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Wanted (Australia): potimarron seeds

Potimarron is a small (1-2kg) pumpkin/squash that will grow up a trellis. It's available from Diggers but before I make an order for just one packet of seeds I was wondering whether anyone in Australia had any seeds they'd be prepared to share, or swap for anything I have?

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What to plant

I'm currently trying to decide what to plant next, as some of my current flowers die back. I have planter boxes and a few small flowerpots on the balcony. The rosemary is doing well, but I'd like some vegetables, as I use those far more often than herbs. I have no idea what I'm doing, though. It's semi-shade (west-facing), and I'd like things that don't need too much TLC. What can I grow in the northern hemisphere at this time of year?

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Leaf hopper pest

Well they just looked like green thorns and I actually originally thought they killed pests, but green coloured leaf hoppers are actually sap suckers! Had to kill 2 of them. :/

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New features: member bio, crop wrangler homepage, some bugfixes

Hi everyone,

Just did a quick code push which included the following new features and bugfixes:

  • Member bios -- you can now write a short bio to include on your profile page
  • Crop wrangler homepage -- a handy page with info/tools for our new crop wranglers (and yes, we're still recruiting)
  • Bugfix: when editing seeds that were available for trade, the "will trade to" field kept getting reset to "nowhere". This should now be fixed.
  • Bugfix: no longer always redirects you to the homepage after login
  • Bugfix (fingers crossed!): some Firefox users were finding their email address pre-filled in the "location" field in their member settings page. We've told Firefox not to auto-complete that field, and hopefully it will help. Please let us know if you still see this problem.
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Want to be a crop wrangler? We're seeking volunteers.

"What's a crop wrangler?" I hear you ask. Well, a crop wrangler is a Growstuff member who volunteers a little bit of time (we'd estimate an hour a month, averaged over time) to keep Growstuff's crop database up to date, make sure it has a wide variety of crops, respond to other members' requests for new crops and so on.

To start off with, we'll be making an effort to fill in a wide variety of:

  • Peppers (chilli peppers, bell peppers, and the like)
  • Tomatoes
  • Squashes
  • Brassicas (kale, cabbages, turnips, mustard, many varieties of Asian greens)

We'll work together using shared spreadsheets and a mailing list to keep everyone in the loop, and Growstuff's coders will provide help when we need to mass-upload heaps of crops at once.

Interested? If you'd like to be a crop wrangler (and gain our perennial love and appreciation) just drop a comment here.

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Garden tour, end of winter 2013

I thought I'd post a tour of my garden as it currently stands at the end of winter, to act as the "before" pic in relation to the spring planting we're planning. Like all "before" photos, there's likely to be a fair bit of "ugh"... I'm definitely aware of how much work I want to do here!

Let's start in the backyard. Our house is an early 20th century bungalow that was originally on a 1/4 acre block, but it was recently (past couple of decades) split in half an we now have neighbours in what used to be the large backyard. So instead of a large backyard we have this:

backyard looking west

I'm standing under the clothesline to take that pic. You can see the back door (leading into the kitchen area) and our little BBQ and the chair I sit in on summer mornings. Close at hand are a few pots of herbs in the one patch that gets sun through the winter. In the summer, this whole area gets sun, but right now the fence and the house between them shade most of the narrow area. Growing in containers in the foreground are parsley, a couple of kinds of mint, and sorrel. Some of the containers are just self-sown parsley which I'll probably pull out and use for something else soon, but figured I may as well leave over the winter. Behind the containers, at about the level of the back door, there are self-sown nasturtiums starting to spread widely across that patch of ground. They reach from the fence to the paving already, and are at least as wide as that too. In the very foreground, right under my feet -- so you can't see it -- is a small comfrey plant that I planted directly in the ground and am hoping will take off.

You can see a picnic table further away. In the summer, we had that in the space where the containers of herbs now are, where the earth is kind of bare. I moved it in the autumn, when we stopped eating outside, so that I could use that space for plants that needed the sun instead. I'm not sure where it'll go this summer. I did just buy a new(-to-me) striped umbrella for it though!

Now the same area looking the other way:

backyard looking east

I'm standing outside the back door to take this photo. You can see our clothes line, compost bins (Clarissa and Jennifer), and the corner of the shed. This area is dry and parched in summer -- or at least it was last summer and the one before. The grass tends to die off. Around the corner to the left, near the shed, the path turns down the side of the house and leads through a gate to the front yard. That area is partially shaded in summer, fully shaded in winter.

Next to the shed there's a small garden bed where I put a geranium we inherited from the previous tenants (I didn't care whether it lived or died, but it appears to be thriving) and I'm growing some warrigal greens aka NZ spinach, an Australian native plant that can be used like spinach.

next-to-the-shed garden bed

You can also see some parsley there, but it's not really thriving. In summer we had a few different herbs there and they did okay, but the shadier winter hasn't been kind to them.

Heading through the gate you find yourself in the carport area, and there's another garden bed on the other side of it.

carport garden bed

It's quite shady and the only thing that's doing well here right now is parsley. I planted a lot of mint-type herbs, but I think the overhanging tree is sucking up all their moisture and they never really did very well here. There's also chard and sorrel here but again, while I don't think they mind the shade too much, the tree overhead isn't doing them any favours. The taller plant is a loquat tree that an ex housemate planted. I'm not sure what she was thinking; it's way too close to the other tree -- right under the edge its canopy. I really should cut it down/pull it out. I don't have anything against loquats but this isn't the place for them. Oh, and there's also some random aloe vera near the fence on the right. It's doing okay.

Here's where it gets to the good stuff, at least as far as the current state of things is concerned. The front porch:

front porch

This seat is where I sit to drink a cup of tea in the sun in the morning. From here I can also see most of the containers where I'm growing things over the winter. See, the backyard is mostly shaded in winter, but the front gets plenty of sun. To the left you can see lavender peeping around the corner, some tubs with nasturtiums, lettuce, and other greens, along with two over-wintered chillis (one Thai chilli, one jalapeño) that seem to be doing quite well and perking up with the approaching spring. To the right are a couple of little tubs of "winter mix microgreens" from Diggers (mustard, kale, beets, etc) and a strawberry plant I got as a freebie. I really ought to figure out whether strawberries need any particular care other than soil and water and the odd bit of feeding. The front porch is also where I do a lot of my potting at present, just because it's handy to where I put most of the things I'm potting. You can't see it, but there's a bag of potting mix and another bag of small pots against the wall near the chair.

Coming around the corner, you can see more of my winter containers and my seedling trays:

winter containers and seedling trays

Most of these were in the backyard in the summer, but I brought them out front as the weather cooled down and the backyard got shady. I've got chard, kale, lettuce, beets, and some snowpeas coming along (though see below for my previous snowpea disaster). The smallish pot with a plastic bag over it is some rhubarb that was just roots (no green) and which I thought would be helped by a bit of a greenhouse environment, which turned out to be absolutely right -- some leaves shot straight up! I'll take the bag off in a couple of weeks when it's better established.

As you can see, I've also got several trays of seedlings of various kinds: more kale, chard, mustard, Asian greens, tomatoes, peppers, coriander, and I forget what else. Basically I'm trying to get a head start on spring. I have two of those little white greenhouses from Ikea (the other one is indoors). I start things from seed in the indoor one, then when there are shoots I move them either into the outdoor Ikea greenhouse or my bedroom windowsill, which also gets lots of sun:

bedroom windowsill

So basically the seed progression is:

  • Plant seeds in seedling trays in Ikea greenhouse in the kitchen area (though it's by a window it doesn't get much sun at this time of year)
  • When they sprout, move them to the bedroom windowsill or outdoor Ikea greenhouse (brought indoors overnight) -- full sun
  • When they get their second set of leaves, pot them up into small pots (though sometimes they just pause at this stage and I do it anyway, which seems to hurry them along)
  • When appropriate (depending on what they are), start leaving them out overnight. We're not getting frost any more, though it's still a little chilly. Brassicas don't mind, but I wouldn't do this for eg. tomatoes yet.
  • When well established as seedlings, plant out into bigger containers.

This all takes quite a bit of puttering around moving things from one place to another. I think next winter I'd like to acquire/make a small greenhouse or cold-frame of some kind, with enough space in it to leave all the seedlings out full-time.

Anyway, moving right along. Under my bedroom window you can see the Great Snowpea Disaster of 2013:

snowpea disaster

Those three tubs each had a bamboo tripod, and snowpeas growing up them very well. Then the weather got windy. I tried a bunch of different things to try and keep them stable, but in the end I had to give up. You can see the pulled-down tripods piled in the gap in the lavender under my window. I need to pull all the peas off the bamboo stakes and put the stakes aside for another use. I'll probably just dump the dead peas where they are: that gap in the lavender will be used for planting something (probably zucchini) in due course, but the soil could use whatever mulch/organic matter it can get. So I have another set of snowpeas sprouting and I'm planning to move them out back and grow them up the fence, instead. Should be more stable.

And then there's the front garden bed:

front garden bed

This used to have a couple of ugly shrubs in it, but they died last summer and the owners sent round a handyman to pull them out. The bed's empty now, and I'm thinking what we can use it for. It is shaded in winter, but gets sun in summer. I'm watching the sun crawling across the garden wondering how late in the season it'll be before it's actually giving decent light to that garden bed and I can plant things in it. I'd rather like to plant some squash there, and let them sprawl all over that otherwise useless bit of lawn. The bed needs mulch/compost/organic matter/general love. I piled a buttload of autumn leaves on it a few months back, but it'll need more if we're to do anything with it. I was thinking a good deep layer of lucerne all over the bed and then bucketloads of compost where we want to plant the squash themselves, with the seeds put straight into the compost. What do you think?

Finally, on the other side of the driveway we have this mulberry tree (on the left):

mulberry tree

And some herbs growing along the narrow bit of earth to the right:

herbs

The parsley's got a bit out of hand (I just threw a random handful of seeds in the general area, I swear!) and there's some grass coming in there. I don't want to have to commit to weeding it all the time. I'm thinking about what other things I can plant there that won't need much attention and will stop the grass from taking hold. I might put some borage in near the rosemary. More kinds of thyme and oregano? You can't really see, but there's some oregano buried under the parsley. Of the two kinds of thyme, the one that's thriving -- lemon thyme -- is the one we use less often. Sigh. More thyme, yeah, that's a plan.

So that's the tour of the garden as it currently stands. I'll post more about the plans for spring as they unfold -- hopefully with some "after" pics!

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One day my sun will come

Slowly, slowly the sun line is moving down the fence. It shouldn't be too long before my garden gets some direct sunshine and springs into life.

I picked up some seedlings from the Slow Food Market at Abbotsford Convent today: dwarf kale, bok choy, chervil and Tom Thumb lettuce, and planted them out this afternoon. Good luck little seedlings!

The sugar snap peas are carrying on. At least they're lasting longer than their predecessor seedlings.

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Planning for spring

We're about a week away from the official start of spring in Melbourne, but the weather for the last month has been what the indigenous people of this area consider "pre-spring": "warming, first flowers, birds begin nesting". It's definitely a different season from the "true winter" of June. The wattle is blooming, the front lawn is quickly getting out of control, and I'm starting to get the first tickles of seasonal allergies.

In the garden, we still have winter veg like kale and chard growing. We have some really nice cos lettuce that I've been using in a lot of salads. There's heaps of parsley. The nasturtiums, which have been triffid-ing all over the place since autumn, are starting to flower. The first purple buds are appearing on our lavender bushes. The temperature's becoming milder, but it's blustery: the strong winds knocked down branches all over the neighbourhood, as well as the rather precarious bamboo tripods I was using to grow snow peas. As a result, I've pulled down all the peas and tossed them into a bit of garden I'm mulching in preparation for growing zucchini in the summer.

So I'm planning for spring. I love gardening, but it's also important to me this year as I'm short of cash, and saving even $10 or $20 a week on groceries makes a difference. This year, I'm hoping to pick a significant proportion of our vegetables from the garden. In fact, I hope that between now and autumn we can grow all, or nearly all, of our own:

  • salad greens (lettuce, thinnings/microgreens of various kinds, herbs)
  • cooking greens (chard, warrigal greens, asian greens)
  • salad tomatoes (we'll still buy bulk quantities for preserving)
  • salad cucumbers (might buy some for pickling)
  • green beans
  • peppers (chillis, capsicums/bell peppers, etc -- though we'll only be growing mini capsicums so might still buy some)
  • herbs (especially basil, mint, parsley, rosemary, thyme)

I'll also be planting some things which I haven't had much luck with before, or haven't tried before, but I'm hopeful we can get a crop out of them:

  • zucchini (not very successful growing in large tubs over last 2 years, going to try putting them in the ground in the front garden and plant more bee-attractors nearby)
  • squash (butternut and spaghetti, I think)
  • eggplant (first time, will plant in large containers as we do with tomatoes and see how it goes)
  • tomatillos (unsuccessful last year but let's have a second shot)

This leaves our vegetable shopping needs as:

  • alliums (onions/garlic)
  • potatoes, carrots, and other root veg
  • mushrooms
  • avocado
  • coriander (cilantro), which we use frequently but which bolts rapidly in these parts
  • fruit for eating (all we have is a mulberry tree)
  • gap-filling if the stuff we're planning isn't productive (eg. zucchini, eggplant)

And of course bulk fruit/veg for preserving, which will probably be a box or two of tomatoes in the late summer, and a few kilos at a time of whatever stone fruit is priced around $2/kg.

I emailed my housemates with a summary of what I hoped me might harvest in a typical week in high summer, and it looked like this (with retail prices given for conventionally grown produce, from the Preston Market or Psarakos on High St where we usually shop):

  • 2 meals worth of cooking greens, eg. a bunch of chard and some asian greens (retail: $3)
  • 2 salads worth of salad greens ($2)
  • 2 small cucumbers (retail: $2)
  • 1 zucchini (retail: $1)
  • 3 small bowlfuls tomatoes for salads (retail: $4)
  • 1 bunch basil (retail: $2)
  • 1 meal worth of green beans (retail: $2)
  • handful chillis/peppers of various kinds (retail: $2)

That's $18 worth for the week. I did a rough calculation and said if we get $16/week worth of produce in the 4 "high summer" months, and half that in the 4 less-productive months surrounding it, we'll come out of it with about $400 of produce. And I reckon we can do it for about $200 in investment: pea and bean netting up the back fence, a bit of lumber (possibly scavenged) for a cucumber frame, a couple of bales of lucerne hay, some netting for protection against birds, and a lot of potting mix for the tomatoes and peppers and all that stuff that's going in currently-empty pots (unsure yet whether to buy it pre-made or mix it from parts; probably the former for now.)

So that's the plan. I've got seedlings coming along (I planted a lot of tomatoes/peppers from seed over the last month or so), and I'm starting to order netting etc from the internets. On September 1st my housemates and I are going to have a working bee to get everything set up, and plant the first beans. Wish us luck!

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Small grape vine - any tips for transplanting?

The other day I got a small grape vine (about 40 cm tall) from a nursery. It seems to be four cuttings of about the same length. It's in the black plastic bag right now, and I want to transplant it to the garden.

I'm a bit paranoid about the preciousness of grapes, so I want to be careful about the transplant, the kind of soil, sun/shade, etc. But the other part of me says, screw it, just plant it and take care of it like any other climbing vine.

But if anyone has tips for very young cuttings like these, they would be much appreciated :)

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New features: redesigned homepage, API and RSS improvements

Hi everyone. You probably already noticed that we have a shiny new homepage. If not, check it out. Heaps of work went into discussing what was important for us to show and tell on our homepage, laying those things out on the page, and then actually building the new page and making sure it loaded fast enough to use. Enormous thanks to the literally dozens of people who took part, from the initial discussions and UX (user experience) exercises, through the development and testing.

Along with this code push we also have some improvements/cleanups/fixes to the JSON API and to our RSS feeds. Of particular interest in the RSS feeds is the new seeds RSS so if you want a convenient feed of what seeds are being listed on Growstuff (whether available to trade or not), that's where to find it.

We've got more coming soon, so stay tuned.

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the appropriation of poor skills

OooOo will this be a real link?

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Tomatoes gone wild

So I have three volunteer tomatoes around where the Sunsugar was last year, and I didn't have much else there so I figured I'd just let them grow and see what happened. They've got small yellow fruit slightly larger than that of Sunsugar, but just barely - but it's sort of irregular. Not as irregular as an heirloom tomato but just slightly blobby - wider in one direction than in the other. What's really great, though, is the flavor on the two from one plant that were ripe today. They are as sweet as Sunsugar, but not as tart, and they have a really rich, umami flavor that is just spectacular. I think I'll save some seed and see what I get next.

The potatoes are finally falling over, so I should be able to harvest soon. I'm inclined to let the berries ripen and see what I get there too. I hear not every type of potato will set berries at all.

My first 'Minnesota Midget' cantaloupe changed color quite suddenly and slipped. I cut into it right away, even though the odor was not what I could wish and it seemed a little hard. There was nearly an INCH of green! I thought muskmelons did not slip until they were really, truly ripe? :/ Hopefully, better luck with the next one - if it doesn't smell enough, I'll just let it ripen off the vine for a few days and see if that helps. There looks to be quite a while left on the Charentais. I'm starting to wonder if there's some sort of pruning I should be doing, because I seem to have rather more tiny melons than I should have at this time of year, and the two big ones aren't growing at all fast. It's a tangle in there, though; I'm not sure I can tell wich shoots are from which plant. Also, I have at least four plants, but only one has any big melons on it. Possibly they are communicating via their root systems, though. I don't know how this works with melons.

Bell peppers will start coming ripe soon. This makes me happy. I like bell peppers, and they're expensive in the store.

Should have another crop of green beans ready to eat within the next couple days. I lament the difficulty of having enough green beans at the right stage of ripeness at one time.

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How do I know when carrots are ready?

Lacking X-ray vision, you know. Even if I dig a little with my finger and the top seems the normal diameter, it may be that the whole root is not ready yet. But how can I tell?

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Basil is flowering - how do I save seeds?

All of our basil plants are flowering. How do I go about collecting / saving seeds from them? Are they like onions where you do the wrap-flower-in-plastic-bag trick?

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Goji not a listed plant?

Just a thought:)

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Chinotto Orange...what to do?

I have been growing a chinotto shrub in a large planter...i have never seen a fruit off a big tree so I have no idea how big or small they should be...anyone who has grown this?

Also what do you do with the oranges?

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Planting chilli peppers in Growstuff

Hi everyone!

I'm trying to enter all the plants I'm growing this year and I've run into a bit of trouble, because I don't know the name for what I would call chilli peppers ("Peperoni" in German). I looked for "chilli", "pepper", "capsicum" in the list, but now I'm out of ideas.

Bero.

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Crossposting to social media using IFTTT

If this, then that (IFTTT) is a service that lets you glue together different online services. I just set up an IFTTT recipe to tweet whenever I post something here on Growstuff, and I'm about to set up recipes to tweet when I plant things or list seeds available for trade. I'll post a blog post on the Growstuff blog, soon, to show everyone how to do the same thing, but if you're already familiar with IFTTT the magic trick is basically to just add ".rss" to the end of URLs, eg. http://growstuff.org/posts/author/YOURNAME.rss or http://growstuff.org/plantings/owner/YOURNAME.rss

Enjoy!

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Handling and storage of freshly picked plums

My landlady's plum tree is loaded with almost-ripe plums, light purple but still hard. The birds are going to town. In order to ensure that we get to eat some of the plums, we're picking buckets and boxes full.

Is it better to wash the plums right away, or to leave them unwashed until ready to eat? I noticed that on the tree, those plums that got bird poo on them tended to rot starting from the affected area, which makes me inclined to wash, but I think most produce is supposed to keep better if you don't wash it, for example because the natural coating of yeast would tend to outcompete foreign organisms if the fruit isn't directly exposed to a giant glob of bird poop.

I washed half the plums that I picked yesterday, and left the most pristine unwashed, so I guess we'll see, but I wondered if anyone has any pointers from their own experience.

Since they're plums, they can be fully dried after washing - there's no fuzzy coating to remain damp and invite spoilage.

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We've started!

We moved to a new house 3 months ago. It's been winter-y. But today we've finally got out and done some stuff!

(Well, I guess a couple of weeks ago we started, I advertised some palms and box hedges on freecycle, and someone collected the lot. And we transplanted one of the many rosemary bushes into a place that makes more sense to us:-) )

With the palms gone, we could finally begin our Citrus Grove, so we've planted out the Puggle's Blood Orange:-) And even better, we have a hole dug and fed, waiting for a lemon (just waiting for nap-time to finish, and we'll go get one—it's hardly an Australian backyard if there's no lemon tree!). Which means I'll then feel justified in calling it a 'grove'—one tree does not a grove make:-)

And Puggle's raised bed now has soil in it, and we've put a couple of seedlings in, and he's added a stack of seeds:-)

We're underway:-) (And what a beautiful day it is, too:-) Perfect for being out and doing stuff:-) )

Fe

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Napier, New Zealand apartment garden suggestions

We are moving from Norway to Napier New Zealand. While we do not have anywhere to live yet. By looking at the market it looks like we will be living in an apartment. There is a moderate sized balcony only on most.

What would you suggest would be the best plants to grow?

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Cowpeas

I harvested the black eyed peas today. Not sure how many plants I have (it's kind of a tangle because they're in with the melons) but I think only 1 or 2 and the other 2 are yard long beans. I got just enough black eyed peas to make a little Side dish sized bowl of peas with onions. Pretty tasty. Now the question that determines whether I plant a big patch next year is if I get more harvests out of the same plant.

The yard long beans are now flowering. I know which ones they are because they are a pole variety. The black eyed peas did not say and turned out to be bush. Also the flowers are purple instead of yellow when fully open, though I think that is not a reliable indicator. I hav a couple very immature beans, just a couple days old.

I think I may save some of the later seeds of the black eyed peas if they produce more. I have no idea what I might get. Bush, vining, or semi-vining? Big or small seeds? Long or short pods?

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Eggplants, Corn, Beans, and Tomatoes!

It's not quite August yet, but I have beans (string and borlotto), cherry tomatoes, and black Italian eggplants ready to be picked.

My popcorn maize is starting to develop ears. I've never grown corn before, so this is exciting.

My bigger tomato plants are taller than I am, as as the tomatillos, and starting to ripen. I think I will try making sauce and canning it come August.

I have suspicions that one of the plants I thought was a cucumber from seed is actually a summer squash, since I tried planting some seeds early and they never came up -- I replanted those pots with cucumbers, and now I have something that has fruits that look like tiny, pale green, crookneck squash, not cucumbers. It's twined around my red sunflower, which has finally bloomed.

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Roadmap and new features

The roadmap I've been talking about for weeks is complete. You can read it on the wiki.

The major areas we'll be working on are:

  • improvements to the crop pages
  • seed tracking and trading
  • improvements to how you track planting
  • improved photo uploading
  • harvests
  • wishlists
  • forums/discussion improvements
  • social features
  • member profile/settings improvements
  • visual design/layout
  • paid accounts
  • API/RSS/mobile

And to prove we mean it, we actually just pushed our first couple of roadmap features to the site:

  • Flickr sets: when adding photos to plantings, you can now select a Flickr set, to make it easier to find your garden photos
  • Seed tracking and trading: on the homepage, if you're signed in, you'll see "Your seed stash: 0 varieties" and you can add seeds that you have. You can also say if you're willing to trade them locally, nationally, or internationally. The seeds all show up in our seed database, and also on the relevant crop page if they're available to trade.

Enjoy!

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Wanted: Tangerine Tree or Cutting in Perth WA

Howdy,

I'm on the hunt for a tangerine tree or cutting should someone have an established tree. I've tried a few local nurseries and even Bunnings with no luck.

Places seem to think offering me some other type of citrus and an acceptable alternative however it has to be the Citrus tangerina although Wiki says people list it as a subspecies of mandarin (Citrus reticulata).

Two possibles:

Citrus Reticulata Blanco Var Tangerina

Citrus tangerina Tanaka

Any help would be appreciated, thank you!

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Forgive me Garden, for I have sinned...

Well not technically sinned, but yanno it's been awhile since I've updated...

My zucchini succummed to mildew and well, just did not make it through. I ended up pulling them and have planted Kale in their place. The strawberries may be also slightly affected by mildew as they are going grey before they even ripen. I keep pulling those off and raising the new ones off the soil level. It seems to be working for now.

Since planting (and pulling) the zucchini I've planted garlic chives and the kale. The layout of the beds is being reworked as about a foot to two feet of the beds won't get enough sun and the plants in those situations have been noticeably struggling. Not outright dying but not growing at the recommended rates.

Or maybe it's the coir mix. They get liberal doses of seasol and powerfeed and look healthily delicious, but don't seem to grow of a decent size. Something to think on for the next beds. However the turnips and the peas seem to love it. The carrots are of a mixed opinion and the broccoli and brussels sprouts are plodding along.

Got some good rain happening tonight, it's nice.

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Overgrown rhubarb

There's a plant next to my driveway that a friend says is rhubarb. He says it's normal that if you let it overgrow, the stalks go brown instead of bright red. It's about as tall as me at this point. Can I still cook the stalks, even though they're far past ripe? Do I just cut back the rhubarb to grow again next year? Not really sure what to do with it.

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Potatoes?! and tomatoes, beans, chard, melons

I shall label the seasons in my garden thusly:

Dec-Feb: The Season of Excessive Procrastination

Mar-May: The Season of Inarticulate Panic

Jun-August: The Season of Smugness

Sept-Nov: The Season of Isn't It Dead Yet I Need Room To Plant The Garlic

My potatoes are doing well, and one is preparing to flower.

This is kind of baffling to me. Previously, I grew potatoes as a cool season crop. This year, my potatoes started coming up in february and then all died off without having done much sprouting. I searched the area for tubers and found nothing of any great size. Then they sprouted again - in june, during a hot spell. Given the late timing and the conditions, I ignored them. I figured they'd just die off again.

But they didn't. Now I have a couple two-foot-tall potato shoots and a number of shorter sprouts. It doesn't seem like enough for a really exciting potato crop, but I'm surprised I've got any potatoes growing.

The black-eyed peas and yard long beans are also doing well and making me really happy. There aren't enough of them, but I have at least one happy black-eyed pea plant growing at about knee height and producing lots of pods, and one yard-long bean has climbed nearly all the way to the top of the wishful-thinking-oriented bean teepee and is now starting to think about maybe flowering. I'm totally jazzed. Somehow my garden just didn't seem complete without pole beans.

The tomatoes are doing well. Brandy Boy has one huge tomato that's nearly ripe and a few green ones, so it's delivering on the quantity end - we'll see if I get the promised Brandywine flavor. I've had three tomatoes out of Enchantment already and lots more on the way. I love Enchantment - it's very rich and umami, almost like a paste tomato (which makes sense given the oblong fruit shape) but without the mealy texture. It looks like it's going to be a heavy producer as promised, too - perhaps not as heavy as Jetsetter, but the incredible flavor makes up for that.

And of course there are plenty of Sunsugar. Not as many as last year, but it's early days yet. My entire garden is a bit late this year; given the weather this year, if I'd been on the ball, I'd have had tomatoes in june. But I was not. Still, the lateness is also keeping everything quite orderly, which I appreciate.

I have a few late volunteer tomato plants growing near where Sunsugar was last year. I'm looking forward to seeing what sort of fruit they produce. They may be Sunsugars, or they may be a hybrid with Jetsetter. They're not in the way of anything, so I decided to let them grow and see what happens.

The chard is happy and I have been eating it quite a bit. I'm glad to have chard again. I missed it when I hadn't got it.

And the melon plants! They're happily sprawling away, except the two that are happily climbing up alongside the beans. I have two immature melons! And it looks like more on the way. I know that by september, I'll have to give up on walking in the path under the bean teepee, because it will be full of melons. That's okay. It is all part of the plan.

Next year: Raspberries along the fence; more cowpeas; cucumbers.

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Watering

So, um, watering's important. Yep. Very important.

Well, what with moving into the house and all THAT entails...my plants are looking the worse for wear. They haven't gotten enough water. The oregano is dead. The basil and chives are just hanging on. The tomatoes have sort of purple leaves. Seeing that the roots were all growing out of the bottom of the pots, I finally went and got soil to fill the basins I have for the tomatoes and spent the money on proper (much larger) pots for the herbs.

At Home Depot, it turned out that 7.5" pots that are glazed inside and out (to prevent wicking & evaporation of water -- the problem my tomatoes were hitting with the teensy clay pots) were $10 for the pot and $5 for the saucer. Or there are 7.25" self-watering pots for $15. So my herbs are now in self-watering pots where they should be able to survive Pennsic without me. I got a new oregano plant too.

self-watering herbs

The tomatoes are now in large plastic bins full of dirt/compost, where their roots can spread out. Turns out clay pots in weather that is always over 80, usually over 90, and hitting over 100 (celcius people, read those as 26, 32, 38) means you need to water at least daily, probably a couple times a day, to keep the plants happy.

tomatoes in plastic cement mixing tubs

After taking that photo, I put some egg shells (since I hardboiled some eggs today for pickling) in the dirt around them and added stakes.

I noticed a couple days ago on the way to work that there's a place near home called Country Boy Market. Fresh locally grown produce (cheap berries, nom nom), mulch, top soil, compost, and straw bales are all available. Also they deliver mulch & soil. Well then. I know what's happening next spring when I try to build up the rest of the garden.

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Draft roadmap

Based on the results of the survey I posted about a week or so back, I've been working on a roadmap for our development work for the rest of 2013. If you have an interest in what features we develop for this site, check out the draft roadmap document. Comments welcome, but FYI I'm planning to publish it early next week (around the 22nd-23rd). We've also started work on some of these features already, and you'll see them soon :)

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