Monday, February 1, 2010

Growing to eat through the seasons

My aim was to try and grow and eat as much as I could from my garden year round, not just the drier winter season which is our main growing season.  I have been harvesting pawpaw and passionfruit, and then asparagus for the beginning of the wet season, but leaving the shoots now to grow the crowns.  Herbs are all doing OK, but do struggle with the huge amount of rain and bugs.
 I was wondering what I was doing wrong with my luffas -
The veggie garden fence is a tangle of vines -
the thick snake beans, with their beautiful shaped leaves and delicate flowers
then the neighbours passionfruit vine that keeps coming over to my side,
then the luffa, with huge green leaves and tons of yellow flowers.  Often I would see the beginnings of a luffa, but then it would shrivel up and die.  I wondered if they needed more light, so cut back some of the excess vines, and trimmed some piegon pea plants that were growing nearby.  I see tons of honeyeater birds, butterflies, bees etc so didnt think it was a problem of pollination. 
I posted my frustration on KGI (if you havnt checked out that site please do - what a wealth of information ) and a fellow gardener responded back to be patient - luffas took forever.  As so often happens, the very next day I began to see a luffa start to develop. 
I wasnt sure how big it should be when they said to eat when small so this one was chopped up right away for the pot!

It was a very nice firm texture, and a great taste - little more flavour than zuchini, gosh I am going to like eating luffas - I think! :)   since it was little I also peeled a snake bean and stir fried that alongside.  Here you can see the comparative size! (and I didnt get the complete length of the snake bean in the picture)

I dont want to harvest too many luffas as I want to make sure to save lots to dry out and make luffa impregrated soaps.  I do know that I will be making luffas a permanent part of my wet season garden.
Over christmas we splashed out and ordered some gem squash through mail order.  We grew up with gem squash in South Africa and  I have tried to grow it here before, even though the climate is very different.  I threw a couple of seeds into the garden and lo and behold they have come up!  How exciting.  I am thinking they might suddenly keel over and die from the heat and humidity, but it is a good sign that the seeds are viable  - I saved all the seeds so have lots and lots :).
My pigeon pea have also started to flower, so am anxious to taste those! 

I have been bandicooting (digging produce away from the side without harvesting the whole plant - I LOVE that term!)  sweet potatoes.  I found it difficult to tell how big a potato is going to be.  I dug up two that had their shoulders sticking out - one was big enough for three meals, and the other was a tiny little excuse for a potato. I also couldnt resist and dug up a couple of small jicama - they were very tasty but also small so will resist harvesting any more until they grow a bit bigger. 
 Mmm I do like eating produce from the garden and it seems that my idea of growing vegetables year round here might still work. 


  1. It's very satisfying to eat from one's own garden. You have some interesting things to try. They all look tasty from here.

    I looked at the next post; it's tomorrow there (Feb. 1) already! The bromeliad blossoms are stunning.

  2. Hi AA:)
    If you type Loofah into the search engine on my blog you will find all sorts of info on the loofah, to make it easy heres one post on them:
    Best eaten before it gets to 6 inches long.

  3. Hi NellJean,
    Yes I am game to always try something new - the hubby is not as adventurous! I must say that I found the luffa very tasty.
    Molly, Thanks, I checked out your posts, (in fact I spent way too long browsing your blog -lots of good stuff there!) will have to look out for a soapwort plant as well- that sounds great! Yup, mine was just the right size then :)


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