pinepigs_garden: close up of orange rose (Just Joey)
Hey, welcome to my little virtual garden in this corner of the internet. Grab an old stump, a piece of turf or a chair and make yourself comfortable. I will pop in and out so be patient and feel free to grab a rake and pitch in. I'm putting this post at the top so people can drop in and read a bit about me. You're welcome to use the comments in this post as a free-posting area, a place you can put questions or whatever. If you're friending me I'd like to know where you've come from, how you've found me. I'm a curious old bug.

So about me. I'm "middle aged" (wow, when did that happen?!), American living in New Zealand. I've got a personal Live Journal and Dreamwidth journals and I have a photo journal at Live Journal under the username pinepig (where I also put info about my stores). I've got a couple stores. Pinepig Studio is where you can find things like cards, calendars, ornaments, mugs and a bunch of other stuff with my photos on them. I've got NZ images, flowers, critters and a bunch of other stuff there and it's worth checking out! As I Wander: New Zealand's North Island is my photo book of the North Island and As I Wander: New Zealand's South Island is my photo book of the South Island. You can preview the picts in the book.

I've got a small garden, it isn't much, and most of these are in pots because we're renting and I don't want to spend $20 to $50NZ per plant to one day move and have to buy them all again and start from scratch while they mature. I spray occasionally but do try to use sprays that are less harsh where possible, try to use more 'natural' sprays if I can. I've got a worm farm, it's been going since about Oct 2008 or so and is doing well. I'd compost but we don't have room for it.

Well, in light of the Large storm the size of Australia getting ready to hit the country tomorrow, I'm glad I got a few things done in the garden earlier this week.

I want to make a new sticky to let people know what's growing in my garden. Not just at this time of year but for the next year (updating from the 2009 list).

A quick list of "permanent" plants I'm growing at Sept 2010
- "blush babe" dwarf apple (purchased Sept 09)
- dwarf Pixzee peach (purchased Aug/Sept 09)
- dwarf Nectar Babe nectarine (purchased Aug/Sept 09)
- ? possibly dwarf Weeping peach approx 4 years old
- 2 guavas (I had 4 but have given 2 to a neighbor as I've been running low on room and he wanted some)
- feijoa (in the ground, approx 2 to 3 years old as at Oct 09)
- lime (approx 3 to 4 years old)
- lemon (in ground, unknown age as came with house, mature)
- navel or valencia orange (approx 4 years old)
- citrus acid free orange (approx 4 years old)
- various roses (will list these eventually: approx 17 or 18 all in pots and various ages from approx 1 yr to 4 yrs)
- various camelias (will list these eventually: approx 6 or 7 all but 1 are in pots and various ages from approx 3 to 9 yrs)
- various dahlias (won't list these individually! at least 24 or 26 plants, mostly individual varieties)
- boysenberry, loganberry, 2 thornless blackberries (in the ground, blackberries going on their 2nd year, boysenberry & loganberry new as at Sept/Oct 09)
- 3 tea tree (manuka/kanuka, I can't remember which! in ground)
- 1 native clematis, Clematis Peniculata (in ground)
- approx 3 native irises (libertia ixioides, in ground)
- various vegetable plants which will change seasonally, noted below.
- various herbs, currently I have a small rosemary, thyme and mint, as well as some corriander, oregano and basil seeds just down and starting to sprout
- 1 red trillium
- 2 Japanese maples (in ground)
- Masdevallia "Violetta" orchid & Oncidium "Longipipes" in terrariums
- several Dendrobium orchids of different varieties in the house (some in terrariums)
- 3 Zygopetalum orchids in the house
- 4 bromeliads (1 in terrarium, 1 planted in a bottle)

Of the above, what's sprouting and/or blooming right now
- 4 dahlias sprouting
- 5 roses have buds (all have sprouted and have new leaves)
- citric acid free in flower buds
- 2 oaks have leaves
- 2 peaches have flowers
- 1 nectarine has flowers
- all berries have leaf buds
- 1 rogue tulip or daffodil coming up (no flowers yet)
- lime still has fruit
- Valencia orange has flowers
- 2 guavas have flower buds starting to emerge
- 5 camelias flowering
- 1 native iris is flowering
- trillium has leafed out and flower has emerged

Veggie plants, either planted and sprouted or just planted and waiting to sprout
- 1 Big Rainbow heirloom tomato
- 1 Cherokee Purple heirloom tomato
- 3 Great White heirloom tomatoes
- 3 Mortgage Lifter heirloom tomatoes (2 for a friend)
- 2 jicama
- 1 (2?) Scarlett Runner beans
- 4 Red Rascal potatoes
- approximately 3 parmex carrots
- approximately 3 perpetual spinach, heirloom variety
*I'm also starting to grow mushrooms. I started a kit for button/portabello mushrooms approx 3 Sept 2010. This is in it's 2nd innoculation phase, just before putting the topping mix in and actually having them grown into mushrooms. I've been updating along the way, see the "mushroom" tag.

seeds planted and waiting to sprout
- 1 jicama
- 1 White Cherry heirloom tomato
- 3 Big Rainbow heirloom tomatoes (2 for a friend)
- 2 Mortgage Lifter heirloom tomatoes (1 for a neighbor)
- 1 Cherokee Purple heirloom tomato
- 2 Garden Peach heirloom tomatoes
- 4 Red Rooster dry beans 3 of these sprouting 18/9/10
- 4 Dwarf Burgundy beans these are sprouting 18/9/10
- 5 Scarlet Runner beans 3 of these sprouting 18/9/10
- 4 silverbeet (? Margaret Dale?)
- 6 Odell's lettuce some of these might be sprouting but there is bird seed sprouting in this pot too so don't know how many are lettuces yet & planted another 12 or so on 18/9/10
- 6 winter lettuce not sprouted and it's been awhile so have planted the above 12 Odell's in their place
- approx 11 Parmex carrot
- 14 Rainbow carrot
- 4 10 Red Rascal potatoes (4 planted 28/4/10, 4 planted 5/9/10, 2 planted 18/9/10)
- 7 Urenika (Maori) potatoes (planted 10/9/10)

Things I still want to plant a bit later in the season
- approx 8 or 9 beans (Burgandy and/or Red Rooster)
- 2 Red Rascal potatoes (seeds chiting) last ones have been planted 18/9/10!
- 3 Urenika (Maori) potatoes (seeds chiting)
- more spinach or lettuce with the Scarlet Runners
- later/staggared plantings of carrots and lettuce

Here are pictures of my garden earlier this week, typical early spring pictures.
pinepigs_garden: a sprouting potato (potato)
It's been a long spring and summer. The garden has been ticking by happily without me (for the most part), which is good because work and Life have kept me from spending much time out there.

I tried to harvest some potatoes last month but think I've mixed up the bag numbers and ended up harvesting a bag of Urenika that wasn't very big. I made up for that today by harvesting "#2", which I should have harvested last month. I estimate about 1 to 1 1/2 klos of Urenika, including 3 or 4 of at least 100 grams each! I planted the last 3 bags last month.

I planted some mustard & Phaecelia as cover crops for overwintering in the bag I dug up today. I think next year will be my last year with potatoes for a couple years. It will be my 3rd year in some bags & since I can't really keep track of which ones (last year I mixed the soil up together from different things, and this year can't remember what bags got fresh soil and what got older) I'll just use the bags for other crops. I want to give watermellons & squash a go and think the bags would be fine for them. I can also go for some chard in them, maybe some beans. I'll put some more compost in the bags, not much but a bit to help replace organic material, as I dig them up and get ready to plant the cover crops.

So for next year I'm looking at only growing
Kowiniwini - A round, light purple potato with indented white eyes and a waxy firm flesh. Great keeper.:


Paraketia - An old potato from the East Coast, and is still well known over there. Its growing habit is amazing, when you dig them up you see that the potatoes grow on long runners in the ground, like strings of potatoes in a line. They are oblong shaped, with round ends, they have purple skin, very shallow eyes and light cream flesh with purple streaking. They have a particularly good flavour, and are best boiled, steamed or in a hangi. :

I've got both planted this time around but haven't really dug any up that are a decent size yet (a few small Kowiniwini and a tiny Paraketia).

My tomatoes are doing pretty darned well this year, they are getting pretty big and the fruit is good-sized and a decent amount, but most of it is still pretty green. I've eaten a few of the Mortgage Lifters, good sized and tasty of course.

The J Walsh I got from Koanga have been a surprise! I thought they were cherry tomatoes but they are bigger than an oblong egg! (For those of you in the US, you can get them here as they're rare in the US). Mine haven't ripened yet (one is getting close) but the neighbor picked his today and he and his sis looked thrilled as they each munched their way through the half they were given.

The White Cherry toms are tasty, I've had a few of them ripen. The Black Cherry toms haven't ripened yet, I'm looking forward to seeing how they taste.

My Big Rainbow toms plants didn't sprout well, but there is one plant that has managed to hang in there. It's much smaller than the other varieties but that means it will be a later cropper. I really like the Big Rainbows.

I'm thinking next year I should try these Yellow Stuffer toms.

I've tried to sprout the Golden Midget Watermelon, have finally managed to get one sprouted. It's late-season and if it hadn't been raining off and on today I would have given it a spray to get rid of some powdery mildew we usually get at this time of year.

The chard has done pretty well, I just need to pick it for us to eat now!

About bed time so I'm off. Happy growing.
pinepigs_garden: an orange tulip with a yellow centre (peach tulip)
I picked this up from Freyas_fire at LJ. Please read, order seeds &/or a catalogue if you can, and repost to spread the word. This company specialises in heirloom varieties. I believe it is very important to keep places like this open to maintain our access to heirloom varieties.

According to the linked article "Landreth now sells 900 varieties in colorful, old-fashioned seed packs, things like the "King of Mammoth" pumpkin, which dates to 1824, or the famous Landreth zinnias, which the company introduced to the United States from Mexico in 1798.

While Melera says sales have been growing by more than 50 percent a year since 2007, the recession has been painful. The turnaround she counted on taking three to five years took seven."

More from the article:

"When Barbara Melera took over the struggling D. Landreth Seed Co. in 2003, she was determined to turn it around. And she did.

With about $1 million borrowed from 20 friends and family members, and two outsider investors, she overhauled the company. It's finally turning a profit.

Even so, the nation's oldest seed house, which dates to 1784 and counted as customers every president from George Washington to FDR, is in trouble. While friends and family are waiting it out, the two outside investors, who lent $250,000 and $175,000, want to be paid back, and the money isn't there.

Debt could take this historic house down, but not without a fight from Melera. She's working 18 hours a day, frenetically trying to raise money to save Landreth, which is based in New Freedom, Pa., near the Maryland border.

"I knew this was a big undertaking," she says. "I'm not going to give up."

The crisis surfaced in May 2010, when investor Liz King of Petaluma, Calif., sued to recover her $250,000; the note was due at the end of 2009. A Baltimore judge ruled in her favor and, on Aug. 30 of this year, froze Landreth's accounts.

Without a reprieve, Melera says she cannot keep the business going beyond Friday.

Her immediate goal is to raise $150,000 to $175,000 by then from seed sales and advance orders for the 100-page, 2012 catalog. The hope is that this will persuade the two outside investors to negotiate payment schedules and allow Landreth to continue operating."

Follow link for full story.

As of 30/9, they were up to $121,000.

All they ask is people order a catalog for $5 - but I guarantee that as soon as you start poking around their website, you'll order more than a catalog.

Order a catalogue here:
Facebook page:
ETA: There's a Chipin widget here you can donate at:

Please feel free to copy and paste this to your own LJ's.
pinepigs_garden: a sprouting potato (potato)
I went out and planted some potatoes this afternoon. I can tell I've been sick: I was outside for just under an hour and I'm tired and stiff. I didn't do anything too heavy. I used the trovel to dig dirt out of 2 of the potato growing bags, mixed some of the dirt and compost together, planted the potatoes and covered them. I've given them both a bit of food, some snail pellets and watered them, as well as covering the 3 potatoes I planted about 3 weeks ago or so.

Today's plantings were: 4 "purple heart" and 4 urenika. I don't know what the purple heart will do as they were bought as eating potatoes and not seed potatoes, supposedly they aren't as good as seed if you do that. The urenika are Koanga's ones bought fresh this year but I think at the end of the season I'll save some for my own seeds next year.

The ones I did about 3 weeks ago were 2 unknown volunteers that sprouted up in another bag and one urenika.

The urenikas are the longest-growing so if I get them in the ground sooner than later I'll have a larger crop (in size of potatoes). I've still got at least 6-8 more seeds so I'll pull them out in a week or so to start chiting for planting soon. I've also got some paraketia and kowiniwini chiting, they've been chiting for awhile and are basically fine to plant now but I'll give them a couple more weeks or so to space my crops out. Besides, I need to buy more potato bags.

I have 1 potato bag available but am going to take it next door to our neighbor and have her son plant his own potatoes. I already told him that when the weather gets a bit better & I feel better we'll plant some tomatoes. They don't have much room but we can put the potato bag and the tomato tub in a corner and he can learn to watch and water them. He's maybe 6? so just young enough to be interested but not yet old enough to take full responsibility. His mom always jokes with me about when am I opening my fruit and veg stand. I figure this way they can have some fresh veg too and he can get some experience growing, hopefully to inspire him for when he's older. It's the kind of background I had, helping some friends of the family plant things and care for them and harvest them.
pinepigs_garden: an orange tulip with a yellow centre (peach tulip)
I found this funny. Kind of sad as in, don't people know any better? But then, I usually do read Not Always Right so I know people don't really know any better.

What about you, do you have any gardening or plant-related humour to share??

Water You, Stupid, Part 2

(I am a floral associate at a grocery store. It’s a very hot day and I am outside watering the outdoor plants we have on sale.)

Customer: *storms up to me* “What the f*** do you think you’re doing?!”

Me: “Excuse me?” *still watering*

Customer: “Are you f***ing stupid or something?”

Me: “No, why would you say that?”

Customer: “You’re watering those things. Only a f***ing idiot would do that!”

Me: “Ma’am, these plants need water. It’s very hot out today and we can’t let them die.”

Customer: “Well, I’m right. You are a f***ing idiot. Everyone knows plants make their own water!”

Me: *speechless*

(The customer then storms off to her car and nearly hits another car in her rush to leave.)

(Cross posting this to my journal)


Aug. 3rd, 2011 04:54 pm
pinepigs_garden: trowel with dirt and a small plant with the words "Please grow" (Please grow)
I decided to take advantage of being off sick and the decent weather to put a couple tomato seeds in. I considered starting them indoors but the kitten seems to think anything is fair game, no matter where it is so best not go down that path. We just don't have room for them indoors in the few places that are kitten-proof.

Since I'm rotating the tomatoes out of the pots they have been in, I'm only putting maybe 6 (may stretch to 8?) plants in this year. I'll put in 2 Big Rainbow, 2 White Cherry and 2 Mortgage Lifter. I've planted 3 of each seed, I'm thinking about planting a couple more seeds in a month or 2, partly just in case these don't take but also partly because I want to pre-raise some funds for Relay for Life and wanted to do it with selling heirloom vege seedlings.

I'd also like to do an heirloom tomato tasting for the fundraiser but don't know if I'll have enough toms to do that this time around. Maybe another time.

The Snowball cauliflower is only good as a spring or autumn crop. I've got 4 that are maybe 6 or 7 inches high and one that is maybe 2 inches. The All Year Round cauli can be planted from spring through to autumn so I'll grow that and chard in the former tomato pots. I'll have some carrots too.

The potatoes are chiting and many have sprouted. I think I'm ok to start planting them out. I've got a couple bags I can use, 2 bags have the mustard plants breaking down in them so I can't use them for another 5 weeks or so.

I might put a jicama or 2 in this season again too. I'm still thinking and planning.

ETA: I thought this was a cool idea from Kings Seeds. Compact Vegetables for Small Households. It's 10 seedpacks for small spaces. They look like things the average household can put in a pot and grow. Clever!
pinepigs_garden: Trowel against wood background (trowel)
I'm home sick (again). I had to put the garbage out and take it to the curb so I took 10 minutes to take advantage of the nice weather. I've been inside all day, all weekend, trying to get on top of this cold. I figured pottering for 10 minutes wasn't going to make me worse, since I had to go out anyway.

I managed to chop the mustard in 1 plastic planter and 2 potato bags down and bury (needs to now sit about 6 weeks from what I understand so it can break down fully before being planted in). I weeded one plastic pot across from the back door and transplanted 2 all-season baby cauliflower plants and 1 baby snow ball cauliflower plant. The lawn is still saturated but not as bad as it was last weekend, the last couple of days of dry weather are helping.

As mentioned previously, here's some photos of how the back area looks right now. I took these around 23/7. There's a lot so I'll put most behind the cut.

This camelia has a wonderful scent and simple flowers. It makes me think of a fairy-tree. It's a weeping style, small oblong leaves with small, simple flowers. It sits outside our bathroom window and last weekend I kept looking at the dendrobium orchid I have in there to see if it was flowering, the scent was that strong! It took me a day before I realised where the scent was coming from.

This is another of our camelias, called Takanini. The company that bred it used to have a 'store' in Takanini, a place they had the camelias planted so you could walk around and see what mature specimens looked like. We both liked the double style and the colour in this.

A cherry blossom! This is a tiny tree I got originally because I wanted to learn bonsai but didn't get into it. The cherry has shot a branch straight up into the lemon tree and I didn't realise this had flowered!

Read more... )
pinepigs_garden: a sprouting potato (potato)
I got out for a short scratch in the dirt today. So much to do, so little time and energy to do it. *Sigh* If you follow my other journal you'll know that I'm hoping to make a change at work which would leave me slightly less stressed, less depressed, more time and more energy to be able to garden. All those factors coupled with Life giving me a few kicks to get the depression in good and a very wet winter & very boggy and poor-condition lawn has meant I haven't done as much as I'd like by now out there. The good thing is that it's not yet spring so I'm not behind per se, just not quite up to date.

Today I transplanted 3 volunteer potatoes along with one of the Urenika I'd been chiting. I think I broke one of the transplants from it's main root so we'll see if it does anything or just dies (suspect the 2nd). The volunteers had come up in the old potato bags I'd planted some cauliflower in.

I'm thinking of transplanting the 2 or 3 caulis from the potato bags into the old tomato tubs because I'm going to need the bags in another month or so & the caulis are still maybe pinky-sized if that. The 4? 5? Snowball caulis from about 2 months ago are doing well, getting bigger but no heads yet.

Citrus season is starting to peeter out. The navel orange gave us one fruit this year, I think being moved around for the fence work didn't help, but this is the first year we had any fruit stay on the tree (it's about 5 years old now). The lime went gang-busters and is down to maybe half a dozen fruit left, but the lemon is starting to pick up the slack with some fruit. I might have to do a prune though, it's gotten big and not as much fruit this year as in years past. I've given it a citrus feed.

The citric-acid free tree is a surprise. I was ready to put it on freecycle but gave one of the fruits a try. I'm glad I did. It wasn't sour and odd tasting like the one last year. This one was juicy and interesting. It's kind of sweet, no tang from the citric acid, and has a unique taste. Definitely not everyone's cup of tea but was really nice with my coconut Greek yoghurt (new Eziyo flavour, yum!) & some fresh pineapple this morning.

I pruned most the roses today. I missed one I forgot to move back to the fence so will do that when the ground is drier (it's a heavy pot) and I haven't pruned the Indian Ruby ones I took cuttings off of a few years ago.

To do still:

1) Dig mustard into potato bags and tubs in next week or 2 so can break down before planting
2) move above rose: move potato bag(s) against the fence and put there, shift bags near citrus
3), finish pruning
4) move cauli's into tubs
5) dig up dirt by apple tree pot and berries for x2 tomatoes & put down compost
6) get chicken wire and create tasteful barrier fence along path for dahlias
7) figure out when/where to plant beans, chard, carrots, spinach, melons, pumpkins, jicama (2 each of last 3 items)
8) start tomatoes and jicama indoors around Sept
9) re-lay irrigation (from fence move), replace sprinklers as necessary (get plugs, more sprinkler attachment thingies)
10) transplant 2 or 3 Broadway rose cuttings that took (no later than Sept)
11) Check berries - trim if necessary
12) general backyard weeding & tidying; mow lawn & reseed when drier

There's more, I know there is. Just can't think of what it is right now.

I took pictures today of the garden as it is right now but am going to go rest so may be awhile still. I got several fungii, one kind of cool one growing on a piece of deadwood. I also got a couple of the camelia flowering right now. We've got a really nice formal double red one called Takanini and a simple pink-white single with a beautiful scent called Sugar and Spice (I think of it as the fairy tree because the flowers look like little fairy bell-lights).
pinepigs_garden: red and purple potatoes (Red Rascal & Urenika potatoes)
Koanga had a bad year for potatoes. Their seed farmers were hit by potato psyllid. They were able to get some seeds but a much-reduced amount. To be able to spread their seed around a bit more they cut the bag size from about 1 kilo to about 750 grams & have given us a credit note for what they couldn't fill. In my case, they didn't have one of the potato varieties (Arran Banner, which my friend T had asked me to order for her) so also substituted it for another.

After splitting my seed potatoes with T, I've got
-about 600 grams of Urenika (2 pieces of this is from my own last year crop)
-about 400 grams of Paraketia (which is one I really wanted to try this year)
-about 500 grams of Kowiniwini which is one that I think was the replacement for Arran Banner.

I've got some chiting in the egg cartons on top of the fridge, along with 4 of the Purple Heart ones we bought for eating at the supermarket. I honestly don't know how these will do but it's worth a try. I've got enough for one potato bag per variety to start, the rest are sitting double-paper bagged & ready to go into the shed for storage. I'll chite and plant them in a 2nd season. There's quite a lot so I might look at pulling a few more out to chite for another bag or 2 in the early part of the season with these. The Urenika take the longest to mature so I am debating on 2 bags of them to chite now, enough to chite one bag later.

I've also decided that I'll put 4 seeds per potato bag this year, that did fine last year.

I don't have the huge grow bag, I did decide to get rid of it. The lawn is in sad shape, the seeds haven't grown and it's a bog back there now. I'll replant it as soon as the ground dries and we're through the frosts. I hope the landlord doesn't decide to do an inspection before then.

I had some tiny chard sprouts but either snails or the cold have claimed them as victims. Oh well, wait and see what pops up in the spring!

I'll definitely be putting in a few tomato plants this year. Tomatoes are currently between $12 and $14NZ a kilo. The price usually comes down in the summer but I'd like to have my own instead.
pinepigs_garden: Trowel against wood background (trowel)
Lots of wet days recently so here are some links for you.

Tui is one of the brands I use in the garden regularly. Their potato food did a great job with the potatoes last year, I use their Quash brand non-toxic snail bait, had good results with their Vege Growing Mix....

I get a regular update from them. They had a link to some of the common insects today. I knew most of these, although didn't know what the adult wood borer looked like. I liked that they commented at the start of the post about how bugs can be both beneficial and a nuisance, that you can't just tag a bug as "good" or "bad".

The local that sends me updates also sent a short blurb about how to help bees in the urban environment. There's even a link in the article to Trees for Bees. While this is aimed at the NZ environment, it's something for everyone to consider, planting trees and flowers to help bees. Without bees we won't have honey. We won't have flowers. We won't have vegetables, nuts or fruit. And given that bees also pollinate clover, alfalfa and other feed grains, if we don't have bees we don't have beef or lamb or chicken either! We need bees!

Here's a question for you: what kind of gloves do you use in the garden, how long do they last, and do you do anything to take care of them?

I've always used leather gloves. They keep the rose thorns out, they are sturdy and usually last a full year, usually 2. I end up ripping through one of the fingers or cutting them by that time. And they stiffen up because I do a lot of gardening in the wet and mud and don't know how to take care of them properly.

Last year I used cloth gloves that had a rubber coating on the whole hand (not just the little rubber dots). They lasted until recently. They weren't as long-wearing as leather, but were waterproof (until I dunked the whole thing in and ended up soaking the cloth cuffs a few weeks ago), tough, stood up to most rose thorns, and best of all because of the rubber coating I could grab weeds and pull most of them out. They gave a better grip than the leather ones did.

I debated when I replaced them but did end up going with another leather pair. I didn't splurge on the $60 leather with long cuffs up most my arm rose-gloves I've had before, just the standard soft calf skin.

So tell me, what are your favourite types of gloves to use in the garden? How long do they last? What do you think are the pros and cons of different types? Do you do anything special to care for your gloves?


Jun. 15th, 2011 08:25 pm
pinepigs_garden: white, purple and orange carrots (rainbow carrots)
One of the things I look forward to in autumn is persimmons. These are nature's candy! They are a beautiful fruit, yellowish orange going to red-orange when they are ripe.

I remember tasting my first persimmon. There was a tree at the park I worked at (it used to be a ranch/orchard). One of the visitors said they were delicious and edible, so I tried it. Unfortunately, it wasn't very ripe. It was an astringent type of persimmon, which meant it was high in tannins because it wasn't ripe. Ich! Pucker mouth!!!!

I can't remember how I learned that you need to let them ripen, but I am glad I did. I really like them.

And apparently, so do the silver eyes! I put some skin out the other day with a few bits of flesh still on it and they went after it. They've only recently started coming through the garden again and love their banana. They've also started taking to the suet & fruit treat we got at a local petstore. But the persimmon draws them with the bright colour and they scarf it down. I put a partly unripe one out today (is it a helping hand into heaven if you share your favourite fruit with native birds????) & they went after that with lots of chattering and chasing.

I've learned today that the persimmon variety we get in the stores is a non-astrigent variety, so I can eat them partly unripe. I don't know if I want to chance it, besides I like it when they are really soft and messy and sweet. I cut them in quarters from the bottom and devour them. Yummmm!

And they are good for me. They've got the below vitamins and minerals (based on US daily recommendations) but also are supposed to be good for your heart, regular consumption may help "educe the risk of atherosclerosis heart attacks". Granted, if I ate too many unripe ones I could develop a phytobezoar so all things in moderation!

Persimmons Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 293 kJ (70 kcal)
Carbohydrates 18.59 g
- Sugars 12.53 g
- Dietary fiber 3.6 g
Fat .19 g
- saturated .02 g
Protein .58 g
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 2.5 mg (167%)
Folate (Vit. B9) 8 μg (2%)
Vitamin C 7.5 mg (13%)
Calcium 8 mg (1%)
Iron .15 mg (1%)
Sodium 1 mg (0%)

And while my favourite way to eat these is raw straight out of the skin, I've also made these cookies and they are delicious, particularly at this time of year. Those of you in the Northern Hemisphere going into summer, book mark this for autumn. You can freeze the persimmon pulp for the cookie recipe, then make them for Christmas gifts.

Another great recipe from AllRecipes

Moist Persimmon Cookie
"This is a soft moist spicy cookie. The persimmon fruit lends its sweetness and color to this simple cookie. Any type if nuts may be used for this and you may prefer to leave out the raisins."

Prep Time:
10 Min
Cook Time:
12 Min
Ready In:
30 Min

Servings 36

1-2 persimmons (approx 1 cup pulp)
1/2 cup shortening butter
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
¼ to ½ cup sliced almonds (optional)
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup raisins (optional)


Peel and de-stem the persimmons and process them in a food processor or blender. You will want enough pulp to equal 1 cup. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease cookie sheets.

In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and shortening. Beat in the egg and persimmon pulp. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, stir into the persimmon mixture. Finally, stir in the chopped nuts and raisins. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.
pinepigs_garden: a few dried autumn maple-like leaves (autumn leaves)
It didn't rain today so I got out for a couple hours to wander around the saturated garden and try to shift some of the pots back after the new fence went in. I can't shift the stuff on the lawn yet, the lawn is completely soaked and already churned up from me having to go out and move the pots away the first time. I've tried to seed the lawn but the seeds I put in last weekend aren't taking in 2 of the big areas and I don't want to churn it up even more.

I did shift things around outside the backdoor, moved 3 camellias onto the ledge by the bbq, moved the dwarf nectarine and peach into opposite corners of that area. The nectarine now sits where the larger 'dwarf' peach was, which will shift to a back corner so it can spread a little more (once the lawn dries a bit more). I also shifted the old tomato pots back to their old spot. 1 has miner's lettuce (and I've got tiny little miner's lettuce sprouts!), 2 (3?) have cover crops in them, one has rainbow chard I planted last weekend. I shifted the amber carrots bin that never seemed to have grown so I replanted some more seeds today, hopefully they'll go. I'm hit and miss with carrot growing and I wonder if it's either how I sow them (too deep?), slugs, or that I'm too impatient and they need longer.

I also planted some more cauliflower today: 4 of the year-round variety and 5 of the snowball. The approx 7 or 8 snowball caulis that I rescued from the broken growbag are still going well. I lost 1 or 2, but the remaining 7 or 8 are fine.

I pulled up the solitary jicama (Pachyrhizus erosus) plant last weekend and cut it up and ate (most of it, I forgot about the rest in the back of the fridge & don't know if it's any good anymore). It wasn't as sweet as I remembered, probably growing conditions, but other than that I loved it and want to plant another one or 2 next spring.

Here are some pictures of the process!

Here's the plant:

The edible part, the root, mostly uncovered. All vegetation above the top of the soil is poisonous.


And washed:

Here's what it looks like when you start to peel it. The skin is pretty easy to peel, usually you start it with a knife and peel it off in strips.

I diced it up and squeezed some fresh lime from the garden into it. It was nice on it's own, and it would have been even better in a salad with Ranch dressing :) (Next year!!).
pinepigs_garden: a few dried autumn maple-like leaves (autumn leaves)
We had a really nice autumn day yesterday. We popped over to Kings and got my Niwashi. It worked a treat in the space out front under our window. It was starting to go wild and the tool was great at scalping large areas, cutting plants off at the roots. The biggest problem I had was with it getting caught on the weed mat. Other than that, not a problem. I think it will also be good to take out some of the weeds in the larger pots if I use it carefully and not too deeply. I picked up a "how to use" flyer at the store yesterday. I want to scan it and post here if I can because it shows how you can use it to get tap-root weeds out, use it for planting, use it for all kinds of things in addition to just weeding.

It rained a lot last week and the back lawn is still saturated so I haven't been able to shift the plants back to their places. I did dig carefully around the jicama though and found a nice little root, a little larger than a closed fist. I've been debating picking it, not sure if it is ripe yet or not or big enough, but found a site that says they can be harvested at any time. Yay! I might pull mine up because I've been wanting some!! I'm used to the huge ones we got in Calif, but given I'm in a different (and somewhat marginal) growing zone temperature-wise that isn't too bad. I came across one article that said the largest grown was 23 kg! They are supposed to have a 5-9 month growing season and since I planted it around Sept last year that should be in line with that timing.

I definitely want to plant some a couple next year, so think I'll need to keep the 'grow bag'. I think I'll take the soil out of this one and buy a new one. I'll use the broken one to double-line the first, not that I expect to be shifting it now that the fence is fixed. I think this one was the only bag in the package so need to pick up a new one but I'll dig through the shed just in case.

The miner's lettuce I planted in one container is coming up, the other is a bit slower or has been attacked by the snails. :S I picked up more Quash yesterday too so that should take care of any snails or slugs looking for a fresh salad.

The snowball cauliflowers are hanging in there after their forced-transplant out of the broken grow bag. I lost one or 2 to either snails or just shock, but have 5 or 6 so far. The 2nd type of cauli haven't come up yet so I'm hesitant to do anything with the soil in the grow bag. I did use some of it away from where I planted those seeds to sprinkle on grass seeds I put down in bare patches though.

I'm waiting for the chard to come up. I planted a few yesterday in one of the former tomato tubs, need to check the carrots and chard I planted a few weeks ago.

Seed potatoes and strawberry plants have shown up in the garden shops. My Koanga potatoes should be here any time now. And next pay I'm going to pick up about 4 or 5 strawberry plants, some kid-sized gloves and tools and take them next door for our Kn to plant and tend. He is always watching me in the garden, asks questions. He also comes over to the gate and looks at the mustard plants he helped plant (that I conveniently put next to the gate for him to watch!). I will get his sister Ka, who is too young to be involved in the planting process this year, a roll-up chalk board because I have no clue what to get a little girl who is about 1 1/2 or 2 & a chalk board to draw on sounds like a better option than a dolly, especially if she has a bunch of them already. When I've been in the garden, Kn has tried to put on my gloves, has tried to use my cutters, has asked questions about what I'm doing in the garden. I figure the plants won't take up much room and will be good for him to start with. I don't think his parents will mind, and his mom often jokes about me setting up a fruit and veg stall. They have very little room but if I put it up out of the way of his dad's wood and stuff it should be fine.

The lime tree and orange trees are fruiting. The mandarin seems to be doing ok this year, I'll keep an eye on it and see how it goes with that bit of borer. I hate killing a plant just because it will probably die eventually. I've tried to poke wire into the hole and maybe I've managed to skewer the little bugger and the tree will be ok.

My moss terrarium is doing well and the dendrobium and 2 of the Zygopetalums are still flowering.

And now, it looks like it's finally gotten light outside (I was up early) so I might grab my camera to take a picture of the jicama and then harvest it. :)

ETA: Forgot I wanted to post this link about how you know when something is ready to harvest.
pinepigs_garden: trowel with dirt and a small plant with the words "Please grow" (Please grow)
The article I saw last weekend about moss terrariums inspired me & I had an idea but had to wait until this weekend to be able to do it. I've been looking forward to taking the time to do this one. I've got another idea but it need the just-right glass vessel and I'll have more pre-work to do to create one element in it so that will be on hold. (PS--I need to take a couple picts of the ones I did last weekend still!).

And part of me feels that I won't be able to pull it off as well as I imagine so why bother?? I will ignore that thought for now, since I do need the right vessel for it I can't start it anyway. I'll cross the self-doubt bridge when I do find something (and something affordable).

When I was looking for links for the last post about terrariums I came across a bunch of Etsy listings for terrariums, and for little tiny things people make to put in terrariums. That got me thinking about the Fimo we have and about what kinds of things I could make to put in my terrariums.....

So the moss terrarium I made today.

I used a small glass container. It's original use was to hold some purple lavender fluid to make the house smell nice. It eventually all evaporated so I pulled the wick out and washed it. We had been using it for a bud vase.

I put in a tiny bit of base pebbles, then a tiny bit of charcoal and dirt. It's a very squat container so I tried to not use too much of those. I scraped some of the moss from a few different places on the wood borders out back. I didn't want to take all the moss from one spot so tried a few different to allow the other parts to eventually grow back. I also didn't cover the whole surface of my terrarium with the moss. It will grow and naturally cover the dirt, and again I didn't want to take too much from outside.

And then I made some Fimo mushrooms. (Those are pebbles from our old fish tank gravel.)

Tiny ones.

And I put them into the terrarium. Thanks to C for holding it and giving you an idea of scale for the terrarium.

It's hard to see but you can kind of make out the fairy ring I put them in.

I even made a broken mushroom and put that in. I always see at least one of the mushrooms has been kicked over. I don't know if it is because of their size (at least palm-sized when they open flat, and bigger) making them obvious for kids or the fact that they are poisonous and some doo-gooder thinks it is ok to kill them. So here's my nod to their sacrifices. It's only fitting, don't you think??

So that's what I did today. I should have done some housework or something 'productive' but it's been a hell of a week. They seem to get worse, or stay as bad as the previous one, and I hit a low point so felt the need to do something for my soul. I hope it inspires you.
pinepigs_garden: white, purple and orange carrots (rainbow carrots)
I came across these 2 articles on how to make moss terrariums. I think it's interesting and while I've put moss in my terrariums, I've never made just a moss terrarium. I made a terrarium with some moss and a small fern, but the fern died so now it is a moss terrarium. Does that count?

I like the photo in this article, very minimalist. This one is about turning a wine bottle into a moss terrarium.

I've had some South African Club Moss show up in the garden awhile ago, possibly carried inside one of the potted plants I bought. (I think it's that moss, it looks like that & the South African Club Moss is an invasive here). I have some growing in a pot now for when I want to put some in a terrarium. When I made the thyme terrarium today I used my tweezers (long fish-tank ones I got for using in the terrariums) to gently pull some tiny mosses from the cement back step off and put it in the thyme. I didn't pull much off, just a little.

Terrariums and 'bottle gardens' are great ways to reuse unusual glass containers, make nice little gifts and to bring some greenery into your house or office. There are some good directions here, and this site has a lot of different ideas on using found-stuff & different types of terrariums. Google has a ton of links too so you can also check it out. Ehow has a list of different topics on terrariums too.

Here are some plants ideal for terrariums, broken into light level needs.

Here are some really nice terrariums.

I've got a terrariums tag here with photos of most of the ones I've made (except today's). Almost all of them are going well, except for the masdevalia (it died), had the one with the maiden hair fern die but the moss has been growing slowly, had one with I think oregano die back (I planted the thyme in that glass today). The old spring water jug I planted with a couple dendrobiums & moss is going strong. It's rather jungle-like actually. It's got a fern in it that has taken off. I need to find some way to prune it back slightly, maybe a bit of knife or something.

Anyway, enough about terrariums. :)
(cross-posting this to [personal profile] red_trillium for people there who might be interested)
pinepigs_garden: purple kale and drop of water (Kale drop)
Managed to get out into the garden today. The back fence is finally up and now I get to figure out where I want to put everything and re-lay the drip/irrigation hoses and such.

I mowed the back lawn, pulled our little electric hover mower out & gave it a go. It was a real chore. It's always challenging at the best of times due to the slope, but given that the back is muddy and the fence work threw up a bunch of clay in some areas means that it was darn near treacherous at times. It's done for now. Once I finish moving plants around I'll give the rest of it a mow. I've only moved a few plants at the moment, too tired and sore to tackle them all. Also, I want to re-think the garden lay out and maybe plan a bit better.

I had a small tragedy though. Remember the big grow bag I had the potatoes in over the summer? I had to shift it away from the old fence. The darned thing has about 120-160 litres of soil in it (about 3 1/2 to 4 large bags of soil). The potatoes are long-since pulled up of course; a couple weeks ago I planted Snowball cauliflower, last week I planted the other cauliflower (the name of which escapes me at the moment). The jicama is still in there and going strong. I'm not sure for how long, it's getting chilly & it's a tropical plant. I dug around and there is a root larger than fist-sized, maybe about 2-fist sized. I covered it back up and will leave it a big longer. There's also an orphaned spinach plant there too.

I was trying to tug the large beast-bag back into place against the fence. Between an already very-sore back and slippery grass/mud/clay surface I was struggling. It moved a tiny bit and when I grabbed another corner to try that one it ripped. D: One whole corner has ripped away. It's still holding soil for now, but not sure how long. I've transplanted the Snowballs into a couple pots. I'll wait for the other cauli's to come up and will replant them, harvest the jicama and shift the soil into some old soil bags and a potato bag I've got in the shed.

Bummer. I was hoping to use it for a while longer, it has a good flat surface that does well with leafy things like spinach and chard, deep things like carrots and potatoes and jicama. And I figured it would be fine for a couple tomato plants too. I need to think about if I want to have another one next season or go for several smaller pots.

So far I've put the ficus in the square wood container back against the fence by the lemon tree, and the Apricot Scentasia and Deep Secret roses back between the feijoa and the lemon tree (interesting that one of the words the spell check brings up for feijoa is fellatio?!). I shifted a few of the ex-tomato pots back by the fence, still have to shift a couple more back there. I think I'm going to take the larger peach tree and put it in the far back corner near where the grow bag used to be. While I love the convenience of having it by the back door, it's gotten too big for the little paved space by the bbq. I'll keep the dwarf peach and nectarines in that area though. I need to put some of the camelias back along the fence. But I think I'm going to shift some of the dahlias back to the fence with some of the roses, and put the grow bag replacement (whatever that ends up being) on the side along the cement path. The dahlias always get large and unruly, stick over the path and get in the way. If I keep lower growing pots and stuff there, shift the dahlias, roses and citrus to behind them that might be better for the neighbors.

I have offered 3 of the Indian Ruby roses to our behind-fence neighbor. I need to ask him if would like them soon. I think the builder still needs to cut the tops off the fence to make it all even but after that. I'll find out if he wants them in pots or to be planted in the ground. He & his wife are elderly, and I know he has health problems so I'll offer to put them in the ground for them if they want. I need to put the citrus-acid free orange tree on Freecycle too. I don't like the taste and it might as well go to someone who will be able to take care of it and enjoy it. I don't like just pulling plants out and letting them die but need to be more realistic about what I've got in the garden to be able to take care of and enjoy them.

I did some terrarium work today too, nothing big and I don't have picts right now so maybe later. I transplanted a yellow variegated thyme into a small wine glass type thing. It's been in the same herb pot for a year or so, I originally got it to put into a glass. It looks semi-bonsai because the main stalk is built up a bit but the side shoots need more help. Hopefully this will give it a better boost. I also put our dendrobium kingianum orchid into an apothecary's jar. It isn't a huge jar, but I figure it should be good enough. The orchid loves to be root-bound & has flowered at least once in it's smaller pot so it won't be a hardship to be in the jar. Most of the leaves are sticking out on it, so neither of what I did today are a true "terrarium" as neither are sealed. Pictures to come eventually.

Dinner time, C picked up a prepackaged uncooked hunk of beef. It is one you put in the oven in the little bag, all seasoned and stuff. It is about 800g but was marked down to about $9NZ so a decent price. I put half a butternut squash, a parsnip, cauliflower, broccoli & mushrooms in a roast bag in the slow cooker and put the meat on top. I hope it all turns out. Our neighbor in #1 knocked on the door a bit ago, she gave us some home made chocolate cake so we have cake and ice cream for desert. :) I share my lemons, limes & feijoas with 2 of our neighbors (the 3rd I'm too shy). The neighbor in #1 shares the odd bit of desert, Malaysian-Indian sweets and bit of curry or noodles with us. Her son is the one who helped me plant the mustard and has taken to me, he's got the potential to be a keen gardener if he wants. I figure maybe around spring I'll use one of my old plastic trough planters and put some some lettuce or something in it, maybe cheat and buy a few cheap strawberry plants and he can help plant them up and then put it in his backyard for him to enjoy and water and stuff, with his own little watering can. They don't have much room at all for a garden but something like that wouldn't take much room up and would be perfect for him to be interested in and play with.

ETA: Here's what the back fence and general area used to look like in August. Also has the picture of me inside the grow bag.

And meant to say that the Zygopetalum & one of the Dendrobium orchids are blooming again. One plant has 2 flower spikes on it and is huge with I think 6 flowers each, one has only one spike with maybe 4 flowers. They have a nice scent, but more musky than just flowery like a rose. Here are some picts of both from last year's flowering. A few of the camelias have started flowering too.
pinepigs_garden: Trowel against wood background (trowel)
I received my Tioga strawberries from Koanga yesterday. I had been thinking that I only got one plant but bonus, there are 5 of them! I thought it was odd that there were several plants in the box but thought maybe they were all part of one big plant that came apart in shipping. Yay! I like the 5-plants concept better.

I planted them today. I wanted to put them in a strawberry barrel or strawberry/herb planter but don't have either and wanted to get them planted today so put them in a normal long plastic planter. We need to go to hardware/garden store tomorrow so I might pick up some strawberry planting mix or maybe some strawberry food and sprinkle some around the plants. The Tui potato food did a great job with this year's potatoes so I have faith in their stuff. I do need to get some bird netting for the strawberries as well as the black & logan berries.

Our back fence has been pulled down and there are new posts cemented into the ground. I had shifted some of the plants away from the old fence a few weeks ago and last week had to do an emergency shift of the rest of them and finish up the weeding in that area. Our neighbor in #1 is putting the fence up. The plants are all crammed here and there & I worry about someone nicking the fruit trees (it happens). So far so good though.

Influencing the next generation....

Today when I was out there planting the strawberries the little boy in #1 (about 6 yrs old) walked up the back driveway and asked me what I was doing. We talked a little, he asked what I was doing and I told him. He's often expressed a bit of interest when I'm doing something around the garden. They don't have much room, his mom isn't a gardener nor is his dad.

If you don't know this about me, I'm not a kid person. But they like me. It's like people who aren't cat people. Cats can sense this and will flock to someone who is Not A Cat Person. Kids do the same thing. I always attract them & don't know what to do with them or say to them.

I showed him the strawberries and he watched while I planted them. I talked to his mom & answered his questions. When I was done I pulled out one of the old tomato pots and scraped a bit of the soil off the top. I had him hold his hand out and poured some mustard seeds into it, some into my hand and showed him how to sprinkle them around the pot. When we did that I gave him my trovel & let him scoop some dirt out of a bucket, put it onto the mustard seed. I spread it out as he shoveled it on. I had him hold onto the watering can & I helped him lift it so he could water the seeds, then we sprinkled Quash snail & slug bait around. It isn't toxic to kids or wildlife & I keep mine in an old drink bottle so the pellets come out the sipper top. I've taken off the labels and marked it so it's obvious it's not a drink.

He seemed to enjoy himself and I put the pot near the gate between our units so he can look through the gate and see "his" mustard grow.

Perhaps another budding gardener in the making.

After they left I chucked some more mustard into 2 of the former potato bags & planted about 10 Snowball Cauliflower today (yay heirloom! and 300 seeds for $2.95NZ, Kings site says 6-8 days?!). I want to plant some of the Year Round Cauliflower in a couple weeks to extend the cropping (heat & cold stress resistant & matures in 70 days). And tomorrow I want to finish the planting with Rainbow Chard (21-35 days for baby leaves) & some Amber Carrots.

I've ordered my seed potatoes from Koanga, to be delivered in June. Tonight we went grocery shopping and needed to pick up some potatoes amongst our usual big-shop. They had Purple Heart potatoes so we picked up a bag. A bit pricey (I think they were about $4.50NZ for the bag??) Check out those antioxidant levels! I'm hoping to set 3 aside to sprout for seed potatoes, maybe give them their own grow bag. Supposedly you aren't supposed to try to grow potatoes from supermarket ones but I am willing to give these a go and hopefully they'll breed true since it says they are "bred naturally". (Interesting article here about purple potatoes. PS- just found an article that says they are "Bred by Crop and Food, it is a cross between urenika, one of the old Maori potatoes, and more modern varieties." I'll still give it a go for seed potatoes. If they don't work that's fine, I'll have the seed potatoes I ordered. Fingers crossed though!
pinepigs_garden: a sprouting potato (potato)
I put some orders in at Koanga today. Because of how the site works I had to put in 3 different orders. I had to order my Tioga Strawberries as one order because they ship in April. I had to order my potatoes as a 2nd order because they ship in June. I had to then order my misc seeds as a 3rd order because they aren't considered "backorders" (so hopefully will ship soon). I asked a friend of ours if she wanted to order some stuff too so my order is for us and her.

Here's what we got (prices in NZ$):

Tioga Strawberries $10.00 -- $16.00 ttl, ordered 27/3/11; to be shipped April

Potatoes= – ordered 27/3/11 Delivery appx 6/2011
Urenika $10:
Paraketia $10 (share with Trudie):
Kowiniwini $10 (great keeper):
For Trudie: Arran Banner Potatoes $10.00:
Subtotal: $40.00
Standard shipping: $8.50
Order total: $48.50

For me:
Miner’s lettuce $3.80:
Mustard Cover Crop $3.50 (share with Trudie):
Amber Carrot $3.50:
Ruby Chard $3.80:

For Trudie:
Green Apple Cucumber $3.50
Black Roma Tomato $3.80
Subtotal: $22.20
Standard shipping: $4.00
Donation: $0.00
Total: $26.20

Future orders:
?Order late-winter for spring:
Amish Melons $3.80:
Oats: $3.80 (maybe as future cover crop--helps with calcium):
Pakistani Purple Carrot: (must be spring planted)

Kumara—must be ordered by Oct; not sure which one to get yet & will ask Trudie and a coworker if he wants to order some too.

I've got enough tomato seeds for next year and think I'm fine on the mini carrots. I'll use some of my Phaecelia for cover crops this winter (thanks to [personal profile] bluemeridian for copying some pages on cover crops for me)!

I did a tiny bit of maintenance in the garden today. Not much, didn't have much time & am pretty sore from the fall I took yesterday. I cut down all but 1 of the tomato plants. I still need to put compost in the pots & plant some Phaecelia and mustard (when the mustard gets here). I also harvested about 8 or 10 feijoas. We bought some at the store yesterday, before I realised some were ready to be picked, and about the same amount cost $6NZ. Ours are bigger though. :) I don't usually eat the feijoas. I like them when they are soft, really ripe. C likes them hard and a bit tart. Since they are one of the few fruits she really goes for I let her nom as many as she wants and I share some with our neighbors. I'll eat a few too though.

I need to get out and get the lawn in the back mowed. I need to seriously consider a different stake system for the tomatoes & dahlias next year and fix the irrigation. I'll also need to think about netting the berries. And a big thing to do this season through to next year is boost the fertiliser and organic matter in all my pots. I've got 4 bags of compost I picked up on sale a few weeks ago so this will go towards that, as well as into the hole out front I need to dig to put C's hibiscus in.
pinepigs_garden: a few dried autumn maple-like leaves (autumn leaves)
Thanks to [personal profile] bluemeridian for This link about some of Monsanto's nasty practices.

Put aside things like their rBGH hormone in cows (which, whether or not it has negative effects on human health or not does have negative effects on cow health and well-being), genetically modifying seeds and then patenting them (all of which in my mind are bad enough), but are using Bully-Boy tactics on farmers and dairy owners. They secretly "investigate" farmers who they suspect of saving their patented seed and planting it again.

Never mind that farmers have always saved seed from the the best plants of the prior year's crop to plant again from time immemorial. If a farmer buys Monsanto seed they have to sign something to say they won't save and replant seed. But what about those poor farmers who, Goddess Forbid, never planted the genetically modified seed before? Farmers who have a Monsanto plant in their field not from choice but from bird droppings or wind drift?

Those of us who have gardened know that it's also possible to have 'volunteers' shoot up where you never planted them the next year. What about a farmer who planted Monsanto the previous year and ends up with volunteers in a fallow field?

In all instances Monsanto trains its big guns on the farmer, using threats and litigation to twist their arms into trying to settle out of court and pay the company large sums to 'go away'. How do you prove you didn't plant something but a bird did? As the article mentions, one farmer accused of re-planting Monsanto seed actually never did. It was a case of mistaken identity. So we can see how well (/sarcasm) Monsanto's investigators and lawyers do with being fair in figuring out who really has re-planted.

Then throw in the dairy owners who simply put something like "No rBGH" on their milk and dairy product labels. Monsanto has it's fingers in so many political pies it's influencing the FDA and Federal Trade Commission. It's trying to use the FTC to force diary owners to stop claiming they don't have rBGH in their products.

If you're a gardener, what can you do? It's easy enough to stop using Round Up and other Monsanto products. But go deeper than this. Look into your local seed saving organisation and/or heirloom seed company and get your seeds there. If you are in the US, there are organisations like Seed Savers. In NZ we've got Koanga. These places protect our gardening genetic diversity and are what prevent us from becoming a world of mono-crops. They also often run workshops on different aspects of "old time" skills like keeping bees, food storage, planting, grafting, etc. Support them with your purchases, become members where they allow that. Talk to other gardeners you know about the benefits of heirloom varieties & even get together with friends or family and exchange some of your seeds. I got my Scarlet Runners from a friend and gave her some of my heirloom tomato seeds.

Next year for our Relay for Life fundraiser I want to do an heirloom tomato tasting. I hope that in addition to raising money for our Relay team to pass onto the NZ Cancer Society, but that it will also expose more people to the variety heirloom tomatoes can provide, maybe encourage them to plant some next year. I'm also playing with the idea of a 'gardeners sale' where I ask our team who garden to plant a few extra seeds & sell the seedlings for say $2 each to raise money for our Relay team. We do well with our bake sales but want to look at other possible fundraisers that are more healthy.
pinepigs_garden: a metalic blue butterfly against a wood background (Blue Morpho butterfly)
Potatoes still going along. The plant parts of the remaining bags have mostly died down. I've harvested 2 full Red Rascal bags and about 1/4 or so of the 3rd Red Rascal, as well as about 1/2 the large grow bag that had about 7 Urenika seeds in it. There's still one Urenika bag too that I haven't started. I harvested a bunch of potatoes to take to a friend's house for dinner last night, pulled up 9, about 800gr (about 1 pound 8oz) of Urenikas (with the largest being about 275gr, or 8.5 oz if I hadn't broken it in 2 when I pulled it out). I pulled up about 10, about 600 grams (1 pound 7 oz) of Red Rascals, with the largest being about 100grams or roughly 4 oz).

But a bad news thing, I noticed the dwarf mandarin had a bunch of dying leaves on it. I'd given everything a drink but haven't quite gotten around to fixing some of the areas that aren't getting enough water so thought it was that. Grabbed a bunch of fish tank water and poured it in the pot, only to realise the rest of the leaves looked find. I checked the stem and found the tell-tale sawdust sign of borer. D: I pruned back below the hole but could still see the borer hole in the wood so cut back hard to the main stem....

And saw borer into the main stem. I had a piece of wire but the wood was soft further down than I could reach. So the tree is basically a write off. If it wasn't in the main stem, or if the stem was much bigger I think I'd have a chance of it surviving. But borer is almost impossible to treat, especially in the main trunk of a small tree. It's got fruit on it and the plant is doing ok for right now so I'll leave it and replace it in maybe a year. It's about 5 or 6 years old and was just really starting to produce decently :(

I planted some dwarf Burgundy beans about a week or 2 ago in the one of the harvested potato bags. Today I planted some Kaiapoi Pink Seeded Bush Beans that C got free for getting me my gift membership at Koanga in the other harvested potato bag. I figure it will get me a jump on rotating my crops and put some nitrogen into the soil.

I've been busy with house chores and especially the Relay for Life stuff. It's been eating most of my time and energy so I haven't had as much online or garden time. I really need to get out and walk more before the Relay on 5 & 6 March, I don't have as much time to get ready as I wanted but between the heat and running around doing everything else I haven't made as much time for it as I'd like.

Oh well, bed time. The next few days at work are going to be hell due to staffing issues (vacation leave was approved for 2, then we had mandatory training come along and get shifted several times so we're down 1/2 the team). We'll get through somehow but I better go try to get some sleep. Especially since I haven't been doing that well with sleeping lately.
pinepigs_garden: nude half-chest of man with a shovel and the words "real men get dirty" (Real Men Get Dirty)
I put this in my [personal profile] red_trillium journal but want to have the info here too.

I harvested more potatoes today. I dug about 1/4 of the 2nd Red Rascal bag (maybe slightly less) & got 8 potatoes, with about 400 grams, with the biggest 180 grams.

I dug some more of the Urenika out of the large grow bag. I think I've dug about 3 or 4 of the 7 plants that were in there. One plant has a couple tubers still on it at the top. They were small so I've left them there to get a bit bigger. I pulled 8 potatoes out of this set too (I didn't intend to do the same amount out of each bag!), just under 600 grams with the largest being 170 grams (and the 2nd largest being close too).

I realised today (being not really smart in these things sometimes) that the largest potatoes are on the bottom! It makes sense, you put the seed potato in the bottom of the bag and mound soil up as the plant grows. I just never really thought about it!

I made purple mashed potatoes out of the Urenikas. It was TASTY!! YUMMMM! C approved. I haven't had real mashed potatoes in ages, and haven't had mashed potatoes at all in awhile (we do have the packet stuff on hand for our mashed potato needs--great stew thickener!)

The neighbor in #2 has been teasing me, asking when I'm going to open a veggie shop. Today we were talking when I was out feeding the tomatoes. I was telling her about how I use the blood & bone, sheep pellets, fish tank water & worm stuff to feed the plants. She hadn't realised I had the worms.

She came back around a few minutes later with her son, he's about 5? 6? and said he wanted to see the worms. I took the top off and showed him, there was fresh food in the top one and I opened the 2nd one which has completely digested food that I leave in there and scoop bits off every once in awhile for the plants and dug around with the trowel for him to see the worms in that one. I scooped a tiny bit off and put it in the one of the tomato pots, then used the tap to pour out some worm wee into the glass jar that sits there and told him about that, poured some of that into the plant too. :) I picked the one tomato that was just about ripe and gave it to them.

I grew up with a couple of family friends who had a garden, fresh carrots and peas and tomatoes and radishes. I remember how fun it was to plant the seeds, watch things grow. I hope I've inspired him, or at least worked the ground, so to speak, for a future seed to be planted in his mind.

ETA: I've started to experiment with the basic recipe at Artisan Bread in Five Minutes. It's really tasty! :) The basic premise (in case you haven't seen my posts at Red_trillium) is that you throw the ingredients together, stir them, let it rise a couple hours, then refrigerate it. You can store the dough for up to 2 weeks. Any time you're ready you pull some out, let it rest and then bake it. That's it. No kneading. No fuss. It's a sourdough bread and it has a great texture, holds together wonderfully. I make bread often in the machine but the recipe I have is crumbly. It isn't ideal for sandwiches. You can freeze the dough if you can't get through it in 2 weeks.

They call for a pizza stone (or cheap quarry stone from a home improvement store) and a pizza peel, but I've made 2 loaves without these. I used a cast iron fry pan for the first loaf & used their steam method, the crust was really crunchy but I prefer a softer crust so didn't use either for the second loaf & it's fine for me.

If you like fresh bread but the kneading and constant handling of dough is too much for you to deal, this is a good bread to make. It comes together quickly. You do still have rising time (2 hrs), the dough is easiest to handle after refrigeration (at least 30 to 90 minutes), and it has to rest for 40 minutes once you've shaped it. You bake it for 30 minutes.

Check out their videos to see how they shape their bread. I did it with my first loaf and it looked perfect, like something you'd buy in a store. Also, if you have problems with your bread making check the videos for how to measure flour. This is how I measure my wheat (use unbleached wheat, not bleached as this can affect water absorption) but not usually my corn or whole wheat. How you measure can make a difference to how much flour you get in your cup, which can cause problems with your bread (too much/too little flour in the recipe).


pinepigs_garden: nude half-chest of man with a shovel and the words "real men get dirty" (Default)

February 2012



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