Wednesday 15 July 2009

Space for Oddities

I picked the first blackberries of the year today. Not bad at all and enough there to make me think I'll go back tomorrow and get some for a pudding.

Earlier in the year I did a post on the plants I'd received in last year's seed swap. It seems about time to do an update on how they're doing.

This is the sorghum. Looks just like sweetcorn doesn't it, and I've tucked this single example in alongside the sweetcorn on the vegetable patch. I'm interested in sorghum which has quite a number of types and uses but really needs slightly warmer conditions than Normandy to be a reliable crop. If this comes to anything I might try to source some commercial varieties of seed next year for a trial.

The Mayflower beans had a bad start, all the first sowing failed. The second batch germinated well but they are slow growing and have only just started to reach out for their poles. Still, they look healthy enough and I hope they will make a crop.

I was a bit afraid of the Madeira vine ( Anredera cordifolia )as it's considered a noxious weed in many countries, overwhelming and swamping native plants but it's been reasonably well behaved so far. You are supposed to be able to eat the roots although PFAF doesn't have much good to say about it. You can also eat the leaves and this might be the best way of keeping the plant under control.

The tuberous sweet pea had a poor beginning too. It was so slow growing that I kept it in its pot a little too long and it began to be starved. It's in the ground now and showing some recovery but I think you'd need to grow an awful lot of them to get a meal. I'm still researching these, which were once a market crop, but keep forgetting where I've seen sources to follow up. I'm hoping these will flower this year for a few more seeds and because they appear to be a really pretty crimson scarlet.

And so to the American ground nut, not a peanut in any shape or form. Rhizowen at Radix has written a nice article here which quite plausibly sets out the case for calling them Hopniss, and so I'm going to adopt that from now on. I've no idea of the provenance of my plant so haven't a clue if it will make quality tubers but I believe that Derek who gave it to me lives in Somerset so conditions should be much the same as for his parent plant. Doesn't look like much at the moment, this is another plant that has attractive flowers when it's happy so I'm hoping to see those later in the year.

The other swaps, ulluco, a blue potato, elephant garlic and Yin Yang beans are going along nicely. The beans have just started to form pods, the garlic looks well, the blue potato and ulluco are ensconced in Peru Corner. The potato is getting regularly sprayed with Bordeaux mixture and is beginning to flower so that will be harvested soon. We're going to have to wait for the ulluco but after last year's issues with heavy ground frost I'm cogitating on plans to put a deep mulch on in November. The only problem with that is that it will provide cosy cover for rodents. Sometimes I think I can't win.


Rose said...

Thanks for sharing news about your garden...what an array of interesting plants.

Thanks also for the link to PFAF, I hadn't known about this seems like an excellent one. I've been trying to figure out what to do with some purple shiso I'm growing this year, and PFAF definitely had lots of useful information.

BTW, I stumbled across your vegan food blog, The Stripey Cat, a week or so that blog too. I thought it was interesting that our blog banners are similar. I've only been blogging for about 3 weeks, and I made a banner in Illustrator of a dandelion plant...and here I thought I was being so original...looks like you beat me to it.

Catofstripes said...

Hi Rose, nice to meet you.

The garden is a bit subject to attack by novelty but in a good way I like to think. Only a few plants get past the trial stage to become regulars, Magentaspreen aside that is, it's some weed!

PFAF are good although some of the information is user generated so it's worth cross referencing if you can. Great starting place though.

Glad you like the food blog too. The banner is because I have a mind made for word association and to me a Stripey cat is a Dandy lion (although most people would choose tiger there). Also I had a nice picture of dandelions that seemed unappreciated and they're edible too... I'll stop now ;)

Like your blog too and have added it to my reader list.

Rose said...

Nice to meet you too.
I have similar feelings about dandelions...although a much maligned plant, in my opinion, their flowers are cheery, the leaves are tasty and nutritious, and the seed globes are beautiful. And, you can cast out wishes on their seeds: just make a wish, blow, and watch as their seeds float away on pretty little parachutes. Magical.