Sunday, January 25, 2015

Zucchini again, and melons ripening

What a lovely cool day. After dire predictions of a scorching summer I have been very happy with the fairly mild summer we have been having so far. There is still a lot of summer to go but I am thankful for every day under 30 degrees that we get.

 You will recall that I was talking about all the different zucchini plants and fruit I am getting this year from an odd fruiting plant last year.
Here are just three different ones that I picked today. There are still many other shapes and colours on other plants.
I am going to have fun with these in the years to come.

A few melons are starting to ripen. This is a Madhu Ras (honey melon) from India. I was expecting more but although it looks nice with the green stripes it tastes just like a supermarket rockmelon.

With the very poor melon season, I am going to have very few fruits to show you this year. I will have to put all my melons under shadecloth next year as the few that are doing ok at the moment are those under shade.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fun with kohlrabi, and my plans for this year

By now all you know how much I like kohlrabi. I put in a bed of giant kohlrabi during the winter in the hope that it would bolt to seed in spring as I needed more seed quickly.

Well, it must have just been the time of year because most of the plants have been very reluctant to go to seed and instead have decided to just grow more stems from the original stem swellings.
Yesterday I had a closer look at the plants and found that many of them are growing baby kohlrabi stem tubers(?) on these new stems. it looks amazing and they might sell well as 'baby' kohlrabi.

I will be leaving them to grow a bit more to see what happens, or to sell them, who knows, I may leave them for seed, or leave some plants in one of the other beds to bolt to top off my seed stores.

My plans for this year

Up till now I have been very haphazzard with my projects, trying more than I can cope with and abandoning those projects I get tired of. This year I will try (note - TRY) to do only a few projects and do them properly.

I will be trialling more oca seedlings and keeping better records so I can select more carefully those I want to go on with. One of the reasons I have to stop being so lazy with my oca seedling growing is that a forum friend maybe sending me some see to trial for him, and I will be forced to keep better records.
I will be selecting hopefully one or two of last years seedlings to go on with - selecting for heat tolerance and size as well as production. Colour comes after those characteristics.

Although all zucchini tastes the same to me, I have a heap of plants from a weird one I grew last year that are producing fruit in all colours, shapes and sizes right now. Next spring I will plant a heap of seed from these and keep better records to select a couple of unusual and firm fleshed ones to go on with and hopefully stabilise within the next few years.

I am going to try and get some true seed from some coloured varieties to select for kinds with interesting internal colours, and those that will seed well here so I can grow more from my own seed the next season.

After this seasons really bad growing I will start again on my 'Saturn' project and trying to make a round purple 'Parisian' style carrot.

The Plants I grew from seed last year have shown some good variability adn I might try growing a heap more from seed to see what I can find.

The projects above will be what I am concentrating on and I will only start any new projects if I honestly have the time and space.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pigface and currant tomatoes

Everything is still looking fresh after the rain we had last week and little weeds are jumping out of the ground. Too bad for them the weather will turn hot and dry again and frizzle them to death.

Sorry, I don't have much to talk about today.

My current tomatoes (Solanum pimpinellifolium) are fruiting like crazy. These are tiny tomatoes but have the best flavour. I would love to sell them in punnets but they are such a hassle to pick because they are so small. Oh well, I munch on them while and watering and enjoy them very much.

These are a great kids fruit as they are sweet and keep kids entertained for a long time as they pick them.

The pigface fruits are finally ripening. These native fruits may not look like much but are delicious when the insides are squeezed into your mouth.

This groundcover plant is found on sand dunes at the beach and also in dry inland places. They are ripe when they turn red and soft. When they are warm from the sun they taste so sweet and delicious that I can't stop at one or two.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Eating rhubarb flowers

I am really loving this weather, it is mostly cool most days at the moment with the occasional hot day. It will really help get the corn flowers fertilised.

I have read in a couple of places that rhubarb flowers are edible so I thought I would test this out while I had nothing to do.
It is said that they have even less oxalic acid in them than the leaf stems.

They have to be picked while they are still tightly bunched. I nibbled on some raw and they were a bit sour and not too bad so I picked some and took them inside.

Apparently they are usually battered and deep fried but I don't like the oil wastage of deep frying so I shallow fried them instead. I just made a light, plain batter and coated the flowers, then shallow fried them till golden all over.

They were actually quite nice. They look like fried cauliflower and had an unusual, tangy taste that was pleasant. Unfortunately I think they should be deep fried because they soaked up a lot of the oil so were very oily but a good, hot oil would fix that.

Yes, I would recommend them to eat.

While I was picking the rhubarb flowers I came across a tree frog enjoying the shade of the leaves. These frogs pop up everywhere and I have to be careful not to hurt them especially when I am picking silverbeet.

My Blue Speckled Tepary Beans are ripening now. They are only a small bean, and they are even smaller when dried, but the plants are small too and produce well so it is not too much of a hassle to put a bed of them in. They are usually eaten as a dried bean.
I will have plenty of seed to sell this year.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Bambara beans and oca seedlings

Before I get on to the vegetable stuff I have to show my little niece a picture of the cake I made yesterday.

On the phone she announced to me that she had dubbed the day 'Lion Day' and since her mum had made her a lion cake I had to do the same, a chocolate lion cake.
Of course I took the lazy way out so instead of icing the whole cake I just drew an icing lion face on it but it was delicious.

I promised that I would take a picture of it so here it is.

I am having another go at growing bambara beans from Africa this year. Last year they were a disaster but I hope that I can at least get a few seeds off them this time.
The plants are still not much bigger than last year, around 15cm tall and even though I read that they do best in poor, infertile soil the ones I am growing in the better soil are doing better than the ones in nearly pure sand.
I was only able to procure a few seeds so I have only 8 plants but they are just starting to flower now (see the little yellow flowers at the base of the plant) so I hope that I will get plenty of pods. The pods grow like peanuts, after flowering the flower stems grow down into the soil where the pods develop.
These beans are reputed to be so nutritious that you can live on them so I hope I can get them growing well with some more practice.

 To make room in my little propagating shadehouse I have placed all my seedling oca pots out in a empty covered bed. I have dug in the pots to protect them from heat and drying out.
I have a lot better germination this year from the seed that I got, a lot of crosses of the growers varieties. I should get a good mix of interesting plants to choose from.

When I plant the mini tubers from these seedlings out in beds next spring they will self select for heat tolerance and I will also be able to select the best growers for my climate.

The plants from last years seedlings are doing very well. I lost two types from the heat but the rest are coping with the heat even better than the original varieties that are normally available in Australia. I am very pleased with that.

I still have a heap of tiny seedlings that will go into individual pots when they are big enough to prick out.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Moringa and those pesky tamarillos

Today was hot again but it is starting to cloud over and the forecast tells us that we should get some rain tonight and tomorrow. I would like to believe them but until I see it I think I will keep on being sceptical, lol.

Sorry for the fuzzy, hurried pics today. I was going to mention it a couple of posts ago but forgot. You know how I have been excited to finally get fruit setting on my tamarillos? well, the frying hot week we had caused all the trees to drop their fruits.

I think I will pull them out as it is not worth all the watering each summer just in the hope of getting an occasional summer mild enough for them to ripen their fruits.

It is a shame as the fruits we sometimes get in the supermarkets imported from New Zealand are pretty poor and I was hoping to be able to sell a few better ones to my customers. I think they would probably do better closer to the coast where they don't get days as hot.

I was looking at my poor little moringa (Moringa olefira) seedlings (they are not coping with the heat well either) and noticed that one of the seedlings has flowers on it. It is only three months old!

It could be the heat stress but if that was the case you would think some of the others would be flowering also.

This is also called the Miracle tree because all parts from the roots, leaves, pods and the flowers are all edible and nutritious.

I tried growing them once before but I put them in too late and they didn't get big enough to survive after the frost cut them down to their tuberous root. I am hoping that I can get them big enough in the next few months to be able to keep them alive over winter.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Pretty corn and bush snake beans

I am still waiting for the buckets of rain that has been forecast but I think it has missed us because everywhere else has had rain except us. The forecast is still giving us rain for Monday though. At least today was cool so I didn't have to go out and water.

My little bush snake beans are bearing magnificently and are covered in beans. I should have plenty of seed to sell later as well as a few to eat.

I love snake beans as they have no strings and are mild tasting and this bush variety is small and very compact, perfect for small gardens.
The beans are a bit smaller that the 'regular' climbing snake beans, they are 20-25cm long, whereas the climbing ones get to around 40cm.

I love growing coloured corn. I have coloured sweetcorn in and coloured flour corn. As well as the multicoloured seeds, they have coloured flowers too, and sometimes coloured leaves.

This is a red coloured female flower and below is a red male flower but the colour on that one is harder to see.

Unfortunately I didn't get any red leaved plants and only one variegated plant. It is the luck of the draw really.

I hope with this cooler week that it will give some of the flowers a chance at getting pollinated as hot and windy weather causes the flowers, both male and female, to dry out and be unable to be pollinated.

I have been busy planting a heap of my empty beds to garlic and potato onions.
Unlike most people I always plant my garlic soon after I harvest it for a number of reasons.
1, I hate having the storage space filled up
2, I don't like the risk of losing bulbs in storage
3, After planting I know how much I have left to sell
4, I know I have enough beds for them. I don't want to go out in Autumn and think "where the hell am I going to find room for them?"

Anyway, it always works well and I get large bulbs, well, most years as this year was an exception. I just leave them in the beds and ignore them until they decide it is time to start shooting when the Autumn rains come.