Hibernation

A while between posts I know, but I’ve been hibernating. Sitting by the fire watching the grey skies and the rain coming down and longing for the longer, warmer days of spring/summer and the time for sowing seeds, planting out seedlings and watching tomatoes fruit and ripen. Even the Girls are hibernating; there have been no eggs from Cheeky and Lady since late December and none from Molly since early March. Their combs and wattles are redder than they were, so I’m hoping. Maybe an egg is what I need to dispel the winter blues and prove that spring is really coming.

Anyway, three seed catalogues came in during the last fortnight; from Edens, Green Harvest and Phoenix.

From Edens I got Sweet Basil, Wild Bergamot, Broccoletti, Capsicum Cherrytime (this variety did well for me last year), Chervil (I believe it goes well with egg dishes) and Red-veined Sorrel. I’m growing the ordinary green sorrel and hope the red-veined variety will add  a touch of colour.

From Green Harvest I got Mixed Basil, Borlotti Beans (I’m going to try growing beans for drying for the first time), Redbor Kale, Onion Mini Purplette, Golden Purslane, Silver Beet Red Ruby and Yellow Crookneck Squash.

From Phoenix came Bergamot (the ordinary one, not the wild), more Chervil (I forgot and doubled up), Wild Rocket (I grew this years ago and liked it better than the normal garden variety), Cumin and some unusual fruiting trees and shrubs from the northern hemisphere—Bunchberry, Chinese Date, Salal, Sand Pear and Saskatoon. Phoenix is a good source of unusual seeds. I remember seeing Chinese Date in Louis Glowinski’s Melbourne garden many years ago. It was a huge tree, covered in fruits (Glowinski is the author of The Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia).

This is saskatoon, with edible blue berries:

saskatoon_berries

The leaves of oca died back and I harvested a small crop of tubers:

oca

Small, because I didn’t sow many last spring. There’ll be enough for pickling and nibbles. I’ve been growing the pink variety and will be ordering the cream variety from Yelwek Farm in Tassie, where I bought potato onions and garlic earlier in the year.

I started sowing tomatoes on the 1st of July and most are coming up now. I’ve planted three seeds per small pot and will thin to the strongest seedling when they’re bigger. They’re inside in a sunny window, but not on the heat mat which I usually use. That’s in another window with cuttings on it. I was surprised that they germinated just as quickly without bottom heat as with it.  Twelve days is about what it’s taking.

When I thin to the strongest seedling I’ll take mini cuttings. I wrote about doing this here, here and here. It’s a great way to get extra plants without waiting for seeds to germinate.

This mandarin is fruiting well:

wednesday 007

It’s a variety called Japanese Seedless. It’s not exactly sweet, but then not exactly sour either and it’s easy to peel. I also have an Imperial Mandarin which is a healthy-looking bush, but the fruit are always tiny and don’t have that lovely typical mandarin flavour of shop-bought Imperials. I have read that the Imperial doesn’t do well in Melbourne, so maybe it’s not anything I’m doing wrong, just the nature of the beast.

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One Response to “Hibernation”

  1. narf77 Says:

    We have a mandarin tree here but it never sets fruit. It IS behind a large Photinia hedge though…I love reading about other people hibernating. It makes me feel less guilty for rugging up and staying inside. Cheers for sharing about the Ziziphus jujuba (Chinese red date) seed being available from Phoenix. I have been after some for a long time and short of hoping that seed from the packet of dried ones I got from the Chinese grocer grew a reliable local source is a great thing to have :).

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