In season

March 1

In now: Pears ripened on the tree they can develop little gritty bits, called stone cells, just beneath the skin. So they are picked mature but green, chilled and sold for ripening at room temperature. Enjoy them as soon as they give to gentle pressure as they ripen from the inside out. Only Williams changes colour as it ripens.

At their best: The fine hairs on prickly pears, called glochids, stick out like hairy moles from pores on the skin. They can get stuck in your hands, even through a plastic bag. Use tongs to select fruit and scrub with a brush under running water before eating.

Best buy: Cauliflowers grown in Bathurst are the buy of the week. Choose a big creamy head and perfect that cauliflower rice recipe.

In the vegie patch: Pick pumpkins to eat now; those intended for winter roasts should be left until the vine withers to promote better storage capability.

What else:

  • what a great array of tomatoes to feast on!
  • and basil is growing like a weed
  • if you managed to grow tarragon this season, make a date to turn some of it into vinegar. Submerge organically grown sprigs  in a reasonably good white wine vinegar and let it sit for a few months.
  • the apples are getting tastier, with jonathons boosting the bland introduction to the season offered by royal gala

2 thoughts on “March 1

  1. I’ve just read your SMH Spectrum article on Justicia carnea and its relatives. I have several in the garden all from the one cutting I was given by an elderly neighbour 20 years ago. She said they were picked up by Lady Macquarie as she sailed to Sydney, presumably stopping in South Africa on the way (I haven’t looked up Lady Macquarie’s route to Oz). Do you know if this is true?

    The flower does last well and the whole plant looks lovely in the garden. Thanks for the article.

    • Robin Powell says:

      I love your neighbour’s tale Diana but it looks like we can’t thank Mrs Macquarie for this one. The Macquaries certainly stopped off in South Africa on their way to Sydney in 1810 and looked at the gardens – Elizabeth wrote in her diary that she thought the gardens not as good as when the Dutch had control of them! It seems unlikely that Justicia was there though. The plant is native to Eastern Brazil and was not sent to the Royal Society in London til 1827, when the Macquaries were back in England. It was grown in glasshouses in England, (and called a ‘very beautiful and desirable inmate of the stove’!) A few Sydney locals requested the plant from Kew through the 1840s, but it didn’t arrive in Sydney until 1849, and became available in catalogues in 1850, according to Hortus Camdenensis, which is the catalogue of plants grown by William Macarthur at Camden Park between 1820 and 1821.

      Aren’t we lucky we don’t need a glasshouse for it!

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