Saturday, 24 December 2016



Today, a marauding Blue Tongue Lizard was identified by witnesses as a key suspect in the persistent loss of papayas from a local home.

A papaya, which had fallen from the owners’ only tree and had negligently been left on the ground, attracted the attention of the very large and ravenous reptile, known to his accomplices as Bluey.

Experts consider that this is not Bluey’s first offence. Residents of the home had pondered for some time over the half-eaten remains of other fallen papayas.

Today’s daylight robbery was witnessed by a local resident, a tired cat and another resident Blue Tongue Lizard, a minor, watching from a safe distance from under an air-conditioning unit. 

Witnesses to the Papaya Theft

Upon the uncovering of Bluey’s crime, he skedaddled along a raised garden bed and under a neighbour’s fence.

Attempting to Evade Authorities

No arrests have been made.

Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden… And a Merry Christmas to all!

Friday, 23 December 2016

Australian Painted Lady Butterfly

The Australian Painted Lady Butterfly (Vanessa kershawi) is a common visitor to the gardens of our city of Sydney. However, until this year, it has not come often to our garden. So, why, this year, have we been graced with the regular presence of this beautiful creature?

My belief… A simple change to the flowers planted in the garden.

The Painted Lady will feed and lay its eggs on many flowering plants. However, among its favourite food sources are Australian native strawflowers. This year, we raised Xerochrysum bracteatum plants from seed, transplanting the seedlings to our front ‘Senses and Butterfly’ garden. As these strawflowers commenced flowering, along came the Painted Ladies.

A Painted Lady feeding on a white strawflower.

Their appearances have not been profuse, rather regular. During the spring months, we could rely upon an almost daily sighting of a Painted Lady feeding on our strawflowers and marigolds. I have read that the male of the species is territorial, chasing away other male interlopers. Therefore, I wonder whether males, in succession, were staking a territorial claim to our yard.

Staking a territorial claim...

Taking water from a damp pathway... The Australian Painted Lady is related to similar species in other countries, but it can be distinguished by the blue eye-spots on its hindwings.

Interestingly, many Painted Ladies could recently be sighted in one of our local reserves. As one would walk along the pathways and through the grassed areas, the butterflies would fly up. Clearly, this grassland, with its low grasses and capeweed, provides ideal feeding and breeding conditions for the Painted Ladies.

Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden…

Monday, 5 December 2016

Rejuvenating a Degraded Front Yard

The most difficult plant-establishment task in our home has been the landscaping of the front garden…

1. The Objectives

Our objectives for the front yard were simple… Firstly, this was to be an area, heavy with fragrant plants, a garden for the senses. Secondly, we wanted to attract the local butterflies into our home.

2. The History

As we have explained in earlier posts, our home was a ‘knock-down-and-rebuild’. During this process, unfortunately, our topsoil was moved and removed from what was to become the front yard. Consequently, what remained was a very thin layer of soil sitting upon a bed of clay.

Sadly, our first attempts to establish plants in this area were abject failures: we lost many of our prized plants in the first two years, including a large number of Aussie native plants. Furthermore, many more of our target species really struggled to take a foothold, looking feeble and sickly.

One of the few plants to thrive in this degraded soil... an Australian native, Grevillea sericea

3. The New Approach

Because of our inglorious beginnings, a dedicated approach would need to be taken. Where we had established our back yard with relative ease, the front with its shallow topsoil was going to be a more difficult proposition, requiring time, patience and a clear strategy. So, how did we go about rejuvenating this difficult landscaping task?

·         Spread garden soil mix. From the back-filling of a retaining wall, we had some left-over garden mix. This was spread over a large part of the front yard.

·         Apply Gypsum. A major problem for us came during periods of heavy rain: the water would run off and away in a stream from the front soil. In order to break down the impervious clay subsoil, we applied liberal doses of gypsum to the soil. Notably, gypsum is highly effective in improving soil structure and water infiltration. However, it also has nutritional benefits to plant life as a source of calcium and sulphur.

·         Remove the undesirables. Even though our desirables were regularly ‘meeting their maker’, the undesirables (weeds) were able to find a way to inhabit this hostile environment. We would need to make a determined effort to keep the soil weed-free to give our desirables a fighting chance.

·         Cover with Sugar Cane Mulch. For the past three years, we have provided a heavy covering of sugar cane mulch to suppress the weeds and to retain soil moisture. Even though there are more beneficial mulches, such as pea straw or lucerne hay, we have utilised sugar cane mulch because of its ready availability in the city.

·         Create our own Compost.
A situation like this makes your compost bin the most valuable item in your garden. We have been applying our own home-made compost to the front garden soil for the past two seasons, and it has made such a difference. The compost is rich in nutrition and wildlife, gardens worms by the score to work their magic in restoring the health of the soil.

Pelletised Chicken Manure

·         Fertilise, fertilise, fertilise. With the planting of each new specimen, we have incorporated plenty of Pelletised Chicken Manure in the planting hole. This is followed by a liberal scattering of Blood-and-Bone as the plants have started to establish themselves.

Blood and Bone
·         Understand the needs of individual plants. The fragrant garden holds plant members whose needs are antithetical to each other. For example, where our kasturi lime and pomelo trees respond to the alkalinity of gypsum, garden lime and dolomite, our gardenias and Chempaka tree detest similar conditions. We have had to keep liming agents well away from the gardenias and Chempaka (Michelia x alba) lest we invite disaster!

·         The Secret Ingredient. Last year, the front yard was heavily planted in parts with marigolds, both the tall and short varieties. Not only have we discovered that certain species of butterflies find the marigolds attractive, but also that the marigolds are a soil fumigant. At the end of the growing season, the marigolds were pulled up, chopped up and spread over the surface of the soil. We had read that, by keeping this marigold mulch moist, pest nematodes (which inhibit the ability of plants to take up nutrients and water) would be fumigated and exterminated by the gas released from the decomposing marigolds.

This year, we have allowed the marigolds to self-seed and regrow to repeat the cycle of soil fumigation and renewal.

A Painted Lady Butterfly is attracted to the golden blooms of the marigold

4.  The Front Garden Today
A major transformation in the health of the front garden has taken place. No longer are we losing our newest plantings. Furthermore, the area is visually more inviting and clearly more productive, with a greater diversity of plants surviving and thriving. An indicator of this increased health is the number of visiting birds and butterflies.

However, our efforts are not yet complete because problems remain… an ailing Chempaka tree, a young pomelo which is flowering heavily, but not yet setting fruit, and a young Chokanan mango tree of four years, which is failing to thrive. Otherwise, important strides have been taken in the rehabilitation of a degraded section of our garden.

A Spring Display of massed annuals. On finishing their season, these annuals were mulched into the soil...

Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden…

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Chekur: A Ginger Experiment

So, what is the favourite herb of the Better-Half?

It is Chekur (or Cekur).

Chekur (Kaempferia galanga) is a member of the ginger family of plants. Unlike common ginger root, Chekur root is very difficult to locate in Sydney… In fact, we have never seen it in any Sydney market or fruit-and-vegetable store.

Therein lies the basic problem for a woman of Peranakan heritage: you cannot have Hainanese Chicken Rice without the Chekur: for her, it is just not Chicken Rice.... although common ginger will suffice.

Necessity being the mother of invention, the Better-Half found a solution. During our holidays in Malaysia over the past few years, she has ventured to the Klang markets to purchase a kilogram of her precious ingredient. The Chekur is then fried, until fragrant, in a goodly amount of oil, with a little salt added, and bottled for the return journey. In line with Australia’s strict quarantine laws, upon declaration, cooked gingers are permitted entry through Australian Customs, whereas the unprocessed roots are not: they will be confiscated.

This spring, we discussed the purchase of a growing Chekur root from a Queensland tropical herb nursery. In deciding to go ahead with the purchase, we surmised that the Chekur should sprout just like our other gingers, largely unaffected by Sydney’s cooler weather. So, ahead we went, adding a root of Thai Krachai to the interstate shipment.

The dormant rhizomes arrived in September. We immediately potted them up, keeping them relatively dry during the cooler weather of September and October. When the warmer days of November rolled along, the Chekur was planted in its growing position under our jackfruit tree. Even then, we could see that the little knobby buds were beginning to develop on the rhizome… anticipation of things to come!

A Chekur rhizome with its first buds apparent

Over the past week, the Chekur has put out its first rosette of ground-hugging leaves… and every morning, I go out to check it, only to find that it has been buried under a layer of mulch by our marauding blackbirds, seeking out juicy garden worms. The ‘demulching’ of the Chekur has become a morning ritual, requiring an innovation, the construction of a little mesh cover to prevent damage from the scratching and scrounging of the blackbird family.

First shoots appear

Exhibiting some 'scratch' marks, but nevertheless quite healthy

With some good fortune, we will have plentiful supplies of Chekur in years to come. Not only is it an important ingredient of the famous Hainanese Chicken Rice, but also a valuable component of stir-fried and roast chicken dishes… Ground Chekur is also an excellent partner for pork.

A temporary cover to dissuade the marauding blackbirds

Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden…

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Asparagus Pea

A recent experiment in our garden was the planting of Asparagus Peas. Apparently, Asparagus Peas originated in North West Africa. However, they will grow readily in temperate climates similar to Sydney's as a spring planting. They are a low growing spreading plant, useful not only for their pods, but also as a pretty, red-flowered ground cover or border plant.

Asparagus Peas can be used as a productive ground cover or edging plant

Ours were planted last spring, dawdling along and producing few pods. With the advent of spring this year, the plants burst into renewed vigour, producing a multitude of attractive red flowers and tasty pods. Beware… you must harvest the little pods when they are young and tender. Otherwise, they will become pale in colour and rather hard, tough and stringy, past being crunchy and delicious.

Plant your Asparagus seeds when the weather improves in Spring

Flavour-wise, they are like asparagus, as their common name suggests. I found them enjoyable, simply microwaved with an added dollop of melted butter and some white pepper.

As the season progresses, allow some of your older pods to mature and dry. Then, collect the seed for next spring’s planting.

The attractive flowers of the Asparagus Pea

Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden...

Saturday, 5 November 2016


November is an exciting time in the Sydney garden. Planting of summer vegetables takes place, there is an abundance of spring vegetables and the mango trees complete their flowering and set their fruit.

In the case of the mangoes, the season is a little delayed in this area. Our trees are still in heavy flower as a result of two less than usual events in recent months...

Panicle of Maha Chanok seedling tree in heavy flower... November 3.

Firstly, in June, after some unseasonally warm weather, bunches of precocious flowers were removed from our Maha Chanok seedling tree... fearing that the tree would attempt to set fruit in the middle of winter! Regardless, the tree has been in very heavy flower this year, its fifth year since planting.

Conversely (and secondly), throughout early Spring (September and October), we have experienced cooler weather than recent years. As a result, our mango trees are still under heavy flower, in the first stage of fruit set. This contrasts with the past two years when the Maha Chanok seedling tree had set many juvenile fruit.

First fruits setting on Maha Chanok seedling tree... November 3.

Encouragingly, our Harumanis seedling tree is enjoying its first flowering, three years from planting. A sturdy young tree, with a little luck, the Harumanis may set one or two fruits in its first season... time will tell!

Harumanis seedling tree enjoying its first flowering season... November 5

Harumanis seedling tree... November 3

For a comparison between this season's flowering and the past two seasons, check the mango label above, and scroll to past 'Mango Flowering' posts. 

Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden…

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Aussie Backyard Bird Count

So, it is over for 2016. As a first-time participant in the Aussie Backyard Bird Count, it has been a rewarding experience. The Bird Count has provided twenty minutes of enjoyment each day for a week: a time to relax and take note of nature at work and play. I have to admit to being surprised at the number of birds, and variety of species, to be seen (and heard) in our locale.

Over the seven days, I was able to witness a total of 395 birds, of 21 species, which I was confidently able to recognise, as well as a number for which I could make no certain determination. It was also interesting to note the differing patterns of bird visits from morning to evening.

Below are some recent photographs of notable feathered visitors to our home…

About one-third of our sightings during the Great Aussie Backyard Bird Count was of Rainbow Lorikeets. At this time, the lorikeets are attracted to the area by a number of majestic spring-flowering Silky Oak (Grevillea robusta) trees. When the Silky Oaks are no longer in flower, the lorikeets will seek out smaller grevillea shrubs in local gardens, feasting on the nectar. Rainbow Lorikeets are most prevalent in the evening when they return to their roost trees... in our locale, these societal roost trees are magnificent Eucalypts. 

A Rainbow Lorikeet feeding in a smaller Grevillea shrub

Our second most common visitor during the Bird Count was the Noisy Miner. Towards many other birds, it can be very aggressive. Noisy Miners appear to have little fear, often to be seen chasing away much larger birds such as Crows and Currawongs. For me, the Noisy Miners are wonderful, protective parents, highly adapted to suburban life in a large city. They also quickly become accustomed to living with people and pets: our Noisy Miners do not take to flight when the house cat walks under their tree!

The Common or Indian Myna is not an Australian native bird. Native to Southeast Asia, they are, however, in profusion in our neighbourhood. These highly-invasive Mynas appear to prefer homes with open and grassed areas, rather than one which is heavily planted. It was the third most-commonly sighted bird during the seven days of our survey.

A young Common Blackbird which appears to have made our yard home... Another introduced species, the Common Blackbird was also one of the most easily sighted birds during the survey. Unlike the Myna, the blackbird appears to be encouraged by heavy plant cover. It can be spotted, morning and afternoon, fossicking for worms and other invertebrates under trees and shrubs, disturbing our garden mulch.

An Australian Raven or Crow ready to fly from its perch in a Jacaranda tree. On this occasion, it was being hurried along by some harassing Noisy Miners.
A young Eastern Koel, a member of the cuckoo family and a transient visitor to Sydney gardens, photographed last year. Every morning and evening, we are able to hear the distinctive call of the Koel from a nearby roost. The better-half tells me that, on hearing the loud and melodious call of the Koel, she reminisces of home,  Malaysia having a closely-related species of Koel. The female Koel tends to 'smuggle' its eggs into the nests of the Red Wattlebird which are common in our area. The Koels will depart Sydney for warmer climes from March onwards...

Below... A poor quality image of a male Eastern Koel in a Jacaranda tree. He flies from tree to tree in the local area, seeking female companionship...

Local bird attractors... In the foreground a shrub-like Grevillea, regularly visited by Rainbow Lorikeets, Noisy Miners and the occasional Eastern Spinebill. In the background are a magnificent Jacaranda (left) on the verge of flowering and a Silky Oak (Grevillea robusta). Many species of birds are drawn to the Silky Oak's profuse, nectar-filled, gold flowers...

The lovely bird-attracting flowers of the Silky Oak...

The Aussie Backyard Bird Count occurs again next year from October 23 until October 29. I heartily recommend your participation, either online or by downloading the app to your smartphone.

Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden…

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Durian Runtuh… A Windfall of Smelly Fruit

Durian… Smells like Hell, Tastes like Heaven… The King of Fruits. Regular visitors to Southeast Asia are able to recall countless interesting durian tales… and those tales all follow similar themes.

I remember my first encounters with the legendary fruit in Indonesia of the 1970s. For a novice, the smell was bracing! I remember travelling through a Javanese town which had a fruit market at one end of the main street… and a durian market at the other end. Sensible. Years later, I remember the day on the Bali tour bus when everyone said they would like to try the fruit. Conquered by the smell, they all shirked their promise of sampling the Asian delight, and I had to eat the lot with the bus driver and the conductor. And I don’t like it! Pikers!

Banned from hotels and buses and trains and planes, the King of Fruits has bad press in Western nations.

It is the smell, isn’t it! The smell repulses the uninitiated… sometimes, even the initiated! During our Malaysian sojourn this year, we overheard one ‘friend’ tell another in quite serious manner, “Your car is older than ours. So, you take the durian!” The odour permeates clothing and fabric and upholstery. It lingers for days on end. King or no King, you cannot allow the BMW to smell of durian! 

But, is it just the smell that gives the King its bad name? Or is it the fact that falling durians and falling durian trees regularly claim the lives of innocent victims? It is up there in mortality with Great White Sharks!
As the years have passed, however, I am less repelled by, more tolerant of, the smell. Maybe, I am losing my sense of smell! Or, as she would claim, acquiring the aroma.

Musang King durian, freed from its woody shell

In recent trips to Malaysia, I have had to be flexible. And inventive! How to keep the better-half, a durian fanatic, content? We would plonk a cardboard box in the boot of the hire car and fill it with durian kampung, village durian, whenever we would come across it. Then, feeling like criminals, we would smuggle one up the back stairs of the hotel, open it with a cleaver, consume it then smuggle the shell and seeds back down the stairs so that our room would not reek. This furtive behaviour lasted for two years until we were directed on arrival at KLIA not to put durian in the boot of the hire car. Our deception had been uncovered. The things we do for love!

Then, we discovered the usefulness of plastic containers with layer upon layer of cling film. No smell anywhere, except on the breath! Just make sure you air out the fridge before you leave the establishment.

Anyway, our trip to Malaysia this year proved to be a durian-athon! It was July and there was an abundance of high quality durian in all the places we visited… Not cheap, but abundant, an absolute windfall of the prized fruit for my better-half.

At Benum Hill Resort, we joined five other couples for a relaxing, gastronomical weekend… eleven Malaysian connoisseurs of durian and me, the outcast. They consumed basket upon basket of their favourite fruit. I had my Ipoh pomelo and some mangoes.

In fact, being the only dinki-di Aussie, I did not want to attend empty-handed. So, I purchased two dozen beer for the men to consume over the weekend… Right? Wrong! I discovered that no-one who consumes durian will drink beer for fear of not surviving the experience.

“Durian Plus Alcohol Can Actually Kill”.  Scientists in Japan said they found that, “the lethal side effects might be due to stinky fruit’s high sulphur content which impairs alcohol breakdown”.

So, if this is an urban myth or reality, who knows? What I do know is that my friends would not drink the beer!

In Asia, the royal durian receives royal treatment, equivalent to fine wine in the West. The conversations of our Malaysian friends were the same. As each prickly specimen was liberated from the basket and prised open, they would try to guess at the premium fruit variety… “This one is D24.” “Maybe D2.” “Musang King, the best!”  “Ahh Udang Merah. Look at the tinge of red.”

So, what makes a superior durian?  Well, according to my expert partner, it is sweet. But then again, it has a little bitterness… It is moist but not wet… Its texture is smooth and creamy… It is soft, not hard… It has lots of flesh and smaller seeds. You know, even I, the outcast, could tell from the first taste, the first sucking of the flesh from the huge, smooth stone, whether the Benum Hill connoisseurs were feasting on a good durian. There was silence. Communal silence. And it was probably golden-fleshed Musang King which silenced them! Thence followed the profound discussions of its flavour, its texture and its other subtleties.

So, how do you select a good durian? You have to look at the size and shape: irregularly shaped fruits might not hold enough delicious flesh. The skin colour has to be right. Has the fruit split? This is a sign that it is over-ripe. Check the spikes: close-packed spikes are a positive sign. Shake it gently: the resulting feel will inform you of its flesh versus seed content.

The durian feast frenzy continued for two days, interspersed with wonderful main meals, good company and relaxing activities at the resort, including some fishing. And the beer? Well, it served a purpose for me, because durian breath and durian burp are definitely defeated by beer breath and beer burp! You need only ask the better-half. Just to set the record straight, I did not, could not, drink all 24 beers!   

Baskets and baskets of durian at Benum Hill Resort

Benum Hill was not the end of our 2016 durian expedition. Then there was Penang… Balik Pulau to be exact…

Years ago, we visited the main tourist areas in Penang. However, we planned to visit the less popular hinterland of the island this year. One of our intentions was, of course, to pop into one or two of the more famous durian farms on the way to the township of Balik Pulau (literally, ‘Back of the Island’).

A roadside durian stall, displaying its available varieties, along the road to Balik Pulau

After booking into our lovely hotel on Penang’s north coast, we went for an afternoon drive to the back of the island doing reconnaissance for the next day of touring. The drive was beautiful, passing through the township of Teluk Bahang, with its quaint pitcher plant monument, then turning south on to a snaking mountain road, passing through verdant forests of overhanging tropical trees.

Little did we know that these statuesque, giants of trees were in fact durian trees… At least, not until, a misshapen weapon of mass destruction dropped from an overarching limb on to the road, right in front of our car. Startled by the occurrence, at first, I did not know what to do. Then, when the mind kicked in to gear, I realised that 60 Malaysian Ringgit (about $20 Australian) had just plummeted from the heavens. By the time that I had applied the brakes of the car, coming to a halt in the middle of the winding road, a cyclist riding up the mountain had beaten us to collect the prickly prize.

Subsequently, I noticed the nets strung high above the road… And my thoughts recoiled to Great White Sharks!

Overhead durian net

Our second day on Penang Island arrived. In the morning, we did the usual tourist things by visiting a tropical herb garden and the famed Ectopia, Penang Butterfly Park. Then, as with the day before, we drove along the winding mountain road towards the township of Balik Pulau. This time, I was ready. Even with the knowledge that lightning does not traditionally strike twice, I was ready…

I drove slowly along the twisting trail. There were one or two vehicle-crushed durians on the opposite side of the road, but nothing to warrant stopping. Then, we rounded a sharp right-hand bend. And there it was, sitting smack-bang in the middle of the road, just waiting to be picked up. I slammed on the brakes. I ordered the shoeless better-half out of the car, amid howls of protest. The howls of protest, however, ceased the moment she hugged the one kilogram or more of thorny, hedgehog-like fruit all the way back to the hire car. Familiar pain! If you could have seen her smiles…

I could not remove the smile from her face...

We continued our drive to Balik Pulau. There, we enjoyed a simple but delicious lunch at a small food court. Lunch completed, we asked the lady stall-holder whether she could assist us to open our prize. The better-half now armed with a cleaver and some plastic containers, I retrieved the perfectly-shaped durian from the car. Crossing the road back to the little restaurant, an inquisitive man asked me where I had bought it. When I replied that it had fallen in front of our car, he was impressed, “Ohh, lucky!”

The fallen durian of Balik Pulau... possibly D24, according to the experts

According to the traditions of Malaysia and Indonesia, a durian falling in front of one is a lucky event. Conversely, if it falls on you, is it a ‘not-so-fortunate event’? The phrase ‘Durian Runtuh’ is akin to the English notion of ‘windfall’ in all its senses. We were reminded of this, time after time, as we recounted to our local friends and associates our, not one but two, encounters with falling durian. The reaction was always the same, “Ohh, lucky!” Now, emanating from a different cultural background, I sometimes wonder whether they meant, “Lucky to be alive!”

So, the next day, we headed back to our base in Ipoh. The following morning, we craved some Apam Balik, so we paid a visit to our new acquaintances at Canning Garden, Sandy and Aaron. As soon as we arrived, they wanted to know the news of our Balik Pulau excursion. Without even finishing our durian story, Aaron ‘dragged’ us to the little lottery office down the lane. Such incredibly good luck, he said, deserved the purchase of a Malaysian lottery ticket, a Toto. We selected our four-digit number, the four numbers of the car number-plate. Then, we waited overnight with baited breath to win the thousands of Malaysian ringgit on offer… Durian runtuh: we couldn’t lose!

We lost!

Luck comes in many forms. For us, it does not come in the form of magical millions of dollars. It comes in chance experiences. It comes in valued friendships. It comes in our amazing contacts with the natural world… These are our ‘Durian Runtuh’ moments.

PS… I need to credit the better-half for the technical analysis of the extraordinary durian.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Jackfruit… So Close Yet So Far

Our Sydney jackfruit season has come and gone. We have waited patiently and expectantly for the ripening of the delicious fruit since the appearance of first little fruit back in January. They developed very well through summer and autumn, with some specimens reaching a weight of 3 kilograms or more. During the autumn, a number of different forms of covering were trialled as a winter protection for the young jackfruits.

Then, in June, the tree suffered a minor setback. One of the main limbs crashed to the ground under the weight of burgeoning and ripening fruit. The fruit was left on the fallen limb. Some began to rot. Others were picked in early August, only to discover that they were not quite ready. These arils were cooked in a jackfruit curry and the seeds were retained for boiling.

So, what happened with the fruit which remained on the other, sturdy limbs of the tree. With an anticipated maturation time of around eight months in our cooler climate, we guessed that the fruit should feasibly ripen in September.

Our calculations were correct! However…

One could describe one’s reaction to our first crop of jackfruits as, ‘So close yet so far’. That’s right. In essence, our crop failed. Our fruit held on the tree until September. Some fruit dropped from the tree, having started to develop a rot from the peduncle, or stalk. Others were picked with the same condition. We have two theories as to what occurred.

A fallen jackfruit... Note the rotting peduncle and top of fruit

The first possibility is that the fruit appeared to develop a fungal infection during August and early September. The infection grew from the peduncle into the heart of the fruit, affecting the edible arils as it extended. A disease of this type is recognised by Malaysian and Indonesian growers, and is treated with fortnightly spray applications of Bordeaux or Copper Oxychloride during the first three months of fruiting. For further reading, please click here.

A heavily diseased jackfruit from the winter crop

Furthermore, as we all are aware, many species of vegetables and fruit trees will suffer diseases if they are not receiving adequate care. Perhaps, this has been the problem. In the coming year, we intend to increase the levels of mulching and fertilising of the tree in order to lessen the chances of infection and disease.

Examples of the diseased fruit

The second possibility is that the fruit had reached the limits of its possible maturation in this cool climate, and were rotting as other ‘over-ripe’ fruit would rot on the tree. Following this line of thought would mean that this variety of spring-ripening jackfruit will not make it to full maturity in Sydney. I hope that this is not the case. But, if this is definitely the case, we will have to learn to eat jackfruit curry on a more regular basis!

By the way, I suspect that the most effective covering for the fruit were the recycled rice bags.

In the near future, I will provide an update on our second jackfruit tree… which should ripen its fruit in January or February. Summer.

Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden…