Friday, January 28, 2011

Flowering vegetables: the curiosity continues

A few months ago I blogged about letting my vegetables go to seed just out of curiosity, and I've now got quite an interesting collection of flowering vegies in my backyard.

My leeks have been in flower for quite awhile now, with their beautiful purple and white bulbous heads.  I'm thinking of planting them in the front garden as ornamentals next year, along with some artichokes.

flowering Leeks

I also had a good hack away at my purple artichoke thinking that it'd stopped producing for the season.  The green artichoke had just started so I'd moved on.  Apparently the purple artichoke loved the hacking back to the stem (it had grown to about 2m cubed) and immediately started producing buds again.  So there's a tip! To be honest, artichokes are a real treat, but I'm pretty sick of them now. I'm letting both the purple and green artichokes go to flower now for the season, just to see their big thisley flowers and compare the different varieties.

A large purple bud opening up

You wouldn't have thought I hacked this plant back a month ago. The artichoke's revenge

My green artichoke buds opening up
 This is just an observation, and correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that the green artichokes go purple on their tips when they're opening (and I suspect just past the point of edibility), and the purple artichokes go green on their tips.  If you look at the photos above of the purple and green artichokes respectively, you'll see what I mean.  When the buds are younger they're pretty much all purple or all green.

I've also let one of my green cabbages (actually one of my only cabbages that survived the great snail plague of 2010) go to seed.   It went from being a smooth round surface one day to having these curly flowering stalks exploding out the middle the next. I was thrilled!

the flowering cabbage with some broccoli seeds hanging overhead

 and now to the plants that I get to see flower AND still eat them...

My first tomatoes are starting to blush.  I loathe buying tomatoes at the shops when I have so many plants in the backyard, and so I've been hovering over these plants constantly, waiting for the first tomatoes to ripen.

Roma tomatoes
Cherry tomatoes
I also have my 'experimental' eggplants starting to grow spikey things.  I say experimental, because people keep telling me that Tasmania is too cold to grow eggplants. I thought I'd try anyway.

one of the spiky things growing on the eggplant.  I'm assuming it's the fruit.

more spiky things with some arty-looking water drops

one of my great successes last year were my lebanese cucumber plants, so I thought I'd relive the dream
I've never grown corn before, and I'm a bit concerned that my plants are a lot smaller than those at the community garden down the road.  Could it be because I planted them too late? Or perhaps that they had to grow over and over after snail attacks?  I'm not sure exactly what stage they're up to yet, or how the corn forms, but to be honest they're fulfilling quite an interesting role at the moment: garden sounds.

When I think of gardening and the senses, sight, touch, smell, and less so, taste, are all obviously engaged.  However, I think the sounds of the garden can get discounted. Obviously birds have a significant place in the sound landscape, but the sounds of plants are usually only activated when wind is involved.  Even with only a small breeze, corn makes an amazing sound.  It's more than rustling. I only really noticed it today for the first time (I've not been gardening much lately due to work commitments), and at first I couldn't work out where it was coming from.  I wasn't consciously searching for the sound, it was just something that was mulling around in my head. It pleased me that such a distinctive but soothing sound was produced by my largely ignored corn stalks.

I wrote recently about planting all these watermelon seeds.  I transferred the happy-looking seedlings to the garden once they got to about 4 cm in height.  From I think a total of 20 seedlings, this little one below is the only one left. Snails. Again. 

A happier story involves my pumpkins that are keeping my apricot tree company:

to the left of the tree are the turkish pumpkins, to the right, butternut. In the foreground, asparagus.
a butternut pumpkin mid-growth (when are they ready to eat?!)

I can't remember the full name of this pumpkin, but it has the word Turkish in the name.


  1. Looking good :) My leeks look the same as yours. In fact they are falling over, the flowers are so heavy. I have no idea what to do with them :) My pumpkins are lost in the oxalis ....

  2. The leeks are so pretty. I let herbs go to seed because they're pretty and then it's just an excuse for laziness so I cut them back. Our soil is mostly red clay so I'm hesitant to do anything like squashes in my yard but I'm tempted to pot beans this year. I really love what you've done.

  3. A lot of my flowers are on the ground now too. I haven't thought of what I'll do with them when they're through. oops. That's one of the major drawbacks of letting things go to seed: all the green waste.

    My condolences over the oxalis ):

  4. Lisa, pls excuse my ignorance, but why can't you grow stuff in red clay?

  5. Do you buy your veggie seeds from the lost seed co? These are non-hybrid non GMO seeds then you can save your seeds from your flowering veggies as well :) Your garden is looking good Lucy.

    It is hard to grow plants in clay soil because it is heavy and retains water in winter and dries out to a rock like state in summer. Clay soil is more alkaline as well.

    Corn is a gross feeder and likes to grow fast in good rich soil with plenty of water. Corn is wind pollinated so it is better to grow it in a square block rather than two long rows.

    All the green waste can be easily turned into a compost heap in the corner of your garden. easy peasy.

    Any questions just shoot me off an email. I have green thumbs.

  6. All my seeds apart from my dwarf beans are from the Lost Seed co. ONe of my NY resolutions is to learn how to save seeds a little better. That said, one of my favourite things about my garden at the moment is that things are self-seeding all over the place. Woop!

    I've been trying to loosen up the clay soil by adding lots of compost and potash. It's much better than it was but I always plant fussy things near the edges.

    Thanks for the corn tip - I'll do the block thing next year. When I planted the corn, that strip was the only non-occupied space, so the placement was more out of need than planned.

    I have a compost, but I'm terrible at producing good stuff, and I hate uncovering the rats that always seem to make nests in it. eek