SATURDAY AFTERNOON IN THE GARDEN

A bright and sunny day saw me planting out more beans, green ones this time, and some flowering broccoli that we bought at the market this morning. Every thing is growing quite well now and the broad beans are fully in flower. I’ve had to shift some of the wild plants that we are not using for food in order to have space for planting out the oca which has become quite big and beautiful now (it’s a vegetable though :-)) The garden is producing so much wild food at the moment that I did not even sow or plant, just comes growing there, and we are using it all in soups and other dishes.   I harvested almost the last of the spinach from last year. The English marigolds, also in their second year, are flowering absolutely amazingly and beautiful. I do recommend growing lots of marigolds, not only are they beautiful and vibrant but one can make marigold oil to use all year round. I grow them in between vegetables. The oca plants have to be earthed up just like potato plants, I did that too today, it is a big experiment, never grown those before. And finally the bitter gourd is doing very well and tomorrow they will be put in their permanent place for the summer, I believe they become very large and need to be kept inside as not hot enough here in this climate, so inside I will let them trail, I have decided on a pot and I am very curious what they will be like and if I will get fruit. Much to do in the next few days!
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Above:  Lady’s mantel early morning.

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Above:  flowers on my aubergine plant.

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Above:  Lady’s mantel and chives, and the flowers on the broad bean plants.

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Above:  A nice buttercup among the vegetables, but this is the only wild plant that I pull up from between the vegetables.

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Above:  The oca plant now earthed up, and glorious English marigolds.

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Above:  Newly planted out bean, broccoli and rhubarb.  And one of the thousand dandelions finished flowering.

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Above:  The bitter gourd doing great, lovely to see it grow so well and holding my breath!

HAPPINESS IS SEEING SEEDS SPROUT

An exciting and busy day today, went to Deelish Garden Centre, bought organic compost to sow more seeds in, as the cheap soil I was using was literally useless, and I lost some seeds as a result. I also bought safe slug pellets, safe for other wildlife! But I got some surprises today, my Oca (Oxalis tuberosa) tuber has sprouted, for me it is a new vegetable, have not tried it before, so it is very exciting, I believe that it is also called New Zealand Yam though in fact it is not a Yam at all. Other good news is that there is another leaf on the White Bitter Gourd, and that the Green Bitter Gourd which is supposed to be of more worth medicinally is also sprouting. I put down seeds of many other sort, such as Okra, Fenugreek, Cucumber, Courgettes (little round ones), Yellow Cucumber, some French Beans, some Parsley, some Camomile. I am most excited about the Okra as I used to eat this vegetable in India and in Mauritius, and though you have to know how to cook it in order for it to be tasty, I got used to it, it is valuable for health. It gets a bit slimy if you cook it wrong.  And the Yacon root is up too, I planted two but one rotted, the other one has started to make long white roots, I hope that this vegetable will also grow as it is another new one for me.  It is a Peruvian ground apple, sweet apparently, I found loads of information on Wikipedia for both Yacon and Oca tubers.     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yac%C3%B3n     http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxalis_tuberosa

Below; the Oca, This plant was cultivated for its tubers, which are then used as a root vegetable, first found in central and south Andes but brought to Europe during the 19th century.  I learnt that the roots contain Vitamin A, Potassium, Vitamin B6, and small amounts of fibre, well that’s good.
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My little Tomato seedlings are now doing very well and growing rapidly.

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This is the seedling of the White Bitter Gourd, and since this morning the secondary leaf has grown and opened up!

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The Turmeric plant doing fine and better everyday, so happy, must start off some more as I use it in cooking everyday.

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The Green Bitter Gourd is only sprouting, needs tender loving care and good warmth.

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I have some seedlings that I cannot remember what they are, can’t believe that this happened to me this year, but it did, so now when the secondary leaves really start to show I can start guessing.

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OCA, A SOUTH AMERICAN TUBER TO BE TRIED OUT

Yesterday during a visit to our local Garden Centre to pick up some more seeds, I came across an interesting tuber, it is called Oca (Oxalis tuberosa).  I had never heard of it before and asked the shopkeeper for some information on it, she recommended it, and of course I could not resist bringing some of these tubers home to try it out this growing season. The leaves are apparently like a large Clover leaf (which I like), the flowers are yellow. I Googled it and found some more information on this vegetable, it was used and originated in S.America and used by the Incas. Growing these tubers will be something new to me and I have been looking up some advice because, of course, I want a successful crop. Apparently you plant them in individual little pots until large enough to plant out during the summer, then if you have a small garden like me, you could put them in place of the beans or other summer crops when they are finished.  Later the first frost will or might kill off the foliage but it apparently does not matter because the tubers are said to grow another good bit for the following couple of weeks, after which you harvest them. No doubt I will double check my facts before I take any risks with my precious seed-tubers. They are said to be an excellent source of carbohydrates, phosphorus and iron, as well as providing essential amino acids that promote the health and proper function of muscles, organs, nails, hair, skin and more. An exciting new addition to grow, and also to cook.  Learnt that they grow well in a slightly acidic soil, without the addition of seaweed or other fertilizer, so in fairly poor soil I guess, and that they need at least 6 hours of sunshine a day.

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Other seeds I bought are Sacred Basil, or Tulsi which I am very excited to start using in the cooking, and a dark leafed Kale which will see us through next winter.  Also bought 3 more Jerusalem Artichokes tubers for planting soon, only just learnt that they like a fairly dry soil, that is why my last planting did not work out well, soil too wet!

I bought a little Hypericum perforatum or St.John’s wort plant, never grew it before but it is supposed to be good for tea, though if one is on medicine it has a lot of contra-indications, but I am growing it mainly for it’s perforated leafs.  I put the leafs into oil, leave it in the sun for a few weeks, the oil turns pink, and it is said to be good for nerve pain.  As I have no tunnel or glasshouse I have seed trays in what you could call half a conservatory, and along windowsills, so the house is a bit untidy now but it’s great to see seeds coming up and they should be ready to plant out when the time comes.

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