Quandong (Santalum acuminatum) trees are widely dispersed throughout the arid inland and coastal regions of southern Australia including Western Australia, South Australia, Northern Territory, Victoria and New South Wales, with remnant communities in remote areas. A relative of the sandalwood, the quandong grows to a shrubby tree between four and five metres tall. It has long, narrow olive-coloured leaves which taper to a point and its golf-ball sized fruit turns from a greeny-yellow to a bright crimson when ripe.
Broad beans have been cultivated since prehistoric times in Europe. They were unearthed in the ancient city of Troy, found in Egyptian tombs as well as with Bronze Age artefacts in Switzerland, so their exact origin is difficult to determine. It is recorded that Romans used them as voting tokens and they reached China by the first century CE.
Sweet and juicy, dried and ground, grilled, boiled or popped, it’s easy to understand why corn is a favourite all-round staple. Fresh, frozen, ground into flour or made into porridge, polenta and tortillas. Hugely versatile, you can snack on corn raw, feed it to livestock, turn it into syrup, even convert it into ethanol. Originating in Mexico and spreading rapidly through the Americas, the humble grain has established itself as an essential in gardens and kitchens all around the world.
Australia is home to more than 150 native species of fruit fly, but only a few of them pose a threat in the garden. There are two main types of fruit fly. The Drosophilidae family, often called the vinegar fly which is the one you see around compost bins and fruit bowls. It’s tiny, between two and four millimetres in length, and can range in colour from pale yellow through to black. The other is from the Tephritidae family which includes the two main flies affecting Australia’s backyard gardeners and commercial growers. There’s the Queensland fruit fly (Bactrocera tryoni), which is found on the east coast of Australia and, although it can’t fly too far, spreads easily by jumping from backyard to backyard. It’s hugely adaptable to its environment, so as climates change and backyards become more productive, this insect is becoming increasingly invasive and can’t be ignored. It’s larger than the vinegar fly, around seven millimetres in length, it’s reddish-brown in colour and easily identifiable by its distinct yellow markings.
Becoming an urban forager means tapping into a resource of free and abundant food. But whether it’s foraging edible weeds, redistributing excess produce or even diving into a dumpster, there’s far more you can gain than just a free meal. The savvy urban forager can dine out on gourmet cheese, berries, herbal teas and locally grown olives without ever stepping foot into a shop. But the philosophy goes further than just eating for free. You’ll reconnect with nature, save food going to landfill, learn plant names growing in your yard, parks and bikeways and connect with your neighbours.
The books and films inspiring you to make a difference 470 BY LINDA WOODROW (MELLIODORA PUBLISHING 2020) Review by Robyn Rosenfeldt A novel set in the 2030s in a future where the effects of climate change and global warming…