Saturday, December 23, 2017

Asparagus, and gooseberries, and Happy Holidays :)

Just got back from visiting my sister and her family to give them their presents, then went out to find that many of my vegetables were a bit sad so I irrigated about half the seed block, I will do the rest tomorrow morning.
I am happy that I have saved on a couple of months of water with the rainy weather lasting so long into spring this year.

 I am still getting a few spears of my asparagus. I grow two varieties - Purple Passion, and Argenteiulle. Both of them are very good varieties and produce many big spears.

Purple passion is tender and sweet and perfect for eating raw, and Argenteiulle is a high producer (both male and female plants) and is also tender and a great eater.
I am going to put in a large bed of each next year as I have found that seed sells well in packets.

'Captivator' gooseberry is usually such a poor producer that it really is not worth growing, but this year for the first time it is loaded with fruit.
The fruit ate nice to eat but it is not worth growing if it only fruits every few years so I will not grow more than this single plant.

I do have another variety but I don't know the name of it, and the plants were a bit neglected last winter so have not fruited. I look forward to eating them next year.

My 'Phoenix' nasturtiums are going gangbusters. They are absolutely covered in flowers.
I only got two colours (yellow and orange) but I will buy some more seeds next year to see if I can get more.
I love the fancy petals on them.

Have a lovely Christmas period everyone. I will not be posting again until new year.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Arracacha flowering, and beans

The weather is still lovely, with hot days interspersed with cooler ones, though we are getting more and more hot ones now. This morning was the first time I had to put on the irrigation, and that was just for the beds with seedlings in.

For the first time, and it is so rare that most other people never see it - a couple of my arracacha plants have put up flower stems.
I am so excited and I really hope that I get seeds from them.
I love arracacha and I think that if I can find a market grower who is willing to grow it and market it, it could be the next big thing.
Since it is a tetraploid there is a chance that any seed I get will lead to a new and better variety for my growing conditions.

This year, to save on time and the risk of crossing, I have bought a heap of cheap mossie nets to cover my melons for hand pollinating. This will help with time as I will not have to go out in the evening the night before to clamp the flowers shut to pollinate the next morning.
Some of the melons are just starting to flower so I will soon know if this is the best way to go.

The nets don't look pretty because of their shape but as long as they do the job I don't care.

Some of the beans are now setting pods so I should be able to harvest them before I need to waste water on irrigating them, yay.
This particular one is 'Devil Fin Precoce. it is the only green bean that I have found copes well with the heat, though there are a couple of dry bean varieties that are up there.

I am growing a lot more beans this year, the ones that grew in the heat the best last summer.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Taste testing my zucchinis

With my zucchinis bearing heavily I decided to bring some inside and do a taste test.
I am growing three zucchini varieties this year as well as Zucca di Albenga (Tromboncino) which are not ready yet but I will add what I remember from last time I ate them.

I have rated them from 1 to 5 with 3 being average, basically similar to most other zucchini. I rated them on taste and texture, both raw and cooked (fried in butter till golden and tender with no other flavourings). They were all at the stage where the flower was just falling off.

 Yellow ball (one ball)

This is the second year I have grown these from my own seed.
Flavour raw: very bland  2
Flavour fried: sweet 4
Texture raw: Butter firm 3
Texture fried: watery soft 2

Over all: I prefer these picked a bit bigger when the skin is firmer, stuffed and baked. I didn't like them when young like this.

This is my own variety that I will be releasing next year.

Flavour raw: Sweet 4
Flavour fried: medium 3
Texture raw: buttery firm 3
Texture fried: buttery soft 3

Over all: Overall I liked this one, especially raw where it would be good cubed in a garden salad.

This is also my own variety which should be ready for release in a couple of years.

Flavour raw: bland, slightly nutty 3
Flavour fried: med 3
Texture raw: med firm 3
Texture fried: med firm 3

Over all: Not much different than any other zucchini you would buy in the supermarket. Eyecatching colour though.

Zucca di Albenga
This is a butternut relative that is used as a zucchini when immature. Other butternuts can also be used like this.

Flavour raw: nutty, mild 3
Flavour fried: nutty 4
Texture raw: firm 4
Texture fried: firm 4

Over all: Always my favourite as zucchini.

Although I liked Caesar, my favourite is Zucca because it is less watery than 'normal' zucchini, and it has a better flavour. I am not keen on the blandness of zucchinis in general.
The Rascal was average and ok but I didn't like yellow ball at all, though I liked it stuffed and baked last year..

Sunday, December 10, 2017

It's all happening now. Summer is here.

Although some plants are not growing as quickly as I would like due to the continuing cool nights, there is still a lot happening. Nearly all my beds are planted and I am busy trying to clear another bit of room from running grass for the Autumn broad beans and garlic.
From tomorrow summer hits with hot weather which will finally get my poor okra plants growing properly. The ground is still damp enough that I won't have to irrigate till after Christmas.

 I am really low on seeds for my monthly market stall in Ballarat so I have had to do one last raid on my seed stores. Been busy putting a heap of seeds in packets just to make my stall look just a bit better.
At least now I will have some fresh veg to make a display on the tables for interest. I doubt I will get many sales now though as most people have put all their veg in. I just have to show my face.

With all the new veggies I have put in this season I will have plenty of new stuff for my stall from Autumn on, and my sales there helps me to judge what my commercial seed buyers may want later. I get to see trends develop and some of the market gardeners who attend the market can see if I have anything they might want to try later.

It has been four years since I last planted 'Zucca di Albenga' pumpkin (or Tromboncino) but many people at the market have asked for seed so I thought I should put some in this year. I love this pumpkin both for its flavour and its versatility but the down side is that the female flowers all face downward so they don't open freely and bees can't get in them - this means that every flower has to be hand pollinated.
Luckily this year I don't have as many melons for hand pollinating so I have time for this one in the morning.

This is my mother holding a fruit from last time I grew them. They are very ornamental as well as good to eat.

The good things about this pumpkin are:
1, you can eat them immature as a zucchini. They are even better than a zucchini as they are firm and taste better.
2, You can wait till they mature and use them like butternut pumpkin, of which they are a type.
3, After cutting they can be left out on the kitchen counter and stay good without rotting for a long time. This is handy as they are too big to put in the fridge.
4, Female flowers that are not pollinated still grow, though they don't produce a seed filled bump, and can be used as zucchini. This is great for flowers that missed being hand pollinated.

The rabbits haven't found my peanuts yet. They are starting to flower - well the red skinned variety is, the black skins are a bit smaller and slower to mature.
I really hope I get a good crop this year and the rabbits stay away.
I really enjoyed growing them last year, and I think I will put in a heap of rows next year.

My favourite cucumber, the 'mini White' are starting to set fruit. The cold nights mean that the plants are still very small but they produce right through the season so they will get a lot bigger.

These cucumbers are so sweet that you would think they had sugar added, but they still have a full cucumber flavour. It is my mums favourite and she is fussy about cucumbers.
I don't like cucumber but I have to admit that I do like this one.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Corn and other stuff

The weather continues to be perfect, well, almost. Most of the nights are still well below the temps that many of the veggies like and they are not growing as fast as they should be. I am a bit worried about the few okra plants that survived as they really prefer much warmer weather.

 I have finished harvesting the 'Bear Necessities' kale seed so I have mowed the beds down which mulches up the old plants and adds the organic matter back to the soil. This way of treating the old plants is really paying off as my soil on this block is getting better and better. It is hard to think that only three years ago it was pure sand.

I have enough time to rotary hoe these couple of beds and plant something else there before Christmas. Might go for melons.

The 'Painted Mountain' flour corn is starting to flower now, it is always the first.
I love this corn, not only because the cobs are so pretty, but because the plants are so tough and quick growing. It also copes with germinating in cooler temps than other corn so you can get it in earlier.

Just finished harvesting the 'Senoritas Hat' broad beans. I didn't plant much broad beans this year because I had a few small amounts of seed of some varieties that I had to grow out and didn't want them crossing.
Next year I will do some big plantings as I have a company want to buy some seed of interesting broad bean varieties.