Monday, September 15, 2014

Garlic problems and diseases

Over the past week I have been worried about one of my beds of garlic in J block. It has been getting sicker each day.

This photo doesn't look as bad as the plants look in the 'flesh' as it were. There is still two months before these will be ready to pull but the plants leaves are going yellow and blotched.

It is not rust and although garlic is prone to virus diseases the other bed of this variety (Monaro Purple) in another block is fine, and so are the other varieties in the next bed over.

 There are surprisingly few good garlic disease pictures on the internet besides rust and thrip damage, and this doesn't really look like any I have looked at so far.

The young leaves are still looking good but if it keeps going the way it is I may lose the whole bed.

I would have thought the growing conditions here are perfect at the moment and all the other garlic beds are fine so this has me stumped.

 I have noticed a few garlic plants in this block that are deformed and stunted. This is affecting both a few Monaro Purple and a couple of elephant garlic.

I haven't seen this before and surrounding plants are not affected so it is unlikely to be mites or thrips. I am not going to pull them up as I am curious to see how it affects the bulbs.

In one of my beds just about all the plants are multi stemmed even though I only put single cloves in. This is affecting both the hardneck and softneck varieties that I have in that bed.

I have never had such problems with my garlic, it is always so easy to grow. The only problem I usually get is where the cloves start shooting early and popping out through the top of the foliage which is probably caused by fluctuating spring temperatures.

Oh well, if I am going to plant a large crop of it next season I am going to have to recognise diseases so I am taking this as a good lesson in diseases.

Other than checking my garlic I have been busy sowing seeds in trays, especially tomatoes, and potting up a few tubers to offer at markets.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Todays update

Apart from a little potting I haven't been up to much these last few days. Trees are popping out in flower and leaf all over the place and things are warming up. We have had a couple of light frosts but nothing as bad as usual for this time of year though.
My lotus root came yesterday and I have it sitting in a bucket of water inside till I am more confident that we won't have more frosts. I am excited to grow lotus as I love cooking the tubers and I can't buy any unless I go to Melbourne. It just isn't offered in supermarkets around here.

Today I went to the Portland market. I don't have anything to sell in veg so I am trialling a few other novelties and things to go to markets with at this time of year. Nothing is selling well but maybe I am just used to selling out when I take veg. I just have to hit on something that sells well and no-one else is offering. That is the hard part.
I have another little market at Coleraine tomorrow so maybe that will be better. I think I will put more plants in pots and sell them instead when the veg is low.

I have a heap if seedlings germinating so in a couple of weeks I will be able to plant them in their waiting beds. Tomorrow I will start sowing my tomato seed, already people are asking me for heritage seedlings so I need to get off my butt. I didn't save many tomato seeds last year since it was such a bad year for them but I will have to save more this season as more and more people are asking for them.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Oca and arrachacha

We can be certain is is spring now, just listen to the wind whistling outside. This is the windiest part of the year here and it makes it hard to want to go outside to work... or at least it makes it a lot easier to find excuses to sit inside anyway.

 My arrachacha is starting to take off in the polyhouse. It is loving the warmth and I just hope that the extra heat in summer in there doesn't hurt it.

I am hoping that I will be able to force it to flower and set seed so I can experiment with growing conditions without worrying about killing them all. I only have the 5 plants in this raised bed.

Arrachacha (also called Peruvian parsnip) is one of the 'Lost crops of the Inca' and is supposed to produce nutritious roots but I have not been able to make it produce those roots so far.

I am hoping that moving them to a warmer place will help with root formation. It is in the same family as carrots so it should not be too hard to grow. Not only are the roots edible but you can also eat the young leaf stems raw or cooked.

This morning I planted out my seedling grown oca tubers. I really hope they grow well this season and one of them deserves to be a new variety. I have ordered another couple of packets of seed so I will grow some more this season. If I grow enough I should come up with some interesting ones eventually.
I have put in a couple more beds of oca than I planned on since I have had a lot of interest at the markets. If they grow better than the poor lot last year I should have enough to sell for months next year.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Bamboo and baths

Listening to the wind outside, I am so grateful for a warm and comfortable home. After living homeless (by choice) for many years in my past I can never take some of the comforts we have for granted. I spent some time today doing a bit of orchid spotting in the bush today and driving home I had to dodge a lot of tree branches on the road.
I am waiting for some promised rain to wet my seedling beds but a quick look at the forecast on the computer just now shows that they have downgraded the amount to only 6ml. With this warm weather continuing I think I am going to have to start my watering regime within the next week as I have some beds seeded but they are drying quickly.

 This is how part of the back block is looking at the moment. A lot of the beds are waiting for some seed but although the weather is warm I am still worried about planting so soon. I have given in though and sowed a couple of beds of carrots and beets, and I have some pots in the shadehouse with seeds sprouting that I will be able to plant soon.

This is a picture of my poor Black Asper bamboo. It is the only big, clumping bamboo with edible shoots and good culms for building and making stuff that will grow in my winter conditions.

Although it looks poor just coming out of winter I am expecting to see new shoots soon and it should start growing well this year.
The biggest stems are 6ft tall from last year and they should grow a lot taller this year. They are slow to get going, which is why they are so expensive in nurseries.

I have two other plants, one that is only just surviving on J block and one in a pot in the polyhouse as a back-up. I am hoping that after two more years this one will not only be big enough to supply shoots and wood but I will be able to take growing materiel from it to sell.

I chose this species not only because it should grow here and not spread, but because of the quality of the wood and shoots. After a lot of investigation I found that the edible qualities of many bamboos are very variable, and so is the wood quality. This was the only one that has non-splitting wood and shoots that are edible without much preparation. A good all-rounder if you have the space, but I don't expect that it will grow to the size that it does in warmer winters, which is about 30 metres.

I plugged and filled up two of the baths I was given yesterday but I went out this morning to find that one is leaking. I will have to shovel all the dirt out of it tomorrow and redo the silicon around the hole. I will try to get a pic of the filled baths tomorrow.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

More super springness

Another scarily sunny day today. At least if we are going to get an horrific summer this year, at least we will have a comfortable and enjoyable spring.

I went to Merino today to sell some veg outside the shop. It was very pleasant sitting there doing crosswords but, unfortunately, there weren't many people about. I sold a bit, enough to pay for the fuel and a bit extra but not everything. At least I don't have to pay out for a stall or anything when I go there.

I'm not sure if you can notice in this picture but my tamarillos are starting to produce flower buds already. I hope I get a good crop off them this year. They were still too young last year.
I have them all growing under trees to protect them from frosts and they have all survived the winter. They have a lot of burnt leaves but are budding out all over with new leaves.

I love tamarillos, they taste like passionfruit to me.

My few surviving raspberries are shooting out also. I lost nearly all of them last summer but this year I have transplanted them to better soil and where I will be able to cover them from the hot sun if necessary.

My favourite are the yellow raspberries. The taste is divine.
I must remember to take some cuttings off them tomorrow.

Here are some of the trays of seedlings I am growing for the landscape nursery where I am selling my plants at the moment. They are loving the sun and warm weather and are popping up very quickly.

I have also bought some expensive seeds from Baker Creek called turnip cabbage or  Naone Rosse. It is a cabbage grown for its big turnip-like root and is a very rare heirloom from Italy. I am looking forward to seeing them mature. There was only 20 seeds in the packet so I will only eat one of them and leave the rest to collect seed from. They are reputed to taste sweet and broccoli-like.

Here is a (borrowed, lol) picture of them from Baker Creek:
Naone Rosse Trentino Antica

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Another nice, sunny day today, perfect weeding weather. Weeding is a bit unstimulating as a blog subject so I won't go on about it though.

Today a friend of mine dropped off 4 bathtubs into my carport while I was down the street.
After a bit of wheelbarrow work I got them over to the back block where I will fill them with dirt and water for my lotus and water chestnuts.

How lucky am I? free bathtubs. They will fit a lot more plants in them than the plastic tubs I was planning to use.

All I have to do now is make something to fill the holes where the plugs go and blob a bit of solastic about to make them watertight and they will be ready to go.

My very expensive lotus tuber is going to be posted on monday so I should have it by thursday, by which time I will have the tubs ready to go. Although I had a very pitiful harvest of water chestnuts last season I still have enough for the tubs, especially as they expand quite well to fit the available area.

A few days ago I filled some seed trays with dirt and sowed  a variety of vegetables in them as the landscaping place wants trays of seedlings so they can sell handfuls of them.
They are germinating today and with this weather, will be ready to send when I get to the next Hamilton market. I am starting with lettuce mix, celtuce, purple peacock broccoli, red russian kale and vivd choi to start with, just to see how they go.
Later in the month I will start putting in some melons and pumpkins in tubes for them. I have already filled a heap of pots of other plants. It looks like they will be a good buyer of what I have to sell.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Cocky damage and water chestnuts

Another beautiful day today so I got some more straw spread out, it seems like that job is taking forever. I am running out of places to put it, I have covered the beds that I need to and now I am just laying it over the spare grassy bit on J block that I have never got around to using. I will plant pumpkins in it next month.

 This morning I went out to find that cockies had been trimming my small fruit trees. They are such a pain in the bum, especially when they are nipping the tops of my little, seedling figs and other smaller trees.

I started with fig seed a couple of years ago and planted them out in the fruit block last year. They are still very small but I expect them to grow well over the spring now that they are settled in.
I know that there is only a small chance of getting a fig tree that fruits from seed but it is fun trying.

After the dismal harvest of water chestnuts last year because they just got too hot over summer I am digging the tubs into the ground and have a shadecloth cover for them this year.

They grew well the year before so I know that they do well in tubs.

I have also bought a lotus tuber off Ebay (smacks own hand) which will go into one tub.

I love lotus root and if I can get them to grow well in a tub I will try next year to find someone with a dam to grow them in.
Last year I tried growing them from seed but they didn't take off. I will try again with a few more seeds but getting a tuber with a growing point will make it less of a risk if the seeds don't work again.

While I was on Ebay I also bought a Tzimbalo plant (Solanum caripense). It is the ancestor of the Pepino adn although the fruit might not be great I am going to try crossing it with pepino and see what I get. The tzimbalo fruit is small and edible but seedy, anyway it will be interesting to have something new.