POP…… radish are UP

POP…………..…

The first leaves of radish showing after only five days after sowing
The first leaves of radish showing only five days after sowing

Just 5 days and seeds of radish have germinated; another week and radicchio are also up.  A certain sign that the seed you have sown is viable is when the cotyledon leaf appears; at the same time the first roots will be forming below the soil surface.  Cotyledon leaves are often kidney shaped and appear as a pair, differing remarkably from adult leaves that will soon follow.

Baby radish and radicchio germinating between rows of garlic
Baby radish and radicchio germinating between rows of garlic

The Radish and Radicchio will provide a cheery winter crop for salads.  It is a great use of space as rows of garlic growing each side mature through winter and spring.

A sensible use of space with your radish growing between rows of garlic.
A sensible use of space with your radish growing between rows of garlic.

Small seedlings are always prone to slug and snail attack. Sprinkle some coffee grounds around – snails and slugs hate the gritty nature of the grinds. An added bonus of coffee grounds is that worms love the grit. Ask your local café if you can take some home, they often throw the spent grounds in the bin.  Any excess you can sprinkle into your worm farm or in the compost bin, it helps to sweeten the decomposing matter.  I will complete a blog on this at the end of May.

Days are now milky with cloud and nights have turned quite cold. Add the chill factor from a wind whipping through everything and we know that winter is just around the corner.

Gardener’s Lore…….. the growth on everything slows as we approach the shortest day. Four weeks each side of the winter equinox (June 21, when the daylight is at its shortest for the year) most plants slow down.   With a little luck a gardener might catch one or two days where the temperature will peak just below 20 degrees. The soil is still warm so there is time to POP a crop of snap peas, podding peas or snow peas in – choose the variety that pleases the cook in your family for a tasty late winter pick.

The size difference between dry pea seed and that soaked for 24 hours is very noticeable
The size difference between dry pea seed and that soaked for 24 hours is very noticeable

I recommend soaking the seed overnight as I did with broadbeans (see post April 26). This approach will shorten germination by up to a week. Peas sown now will be ready from about mid August. If you have a really protected spot with a warm wall that absorbs and holds heat you can bring this forward by a few weeks.

Lucky people with a mini glass house might even get them sooner!!!

Thin radish shoots and use them as micro greens to add sweetness to an autumn salad.
Thin radish shoots, wash well and use them as micro greens to add sweetness to an autumn salad.

I have thinned some of the germinated radish and will use the shoots as micro greens in a salad for dinner tonight. Mixed with baby lettuce leaves, parsley, celery and a sprinkling of marigold petals to add a peppery flavour to the salad. It will accompany pasta sauce prepared from my own bottled passata.

Baby curly red lettuce, crunchy celery, chopped parsley with a sprinkle of baby radish micro greens and marigold petals.  Autumn Perfection.
Baby curly red lettuce, crunchy celery, chopped parsley with a sprinkle of baby radish micro greens and marigold petals. Autumn Perfection.

It’s going to be warm over the next few days so if you have an opportunity get sowing and reap the sweet results.

Autumn Harvest, Beans and More

Autumn is a time of abundance, when days are mild and the summer harvest is coming to its end. Our tomatoes have ripened and been picked but the last still linger to sweeten salads. A rogue plant has been this season’s favourite, a yellow tomatoe that is fleshy and sweet. Purchased as ‘Sweet Bite’ we were expecting clusters of red cherry tomatoes. This yellow marvel was one of the first to fruit and will be the last served at the table late autumn. I will save seed and try and grow more next year. Let’s see what evolves. An unnamed wonder.

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Plump and ripe the unnamed yellow tomato

We have extracted our honey, harvested pumpkins and the larder is full of passata and traditional chutney.

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The harvest table with honey, an array of vegetables and chutney.

These last mild days are great to sow early winter crops. The soil is warm and plants can reap the benefit from mild temperatures before the days shorten and the chill sets in.   The broccoli I planted just 6 weeks ago is beginning to head and the first of the dwarf snow peas are ready to pick. Young leeks planted from seedlings are starting to stand straight and will soon offer a first pick, baby leeks for the plate.

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Young snow peas, broccoli, baby leeks and rainbow chard nearly ready for autumn picking

Best of all, I have planted a very late crop of ‘Uncle George’s Beans’. These beans have been growing in our garden each summer for nearly 15 years. They are remarkable. A dwarf French bean they will continually crop if regularly picked. I always set seed aside when I grow them and I’m keen give seed away, they are such good performers.

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The first pick from a late crop. Flowering Uncle George’s Beans will offer more over the coming weeks.

I planted ‘Uncle George’ during early spring but the last crop of ‘Uncle George’ was planted in late February. They are in a spot protected from wind and catch the mid afternoon sun. I picked my first crop today, 375g of beans, with many more to come. I wonder how late they will continue? I know this will depend on the night temperatures over the coming weeks. There are tiny beans and flowers still appearing. I have spread some coffee grounds to deter snails from the lush growth, the tiny shellbacks are always a problem when the weather cools.

This wonderful bean was handed to me in an envelope with just 20 seeds inside. My work buddy and gardening friend, Macka, had been given them by another gardener. He had been growing them for 15 years before offering them to me. According to Macka the beans originate from up along the Murray River. It was his friend’s ‘Uncle George’, a farmer, who was the original grower of the beans.  A chain of gardeners. Growing beans, harvesting the crop and handing the seed one to another.

I cannot begin to calculate how many beans I have harvested and shared from those original 20 seeds handed to me.

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Weighing the beans, just to see how many are grown from a small handful of seeds.
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Sweet red hungarian peppers split and strewn with thyme for baking

Just last weekend we shared a table with friends and I took an offering grown from the garden including Kaboocha Sunshine pumpkin, Sweet red hungarian peppers, Beetroot both red and white, garlic, parsley and a sprinkle of marigold petals.   All topped with a good load of Uncle George’s Beans. Delicious.

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An autumn plate of garden vegetables baked and finished with parsley and a sprinkle of marigold petals.