Summer stuff

I can’t grow parsnips, but I sure can grow parsnip seed. These plants are all self-sown and are taller than I am. They’ve been covered in bees and little native wasps:

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That photo was taken in early December. Now I’m starting to collect seed:

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These little green things are potato fruits. That’s right—there are potato seeds inside  (correction: should be):

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Most of us grow potatoes from old bits of potato that sprouted in the back of the cupboard. I’m sure you’ve all had something like this happen:

Of course, the tubers should never be allowed to reach this stage before planting. Sometimes however, potato plants flower, get pollinated and set seed in little potato fruits like those above. Those ones were from the common Sebago variety. They fell off the plant while green, so I put them on the kitchen window sill to see if they’d ripen further. In the meantime someone from the Ozgrow garden forum asked if anyone had (real) potato seed to spare, so I sent some fruits off to him and kept a couple for myself to try and germinate the seed.

Unfortunately, someone else from the forum said that Sebago fruits rarely contain seed, so I cut mine open and he was right. Just green flesh and no seeds. End of experiment. However I have another batch flowering (which I think are Kipflers), so there’s hope yet of getting some seed to try. There’s no guarantee it will come true to the parent (particularly if cross-pollination with another variety occurs), and this is how (in nature, anyway), new varieties occur.


I found this young fox dead on one of the paths at the rear of the property. I don’t know what he died of—maybe someone is laying baits:

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I left him there and next day he was gone. I expect some of his family claimed him—more likely they had a free meal in mind, rather than giving him a decent interment. I don’t hate foxes. What I do hate is the stupid, ecologically-ignorant people who deliberately introduced invasive species to this country (and are still doing it). I was amazed when I read that one of the noted early botanists who surveyed this country’s flora, Ferdinand von Mueller, deliberately scattered blackberry seeds alongside the tracks during his regular train journeys. The mind boggles!


Just to give you an idea of how much growth can be supported in a wicking box. This one is on the deck:

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In the rear is a self-sown silver beet. The frilly plant on the right is mizuna, which I’m using in salads and as a steamed green. There’s also a self-sown lettuce buried in there somewhere. Curling around the front and rear of the box are cucumbers and on the left is a little clump of Tepary beans. This is the first time I’ve grown this variety (the seed came from Fran at Serendipity Farm in Tassie) and they have an interesting growth habit. I was expecting them to be short and stocky like French beans and they started out that way, but are now forming long tendrils. Wikipedia says: “The Tepary bean is an annual and can be climbing, trailing, or erect with stems up to 4 m (13 ft) long.” Oh, help! I’m going to have to show them the wire behind the wicking box if they want to go climbing.

Wikipedia also says: “Phaseolus acutifolius, the Tepary bean, is native to the Southwestern United States and Mexico and has been grown there by the native peoples since pre-Columbian times. It is more drought-resistant than the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) and is grown in desert and semi-desert conditions from Arizona through Mexico to Costa Rica. The water requirements are low and the crop will grow in areas where annual rainfall is less than 400 mm (16 inches).”

So they should do well in Melbourne. But obviously, on a trellis.


Been waiting for this moment! The first tomatoes of summer:

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Roma, Silvery Fir Tree and a solitary Black Cherry. Bliss!


Only 4 eggs last week from the Girls, or should I say ‘girl’, because Molly is the only one earning her keep at the moment, with one every second day. Lady has joined Cheeky in the annual game of who can lose the most feathers in a single day. The coop in the morning is ankle-deep in fluff. I’m even finding feathers right down at the rear of the property—that’s 150 metres away!

Lady looks like a feather duster having a bad hair day:

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Perhaps by the time Molly goes into moult, Cheeky will have finished hers and I won’t have a totally eggless period like last year when they all did it together.

3 Responses to “Summer stuff”

  1. narf77 Says:

    We aren’t getting all that many eggs at the moment either as we figure that the hens are not impressed with being confined…TOO BAD HENS! The garden is much happier and with January being forcaste as being the driest on record in Tassie, I don’t need them scratching all of the mulch up from around the plants…they need to work hard to keep their water. I am really glad that the beans are growing 🙂 I didn’t even plant mine! Lucky really, the possums and I have been waging war for a few weeks now that culminated in the swines breaking into fort knox and trampling and scoffing my entire golden nugget tomato vine :(…NOT a happy camper! I love the look of wicking boxes and am thinking that we might start preparing some as the thought of salad right next to the door excites me. I am used to thinking “salad…good idea…” and having to head off up the back to tunnel into the possum proof garden with callisthenics hardly fitting for a middle aged woman who has a dicky knee and is prone to putting her back out…methinks the possum trap is just about to be used and said possums can be caught with some of the tomatoes that they have been lusting after! ;). Glad your tepary beans are going so well and hopefully they give you lots of seed to save and grow thousands of them next year 🙂


  2. Bron Says:

    Hi there,
    I have been lurking at your blog (and Frogdancer’s) for a while now. I love your blog and I have a chicken question for you. We have four chickens and I am thinking very seriously of adding to the flock by getting two Barnevelders (we currently have 2 x Rhode Island Reds, 1 x White Leghorn and 1 x Australorp), but my Australorp is a broody hen and goes off the lay regularly, even though we don’t breed her. I have read in some blogs that Barnevelders are quite broody, and in others that they are not. Do your girls go broody? You haven’t posted about it, if they have.
    Thanks for the wonderful, informative blog 🙂



    • foodnstuff Says:

      Hi Bron, thanks for getting in touch and reading the blog.

      My girls haven’t shown any signs of going broody yet and all I’ve read about Barnevelders suggests that they aren’t noted for it, but every hen is an individual and you never know how she’s going to turn out.

      They’re about 18 months old now; I don’t know if they would be getting ‘broody feelings’ by now, but if they’re laying regularly I suppose they’re physically able to raise chicks. I whip the eggs away from them pretty quickly—I don’t know if that helps. I figure ‘don’t see it, don’t want to sit on it’.

      I hope they don’t—I don’t want all the problems I read other bloggers have to do to break broodiness!

      Do you read Terry Golson’s blog at ? She’s a mine of information about how to raise chickens.


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