My first Black Sapote fruit …

I’m only going to mention it one more time … we had the summer from HELL. But then the weather turned cooler, we had a minor flood and everything returned to normal.

Remarkably my garden survived on half the usual amount of water, which probably means that I have, in the past, overwatered. A lesson learnt.  Some more fragile plants succumbed whilst others like the Black Sapote toughed it out and even fruited tentatively for the first time.

Not knowing a lot about sapotes, I now realise that I harvested the fruit a little early. Instead of taking 7-10 days to turn black, it took nearly a month. And I wasted a few by cutting them open prematurely.  You pick the fruit whilst still green but slightly yellow, and when the calix starts to lift. Then you have to wait until the whole fruit turns black and feels mushy all over when you squeeze it – in fact when it reaches the stage that you would normally throw fruit in the compost – it’s perfect!

As each fruit ripened, I scooped out the pulp and stored it in the freezer until I had enough to make a batch of ice-cream.

I will shortly be posting my recipe variations for Black Sapote ice-cream, or mousse for those of you who don’t have an ice-cream machine, or can’t be bothered waiting!

 

My Freycinet experience …

Last week I repeated a walk I did in Tasmania twenty years ago and strangely … it seemed a lot harder this time.  It’s probably fair to say that I slightly over-estimated my fitness level, and under-estimated my age!  Nevertheless, I made it to the last day, and managed to eat everything that was put in front of me (and a few things that weren’t).

Looking fresh at the beginning of the day in Bluestone Bay

The Freycinet Peninsula is one of Tasmania’s most beautiful spots, and once you get away from the usual trails and into the bush, solitude, wildlife and deserted beaches abound. Guides Nick and Sarah were very knowledgeable which greatly enriched our experience, and for the benefit of the foreigners amongst the group, we “enriched” it even further with tales of venomous snakes, spiders, ticks, leeches, sharks and other endearing Australian creatures.

I walked for four days with Freycinet Experience Walk.  Each day we were taken by vehicle or boat to a remote spot, to walk back to our comfortable eco-lodge – the only lodge within Freycinet National Park. Hidden in the sand dunes behind Friendly Beaches, the lodge with its comfy lounges, well-stocked library and indigenous art was a welcome sight at the end of each day.

Near the end of Day Two – OMG!

Somehow, the wonderful Gemma and Dan managed to produce fresh tasty food every day, even catering dairy-free, gluten-free, no red meat and vegetarian.  Unfortunately, I eat everything, and it was the thought of their food that kept me going on days two and three …

Next on my walking list will be something a little less strenuous, perhaps Bruny Island?

Lilly Pilly time …

Three years ago I turned a section of the garden into a small native plantation, hoping to cut down on erosion and mowing, and to provide a bit of extra bird habitat.  Unsurprisingly, this year ALL the Lilly Pillys flowered and fruited abundantly and I panicked and was forced to pop several kilograms of fruit in the freezer.

Way too much fruit
Way too much fruit

To process the Lilly Pillys, first you leave the container outside on its side for a few hours to give the insects a chance to escape … especially the ones that bite.

Let the insects escape
Let the insects escape

Then you rinse them and pick out the rubbish – stems, leaves and bruised fruit etc…

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Then you either pop them in the freezer for later use, or …

You make Lilly Pilly Gin (of course!) Give them a quick blast in the food processor, and then put them in a glass jar with a bottle of reasonable quality gin.

Now I have to wait for a few weeks for the Lilly Pillies to infuse their colour and taste. Which will give me time to research Lilly Pilly cocktails …

 

Queen of the Night …

It’s been good news almost daily since New Year’s Day …

The Rain God smiled, and instead of useless sprinkles, we’ve had decent heavy showers, bringing the total this year to just over 60mm of garden saving rain.

Almost as exciting as the rain has been my very first Queen of the Night flower. This plant is technically a cactus but doesn’t seem to have a problem with Bellingen’s bouts of extreme humidity.

Nearly ready to flower
Nearly ready to flower

Each flower lasts for just one night, so if you forget to go out after dark to check, you miss it completely.

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This must surely be one of nature’s most spectacular flowers and well worth a nocturnal walk. These photos were taken with a torch and an iPhone in the drizzle. With the proper photographic equipment you’d be able to see just how delicate and impressive the flowers are.

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The next morning it’s all over, the flower has closed, and that night it starts to shrivel.

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The flower closes at first light

 

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The next evening it starts to droop and shrivel