Friday, March 29, 2013

Pic of polyhouse and market tomorrow

Here is a picture, as promised, of the polyhouse with the new skin on. Just need to get the door back on.

I just hope this plastic is better quality and doesn't come apart at the crease like the last one. All ready for winter :)

Ethan and I are off to the Balmoral market tomorrow. I don't have any vegetables to sell so I am taking some novelties and knick knacks along. It is a fair way to go so I hope it ends up being worth it. My back is killing me so I need a break from digging and weeding. I have small local markets for the next three weeks on the weekends.
It will be a couple more months till I have enough produce to sell but I have been buying some wholesale teen jewellery and stuff to sell till the veggies start coming in.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Poly house up and broom sorghum harvested

Mum, Ethan and I got the new skin put up on the polyhouse today (sorry forgot to get a photo) so we are ready for the winter now. We managed to put a couple of small holes in it but I bought some specialised tape to fix them off Ebay. All is good.

I harvested the broomcorn. This is the type of sorghum that is used to make (real) brooms. I grew some with the intention of selling the heads as decorator pieces of indoors but they don't really suit. It was a type of coloured one that has multi-coloured heads but I was disappointed to find that the heads only turned out in two colours - med brown and dark brown. Oh well, live and learn.

This photo shows the heads with seed on and with the seed stripped off on the right. Too bad I didn't grow enough to make a broom. I wonder if enough people would want to make brooms, even ornamental ones, that it would be worth growing it next year.

I also have a bed of sweet sorghum, the kind used to make sugar syrup from. I have chewed on the stems and they are surprisingly easy to chew for their sap. I wish I had a crushing machine so I could make some syrup. Oh well, some people like to grow the heads to use as bird feed. That is what I sold the heads for last year at the market.
The high winds we had last week caused the sweet sorghum to lodge (fall over). It looks a bit weird half fallen down but the heads are ripening and it will be ready to harvest soon, then I can take it out.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sore back and arms

My back is killing me after digging a heap of new veggie beds over the last three days, it will be good to have a break tomorrow by having a table at the Henty boot sale. My old back injury and herniated disc is coming back to haunt me *sigh*. Too bad there is so much digging to do in the next month to get vegetables ready for winter. I have to have the whole melon block dug so I can't really take a rest at all.

Ethan and I took down the wrecked skin of the poly house today. We have a new skin and it will go on monday as it will be a bit warmer. I cut the old skin up into usable pieces to use as cloche covers on some rows over the winter. Nice bit of recycling, what!!

I bought some edible bulbed garden flowers on ebay - Jockeys cap and Queen Fabiola. Although most garden bulbs are poisonous, there are a surprising amount that are not only edible but taste quite good. The Queen Fabiola (Triteleia laxa) is also known as native potato in the US as American Indians used to dig and eat it a lot. I did get a few young Jockeys cap plants (Tigridia pavonia) but also bought some seeds which haven't come yet. I can't wait to try them when I get enough growing.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Pepita pumpkins harvested and drying

We harvested the Gleisdorfer Naked Seeded pumpkins yesterday. These pumpkins are grown for their seeds, the flesh is not great to eat. The seeds are green and have no shell on them so they can be eaten straight from the pumpkin, or more usually, dried and lightly roasted. They have a load of nutrition.

Here is Ethan holding one of the pumpkins.

Unfortunately I found that this variety has a low ratio of seeds to fruit size (although you can't tell from the one cut open here) so I will look at growing a different variety of naked seeded pumpkin next year. The picture here is of one of the smaller fruits but the bigger fruits have the same amount of seeds (about a cup or so) and are more hollow.
It is frustrating to dedicate so much room and water to large vines and get so little food off them. Each vine produced an average of 4 fruits.

Pepitas are very tasty and can be eaten as they are or added to muesli, muffins, breads, trail mix etc. The seeds we got out of the pumpkins are drying in the polyhouse but I will bring them in at night so they don't get damp as the nights are getting cool now.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

I'm a happy chappy today

Rain, it won't last long, and it is not very heavy, but we are having rain today. YAY, it feels so good and I don't have to water this afternoon.
I picked up my new helper Ethan from the bus yesterday. He is from Taiwan and it seems that he has never touched a spade in his life, but he is willing to give it a go and that is what matters. We started a little digging today but came inside to save some seeds when it got too wet. I'm so glad to have him because now that the worst of the hot weather is over there is so much work to do.

Tomorrow we get stuck into digging new beds then sowing. It won't be long before the blocks are looking green and bountiful. Can't wait to get the snow peas and first broad bean beds in. I have a heap of new melon seedlings coming up from where the sunburnt ones were left to rot. I doubt that they will be big enough to fruit before the frosts come but I will leave the plants just to see, I can't help myself, it is hard to pull up useful plants.

Got some carrots sown in a couple of empty beds and it won't be long till they are all sown down. I am not looking forward to all the work that redigging beds in the whole melon paddock will bring but it has to be done.

Ahh, listening to the rain on the veranda roof is so uplifting.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Snake beans ripening

Well, it looks like the hottest of the weather is over now but we could get some pretty warm days next week. There is no rain on the horizon but I will be glad to settle for cooler temps for now.

My snake beans are ripening. They are only getting to around 40cm which is shorter than I expected. I didn't grow enough plants to sell but I should get enough seeds to grow a good lot next year.

I picked a couple to cook and taste. I really don't like beans usually but these were quite mild in taste and totally stringless. I think I would eat then again if they appeared on my plate. They are fun to grow and are definately one that I will grow every year. I think my customers will love them.

I am finally getting some caigua (achocha) off my plants after the few cooler days we got a few weeks ago. The didn't fruit for so long because the heat stopped the male flowers from opening.

They are pretty terrible raw (the young ones) but the books say you can eat them raw but I think you would really have to be keen. They are also called 'stuffing cucumbers' and I picked some mature ones ( see picture) and stuffed them with cheese and tomato, before microwaving them in a little stock. The cheese melted out so I would use mince instead next time. Remember to take out the hard seeds before stuffing.

They tasted ok, mum liked them. I will grow them again for the novelty value, and they are a good alternative vegetable. They are one of the 'lost crops' of the incas.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Well I did it

As I went around to deliver my boxes yesterday I gave them a choice to either cancel their boxes for the next couple of months or to accept boxes with half shop-bought vegetables in them to top them up. I just don't have enough stuff to supply everyone with their boxes. Luckily everyone was understanding and I got some who cancelled and some who wanted to continue. It will be a bit of relief until I can get more stuff growing.

It looks like next thursday will be the end of the hot weather, unless we get another hot spell after that. It has to stop sometime, doesn't it?  I am so looking forward to getting the empty beds sown. I have all the seeds and my fingers are itching to get it done. Must be patient.

I see that the water meters were read yesterday - I should know the damage for the summer next week. It hope it isn't as bad as I think. At least I have saved up enough for the bills, I think.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Woe is me

You might want to stop reading right now as this is just a post about me feeling sorry for myself.

With heat around 36 degrees forcast for at least the next 7 days I am feeling quite frustrated and depressed. I spend many hours hand watering every day but every time I look around more plants have frizzled and died. I feel that I am getting nowhere and the only reason I haven't given up is the amount of money and time I have put into this for the past year, that and the fact that it has to get cooler soon.

I have many beds empty because seeds won't germinate in this heat but even if the weather broke now and cooled down it would be three months before anything I plant now would be ready to harvest. I am going to have to ask my customers to either cancel their boxes for the moment or accept some shop-bought stuff with what I can provide. I can't see how I am going to be able to fill any boxes with what I have managed to keep alive for the next couple of months.

 It is so annoying, and I am dreading my water bill which is due any day. I don't have much to show for all the water I have been putting on. I did think about shutting down for the summer each year if this is what global warming is going to to do for the summer but that won't work because I have to grow things through the summer to have it ready for spring. I feel so down at the moment and with no motivation.

At least I am not the only one, everyone who grows plants is in the same boat - the weather beurau has came out and said what we all know, that it has been the hottest and dryest summer on record. At least most other people are not relying on their plants as an income so it doesn't hurt them as much.

Friday, March 1, 2013

A quick update

It always surprises me when I see how long ago it was since I last posted that time seems to go so fast. It is the start of March and I am counting every day as a day closer to some cool weather. It is going to be hot for the next week but it surly must be the last week of heat now, can't it? Please tell me I can soon sow some seeds with the expectation that they will germinate, pretty please *sigh*

We did have two cooler days as a bit of a reprieve so I spent them digging a heap of new beds where my melons have finished. I know that when the cooler weather hits I will be flat out trying to get as many seeds in as possible for the winter vegetables, I won't have time to scratch myself. I have received a half kilo of broad beans to plant next month and I need to put in a half dozen beds of snow peas as a start. I have just finished moving my potatoes - what is left of them at least, to better soil so I hope they do better this time.

I can't wait to get my celtuce in as customers at the market have been asking about them. Luckily, sort-of, the Hamilton market is cancelled this month due to Easter so I have some time to get some veggies growing. I had hoped to be producing enough to take to the Mt Gambier market but the hot weather has made that impossible.

With my melon paddock going into production I can see a huge amount of vegetables being grown this year so I will finely be able to go to more than one market a month as well as supply my veggie box customers.