TOP & FLOP CROPS
Two years after I moved my established ‘Pacific Purple’ crowns to a sunnier spot (their former bed had become shaded out by my peach trees), there are oodles of fat, tender spears to pick this season. But some of the old crowns didn’t survive the move so, last year, I slotted ‘Jersey Knight’ seedlings into the gaps. They sent up their first green spears in the last week of August whereas the purple variety doesn’t emerge here in Hunua until October.
Fancy homegrown asparagus? Sow seed now. Pre-soak seeds for 1-2 hours then sow in deep pots (such as recycled icecream containers with drainage holes). Expect germination within 2-3 weeks. After 2-3 months, transplant into larger pots or a temporary bed in your vege patch. Grow on until late next winter, then transplant into permanent trenches.
I’m jumping the gun a little but my stone pine trees ( Pinus pinea) have their first wee pineapple-shaped conelets. Pinus pinea has a very long gestation period but all going to plan with pollen production, I’ll be harvesting my first cones in… 2021!
Meanwhile, a friend has bought a block up the road that was once owned by a stalwart of the Tree Crops Association. She has inherited mature almonds, pecans and a wee plantation of stone pines laden with cones. Patience is a virtue, but so are friends blessed with good orchards!
What’s up Doc? I’ll tell you what’s not up at my place: any carrots. My recent sowings have come to nothing and I’m not sure who to blame – possums, pheasants, pukeko,¯ rabbits, blackbirds or chooks? I’m sure seed viability isn’t the culprit, as carrot seed usually sprouts without issue, so perhaps I’ll have to start covering the bed with a netted tent.
Carrots are one of our staple crops (as one of the few veges my children eat without complaint) so I’m annoyed by their absence, because generally they can be relied upon to feed us year round from two sowings, one in early spring and another in late summer.
Some gardeners swear by certain carrot varieties but I tend to simply sow whatever I find in my seed box.
I’ve come to rather fancy these weird bulbous brassicas, because they are so much faster and quicker to grow than standard broccoli or cabbage, yet they add the same flavour when grated or finely sliced into slaws and stirfries.
Kohlrabi are supposed to fatten up at the base, like an overfilled water balloon, but my entire crop bolted to seed when the stems had only just started to swell. Like button-headed broccoli, I suspect I’d left the seedlings in trays for too long prior to planting out, and their hasty exit was a symptom of post-traumatic stress.