Ulluco (Ullucus tuberosus) harvest of the year, lest “Pisac”, right “Cusco”

This time I succeeded getting a tiny ulluco harvest. I planted three different clones. One died. Of the two survivors, only the one from Cusco made a notable harvest. Well, not that the tuber are sizeable at all, but the output was heavier than the input! In their favour I must note, that they sprouted very late, in late June. Maybe they need a few growing seasons to overcome the move from Andes to Denmark?
Compare the size with the parent tubers below:

The three tubers planted in spring. The small to the very right sprouted first, but only to fade away.

I was away a week in December. When I came home, the ullucos and their pots was frozen solid. An other week passed, before I managed to dig them out of the still frozen pots. The tubers in the surface had all died, but those deeper buried, but still frozen, survived to a large extent. Some died during the first week indoor, but most of them are still in good shape.

Don’t ask how they taste! I didn’t taste them yet. I believe a number of gardeners would like to try them in their garden. All will be saved for replanting in spring.

Ulluco – again an older post

Garden with a view

I revisited Merete and Ejners garden. First visit was in spring, this second visit was after the first frost. The garden is situated in a village, with a view over field and wood.

Sage (Salvia officinalis)

The huge sage with the wrinkled stems made me think of
the oldest oak in Denmark. Age is an important dimension in our garden plants. Never saw a more beautiful sage.

Kirsten and Merete deeply engaged in garden talk

People fond of gardening always talk a lot, when we meet in a garden. It still surprises me, how different we people can grow our gardens. Even with same plants in same climate. We ate us through the different fruit trees; cooking apples, table apples, pears, prunes, filberts and grapes.

Old grape wine growing in the apple trees

A very old grape wine has conquered the tops of some of the apple trees. In old days there was a greenhouse around it, but since it perished, the grape wine has continued to grow with no protection. Could it be the old variety Frankenthaler?

Leaf chicory

There still is a lot of vegetables in the garden. The leaf chicory was served for lunch – mmm…. We also had leek and a mayonnaise spiced with ‘Susan Delafield’ garlic.
Thanks for a nice day.

Garlic (Allium sativum) Estonian Red, tearing off roots

There are many ways to treat your garlics after harvest. You can simply shake off some of the dirt, leave it to cure on the ground for days – weeks, you can clean them with a hose, wash them in a bucket ect.
In a book I read how to gently shake off the dirt, cure the garlics for weeks, then trim the roots and clean the garlic with an old toothbrush and cutting the stem.
My dilemma; on one hand I’m too lazy to clean garlics with an old toothbrush, but on the other hand the chef in the kitchen dislike dirty vegetables. Also I won’t take the risk of transmitting stem-and bulb nematodes by washing the garlics in a bucket, and I’m too parsimonious to hose them clean in precious tapwater.
My choice is the leek method, tearing off the roots and one outer leave.

Tearing off one green leave

With this method timing of harvest is essential. Cloves grow in the leaf axils of the inner two or more leaves (most fertile leaves in softneck garlics) – you have to learn your garlic clone. Harvest when there is still at least one green leaf more than the fertile leaves.

Roots I tear off, as I imagine how cutting with a knife or scissor make a larger contact surface for infectants than tearing off by hand.

Around the garlic bulb the leaf split

The leaf split when reaching the bulb. Each part of the leaf I tear down, the rutine comes quickly.

1-2-3 a clean garlic

In no time I hold a clean garlic in my hand, thus can supply a happy chef in the kitchen.

I always tag the clone

An important detail: Handling several clones demand tagging. It’s terribly annoying having mixed up the garlic clones.

To ensure healthy garlic sets, I put the garlic bulbs in order of size before I start cleaning. I start cleaning the biggest, as I will set them again in the autumn. It reduces the risk of transferring diseases to my garlic sets. Cleaning several varieties I wash my hands in between, again in order not to spread infections.

Garlic (Allium sativum) Persian Star

Last year I left a single garlic Persian Star unharvested, trying if I could harvest true seeds of garlic. Since then it has been in its summer rest, awakened for autumn root growth, grown leaves in the winter, to grow a little close group af small garlic plants. Today the group was ready to harvest, and for comparison I harvested a normal Persian Star, which could have increased in size for yet another week.

Years back I tried to let garlic grow undisturbed for many years. I experienced how they decreased in size year by year, until they vanished completely. For this reason I believe the summer rest, where the garlic is harvested and cured, is essential for its vigor. It’s known from tulips, of which only few varieties grow well year after year in danish gardens, unless they are lifted, cured and set again every year.

Yacon parade in Kirstens allotment

Kirsten have yacon this year. She had some crowns from a seed saver that had luck overwintering his yacon crowns. Overwintering is the real challenge in yacon growing in northern europe. This summer she promised Anne and me a root with crown in autumn. As frost is forecasted a few nights ahead, we agreed to meet in her allotment today. Yacon should be harvested as late as possible, but like Dahlia, frost will kill it. Typically we would wait for the first frost to kill the top, and then harvest the tubers safe in the ground. Anyway, we did it three days ahead.

Vi both tried digging gently with the fork

Roots of yacon are brittle. Delicious eating, but in demand of a gentle hand on the fork not to break the tubers. We did break some on almost all plants, but still think we did quite well. One of them we tasted. Nice crisp, but no sweetness yet. They need time in storage to develop the charateristic sweetness.

Yacon (Smallanthus sonchifolius syn. Polymnia sonchifolia) ‘Morado’
Tubers of yacon grow large

This variety does well in culture. We don’t know a name for it. It grow large to huge red tubers, which after time in storage develop the sweet taste. We agreed not to wash the tubers, but just dry and store them as we do with Dahlias.

Kirsten presented two sets of tubers to me. Anne had a set of tubers, a crown and a small plant. The two last she will try to grow through winter in a cold glazed frost protected balcony. My tubers are now drying protected in my greenhouse. In a few days I’ll store them dry in the bottom of my larder, as I do with my Dahlias. This year I will not eat any of the tubers, as last year I ate them and the crowns died. It’s the crown with its eyes that you set in spring. The tuber have no eyes, and can’t grow a new yacon in spring.

Have a look at Yacon, sweet treat from the Andes and Yacon crown in january

Watermelon ‘White Seeded Besvirino Assyrian Watermelon’ (Citrullus lanatus)

This year I had four watermelon plants in the greenhouse, each providing a single watermelon. Three of the ‘White Seeded Besvirino Assyrian Watermelon’. I aquired it some years ago from a christian-assyrian refugee settled in Sweden. This year it didn’t grow as big or ripe as red as first time I grew it. Probably because of the rainy august. To my surprise it was just as sweet, crisp and juicy as last time. The seeds of this variety is also used, roasted with salt as a snack. Some seedsavers tasted it, and they preferred the large seeds to the small and undeveloped seeds of the modern seedless varieties, as the large seeds are much more easy to spit out. Should be great for a watermelon spitting contest.

Watermelon ‘Sugar Baby’ (Citrullus lanatus)

For comparison I also had ‘Sugar Baby’ in the greenhouse. It’s the seedrack variety around here. I didn’t grow quite as well, but ripened a week earlier. It was a plant bought at the nursery (last minute idea to compare), not completely fair to compare. It was more close to being truly ripe, but tasted no better than ‘White Seeded Besvirino Assyrian Watermelon’.

As ‘White Seeded Besvirino Assyrian Watermelon’ are rare, I have to grow the seeds myself. It’s actually easy, as the seeds are ready for drying when I spit them out savouring the watermelon. To avoid ‘Sugar Baby’ becoming the father, I picked all its male flowers before they opened (one of these small jobs one have to be particular about). This also lead to all seeds in ‘Sugar Baby’ to be crossed with ‘White Seeded Besvirino Assyrian Watermelon’. Possibly an interesting cross. First generation (F1) might have unique properties, but the will recombine in future generations. If growing out a lot of F2 generation seeds, I might be lucky to select a new varity worth growing, by selecting in further generations. If the first generation is excellent, I might grow it for years, before starting to grow next generation.

In between it’s important to take a year for gathering seeds of the original ‘White Seeded Besvirino Assyrian Watermelon’, to avoid its extinction. I have send seeds out in the world, but I’m not aware of anyone adopting it. I think I was expected to adopt it as I recieved the original seeds.

Take a look at the post Watermelon in progress

Eggplants for seed – the little basket contain eggplants from open ground, the rest grown in greenhouse

Today I sensed it’s time to rescue tropical species like eggplants, if I want to harvest good seeds. They are supposed to start rotting before saving the seeds. I’m not waiting that long, but harvested today, to let the eggplants cure in the house.
Eggplant seeds from last year had a lot of vigor, I know it can be done succesfully. If it works out fine this year, I will not know until spring. Normally I would do at germination test in autumn, if in doubt, but eggplant seeds has fooled med, with complete germination in autumn and none at all in spring.

This year I had experience with several eggplant varieties, both in greenhouse and outdoor:

Applegreen – This is my standard variety so far, used for comparison. A tasty and easy to grow variety.
Rima F1 – Standardvariety in Denmark. Grows well, with huge deep shiny black fruits. I tried crossing it with Applegreen, but accidentially the fruit was consumed. Does a sting mean pick or do not pick?
Fairy Tale F1 – Funny short plant with plenty of tiny fruits in trusses. Grows well in a pot on the patio. Fruits are too small for my kitchen.
Czech Early – A little late, but productive with faily large purple fruits.
Almaz – Shiny black fruits, neither early or productive in this company, but still an appealing variety.
Diamond – Similar (same?) as Almaz, but not growing as well (accidentially?)
Skorospely – Clearly the earliest eggplant. Small dull purple fruits, nice size for kitchen, and in abundance. Excellent variety.
Vera – Quite early. In greenhouse very small late ripening fruits. Performing much better in open ground. I don’t understand why!
Thai F1 – Did surprisingly well. Late, but a lot of slim green fruits tender fruits.
Morden Midget – Performed rather poorly in greenhouse. A plant outdoor performed with two Applegreen sized fruits.

I’m surprised, that probably all are able to produce seeds under my conditions. I still don’t know if seeds will have vigor, power of germination, but my guts believe in them.
I did no isolation of the plants, and all might have crossed up. OK, I actually hope they have, as my dream is to produce an easy to grow well performing outdoor eggplant for southern scandinavia. It’s probably impossible, but I also thought outdoor growing of red pepper and melon was impossible, yet it has become a yearly practice in my garden. I will tread the new path, and see where it leads, knowing no professional would be as daring.

Melon no.17

Today we will enjoy the largest melon yet, weight 510g. Not a big melon, but a giant in this garden. I start to doubt, if this big, something must be wrong. It will probably taste horrible. Better try it out at once.

Melon no.17

It is nettet with orange flesh. To my surprise taste is gorgous! Probably 2 or 3 have tasted better, but out of 17 melons, that’s still a top rate. Seeds looks mature, it will probably breed well in future generations.
This grex, Farthest North Melon Mix, has really impressed me, and pushed the limits for melon growing. Yet another thank you to SeedAmbassadors !

Melon Cucumis melo Farthest North Melon Mix

Yesterday, when admiring all the developing melons, I noticed the oldest had detached from its stem. I dare say it comes off easy when ripe. It smells wonderfull, but I will not eat it yet. Most important is to ensure good seeds for next year. If I leave it to ripen even further, there’s a chance the seeds will grow stronger and collect energy for the next seasons fight for life.

It is early, a month earlier than first melon last year. Weather has been warm and sunny, contrary to last years rainy cold summer. Black plastic mulch probably helped too.

I’m excited to read Meretes blog (in danish, but lots of great pictures) Vild med have, when she will harvest the first melon – can’t be long, as she’s an experienced gardener. She grow the same melon mix – we intend to stabilise a new hardy early variety for our northern gardens. To do that, it’s imperative to harvest vigorous seeds, even at the expense of enjoying the first and best melon in the process.

Some of the harvested garlics

Now half the garlics are harvested, only late varieties must wait a little longer. I grow a lot of varieties, in the hope to find around ten perfect for me and my garden. As I start to fancy a variety, I grow more of it, but until the I grow just three or four. I give a variety three years to show its potential.

Inchelium Red

Inchelium Red is a large softneck. This type of garlic are called artichoke as the cloves are arranged like an artichoke head. It was discovered in Colville Indian Reservation by Larry Geno. It is the second season in my garden, and looks very promising.

Chinese Purple

Chinese Purple is an asiatic garlic of the turban type (er et asiatisk hvidløg af turbantype). Very colorfull and appealing. It’s the second season.

“Bodils fransk marked”

“Bodils fransk marked” is an artichoke type of unknown variety name. Bodil presented it to me. She originally bought it at a french street market, and have grown it for years. It has clearly adapted to our climate. It’s first season in my garden.

“Tanjas tyrkiske grønthandler”

“Tanjas tyrkiske grønthandler” is an artichoke type of unknown variety name. Tanja heard of my garlic passion, and saved a clove from a particular large garlic. I have never been able to grow it to the same size, but it still grows well in my garden. I have grown it since 2002.


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