CHINESE YELLOW CUCUMBER

Cucumber Chinese Yellow-2468

Found these in the garden this morning. I was able to recognize these as Chinese Yellow Cucumber from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. Most of what is in the garden this year is a mystery but I’m not really up to explaining the mystery. It would require an admission of the depth to which my stupidity plummeted.

Baker Creek seems to think these will grow to 10 inches. At four inches, the seeds were already too large for my preference. I’m not really into gnawing through tough seeds. They are supposed to be yellow-orange and “crisp as an apple” with a mild flavor. To me, they tasted like an ordinary cucumber.

The seed packet says these cukes are from mainland China and green when young. Obviously, I didn’t see them green.  This 2014 veggie garden will be my second spring garden that was nothing to brag about.

 

JANUARY KING CABBAGE

I saw a photo somewhere on the web (you know how that goes) of January King Cabbage. It was so pretty I started looking for seeds. Although an heirloom, seeds were hard to find. I ended up ordering a stingy 20 seeds from Cherry Gal.  It’s not that I wanted to grow 20 cabbages but 20 seeds are barely enough for reseeding due to garden, uh, accidents. Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds did that to me this year with a mere 25 seeds of their Mexican Sour Gherkin cucumber.  The first gherkin seeds didn’t come up and I’ve got to try again.

I didn’t grow the January King in 2011 so I must have ordered the seeds after the winter growing season and had to wait for the fall/winter 2012 garden.

January King cabbage is an open-pollinated heirloom. It dates back to Victorian England (before 1885) but the French also claim it according to both Cherry Gal and Thompson & Morgan. It grows on compact plants with flattened heads and slightly savoyed blue green outer leaves with a touch of purple. It was that reddish-purple that caught my eye in the original web photo. Cherry Gal says it is extremely cold hardy but also grows well in the summer months. Even Thompson & Morgan claimed it could be planted in early July and would hold in the garden until March. Bwahahahahahaha, can you imagine cabbage growing in Florida in the summer? With all our bugs? I know better than to try something so foolish. I had no bug problems on January King in my fall garden.

All the seedsmen agreed that the mature heads would weigh 3 to 5 pounds but I didn’t weigh mine. I had only two that survived and they were so pretty I didn’t harvest them until the very, very end of the winter season.  By then, they were huge and probably every bit of 5 pounds. Interestingly, one of the two did form the flattened, dense head but the other one never formed a head. It was just a collection of beautiful leaves.

Notes On The Menu suggested roasting one’s January King cabbage. Isn’t that a wild idea?

The seeds were planted on September 8 or October 12. I keep planting records of a sort but sometimes I do something stupid like writing “planted cabbage”. Thus, the possibility of two dates. I wish I had taken photos late in the season but I was so smitten by the beauty of the cabbage that I ran out and looked at them every day but after January 27th, never took another photo.  Still the photos here show the progression of cabbage growth in two different January King cabbage – one that formed a head and one that did not.

Reddish purple starts to show Photo taken 12/9/12
Reddish purple starts to show
Already forming a head
Photo taken 12/9/12
Photo taken 1/6/13
Head is getting bigger
Photo taken 1/6/13
Photo taken 1/6/13
Not forming a head
Photo taken 1/6/13
Never formed a head Photo taken 1/27/13
Never formed a head
Photo taken wrong time of day on 1/27/13
Note purple tinge on leaf edges

Melons, I Ain’t Got Melons

In 2011, I grew two or three tiny watermelons from seeds that came out of a grocery store watermelon. I was so proud of my very first watermelon that I had this casual photo taken. I wasn’t wearing makeup, jewels or any other enhancement. Not that any of that helps a whole lot anyway.  I’m never going to be one of those women they photograph because they age beautifully.

This year, my melons were a dismal failure.  All of the seeds were ordered from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds for the 2012 spring garden. I believe I gave the plants sufficient water but maybe not enough fertilizer. Perhaps the two tropical storms that hit us with copious amounts of rain added to their misery. Beats me. These are the melons I attempted to grow:

Ineya Melon – I had them in a five foot tall cage. The vines produced three or four melons. Most were either attacked by wild animals, started to rot and fell off or it became ripe before I realized and rotted on the vine. One of them had gotten to almost cantaloupe size when this happened. As this scenario repeated itself, I finally decided to pick a small one (3.5 inches long) before the critters got it but I suspected it was green.  I let it sit around the house a month before I cut into it. The hard, smooth-skinned rind did not change in color or appearance during that time. One of Baker Creek’s customers grew this with 14 other melons and rated it the best of all fourteen. According to Baker Creek, this melon is from the former Soviet Union, should be allowed to grow to a size of 6 or 8 inches and turn golden. It will then have white to very pale cream-colored flesh, crunchy yet juicy, with a flavor like honeydew with overtones of mulberry or banana. Yup, mine was green. Not much flavor, slightly green flesh.

Banana American – This dated back to 1885 and was supposed to have banana-shaped fruit. I had these in a five foot tall cage.  The vines just never did well. They are the only ones I haven’t torn out. Don’t ask me why.

Melon Thai – I had these on one side of my vertical garden poles on a trellis net. There are 20 inches between the trellis net on one side and the string on the other side. The Kentucky Wonder pole beans (Ferry-Morse seeds) on the string side produced with wild abandon. The Melon Thai started out as strong healthy plants but never did anything. The beans may have crowded the melons and they  failed to get what they needed to produce. However, the two reviews on Baker Creek’s website indicated others were also having trouble growing this foreign melon.  Still, it’s fun to try.

Charantais – This French melon was supposed to be super sweet and fragrant. May have also been crowded on the trellis net. Planted right next to it, however, were gourd vines that produced three gourds.

Watermelon Orangeglo – I planted this in the walkway between the Kentucky Wonder pole beans and a row of large lima beans which became a jungle. The watermelon probably didn’t get enough sun.

Baker Creek puts out a beautiful seed catalog with lots of easy to see full-page photographs although we could probably see it just as easily with a half or quarter-page photograph. I can’t tell you how many times I have picked up this catalog during or after a growing season just to drool over the fruits and veggies and dream about my next garden. Seed companies who are no longer offering print catalogs are making a Big Mistake.

Thankfully, I have enough seeds leftover to give all of these melons another try in my 2013 garden. One should never give up when it comes to gardening. Just try again next year.

Butter Bean Sprouts

My butter beans sprouted in seven days and this is what they look like a day after they pop out of the soil. We Southerners do like our butter beans and ham.

Of course, the seed packet doesn’t refer to them as butter beans.  It drives me nuts, and admittedly I don’t have far to go, when I can easily find butter beans in a grocery store can (at least in the Southern USA) but not in a garden catalog. What kind of insanity is that? Why didn’t they give all the limas a different name – butter beans, green limas, and a name for that small white lima bean? I have short hair. I don’t need to be pulling it out trying to determine exactly what bean I need to order to get butter beans.

Best I could figger, from searching all over the web, was to order and grow “King of the Garden” Lima Beans.   I got mine from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. It helped that their catalog entry referred to them as “very LARGE white lima beans.” I knew that had to be the bean for which my southern heart was thumping. I ordered one seed packet and planted the whole packet of forty seeds in a 30 foot row. I could have used another five seeds because I had a little bit of row left over.

I have less gastric distress if I use dried beans versus canned. Thus, the whole point of growing butter beans is to experiment with making my own dried beans. I don’t always like the looks of the dried beans in the grocery store – sometimes they look old, broken, beat up or just plain filthy – so this is going to be one of those do-it-yourself projects. I found some decent directions at ifood for turning my crop into dried beans. We shall see what kind of success rate I have with my experiment.