Of Cabbages and Things..

Earth Garden's summer issue came out in December with an article by me on making sauerkraut. I absolutely love the stunning design of the magazine, and find it remarkable that I can submit a page of words and have it turned into a thing of beauty due to the magic of editors and designers. I am love, love, loving sending words out into the ether and having them turn into magazine articles. More to come...

Meanwhile, in other garden news, down in the vegie patch, although I am diligently picking the zucchinis every day to keep them at a reasonable size, now the cucumbers are getting away on me. Does anyone else find it nigh on impossible to find the cucumbers in the tangle of cucumber vines? It would be much easier to harvest cucumbers if they were yellow or red.. 

Meanwhile, the apricot tree has suffered terribly from brown rot this season, due to a particularly damp spring. Brown rot starts as a tiny brown bruise, and then quickly engulfs the whole fruit which turns brown and mouldy, just as they get ripe. It is completely heartbreaking, so I have been madly picking everything off the tree, fully ripe or not. I stewed masses of apricots and have been eating them every day, breakfast lunch and dinner, because stewed apricot is delicious, and have given a lot away as well. The rest of the crop has gone into the dehydrator; dried apricots galore to add zing to breakfast muesli. Yum.

Next job: prune the apricot tree and pick up all the fallen apricots to help prevent the brown rot spores from reinfesting the tree for next year..

Every year I find that the garden is teaching me something about diligence, patience, perseverance, acceptance, and the truth that you can't control outcomes. In the garden Nature isn't working for me. I don't think I can even say I am working with Nature. I find myself more in the position of working for Nature, maybe in the sense that a priestess works for her Deity, providing the appropriate sacrificial offerings in the hopes that her labours will be smiled upon and approved.. and an abundance of apricots may spring forth.

Although maybe the sacrificial offerings were a bit over the top in the case of the cucumbers..


simplelife said…
I guess that's the thing with nature, we can do everything in our power to appease her but the offerings will come at her discretion. Cucumbers it shall be this year, too bad that you wanted apricots.
Jo said…
Kate, yes, exactly! I shall embrace the cucumber.. I wonder if you can ferment cucumbers? Hoping someone here can enlighten me.. presumably, cucumber pickles are also in my future..
Hazel said…
Firstly, love the new look :-)
Secondly, yes! You can ferment cucumbers. I had a bumper crop last summer and I decided I preferred them quartered lengthways rather than whole. I used a Morello cherry leaf to help keep them crisp.
Thirdly, I'm envious of any apricots! I've planted an aprium and a pluot, and I'm hopeful they may be a bit less temperamental here. I do still have a bottle of apricot brandy from a good crop in my last house and we used it for cocktails on New Year's Eve with damson vodka. Very good they were too.
Anonymous said…
Very interested in your dehydrator! I’m a 25yo female who is terrible at cooking and spends more time scolding myself for forgetting to eat than pre-preparing or organising food.... but regardless I bought one a few years ago with a voucher I got from eBay and only ever really used it to dehydrate apple slices into fruit crisps........ then I defiantly told my husband they were great when maybe they weren’t that great.... would be really interested to hear what else you make with it? Any tips or tricks? Between working full-time in a busy not for profit, and also trying to make a point of looking after myself this year, I’m not going to add trying to learn how to garden and grow my own produce to my list of things to do..... but very keen to make more use of the dehydrator using seasonal produce from the market etc! And maybe my MIL’s garden which is beautifully established and putting my dying succulent to shame....
Jo said…
Hazel, yes, thank you, I decided after 10 years it was time to update! I found a recipe for fermenting cucumbers last night in a friend's recipe book. And I have grape leaves to keep them crunchy, so I will have a go. I will need to slice them up very thoroughly though, as they are ridiculously over-sized..
All the best with your hybrid fruit trees with the excellent names:) And apricot brandy.. I am so sad that I have used up all my apricots now.. yes, I am grateful for the apricots I do have. To be honest, what I have has been manageable, probably the whole crop would have been just a little too much to deal with this week..

Anon, I think you have a great plan. I am forever biting off more than I can chew, and learning to preserve before learning to garden is, as ideas go, golden.
I am honestly the laziest cook, and to dehydrate any fruit I just slice it and whack it in. None of this faffing about dipping fruit in lemon juice or anything. This means it dries brown and leathery, sometimes crispy, but I really like chewing away at dried fruit. Also, I put it in my muesli, which I soak overnight, and in the morning the fruit is rehydrated and delicious. I dry fruit, including apple chips, until there is no discernible softness about them, so I don't have to worry about them going mouldy in storage. I store them in paper bags for a few weeks to make sure they are really dry, then in airtight containers. The fruit you dry yourself will not be like the store bought dried fruit because there are no preservatives. The crispy dryness is their only preserving factor. So, learning to like really crispy or chewy dried fruit is a bonus, and rehydrating them by soaking overnight in water is also a good trick, especially for baking. I hope you have some success with your dehydrator :)
Pam in Virginia said…
Hi, Jo!

I really like the new blog look; so clean and bright. Congratulations on publishing the article in Earth Garden. It looks like a fantastic magazine.

I have had a brown rot problem with my apricot tree and peaches for ages. So far, nothing has fixed it. I may have missed some magical organic treatment; I hope it's still out there.

We had lots of cucumbers, too, last summer. I never got around to making pickles, which I don't do very well. We are planning our garden right now. In fact, we have done some bed preparation. We keep having these snowstorms, though . . .

Jo said…
Pam, I imagine snowstorms must get in the way of garden preparation:)
Brown rot is a fungal disease and can be treated with Bordeaux spray (copper sulphate). It's important to remove all the affected apricots and get rid of them because if they stay under the tree their spores will reinfect it. If you can see any branches with sap oozing out they should be pruned after fruiting as well, as they are part of the problem. Spray with Bordeaux after leaf fall, and again when the trees are in pink bud stage, then again just before the leaves come out. Don't spray once the leaves are out because the spray will affect the leaves, and also, it's too late then to arrest the development of the virus. It's the same as the organic treatment for leaf curl on nectarines and peaches. It's not 100% effective, especially after a wet spring, but it should help significantly. Oh, and one more thing - thin your fruit! Brown rot spreads between fruit that are touching. Good luck!
Pam in Virginia said…

Thanks so much for the pruning and thinning advice. I have always been afraid to use copper sulfate, having heard that it can be moderately toxic to birds and very toxic to fish, and we do have a neighbor's pond down below us.

Jo said…
Pam, I asked this exact question of Steve Solomon, soil health expert and garden writer - he said the amount of copper in the spray (you dilute it significantly to spray it) would just about bring our copper-deficient soil up to normal levels. Maybe. And that is the extent of the effect it would have. In other words, it doesn't appear to have significant risks to soil or wildlife. I can't imagine that spraying one or two trees would have any effect on a neighbour's pond. There isn't any run-off to speak of. Of course, it would be different if you had a whole commercial orchard to spray.. still, due diligence and research is always a good thing. I'm interested in the origin of your worries - is there an article or study you could direct me to?
Pam in Virginia said…

Now that does sound entirely logical. Thanks!

Lucinda said…
Hellooooo. I’m back. Well done on the sauerkraut article. I will look out for the magazine. I can’t imagine fermenting my own sauerkraut. The smell!!! It’s so lovely to return to your blog and read of your continued bountiful harvests. Lucinda
Fernglade Farm said…
Hi Jo,

Congratulations on the article, and it is an excellent magazine with a long history - which you're now a part of! :-)

Coffee grounds have useful amounts of copper in them if you can get your hands on some. It is a bit sad, but cafe owners often have to pay to send them to landfill, and the volume is impressive. Who'd have thought that so much coffee was actually drunk by the population? The continual frosts got my apricot tree blossoms earlier in the season, but the fruit that survived seem to be doing OK. I tell ya what though, I've spotted curly leaf on some of the plum trees - but they may be a bit water and heat stressed. Don't really know though. Have you ever seen that? Go the Fowlers Ultimate dehydrator!


Jo said…
Lucinda, I am so pleased! I have missed you and your pithy and thoughtful comments:) And your blog posts:) True story: fermenting sauerkraut does not smell if you keep it in a jar. With the lid on. Easy Peasy. Will do a post on it one day..

Chris, I have been reading EG for over 20 years now, and it is so exciting to have my stories in it:)
Copper in coffee grounds? Who knew? One of my many daughters just got a job at a cafe, so I will have contacts for getting my hands on coffee grounds. Fab!
Plum trees don't typically (read, ever) get curly leaf, so I wonder what is going on there? Maybe heat and water stress. Post a photo on your blog, and the hive mind can get busy on diagnosis!
Jo said…
Chris, update, plums can get a non-fungal curly leaf that isn't related to the peach/nectarine disease - it's caused by black aphids instead. So look inside the curls and if there are black aphids you can spray them with pyrethrum, spray them off with the hose, or just feed and water the tree and transfer some ladybugs over:) I'll post on your blog as well in case you don't see this.

Popular Posts