Archive for the ‘Linseed’ Category

More fruit trees

June 28, 2012

I called in to the local nursery yesterday intending to buy another persimmon and came home with the persimmon and a Blueberry and a Cox’s Orange Pippin apple.

I wanted another persimmon because the existing one (Nightingale variety)  has done so well and I believe you should always have more than one of a Good Thing. I was lucky to get the last one in stock and guess what…it was a Nightingale! I’ll plant it near it’s namesake  and hope they’ll be happy together.

The blueberry wasn’t a named variety, but it will go into a large pot on the deck alongside the one I’ve had there for a couple of years already. It produced a couple of cups of blueberries last year (its second) and being right up against the house wall, wasn’t bothered at all by birds trying to pinch the berries.

Cox’s Orange Pippin is supposed to be the benchmark for flavour in apples. I was told by an Englishwoman years ago that it was the only apple worth eating. It needs a Granny Smith as a pollinator so it will go down in the food forest as close to Granny as I can find a spot. It’s supposed to be best in a cool temperate climate, so fingers crossed it’ll be OK here  (it should be happy with the freezing weather we’re having at the moment). I’ll take some cuttings when I prune it back after planting.

(I just looked at the Ozgrow garden forum and one of the members, who lives a few kms south of  me, says that she has had a Cox’s Orange Pippin for 20 years in her garden, doing well. So that’s OK then).

The Girls still aren’t laying. They finished moulting ages ago and look rather smart in their new outfits. They’re eating well and seem to be coping with their first winter. I think they would be a year old by now. They were 12 weeks old when I got them, at the end of last September, and started laying just before Christmas. They stopped laying in early March, so I’ve been eggless for four months. I expect they’ll pick up as the days start to lengthen in late winter/early spring.

(Hey, the ground’s tilting. Nah, she’s pointing that thing at us again. She can’t even hold it straight. What a klutz!):

OK, well here’s a nice straight view of my little lime tree. It’s about a metre and a half tall and wide. I’m really pleased with the way it’s come on in the last couple of years. The ripe limes are starting to fall now, so I’m crystallising them and drying them in the dehydrator:

I thought I’d have go at growing linseed again. It’s been successful in the past, but then I don’t get my act together in time to protect the seed from the parrots and they get most of it. This year it’ll be different (where have I heard that before?). I broadcast the seed in one of my wire veggie rings. Each plant is a single stem with a cluster of blue star-flowers at the top. Sometimes there’ll be a few white flowers amongst them. The shiny brown seed forms in a head the size of a pea:

A few extra photos of non-food plants in the garden. This is a pretty, low-growing Grevillea. I don’t know the species:


Silver Banksia, a species indigenous to this area:

I love the moss that covers the ground at this time of year, and the little orange fungi that come up in it:

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Linum and linum

February 18, 2008

Not a firm of shifty solicitors, but the Genus name of a large group of plant species commonly known as flax.

Linum marginale is the native Australian species and the aborigines used the seeds as a food source and the tough stems to make cord and fish nets. Linum usitatissimum (who on earth thought of that mouthful?) is the northern hemisphere species which we commonly know and eat, as linseed. Another form of that species is used to make linen cloth.

The native Australian flax used to grow in our local area. It wasn’t growing on our property when we moved here, but I’ve introduced it. It’s an annual species with seed germination taking place with the autumn rains. Each seed results in a single tall stem, with small linear leaves distributed up the stem. Over spring and summer the top of the stem branches and the tips of each branch terminate in a small, pale blue flower. Seeds are formed in a rounded capsule and fall as the capsule matures and opens. The plants need to be checked every day and the mature seeds collected before they fall. That can be a pain in the you-know-where.

Linseed is a similar plant but larger in all its parts and here’s the best part of it: the seed capsule ripens and holds onto its seeds until they’re harvested. (I presume if no-one picks them, then the plants will die and fall to the ground where the capsule will eventually rot away and the seeds will be released.) I also presume it once used to release its seeds when mature like the native species, but selection by farmers has resulted in forms that hold onto their seeds, as happened with wheat.

I’m trying to grow linseed, because I use the seeds in bread-making and they are so nutritious and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Enter stage left, a flock of Aussie seed-eaters, the very colourful Eastern Rosella. So each crop of linseed has to be encircled with wire mesh and covered with netting over the top. Trouble is, it grows over a metre tall when well-watered and fed and that’s a lot of wire.

I’ve noticed that the rabbits like the native linseed and if they chew out the central growth point the plant branches from the base, produces more stems and flowers and is generally shorter. So I’m going to try cutting back the linseed plants when they get a few inches high and see what happens. Shorter plants that bear more seed will be a bonus.

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Linseed: Linum usitatissimum