Thursday, November 30, 2017

Pea beans and dwarf choi

I am listening to the rain on the roof again. We are having some weird weather, and I hope it keeps up although the rain mixed with heat is making it very muggy. I am reminded of the weird summer we had about six years ago where we had tropical weather all summer with afternoon rain and storms.

 These are pea beans, the plants look EXACTLY like peas, with the same foliage, growth habit and pods, but the seeds are bi-coloured beans. it is very unusual. I am tempted to think that it is in a separate family like some botanists still do, though it was put into the P. vulgaris some time ago.

The purple flowers are quite pretty and this is the first year growing some so I am eager to see how they produce.

They are supposed to have a very unusual and pleasant flavour so that is another thing to look forward to.

It is hard to see in this pic but this is my short row of cotton plants. I put these in just for a bit of fun and it will be interesting to see how they go.

I will be giving up on growing most brassicas now as they don't survive the wet in winter, but there are some fast growing ones like this extra dwarf choi that I will still be able to grow.

It is very fast growing and tender to eat. Great for stir fries and salads. The whole plant is only half as big as your hand at eating size.

Just a quick pic of part of my seed block. The weeds are growing fast but with a lot of work I am nearly keeping on top of them.

With this rain I won't have to start irrigating till Christmas which will keep some costs down and the soil is keeping nice and moist.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

zucchinis and nasturtium

I am loving the weather at the moment - well... apart from not being able to harvest my garlic. We are having some nice rain every week which, combined with the hot temps is keeping everything humid and the plants are loving it.
With the huge amount of weeds in the garlic I figured that the only way to harvest it is to mow it all down then fork up the beds. It would be a hundred times easier if the soil was dry.

I wrote about the 'Phoenix' naturtium that I am growing this yer, well, the other one I got in was 'Black Velvet', shown here.

It is a smaller and bushier plant with very dark red flowers. They are very pretty. I am not sure whether the plants are supposed to be small, or the growing conditions are not to their liking but they need to put on a lot more growth if they will get big enough to collect a decent amount of seed.

One of the plants of my new zucchini variety 'Caesar' has gigantic flowers. I think I will keep the seeds separate to see if people would be interested in a larger flowered variety for eating the flowers. I will see if I have enough room next year to do some experimenting with it.

I am a bit disappointed in my 'Rascal' variety this year. I was hoping they would be stable enough to offer seeds from it after this season but, unfortunately, I am only getting 60% correct type of fruit this year. I understand that the genetics of the bicolour are difficult but I was hoping for better.

If they are no better next year I might have to offer them just as a backyarder vegetable as there is only so many years I can spend on them before they have to pay for themselves.

My zucchinis are loving the weather but I am worried about the risk of powdery mildew. At least I will find out if they have any resistance to it at all.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

First broad bean harvest, more Phoenix nasturtiums, and tomatillos

With a week of temps in the thirties after last weeks rain everything is popping. Of course so are the weeds but I will plug along and get them under some sort of control as time goes on.
I lost two of my melon beds to snails in the last couple of days so I will replant them tomorrow and put out some bait.

 I thought I would put up a couple more pics of the 'Phoenix' nasturtiums as they are so pretty.

I have been pulling out the ones with 'normal' flowers as I see them so I can have a clean line. It annoys me when people sell a variety without knowing if it has been crossed. I will have to grow them out an extra year to see if there are any 'normal' ones in my seed from these so I can consider selling them in packets.

So far it looks like I only have two colours, orange and yellow. I hope the two plants that are yet to flower have another colour.

Finally the broad beans are ripening. I have harvested my 'Early White' but I only had a few plants of those. Now it the 'Stone Ear' turn.
These are very pretty with their markings that make them look like pebbles

My tomatillos are just starting to flower now. This one is 'Amarilla Yellow' but the others are not far behind.
I have three varieties in this year.
I will have to work out a better way of harvesting the seed from them as doing it by hand last year was a royal pain, and I have a lot more in this year.

I am going to try the blender, and the paint stirrer methods of extracting the seed this year. One of those should make it a lot easier.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

MIni choi and nasturtiums

We have just had two days of beautiful rain so I won't have to start irrigating till December, YAY.

After a few days with temps in the low thirties (C) followed by this three inches of rain the seedlings are jumping. Everything is going great. Of course, the weeds will be loving this too but I will deal with them.

 One of my favourite veggies to grow is dwarf choi. It is so fast that you can almost see it growing, and good and mild to eat. Just chuck some in a star fry, or even in a salad - too easy, lol.

This year I was going to grow a few varieties of nasturtium but I forgot to sow one type, and another really isn't doing well right now.

This one is called 'Phoenix' and you can see that the petals are separated and look novel. A couple of the plants are the 'usual' type so they may have been crossed but I am culling those as they flower. I just hope I get a few different colours.

Another couple of weeks and I will be able to take some great pics of the veggies so come back soon.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

garlic selection, purple asparagus, and more

You may remember how I have been grouching about how the boggy conditions every winter/spring have destroyed all my garlic varieties. Well after years of selection for surviving and producing in wet conditions and heavy weed pressure, I finally have a epigenically selected garlic that will cope with those conditions.

 It is a selection of Monaro purple and I have asked another garlic grower to grow out some bulbs next season to make sure it does as well for him in these difficult conditions as for me.

It has been a struggle but, although the bulbs are not particularly even, they produced quite well.

I let the weeds grow freely through the garlic this season to test it thoroughly and am pleased with the result.

If it goes as well next year I will offer it to the public.

During the selection process it seems to have lost some of its bite, it is just a bit milder in flavour than the original Monaro Purple but otherwise it is the same, just more suited to boggy conditions without a lot of grassy top problems.

The only brassica to survive the wet over winter was Bear Necessities kale. The pods are starting to ripen now so I suppose I had better get the bird netting on in the next couple of days.

I have planted a bed of purple asparagus for seed, though half of them didn't make it through the winter. The parent plants are going gangbusters though. Some of the spears are as big as my wrist.

I love purple asparagus as it is more tender and a little sweeter than my green one, which is better tasting than most other common varieties in turn.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Duck potatoes and frost

Damn it, we have had a couple of frosts now which have damaged or destroyed some of my seedlings, and the nights are still too cold for things to grow properly. At least we are supposed to get up into the 30s by this time next week.
Tomorrow I will go and replant the beds that have been ruined or not come up and the seed will germinate in the warmer weather in a few days.

This is the broad bean 'Robin Hood'. It is supposed to be a dwarf but it has grown to the same height as my other varieties which is a disappointment, the other worry is that it has been a very poor producer, at least this year. I will try it again next year to see if it is just the year.

This variety does have very short internodes so it produces a lot of leaves, maybe at the expense of pods. If it always does this then it may be great for green manure.

I didn't put any large amounts of broad beans in this year as I needed to grow out a few varieties where I only had a few seeds and didn't want a risk of crossing. Next year I will choose a couple for mass planting.

The frosts have damaged all my cucurbits. maybe some will survive but luckily there is still time to replant. Some like this zucchini may survive, I should know in a few days.

I try to get some early seeds sown every year and sometimes I luck out with the frosts and sometimes I don't. I am beginning to rethink the strategy and next year I might just wait till November to start planting.

I took all the water chestnuts out of one bathtub this year to grow duck potatoes. The few duck potatoes I grew last year did very well so I will be growing more, simply because they don't have to be peeled and, so, are easier to process for eating.

They are shooting strongly right now so I had better transfer them to the bath.

I went out to one of my house blocks yesterday to find out that the magpies had pulled out all the rare melon seedlings there. I was so angry. I think I will have to replant them over on the main seed block, and do even more hand pollination *sigh*.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Cold nights and ruined plantings

Unfortunately the nights are staying way too cold for my new seedlings. Many beds have not germinated and of those that have, many of the seedlings have died. We are expecting a few frosts this week but, hopefully, after that I can replant.

 One of my struggling baby zucchini has put out a flower in a desperate hope to reproduce. Poor thing. I have picked the flower off to give it a bit more energy but unless the weather heats up soon I don't hold out much hope.

One problem I am having is with tiny snails eating the underneath of the zucchini and pumpkin seedling leaves. I am not sure if you can see but there are a heap of these very tiny snails on it.
They don't seem to eat the bait I put out, and they weaken the seedlings with their feeding.

My poor, poor garlic is overrun with weeds. Luckily nearly all the garlic I have left is Monaro Purple which is the only one that can cope with my winder bogginess and weed pressure.
At least I will get a better harvest than last year, but I am really going to have to work out some way of coping with the weeds better. They grow so fast and thickly that it is hard to keep up with hand weeding, and when the garlic gets to a reasonable size you have to stop weeding or you pull out the garlic.

On another note, I have rolled up all my weedmat from the beds. It is just impossible to get seeds germinated or seedlings growing when all sorts of pests live under it and come out at night to eat everything.

All my beds will be clear of weed suppression from now on as pests living in straw and under weedmat is too hard to deal with.