Well I never…!
Today I just don’t know what to say.
I probably don’t need to. I think that this picture says it all!
Here’s the long shot – just in case you were curious!
They may have been tiny this year but they weren’t short on flavour!
Today I sent my rockmelon plants off to the compost but not before I harvested the last fruit of the season. This was a very strange crop indeed. The fruit were much much smaller than I imagined they would be. These were meant to be ‘Edens Gem’ rockmelon. Well, they were… but they weren’t softball sized as they should have been. They were like little rockmelon berries. Well, technically they are – botanically, rockmelons are modified berries or pepoes. Theres an interesting fact for you!
I think that this was a seed issue as the plant was quite healthy and the fruit were amazing (albeit so very very small).
Now, I want to put this out there because this was a total revelation to me: unripe rockmelon make an amazing substitute for cucumber! Yes indeedy!
When I pulled up the vine there were a few immature fruit still hanging there. Curiosity got the better of me so, I cut into them to see what I would find. Naturally I had to have a little taste. It was just like cucumber, only sweeter. So, into the salad they went.
I think I know what I’ll be doing with my melons next year! (oh behave!)
Have you ever grown Eden’s Gem?
How did you fare?
I was away for a few days during the week while I was at the National Sustainable Food Summit in Sydney. I left my mum home to look after things around the place while I was gone – namely make sure that Chickie and the chooks were watered, fed and locked up safe at night.
Well, things didn’t quite go to plan! You see we have a new addition: Meet Pixie Pantaloons.
Pixie used to live at a neighbours house and just wasn’t well received by the other resident chooks. Sadly, they had bullied her so much that they had literally pecked a hole in the back of her head. So, we decided to take her in. Her wound has now healed and she is very happy to call this place home. She’s a delight! Compared to my other girls, she is wildly social. More on that later.
So, I was just about to sit down to a rather fancy dinner… I won’t mention ‘how’ or ‘why’ but, I received a nervous call from home that went a little like this:
“luuuuuv. We’ve lost one of your chooks!”.
“Weeeeeeeeell… we went out to close them in and well luv, Pixie… she wasn’t there”.
As you can imagine, the conversation went on =)
Well the long and the short of the story is that she was found at about 12:30 in the morning after she had been chased out of her hiding spot by the neighbours cat.
So, you would think that it was a happy ending and that it probably ended there. Nope! Why? Oh I guess it was a little thing called Karma!
Yes indeed. The next day, in an attempt to make it up to us, mum decided to clean out the chook house (which was just cleaned but, we won’t tell her that!). This was the result:
That’s mum – stuck inside the girls house for 45min while she waited for my brother to come rescue her. He is wonderful my brother! Of course, before he let her out he had to call my cousin so that they could have a little giggle at the situation and take a photo so that everyone else could enjoy the moment too! (You’re smiling aren’t you?)
All I can say is that she is very lucky that she had her phone on her at the time because we weren’t due home until late that night.
Ok folks here is a very quick and cheap way to get new strawberry plants for free!
During late summer – early autumn you will notice your strawberry plants sending out long stems that have a knobbly clusters like you see in the picture below.
These are often referred to as “runners” or in botany we call them “stolons“. Quite simply they are a specialised above ground shoots that emit roots, allowing stoloniferous plants, like strawberries, to colonise themselves.
It is best not to propagate too many stolons from each plant as this can exhaust the parent plant and weaken the growth of your developing runners. I think four is plenty.
To propagate your own strawberries you will need:
You can easily make your own pins from an old coat hanger just as I have done below.
First fill your pot or tray with potting mix or compost. Pat it down with the palm of your hand so that it is level and firm. This will give the roots something to grab on to.
Now take your stolons and place them on your filled tray or pot.
Pin it into place on top of the potting mix. You want the stolons to be fixed firmly in place so that the base of the stolon is in contact with the potting mix.
When your new plants have developed a good root system you will see the roots through the holes at the bottom of your pot or tray (this can take around 3 weeks).
Cut your new plant free from the parent plant, making sure that you cut nice and close to the base. This will prevent the spent stem from rotting and potentially harming your new plant.
And there you have it! New strawberries from old plants!
Naturally, if your strawberries are in the ground and you want to propagate them direct into your soil you can do so. I would advise you to pull back your straw and pin the runners into place where it suits you, not where it suits the plant. It is your garden after all!
Of course you can grow from seed or division but this truly is the easiest way to propagate. Also, propagating in this way means that you will produce clones of the parent plant and this is great because then you know exactly what kind of fruit will get when the plant matures.
If you don’t have your own plants to propagate from have no shame asking a friend or neighbour that does. Remember, love is sharing!
Ok, its raining outside and you’re looking for any excuse to stay indoors. Well, I have a great activity for you to do while you’re sitting down watching Ellen /when you’re not dancing that is!
Yes indeed. You can make your own tomato/any-plant ties while you’re sitting in front of the TV and you don’t need to buy any fancy materials to do it!
To make your tomato ties you will need:
A sharp pair of fabric scissors
An old t-shirt or any other light knitted fabric like jersey. Scrabbies will come in quite handy here. What’s a Scrabby I hear you ask? According to “The Meaning Liff*” – a Scrabby. (noun) is a curious-shaped duster given to you by your mother which upon closer inspection turns out to be half an underpant.
Now for the fun stuff:
If you are using an old garment, first cut off all of the seams so that you are left with clean pieces of fabric that, you could stitch back together to make a slightly smaller garment than before. No, no, we mustn’t get distracted!
Don’t throw away those seams! You can use them as ties too.
Now quite simply cut your fabric into strips, cutting across the knit so that you are left with stretchy strips that when pulled will curl inwards. I usually cut mine about 2cm wide by about 20cm in length. Suit yourself though as I usually use my eyeometer. You can make them wider or longer just not shorter or they won’t allow you to tie them securely.
When tying my plants I usually use what I believe is called a half bow knot. Particularly when tying tomatoes. Now, this will be interesting explaining how to do a half bow knot without a video handy. Here we go: You need to imagine that you were tying a bow in the usual manner except that when you get to the final loop you push the whole piece through so that you are left with one loop and two tails. You can then pull on the tail of the existing loop to release the knot without the need for scissors. How was that? Give it a few goes on your big toe first. Yes, I was tying it on my big toe while I was writing that description. Haha I told you there would be no fancy materials needed!
It is best to dispose of the ties after each use as they can harbor diseases that you don’t want to spread to other plants in your garden.
So now you can get a years worth of plant ties and recycle your old clothes AND you don’t even have to leave the front door!
Yay for you!
* The Meaning of Liff is a very funny dictionary of words which describe common objects or situations for which no word previously existed. The Meaning of Liff written by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd (two men who, I am positive, enjoy their whiskey).
Like almost every other Australian in the world today we celebrated with a u-beaut Aussie barbie. And as is tradition in my family, lunch was followed by an afternoon of fun and games. Kelly Pool was the game of the day.
Ah Kelly Pool… fun for the whole family!
When we got home it was straight out to the garden for a bit of a clean up and a hunt for some tasty greens for Chickie Boombah and of course for tonight’s dinner: Stir fried ginger greens.
So, there I was thinking “I might leave those carrots another week and see how they’re getting on”. I decided to pinch off a few leaves for Boombah when I saw a hint of orange poking up out of the soil and thought, “ok, I’ll just check on this one”. I think you can tell from my reaction that I was quite surprised at what I saw. Thanks to Paul for being so quick with the camera!
Yep, she’s a big one!
And that’s not all. Check out the size of the sugarbeet. Its well and truly as big as my head.
I have been thinking about making a beetroot cake for ages so… I’m off to the kitchen to experiment.
Happy Australia Day!
Well folks we’re certainly in the thick of the strawberry season now.
It’s a good idea at this time of year to get out there and check the condition of your strawberry plants. Keeping them clean and healthy is the key to good yields.
Strawberries really are one of the easiest and most rewarding plants to have in your garden. You just need to make sure that they are planted in free draining soil that has been enriched with compost and sheep or cow manure (well, that’s just my preference!). It is a common practice to mound your soil, this is to ensure good drainage and it is certainly a good idea. Oh and don’t bother with black plastic, this is an agricultural technique and absolutely not necessary in the home garden.
Pruning your strawberries:
Use a nice clean pair of scissors to snip away dead or yellowing leaves. Cut low to the base of the plant to prevent left over leaf stems rotting and causing fungal problems. I like to use either a sharp pointed pair of scissors or nail scissors so that I can get deep down into the plant and also to avoid cutting healthy leaves. It can be a delicate job but definitely not a hard or time consuming one.
Don’t mind my dirty pot, I had a few other pots standing around it and it kept getting splashed with potting mix when I watered them. It’s beautiful and clean now but, I really should have cleaned it before my photos =) oops!
I do grow my strawberries in the garden by the way but, I have been testing some strawberries in the greensmart pot. They have done exceptionally well. I will have to replace the potting mix every second season to prevent disease and maintain the vigour of the plants.
Now, please don’t tug at the spent leaves as you will disturb the roots and possibly break your crowns. You don’t want that!
I give my strawberries a thorough clean up about twice a year. That said, I look at them often and if I see bits I don’t like they get the snip! I love my strawberries (and my plants) so I give them a bit of love from time to time and boy do they thank me for it. “Checkin’ the strawbs” it’s just one of those regular things I do when I’m wandering around my garden and it only takes a few seconds.
FYI – about 30 plants will be sufficient to feed a family of four. If you can’t afford to buy 30 plants in one hit well, fair enough! Buy what you can when you can. Buying them bare rooted can be quite an economical way to do it. If you look after your plants you will be able to propagate them as their runners develop during summer. When they have taken root snip off the runner and you’ll have a new plant to add to your collection.
One quick thing – when you harvest your strawberries leave a bit of the stem on as I have done in my picture below. These are a couple of my White Frais De Bois strawberries that I just picked now after tucking my chooks into bed. They may be tiny but they taste like sherbet and we love!
Check in tomorrow to see what I did with my strawberry harvest! Oh-la-la!
I think it might be a great time for a few strawberry recipes.