Monday, July 27, 2015

'Lost crops of the Inca' seedling news

As many of you know if you read my blog regularly I am trying to grow as many of the 'Lost crops of the Incas' as I am able to in my area. Some like Jicama and cocoyam (Xanthosoma sagittifolium) just haven't made it because of my climate or their taste but here are a couple of my new ones that I have grown from seed.

 Another very, very rare tuberous plant - Mauka (Mirabilis expansa). Two seeds have germinated so far. Sorry about all the snail pellets in the picbut this plant is reputed to be very tasty to snails and slugs.
 This plant produced thick roots that are tasty but not as tasty as the water they are boiled in, I hear.

They may not do well in my hot summers but I won't know unless I try.

My couple of extremely rare Ulluco plants (Ullucus tuberosus) are growing fairly well. It is winter so I am not dissapointed in their growth. I have started leaving them outside at night now since the days are getting longer.

They produce colourful little tubers like little new potatoes. This is the bigger plant.

I noticed a week or so ago that this oca seedling from last season has started shooting even though it has been so cold and frosty. All the other tubers are tucked up nicely in their pots ready to shoot when the weather warms up but this one is a bit impatient, not even bothered by the frosty mornings.
I didn't have a 'potential' tick next to this one when I was evaluating them but that might change now that it seems to like cool weather.

One to keep an eye on for people in cold climates perhaps. We will see.

This has been the coldest winter that I have seen in my life here. We have had enough cold hours now that many deciduous trees are budding out and flowering. It might be cold but with the expectation of a 'super' El Nino this coming summer I am not complaining at all. I really hope the summer will not be as hot and dry as they are predicting.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Getting the irrigation system up

With the cold weather stopping all my other work I made a start on my drip irrigation system on the new seed block as soon as we got a nice day.

 This is the fertigation set-up with a venturi fixing. This is an easy and cheap way of running liquid fertiliser or liquid fish or kelp soil improver through the drippers. The piece on the left will have a tube fixed on it that operates to draw up the fertiliser through a vaccum caused when you mostly shut off the water with the left tap and divert the water through it.

It has no moving parts or electronics so is easy to maintain.

My main cross pipes are 3/4 inch rural poly and the 13mm dripper tubes are attached to it. The main line that runs the length of the 6acre block is 1 inch rural. I would have gone with a larger diameter but that is the size of the pipe coming from the supply so that is what I am stuck with.Although I finally found a place that sells the right joiners for this set up it really doesn't work well and I will have to seal the attachments with UV resistant silicone to stop leaks. There has to be a much better way but I can't find it.

Most people use the softer low pressure pipe but with the distances I am working with I decided to go with the rural pipe instead.

I have just completed all the left hand side and when I can afford the next thousand dollars woth of dripper line I will start on the next. I don't know how much I will be able to afford after that and before spring planting in october. Even if I only get these two lines done it will be a good start anyway.

My Portuguese kale is starting to show flowering stems. I never understand why this plant is called kale as it is a true cabbage with true cabbage taste. It is also called Tronchuda kale.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Winter veggies

Yeah, I know. It has been a couple of weeks but really, nothing much happens over winter. Last post I think I was telling you how I was going to visit some friends which I did. It is great to see people that I only get to see once a year when things slow down. It really makes you appreciate them.

Over the last week, and with another week to go we have been having the coldest weather we have had in my whole life. This is the third day where we have not got to 10C which hasn't happened since I was a kid. It has even been snowing in Queensland.

 When I got back one of the first things I noticed was that the parrots had stripped every seed off my Purple Peacock broccoli that I needed for seed. Oh well, I do have enough to grow another couple of rows in spring.

I will have to net it next time, especially as the parrots are learning now that there is often seeds on my blocks. I will have to almost net my whole new block because of the huge amount of parrots and pigeons that congregate there. It is by the river so many birds go there to roost.

Most of my garlic is looking fine. It is amazing to see how the different varieties grow different from each other. They are moslty looking like this one but the worst performer this year is Dynamite purple which is looking quite sick and scrawny.

The best looking variety by far this year is the Mexican Stripe which is tall, healthy and not fussed with the cold weather at all.

The crimson flowered broad beans are looking fantastic and the red flowers really stand out among the other green plants. Like everything they have been getting beaten by the earth mites but a few soap sprays has them looking ok.
They won't start setting pods till later in spring so I have months of pretty flowers to look at.

I have started on the watering system for the new seed block and have also started planting some rows of yacon and rhubarb.
I will take some pictures for my next post.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Quick update

Just letting you know that I will be going away for the next week so I won't be updating my blog until I get back.