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Heirloom potatoes in "The Home Garden" from 1953

"The Home Garden" from 1953 mentions the following Riwai/taewa

In the home garden potatoes for early planting should first be set to sprout in a light, frost free airy position. Well-sprouted tubers can be planted shallowly in a warm position, but must be earthed up after the shoots appear, and continued earthing-up must be done while danger of frosts is present. Early varieties are: Epicure, Robyn Adair potato , Cliffs Kidney and Arran Banner. Main crops for late planting include, Arran Chief, Iron Duke, Inverness Favourite, Dakota and Auckland Tall Top.

Stewart Island potatoes

Stewart island potato Found by Kay Baxter rowing wild in a clifff face along the shore on Stewart Island around 1990. It is an extremely beautiful variety similar in shape to Whataroa and Chatham Islands however this one has pink rather than purple colouring on the skin.

New action buttons

There are five new buttons on the top of every page in Growstuff this week. They're the five most useful actions for someone tracking their garden.

"My Gardens" is where you can see what's going on in your garden, and for perennial crops, you'll see how many days to harvest, and a progress bar to the predicted time the planting will finish (i.e. plant death). You can choose a planting and record activity such as harvests, or finish, saving seeds, or a photo.

"Plant something" is to record a new planting in your garden. If there's enough data from other growers (or your garden), we can do some predictions. If there's not enough data yet, go ahead and grow and log your results. Then we'll be able to start predicting next time.

"Harvest something" is to record the fruit, herbs, vegetables and other edibles you harvest along the way. The more you log, the more accurate our predictions get.

"Save Seeds" is to record when you keep seeds from a plant. From this information, you can see which plant each of your seeds came from, and over time compare the photos of the plantings. This is to help you work out if your 2nd or 3rd generation plantings are still true to the original, or if you're successfully selecting for the trait you want. You can also use it to record the inventory you purchased.

"Write blog post" is for free form notes about your gardening adventures.

Farmbot are cool - and their icons are too

This week I met with Rory who is the founder of FarmBot. He's offered me their CC-0 licensed icons they created. These are a dataset for their OpenFarm Project (so they're considered data, not code, so isn't in git) The icons are for a crop. e.g. one for corn, one for tomatoes

They look useful.

The Open Farm project is quiet right now and needs some contributions to get the tests running again. It's got some really nice data in there we could use (and access by API).

If i can get seasonal information, and other "how to grow" such as crop rotation, that will be useful. Right now we predict plant harvest - and we could suggest growing crops, but this would result in suggesting growing Kumara in winter, which is doomed to fail in my garden.

puppy

we have a puppy. She's gorgeous but she's also destroying my garden. This year I think i won't be planting out a garden, because i know she'll dig it up.

How to save seeds

Beans, peas and corn: remove husks and allow seeds to dry out – this may take a couple of weeks, then remove casings and store.

Pumpkins and melons: seeds need to be washed and set aside to dry for a week or so before storage.

Lettuce, celery, parsnip, rocket, carrots, leeks, onions and radicchio: allow plants to set seed (tall stems of flowers will eventually appear), pick once the seed heads are brown and crisp sounding. Hang upside down in plastic bags for a week or so, rustle the remaining seeds out of the stems and store.

Cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, chillies and capsicums: scoop out flesh and wash through a sieve. Lay the seeds on a paper towel and place somewhere warm and dry for a week or two before storing. Be careful with chilli seeds as they can sting, so avoid touching your eyes after touching the seeds. Once completely dry, cut the paper towel into small pieces and store seeds on the towel in an envelope.

Indigenous plants

I've been growing several indigenous plants recently. Theres a miro tree that will eventually have berries. I've added karaka tawa, and hīnau to the growstuff database too, as these were (and are) food sources for the people living here for centuries. Also kūmara

There is also the New Zealand flax 2hich I've made as a new crop separate from the existing flax crop. I have renamed the flax crop to common flax as its a different plant and that's what it's called on Wikipedia.

I've planted several kawakawa recently mostly for medicinal use. It can make a reasonable tea with lemon grass.

Lastly, I discovered some New Zealand spinach growing wild behind the trampoline. This is going in the curry tonight. 🥘

Preparing for winter

I'm going to attempt to grow potato over winter. To prepare I'm going to do a full garden bed of mustard and then dig the greens into the soil. Add compost and blood and bone. I've never attempted potato over winter. It can get very wet here, and in August it drops below 0C for a few weeks. Also on the list to plant is parsnip and carrot.

There's a storm coming..

Cyclone Gita is due here on Tuesday. I'm gonna need to bring in the tomato stakes and other items that might turn into projectiles.

Vermicompost

I am trying to compost as much kitchen waste as possible.

Lifespan and harvest predictions

Something i've been working on is the predictions on GrowStuff.org. If you go to you gardens page there's now a progress bar for each annual planting. That's plantings that are expected to complete there lifespan in 2 years or less . the progress bar is % until the plant is finished and can be removed.

I also built a "first and last harvest" predictor. It's based on the median time from planting a plant until it is first harvested. It's only as good as the data on Growstuff.

The predictions for crops like coriander and basil look pretty good.

Right now, coriander says: Median lifespan of coriander plants is 156 days. First harvest expected 36 days after planting. The last harvest expected 115 days after planting.

Meanwhile, basil says: Median lifespan of basil plants is 178 days. The first harvest expected 51 days after planting. The last harvest expected 49 days after planting. The last harvest sounds wrong, but we have a lot more data on first harvest than on last harvest. A planting has to be marked as finished before we know that a harvest was the last.

that looks like the basil plants hang on a long time in people's gardens while not being harvested anymore.

The predictions for the perennial plants aren't quite as good, e.g. strawberry which has " Median lifespan of strawberry plants is 15 days "

Vermicompost for sale or trade!

My worms have been going gangbusters so I have several kilograms of high quality vermicompost for sale of trade. On ebay it goes for $20/400 grams but I'd be thrilled to get $10/400 grams or to trade for interesting plants.

Planning for summer

I intend to remove the raised beds, and just dig the lawn up to be garden. It'll give more area. The current wooden raised beds might end up. On the front lawn.

none

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Good Friday

Today is good friday and i have:

  • Set up xiaomi plant sensors with homeassistant
  • shoveled the compost from the old bin over the gardens, and set up a new bin in new location
  • harvest the first feijoa. They were so heavy they broke a branch on the tree.

todo list

  • Plant more carrot
  • Plant the olive tree out front
  • Get new compost bin going
  • Clear out the tomato plants
  • Get a garden camera working
  • Get irrigator hooked up to home assistant
  • Install the xiaomi miflora in the herbs
  • Growstuff api!

how to eat kamo kamo

Chop up the kamo kamo.

Remove seeds. (Save these to grow for next year)

Leave skin on.

Roast with sprigs of rosemary at 180C for about 40 minutes (until soft) It's okay to do this the day before

Remove skins (easier if the kamo kamo is cool). place in pot with chicken stock and garlic. Puree with a stick blender until smooth. Heat slowly on the stove. Pour over pasta.

For extra points, serve with steamed pūhā

Summer broccoli doesn't work

I planted some broccoli at the start of spring.. I grew fast, made long stems and quickly turned into yellow flowers. I conclude the first spring summer months aren't good for brocoli.

So I've got some new seedlings in now, in the heat of summer, hoping that by the time i put them in the garden the weather will turn more autumn.

Some of features id like

I like to automate the calculations, analysis, and plain old remembering what has happened in the garden.

Some of the challenges in my garden is knowing when it's too late to planting something, if it will cope with the weather conditions here, and working out what is killing the tomato. The broccoli went into the on seed, I think because it was planted too early.

I suspect I've got consistently great yields of potato and carrot, but I'd need to more diligently record that to find out.

Remembering what I planted where, to properly crop rotate, would be useful.

I've mostly been a summer gardener, so knowing what to plant for successful winter gardening would be great.

Pūhā for dinner

Pūhā grows wild everywhere in New Zealand. It's a bit like spinach, but is bitter when raw. It's traditional in a bunch of dishes, but I like to use as a substitute for steamed spinach with eggs benedict.

Shakey SHakey Town

We've been rock and rolling with 7.7 Earthquake at midnight and i lost count of how many 6-pointer aftershocks - and a tsunami evacuation.

Super tired, this morning we went home for about 90 minutes sleep - and then went looking for something normal (instead of our wavy shaken up house). School is closed, the city cordoned off. We ended up at the garden shop, it having the only cafe open on a Monday.

Lots of plants acquired. Many large tomato seedlings, three artichoke, some perpetual spinach and chives.

They'll mostly go into the large garden bed we need to dig (frame is built). They'll need wind shelter. We've got a high winds warning for tonight (YAY! more disasters) so the seedlings are sheltering behind a north fenced. The winds are nearly always northerly here, but a north fence of course also blocks the sun from the north - so it'll need something better.

How to grow kūmara

Kūmara has been part of the staple diet of people in te Motu Kairangi for hundreds of years - so i figure it should grow here. I come from a long long line of potato growers, so maybe the genetic skills are transferrable.

I planted 4 kūmara into pots, with sand above and below, and left in a sunny spot on the deck. These should sprout and make tupu (i think this is "slips" in english).

Fermenting Hot Sauce method

I came across this post talking about how habanero and similar can be preserved; might have to give that a go.

typo

i meant to suggest "mesclun"

Website update (Release 13)

We've just made some minor updates to the website. These are mostly behind-the-scenes, enabling our next round of improvements.

  • Fixed broken emails
  • Minor gem upgrades
  • Build process improvements: Check PR author is in CONTRIBUTORS.md under Travis, Check for "forgot to commit Gemfile.lock" in CI, Block external URLs in feature tests
  • Add support for Bootstrap alert types
  • README file update for Freenode IRC

One trellis! Ah ah ah!

One trellis is finally done:

Trellis

Since I did end up deciding to plant an Opalka tomato after all (because I went to the Sheep & Wool festival, and someone there sells seedlings), I really did need to get on the ball about finishing at least the trellis that's in that bed.

As I previously posted, my beds are 3x8 ft. The trellis is placed one foot in, so something can be planted on both sides, and then there's 1ft left for non-climbing plants.

Here's how I made the trellis:

Requirements:

  • 5 pieces of 1/2" electrical conduit (or "EMT") (this is usually 10ft long)
  • 4 1/2" 90º connectors for conduit
  • 4 pieces 2ft 1/2" rebar
  • 16ft of 4ft high welded wire fencing
  • Garden wire / long twist ties / cable ties / heavy wire

Steps:

  1. Cut 4 of the pieces of conduit to 8ft long.
  2. Hammer rebar into the ground so 1ft remains above ground. You want one at each end of the bed, and then 2 centered with ~1/4" gap between them.
  3. Measure the distance from the inside of one rebar to the inside of the next. It's not exactly 4ft.
  4. Cut the last piece of conduit so you have 2 pieces, each the length of the rebar gap.
  5. Put a corner piece on each long piece of conduit.
  6. Put a short piece of conduit between so you end up with two very large squared off U's
  7. If you got the kind of connector where you tighten down a screw to keep it all together, tighten nice and good
  8. Carefully lift one of your 4ft-wide sections and slide the tall conduit legs down over the rebar. Do the other.
  9. Cut 2 8ft long sections of welded wire fencing.
  10. Use your wire to attach one section of the fencing along the top rod of the trellis and down the sides.
  11. Place the other section of fencing against the bottoms of the legs, and wire it to the sides.
  12. Wire the top and bottom sections of fencing to each other.
  13. In the center, wrap your wire around both uprights and the fencing to add stability.

You could probably attach the fending to the frame before standing it up, but I did the frame like two months ago. You'd still want to lash the two uprights that are next to each other to each other.

Why two 4ft wide sections? I didn't trust an 8ft horizontal run without support. And why 8ft tall? Opalka tomato is an indeterminate variety, meaning the vine just keeps growing until winter kills it. Consequently, it very much outgrew my 5ft tomato cages before, and I wasn't too sanguine about 6ft being enough height either.

And in other news, we've started picking up 1ft square pavers to redo the paths around the beds, because the mulch paths are full of dandelions. The car can't handle the weight of bringing home enough for the entire garden at once, so the plan is to just pick up a handful on each trip to the garden center. Please ignore all the weeds in this photo. My plan for this year is to work on pavers / building beds / double digging the permaculture food forest, etc. Heavy labor more than actual plants.

pavers

New photos

I've just uploaded some more recent photos of my plants. The parsley is still going strong, having seeded itself in a second spot along the box. One patch has died back a bit - I clearly need to pick it and use it more often. The chives have also died back a bit, again probably because I wasn't harvesting enough. The aloe vera has tripled in size - if anyone in the area wants some, there's plenty. Along with a ton of geraniums, which apparently love my dry soil whenever I forget to water.

New maintainers for Growstuff

Hi all,

You may have noticed that things have been very quiet with Growstuff for the last year or so. This is primarily because I have been dealing with some serious health issues that left me unable to manage Growstuff, or even to spend much time online, since early 2015. Things are looking somewhat better these days, but I’ve realised that I’m not going to be able to give Growstuff the attention it deserves. The time has come to step back officially and put the project in the hands of people who can take better care of it than I currently can.

Miles, Cesy, and Maco, three of the developers on the Growstuff project, will be taking it over from here on out. All three are experienced open source contributors, and Miles and Cesy were two of the very first coders to join Growstuff in 2012. I will be shutting down Growstuff-the-business (which was founded in the hope of being able to pay people to work on the project, but sadly didn’t pan out) and the open source project will become a community-run one. I know that Miles, Cesy, and Maco will do a brilliant job, continuing to build the Growstuff platform as well as maintaining Growstuff’s traditions as a supportive and welcoming open source community. I wish them all the best.

For any future enquiries about Growstuff, please contact them at maintainers@growstuff.org

Thank you for supporting Growstuff.

Regards,

Alex Bayley

New website features and bug fixes (Release 11)

Our next release has just gone live. Let us know if you spot any issues. Emails from comment replies still aren't working on the main site, but https://talk.growstuff.org is working fine, or find us on Github, Gitter or IRC.

New features

  • Crop approval flash alert for wranglers upon sign in
  • Added Bootstrap accessibility plugin

Technical improvements

  • Removed redundant code from our crowdfunder last year
  • Remove warnings and debugging puts from rspec output
  • Add capybara-screenshot to assist with feature testing
  • Use standardized & translateable strings for the photo show page
  • Stop hard-coding strings for pagination
  • Refactor photo controller create for readability
  • Updated Gemfile.lock for Code Climate inclusion
  • Add code climate to README
  • Add config/factory_girl.rb so that rspec doesn't fail with a confusnig 'Could not find mapping for #

Peach blossoms! (photo inside)

Ok, I'm late on posting this because I didn't think about it at the time, but remember how I planted 4 fruit trees and a nut tree in fall 2014? Well, they're not supposed to bear fruit for 2-4 years depending on variety. So I was surprised to see that this year, the peach actually blossomed!

peach blossoms

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