Sunday, October 26, 2014

Garlic again, mouse melons, and why you should grow kohlrabi

After a bit of searching I finally found the term for my top sprouting garlic. It is called 'Witch Brooming'. Now that I know the term I can find lots of discussion on it. Most sites say that it is caused by low temperatures in storage but my experiments show that mine is caused by getting too wet in winter. At least I know what it is now and that it is quite common, and some varieties, like my 'Monaro Purple' are especially prone to it.

After the Hamilton market I popped over to the Gray St fair to see how my jams went in the competition. I didn't win anything but was amazed at how great the fair was. It was much bigger than I imagined for a small school in a small town and there was so much going on. They did a marvelous job.

 My mouse melons (Melothria scabra, also called Mexican sour gherkin) are sprouting everywhere. I love these little cucumbers and everyone who tastes them also like them.
They are slow to germinate and start growing which is why I prefer to let them self seed rather than sow them in pots, but when they get to a certain size they really take off and are very productive.

My garlic is not far from being ready to harvest because of the early hot weather. This hasn't given them enough time to grow to a good size and all the varieties are less than half their normal size. It is a bit disappointing but hopefully next year will be better.

Why you should grow kohlrabi

I love kohlrabi, it has to be one of the most useful veg you can grow.
Not only is it easy to grow but the taste is mild and most people like it. It tastes a bit like broccoli.

It can be eaten raw or cooked. To eat raw just peel and either slice very thin and sprinkle with salt, or grate and use instead of cabbage in a kohlslaw.

Cooked it can be roasted, boiled or steamed just like potatoes or any other solid vegetable, or you can pickle it or make it into many other preserves.

I like to sow the seeds in mid spring but I also put some in through summer for continuous cropping. It needs a well manured soil like other brassicas but seems to cope with most soils and conditions. Keep up the water in dry times and pick when the 'bulbs' are fist sized or a little bigger.
When they put up their thick flower stems these can also be peeled and eaten, they are mild and tender.

The variety I grow 'Gigante' will grow much bigger without going woody and my market customers like it, but because of the size it does take longer to grow. You can also buy seeds of a nice purple one in the shops.

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