Thursday, 31 January 2008


A quick update on a crop I was quite excited about last Winter. It's called "Pepino" (Solanum muricatum).

I was interested in it for many reasons: taste- it's supposed to taste like a melon and pear combined, productivity, season - November to December, it's also a perennial so will last from season to season if given a helping hand.

The main reason was it was strange looking so i had to have it!

Anyway I obtained some seeds from Trade Winds Fruit

A great site with one of the biggest collections of hard to find seeds I have ever come across, they even have purple kiwis.

They grew extremely well, just like tomatoes and share that wonderful trait of putting out aerial roots so you can literally snap off a branch and it will root readily.

The only hard thing was working out when they were at their ripest. A light yellow tinge told you it was almost time, but if you took too long they were soft and pretty horrible.

When you got it right- around mid December, they were really good: crisp, refreshing and mildly lemony, peary and melony. They had lots of fruit some of which the birds got their beaks into.

The best thing was being able to go to the tunnel around Christmas and be able to harvest something that wasen't a lettuce or a bit of kale..

So the plants are still here and i plan to use them next year. They are slowly creeping into fashion, I see places like Thompson and Morgan stock them.

It's late and there's more diggin to be done.

until next time.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Breaking Ground

So January is here and I can feel Spring just around the corner. The sleepy state of Winter is slowly changing into the rush of new growth!
I've been reading a lot about underground greenhouses, how they keep a lot more of their heat- up to 75%, how they are cheaper, use less resources and have a smaller impact on the landscape.
Here's an interesting article about a bolivian version called a walipini

So while i'm not going to jump straight into building one of those i am digging down my big tunnel to test out some of these ideas.
I had some help with this from my friend carlos, here he is in action:

Thanks Carlos!!

So working away today I had a visit from a not so welcome visitor, some little mice who like the taste of my parsley for some reason!:

I know they look very cute, but i'm still going to seal up the tunnel as best i can..

Another idea is to make as much use of space as possible, this means trying to grow double the crops i normally would by intelligent use of light.
Helping me in this is a series called the "victorian kitchen garden" it's a show from the 70's where they recreated a walled garden (6 acres of it!) and grew everything as the victorians would have.

It's a great insight into this hey day of horticulture, and gives me some valuable methods of growing without any electrical heat.

One clever thing is to grow melons tied vertically up the roof. I'm going to attempt this on the north side of the tunnel, on tables over the salads which like some shade, thus growing two crops where one would normally be.

Putting in shelves will give me lots of potting space, freeing up time for the small tunnel, which is standing impatiently in the wings, waiting for it's turn in the sunlight!

And then there is the pond to dig.. carlos come back ;-)