The sights and sounds of autumn are already in the air – and in our area that means heavy dews in the morning and the sounds of bird bangers and the occasional shotgun.
Mind you, these signs and the darker mornings are about the only difference between summer and autumn this year I reckon.
The chooks agree; they’ve decided to scale back production slightly, citing the cool season as their reason.
Fortunately, they’re still producing enough eggs for our baking needs, particularly as we have an abundance of peaches, and one of my favourite quick and easy desserts with pretty much any fruit is clafoutis. While my clafoutis recipe calls for cherries, which I understand is the usual fruit filling, the clafoutis batter, basically a simple egg, flour and milk (or in my case, soy milk) batter, seems to lend itself well to any fruit. I’ve cooked all kinds including cherry, pear, blackcurrant, redcurrant, New Zealand cranberry, apricot and, of course, peach clafoutis and always enjoyed the resulting flavours.
Many of the peaches have fallen from the tree with the winds we’ve had lately, so they’ve needed to be used or preserved quickly. In the past couple of weeks I’ve bottled peaches, frozen some, made peach jam and peach chutney, eaten fresh peaches, of course and given a fair few away. Peach cobbler is on the dessert menu for this weekend.
After that, I think I might be all peached out for a while, which is just as well as the tree is almost empty now.
The dogs haven’t shown much interest in peaches and I haven’t encouraged them to. They’ll eat anything I offer them – with eagerness if it smells like dog food and with curiosity if in their estimation it smells weird but they’ve seen me eating it and then I offer them some. They’re great fans of peas, green beans, apples and strawberries already. I don’t really want them eating peaches though, because so many fall on the ground and I’m not sure that a dog’s digestive system and peach stones would be the best of friends.
As I tell my dogs, they don’t have a great sense of self preservation at times and so if I encouraged them to eat peaches, they’d probably happily raid the orchard and scoff the windfalls, stones and all.
I have a peach tree in another area that hasn’t fruited this year. It succumbed very badly to peach leaf curl in spring, despite my vigilance in preventative spraying. After reading an article by Wally Richards, after leaf fall last autumn I sprayed with lime sulphur, then with potassium permanganate mid-winter.
In spring I sprayed regularly with liquid copper and at the first signs of curly leaf used Vaporguard on the leaves. Last year I used a cheap sprayer. I now have a decent one, which I use mostly for foliar feeding and I’m pleasantly surprised by how much better wetting and coverage it gives than my old sprayer.
I’m hopeful a substandard sprayer was part of my problem this spring.
I’ve also heard that regular foliar feeding helps because it boosts the tree’s health and immunity, meaning it’s less susceptible to disease, so fingers crossed for a better result from that tree next season or it will be coming out.
The chooks haven’t missed out on our windfall of peaches. Many peaches aren’t good keepers, so they’ve received the rotting windfalls and also the scraps from my various peach cooking endeavours.
They seem fairly happy with that. Mind you, while they never complain that they consistently get wheat and chook pellets every day I’m starting to detect an undercurrent of mutterings about variety in their diet. I think they’re over peaches for this season.
A peach ready to pluck always looks mouth-wateringly good.