TOP & FLOP CROPS

NZ Gardener - - The Good Life -

LIMA BEANS:

When I sowed a packet of Peru­vian climb­ing ’Lima del Papa’ beans along the base of my bean tun­nel in De­cem­ber, I had vi­sions of shelling buck­ets of plump pods filled with speck­led red and white seeds. But my plants had other ideas. To­tal yield: 1 cup (pic­tured above).

How­ever, I’m still claim­ing it as a top crop be­cause, like Ori­en­tal snake beans, li­mas re­ally need a sub­trop­i­cal cli­mate. The Kings Seeds cat­a­logue ad­vises that they “pre­fer warmer con­di­tions than other beans and will per­form poorly if sown too early in the sea­son“, but per­haps I waited too long to sow them. The vines took two months to pod up and, one month later, sum­mer was over. By the end of April, when the vines had yel­lowed off, the pods were still small and flat-tum­mied.

This was my first at­tempt to grow lima beans and, given that the Kings Seeds cat­a­logue also ad­vises har­vest­ing “when the beans are plump and bulge inside the pod“, I fig­ure I was lucky to get any at all! PAR-CEL:

This celery-pars­ley hy­brid is a herb gar­den main­stay be­cause you can eat the leaves as you would Ital­ian pars­ley, and use the crisp but slen­der stalks as a sub­sti­tute for celery. My par-cel has done par­tic­u­larly well with all the rain this year – its stalks are al­most as fat as my true celery. KAFFIR LIMES:

Frost has put paid to all three of my at­tempts to grow aro­matic kaffir lime leaves here in Hunua, but the baby tree I planted in Tairua is now flour­ish­ing and fruit­ing! ‘TRIAMBLE’ PUMPKINS: When I was a teenager, my un­cle John, an or­ganic gar­dener from way back, grew the big­gest con­crete-grey ’Triamble’ pumpkins I’ve ever seen – then or since. His spec­i­mens were al­most too heavy to lift, whereas mine are al­ways mis­er­ably small. Per­haps the seed strain is no longer the same.

An un­usual heir­loom iron­bark pump­kin, ’Triamble’ has a unique shape – it looks like a ribbed bas­ket­ball that has gone flat be­fore be­ing folded in on it­self, re­sult­ing in a dis­tinc­tive tri­an­gu­lar form.

The flesh is rich or­ange, sweet and dry, and that tough grey skin means it’s both a real keeper and a real pain to cut into. Sharpen your axe or climb a lad­der to try the old trick of drop­ping it from a great height onto a paved pa­tio or drive­way. OR­NA­MEN­TAL ‘MINI MON­STER’ GOURDS:

Some­one clearly for­got to tell our kunekune pig, Ap­ple Sauce, that these cute warty cu­cur­bits are pre­dom­i­nantly grown for dec­o­ra­tive pur­poses. When I re­cently left the door to our sta­ble­block open, that naughty porker wad­dled in and ate them. That’ll teach me for ar­rang­ing them ever so art­fully in vin­tage wicker bas­kets… on the floor. BOT­TLE GOURDS: I spoke too soon when I wrote last month that my bot­tle gourds ( La­ge­naria sicer­aria) were swelling up nicely. The vines were wrecked in a storm and I only man­aged to sal­vage six im­ma­ture gourds. Will they dry or rot? Only time will tell.

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