Sunday, September 28, 2014

Wind damage, and determinate vs indeterminate

We always have plenty of gale-force winds here in spring, unfortunately never accompanied by rain though. Today was our first for the season. I usually put down all my bed covers but since it was going to be a hot and drying day I decided to leave them up to give my seedlings a bit of protection for as long as the covers stayed up, and to stop too much drying out of the bare soil.
As you can see, most of the covers ended up being blown down, which I expected.
I make them so they come apart when stressed by wind because if they were rigid they would either break or get blown away, and I don't think the neighbours would appreciate that!
They are very easy and quick to put back up again so it is not a big deal.

I have not put any rat-tail radishes in except for this one bed which is fruiting now. I will have to put another bed in shortly for seed and because they sell well at the markets.
This is a radish that is grown for its tender, edible pods rather than for their roots.
They have a strong radish taste and are great in salads.

Since my last post was so well received I have decided to try and add some 'words of wisdom' to the end of each post. Today I will explain a bit about the difference between determinate and indeterminate as this is a term many people are unfamiliar with.

Determinate vs Indeterminate

Many vegetables have a type of growth that is determined by a certain set of genes. These genes show as bush (determinate) or twining/climbing (indeterminate). But how does this affect you?

Many veg have climbing as well as bush types, these include such plants as beans, squash/pumpkins, cucumbers, tomatoes and, surprisingly, potatoes.

Determinate: Bush plants tend to grow quickly then fruit in one great flush, then die. This is great if you don't have room for a climbing variety, or you want all the fruit at once for preserving.

Indeterminate: Climbing or twining plants tend to start fruiting later but continue for as long as the plant is alive. This give a smaller amount of fruit at one time, but over a longer time.They generally need the effort of staking or attaching to a fence.

What does this have to do with potatoes? I hear you say. Well you know how it is suggested that you grow them in tall tubs and fill with soil as they grow? This works for indeterminate types which grow new potatoes on the stem as they grow, but bush types don't do this and should not be grown this way. BTW, you only need to hill indeterminate varieties of potato, hilling does nothing for determinate types.

Indeterminate potatoes that can be used with the bin method include many of the old heritage types like Nicola, Purple Congo and Kipfler. It is hard to find details on which varieties are determinate and which aren't.

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