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9 February 2008

Organic fruit in the backyard

I felt the seasons change slightly yesterday. There was a nip in the air when I took the dogs outside early in the morning, and although it didn't stay cool for long, I know Autumn is not far away. Autumn is my favourite time of year. It's still warm in the daytime, cool at night and there is that wonderful change happening in the garden. Trees shift from green to gold and red, leaves fall, flowers bloom and we plant our main vegetable garden for the year.

There is not much growing now, just a few late eggplant and cucumbers, my experimental pineapple, herbs and fruit. It's the fruit that keeps us going at the moment, although we aren't eating much of it yet but there are lemons and bananas growing, plenty of passionfruit almost ready to pick and the blueberries arejust starting.

I wandered around the garden yesterday taking these photos for you. The first is the loquat tree. We cut this back heavily last year because it was too tall for us to pick any fruit. The bats ate the entire crop. This year I hope we get to share with them as I would love to make loquat jam. There are no loquats on the tree yet, and that may be the result of the pruning but I'll keep my eye on it for further developments.

Right next to the loquat tree is a group of about six bananas. There is only one bunch of bananas this year but if we can keep the birds and bats away, they'll be ready to eat late April. The birds love to eat the nectar from that red flower at the end of the spike. When that falls off and the bananas are a bit bigger, we can cut them off and hang the bunch in the shed to ripen.

Behind the bananas the creek is flowing slowly by. It's been much higher than it is right now but it's still holding a fair amount of water that will spill into the Pacific Ocean about 10 kms from here. Clicking on the photos will enlarge them.

Walking next to the fence that runs along the creek bed we find these golden passionfruit growing. There are about 40 fruit on the vines now. When we harvest them in the next couple of weeks, we'll cut the vines back so we have healthy growth later in the year.

And here is the aquaponics garden I planted out yesterday. In the foreground are yellow button squash, and behind are Roma tomatoes and dwarf green beans. We've had the aquaponics garden for almost a year now, so we're still novices, but we're happy with it most of the time. Hanno cleaned this grow tank out a couple of weeks ago and removed all the old roots and leaves left by past crops.

We are also growing silver perch in this system. They are swimming in a 3000 litre tank just below this grow bed. There are about 12 fat fish that are reaching 12 inches in length and I am hoping we can eat some of them for my birthday dinner in mid-April. We have about 80 perch in the tank but we haven't worked out yet when we should add the next batch of fish for next year. Our fish didn't grow much at all last winter so I wonder if it's best to restock in spring. I'll have to do some research on that.

I'll be able to do that research tomorrow as that is when we get our broadband speed back again after almost three weeks of a speed limited service. I haven't been able to visit many of my favourite blogs during that time because sometimes the pages didn't load at all, or they took so long I gave up. I will have a good time tomorrow catching up with what everyone has been doing.

Swappers, don't forget your swap deadline, Sharon wrote about it in the post below. I'm really looking forward to seeing all the photos. I am really grateful to Sharon and Lorraine for organising the swaps for me. Thanks gals!

I hope you have a great weekend. Thank you all for visiting and for your thoughtful comments.


  1. I just wanted to thank you for the time you take posting photos on your blog. One of the true joys of blog reading is seeing how other people live, and the scenery around them.

    I live in Staffordshire, central UK, and don't have the wonderful views that you enjoy, being in a very highly populated city. So seeing how you live is so refreshing,

    Many, many thanks,


  2. Thank you for those wonderful pictures of your garden. I would really love to grow my own bananas too. Maybe I'll have time to look into that next year.

    We are just getting into the first signs of spring here but it's still to early to risk moving the lemons outside as we could have frosts up until April.

    Thank you again for another wonderful peek into your life.


  3. Just this morning I was thinking "I wish we could grow bananas". :) My kids eat them very rapidly.

    I started up a blog dedicated solely to my garden and other self sufficiency efforts. I'm hoping it will help me keep track of what is and isn't working in the garden as I seem to be failing at keeping any records. In a way it'll be an online journal of what's happening in the garden. I know they say keeping records helps, especially when you're new to gardening. :)

    Your efforts keep me inspired!!!

  4. I have to say that I am very envious of your bananas!

    I'm headed toward the eating only local and I have yet to come to terms with all of the things I would have to do with out.

    Fruit is something I'm not sure I can give up!

    Tiday I purchased bananas from...I don't remember...but it was somewhere tropical that made me feel a bit guilty. I just love them on my oatmeal!

    Do they taste even better when they grow right in your own back yard?

  5. Lovely view Rhonda! We have snow and more snow here today. Eagerly awaiting Spring!

  6. I'll be interested to find out what your plans are for your winter garden Rhonda. I'm used to summer gardens, with corn, watermelons etc, and aren't too sure what grows in winter. I suppose peas, and greens, but is there anything else exciting?


  7. Welcome Clare, thank you for sharing your blog.

    Deborah, bananas are not frost hardy. I'd be interested to know if they grow in your area. Some people so grow them in a protected micro-climate.

    Good luck with your blog, Lightening. I'll have a look when I get my speed back tomorrow.

    Jenn, backyard bananas are the best! It think I'd be doing some trading for the fruit. I'd be thinking something like, "I'll give up deodorant and paper napkins but I'll keep buying the fruit I like."

    Thanks Maggie, I hope you have an early spring.

    Tamara, if you have no frosts you can grow tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, silverbeet, potatoes, onions, carrots, parsnips and turnips, SUGARLOAF cabbages (no other variety), kale, radishes, celery, broccoli, peas and beans, garlic and herbs. It's really just the hot weather stuff that won't grow - things like capsicums, eggplant, rosellas, luffas, watermelon and pumpkin. Although having written that we're trying a different variety of pumpkin - golden nuggets, this year. Good luck.

  8. I admit I had to look up loquat's on Wikipedia . They sound really yummy. I like they hydroponic garden too. It reminds me of an article I saw at Ecofriend called Build marvelous hanging gardens in your own backyard! I have to say not gardening has been one of the downsides of apartment life to me but who knows what the future holds. Thanks for the lovely pictures and post Rhonda.

  9. How lovely to grow your own fruit! And raising fish like that? Yummy!! Good old fresh fish! Take care!


  10. Hi Rhonda
    We're in Toowoomba and our Loquat tree is yet to flower, so you should get fruit as the flowers form on new growth.
    Aren't they just lovely trees. We have a fully grown tree (roughly 7m), so the birds get the top half and we get the bottom half. Though some like to take more than their share , lol.

  11. Oh, wow! Such a tropical paradise...

  12. What a beautiful garden you have. You don't see bananas in back yard gardens here in California. I love reading your blog, you have an amazing lifestyle.

  13. Growing up in Darwin, your banana picture reminded me of my youth. I still remember wandering out the back door to cut off a hand of bananas to bring inside (my dad used to hang the "bunch" on the back verandah to ripen. We also had papaya and friends had mangoes and star fruit and otehr tropical fruits I can't remember right now. Living in Adelaide now I do miss some of this, but not the build up to the wet season!
    I too love autumn and spring, with their milder temperatures and the changes in the garden :)

  14. Hi Rhonda,
    I have banana trees too. They are fun to have. Would you please do a post on how you make homemade soap. I would love to make some.

  15. Wow that banana flower looks totally crazy. I had no idea they looked like that! It's really amazing how full of diversity the world is.

  16. Hello Elizabeth. How many bananas are you getting on your trees? There is a link to my cold pressed soap making tutorial in the side bar.

  17. Hi Rhonda Jean,
    I have one bunch at the moment. I had 3 more bunches but the we got a really bad wind storm and the weight of the banana bunches caused the stalks ro break in half. The bananas were just formed so I couldn't save them. I love the big blooms they put out. I live close to the coast so we don't get much of a winter here.
    I will look for the saop recipe. Thank you so much. I am starting to move toward my simple journey. I will send you an invite so you can read my blog.

  18. This is awesome!
    I know my husband would love to talk about what you have done the research you found. We live in MI and he is collecting items in order to put together systems here.
    Mellissa in MI


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