It seems an age but our corn is ready to pick and darn yummy with it.Due to our trip in October/November our spring planting was delayed and I had to resort to buying corn seedlings (will I ever be able to live with myself), to get a crop in. Now here it is in all its fully grown splendour, Sweet Honey Bi-colour corn. This is the first time that we’ve grown this variety, (we usually grow Golden Bantam) and I’ve been quite impressed with how it has grown. We have had much better pollination and far fewer gaps in the cobs that we’ve previously experienced. The plants themselves are shorter, but they are still producing plenty of cobs. I’d be happy to go with this variety again next year.
The day I planted the corn seedlings I also planted out tomato seedlings from our friend M. They have also finally started to ripen, although with the rain we’ve been having we are getting quite a bit of blossom end rot – that nasty black patch on the tomatoes’ bottom – you will note that I have carefully designed the photo not to show that bit!.
Thankfully our eggplants and zucchini are producing steadily and at least one of our chickens has started laying again. Ah summer bliss.
We’ve broken our tomato record at last! We picked our first ripe tomato on the 30th of December. Prior to this our best effort was
What caught us by surprise was that it wasn’t the Pink Thai Egg tomato we were expecting, (still at the blushing pink stage),
but an outside runner, cherry tomatoes from seed provided by my cousin. OK it was very tiny but at least it was tasty.
Our eggplants are also doing well. We ate our first one last week a Japanese Long White.
Things are really starting to grow quickly. Over the last two weeks the okra ‘Burgundy’ has fruit. You can see the ripening fruit on the left, while the fruit on the right still has it’s papery covering on it.
The corn has also started to put out its male flowers. These are our Golden Bantam sweet corn.
Last but not least TB has harvested a large bunch of oregano.
As you can see the bunch barely fitted into the oven. We got two large jars of dried herbs from this bunch. The plant will now have a chance to re-grow and provide at least another crop for drying in the future.
You’d be right in thinking we haven’t been in the garden much lately but on Saturday we did get stuck into some Autumn chores.
Firstly I’ve harvested all of our Blue Popcorn and most of our Strawberry Popcorn. We had hoped to leave all the cobs on the plants until they’d completely dried out but the rain last weekend has encouraged what appears to be a mildew or fungus to get into the leaves of the Strawberry Popcorn in particular. I didn’t want to risk it infecting the cobs. I’m also pleased I picked the cobs as there were a few too many earwigs and slaters falling out of the cobs as I picked them for my liking. Not a big haul by any standard but an indicator of what I’ll focus on next year. The Blue Popcorn cobs were noticeably bigger, both the ears and the individual kernels, than the Strawberry Popcorns, (in the photo Blue is on the right and Strawberry is on the left). I can also confirm that we did get some cross-fertilisation from our one stray Golden Bantam plant that got mixed up with the popcorns. There are some decidedly non-yellow kernels in this cob.We are currently planning on grinding some of our corn, particularly the cobs that remain from the Golden Bantam Sweetcorn. We may only get one meal out of it but that’s a start.
TB also picked a great many Japanese Eggplants. He’s used 1.5kgs of eggplants to make Rose’s Pressed Eggplants, a recipe from Maggie’s Harvest (Maggie Beer, Lantern, Penguin Books, 2007) of salted, pressed and dried fennel flavoured eggplants. The feral fennel was harvested from down near the Mugga Lane tip. Unfortunately for TB he discovered too late that the fennel was growing on a Bull Ants nest and he has the ugly bites to prove it. It will take several weeks to process the eggplants so he’ll have to save it for the April Grow your Own collection.
Before we went away last weekend I direct seeded some bush peas and broadbeans into one of the garden beds. Some have come up already and some have also (from what remains of their stems) been just as quickly demolished by slugs and snails. I’ve now planted my second line of defence into pots. The two varieties I’ve planted are Bush Pea Massey and Snow Peas which were saved from last year’s crop. To encourage pollination, should they get that far, I’ve also planted seeds of 6 heritage Sweet Peas. I’ve read this tip in several books so I plan to give it a go. If nothing else I’ll hopefully get some nice flowers out of it! I also spent some time this planting onion seeds, Creamgold, a brown onion, and my favourite Rosso lunga di Firenze, a long red Italian variety.
Finally we had to do some pond cleaning today. When we got back from our weekend away we discovered our largest goldfish floating upside down on the top of the pond. Vale Klim! we had had him for 10 years. He (the goldfish that is) is survived by Thorpy who we also got at the same time. We are very impressed with the longevity of these two as most domestic goldfish are lucky to survive a year or more. Indeed their other two companions Van den Hoogenband and Suzie didn’t make it for more than a few years. Oh well we’ll just have to go and buy some new swimlets to keep Thorpy company.
It turns out I’m not the only one preparing for spring. During a walk in Commonwealth Park last week I spotted these strange markings on the grass. The work of a deranged grafitti artist? or the start of Floriade preparations? – you choose. From what I could see there seemed to be stars (or perhaps pentangles) and lots of clouds. I can’t see any mention of the 2010 theme on the website. Just remember you saw it here first!
With the good rain on Christmas and Boxing Day and the distractions of the holiday season I haven’t been in the garden so much lately. I was therefore pleasantly surprised as I watered my way around the beds this morning to see that things have moved on since I last checked.
First of all I can say that friend M has definitely won this years tomato competition. While her tomatoes didn’t quite make Christmas eating when we went over to check on her moggy on Boxing Day the tomatoes were only one or two days off being edible. Ours (see photo) spurred on by this acheivment now look like they’ll be edible next week.
Perhaps my biggest surprise was the corn cobs (although TB tells me he drew my attention to them last week), three on the Golden Bantams that I can see. Out the back the Green Feast peas have put out their first pods and the zucchinis will need picking lest they turn into Zeppelins!
The Italian variety Eggplant Prosperosa (seeds available from www.theItalianGardener.com.au), that I purchased at the Allsun Organic Farm open day in November, has just started to flower. Given its ‘bella figura’ I think that this plant would be one to seriously consider if you want to mix flowers and vegetables in a small garden. The combination of deep purple stems and the pink flowers against the wavy-edged green leaves is just lovely.