Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What is in my vegetable patch right now

I have noticed that lately the asparagus stalks have been getting thicker and stronger.  I dont know if it is because we are heading into the wet season which is when we are supposed to harvest them.  In more temperate climates, the plant dies down in the winter, but here it has continued to grow and produce, but I have left the shoots which is supposed to build up more strength in the roots.  This weekend I cut back all the older shoots that were starting to collapse at the base.

These were planted as two year crowns and at the same time I got a packet of seeds for a purple asparagus.  Out of the whole packet only one plant survived.   It looks very spindly, but I will leave it in the pot a while longer before I transplant it into the ground.   The asparagus tops are full of little seeds - I wonder if they will grow?  I put some into a  couple of pots.  They are very slow growing, but since mine are doing so well I will start some long term planning for more.  Here you can see the tiny seeds.

I have been toying with getting in some more two year crowns, but maybe I should be starting my own little plants.  I am definitely thinking this whole bed will be asparagus eventually.  A cherry tomato volunteered in that bed, and I let it be as that is supposed to deter asparagus beetle.  I love to grow something that everyone loves, but does well in this area. 
Some things I will grow just for my own consumption -  eggplant and sweet potatoes, but am beginning to wonder if I really want to take up garden space to continually try to grow things that nobody particularly likes.  I eventually pulled out the ceylon spinach - just couldnt acquire a taste for that.   Snake beans can stay for now, but I would like to find some better recipes for them, or preferably grow the skinny snake beans. .
These have been favourites in my garden and I will make space for them:
Cherry tomatoes - I am going to clear the space right at the back alongside the fence - they are easier to tie up to a fence and should be easy to harvest there, as long as a I leave a  little bit of a path.  There are rocks there, so I will have to place something alongside the fence and then remove the rocks - I have plenty of other places where the rocks need topping up, so they will come in useful.  I was concerned that tomato plants had to be rotated since they are the nightshade family, but I really dont think cherry tomatoes fit into that category, and I had read that if you keep adding plenty of compost that does not apply.  I do need to ensure though that the bandicoots will not be able to dig through into the garden.
Herb spiral - I am slowly accumulating more tropical herbs - I am persisting with the rosemary, but have replaced oregano with mother of herbs.   I seem to have found the perfect spot for parsley at the base of the herb spiral, and hope to be able to grow it almost year round with a bit of careful attention.  The main reason parsely does not generally do well during the wet season is the heat and water logging of the soil.  I have the arch over the herb spiral  to allow for shade, and good drainage, so am hoping for the best.
My parsley was getting overgrown with weeds and the whole bed needed some attention

My elderly Italian neighbour grew the most fantastic bed of lush parsley, and gave me a few pointers.  He said that you should harvest the parsley from the outside right at the base of the plant. He used to snap them off but I use my trusty kitchen scissors.  Once those outer leaves and stems are removed, build up the soil around the base to support the plant as it will continue to grow up the stalk and fall over if not supported.  Here you can see how the base is supported and new growth is starting.

Sweet potatoes - I got a very good crop of sweet potatoes outside the bedroom window, but that has has been turned into a  bromeliad and amaryllis patch now.  The very back corner is where I will now grow the sweet potatoes - it was shaded by passionfruit, but that has died off and will be cleared away.  They grow in the wet season.
Gemsquash - I keep trying to grow gemsquash which are really not suited to this climate at all.  They are native to South Africa where we grew up and we have a hankering for them.   I try to choose a dry time as powdery mildew has got my plants every time, and the ones I planted a couple of weeks ago seemed to be doing really well.  Lots of male plants and this looks like the first female - a baby gem!  I dont know if it is going to grow into a full size gem, and the flower already looks as though it is dying, so I will be watching and waiting with bated breath. 

4 comments:

  1. I was pleased to see your asparagus and that it's growing so well. We'd been told it was too hot here and so I've never tried.
    Our gemsquash have the same problem - do well until we get a week of rain, then mildew and rot. I thought about growing them in large pots next time to keep them a bit drier.

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  2. I have been having the same problems with all my Squash attemps this year. They seem to have lots of bugs, disease, and less than average growth. Might be the wet weather or mayby they just are in Squash funk. Either way no Squash has made it this year.

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  3. i love asparagus, if only i had deeper soil, i would grow them in my garden, but since most of my topsoil is around six inches this is not in the works for the moment...have fun growing a whole bed :)

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  4. Missy, I was so excited to find a wet season vegetable that was tasty! Mmmm pots might work for the gemsquash - do you also have a south african background?
    Sanddune, same climate - same problems... yours might do better now in the winter?
    Noel, yes they do say that they require lots of space. That is amazing what you grow in only 6 inches of topsoil! I presume that is on top of volcanic rock.

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