Monday, 19 September 2016

Thieves tried to steal my blog!!!


I am not happy, I have found that a certain aquaponics company (whose name I am not going to mention) stole my blog pages and posted them on no less than eight different spam blogs!  There may even be more that I am yet to find.

I have reported all of them to blogger and hope that they are removed soon.  I have also posted comments on some of the other people's blogs that had pages stolen and have requested that they also report these criminals to blogger.

Spam Blogs (with my stolen blog content) that I have found and reported so far.  Do NOT click on them:
conaquaponics.blogspot.com
diyaquaponicsrelax.blogspot.com
aquaponicssyst.blogspot.com
popuaquaponics.blogspot.com
susoftwr.blogspot.com
aquaponicshoust.blogspot.com
aquaponicsndiy.blogspot.com
diyaquaponicsblueprint.blogspot.com
aquaponicssyst.blogspot.com
aquaponicshoust.blogspot.com
aquaponicsndiy.blogspot.com
conaquaponics.blogspot.com
diyaquaponicsrelax.blogspot.com
diyaquaponicsblueprint.blogspot.com
popuaquaponics.blogspot.com
susoftwr.blogspot.com 
conaquaponics.blogspot.com
diyaquaponicsrelax.blogspot.com
aquaponicssyst.blogspot.com
popuaquaponics.blogspot.com
susoftwr.blogspot.com
aquaponicshoust.blogspot.com
aquaponicsndiy.blogspot.com
diyaquaponicsblueprint.blogspot.co

What happened
They cut and paste every word and picture from several pages from my blog, as well as several pages from other people's blogs.  They even put in the pages about the birth of my first daughter!!!

Why would they bother
They do this so that the blog appears legitimate, then they put an ad to their company on each of the pages.  After people read through the blog for a while and feel connected to the blogger they are more likely to click on the link.

This does several things, first it may create some sales for their low quality products.  Secondly it raises their profile on google so they come out at the top of a google search.

They remove links, but that is about all
They seem to remove all of the internal links, which is not overly difficult.  Yet they have not even read the posts that they steal.  They have made these spam blogs this year (2016) yet some of the post headings are about other years.  They even stole some blog posts from people which are month specific and posted them on a different month.  Very poor effort.

They write their own reviews
I think this heading is pretty self explanatory.  They write reviews of their own company on different web pages they make and then spam them until they are at the top of a google search.  They have written dozens of these ridiculous reviews, strangely they are all word for word exactly the same.

If you want a second opinion of any aquaponics company go onto any aquaponics forum and search for them there.  No one who knows anything about aquaponics will deal with these criminals.

I have decided not to post the name of these criminals
It is not terribly difficult to find out who they are, but posting there name here may result in legal consequences (or more likely these criminals doing something horrible to my blog) that I don't want to deal with.  If you can't work out who they are send me a message and I can tell you privately.  If  these criminals had quality products they would not feel tempted to stoop this low.  If someone is willing to create at least EIGHT different spam blogs and steal content from other people's blogs you can NOT trust them.

What have I done
First I reported the spam blogs to Blogger on 16 September 2016.  I have been told that even though I have reported all of these spam blogs that Blogger will do nothing.  I will keep an eye on these spam blogs and see when/if they do anything.

Second I went onto one of the spam blogs and clicked on a few of the other stolen pages, then I tracked down the blogs they came from and sent them a message asking for them to also report these spam blogs.  I personally would be wary of a message like this so I included the URL of the spam blog page that has their content, this way even if they do not want to click on the link they can google it.

Other than that I don't know what to do.  My opinion of humanity is slipping all the time. 


John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Amazing Black or Blue Strawberries Do NOT Exist

Recently I looked on Ebay for strawberry seeds.  It was amazing how many different colours were listed for little money and free postage.  It is too bad that none of them actually exist.

After reaching page five and only finding three listing for seeds that actually exist I decided to write a quick post to help buyers protect themselves.

While you will be sold strawberry seeds, they will not grow into anything like you have been told they will.  The legal term for this is "theft by deception", it is illegal, it is immoral, and the people involved should be ashamed of themselves.

I have not bothered to complain to ebay.  I know of some people who have been reporting every listing of multi-coloured blue roses (which do not exist) to ebay for years and nothing is ever done.  The same sellers keep selling seed of white roses while stealing thousands of dollars from people.  Ebay should be held accountable for knowingly allowing laws to be broken like this, but they aren't and they likely never will.  Ebay makes a lot of money from this kind of thing, and there are no consequences for them, so it is in their best interest to allow it to continue.

Please do NOT buy any of the following seeds from anyone ever.  If anyone is selling any seeds of these do not buy anything from them at all as they are thieves and liars!

The following seeds do NOT exist, by the time you have worked it out you have already left glowing reviews and these fraudsters have stolen your money!  You will most likely be sold seed from red strawberries, if you want that please go buy a punnet from the market and save seeds from there rather than fund these thieves.  Do not give money to thieves, it will only make things worse!

Black Strawberries
How amazing do these black strawberries look, it seems almost reasonable for these to be real as we have blackberries etc.  Black Strawberries like in this picture do NOT exist.  There are a few dark red varieties but nothing that looks remotely black.  This picture, and many more like it, have been altered.  Do NOT buy seeds for black strawberries.

Black Strawberries like this do not exist

Blue Strawberries
These look amazing and the sellers often claim that they are rare which is why you have never seen them in real life.  Blue strawberries like in the pictures do NOT exist!  Strawberries never have and they never will look like this (unless there are massive leaps in genetic modification technology in the future).  Even the GM blue strawberries which you will not have access to do not look anything like this, they are more of a red/mauve colour as we simply do not have the technology to produce these yet and the seeds are never released to home growers.  Do NOT buy seeds for blue strawberries.
Looks delicious, too bad it is photoshopped
Blue Strawberries like this do not exist
Green Strawberries
Green when ripe strawberries do not exist.  There are no varieties of strawberry that look anything like in this picture.  Even unripe strawberries do not look like this, the seller has gone out of their way to alter the colour of the picture in order to deceive you and steal your money.  They have photoshopped a picture of red strawberries.  They didn't even bother to use white strawberries and shine a green light on them.  Do NOT buy seeds for green strawberries

Green Strawberries like this do not exist

Pineberry Strawberry
Pineberry Strawberries actually DO exist, I have a few plants myself, but they will not grow from seeds.

Unfortunately pineberry are a complex hybrid of various strawberries that can only be grown by division, runners or tissue culture and not by seed.  Even if the flowers are self pollinated, any seeds that are grown will NOT result in a pineberry plant and you will get a mix of different strawberries.  If you want a pineberry strawberry (they are pretty cool) buy a plant from a reputable seller.

If you want the weird mix of seed with which to do some breeding work do NOT encourage these ebay thieves, please buy a pineberry plant and save the seed yourself.  Feel free to buy plants but do NOT buy SEEDS of pineberry strawberries.

Pineberry Strawberries do exist but can not be grown from seed

Pink Strawberries
Pink strawberries do exist, kind of, but they look nothing like in this picture.  The colour in the picture has been deliberately modified and the description embellished to try and steal your money.  Do NOT buy seeds of these.
Pink strawberries like this do not exist

Purple Strawberries
Purple strawberries like below do NOT exist.  Nothing like this picture has ever existed or will ever exist.  The seller is trying to steal from you.  Do NOT buy seeds of purple strawberries.

Strawberries do not exist in this colour
Real 'purple' strawberries are more of a dark red as per the picture below.  These ones do exist but are only sold as plants and not seeds.  Similar to pineberry these seeds will not produce true to type and they can only be purchased as plants.
Purple strawberries on the left exist but do no grow by seeds


Multi coloured Rainbow Strawberries
How amazing do these strawberries look!  There are heaps of amazing colours here, imagine all of the nutrients that they must have.  They even advertise that they are being sold by an Australian seller to seem more credible.  They have a lot of positive ebay reviews and have sold many hundreds of packet of seeds so appear to be legitimate.

We have thieves in Australia too, that is why you lock your car or your house when you are not there.  The positive reviews are left after the seeds arrive quickly and possibly after they germinate, several months before the plants have even flowered, let alone set fruit.  Once they all set red fruit it is far too late for the buyer to do anything.  Some buyers complain and are fooled into buying more seeds as they think perhaps they happened to just get the red ones in their mix.  It makes me mad.

The colours in this picture, other than the red, do NOT exist.  I hate these thieves and everyone like them.  Do NOT buy seeds of multi coloured strawberries.


White Strawberries
White strawberries do exist.  I have eaten several different varieties, some alpine strawberries and others larger garden strawberries.  Some are very bland, others are lovely and sweet.  It is important to research any variety of white strawberry before you buy it.

Unfortunately that makes it simple for thieves to change the colours in a photo and try to steal money from people.  These particular ebay thieves (which call themselves AussieTown) sell a variety of different seeds, some exist but many do NOT exist.  If they are happily selling some things that don't exist there is a high chance that everything they sell is not what they say it is.  The picture is from an ebay listing claiming to sell "white cloud" strawberry seeds, unfortunately white cloud strawberries do not exist.  Do NOT buy seeds from anyone who sells anything that does not exist.

White strawberries exist, but this photo is NOT real and 'white cloud' strawberries do NOT exist


Buyer beware!
Please NEVER buy ANYTHING from any of these ebay thieves.  If someone lists any of these seeds for sale do not buy anything from them.

Some people buy these seeds from them with the view that at worst they will at least get strawberry seeds.  While true, it is wrong to fund thieves, especially when you could buy strawberry seeds from an honest person or even buy a punnet of strawberries and plant those seeds.  You can get several hundred or even a few thousand strawberry seeds from a punnet of strawberries, plus you get to eat the strawberries.  That is far better than giving your money to these liars and encouraging them to steal from more people.

There is an old saying that if something sounds too good to be true then it probably isn't.  In the plant world, especially with fruit and vegetables, this saying doesn't help.  Almost everything that I grow and eat sounds too good to be true.  I sell vegetable plants and seeds through the internet but am yet to use ebay.  I do the right thing as I am not trying to make fast money and want people to grow my plants.  That is why these thieves annoy me so much.


NOTE: this is not an exclusinve list, there are plenty of other fake strawberry pictures and colours that I haven't shown here but may try to add later.  Pictures used in this post were copied from actual ebay seed listings.  Sometimes the same pictures were used by several different sellers in different countries (grumble grumble).

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Good King Henry and Sea Kale from seed

Perennial vegetables, what's not to love!  You plant them once and harvest forever.  Not all perennial vegetables produce seed, but Good King Henry and Sea Kale are two perennial vegetables that are simple to grow from seed.


Good Kind Henry (Chenopodium bonus-henricus, sometimes also called Blitum bonus-henricus) also called Poor-man's Asparagus, Perennial Goosefoot, Lincolnshire Spinach, and a few other names is a nice perennial vegetable that is rarely grown in Australia.  It dates way back to neolithic times and was common in every garden in Europe prior to the Spanish bringing back all the vegetables we commonly grow from South America.  It is hardy, delicious, perennial, good for you, and best of all it has a fun name.

Sea Kale (Crambe maritima) is another perennial vegetable that is rarely grown in Australia.  It was also commonly grown across Europe prior to the the Spanish returning from South America with all of the vegetables we now commonly eat.  It is hardy, perennial and good for you.  I am not a huge fan of brassicas but people who like cabbage tell me that Sea Kale tastes great.


There are very few named varieties of Good King Henry and Sea Kale.  People grow these perennial vegetables from divisions and root cuttings and often complain that it is impossible to germinate their seeds.  The internet is filled with misinformation and complaints about how difficult they are from seed, so much so that many people warn that it is not even worth trying.  I have never bought any seed after reading these warnings so have never tried to germinate them before now. 

As luck would have it, I have been sent some seed of several named varieties of Good King Henry and Sea Kale.  Each of these named varieties are apparently superior to the un-named ones.  I have been told that they will grow true to type as they have been isolated, but to be honest I don't know if that is true or not.  I will find out soon enough and be able to grow the best plants from division after that.

I should write another blog post later on each of these perennial vegetables and their uses and taste as they are worthy of mention, but for now I want to write about how easy it is to grow Good King Henry and Sea Kale from seed.


Growing Good King Henry from seed

Being a Chenopod they tend to dislike being planted and prefer to self seed.  That is great, but I have to plant the first seeds or they will not be in my garden.  I have also been told that they have low to no germination rates.  I have a decent number of seed but kept it simple to begin with.

I soaked 10 seeds of each variety of Good King Henry in warm water for an hour.  I would have preferred overnight but did not have that luxury this time.  I then planted in a seed flat on a heat mat and kept moist just as I would tomato seed.  It is a bit cold at the moment, but I wanted them out of the way before it was time to plant tomatoes.

One week later the tiny seedlings started to sprout.

That certainly didn't seem overly difficult, I didn't do anything special other than soak briefly and provide heat.

I will try to compare the different varieties once they are larger and I am able to see how they fare in the garden and can taste them.


Growing Sea Kale from seed

I have heard horror stories of sea kale seed.  People complain that they never germinate for them without rigorous stratification etc, I have read that seeds take months or even years to germinate, I have also heard that viable seeds float.  Apparently none of those things are correct.  Again I have a decent number of seeds but kept it small scale to begin with.  All of the different sea kale varieties have seeds that looked different which was unexpected.

Sea kale seeds are each covered in a foam like pod.  I cut that pod off 10 seeds of each variety and soaked them for an hour in warm water.  Again I would have preferred overnight but did not have that luxury.  The seeds all expanded and sank.  I planted them in a seed flat on a heat mat and watered them.

A little over a week later the seedlings started to sprout, much like any other brassica.

That was a bit more work as I had to remove the seed coat, but it certainly was not difficult.  Perhaps people have issues as they do not remove the seed pod?  Common sense suggests that the pod needs to be removed just as it is in any other brassica.  Leaving the seed pod on would certainly make sea kale seeds float and would prevent germination for months or years as no water could get in to the seed.

As above I plan to compare the varieties and see which are best in my climate.


Where to get Good King Henry and Sea Kale in Australia

At this stage there are a few places that sell seed of Good King Henry as well as Sea Kale, to the best of my knowledge none of them have any named varieties.

After I have grown them and compared them I will probably list seeds or divisions from the better varieties of Good King Henry and Sea Kale on my for sale page.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Breeding New Micro Tomatoes

A while ago a very generous person gave me some seeds from a miniature dwarf variety of tomato called Micro Tom.  I am very fond of this variety and am slowly building up numbers of seeds and distributing them to other growers.  This variety carries several miniaturising genes which mean that it only grows a tiny plant less than 10cm tall, this tiny plant can produce a small number of cherry tomatoes.  These cherry tomatoes taste ok and I believe the plants are meant to carry some genes for resistance of various diseases.

Breeding vegetables is enjoyable, but too often progress is slow due to only being able to grow one generation per year.  Creating a new variety of tomato often takes 5 to 10 years or more!  Breeding micro tomatoes can be a lot faster.

In any breeding endeavor the lack of space is always an issue.  After selling the property I no longer have the luxury of space which makes the problem worse.  This has started me thinking a lot more seriously about breeding a few new types of micro tomato by using Micro Tom or another micro tomato as one of the parents.  While I am trying to build up numbers of Micro Tom seeds and distribute them I am also using a small number in breeding projects.
Micro Tom tomato

Micro Tom Tomatoes are good, but they could be better
Micro tomatoes have very short life cycles so several generations can be grown per year.  They are often used in studies as a model organism due to their short life cycle.  From planting the seed to harvesting the fruit and planting that seed takes a little over 3 months.  I can potentially grow 3 to 4 generations a year, this means creating a new variety can take as little as 2 years (but probably a bit more than that).

Micro tomatoes take up a small fraction of the space of a regular tomato which allows for more plants to be grown in a small space.  Growing more plants means faster progress.  Space is always limiting when breeding new vegetables, even if I had acres of greenhouse space I could always use more to create more varieties a lot faster.

People overseas are breeding many new types of micro tomatoes, unfortunately we have no access to them in Australia as importing tomato seed legally is expensive and difficult.  To that end, if we are to have better micro tomatoes then someone in Australia will need to breed them.
Micro Tomatoes

Someone should breed better micro tomatoes
Micro tom, while cute as a button, is not the tastiest tomato in the world.  It is not bad, but it is not great either.  Someone should breed a tastier micro tomato in Australia.

Micro tom, while reasonably productive, could be a lot more productive.  Even though it takes up such little space it would be nice if it were more productive.  Even though it grows and crops well in a small cup of soil I still think the more productive the better.  Someone should breed more productive micro tomatoes in Australia.

Micro Tom grows cute red round tomatoes.  While this is lovely it would be nice to have more variety, apparently there is a small range of various colours and shapes of micro tomato fruit overseas.  Someone should breed several shapes/colours of micro tomatoes in Australia.

Micro Tom can and will grow at any time of year if protected from frost and many people overseas grow them indoors over winter.  Unfortunately if the temperature is too low it can not pollinate properly and can not produce fruit.  While this is only an issue in a small number of places that get cold enough for this to happen it is still an issue.  Someone in Australia should breed micro tomatoes that are more productive in colder temperatures.
One truss with lots of flowers, this would be a good cross for Micro Tom

Some micro tomato breeding ideas
Here are some of my micro tomato breeding ideas.  I have started some of these projects and am several generations through them with plans of releasing some of them soon, others I do not even have the other parent to make the first cross.

Different shaped micro tomato, everyone seems to love roma shaped tomatoes for some reason, so I have started to make a micro roma tomato.  It looks good and tasted great, it is not as productive as it should be but that can be fixed.  When it is more stable and perhaps a bit more productive I may try to sell the seeds through my for sale page.
Micro Roma tomato - the best tasting micro tomato so far
Multiflora tomatoes produce hundreds of flowers per truss, it would be great to have a multiflora micro tomato.  This will increase the productivity vastly making micro tomatoes more than an edible novelty and convince more people to grow them.  This is proving more difficult as the low percentage of leaf area of the micro tomatoes makes creating a tasty multiflora micro tomato a bit of a challenge.  I don't just want a productive micro tomato, I want it to taste good too.  It will happen, it will just take a little longer.
Finding the balance between lots of fruit and tiny plant, this micro tomato is under 9cm tall
Different coloured micro tomatoes are fun and pretty.  While getting the colours in is easy, getting a better tasting coloured micro tomato is the tricky part.  There is little point having an amazing looking micro tomato that does not taste great.  Green when ripe tomatoes tend to taste the best but people tend to shy away from them so I may concentrate on other colours to begin with.  Yellow, tangerine or stripey are always favourites, black (muddy brown) and high anthoycyanin lines are also options.  I dare say I will produce a few different things over the next few years.

Having tomatoes in the midst of winter is great.  Cold weather can prevent pollination in tomatoes.  I would love to one day grow a parthenocarpic micro tomato that can set fruit in cooler weather if protected from frost.  The genes here are a little tricky to work with and I don't have any parthenocarpic tomato varieties to use as parent stock so I have not yet started this project.

Breeding tastier micro tomatoes is interesting as growing conditions play a part in taste.  Different people have different ideas of good tasting tomatoes.  Taste is always going to be one of the traits I want in micro tomatoes.

Breeding new micro tomatoes would be simple and fast if we had access to many types of micro tomatoes with a wide array of genes, but in Australia we don't have access to many at all.  Things go a lot faster if the other parent is a dwarf tomato, but there are so few dwarf tomatoes in Australia that sometimes a regular tomato has to be used.  Luckily it is pretty obvious early on as to which seedlings are micro tomatoes and which are not so culls can be made while the plants are tiny seedlings.


Where to get micro tomatoes
When I have stabilised a few good lines I plan to name them and sell their seeds.  I will most likely list them on my for sale page when they are ready.  This probably won't be for a while yet as I do not have a garden or yard at the moment so progress is slow as everything is growing in pots and most of my seeds are stored away for the moment.

Micro Tomato Seedlings and regular tomato seedlings, it is simple enough to tell which are which

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Seed Sellers

I have recently moved in to town and have no access to any form of garden, I am also in the middle of moving again so my potted vegetables are struggling.  As such I can not sell vegetable plants or seeds at the moment.  When I get set up again I will list everything on my For Sale page, hopefully we sort everything out soon as I miss growing and selling vegetable plants and seeds.
I have had a few people ask me where to buy seeds or they have asked my opinion of different companies so I thought I would write a post about some of them.  Some of these companies have bought seeds from me in the past, some I have bought seeds from, others I have heard about from other people.  I have probably forgotten to include some, if I remember them I will try to add them later.

Please note that I am not affiliated with any of these companies and that the views expressed are based on my personal experiences.  I am in no way liable if they do not live up to expectations.  This is based on past experiences and they may or may not treat you better or worse than they have done to me in the past.


Useful seeds  http://usefulseeds.com/
Range:  Limited (for now, but increasing) but what he does have are rather rare and/or amazing
Based:  VIC Australia
Prices:  Reasonably high, but you can not buy many of these varieties anywhere else and the quality is excellent so the high prices are more than justified
Seed numbers:  Good
Service: no idea as I have never bought from him but I know him and he is a good guy.  He has given me seeds in the past and they were of very high quality.  I assume he would provide excellent service as he loves what he does


The Seed Collection  www.theseedcollection.com.au/
Range: good, nothing particularly rare
Based:  VIC Australia
Prices:  Low to very low prices
Seed Numbers:  Great
Service:  Great, they are willing to answer questions


The Dwarf Tomato Project  http://dwarftomatoproject.net/Releases-SH.php  
Range: small range of newly bred, various colours, dwarf tomatoes
Based: Australia
Prices: Low prices, they are simply trying to recover costs instead of make a profit.  They have given their seeds to some seed companies who sell them for almost tripple the price of the Dwarf Tomato Project
Seed Numbers: Good, about 20 seeds per pack
Service: Excellent, Patrina bred many of these varieties and wants them to be more popular.  She is willing to answer questions and offer advice.


Range:  Good, some rare things
Based:  VIC Australia
Prices:  Good/variable
Seed Numbers:  Good
Service:  Good


Range:  Great
Based:  QLD Australia
Prices:  Good
Seed Number:  Good
Service:  Good


Range:  Great, they sell seeds, plants and other garden products
Based:  QLD Australia
Prices:  Good but postage is high
Seed Number:  Good
Service:  Great


Phoenix Seeds  www.phoenixseeds.net.au/
Range:  Great, some very interesting and rare varieties
Based:  Tasmania
Prices:  Good but postage is high
Seed Number:  Varies
Service:  I don't know as I have not bought from them yet


Diggers club
Range:  Great but sometimes they rename things or make erroneous claims of exclusivity to appear better than they are.  Descriptions of varieties are often fanciful and embellished
Based:  VIC Australia
Prices:  High to extremely high, postage cost is unreasonable for smaller orders
Seed Number:  Extremely low, but it does vary
Service:  Dreadful.  They have sold me out of date seeds as well as bulbs covered in mould and then tried to blame me when they failed to sprout!  They have also sent the wrong seeds and getting replacements or refund from them was a nightmare.  Hopefully this changes as they are one of the best known heirloom seed sellers in Australia


Range:  Only sell chilli and capsicums, they have a great range of these.  Some they have bred themselves
Based:  America - only some species are allowable imports into Australia so please check AQIS BICON database prior to ordering
Prices:  Good with free postage to Australia!
Seed Number:  Good, extra seeds in each pack
Service:  Great, they even include extra seed packets in each order


Ebay
Range:  Varies from time to time
Based:  All over the place
Prices:  Varies a lot
Seed Number:  Varies a lot
Service:  Varies.  Beware that many seeds sold on Ebay are for things that do not even exist (such as multi coloured blue roses) and they are stealing from you.  You will get seeds, but by the time you grow them and work out what has happened it will be too late to get back your money.  I have also bought some great seeds from excellent sellers through Ebay.  Please do your research prior to ordering anything from Ebay to ensure what you are buying actually exists.



Friday, 18 December 2015

Yacon Pineapple slaw


I love yacon, it is sweet and crunchy.  I mostly eat yacon raw, I just peel it, slice it thinly and eat it.  We have tried eating it a few other ways and most were good.  It tends to take on the taste of whatever it is in with so is reasonably versatile.  I have even used some of our yacon roots and water kefir grains to make yacon water kefir which was nice enough even though I prefer regular water kefir.

I normally leave the yacon in the soil until I want to eat it, if I happen to leave it for too long the plant simply gets larger and stronger and returns a larger crop next time.  Recently we have moved from our property into a rented house in town, as such I dug up a small number of yacon plants to grow as well as a heap of the tubers to eat.  Being so hot and dry out here the tubers do not last overly long.  I wanted to find a few new ways to eat yacon as I can not stand the thought of wasting it.  I looked on the internet and stumbled across yacon pineapple slaw.
Yacon growing in a pot - it belongs in the soil
I found a nice sounding recipe, then changed it a fair bit, and made it with a group of school children.  It was delicious and super easy to make.  I am putting the modified recipe here partly to share it and partly so that I have it saved somewhere so I can make it again.

Ingredients:
Yacon tubers, 1 large tuber or a few small ones
1 can of pineapple (or a real pineapple peeled and cut into small pieces)
The juice of 1 lime or a lemon (lemons are the poor cousin of the lime, but they are cheaper)
1 chilli (this can be left out)

Method:
1) Juice the lime (or its poor cousin the lemon)
2) Peel the yacon tuber
3) Grate the peeled yacon
4) Add lime juice to the grated yacon.  Mix together.  You have to do this as soon as possible otherwise the yacon will turn black
5) Cut pineapple into tiny pieces, add pineapple and any juice to the yacon
6) Remove the seeds from the chilli.  Cut up the chilli into tiny pieces
7) Mix it all together and serve

It really doesn't get any easier than this, and it tastes great.  It would be easy enough to add other things to this too as long as they are cut up tiny.  I think something crunchy and relatively tasteless such as shredded cabbage would bulk this out nicely.

Some of the more tropical and fruity tasting chillies could also work well in this as they would add taste but would still be crunchy.  There are a heap of tropical tasting chilli varieties, some have no heat while others are super hot, but few are available unless you import the seeds and grow them yourself.  One great place I have found for chilli seeds is pepper lover, they seem to love what they do and tend to include extra seed packets with orders.  Only some species can be posted to Australia so please do check the AQIS BICON database first.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Overwintering vegetable plants

We have some perennial vegetables which I decided to overwinter.  We moved in Spring so I have not had time to make a post about them until now.  We had the coldest winter since we have lived here and lost a lot of frost tender plants that I normally can overwinter with no effort.  I took a few pictures of some of the survivors.  Most of these plants are far larger now.

Kangkong (Ipomoea aquatica)

This is a heat loving tropical perennial leaf vegetable which is often grown as an annual in cooler climates.  It grows well from seed, but I wanted to see if overwintered plants were larger than seed grown and it appears that they are.  It has many common names and is related to sweet potatoes.  I am not overly fond of leaf vegetables, but I like kang kong.  Unlike many other leaf vegetables it never goes bitter, it can be eaten raw or cooked.  I have only eaten it raw and it tastes nice, apparently cooked it tastes a lot like spinach.

I grew it in too small a pot so it did not reach anywhere near its potential last summer.  I tried to grow it in a fish talk as a floating water plant but there was not enough sunlight and it appears to prefer at least some soil for its roots.  It tried to flower but then winter came and the cold cut it down to a stump.  I do not want to save and plant seed each year if there is an easier way and this plant grows easily from cuttings.  I am glad that this can be overwintered as it is simple and the plants are larger than seed grown.

Once the warmer weather came along it started to grow fast again.  I wish I knew about this plant years ago as it is great.  It dislikes the cold weather and dies back badly even without frosts but survives and grows very fast once the days are warm.
Kangkong resprouting in late winter, it dislikes the cold air even when protected from frosts
The same plant in Spring after being cut back a few times
Chilli - Trinidad Scorpion Butch T
Most varieties of chilli available to home gardeners can be overwintered easily enough.  Super hot chilli are a lot more finicky than regular chilli and capsicums from what I have heard.  Being the first time I have grown the super hot chilli I decided to try and overwinter it rather than start from seed again.  Strangely it went very well and was very easy.  I tried to keep it out of the frost at night and put it in the sun during the day when I remembered.  I accidentally let it get a bit of frost a few times and forgot to put in in the sun more often than I remembered and all three survived nicely.
Trinidad Scorpion Butch T in tiny pot
Super hot chilli in late winter - not many leaves
Strangely healthy chilli in winter
The same plants after the weather got warmer
Trinidad Scorpion Butch T
Tomatoes
Indeterminate tomatoes
Most indeterminate tomatoes are simple to overwinter if the frost can be kept off them.  This year was colder than most and I lost most of the tomatoes I had planned to overwinter as I did not look after them all that well.  I grew one seedling far too late  in the season last year so decided to try and overwinter it.  Mid winter, with no heat, just moving it inside at night to avoid frosts the plant started to flower.  The flowers all fell off as it was too cold for pollination to occur but the plant was mature.  This meant that it is easy to plant them out when the weather warms and have them set fruit almost right away.
Tomato plant mid winter
Micro Tom tomatoes
Micro tom is a great little tomato variety that needs more people to grow it and save its seed.  I grew one on the kitchen window over winter to see how it would go.  Apparently they grow just fine over winter if kept inside and this one started to flower when the nights were still frosty outside.  They have such a short lifespan that this particular plant flowered, set fruit and died before Spring came.  What a great plant, while it may not be the tastiest tomato variety it was a lot better than any cherry tomato I could buy from the supermarket at that time if year.  They are not terribly productive but being so small means that it can grow in a tiny pot and not need much space to provide a crop.  Being able to bring them indoors at night means that it is possible to get them to set fruit in Winter, I never would have thought that getting fruit in Winter was possible for a tomato that is not parthenocarpic.

I also planted some Micro Tom seeds mid winter to see if they would germinate in the cold and they did.  Being such tiny plants the kids adore them.  They are even more happy to eat the tomatoes and they tend to carry the tiny plants around talking to them and treating them like pets rather than plants.  The more I grow Micro Tom the more I discover about them that shows me how good they are.
Micro Tom tomato flowering in mid winter
Vietnamese Coriander (Persicaria odorata)
This perennial herb has many, many common names.  It smells a lot like coriander and is far simpler to grow.  It does not bolt to seed like real coriander and does not even flower often outside of the tropics.  It appears to love water and I grow it as a bog plant or an emergent water plant.  It does not like frost, mine got frosted a few times but they all came back in the warmer weather.  Over winter they look terrible, as soon as the warmer weather returned they sprang back to life.  Cuttings strike very easily in water so once it warmed up I cut one plant into many pieces, the original plant grew back and each cutting grew roots within a few days.
Vietnamese coriander leaves turn a bit red in cool weather
Water Celery (Oenanthe javanica)
This is another emergent water vegetable, it is grown for leaves and stems that taste of celery or parsley.  Like many of the vegetables I grow this is a perennial vegetable that rarely flowers or sets seed.  I have the variegated form of this vegetable, while it is prettier than the regular green one it is also not as aggressive in its growth.  I would like to track down the regular green version one day and see just how strong it will grow.  I would prefer a productive vegetable to a pretty vegetable.

My plant grew with no winter protection, the top of the water was covered in ice many times.  It certainly did not love being covered in ice and died back somewhat, the smaller plants that were grown with protection from frost looked a lot healthier at the end of winter.  As soon as the heat returned it was very fast to recover.

Water Celery surviving winter with no protection.
Where to get perennial Vegetables
I have been selling perennial vegetable plants and some seeds for years.  Unfortunately we recently moved to town and do not have any land so will not be selling anything for a while.  We do plan on moving again very soon, when we have settled I hope to sell perennial vegetables and vegetable seeds again, they will be listed on my For Sale page when the time comes.