Monday, August 20, 2018

No Tomatillos.

Getting late in the summer and I'm getting tired of cucumbers. I picked a dozen the other day and turned them into pickles. At least that way they will be eaten. The cucumber plants are getting a little tired looking and they'be been discovered by the spider mites so they're probably done for the season.

I planted a pair of tomatillo plants each in a 5 gallon bucket in the spring. They grew fast and put out lots of flowers. Lots. But I've had a terrible time getting them to set fruit. I've tried hand-polination, taking one flower from one plant and transferring pollen to the flower on the other plant, but it's not producing results. There are only a few tomatillos on each plant and I don't think they'll ripen before the plants finally pack it in. The leaves are yellowing and there are spider mites everywhere. Sometimes I forget to water them. But I do like the smell of the plants and they make the balcony look green and leafy.

The celeriac is still growing though. I think it's time to maturity is something like 110 days. I was reading that the roots don't really fill out until the weather starts to cool off so I might have to wait a while. I don't think I'm at 110 days yet.

In the empty space next to the celeriac I planted some beets. They struggle but a couple might make it and that's all I really need to be happy with them. I had to put up a little fence to keep the celeriac from drooping over on the beets. Does the job nicely.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

Bread and Butter Pickles

I've got no shortage of cucumbers. Too many actually. So I decided to pickle a few of them. These are 250ml jars. Kind of small actually. I managed to get three sliced cucumbers into these three jars. The recipe came from my mother but it's not unlike other recipes found on the internet, like this one. I cut it down by roughly a quarter, using only 1 cup of vinegar and 1 cup of sugar. They turned out fine and the jar lids sealed nicely without requiring a hot water bath. Doesn't really matter though. We'll have these little jars eaten by the end of the week.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Basil and Cucumbers

It was time to harvest some basil. Flower buds were just starting to pop out. The bugs hadn't got around to it yet and it was looking quite nice. These images don't do it justice. So I told my wife to go ahead and take what she needed. She turns it into pesto and freezes it in ice cube trays. If I let her at it too soon, the plants won't have enough leaves for a decent harvest so they get stripped a little to bare, with no leaves for continued survival. On the other hand. if I hold off on the harvest too long, there is always a chance something bad happens to the basil: bugs, drought... something ruins it and my wife ends up with substandard leaves. 

In another week or two the basil will be back to full form with new growth and lots of leaves for another harvest.

I also clipped the first cucumber. I thought this variety (Eureka) would be a little more slender. Not too bad though. Not too many seeds. I think the cross-section below was the seediest part of the cucumber. The skin on these is suppose to be edible but it's a little tough. Overall it was crisp and flavourful. There are quite a few more on the vines, slowing growing to maturity. I might be time for a mid-season fertilizer top-up though.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

First radicchio

I planted two heads of radicchio. One has been growing red and round and the other green and skinny. The time to maturity on the seed pack is 75 days and this one has been growing about that long. They were getting crowded so I decided to pick the weakest of the two and see what it looked like inside. To my surprise, it was red and getting dense. Not what I was expecting from how it looked on the outside. I mean, it's certainly not a market purchased example of radicchio, but it was more than I was expecting.

And the taste? Bitter as hell. I expected bitterness but not raging bitterness. I soaked and sauteed it but no real change. I've read that grilling it is the way to go, or roasting it and adding a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Maybe I'll try that with the next head but I'm skeptical. I think this is one of those "you either love it or hate it" kind of vegetables.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Vacation watering

I was setting up my Claber Oasis to water my dill and coriander during an extended long weekend. I got the hoses all setup and filled the thing with water. But before I could locate a 9v battery to try it out I noticed water dripping from the bottom of it. There is a long tube that you insert over the valve inside the chamber and I must have pushed down on it too hard, cracking the plastic beneath it. Maybe I can seal it up again, but likely just a matter of time before it leaks again.

I was never that happy with the Claber. A little over-priced for what it does. But the ceramic watering spikes I've been using for years now never let me down. I just wish they put out more water. In the hot sun, outside, they barely keep up with the water requirements of even the smallest of plants. With some shade from the sun, my celeriac and radicchio were able to survive with six of these spikes in the soil. Looking inside the bucket they were sucking water from, it only looks like the used a couple of litres.

And with all the hot weather, my dill has started to flower. It's suppose to be a smaller dill plant, I think. But it needs to get bigger than this. The coriander isn't doing that well either but in it's defence, I haven't been paying much attention to it. The container could use more light. Less heat would be nice too.

Everything else was fine without me watering it every day. Most of the containers are self watering so the tomatoes, cucumbers and tomatillos had no problems. And the radicchio seemed to thrive behind the temporary sun shade I put up. It still gets some direct sun but only for a couple of hours. Maybe I'll leave it there for a while longer.