Thursday, 12 February 2009

pumpkin harvest've been agonising for about a few weeks over my pumpkins, wondering if they're ripe or if I'm meant to leave them for longer.  Now it's the night before we fly to the US for two weeks, and I still faced the dilemma: to harvest the ripest one or to leave it?  What if I left it and it's left too long and rotted?  If I pick it, you're meant to "cure it" by leaving it in the sun for a few days before storing ... but I wouldn't want to impose on our house sitters to worry about that. so I decided on the third option.  I picked the ripest one, chopped it up and ate it!  At long last. is such a beautiful little pumpkin!  Well not really that little, it still weighed several kilos.  It's certainly bigger than my goal of "small enough for meat to eat it all in one go." look at all of that rich, thick flesh and fat little seeds.  It actually was just shy of ripe, some of the seeds were a tiny bit green at the base and I saw one hint of green through some of the flesh.  Ah well, now I know better for next time, and I certainly didn't pick it too early (unlike the continued miscalculations with the figs).

I chopped up about 1/3 of it and roasted it with a bit of garlic, sage and rosemary.  I toasted up some garlic bread and cracked open a cold cider to go with it.  A lovely autumnal dinner, even if it isn't autumn yet. texture once roasted was incredibly light and fluffy inside, and savoury rather than sweet (which I prefer in a pumpkin). However it wasn't a very rich flavour, but that may be because it picked a smidge early and not cured, I hear that the flavour improves after a bit of storage.  I'll be able to find out after I get back!

And in the meantime, I hope my house sitters like pumpkin ...

Monday, 9 February 2009

and then there were five

My garden took the latest day of record heat very well, probably because it was only scorching hot for the day, then by 6pm it cooled back down. But for some reason my pumpkin vine didn't fare so well.

As you can see the older parts of the vine died right back, even though I watered it just the day before. The newer growth is still powering along, though, it's even putting out more baby fruit though I don't know if I want it to try to make more pumpkins or just finish off what's already there.

You'll notice in this picture that the pumpkin on the bottom left is a lot smaller than the others. It's always been smaller, though it turned the same shade of ripe orange. No idea why it's so small.

The evening of the hot day I went out to inspect the vine and was surprised to see the stem of the little pumpkin had broken off! I thought, maybe it was ripe? But when I turned it around to look at it, I got quite a shock. It was like Norman Bates in psycho - turn over a perfectly lovely pumpkin and you see THIS shocker.

How could it have rotted so quickly? There are already nasty little caterpillars moved in, and fungus ... just ew! I guess I can only hope this doesn't happen to the other five.

another bad record

We had another beast of a hot day this weekend. It got up to 46 degrees - 115F. Hottest it's been in Melbourne since records began.

Thank goodness it was only one day, though the sudden increase and abrupt wind change whipped up bushfires that have destroyed entire towns just outside of Melbourne. Over 100 people reported dead, one of the worst fires in history - edit - in checking the news again, since this morning the toll has gone up to 130 with fears that it could reach 200 when they go through all of the houses that have burned down.

It almost seems silly to post after that. Whatever happened to my garden is nothing compared to losing a home or a life in the fires.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

mmmmmm coffee

I finally got a hold of two big bags of used coffee grounds. My local cafe doesn't give them out because the people who work there take them home for their own gardens! But I was in the city and Starbucks had a sign inviting people to ask for them, so I did. Though I must say that on a hot day, carrying 2 bags of wet coffee grinds, about 6 or 7 kilos each, to the car ... was not fun.

It's such beautiful mulch. You can put it straight into the compost but I want to use it directly as much as I can. I put some on almost all of my pot plants, under the straw mulch, then put a bunch on my Japanese maple, pumpkin and carrots. And that was only half of the grounds! I just hope that it doesn't make the carrots taste like coffee...

I checked and the pH is 5, very acidic (makes sense, doesn't coffee hurt your teeth from the acid?). That will be absolutely perfect for the Japanese maple and my rhododendrons. The only problem is it's so fine it'll wash away if push back the bark mulch to water it. Good thing I got those water spikes. As soon as I have enough plastic bottles to set up water spikes on the rhodies, I'll put coffee grinds on top of the roots with the spike to the side.