TOP & FLOP CROPS
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.