Tag Archives: Kitchen Gardeners

Spring is sprung!

For the Kitchen Gardeners’ Society September workshop, the gardeners were delighted to be invited by the Glen Forrest Community Garden to put in some garden beds.

The Glen Forrest Community Garden is only just getting going, so this was a wonderful opportunity to help build a beautiful space for everyone to share.

IMG_1435So far, there’s a few fruit trees there, some artichokes and some broccoli that isn’t doing too well.

The site gets the odd frost and it’s not protected, so the delicate little plants have suffered this winter.

But, as spring is here, it’s time to get some spring veg in.

Using lots of old newspapers and mulch, we all mucked in to put down paths.

Then, using the organic design method, we put in a raised bed for potatoes.

IMG_1440Kerry brought a stack of seed potatoes and some potato sprouts which we planted on layers of poo, rotting down straw and shredded paper.

Once the leaves appear, we’ll put another layer of straw and soil on top of the, forcing the plants to leave another layer of tubers, and grow taller.

With a bit of luck, there’ll be three or four layers of lovely potatoes in this bed.

Everyone is hoping the rabbits don’t find the garden and in a couple of months, there’ll be a lovely harvest of beans, tomatoes, corn, artichokes, broadbeans and lots of other veg.

IMG_1452If you’ve got a couple of hours spare on a Sunday, there’s always something happening at the garden, corner of Hardey Road and Railway Parade in Glen Forrest.

You can keep in touch on facebook here.

Advertisement

Loving your fruit trees

Lots of Kitchen Gardeners have talked about pruning their fruit trees with something akin to dread – the things that could go wrong!  But pruning your apples and plums isn’t nearly as fraught as you might think.

IMG_1387

Meet Rob.  Rob grew up on a biodynamic farm long before it was fashionable.  He has lots of amusing stories about dealing with the flummoxment of the experts from the Agriculture Department.

He’s pruned thousands of trees, starting when he was just a kid.

We were most grateful he agreed to share what he’s learnt about the care and maintenance of stone fruit, pome fruit and citrus.

IMG_1385This is a very neglected apricot tree,  probably not pruned for five years.

It’s grown into an odd shape, and it overhangs a driveway.  While it’s healthy, it was not in a particularly good shape for fruit production, easy harvesting or good air-flow, which is important to reduce the likelihood of infestation or fungal infection.

The first principle Rob shared was that you can prune a tree any way you like but there will be consequences.  If you take out old growth on a tree that fruits on old growth, you can expect a reduced yield the next season.  Likewise if you want your tree to offer  you shade, you should expect not to be able to reach the topmost fruit.

This apricot will fruit on new growth, and we could see flower and leaf buds just waiting to erupt.

Rob trimmed the tall branches back to a reachable height, took out boughs that crossed each other and created a funnel shape to encourage air-flow and ease of harvest.  That meant taking out quite a bit of new growth, so there will be fewer fruit this year, but next year it should have a much larger yield.

IMG_1390This citrus, on the other hand, is not in a good position.  It doesn’t get enough direct sunlight and is competing also for water and nutrients with several other trees.

It has citrus leaf miner (spray with eco pest oil) and aphids (blast off with a jet of water from the hose).

Rob’s advice was to move it to give it the best chance of good growth and fruit.

Some other important things to remember:

  • Sterilise your tools between trees so as not to spread any infection.  A rag soaked in metho is cheap and easy.
  • Keep your tools sharp so your cuts are clean, reducing the chance of open cuts festering.
  • Keep weeds and mulch away from tree trunks to discourage collar rot.
  • Liquid feeding trees around the drip line is the most effective way of boosting fruit production and general tree health.
  • The best way to deal with fruit fly, which is a major problem in Perth, is to individually net fruit once it has set with a drawstring net bag.
  • Pruning can be done in winter or late summer/early autumn once a tree has finished fruiting.

Rob has agreed to do another pruning workshop next year, if you missed this one and are interested.

February’s preserve and jam workshop

The workshop was great fun and Emma and Kerrin’s house smelt absolutely divine.  We made 20 jars of jam – half plum, other half nectarine and mango, and 20 jars of Emma’s summer pickle.

Master jam stirer

 

If you’d like to make your own jam, here’s how you do it:

Elizabeth’s great-nana’s failsafe jam

Ingredients

  •  Quantity of soft fruit (plums, strawberries, apricots, peaches…)
  •  Equal quantity by mass of sugar.
  •  Juice of a lemon.
  •  Commercial pectin (quantity by weight, one packet of Jam Setta to 1.5kg fruit)

Method

  •  Wash your fruit and cut it into equal-sized pieces, removing any stones, spots or yucky bits.
  •  Weigh your fruit.
  •  Weigh an equal amount of sugar, mix your pectin through this and set it aside.
  • At this point put your jars and lids in the oven at 100 deg to sterilise them.
  •  Put fruit in a large, heavy-bottomed pot on a very low heat.
  •  Let the fruit simmer very slowly until it is cooked.  This step is important, as once you add your sugar the fruit doesn’t cook any further.
  •  Once the fruit is cooked, add your sugar and increase the heat to a rolling boil.
  •  Boil about 10 minutes, then start to test for setting point.
  •  Once your jam has reached setting point, take if off the heat.  Let jam sit for 10 minutes or so, until the fruit no longer rises to the surface.  This will ensure that when you bottle it, the chunks of fruit are evenly distributed through the jar.
  •  Bottle, seal and label.
  •  Stand back and feel pleased with yourself.

Notes

  •  Pectin is the naturally occurring acid in fruit that aids in setting.
  •  Slightly under-ripe fruit is best for jam as it tends to contain more pectin.
  •  I usually guess with the amount of Jam Setta I use, depending on the type of fruit and its degree of ripeness.  It’s forgiving stuff.
  •  This recipe works for just about any soft fruit – the only failure I’ve ever had with it was with custard apple, and that was because it tends to be gritty.
  •  Setting point is the point at which the fruit soup changes its chemical consistency to a gel.
  • To test setting point, put a saucer in the freezer. When the fruit has been boiling for 10 minutes or so, put a smear on the cold saucer, put it back in the freezer to cool down quickly, then run your finger gently through it.   When the jam creases, it’s at setting point. You might need to do this a couple of times.  If you leave it past this you end up with toffee.

Summer Pickle 

If you’d like to try the summer pickle, you can download the recipe here.

Pickle prep

Furious chopping

Successful pickle