Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Whew, I want summer to be over already

I am still sitting inside because I am waiting till the temperature gets below 35C before I go out to water. I really hate the heat and there is still at least 3 months of it to go yet. Maybe we should move down to Tassie.
It is too hat to do any work during the day, and the weeds are pretty much under control anyway so all I have is the watering. It is starting to get a bit boring so I shelled out for a few more gigs on my internet so I can watch some interesting youtube videos. It is a bummer having country internet limitations, though I know that many city areas also have serious limits. It is about time our pollies realised that internet is important to businesses and, well, everybody. It is good for the country as a whole so they should allow us a great system - I hate that we are so backward in this respect.

Yesterday while I was watering I got a surprise visit from a guy who reads my blog. he was passing through town and decided to drop in and see what I was about and have a chat and cuppa. I really like it when I hear from people who read this blog, so don't be afraid to drop in or email any time.

 Because I am organising a harvest festival for march I put in a few ornamental squash plants for table decorations. I find these squash fascinating even though you can't eat them.
In Australia we don't have a custom of growing ornamental vegetables, probably because we don't have a winter down time and we can grow veggies all year round so we don't celebrate harvest time. I think it is a shame as harvest festivals are, in part, a way to get people to appreciate what you can grow.

Anyway, I do have some ornamentals in just to add some colour. Now all I have to do is get the marketing for the festival going and attract some market stalls.
I am not sure how it will go with the season so bad - I may not be able to add as much to the vegetable displays as I wanted but we will see.

Last post I told you how the rabbits decimated my tepary beans, well the next rows full of dwarf red snake beans have not been touched, thank goodness.

Also - I remember that I didn't report on the taste testing for the 'Bear Necessities' kale that I wrote about a few posts ago.
This is going to be my favourite kale. It has a slight mustardy taste when raw so it will be great in salads but it really comes into its own when cooked. It loses the mustard taste when cooked and is very tender and tasty. It doesn't have the coarseness and slight bitterness of 'normal' kale so people who generally don't like kale should love this one.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Next year has to be better *sigh*

I hope you all had a great Christmas. It was very quiet for us but I enjoyed it. I changed my watering days so my main watering was the day before so I only had a couple of hours yesterday afternoon and I could enjoy my time with family.

Finally, a few showers to cool things down and give the plants a break. I still and to water as 7 mm didn't go far but it still freshened up the plants. Maybe some of the corn will be able to be pollinated before the hot weather kicks in again in a few days and kills off the pollen. Ever hopeful.

I have been busy planting out my shallots on the seed block. I have been glad to move them over there so I have more room on my 'Back block' which I generally use for new and experimental stuff.
In their place I have planted out a couple of beds of seedling potatoes. It will be interesting to see what I get from them as already I can see that some have green stems and some pink. I have about 6 20m beds of various dividing onions out now and just the walking onions to go.

Yesterday I got over to the seed block to find that all my tepary beans have been eaten off with all the flowers and young shoots. I am not sure if it was rabbits or grasshoppers - did I tell you that I am dealing with a plague of grasshoppers now?

I have been planting four rows of fruiting and flowering trees, shrubs and groundcovers but it will be at least two years before they are big enough to provide good habitat for carnivorous insects and birds so I may need to spray the grasshoppers which I really don't want to do *sigh*

This comes on top of everything else. If I hadn't already used every dollar I have and borrowed money to get this venture off the ground I would be about to give up now. With the drought, heat, pests, terrible soil and poor crops I have just about had enough. I am thankful that my seed contract is not binding this year as I will not be able to provide half of what was ordered.

Luckily I also planted some small crops of other plants on spec which I think my buyer will like.
I know it will get better every year but it is just so hard right now.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Bits and bobs

A couple of cool days have felt so good but it is heating up again from tomorrow. I got some root cabbage seedlings in and planted some carrot and beet seeds. I know it is not a good time to be planting carrot seeds especially but I have to have some different ones to show at the harvest festival in March and if I don't get them growing now I won't have any ready. I have covered the row and will try to keep it damp to get them to germinate but they don't like germinating in the heat so I will have to keep my fingers crossed.

My melons are growing strongly and flowering but the heat means that they are aborting their female flowers so they still haven't got fruit on them.

The warmth started early so my tamarillos do have a small amount of fruit on them that set before the heat set in so I might get some fruit off them. I think I will pull the tamarillos out though as they are too much bother and will only set fruit on occasional years when the summer is not too hot.

My poor tepary beans don't have many pods on them as the heat burnt off most of the flowers. I put in a lot of them this year though so I should get some seed.

Here is one of my tomato beds. I covered the two rows on one side (the left) on the hot days and you can definitely see the difference where the covered tomatoes are twice the size and greener. I might have to cover them all now to get a good harvest.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Whew it is hot, and the veggies are really stressed

After a few days around 40c all the veggies are looking pretty stressed, even the heat tolerant plants like tepary beans and ground cherries are frying. They just can't soak up enough water to grow properly no matter how much water I give them. One thing I worry about is that the corn will not be pollinated because the pollen and silks dry in the heat before they can do their job. I know I worried about this last year and the cobs were filled but this year the corn is showing more stress than last year. Also, the melons are not setting fruit because of the heat and I am relying on getting a lot of melon seed.

The mini pop corn is showing heat stress the worst of all the varieties but the others are not far behind.
Every night I go out to water I wonder if the plants will have recovered by the next day. They always do so far but the stress build up has to start affecting them soon. And there is another three months of heat to go.

I have covered the small beds of corn that is still under the height of the row covers and is not flowering yet in an attempt to keep the stress to a minimum.

I have had to borrow some more money yesterday to put up more shade covers on the seed block. I hate borrowing money but if the plants die or don't produce then I have wasted all the effort and money I have put into it so far so I don't really have a choice.
At least I know it will pay for itself in the long run.

I have been surprised at how well the mauka is coping with the heat, even the stems that are poking out in the sun are not sunburnt.
As you can see it is suffering a bit, with slightly curled leaves but it is still growing.

 I think that as long as the roots are kept shaded these plants will grow quite well through our summers.
Some of the Incan veggies are surprising me with their heat tolerance.

And, just to lighten the sombre mood - a bed of sunflowers. At least these love the heat.

I am already sick of this summer and there is so much to go. The river is dry, we have had no rain for many months and we are in drought. I just hope our town bore keeps up and we don't get water restrictions.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Bear necessities kale and see how my corn is doing

With a very hot week to come I am spending a lot of time hibernating indoors. There is not much you can do in the heat - watering is out as heat stressed plants can't use it well and any water that you put on is wasted by evaporation - so I water in the evenings so the plants have all night to take up the water and recover from the heat. You can't weed because weeding disturbs the soil and allows more evaporation.
All I can do is harvest in the morning if there is something to harvest that day, and generally just inspect and admire :)

 My bear necessities kale is looking good, and tasting good. I wrote about it in a post not long ago but I thought you should see some pictures.

I am a bit disappointed that I only have one colour where the pictures on the net show a range of purple and green colours, but it still looks amazing. With the look and taste I can see this really taking off if I market it well and one of the seed companies takes it up.

I think this kale will look just as good in the flower garden and vase as it will in a salad which will appeal so many people.

I did have some problems with aphids early on but the white butterflies seem to be leaving it alone, probably because of the leaf form so I am also happy about that.

Here is three beds of the sweet corn 'Anasazi' on the seed block. It is not very even because the ground had a house on it at one time and the soil varies so some areas grow well and some don't. Over the next few crops that should even out and the soil will improve.

The plants are a bit small but they are healthy and starting to show flowers now.

Some of the later planted rows did very poorly for some reason so I doubt I will be able to provide all the seed the company wants but it shouldn't be too far off.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Oca aeroponics experiment and the difference between shallots and potato onions

With a couple of days of gale force hot winds my vegetables, especially the corn, is looking a bit tortured. The stress of hot weather tends to build up in plants so I can't see them getting better anytime soon. Oh well, that is how it goes. It will be nice to get a cooler day tomorrow.

 After noticing last year that oca cuttings were happy to make tubers in a glass of water I have decided to do a little experiment to see how they produce in an aeroponics situation. Aeroponics is sort of like hydroponics in the way that there is no soil medium, but instead of the roots always being in water they are suspended in moist air instead.
I decided on this because I didn't want to go to the expense of buying a pump.

I will loosely fill the 15cm tube with coir fibre to hold moisture in the air but no so full as to restrict tuber formation.

Each week I will fill the tube with fertilised water, like a hydroponics system, but them let it flow out so only the coir is moist.
I will be putting the pipe together and cutting holes in it tomorrow. It is one metre long so I will be able to fit three plants in it.

My first ripe tomato - a Green Zebra. I had it on a sandwich today. It is so good to not have to eat supermarket tomatoes.

Ok, I have been researching the difference between the dividing/multiplier onions known as shallots and potato onions.
There are many different views on the subject and I have come to the conclusion that I will refer to them all as shallots from now on, as botanists do - I can see no difference between them. They are all the same species after all, Allium cepa var. aggregatum.

Some people say that shallots are smaller than potato onions but that has not rung true with mine, and some say that potato onions flower and shallots do not, but they all do for me - I think that 'shallots' flower when the conditions are right, and some flower under all conditions and some under specific conditions.
One site even suggested that shallots have two 'eyes' and potato onions have one but from my observations it depends on the stage of division when they mature and dry.
In the picture above I have two onions named as potato onion and one shallot (and one perennial leek) can you tell from looking at them? I think not, and if you did guess based on shape I reckon you would be wrong.

Another thing that bugs me is that there are no names for varieties in Australia - there are red shallots, and golden shallots and brown potato onions etc. With people not breeding new varieties it is time these got names so there is no confusion later on.
Talk about colour confusion - the 'brown potato onion' in the picture above is actually red and the pink shallot above has pink skin if you pull it just before it is totally died down (and keeps the pink colour during storage) but is brown when fully died down (and then stays brown during storage). Colour naming sucks.

After harvesting my beds I did a small taste test. All the multiplier onions/shallots tasted the same and were strong and harsh when raw but the perennial leek was mild and sweet, just what I like. I didn't bother with a cooked test at this time. I didn't pull my walking onions as they are not ready yet, and I still have to select with my Green Mountain onions so a taste test was not going to reveal anything as they are so variable.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Scorching days and flowers everywhere

After a few days of scorching temperatures quite a few plants are feeling pretty burnt, especially the cucurbits and beans. I thought that the early start would mean that I might get some green beans which usually don't do well here because of the heat but they are looking sad now. Hopefully I will still get enough seed off them to replant next year.
The poor tamarillos which were full of flowers and fruit have aborted most of their baby fruits because of the heat. If I don't get a good harvest off them this year they will be chopped out. I just don't have enough shade for them.

 I was right, my lotus is a dwarf variety. In the Ebay listing for the assorted tuber the seller said that it is a listing for a full size variety but if you wanted a dwarf you should message them. I didn't want a dwarf but they sent one anyway. I will have to buy another full size tuber next spring. I want full sized plants for eating size tubers.
As you can see I have my first flower popping up now.

My rows of squash and pumpkins are flowering profusely even though they have got a bit burnt over the last few days.
I just hope the flowers set as sometimes they don't if it is too hot.
This is part of a 20m row of yellow patty pan squash.

My tepary beans are starting to flower. I might not be ale to grow green beans but there are two sorts of beans that will take my heat - tepary and snake beans.
The snake beans are always very slow and are quite a way off flowering yet. I have a few now varieties of them to trial this year.

This is a flower of a blue speckled tepary bean.

Friday, December 4, 2015

A walk around the blocks

With temperatures above 35c for the next 5 days or so I am not going to get anything done except watering at night so I thought I would just take a few pics this morning to keep you interested.
My sister called me up to ask a few questions about her vegetables, and she said she always thinks of me as her gardening guru, golly gosh isn't that nice. It feels good to the ego to be a guru.

My bought in seed of Painted mountain that I talked about a few posts ago is flowering even though it is so small. There are some lovely colours in it which is why I decided to buy in some more seed. All my own seed is light colours so I wanted some dark seed.

Most of the plants that are flowering are black, brown and purple, with those coloured stems. I am not sure if it a good idea to put it in with my 'normal' seed that doesn't bolt so quickly so I will keep it separate until I hear if my corn seed buyer wants it mixed in. I wouldn't risk it if I was a buyer so I am a bit annoyed by it.

Even though the plants are small I am looking forward to seeing the cobs, though I know they will not be filled well as the plants are not close enough to each other. It is very disappointing that it does not flower at the same time as my own seed so the cobs will be more colourful, but that is the way it goes. It just isn't selected for this area.

Maybe following years of mixing will stabilise it so they grow at the same rate. At least they look healthy.

 I put in a couple of rows of 'Bear Necessities' kale for seed. The internet pictures looked amazing but my plants were not showing the fine leaves so I was prepared to pull them all out as they were looking similar to siberian kale. Over the past week they have started to put out the feathery leaves so I am very happy, you just have to be patient it seems.

The parents of this kale are Red Russian kale and mizuna, and the light mustardy flavour of the leaves do show its mustard heritage. I was hoping there would not be a mustard flavour but it is not too bad and the tenderness of the raw leaves will actually be great in salads with that flavour. I think it will go ok if it is marketed well here. Mustards are not popular in Australia. Maybe it will not show the mustard flavour if grown in winter - sometimes it is heat that brings it out.

I had a tray full of potato seedlings with Toolangi Delight as the parent. That was the only potato that set fruit for me last summer. Toolangi Delight is a nice, Australian bred potato with white flesh and very lilac soloured skin that rubs off easily.

I was only going to pot up 20 of these seedlings but you know how it is, you just have to give any that seem to be trying a go, so I ended up with 30 plants in pots. Some of the more precocious ones were even putting out stolons at their small size.

I will give them three weeks in the pots to grow and them plant them out in beds.

My bed of sunflowers is about to open up. I love looking at sunflowers and the parrots love them too so I just plant them for the birds. I rationalise it by telling myself that it keeps them from looking at the corn, lol

Unfortunately it might be put to the test this year as the sunflowers are planted next to the corn. We will see.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Broad bean tasting and another rant

Today it was a bit windy and cool to do much outside (yes I am a wuss) so I decided to do a taste test of my broad beans.

I currently grow three varieties of broad bean: Violetta, Gippsland Giant, and Crimson Flowered.

I soaked the dry beans overnight and today boiled them in the microwave till they were soft. This took 5 minutes but I suppose it might have taken longer if they had been longer in storage. I did not double peel them, I really don't think they need it.

I was very happy with the results and realised that I had always assumed that I did not like them and maybe I had never even tasted them in my life, I can't remember every having them served up to me.

Anyway, I found that they are actually quite delicious, even without adding things like butter.

Violetta - These beans have a bitter seed coat when they are immature and fresh so I was surprised that they lost all sign of bitterness when cooked. They only lost a bit of their dark purple colour though I imagine they would loose more if cooked longer.
These beans were sweet and nutty, starchy and really good.

Gippsland Giant - These beans are very tender and mild after cooking and the seed coat was tender and would not need double peeling as they were not tough at all.

Crimson flowered - These beans retained their unusual fruity flavouring after cooking. The seed coat was a little tough but not worth taking off as the beans are so small. It was interesting to note that these beans, though small, needed more cooking than the others.

I am going to be testing a few other broad beans varieties next year, some that are not commonly available in Australia and you will not have heard of. They come in interesting colours and, hopefully, flavours.

My very rare mauka plants are really loving the weather and growing strongly. The edible bases are expanding and I hope they come through the summer ok.

I am pleased with the taste of the leaves and I hope this will be of considerable interest in Australia next spring when I will have plants to sell.

Now for my rant -

 I am really sick of seeing all the mislabeled, misleading, photoshopped, and fake plant seed listings on Ebay. It must be really disappointing for a new gardener who wants to try something different to find that the seeds he planted turn out to be nothing like what he ordered.
I understand that Ebay can't do much about these fake listings as their workers are office people and would not know what is real or not, and by the time a plant has grown and the gardener realises it is not right it is too late to give the seller a black mark.

I realise that if Ebay did employ a gardener to go through millions of listing that person may still not know about rare plants and delist things like white fleshed watermelongs, for example but there must be something they can do.

Listings for multi coloured bananas, 'rainbow' roses, blue watermelon etc can fool new gardeners but even a fairly good gardener can be sucked in by things like Chinese mislabeled 'Glass Gem' corn, then after they grow it they package and resell their own seed, which they then mislabel as ' Glass Gem' which muddies the variety to the detriment of all gardeners.

The Chinese sellers are the worst but there are also plenty of bad Australian sellers like the lady selling Saffron seeds which are clearly safflower seed (saffron doesn't produce viable seed FYI). I have emailed her in case it was a mistake but she is still selling the seed as saffron. I suppose she doesn't care as she also has 'rainbow' roses in her shop.
Then there is the seller who photoshops all their vegetable seed listings and gives the varieties their own made-up names, calling them rare when in fact they are not so rare at all.

There has to be some way of cracking down on these seller but I can't think of it. Sigh.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

blue tomatoes and windy days

After two days of gale force winds I am actually quite pleased at the lack of damage. I put down all the row covers beforehand, well, all except the ones on the seed block which I forgot.

I have been really enjoying this cooler weather, especially as we are expecting such a hot summer so I will value it as I can, and the plants are too. All the veggies are growing well and I am pleased.

The row covers over the oca on the seed block took a bit of a beating with the first third of each row coming apart, but it could have been worse. Luckily I make these so they fall down in windy weather which stops them from blowing off into the neighbours place.
It is easy to put them back up.

I have a quite a few of Tom Wagners tomatoes in this year and the first to set fruit are the two dark blue cherries 'Fahrenheit Blues' and 'Helsing Junction Blues'
It will be interesting to see which one is the better of the two as most blue tomatoes don't taste great. Luckily Toms tomatoes are not released unless they taste good.

The interesting thing about Fahrenheit Blues is that the leaves are naturally curled as if it is diseased. Apparently this trait was selected for as it allows more light into the fruit which darkens them.

Well, sorry but there is not much else to report today but I will try to write a longer post in a few days.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Frustrating neighbours and purple asparagus

I have just come inside after trying to prop up the fence in J block. The neighbours sheep have got through the fence and into my veggies for about the fifth time and I am getting sick of it. He is not home and not answering his phone so I just hope I still have some greenery left in the morning as I can't get the damn things to go back. In this block I have my Painted Mountain corn that I really need to fulfill a contract.
I actually don't mind that he has sheep to keep his block clean as the alternative would be for him to be spraying a lot and that would mean on windy days as he would have to do it when he had the time as he is away a lot. I just wish he would fix up the fence to keep his sheep in.

My purple asparagus is in its second year and showing a bit more life with some more spears. It had a flush a month or so ago.
I planted ten seeds but only managed to get 4 plants growing which is unusual as asparagus is usually easy to grow from seed. Out of the four plants I have one female and three males.

I am really liking this variety as the spears are really sweet and delicious raw and cooked. All asparagus is nice but this one is particularly good.

 The female has a heap of seed pods on it so I will grow a heap more later and put a whole bed in.

One of the neighbours of the' Back block' has a silky oak tree (Grevillea robusta) which I grow a couple of tamarillos under. I always love these trees when they are out in flower, they are spectacular.

The picture below is a closer look at the brush-like flowers. They particularly look good at this time o0f year not only because of the flowers but because they loose their leaves in late winter and grow them again in spring so the leaves right now are looking really fresh and green.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

There's lots happening on the farm at the moment

Sometimes I am grateful for the hot days as they give me an excuse to sit inside for much of the day. I still get my work done as I go out to work as the sun comes up and that is around 6am at the moment and work till it gets hot, then go out in the evening for a couple of hours of watering.

I love working for myself as I can set my own hours and I don't like to exhaust myself, I just potter around moving from job to job as I like. It is nice to be able to choose what I do and when.

.... Excuse me, I just has to pause writing to watch activity out the window. We have a little cherry tree out on the lawn and the starlings learn how to get the cherries every year so we don't get any. Well, I was watching one flying against the bird netting until its body weight brought the netting close to a cherry, then it grabbed the fruit and wiggled until the fruit dropped. Then the bird dropped to the ground and got the net in its beak and wriggled it around until the net uncovered the fruit. It got its prize with a lot of work and ingenuity. Good on it I suppose....

 Ok, back to it. I am in the middle of harvesting my tronchuda kale and Italian root cabbage seed. Covering the plants with shadecloth mostly worked to keep the birds off so I am going to have plenty of seed.
I am also harvesting white alpine strawberry and snapdragon seed now, and am nearly finished the broad beans.

Next year I am going to have to buy a mouseproof shed and work out how to make it into a seed drying shed as I will have a lot more seed and I can see that I will not be able to dry it all as I am doing with the small amount of seed I am getting this year.

I have started getting my first melon flowers now. It always makes me feel good. I can't wait to be chowing down on juicy melons.

With having to grow more melons and pumpkins etc I will have to get help with the seed collection. I am thinking of offering the fruit to people free as long as they return the seeds.

The neighbour of D block decided to remove the trees that were sheltering my tamarillos so they are all exposed to the summer sun and frost now.

It will be interesting to see if they survive the summer, and if they manage to fruit in the heat. The fence behind in this pic is 7 feet tall so you can see how big the plants are.

Since Vivid choi is so strongly flavoured I have doubts that any company will want the seed to after wondering weather to just not grow it, and after a bit of conversation on a forum I decided to start selecting it for the bulbous roots which are much milder in taste, actually delicious.
This plant often produces small 'bulbs' but I might be able to improve on that. This is a picture of after I have finished my selection process, it looks like a bomb has hit it.

These are some of the smaller roots that I tossed. There are better ones to keep.

I started with eighty plants and ended up with 28. I kept plants that had nicely swollen roots like this one.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Why are food growers looked down upon?

Not long ago someone I know who is a doctor came to me to ask advice on growing some vegetables. He had never grown anything before so he was a bit hesitant but he went out and bought some seeds, soil and stuff and spent a good amount of time digging, weeding and looking after his veg.

So... at the end of the season he came back to me complaining about all the time, money and effort he spent but it was all wasted because he only managed to harvest a few tomatoes and carrots. He thought it was a waste of his time.

I really wanted to say to him - If I was training to become a doctor what would you say if after a year in medical school I told you that after all the time and money I spent I still didn't have an income so I was giving up.

Really, gardening and making it worth it growing food is a skill, just like doctoring. You can't expect to immediately know how to do it, it takes practice and mistakes and maybe a year or two before you can see any results - just like learning to be a doctor.

Are food growers devalued because city people think it is easy I wonder. I remember some years ago when farmers were having a rare good year and some of them bought expensive new cars. City folk were complaining because they thought farmers were ripping them off and should be able to afford new cars when food prices were always going up. Why is it that plumbers, accountants and even your dry-cleaner is 'allowed' to buy an expensive car but we are not?

Why are all essential jobs looked down on. The most imporatant people who take care of the world are farmers, toilet cleaners, housewives/husbands etc. but they are the lowest paid. Why do people whos jobs don't contribute much to society like middle managers, people who puch nu8mbers around on computers, people who work on the stock market and (dare I say it) professional sportsmen ( in my opinion sports are games to be played in your time off, why do we even have ministers for arts and sports who should be self funded) get paid so much?

Rant over :)

 Anyway... I didn't have enough of one variety of corn seed (Painted Mountain) to plant this year so I bought some in. For some reason many of the plants from this bought in seed are starting to flower very early and they are only 30-50cm tall.
I have read that this happens when corn is stressed but this year I am looking after it better than I have ever done, and my original seed plants are doing fine.

This is a real pain as I need every plant to fulfill my seed contract this year. I hope they put on a spurt of growth. Some people say these plants do.

On J block I have laid dripper tube to save on watering. It is all laid out now and working well. Now all I need to do is line up all the beds as the crops come out and dig the spaces between the bed so I end up with single long rows rather than three rows going down the block of 4m beds, if you know what I mean, lol.

When I get all the blocks done it will free up a lot of time, and the water will be more targetted.

I have made it so I can take the system apart easily if I need to vacate a block and set it out again elsewhere. A permanent system would have been a real hassle.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

November bits and pieces

With a showery day (too annoying to do much but still not much in it) I weeded a few beds this morning but spent most of the day indoors working on a new Facebook group for hobby farmers. I am feeling very lazy today.

 Small finches have been eating all the ripening seed pods on my brassicas just before they are ready to pick so I have been trying draping some of my spare row covers over them. Seems to be mostly working so far though I will have to invest in some bird netting soon.

My lotus is finally making its first out-of-the-water leaf. The leaves are pretty small, well smaller than I expected for a lotus so I have the suspicion that I was sold a dwarf variety.

I might have to buy another normal size next year.

I hope it flowers this year. I don't know what colour it will be.

My first two giant pink sword beans (Canavalia gladiata) are finally germinating after being planted a month ago. I did have three but a bird pulled out the third one yesterday. I am not sure that my season will be long enough to get the seeds ripe but it will be fun to give them a go.

I am having so much trouble with birds this year, much more than other years, they pulled out all my oca seedlings yesterday while it was very hot so they are all dead. Luckily I still have one tray that I haven't planted out yet but it is very disappointing.

They are also pulling out every plant label in the rows. I am getting pretty sick of them.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

More dripper pipe arrived today

I have been enjoying sitting indoors most of today. It has been raining for the first time in a long time, not much but it is certainly welcome. Already the lawn and veggies are looking fresher and more alive. There is 11 mm in the gauge and a bit bit more expected overnight.
I think the corn is going to grow a foot taller tonight, lol.

At least with these few cooler days I have been able to get off watering today.

 I got another 5 rolls of dripper tube delivered today, each roll is 200 metres so that is another km of pipe.
That is the last of what I can afford but it is enough. Once I have it out I will have all the beds planted that I need right now.

This dripper tube is doing a great job although my runs seem to be a bit long and losing pressure at the furthest parts so I have bought little taps to put on the dripper lines so I can turn some off to give more pressure to others. This will also be handy for turning off the water to beds with nothing in them.

I am so happy with using this tube for my irrigation that I am going to eventually place all my other blocks under it. I have made the pipe for my small house blocks so I can take it all apart easily for if I lose a block and have to move the whole irrigation system.

Some of my potatoes are dying down but the tubers are still pretty small. I am going to dig up my potato beds and only growing a few of each as the unusual varieties don't sell well at the markets here. I will be able to plant more cost effective veggies in those rows now.

This potato is 'Toolangi Delight'.

I have a few seedlings germinating now which I will put out soon to see if they turn out to be anything different.

I have these pink, top-setting shallots flowering and also producing topsets now. I have been trying to find out their variety name with no success so far.
They are much better eating than the 'usual' golden shallot, and are very good keepers so I will plant more of them in the autumn.
They look much like miniature walking onions as the topsets often also produce more 'stories'. I have never seen them advertised or in other peoples gardens so I am very curious as to their name.

I got them a few years ago off a market stall and the stall owner didn't know anything about them either.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

November odds and ends

A few days of cool weather starting today will help me get a heap of work done. I mainly have weeding to do but now that I have harvested all my garlic I also have a few new beds to sow as well.

 A few days ago the first of my seedling hippeastrums put up a flower bud (all the others are still too small to flower this year) but the next night a snail ate the tip off the flower.
Well that has ruined it. I will remember to protect it next year though it looks like a pretty ordinary one.

I bought a heap of small seedlings off Ebay a couple of years ago but didn't look after them so only a dozen or so survived. I will have to try a bit harder so they all flower next spring.

All my corn is growing well. This is a bed of 'Glass Gem'. I wasn't going to grow Glass Gem as it is only good as an ornamental  and practically useless for anything else but then I figured that pretty also has its place in the world, and I had a bit of space so I put in a couple of hundred seeds.
At least the cobs will look great on my display at the Casterton Harvest Festival next March.

 I hand pollinated a few of my seedling bearded Iris I have been posting about and some now have pods on them. It is just a bit of fun at the moment so I have not gone to the bother of documenting the parents. Maybe if it gets to be something bigger I will start taking it a bit more seriously.

I have put up three 40m long covers on my oca rows on the new seed block. They catch a bit of wind so I might have to work out a bit more stabilisation but for now they are working well. I have a few steel droppers placed along the centre of the rows to keep the shadecloth from blowing off and the frames relatively stable.

I would like to put up a few more but I can't afford it at the moment so that might have to be a project for next year.

I am watering the new block twice a week right now which seems enough but maybe when the summer really hits it might be three times a week - oh, the water bills.