Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Okra and Lovers Lunch tomato

Although I lost most of my crops there are a few that don't seem to mind the heat at all. Most of these had a hard time at first when sown or planted because we had nights that were too cold for them up till the first week in Jan so I lost most of them, but I did get a few going.

 This is the first year that I have tried growing okra. I put in a heap of varieties but many of them didn't make it through the cold nights. I have four left.

This pic is of 'Becks Big Horn'. I managed to keep about 20 plants going so it is the toughest of all the ones I tried. The plants are big and healthy.

This one is 'Louisianny Long Pod'. I have about 8 plants of this variety and they are just starting to fruit now.

I tried cooking an okra pod last night. I cut it in rounds, sprinkled with salt and pepper and fried till golden. IT WAS GOOD.

You hear all the bad stories about this vegetable but I was certainly surprised at how tasty it was. The flavour was a bit like zucchini but much better tasting and robust.

I only have a couple of small plants each of the other two varieties that survived 'Jing Orange' and 'Abigails Coffee'.

I managed to get two plants of this tomato 'Lovers Lunch' to survive to a point where they produced ripe fruit. I love the colour and the flavour is good too.
The green and red stripes are very eye catching so I will definitely grow a heap more next year.

I just hope I get a couple more fruits off the plants before they die so I can have a few more seeds.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Everything destroyed, no income this year

With heatwave temperatures up to 47 degrees C I have lost nearly all my crops. Everything is dry and dead except a few very heat tolerant rows like capsicums, peanuts, snake beans and okra. I have found that everything that I had under the shadecloth row covers has done fine though (oca and arracacha) so I will be shelling out for as much shadecloth as I can afford before next summer.

I am making plans to stop this kind of destruction from happening again, and with climate change it is certain to happen more often.

 The corn is a total write off. I should have enough seed of most of them to replant next year but 'Anasazi' might be touch and go because the heat hit while it is flowering so most of the plants that are not totally dead have lost their flowers.
I am hoping that I have enough seed in my stores to at least plant a few hundred plants next year to produce plenty of seed the year after.

Although all my capsicums are still healthy, the fruit is mostly sunburnt. At least the plants are still young enough to put out a heap more fruit.

I will have to get some more shadecloth as soon as possible to protect the new fruits but in on the weekend we are supposed to get a few days of around 45 degrees so any fruit that is on them now will be ruined. If I order today I should have the shadecloth by the end of next week.
Watermelons are mostly still alive but all the fruits are burnt and will rot off in the next couple of weeks. I am not sure if they are healthy enough and have enough time to set more fruit though.

I am irrigating every two days at the moment instead of twice a week but it still doesn't help in the high heat.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Corn earworms, and hot hot hot

I am not looking forward to the rest of the summer if it is going to be like this week, in the 30s and 40s. Everything on the farm is frizzling. I am wondering if I will have anything to show on my open day in a bit over a month.

This looks like a bad year for earworms, every single ear of corn is damaged, and I am not looking forward to seeing how much damage they are going to do to my tomatoes and capsicums when they come ripe.
I have been spending some time picking them out of immature ears but it is not doing much good.

All over Facebook people are complaining about earworm damage to tomatoes.

In the next couple of days all my beans (except for the heat tolerant snake beans) will by burnt and dead. Luckily they are all just about ready to pick. I have picked some already but many of those were burnt and the seeds useless. If the seeds are mature they will not be damaged though.

My 'Priscilla' Gladdies are finished now. I love gladiolus and I think I will grow a lot more next year. I will have to fork up for some bulbs as the Priscillas are the only type I have at the moment after pulling out some others that had a virus.

I am not going to go into fresh flowers as I am too far away from markets, but some bulbs to sell might make a nice change.
As some of you know I have been thinking of putting a few beds of flowers for drying but I can't find any info about whether dried flower bunches actually sell - oh well, can't hurt to try some next year.

Just for something to do I have written a short, basic course on 'making money with your garden and back yard'. If you are interested it can be found here: 

The cost is $5 (most of which is taken in Paypal and website fees, so I am only making a dollar or so). Let me know if you would like to see some in depth courses on market gardening or other commercial growing. it might be a useful project for the winter when I don't have much else to do.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Farm biosecurity is important

A few visitors have asked me why I have this biosecurity sign on the gate leading into my vegetable farm.
One of the reasons is to remind me every day to be careful of what I am doing, and what others are doing that may, not only bring pests and diseases onto my property, but also to be careful that I am not impacting the local area with any pests or diseases that I may have on the property.

It is to remind me to keep my risk management strategies up to date when I hear of a new pest or disease that has been found in Australia and regularly do risk assessments of the whole system on the farm. Luckily I farm vegetables in an area with no other vegetable farms around, it is mostly all grazing with a bit of cropping here. This will make it easy to isolate and manage or destroy any risk that does eventually turn up on my property to protect growers in other parts of the country.

It is to remind visitors to be careful of what they might bring onto the property, and gives a good excuse to refuse to allow a visitor to, say, bring a gift of a tomato plant onto the property at my open day, without causing offence. And to help them think of any risks involved with their own actions, especially if they have never thought about it before.

It makes me, not only aware, but actively looking for local and national threats, and keeps me inspecting my plants for changes in that might indicate trouble.

Every day when I drive onto my property I see that sign and it automatically makes me aware of my actions for the whole day and reminds me of what the whole agricultural industry can lose if we fail to be attentive at all times. Sure, I should be able to do all this without the sign on my gate, but we all know how easy it is to become complacent.

I recommend that every farmer, whether farming animals or plants, have a biosecurity sign on their gate for everyones benefit.  

Australians can buy a sign like this at:

Friday, January 12, 2018

Taking Woody Wendy for a walk

Well, one of my readers has been nagging me for a while to get little Woody Wendy back and take her for a walk on the farm. She was very happy to get out of the house after so long, lol. As you can see, I still haven't found her any clothes, lucky it was a warm day.

 Woody Wendy in the watermelon patch.

It won't be long till the mini 'Peewee' watermelons will start to ripen. I go out every day to see if any of the tendrils are drying. Next year I am going to put in a large patch of these as I think they are going to take off.

I was hoping to have one to display on my market stall next week but I think it will have to wait till the Feb markets.

I tried to cross this watermelon with Japanese Cream Flesh Suika but none of the crosses took. It must be a bad pollen parent. I will try crossing the other way this coming week. I really want to produce some other varieties with the tiny seeds.

Wendy helping process the tomatillo seeds

The hot day last week destroyed my 'Amarillo' tomatillos but the seeds seem to be mature so I picked the first bucket full of small fruits from the dead plants today to process.
They are pretty easy to do, just cut in half, add water and process. Then add more water and float off the pulp. The mature seeds sink to the bottom and the bad seeds float.

It is so much quicker and easier than doing them individually by hand like I did last year.

Unfortunately, all the fruit is half normal size, and have few seeds. Next year I will have to water and fertilise them better.

We did one bucket full today, but there are another 15 or more buckets to pick and process over the next week.

Wendy playing among the bush snake beans.

If you are a regular reader you will know by now that these are my favourite beans. They are not only totally stringless and good flavoured, but they are easy to grow and love the heat, unlike most other beans.

As I have said in other posts, the freak hot day last week cooked my corn.
This is a little patch of 'Oaxacan Green' (pronounced wa-HA-can Green) but it looks so sick and burnt that I have doubts that any of the cobs will mature. Pity, as the seed is hard to obtain in Australia.
Most of the plants are brown and crunchy and only a few have any green leaves left. The 'Anasazi' corn is looking even worse, if that is possible.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Hot days and speckled peas

Yesterday we had our first hot day of the season. It got to 42 C. here but the cities got hotter which is unusual because they are by the sea which usually moderates temperature. They are not used to the high temps we get inland.

The water table has drastically lowered this year so the soil has dried out quite fast, which meant extra watering to get ready for yesterday and the hot days to come. Looks like a high water bill this season.

 With high, hot winds accompanying the hot temps the veggies got a bit stressed, though not as much as I thought they might.

Most recovered overnight but some such as the corn and some beans were badly burnt. The corn is so bad that I am not sure it will recover. With the sweet corn flowering now, I might not get much of a harvest as the flowers were ruined by the heat and wind.

The mini watermelons are setting and I am excited to get more seeds to be able to sell. I really should have put in a lot more plants, but I will remember to next year.

If you have been reading my blog regularly you will have noted me writing about the 'Pea beans' that I thought looked too much like peas. Well, it turns out I misnamed them and they are peas. Rare speckled snow peas.

These are a small podded pea that has not strings so can be used as a snow, snap, or shelling pea.
It is hard to find out much about them, and most references online are about using them as pea sprouts only.

The seeds are green, covered with brown speckles. I have been eating a few pods and really like them so they will definitely be going back in next year - and labeled correctly, lol.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Singara rat tail radish, and duck potatoes

It is going to be a scorcher tomorrow, and for most of the coming week so it looks like the hectic work is now over. I don't like disturbing the soil in hot, dry weather.

 This year I am growing 'Singara' rat-tail radish. This variety has pods up to 40cm long and are still tender at that length.

They look amazing. I think the flavour is better than the regular one that I grow.
 One of the nice things about the coloured corn varieties is the range of flower colours, both the tassles and the silks.
My 'Painted Mountain' corn is mostly set now so I will be harvesting seed earlier than last year.

This year all the corn varieties are flowering very erratically and I don't know why.

This year I planted the corn by spreading by hand rather than individually planting each seed. They have grown quite thickly but I don't think I will get anywhere the harvest as the stems are too close together and instead of having two cobs per stem, they only have one, and some don't have any.
I don't think I will plant like that again.

My duck potatoes are growing strongly and spreading well, though the leaves curl a bit on hot days. next year I will shade them in the afternoon.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy new year, and everything happening right now

Welcome to 2018, I hope the year goes well for all of you.

Everything is drying out now and I am back to irrigating twice a week. I have a few beds of new seedlings in so I might have to water those beds a bit more often. The cucumbers and zucchinis are finished so I have time to put in another crop of those.
I have started opening up some more space so I will be able to put in much larger crops of broad beans and garlic this autumn.

I got in from weeding yesterday and my hands were black and stained. Wow, I am so happy my soil has improved so well over the past year. It is such a change from the pure sand that I had to deal with when I started on this block.

 About half of my seedling figs are starting to put out fruit now. I was worried that I would have to pull them all out this year as I didn't want to waste any more time with them. Now I am excited to see what becomes of them.

After a mix up when they were young I don't know what varieties they are, just that one is 'Pink Patlican'. Makes it even more interesting.

I have started to get interested in rhubarb breeding again. I had 20 plants that I had picked out of a seedling lot that I was about to pull out but I decided to go out and do a raw taste test.

As I expected there wasn't a great deal of difference in flavour - some were more or less sweet or acidic than others, but one tasted so awful that I immediately pulled it out.
I am not sure if there is a market for, or a reason to develop a new cultivar but it won't take a lot of time or effort to see what I can come up with. I will plant a bed with seed next spring and see what develops. I have also bought some different seed to add to the mix.

 The zucchinis are starting to ripen their fruits now so it won't be long till I will be harvesting the seed from these beauties.
I decided to plant another couple of zucchini beds since I have time to get another crop ripe.

Started picking some 'Devil Fin Precoce' green beans for the table as I had a few extra plants. They certainly pass the mother test (I hate green beans but my mother loves them) and she thought they were delicious and non stringy. pity they lose their purple stripes with cooking.

These were one of the few green beans that coped well with the summer heat last year so they will be planted every year now. A good flavour is icing on the cake.