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Monday, July 30, 2012

When to Pick the Avocado?

Maybe you remember this post over Summer when I discovered avocados growing on the tree for the very first time? And I jumped up and down and did a big squawk and dance? Yep our avocado tree must be over twenty years old and this is the first time it has fruited. Admittedly there are only three avocados growing but that was enough to get me very excited indeed.

Anyway, all three of them are still there.

But when am I allowed to pick them?

Everything I've read about avocados agrees on a few things - avocado trees need well draining soil and a protected position (tick), and they can frizzle in the sun (seen that) and they don't like frost (don't really get it here). But I can't find much out about when an avocado is ready to pick. One thing I know is that the avocados won't ripen on the tree. You have to pick them first.  But when to pick them?

I read in one place that you should wait until the first avocado drops to the ground and then the others will be ready. But I only have three! If one drops I may not find it amongst all the mulch and creeper and other bits and bots growing at the base of the tree. And this is the place where Wokee the Puppy likes to do her business so I don't fancy rummaging about looking for a single dropped avocado. Other sites say to pick an avocado when it's the right size, pop it in a paper bag for a few days and wait for it to soften and then it's ready. Oh and there's some other stuff about a little belly button at the top of the avocado changing colour - but once they started talking about belly buttons on fruit I tuned out.

I would hate to pick one of these three avocados only to find that it won't ripen and I have wasted one.

They've been sitting about getting fatter and more tempting since January - and they look about right now. And I am impatient. But I'm pretty sure mid Winter in Melbourne isn't the right time to pick an avocado. How long will I have to wait do you reckon?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Yoghurt Making

There are some kitchen gadgets that I just can't get enough of. Of course, I do have my share of dusty, enormous gadgets that haven't seen the light of day for years (juicer I'm thinking of you). But I've lucked onto a gadget that I am sure is gonna keep me happy for a while. It's the $20 yoghurt maker from aldi. Yeah I know, I can hear you all now out in blog land - "You don't need a machine to make yoghurt veggiegobbler what sort of a silly billy are you?!" Well I know you don't need a machine to make yoghurt. But it's much easier. And at least I am making my own regularly now. Well I've done it twice. And I think I'll keep it up. 

There was a time when I was making yoghurt fairly often in my slow cooker. But I gave up after a while - all that blanket wrapping and waiting around and then it was always sloppy and I'd end up making so much it would go to waste. But I am so in love with my yoghurt maker that I think I could make an infomercial for it. You just mix up a litre of milk with 200mls of plain yoghurt, pour it into the jars, pop the lids on and turn the gadget on for 6 hours. After that it goes into the fridge for a while and it comes out lovely. And thick.

Littlest Monkey assures me that it is much better than any yoghurt I have ever bought. And 'cos it's still a novelty, both monkey boys are happily hopping into a jar of it when they come home from school. Which makes me very pleased because I was doing my head in trying to decide which yoghurt at the supermarket had the least amount of cacky additives.

I've been flavouring the yoghurt with: puree of mushy overripe banana, spoonfuls of honey, out of season strawberries (tsk, tsk) and frozen berries. I even lashed out and bought a vanilla bean today and was feeling very masterchefy until I saw the mess I'd made of it with my blunt knife. Next week I think I'll try some toasted oats and nuts too. I'm also thinking that when the plum tree drips with plums again this year I'll stew and freeze some up especially for the yoghurt.

So who else in blogland makes their own yoghurt?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Asparagus

image and asparagus crowns from here

I've been dreaming of asparagus for a while now.

Fresh green stalks popping up every year heralding the end of winter and putting a big spring in my step. Yummy asparagus cooked with a fresh goog from the girls and a shaving of parmesan, asparagus enclosed in rice noodles in the middle of a rice paper roll, or in a stir fry, or with pasta... oh I'd be doing a load of yummy things with asparagus and surely eventually even convince the monkeys to eat some too. Oh yeah, if I grew asparagus I'd think myself the bees knees. A true blue gardener.

What put me off was the thought that asparagus needs a fair bit of room and a permanent spot. And I didn't think I had that. Until I started my grass-ridding campaign. Bit by bit I've been digging up the grass and putting in little brick paths and planting in veggies and flowers and herbs wherever I see a bit of space. And I've been seeing little growing spots all over the place.

See here between the path and sleepers of my onion patch I've planted a whole bunch of parsley seedlings.

And here is a bit of my new asparagus patch.

Ta da...

Yep. I know. It sure doesn't look much now. But time flies quickly. In fact only yesterday I was lamenting how quickly time flies when I discovered my first grey hair poking it's frizzy, shimmery self out of my head. So it won't be long before I have asparagus. And start to dye my hair.

This spot previously housed a couple of miserable passionfruit vines which did absolutely nothing for three years. One flower in all that time. I decided to give up and ripped the lot out. Then I did a big dig out of the patch. That's what my asparagus youtubing revealed. Prepare the ground well 'cos with any luck asparagus will be growing there for 20 years. And while I was digging I unearthed part of a brick path! It did occur to me that might have been why my passionfruit and all the other veggies I'd attempted here never did too well. Next, I dug through some pelletised chook poo. And then I did something that was a complete novelty for me. I dug two trenches. Straight, orderly furrows for planting in. This really flew in the face of my veggie growing philosophy which is to chuck things in wherever I feel and never in orderly rows. But rows I did make. Thank goodness for the invention of youtube 'cos I really wouldn't have known what to do with those funny looking asparagus crowns. But apparently you spread the roots like octopus, cover them over and wait for them to grow. Then you cover them a bit more. And more as they grow until your patch is even. And then I'll do a layer of mulch and go back to the internet to get my head around what to do next.

So, fingers crossed for asparagus. And to all you successful, true-blue, bees-knees asparagus growers any tips that aren't too complicated to help me along the way will be most welcome.
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