"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

New Acquaintances In The Garden

I have listed a few more things that we will be attempting to grow this year and will be new additions to our garden.

From Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds:

Giant Cape Gooseberry
(Physalis peruviana L) - The cape gooseberry is native to Brazil and was cultivated by early settlers at the Cape of Good Hope on the coast of South Africa. A perennial vining plant that can be anywhere from 2 to 6 ft. in height depending on growing conditions. Does well where tomatoes are grown and likes a sunny frost free environment. It should not be fertilized as it will easily put out an overabundance of vegetative growth at the expense of it's fruit development. The fruit grows in a paper husk and can be harvested after it turns yellow and falls to the ground. It has a similar sweet taste to it's smaller cousin the common ground cherry. In a side note, ground cherry's hold up fairly well in storage and even increase in flavor, we have had some last over 2 months at around 50°.


Litchi Tomato aka Sticky Nightshade (S. sisymbriifolium) - A large plant that can grow around 5' tall and is covered in thorns. The prickly husk covered fruit is the size of a cherry tomato and supposedly tastes like a cross between a tomato, tart cherry, and watermelon. This "Wild Tomato" can be grown as you would any tomato but may not be a very prolific producer, nonetheless it certainly piqued my interest.

Black Seed Sesame (Sesamum indicum L) - An annual that grows 2-3' tall and germinates well in warm soils, seeds mature within 120 days. The seeds are highly nutritious, rich in manganese, copper, and a great source of calcium they also contain vitamin B1 and E. Black sesame may be eaten raw (dried) or toasted, and reportedly has a sweet nutty flavor and can be used to make a fine sesame oil. I am really looking forward growing this one for myself and the chickens.

Chichiquelite Huckleberry or Petty Morel (Solanum nigrum) - A member of the black nightshade family this plant produces fruit that is supposed to be much better tasting then it's counter parts the Garden huckleberry and Wonderberry. The flowers are small and white and are succeeded by small round polished appearing berries, green at first, but black when ripe. The green berries are possibly poisonous and care should be taken around small children. Can be grown as a tomato or ground cherry...may be better adapted to lower light conditions then the aforementioned. It is possible that this plant grows wild around my place and I have always considered it to be poisonous, it will be interesting to see if this is really it. Some say the leaves are even edible...not sure if I am that brave. Of course it was only a few 100 years ago that tomatoes (another nightshade) were considered poisonous also.

Orange Fleshed Purple Smudge Tomato - An indeterminate heirloom producing 4-10 ounce fruits, 80 to 90 days after transplanting. Orange in color with true purple pigment mixed in. Light, cool weather, and soil conditions may increase the purple color. This tomato may have more going for it in color than in taste from what I've read, but I am game to give it a try. You know how good those purple pigments are supposed to be health wise.

From Seed Saver Exchange:

Mongolian Giant Sunflower (H. Annuus) - Grows up to 14' tall, heads 16-19" across with 1 ½" long sunflower seeds - 90days...It's big.

Applegreen Eggplant
- 5" mild flavored oval fruits are supposed to bear dependably in northern gardens due to early fruiting... 60-70 days. Plants are small and productive. I always have luck with eggplants but this one really sounds perfect for our north Idaho garden.

Purple Pod Pole Bean - Discovered in an Ozark garden in the 1930's, plants climb upwards of 6' and are very productive. Pods are stringless and 5-7" long, purple in color. 68 days to maturity.

Blacktail Mtn. Watermelon
- From SSE catalogue - Developed by SSE member Glenn Drowns when he lived in northern Idaho, where summer nights average 43° F. Round 9" dark green fruits weigh 6-12 pounds. Sweet, juicy, crunchy, scarlet flesh. Does well in hot, humid climates too. Reliable crops. 70-75 days. Developed in north Idaho, what else could I ask for.

Charentais/Charantais Melon or Cavaillon - Popular in seventeenth century France they are a true cantaloupe, globe shaped, around 3 1/2" - 6" in diameter and weighing 2 pounds each, creamy green to golden beige in color. It is a very aggressive grower, producing many long vines and needs a lot of room. Because Charentais is a sweet fruit, it often attracts ants and other insects that bore into the melon from the ground, so it is best grown off the ground on a strong trellis. This melon reaches maturity between 85-90 days after planting. They have a superior eating quality and heady, perfumed aroma. Their flesh is softer than that of a cantaloupe, and their flavor is deeper and sweeter. A good source of potassium and vitamin C.

From Fedco:

Sea Kale (Crambe maritima - Family Cruciferae [Brassicaceae] ) - A perennial member of the Cabbage family that grows wild along the coasts of Europe and Ireland, and was one of the traditional plants taken on voyages as a preventative against scurvy, possibly where it gets it's name. It has large blue green leaves and will eventually burst out in a profusion of white flowers. The plant is often grown for use as a blanched vegetable and is an excellent source of Vitamin C. Before winter the roots can be lifted for early forcing in a heated place, or left until spring and forced by covering with a large pot or other container that excludes all light.

Gigante Kohlrabi or Superschmeltz - High quality, open pollinated Czechoslovakian heirloom that often exceeds 10 pounds. The world record was 62 pounds. It has a mild sweet flavor and good texture..even in comparison to it's smaller counterparts. Like all Kohlrabi they do well in a heavy, slightly alkaline soil. They take 120-130 days to mature, but really, I think a 90 day 5 pounder would probably be OK also.

Paul Robeson Tomato - This indeterminate heirloom was renamed for the human rights activist, actor, opera singer and much more... Paul Robeson who was especially appreciated in Russia. This tomato, named in his honor, is a medium-sized black beefsteak with dark exterior flesh but a ruby red inside and is reportedly very flavourful. Developed in Russia, it should do well in northern gardens. There is a picture of this beauty at Daves Garden - http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/showimage/129410/

Spilanthes - (Acmella Oleracea) Spilanthes is also known as the toothache plant because when you chew on the salty flavored leaves or flowers it produces a numbing effect to the tongue and gums and can be used in this manner to help ease the pain of a toothache. Spilanthes is a native of South America and grows well in full sun to partial shade reaching a height of 12-15". It is easily grown from seed but can also be propagated by stem cuttings. Spilanthes does well in any medium moist soil and should not be planted out until after all danger of frost as it is not at all cold hardy. This strong anti-bacterial herb is currently being investigated for a wide variety of other therapeutic properties. It should be most interesting to say the least.

If anyone has tried these particular plants please let me know your thoughts regarding them.


Michelle said...

Paul Robeson is one of my all time favorite tomatoes. Summers start off cool around here which delays the tomatoes. Paul Robeson is always one of the first to set fruit and keeps on going. It is delicious.

Litchie tomatoes never did set fruit for me. I suspect that our summer nights are too cool for it.

el said...

Yay, Mike, I love garden experimentation!!

Re: cape gooseberries and the huckleberries: both are okay...just make sure you put them somewhere you are sure you can weed well. They are very similar to tomatillos and Chinese lanterns in that once you have them, you will ALWAYS have them.

Re: Purple podded pole beans: are these really a picture of them? If so, they're cowpeas, or are at least in that family: not the best edible-podded beans. I tend to grow cowpeas (black-eyed peas) as a kind of green manure; they do love climbing trellises and the like. I do like them, but the only members of the family with what I consider to be edible pods are the long beans (which are eaten best when they're only 18" long, though they can get to 30").

Charentais melon: Stingy producer, easily done in by any and all bugs. The two fruits I got off my plants last year were quite tasty but not worth a retry. I think I am too wet for their needs.

Sea kale: Terribly fussy! I have a great green thumb with any brassica but these guys take the cake as far as I am concerned. Perhaps the conditions here just don't fit them. I do keep trying, though.

Good luck, looks like a fun gardening year.

Mr. H said...


Oop's, you are right I took a picture of both seed packets and loaded the wrong one.

We are also trying the Emerald Gem Melon...perhaps it will do better? We have tried numerous melons over the years with little success. I will let you know how all these do for me.

Thanks for catching my error, and yes garden experimentation certainly is half the fun.


Mr. H said...

Hello Michelle,

Glad to hear the Paul Robeson did well for you...I have high hopes for it also.
I have passed on the Litchi for a couple years now and just had to give it a try this time around.

Your input is appreciated,


Chiot's Run said...

It all looks so fantastic! I can't wait to start planting all the stuff I ordered. I'm growing a bunch of different heirloom species this year.

Mr. H said...

chiot's Run

I saw some of the seed you have and it looks like you will be very busy in the garden this year.

It's almost time,


deborah said...

What a marvelous line up!! How excited you must be. And I'll begin by saying I covet your evidently ample gardening space.

We are sharing some firsts this year and will have to compare notes.

Paul Robeson Tomato: I've heard enough rave reviews now. It's time to grow it myself.

Purple Podded Pole Beans: It's that purple thing...I like it.

Charantais Melon: I don't have a lot of luck with melons, but the Charantais is a little earlier than some that I've tried. Also, it's the quintessential French melon, and you know how I feel about all things French :)

Thanks for another lovely post!

Mr. H said...


We are going to grow lots of purple this year...purple podded peas, 3 types of purple beans, 3 different carrots, 3-4 purple/blue potatoes, and a couple other purples that slip my mind just now.

I'm happy to see, you are game for new varieties as well. I am confident that the beans and tomatoes will turn out if I can control myself and not plant them out to early.

The melon...well let's just say that if it does well it will be a nice surprise. I know it can be done as the French and Europeans were able to get nice crops in sometimes unfavorable weather conditions. Of course they truly were, master gardeners.

I was looking at a book the other day and although I did not purchase it I have added it to my "wish" list. Perhaps you have read it?

"French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France" by Richard Goodman


Anonymous said...

I will be trying the black tail watermelon this year. Also some other melons. Let's hope for a hot summer- but with rain,too.

(Its pique, not peak interest)

Mr. H said...

Hello MJ,

Pique, not peak...thank you. I have not written much more than my own name since high school, and am more than a little rusty. I appreciate the correction and can only imagine how many grammatical errors I make in each and every sentence I type.

Good luck with your melons, and I would love a somewhat rainy, hot summer. I have no doubt it will probably be one way or the other though.

I'm still not sure about the post title...acquaintances or ance's or ances' ?


Anonymous said...

hi, i'm nijwm from india and i belong to a northeast indian tribe that has used toothache plant leaves for medicinal purposes for generations. the leaves actually taste really good if its made into soup with chicken and other tropical spices.

Mr. H. said...

Nijwm - Thanks for sharing this with me, I always find it very interesting to hear how other people use certain herbs and edible plants. We have made good use of spilanthes over the past couple of years and have started adding the leaves to our salads but never tried it in soup...we will have to do that as well.

Related Posts with Thumbnails