Monday, 9 August 2010

High Summer Miscellanea

A few things of interest that caught my eye while patrolling the plot the other day:

Tomato, De Barao Black (thanks Toad) with Oca growing at its feet. It's my first year with this variety, and it's turning out to be very productive - the canes are buckling under the load. The taste is slightly lacking in acidity, but it's good for cooking. I'll be saving seed and probably adding it to my 'grow every year' list.

That's Tigerella (also known as Mr Stripey) with Oca, as usual, providing ground cover. I've already demonstrated that tomatoes and Oca grow well as a bi-crop, and it's working just as well for me again this year.

The first of this year's Yacon flowers with a hoverfly getting stuck in. I'll be watching for seed setting, but like Oca, this is another awkward outbreeding blighter when it comes to pollination - this time because male flowers don't appear until after the female flowers, and even then, seed set is said to be poor.

A domestic bee and a bumblebee doing their thing on a globe artichoke. The plot is literally buzzing with pollinators this Summer. This is partly because we have beekeeping on the site now, but also the increased use of organic methods by plot-holders seems to have boosted the general insect population. This is all good news, especially for those of us aiming to collect seed from difficult-to-pollinate crops like Oca or Yacon.

This is Ulluco, which I'm growing for the first time this year. Having now seen its growth habit, it seems another strong candidate for ground-cover in a vegetable polyculture. It's lower-growing than Oca, and fills out as ground cover a bit earlier in the season. I could see it working well with leeks, corn, chili-peppers, tall peas, tomatoes...
But first, I need to obtain tubers from this year's crop, which is by no means guaranteed from all accounts.
Update: Harvest results here.

Other gardeners have squashes growing out of their compost heaps ...
Hats off to Oca, a resilient survivor - last year's dross tubers have sent stems struggling through the 3mm wide aeration holes of this plastic compost bin despite being buried under two feet of mouldering vegetable peelings.

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