Sunday, May 25, 2014

I know I am being slack with my posting but there really hasn't been much to talk about. My slow time is starting where the only thing to do is pick for markets as it is too late to sow and the weeds are not growing as fast with the cooler weather.

This is the time when I go on holidays between markets and generally laze around till spring. I did pop into the Nareen produce swap today and swapped some produce for home made cakes and rocky road and I am having trouble with red-legged earth mites destroying my beets but that is about it.

Next Saturday is the HIRL market and the next week selling at Merino but after that I will go bush for my three weeks that I had planned - it should be cool and damp enough to leave everything then, I hope.

My posting will be pretty sporadic from now on, sorry.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Harvest time again - well, sort of

Usually I love this time of year when everything is ready to harvest and I can see everywhere the bounty that nature provides but this year the harvests have been scant, which is still a bit of an exaggeration. I am thinking that the only vegetable that I will have to sell during the winter will be silverbeet. Lucky I packaged up so many seeds for the Portland market, they will be what I will be selling for the next few markets I think.

For some reason I just can't get the productivity that I should be getting, everything is always going wrong and it is getting very frustrating.

 My little yellow cherry guava hasn't grown much in the past year but at least it tries hard and gives a great harvest for its size.
I love theses. They are sweet and the seeds are not nearly as hard as its cousin the red cherry guava and it bears twice a year.

I was planning a great oca harvest this year but today I had to pull up all the tubers in two beds as they were being decimated by cockchafer grubs. With my mistake with watering them too well in the summer there wasn't much to bring home.

At least I got enough to replant next year. I still have one bed still dying down which seems to have a good lot of tubers. That bed was planted a lot later with potted plants that I didn't want to throw away so I will try planting the tubers a lot later than usual to see if that helps with next years crop.

I was relieved to be able to find a small handful of my cream coloured tubers. It isn't much but maybe they will produce better next time. Maybe one of my seedling plants will be better in our summers if I am lucky.

I had to pick my first cob of Giant White corn as the insects were getting at it. it is too early but I would have lost it anyway if I had just left it.
It was not fertilised well because it formed well before all the others and there was only one male flower in the bed.
I have a couple more cobs forming on the other plants which might ripen before the plants die. I am not sure yeat if I will bother replanting them as they only have one cob per plant and take so long to grow. It really isn't worth the space, time or water.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Well so much for my three weeks in the bush, *sigh*
I had to come home early because of the unusually warm weather because I have to start watering again. Our daytime average temps for this time of year is around 15 C but at the moment it is up around 22 C.

Ok, so I have been busy weeding as the warm weather has got the weeds going gangbusters, pity it is not the same with the veg. I am still having a lot of trouble getting them germinating and I cannot see what has been eating the germinating seedlings.

I harvested my meagre supply of water chestnuts today. This is all I got as the summer cooked them all.
Next spring I will bury the tubs in the ground and put shade over them which should make a big difference.

Although I don't have enough to eat, I have plenty to replant later and to sell as plants in pots.

I also dug up some American Groundnuts today. I will start calling them by their traditional name 'Hopniss' from now on as many people call peanuts 'groundnuts' and it could get confusing.

You can see here the difference between 2 year old and 1 year old tubers. I expected the older ones to be bigger than they are but considering the pitiful year for my tuberous veg I won't be judging them on performance this year.

 I think I will have enough for a meal or two as well as for reselling so at least they will pay for their space.
I think that next spring I will plant three beds and harvest one each year so I am always harvesting the biggest three year old tubers.

I am trying to get some tubers of other varieties before this spring so I will have a few to test out for productivity.

My yacon and oca are starting to die down but this warm weather has slowed them  so I will be digging them in the next month. I will not be getting the harvest I wanted from them either which is very disappointing but I plant to change the growing conditions over next summer to try and sort outt he problems.
One of the main problems with the oca over the summer was that the watering on hot days tended to rot them off so I will limit the watering on the hottest days over 35 C or maybe any days over 30 C and see how that goes.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Having a break for a few weeks

I have decided to go 'bush' for three weeks after the market tomorrow so I won't be able to update the blog till I get back. I will go to the Portland market tomorrow and head off later. I need to have this break now for a number of reasons:

1, With no mental stimulation I can actually feel by brain turning into mush.
2, I am only taking my backpack so I am going now to avoid the worst of winter. I could go later but that would mean carrying a heavier backpack which I probably couldn't cope with in my very unfit condition.
3, I need to use my wilderness survival skills since I haven't been out in the bush for a couple of years - doesn't time fly. I have also started working on a side project that involves work that I used to do years ago and which means that I might need these skills in the future. My need for stimulation means that I could be doing things that might need this if I am not to end up dead or in jail, lol.

I am dreading coming back in a few weeks to the weeds which are under control at the moment but I am sure they will notice my absence and put on a majestic growth spurt for me to deal with, and the other thing I am dreading is my email inbox. Oh well, I will cope with that when the time comes.

Make sure you come back later to continue reading about my gardening adventures.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Harvesting amaranth

As I am planning to go away for two or three weeks from Saturday I have started harvesting the amaranth, the seed would all be on the ground if I try to leave it till I get back.

 The plants are yellowing off now which is the first sign that they are nearly ready.
These are vegetable amaranth, not the seed/grain type so the seed heads are not as big as those grown for seed. The seed itself is no different between the types though.

This is a vegetable that should be better well known as it is so nutritious as well as easy to grow. It can be cooked any way you would cook spinach but amaranth is not bitter like spinach is.

To see if the seed is ready to harvest you put your hand around a head and squeeze. If there are more than a few seeds in your hand when you let go then you can pick the head.
This head is almost ready as there are only a few ripe seeds falling off - yes, they are incredibly tiny white seeds. I did pick this head as it will be too late when I get back and most of the seeds will ripen on the head as it dries a bit.
The seeds re so tiny and annoying to clean that I don't really think they are worth growing as a grain in the home garden.

 I place all the heads in buckets and then leave them in a dry spot to finish ripening and dry off a bit before cleaning the seed. When I am ready I 'massage' the heads and the seeds fall out. The harder part then is to clean the seed but it makes it easier if you pour the seed from one container to another outside in a bit of wind. The chaff is lighter and blows away..

I tend to get a bid sick of gathering amaranth seed so I lose a lot on the ground but you don't need much seed to sow a lot of beds in the spring.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Rain, glorious rain

It rained steadily yesterday and last night with gave us a total of nearly four inches over the last week. This is unusual for this time of year but very welcome. The better rain doesn't usually arrive for another two months with just enough showers to keep things a bit damp until then the norm.

I should be able to put away the hoses now if I am lucky.

I visited Merino to sell some of my veg at the shop this morning but it was so wintery and miserable that I didn't sell much so my block owners got a nice surprise. The rest of the afternoon was spent reading inside as it was too cold and wet to do anything outside. For the last two or three days is hasn't got over 10 C. We seem to have gone straight into winter which is a bit of a shock but at least there is a bit of a green tinge on the hills so it is looking great when you look out.

After I take seeds to sell at the Portland market next Saturday I think I will put on my backpack and go bush for three weeks to lose a bit of weight. The winter is my down time, just picking for the markets. It is too cold for seeds to germinate and the weeds are not growing as fast.
It tends to be a boring time of the year but I have plans to do a lot of visiting of friends this year. I will also get busy into scambaiting again as it is so much fun.

Sorry, no pictures today, I just didn't get around to going out this afternoon to take any. I'll be sure to take some for my next post.