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Oca, Oxalis tuberosa, from neglected tubers surviving in the ground during last winter

Oca are late to develop underground tubers. This mild start of winter has been a gift for the ocas. Harvested between christmas and new year, it is my best oca harvest ever.

The two clones that yielded best, I’ve grown for years. The neglected tubers survived last winter in ground. But I guess the better yield is due to better soil and more space.

 
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Oca, Oxalis tuberosa, from neglected tubers surviving in the ground during last winter
 
With a good harvest came the desire to use oca for food. They cured some days at room temperature, before being boiled in water until tender. The taste was pleasantly mild and slightly sour. I guess most people will like oca.
 
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Oca from a first year seedling
 
In the spring, I was presented some new oca clones, and a small bag of the rare oca seeds. The seeds made it in to a single healthy oca plant, that produced these nice tubers. Many thanks to Philip Heinemeyer!
 
Oca is producing tubers in short days. Quite unfortunate in scandinavia! For more ease of culture, shortday dependecy need to be bred out of oca, like it was done in potatoes. To breed oca, I need seeds. Before seed harvest, ocas must flower. Unfortunately, also flowering seems to be shortday dependant. (*correction: Oca, I learn, can flower in long days) Anyway, I still wait for the first oca flowers in my garden. While waiting for the flowers, I really appreciate the efforts of gardeners in milder parts of Europe!

 

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Entire oca harvest
 

The above photo show the entire oca harvest. The six pots on the right contain named clones and the seedling, the six pots on the left contain the two old clones.
 

Ps. I’ve saved some tubers of all the clones for next garden season.

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Eggplant breeding line 1 F4 (top row is part of breeding line 3)

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Eggplant breeding line 3 F3

The photo above shows the harvest of eggplants from the open ground bed in the vegetable garden. The plants of breeding line 1 is grown out of seeds from 2012 harvested in the greenhouse. Therefore, this line is a generation ahead of processing line 3, which is grown out of seeds grown in the open ground in 2009. Since 2009, I harvested lots of eggplants in the open ground, but there has been no obvious progress in my plant breeding, no new generations. Until last year that is, when I put some plants of breeding line 1 in the greenhouse, and got a new generation, but without knowing anything about their outdoor values. I have spent the years since 2009 to determine which envelopes of the 2009 seed harvest do most frequently provide better plants. It is valuable, although it does not produce new generations, because it allows me to concentrate on growing more individuals from the best seed envelopes.

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Seeds from a single outdoor grown eggplant fruit

Never have I harvested so many eggplant seeds. Almost all mature eggplants contained seeds, and some of them contained more seeds than I’ll be able to grow before they get too old. The seeds appears to be of prime quality. An eggplant seed celebration!

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Envelopes with eggplant seeds from open ground

This many seeds promise a lot of labour to find the best seed envelopes to draw future generations from. Which of them will produce the most reliable plants for growing outdoor in my kitchengarden?

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The eggplant bed shortly after transplanting in June

The newly transplanted eggplant bed looked neat Later weed germinated in this fertile, well-watered bed, mostly dandelions, kale and sonchus, all edible, delicious and providing a long lasting harvest. I still harvest kale and dandelion. Easy and gentle multicropping.

Since I harvested way too many seeds for my own use, I will share with interested gardeners.
In Denmark through the danish seed savers: Frøsamlerne
Other nationalities please contact me either by leaving a comment, or PM me if you know me in some of the social networks like HomegrownGoodness or facebook.

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Dandelion and Petrowsky turnip fresh from the garden

There is always something to harvest in the garden,as long as the ground isn’t frozen. This time it’s the dandelion and turnips. They made a lovely salad, with a little salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar.

DSCN7536The fresh December salad

When I was younger I could hardly eat dandelion, and only leaves in early spring. My taste have changed, and I am less fond of sweets, and more fond of the bitterness. This summer I discovered that green dandelion leaves picked in mid-July has a nice bitter and nutty flavour. Here in December dandelions taste almost sweet and nutty. The sweet taste has a different and more satisfying character than traditional sugar sweet. The bitter taste satisfies, as can be experienced if you eat traditional dark chocolate (please note that the big companies are starting to make dark chocolate that does not seem to get one to stop eating naturally. Good for their bank account – bad for customers’ BMI)
The root has a similar wonderful flavour. I peel it and slice it thinly.

Dandelion is the ultimate easiest grown vegetable I can think of.
No sowing, it is self sown (weedy).
No weeding, remember, it’s a weed.
No watering, It’s weedy and hard to kill.
Only work involved is reaching to the ground for the harvest.

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Turnip Brassica rapa Petrowsky Gulia

The turnips are among the last of the ones I sowed after harvesting the garlics. The most typical, I moved to a bed where they next summer will flower and set seeds. The other large turnips we have eaten during the autumn. Left are the smaller ones, which still grows in the mild December weather we have at the moment.

If we want a spicy taste, we eat them raw with the skin on. For a mild turnip, we draw the skin off with a knife. One of the secrets of turnips 🙂

Petrowsky Gulia is an old Danish strain of an Eastern European cultivar, as I have written about in a previous post:

https://toads.wordpress.com/2010/01/01/seeds-from-nordgen/

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Eggplant (Solanum melongena)

Again this year, I had to resort to the eggplant seeds from 2009. I wait for a hot summer, so I again can harvest mature seeds. This year we ate the whole harvest. I harvested on September 30, and the following week we had the luxury of our own tender eggplants.

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Rima F3 No.3

The seed envelope from 2009 where I wrote “Rima F3 No.3” is a treasure. It is with no doubt my best eggplant seed envelope. This year more than half of the plants fruited in the open ground (seedlings was sown indoor before transplant, as the other years) despite a cool summer. However, in this cold summer I can’t imagine they can set seeds. Instead we have eaten them all, except one, which revealed some seeds that might mature, as I cut it open in the kitchen.

In the greenhouse, I have grown their cousins, Rima F3 No.1. (motherplants were siblings). I did so to highly increase my chances to harvest ripe seeds. Since this is the third year in open ground without harvest of mature seeds from my eggplants, I’m testing a new strategy. Should I grow my seedlings in the greenhouse, save seeds from each fruit separately and numbered? Then I can make comparative cultivation out in the kitchen garden, and this way recognize the best seed envelope for next generation (to be grown in the greenhouse…). It will not be quite as dogmatic plant breeding, but maybe it will speed up the process? I will sow my Rima F4 No.1. seeds next year, to learn if this strategy works for me. I would of course prefer to harvest my seeds from plants in the kitchen garden. Hopefully I come to that in the future.

PS. My garden tiles measures 40x40cm.


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Hawberry (Crataegus laevigata og Crataegus monogyna)

There are plenty of hawberries on the commons, in hedgerows and scrubs. This year I couldn’t resist to pick some of them. When I got home, I found a recipe for ketchup based on hawthorn on Jonathan Wallace’s blog Self-sufficient in Suburbia.

Since I always have to try things a little different than stated in the recipe, I ended up making ketchup from: Hawthorn, kombucha, sugar, red wine vinegar, salt, garlic, black pepper, paprika, chilli and tarragon.

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Hawthorn Ketchup

The result was 4 glasses of hawberry ketchup. The taste is great, quite similar to tomato ketchup. This is the first time I’ve used hawberries. With this experience, I could not dream of growing tomatoes for ketchup. It is easier to go out on a nice day and pick the small berries, than it is to grow a similar number of tomatoes from seeds, taking care of them spring and summer.

The process is simple. Rinse the berries, cover them with half vinegar and half water (here I used kombucha and a little vinegar). Gently boil them 30 minutes and press them through a sieve. Kernels and stem residues remain in the sieve, out comes a beautiful red mass. The spices are added and the ketchup boiled again, then poured on scalded glasses. I immediately turn the glasses, to let the heat of the content pasteurize the lids.


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Today’s harvest

Today’s harvest included:

Eggplants/Aubergines. Solanum melongena I harvested some of the late fruits, certainly failing to produce seeds. They are grown in open ground, because I am trying to develop an open-air variety. This summer’s heavy rains made me pessimistic, but now many of the plants stands out there in the rough weather with one, two or more fruits. I wonder if water was a limiting factor in the other years I’ve grown eggplants out in the garden?
Apparently they have thrived with melons in the same bed. The melon plants was growing fine all summer, but the rain have prevented any pollination – no melons this year 😦

Groundcherries. Physalis sp. In the bowl is what I picked up from the ground today. I last cleared the ground two days ago. I find the taste very similar to cape gooseberries. The fruit is somewhat smaller. They are grown outdoors, and gives a good yield, in contrast to the low yield of cape gooseberries in my climate. The fruit should not be picked from the plant, but picked up when they fall to the ground. They are protected by the delicate husk, so they don’t get bruised or dirty.
This year I got a much better yield than last year. Primarily I think, because they have a more fertile soil. I grow two cultivars, one without a name, and one called ‘Goldie’. There is no big difference, they taste the same, but ‘Goldie’ is probably a bit bigger in growth and fruit.
Some fruits are ready to eat picked from the ground, others have to further mature for a few days. The berry turn yellow when the delicate aroma and sweetness emerges.

Sweet pepper. Capsicum annuum Purple bell peppers (No cultivar name) and red-orange-yellow ’Alma Paprika’ FS584 apple pepper, both from outdoors. ’Alma Paprika’ FS584 is known to be early, and it has lived up to my high expectations. The plant is densely packed with fruit, and even though I’ve picked these 4, it still seems overloaded with fruits 🙂 The purple bell pepper is the big surprise. I thought it was a greenhouse variety, but it has fared well in open ground, and set four purple bell peppers.

Tomatillo. Physalis ixocarpa We have been pleased with the tomatillos. They do not taste of much, or in any way significant, apart from slightly acid. But in sauce and casseroles gives a wonderful taste to the other ingredients. Could it be the umami taste? They go well with most ingredients in the kitchen, are easy to grow, and gives a good yield. It might be clever to tie them up a bit. But when the fruit comes with its own wrapper, you can safe time and just let it ramble along the ground. This is one of the vegetables you can eat daily.


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Garlic, Allium sativum, “Grethes Supermarked”

Now it’s time to harvest the early garlics. The bulbs are beautiful this year. But the leek moth have been foraging on my garlic. I have sorted them so that the healthy garlic dries with the top, the ones attacked with out top. I found one garlic where the leek moths larva had gnawed a hole out from a clove. That garlic is now on the kitchen table to be cooked these days.

When I decide to harvest the garlic, it’s after counting the leaves. The leaves wither one by one, starting with the lower leaves, from the bottom up. Only the green leaves can makes the scales covering the garlic cloves. By counting the green leaves I can figure out how many scales the dry garlic will have after curing. At least two scales are needed, as the upper leave only produce a scale for the inner half of the cloves. The next leave produce a scale covering the first scale (with its cloves) and the second row of cloves. In some cultivars there can even be more than two rows of cloves, thus needing more scales. I’ve decided to harvest when 4-5 green leaves remain. But as garlic increase size significantly in the weeks before harvest, one also want to harvest as late as possible.


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