If you have been paying attention over the past few years – I know most of you have but there are still some recalcitrants up the back – you will know about my fruit-growing issues.
I long ago gave up on the plums and the grapes and the blueberries. The birds strip the tree and the vines and the bushes on the very day they are ready. They have built-in brix meters (refractometers or hydrometers).
Somehow they don't seem interested in the blackberries – perhaps not red enough to attract attention – so I have had some success there.
We have a wild vine growing over the front fence and, as I drive in the gate, I can stop, lower the window and pluck a few choice berries to munch on during the drive up to the garage. And I don't even need to leave the car. It's the ultimate healthy drive-through.
The trick is to select only berries that pull away easily from the mother ship. This indicates they are ripe and ready and as sweet as blackberries get.
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If you experience resistance you know that the berry will be sour but – and this is where this system falls down – you have already picked it. Your best course of action now is to turn and check whether anyone is watching before throwing it away.
I have, in the past, chronicled my issues with melons and passionfruit. The passionfruit vine has somehow survived a couple of frosty winters but last year's crop was taken by Madam Dog who mistook the hanging orbs for balls to play with so tore them down and ... well ... played with them.
Same with the melons but the balls were bigger. And rounder.
This year, I have put wire netting in front of all the passionfruit so I think the crop is safe. I have just been out to check and I counted 24 handsome fruit the size of large eggs.
There is evidence of five rockmelons on the two vines so far. They are safe because of the elevated position I have given them for their home.
So, right at this moment, I'm feeling pretty proud of myself but I am also very aware of Murphy's Law and I look sadly at the huge bunches of grapes just about ready for the birds.
Yes, I have tried the netting that vineyards use but have never managed to get it secure, so birds always find a way in.
One of the things I'm hoping for – besides just successfully producing crops – is to harvest fruit only when it is ripe. I don't like buying fruit that is hard and inedible then leaving it in a bowl for a few days to "ripen".
My theory is that many fruits are not ripening in the bowl, they are rotting. Fussy I know but, in most cases, I want my ripening done on the plant (I'll make an exception for avocados, of course).
Speaking of which, our main avocado tree is so tall that, even with a step ladder, I can only harvest the bottom half. We'll need to train our monkey to collect the top ones. First we'll need to get a monkey.
I suppose I could buy a cherry picker but that would make the fruit absurdly expensive.
I'd like to close on a positive note so now it's time to tell you that the citrus trees – six orange, two lemon, two lime, one grapefruit – are doing fine.
With them I have squeezed some success so, if you're not green-fingered, I recommend planting a few citrus trees to add some zest to your life.
Wyn Drabble is a teacher of English, a writer, musician and public speaker.