Monday, September 29, 2014

Mystery Berries

Do any of you know what these are?

When we first moved onto our land and started getting the garden established, we accepted plant donations from anyone and everyone. Berry canes were an especially sought-after item, being as we are berry-loving fiends, and lots of people shared and we also got them from freecycle. Happy times!

But you see, I am dreadfully disorganised, and I didn't label anything, so now we have some plants we aren't quite sure of, including the berry that we are enjoying by the handful on these glorious spring days.

The plant is pretty big, at around 1m tall, and is spreading out quite happily. It started flowering in early winter, and these berries are now daily fare, when no other berries are around. Cool!
They're certainly raspberry-like, though they're definitely not raspberries - the little 'globes' (if you know what I mean) are way smaller than a raspberry's, and there are heaps more of them. They're also a lot firmer than a raspberry, and they have lots of little tiny crunchy seeds.

The flavour is somewhere between a raspberry and a strawberry, and they're definitely delicious, though ever-so-slightly more on the tart side than the sweet side.

Any ideas?

We don't really mind if we never find out what they are - we're happily munching them, and the birds don't seem to notice them (or are confused by all the bright red kennedia flowers on the vine that is sprawling all over the berry bush). But of course we're always curious!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Banana passionfruits are rocking our world right now

Several years ago, at Alfalfa House, our beautiful friend Jay introduced Olive and I to banana passionfruits. Jay was super-enthusiastic, having grown up eating them. I was less enthusiastic, having had a disastrous encounter with some passion pop around the age of 15.
Banana passionfruit inside. According to Oski, they're "just like little lollies!"
In spite of my passionfruit aversion, however, I could still see the appeal (most significantly that they have more pulp and are easier to eat than a normal passionfruit) and planted one about a year ago, here on Autumn Farm.

The thing went beserk.
The vine, along with a bit of fluoro pink geranium and a hardenbergia
So much so that I began to think that the weedy rootstock (which most commercially-grown passionfruits are grafted onto) had taken over. Just when I was beginning to think I had a really really tedious and enormous weeding job on my hands, some flowers appeared, and a quick Google consult confirmed that they were indeed the flowers of a banana passionfruit. Yay! The best thing about this discovery was that we had HEAPS of flowers on our vine, which we hoped would translate into HEAPS of fruit.

And they did. Right before winter.
Green banana passionfruits on a mattress spring fence in winter, getting ready for their spring flush
I couldn't quite work out how this would work. Do they just hang there, green, over the winter? Through frosts? Then ripen up when the weather warms? It seemed unlikely, but it turns out this is exactly what they did. The first glimpses of spring brought the first glimpses of yellow fruit on the vine, and we're now reaping the bounty.
Easy and delicious for kids! Oski demands one in his lunch box, always
Yes, even I am enjoying several of these little beauties every day. It seems my passionfruit aversion (and my very dramatic and vehement dislike of peanut butter) was 'cured' by chemo. When I read on the chemo side effects lists that my "taste buds might change", I was sceptical. Especially when it came to peanut butter, which I couldn't even stand being in a room with. But here I am, eating passionfruit and peanut butter like there's no tomorrow. Amazing! Delicious!

So if you're thinking of planting a passionfruit, or a climbing vine, or a shade-supplier with edible side benefits, have a go at a banana passionfruit. They're ridiculously vigorous (ours covered a 3-mattress-springs-long fence in a little over a year) and will supply you with beautiful, delicious fruit at a time of year when you might need a little break from the citrus. What more could you ask for?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The first days of spring, oh how we're loving you

How exciting that it's spring! Given that we've just experienced what we hope will be The Crappest Winter Ever, the springtime this year is more welcome than ever - bring on the new growth, both literal and metaphorical, I say! My hair's growing back (it feels like a little baby lamb!), we're slowly recovering our energies after the exhaustion-inducing chemo regime, and everything is looking extra sunshiny and new given the deepened gratitude we're experiencing as a result of the last 6 months or so. We've been absolutely revelling in the warm sunny days, picking early raspberries, resting, enjoying spring rains, watching our chickens loving the new shoots of grass, smiling at rosellas in the kennedia, and working working working on the garden - weeding, mulching, harvesting and spring planting yay!
We've also been...

Crocheting veggie tea cozies for lovely gardening sisters,

 Debuting new birthday frocks and devouring the goodness (mushrooms! Honey! Profiteroles! Jersey milkshakes! Crazy amounts of beautiful, bountiful veg! Fresh and smoked fish!) at the Moruya Farmers' Markets,
 Being thrilled by big digging and dreaming about another little strawbale house growing from the mud over the next couple of years,
Crocheting around jar-lid-rings to make bangles for the Mumbulla School Spring Fair,
 Eating duck egg omelettes with greens from the garden and bartered kimchi in the sunshine almost every morning, and loving our life.
How about you? How are you heralding the warmer days?