Monday, January 11, 2016

Crop Watching

Gardeners often talk about how they notice climate change's subtle effects on plants in the patch under their care. I do, or at least sometimes I do. When flowers appear at weird times of year, crops appear much earlier or later than usual, you can't help but wonder if a change in the Earth's climate might have something to do with it ...

.... And then my whole theory is ruined by other plants operating like clockwork. This morning, the figs are ripening, bang on schedule. Last year I posted about them ripening on January 11, and this morning, January 11, there's several of them ripening up nicely, swelling to double normal size almost overnight, then turning reddy brown once fully ripe. That's almost far too clockworky for me — I think I might be growing climate denialist figs!

My figs, apparently, don't read the papers or listen to the evening news. As far as they are concerned, it's business as usual here in their latest Sydney summer. I love the way they tend to ripen one at a time from each branch cluster. Once we pick this one, another of those other little green ones on each brand will take its turn to ripen. Very orderly.

Pam is the fig aficionado around here, and it's her job to harvest them when she thinks they're at their peak. Of course she might bring the harvest ahead a day or two if our local birds start to show a perfectly healthy interest in a bit of beaky crop-theft.

Elsewhere, our crop watching is in full swing. This lumpy looking cucumber is a bit like a fig in that it suddenly swells up in size in just a few days. Two days ago it was a scrawny little spiky green, unpleasant looking thing half the size of this whopper. I suspect that by tomorrow morning it will be even larger and on our kitchen benchtop, ready to eat. All those yellow flowers around it are cucumber flowers, so I think we're going to have a cucumber glut on our hands by the end of the month.

Progress is more mauve coloured and genteel on the eggplant bush. It's sent out a dozen or so of its simple potato/tomato/eggplant family flowers, and hopefully our local busy bees will pay them a visit. (This is where the "no pesticides" part of organic gardening reaps its rewards — good numbers of bees, who pay their way in the scheme of things by providing a stack of crop-pollinating services.)

Here's a baby eggplant in its creche, starting to grow. These are the common variety 'Bonica', the familiar largish eggplants you see most commonly in the shops around here. 

I've got a whole posting to come about making ratatouille, but I'll save that up for a few weeks from now, when we harvest a few eggplants.


Crooked Cottage said...

Yum I love figs - yours look great. I grew my first cucumbers and eggplants this year too, although I have managed about four cucumbers and it seems to have succumbed to the powdery mildew now. I look forward to your ratatouille (oops, spelling?!) recipe to come.

Phil Pogson said...

Grilled figs topped with mascapone and a slight dusting of icing sugar and vanilla.

Jamie said...

Crooked Cottage: the powdery mildew attacked my cucumbers but I'm cutting off the worst leaves and spraying the rest with eco-fungicide. At best it slows down the rate of the spread of the damage, that's all.

And Phil, agreed, that's a yummy way to enjoy figs!

Shivangni said...

As usual you post calms my nerves and the world looks bright and hopeful once again! Power of plants and your words to uplift spirits from across the globe.

As your other readers, am waiting eagerly for the recipe of ratatouille

Thanks for the posts

Sylvia said...

Hi Jamie,
I just love your beautiful garden, it is such an inspiration. I've recently started blogging about my attempt to create a tropical garden from scratch (called just that) and hope one day to incorporate an edible garden just like yours.

Gardening is such a joy, whether it be plants, food or, in your case, both.