Around the garden

I was weeding under the quince tree, stood up and was donged on the head by this:

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A quince! It’s the first and only quince the tree has borne! There are three trees, all grown from seed, planted in a group. They’ve flowered each year for the last 3 years but have never set any fruit. See the brown spots on the leaf. That’s a fungus disease. I think it’s quince leaf blight. The trees get it each year and generally lose all their leaves prematurely. It’s spread by water and since it hasn’t rained for a while, most of the leaves haven’t been too badly affected. The recommended controls are chemical, which I don’t want to use. I might try a seaweed spray.

These are Diva cucumbers. The good thing about them is that all the flowers are female! And they don’t need a pollinator. They’re bearing like crazy. I’ve already bottled five jars:

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The three large jars are using my standard bottling recipe and the two on the right are using Suburban Tomato‘s bread & butter cucumbers recipe. I’m looking forward to trying them.

These are some of the pumpkins growing in the hugelkultur bed. They’re Red Kuri, a variety I haven’t tried before:

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These plants haven’t been watered at all and are looking remarkably green and healthy:

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They’re all self-sown from seed dropped last year. Just a single tall stalk, 2 metres or more high, with clusters of yellow flowers at the top:

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It’s Evening Primrose and its seeds contain a very high concentration of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid that is found mostly in plant based oils such as borage seed oil and blackcurrant seed oil. Omega-6 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids: they are necessary for human health, but the body can’t make them—we have to get them from our food. Along with omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development. I’ve been harvesting the seeds for a few years now and mostly put them in my bread and sprinkled on mueslii  (I need to work on brain function!).

My Black Kale was nearing the end of it’s life and was being attacked by Cabbage White Butterfly caterpillars. I was gradually taking off the lower leaves (plus grubs) to give to the chooks (they go mad for it) and in the end, completely cut off the tops of these 2 plants, leaving bare stalks which I intended to deal with later. In the meantime we had 16mm of rain—the only rain in January—and the stalks started to shoot again:

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I’ve noticed this happens with silver beet—when it’s gone to seed I don’t dig up the plant, just cut it off at ground level, cover the stump with fresh compost and mulch and it usually shoots out new growth. I’ve been wondering about perennialising plants by cutting them back severely and then feeding and watering, to promote new growth. It’s worth doing some trials, I think.

I’m not a great fan of summer any more (let’s be honest, I hate it), but it is good drying weather. Today I put tomatoes and chopped pumpkin out on the deck (the wire frames standing up at the rear go over the drying racks to keep insects off):

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Last but not least (it was hard work!), I’ve finally finished clearing out all the water plants from the first pool. Waiting now for some rain to fill it so I can see real water again:

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9 Responses to “Around the garden”

  1. narf77 Says:

    Isn’t it ironic that the only quince your tree has ever had was strategically right there to hit you on the head! It was as if the tree was saying “there you go…I’m NOT so useless as you thought!” ;). Can you save seed from the cucumbers? I am guessing that they are probably hybrid? We bottled our very first jar of cucumbers (fridge pickles in our case) and they are lovely! I can’t get over how finely shaved cucumber can stay so crunchy when doused in liquid! It must be culinary magic ;). Cheers for the recipe link :). I love the English Primrose. Must pinch some seed from the weedy specimens we see on our walks in the future. I didn’t realise it had such valuable seed! I love your experiments Bev and will be trying the same thing here in our incredibly dry conditions. I get the feeling that we share climactic conditions as we have had at most 2 rain events this summer and our poor garden is starting to wilt en masse. I am currently researching hardy xeriscape perennials and annuals to ensure we get a bit of hardy colour at the end of summer to cover up all of the crispy leaves.
    I don’t want to talk about kale…I have tried and tried to grow it but “something” waits till the leaves get nice and almost harvestable and I go out the next day and all I have left are stalks :(. I think it’s those HUGE slugs but as I don’t wait up all night with a torch who would know? I know that the big roos are starting to venture into human territory because the local bushfires have really limited their grazing territory and every morning when I head out to the veggie patch to give it a drink, I can see evidence of what they are trying to do to get my veggies. All around the outside of the garden bed is the fighting zone. I lost an entire row of spinach to what I can only imagine was a big roo who was clever enough to push hard on the bird netting around the outside of the garden so that the leaves poked through the net. The cucumber, corn and zuke leaves are untouched but anything lush and green is a prime target. The possums bounce on the ex fishfarm net every single night on my tomato bushes but can’t get in. If seals can’t scarf it, neither can they! I am waiting for them to eat my potted plants in spite 😉
    We can afford to mess about experimenting in our climate (meaning yours too) because it doesn’t get as cold here as it does in the rest of Tassie. Cutting back silverbeet is a great idea but my guess is that we can grow it year round here. Mine hasn’t gone to seed yet and neither has my spinach. I think my constant harvesting of the outer leaves has something to do with it?
    I am WELL over summer! Bring on the rain! Your pond will be lovely this year and will reward you for all of your efforts. We have to drag all of the branches that are littered all over the place into one place to deal with them soon. We can’t burn anything at the moment (BioChar) thanks to most of Tasmania being a tinderbox waiting to ignite but we can at least lug the branches into one massive pile to be dealt with at a later date. Kudos on the drying racks and on using them :). I love this blog! 🙂 It is always full of great ideas, wonderful experiments and possibilities 🙂


    • foodnstuff Says:

      No, no, it isn’t English Primrose, it’s Evening Primrose. Do some Googling and just make sure, since I don’t know what you’re seeing on your walks. Anyway, I’ll send you some seed. I didn’t get any last year, the rosellas ate it all. I’m going to protect enough plants this year to give me some seed.


      • narf77 Says:

        Oops! It is Evening Primrose Bev, sorry, I typed that very early this morning and was a bit tired ;). Don’t worry about the seed, its a weed here :). I will just collect some and sow it on Serendipity Farm (indeed, I think we have some growing in the bush block up the back 🙂 ). Steve is going to send your spoon tomorrow so look for it soon in the mail. He doesn’t want the numpty mailmen to break it so it putting it in a small length of PVC pipe to make sure it gets there in one piece 🙂


  2. narf77 Says:

    Oops! I wasn’t supposed to add that link to your post…I was saving that to share with my science mad son on Facebook! Oh well, it’s a good link so enjoy! 😉 (sorry about that 😉 )


  3. Frogdancer Says:

    You’ve been so busy!!


  4. kayepea Says:

    What a great post Bev, you are always trying something different and I think that’s what makes it so interesting. Thanks for sharing what you do.


  5. Liz Says:

    Hope you enjoy the Bread and Butter Cucumbers. I must look out for Diva cucumbers for next year.


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