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…

Thursday, 22 September 2016

A dazzling display of native orchid blooms, Dendrobium speciosum

The Delights of Spring

What a beautiful time of year! A time for blooming shrubs, a time for abundant, fresh vegetables, a time for new growth... Weeding, pruning, planting. A time when hours can be spent productively in the home garden.

Below is a selection of photographs from our suburban garden, all taken during the month of September, the traditional start of Spring.

The harvest of Starfruits continues. Beginning in April, there has been a continuous ripening of tasty fruit, with more to come over the next few weeks.
One of two pineapples to reach maturity in the cooler months. They were utilised for splendid fruit juice.


The first Yao Mak (Little Gem Lettuce) of the season. The parent plant was allowed to run to seed in our front yard, of all places, where a wonderful crop has sprouted.

The developing Yao Mak crop
The six Wo Sun (Celtuce) plants provide one meal per week of delicious leaves for stir-fry
A little, close-planted crop of Snow Peas and Sugar Snap Peas.

Pretty flowers of the Asparagus Pea. The seeds were planted last Spring, but failed to thrive. However, the plants overwintered very well, and have begun to thrive. We are looking forward to our first harvest of these little winged peas.

A new planting of Coriander plants. The strongest plant will be allowed to set seed, to be harvested for the kitchen and for later plantings.
Fruit and Nuts

Developing flowers on the Maha Chanok seedling tree... Seven months to harvest!

The Limau Kasturi tree is in full flower... a bumper harvest assured for months.

The first flowers of our Macadamia tetraphylla, the Prickly Macadamia. The tree was grown from seed and spent many years growing in a large pot... it has been a long wait for flowering! More than 15 years.

Among the many flowers in bloom is the lovely wisteria which shades our side passage.

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow bursting into bloom and new leaf.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

The Ipoh Pomelo Trail

Ipoh, Malaysia, is famous for its pomelos, the world’s largest citrus fruit. The limestone soils and local climate appear to encourage the sweet flavour of the local produce. In my article of 6th May 2015, ‘The Famous Pomelos of Ipoh’, I indicated two easily-discoverable locations along the pomelo trail: The Hentian Limau Tambun; and also at Jalan Tambun.

This year, during our visit to Malaysia, and to Ipoh in particular, we planned to seek out the stalls of pomelo orchards along Jalan Ampang Baru. In fact, this was not our primary purpose in visiting this part of Ipoh: our intention was to visit the Enlightened Heart Tibetan Temple, and then check out the fruit stalls as we returned to our lodgings.

A scenic view of the famed limestone hills of Tambun along the Ampang Baru Road

So, on completing our visit to the enthralling Enlightened Heart Tibetan Temple, we turned left along Jalan Ampang Baru, heading towards the suburb of Ampang. A very short drive from the temple, our first port of call was at the Go Chin Pomelo Nature Park. Clearly marked for tourists, you would need to be asleep to miss the Chin Farm. Even then, the speed humps in front of the farm would bump-awake a drowsy driver.

Here, we were able to stroll along a defined path through the orchard. Aside from the luxuriant pomelo trees, there were some enormous old starfruit trees in full flower, the walkways lined for part of the way with lovely bonsai specimens.

The clearly marked front entrance of the Go Chin Pomelo Nature Park

The walkways of the Nature Park are lined with lovely bonsai plants

This day was a quiet day. Consequently, inside the stall itself, we were able to converse with the owner and his assistant… In Malaysia, we can usually find a language of conversation. On this occasion, we chatted away in a mixture of English and Malay. As the proud owner of two young pomelo trees in Sydney, the discussion was invaluable for me, particularly in regard to possible Sydney ripening times.

Needless to say, we purchased sweet, white pomelos, not only for our consumption, but also as gifts for family and friends whom we would be visiting.

Departing the Go Chin Pomelo Nature Park, we continued along the Ampang Baru Road, discovering a number of other pomelo stalls. These, we would pop into in our subsequent weekly visits to Ipoh…

Small pomelo stalls, fruit shops, and larger stores established to draw the passing tourist buses, dot the Ampang Baru Road. In our subsequent shopping days, we were able to purchase not only pomelos, but also local and Thai mangoes, red as well as yellow rambutan, mangosteens and bananas. As a starting-point for an education about Malaysian tropical fruit, a drive along Jalan Ampang Baru is an excellent idea.

A larger fruit and pomelo stall, the Niu Kee...

A myriad of tropical fruits are on sale at some of the stalls

Thai Maha Chanok mangoes
Red, as well as yellow, Rambutan hang invitingly at the Xian Fatt roadside fruit stall

By the way, when visiting Jalan Ampang Baru, the Tibetan Temple is a must-visit! Please add it to your Ipoh itinerary.

Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden…

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Spring Starfruit

Back in June, I wrote about our second harvest of winter starfruits. In the post entitled, ‘Cool Climate Starfruits’, I pondered about the rest of the fruit on the tree…

“Interestingly right now…, our tree has many little starfruits along its lower branches: I do wonder whether these small fruits will lay dormant over the remaining winter and mature with the warm rays of spring.”

Well, the answer is in: the small fruits have indeed ripened over the past fortnight with the advent of spring warmth. In fact, these fruits are much sweeter than those which ripened at the end of autumn, and have sustained no damage from cool evenings and the occasional frosty morning.

Ripening spring starfruit

As usual, we have used the starfruits to make delicious juice drinks.

While the final few fruits mature on the lower branches of the tree, and before the tree initiates its spring growth, I have taken the opportunity to lop the top branches of the tree: it had begun to reach unwieldy heights. Too much time to be spent on a ladder if left unpruned!

Ready for the liquidiser...

The tree has also received its first feed of pelletised chicken manure for the season. Furthermore, it has been receiving a little extra water during dry weeks. During a recent visit to Malaysia, it was jokingly explained to me that tropical fruit trees are ‘manjar’: they are spoiled and therefore need to be pampered! So, pamper away…

Wishing you hours of enjoyment and contentment in your garden…