of 2011

Mum and I enjoyed that nectarine yesterday. We halved it and ate it while watching the cricket on my couch. The sweet fruit contrasted with the bitterness of Australia's batting collapse!

We also bought some new lovelies for the balcony garden. First was a fuschia to replace the one I had for three years that never flowered. I wanted a Winston Churchill fuschia (which is dark pink and dark purple) but then decided this one was more striking.

I also got some berries and cream mint. I covetted Lisa's mint collection, so I am starting my own.

I also have normal mint, which is doing better after a bug attack (the pic is from when it was sicker.)

And ditto on the chocolate mint. For some reason I thought hanging baskets would help keep them safe.

Any end of year new purchases in your garden?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Nectarine and Other Hijinks

My nectarine tree has two nectarines on it, two. These are cherished and coddled little sweet things just ready to be eaten (the pic above is an oldie). I plan on sharing one with my Mum today and one with my lovely boyfriend in a few days. Both will be blissful eating experiences I am sure. Now as you can tell from this I am a sharer. I love sharing the produce from my balcony garden. It isn't much, but it goes around a fair way. I cook meals for my friends with it. Occasionally if there is a glut of tomatoes I take some to my cousin's house. Even my neighbours sometimes get a stray carrot or two.

But not everyone is a sharer, some are stealers! And I've heard some bonkers stories about fruit tree use and abuse this Christmas and I just wanted to share them with you.

Story 1 - beware the mother in law

My cousin told me the story of a friend of his who has a lovely stonefruit tree in his backyard. For the sake of the story let's say it is an apricot. The tree is often laden with fruit, bulging, sagging, just waiting to ripen. You have to be quick to beat the birds to it, but in his case he was too slow and a bird got it. Yes, just a single bird - his mother in law! She came over one day and cleaned him out of fruit. What's worse is that it wasn't for her own consumption - but she gave them to her friends at church!!! RANDOM! I don't think I need to say much more, except that this is wrong, wrong, so many levels of wrong.

And it isn't isolated. Another friend at uni had the entire contents of his apple tree stolen by neighbours while he was away. And no neighbour will own up to it - but given the isolation of his backyard it had to be one of them.

Story 2 - karma counter

My Aunt has a neighbour who counts the fruit on his avocado tree. Even though technically the fruit hanging over my Aunt's side of the fence is hers (a fact that sent him pale with terror when she told him) he keeps them for himself. Now if the tree had one or two fruit, like my lemon tree at most times, then I'd understand this hoarding and counting and keeping to oneself. However, the tree, in its worst year, usually has over seventy fruit! SEVENTY! All for him, and his wife. And the day one accidentally fell off on my Aunt's side of the fence ... well ... she threw it back over for fear of this little man and what he might do lest the counting fall short.

I know if I had a tree with that much fruit I'd be gorging on avocado each day, and giving them away to those I love best, those nearest, those a little over the way and probably anyone who just walked by.

He does this each year. And then one year there were only a few avocados on the tree! Karma for the counter, karma.

But back to my nectarines - and wouldn't you know it, sharing pays off. Like the neighbour of my Aunt's I had been counting my nectarines, but even a toddler with dyscalculia could tell there were only two, well two highly visible ones at least. Yesterday I looked out and saw a nectarine lying on the mulch, fully ripe. I thought maybe I'd knocked one of the two off, but no, there were still two on there, ready to be shared accordingly. This was a miracle third nectarine! As I was enjoying a day to myself I decided to let this third morsel be all mine. And it was delicious. :) Ok so in a post about sharing I end up keeping the extra to myself, but I don't think there's too much harm in that.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

In other fruit news

The balcony garden isn't just a haven of pampered fruit trees - there are a couple of smaller additions to the sweet goodies. Red currents and strawberries are the other candidates for delicious fruit salad additions. The red current was mostly eaten by snails this year, but a few goodies still got through.

I'm planning on passing the strawberries on to a friend, they're not happy in the pots and would thrive if given proper space and care. No pics of them either, given they haven't fruited in ages!

Tomatoes are also a fruit - but that's a whole other post!

Friday, December 9, 2011

That's a pretty fruity balcony you've got there ...

Indeed my balcony garden is so fruity, the apples grow upside down! If you recall a post a long while back - I decided to 'fruity' up my balcony in order to skimp on buying soil all the time. It worked a little - or maybe it just cluttered the balcony up even more - but either way the 6 fruit trees are here to stay, and it looks like this summer they are earning their keep. For those who aren't in the know, the balcony garden houses six fruit trees - they are (in order of entrance into the BG world)

A Lemon Tree (gifted by my dear friend the not-so-stinking Hippy G, probably Meyer, was kind of sickly, but seems to be happier now)
A Nectarzee (gifted by my birth mother, has issues with leaf curl but holding on)
A Tahitian Lime (gifted by me, to me, because, well, I wanted my friends to have G and Ts with style)
A Golden Delicious Apple (a me-gift again, but I love this apple, it's my favourite kind)
A Granny Smith (because every good apple tree needs a companion)
A Fig (gifted by the lovely Ms M for my 30th)

So how are they faring overall? The lemon tree has always struggled, but a larger pot, some care and careful fertilising and a prime position means it is covered in little lemons this season. When I say covered, I mean about 10-12, but when a usual crop is lucky to have more than one this is a total blessing.

The lime is less successful, no doubt because of its youth, the way-too-small pot, and lack of adequate fertilisation. He'll be my next care and repair task. At least he keeps on flowering, in the faint hope he will fruit, which smells divine.

The apples are amazing! They're still young but they're fruiting and unlike other growers who let their trees mature, I'm letting it fruit. I don't care what anyone says and how much they say this'll hurt the tree. I'm a free range gardener and if my younguns wanna let loose and fruit then so be it. I thinned the fruit back though, and they still look happy and healthy and I can't wait to try an apple in the later summer/autumn months.

Mr fig twig - he aint no twig anymore - and he is fruiting happily and well. Rust is still an issue, mostly because I keep not attending to it!

The nectarzee (that's a dwarf nectarine for the uninitiated) had huge problems with leaf curl, at least it did in the past. While one branch was affected this year the rest of the tree came away unscathed. I am loathe to spray for it, and seems my little fighter fended for himself. There are two nectarines ripening this year, so cannot wait to nibble on them both.

Spiders are a problem with all the fruit trees, they seem to have made themselves at home. Not a problem in a large garden, with large trees, but for an arachnaphobe with a balcony garden of small trees it can be a bit of a problem. At the moment we are in a pretend-ignorant coexistance, but it is an uneasy truce. I'll keep you posted if arachnowar goes down.

So what fruit trees do you grow? Any tips?