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Oca (Oxalis tuberosa). Small but beautiful

In spring, I received some oca tubers. They were planted and cared for reasonably well. But our autumn weather, I can not do much about. The frost came early this year but I pay attention to the weather forecast, and managed to put some bubble wrap over the bed. Later, when the snow arrived, I dug up two plants, but yields were not high. I decided to leave the last plant in the ground, covered in bubble wrap, and deep snow, hoping for it to size up the tubers in early winter.

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If the tubers could feel the cold, they would tremble pitifully :-)

The much longer time in the soil, they tolerated well. Soil, bubble wrap and the thick layer of snow has managed to keep the frost away from the tubers. However, there has been so cold that the tubers is not greater than if I had dug them up with the first. It was otherwise my quiet hope that the extra time in the soil would increase yields.

Oca is not a candidate to be an important crop in my garden before people like Ian Pearson of Growing Oca, Rhizowen from Radix and others have selected some clones that can form tubers much earlier under northern conditions (they must be less day length sensitive). Originally it was the same problem with the potato, but it was solved by plant breeding. Can it be done again?

The beautiful seashell (from scallop) I was sent from Anselmo in Asturias, filled with his fine chilli. His gallery is filled with stunning images from his country house and the region.

PS. Do not ask me how oca taste! I still just dream about it.

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Lemon-grass Cymbopogon citratus grown outdoor

Some years ago I brought a piece of lemon-grass home from Thailand. It was grown in pots, inside our house during winter, on the terrace in summer. Size was bearable, and I was really pleased. But then I heard that pot is crucial to how large lemon-grass grows. The biggest pot I can get is my garden, so this year they were planted out in June. They grew well out in the garden, and my tender loving care could be reserved for other crops. The yield was higher because I had planted more plants.
Before frost, I took one of the plants into a pot so that it can overwinter in our glass bay window – it might as well hibernate on a window sill.

Apparently lemon-grass recover quickly from division and transplanting, growth halt for 14 days, and then growth begins again, exploiting the new conditions. It’s my impression, that lemon-grass isn’t especially heat-dependent. Actually an easy plant to grow if you don’t mind caring for it in the winter season.

The fresh taste of lemon-grass is somewhat similar to lemon balm. A delightful and slightly rough lemon flavour. Lemon-grass has the advantage of preserving the lemon taste well when dried. The disadvantage is that the plants has to be overwintered indoors. Well, left in the garden it will not be invasive up here in the north :-)

One need not travel to South-east Asia to acquire a plant. You can buy seeds, or plants from garden centres. Sometimes I find fresh lemon grass in some immigrant shops and supermarkets. It roots easily.


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Farthest North Melon Mix (Cucumis melo)

This post should have been written a month ago – her it comes anyway :-)

This year, the melons was grown according to the dogma. Not out of desire, but of necessity. The fact that some melons developed to ripeness are a bit of a miracle in this rainy summer.

The two dogma rules are:
1-Sow directly in the open ground, no indoor start! The melons were sown 5th June. The other years I have sown on 1st May inside the warm house.
2-No cover, no plastic or non-woven fabrics. No black plastic on the ground to heat it up. No plastic or fabric covering the plants at the beginning of their growth or later, when the weather gets cold.

Especially one plant thrived, even grew faster and bigger than my winter squash Turks Turban plants (They did not like the cold weather). It set four fruits, each weighing nearly 250 grammes and and of good taste, though not spectacular. But great taste I can not expect after such a rainy August. The taste was better than most supermarket melons anyway.

I sowed 47 batches of 6 seeds, 41 batches Farthest North Melon Mix, the last 6 batches were Sweet Granite, Pineapple Melon, Streit Freiland Grüngenetz, Rodond, Piel de Sapo and De Bellegarde (12 seeds). Although the last 6 batches all resulted in 1-2 plants, I had no ripe melon from them.
Farthest North Melon Mix had 21 batches not germinated. 14 batches germinated 1-4 plants, but provided no ripe melons. 6 batches germinated 17 plants, many of whom produced ripe melons, but not all. In total I harvested 17 melons growing according to the dogma method – I was too pessimistic in June!

To squeeze in that many melon plants, I provided only 20 cm for 6 seeds.

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Some of the melons of the year, still resting on the bed


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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:

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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