Saturday, 5 August 2017

Days to maturity Tomatoes 2016 - 2017

I wrote this post a while ago and wanted to wait until after I got pictures off the camera onto the computer before publishing it.  It is getting late and I am about to plant seeds for next summer, so I am going to add pictures later. For a list of vegetable days to maturity please click here.

In 2016 I planted most tomato seeds on a heat mat, I have written the planting date for all of the varieties as well as the date they flowered and when the fruit first ripened.  They all germinated well, but they did not grow past cotyledon stage for an exceptionally long time.

My garden was over run with Rutherglen bugs for quite a lot of spring, they swarmed over the growing tips of all my plants causing a lot of bud drop and other issues.  Once the Rutherglen bugs started to disappear the green vegetable bugs picked up in number.

All of this means that my tomato season is very late this year.  I planted out tiny seedlings at their second leaf stage at 05/11/2016.

Angora 82, variation in fruit shape on the same plant

Angora 82 seeds planted 20/08/2016, germinated 30/08/2016, flowered 15/12/2016, first fruit ripe 25/12/2016  Reasonably small plant which may or may not be dwarf, very productive with about 20 flowers per truss.  Small, red, round tomatoes which taste really nice.  This plant gave a large yield very early, has regular leaf and appeared to be determinate but kept putting out occasional new branches with flowers until the frosts.

Micro Tom seeds planted 02/10/2016, germinated 11/10/2016, flowered 22/11/2016, first fruit ripe 07/01/2017.  Micro Tom is the smallest variety of tomato ever bred and I have never had one over 10cm tall.  This plant yields about 10 tomatoes per plant.  The taste is far from amazing, but I have eaten many varieties that were worse.  Micro Tom has regular leaf, is a micro dwarf, and is determinate.

St Pierre was given to me by my neighbour and was already flowering.  It was transplanted into the vegetable garden as a large flowering plant 29/10/2016 and the first fruit was ripe 08/01/2016.  It grew reasonable sized, red round tomatoes that had a great tomato taste.  The fruit takes a long time to ripen which I am not overly happy with, but the rich tomato taste and high yield makes up for this.  It had a lot of blossom end rot this year and the leaves drooped on hot days.  St Pierre tomato gave a very large yield over a long season, it is regular leaf and indeterminate.

Little Oak Like seeds planted 20/08/2016, germinated 31/08/2016, flowered 20/12/2016, first ripe fruit 17/01/2017.  I have no idea why this is called 'Little Oak Like'.  Sturdy little plants that grow about 1 foot tall.  Being an old Russian heirloom it is hardy and absolutely delicious.  This has a deep rich, old fashioned tomato taste, one of my favourite tasting red tomatoes.  This plant has a very large yield over a reasonably long season for a determinate tomato.  It had a lot of blossom end rot early this year.  Little oak like tomato has regular leaf and is semi-determinate or determinate.

Igloo seeds planted 20/08/2016, germinated 27/08/2016, flowered 09/12/2016, first ripe fruit 18/01/2017.  These are sturdy stocky short plants that are the most productive determinate tomato I have ever grown!  This was the first tomato that I ever bred and I am rather fond of it and glad to have it back again.  This looks a lot like 'Little Oak Like' but if far far more productive and not quite as tasty.  Extremely large yields of round red tomatoes over a surprisingly long season for a determinate plant.  It had a lot of blossom end rot early this year which disappeared later in the season.  Update - if the fruit is left to almost over ripen it tastes just as good as Little Oak Like.  Igloo tomato has regular leaf and is semi-determinate or determinate.

Tommy Toe seeds planted 24/09/2016, germinated 09/10/2016, first ripe fruit 20/01/2017.  These are tall plants with many flowers and small red round fruit.  These taste pretty good, not anywhere near as good as Little Oak Like, but still very nice.  They produce rather tall and rampant plants which produced very large yields over a long season.  Tommy Toe tomato has regular leaf and is indeterminate.

Nanuq seeds planted 20/08/2016, germinated 26/08/2016, flowered 06/12/2016, first ripe fruit 21/02/2017. This was another very short plant.  I bred this variety when I was at high school and it is actually pretty good.  Very tasty and sweet tomatoes, perhaps not the most productive but not too bad for a plant of this size.  Whispy foliage, rather weak looking plants provided a small to medium yield over an extremely short season which is common for determinate plants.  Nanuq tomato has regular leaf and is very determinate.

Yellow Pear seeds planted 20/08/2016, germinated 03/09/2016, flowered 10/01/20, first ripe fruit 23/01/2017.  I have saved seeds from this one since my first son was born.  It is a large rampant plant that after years of deliberate selection now holds up to extreme conditions and always returns a massive yield over a long season.  It takes several heavy frosts to kill this one.  It grows pretty, pear shaped, yellow cherry tomatoes that kids simply adore.  Yellow Pear tomato has regular leaf and is indeterminate.

Paprika Shaped seeds planted 20/08/2016, germinated 28/08/2016, flowered 20/12/2016, first ripe fruit 26/01/2017.   This is a small, dwarf, yet highly productive tomato plant.  The tomatoes look like little red capsicums and are hollow.  Some fruit grew no seeds at all.  The plants were pretty productive over a relatively short time.  The taste was not amazing raw, but they are intended to hollow out and cook.  Paprika Shaped tomato has regular leaf and is semi determinate.

Verde Claro seeds planted 20/08/2016, germinated 26/08/2016, flowered 11/12/2016, first ripe fruit 27/01/2017.  This is a nice looking, clear epidermis, green when ripe cherry tomato.  It grows into a reasonable sized plant that has large yields over a long season.  This is one of the best tasting tomato varieties I have ever eaten.  Green when ripe tomatoes generally taste pretty great, but this is far superior to anything I have eaten before.  They are amazing, utterly amazing.  Like no other tomato I have ever tasted.  Verde Claro tomato has regular leaf and is indeterminate.

Helsing Junction Blues seeds planted 20/08/2016, germinated 28/08/2016, flowered 20/12/2016, first fruit ripe 03/02/2017.  These taste ok, the unripe fruit looks amazing with its high anthocyanin purple. As the fruit ripens it is not as dark as 'OSU Blue' which was one of the varieties used to create it.  It tastes ok when it is not quite ripe and far better when it is perfectly ripe.  It had a medium yield over a long season.  Helsing Junction Blue tomato has regular leaf and is indeterminate.

Unnamed Dwarf Multiflora seeds planted 20/08/2016, planted 01/10/2016, germinated 08/10/2016, flowered 11/12/2016, first fruit ripe 03/02/2017.  I wasn't going to grow these this year, but made space so included them in my growing list.  I counted 124 flowers on one single truss and 148 flowers on another truss, some trusses appeared to have even more flowers.  Not all of the flowers set, I am trying to work out how to increase the number of fruit set as far too many drop for my liking.  It had a medium to large yield over the season.  Dwarf Multiflora tomato has regular leaf, carries the multiflora gene, is dwarf, and is indeterminate.

Julia Child seeds planted 20/08/2016, germinated 30/08/2016, flowered 20/12/2016, first fruit ripe 03/02/2017.  These are lovely tasting, large pink tomatoes which are very soft.  This is a great tasting tomato.  This year they had a lot of blossom end rot, I have never seen that in this variety before.  They are pink/red and are generally pretty large fruit.  Julia Child tomato has potato leaf and is indeterminate.

Summertime Gold seeds planted 11/09/2016, germinated 25/09/2016, flowered 16/12/2016, first ripe fruit 10/02/2017.  This one was bred by the Dwarf Tomato Breeding Project but was strangely tall for a dwarf.  It has some of the largest potato leaves that I have seen and is a stunningly ornamental plant.  A lot of flowers aborted for some reason which is why the time from flowering to ripe fruit is so long.  The yellow tomatoes taste pretty good, much nicer than I was expecting.  Unfortunately it was dreadfully unproductive and besotted with every pest in the area, I may grow it next year to see if it was just a bad year.  Summertime Gold tomato has potato leaf, is dwarf and is indeterminate.

Dwarf Jade Beauty seeds planted 11/09/2016, germinated 25/09/2016, flowered 16/12/2016, first ripe fruit 12/02/2017.  This is another one from the Dwarf Tomato Breeding Project.  This dropped fewer flowers than Summertime Gold so was far more productive for me this year.  It was also a lot shorter plant than Summertime Gold but did eventually get reasonably tall for a dwarf.  Green when ripe tomatoes are generally pretty tasty and this is no exception.  It produced very sweet green when ripe fruits.  Dwarf Jade Beauty tomato has large potato leaf, is dwarf and is indeterminate.

Sarah's Galapagos seeds planted 20/08/2016, germinated 29/08/2016, flowered 07/01/2017, first ripe fruit 14/02/2017.  Originally found growing wild on one of the the Galapagos Islands and the fruit is eaten by the tortoises there.  This is likely a stable natural hybrid of several wild tomato species.  This grew delicious and tiny cherry tomatoes.  The yield was late but once it started it produced masses of tiny fruits.  Sarah's Galapagos tomato has regular leaf and is indeterminate.

Malakhitovaya Shkatulka seeds planted 20/08/2016, germinated 31/08/2016, flowered 20/12/2016, first ripe fruit 15/02/2017.  This is an amazing tasting green when ripe tomato.  This is a great tomato, nice size, amazing taste, I just wish it was more productive.  Malakhitovaya Shkatulka tomato has regular leaf and is indeterminate.

Japanese Black Trifele (spelled various ways), originally called "Yaponskiy Trufel Chernyi" or in Russian "Японский трюфель черный" seeds planted 20/08/2016, germinated 29/08/2016, flowered 11/12/2016, first ripe fruit 21/02/2017.  This old heirloom Russian tomato is meant to be one of the best tasting tomato varieties.  It is not even close to the horribly bland things you can buy from the markets.  Deep, rich, sweet, tomato taste that is difficult to describe but easy to remember.  It produced late this year but was absolutely covered in dark ripening  pear shaped fruits that continued until frosts.  Japanese Black Trifele tomato has potato leaf and is indeterminate.

Snow White seeds planted 20/08/2016, germinated 01/09/2016, flowered 10/01/2017, first ripe fruit 21/02/2017.  Normally this is my first tomato to ripen, something is amiss this year!  These are delicious and fruity tasting cherry tomatoes that my children adore.  Usually it is incredibly productive, this year not so much as it didn't have long before the frosts came.  Snow White tomato has regular leaf and is indeterminate.

Totem seeds planted 10/09/2016, germinated 25/09/2016, flowered 11/12/2016, first ripe fruit 22/02/2017.  Why did I even grow this, Yuck, what a dreadful tomato.  It took a long time to ripen, it had a very low yield, and it tasted dreadful.  The only nice feature is that the plants only got to about 1 foot tall, but so did several others that tasted far better and gave much larger crops.  I haven't saved seeds as I do not intend to ever grow it again.  It possibly even tastes worse and has a lower yield than Black Russian, and that tomato is horrible.  Totem tomato has regular leaf and is determinate.

Unnamed Yellow seeds planted 20/08/2016, germinated 28/08/2016, first ripe fruit 04/03/2017.  This is a great tomato, very pretty, nice size, great taste.  Normally they are a lot faster to ripen, this plant was absolutely covered in ripening fruit when the frosts came.  Unnamed yellow has regular leaf and is indeterminate.

I grew a few other tomatoes this year too, but have decided not to include them in the list as many are not overly stable varieties yet.

Heirloom tomato seed for sale
I sell seed of some of these varieties of tomatoes, along with other rare organic heirloom vegetable seeds, gourmet herbs and perennial vegetables on my for sale page.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Space Chilli yield per plant

In 2016 I planted Hangjiao #5 Space Chilli Helix Nebula seed in early spring.  Much like my aji pineapple the seedlings grew well, then they died from heat/neglect so had to be replanted.

Unfortunately I did not record the date I planted seed the last time as it was so late in the season that I did not expect to get any ripe pods this year and had planned to overwinter before I would get to try them.  Luckily that was not the case, it really had no issues flowering and fruiting in the time it had left.

Much like the aji pineapple I could not count the pods on the plants, so I counted and recorded the number of ripe pods as I picked them.  I started to harvest ripe fruits from early March and this continued until May when the plants were getting hit with  regular frosts..

On average, space chilli pods weighed between 24 grams and 25 grams each.  They were pretty uniform in weight but differed in twisty shapes.

I harvested 53 ripe pods from one plant before the frosts really hit.  It had a number of unripe pods, some of which ripened later, but I didn't count them.

This meant that for a first year, extremely late planted, seed grown plant I harvested over 1.29 kg of ripe pods.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

How to Cook Chinese Silkie Chicken

Chinese silkie chicken is a healthy meat that is often consumed in Asia.  It has very little fat, is high in B vitamins and extraordinarily high in carnosine.  The only real down sides are the small size and difficulty in obtaining a dead bird.  To that end, you may have to obtain a live bird and dispatch it yourself.

We faced great difficulty in finding details of how to cook silkie chicken and did not want to do it wrong.  To help other people in a similar situation I have composed this simple step by step procedure with pictures for you to follow.  If you don't eat meat or don't want to know about it please stop reading here.

Chinese Silkie in the pot with herbs and garlic

How to cook a Chinese Silkie Chicken in seven easy steps

Step 1  You will need to obtain a silkie chicken.  You could start with an egg and either incubate it or get a chicken to incubate it, but who has that kind of time these days?  We suggest starting with a cute little guy like this.  The colour of the down or feathers is not important.  It should be as cute as a button and fit nicely into the palm of your hand.  At this age they need heat and lots of cuddles.

Step 2  Treat the chicken well, let it live a good calm life.  Give it clean water, good food and a lot of time free ranging somewhere safe with some other chickens.  Your chicken will need a nice name, children are good at naming animals, this one's name was "Boo".  You can tell by the picture that Boo was a nice calm chicken who lived a happy life.

Step 3  Boo will need to have a quick and honorable death.  The faster and more pain free the better.  It is important that Boo does not get to watch other chickens die as she will find this stressful.  There is no need to make this any more stressful on the animal than it already is.  I generally took chickens behind the shed where no one and nothing could see.  I dislike this step so did not take a picture.  Instead, here is a picture that one of my kids made for me on the wood pile.
This has nothing to do with cooking silkies, but it makes me happy
Step 4  Feathers and entrails will need to be removed.  It is important not to waste anything so entrails could be saved and cooked, or fed to the dog, or dug into the vegetable garden to increase soil fertility and increase soil life.  The feathers can go in the compost or get dug into the vegetable garden to nourish next season's vegetables.  Even white silkies will have blue/black skin, meat and bones.  Once entrails and feathers have been removed the silkie chicken will look similar to this.
Chinese Silkie ready to cook
 Step 5  Cook Boo in some way, raw chicken is not overly good for you.  We followed a recipe from here.

Chinese silkie chicken cooked and ready to serve
Step 6  Eat the cooked meal, we ended up with a meal that looked like this.

Chinese silkie meat
Step 7  Once you have finished the meal you will have bones left over.  Discard the carcase in some sensible way, the bones will mostly be black.  You could make a soup or broth from the bones, or you could bury them in the vegetable garden, either way there is no need to waste them.  Please ensure that dogs do not eat cooked chicken bones.

Carcase of silkie chicken, the colour went odd in the picture

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Aji Pineapple chilli yield per plant

People keep telling me that you can't grow chillies in Canberra.  Or they tell me it is very difficult to get a decent crop out of them due to our short summers.  Or they tell me how much work they are and that special heated greenhouses are required to get a crop before the frosts.

Fortunately these people are wrong, very wrong.  Of course you can grow chillies in Canberra and get a great crop.  They are simple to grow and can be productive.

In 2016 I planted aji pineapple chilli seed in early spring, the seedlings grew well, then they died from heat/neglect so had to be replanted.  This happened twice.  I really needed to pay more attention.

Unfortunately I did not record the date I planted seed the last time, but it was very late in the season.  Being so late in the season and in a short summer climate made me worry if they were going to ripen in time.  Then my plant flowered and started to set many fruits.

Aji Pineapple taste amazing, and are extremely productive, so I decided to count the number of ripe pods I got.  I tried to count them on the plant but kept getting confused, so I counted them and recorded them as they were picked which was much more achievable.

On average, Aji pineapple pods weighed between 4 grams and 5 grams each.  They were pretty uniform in this.

I harvested 405 ripe pods from one plant before the frosts really hit.  The plant also had plenty of unripe pods and I also harvested 35 partially ripe pods after we had a week or two of hard frosts that threatened to kill my plant.

This meant that for a first year, extremely late planted, seed grown plant I harvested over 1.8 kg of ripe pods.

I was tempted to overwinter this chilli plant as they are more productive in subsequent years, but I don't know what I would do with all of the chillies so decided to let nature take its course. Last weekend we had temperatures below -8 C, my plant looks bad but is still alive.  It is unlikely that it will survive until spring.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

More Fake Ebay Seeds

There is a famous quote believed to be from Edmund Bourke which says something along the lines of "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing".  While it is very romantic and poetic I don't think I agree with it.  I think that perhaps this should read "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for people to think they can get away with it".

Let's look at ebay, thieves steal money from people by selling things that do not exist.  The people who run ebay could stop them, at the very least they could remove listings and ban people who are reported for selling seeds that do not exist, but they don't.  Both the sellers and the people who run ebay are criminals.  Lots of good people try to stop them by trying to report these fake ads, but nothing happens.  These ebay thieves think they can get away with it (currently they both CAN and DO get away with it) so they continue to do it, and evil prospers.

Below are a bunch of pictures that I have found on ebay listings, many of them have made a lot of money from selling fake seeds.

I have written a few other posts about commonly sold ebay seeds that do not exist: blue and black strawberries, blue roses, and blue watermelons do NOT exist.  Please have a read of them, they may help you stop ebay thieves selling you seeds that do not exist.

Lily of the Valley seeds
I love lily of the valley, it is extremely difficult to grow it from seed, but not impossible.  It is also difficult to get it to produce seed, again it is not impossible.  Lilly of the valley comes with white flowers, some varieties can be pink flowered, and I am told that there is a variegated leaf form.  That is all.  None of these multi coloured ones exist and they never will exist.

It gets even worse, the following disclaimer was on the fake seed lily of the valley ebay page, they don't consider themselves liable for selling fake ebay seeds!!!

"Triple Phoenix shall not be liable for any instances where sold items are found to be inaccurate, erroneous, defective, deceptive or misleading, whether caused by negligence of  or any other cause whatsoever. 
Triple Phoenix will not be held liable for misuse or any health problems relating to or using any one of the products sold through this eBay store."

Make no mistake, the people who run Triple Phoenix ebay store are thieves.  Writing a disclaimer does not change the fact they they are deliberately misleading people.  What they are doing is known in legal terms as theft by deception.  Please never buy anything from anyone who does this.

Amazing multi-coloured  Butterfly Bush seeds
I don't know a lot about this plant but am told by some dedicated butterfly bush growers that this does NOT exist.  The thieves who made this ad steal tens of thousands of dollars from people each year through selling fake seeds.  Please do NOT buy them.
Rainbow butterfly bush does NOT exist

White Dove Orchid seeds
Apparently there is a plant called the white dove orchid (possibly Habenaria radiata or Pecteilis radiata), its flowers are rather beautiful.  Unfortunately the image below is photoshopped.  Orchids are notoriously difficult to grow from seed and many require aseptic tissue culture or complex mycorhizal interactions to germinate.  You should NEVER buy ANY orchid seeds from ebay.

Flowers such as in the image below do NOT exist.
This flower does NOT exist
Blue or Black or Purple tomato seeds
Wow, with so many thieves making so many fake ebay ads where do I begin?  Some are based on real things, others are completely made up, you need to know what to look for in order to prevent ebay thieves from selling you fake seeds.

The below picture was for sale as "Black Russian" tomato seeds.  Black Russian tomatoes do exist, they are more of a muddy brown tomato, they are a substandard yet extremely popular heirloom variety.  Tomatoes the colour in the picture DO exist, I currently grow a few of them.

When the seller is claiming that this picture of a tomato that does exist, yet their picture is a completely different variety, you know they are up to something.  Chances are these thieves have simply got some tomato seeds from a red tomato and will send that to you.  In five month time when your seeds fruit it is far too late for you to do anything.
This tomato exists, but the seller will NOT send them to you as they claim it is 'black Russian'

Real blue and purple tomatoes do NOT exist.  There are plenty of varieties that are named blue or purple which exist, I grow some, but they look nothing like these photos.  Even the Genetically Modified (GM) blue tomatoes that you will likely never see and never have access to their seeds do not look anything like these colours.  Do NOT buy seeds of tomatoes that are these colours.
Tomatoes this colour have never and will never exist!
These seeds are for sale as "purple tomato" seeds.  This is not even a tomato!
Ripe tomatoes do NOT exist in this colour and likely never will
Amazing Rainbow tomato seeds
Rainbow tomato seeds do NOT exist.  The seller will probably send you tomato seeds, but they will not turn out to be anything like in these pictures.  Different colours on the same truss is not possible, green and red (or whatever the ripe colour is) yes, but more than one ripe colour on the same truss no.

If you want unknown tomatoes seeds, just go to the market, buy a tomato, and plant its seeds.  It will be cheaper, you will get to eat the fruit (minus the seeds), plus you will not be funding these ebay criminals who are selling seeds that do not exist.
Rainbow tomatoes do NOT exist.  Being local from Australia does not stop them from being thieves
Some of these colours do NOT even exist in tomatoes, multi colours on the same truss do NOT exist
White asparagus seeds
White asparagus kind of exists, you may have eaten some, but seeds for white asparagus do not exist.  White asparagus is produced by putting something over the soil so when the spears emerge they do not have access to sunlight, the result is sweet white spears.  You can do this to any/every variety of asparagus.  I have done it with green varieties, I have done it with purple varieties.  You can NOT buy seeds of white asparagus as there are no varieties of white asparagus.  There will never be any white asparagus varieties, any albino asparagus can not survive as they would not be able to photosynthesize.

When an ebay seller is selling seeds of white asparagus you may be sent an inferior unnamed variety of asparagus or possibly something else that is not asparagus at all.  Never buy anything from thieves who sell white asparagus seeds.

Seed for White Asparagus do NOT exist
Vegetable seeds that look like things
These ebay thieves are selling radish seed and claiming they will grow to look like a foot.  They will not.  There are several different ones of these being offered by ebay thieves.  The radish in the picture grew odd, then the photo was slightly manipulated.

Radish does NOT grow to look like this
Amazing coloured radishes
Some amazing coloured vegetables exist, which makes this kind of theft work so well.  Radishes do not come in blue like in this picture, they never have and they never will.  Some of the other colours exist, but they have re-coloured the picture so it is unlikely they have ever seen them.  These thieves buy bulk radish seed for cheap and repackage it to send to you.  You have no way of telling what variety you will get, but you do know they will NOT look like the ones in the picture!
This thief sends you seeds fast, but some of these colours do not exist so they will send you something else

Carnivorous plants
I like carnivorous plants, when I was a teenager I learned a great deal about them.  Unfortunately most people know very little about carnivorous plants so ebay thieves easily take advantage of them.  I have heard of people buying what was claimed to be 'giant venus fly trap' seed, only to be sent gypsophila seed.  To be safe, I would not buy any carnivorous plant seed from ebay.
Blue Drosera do NOT exist (but I wish they did)
Blue Pinguicula do NOT exist
This doesn't even look real, but ebay thieves make big money selling fake seeds

So many ebay thieves, so little time...
Blue String of Pearls Plant (Senecio rowleyanus)
I love string of pearls plant and think that they are amazing.  I am growing some lovely green ones at the moment.  In real life most are green, and there is a delightful and rare variety of variegated string of pearls plant. 

Unfortunately blue string of pearls plant does NOT exist.  It never has and it never will.  These thieves make me so angry because this plant is so pretty that they don't need to lie about its colour.
Blue string of pearls plant does NOT exist

Multi Coloured Succulents
How amazing do these multi coloured rabbit ear succulents look!  Unfortunately they do NOT exist.  In real life rabbit ear succulent (Monilaria obconica) are green and look amazing.  Thieves sell seeds on ebay by changing the colours.

The picture on the right is the real colour, the picture on the left is where they have changed colours and listed this on Ebay.  Take a close look, that is part of the same picture.  I want to grow these one day, but am not willing to buy seed through ebay as there are so many thieves who have changed colours in an attempt to steal from me.  Hopefully I find plants for sale in real life one day.
Rabbit Ear Succulents are NEVER multi coloured
Monilaria obconica are all green, thieves have changed the colours in this picture to try to steal from you

Multi Coloured Flowers
These look amazing don't they, unfortunately they do not exist!  There are heaps of different fake multicoloured seeds and bulbs for sale on ebay.  Most of these pictures are white flowers that have had their stem divided and put into coloured die, the die travels up the stem and goes into the white petals staining them.  Some of these pictures are photo shopped.  If you ever see any multi coloured flowers, do some research to see if they are real, the pictures below are fakes.
Fake ebay seeds
More fake ebay seeds and bulbs
Blue Lily
Someone kindly mentioned to me a little while ago that they are trying to warn people about not buying blue lily.  I don't know much about lilies, but I know that blue ones don't exist.  I had a look and ebay is filled with seeds and bulbs of blue lilies, there is page after page of blue lilies.  I feel depressed from seeing how many thieves are taking of advantage of people with these.  Unfortunately they do NOT exist.

These ebay thieves will send you some seeds or bulbs, and if you grow them long enough they will flower, but they will not be blue.  By this time it is too late for you to do anything about it.  Please never buy anything from anyone who sells seeds or bulbs of blue lilies as they are thieves!
Blue lily do NOT exist
Blue flowers or fruits
There are very few true blue coloured fruits or flowers.  If you see any that look amazing, the chances are high that they do not exist.  Some flowers, like cornflowers are kind of blue.  Please do some research before funding ebay thieves.  It does not matter how cheap they are, do NOT be so ignorant as to fund ebay thieves without at least trying to do some research to see if they are real or not.  While you can never be certain that you are buying the real thing from ebay, if you are buying something that does not exist you will certainly not get what you paid for.
Blue dahlia do NOT exist
Blue dahlias look great but are NOT real
Blue Raspberries kind of exist, but they are never this colour
Bonsai seeds
Seriously, what is wrong with people?  There is no such thing as a plant that has been bred to be bonsai, almost any tree seed can be grown out and made into a bonsai.  So anyone selling bonsai seeds are just selling tree seeds and are trying to steal from you (remember, the legal term is "theft by deception").  These ebay thieves have taken this a step further and have re-coloured bonsai images.  The blue maple below does not exist.  You may get a maple seed, if you grew it out it would never turn that colour.
Blue bonsai maple seed does NOT exist

Too many thieves on Ebay
This list is no where near complete, there are many pages of fake ebay seeds.  Please do a little research before buying anything and be extra careful buying seeds from ebay as ebay is full of thieves.
The bright blue and purple do NOT exist, don't buy ANY seeds from these thieves
If you are one of these ebay thieves, especially if your company name has been included in the picture or description, feel free to write a comment and try to convince me that your deception is justified. 

I know sometimes people buy seed in bulk, repackage it into smaller packets and sell that.  If you have done this and are selling fake seeds then you are just as bad as the people who you bought the seeds from in the first place!

Often I hear people say that if something looks too good to be true then it probably isn't real.  Unfortunately in this case it does not help as most of the vegetables I grow and eat look and sound too good to be true.  If you want to see the perennial vegetables, annual vegetable seeds, and edible herbs and things I have for sale please click here.

Saturday, 17 June 2017

Vegetable Days to Maturity

I have written a few posts recording the days to maturity for some of the vegetable crops that I planted for the Australian Summer of 2016 and 2017.  I decided to list the days to maturity of some vegetables in one post here to make it easier for me to find them in the future to enable me to plan better.

This is not a complete list, I plan to add to it a bit more.  I also grew a lot of things that I did not record the days to maturity that will not be listed here.

Days to maturity has many different meanings, for tomatoes it is usually the number of days from an 8 week old transplant until breaker stage where it is picked mostly still green.  This is not useful to me and it makes commercial seed companies look as if they carry wonderfully early plants, when in fact they often take a dreadfully long time to ripen.  I have counted days to maturity from the day I plant the seed until the first fruit was perfectly ripe and ready to be picked and eaten.


Days to maturity Jade Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)

Seeds planted       03/12/2016       Day 0
Germinated           11/12/2016       Day 8
Flowered              14/01/2017       Day 42
Harvest start         05/02/2017       Day 64

Days to maturity Muffet Bean (Phaseolus vulgaris)
Seeds planted       23/10/2016       Day 0
Germinated           31/10/2016       Day 8
Flowered              12/12/2016       Day 50
Harvest start         28/12/2016       Day 66

Days to maturity Snake Beans (Vigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalis)

Seeds planted       03/12/2016       Day 0
Germinated           07/12/2016       Day 4
Flowered              ??/??/2016        Day??  I didn't notice them until I already had some beans!
Harvest start         03/02/2017       Day 62


Days to maturity Chioggia Beetroot (Beta vulgaris)

Seed Planted        16/10/2016       Day 0
Seed germinated   24/10/2016       Day 8
First harvest          02/01/2017       Day 78 - they grew at different rates so harvest went for many months


Days to maturity Immali Corn (Zea mays)

Seeds planted       16/10/2016       Day 0
Germinated           24/10/2016       Day 8
Flowered              21/12/2016       Day 66
Harvest ready       30/01/2017       Day 106
Cobs dry ready to save seed 05/03/2017   Day  140


Days to maturity Purple Haze Carrots (Daucus carota subsp. sativus)

Seeds planted       23/10/2016       Day 0
Germinated           03/11/2016       Day 11
Harvest start         04/03/2017       Day 132


Days to maturity Space Master Cucumber (Cucumis sativus)

Seed Planted        16/10/2016       Day 0
Seed germinated   25/10/2016       Day 9
Flowering             06/12/2016       Day 51
First harvest          28/12/2016       Day 73

Days to maturity White Wonder Cucumber (Cucumis sativus)

Seed Planted        16/10/2016       Day 0
Seed germinated   26/10/2016       Day10
Flowering              06/12/2016      Day 51
First harvest          01/01/2017       Day 77

Days to maturity Mexican Sour Gherkin (Melothria scabra)

Planted                       11/10/2016                  Day 0
Germinated                 03/11/2016                  Day 23
Flowered                   28/02/2017                   Day 140 
First fruit ripe              06/04/2017                  Day 177 - lots of fruit aborted

Cape Gooseberry

Days to maturity Cape Gooseberry (Physalis peruviana)
Planted             20/08/2016       Day 0  No germination, seeds rotted so I needed to re-plant.
Replanted         10/09/2016       Day 0 again
Germinated       26/09/2016       Day 16
Flowered          09/12/2016       Day 60
Harvest began  14/01/2017        Day 86


Days to Maturity Australian Yellow Leaf Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

Planted                       24/09/2016                  Day 0
Germinated                 29/09/2016                  Day 5
Started harvesting        04/11/2016                  Day 42

Days to Maturity Freckles Lettuce  (Lactuca sativa)

Planted                       23/10/2016                  Day 0
Germinated                 28/10/2016                  Day 5
Started harvesting        03/12/2016                  Day 41

Days to Maturity Red Salad Bowl Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

Planted                       23/10/2016                  Day 0
Germinated                 28/10/2016                  Day 5
Started harvesting        03/12/2016                  Day 41


Days to Maturity 'Billeberga' melons (Cucumis melo).

Seeds planted       16/10/2016       Day 0
Germinated           30/10/2016       Day 14
Flowered              30/12/2016       Day 75
Harvest start         14/04/2016       Day 179 - lots of flowers aborted for some reason


Days to Maturity Lacy Lady Pea (Pisum sativum)

Seeds Planted   29/10/2016       Day 0
Germinated       03/11/2016       Day 5
Flowered          12/12/2016       Day  44
Start Harvest     28/12/2016       Day 60

Days to Maturity Oregon Dwarf Snow Pea (Pisum sativum)

Planted               25/10/2016       Day 0
Germinated                                  Day ?
Flowering                                     Day ?
Harvest began     06/12/2016       Day 42


Days to maturity Kaempw Melon Rilon Pumpkin (most likely Cucurbita maxima)

Planted                       16/10/2016                 Day 0
Germinated                 26/10/2016                 Day 10
Started flowering         01/12/2016                 Day 46
Harvest                       05/03/2017                 Day 180 (possibly Day 70 if picked at Christmas)


Days to maturity Attila alpine strawberry (Frageria vesca)

Seeds planted             08/10/2016                  Day 0
Germinated                 21/10/2016                  Day 13
First Runners              21/12/2016                  Day 73 (more runners every few days, like a spider web)
Flowered                   03/03/2017                   Day 145 (5 months)
First fruit ripe              09/04/2017                  Day 182

Days to maturity Regina Alpine Strawberry (Frageria vesca)

Planted                        08/10/2016                  Day 0
Germinated                 19/10/2016                   Day 11
Flowered                    13/02/2017                   Day 125
First fruit ripe              13/03.2017                   Day 153 (about 5 months)

Days to maturity Yellow Wonder Strawberry (Fragaria vesca)

Planted                       08/10/2016                  Day 0
Germinated                 22/10/2016                  Day 14
Flowered                   17/02/2017                   Day 129
First fruit ripe              28/03/2017                  Day168


Days to maturity heirloom and rare tomatoes
I grow many different varieties of tomatoes so instead of writing one massively long post I broke it up a bit.  Previous year pages can be found here and here while the 2016/2017 season can be found here.

Days to maturity Micro Tom Tomatoes (Lycopersicon esculentum)

Seeds planted       02/10/2016       Day 0
Germinated           11/10/2016       Day 9
Flowered              22/12/2016       Day 81
Harvest start         07/01/2017       Day 97


Days to maturity Zucchini: Gron Busk 'Veribo' (Cucurbita pepo)

Planted 16/10/2016                  Day 0
Germinated 25/10/2016            Day 9
Flowering 29/11/2016               Day 43
First small fruit 03/12/2016        Day 47
Large fruit ready 07/12/2016     Day 51

I sell seeds of some of these vegetables through my for sale page.

Ecclesiastes 11:6 "Sow your seed in the morning and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well."

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Micro Tom history

I have been growing Micro Tom tomatoes for a short time now, over that time I have grown several generations of them, saved pure seed, and crossed them with various other tomatoes to try and create new micro tomatoes.  Micro Tom tomatoes are a delightful little plant, the more I grow them the more I like them.

I have read a few different things about Micro Tom on the internet, unfortunately much of it is very different from my observations.  I thought I would write a blog post to clear up some confusion about Micro Tom tomatoes.
Micro Tom tomatoes
Where did Micro Tom come from
Micro Tom has been declared as the world's smallest tomato variety.  It was released from the University of Florida in 1989 where it was developed by Dr. J.W. Scott and Dr. B.K. Harbaugh.

I have read various people on the internet claiming that because Micro Tom was bred at a university that it must be a Genetically Modified Organism (GMO), others that say it is not, some that say it is a hybrid, some that say F1, others that say Micro Tom is open pollinated.  So I did some research on Micro Tom tomatoes.

The truth is that Micro Tom is a stable tomato variety which is as stable as any other tomato variety, it can be grown open pollinated and seeds will grow true to type unless it is crossed with another variety.  Micro Tom is NOT a GMO and was bred conventionally in the same way as almost everything else that you have ever eaten.  The reason Micro Tom grows so small is due to at least three different genes that were bred into it conventionally, the same way that red colour was bred into tomatoes.  These three genes were all spontaneous mutations so nothing untoward has gone on here.

How is Micro Tom so small
Micro Tom has a combination of three different genes which make it grow tiny.

One gene is for dwarf growth that is common in dwarf tomatoes, it is most likely d.  Strangely this dwarf gene also has a mutation in Micro Tom, but that is a rather complicated story for another time.

Micro Tom has the self pruning gene which is responsible for creating determinate tomato plants, it is most likely sp.

Micro Tom also has the sun dwarf gene which creates extremely short internodes under high light intensities, it is most likely sd.  I assume that if grown in low light then Micro Tom would be a bit taller, but even when grown in winter my plants are always under 10cm tall.

All three of these genes are recessive, which makes breeding new micro tomatoes using Micro Tom as the female parent a reasonably straight forward process.

How productive is Micro Tom
I have read a lot of differing views on the productivity of Micro Tom tomatoes.  Various seed sellers have the following listed on their web sites:
  • "produces a crop of around 40-plus cherry tomatoes per plant"
  • "bear 1-3" good flavored tomatoes in heavy quantities"
  • "The plants are suprisingly productive, a 6" plant can produce up to a couple dozen fruits."
  • "is loaded with tasty fruit"
  • "bearing loads of flavorful, 1 oz., deep red fruits"
  • "Plant produces good yields of tiny pea size red tomatoes"
  • "I am able to harvest about 20 - 30 tomatoes from this plant growing in a 6in pot"
My growing conditions are a lot more harsh than most, so perhaps I get less fruit per plant than I could.  I dare say that your growing conditions are also not perfect.  Keeping that in mind, I would not consider any of the above reviews of crop size to be accurate.

I normally get around 10 tomatoes per tiny Micro Tom plant.  Sometimes a few more, sometimes a few less.  If I used fertilisers and coddled the plant I think I could get around 20, but I am happy with it producing 10.  I certainly would not say that it is 'loaded' with fruit or produces 'heavy quantities' or produces '40 plus' tomatoes.

I also found a Japanese research company that sells Micro Tom seeds to scientific organisations for the purpose of genetic research, they said "It yields about 20-30 seeds per fruit. One plant yields about 200-300 seeds"  in other words, about 10 fruit per plant, much the same as I am getting.

How tall does Micro Tom get
The internet seems to have a large range here.I have found reference on the internet to the following:
4-7 inches, 4-6 inches, 5-8 inches, 6-8 inches, under 12 inches, 8 foot (I hope that this one is a typo and they meant inches).

My Micro Tom plants are all descendants of one old seed, so the genetic pool with which I work is rather narrow and may not be indicative of overseas strains.  Personally I am yet to have a Micro Tom plant reach 10cm (about 4 inches).  Mine have all grown between 4cm and 9cm tall.  Growing in a cup of soil or in the garden has not changed the height noticeably.

What size is Micro Tom fruit
This is one of the claims on the internet that makes me think that many seed sellers have never actually grown the plant themselves, and don't care enough about the buyer to bother putting accurate information.  Many have gotten confused when they read about micro dwarf and think it is talking about fruit size, when it is talking about the height of the plant.  I have found reference on the internet to the following:
  • "pea size"
  • "cherry tomatoes"
  • "1-3 inch"
  • "1 oz deep red fruit"
  • "1 inch fruit"
"Pea size" being the most common fruit size that I saw, but probably the furthest from the truth, although I can not even begin to imagine a 3 inch (7.5cm)  tomato fruit on a 4 inch (10cm) plant!!!

My fruit are reasonably consistent in size, around 2cm, this photo shows how large they are for me.  I have given seeds to a few other growers, they all report Micro Tom tomatoes mostly being about 2cm.
Micro Tom fruit size
How many days to maturity for Micro Tom
This is another weird one when you look up what the internet says.  I have found the following listed on various seed company's web pages:
Days to maturity: 50, 60, 120  
Days from seed germination to ripe fruit: 50, 60, 70 
Days from transplant when grown under lights in winter/early spring, 39, 75-85, 70-90, 88.

As you can see, that makes no sense at all when you try to compare the same information on different web sites.

The first time I grew Micro Tom I recorded around 113 days from planting the seed until harvesting the fruit. Then I grew it a few times without recording the dates.  This last time I recorded 97 days from planting the seed until harvesting the first ripe fruit.

What does Micro Tom tomato taste like
They are ok, Micro Tom lack any real depth of taste and will not be anyone's favourite tasting tomato variety.  They taste much nicer when ripened in warmer weather than they do in cooler weather, and at some times of the year they taste a bit nicer than cherry tomatoes that I can get from the shops.  While Micro Tom is certainly not the best tomato you will eat they are far from the worst.  I have never seen someone who ate one and disliked it. 

More people should grow Micro Tom tomatoes
I really like Micro Tom tomatoes, the plants are tiny and the fruit tastes ok.  I don't see the point in exaggerating when describing plants.  If people want to grow them, then they will grow them even if they do not produce millions of fruit on a tiny plant.  I have shared seeds with several seed savers and a few dedicated growers.  I also list organic seeds for sale on my for sale page when I have enough to spare.  At this stage this is the only place in Australia to get Micro Tom tomato seeds.

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Days to maturity Australia Yellow Leaf Lettuce

I was given some seeds of a lettuce variety named either 'Australian Yellow Leaf' or 'Australian Yellow'.  I am not sure why it is called that, they all looked light green to me.  It was another leaf lettuce as I don't see the point in home gardeners growing head lettuce.

Days to Maturity Australian Yellow Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

Planted                       24/09/2016                  Day 0
Germinated                 29/09/2016                  Day 5
Started harvesting        04/11/2016                  Day 42

For a full list of vegetable days to maturity please click here.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Which are hotter, ripe or unripe chillies?

The question of "which are hotter, green or red chillies" makes no sense, as different varieties of chillies ripen different colours.  So the actual question should be: "which is hotter, ripe or unripe chillies?"

The answer is: ripe chillies are hotter than unripe chillies.  I am yet to hear of any exceptions to this.  If you know of a variety that is an exception to this please let me know as I would love to grow it.

Ripe chillies tend to have higher sugar content, so sometimes in mild varieties it may be easy to overlook the heat, but ripe chillies are still hotter even if they are sweeter.

I have some varieties of chilli that I can happily eat raw when unripe and feel absolutely no heat, but when they are ripe I feel like I have been stung in the mouth by a bee.

I also did a little searching on the internet and found proof to back up what I have experienced.  Below is something I found on a chilli forum, hopefully the person who owns this picture does not mind me using it.  I have linked to their thread so I figure that should be ok.  With Scoville Heat Units, the higher the number the hotter.

Apparently 25 unripe chillies and 25 ripe chillies were picked from the same plant and analysed.  The ripe chillies came out about twice as hot as the unripe ones.  I think that it is pretty conclusive.

SHU comparison from

Friday, 26 May 2017

Red Salad Bowl Lettuce Days to Maturity

One of the lettuce varieties I grew this past summer was called red salad bowl.  It is a leaf lettuce instead of a head lettuce so ensures that it crops a lot of lettuce over a long period of time.

Below are the days to maturity for red salad bowl lettuce.  Being in Australia they are written in the format of Day/Month/Year.

Days to Maturity Red Salad Bowl Lettuce (Lactuca sativa)

Planted                       23/10/2016                  Day 0
Germinated                 28/10/2016                  Day 5
Started harvesting        03/12/2016                  Day 41

For a full list of vegetable days to maturity please click here.