This is a photo of some seedlings that I have in my greenhouse.
This is another photo of the same seedlings. There is nothing wrong with the second photo. It’s perfectly fine. It’s in focus and has some good colour. But… it’s nothing special.
The first photo has a special quality to it. The angle is lower, the light makes it come alive, and the low depth of field makes it almost magical.
Who doesn’t need a bit of magic in their lives? Think about the shot, wait for the right light, add a bit of water if you like, and choose an interesting angle. The photo will always be better. Guaranteed.
It doesn’t always work out like that. Sometimes I just need to take the photo and be done. Sometimes the day is a bit dreary and I can do nothing about it. But if I can, I always go for the first shot. It just makes things a little nicer.
At the moment my greenhouse is home to a collection of Spaghetti Squash that I just harvested. It was one of the more successful plants I had from the curcubit family this year. The other one was Butternut Squash. But they are not quite ready yet.
I had two Spaghetti Squash plants placed pretty close together and I’ve harvested around eight squashes. When they are ready the stalk starts to die back a little and some of them actually detach themselves from the plants and just sit there in amongst the leaves that are wilting with the cold.
They start off a sort of pale lemon colour and as they ripen and the skins harden in the sun they go this lovely sunshine yellow. It’s a wonderful colour for Autumn.
And it’s nice to have something in the greenhouse again. It’s been far too empty for far too long.
How did they get that big? I knew that they went to seed. It seemed like it was about a month ago but then the next day they were this big! It’s time to clear up the Oakleaf Lettuce.
They did very well all Summer. We ate handfuls of lovely fresh Lettuce every day. And they held their own while other Lettuces lost it. When they did finally run away they performed another useful function in deterring Monty (our 8 month old, insane Great Dane puppy) from trampling that bit of the bed. He didn’t like them for some reason. Maybe it was because they were the same height as his head.
Now we have a fence (yes a fence, cemented into the ground!) to keep Monty where he should be so I have no need of my green barrier. Today they made their way to the compost pile and we said goodbye to garden Lettuce until next Spring. Bye bye OakLeaf Triffids.
“I don’t take photos of people’ – that’s what I told them when they asked me to do this photoshoot for the 2014 Master Gardener recruitment campaign here in Portland. And it’s true! I’m happy taking photos of Cabbages, Tomatoes, whole Chard plants and even rows of Peas, but people? Well, I try to keep them out of it, if I can. You see I’m not so confident with portraits and being a bit of a coward I avoid things I’m not good at.
But they worked their magic on me and I said yes. So I turned up with my little bag of lenses (take them all I thought, you never know when you might need a Macro lens for this kind of work!). Of course I don’t own a flash or any lighting gear (Cabbages don’t need fill-in). And I tried to look like I knew what I was doing.
The models were very nice. The light was the biggest problem we had. The sun kept appearing and giving people a nice angelic halo every now and again. The box was heavy! And surprisingly difficult to hold straight.
But we managed to have a laugh. And…I’m pretty happy with the photos I took. Shocked would be a better word. So if you do see these photos as part of a Master Gardener campaign around the city you’ll know they were taken by me. The one who doesn’t do people :)
The weather has definitely taken a turn for the worse here in Portland. There has been non-stop heavy rain for over a week and not only has it played havoc with my guttering but it has also beaten my Tomatoes almost to the ground. There is little chance that the remaining Tomatoes will ripen so in they came.
This is a pretty good haul. I may even have to double or triple my Green Tomato Chutney recipe in honour of this. My neighbours might also get to try some good ole British chutney. I’m sure they will be eating Ploughman’s Lunch before we know it :)
I grew Edamame Beans this year. And a couple of days ago I harvested some. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting anything to come of the plants. I never saw any seed for sale while I was in the UK so I assumed that you couldn’t grow them. When I moved here the seed packets were everywhere so I thought, ‘let’s give it a go’. A bit like with the Watermelon – you know, what’s the worst that can happen?
So I sowed the seed. Pretty late in the season actually. Around early July time. They shot up. And just carried on growing. The plants are about two foot high. But one of the best things about them is that they don’t need staking. They just stand up by themselves. A little bit like a French Bean bush.
The beans started to appear, and fatten but I had no idea when to harvest them so I looked it up. Edamame beans are actually immature Soybeans so you harvest them when the pods start to swell with something the size of a large oval pea inside.
Then you harvest them, boil them in the pods for five mins or so until the pods turns a slightly olive colour. Then you can either pop them out and use in salads or sprinkle salt and eat them by squeezing the pod between your teeth until the bean pops out and discarding the pod. That’s the way I’ve eaten them in restaurants.
They’re a pretty cool crop. No bother really and the results are plentiful.
Today I cleared away the Pepper plants and rescued the last little Peppers that were still clinging on. The rain has been very heavy here and my Pepper plants were almost horizontal. Goodbye until next year. So they went in the compost bin and the teeny Peppers came inside. They may or may not be edible. We’ll see.
As you can see I have some seedlings growing in the greenhouse. They are Winter Density Lettuce and I plan to grow them in the small bed that I have inside the greenhouse. I’m planning to sow some Radish and Corn Salad too. Just to lift our salad spirits in the depths of Winter!
Next year I might have a go at Salad Burnet, now that Monty was talking about it last week on Gardeners’ World (still love that show). But then I want to do everything that Monty does. I even scratched my lawn and forked some drainage holes in it today. Teacher’s pet.
The moss, it is a-growing.
Good question! You need a long, hot summer and a good location to grow Watermelon but if you’re lucky enough to have that then you may be able to grow Watermelon. The question is, when do you pick? Because after all that hard work you don’t want to spoil it all by picking too late or indeed too early.
But don’t worry there are signs that will tell you when is the right time.
The first sign to look for is the nearest tendril to the fruit. It will be curled and, if the Watermelon is ripe, it will brown and shrivelled. The one in the photo is not, so this Watermelon is not yet ready.
Next look for a small cup-shaped leaf near to the fruit called the ‘spoon’ leaf. It’s about the size of a teaspoon and different from the other leaves. If this leaf is brown and shrivelled or has even fallen off then this is another sign that the Watermelon is ready.
Lastly, inspect the underside of the Watermelon. Is there a white patch, or lighter patch on the Watermelon. If so then this could be a sign that it’s not ready. Ripe Watermelons should be a nice deep green colour all over.
So there you go. If all the signs are there, harvest now, before the weather gets any worse.
My plants do me a huge favour (because it’s all about me!). They produce lots and lots of seed every year, without fail. They spend their time and energy kicking out an abundance of ‘mini me’s’ and what do I do? I ignore their efforts (for the most part), complain about the price of plants at the local nursery and insist on buying seed because I ‘like the packet design’. Not very smart, actually.
Last year, I spent a small fortune with Botanical Interests. So much infact that they sent me free seed as a ‘thankyou’ for the business. Hmmm… exactly.
The bottom line is that I need to get on it with the seed saving and generally making more use of the free stuff that is already in my garden. I started with my Tomatoes. Most of the Tomatoes I grew this year were heirloom Tomatoes. This equals more expensive than the others. I’m not a skinflint. At least I don’t think I am. But I do like a good deal. And saving my own seed is good deal. And also pretty fun.
I’ve done it before. Specifically, with Tomatoes you need to rot off the jelly bit that is around the seed. Otherwise you run the risk of the seed going mouldy in the packet. Scoop the seed out and put it in a container with a lid. Then put some water in and put the lid on. Leave for a week. Then pour through a sieve and knock the seeds out onto a paper towel to dry. When they are dry pop them in a ‘breathable’ bag – I’ve been using paper coin bags. And label.
When you save your own seed you can play around with naming them. One of my Black Krim Tomato plants insisted on producing yellow Tomatoes instead of red/black. So I saved the seed separately and called it Yellow Krim. I’m pretty sure it’s unique :) Maybe I could go crazy and call it ‘My Tiny Krim’ or ‘Banana Wonder’.
I’m estimating I’ve saved around $15 on Tomato seeds. Assuming they germinate. But you know if they don’t, who cares? They were free!
I’m also not limiting my seed saving to vegetables anymore. I’ve saved Salvia, Larkspur, Delphinium, Poppy, Polemonium and Foxglove. And also Hosta. Oooh… look at me! Assuming I can grow all of these seeds think of the possibilities when it comes to the number of plants I can produce. I may even have some to give to the neighbours. Well, maybe.