Sunday, February 25, 2018

Lots of digging, and long days

I have been taking advantage of there being a few cool days to get some digging and planting done. I don't like digging the soil when it is so dry but I thought that if I get it dug earlier this year and water it I could get a lot of the weeds up before I plant most of my winter veg and it would help with weed control later.

 I Started planting some garlic yesterday. I am planting it at wider spacings than I usually do in the hope that it will make weeding easier. Worth a shot anyway.

My main garlic is being planted at 25cm spacing with the elephant garlic at 30cm spacing.
I have heaps of room so I don't have to space closer and I am going to try sowing my other crops later this spring so the garlic should be out and the beds free for them when they are ready.

Today I divided and replanted a couple of beds of dividing onions/shallots.

Below are pictures of three sorts, and I will do the walking onions tomorrow.

I have a couple of varieties that I have not seen anywhere else, or been able to find names for so I will be trying to build up my stocks to sell them later. I just hope I don't lose them this winter when the wet comes. I nearly did last year when most of them rotted.

I have been building some raised beds for the rhubarb and asparagus to try and get them through the wet winter better.

Whew, eight raised beds in two days, it is a lot of work with a hoe, especially when there is also many other jobs to do too.

They have been limed and are ready to be planted in May. Since this is a new area I am expecting a lot of weeds and running grasses to pop up so I have done the beds early to get rid of them as they grow. They should be clean by the time it is ready to plant.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Anthracnose in my melons

I have been getting quite a bit of work done now that we are getting a few cooler mornings. There are seeds to harvest and clean from pumpkins, zucchini and melons, as well as expanding the irrigation.

I have also got my big hoe out and made a few raised beds to plant my asparagus and rhubarb into during the winter. With my loose sand I doubt that the raised beds will last but at least with perennial vegetables in them they should last longer than beds that are being dug and handled which would make them flatten out sooner. We will see.

Bugger, I have Anthracnose on one of my melon varieties (Bateekh Samara). It is unusual as the weather has been dry, and I have never had it before but I suppose fungal diseases are something that are always hanging around. Only one variety is affected and it is good to know that it is susceptible for future reference.

I did notice a little on my watermelons a while ago but it disappeared fairly quickly without doing any damage.

Bateekh Samara is a very rare melon from Iraq. It is lemon flavoured. Last time I grew it I only had one plant survive and produce a single fruit. I am certain now that I got a bad, and probably wrong, impression and I am keen to try it again. The plants are bearing very well even with the disease so I am looking forward to ripe fruits in a few weeks.

I am loving the bright blue flowers of the 'Castelfranco' radicchio. Too bad most of the plants didn't flower, but at least I will get some seeds.

 I am really glad I bought some cheap bed mosquito nets of Ebay some time ago. They have been very handy in keeping bees off some melons for hand pollinating, and now I have draped them over a few of the earliest sorghum plants to make sure they are not taken by finches or sparrows.

Just picked a heap of 'Buttercup' pumkins over the past week. I didn't realise how small the fruits were but they really make up for it in flavour. When roasted they are absolutely delicious.

The down side is that the fruits sunburn so easily. I will have to cover each fruit next year.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Corn and watermelons

Ahhhh, a few days of cooler weather, thank goodness. Time to get out and do some work.
I have the markets on this weekend, and as soon as they are done I will get stuck into planting some brassicas for winter. I know I said I wouldn't be growing brassicas again but when I have spare seed I might as well put it in just in case we get a mild and dry winter/spring.

 With most of my corn being destroyed in the heatwave in January I am happy that at least the Gless Gem has done ok. It was planted in the only tiny patch of good soil that I have and it made a big difference.

I know it is fairly useless, in Australia that is where we don't go in for ornamental vegetables, but it is very pretty.
 I have nearly lost a whole row of melons that were looking very good until a few days ago. The cockatoos have decided to play with them and destroy them.
I think I will have to put a net over them if I can find a spare one. I have to net the sorghum shortly but hopefully I can spare a bit for these melons.

It has been a few years since I last grew this little, yellow fleshed watermelon 'Sunshine' from Hungary.
I thought I had better put some in this year before the seed got too old.

You might recall in one of my posts not long ago where I mentioned that the cockatoos started to eat one of my watermelons, well it was this one. At least I will have a couple of melons for fresh seed.

I have also been harvesting some asparagus seed. I hate that job as they berry sap causes me to get very itchy all over, especially my face. At least that is done now until next year.
I have decided to also grow the purple variety 'Purple Passion' as it is so delicious, so I will have two asparagus varieties for seed.

Not much else is happening for now as the soil is too dry to work but in six weeks when the heat is gone I will be busy rotary hoeing for the garlic and broad beans. I am going to grow a lot more broad beans this winter to try and get more nitrogen and organic matter into the soil. I will also be buying a few big bales of straw to spread on some of the beds - it makes a huge difference.

Straw for mulch does not work well here but it is great to have on the beds over winter to rot in before planting starts again in October.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

melons, melons, melons

What melons survived the heat and sunburn are ripening now. At least I will have enough seed to replant next year.

With global warming making summers hotter I am going to cover a lot of my beds before next summer with walk under shadeloth. It is going to be pricey but there is not much else I can do. All the melons, cucumber and oca will go under the shadecloth and the heat loving things like okra, peanuts and watermelons can go outside.
I will try to build up the soil more with organic matter for the corn next year to try and help it cope better with the heat.

 This one is from my breeding program. For the moment it is called 'Green Granite' because of the rind colour.
This year the plants and fruits are stable so I was going to grow it out next year for seed. Unfortunately not a single fruit has contained viable seed so far, they are all empty. I guess it is because of the heat. At least I have a couple of plants with a few more fruits to go.

It has a creamy soft texture like some of the Russian melons, a texture that I am not particularly fond of but other people might like.
The flavour is mild and not too sweet, but otherwise just like any other muskmelon.

It is not a melon that I would jump from the rooftops over but it is ok and I might improve it later.
All the fruits weigh about a kilo.

A nice little melon that has just ripened this morning is Ha Ogen (or Israel melon). It looks quite striking and has a lovely flavour and texture.
The fruits weight less than a kilo. I have a few fruits left to go so I might have enough seed to put in packets this year.

This is 'Crane'. One of my favourites from the US. It has green spots that turn orange when ripe and a lucious flavour.

The few fruits I got this year were small because the plants didn't handle the heat very well.

I have found that my new mini seeded watermelons 'Peewee' get sunburnt easily so I have lost quite a few fruits but at least I will get a good amount of seed.

The bad thing about growing these is that it is so much harder to harvest the seeds out of them than other watermelons. I will have to work on my technique before next year when I want to offer bulk seed to seed companies.

I think these are going to be a great seller.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Red Swan bean and damn cockatoos

Well, we are back to hot weather again, another 6 weeks or more before autumn kicks in. I hate the heat.

 Although they are all picked now, here is a picture of Red Swan beans. The bushes are always so tiny but they bear profusely. It is a shame that the red colour goes green when cooked.

I planted a few this year because they were one of the varieties that cope with a fair amount of heat.

Since they had died down I pulled up all the 'Phoenix' nasturtium to get the seed, and found that although they flowered so well they didn't produce seed - I only ended up with a dozen seed, barely over the amount of plants I had.

I am really disappointed.

Small Potato cucumber.
These are always so sickly and fall victim to powdery mildew early every year I only get enough seed to plant the next year.

Since they mostly die before bearing fruit I only get to harvest seed from the toughest. This year they all grew, fruited and didn't get powdery mildew at all so finally I should have seed that I can be confident of every year.
I still didn't get much seed because the heat got them but it looks like I will be able to do a lot better next year. Goes to show that only keeping seed from the toughest works out well.

Cockatoos got into my young 'Sunshine' watermelons and chewed up nearly the lot. They missed a couple that were hidden under some tomato plants so at least I will get a little seed.
This is the first time I have had this trouble so I will have to watch out for it in the future.

At least this was the only variety affected.