Archive for November, 2007

Pepino

November 8, 2007

These are pepinos.

pepinoup.jpg

The pepino (Solanum muricatum) is a low-growing shrub in the same plant family as the tomato and the potato. The fruits are usually lemon-sized but can be smaller or larger. The flesh when ripe is pale orange and the flavour is similar to rockmelon, only not as strong. They’re extremely juicy and easy to propagate and grow.

I was given a branch of a pepino plant by a friend a couple of years ago. I cut it into 6 pieces and put them up as cuttings. They grew roots in just over two weeks and eventually I planted them all out. They flower mainly in spring and summer and produce fruits in autumn. The weight of the fruits tends to cause them to lie on the ground where they’re liable to attack by any number of critters, so keeping them up off the soil is advisable. I sat mine on upturned margarine containers.

I’ve also grown them from seed. The seed needs the same conditions as tomatoes, i.e. sow and plant out during the warmer weather. The bushes are perennial, but may have a short lifespan in some soils, so keep new plants coming along. Pruning them back in early spring might also be a good idea.

The pepino hails from South America. It’s a useful addition to the permaculture garden.

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Garlicky stuff

November 6, 2007

I’ve just pulled up the first two batches of this year’s garlic because the leaves had already died down. I knew it wasn’t going to be any good, because the green stems that should have been single green stems had split into several green stems, indicating that I wasn’t going to get a single large bulb, but that it had already split into cloves under the ground. Which was exactly what had happened. Surprisingly though, the split bulbs were quite big and some had very large cloves indeed. So I was more pleased than I thought I’d be.

The other two batches should be even better because their green stems haven’t split and are as thick as my finger, indicating some decent sized bulbs down there. The stems are still green and erect, so they obviously have a bit more growing and bulb-expanding to do.

One of the good batches was grown from bulbs bought from Green Harvest — variety Glen Large. The other three batches were grown from beautiful big bulbs purchased at the local greengrocer — labelled ‘Australian Garlic’. Why two of them decided to split and one didn’t is a mystery, since they were all planted on the same day and have received the same treatment.

When I first started growing garlic, I did what most references I read said to do — plant cloves on the shortest day and harvest on the longest. Those first bulbs I got were so disappointingly tiny that I was ready to give up. I must have missed harvesting one, because it re-sprouted the next autumn and eventually grew into a giant! So from then on, I’ve planted my cloves in autumn (at which time they sprout within a week) and harvested them when the leaves brown and wither. Longer growing season = bigger bulbs.

Penny Woodward’s book Garlic and friends is an invaluable reference on all aspects of the Allium (onion) family.

It never rains, but it…uh……

November 5, 2007

We ended October with only half the average rainfall for Melbourne. I was heard to mention that we “could do with an inch” and lo & behold, the gods heard. We’ve just had over 2 inches in less than 24 hours, in fact all of November’s rainfall in one night-&-day-long shower. It would be uncharitable to lament that it would have been better spread over the whole month, so I won’t upset the gods in their wisdom. A couple of warm days and those 66 tomatoes should be in their element.