Feijoa & apple crumble

Feijoa crumble

Feijoas make an ideal crumble base. A great way to use over-ripe or damaged fruit. You can have a pure feijoa base, or mix with apple, pear, rhubarb, etc. A little lime or lemon zest lifts the sweetness. We use a serrated grapefruit spoon to scoop the flesh out the halved feijoas.

First, preheat your oven to 180ºC.

Make your crumble first, to save the fruit from browning.

150g butter
¾ cup brown sugar or rapadura or coconut sugar (you can cut down if you like the top less sweet)
1 ½ cups oats
1 ½ cups flour, white or brown, your choice
Extra: ½ cup chopped nuts such as almond, brazil, or seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin, if desired
Spices, such as cinnamon or nutmeg if desired

I cheat by melting the butter over a low flame in a large a saucepan into which all the other topping ingredients will fit. Then I add the sugar and stir it to melt, then mix in the flour, oats and seeds/nuts, if being used. Put aside while you prep the fruit.

I usually butter my dish first. Scoop out the feijoa flesh into the dish. Add any other fruit as you please. Use as much fruit as you need to cover the base of your baking dish to at least an inch or so deep. No need to sprinkle with sugar nor add any liquid. A sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg is good, along with some lemon or lime zest stirred through.

When the oven is hot (not earlier or it will get soggy) spread the crumble topping over the fruit. I like to scrunch the mixture up in my hand first to make it kind of lumpy, before spreading it. It makes for a lovely crunchy crumble. Bake til golden and sizzling, around 40 minutes. Serve hot or cold with milk, yoghurt or cream.



Feijoa time!

We call the Feijoa the New Zealand Easter Egg. Scrabbling on the ground under our 20 odd trees (a mix of Apollo, Triumph and Mammoth) every day isn’t quite as fun as an Easter egg hunt when there are several buckets of fruit to collect every second day, but it does give a real sense of plenty! Our trees weren’t always so.

When we came to Okiwi in 2007, the trees were stunted and completely shaded out by a huge bamboo hedge that had been planted on the north side of the trees, so they got no sunshine whatsoever. They were infested with bronze beetles (which damage the flowers and embryonic fruit), so never bore so much as one fruit. Very stressed and unhappy trees.

The first thing we (ahem Gerald) did was to cut down the bamboo hedge with the blade of the weed-eater and mulch it all with our Hansa chipper. No mean feat as the hedge was 3-4 metres wide and about 30 metres long! Soon we had huge piles of bamboo chip everywhere, which became our first layer of mulch in the gardens around the eggplants and capsicums.

Then over the next three years, we had to correctively prune the poor trees, which were leaning over on their side to get to the light, to get them upright again. The bamboo needed about three more sessions with the weed-eater over a period of one year to kill it off. It has never grown back since. (This is the clumping bamboo Bambusa oldhamii, not the running type.)

The bronze beetles continued to be a problem. We did some research on their lifecycle, which told us that the beetles emerge from the soil in September and go back down when the weather gets hot and dry. Feijoas are gross feeders meaning they need lots of nitrogen, so we decided to put our free ranging hens under the trees from around September to late December. Hens peck bugs with amazing accuracy, and we figured they would gobble up most of the bugs as they emerged. And so they did. As well the hens loved the shade under the trees (they are, after all, originally forest dwellers) and spent many happy hours making great dust baths.

We finally started to get fruit from the trees, and every year we have had bigger and bigger harvests. The trees have grown huge with all that chook manure, but now we have another problem: kakas!

We have had to net the trees the last four years after the kakas finally discovered the fruit. It took them a while, but once discovered they never forgot! Kaka can very quickly destroy the entire crop as they work through the trees, biting and knocking down the unripe fruit, damaged and unsaleable. We resorted to netting the trees with white bird netting, which was very effective but as the trees grew, the nets didn’t come all the way down under the trees and the crafty parrots would make their way under the net and continue to wreak havoc. Eventually we had to sow two lengths of 5m wide net in order to get the trees completely covered. It took five people this year to get the nets over the trees!

Feijoa trees covered with double nets against kakas

You can find our feijoas at Stonewall Store and we shall also have them at the market this Saturday.

Want to grow feijoas in your garden?
Usually you need two varieties for cross-pollination. You can order trees from us now! Check our fruit tree catalogue.

Love feijoas and crumbles? Try our feijoa crumble secret recipe ;)

Newsly Weekletter #1

Hello and welcome to Stage One of our brand new website, which has been a labour of love for the last few weeks.

Many thanks to our lovely wwoofer, Marta, a veritable IT expert, who made it all possible! This is only the second website she has developed and we think she has done a fab job. She leaves next week so Gerald and I are about to have a crash course in website work. Getting out of your comfort zone is meant to keep you young, but give me a garden to plant any day!

We are hoping that the website will be a platform for letting our fellow islanders and holiday makers now back home, know what is going on on the farm, and for informing you about the wide range of products and services we offer. We’re thinking about integrating an online store in Stage Two, which we hope will take a lot of admin tasks out of our hands. We would like this off the ground by spring, touch wood! We’ll announce its launch here and on our new Facebook page: facebook.com/okiwipassion.

News from the Farm…
As many of you will know, Gerald has recently had a bit of a rough run with his health and spent several weeks in and out of hospital. The good news is that his transplanted kidney seems oblivious to all this and is functioning perfectly. Caity had her hands full keeping things ticking along while all this was happening, with the result we are behind with many garden tasks. We’re crossing fingers that this rough patch is over and things will return a bit more to normal.

Summer was the usual mad rush. We had our biggest season ever with a record 74 boxes the week after Christmas. An amazing season of heat and lots of rain, which saw us harvest the largest crop of tomatoes ever, amazing eggplants, extraordinary rock melons. Plums, peaches and nectarines sulked as brown rot claimed the ripening fruit, and even the beans were unhappy. The kikuyu, however, joyfully sent out its long arms and raced over bare soil in the blink of an eye. The upside of the weed and grass growth is that Gerald has been able to make three large compost heaps since January.

Making compost

Early February saw Country Calendar come to Okiwi Passion for an intense 5 days of filming. It will be screening on June 25. Please watch!

The summer wine continued to gently flow from the gardens until a few weeks ago. Now the feijoas are steadily plopping off the trees, and we are slowly digging out the kumara crop, a job that takes careful work with the fork to avoid spiking and damaging the tubers, which are looking pretty good.

Gerald always likes to look at things from another angle and decided last November that we would plant the kumara tupu differently. Instead of mounding the soil and planting the tupu on the hills, he used the mould plough with the tractor to create narrow trenches and gently lift the soil, putting a shallow layer of compost in the trench and then planting the tupu at our usual 30 cm spacing. His reasoning was that we might get a lot less rat damage –usually as the tubers swell in the soil, they start to become exposed along the soil mounds and are more easily discovered by rats. He was right, we have record low levels of rat damage.

There have also been lots of tedious jobs like lifting irrigation, removing clips from the spent tomato and cucumber plants, etc. Until recently it has been too hot to start planting out winter brassicas and way too many white butterflies around for our liking! We’re now starting to direct sow beetroot into the ex-garlic and melon beds, more about this in another post.

Seedlings available now
We have a fair range of winter seedlings available which we will continue to grow til mid-May: various cabbages, caulis, broccoli, lettuce, leeks, rocket, escarole, chicory, beetroot, and mesclun punnets; curly and flat leaf parsley to add to your winter soups and stews. You can find these at our stand at the Saturday market at the Stonewall Village in Tryphena.

That’s all for now. Please do let us know what you think of the website and do visit (and like!) Okiwi Passion Facebook page. It would be much appreciated.

Enjoy the slowness of the season!

Best regards,
Gerald, Caity and the wwoof, wwoof, wwoofers, Pip and Speckles.