fruit

I’m ready for cantaloupe — is it ready for me?

With a high of 99 degrees yesterday, summer’s sting is lingering.  But that’s good news in my vegetable garden, where I am eagerly awaiting my first cantaloupe.  Its smooth, green, immature surface has been steadily changing, forming a lacy, beige skin that tells me it’s almost time to eat.

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This one still has a long way to go.

As it begins to evolve, you’ll know it’s getting closer.

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If you have a sunny spot and some room for vines to meander, you can grow cantaloupe.  They like well-drained soil; my veggies grow in raised beds, so that makes it easier.

Their growing season is about 12 weeks.  In Central Texas, we can plant them in late March-April and harvest them from mid summer to fall.  Cantaloupes are rich in vitamin A, vitamin C and potassium, and are low in calories.

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There are several ways to tell if your cantaloupe is ready.  First, make sure it’s covered with that raised, lacy netting-like skin.  Then, it should come off of the vine easily with a gentle twist.  If you have to work at it, you’ve jumped the gun!  And finally, sniff the end where you removed it from the vine — it should yield that sweet, heavenly, cantaloupe scent.  The one above still isn’t ready, the skin between the lacy part needs to turn a beige-ish color, too.  Don’t worry, if you do get too excited an pick one too soon, you can let it ripen a few more days in the refrigerator before you dig into it.

I’m hoping for a big bowl of cantaloupe with my breakfast this weekend!

Fruit trees in the garden bearing fruit after recent rains…

A tour through the garden this week, after several significant recent rains, has me smiling.  Several of our trees are bearing fruit, thanks to a change of seasons and the end the our drought status.

The Texas ever-bearing fig tree we planted this spring is perking up after the summer and producing a second crop of fruit.  I can’t wait to taste them, as those from the spring were stressed by the transplant and heat.

It’s a lovely little tree, but I have had to put up a fence to keep Dakota, the fruit-vegetable-bulb-grub-eating dog away from it.

The pineapple guava is getting to be quite large for its spot and when it’s done fruiting, I will do some more pruning on it.  I’d like it to be a little less multi-trunked so we can see the structural nature of the tree.

Dakota had eaten some of the guavas, but there are going to be enough for us as I’m keeping a closer eye on her!

The pomegranate tree is absolutely full of fruit.  The birds and squirrels often get into these, and I usually leave some on the tree to split open and give them a treat.  I’m going to try some different ways for us to enjoy the arils this year.  They’re so good for you — their health benefits include helping to fight heart disease, blood pressure, high cholesterol. They have also been shown to help inhibit breast, prostate and colon cancer. We have many more than we could possibly eat, so I’ll be sharing.  If you’re in Austin, let me know if you’d like to come get some — they’re not quite ready yet, but it won’t be long now.  Just post a comment if you’re interested in coming to get some.
There is no fruit on the loquat, but it’s blooming all over, so that’s a promising sign for future production.  Except that this fruit tree sits next to the Pom, so the squirrels usually have a field day with the loquats because they are much less work to eat.  I’ll have to be the early bird to get this fruit.
What’s fruiting in your garden?

Fantastic finger limes pack a punch with flavor-bursting pearls


I picked up a fascinating fruit at the grocery store this week — finger limes.  They are just a little longer than an inch and are less than half an inch wide.  Being a gardener and a foodie – I had to have them.

I have a sliver of fresh lime in my hot tea in the morning and thought these would be great for that.

Reading the label, I was curious.  “Delicious pearls bursting with lemon/lime flavor.  Use on fish, in cocktails, ice cream baked goods and guacamole.  Slice for rings, squeeze for pearls.”

What?

So I took my trusty paring knife and sliced.  And then I squeezed.  It was the strangest sight.  The segments, or vesicles, aren’t triangular in shape, like most citrus, but rather round pearls that burst forth from the fruit.  They literally POP in your mouth, much like caviar.  The fruit is firm, and not very juicy and its flavor is tart and slightly more bitter than most other limes.

The finger lime tree is native to Australia, and grows in the rainforest as an understory tree.  The skin can be green, yellow, red or purple. 

Needless to say, there’s a tree on its way to my house as I write this. 

I know, I know, we don’t live in a rainforest!  But a girl can dream, can’t she?