Sunday, December 30, 2012

Lazy days and watching the garden grow

Took a day off to be lazy today. Just did all the watering and melon pollinating then did stuff all for the rest of the day. Marie got a bit bored with me not telling her what to do so I got her to bag up some seeds to sell at the markets.
I did go out and up-end a pot of native water ribbons that I had let dry out and die down (Triglochin sp) to see how many tubers they had. I was a bit disappointed as I thought they would have at least a kilo but it was a fair bit under that. They were planted in a 66 litre container. I think this is the way to grow them but I will have to find some that produce better. As they are an un-domesticated plant I think I will be able to do that with some scrounging around in the river and local dams.
The tubers are sweet and nice to eat raw or cooked. It is a native food plant that might have some potential as a domesticated vegetable I think.

We are sort-of on top of the worst of the weeds, with our work, and mostly because of the dry weather stopping them from growing so it mainly the watering that has to be done regularly now. There is no rain forcast for the forseeable future so the seedlings need watering twice a day and the others every couple of days or so. I have been waiting for the new seeds that were put in about ten days ago to germinate but I have a feeling that my helpers might have planted them a bit too deeply. No worries, I will just replant.

I will have to go out tomorrow and take some pics to post before the day gets too hot. I never remember to take my camera out with me.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Melons growing and some sad news

I'll get the sad news over with first. A great friend of mine was killed last night when he had his donkey in harness and the donkey took fright tipping him out of the cart. A very sad loss to the Australian donkey world where he and his wife made a lifetime of difference and did more good than most people ever do. I have known them for many years. I will of course be taking some time off to go to the funeral when I hear when it is. I will miss you Hans.

Melons

The melons are starting to set well. Here is a picture of my melon patch as it is now. A big difference from the picture of a few posts ago.:


The first to ripen will be Blacktail Mountain watermelon and Emerald Gem melon. See how I am experimenting with rind scarring on the Emerald Gem. The Blacktail Mountains are so productive, they have heaps of fruit on them and are showing no signs of stopping.



I also picked my first cucumber and Marie and I have been busy digging new beds ready to put some seeds in tomorrow. I will put in some more carrots and some 'Tongue of Fire' beans, and I got some new cucumber seeds in the mail today so I might put a few of them in as it is not too late.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas cheer

It is a quiet Christmas this year with sisters and their family too far away to be here. We were lucky to have one of my sisters and her husband able to visit yesterday with their children. We have never had a Christmas day before with just my parents and me, it is so quiet today. We don't really celebrate Christmas as such but use the day to catch up and spend time with those we love.

The plants don't take the day off so I still had to pollinate the melons and do a heap of watering but I refused to do anything else, it can all wait an extra day. As I watered I saw that a lot of seeds were almost ready to pick which is great as when I take the plants out I can fill up with sowing more seeds that need to go in. I have a heap of seeds like celtuce, beetroot and carrots that need beds right now so they will be ready when the Hamilton market starts again.

I am having trouble with my new bed of amaranth. The seeds are so small that I am having trouble keeping the soil wet enough for them to germinate properly in the heat and I think the ants have carried away most of the seeds. Only a few plants have come up so I think I will try sowing them in a flat next time to see if that works better. I really want to push amaranth as it is so good that I want all my customers to try it.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Zucchini time again

Well, it is that time of year again - zucchinis coming out my ears. Lucky there are so many delicious recipes for them.

Here is Marie holding a basket of a few we picked this morning, 4 types.


Too bad they all start when there isn't any markets on, well, I could go to the Mt Gambier market to sell some but the cost isn't worth it unless I had a van full of produce. I think I will make some zucchini soup and some bread with them today - and the neighbours will get some I suppose, lol.

Luckily the front has come sooner than expected and we won't be having the boiling day that was expected. It is still about 30 or so degrees outside now but not the 38 that it would have been *whew*

The tomatoes are starting to set now so that will be another thing I will be over-run with. Lucky they will be ripening when the Hamilton market starts as I am not allowed to take them over the border to Mt Gambier. I love heritage tomatoes, they are soooo juicy and flavoursome. People who only know the rocks you get in the supermarket don't realise what they are missing.

We are still busy hand pollinating the melons evey morning

There are quite a few varieties that still haven't set any fruit but I hope they will soon. Some of the plants are still a bit small yet. Marie, and myself I admit, get all excited when we go out in the morning to see how much some of the set fruits have grown. My mouth is watering just thinking about them. Just a couple of weeks till the first is ripe I think.

Here is my favourite zucchini slice recipe (from www.taste.com.au) and so easy:


Ingredients
·         5 eggs
·         150g (1 cup) self-raising flour, sifted
·         375g zucchini, grated
·         1 large onion, finely chopped
·         200g rindless bacon, chopped
·         1 cup grated cheddar cheese
·         60ml (1/4 cup) vegetable oil

Method
1.       Step 1
Preheat oven to 170°C. Grease and line a 30 x 20cm lamington pan.
2.       Step 2
Beat the eggs in a large bowl until combined. Add the flour and beat until smooth, then add zucchini, onion, bacon, cheese and oil and stir to combine. Pour into the prepared pan and bake in oven for 30 minutes or until cooked through.


I make this recipe all the time in the summer and always have a packet of bacon pieces in the freezer for it.

Friday, December 21, 2012

More weeding and not much else

Well Marie has settled into her new abode for the time she has left with us and we have been doing some tidying up around the place. We have been weeding a lot and harvesting seeds as well as planting more seeds to be ready for the Feb Hamilton market.

The melons are starting to set and it is great watching the little fruits grow each day. I hope some are ripe for Marie to taste before she goes. I have started taking a photo of one fruit each day from pollination to eating just for a bit of fun but I don't yet know how I am going to present it when it is finished. I might just do it as a series of pictures on my melon master site.

Not much more to say really.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Putting the shed/cabin up

The new shed come cabin arrived this afternoon and Marie and myself spent three hours getting it up. It is mostly finished now with just a few screws on the outside to put in tomorrow. I have added and bed and some bedding so Marie can sleep there tonight and I will put in power tomorrow for a light and fan, maybe a tv when I can afford it. Now I have a nice place for my Wwoofers and other helpers to stay in a bit more comfort and privacy.

It is tucked behind the water tanks for privacy, which doesn't make for good photographing but you can sort of see it.

It is a nice resin shed. It had want to be nice for the price, lol. When it came I didn't think it seemed very sturdy at all but after it is up it is quite strong. It is the Apollo 8x8ft shed which is just big enough for two camp beds and a cupboard, with a bit of shelving as well. It is cosy but still big enough to move around in.


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Market and Kohlrabi

I didn't have much to sell at the market yesterday but Marie, Margoax and myself had a great time anyway. We sold almost everything and it was great to have some help as many customers always seem to come at once.
I took some kohlrabi, only a few but we still came home with a couple. It was difficult to convince customers that this very ugly vegetable is so delicious, and that is something coming from me who doesn't like eating anything from the cabbage family.
We just finished eating the ones that came home from the market. I prefer them peeled, sliced thin then eaten raw, or with a sprinkle of salt. Yum. Throw them in a salad for something different or make a kohlslaw with them. They can always be cooked like cabbage or turnip as well. I think they taste like a mix of cauliflower and broccoli.
Here is one that is cut in half before we ate it. The variety I grow is 'Giant White' which is still tender even when large. This one was nearly a kilo.



I have another bed of them germinating and I will plant some more after summer to sell in the winter.

Here is marie at the market behind our stall. Her sister Margaux will be leaving this afternoon to go back to France but Marie will stay on till the middle of January.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Root knot nematode

After watching my carrots trying to grow for months I finely pulled them up and found that their roots had lumps on them - Root Knot Nematode. If I had any prior experience with nematodes before I would have recognised it earlier but I have never had it before.
Root knot nematodes are a bugger of a pest as they attack so many vegetable crops so it is going to take a lot of work to control it. I have been doing some research today and have found a few things I can do, but it may mean not growing carrots or other very susceptable crops for a while.

I will start off with heaping manure on all my beds as I can afford it, then planting many beds with French marigolds, and planting the marigolds among my other crops as they are planted as well. I will also concentrate on the few nematode resistant crops on D block where the trouble is. It will take some money and work but if I don't do anything I will not be able to grow many crops at all in the future.

This is such a kick in the teeth but at least I now know why some of my veggies are not doing as well as they should. After spending some time today gathering produce for the market I am very disappointed at how little I have to sell. At least The melons are growing well and I will have a heap to sell at the next market.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Whew, what a busy week

I got back from Wagga with my sister on monday after going to watch her at her uni graduation. It was a long 10 hour drive back and we got here at 4am, in time to have two hours sleep before having to get up and start work.

My two volunteer helpers came on the bus yeasterday, they are Marie and Margaux from france. They are settling in well and, as the day is to hot to work outside, they are shelling dry rat-tails for seeds at the table as I write this. I am so happy they are here to help with some work around the farm.

I will be taking them to the Hamilton farmers market on saturday to give them a day out and they can lend a hand with selling. Of course, since I only have one passenger seat in my van, I have had to ask my parents to drive them to the market early in the morning.

I don't have a lot to take to the market but with some help I will be able to ramp up production so I can go to the Mt Gambier farmers market as well as the Hamilton one.

We are having a bit of a heat wave at the market and when it is over I will be busy planting a heap more seed.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Hot days and update

The weather has been a bit hot today and yesterday so I haven't got much done besides some watering and pollinating the melons. It is good to have a rest but a bit boring, luckily I have an invitation from my sister to attend her university graduation so we will be driving early tomorrow morning and get home very late monday. We are going to Wagga which is probably around 1000 km then back. A lot of driving in two days but a bit of fun nonetheless.

My new accession of rat-tails has started bearing and the pods are a lot better than the ones I have been growing, a lot more tender. These ones came from bolivia and I will keep growing these, but I might cross them with my usual ones to get a bit more height in the plants and better production. I will have to plant some more when I get back from Wagga.

The Hamilton market is early in december so it doesn't clash with peoples Christmas celebrations. It is on next saturday and I hope I have enough produce to take. At least I will have plenty of lettuces.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

My zucchinis are flowering well now

I put in 10 zucchini plants (Variety - Golden) for my CSA and markets and they are starting to flower and I wouldn't be surprised if I even have a couple of fruits ready for the Hamilton market on the 15th. There are so many yummy recipes that you can make with them - I make a zucchini slice which I love, a couple of weeks ago and a moist zucchini cake a couple of days ago with our home plants.



We have had a couple of cold and rainy days which the plants have loved so I haven't had to water :) and I picked the first of my amaranth leaved to taste this morning. I am not one for greens but amaranth is now one of y favourite vegetables. With just a quick steam and nothing else, no salt or butter, they were delicious. They taste like asparagus/silverbeet but without the silverbeet bitterness.

I went out and planted some more seeds in a fresh bed I prepared yeasterday as I think they will go over well with my customers.

YAY, With a few phone calls and emails I am now legal to take most of my produce into South Australia. I can't wait to have enough to sell at the markets over there.
I can take most root and leafy vegetables but I can't take over anything in the onion or tomato families. Luckily melons and their relations are fine.

Here is a picture of my test bed of yacon and oca. I have planted it to see if I can get oca to grow in the blocks as I don't have enough shade area for them.


I have the yacon on the western side to shade the oca from the afternoon sun as it grows, and I will drape the shadecloth over them on hot days. I don't think it will be enough though as the oca suffered a bit on the very hot days we had a bit over a week ago. I might make a hoop over them and add a heavier shadecloth.
I want to grow more oca for the markets but I can't without shade.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

A few pics and a smile on my face

With a few cool days now I am feeling very good. All the veggies are powering along and the blocks are looking great, if a bit weedy. I have a woman from France coming over in a couple of weeks to help out till after Christmas. She is part of a group like Wwoofers called HelpX. I could really do with a hand so this is marvolous news. I just hope she doesn't change her mind between now and then.

Here is a picture of a few lettuces. I have two lettuce mixes that I love - 'Rocky top' from Baker Creek Seeds and 'Franks Crispy Mix' from Wild Garden Seeds. These are great mixes with a good range of interesting lettuces in them and the customers at the market love them.



The achocha (or caigua) below had a slow start but they are really taking off now and have a few flowers on them. These are a distant relative to melons and come from Peru.




I am excited to see that one of my seedling hardy kiwi is variegated so I have put it aside to plant out later. I hope it keeps its colouration, and is a girl. I will have to wait a couple of years to find out.




The zucchini and melons in my melon block are flowering now and growing strongly. If the weather holds up and is mild I should have a good harvest.





Saturday, December 1, 2012

Yay, internet is back

It is good to get back online but I have to admit that it really wasn't so bad not having it for over a week. There really wasn't anything really important in my inbox *sigh*

The melons are taking off now and crawling all over the place, and some are even starting to flowers - see more information on my melons at www.melonmaster.com     Shortly I will be incredibly busy with hand pollinating them.

Me beds are all covered with mulch and manure ready for the summer heat which is a load off my mind and it won't be long till the blocks are really putting out a lot of produce. Pity the markets close over January when all my melons start ripening. O well, I will have to find some other outlets. I might try to sell them on the side of the road at some of the small towns around here like Merino and Digby.

I sowed some hamburg parsley a couple of weeks ago and it still hasn't come up, I was really looking forward to growing it so I will buy some more seeds now. Of course, they will all come up then, lol.