Brown Rot, Dead Frogs, Ukuleles

No matter what else is going on in the world, the garden just gets on with what it does, and right now, it is doing zucchinis, lemons, potatoes, turnips, kale and, as of this week, apricots. I am trying to be cheerful about the apricots. They are afflicted this year by brown rot, which is the cruellest disease - it waits until the very moment the fruit ripens and then it pounces. Tiny patches of brown rot spread within days until the whole apricot is covered. 

The brown rot fungal disease is spread via various means - affected mummified fruit that is left on the tree, a gummy, oozy sap on the tree branches, dropped fruit that is left on the ground, and the weather - rain spreads the fungal spores. 

Oh, and also pruning in the winter leaves stone fruit more prone to disease. I didn't prune in the winter, but I am guilty of all the other possible ways of spreading brown rot - I planted a garden under the tree so I can't find dropped fruit, I haven't trimmed off all the branches with the gum on them, and also I didn't attempt to control it by spraying with copper spray during the winter. I probably also caused all the rain, who knows? Perhaps I am a rain god.

Practically the only thing I can do now is to pick all the apricots as fast as I can to prevent the brown rot spreading, even though the apricots are not quite fully ripe. They still stew down to a delicious orange pulp to adorn the breakfast porridge. I am saving all the fruit with just little patches of rot, and cutting it off and into the pot they go. Still, can't leave them too long, as the rot keeps on spreading, so there will be much stewing and drying of apricots over the next few days.

I am trying to concentrate on the joy of having some lovely, lovely apricots, and not dwelling too much on all the ones that got away. And vowing to be a more diligent apricot farmer this year..

In other news I have all, yes all of the gorgeous, gorgeous kiddos here this week. It is two? Three? years since they have all been here together at one time, and it is so good to see them all around the table together, after a long year of uncertainty and teh impossibility of travel between states here in Australia. It is the best thing to see your kids grow up wiser and stronger and smarter than you are. It gives me great optimism for the future. Especially the future where I am completely senile and will rely on them daily to remind me where the keys are and what time I need to pick them up from the airport. Oh, wait, that is not the future..

There has been a poker tournament. The Boy has been lying in the hammock playing the ukulele which renders a summer afternoon very melodic. The Girl's partner, let us call them The Chef, created a divine lamb roast yesterday, which required two hours, very much garlic and a bottle of beer. They are providing much cooking advice and assistance in the kitchen, for which I am very grateful. Today Red is painting The Chef's nails and we are eating chocolate. The grannies came over for lunch yesterday, and my mum being a most amazing granny, brought Red three abandoned bird's nests and three dead, dried frogs. Red declared theses Best. Presents. Ever. For everyone else mum brought chocolate, because there just weren't enough tiny dead frogs for everyone. My mum is always fair.

How is summer going for you? Or winter? Sending much love to friends of this blog who are locked down again in Europe and the UK, or dealing with great uncertainty and covid worry in the US. Stay safe, and keep well all xxx


Deborah said…

Apricots are the most delicious but trying of all fruits.I am sorry you have brown rot. I have espaliered an apricot tree on the back fence and the river rats cross off the days until the fruit is ripe, year after year. They laugh at exclusion bags and obviously consider netting just a challenge as they gnaw through both and eat the fruit.This leaves orange coloured sticky marks surrounding the holes and me in a temper. We buy apricots and I seethe.

On a happier note, we had our son and my mother here for a week over Christmas and it was wonderful. Lots of friends and family visited and we all enjoyed it. I understand your pleasure at family gathering and think we are the lucky ones.

Best wishes for 2021.


Anonymous said…
All four of your kids!!! Wonderful! I had such a lovely visual from your description, could hear the ukelele and the laughter! The gathering makes the brown rot more tolerable.
I'm not an ambitious gardener, and even my low expectations are not met. I hope this year. Please, Oh please! My yard does provide wonderful escapes from the chaos my country is in for that I am very grateful.
Hoping for peace and calm.
Be well,
simplelife said…
It's always a joy to see a new post from you Jo.
How wonderful to have the distraction of all your babes home, given that the apricot tree is being a right blighter. We had the most amazing apricot tree in our first ever home, sadly our lack of experience meant that after a few years of making ourselves sick on the fruit brown rot moved in. We never did manage to get on top of it so in the end the tree was replaced with a decent old big rotary clothesline. Not quite backyard makeover worthy but way more useful to dry the nappies.
Cheers Kate
Jo said…
Deborah, aargh, rats! There is always something that wants to consume our hard won produce, whether animal, vegetable or mineral (I was tempted to classify brown rot as vegetable, but the biologist and the chemist in the room tell me that fungus is not technically a plant. Who knew?).
I could lend you Polly. She makes short work of rats as well as mice.
And as for family, we are so very much the lucky ones to have a chance to be with them. Not a thing to be taken for granted now, is it?

Patricia, this wet year, or some other mysterious circumstance, has caused practically every summer vegetable to be a disaster. I have rotting zucchinis, tomatoes refusing to ripen and going yellow and curling up their toes, corn that has grown two feet and is now flowering.. and it goes on. The kale and the potatoes are flourishing, and I have bunches of grapes on the grapevine, and that is about it. I am so grateful I do not rely on my garden to eat!

Kate, I am still chortling at your landscaping save! You are so right though. It is vitally important to get the nappies dry!!
Treaders said…
How lovely to have all your kids home at the same time - and to have a granny who knows when to hand out the dead frogs! You are truly blessed!
Anonymous said…
A shame about your apricots. Our apricot ambitions are very limited, as we have just two dwarf trees, which this year produced three fruits between them. We shared nicely, though. The garden has done well, in spite of some minor hail damage to early tomatoes and leafy things, and rust, which put paid to the garlic.

Enjoy the time with your family. Like Patricia, I am imagining all sorts of laughter and good times at your place.

Grannies bearing dead frogs and birds nests are treasures indeed!
Linda in NZ
Jo said…
Anna, I am truly, truly blessed, both with family and dead frogs!

Linda, glad you enjoyed your precious apricots and that there was no fighting over the third! Despite the brown rot I have harvested many more apricots than I thought possible, and done a lot of 'saving' of the blighted ones, and have a number of tubs of stewed apricots to accompany breakfast for the next few weeks. I'll take that as a win.
I'm glad to hear that your garden is doing well. Happy harvesting!
gretchenjoanna said…
How disheartening, the poor apricots! I mean, the tree... Probably things will be much better next year. In 2019 I had so many pests and diseases all over the garden, trees and vegetables and flowers; most of them I never did figure out how to avoid in the future. But in 2020 - none of them returned! Hmmm.... I wonder about 2021. There is always something new, I know that.

But you are wonderful, the way you are making use of what fruit you can.

It must be heavenly, having all your chicks there in the nest.
Jo said…
Gretchen Joanna, sometimes these things are mysteries. Sometimes, so often, things just happen in the garden - it is a web of such complexity. I think that part of the great thing about being a gardener is learning acceptance for things you can't change, or what you don't know. I mean, in this case, there are things i can do - that may or may not be very effective. I sprayed the nectarine tree religiously this year, but the nectarines also have brown rot. The stone fruit on the miniature trees at the other end of the garden, also sprayed, has no brown rot at all. Gardening is a mystery..
Unknown said…
I personally hate apricots, but it's still a shame about your tree. I know nothing about gardening but I love reading about other people's gardening adventures. My hubby does most of the gardening and I simply eat the offerings.

May I ask what does Red do with the dead frogs?

Johanna xx
Jo said…
Johanna, vicarious gardening is great, but vicarious cooking is my favourite:)
I am tempted to claim that Red is going to powder the frogs and use them in potions, but the truth is that they have an extensive natural history museum up in the attic. Many rocks, shells, bones, sticks with lichen, pyrex dishes filled with moss gardens, dried leaves and flowers, many plants, and now also birds' nests and dead frogs.
Unknown said…
Red sounds a lot like my daughter. My daughter Annabelle is 8 years old and loves everything to do with nature. She collects sticks and rocks, and isn't afraid to pick up any and every bug she comes across. She has rescued quite a few baby birds that have fallen out of their nests too. Annabelle once had a pet snail that lived for two years in her bedroom. We named it Chuck Norris because that snail survived many falls, long periods of no food, and even travelled interstate with us without us parents knowing about it until I discovered it in her suitcase. I wanted to put it in the garden then, but Annabelle refused and it travelled back with us in the car, sitting on her knee.

Johanna xx
Jo said…
Johanna, I love Annabelle already! I read your story to Red, and they recognised a kindred spirit:) Some years ago Red had a pet slug that lived in their bedroom. Its name was Greg, and Red made Greg his own moss garden to live in..
Angus Wallace said…
Hi Jo,

Glad to hear that things are going well for you. I laughed out loud at your 'not the future' quip. I can identify with that already and my eldest is 11.

We're in the midst of another epidemic in Adelaide -- fruit fly. Sadly it means we can't share home grown produce, or even take it to school/work for lunch. I guess that's a fairly minor inconvenience, all things considered!

take care,
Jo said…
Angus, oh, no, fruit fly! South Australia has always been the safe, fruit-fly-free zone. Along with tassie, of course. That is a very sad state of affairs. I am guessing you are doing a lot of cooking up your own produce though. Do you have fruit-fly on your property? I remember living in Broken Hill and having inspectors come around to check our fruit trees. The one who came to visit me was very impressed with the beautiful peach tree in my backyard, and very happy with my offer to take a bunch for his colleagues for lunch. That was thirty years ago, probably not within regulations to do that now (to be clear, there was no fruit fly in my trees..).
Anonymous said…
Bugger that Dr Who-ish stuff. Why can’t it live off things we don’t want to eat? I get caterpillars and bugs, but a brown blobby thing?

I’m kinda coming back into the blogosphere and have caught up on your posts.

Lovely that Big Girl could come back from Melbourne.

I tried to say no the Christmas decorations. Mr S and The Dreamer wanted them. Won’t let me donate my decorations. Oldest son couldn’t care less either way. But I have downsized and will again next year. This year I am to dispose of most of our Halloween decorations. But I may grow the Easter ones. I love autumn and love all the bunnies on things.

Jo said…
Lucinda, it's grand to see you here again:) I now live only with the extremely unsentimental youngest child and we make everything up as we go along, including cancelling Christmas. Who knows, this year it might be fun again (doubt it). The thing that drives me most nuts about the whole festive decorations thing is keeping a whole lot of boxes of festive crap only to bring them out for a couple of weeks once a year.. what kind of foolishness is that? maybe popcorn strings for decoration would be the go. Tip them outside later for the birds..

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