Late summer and Autumn really are rich times for fruit in our regions. It’s a good time to get an extra fruit bowl with Apples and Pears at their peak; Dragonfruit and Pineapples adding some tropical flavours; Guavas making their brief appearance and Persimmons not far away.
Although the number of varieties of fruits are decreasing over time as supermarkets have dominated our shopping, there are still hundreds of types of fruit like Peaches still available if you look hard enough. This week we have a late Peach variety from Dennis Angelino called Aurora Sunset. With such a poetic name you might expect from a 60’s surfing documentary, you know the flavour is going to be amazing. Dennis has just a few of these trees, with some of the later variety Golden Queens arriving in coming weeks.
Still on the Granite Belt, the big dry and hot conditions experienced a few weeks ago have had some impact on some varieties of apples. Like most crops, some apples are more prone to certain diseases which can be exacerbated by conditions. Bitter Pit is caused by a lack of Calcium uptake by the fruit, and often if worse when very hot conditions cause trees to “shut down” and not transport minerals like they usually do. Jonathons are particularly susceptible and you may notice some on Mario’s. Dennis has also noticed some on his Imperial Galas - we tasted some this week and did not notice any bitterness, but as always, let us know if any problems.
Neville Singh experienced the same hot conditions at his farm near Bangalow. He was concerned how the Bananas would cope especially with the water uptake, however his system of mulching seems to have worked well. Neville leaves the “trash” from old trees and trimmed leaves as a mulch and has a neat mower attachment which throws the inter-row grass onto the trash. This layered mulch is what helped the Cavendish bananas get into your boxes this week.
Farmers are actively looking for ways of dealing with tough conditions, including the increasingly extremes likely caused by climate change. Growing inside structures that can protect from weather as well as birds and insects is becoming increasingly common. This can work especially well for Organic farmers as their options for controlling pests in the field are more limited. The Lebanese cucumbers we are enjoying at the moment are from Quentin Hayward of Sunup farm, grown in greenhouses that result in great quality “fruit”.
Night time temperatures on the Granite Belt are down to around 10C, making it a bit easier for greens to cope during the day after a cool night’s rest. The Steads have started again with the fancy types of lettuce - Red Oak and the heritage oakleaf type called Lingua di Canarino. It is also perfect tomato weather, especially if it stays relatively dry. Salad days indeed until the first frost begin to appear around Anzac Day.
The still-warm days are producing plenty of amazing basil - you may find the big bunches are a bit overwhelming. Apart from producing Pesto to keep you going for the rest of the year (you can use Macadamias or Almonds if Pine Nuts are too expensive), it is also easy to dry Basil to use as a dry herb. As well as slow drying in an oven on low heat; or sun drying, you can do a quick job of small batches by Microwaving a single layer of leaves for around -2 minutes. Once they are dry enough to crumble in your fingertips you can store them in a jar or vacuum pack for future use.
Luke (Procurement Guy)