Monday, June 21, 2010

Prune in June

This advice on winter pruning from Pauline Wilson, who will be giving a winter pruning demonstration after our next swap meet on 3 July:

For those gardeners who are beginning to feel the urge to prune, remember the rule: Prune in June. This applies to most deciduous trees because:
  • trees are generally best pruned when they are perfectly dormant; 
  • many varieties commence to shoot in July;
  • in areas prone to gummosis, spores are at their lowest numbers in June and cuts have plenty of time to dry out before heavy spore discharge in September.
Summer pruning is used when the aim is to dwarf or espalier a tree, to reduce vigour and stunt growth. Summer pruning should be avoided in areas where water is restricted.

The objectives of pruning fruit trees are to improve size and quality of fruit, to promote regular bearing and to maintain the tree in a healthy, robust condition.

Pruning is a means of adjusting the vigour of a tree to suit its environment (water, soil quality, space) and to your needs: fruit size and quantity, accessibility of fruit. Tall trees are harder to harvest for the home gardener and harder to protect from feasting wildlife!

What to remove from any given tree depends on the tree’s stage in life: planting to bearing, bearing to fully developed framework, maintenance or renovation. Fortunately trees are quite forgiving, and if mistakes are made they can be rectified over a period of two to three years. Get the tools ready now: clean and sharpen your secateurs, your long arm pruners and your pruning saw, and if in doubt, get advice before you snip!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


For all serious veggie gardeners who want to have chemical free plants that actually grow better and are better for you, and even taste like veggies used to taste, try reading the best ever gardening book, "Seasonal Tasks For The Practical Australian Gardener" by the gardening guru himself, (not me) Peter Cundall.

The book covers a whole year in the garden, week by week showing tasks to do, how to do them, when and why. It covers not only what veggie seeds or seedlings to plant, but also flowers, shrubs, trees, even landscaping. It also deals with tasks such as pruning roses and fruit trees, preparing garden beds, creating compost and using various types of organic matter as mulch. It is easy reading and not in complicated terminology.

Peter is the champion of home grown remedies, whether it be for garden pests, plant diseases or just for plants that are feeling poorly. These remedies are easy to concoct and mainly consist of everyday, cheap to obtain items. Above all, no nasty chemicals!

For those who have visited our garden and have expressed the necessary oohs and aahs, (which are appreciated), please remember it is the hand of Peter Cundall that is behind our success.

The only problem will be getting a copy of the book, it was published by McPhee Gribble - Penguin Books Melbourne in 1989, it may be available on EBay or through your local library, in any event it is very worthwhile tracking it down.

Mick W

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Fruit Trees

Having just purchased a 30,000 litre water tank I am feeling re-inspired about putting in new fruit trees at our place this winter. I am of course hoping it will rain over this time and actually fill with water!
So I am looking for advice from my fellow basketeers on tried and tested varieties of fruit trees that you would recommend. My husband Michael is also keen on growing a fig tree so not sure if there is anything I should know about this tree?
Hoping to hear back from you,

Sunday, June 6, 2010


At the June Harvest Basket Lizzie was asking for a grapefruit marmalade recipe as she has lots of grapefruits this year. I haven't tried this one but it is from a good source. Here it is.

Grapefruit Marmalade
2 kg grapefruit
4 litres water
6 kg sugar

Cut the grapefruit into quarters, remove the seeds and white centres and slice the fruit finely. Put the pips and centres into a small basin with a little of the water. Cover the grapefruit with the rest of the water and stand for 24 hours. Next day pour the water off the pips and add to the fruit. Put into pan and boil for 1 hour. Add the sugar and boil until fruit is soft and will set when tested. Bottle and seal.

Someone brought mandarins to the june Harvest Basket. I'm sorry I don't know who it was but they said the fruit was cumquats but I am pretty sure they are mandarins. Yummy anyway. Today I followed a recipe for Mandarin Marmalade that I have not made before. It was a bit of a fiddle as I had to boil the fruit until the liquid was reduced to half and then measure it and add cup for cup in sugar. It seemed like a lot of sugar but it seems to have turned out alright. However in future I will stick to my lemon marmalade recipe for mandarins. No fiddle with
that one. I will bring some jars of the marmalade I made today to the July Harvest Basket.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lots of Lemons

One minute we had no lemons on our tree and the next the tree is full of lemons that have all ripened at once. If this is also true for you, here are a couple of ideas for using some of them. Tried and true recipes we use all the time.

Lemon Cordial
1.5kg caster sugar
zest and juice of 7 or 8 lemons
1/4 cup citric acid
1 litre boiling water

Combine all ingredients in a pyrex or heat-proof china bowl (not metal). Stir until sugar is dissolved. Cover and stand over night.
Strain into sterilized bottles. I find it makes about 3 wine bottles worth.

Don't throw away the zest that is left over. It is yummy on ice-cream or stirred into plain yoghurt and keeps for quite a while covered in the fridge. 

Lemon Marmalade
6 lemons
7 cups boiling water
6 cups sugar

Slice lemons and cover with boiling water. Let stand overnight. Cook gently until rinds are soft, approximately 20 - 30 minutes. Add sugar, stir until dissolved and quickly boil 25 - 45 minutes or until fruit will gel. Put into sterilized jars.

I find it usually takes about 35 minutes and makes about 8 jam jars worth.

I have used the same recipe for limes as well as mandarins and it has worked just as well. I've also made lemon and lime.