Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Four leaf clover, so much good luck

We have a lot of clover in our lawn from time to time.  I encourage it to grow in the lawn.  Clover sequesters nitrogen from the atmosphere and makes it available to other plants.  It increases the fertility of the soil plus when I mow them and compost them they increase the nitrogen level in the compost.  Clover is high in protein and my guinea pigs and chickens like to eat it (plus I could eat it if I wanted to).  Bees and other pollinators appreciate the flowers.  When it gets too dry it dies off, but it self seeds and readily pops up when the rains return.  I don't see anything that is not to like about clover.

The other day I saw a 'four leaf' clover.  These are pretty common, far more common than most people realise.  I quickly had a look around and picked fifteen 'four leaf' clovers and eight 'five leaf' clovers, the kids convinced me to take a photo of them.  There were plenty more in the patch, but I didn't bother to pick them.  We don't do anything with them so picking seems like a waste of time.

In the past I once got the kids to help and we picked 48 'four leaf' clovers before I mowed the lawn.  There were probably plenty more around, but we got a little bored of looking for and finding so many of them.

'Four leaf' clover
Four leaf clover

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Growing chilli the in Canberra region

I am constantly amazed at how little knowledge people have about growing food.  Ironically foodies appear to have the least knowledge about where food comes from.  I am writing this post to help clear up some of the most common misconceptions that I hear about chillies and capsicums. 

Let me explain how growing chillies in a cool climate such as Canberra is relatively simple. I grow everything organically and make compost to feed the soil.

Big and mild chilli - easy to grow

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Fruit and Berry harvest times in Australia

I wrote a guide detailing the vegetable days to harvest from planting a seed.  It has many different vegetables, as well as strawberries and a few other edible things.  That guide has been very useful for me to plan when to plant seeds, to know how long it takes after flowering until a tomato is ripe, and other things like that.  Each year harvest time does vary a little depending on the weather that year.

That guide is very useful for vegetables, so I made a quick chart of the harvest dates for various fruits and berries in my garden over the past few years.  I have all the dates in a spreadsheet, but that gets a little difficult to find, so I thought a quick chart may be more useful to help me plan garden things.

Thursday, 26 April 2018

Mulberry tree from cuttings the easy way

White Mulberries (Morus alba) are one of the easiest fruiting trees to grow from cuttings.  Anyone can do it and nothing is needed other than access to a white mulberry branch and some water.

White mulberries are incredibly useful plants: they are simple to grow and high yielding, the fruit is delicious easy to pick and often very abundant, they provide great shade, they grow very fast, the leaves are edible, leaves also make a nice 'tea', they can be used as high protein fodder for livestock and silkworms, all things considered they are an amazing tree.

I have grown mulberries from cuttings a few times now, I photographed my latest effort to show how simple it was.
Mulberry tree that I grew from the cutting below

Monday, 23 April 2018

Purple sweet corn in Australia

I bred Immali corn a few years ago in Central West NSW.  It is a coloured sweet corn.  As you can see from the pictures it is purple/pink and white sweet corn.  If mostly dark seeds are planted the cobs are rather dark.  If a mix of white and dark seeds are planted the cobs will be lighter in colour.

Immali corn was bred to be high in anthocyanin (the same cancer fighting antioxidant that is found in blueberries), antioxidant rich, high yielding, sweet corn that is far more nutritious than yellow sweet corn.

Immali corn is a relatively short plant which tillers and is suitable for backyard gardeners.  I have only grown it organically since I started to breed it and never had pest issues.  This means it is well suited to organic gardeners and permaculture gardens.

Immali corn is a stable variety and I sell seeds through my for sale page.  As Immali corn is stable you can save the seeds and grow this year after year.  I sell seeds that are a mix of purple and white sweet corn, most people plant all of them and get some amazing looking cobs.

Purple sweet corn Australia, Immali corn
Immali corn - coloured sweetcorn bred in Australia
Immali corn, when picked early and 50/50 white/purple seeds are planted it look s like this

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Days to maturity yin yang bean

I grew some Yin Yang beans this year, they are a dried bean that is one of the most beautiful beans ever. 

Days to maturity Yin Yang Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)
Seeds planted       27/10/2017       Day 0
Germinated           05/11/2017       Day 9
Flowered              13/12/2017       Day 47
Harvest start         03/02/2018       Day 99 - this is for dry beans, green beans would have been significantly earlier

Yin Yang beans days to maturity

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Strawberry Raspberry hybrids

Have you ever heard of a plant that is the hybrid of a strawberry and a raspberry?  Have you ever seen one?  Have you made that cross yourself?  I have.

I am not talking about a strassberry, which is just a variety of strawberry, I am not talking about a GMO or something produced through somatic protoplast fusion, I am not talking about Rubus illecebrosus (which is not a hybrid at all), I am not talking about a grafted plant.  I am talking about cross pollinating strawberry and raspberry, and growing out the hybrid seeds.  These are true intergeneric hybrids that I am referring to.

A few years ago I read a post on a blog called 'The Biologist is in' about some plant breeding work done by the late Luther Burbank.  I found this blog post to be inspiring, so I went on and read more about Luther Burbank and his strawberry raspberry hybrids in other places.

Luther Burbank was a remarkable plant breeder, he crossed a raspberry with a strawberry about one hundred years ago.  He didn't use crazy chemicals or GM technology, he also didn't know a lot about genetics.  At the time this kind of hybrid was thought to be impossible and many people mocked him.  We know a lot more about genetics because Luther kept doing things that were considered impossible.  I can't find any reference to anyone actually attempting to cross strawberry and raspberry since then.

Luther Burbank's raspberry strawberry hybrid. 
Picture from http://bulbnrose.x10.mx/Heredity/Burbank/Burbank_raspXstraw.html

This got me thinking: if a man one hundred years ago with very little understanding of genetics could cross strawberries and raspberries then there is no reason that I can't do it today.  So I tried to cross strawberries and raspberries, and I succeeded.