Friday, 27 July 2018

Frost in the vegetable garden

We have had some heavy frosts this winter.  I keep meaning to sneak out and take pictures.  Unfortunately I only remembered to take pictures on mornings when it wasn't overly cold.  The frost is still very pretty though.

Frost on the remains of spent plants

Sunday, 22 July 2018

How to prevent thornless berries reverting to thorny

Thornlessness in brambleberries appears to be influenced by at least three different factors.  Scientists and plant breeders have understood these factors reasonably well for quite some time.  Each of them has different advantages and disadvantages.   But how do you keep a thornless berry thornless, and how do you prevent a brambleberry from reverting to being thorny?

First, let me tell you about my experience growing a "thornless youngberry", then let me explain the three different ways that brambleberries can be thornless, then I will explain what you do about each of the three types.
Thornless youngberry starting to ripen

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Kombucha Continuous Brew

We have been keeping various ancient cultures for years.  We started with milk kefir, then went on to things such as water kefir and sour dough.  Some cultures we have kept going for years, others we have lost, and others we decided to stop doing for now due to various reasons.  One of the cultures we have at the moment that I really enjoy is kombucha.

Unfortunately the origin of kombucha has been lost to history.  Several romantic theories have been made about the origins of kombucha, none appear to be based on anything other than dramatic story telling, and these stories eventually merged to the one that is often told today.  The truth is that we know roughly where kombucha originated, we know vaguely when it started to become popular, but it doesn’t make one ounce of difference.  The drink tastes good, it is simple to make, and it reportedly has several health benefits.  Who really cares when or how it was discovered.

I thought I would write a blog post to share the down sides of continuous brew kombucha, and test some of the health claims.  I think you may be surprised by the results.
Kombucha scoby continuous brew
Continuous brew kombucha

Saturday, 14 July 2018

How to store water chestnuts over winter

Chinese water chestnuts (Eleocharis dulcis) are very simple to grow at home and are very productive.  For some reason people used to tell me how difficult they were to grow, but the hardest part was finding any for sale in Australia that were not in a can!

To grow water chestnuts you don’t need acreage, you don’t need a stream or a pond, and you certainly don’t need to live in the tropics.  Chinese water chestnuts can easily be grown in most of Australia if you have access to soil, water, and sunlight. I grow them and I sell them so you can also grow them.  I grow water chestnuts in a cheap bucket.
Organic home grown water chestnuts

Being perennial vegetables, you can plant once and harvest forever.   In order to do this you need to store some water chestnut corms over winter while they are not actively growing. Let me explain how I over winter water chestnut corms.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Growing potatoes from True Potato Seed

Usually in Australia potatoes are grown from clones.  Sometimes these are pieces of existing potatoes or small potatoes.  Confusingly people sell 'seed potatoes' which are just small potatoes that are used for planting.  Every plant that is grown from 'seed potatoes' are genetically identical clones.

True Potato Seed is different, they are actual botanical seeds.  These are made in the same way that any plant makes seeds.  Every plant that arises from true potato seed is genetically different.  If you plant a dozen true potato seeds you will get a dozen different varieties of potato.  If you find one you like you can grow them vegetatively from there.  This is how plant breeders have come up with the different varieties of potatoes you can buy.

This year I got some True Potato Seed and grew some potatoes from those true botanical seeds.  Each and every plant that grows from true potato seed is genetically unique.

This year the ones I grew were diploid potatoes, which are different from the usual tetraploid potatoes.  They are more of a wild variety of potato and have not had polyploidy induced in them.  They also had a huge amount of genetic diversity which I love.  The seed grown potato plants looked nice and on some plants the flowers were stunningly beautiful.
diploid potato yield per plant
Yield from one true potato seed grown plant, not huge the first year

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Variegated maidenhair fern Adiantum raddianum 'Variegata' in Australia

I don't grow many ornamental plants but I love maidenhair ferns, I think that they are beautiful.  I have some on my desk at work to help my day be less dreary.

Years ago I heard of variegated maidenhair ferns, they sounded really nice.  I looked for them and no one seems to sell them.  For some reason there are very few pictures of variegated maidenhair ferns anywhere on the internet.

I searched for a variegated maidenhair fern (Adiantum raddianum 'Variegata') for years.  For some reason very few people own variegated maidenhair ferns in Australia.  I found a few people who used to have one, and some places that used to sell them but no longer do, but getting one myself proved difficult.  I spoke to a few fern collectors, all of which had fond memories of once seeing this plant, but none who currently had one.  Then I eventually tracked one down and bought it.
Variegated maidenhair fern Adiantum raddianum 'Variegata'

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Strawberry x Raspberry hybrid plant photos

I have been messing around with plant breeding for as long as I can remember.  Some simple things, others more complicated.  I mentioned in an earlier post that I have recently crossed a strawberry with a raspberry.  I am very excited about this.

I wasn't planning on putting up any pictures until Spring once I know what will survive winter and the plants will be a lot larger and more worth looking at.  But I have had some people email and ask for photos, so I made this post to put up the first few pictures.

They aren't great pictures, and the surviving plants have grown a fair bit since the pictures were taken.  It takes me a while to get photos from the camera to the computer and I hadn't noticed how small they were when I took the last pictures, but they are the first pictures of strawberry raspberry hybrids that have been taken in one hundred years.