Monday Harvest – 9th February 2015

The summer is rolling on and my harvests have settled into a pleasant consistency,  with the garden regularly producing  tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, silverbeet and herbs.  As a result I haven’t posted harvest photos every week.  Here are the highlights from the last few:

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The chooks are behaving themselves and are continuing to lay.   1-2 eggs a day between the 3 of them which is enough for our needs and I don’t think is too bad given that they are almost 2 years old.

I am regularly harvesting baby carrots.  They are in a particularly shaded portion of the garden – I suspect with more sun they wouldn’t be ‘baby’ any more but the small size suits me (and the kids) fine.

I’m really enjoying eating basil at the moment, and I’ve put in a few new plants so I can continue to harvest as much as I like from the more mature ones.

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DSC_0085 (1280x848)The cucumbers seem to be producing lots at once and then none for a week, which isn’t so bad as I got to make my first batch of bread and butter pickles.

What is less good is that I have seen signs of rat damage on a few (half eaten one day, gone the next) fruit.

But summer is really all about the tomatoes isn’t it?

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After noticing the rats I’ve started picking the tomatoes a little on the green side, which means they are less photogenic, but after a few days no less edible.

In these photos you can see a big Grosse Lisse with a couple of Tigerella on the right, and a basket of smaller varieties: Black Cherry, Broad Ripple Currant, Principe Borghese and an unidentified cherry/apricot sized red tomato on the left.

All the tomato varieties have done at least reasonably well this year, although a few of the plants are now looking a little worse for wear.  We have had a bit of warmer weather this week and the Broad Ripple Currant and Grosse Lisse in particular seem to have suffered.  Black Cherry remains the healthiest plant and the only one which I (well…actually my father) intentionally grew from seed.  The others were either bought as seedlings or are volunteers.

I’ll finish with another basket of summer goodies, this one containing the first of the dried beans (well actually still a little bit green) that became a chorizo and bean stew.  They worked well and the mixture of varieties made for a nice range of textures.  The best though I think were the purple king and I plan to now grow these every year to use dried.

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For more harvests head over to Daphne’s.

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Contact details – Email address

Apologies to anyone who has tried to email me recently – there have been issues with my email account.  Liz@suburbantomato.com has now been fixed and is working normally.

Hope you’ve had a good weekend and come back tomorrow for a Monday Harvest post.

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‘Spicezee’ – A Nectarine X Plum

Last winter after the chooks attacked the garden for the umpteenth time I made a decision to segment the garden in two – the chooks would be allowed the free range in one section while I would grow most of my veg in the other.

This has worked reasonably well in the main, the chooks occasionally escape but mostly keep to their side.  The downside though is because they now have a smaller area they have done a lot more damage to it – as you can see there is very little grass left:

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The solution I decided was fruit trees – hopefully the chooks would fertilise them but most of their foliage would be too high up to be eaten.  I was going to buy trees plural but they are really quite expensive so I bought tree singular.

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And I didn’t even get to choose it – that pleasure belonged to by my eight year old daughter who was so excited by the idea of a nectarine plum cross that I couldn’t bear to disappoint her and buy an apple instead.

So this is a ‘Spicezee’ – awful name isn’t it?

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But a beautiful plant.  I love the purply red colour of the young leaves.  They turn greener as they age but they are still beautiful.

I also love that the chooks haven’t destroyed it.  It doesn’t seem to mind them scratching around beneath it and I’m sure their poo is doing it good.

But best of all are the beautiful fruit.

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We got about 10 this year which I know isn’t many but its young and hopefully has years of abundance to come.

I’m not sure where exactly the plum comes in because the fruit are pretty nectarine like, from the colour, to the shape, flavour and stone.

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The fruit also grow close to the branch like nectarines.  It doesn’t matter though because I love nectarines and these taste particularly good.  Especially straight from the tree…

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What do you think about – Pyrethrum? (And a bit about black aphids)

I have an ongoing problem with black aphids in my garden.  They lay waste to my spring onions, garlic chives, normal chives, garlic (when I grow it) and pretty much anything else I plant in the allium family.

Black aphids thrive in moist conditions and particularly enjoy weaker plants.  Because my garden gets less than full sun I think my plants are particular susceptible.

Here are some attacking a baby garlic chive plant:

DSC_0049 (848x1280)I have tried squishing them.  I have tried spraying them off with the hose (a technique I find effective with normal aphids).  I have tried chilli and garlic sprays.  No success.  The only thing I can find that gets rid of them is pyrethrum.

Hence the question – should I use it?  I know it’s generally considered a ‘safe’ pesticide, but not necessarily by everyone.  I also know it can kill beneficial insects if they come into contact with it.

So should I use it?  Do you use an insecticide?  Or another method for containing the bugs?

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This year’s tomatoes

It feels like we are having a pretty mild summer this year, according to The Age newspaper the second coolest in the past decade, although still above the long term average.  What we have definitely been spared so far this year are the extended really hot periods.  Last year we had spells when the temperature was over 40 for 4 days running whereas this year I can only remember a solitary day when the temperature hit 40.

Of course a hot February may change all this but so far its all been very civilised and it isn’t just the residents who are happy – the tomato plants also seem very grateful for it.  They seem healthier than in previous years and they have set a good amount of fruit.

Black Cherry plantThis is a Black Cherry, the most vigorous of the varieties I am growing this year.

Other than Black Cherry I am also intentionally growing Tigerella and Grosse Lisse.  I wanted to limit my tomato plants this year because I haven’t had huge amounts of success with them in the past few years.

But this year is different (maybe because of the weather) so I am glad that as well as the intentional plantings I have a few volunteers around the garden.

Of the volunteer plants I think I’ve identified two as Broad Ripple Currant and Principe Borghese but the other’s are unfamiliar so far.

Fruit has yet to ripen on a couple of the volunteer plants so may things may be clearer when it does.  Which leaves one with ripe fruit remaining unknown.  It appeared in the chook area and is bearing slightly stunted (but then I haven’t fertilised it or anything) orange coloured fruit.  There are 3 in the basket below, the small orange ones that aren’t the larger Tigerella or the smaller yellow Broad Ripple Currant (or the clearly purple Black Cherry):

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This lot vanished approximately 3 minutes after this shot was taken.  I think Black Cherry remains my favourite, although I am partial to the (more than) occasional Tigerella.  Now I am looking forward to the Grosse Lisse, a week, perhaps two and I reckon its fruit will be ripe.

YAY for mild weather and ripe tomatoes!

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