Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Question time


Heart shaped flower head

I'm really amazed by this artichoke flower. We harvested about four artichokes, cooked three but but this one was a little too mature. We half expected it to shrivel and die, but to our surprise it took several days to open into this lovely, heart-shaped bloom.

My question is do all artichokes bloom this way (for those who've grown them before) or is this a unique surprise adorning our dinning table? EDITED TO ADD: the heart shaped bloom more specifically, has anyone else noticed their artichokes flowering with a heart shape?

By the way, the artichokes we cooked were beautiful! We spread them with butter and honey mustard. Think I'm off to do a google search now. :)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hedgerows

When you live on slopes, fencing isn't a perfect system. In fact, once constructed you could be replacing the fence again in your lifetime. It won't be for over a decade or so, but during that time many fence repairs could be in order too. Persistent animals like to find weak spots in fencing and work on that area until it becomes the main access point. This exercise of repairing access holes (with new ones re-appearing elsewhere) can be tiresome.

We've had problems with our fencing on the side with neighbours who had dogs. They don't have them any more, but at the time it truly did demonstrate how fencing on slopes doesn't work as effectively as you'd hope it would. With every problem presented however, there's usually a more ingenious solution waiting to be discovered. Enter hedgerows!

So what is a hedgerow? Basically it's an old world technology - mostly adopted in European countries as a way of dividing pastures, and providing windbreaks. They also doubled as livestock food during winter, when the grass was often frost bitten. Hedgerows use to be all over Britain, until modernization came with the promise of forever fertilisers found in a chemical factory. Such a shame, because hedgerows were a permanent source of fertility already - given they attracted numerous colonies of small nesting birds every year, dumping their free fertility within the long expanse of hedgerows. Planted on slopes, gravity did the rest for spreading that fertility to the pastures.

Hedgerows, just seemed like the perfect option for fencing on our slopes - but we also wanted a thorny one to discourage persistent animals. I've done quite a bit of research, but eventually decided on (of all things) a rose!



This is a Tiger rose, we purchased from Brindabella Gardens. I originally wanted to go with a Rugosa Rose having read about their fearsome and hardy reputation, but after talking to the local rose expert who has been growing and supplying roses, specifically for humid climates for decades, we went with their recommendation of Tiger. You can read more about it here.



Just to show you how different each flower can be, here is one that looks more white, than yellow. Apparently heat is the factor which determines the degree of stripes - so the hotter the climate, the more stripes appear! I think this is a most excellent indicator to watch every growing season. Now originally, I wasn't looking for blooms. I didn't go looking for a pretty hedge. I even told the Nurseryman at Brindabella, this hedge will most likely be awfully abused. We may get to prune it back, once a year (maybe) and we won't be running water to it beyond the initial settling in period. He said the Tiger Rose is very much one of those plants that won't die if it's abused.



So we purchased five specimens and planted them one metre apart. This is on the property line of our other side neighbours, who don't seem to access their front yard very much - other than to enter their driveway. There's about forty metres between our property line and their driveway. We'd never plant a thorny hedge where we thought it would harm our neighbours. This is more for keeping the stray neighbourhood dogs out of our yard, and hopefully the hares. We're even going to put an access fence between the two yards, so our neighbour can still come through without being injured by the hedge, and also so we can tend the hedge on their side of the fence too.

The benefits of this hedgerow for our neighbour will be a gorgeous view when they enter their driveway, free roses (and hips) if they want to pick them, plus it will also serve as a windbreak for their two citrus trees. What's more, no cost to fence or periodic maintenance. This will be a much prettier divide of our yards, plus any fertility gathered will benefit both sides equally.

This fence won't be completely maintenance free, as we hope to give it a prune once a year - during winter, so we can see where all those thorns are! It also wasn't particularly cheap - for 5 metres of hedge we spent $150. We do have the option for propagating free specimens, which I'm already attempting, but the biggest bonus for spending around $30 a metre for fencing is that it will be a living fence. Without too much effort from us, it will maintain itself over time. I also wouldn't mind trying rose hip tea (which I hear is packed full of vitamin C) but I'd also like to try making rose hip jam too.

So much more fun planning for (and planting) a hedge, than it is to manually construct a fence and see how it stands over time. I won't be visiting this fence with a wrench to re-tension it, I'll take the pruners and basket to collect flowers and hips instead.

My recommendation if you're looking for a plant to use as a hedgerow, is hardiness for your climatic conditions. Speak to local nurseries for what particular plants have the least pest and disease problems too. You may not want a thorny hedgerow and you may want one for different reasons (maybe an edible fence) either way, I think hedgerows have many more purposes than the mere obvious ones and are worth investigating further. Our Tiger Rose hedge won't be the only plants we use for hedgerows here.

Has anyone else experimented with planting hedges, or lucky enough to have inherited a hedgerow themselves? What plants have worked and what hasn't?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Spring rain

It's only a hop, skip and jump away from summer, but when the spring rains arrived this made me hop, skip and jump through some rather wet puddles in our yard too! I was hoping it would rain soon as many of my citrus trees needed a healthy drink. But with the rain, came some rather sharp memory-pegs from last storm season. I found myself pacing the house this morning, looking out the window - looking, looking, looking.

Well I decided I probably needed some new memories, ones associated to fun and beauty. This is my walk through the yard in thongs (or flip-flops) and a camera I tried protecting from the drizzle. With all it's sophisticated appeal, here is our makeshift bridge we use to cross the spoon drain. Nothing but the best at Gully Grove!



Okay, so it's not much to look at, but the design is absolutely faultless. Whenever a surge of water comes through, we simply remove the planks until it passes. Here is part of the spoon drain which ends up channelling water to the bridge - I mean, planks.



It could well be a swale too (spoon drain for trade talk) complete with rogue pumpkins which always take advantage of good water supply. These guys survived last years flood, and are already setting new fruit. Pumpkins are as tough as old gumboots - which I clearly needed today. Trudging on with my heavy-duty thongs instead, I arrived at our upper swale in full action...



We've worked on these since the last storm season, but they still need more tweaking. The improved design however, has already helped prevent large sheets of water flowing down to the lower sections of the garden. Not far from this swale though, I noticed some Canna Lilies flowering.



It's hard to feel the rainy day blues, with such beauty to observe through the drizzle. I love flowers in spring and especially when they pop up regardless of the weather! A lovely treasure to stumble upon, it made me smile. And those weren't the only petals prepared to venture into the wet this morning. Take this Luffa vine which has defied drought, flood and a broken trellis...



You can just see the snapped branch (of the trellis) at the bottom of the picture - but vines have ways of clinging on and just hanging around any old place. Thank you Luffa for hanging around our place, and just giving this growing season one more hurrah! I'm glad we didn't pull you out because you didn't look your best. How you've aged beautifully though.



And globe artichokes galore! What a bizarre looking flower and now that it's blooming, I'm going to have to look for recipes. Thank you Emily from Little Farm in the City, for giving us this plant. After contemplating if it would die last year, it suddenly decided to come back with a vengeance! I still can't get over how bizarre (yet quaintly enchanting) these flowers are. They're leaning towards their absent neighbour, Charlie the banana plant. He didn't die, we just relocated him on the weekend.



Charlie is already unfurling new leafs and at a quicker rate, than when he was next to the metal garden shed. He now has a lovely pigeon pea tree and sweet potatoes as neighbours. I've also mulched him with some casuarina leafs, which should add some potash as they break down. Wonderful healthy new leafs, compared to the poor shrivelled old ones. Way to go Charlie! You'll be standing tall in no time. Not too far away though...



When they said Dwarf Ducasse, was a vigorous grower, I had no idea! The size difference is astronomical, compared to photos taken last week. With such a healthy dose of spring rain too, I'll be dunking banana's in my coffee in no time. I spotted another fruit tree in the distance on my way back to the house.



Our mango is getting bigger with it's Canna Lily minions, standing tall in front. I planted these here so I could directly mulch the mango once a year. It's been such a good system that apart from the initial watering period after planting our mango, I haven't had to water much (if at all) since. With many of these garden delights however, it involves a lot of waiting. Nature won't be rushed and it's probably a good thing too.

Taking the time to observe your garden, has to be one of the joys of planting one. You may not be eating delicious sweet fruit straight away, but that doesn't mean nature is standing idle or there isn't joy to be found in a young garden. In terms of heavy feeding annuals, our track record is pretty poor. We kill those like plastic toys from China. We don't mean to, they just don't like the conditions we have. Fruit trees, vines and perennials however, well they seem to be finding their place with enough time. Slow gardeners with a slow garden, that's what we are. And it's probably a good thing too.

One more image from my garden before I go - I was really excited about the leafs emerging from this one. Does anybody recognise the plant?



It's a pecan tree and I thought I'd killed it. We purchased it last Spring with the intention of finding a place to plant it. Only the rain didn't stop long enough to give us a chance to. Between repairing retaining walls washed away by the flood and relocating all that silt, the poor pecan just sat in it's black plastic pot. In winter it lost it's leafs, being deciduous and all, but I wasn't quite sure if I killed it either. A new flush of leafs came with the warmer weather, which inexplicably led to losing them promptly too. I thought that was that - he'd carked it. Could I blame the poor pecan, when we gave it the most inhospitable conditions possible?

True to the wonders of nature however, it didn't take long to recover once I finally put it in the ground. This new flush of leafs say there is always time to recover, even when life provides some pretty inhospitable conditions. I walked around my garden today, and I saw some impressive signs of life.

I hope the spring rains are welcoming your gardens to life too, and if not, I can only hope nature shows you her good side when the challenges pass. There is so much to be had from a garden. I am so lucky to have one.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Making mulch

One of the many issues we struggle with growing plants in the hills of the Lockyer Valley, is retaining nutrients where we want them. This is natural sandstone country, so we don't always have a thick layer of topsoil. In fact if you're not careful, it can suck the moisture out of the soil very quickly. Without a plentiful supply of mulch it would be RIP for our garden!

There are many plants you can grow for mulch purposes, but we have a few outstanding performers worth noting. Two in particular were gifted to us as "cuttings", so what better way to start than with free plants. At the time they were given, we had no idea how useful they would become.

I wrote about mulching our new banana plants with lemon grass recently, which happens to be one of our favourite plants to use for mulching. It grows in a big clump which you can divide every year if you want to - but let me warn you, they're neither easy to dig up or to divide!


Lemon grass and an artichoke!

Here is one of our lemon grass clumps, a few days after a hair cut. Look at that new growth reaching for the sky. Lemon grass really loves this kind of treatment - they languish slowly, looking all the more dishevelled when their brown skirts don't get trimmed. We tend to cut ours in late spring (after they've flowered) mostly because the leaves are partially dry, but also because the seed heads make good mulch also. To date, none of our clumps have reseeded themselves.

What I particularly love about using lemon grass as a mulch however, is the lovely fragrance they give off once they're freshly cut in the late afternoon. They've had all day to warm up the lemony scent and once cut and laid, you'll walk past them again and again just to catch a whiff! But that's not the only wonderful performer we use as a mulch...


Re shooting!

This is a Cana Lily and is easily divided by the underground rhizome. The one above was recently cut for mulch and is already growing more leaves. I have found the more you cut them back, the fatter the stem you get! These really grow very quickly and it's just as well too, because once you cut them, they break down very quickly. In fact, you better like where you plant your Cana Lilies because they're very difficult to remove permanently, short of using chemicals that is.


Young Papaya or otherwise known as Paw-paw
planted this year

They will pop up from the smallest amount of rhizome left in the soil afterwards, like what happened when I thought I had cleared a spot for a much anticipated Paw-Paw (above) but then the Cana's started to rise from the ground. I tried cutting them back continually, but the more I did the fatter the stalks got. Here is a better picture of how close the Cana Lily's are growing to the Paw-Paw.


Surrounded by Cana Lilies

These were a little too close for comfort, as they were impeding air flow and with the rising temperatures it caused mould to form on the Paw-Paw leaves. Not a problem though, as I couldn't have a closer supply of mulch (ready to chop and drop) if I tried! You can see some of the leaves on the ground already and how they've browned. This Paw-Paw will need more than that to keep it happy though. If you want to know more about growing Paw-Paws, try visiting Tropical Permaculture Gardens on growing Papayas.

This is the first time I've tried growing Paw-paws (or papayas) and I'm told this particular variety it's a hermaphrodite, meaning it is self-fertile. Most Paw-paws grow separate male and female trees, so we'll have to see how mine performs.

There is another mulch plant we grow here, and that's a Pigeon pea Tree. It has the benefit of sequestering nitrogen from the air and does absolute wonders for poor soil. Most of the trees we have, we plant near fruit trees and do an annual chop and drop. But with a little strategic planning, nature can do the work for you!


Pigeon Pea (left) Persimmon (right)

This one was planted next to a Persimmon, to be a wind break, but we weren't expecting it to droop over the retaining wall the way it has. It drops it's leaves right on top of the garden we have underneath.


growing under the retaining wall

This is a Dwarf Bamboo and it doesn't seem to mind the dappled shade the pigeon tree provides during the day, or the mulch it drops. Quite an accidental arrangement but gives us plenty of ideas for the rest of our slopes!

The Pigeon Pea in the photo is actually getting a little old and probably could use a heavy cut back. Pruning encourages leaf growth which means extra mulch, but you should plan to replace your trees after a few years. You won't have a problem with seeds as they are prolific producers of them. Which reminds me, I need to plant a few more this year.

Now as I mentioned at the very beginning, there are many plants you can grow for the purposes of producing mulch. I thought Permaculture Pathways (or Sonya more specifically) did an excellent job describing other varieties and the benefits of growing your own mulch.

Nutrient cycling with mulch

Growing your own mulch

It should bear mentioning that the Cana Lily Sonya refers to (or the Arrowroot) is a different variety to the one I have. In fact, mine is the flowering variety and while the bright orange flowers are very pretty, they're quite poisonous. Not a problem if you're just using them for mulching purposes though.

Does anyone else have success growing their own mulch?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I've got a lovely bunch of...

...bananas!! Actually, I lied - I don't have a lovely bunch of bananas to call my very own. Not yet. That's why I went out to buy a banana plant (or two). Of course, if you live in some parts of Queensland, you cannot simply pop into your local nursery and ask for a banana plant. As I discovered, myself - I knew about requiring a permit before obtaining a plant, but I wasn't sure if we fell into the zone of restriction.

I received quite a few looks of surprise however, as I asked the Queensland nurseryman's most ta bu question: do you sell banana plants? Of course, they know what banana plants are, they're just not allowed to sell them.

If you live in a restricted zone, there's only one place in Queensland to buy your banana tissue plant culture, and they are Blue Sky Backyard Banana's. I dealt with Sue through emails, and she was very patient and helpful during the process, as there were a few formalities we had to attend before plants could be supplied.

Here enters the Queensland Government's Department of Primary industries and fisheries. What a mouthful! Okay so they handle biosecurity issues in Queensland. Because the commercial banana industry is heavily based on a single variety of banana (the Cavendish) the Queensland government seeks to protect them from backyard growers. The culprit is the Bunchy Top disease, which is why a permit is now required to grow a banana in your backyard. If you need a permit then you cannot grow the popular Cavendish variety either - some areas cannot even grow the Ladyfinger variety. It all depends on your location to commercial crops.


Bunchy Top infected banana plant

If knowing this hasn't put you off, then please do take the necessary steps to obtain a permit. There are still some lovely banana varieties you can grow. I'll introduce you to mine very shortly. To start the ball rolling though, you'll have to call the Queensland Biosecurity department on: 132523 and answer a few questions. They don't bight, in fact they were really nice. Based on the information you give them however, they will let you know what you can and cannot grow in your backyard.

Here is where it gets a little tricky though. Firstly, they have to issue you with some paperwork. This is to register the property you hold the permit with, so you can plant the bananas on that property alone. Secondly, they will give you the contact information of Blue Sky Tissue Culture, who you're supposed to contact before filling in the paperwork. This is just to ensure they have the stock you wish to register. Once that's done, send the paperwork off in the envelop supplied, or you can fax it directly. Once Biosecurity Queensland approves your permit, they'll fax a copy to Blue Sky, while posting the original back to you.

Confused much? I swear, from that point onwards it shouldn't be a drama to receive your plants. So let me introduce you to my two varieties: Ducca and Charlie. Okay, that's not their official names, just the ones I gave them!


Ducca, mulched with lemon grass

The first cab off the rank is Ducca, or otherwise known as Dwarf Ducasse. It shouldn't grow more than 4 metres high, and the fruit isn't particularly large. Not that I know that yet, as he's still such a baby. A fast grower though...you can see him virtually growing through the day. New leaves unfurl and he shoots up a little higher.

Compare that to another variety: or as we like to say, "Charlie", and there's a marked difference.


Ladyfinger variety, also mulched with lemon grass

Would you believe Charlie went into the ground a month before Ducca? He's not a very happy plant. We may have to relocate him if he doesn't start unfurling quicker. We suspect his position isn't ideal, lots of little things really - moisture loss, heat deflected from the metal shed nearby and despite the addition of compost material, we think he's not getting the right amount of nutrients.

Fingers crossed for Charlie, we may try to relocate him on the weekend. Other happening news on the garden front is more pineappley propagation. Can I say that: pineappley? Okay, grammar aside, I finally got around to propagating the sucker from Bluey. Here's a comparison photo of the difference between a sucker and a crown:


Bluey's babies

These both came from Bluey our pineapple: on the left is the sucker (taken from the side of the original plant) and on the right is the crown from the pineapple top we ate. Big size difference! It's no wonder they say pineapples grown from suckers, fruit much quicker. I pretty much treated the sucker how I plant the crowns. Peel the lower leaves off until you have a stub you can immerse in soil. Leave a few days to dry off first, to avoid disease when you plant into the pot.

It doesn't look like much, but the economy of nature can be quite generous. We only planted one pineapple crown, to receive two more plants and a delicious fruit! The compounding interest over time will be a glut of pineapples. I think I can live with that kind of stress in my life.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Best solar around

We had a visit from a friendly solar salesperson yesterday. It was a big day for us, as we had avoided taking steps towards investigating solar for so long. I had read many websites and the official Consumer Guide to Solar PV from the Clean Energy Council (CEC) but a lot of the information felt like gobbledygook until we spoke to a real person face to face.

It was an enlightening discussion in many ways. I finally understood what STC's (Small Technology Credits) were and why they were so important for reducing the cost of installing solar. I also discovered how grid-connected solar is meant to reduce your electricity bills. I was glad to have the information explained with diagrams so I could ask questions. All the information I read previously started to make sense.


Yarrow

With the price they were offering (a saving of about $1200 AUD for a cash sale) anyone would think it a perfect opportunity to jump at. I must say, we are dearly tempted and still undecided. But there are still two areas I have not reconciled yet. Firstly, is value - what exactly are we buying and how do we reduce our electricity bills. Lastly, does it really meet the need intended?

Let's start with value: it's simply the best offer around. But in that offer comes two possible inverters, made by two different companies (one Asian and one Australian). I've done my research and the Asian made inverter has a reputation for breaking down. The Australian inverter does not. I discovered later (after more research) the man I was talking to was only a sales person, not the accredited solar installer that would have to design the placing of the panels on our roof, and what pieces of equipment were required. He informed me, they may need extra things that didn't end up being quoted in the price.

So what I got was a piece of paper stating what equipment would be installed, labor included, but still had no idea of the final price or what equipment would ultimately be needed. There's a vast difference between quoted offers and and paying for an operational solar system. Once you've signed that piece of paper and put down your deposit, that's it - you're committed. I would go with them if only they'd been more precise with details, and sent an accredited professional to tell me exactly how my system was going to fit on the roof. He didn't even get up on the roof.

In all fairness to solar installers though, a lot of different factors determine whether you get the value from your system or not. You could have the best equipment, skilled installers, a roof plastered with as many panels as could fit - and if your outside temperature is constantly above 30 degrees Celsius, with little wind to cool the units down, those panels won't work effectively as in ideal conditions. Same amount of money invested, but less efficiency produced.


Flander's Poppy

A lot of people shrug it off and assume that's just the price of renewable energy. I guess it is too. However it's also a bit of a design flaw. Especially in the advertising of what could "possibly" be saved on electricity bills. Apparently, the best way to reduce your electricity bill is NOT to use your household electricity during the day. Because that's when the panels will be at maximum production and can feed back to the electricity grid.

I've read a little about power travelling along cables (whether it's generated from solar or fossil fuels) losing a certain percentage to entropy. So more power has to be generated to replace the loss. It's not a huge amount compared to what power makes it through, but entropy does add up. I would think, efficient use of resources would encourage maximum electricity being used, closest to the source generating them. It's not like grid connected solar is the same as stand alone solar - where you may need to charge your batteries during the day so you have electricity at night. We have an electricity grid to plug into any time.

Less waste to entropy, would mean less demand to generate more electricity, because you're not losing entropy when the sun is feeding power directly to your house. But I gather there isn't a lot of money to be made from efficiency. The more I investigate grid connected solar, the more I realise it's about complementing fossil fuels and our existing economy - not standing apart at all. It seems consumers go to the expense of buying solar panels, taking all the financial risks that involves - only for the purpose of sending power back to the grid so we can buy it back.

My brain is still trying to rationalise that one aspect alone, LOL.

Which brings me to my second irreconcilable issue: the ideology behind grid connected solar. Does it really meet the need? We're told the need is two-fold, to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and to save the planet. In it's current form however, renewable energy seems very dubious. The same wasteful fossil fuel system designed for profit, has been given a new logo called Green Energy, thanks to renewable energy input. Some might suppose, what then is a better system?

I will never claim to be a genius or a scholar, but as a gardener, I've observed the best solar around! Have you noticed all the pictures of flowers in this post? They've been directly powered by the sun too.


Day Lilly

Above is a Day Lilly. A very beautiful flower - but only opens for one day and then dies. The power of the sun makes it bloom, but it also kills it. Maybe there's a lesson to be had in that too? Everything lives and dies under the sun for a purpose. We may have more opportunities than a Day Lilly, but I wonder how many of us appreciate the wonders that come down from the sky, has more value than a dollar sign?

I've been observing my Day Lillies opening and closing for the past week, each one unique and beautiful. No-one paid me for that privilege either. Maybe I'm onto something? ;)


PS: I know there will be some people reading who have grid connected solar. Bear in mind, this post is not a reflection on your individual choices but rather my coming to terms with understanding the process. I keep looking for that golden nugget of truth, but all I see is a lot money used towards generating the same old problem. For anyone who has grid connected solar, does it feel weird sending solar power to the grid only to get mostly coal power back again?

Has anyone chosen not to make the savings on their electricity bills, to use their grid connected solar more efficiently (ie: use it during the day when the sun is available?)

Also, before all the jokes start about powering my house with flowers (that thought even amuses me, LOL) it's really a metaphorical example of how far we've moved away from the natural solutions we supposed.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sweet taste of patience

I've been absent for a little while, observing the necessities of life. I view my relationships with people with just as much importance as my relationship with the land. Each need a contribution of time, personal investment and yes, even the moments of harvesting a fruit or two.

So it's with great joy, I get to mix the two in what news I'm about to share next. Do you remember our beloved Bluey, the pineapple? Bluey has been in the ground for two growing seasons now (so about 2 years) and his baby appeared not long after the floods passed through.



Starting to flower early 2011

It was so exciting to see something develop after such a long time of waiting. Bluey started from a simple pineapple top we stuck into some potting mix, then transplanted into the garden once enough roots had developed. Then came the long waiting game. Thankfully pineapples are happy to be left alone without too much fuss. A bit of water and a bit of mulch (lots of sunshine) is all Bluey needed to produce this...



Harvested late 2011

Goodness, what a lovely looking pineapple after two years investment. Was it worth it? Absolutely! In fact, another one of our pineapple plants decided to fruit when it came time to harvest old Bluey. We also have another dozen or so coming along (some in the ground and some in pots) but it will take another growing season or two until we see baby fruit appearing again. We have the time to wait though, because that's the nature of sweet patience.

Oh, and wasn't Bluey sweet!



Mmm...

I swear, food you pick from your own garden tastes like it's living. You can feel the sun's rays still being processed in the fibre of sweet pineapple flesh, as it goes down your throat and tickles. Your eyes light-up as if everything suddenly gets switched on! Bluey my friend, you were so worth the wait.



Goodbye old friend

We did cut you up and and eat you with a sense of - how can I put it - remorse, that you would no more be in our garden to visit on our little walks. No more waiting for you Bluey. But then you gave us something else to cherish...



Hello afternoon tea!

The joy of having tasted how sweet patience can be. The experience of having a tiny piece of the sun's rays in our belly's to savour for one warm afternoon meal. Two years of memories and we have now sown the seed of knowledge to our little girl as well. The fun of propagating and visiting the garden to see what delicious surprises are in store. The real taste of soft pineapple cores, not the stringy tough ones from commercially grown fruit.

Bluey was so impressive in flavour in fact, that our daughter haggled me for every piece of pineapple flesh there was. I've never seen her that enthusiastic to eat pineapple before. If she had been a raptor - one of her favourite dinosaurs - then she would have stripped the carcass clean.

And all we had to do Bluey, was stick you in the ground to grow. Until next time we see you in the garden again, when your new pineapple top beckons us to visit and to wait one more time. We will wait again for you Bluey II. We will play the sweet taste of patience game.