Monday, May 25, 2009
Fruit & Veg
This is the first time I’ve grown beetroot in a properly prepared bed and the difference is clear. It’s taken me a couple of years to give up trying to improve the soil (clay!) in the garden by digging in organic material. I realised that it would take far more compost than I could produce from my inadequate compost bins. So now I have built some borders with concrete blocks to create raised beds.
The beetroot is in the first of these beds and their leaves look much more lush and healthy than in the last two years. I suppose this could have meant that all of the plants growth was in the foliage with nothing of value happening under the ground, but a recent inspection showed that the roots themselves are also growing quite well. After only a month and a half they are already as big as those several months old in previous crops.
Our beetroots are one of the essential vegetables we grow – without them it’s impossible to bake the chocolate beetroot cake that is one of my wife’s favourite cakes to make (and one of my favourites to eat). I’ll try to post the recipe at a later date.
I am growing three different known types of garlic. This is the third year that I’ve grown Russian (or Elephant) garlic after buying one head from the diggers club two years ago. From the original crop I saved two of the five heads for replanting and this year and I planted around twelve cloves saved from last years crop. This is one of the milder varieties and is actually a type of leek with very large cloves.
I also bought two heads each of Australian White and Silverskin, both of which have are now displaying short shoots. The Silverskins have only just broken the soil surface but are showing a lot of promise.
We use garlic regularly and have recently used the last of our home grown cloves and had to buy some from the supermarket. Fortunately they had some local garlic for sale for a reasonable price. I intend to use some of that to supplement the named varieties that I’ve already planted and maybe next year home grown garlic may last longer.
For the last two weeks I’ve been listening to The Alternative Kitchen Garden, a very informative gardening podcast from England. One episode helped to clear up a mystery that’s had me puzzled for a while. We found that some of the garlic last year failed to form into individual cloves and grew as a solitary ball and we didn’t know why.
This year when I harvested my Russian garlic I noticed some small growths on the side of the cloves. With a little pressure these broke off reasonably easily. Through The Alternative Kitchen Garden I learned that these are bulbils, and if left in the ground they will develop into the individual garlic balls. These balls, which can still be used as normal garlic, will develop into fully formed garlic cloves if replanted and left for another year.
Broccoli - first sign
This week I saw that the broccoli is developing well with the first tiny head starting to develop. I have two different types planted out. The most developed is one I bought from the nursery as seedlings. The other I grew myself from seed and planted out a couple of weeks later.
Last year it was hard to keep up with the heavy cropping plants. Eventually we ended up blanching and freezing the excess. For some reason broccoli is not as easy to give away to friends as zucchini are.
Snow peas, beetroot and Russian Garlic to the left.
Broccoli and Mini Turnips in the centre bed.
5 types of onions to the right.
I’m not sure how my bed of onions will develop. I sowed some into punnets in early autumn and planted it out two weeks ago. According to the seed packet they should have been sown in winter. Some of the seedlings didn’t survive after we had a few hot days but I still had enough to plant out a couple of rows. There were two varieties in this planting, both of them red onions, but one was a longer “Florence Red”. I’ve seen something similar in the supermarket that is being sold as “Tuscan Red”. I’m guessing that they are the same thing considering Florence is in Tuscany.
After planting these two rows I decided to take a gamble and I sowed the rest of the bed with a few different onion varieties instead of firstly sowing them into punnets. I still don’t know whether this will work out okay. After a week there is no sign of anything, so patience is required. I did sow them into furrows of seed-raising mix, so I can’t see that the conditions are too much different to being sown into punnets. I’ll probably just have more work to do transplanting a few of those growing too close together when they mature enough to be moved.
Those additional varieties include a brown onion (cream gold I think it was called), spring onions and barletta, which appears to be the same as those the supermarket sells as “salad onions”. They are white and flatter than the commoner round onions. I grew a lot of them last year and they are quite mild.
The limes in the photo are most of this years crop from a dwarf Tahitian lime. After the photo was taken they were all zested and juiced, producing about 2 litres of lime juice and a good amount of zest.
The juice was frozen in ice cube moulds and later bagged, ready for future use in cakes and deserts. Our lemon tree of a similar size is loaded with fruit.
Both the lemons and limes are extremely juicy, have very thin skins and very little pith.