11 January 2009

Summer's Sweet Harvest

Well, its not full-on serious harvest time. Not yet. But at least a few things are happening to feed us!

Baby Marrows (Courgettes: Casserta -- drop me a line if you want some seed!) and Yellow Crookneck Squash are... abundant. Not yet at that stage where we're crying "Oh Fuck! Not More Squash!" Still enjoying them. Actually, a great number of the Yellow Crooknecks are mostly there for seed anyway. You see, I inherited a great deal of Yellow Crookneck seed from a kind neighbour earlier in the year, and was very happy! Some years ago I was happily growing this variety of Summer squash, and then I lost them completely -- all the fruits I kept for seed, carefully pollinating by hand, were stung by Pumkpin Fly and vrotted1 on the vine! So you will understand my great joy at being gifted several packets of Yellow Crookneck seed... until I discovered that the seed was quite old. Six years and more. :-(

I planted a whole lot (perhaps 2-dozen?) in the hope that 2 or 3 plants would emerge, and I got 8. They're just at the stage where the early fruits are forming, but their flowers haven't opened yet, so, this morning, I ran about wrapping masking-tape over the unopened flowers so that they can't open until I want them to! Tomorrow or the next day. I'll remove the tape, the flowers should spring open, and I'll pollinate them by hand, using male flowers from different plants, and then taping them shut again so that Bees can't accidentally violate the flowers with other pollen. (It is possible; I have another variety of Summer squash in close proximity.)

Actually it was quite fun2 with one... As I was looking for flowers at exactly the right stage of development, I watched one of our Bees gathering nectar in the bottom of a male Yellow Crookneck Squash, and then, immediately after, moving directly to a female flower on the next-door Yellow Crookneck plant. Bingo! Job done, I just taped the female flower shut. :-D

Other than Squash, we're eating Chillis off the one plant that made it through Winter, but eagerly awating the new season's offering. Same with Tomatoes. It is a very late season this year! The Brandywines are finally forming fruit -- about 3cm across at this stage. The only fruiting Tomatoes are the Red Cherries and a couple (TomatoR1 and TomatoR2) of weird volunteers that we're unable to identify -- so we'll be propogating them forward next year to try and figure out what's going on.

We harvested the Dragon's Lingerie Beans a couple of weeks ago, and left the last few pods to dry-off. Threshed them out today, and the yield is not as bad as it might have been. Notwithstanding that they were badly whacked by rats, we harvested 732g of dry beans from 10m2. That equates to 732kg/hA -- not great, but better than many commercial harvests! I was planning to harvest the Hopi Black today, but vistis from neighbours put paid to that...mebbe tomorrow, eh?

Amongst the Dragon's Lingerie Beans that we threshed out I notice a couple of oddities (BeanR3 and BeanR4) that I kept aside to grow separately so that we can find out if they're genuinely something different or merely the result of some environmental factors.

An Odd Thought

If this were a more "industrial" setup... if we were not a handraulic self-sufficiency operation... there is absolutely no chance that we would have noticed some different few beans in amogst the harvest. They may turn out to be nothing more than aberations brought on by disease, too much sun, or poor placement in the garden.

But, if we were not processing them by hand we would never have the chance to find out!

[1] Just remove the "v"...[2] OK, so I have a peculiar and probably perverse notion of "fun".

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