Drooling at Crazybrave's photo of the delicious pomegranates she'd received from a friend has got me thinking of home-grown fruit again, and I am quite envious of people whose fruit trees thrive in their suburban gardens, considering my previous 'mixed' success.
You'd be surprised how much fruit is grown in Melbourne's backyards. Besides the ubiquitous lemon and plum trees, there are also commonly apples, cumquats and nectarines, or, if you're lucky, pears and peaches. Less commonly, you may find pomegranates in their thorny, small-leaved bushes, and, in older houses, that old favourite feijoa (or pineapple quava as some know it).
In neighbourhoods like mine, you'll find older Italian households with persimmon trees. From my kitchen window I can track the progress of my Sicilian neighbour's persimmons. In late autumn–early winter, when all the tree's leaves have fallen (or been assisted to the ground with a stick by my elderly neighbours), I'll be able to marvel at the large fruit hanging in the bare branches, their bright orange glow livening up the dull-grey days.
I marvel at some people's luck at growing trees that bear so much fruit that they have to give it away. Some end up sharing bags of fruit with family, friends, and colleagues, and I miss our family friends who regularly make plum, apricot and other jams and chutneys – because they now live in regional Victoria, we don't get to enjoy their preserves as much as we used to.
This year we missed out on the bags of plums that we previously scored from our neighbour's trees in previous summers. These are actually third-hand plums – branches from trees in the house next to our block of units overhang the back fence of the unit beside ours, and we usually get a bag of fruit when they harvest the overhangs – more if the Sicilian lady next door invites them over to help pick the harvest. Last summer's family crisis and extended stay in Brisbane after my father died meant that we didn't see this bounty, though from reports the weather limited the crop.
I wonder if climate change will continue to play havoc on our cropping trees. Besides the unseasonal frosts, hail, storms and such that have spoiled fruit or blossoms, there are concerns that warming will affect the setting of fruit in trees reliant on the cold to do so, such as apples, pears and stone fruit.
However, I'm trying not to dwell on such grim thoughts. Instead, I'm going in search of opportunities to share in the bounty of other people's fruit trees. I'm going to harvest the abundant sage, rosemary and thyme (sorry, no parsley) and go in search of urban orchards and swap meets – those wonderfully convivial gatherings where home-growers can swap their surpluses with something else they don't have much or any of. And there's one set up recently near where I work. Although it's getting late in the season, perhaps I'll find a bag or so of something I like.
What fruit are you growing in your back yard? Have you received some surplus bounty from a friend or relative lately?
[Image by Crazybrave, used with permission.]