Sunday, May 14, 2017

Pulling my potatoes and chufa varieties

It was a lovely day today so I went out and pulled up the last of my TPS diploid potatoes and chufa varieties. We have a had a few frosts now so things are dying down and ready to harvest. The oca won't be long.

The great thing about growing potatoes from true seed is that when you have seed from a range of coloured varieties you never know what you are going to get and just about every plant has different tubers.

I was disappointed to find that I only ended up with one that had red coloured flesh and three that had coloured rings or splashes through the flesh, but what I did dig had a range of white, cream and yellow flesh. They also had a range of tuber sizes and shapes though those in this pic are all small because the plants are the latest and smallest.
 I grabbed some of the small tubers and boiled them to eat while I worked at the computer. Although I like the yellow fleshed waxy ones my taste buds are not sensitive enough to find much of a difference in taste. They were good anyway.

I told you that the rabbits kept eating my peanut plants so I thought I would not get any nuts off them, well, I pulled up a couple of plants and found that I will get enough nuts to plant again next year.

Just in - my young niece is visiting and watching me type this. She asked me to tell you this joke:

What do you call a peanut?
A nut

Well, she will understand a bit more about jokes when she gets older, lol.

I pulled up my 4 varieties of chufa today. I put a few on plates to show you what they look like.

Starting from the left:
*Spanish (productive)
*Black Tiger (the biggest)
*My usual un-named one (the most round)
*Jumbo (didn't live up to its name but it could have been the conditions so I will see next year)

As far as taste is concerned, Spanish was the sweetest, Jumbo the best tasting with a good almond flavour, and the other two were fine but milder.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Selecting Pusa Asita carrot

I am so looking forward to the winter break. The mornings are getting too cold now to be out when the sun rises so I an enjoying sitting at home a bit longer and just working mostly in the afternoon.

I started to harvest the chufa and found that mice have been living among the roots and eating them. I have only been able to gather half of what I expected.
 I was so worried about rabbits that I didn't even consider the mouse problem.

At least the longer than usual season means that the tubers are also bigger. I have enough to sell and some left over to eat, yam.

Today I dug up one small bed of 'Pusa Asita' carrot to choose the best roots to replant for seed.

If you have been following my journey with this carrot you will know that at first I had so much trouble germinating it that I crossed it with 'Cosmic Purple' just to get the germination percentage up.

The germination is a lot better now but I have spent the last couple of seasons selecting back to dark purple/black to the core. Cosmic purple has a yellow core.

The colour seems to be getting a lot better. I dug up 75 carrots and only had to bin three for yellow or white cores and five for having a thin yellow ring around the core.
Hopefully I won't have any light cores at all next season.

 I am also selecting for purple foliage and pink flowers.

Too bad the dark purple flesh stains everything from your hands to the benchtop. At least the dark purple pigment is full of nutritional flavonoids. At least the flavour is good and it doesn't loose its colour too easily when cooking.

 The worst thing about this variety is that it is so damn sensitive to soil conditions. It is usually a fine shape till it matures and then if the soil conditions are not exactly right the roots get so ugly it is hard to even look at them.
Some of these roots got eaten tonight, they are still tender even like this.

I understand it is an environmental problem but I don't want to have to worry about fixing the soil especially for them so I am selecting away from this trait. I want them to do well in any soil.
Only the best coloured single roots go back in the ground. Out of this lot I have selected 36 to replant.

I have another bed that is younger so I won't be digging them till well into winter.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Slowing down for winter

Sorry it has been a while, there is not much happening besides weeding and harvesting the last of the capsicums. Soon I will be digging my chufa but they are still a week or two off.
We had out first light frost this morning which is quite late but I am glad as my oca is only just tuberising now. It is also late which suggests to me that although day length is the main driver for oca tuberising, there is probably something else at play also.

 With a couple of nice days I decided to make new benches for my parents greenhouse. The old, metal benches were so rusted out that they were falling apart.

It is very easy to make benches, all you need is a few treated pine posts, some other timber to hold up the tops and an electric driver and screws. Getting enough boards to make the tops was the hardest thing and I think I might have to buy some to finish off one of the benches.

They don't take long to do so I thought I had better do them now before winter makes it too cold and wet and I will rather stay indoors, lol.

These benches are 7 metres long and one metre wide and after I finish the last of the three I think I will have racked up a bit of good will. My mother is already pleased and has already loaded one of them up with young cyclamens in pots.
I will make another bench underneath to hold empty pots when I get the materials later.

I am really looking forward to going on my annual trip up north to chat with my seed buyers next month. That trip is basically the cut off between work and my three months off.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Mini capsicums and yacon

Since the rains have come early this year and the frosts are late everything is growing superbly, including the weeds unfortunately. I put some carrots in a bit late but I think that they are still going to be ok.
Until the root crops are dug up to select the best roots for seed, and the tuberous crops are dug up for harvesting late May or early June there really isn't much to blog about. I am sure you don't want me to put up pictures and complaints about weeds for the next month, lol  I think my blogging is going to be a bit more erratic from now until spring.

I took more notice of the mini capsicums this year as I grew more than usual. It is weird how different each colour/variety is.
The red ones are very delicate and break easily both when harvesting and with the wind. It is so easy to break of branches and most of the plants have blown over now. At least they are still bearing strongly.
The chocolate ones did not germinate or grow well this year. They need more fertilising that the others which I didn't do so the fruit is small.
The orange ones bear like crazy and have strong plants but the fruits hold on strongly and it is easy to break branches as you pull them off. And the orange ones have fruit that face upwards so they look great when the bushes are bearing.

 My yacon plants are growing strongly, though they are small as I transplanted them late. They were getting overrun with weeds so I had to dig up the young plants and replant them in clean beds.

 I can't wait till they are ready to harvest as I like eating them, though I usually have way too many tubers and a lot goes to waste.
Yacon is so easy to grow that I am surprised that more people don't know about it. I have noticed that many people in the permaculture community not grow it now though.

The sparrows finally found the sorghum. Luckily it is the end of the crop and I only had a few poor heads on the remaining plants. I will have to cover the two types I plan to grow next year (popping and sugar) as sparrows are quick to learn when food plants are growing each season.

I count myself lucky that the grain was not targeted by birds sooner.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Not much news, just random pics

Apart from picking the last of the capsicums over the next couple of weeks, and shortly the chufa, things are slowing down and there isn't much news. We had a heap of rain yesterday which helped moisten the beds so I won't have to irrigate for a week or so and the temperatures are going down. Everything is getting ready for winter.

The last couple of trays of brassicas will be going out next week and then I will be mostly resting apart from some weeding till the tuberous veggies are dug in June.

 Some posts ago I reported on some seed grown dahlias that I was pretty taken with. They are so lovely and this one is my favourite of the lot. It really stands out and looks so sunny. It makes me smile every time I look at it.

I think dahlias will be a regular crop from now on as they are so pretty. I am not sure yet whether to just collect seeds from them, or offer tubers as well in the future.

I said last post that I was going to wait a couple more weeks before pulling some of my new diploid potatoes. Well.. I got impatient. There were half a dozen plants that were pretty much died down so I pulled them up today.

I was really pleased with the production of them, especially as they are seed grown. They should do even better next season with bigger tubers - though they probably don't have much of a dormancy period so I will have to put them out soon and see how they do through the winter.
This plant has small tubers but two of them had quite large ones and I am thinking that one of them is a tetraploid, only because of the tuber size, I will take more notice when they are growing again.

The spring was so long and cold that I couldn't plant any seed from larger gourds but I did sow some mini bottle and mini dipper gourds and they are just mature now as the plants die down.

As many of you know, I love growing gourds and I hope I can get some big ones in next spring. They are fun to grow and you can make so many things out of them. I love these mini bottles as Christmas tree decorations when painted or carved.
I will leave them on the fence until they are nearly dry before picking as they seem to dry down better that way.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Diploid potatoes, and autumn food plants dying down

We are in the middle of a last run of warm weather it seems with a few days of 25-28 degrees. After tomorrow it should cool down and become more autumn-like.

 Some of my diploid potato plants are starting to die down now. Here are a few of the tubers.

These are traditional potatoes from South America. They don't tend to grow large tubers like common potatoes but have much more diversity in shape, colours and flavour.

In a couple of weeks I should be able to harvest a few plants but I am keeping some in the ground until their seed pods ripen.

My oca plants are starting to tuberise now. I will have to look at my records but it seems to me that they are a bit late this year. I hope the frosts hold off a bit but I expect the first frosts within the next couple of weeks.

Luckily the tubers keep growing while the plants die down from the cold so I will still get tubers but they might not be large this year.

My water chestnuts are also dying down now so I will start harvesting them in a couple of weeks.

I left far too many tubers in the tubs to regrow so they are too crowded. The tubers will probably be small.

Next year I will pull everything out and start again.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Green Bosnian melon and oca flowers

After spending a couple of months trying to find someone to come into the business as an equal partner I am about to give up. I haven't had any interest even from tyre kickers so I think there is just not the interest around to get into farming, even though I am offering this partnership for someone even with no money or land. People say "what a great opportunity" but are not willing to move here to a small town. Obviously they don't want it bad enough.
The business has so much room to grow with orders I can't fill and land I can't expand into because I just can't physically do it by myself. Oh well, I will just have to plod on.

 I am so happy that I found a few old seeds of this melon 'Green Bosnian' in the back of the cupboard. I thought I had lost it and was kicking myself, but now I have seeds from a couple of fruits from the one plant that managed to germinate.
This is the best flavoured melon I have ever tasted and since there doesn't seem to be anyone else in the world with seeds any more you can imagine how relieved I am.
The colour of the flesh of these fruits isn't as deep as it should be but that is probably just the genetics of the surviving plant. I may not be able to get the flesh colour back but at least I have the taste.

The one good thing about nearly losing this variety is that my efforts of the the last few years in trying to breed it back has resulted in some pretty amazing new varieties in the works. They are still a few years off though as it takes time to stabilise them.

A few of my oca plants have started to flower, pity it is too late though. I thought I wasn't going to get any flowers this year.
The frost will kill them off before I get any seed which is a bugger as I really wanted seed this year but I will have to wait.

I have managed to get a couple of more heat tolerant oca plants this year with no stem rot either in mulch or bare ground so it is a start in my selection program. I hope that I will get a couple more every year and then I can release them to the public.

Today I got a call from the ABC Radio rural reporter who wants to do an interview with me after Easter and take some pictures for the website. Wow, my communication skill may not be good but she assured me that it will be ok. That should be fun.