Archive for April, 2009

Pea tepee

April 27, 2009

I’ve always grown Purple King climbing beans on a bean tepee. This year I decided to try peas. Here’s what they look like:

peatepee

These are what I call my ‘generic’ peas, i.e. I have no idea what the variety is; they came up in a bale of pea straw and I collected seeds. This is my second year of growing them.

The plants are hanging onto one another more than they’re hanging onto the strings, but at least the whole structure has remained tidy and erect despite some strong winds. There are already pods forming and dozens of flowers still coming. For this semi-tall variety at least, a tepee looks like being the way to go.

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Silver Beet on steroids

April 24, 2009

No need to tell you how well silver beet does in a wicking box. Just look at this:

silvbeet

The leaves are as big as dinner plates.  One leaf is a meal, chopped and lightly steamed with a knob of butter. Delicious!

I was going to put three plants in this box; just as well I didn’t, they’d have been pushing one another over.

Tamarillos

April 21, 2009

I’m picking tamarillos at the moment. I love these tropical-tasting fruits. They’re small this year probably due to lack of water over the past couple of months, but there are plenty of them. Most of them suffered sun-scorch but the skins are thick and you don’t eat them anyway, so I really needn’t have worried that the crop would be spoilt.

To enjoy them I cut off the stem end, slice lengthwise down the middle and scoop out the centre with a teaspoon. I put the flesh into a bowl and lightly sprinkle over raw sugar then leave them in the fridge overnight and next morning have them on my breakfast mueslii. The sugar draws out a delicious syrup.

They’re supposed to be short-lived plants (mine are in their second year of fruiting) so I’m going to keep adding new ones to the garden each year. They grow easily from seed and cuttings. Seed-grown plants need to have the growing tip taken out at about a metre in height to force them into branching; cutting-grown plants will branch low to the ground.

Another bonus is that there hasn’t been any interest from the local parrots in the bright red fruit. Last year I put bags around the fruit clusters; this year I haven’t bothered. Maybe it’s because of the thick skins or the fruit is too tart for them, but I don’t think they’re even trying because there are no peck-marks evident.

tamarillo

Nettle season in Ireland

April 11, 2009

A couple of posts ago I wrote about nettles. Here’s another post on the subject from Brian Kaller at Restoring Mayberry.

Ethical Consumer Guide

April 4, 2009

Although my ultimate aim is to grow most of the fresh food I eat, I still need to buy certain food products while I’m in the ‘weaning-off process’, so I’m trying to food-shop more ethically, by which I mean I’m looking more critically at the food I buy, what’s in it and where it comes from, i.e. the ‘food miles’ concept.

So when I read about this consumer guide in this morning’s paper I decided I’d get one and take it shopping with me in future. Might even produce some discourse with fellow shoppers in the supermarket aisles.

There’s a website here where the guide can be consulted online and even downloaded.

Great water-saving device

April 3, 2009

All through last summer I had a large plastic bowl in the sink to catch rinse water before it disappeared down the plughole. From there it went to a bucket in the laundry and from there to the fishpond outside the back door, from which I have a hose gravity-feeding the vegetable garden down the slope.  (Note to the curious: there’s no fish in the pond)

All that transferring of water became a bit tedious at times so I was enthused when a friend recently alerted me to this product. The oddest of names, it’s called a Hughie Sink. Briefly, it’s a plastic insert which fits inside and completely fills the average sink. Complete with drain hole and handles it makes the job of recycling water to the garden easy.

Here’s the manufacturer’s website. Be sure to watch the video.

They’re on sale at Bunnings but when I called in today, they’d sold out.

Sh*t happens

April 3, 2009

Here’s a nice post about the benefits of manure from Sharon at Casaubon’s Book.

This is a rather good self-sufficiency blog and I should have added it to my blogroll ages ago. Have now done same.