Happy new year everyone! May this year be a productive and fruitful one... In the garden, of course! Sadly, I have not appreciated the warm weather and have pretty much abandoned gardening duties these last two months... Nonetheless, we had some plants put in earlier that have had their first harvest, which is exciting! Have not been sowing new salad leaves in the heat but do regret because we are definitely running low...
January 2017 Harvest:
- 5 red bell peppers
- 1 red thai eggplant (thanks Rob!)
- 2 yellow squash (monsters! Did not get picked when I was away, 1 was 460g and the other 542g!!)
- 2 zucchini (again, 1 was 596g, another 119g. They are only just starting to produce again. Highly recommend picking often when they are small. Not very useful when they get too big. Saps the energy of the plant. Also found that cutting the dying leaves often helps not only against mildew by increasing circulation etc but gives more energy to fruit production).
- 8 strawberries
- 2 blueberries
- 1 cup strawberry guavas (TBC)
- 2 baby carrots
- 1 bunch salad mix
- 1 bunch choko tips
- spring onions
- 1 massive jap pumpkin (eaten by neighbour)
At Christmas, some friends from Reunion let us try some 'jus de goyavier' which translates to strawberry guava juice. Very tasty and I got very excited when she described the plant and showed me the plant in a book. 'I've got this at home!!!' For the first time, in Dec 2016 I had noticed some fully formed fruit on the tree that is outside my bedroom window that I used as shelter for my plantlings nursery. Potentially because the tree got incidentally watered more often this year, it decided to set fruit! Usually it was just a pretty blossom with little misformed fruitlets, which stay rather green, a bit like native fig trees so hadn't given it much thought - beyond its utility as a provider of shade and mulch. Instead, this year, I got little red golf balls! Sadly fruit fly appears to have pricked most of them but I notice there are more green buds growing higher on the tree. Must try later.
The other thing about les Jardins Creoles in Reunion is this tiered approach to creating an edible ecosystem: 1 tier is the canopy/big trees (mango, lychee, avocado), 2nd tier is vines crawling up the trunks (yams, choko, pepper, vanilla -want!! they have at Daleys but a bit pricey..), 3rd tier shrubs/small trees (coffee, banana, ginger, cardamon). I love this idea as the tall trees provide structure and shelter for the others etc. But it's a big time investment to wait for the large fruit trees to be fully established. Lush rainforest feel they are are though...! Makes me want to plant my fruit trees (all) that are still hanging around in pots!
Actually, while I'm here another celebrated plant over there is the Combava (kaffir lime). Mine here is looking pretty grim - the leaves (including new) seem to curl up and double over. There seems to be a bit of a bug problem but can't see quite what. I've noticed the mangroves down the creek are also attached by this - any ideas?
Oh! The other interesting finding is ginger-mango. Apparently there is a ginger root that tastes like green mango. Is anyone familiar with this?
Also discover weird one: bred mafane (Acmella oleracea): malgache leafy greens that has bright yellow pompom flowers that anesthetise your mouth for a few minutes. Would be good for bush dental surgery if must! weird sensation though, wine with your meal would be wasted. Does anyone have any seeds?
Some beautiful eggplants have formed, with pretty flowers. Unsure when to pick these though. Waiting til they get a little bit bigger? It's the big ones that they sell in shops. Was instantly dark as soon as the fruit was forming and they seem to be getting bigger. Don't want to pick when they are too green but don't want to miss the opportunity either!
The garden was left to its own devices while we were away...so much tall grass...
The native violets and garlic chives are happy in their shaded spot. No flowers on the chives yet. The onion chives however are in full bloom and even setting seed.
The Sweet potato is the only thing 100% happy with the heat (apart from eggplant!). Even providing shelter for the strawberries!
Pretty pickings :)
First time eating homegrown choko tips. Another speciality from Reunion - "Bred Chouchou". Other there, they are very into eating greens, particularly the tips of pumpkin vines etc steamed/stir fried in garlic, ginger and thyme. Yum :) New thing to eat! Had heard of this but hadn't been game until I tried it ;)
This is a very exciting moment: our first carrots!! In a wicking box, a la Susan. Worked ok!
Another wild surprise, I can join the Dianne and Darren Winged Yam club :) I had stuffed a root given by an Epicurious gardener in the ground a few months ago and forgot about it. Come back to see a yam vine has wound itself up a dead sunflower stem and then onto a fence post! Added some string to give more support but isn't nature a clever little thing!
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