Harvest

This year, it’s the turn of our mandarin tree to go bonkers.

Ponkan Mandarin fruit (Citrus reticulata)

It’s not a surprise, really, it’s a variety that’s well known for fruiting in alternate years. Last year, it was the mangoes that cropped spectacularly, but so far they’re showing no sign of flowering. The mandarin tree is smallish and tucked away in the corner, and I hadn’t even noticed flowers on it. A few months ago, I saw a load of dark green marble-sized fruit on it, and briefly thought “woo hoo!” and then promptly forgot about them again, till just a few weeks ago, when the now much larger fruit started to change colour. Usually, we wait till they start to fall of their own accord or the lorikeets start decimating them before we pick the fruit, but so far, there have been only two windfalls and no bird or fruitbat activity, so we decided to get out there and do battle with the green ants for them.

With green ants in the tree (and boy, are they IN the tree!), there’s a technique for picking the fruit without getting bitten a lot. You take a bucket half filled with water, a pair of long handled loppers and a grabby thing (you know what I mean, the doohickey you use for getting things down off high shelves). You grab the fruit with the grabber, cut it off with the loppers and dump it straight in the bucket of water, which drowns any ants silly enough to have come along for the ride. It sounds elaborate, but is a much more pleasurable experience than having the vicious little buggers run off the fruit, up your sleeve and then bite you hard on parts you can’t get at easily. Repeat till the bucket is full of fruit and water. Once in the kitchen, you remove any leaves and stalks, and then toss the water with the ants outside so the insect-eating birds can have a feed.

The fruits are huge for mandarins (my hands are not particularly small), the skins are very loose and easy to peel, and while there are usually half a dozen pips in each one, the flavour and juiciness is so fresh, intense and wonderful that you really don’t care! I’ve been busily looking up recipes for mandarin gelato, I’ll be making my mandarin syrup cake (minus the apricots) the Husband’ll be taking a couple of these to work in his lunchbox each day for a while, and I may freeze some juice and purée for winter consumption.

And that’s only the first crop. We have at least six more to go 🙂

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The Gardens of Chiconia 38: An orange sort of day…

A theme is emerging here, people.

Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 1.02.26 pmFirstly, the Truck Quilt is finished. The quilting is spectacularly ordinary, but it does the job of holding everything together, and boy, is it cosy. I finished stitching down the binding last night, and the Husband will be taking it to work on night shift tonight. I regret not being able to get it done last night, as the temperature went down to 2°C/35°F and was certainly chilly enough to make it very welcome. But at least he’ll be cosy tonight.

And now for the rest of the orange.

Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 1.00.21 pmScreen Shot 2015-07-18 at 1.01.29 pmI have harvested the last of the mandarins, beating the bloody thieving lorikeets to it. They have gobbled up a lot of them, getting to the fruit before they were fully ripe, and leaving evidence of their marauding on the ground. The fruit smells wonderful, and some of them will be going into a mandarin syrup cake, some will be juiced for the freezer. The remainder will be scoffed pretty quickly.

 

Screen Shot 2015-07-18 at 1.03.02 pmElsewhere, the garden is doing its best, considering it’s winter. The tomatoes are flowering very enthusiastically, but we’re having to move fast to save them from the birds and bugs, and are picking the fruit half ripe to finish off inside. My zucchini have given up in the bout of cold weather we’re having – cold for the tropics, that is. The yellow dendrobium orchid on the palm tree, however, is sending out flower shoots, as are my white and purple phalaenopsis orchids in the sun porch. I have some potting on to do: some of my custard apple seeds have germinated, and the angel trumpet cuttings have long, long roots. Time to give them a pot to play in!

The sun is shining, there’s a fresh, cool breeze, and in Europe, I’d call this a lovely spring day!

The Gardens of Chiconia 23: hidden treasures

Today I have been mooching around the garden again with my camera.

Yesterday it was birds and frogs. Today it’s the turn of the plants. Time for some pictures:

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An orchid, casually being fabulous on a palm tree….

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Mandarin blossom

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I have no idea what this is, with its weird lilac spidery flowers and orangey red globular fruits. Any ideas, anyone?

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White silk pompoms….

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Pink silk pompoms. That’s a bud on the left, which will shortly explode into something like the thing on the right!

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Mulberries ripening. I wonder if I’ll get to them before the birds…

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The mulberry tree, a little tottery but still willing

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The poinciana. It needs a lot of dead wood cut out of it.

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Chookonia. In need of a little renovation, but I don’t believe the Girls will be too fussed about how it looks.

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The free range area, left side

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The free range area, right side. It’s about a quarter acre.

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Froglet Heaven. There’s water in there somewhere…

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… and in case you thought I was exaggerating, those are green ant nests in just part of just one of the mango trees. Seriously, that one closest in the shot is the size of my head and the tree is swarming with the little buggers.

I haven’t managed to get a great deal done; there was a visit to the doctor, an x-ray and an ultrasound on my sore hip. Results tomorrow; it’s either the arthritis spreading, or bursitis. Both are painful, and I’m grateful for the tasty new drugs I’ve been prescribed. On the plus side of the balance sheet, I did laundry, put up a blind to keep the morning sun out of our eyes in bed, gave the huge gas oven a test run (full marks on the splendid roast chicken), and unpacked three boxes of baking equipment in readiness for my next GF order.

Time to go and deal with the vegetables, which won’t steam themselves – even in this climate!