We are wandering into the vegetable garden this week to see what we can harvest. Many of the vegetables that are our staples during the cooler months, such as lettuce, tatsoi, and celery have succumbed to the summer heat, but there are some of the hardier ones left to harvest. Let’s see what we can find…..
Of the three types of climbing beans planted, the Purple Kings are doing the best in the heat. The Scarlet Runner beans are flowering (their saving grace) but only setting the occasional pod, and the Blue Lakes are only marginally better than the Scarlet Runners in the pod department! We have had a steady crop of Purple Kings so far. Unfortunately there has been an outbreak of bean rust due to the hot conditions, so the vines of all three varieties are looking terrible.
Mexican sour gherkin / cucamelons
This was a freebie plant from Green Harvest, a permaculture and heritage seed nursery in Witta. Green Harvest have an interesting demonstration garden that customers can wander through. Soon after the vine was planted out, it began to grow vigorously and it is now reaching up past its trellis. The flowers are yellow and insignificant and the tiny fruits look like miniature watermelons, but taste like cucumber. They have a very slight sour taste, and make a great colourful addition to any salad. There are a number of pickling recipes available for these tiny gherkins, which we plan on trying in the near future.
Due to the heat it is difficult to try and grow any of the tomato varieties, other than the Russian Black, or the little salad tomatoes. The latter tend to self seed, and we have realised that it is best to let the plants grow where they are germinated, because if you transplant them their growth and fruit production will be poor. Once fruit starts forming the plants have to be covered or the King Parrots will descend on them, savouring the tiny green fruit for breakfast. We have often come outside in the morning to find a pile of eaten out green tomato shells lying on the ground next to the tomato bush.
We have harvested a few kilograms of small tomatoes already. We halve the fruit, place it in the food drier for approximately 4 to 6 hours, and store the semi-dried fruit in the freezer. The drying help concentrate the flavour of the fruit, which is used in cooked dishes and homemade vegetable pizza during the year.
Some plants were planted out directly into the ground, while others were planted into pots. Both lots of plants were mulched with sugar cane mulch. We have noticed however that the plants growing in pots are growing much better than those in the ground, and we have decided to put all the rhubarb plants into pots. We have had one picking of rhubarb this season so far, which was used to make a rhubarb and plum sago pudding. Delicious!
I featured this plant a while back when it was flowering. The fruit have developed nicely, and when they start to turn brown they will be ready for harvest. We have found that they can be frozen as is and used as required. A single fruit that’s out very quickly, and it is slit open longitudinally, and the little round vesicles inside can be used in salads, on fish or deserts to add a delightful pop of lime flavour. These plants are native to south east Queensland and northern New South Wales.
This plant is not strictly in the vegetable garden, but it is a shining example of a plant best left to grow where it germinated. The seed must have been in the compost I added to a garden bed in the front garden, and left to its own devices, it grew vigorously. The large leaves from the pumpkin have been a bonus during summer and they have provided shade to the surrounding soil. The vine has produced two lovely large pumpkins which are almost ready to harvest, and we also noticed a new pumpkin forming at the end of one of the runners.
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