Nature provides – a wild harvest

What a wonderful day I had yesterday! Simply glorious. 😀 I managed to get myself a little sunburned (not so good 😦 ) and I achieved heaps in the garden too. And most fun of all I scored an absolute heap of free food! 😀

I started the morning off with digging up a chock-a-block full wheelbarrow load of spent chook straw to help top up and revitalise the soil in 2 of my garden beds. I mixed through half of the load in each bed and gave them each a thorough soaking with the hose. The manures in there (I had been raking the spent goat/sheep bedding in for the chooks to scratch around in) as well as the remaining straw are all going to increase the water holding content of the soil and the nitrogen in the manure will provide much food for the crops planted therein. Once I’d mixed and watered it in I planted peas along 1 side of each bed to climb up the trellis that joins the beds and then in 1 bed I sowed rows of turnips alternating with rows of spinach. The rest of the bed and the other will meet the same fate receive the same seeds at a later date when I plant successive crops.

Apples and blossoms. Something not right there

Apples and blossoms. Something not right there.

After lunch I met up with a friend, L, another permie, who had expressed interest in the idea of picking the wild apples growing all around town. We both headed off armed with buckets, bags and boxes, and in my case gloves (to help me work around my bug phobias) and headed out of town to visit some trees I’d seen and been watching every time we drove in or out of Ballan. Where were the double lines? Where could we park? How close to the road was the tree? Each tree carefully studied and analysed as much as one can when doing 100km per hour. 😉

The first tree provided a goodly harvest although sadly we weren’t able to reach most of the more delectable apples up higher (always the way right 😉 ) although as a consolation there was an impressive tree off the road (and out of sight so I’d not known about it) which we were able to strip reasonably close to bare branches. 🙂 On to the next tree which was on the road to the transfer station (the new glorified name for the local tip 😉 ). We stripped a few more trees of their wild bounty before heading off along a road to see where it went. Not quite where I expected but a nice scenic trip none the less. 🙂

Hawthorns everywhere!

Hawthorns everywhere!

We then headed back towards town to strip the apples from the trees on the other side of the road and stopped to also pick nearly bare a gloriously laden hawthorn shrub of its haws. L plans to make jelly from them. 🙂 We decided to call it a day but we did stop for a quick reconnaissance on another tree which we believe is possibly golden delicious in origin. We’ve targeted it for next time, hopefully next weekend. 😀

Back to L’s place and we split the proceeds of the day 3 ways, some for L, some for her next door neighbours and the rest for us. I’m now planning a busy day juicing apples for raw (unpasteurised) apple juice to put aside and ferment and also to bottle and run through the Fowlers Vacola which will pasteurise it for storage for the rest of the year. 🙂

These wild apples have grown from the cores of apples thrown out of car windows by many on their travels. In many cases there were several trees all growing as one, evidenced by the fertility of the apple seeds. 🙂 Many of the apples are heavily russeted and many have cracks in them, I reckon from the dry summer we’ve had and then the recent rains but for juicing apples I couldn’t care less what they look like really. One of the trees we found had the tiniest apples but with a divine flavour, quite sweet, a little dry and lots of yeast on their skins. I can’t wait to see what the cider is like. I hope it works. 🙂

I came home and spent the afternoon planting garlic whilst Allegra raided and demolished anything even vaguely pink in the strawberry patch. Exactly what I planted it for. Is there truly anything better than pick and eat strawberries, organic and free from the chemical load the shop-bought ones carry, warmed gently in the sun and sweet, oh so very sweet! 🙂

The photo doesnt do the colours justice. The yellowing willow tree in the background, still laced with green and the clarion call scarlet of the haws and the dried white grass in the foreground. The spectacular colours of Autumnal Ballan are not just in the main street Ash and pin oak trees.

The photo doesn’t do the colours justice. The yellowing willow tree in the background, still laced with green and the clarion call scarlet of the haws and the dried white grass in the foreground. The spectacular colours of Autumnal Ballan are not just in the main street Ash and Pin Oak trees.

Whilst I was sitting there eating dinner tonight I had a small brain wave which resulted in piling Jasper into the car with clothes over pajamas and heading back to the golden apple tree. We picked another bucket full together which we dropped off a portion of to L. For all up about 3 hours work we have 40 litres of apples. For free! 😀

L and I discussed heading out in early winter to give all the apple trees we can find a prune. We figure that the trees are producing wonderfully as they are but a little bit of judicious pruning and some pruning practice for us can only be a good thing for both parties. 🙂 We could even give grafting a go on these trees as there is no loss if things don’t work. Imagine, a town surrounded by hundreds of wonderful multi-graft apple trees with free to the public, organically raised (but not necessarily organic due to car fumes) apples, free for the taking . 😀

Is there anything in your local area you’ve wild harvested? Do you have a hedgerow of hawthorn or roads lined with seed grown fruit?

This morning I’ve been up since 3:45am and not by choice but by 5:30 or so I’ve been champing at the bit to get out into the garden. Finally around 8am with happy kids watching a movie and eating breakfast I got out into the chook pen to dig up more composted manure straw. It’s now top dressing one of my hugel beds where the garlic is planted. After last nights torrential rainstorm around 3:30am the base of the hugels and paths are all soaking wet, ready to wick up into the hugels themselves. With the compost mulch and nitrogen feed on top it will hold that water much longer and my garlic should, in theory and with a little luck, thrive. 🙂 Today I hope to make a start planting out all the potato onions I have in and around the pumpkin vines still doing their thing and to empty out the trailer of compost I have into the crate gardens to get some more garlic planted out. This afternoon will likely be apple juicing time. 🙂 I swear, Autumn is just as busy as Spring. 🙂

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13 thoughts on “Nature provides – a wild harvest

  1. foodnstuff says:

    Autumn is a lovely time in Melbourne for gardening. I got loads of stuff done yesterday as well, although we didn’t get your downpour—only 4 mm, but not to be sneezed at.

    Kudos for getting some wild harvesting done. Nothing much around here, but I do occasionally get wild mushrooms from the property.

    My potato onions have been in a week and are just starting to sprout. No sign of the garlic as yet.

    • Oooo wild mushrooms. I am scared of toughing the ones that come up in my greenhouse even though I’m almost positive they’re standard white supermarket style ones. I remember when those yellow staining ones appeared in the 90’s. I don’t know if anyone died from eating them but we had them growing on our nature strip and its made me ultra wary of mushrooms. Too much room for error for the uninitiated like me) and far too much at risk to get it wrong.
      I’ve got some potato onions coming up already too. I planted some out a few weeks ago that were going mouldy and so far 4 of them have come up! I never woulda thunk it! 😀

  2. Linda says:

    I grew up riding a bike to school past an apple tree on the side of the road – we loved it in season. Now knowing more, I notice they don’t seem to have codlin moth, probably because the birds get rid of all the windfalls and the bugs in the process.

    Sounds like you had a wonderful time – my potato onions went in yesterday. Going out to do more garlic now.

    • I’ve been planting out garlic and potato onions again today. Lots of chicken pen scrapings on top as mulch. It’s all the used goats straw the chooks have been digging around in for a month or 2. Great mulch and lots of nitrogen and such included too. 🙂
      My Egyptian Walking onions are almost all showing a lot of green too, both the bulbils from the top and the larger bulbs. I can’t wait to harvest them and try them. 🙂

  3. Sue says:

    I often harvest Elderberries each year, although I haven’t this year, very good for viruses. Well done on your bounty

    • L and I actually have planned to plant an elder out somewhere for future harvesting. I love elderberry syrup and it’s the best for treating colds and the like. We use it here often but I thought I’d killed my elder tree. It’s alive but a mere 6 inches tall at best. 😦 Might take a while.

  4. narf77 says:

    Walnuts, apples and the odd nefarious hazelnut along with abandoned fruit orchards in Exeter are our predatory zones. I tend to stratify and grow the nuts to value add them. Excellent score on the apples and kudos on finding ways to utilise the haws. We have Washington hawthorns quite close to us and they are apparently the best kind to use for making jam. They also have the most enormous thorns and are absolutely gorgeous when their leaves (larger than regular hawthorns) colour up. I keep trying to source some berries from the local trees but they must be tasty because they get eaten before they even turn red!

    Cooler weather gives you more energy to get stuck into the garden and spring and autumn are our busiest times as well.

    • Nice score! All those wonderful nuts and as sad as abandoned orchards are, squee for you! 🙂 The birds around here can’t keep up with the amount of haws here. Some of the trees are bare of all leaves but the berries they have are so vibrant!

  5. Lynda says:

    Now that sounds like a fun and productive day. All the better for having shared it with a friend. Yummm apple cider. Time for me to stop being a social butterfly flitting here and there and get down to gardening. Staycation Easter here i come.

  6. Linne says:

    A perfect day! how lovely! Are you going to label your various vinegars so you know which trees you like best for them? I’m wondering, too, how people pick the haws if there are huge thorns . . .

    And are you making apple butter? One of my favourites . . . 😉

    You are lucky to have a friend with a matching taste for productive adventures . . .

    • I’ve mixed all the red apples together but I remember from which trees the apples came. I’m not to fussed really. If it works then score and I’ll be likely more particular next year but this year it’s an experiment only. I’ve got the leftover apple simmering on the stove now to squeeze out for juice to be bottled up now. As long as it’s drinkable I’m not too fussed beyond that. 🙂
      I’ve not made apple butter but it’s not something I think we’d eat much. I may bottle up the leftover apple as I did last year as it goes well in porridge with a little cinnamon so close to I guess. 🙂
      How to pick haws when the hawthorns have huge thorns? That’s easy. VERY carefully! 😀

  7. Linda says:

    Would you believe it??? My council is apparently removing roadside apple trees as “weeds”???

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