melon (6)

2015 SPRING - SEPTEMBER TO NOVEMBER

This is a continuous spring diary and I added to it as the season progressed.

Check photos for dates as I have done progressive photos for many plants.

We're a month in to Spring and it's been beautiful so far. Plenty of rain now and then to fill the tank - not much sign of the El Nino. We did get one hot day just after I planted heaps of seed and I am waiting anxiously to see if they survived and will make a show. Beginning to suspect I will have to replant all the carrots and some other things. (NOTE: I ended up buying bought carrot seedlings for the first time ever. They're growing well though I probably should have thinned them more.)

Plenty going on in the garden. I've already had to mow twice and will probably do so again today. Bummer. The down side to the warm season. But it does give me clippings for the beds.

The Elderflower are growing well (Elaine warns to keep them contained as they sucker - mine grow freely) and producing lots of heads for making Elderflower Champagne.

9779139070?profile=originalTwo heads in the bowl with juice of a lemon, splash of vinegar and about a cup of sugar. Covered and left for a day or two before sieving into some plastic bottles and put away in a dark cupboard.

9779140281?profile=originalThe batch turned out quite thick. I'm diluting it with filtered rain water to drink. Nice and fizzy.

9779141070?profile=originalThe bed in the front yard was becoming overgrown with these beautiful but basically useless (even the bees don't visit) salvia. A big mess of them have been removed to allow for something more productive - the roots went to Rozie for growing and the tops were cut back as green manure. The bed is covered in composted horse poo and planted.....

9779141268?profile=original...with Bolivian Cuc (c/- Dave via Elaine) and some silverbeet "Ruby". I don't have much luck growing silverbeet from seed. One of Elaine's walking onions shoved in there as well with the hope that it will thrive and proliferate.

9779142252?profile=originalBelow - same bed one month later.

9779142860?profile=originalAlso in the front yard the Red Tamarillo fruit is starting to colour up.

NOTE: 31.10.15 Many have gone pale red and been eaten. Nice.

9779143276?profile=originalBoth Pomegranates (seedling and Wonderful) have copious beautiful tangerine blooms. Fingers crossed for some fruit.

9779143887?profile=originalFive or so weeks later fruit is forming on the seedling Pom.....

9779144089?profile=original....and on the Wonderful.

9779145469?profile=original27.09.15 The Jaboticaba is covered in buds! Lots of fruit coming from this reliable plant.

9779146085?profile=originalSix weeks later I have sweet fruit for the eating.

9779147254?profile=originalFinal crop along with a Bitter Melon for the GV. This lot were especially sweet.

9779147668?profile=originalRipening fruit from the two pawpaw has been going to work for the clients to have with morning tea. There is only so much ripe pawpaw one person can eat but the elderly members can't seem to get enough of it.

9779148283?profile=originalThe Tropical Nectarine has flowered and is covered in little fruit. I trimmed it a little shorter this year so the fruit fly excluding net would reach the ground.

NOTE: 31.10.15 Not as much fruit as last season - others have said the same -  but it's coming along nicely.

16.11.15 Lot's of the fruit is dropping and rotting for no known reason. Weather? The few I've eaten lack sweetness. Still no FF under the net though.

9779148681?profile=original9779149269?profile=originalFinal crop of the Tropical Nectarines. Many fell and rotted and the remaining crop was disappointing this year in quantity and flavour.

9779150087?profile=originalSome of the Jaboticaba and Nectarines have gone to make "Shrub" - an easy to make cordial from fresh fruits. RECIPE

9779150861?profile=originalMy beloved little Moringa is still doing it's imitation of a dead stick but I am confident it will come good.

9779151272?profile=originalI tried many times to establish Pigeon Pea without success. This one came up by itself and has flowered and produced pods without me noticing.

9779151666?profile=originalPepino are flowering in abundance. Hopefully this will mean more fruit before the fruit fly come.

NOTE: 31.10.15 FF have ruined every fruit - all has to be binned.

9779152472?profile=originalThe Dwf Wurtz avo has bloomed once again but does not seem to attract the pollinators. I've seen one bee on it and a couple of flies.

NOTE: 31.10.15 No sign of any fruit forming. We have had discussion about multi graft plants. That's what I need!

9779153466?profile=originalIn the back yard the Dwf Macadamia is blooming really well and attracting bees. Very pretty.

9779154457?profile=originalOne of my honey bees fertising the flowers.

9779154686?profile=original19.10.15 Little nuts are forming. All silvery with potential.

9779155081?profile=original08.11.15 Fruit development three weeks later. Astounding growth.

9779155893?profile=original22.11.15 two weeks later again.

9779157084?profile=originalQuite a few nuts are falling to the ground. Hope I end up with some left.

NOTE: Now 29/11 and I noticed about a week back that every nut has fallen off. We had some very hot days but I was giving the plant water a couple of times a week.

9779157283?profile=original20.09.11 The three raised beds have all been chopped back leaving just a few perennial plants and replanted. This is before...

9779158256?profile=original...and after. Broccoli has been left to go to seed as it was such a goody. The other two brassicas didn't produce anything. I suspect they may turn out to be a couple of Portuguese Walking Stick Collards (they are - must have planted some seed there).

9779158875?profile=originalAll beds have been dosed with MycoAppply mychorrizae. The corn seedlings are very strong whether due to this or loving the composted horse poo they are planted in. Probably both.

9779159853?profile=original31.10.15 Corn is silking up. Was able to shake down some pollen this morning despite some rain the last few days.

9779159870?profile=originalOne month later, the final crop. Lots of mid sized cobs but they seem well filled.

9779160654?profile=original19.09.15 Still cropping the Roma toms. Not much good for a sandwich but I've been turning them into soup with some onion, garlic and nopales. Bit of chicken stock and seasoning and it's very nice put through the blender.

NOTE: 31.10.15 Romas finished some weeks ago. While not thrilled with the sandwich potential from these fruit they were useful and tasty enough for me to squeeze some seed back into the beds. If they do ok, great. If not, no huge loss.

9779161268?profile=original19.09.15 Some of the roma toms and broccoli - the most delicious I have every grown it just kept on coming.

31.10.15 This wonderful Broccoli is still in the process of setting seed. Very slow to bolt.

9779161875?profile=originalThe white choko is making a strong comeback. I have another growing on the back fence. Lacking a green one at the moment - bought a giant fruit from the fruit shop yesterday and planted it on a side fence.

9779162069?profile=original06.09.15 I've managed to grow a few spuds this year. More growing around the edge of the compost pile yet to be cropped.

9779162297?profile=originalThis plethora of yummy came from gardening mate Rob's yard. Mulberries, native raspberries and Davidson Plums which I have become very fond of as a refreshing fruit drink in water. No sugar added.

9779163288?profile=original12.09.15 Pepino have been providing plenty of fruit.

31.10.15 Now all ruined by FF. Not an untouched fruit to be had. All binned.

9779163495?profile=originalOne of two Mashua Tropaeolum tuberosum plants courtesy of Jan's research and buying abilities. A relative of the nasturtium it's a climber with edible tubers. All the way from sunny Tasmania so we're all hoping they like it here in Qld.

16.11.15 Neither of these plants are liking the heat. They don't look well. Hopefully they will survive summer.

29.11.15 Both plants have died back completely as has Elaine's.

9779164091?profile=original31.10.15 This plant has actually put on a substantial amount of growth. Didn't realise until I compared these two photos. It's also putting out shoots from the base. Apparently these plants can go quite rampant in their growing habits :/

29.11.15 Plants have both died back completely.

9779164657?profile=original12.09.15 Thought I would show you what my kitchen scrap bin looks like after a couple of weeks of saving bits and pieces. I do use a sprinkle or two of Bokashi in it but to be honest I did this for years with just a bucket and had no smell or problems.

I take this outside and scrape a shallow depression near some fruit tree and cover it with grass clippings. The worms take care of recycling the lot in a matter of weeks.

9779165655?profile=originalWarrigal Greens are making a comeback in the spot I thought they had died out in. I am very fond of these useful native greens (high in Oxalic Acid).

9779165273?profile=originalAnother wild edible, Samphire, has proven to be a bit of a disappointment. I would like to try these growing in the wild. I bet the flavour would be better. Pictures I have found on the net show a PLANT with more segmented leaves than these. I'm wondering if I have two different plants in there?

9779165286?profile=original23.09.15 Lebanese Cuc seed coming up. Always a thrill when seedlings show through the soil from seed planted.

9779166654?profile=original22.11.15 Getting some good crop of cucs.

9779167086?profile=originalPlanted or still growing early this season:

Potatoes; Bitter Melon, Okra x Robs big jobs and Burgundy; Hairy Melon; Corn x swt and bicolour; Peanuts; Watermelon "Stars & Moon"; Capsicum x "Sweet", "Mini" and "Cubanale" along with seed from store bought minis; Kale; Canadian Wild Lettuce/A Choi; toms x various minis; Portuguese Walking Stick Collard Greens; Chillis - various; Mashua; Bolivian Cuc; Lebanese Cuc; herbs of all sorts; Swt Potato x 3 sorts; Silverbeet x "Rhubarb" and "Ruby"; Carrot x "Amarillo", "Rainbow Mix" and "Berlicum"; Eggplant x "Black Beauty", "Bringal White" and "Listadia di Gandia"; Snake Bean unknown; Huazontle Spinach. 

05.10.15

Labour Day holiday - no pay but it's a glorious day to be having off. Temp is superb, birds are singing everywhere, seeds are coming up in my new season garden. The only carrot seed that have sprouted are the Rainbow Mix. None of the others have shown so I will need to replant....or not.

The corn is growing fabulously. Okra of all types is peeking above ground as are the cucs. Eggplant haven't shown.

Every time I buy some mini capsicum I take the seed out and plant it and there are dozens of these plants coming up all over the place. Love them. Watermelon have sprouted but the Hairy/Winter Melon hasn't shown.

I have squeezed in some of Pat Pierce's Red Noodle Snake Bean seeds alongside the other snake beans. Probably not the best for seed saving but I want to see how they grow.

Rob, Elaine and I have been doing some crop swapping. My pawpaw, Robs mulberries in exchange for Elaine's gorgeous rainbow chard.

9779167660?profile=originalAnd thanks to J - I now have my favourite dwarf narnie back again :)

31.10.15 Growing well and putting out new leaves.

9779168101?profile=original06.10.15 Since going back to work full time I've had trouble finding the appropriate time to go into the bee hive, check it all out and do some harvesting. Has to be a weekend day when it's not raining, not too hot, the bees are mostly away foraging, I don't have something else on. Easy to procrastinate.

Checked the hive yesterday and it looked like they might be preparing to swarm which gave me a jolt.

They were making a bee trellis outside the front of the hive. So I bit the bullet, put on the gear and went in. I removed three combs mostly full of honey. My extractor is very slow going (bucket system) and the tap just drizzles so it takes forever to fill a jar. Very few bee deaths though which is always a bonus. I use the smoker and brush as needed these days to avoid deaths.

Due to the slow nature of the buckets I only have a few jars at the moment and one has been swapped for some mulberries and manure.

9779168480?profile=originalTo my surprise the Dwf Pink Shatoot mulberry had ripened a good handful of fruit in literally one day (I had checked it yesterday and found two). Very sweet.

31.10.15 Still cropping some of these each day. Youngest daughter has developed a taste for them also and goes for the bush when visiting.

9779169459?profile=original31.10.15

We've had a few storms in areas around Strathpine but nothing more than some gentle rain here which has benefited the seedlings no end. Everything is doing well with the usual losses to Fruit Fly and a few cut worm problems with seedlings. Nothing serious, though I now have only one Burgundy Okra plant left but it should have grown to a size which is beyond the attentions of the CW.

I've been visiting the Caboolture Mkt a lot more recently for the lovely locally grown fruit and veg and can't help picking up some seedlings at the same time.

The (self sown from buried fruit) Bitter Melon plant is producing it's first fruit. Hardy and useful.

9779169694?profile=originalMy honey bees are all over a huge amount of flowers on the old yellow Tamarillo. This plant is now getting on for five years old where normally they live for perhaps two. It just keeps getting bigger. Go figure.

9779170653?profile=original28.10.15 Dwf Ducasse banana bunch ripening. Left the bunch on the porch the first night and some rodent came took a bite or two. Apart from those given away to friends, all going through the dehydrator.

16.11.15 The second bunch was all given away at the GV a couple of days back.

9779171867?profile=originalPineapple forming - beautiful little purple flowers blooming.

9779172076?profile=original01.11.15

I let my snails go free last night and this morning.

Left the lid up last night for them to leave but many were still hanging around in the box this morning. I have spread them around the yard and will provide basins of water as they are really very delicate and must have water to survive.

They don't like being shut up as the weather warms up, even when the box is under full shade. There were just getting too many of them in one smallish space and it felt cruel keeping them there. Over the time I have been observing and feeding them in their box home I have come to love these gentle little creatures.

Hopefully some will thrive free ranging. The ones I currently find in the "wild" are eating fallen leaves and stuff on the compost pile. Very rarely do I find one in my vege bed. My hope is that they provide another layer to the animal life in my garden, eating and digesting fallen vegetation and providing poop in return.

09.11.15

The snails have set up home around the garden in various protected spots with lots of rotting plant material on the ground. Seems to be their favourite nibble though I do leave out offerings of Collard Greens etc and a container of water on the dry side of the yard.

16.11.15

I spent a back breaking hour yesterday removing the Pepino (due to Fruit Fly ruining all the fruit) from the nature strip outside the front fence and replanting with parsley and hardy flowering plants (the garden faces the western sun). That's a bit of Aibika in the middle right that took from cutting shoved in and neglected and there's a bit of Cassava and some Rosemary as well. Pepino fruit hanging off the fence and orange flowers are Pomegranates.

29.11.15 We've had some horrendously hot days and some of these flowering seedlings have died off, but many have survived with water a couple of times a week.

9779172472?profile=original16.11.15 Michael H gave me some fruit some time back to grow these sweet little tom treats. I just keep replanting and they just keep coming up. Thank you Michael :)

9779172685?profile=original21.11.15

Close to the end of spring and we've started having a few of those toasty hot days that the plants dislike so much and send people scurrying for the beach or air conditioned shopping centres.

My eldest daughter has just announced that she has accepted a Librarian job in Alice Springs. I checked the weather for AS and I think she will be grateful she will be working in an air conditioned building. At least I suppose it's AC'd. Hot, dry place. Little greenery around apart from the gum trees.

Came home yesterday and the (unwanted, I just threw some branches on the ground and they rooted) Cassava had fallen from the sky into the vege bed and everything around it.

It's been growing under the Custard Apple tree for some years and I've paid it no attention. While I was busy ignoring it it was busy reaching for the sky and eventually became too top heavy. Good survival plant to have around but not a lot of use to me at present.

All cut back and going to be binned this time.

9779172887?profile=originalI had really given up on the Lychee tree after many years of tiny crops and I mean tiny, like one or two fruit, but looked up at it yesterday and was stunned to see it covered in developing fruit. It's been a funny old spring for flowering plants. They have gone berserk around Brisbane making it look like a giant colourful garden. Must have suited the flowers on the Lychee too.

Yummm can't wait :D

9779174079?profile=original22.11.15 The Elderflower has grown to a good size (that's the clothesline on the left) and is producing lots of flower heads for making drink. As warned by Elaine it is trying to sucker. I keep cutting these back.

9779174480?profile=original22.11.15 Snake bean plants are growing well from saved seed. No idea of type. Some of Pat's Red Snake Beans in there as well.

9779174497?profile=originalFirst of the Okra crop.

9779175867?profile=originalOrange flowering Leonotis leonurus. So far the insects are ignoring it but it is pretty.

9779176464?profile=originalOne colour of the salvia growing around the place.

9779177074?profile=originalPineapple Sage surrounding the native bee hives. Much loved by the bees.

9779177485?profile=originalA beautiful visitor munching away on the sweet potato leaves. It's hide out given away by the giant poo.

9779178253?profile=originalFigs are liking the weather at the moment. Only a bit of insect activity on the leaves.

9779178689?profile=original29.11.15

Spent a few productive hours this morning removing the Pepino from the front garden, chopping the male pawpaw in two (hopefully it will bunch up again and provide some western shade to the front of the house) and mulching everything with barrow loads of grass clippings which have been sitting for weeks.

Room for another plant!!

9779179469?profile=originalGraveyard where all the big stuff goes like the pawpaw and the banana plants. Let's call it Hugelkulture, it's a catchy name for a pile-o logs.

9779179099?profile=original

Read more…

PEPINO

Pepino Melon Care thumbnail

Pepino melon is native to the Andean region of South America. The fruits are described as cucumber-like in flavour (I personally think they taste like Rockmelon), refreshing, juicy and sweet.

They are apparently cultivated widely in New Zealand, Australia and Chile, but we don't see them in the fruit shops in Brisbane - with a little search I have found they grow them in north Qld in Innisfail and Tully.

The plant is a warm season fruit but can survive small periods of temperatures down to 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-2C). The plants are quite small compared to most melons and can be grown in a container.

Pepino melons are attractive fruits that come in a variety of shapes. The melons may be long, round, oval or even heart shaped. Most varieties are seeded but some may be seedless (the one I grow is seedless). The plant is herbaceous until it matures, when the stems turn woody.
Pepino is in the Solanaceae genus, a member of the nightshade family. These include eggplants, tomatoes and potatoes. The flowers on pepino plants are very similar to potato flowers. Fruits are ready for harvest anywhere from 30 to 80 days after pollination and may be 2 to 6 inches long, yellow or purplish-green with stripes.
Here's a pic of Pepino being grown in South America (?) courtesy of Joseph. They seem to grow better if trained up some sort of frame.
I have decided that my main plant, which is giving me fruit about a quarter of this size is too dry, too shady and not getting enough nourishment so I have created a new spot in the front yard with lots of added manure / mushroom compost, more sun and hopefully I will remember to water it!!
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Pepino melons can be grown in sun or partial shade but the best production will occur in full sun. Pepinos need well drained soil with plenty of organic matter incorporated. The soil pH should be neutral, ranging from 6.5 to 7.5. Pepino melon doesn't do well with competition and weed suppression is essential. A good mulch will help prevent competing vegetation. Pepino melons can withstand light freezes but it is best to situate the plants in a sheltered area for sustained cold snaps.

Pepino melons are filled with juice and require copious amounts of irrigation to form the fruit. The plants are sensitive to water stress and should not be allowed to dry out. In production cultivation the plants are grown in furrows to preserve water. Pepinos can be fertilized with a tomato fertilizer in the same amounts and manner as this cousin. You can train the pepino to a trellis if you wish but under ordinary conditions it requires no pruning to form new growth.

As the fruit ripens, attractive purple stripes appear along the fruit’s length and the background colour changes to a light gold. Once ripe, the fruit will give off an exotic fragrance from the stem end.

Refreshing when eaten fresh and there is no need to peel. Add to salads both sweet and savoury, serve combined with chicken or prosciutto for an entree. It can be used in a similar fashion to rockmelon in any recipe. Puree the flesh and use to make a flavoursome sorbet, or marinate slices in your favourite liqueur and serve with ice-cream.

Propagation
  • Pepino melons grow easily from seed (if you have a variety with seed) provided you have a long growing season. They begin to flower four or five months after sowing which means starts or cuttings are a better choice for most areas of the United States.

    Cuttings can root in less than 14 days. Pepino melons are perennial but productivity diminishes in the second year. Taking cuttings is an excellent way to extend harvest into successive years. Take cuttings after the harvest when the plant is not actively growing.

28.09.12 Pics from my own garden:
Flowers -
9779056869?profile=originalMain rambling bush currently growing in a shady, dry spot. 06.09.13 These have now been removed as only providing one or two fruit for a large capacity plant often stressed by this dry spot.
9779120494?profile=originalNew plants in enriched soil in the front yard where they will get more sun and have the fence for support -
9779056469?profile=original06.09.13
These plants in the front western facing yard are doing exceptionally well and producing plenty of large tasty fruit.
9779121490?profile=original9779122454?profile=originalBig lesson learned - don't pick the fruit until it's fully ripe as they stop ripening once picked. Fruit don't always develop the purple stripes either - sometimes they just turn golden.
The fruit keep well for quite some time in the fruit bowl.
Main cropping period in my yard is late winter/spring.
Read more…

2013 AUTUMN MARCH TO MAY

9779037088?profile=originalAutumn is here and apart from a few steamy days last week the weather has been cool and very wet. Constant rain. Some plants like it, some don't. As usual the raised beds couldn't care less.

Below: The Dwf Ducasse banana from Blue Sky Nursery is loving the wet. I have hopes that it will start producing some fruit for me before long.

9779037676?profile=originalBelow: Here's the same plant one year ago 10.02.12.

9779037867?profile=original

Below: Very exciting - found a Leaf Cutter bee nest this morning in one of the insect hotels. This one is more exposed than the others which are hidden under trees, I didn't think anything would like it well enough to move in.

I've seen two LC bees collecting pollen in their odd fasion on their abdomen on the Winter Melon flowers mainly, near the clothes line. Haven't seen them elsewhere, but I do see evidence of their leaf collection on the rose and custard apple.

9779038084?profile=originalBelow: 18.02.13 The baby Winter Melon hanging off the washing basket.

18.02.13 Winter Melon claiming the wash basket.

Below: 03.03.13 11 days later. This is the Winter Melon plant the Leaf Cutter bees seem to favour. I don't have to fertilise, they're doing the job for me. My washing trolley is under this lot.

Below: Progress of that little fruit 11 days later.

9779040857?profile=originalBelow: Babaco from Evan is surviving and putting out new leaves. As we all know...this doesn't necessarily mean success with this touchy plant, bit it's good news.

9779041467?profile=originalBelow: My dear old (2 or 3yrs?) self sown pawpaw is rewarding me with lots of fruit yet again. All the leaves cut from this plant go back underneath to mulch. I also give it Organic Xtra and Epsom Salts - the last tip was given to me by my Grandma decades ago.

The chilli growing under it is a decorative one and has little flavour.

9779041879?profile=originalBelow: Bed 3 - bottom left up are purple peas, purple beans (donated seed both and names long lost), James bean (another donated seed that has been renamed after the donator), and Sugar Snap Peas. Swt Potato in the middle. An experiment to use up wasted space productively.

9779042660?profile=originalBelow: The Betel Leaf has gone berserk in the rain. I would never die of scurvy - I have too many greens!

9779043670?profile=original...it's sending out shoots in all directions.

9779043698?profile=originalBelow: Pepino in flower. I just don't get as much fruit as I'd like.

9779044501?profile=originalBelow: The Nopales is going great guns. I've eaten a couple of paddles in the last few days and it's really growing on me. I've yet to find a prickle, but still treat it gingerly as I know there must be a few there. NOTE: The older paddles eventually develop some prickles.

9779023096?profile=originalBelow: Bed 2 - Purple King bean on left. Broccoli seedlings - Rapini (have had to resow these twice as not coming up), Waltham, Purple Sprouting and Green Sprouting. At the very end are 60day Cauliflower which has also been resown twice due to seed not coming up. Touchy.

Also in this bed are Kolrabi (seed from Florence), various silverbeets, and Sweet Leaf (from James) and a Listada di Gandia seedling from Bunnings.

9779045671?profile=originalBelow: Bed 1 with the Cardoon making a comeback.

The self sown goodies around the cold compost pile are just loving the rain - rocket, amaranth, mustard greens. Asparagus on the right has given me a few very tender spears this year...all eaten on the spot while I garden :)

The Golden Bantam corn plants on the compost pile were a wash out, same as the other two plantings. The dogs and I polished off the small cobs.

9779046083?profile=original05.03.13

Peggy came down the mountain on Sunday, despite all the rain and roadworks, and spent about 5 hours with me in the garden and working online to find products. 

Here's two interesting plants recommended by Peggy - would like to get hold of the Rau Om but the Kwai Muk is a bit big for my already full garden:

Rau Om or Rice Paddy Herb

Kwai Muk

Peggy writes a very interesting blog on Folia and has done this lovely write up about our day together. I feel quite priveleged :)

The rain has stopped falling constantly but it's still showering off and on. I've whipped out this morning and planted out some seedlings of Mangle Wurzle, Artichoke, silverbeet, Rutibaga and Giant Tree Tomato (seed from Norma) - the last frightens me lol. Have put a couple of seedlings in one end of Bed 1 in the hope that I can "control" them. I'm out of grow frames - will have to do something about that before they get too big.

Bar a few seedlings the Rapini seed are still not coming up, nor the 60 day cauli - both three times planted now.

08.03.13

The Variegated Penda (native) is in full bloom for a short period and the local honey eaters and insects are making the most of it. Not many of my Carbonaria bees on it though.

9779047084?profile=originalBelow: Rainbow Lorikeet and other honey eaters visiting.

9779047495?profile=originalBelow: Nectar heavy flowers.

9779048675?profile=originalBelow: Preston Prolific fig on special at Masters for $7 - for the front garden eventually.

9779049481?profile=originalBelow: Super Sioux toms coming up from saved seed.

9779049687?profile=originalBelow: Self sown lettuce unknown variety.

NOTE: Caterpillars etc ate these. I replanted a couple of times with seed I had.

9779050698?profile=originalBelow: Sown seed - Brown Mignonette lettuce. NOTE: Eaten by pests.

9779051865?profile=originalBelow: Early Purple eggplant grown from donated seed.

9779052483?profile=originalBelow: Cleome flowers. Attractive flowers and easy to grow from cutting but pretty much ignored by the bees.

9779053054?profile=originalBelow: Freya checking out the honeydew. NOTE: Not bad, not good. Most ended up in the juicer.

9779053478?profile=originalBelow: Orb Weaver visitor. These have a short time in the garden before the birds eat them and the cycle starts all over.

9779053701?profile=originalBelow: Winter Melon on the laundry trolley just keeps getting bigger. No other female flowers have pollinated successfully. Pretty much what happened with the first three vines. Perhaps it has a way of keeping crop to a sustainable level for the vine.

NOTE: Various plants have cropped up around the yard and are still growing into late Autumn, though no fruit as at the present 07.05.13.

9779054654?profile=originalBelow: Same fruit 15days later. I've had to prop it up on a garden pot as it's getting so heavy.

9779054282?profile=originalBelow: Four days later and almost ready to harvest as indicated by the spreading white protective barrier.

9779055267?profile=originalBelow: 20.03.13 and harvested. Ready to share at the GV. Weighs about 5 or 6kg I would guess.

9779055483?profile=original13.03.13

Classic autumn weather. Slightly overcast with some showers but the temp is a delight. I am having some problems with hairy black caterpillars, very fast moving, eating seedlings and anything else they can get at including fallen leaves. No sign of rats at all! Neighbours may have taken measures after last years problems.

Below: Youngberry fruit. I get the occasional one but there's a little wren that likes them better than me :)

9779056095?profile=originalBelow 13.03.13: Bed 3 Beans, peas coming along well. Red Okra in the foreground still fruiting prolifically.

NOTE: By 07.05.13 the Okra have almost been killed off by green caterpillars despite my best efforts to remove them daily, but are still producing a handful of fruit each week.

9779057086?profile=originalBelow: Chilli growing from Carolyns seed.

9779057891?profile=originalBelow: Sweet Potato tower is providing me with lots of nice shoots of young greens for cooking.

9779058693?profile=originalBelow: A different Dragonfruit developing flowers. The stem is more angular and the flower buds quite different from the red with white centre fruit.

I'd love to know the function of the little ants attracted to these flowers. It's not like they're open and offering pollen. Jude (Lai) thinks they are after aphid sugar but there's no obvious sign of aphid.

I think the flowers are rewarding the ants with some kind of secrection for protecting them myself. Some of the bean plants do the same.

9779059660?profile=originalBelow: Custard apple fruit starting to plump up. Ready to pick when the skin is smooth.

9779059883?profile=originalBelow 13.03.13: The tree is getting quite droopy with all the developing fruit.

NOTE: 07.05.13 Tree is not looking happy despite a big drink of water after a week of no rain. Hope it doesn't drop it's crop.

9779060492?profile=originalI've redone part of Bed 1 this morning for carrot and parsnip seed. Planted are Parsnip "Guernsey" from Green Harvest, Carrot "Muscade" (orange), "Atomic Red" and "Amarillo" (yellow) all from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds in America.

19.03.13

Still waiting on any of the carrots seedlings to poke their little heads up. Getting a bit worried that the two or three days of hot we've had might have done some damage despite watering once or twice a day.

The hairy black caterpillars are still doing damage. I go out at least twice a day and pick them off. They like to hide under the seed raising trays on the ground during the day. Nearly all lettuce seedlings have been demolished.

Below: The lates dragonfruit fruit. Nice big ones :) and very good eating.

9779061481?profile=originalBelow: Breakfast yesterday, all home grown - Carombola, pawpaw (very sweet but not all edible) and dragonfruit. Jude Lai has given Joseph and myself some cuttings for the all red DF plus more yellow. Lou from the Gemvale DF farm has given me some Pink DF cuttings in exchange for yellow.

9779062668?profile=original30.03.13

The carrots have poked their little heads up over the last week. Ones in the shade ot other plants came up first - curious.

Everything is growing well in the raised beds, should have plenty of beans, broccoli with hopes of excess to freeze for later, plus cauli and peas. Also Mangle Wurzel, Kohlrabi, Ruttabaga, silverbeet.

9779062867?profile=originalBelow: Eggplant are all cropping well. The Bunnings version of Listada di Gandia is a different shape but just as good eating

9779063299?profile=originalBelow: All the fruit developing on the oldest pawpaw plant. This plant has been incredibly prolific over it's approximately four years of life. I've eaten quite a few of the small fruit and they are sweet and delicious.

9779064254?profile=original9779064863?profile=original9779064680?profile=original9779065681?profile=originalBelow: The tank before espalier. Brennan is coming next week to set up a frame around the tank. Still trying to decide what to plant! Would love to do a multi planting with two different tropical stone fruit but there is the question of radiated heat from the tank for one thing, plus the cost.

9779066500?profile=originalBelow: Having a go at growing Soursop from cuttings after cutting the plant back to give the bananas more light. NOTE: 21.04.13 These have all died. Joseph will come over in spring and we'll try marcotting.

9779067277?profile=originalBelow: Chopped the top off the Jackfruit/Jakfruit so having a go at growing that also.

NOTE: 21.04.13 Dead, dead, dead. Will try again.

9779068280?profile=originalBelow: I've been putting seed in all over the place - finally got one! Coriander to grow. Not sure yet what the plant beside it is. NOTE: Weed!

9779068678?profile=originalBelow: Joe's Beans growing well - supposed to be more bean fly resistant. Had one early bean so far.

NOTE: These proved to be a real winner. Lots of fruit from relatively little plant and was also more bean fly resistent. Have saved seed for next year.

9779069466?profile=originalBelow: Purple King bean flowers - gorgeous and a very strong grower. No beans yet.

NOTE: Another winner. Heavy cropper despite some bean fly problem. Lots for the freezer. They cook green which is a pity.

9779069887?profile=originalBelow: The latest bunch of bananas ended up in the dehydrator along with some home grown pawpaw and dragonfruit. Despite keeping the machine going over two days during daylight hours they all came out still quite moist, but very edible!

9779070489?profile=original9779071293?profile=originalBelow: Goody, self sown Cape Gooseberry....I think!

9779071900?profile=originalBelow: The Cardoon is making a brave effort at a comeback. Caterpillars and ladybeetles are making a brave effort at eating it all!

NOTE: as of 07.05.13 these plants are not doing well. Nor are the fresh ones planted from seed. The reason is hard to guess at.

9779072487?profile=originalBelow: One of three Winter Melon fruit. I have the giant one in the pantry still. The first one has gone into Brennans produce box for making the raspberry trellis.

9779072861?profile=originalBelow FRONT YARD -

New raspberry trellis thanks to Brennan :) It's a thing of beauty with the idea taken from the Raspberry Pruning video

There's also a How to Grow Raspberries video.

9779072896?profile=originalBelow: Can't move the canes until they finish fruiting. It will be so good to tidy them up and get them upright so I don't keep mowing over the fruit. Ate the first one yesterday :)

NOTE: By 07.05.13 cropping a small handful daily.

9779074272?profile=originalBelow: Strawberry runners (orignals from the couple at Redland) are spreading all by themselves without any interference from me. I guess I will have to pay them a bit more attention once they fill up the spot.

Looks like the Tamarillos that suffered in the heat are dead, dead, dead. Canistel is still putting on a little growth.

9779074863?profile=originalBelow: Hugo and the Dwf Wurtz avocado. I've trimmed it a little but tempted to do more.

9779075853?profile=originalBelow: The front yard self sown pawpaw - hope it's as prolific as the backyard one!

9779076455?profile=originalBelow: Both Pomegranates are doing well, but I really should trim them a bit but they're very prickly. The foreground one is grown from seed, the background one is a Wonderful.

9779076674?profile=originalBelow: Reclaiming the front beds using grass clippings thanks to Steve the mower guy :)

9779077288?profile=originalAPRIL

Still regular showers and the weather is perfect. I've taken to walking in Warner Lakes in the morning. Beautiful spot full of native plantings and wildlife.

Below 05.04.13 Dehydrating some of Elaines Dwf Ducasse banana crop along with some Carombola.

NOTE: These were absolutely delicious dehydrated - really wonderful flavour. The Carombola was tasteless. Makes wonderful jam I discovered some weeks later - very flavoursome.

9779078067?profile=originalBelow: I managed to miss the flowering of the Yellow Dragonfruit but found them in the morning. Large and white just the same as the red variety. There a four of these. Something to look forward to as I've never eaten the Yellow before. Lou from Gemvale has given me a couple of Pink cuttings in return for Yellow ones from me.

NOTE: Joseph tells me these fruit take 6mths to ripen. Good grief! Hope I remember to keep checking them.

9779079052?profile=originalBelow: The fig is fruiting up again. It has some kind of leaf curl problem but this doesn't seem to be affecting it in any way I can see.

9779079862?profile=originalBelow: Hopefully I'll get some tomatoes this winter! This is Super Sioux from saved seed and Deer Tongue lettuce to it's right, also from saved seed.

9779080685?profile=originalBelow: Giant Tree Tomato from Norma's seed :)

9779081290?profile=originalBelow: Soursop cropping directly out of it's trunk. Fascinating stuff. There's heaps of flowers and small fruit this season so I have growing hopes of actually getting something to eat after a couple of lean years with this tree.

9779082065?profile=originalBelow: Purple King beans - flowers, fruit and purple tinged leaves. This is a very attractive bean to grow - yet to eat any fruit.

NOTE: The leaves were tinged purple where the bean fly had stung them! Plants still cropped well.

9779082667?profile=originalBelow: The Purple King plant growing up everything it can reach. Also broccoli, cauli, kohlrabi and manglewurzle in Bed 2.

9779082478?profile=originalBelow: Bed 1 Joe's Beans starting to crop. I've eaten a few. Good flavour and size pods and supposed to be more bean fly resistant than other varieties. Thank you to Jane for the seed :)

NOTE: Did prove to be more resistent.

9779083866?profile=originalBelow: The Joe's plant Bed 1. Medium grower - not as rampant as the Purple King or the Jame's beans.

NOTE: Jame's beans were badly affected by bean fly and did not crop as well as the other two varities.

9779084083?profile=originalBelow: Bed 3 beans gone crazy with some poor peas trying to compete. In this bed - Purple Pod Pea, Sugar Snap Pea, Flageolet beans (bush), Purple Pod bean (no purple flower or leaves so it's not Purple King), James beans, Rutabaga, potatoes - swt & regular, silverbeet, beetroot, okra.

9779084862?profile=originalBelow: Flageolet bush bean - seed from Craig :) Surprise! Didn't realise these were hidden away. Dinner tonight.

NOTE: Like all bush bean these pretty much finished cropping over a couple of weeks, unlike the climbers which kept going much longer.

9779086077?profile=originalBelow: Rutabaga - root crop veg. Will have to check if the leaves are also edible. These are very fast growing. Also known as Swede - pretty sure these are the delicious yellowish tubers I'm buying from the fruit shop.

9779086474?profile=originalBelow: Bed 2 Manglewurzle - edible leaves and tubers. A little slower growing from seed.

NOTE: These two plants pretty much died off after this. Too shaded? Too dry? Too wet? I did give some leaves away (never got to eat any myself!) perhaps I should have left them be.

9779087093?profile=originalBelow: Yet another Winter Melon coming up in a random spot. Beats me how they got there as I usually turf my unsuccessful seed mix in the one spot and this isn't it. Never mind, I love a mystery.

9779087482?profile=originalBelow: Another giant Winter Melon fruit near the bee hive. Will have lots to share :)

NOTE: This one ended up being swapped for a dozen eggs at the fruit shop.

9779088287?profile=originalBelow: Sweet Potato tower is providing lots of easily accessable leaves and will eventually provide tubers.

NOTE: This is growing much better than the "along the ground" plants. Bigger, healthier and more usable leaves.

9779054900?profile=originalBelow: I've taken to tucking in store bought sprouting spuds where ever I have an empty spot.

9779089301?profile=originalBelow: Chilli plant from Carolyns seed :) developing little fruit.

9779089695?profile=originalBelow: 29.04.13 Fruit on the same plant. Long and very mild. Almost no heat.

9779090457?profile=originalBelow: Custard apple taking their time plumping up. Something to look forward to. Might try to freeze some meat this year so I have a longer supply.

9779090866?profile=original07.04.13

Thinking of taking the latest humungously heavy Winter Melon fruit down to my local fruiterers. Those guys stock a lot of interesting stuff and they might be interested in doing a swap for a bag of spuds or something.

NOTE: Swapped for a dozen free range :) Have not been back to see if it sold well or not. When I did go back they had small WM in stock. Didn't have the guts to ask how mine sold.

9779091295?profile=originalBelow: First fruit picked from the Purple King vines. Very energetic grower, healthy plant with beautiful flowers, leaves and fruit. A "must" for future plantings.

NOTE: Has been attacked a bit by the bean fly but not excessively a problem.

9779092466?profile=originalBelow: Poor little Butternut plant out the front that should be dead has given up one fruit.

NOTE: Good eating when I did cut it.

9779093085?profile=originalBelow: Have just found these Jame's beans hidden away.

NOTE: These plants are badly attacked by Bean Fly.9779093873?profile=original12.04.13

Below: Bean crop from this morning. Left to right James' beans, Purple King and Joe's beans.

The James' beans are rampant taking up a lot of space (twice that of the Joe's beans), have quite a bit of bean fly damage and it's difficult to find the relatively small crop of smaller more rounded beans.

Purple King are just wonderful - not much trouble with bean fly damage, nice sized plants and very easy to find the copious crop.

Joe's beans are a real winner. The plant is a nice compact size and it crops heavily with large well shaped flattish beans. Also not much bean fly damage. I've given away the last of the Joe's seed I had (to Brennan) so MUST save more from this wonderful bean for next season.

Not much between the flavour of all three, Joe's perhaps a little sweeter - another plus.

Some info re Bean Fly:

Bean Fly

These pests are tiny, glossy, black flies that appear in warm, humid weather to attack French bean plants that don't have enough potassium. The best way to avoid these pests is to practice crop rotation, have plenty of compost in the bed where you grow French and climbing beans, and to hill-up soil around the stems of bean plants. 

Look out for yellow spots and fine lines on bean leaves. They are a sign that the flies have laid eggs in the leaves. Remove and destroy damaged leaves to stop larvae tunnelling to the base of the stem, and give your bean plants a drink or two of organic-allowed seaweed tea.

9779094477?profile=originalBelow: The raspberries are starting to crop - have to drive around them on the front driveway :/ Can't wait until I have them growing tidy up the new frame next season.

9779095656?profile=originalBelow: Some of todays and yesterdays crop. All the eggplant are doing well apart from the Rosea. The Okra is still cropping but there has been a new long green caterpillar move onto these plants and it's doing quite a bit of damage to the young fruit and leaves. Plants are well past their use by date anyway.

Choko is fruiting - nice solid green fruit. It's covered in tiny sweet fruit at the moment.

9779097462?profile=originalCarrots are growing well. Potatoes are coming up. Cardoon is struggling in it's second year with a lot of pest destruction. Rutabaga (swede) are growing very quickly and well - a definate for each year. Some Kohlrabi have come up from Florence's seed (had to sow twice), some beetroot seedlings are trying to find a place in an already busy bed. The Mangelwurzel is doing quite well - it and the silverbeet have a small problem with a circular dark fungal (?) problem on some of their leaves.

I have removed any diseased leaves and stems this morning from all plants and binned them in a plastic bag. Don't want a giant problem with bean fly next year.

Carombola are cropping well - some fruit fly damage but still plenty of edible bits. I'm picking the ones I can reach when they turn pale before they fall and bruise. Any infected bits of fruit are being binned, not composted. The plant is flowering again! It's become quite bushy and will need a good trim once all this fruiting is over.

Below: I now have a beautiful espalier frame around my tank, thanks to Brennan. So well made - I couldn't have done this on my own. I've planted some Sugar Snap Peas for the moment and will put the plant in a little later. There's also a Loofah come up from dropped seed.

9779097290?profile=original27.04.13

I've pulled out most of the climbing and bush bean plants (all bar the wonderful Joe's beans which will go soon too) as they are past their best and have a lot of Bean Fly infestation. The resultant mass of greenery has been black-bagged and left in the sun to kill these off so I can reuse the material.

Below: Bean plant in the tub and the climbing frame bare. I've removed this eyesore frame and plan to make a better one with taller star posts and wire, following Brennan's design on the espalier frame. Still early in the growing season so I hope to plant some peas after the bed has been replenished.

NOTE: Planted Rapini broccoli donated seed instead.

9779098071?profile=originalI've blanched and frozen about a kg+ of beans for later use.

NOTE: May have overblanched as they're coming out soggy if I steam. Fine in stews or casseroles though.

9779099276?profile=original9779100269?profile=originalMade Carombola jam yesterday and it tastes damn good.

I really am a shocker at making jam, so not sure if I can call it jam or candied fruit but it's really yummy and rich flavoured and I will use it on toast like jam. Might cut the pieces smaller next time and it would benefit from some spice.

Nearly all the fruit is Fruit Fly infested despite my best efforts, so this is made from all the good offcuts. I made sure there was NO fruit fly bits in there :/

9779101077?profile=originalBelow: Found three of these wonderful caterpillars in the bean/sweet potato bed. Hopefully they were eating swt potato as the beans were going. Turns out they were Hawk Moth progeny - thought at first they could only be butterflys.

9779100690?profile=originalThe green choko are giving lots of good fruit at the moment for sharing, juicing, roasting and frying. The little ones are so sweet. I need to move the vine away from the post box! Poor posto :/ I hope he's a gardener and understands my addiction to growing stuff everywhere.

Still trying to get my hands on a replacement white choko. (NOTE: 10.05.13 three are being posted to me by Warren from Daleys fruit forum - yay).

The raspberries are giving a few fruit each day. Eggplant are still cropping well though I expect that will stop with the cold weather. The self sown plants are giving lots of fruit :)

The broccolis and caulis are all growing well - lots of caterpillars trying to eat the plants as quickly as I find and destroy them.

Carrots are coming along well but slowly as usual.

The Cardoon is not doing well the second time around and is dying off. I've planted some seed elsewhere to start afresh but they are not growing well either. Still have plenty of seed to try next year if this year fails.

The Mangelwurzle did well initially but may now be too shaded - one plant has died (since recovering). I've replanted some more seed.

Ruttabaga (swede) is growing well. The first lot of seed grew quickly, the second lot more slowly - possibly due to the shade from the bean plants which are now gone, so hoping they start to put on some growth as I really like these, very sweet and yummy.

Kohlrabi are doing ok. They are slow growers.

28.04.13

I've collected a plant from the SGAP sale of the native hibiscus "Citrus Mist" recommended by Colleen (Keena from Hibiscus Org).  From the Uni stall at the sale. Nice big healthy plant for $15. Bargain.

Problem is it's covered in spines which I wasn't aware of before :( so I can't plant it where I wanted to around the rain water tank. I was expecting something soft and inoffensive but this would take off skin each time I go to get water.

Never mind, I'll have a good think about where I can put it. Maybe the front yard... but I will have to clear some of the piles of mulch out there first and I wanted them to sit until spring at least.

NOTE: Planted in the right hand corner of the front yard. Out of the way of walkers.

Winter is it's flowering time so I would really like to get it in soon. The whole point of the plant is the edible flowers which make cordial and jam.

9779101686?profile=original07.05.13
Still lots of caterpillars (NOTE: smooth green ones are Cabbage Butterfly) on the leafy plants, but the good news is the little predator wasp Apanteles glomeratus that I had here in spring (see Spring 2013 blog for more info) are back and hopefully killing off a few for me.
Below are there yellow silken larval cases on broccoli. Having some problems with aphid on the broccoli this season also (see notes further on).
9779101881?profile=originalBelow: The Sweet Leaf plant has developed the most unusual flowers, almost primitive.
9779102671?profile=originalBelow: Lots of colour around the garden from marigold, various salvia, amaranth, cleome, nasturtium. The BBBees are out doing their thing again - they just love the Pineapple Sage (salvia) flowers. Would love to know where the males roost at night.
9779102701?profile=original9779103899?profile=originalBelow: So many eggplant fruit that I didn't want going to waste - these have been soaked in brine and then grilled both sides with extra salt and olive oil, then stored in olive oil. They've come out delicately sweet. Good for frying or just eating :)
9779104461?profile=originalBelow: Preparing same. Ran out of olive oil for the second batch and had to use rice bran oil.
9779104853?profile=originalBelow: Attempting to learn more about the edible weeds locally. No idea what this one is picked up on my walk this morning (Warner Lakes). NOTE: Elaine has identified it as FIREWEED and it's definately non-edible. My weed book is coming in the mail soon that should help with identification.
9779105689?profile=original10.05.13
Winter is definately on the door step, the mornings are getting quite nippy but the days are still lovely and warm. The garden is happy on the whole - still picking caterpillars off the leafy greens.
Joseph has given me insight into the aphid on the leafy greens (from unknown organic author):
Another common pest, one that is almost ubiquitous, is the aphid. These little suckers probably cause more damage than any other insect. The first thing to consider is their nutritional needs. Aphids cannot digest complete protein; they require free amino acids (the building blocks of protein). Excessive amounts of water-soluble nitrogenous fertiliser creates the condition of high levels of free amino acids in plant sap, effectively a dinner invitation to aphids. Conversely, feeding protein to plants reduces the level of free amino acids and minimises the attractiveness of plants to aphids.
Was doing my usual morning potter around yesterday morning (not working or so I thought) and realised the custard apples had finally reached the point of picking. Some had been chewed by Fruit Bats so I've picked nearly all of them. Have left a couple up high for the bats not so much out of altruism but because I had trouble reaching them! Gave myself a heckofa bruise on the back of my leg when I walked backwards into a stick. It's a jungle under this tree! and was no picnic doing the cropping.
Now I have to eat them, share them with family this Mothers Day weekend, and freeze some meat - the time consuming side of growing your own. The plant is probably 11yrs old and I've long since lost the label. Nice meat but lots of seeds to work your mouth around.
NOTE: Once picked these ripen quickly. Many of the smaller ones went hard and black and were inedible.
9779105492?profile=original11.05.13
Off to have a look at Jerry Coleby-Williams Open Garden today. I'll take along a couple of the Joes beans with the funny twisty shape and ridges to see if he can advise what might be causing it.
NOTE: One of his offsiders thought it might be a virus but could not be sure. He was happy to take the seed I brought along though!
Below: The Amaranth bought on the day. Very pretty and edible to boot.
9779107268?profile=originalBelow: Found some old Money Maker seeds in my big box of seed and threw them in without much hope of success, but here they are coming up :)
9779107486?profile=originalBelow: Sweet potato flowers, really quite pretty. These are on the tower plant.
9779108073?profile=originalBelow: The tower 25.05.13...
9779108867?profile=originalBelow: Bed 1 - all the Joe's beans have been removed and Imperator carrot and Snowball cauli planted courtesy of seed from RayRay. The self sown eggplant (Listada di Gandia) and Basil have both proven prolific.
9779110054?profile=originalBelow: Backyard going into winter. Beans are finished, peas are just taking off, broccoli and cauli growing well despite the caterpillars but still waiting on any crop. Self sown tom (middle bed at end) Acid Free Cherry (?).
9779110463?profile=originalBelow: Bees doing their thing surrounded by Cleome, bush basil, nasturtium and salvia.

9779111085?profile=originalBelow: Joseph's red papaya showing signs of deficiency...Boron perhaps? or perhaps Broad Mite infestation though there is no sign of life or eggs. Rob mentions that his own plants had something similar in the past and eventually recovered under their own steam, so will leave them be and hope whatever it is doesn't infect my other pawpaw plants.

These plants have been given every goody under the sun - Organix Xtra, Dr Grow it All, minerals, compost. Have bought some Boron (Borax) from Coles and dosed them with that as well (1 teas diluted in litre of water).

NOTE: Could be Broad Mite. Tossing up whether to remove the affected tops of the plants and hope they survive with the remaining small, apparently unaffected, leaves.

9779111286?profile=original13.05.13

Visited the Caboolture Mkts on the way to Mums for Mothers Day yesterday and picked up amongst other plants (at the cheapo tube stand) an Astragalus membranaceusa perennial member of the flowering legume family, and my favourite immune booster herb which I take in tablet form.

It has no known side effects and can be taken long term safely. Also has a mild anti-coagulant effect so caution if on blood thinners.

Also known as milk vetch, huang qi, huang ch', ogi, hwanggi, bei qi, radix astragali, goat's horn, green dragon, locoweed.

Reading up on this plant this morning it takes 4 to 7yrs to mature for the root to be used :( bummer. You can chew on the root like chewing gum, buy it in dried form, add to stews and smoothies as a powder.

Found claims for it's cancer fighting, flu fighting and anti-aging properties. I've been using the tablets for some years and I know it boosts my immune system as I have a lot less trouble with my health (I use Immune Boost from Golden Glow but see it cropping up in other brands at the chemist now).

Video link - what you need to know before you buy Astragalus.astragalus-bsp.jpg

14.05.13

Due to my largish crop, I spent a few hours last evening seperating custard apple flesh from seed so as not to waste any :/ Not something I will willingly put my hand up to do on a regular basis, but I might come at it once a year when the tree crops. Fruit was also shared with family at the weekend.

The pic below is when I was about half way through. Luckily they put one of my favourite movies on TV which distracted me...thank goodness!

The meat has been frozen in containers. Some mixed through Goats Yoghurt I had in the fridge. It doesn't go brown (oxidation) unlike other cut fruit - I thought I might have to sprinkle with lemon juice but it stayed nice and white all by itself.

9779112656?profile=originalBelow: Tried my hand at making jerky today. Thinly sliced beef marinated in oyster, swt chilli and tamari sauces as per Andy's instructions. The end result is very tasty but a bit expensive. $8 worth of thin sliced beef from Coles made just one layer in the dehydrator.

NOTE: This was extemely delicous and very more-ish. I will have to find some less expensive meat to make it a viable to make this regularly.

9779113080?profile=originalAlso made some jam today (becoming a habit this jam making!) using bits of Carambola, some dehydrated pawpaw and a beautiful persimmon from the Caboolture Mkt. Still don't know what I'm doing - I just put it all in a saucepan with some sugar and let it boil down til it's thick - but it tastes good.

Below: Joseph gave me purple pod peas for growing and after waiting for this slow growing plant to do it's thing, I finally have some beautiful purple flowers and pods.

Capucijner Peas

(Pisum sativum var.)

Capucijner (cap-ou-SIGH-nah), an heirloom pea originally grown by the Dutch Capuchin monks during the 17th century. Bicoloured flowers are lilac-pink & wine-red, fading to blue as they age; pods are inky purple, fading to leathery brown as they mature. It's great visual appeal & hardiness has ensured its survival over the centuries.

Ate one of these young pea pods yesterday (17.05.13) and it was a bit on the chewy side unlike sugar snap peas. Perhaps meant for pea production only. 26.05.13 Ate some peas - delicious!

9779113483?profile=original9779114087?profile=original18.05.13

It's become freakin chilly in the morning and warrants long pants to work during the day. The cold is still not deterring the caterpillars! The smooth green variety (Cabbage White Butterfly) are still proliferating on my broccoli and cauli and there's even some of the hairy black jobs still around doing their thing.

My feet are cold :( I really should put on my Ugg boots. Done...along with an extra layer of vest. My hands are still freezing.

Below The choko are going crazy all over the Jaboticaba, fence and gate. I'm eating the sweet little jobs daily but still manage to miss some fruit and they subsequently grow huge and are only good for chutney making or growing. I have six or seven in pots out the back to give away and really must find a home for the excess fruit.

Some damage this year from sucker type bugs but it doesn't affect the flavour.

9779115259?profile=original

27.05.13 Autumn is almost over and the cold is well and truly here already. Not much to do in the garden each day except a bit of tidy up here and there.

I did plant out the many coloured Amaranth and some of the late Cardoon that have come up, into Bed 3. I would like some Cardoon to take me through winter. The fig is still producing fruit but ever so slowly. The Carombola is flowering again for one last flush of fruit I hope.

The Lychee is putting on new growth. Fingers crossed that I end up with some fruit next season.

Cropped the Water chestnut yesterday. Took about 15mins sloshing around in a tub of water to remove the corms and ended up with an icecream bucket full.

9779115497?profile=originalBelow: This is how the plant looked when it is ready for cropping...

9779115864?profile=originalWHAT I HAVE LEARNED THIS AUTUMN:

If I plant my broccoli etc early, yes I do get plants growing quick early growth but the pests are also still around and attack the growing plants unmercifully. USE MY NETS!! to cover the growing plants and protect them.

Read more…

2012/2013 SUMMER JANUARY

9779022066?profile=originalSo much happened in the garden in December it was necessary to break the blog / diary down into months.

Above -  first day of 2013. We've had enough rain that the tank hasn't run dry, but not enough that I can rely on the rain to keep things consistently moist so have been watering mornings. Afternoons on occasion if I have really early work starts.

The plants really appreciate it. I've been rewarded this season with lots of  self-sown salad and greens plants like red and green Amaranth, rocket, mustard greens and Egyptian spinach. Add this to the Aibika, sweet potato leaves, choko tips, pumpkin tips and I have a plentiful supply of home grown greens.

Below: Self sown salad and greens around the cool compost pile.

9779022300?profile=originalContinueing my love affair with eggplant. The Listada di Gandia has been cut right back (pic above, middle bed beside the tall Tamarillo) and I have hopes that it will grow back but suspect these two plants have run their course.

Have a store bought one struggling in the front yard which I will try to transplant into the back. Also some self sown L di G in a couple of places. The Flea Beetles have wrought havoc on every plant, young or old, this season.

Below: This is supposed to be Brazilian Orange :/ or so said the seed I was given by someone. Doesn't match up with the pics I see on the net, but is none the less delicious. Creamy flesh when roasted with a delicate flavour.

If anyone thinks they can identify which one it really is I would appreciate knowing.

The wounds on the fruit are bird caused. I suspect the Indian Mynah which roam around my yard quite a bit. Either that or crows.

Planted some leftover bits of seed for three different eggplants and this is the only one that came up. Early Purple I think.

9779024059?profile=original

Below: The Winter Melon are doing great! See blog for full story. This fruit is 9 days old!

9779023701?profile=originalBelow: The Red Okra (seed originally from Elaine) grow well for me now.

Used to hate this fruit but will now use the young ones in stir fry and salad quite happily. Large ones here are a little big for eating (they get quite fibrous) so will continue to grow for seed.

Flowers and plant both very attractive to have in the garden.

9779025091?profile=originalBelow: Cucumber haul for the last few days in the fridge. Prof. Mary Sheehan (white) and the others are Muncher and Spacemaster. I use the scruffy ones for juicing and the purty ones for eating and sharing :)

9779026059?profile=originalBelow: The Carombola is dropping dozens of little fruit :( It's not cropped well for some time now after initially providing kgs of fruit each season. I've just given it a big drink of water in the hope that the remaining fruit doesn't fall.

The yellow/brown fruit are just burnt and desiccated from lying around in the sun for days.

9779027056?profile=originalThere are still pockets of fruit left in the tree, but not many.

9779027099?profile=original06.01.13

Peaceful cool, damp Sunday. Goodness it's delicious after years of turmoil :)

A little bit of rain coming and going this morning, just enough to wet my hair and T shirt but not do much for the plants. At least it's cool. The tank is down to 1000L (tap level) so I'm back to using town water. The beds are quite dry below the top layer - I spend a long time trying to wet them thoroughly.

Found a beautiful little Blue Banded Bee, newly hatched out, when I was trimming back the Salvia this morning. Five stripes - can't remember whether this meant male or female. It was sitting hanging on to a tendril with it's mandibles and it's wings looked like they were still plumping up. There's a fast moving black bee in the garden that I'm yet to see close up. Possibly a Leaf Cutter or Resin bee.

Let's get the bad out of the way first lol. The Persimmon has dropped it's second fruit during the heat. None for me this year unless I buy them!

9779027687?profile=originalBelow: Sadly, the bagged pumpkin babies are all dying. They yellow and shrivel. Lack of water and too much heat?

9779028669?profile=originalBelow - 16.01.13 finally have one good pumpkin growing. The small one ventually shrivelled and fell off.

9779028695?profile=originalThe Wampi is producing a bit of fruit at a level where I can get at them. Have to be careful I don't eat too many as they are quite acidic (citrus relative).

Good old reliable Pawpaw is producing some nice fruit. I leave all yellowing leaves around the base for this tree. Returns nutrients to the soil and provides shade for the roots.

9779029671?profile=originalStill chipping Cadaghi seed from the entrance of the bee hive daily. Some days more than others. Not much this morning (below) but seed can clearly be seen in the Cerumen sitting on the brick. I don't see them do it, but the bees must be putting these there. The Cerumen might help to remove the sticky seed from their legs.

9779030079?profile=originalBelow: Belatedly thought of using the new netting to shade the corn and bean seed struggling to come up in the heat. Think I've lost most of the seed.

9779030858?profile=originalBelow: Winter Melon now 11days old. Other babies seem to be growing slower.

9779031872?profile=originalBelow: Healthy self sown patch near the clotheslines. Another pumpkin? NOTE: Turns out it's a Winter Melon from potting mix I threw out when seeds didn't come up.

9779032662?profile=original11.01.13

Hot and dry with bushfires all over - especially Tasmania, Victoria and NSW. Mum and Dad came very close to being evacuated at White Patch. Fires are still burning on the island.

I am going out each morning to keep the vege patches wet and productive and try to give major garden plants some water. Many of the Tamarillos are suffering badly in the heat. The ones in the front yard may even be dying - have dropped all their leaves. Great pity as they were covered with fruit, some of which is ripening.

The custard apple, soursop, ceylon hill gooseberry and carambola all have developing fruit and I'm giving them drinks every few days in a effort to stop them dropping these.

Out of the three cucs grown this season - Spacemaster, Muncher and Prof Mary Sheehan, the last is proving to be the most productive and long producing. A nice cuc - often with a hollow in the centre of the fruit. Goes a little golden when it's ripening. I've had almost nil problems with mould - could be due to the lack of rain, type of plant but I do think the addition of rock minerals has had a positive impact.

9779033081?profile=originalBelow: This pic doesn't do my Amaranth forest justice! Some are taller than me. Nothing much affects these attractive and useful plants. I add a leaf to my sandwiches (the red look particularly nice) and add them to salads and casseroles. Now developing their flower heads which look a lot like Celosia.

9779033861?profile=originalBelow: The Winter Melon is starting to develop it's white protective coating from the top down.

9779025694?profile=originalBelow: One of about four other WM babies.  They get little sticky, brown exudations on the skin. Not sure if this is something burrowing or normal.

9779034466?profile=original21.01.13

I was walking around the garden with Ana and her little one Scarlett the other day and had a very exciting moment. My first ever!! Dragonfruit flowers and fruit developing. And I missed them! Never mind, some new buds are developing so I'll keep a careful eye on them for some night time viewing.

9779034870?profile=originalBelow: 31.01.13 The same fruit 12 days later.

9779035469?profile=originalBelow: 19.01.13 Second flower.

9779035688?profile=originalBelow: 31.01.13 The same flower 12 days later developing fruit.

9779036674?profile=originalBelow - My dear little Rattle Ants are paying a lot of attention to the developing flowers.

9779036276?profile=originalBelow: 31.01.13 Same flowers 12 days later getting attention from another variety of ant.

9779037279?profile=originalBelow - 2nd, 3rd and 4th (baby) Winter Melons. Some caterpillar damage but they were found before they chewed through the stems.

9779038280?profile=original9779039088?profile=original9779039677?profile=originalBelow - 21.03.13 Excited about this Sweet Leaf or Bunchosia given to me by James. The tips are really nice.

9779040282?profile=original9779040666?profile=originalBelow - 21.01.13 Some more Cardoon flowers. The first lot still haven't turned into seed. Really hoping they do. Each flower has a little white Flower Spider hiding in and lots of ants visiting. The beetles like these as well.

9779041468?profile=original9779042068?profile=originalBelow - 21.01.13 Have tried regrowing beans and corn but the heat has been too much. The corn has a few growing but the beans are not doing well at all. I've planted Richard's sweet potato seedling in the middle - something useful.

9779042680?profile=original23.01.13

The native bees are giving me lots to study at the moment. The Cadaghi seed phase seems to have stopped without the disaster of slump that I half expected. They still aren't foraging and bringing back pollen to the degree that they were previously but I did see one bring in small pollen sacs this morning. They're still milling around the entrance and flying short distances - the gray ones. NOTE: Soon after this the darker foragers came out, so I think the gray guards were just checking things out.

The last couple of days they have started bringing home some lavender to purple threads and are attempting to drag them through the top entrance (bottom was mainly used for Cadaghi - very specific) with their mandibles. I pinned one thread down with my fingernail and the bee turned around and tried to tug it free with it's mandibles. Have witnessed them this morning dragging them through the bottom entrance also. One came out with a thread again and either dropped it or threw it away.

Around 7 this morning I witnessed them forming a cloud of activity (we won't call it a swarm as that's what honey bees do when they vacate their hive for another destination - ASB don't do this) that extended for around 1.5m all around the hive. They were quite agitated, even aggressive. Paying a lot of attention to me sitting beside them, but not biting. This happened last night around 5pm also. Today this lasted about half an hour then they settled down to business as usual - bringing out larval cases, bringing back the odd pollen sac and bringing back some purple thread.

Andrew from ANBees has suggested it's something to do with palm flowers - they are blooming around us at the moment.

Bob L. is working on figuring it out. I'm buying one of Bob's boxes for splitting in the next week or so.

Below: the purple thread.

9779042894?profile=original9779043095?profile=originalI've finally sat down and made a few Insect Hotels from PVC, bamboo, curled bark and straws for the smaller insects (thank you to Ian on ANBees for that idea).

I have heaps of Blue Banded Bees around but they really like the holes in the brickwork in the shady carport. Would be wonderful to see someone move in to one of my homes.

I also have the most beautiful wasps collecting caterpillar from the cucumber vine. They're quite long - about 4cm, have an orange dot on the top of their head and orange epaulettes on the shoulders, black in the middle and an orange striped abdomen. Too fast moving for me to photograph.

Here's a pic from the Vic. Museum which looks a lot like it:

Mud Wasp Abispa sp.

Mud Wasp

Below: Insect Hotels.

9779044292?profile=original9779045460?profile=original9779046290?profile=original23.01.13

I have had a bee war today.

The bees were quite agitated around 5pm last night when I was sitting out there working, buzzing around me but not biting. This morning they had a lot of little gray bees poking their heads out for a look-see at dawn before the darker bees came out. None of the bees have done much foraging the last few days - little sign of pollen being brought back.

Around 7 to 7.30am they did a lot of "clouding" about 1.5m around the hive but then seemed to settle. At 3pm I was out gardening and finally noticed they were swarming all over the front of hive. On closer inspection I found many little dead and dying bodies around the hive. I had missed the war.

By 6.45 tonight things had calmed down. Lots of dead bees being dragged out of the hive and dumped. The intruders appear to be slightly smaller with a small pale mark on either side of their thorax. Bit hard to tell with the naked eye.

The hive appears to be letting the odd pollen carrying bee inside which at first made me think that the original bees won the war but now I doubt that as the victors are throwing out the gray juveniles.

Here's some pics:

9779047270?profile=original9779047891?profile=original24.01.13

10pm last night there were still a few bees milling around the outside of the hive. Normally everyone goes inside for the night.

5.30am much the same. A few milling bees.

6.15am more activity starting despite it being an overcast morning. Bodies are being dumped from the bottom entrance again. Bob has suggested putting down a white cloth which makes it much easier to see the bodies.

Many able bodied gray bees are being dumped - grays are immature so it makes me think the invaders have won and are dumping my babies. Will watch to see if they start dumping the larvae.

Getting quite wet out there. I was hunched on a hard rock with an umbrella and notebook. Even the dogs wouldn't stay with me lol.

1.00pm More carnage as the victors toss out more dead and dying bodies, many gray juveniles amongst them.

Below: Victors on the front of the box, vanquished tossed down on the cloth out of the entrance.

9779048085?profile=originalBelow: Gray juveniles can be clearly seen amongst the dying.

9779048875?profile=originalBelow: Close up of the victors. More Carbonaria's perhaps? Certainly not Hockingsi which are bigger.

9779049454?profile=originalBelow: My vanquished Carbonarias.

9779049289?profile=original25.01.13

The carnage goes on today despite it being rainy and blustery. The victors are continueing to throw out bodies - now getting down to pupae. They're also flying in a cloud around the box to about 1.5m in a very assertive fashion. Again, if I sit beside the hive they give me an intensive once over without biting.

I do notice a lot of them have this little white patch on either side of the thorax. Searches for pics of native bees in books and online show both the Tetragonula Carbonaria (mine) and Austroplebeia Australis has having similar markings. Found this just now on Native Bee Sanctuary:

Austroplebeia australis

This warm-loving species of stingless bee make an intricate, lacy curtain of cerumen each night as a barrier across their doorway…then they pack it away when they’re ready to face the day again! At the base of their thorax (between the head and the adbdomen) they have tiny cream coloured markings. They like to nest in hollow trees and fight off small hive beetle invaders by sticking them down with resin and biting them. It’s hard to tell them apart from T. carbonaria, without looking inside at the different nest shape they have, but they often build a a tunnel-like entrance into the hive, and the lacy night curtain is always a give away!

Haven't noticed any lacy curtain of cerumen. 

Other ways to tell them apart when I finally get to split the hive and open it up:

Identification: When the hive is opened, Trigona (now Tetragonula) will crawl over the intruder, into eyes, ears, mouth etc. Austroplebeia do not show this behavior, and is one distinguishing behavioural difference.

Trigona (now Tetragonula) build a hexagonal brood cell, in a flat layer spiraling outwards (horizontally). Austroplebeia do not build in a discernable regular pattern.

The Austroplebeia queen has a light brown appearance, in contrast to the dark brown Trigona queen.

26.01.13

Showers and gusty wind, but by 7am the victors, which have been identified by Bob L. as another group of Carbonaria, are throwing out more dead bodies. Adults locked in combat to the death, no babies. Perhaps the battle still rages deep inside the hive.

27.01.13

Tail end of the cylcone has brought strong winds and lots of rain. I could have filled my 5000lt tank 10 times over. Time for hot and spicey beef-cheek stew with some added Winter Melon and Aibika amongst more mundane veg.

I've ventured out to plant Lupin and Sub clover as most things have finished cropping and it is perfect seed germination weather.

The Cardoon seed heads were becoming soggy, the plant was dead, so I cut them off and brought them inside to dry off a bit. On pulling them apart I found very few viable looking seed....plus it was a lot like picking ticks out of dirty human hair. Pretty yuck but I have some seed for winter, I hope.

9779050487?profile=originalThe two other Winter Melon fruit passed Joseph's "pick me" test as the little surface prickles were wiping off and the fruit becoming white all over.

I made a stirfry using part of the small one with a nice piece of fried Salmon last night. Put in too much oyster sauce once again. Also Kangkong of which I finally have lots!

9779051665?profile=originalBelow: Winter melon stir fry

9779052253?profile=original28.01.13 - The bees kept entirely to the hive during yesterdays gusty, rainy weather due to the cyclone up north. More bits of Qld flooded and people drowned trying to cross creeks etc. Pretty intense stuff.

This morning there was a complete lull in wind and rain for about an hour so the bees and I both came out!

The bees became very active - still removing the odd very-dead body (as opposed to the struggling live ones from the other day) but now flying off with dozens of pupal cases. It's much too soon for any Queen they may have installed to be laying let alone the eggs reaching hatching stage so I'm hoping that the invaders are accepting my larvae as their own. I did find one worker dumping an entire larva though.

The material they are dumping is amber coloured on the whole, like normal larval cases, but some of it is bright orange. I've asked Bob what he thinks that might be but I suspect Bob's internet is down still post storm as I haven't heard from him for a few days.

During the lull I've gone around with my hand saw and taken the top off one pawpaw and a couple of tamarillos that were pushed sideways by the heavy winds. The pawpaw will be fine but the tam's were already badly affected by the drought and may already be dead - this includes my original plant which would be three this year. Pretty much it's lifespan anyway.

Considering the flush of growth that will come in the next few weeks due to all the water (seeds are coming up everywhere! salvias are growing roots at leaf nodes all along the length of stems!) I have cut back bushy plants to allow for the new growth. All the different salvias mainly.

The cooler weather has given me back my apetite :) Fried eggs, toast and stew for a late brekkie.

30.01.13

Overcast with occasional showers this morning. The bees have returned to business as usual on the whole - bringing back pollen and removing larval cases.

There are still a few bees staggering around on the ground and rocks apparently unable to fly. When I put them on the hive box the victors pounce on them as soon as they become aware they are there and knock them off again. Very odd how the losers seem to have lost the power of flight.

The victors colour markings are much stronger than the originals. The majority of them are very dark/black in colour with a strong white marking of hairs to either side of the thorax.

I've cut back all the growth around the hive yesterday. It was getting leggy and messy with lots of dead flower heads. Shade cloth put up again to provide shade.

The hive is pungent smelling again today. Could smell it from metres away. Bees are bringing back some Cadaghi seed again.

I think myself that there is a link between the Cadaghi resin collection of the original bees and the takeover. I suspect the victors could have been drawn by the smell and wanted the booty for themselves.

9779053256?profile=originalBelow: After the storms. I've been very lucky again.

9779053272?profile=originalBelow: 31.01.13 Decided to cut it all back this morning. This will give the beds time to rest and recuperate before autumn planting.

9779053098?profile=originalBelow: 28.01.13 Cut back pawpaw had quite a lean to it and was top heavy.

9779054655?profile=originalBelow: 30.01.13 The wind and rain is knocking kgs of fruit out of the Carombola. It's so tender it bruises when it hits the ground and there is some fruit fly damage in some of them. The bulk have made juice.

9779055054?profile=original

31.01.13 Had to crop my one and only pumpkin as I got carried away trimming back the vine and it all died.

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WINTER MELON

File:W tougan4091.jpg

Photo (above) courtesy of the net.

Tried some of Joseph's home grown winter melon some months ago (grows in the warm weather, eaten traditionally in the cold weather due to it's long shelf life) and I'm determined to grow some of my own as I found it delicious. I've just planted some seeds so fingers crossed I get seedlings.

Another one of those multi use plants where the shoots, leaves, tendrils and fruit are all edible. I just love growing those types of plants in the garden!

From Wikipedia:

The winter melon, also called white gourd, winter gourd, ash gourd, "fuzzy gourd", or "fuzzy melon", is a vine grown for its very large fruit, eaten as a vegetable when mature. It is the only member of the genus Benincasa. The fruit is fuzzy when young. The immature melon has thick white flesh that is sweet when eaten. By maturity, the fruit loses its hairs and develops a waxy coating, giving rise to the name wax gourd, and providing a long shelf life. The melon may grow as large as 80 cm in length. Although the fruit is referred to as a "melon," the fully grown crop is not sweet. Originally cultivated in Southeast Asia, the winter melon is now widely grown in East Asia and South Asia as well.

The winter melon requires very warm weather to grow but can be stored for many months much like winter squash. It is commonly eaten throughout winter in countries of deciduous vegetation such as China, as one of the few vegetables available during winter, hence its Chinese name literally means 'winter melon'. The winter melon can typically be stored for 12 months.

In Vietnamese cuisine, it is called bí đao, which is usually used to make soup or stew. When cooked with pork short ribs, the soup can help produce more milk for breastfeeding mothers.

In Chinese cuisine the melons are used in stir fry or usually combined with pork or pork/beef bones to make winter melon soup, often served in the scooped out melon, carved by scraping off the waxy coating. It is also chopped and candied[1] as wintermelon candy (táng dōng guā) to be commonly eaten at New Year festivals, or as filling for Sweetheart cake (lǎopó bǐng). It has also been used as the base filling in Chinese and Taiwanese mooncakes for the Moon Festival.

Winter melon is called kundol,kondol, or gondol in the Philippines. It is candied (referred to plainly as "kundol")and is used as a pastry filing for hopia. It is also an ingredient in some savory soups (sabaw) and stir-fries (guisado). It is one of the vegetables mentioned in the Filipino folk song "Bahay Kubo."

In North India and Pakistan, the vegetable is also used to prepare a candy called Petha. In South Indian cuisine, it is used to make curries. In Ayurvedic remedies it used to increase appetite also its fresh juice is used to cure kidney stones. The seeds are cooked in milk and taken to increase "sperm count" and to improve sperm locomotion.

Occasionally, it is used to produce a fruit drink which has a very distinctive taste. It is usually sweetened with caramelized sugar, which enhances the taste. In Southeast Asia, the drink is widely marketed as winter melon tea.

The shoots, tendrils, and leaves of the plant may also be eaten as greens.

In India, Ash gourd is used to make a liquefied dish with curds or buttermilk (a popular traditional South Indian recipe)[2]

File:Winter melon seed.jpg

Cubed or sliced, winter melon can be steamed, simmered, braised or parboiled and added to stir-fries. Best used in soups, season this rather mild and bland melon with strong spices and herbs. Winter melon are suitable for pickling and may be diced and candied. Whole melons keep in a cool place for months.


evergreenseeds_2231_10288254trans_1x1.gifWax Gourd, also called White Gourd, is a fast-growing, long-season, warm-climate vegetable. The plant produces fruits on vines, like the pumpkin on ground, which can grow up to 50 pounds. Fruits can be stored in a cool place for months and used later in the winter season. Thus this gourd is called Tong Qwa, meaning "Winter Melon" in Chinese. The unopened fruits can be kept fresh for a long time, but the flesh shall be used in cooking within a few days once the fruit is cut into pieces.

NOTE: Wax Gourd needs insects/honey bees to carry out the pollinating process for setting fruits. If the insects are not available in your area, the pollinating process can be done manually, by picking up male flowers and transferring pollens from male flower to femal flowers (by face-to-face touching the center part of flowers). This process should be carried out when flowering is active during the daytime.

27.09.12

Planted a heap of Winter Melon seed (ex Joseph) a couple of weeks ago and the b. rats look like they have eaten them all. I expected some to come up but there is still no sign of shoots.

I've bought a covered seed raising tray for $15 from Master Hardware and will give that a go.

The rats have received another dose of rat poison in the ceiling and the drowning trap has been brought out once again. No success with it so far though.

19.10.12

Finally! two Winter Melon seed have come up out of many planted. Now all I have to do is keep them alive and uneaten by the bugs.

9779022260?profile=original01.01.13

Three of these seed not only survived but have thrived and are growing very well in one of the elevated beds, spilling over the sides and heading for the regular beds. Even Nathan's is growing and has come through our mutual fence into my yard.

I have been fertilising female flowers each morning and here is the first fruit and subsequent pics at three day intervals. It's growing like the clappers:

9779022657?profile=originalBelow: 3days after original pic.

9779023059?profile=originalBelow: 6 days after original pic. Dangling above the ground a bit still.

9779023669?profile=originalBelow: 9 days after original pic. Fruit is now resting on the ground and very heavy.

9779023701?profile=originalBelow: 11days old. Now resting on styrofoam at Joseph's suggestion to avoid rotting.

9779024488?profile=originalBelow: 16days old. Beginning to develop the white protective coating at the top.

9779025694?profile=original14.01.13 Below: 21days old and finished growing as far as I can tell. White all over. Weighs somewhere between 3 and 4kg as far as I can tell. Too big for my scales.

9779026672?profile=originalBelow: Pics of some of the other developing fruit - NOTE 14.01.13 All of these disappeared before they got any bigger. Two that were hanging from the frame are still growing.

9779027487?profile=original9779028086?profile=original9779029467?profile=originalBelow are the male (top) and female (bottom) flowers up close:

9779030266?profile=original11.01.13

One of the babies was badly stung, but it appears to be the only one. There would be about four fruit growing well.

9779031078?profile=original13.01.13

Found this fruit this morning. One of my three baby fruit, so now one precious one down.

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Getting into the rhythm of things

It looks like I might finally be getting the hang of this gardening thing. I've been consciously trying to plant something every week and keeping a planting diary and it's paying off. Soon I will have a continuous carrot supply to go with the beans which are still producing slowly which is great! They taste soooo much better than the ones from the shops. I've just harvested another two pumpkins off the vine and it looks as if there are more on the way, provided they don't get trimmed any more by the lawn mower. The expanding variety of vegies is wonderful. I think the full water tank is certainly helping things as I get out there to water almost every day now.The sunflower and nasturtium seeds from Seed Savers have come up and are growing nicely - they will add some lovely edible colour to the garden! I finally got round to planting the flat leaf parsley a few weeks ago and it's taken nicely - thanks Florence! A random honeydew melon vine has popped up in the garden too - very happy about that! It has its first fruit which is growing nicely.My first sowing of peas is going well. I just put a second planting in and put up the chicken wire for them to grow on this morning. This means that I have been growing for just over a year now - I remember peas being my first successful winter crop. I couldn't believe how much flavour they had compared to the shop peas. I also can't believe how much I've learnt and how much more I'm growing now.The tomatoes are still growing well up the back, they've stopped fruiting for the moment but have shot out lots of new "branches" and are flowering, so I'm sure they'll start back up again soon.Well, that's all from me for now. Hopefully I'll have more success stories when this new planting comes up. Fingers crossed!
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